In Field Nor Mountain, Nothing Stirs
by Twinkledru J.

If the one I've waited for
came now, what should I do?
This morning's garden filled with snow
is far too lovely
for footsteps to mar.
-Izumi Shikibu

It had been only them in the beginning, and it was only them now, the snow drifting down softly and gently and silently, crunching beneath their feet. There was some word for the sound that snow makes when falling in Japanese, but she could not recall it. She thought now, That's ridiculous. Snow makes no sound when falling. It absorbs sound. That's why it muffles your footsteps. That's why no one but you will hear O-Ren die.

No one but she would hear O-Ren die because no one was alive inside the restaurant to hear her die, either. But O-Ren had never been one to make much noise when wounded, and she would die without so much as a scream.


"It's pretty, isn't it?" she asked, glancing about as she drove them away.

The house of the man they had just finished their business with was burning, a red-orange-yellow blossom against the silent white expanse around them. The snow that had been beginning when they first arrived was now falling thickly, though not too much for her to drive in. The burning house was the brightest thing in the rearview mirror.

O-Ren looked around. "Yes," she said simply. "I suppose it's pretty enough."

"It's so quiet," she mused.

No answer came this time from the other woman, whose eyes were closed.

It was some time later before O-Ren spoke again. "There's a phrase for it," she said.


"The sound that snow makes when falling," O-Ren answered. "We have a phrase to describe it."

"Really," she asked, half-listening. "What is it?"

O-Ren reached out then, and touched a scratch on her cheek. She leaned in, ostensibly to look more closely at it, though the both of them knew that it was nothing, less than nothing. O-Ren's breath was warm as it rustled when she spoke --


No one but she heard O-Ren die.


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