“The Hairpin” by Kathryn Thayer

(Fan fiction in honor of “Mushi-Shi”, a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara)

A small hairpin sat pinched between Ginko’s fingers. At first glance, the hairpin looked like any other he’s seen. Decorated with small, painted wooden flowers, it was something that could have been spotted in dozens of young ladies hair.

Yet…on further examination, a shiny iridescent sheen could be seen if Ginko tilted the pin just right. Almost… as if the pin had been dipped in a river of light. Definitely a mushi’s influence.

“Ahh, I’ve seen that pretty hairpin has caught your eye, young man!”

The shopkeeper, previously occupied with another customer, came walking up to Ginko. She gestured to the hairpin, a great big smile on her face.

“That’s a special hairpin right there. It’s said if it’s gifted to a lady, her beauty will increase by tenfold and her household will enjoy ten years of good luck.” The shopkeeper winked. “Have a lady in mind you think would enjoy it?”

Ginko’s mind briefly brought up the image of the intended recipient of the hairpin and almost laughed.

“Hmm, no, not really.” Ginko shook his head, smiling. “I do have a doctor friend down by the coast who likes collecting this kind of stuff. Has an entire shed dedicated to ‘touched’ items. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him, so I figured I better come bearing gifts. A hairpin with special properties would be perfect for him.”

“A wonderful idea!” the shopkeeper exclaimed while clapping her hands together.

She led Ginko over to the register so she could wrap the hairpin up in a nice sturdy cloth. Ginko choose a green cloth that reminded him of his lone green eye, and the shopkeeper tied it up with a lovely yellow string.

“That’ll be 500 ryō.”

 Ginko shrugged off his wooden pack and shuffled through the drawers for the bag of money he kept stashed away in one of them. After finding it and digging out 500 ryō, he handed it over to the shopkeeper and stashed the hairpin in an empty drawer in his pack.

Ginko bowed goodbye to the shopkeeper and thanked her for her time.

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