by Ken Liu
Read by Aki Gibbons
Originally published in Nine.
This story begins, as all of my creations do, in shadows.
No story is without its particular emphases and elisions, just as no woman goes about without her makeup. Many women on our home island of Uchinaa (they call it _Okinawa_ here in Japan), and on the other islands that make up our Kingdom of Ruuchuu, copy the rumors of fashion in Nanjing and Beijing, in Kagoshima and Edo, and smother their faces with smooth creams and bright rouge, sweet-smelling powders and red lip wax.
But they do not understand the true secret of the art of enhancing a woman’s beauty, which now I will teach you.
A face is not a flat piece of paper. Like the surface of our island, it has heights and depths, peaks and valleys. That means shadows.
Rated PG. Includes war, and violence.