A Thousand Years

Chapter 2: Things We Don't Understand


"Leo." my father sternly called.

I sat at the opposite side of the huge dining table, with my mother and younger brother.

"Leo, you do understand that we spent a lot of money for your studies.."

I nodded. I know where the conversation's going.

"And I think you should exert more effort in that building. You should supervise your workers well and.."

"I understand, father." I interrupted.

"Then what's with dismissing your men just because of rain?"

"The rain was very heavy, father. There's no way my men could handle that kind of weather."

"Tell me, Leo. What's the deadline for that project of yours?"

"One year or less."

"How much of it is finished?"

I cringed. The half of the building's frame hasn't even finished. Because of that stupid tree.

"Leo," my father scoffed, "Just tell me if you can't finish the building. I'll let my protege finish it for you."

I stood up nonchalantly.

"I'm not hungry." I said as I storm out of the house. I get into my car and drive all the way to the construction site. I pick up a chainsaw and approach the tree. Out of the blue, rain fell again.

"That the best you can do..?!" I asked, putting away the chainsaw and reaching for an ax.

I hacked the tree and managed to put a dent.

"What are you doing to my house?!" cried a familiar voice. The Taira girl emerged from the crevice.

"Look, Taira," I said angrily, "I can buy you a huge mansion, furniture, a new kimono and a lifetime supply of food. In exchange, get out of there and let me chop down the tree."

"NO!" she yelled, grabbing my ax. She was really determined to stop me but I overpowered her. I was about to hack the tree when she stood in front of it.

Her body was about to meet the blade when something happened.

I could clearly see that the blade went through her and hit the tree.

There was no wound on her body. The ax went through it! I let go of the ax and paced backwards.

"Did you get hurt..?" I asked weakly.

She shook her head and tried to pull the ax away from the tree. I helped her and together, we successfully pulled it away.

.

.

.

"What just happened?" I asked.

"I don't know." she replied.

...

Silence overcame.

...

"My father's angry at me." I said. I didn't expect her to reply.

.

.

"Yoritomo Minamoto?" she asked.

I laughed hard.

"Yeah, sort of. But that's not his name."

"You told me that your father is Yoritomo Minamoto?"

"Nah, I was joking."

We sat in silence. I don't know, but it was sort of calming to have her around.

"My father's angry at me because I didn't complete work today." I continued.

"Work?"

"Yes. I'm building a hospital."

"Hospital..?"

"The place where you bring sick and injured people."

"That doesn't work for us. We have a doctor." she said.

"Well, in here, doctors work in hospitals."

"They do?"

"Yes. Look at that." I said, pointing at the interconnected steel bars. "That's the frame of the hospital building. I have to finish making the hospital building in a year."

"I see."

"Do you understand me?" I asked, wondering if she understood the 'frame of the hospital building' part. Well, she is from the Taira clan. Or at least claims to.

"Of course." she smiled, "I am an educated individual."

"Do you have buildings back where you came from?"

"Yes, we used to."

I looked at her. I didn't know if buildings existed during the Heian period. Or if she was lying to save face. Anyway, I didn't care.

"Well, I didn't finish work, because that tree was in the way." I said, pointing to the tree. "The frame of the building needs to surround the whole area, so I really need to get rid of it."

"Can't the tree stay? Can't you just shorten your territory?"

"No, I'm afraid not. Your tree is in the middle and our territory should reach as far as that gate." I explained in a language she might understand.

"Please, good sir. Spare the tree and me."

"You live in that tree don't you? Well, I can offer you a better home."

"I'm sorry but I can't."

"Why?"

"A son of the Minamoto clan would never understand."

"I would."

She stared at me skeptically.

"Like I said, that tree is my home and I can never leave it."

"I guess you've grown attached."

"Yes."

"Well, how about this." I said, attempting to strike a bargain, "I finish half of the building and you get to stay in the tree a little longer. But after I finish the half, you leave. Is that okay?"

She thought deeply.

"Nothing has changed. You'll still get rid of the tree."

"Well in that time, I could have a better idea than to get rid of the tree." I said. "It's better than cutting the tree now."

She thought deeply.

"Okay. But promise you'll come up with a better plan."

"Alright. But if I don't, will you forgive me?"

"Probably no."

"Okay, I understand."

I stood up and got into the car. I took one last look and she was gone. Probably inside the tree again.