Title: Ten Yen True
Author: Amanda Armstrong and Christina St. Clair
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
Buy at: www.roguephoenixpress.com
Kaizen! That’s what Caitlin, JJ, Paul, and Tommy need--to change for the better. When they each mysteriously receive one of four ten yen coins, none of them know or understand why or where their journey is about to take them.
Ten Yen True intertwines the lives of four people, all of whom have need of one another to bring about healing and wholeness and are being mysteriously helped by a Japanese monk. It is a story of hope, love, forgiveness and miracles, exploring the spiritual and psychological underpinnings of the main characters, demonstrating the interconnectedness of human beings.
For many years the Monk sat beside the Ajiike pond in the early morning, as he did today, breathing in the peaceful settings of the Pure Land gardens. He inhaled deeply the fragrance of jasmine and lotus. The cool morning air refreshed him, soon the sun would rise in the sky and the day would become increasingly hot and humid.
Sometimes his meditation took an hour, maybe more, but always he sat here away from the others. Ordinarily he felt at peace with nature and with the world. Today, however, was different. Something churned inside him, causing his usual calm to be replaced by sorrow, making him feel restless and helpless.
He was angry at the awful atrocities of nature so recently bestowed upon his people. The tsunami, that powerful wave from a sea gone wild, was not so unusual here in Japan. This one had snatched away thousands of people, young and old, innocent babies and little creatures alike, leaving whole villages crushed. It seemed incomprehensible to him. The wave had severely damaged the nuclear power plants, but the damage from leaking radiation could not even be seen. No wonder he found himself questioning the unknown and unpredictable forces of the world.
In spite of his balanced spiritual state of mind, there was something more he did not understand about this latest tragedy. His wisdom and experience had taught him long ago the gods have a purpose and it must be accepted. However awful, it must never be challenged. This unrest in him refused to go away today though. He felt as if he were being confronted with an obligation to discover the reasons why the gods had become so angry.
Was this a test, a task? Desperately, the Monk tried to calm himself, struggling with the angry thoughts swirling around in his brain threatening to cut his conscious mind into shreds. What did the gods want of him?
A sudden breeze blew across the pond, startling the Monk. He smoothed his grey robes around his legs, wishing he could help even a few of the people in more tangible ways than merely through prayer and funeral rites. His eyelids closed. He resumed his steady breathing, trying to focus his mind within the chamber of his heart, trying to still the darts of anger. The sun's warmth upon his face belied a bone chilling cold creeping up his spine. Shivering, fearful, he looked skywards at rolling black clouds.
Hearing the swishing of robes, he turned to see a small dark boy standing behind him. He looked deep into those young black eyes and breathed in sharply, giving a slight nod to the child, indicating permission to communicate.
The boy knelt before the Monk, his head bowed, hands together in respectful prayer.
The Monk put out a gentle hand and placed it on the shaven head of the youngster. He closed his eyes, concentrating on giving spiritual energy and wisdom to this young one, but he felt power emanating from the child into his soul as well.
A roar of thunder came from the darkened skies and seemed to vibrate through his mind and his body. Lightning flashed striking the pond, igniting his awareness. At once, the Monk understood. He knew what he must do. He held out his hand to the boy, who wordlessly reached into the obi around his waist and handed the monk a silk pouch. The Monk knew without looking what was inside. Coins. Lucky ten yen pieces for those who received them. The recipients, though, would not understand or appreciate the gift they were going to receive.
The monk lowered his head, watching the boy slowly backing away, bowing until he disappeared behind sheets of rain splashing into the pond.
The Monk ignored the droplets streaming down his face and soaking through his robes. He carefully untied the drawstring of the pouch, emptying its contents into his hand: one, two, three, four coins. The Monk sighed. There would be four people he must select. He looked towards heaven and nodded to the gods. He slowly rose to his feet and waded through the pond's lapping waters on his way to Phoenix Hall. His feet hardly caused a ripple in the puddles, but his robes, like wicks, sopped up moisture, making him aware of his weighty responsibility. Amida, he knew, sitting calmly on his dais, his golden face shining expectantly awaited him.