"Bowstring," A #GreyDawn #lesfic microfiction #thread.

In which Leigh Hunter contemplates tangible heritage, spirituality, and her own history, embodied in a bow.
Passyunk Square, Philadelphia
Autumn 2026

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.
It overlaps a bit with the life I used to lead, and the training I undertook, as a soldier: a bow is, after all, a ranged weapon. And something about it all, about taking those old skillsets from my SDM days, and applying them to something this quiet and meditative, has helped me
But it's more than that. My family-- my mother's Mitsuya ancestors-- were archers. It's in the name: Mitsuya means "Three Arrows," and it's our crest, too.

But of all of us, only two-- me, and Aunt Mei, who teaches archery from her home in Natori-- still interact with it.
Am I any good at it? I wouldn't say that. And really, that doesn't matter to me. What matters more is the experience, and the discipline it's taught me. For an art that my ancestors took to war as recently as 1868, it's been a healing experience.
But yesterday, the damndest thing happened.

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."
Hiromi, my cousin and housemate of several years, had been a scarce commodity, lately.

"Doesn't she have her hands full with the shrine dedication?"

"That's just what she wanted to talk to you about."
Our family's been adherents of the Suwa faith since the 1700s. Now, with the first Shinto shrine about to be dedicated on the East Coast, here in Philadelphia, both Hiromi and I were thrilled that it was a Suwa shrine, & she was busy as a committee member involved in its opening.
"In short," Chloë said, gesturing at the bow that hung on an improvised rack over our long, low bookcase on the far wall. "She wants to recommend you to take the opening shot at the shrine's attached archery range. And she wants you to consider using the family bow."
The bow belonged to Mitsuya Toshikuni, great-great-great-grandfather to both Hiromi and I. I'd inherited it when my grandparents died. And much as I'd treasured it, I'd never used it once.

Honestly, I didn't feel like I deserved it.
Hesitantly, I crossed the living room till the bow was in arm's reach. I could feel my breath catch.

"She DOES have other people she can ask, right?" I heard myself ask.

"Leigh, darlin'. Arrows were your family business. She wants *you*."
I felt a little weak, thinking it over, eyeing the wood darkened with age. I'd never had it restrung, but I'd tried to care for it as best I could

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
The story I heard from Grandpa Toshimasa was that the bow saw action in combat, at the Battle of Hatamaki Pass, in 1868.

"Shit. Fuck. Fuck." I hissed, covering my face, rubbing at my tired eyes. "I can't. I can't."
"Leigh. Hey now. Breathe."

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."
"But I suck," I laughed, a little ruefully. "I'm just a broken husk of a woman who survived 3 wars, trying to figure shit out by throwing arrows at straw-"

"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"
We left the matter there, for the evening. There was dinner to cook, housekeeping to do, and any number of other things that demanded our attention in the here and now.

But the next morning, after I came back from my run, I was there again, contemplating the old bow.
I was the first Mitsuya to go to war, since the forefather who carried this bow at Hatamaki, a century and a half ago. I'd come back, somehow, and was trying to make something of myself, in what passes for peace in the 21st century.
I don't know much about Mitsuya Toshikuni, but clearly he did something right, with what came after his war-- because hey.

I'm here.

Almost before I knew quite what I was doing, I had my phone in hand.
"I'm restringing the bow," I messaged Hiromi. "Part of me doesn't know why I'm even saying this, but, count me in."

The bow caught a glimmer of sunlight through the Roman blinds.

Its old arc seemed to smile.
Then I hurried off to the kitchen to get after coffee for me and my wife.

After all. I wanted to make the most of what passes for peace.

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