It's been a decade since my first encounter with Japanese archery, but about four years since I started seriously applying myself to training.
It's been...redeeming...in ways I have trouble articulating sometimes.
But of all of us, only two-- me, and Aunt Mei, who teaches archery from her home in Natori-- still interact with it.
I came home from the range, stowed my shit and went up to make myself some coffee and catch my breath. Chloë was sitting on the rug by the TV, sorting through a stack of old books.
She sat up. "Oh-- hello, Leigh. Welcome home. You just missed Hiromi-- she has some news that may be of interest. She'll message the details, but she seemed quite enthusiastic."
"Doesn't she have her hands full with the shrine dedication?"
"That's just what she wanted to talk to you about."
Honestly, I didn't feel like I deserved it.
"She DOES have other people she can ask, right?" I heard myself ask.
"Leigh, darlin'. Arrows were your family business. She wants *you*."
They say that things over 99 years old become kami-- tsukumogami. This bow was over 150 years old.
I felt like it was staring at me
"Shit. Fuck. Fuck." I hissed, covering my face, rubbing at my tired eyes. "I can't. I can't."
I felt Chloë beside me now, arm around my waist, steadying.
"Listen to me," she murmured. "You don't have to. But if anyone's earned it, a dozen times over, I'd say it's you."
"I'm a lost traveler across time who's trying to rebuild a sense of purpose," she replied. "But I'm still here. So are you"
But the next morning, after I came back from my run, I was there again, contemplating the old bow.
Almost before I knew quite what I was doing, I had my phone in hand.
The bow caught a glimmer of sunlight through the Roman blinds.
Its old arc seemed to smile.
After all. I wanted to make the most of what passes for peace.