The Girl Who Shrugs I

The story follows a silent martial arts master called “Girl” as she wanders through harsh environments with her best friend, a pet cricket named “Grasshopper”, and a mysterious vase. She reflects on her past training and faces off against mysterious opponents on the way to her (undetermined) destination.

The break in the clouds offered her a rare view of the sun and the moon sharing the sky.

Girl smirked.

Grasshopper emerged from her sleeve and crawled up her shoulder before resting and enjoying the rare break in the desert sand and ash.

She removed her head scarf.

Breeze. The wind brushed her bruised and cut-up face. No stinging sand, just soft breeze.

She drew her canteen and took a swig of water before offering a cap-full to Grasshopper.

How could I forget about my Cricket?

“That bug will outlive you,” A voice stated.

She ignored the voice and proceeded to stroke her cricket as it drank from the cap.

“What’s taking you?” A male voice asked. “You should’ve reached already.”

She shrugged.

“You lost?” The male voice questioned.

She recognized the voice.

“I’m waiting on you,” The boy’s voice stated.

She felt too good to react to his presence.

“Great job on the last fight.” Pierre revealed himself as he took a seat beside her. “Great job on the last fight.”

She shot Pierre a side eye as she took another sip of water.

“Make sure you have enough water,” Pierre said. “I want you at your best.”

She nodded.

She packed enough food and water to last her at least another week, thanks to her last opponent.

“Not even a word for me, huh.” Pierre said. “No words for your former friend?”

She looked in his direction.

“You don’t have to keep the vow with me,” Pierre said. “I’m not really here.”

She knew Pierre was a mirage, probably caused by her hunger and lack of sleep. She didn’t care. She planned to keep her vow until she and Grasshopper arrived at her destination. A vow she promised the ancestors.

For once in my life I will keep my promise.

“Good on you, Girl,” Pierre said. “You keep your promises.”

She rotated her stiff wrist.

She felt she did more damage to herself than her last opponent. The bones in her wrist felt fragile after putting everything she had into the thunderous -desperation- overhand strike which won her the fight. She worried.

What of the next opponent?

She shuttered at the thought of striking or coverage with fractured wrist.

“I’m gone, you know,” Pierre said. “When you reach, you’ll be fighting a soulless husk.”

She nodded.

“Hmmm…” Pierre said. “And you know you can’t complete your journey without-”

She nodded.

“I would help you… But I’m but an illusion… Or, a ghost-spirit.” Pierre twiddled his fingers.

She smirked.

“Or, you’re right,” Pierre said. “I’m a figment of your dehydrated mind.”

She looked up.

“Time’s almost up,” Pierre stood before her.

Clouds and ashen mist thickened over the open sky. The moon, sun and stars drowned under the coal-colored blankets.

“Either way…. Don’t hold back,” Pierre’s voice faded. “Show no merc-“

He was gone.

She blinked.

She was alone. Pierre -his ghost or illusion- disappeared in the split second it took her to blink.

She clicked her tongue.

Grasshopper descended her arm and disappeared under her sleeve.

She returned the cap to her water bottle before returning it to her bag.

Rest time was over.

She returned her scarf to her face.

I was time she returned to her journey.

She set off into the whipping wind.

I’m coming Pierre. I’m coming to kill you now.

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