ACT ONE, SCENE ONE:
Guilin, South China. Night time. SHIZUO and MEIHUA stand beside an oak tree opposite a rock in front of the Li River. Rows of oval shaped mountains and a cave can be seen. Stars shine down brightly.
SHIZUO It’s been a long time my love. [Stepping into the light] I have walked through a thousand dreams, but nothing could have prepared me for this moment.
MEIHUA [Looking down] Even now, I can feel your skin and smell the flowers you picked that day.
SHIZUO [Embraces Meihua] How have you been? How is he? I miss both of you.
MEIHUA I am fine, but Kailong is slowly getting worse. He keeps calling your name, searching by the river. Though I believe he knows. I tell him not to worry and that everything will be fine.
SHIZUO Here, take this [hands over a small brown bag]. This will make him feel better. It’ll keep his strength up. Is he still practicing the sword?
MEIHUA Yes every day, as he hopes to train with you one day.
SHIZUO I feel ashamed, it’s been so long. My memories are becoming colourless. I will return one day. [Sighs] This place is beautiful.
MEIHUA Yes, this place is untouched under heaven. [Stepping away] I wish you didn’t have to go. If something were to happen, how will I ever know? How would I survive without you? How would I tell our son?
SHIZUO My dear. [Holding out his arms]
MEIHUA Every night I trace our last steps, wishing we could return to our last moment and walk in another direction. I know it won’t happen.
SHIZUO I am sorry, it won’t be for much longer. Just until Kailong is ok and we are safe. I promise.
Silence falls upon them both. They look at each other and then look out towards the mountains and stars. SHIZUO shifts his body closer to MEIHUA.
MEIHUA I found Kailong crying yesterday out by the red cave. He said that his father’s image was beginning to disappear from his mind. He can no longer picture your face. Then he asked me if there was something wrong with him, for not remembering your face.
SHIZUO [Gripping his sword] Every time I draw my sword, I pray for forgiveness and think of you both, always. Each time was supposed to be the last, but it never is. When I am not on a mission, I am searching for the ingredients and knowledge.
MEIHUA Can you not just forget it all and leave it behind? We will find a way.
SHIZUO I can’t. They know my secret. [Holding her tightly] Keep the names I gave you. You are both safe with these.
MEIHUA [Pulling away] There is no cure. No one has ever survived such an attack. Please Shizuo, come back to us.
SHIZUO No, I must keep searching. There is always an opposite.
MEIHUA [Crying] Shizuo, come back and spend whatever time there is left for Kailong.
SHIZUO fights back his tears and holds on tightly to his sword. He straightens his body.
SHIZUO I miss Kailong. I miss you both. I will come back more often, but we musn’t be seen in daylight.
MEIHUA I can no longer smile. People keep pointing at us, the fatherless family. You are a ghost to our every day lives.
SHIZUO [Interrupting] How else can I provide for you? This is who I am!
MEIHUA [Quietly] I know, thank you dear. Come home. Kailong’s energy is slowly ebbing away.
SHIZUO Yesterday. [He pauses]
MEIHUA [Questionably] Yesterday?
SHIZUO Yes, yesterday. Tell me what you did.
MEIHUA I and Kailong woke up early morning. I cleaned the house, whilst he practiced. We then went to the street market to buy some meat. We had Okonomiyaki for breakfast, your favourite. In the afternoon, we took a raft out on the Li River. It is so beautiful here at day with the mountains, like crystal fingertips reaching out of the water. The green is subtle and atmosphere tranquil. It’s as if the river is telling us it’s story. [Moves closer to Shizuo] I told Kailong stories of when we were in Japan. He said he wants to return to our real home one day, but I am afraid he won’t live long enough to see our village in Japan.
SHIZUO Japan. [sighs] I miss the full bloom of the Cherry Blossoms. I miss you wearing mother’s Kimono and the smell of steamed rice. My spirit grows weak without these moments and warm thoughts. [He looks up] Keep looking at the moon Meihua. It’s the only way we can share a moment together. I know the moon is always shining down on the both of you. I can always find my way home by following our stars. Do you remember which ones they are?
MEIHUA Yes, dear. It’s my only comfort at night.
SHIZUO I have seen so much pain and suffering. I feel so helpless. Shanghai is a dangerous territory. People roam so wildly. I am always on guard. It is scary Meihua, but only you I tell this to. What am I Meihua? A murderer? A saviour? A desperate father?
MEIHUA [Calmly] You are all three. I will always love you the same, no less.
They embrace and kiss passionately. A soft breeze shakes the leaves on the tree.
The moon hides behind a passing cloud.
SHIZUO This is it. I promise, this will be the last mission. I will find a way home. We will be together again. We have enough for now don’t we?
MEIHUA [Excitedly] Yes, I have been saving most of it. I love you, Shizuo.
SHIZUO [Nods] I love you. I want to hold Kailong in my arms once again…
Their conversation comes to a halt as voices can be heard close by. SHIZUO and
MEIHUA tiptoe to take cover behind the rock. SHIZUO clutches his sword and holds it ready in a fighting position. The stage grows dark.
By B. L. Crisp