Chapter 3.15 – Grandfather

Mark arrives at the academy early in the morning, just as he had been instructed.
 
When he approaches the academy entrance, he can hear Mei’s voice drifting on the quiet morning air and speak the word “Grandfather”.  Upon entering, he finds her bowing toward Jiang Xi as she prepares to leave.
 
When they pass each other in the courtyard, Mei shoots a weary and distrusting glare toward Mark. He ignores both and makes his way to the training floor where Jiang Xi waits for him. Remembering his lesson on respect from the day before, Mark bows to his instructor and greets him good morning. He senses that the elderly instructor’s conversation with Mei was cut short as Mark arrived; and that it did not end on a positive note. With something resembling a frown, the first he had ever seen from Jiang Xi, he tells Mark that Mei will be his training partner for the remaining three days of his visit.
 
There is an odd sensation of dread combined with relief as he processes the news. Jiang Xi tells him that yesterday they both made good progress training together, and that each provides balance to the other. After being dismissed, Mark does not divulge that he heard Mei call him Grandfather, and instead spends some time fishing before breakfast.
 
As daylight breaks, Mark sees that Mei has been kneeling at the edge of the creek some distance away from him. She has either not seen him, or has ignored him. He uses the excuse of talking about their training to quietly approach her at the riverbank.
 
She is singing a very quiet song near a grave marker, arranging flowers into a makeshift wreath; her sweet voice barely audible above the babbling water. She finishes her song and speaks without looking at Mark. She says that he was her little brother, and had just learned how to walk. He loved watching her chase butterflies in the field by their house. He found his way outside one morning to chase his own butterflies, but did not know there was a creek hidden by the tall grass. They found him here, hours later …and she has come here every day since then. Looking at the date on the grave marker, Mark sees that he has been gone a number years.
 
She stands and attempts to hide the tears welling in her eyes by bowing deeply toward Mark. Mark offers his sympathy and apologizes for interrupting her time alone with her brother. She nods, still not making eye contact with him, and says that they are late for breakfast and must begin training.
 
Mark finds the training that day to be mentally and physically grueling. Mei is a relentless perfectionist and demands that he do his forms without error;  but she also teaches him to sit in meditative silence, expanding his senses outward. It has forced her to interact with him more than she had ever interacted with anybody. Two days elapse like this, Jiang Xi making sure that their every waking hour is spent together training.
 
If Jiang Xi was right about anything, it was that Mark and Mei balance each other. They make remarkable strides together, spending the last day of Mark’s visit meditating in the garden. They have brought each other much closer to balance through their training. And just as Jiang Xi had predicted, the seeds of romance begin to take root.
 
When David arrives with the twins, Jiang Xi happily informs him that while he left his son here as a boy, he will be taking him back as a young man. And after a cheerful reunion with his sisters, Mark thanks his father and asks if he can return to continue his training; offering to take a job to pay for the trip. David, silently relieved that his gamble paid off, suggests they return from this trip before embarking on the next one. But he quickly adds that he has no hesitations allowing him to return to continue training.
 
Mei and Mark bow respectfully toward each other, their eyes locked in a lingering farewell. He then bows toward his instructor, Jiang Xi, and wonders if one day he will be calling him “Grandfather” as well.
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6 thoughts on “Chapter 3.15 – Grandfather

  1. delaneylegacy says:

    Oh man! I think Mei is growing on me as a character and I hope that things go well between her and Mark. By the way, I like this layout! Very nice =)

    Like

  2. You really have Mei growing on me as well. I see her and Mark balancing each other in perfect harmony. They make a wonderful couple and I really hope that they are reunited soon. Mark really has grown into a man with the training, it was really good for him.

    Like

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