Chun Mei's Heart:

A short Story By Kagome
   The chrysanthemum in the vase was beautiful, a vibrant orange color, which
shone like an indoor sun on the countertop near the cash register of  "The Happy
Flower Drugstore". It's many delicate petals quivered only slightly as a gentle,
shapely hand reached out to stroke them in admiration of their healthy beauty.
Chun Mei Sho breathed a deep sigh as she ran her thin fingers from the petals to
the stem, lulling herself deeper into her state of contemplation.  It was late
in the afternoon, and business was  unusually slow, even in the sales of the
aphrodisiacs, and Chun Mei, left alone to work the shop, was sitting behind the
counter in expectation of customers. She would occasionally glance up at the
glass doors of the shop, where the afternoon sun's rays shone through, which
cast a soft amber glow on the floor and invoked a sleepy aura about the shop,
scanning the outside for any activity. Nothing. She trained her ears to listen
for the merry  jingle of the bells attached to the door that sounded when
someone entered or left. Nothing.
"Aiya," Chun Mei murmured, resting her cheek in the palms of her hands, her
elbows propped up on the counter-top. She heaved another heavy sigh. "Waipuo and
whore-girl gone, no customers, Chun Mei all alone. Aiya! So bored!" She
grouched, frowning.
She turned her attention, once more, to the radiant chrysanthemum. It looked so
cheerful, so full of life.
Chun Mei shifted in her seat. The flower's bright beauty was reminiscent of the
spirit of the only person that had ever touched her heart. As her thoughts
turned to the one she cared so much for, the rest of the world melted away, and
she escaped away to the special place in her heart where she could fantasize
freely in secret.
Sephia.....Sephia... Chun Mei's hand fluttered to her breast, her face flushing
and her heart pounding passionately against her ribs. Chun Mei sat motionless,
and, while feeling the enraptured beating of her heart with her hand pressed
over her heart, allowed her eyes to close, her breathing becoming shallow. Her
fantasies flew beyond her control, and she saw the object of her desire standing
before her, cloaked with soft, feathery-white wings with outstretched arms, and
saw herself slipping into the embrace, feeling Sephia's soft skin, breathing in
her scent.
"Mmmm...." Chun Mei's hands strayed to cup her breasts, an intense shudder
rocketing through her as she imagined Sephia touching her there. How would it
feel? She wondered, feeling an unfamiliar warmth manifest below her hips.
Shivering again, she enfolded herself in her arms, drawing up her knees, as if
to prevent the world from wrenching her away from her daydreams and force her
back into cruel reality where Sephia held not her, but Nick Li.
Nick....In Chun Mei's fantasies, Sephia suddenly tore away from her and floated,
on her angel's wings, into the arms of Nick, whom had taken on the appearance of
a horned, Chinese demon. Laughing mockingly at her tears, demon Nick stole
Sephia away into the dark abyss of Chun Mei's nightmares. 
"Sephia!" Chun Mei bolted upright in her chair, the dream images flitting away,
leaving her back in the shop, with the orange chrysanthemum. "Waipuo right about
Nick Li," She sniffed, wiping away the half formed tears that stung her eyes
with the back of her hand. "Stupid! Why Sephia be with him?!" 
Chun Mei lay her head on the counter, biting her lip hard against the tears that
came of her frustration and her muddled feelings about Sephia, Nick, and
Silly fool, silly little girl. What are you saying? Waipuo's contempt-filled
voice sounded in the back of her mind, the verbal barb piercing Chun Mei to her
sweet, sensitive soul. She felt depression sink into her stomach like a lead
"Waipuo," Chun Mei whispered to the voice in her mind," Chun Mei is confused. Is
stupid...Why I feel this way? What is it?"
Aiya! Chun Mei! This is LOVE!
" Mei....does not love...." Chun Mei shook her head, lacking the
self confidence to admit her feelings, even to herself. "No, Waipuo!" She
clapped her hands over her ears, but could not block away the mental torment
that she had inflicted on herself.
STUPID GIRL. This is LOVE! How can you not see it?! 
"NO!!" Infuriated and defiant, Chun Mei was on her feet in an instant. "WAIPUO
IS WRONG!!! I DO NOT LOVE ANYBODY!!" Channeling her fury with Waipuo and  her
confusion with herself, she slammed her clenched fists on the counter, the
impact sending the crystal vase holding chrysanthemum to the floor, where it
promptly shattered, sending thousands of tiny shards skittering across the
floor. A crack ran through the glass counter where Chun Mei had violently vented
her rage.
The tears flowed freely now. Chun Mei stood, her fists still clenched, her head
bowed and her shoulders shaking, all feeling draining from her like the salty
tears that rolled off her face and collecting in the puddle of water that had
been in the vase to nourish the chrysanthemum. The voice of Waipuo had been
silenced, and the only thing Chun Mei was aware of was the burning sensation in
her face....and the chrysanthemum lying at her feet, still beautiful. Still
"Stupid flower," Chun Mei sobbed as she bent to pick it up. "Why you so happy
looking? Why you make Chun Mei so sad?" She caressed the flower's silky petals
with renewed gentleness, then suddenly realized she was smiling. She brushed the
chrysanthemum against her face, marveling at the softness, and how alike it was
to human skin. Her smile grew wider even as the tears continued to fall, and she
kissed the blossom, stroking the stem with her index finger. She drew the flower
down and touched her chin with the blossom, giggling at the pleasant tickling
feeling, and surprised at the comfort that the simple little thing provided her
"Stupid flower! You make Chun Mei laugh! So confusing...."
That's what love is, isn't it? Confusion.....laughing....crying...Chun Mei
thought. Then....a realization hit her; would it be so bad to be in love?
She stood, gazing contemplatively out the glass shop doors, holding the
chrysanthemum to her heart like a lover. She had no idea as to what she should
do, or whether she could accept her feelings or not, knowing she could lose
everything or have her fragile heart shattered. But what would happen to her if
she never took a risk, if she lived in denial of what her soul cried for?
Then, she knew. She could not tell Sephia her feelings outright,  but to make
peace with herself, Chun Mei would have to find a way to express what lay in her
......The doors of the shop banged closed, the bells jingling, swaying from side
to side slightly over the "back in fifteen minutes" sign............

    Evening. After a good workday at Fetique, Sephia walked up the steps to her
apartment, shouldering a shopping bag. She was musing about how nice it would be
to take a long, soothing bubble bath and "cuddle" with Nick as she put her key
in the lock, and turned it until she heard a click. She put her hand on the door
handle, only to find that something had been wedged in there. Curiously, she
looked down and pulled the object out of the handle for inspection....and held
in her hand a single, bright orange Chrysanthemum.