Reblogged from Smorgasbord:
Okurimono woke thinking she heard whispering. The house was silent, except for the wind creeping through crevices and cracks. In the dim light from the brazier, she saw a swarm of eyes watching her from the paper panels of the shoji screen dividing the room.
Mokumokuren, she thought, remembering Ucosan tales. Mokumokuren were not harmful kami, merely curious. They liked to peer where the barriers dividing the worlds were tinged by sorrow or neglect. As Ucosan said, what greater sorrow was there than an ill-kempt house? Perhaps they wondered why the shoji screens panels were unpatched, or the walls let in drafts? Because mama is ill, she wanted to shout.
The eyes were not watching Okurimono, but her mother. Afraid of what she might see, the girl turned around. Seven ghosts hovered over her mother. These were ghosts of people haunted to death. In turn they haunted the sick, drawing out what little strength they had; knowing when they died their spirit was compelled to replace one of them.
Knowing she saw them, and not caring, the ghosts began whispering again. Although Okurimono could not hear the words, she knew they discussed her mother’s death. The girl wished she was brave enough to chase them away, but fear held her immobile. Rushing from her side, the little fox cub snapped and growled until the ghosts retreated into the shadows.
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