He smiled at her anger. She wasn’t easily enraged. But, whenever she was, whoever had the misfortune to irritate her was going to get it. That was the case with these men. They shouldn’t have persisted. They shouldn’t have continued to torture the children after she explicitly warned them off.
He smiled, because as detached as she was, anger was one of the few venues that defined her personality. Although she was a strong advocate for peace, although she was a strong supporter for calmly solving problems, her anger revealed the things that she truly cared about. Her anger showed him the truth of who she was.
It made her stand out from the other senior cultivators, who commoners regularly describe as the picture-perfect portrait of calmness. A portrait that he scoffed at. Though he agreed that wisdom and understanding reduced the prevalence of anger, especially towards petty and meaningless things, he disagreed with the notion that it had to take away anger altogether. If not for anger, life would hardly be quite so interesting.
It was because of her penchant for anger that they weren’t clammed up in the temple all day. He was glad for it. Though she was qualified as a senior cultivator, based on her mastery of combat and intuition for spells alone, her age put her in the younger generation. This gave those senior cultivators a reason to frequently send her down the mountain, as a means of “cultivating one’s self” and “learning to regulate one’s emotions.”
He could imagine life without her. Life that required him to do nothing but sit on a floor cushion, listening to prayers and chanting mantras all day. Though she was viewed as disgraceful, especially among the pthers classified as senior cultivators, he never once regretted the day that he chose her to be his teacher. Others have told him off, but she was the only unique one in the place. Everyone else, despite the differences in their age, skill sets, and appearances, were more or less the same.
If it hadn’t been for his parents’ insistence, he wouldn’t have joined the school. The senior cultivators were more emotionless and dead than the monks that he remembered seeing as children. At least monks smiled. At least they seemed to react to their environments. If didn’t know better, he would’ve thought the other senior cultivators to be barely mobile statues.
She was different. Her anger gave her liveliness. Her anger showed that she was human. Her anger showed that there were things that she cared about. Regardless of what others might say, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
He watched as she stormed up to the hotel manager and demanded that he put the whip down. If it weren’t for their limited funds, he was certain that she would’ve purchased all the indentured children and taken them home. But alas, that wasn’t possible with the money they carried. Like any other group dedicated to religious practice or progress toward enlightenment, income sources were limited. Traveling outside the school only emphasized those limitations.
He smiled, amused at the thought of what she planned to do.
“What’s it got to do with you?” The man scoffed with condescending eyes. The pitiful man, like many others, failed to see her for the senior cultivator, she was. A blindness that he couldn’t blame them for. Her current demeanor varied rather sharply from the cold and detached image that the public seemed onto project to members of their school.
“Everything.” She answered.
“It’ll take more than a little girl to stop me.” He sneered, before raising his arm to give the nearest child another lash.
“No it won’t.” She replied, catching the hotel manager’s wrist and squinting her eyes. “Are you sure you want to test me?”
The man struggled briefly to free his wrist from her grasp, before his face whitened in fear, as he noticed the pendant around her neck. The mark of a senior cultivator.
“I’m sorry, honorable one.” He said, lowering his head in respect and likely fear. “I was too hasty. On your behalf, I’ll let them off this time.”
“This time?” She asked, her voice demanding an answer.
“Oh, of course, next time as well.” He answered courteously.
“There won’t be a next time.” She said with a frown.
“Of course. Of course.” The man agreed, bobbing his head pathetically.
“I’m taking these children with me.” She declared.
“You’re what? You can’t just—” The hotel manager started, before lowering his head again at the sight of her glare. “Of course. Do as you please, honorable one.”
“Now get out of my sight.” She ordered the hotel manager, before turning to the children. Immediately, the man scampered away, stumbling on the nearest step, his fear evident, as he fled with his tail between his legs.
She lowered herself into a crouching position, before saying in a gentler voice. “You’re my students now. These chores are no longer your responsibility. If you’re willing, you can come with me to my room to get cleaned up.”
He smiled, as he walked over and helped one of the children up. His teacher was always this way, taking in orphans, abused children, and the poor. Their limited traveling finances never bothered her.
“Don’t worry, you can choose a different teacher once we get back to the school. And if you want to leave after we get to safety, you’re free to do so.” He said to them. “But you definitely won’t regret choosing to stay, and choosing her as your teacher.”
He knew he certainly didn’t. From the day she offered her hand to him on the streets, from the day that she offered him a home, there was no one else in his eyes. He could still remember the little girl, dressed in red, holding her hand out to him. A hand he took. A hand that he would forever hold. She was his teacher, and he never regretted the decision for even a moment.
This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.
What are your thoughts about anger?