Red lights glow in outlying huts of the tiny village of Paanai-phat. Red lights signify the deadly fever is high, though flood waters have receded somewhat. Farther out, hearth fires have been snuffed with no family alive to feed them.
Bodies must be burned to reduce the fever’s spread. The punt of the emperor’s third daughter whispers through blue waters, punctuated only by the splash and drag of the servant’s pole. She gazes wearily through the mist as they leave lights behind and push into the darkness. Such a sad business.
Then, out of the darkness, a baby’s thin cry.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2014)
(Artist credit: Koho Shoda, Stars Over Lake Biwa, near 1910-1920)