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The Color of Your Eyes

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Shimazu Toyohisa had, as long as he could remember, seen the world a little differently from everyone around him.

At first it was nothing that he had realized, but one day when his younger cousin Tadatsune made a comment about the way the early spring flowers had started to shoot so brightly out of the barren ground, and how pretty they were, Toyohisa had become confused because to him, the plants making their way up out of the dirt was not much different from the dirt itself. The color was the same, since the flowers had yet to bloom and show the colorful petals. His cousin, as well as his brothers and his sisters, had stared at him as if not understanding what he was trying to say when he voiced his confusion.

He realized then that the plants were a different color, not at all the same as the brown dirt, and soon after, he also realized that his siblings and his cousins did not see their hair colors as the same as he did. To him they all had the glossy black hair similar to a raven’s wing, but to them the color was a shining gray, like the cold ashes brushed out of the sword smith’s burnt-out fire.

Nobody else saw the world the same way as he did. They all saw a brilliant green where he saw a dull brown. And it was not only the plants, but also clothes, the stripes on his sisters’ temari, the tsukaito of his father’s katana.

He was wrong, he realized. There was something terribly wrong with him. With his eyes. The black that he saw, he was not supposed to see. Not yet. Why was he different? Why did the world seem different to him?

And then, he realized, as he remembered what he had never forgotten, only not thought upon very much; Satsuma was a land of dark eyes, so how was he supposed to, in the middle of all that dark, be able to find a person with eyes the true color of grass?

*****

Once he married, his wife grieved that she was not his soulmate. He grieved it too, because she was a girl he got along with well, a girl he would have enjoyed having as his soulmate. They had always gotten along well, ever since they met when they were children.

She had also not met her soulmate, once she came of marriageable age, but maybe she would, one day. How the two of them would react to that, he did not know.

She perceived the color black differently from the way he did, just like everybody else had or still did.

*****

The battles were a wonderful distraction, it made him feel truly like everyone else, like all the other Satsuma warriors fighting for the Shimazu clan. In battle, all men were warriors, their soulmate didn’t matter. If they had found each other or not didn’t matter.

Of course, he had heard stories of men who met their soulmate on the battlefield, there were tales of it passed down. One of his ancestors had met his soulmate on the battlefield, and brought him back to Satsuma with him, once the war had ended. Thus, he couldn’t rule out the possibility that his soulmate might be a man. He didn’t mind that, and honestly, his wife might prefer it. He just hoped that if it were a man, it was someone strong, a good warrior that the Shimazu could take pride in. But still, it was less common, possibly because if the men were enemies, they might cut each other down before they could look into each other’s eyes and have the world change with the new color that sprang into it.

So he delved into battle with vigour, because he loved to battle, it was the way he was raised, the way he would always live, and the way he was likely to die. Aiming to claim the heads of his enemies. Even if he didn’t have a soulmate by his side, he still had the thrill of battle, and that was, he decided as he grew older, enough for him. Everybody lived part of their lives lacking a color, some did so their whole lives. He would simply be one more among them.

Instead he would focus on warfare and cut more, more enemies’ heads from their bodies. It was the Satsuma way and he would always be a proud warrior of Satsuma.