In the noble quarters of a castle long ago there were two maids. Their names were Kinya and Ginya. Both ladies were charming in appearance and their relationship was harmonious. They went about their daily lives constantly by each other’s sides, like two complimenting Japanese irises.
With her plump, soft white skin and hair lying loose by her shoulders, she pressed her red lips together.
“The flowers are blooming.”
“Indeed. They’re blooming beautifully.”
They smiled at each other, as though they were a pair of Japanese white-eyed birds. At 16, they were in the prime of their youth and held the innocence of little girls. Their love for each other knew no bounds, and their lord loved them deeply as well.
But then, one day.
Kinya was struck down by a violent cold and sent to her far-away parents’ house for a spell. But although they waited a long time for news of her, nothing came. Ginya spent her days in loneliness, like an abalone missing part of itself.
One night she went out into the garden by herself and looked up at the moon shining between the clouds. Warm tears streamed down her cheeks in the chilly spring night weather.
Then, several days later, Kinya reappeared without warning. Ginya jumped up and down with joy.
“We are of one, in body and soul. Although we have different parents, we are like sisters. Let’s always be together.” The girls took each other’s hands and swore to each other.
After that, they were never separated for even an instant. At night they slept in the same bed. If Kinya moved to the right side in her sleep, Ginya soon followed. She even accompanied her to the toilet.
And so, six months passed, and it was the end of autumn.
Forgetting themselves as always, they slid into the same bedding. Lying side by side they chatted, until before they knew it, they fell asleep.
As the long autumn night wore on, Kinya got out of bed. Ginya noticed and followed her. The pair lit some lanterns and walked down the hallway together. Before long, they reached the toilet at the end. As usual, Kinya went in first. But, no matter how long Ginya waited, she didn’t come out. The autumn breeze woke her from her sleepiness, bit by bit.
… What was wrong?
Ginya became concerned. She peeked through the gap in the door, and at that moment she let out a gasp as her breath caught in her throat.
It was Kinya, but it wasn’t. On the surface, it was Kinya’s face, but she was painted red like an ogre. Her eyes stood wide open and her teeth gnashed. In each hand she played with two fireballs.
Ginya was unable to move. She stood still, frozen and trembling in fear. Her shivering was not caused by the cold night air.
On the other side of the wooden door, Kinya was playing with two round lumps of fire like beanbags. Red light filled the toilet while the silver moon shone in the night sky.
Ginya almost succumbed to her desire to flee, but inside was Kinya, her friend with whom she had lived most harmoniously until that point. Even if she was a monster, she was still Kinya. She endured her fear, and pretending not to know anything, she waited.
Before long, she heard a sound.
The wooden door opened. Ginya took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry I kept you waiting,” Kinya said, her smiling face as it always looked. Ginya entered the toilet after her.
‘Kinya-san is looking this way through the crack in the door…’
Looking behind her frequently, Ginya was unable to calm herself and quickly finished her business. The door opened with a creak, and Kinya was waiting for her.
They returned down the dark hallway, their shoulders touching in the darkness. Once more they climbed into the single bed, and on this night alone the warmth of Kinya’s body was dreadful. Unable to catch a wink of sleep, Ginya greeted the morning with bloodshot eyes.
“Is there something wrong?”
Kinya looked unusually worried as she peered at Ginya. As her gentle face inched closer, Ginya felt uneasy.
“Are you feeling unwell?”
“Are you perhaps anxious?”
“Relax. I will take care of you.”
It was like she was about to be possessed by those eyes.
Her fear reached its peak, and Ginya finally fell asleep.
Then Ginya’s parents’ caught sound of rumours. Something very important about their only daughter. A doctor and a Shugenja (mountain priest) were sent to them.
“She has been possessed by a spirit,” the Shugenja from the castle informed them. “If we don’t do something soon, something terrible will happen. I’m telling you this for your own good. You must call her home immediately.”
Upon hearing this, her parents dispatched a litter right away. Ginya received permission from the lord and returned home.
“The breeze will not reach you inside. Yet the litter may sway on the road, so please take care.” Kinya spoke kindly to Ginya as she boarded, holding her hand. To the bitter end, the girls looked like sisters. Unable to stand it any longer, Ginya began to cry.
Then the litter departed. As it departed the castle gates, Ginya’s voice could be heard screaming out, as thought she couldn’t keep it in anymore, “She’s a monster! Kinya is a monster! Ah…”
It was the last thing she said. Her voice echoed like a vanishing spirit.
“Is something wrong?” The attendants rolled up the hanging cloth and looked inside. What they saw left them speechless.
Ginya was bent over in a bizarre shape. The skin was peeled back from her face, and they were unable to discern the position of her features. Her face was stained red with sprays of blood.
Ginya’s last words soon reached the lord’s ears, but Kinya was already gone. A messenger was dispatched to her parents, but an inconceivable reply returned.
“Shortly after she returned to us in the spring, Kinya left this world.”
It was then that the people finally realised that both girls had been possessed since long ago.