“The Spirit Pyre”

This piece was inspired by this image by Jennifer Hom –¬†http://jenniferhom.com/

 

Ninety Nine Good Chinese Girls by Jennifer Hom

She watched in horror as the Prime Minster went ablaze.

Sun-shi was one of many Sun-shis. She was a perfect replication of the girl behind her, in front of her, and everywhere in between. But Sun-shi, as far as she was aware, was the only one aware.

The prime minster had lied, she deduced. He claimed to have been part of a scandal. Something about the enemies at large. But she knew. He had spoken to her personally. He called on her and told her she was the only one different.

“What’s going on in that head of yours?”

“A lot.” Sun-shi remembered telling him. “I want to be an actress.”

“How do you even know what that is?” His old face turned somber and serious. “That was before your time, child. You know nothing of this.”

“No.” She said defiantly. “I remember my mother was an actress.” She saw tears in his eyes.

“You are special, child. But you must hide this knowledge.”

“I don’t want to, sir.” She beamed at him. “I want to be free.”

“You are flying too close to the son, my beautiful flower. We cannot have this.” He patted her and he reminded her of what a grandfather should look like. “Tell me more about your mother before you forget.” He smiled at her deviously.

She told him about a woman on TV, something she never saw anywhere but her dreams. She was a warrior, a princess, a villain, a vampire, a heroine, and more. She lived so many lives inside her short time, and she continued them on through Sun-shi. All the Sun-shis. She was the most remembered face in all of the country. No one would mistake her.

The Prime Minister tagged her and came visit often. He called her “dogteughan” over and over. He said he loved her, and she knew it was a special kind of love. Not like the one the soldiers grunted at the rest of the Sun-shis. Something… personal.

Sun-shi woke up screaming in the middle of the dark. Something bad happened, but she didn’t know what it was. She touched her stomach and felt a hallow sensation. She heard loud shouts at the camp, but she had been trained to stay in bed, no matter what, when lights were off. She stayed up crying, unsure why.

Now, she knew.

“I have delivered a great shame to our people. Our nation. And our Lord.” The Prime Minister spoke, nodding at various people. Tears were welling up. “I am not worthy of my title, so effective immediately, I won’t be Prime Minster. I am just another traitor slob. I am sorry for my embarrassment.” He pulled out a small canister and poured it on himself. He held his lighter, but before he lit it he shouted one word. “Dogteughan!” The flame engulfed him instantly.

Sun-shi was the only one to gasp. The others were trained to not react.