TITLE: I, Mulan
GENRE: Historical Fiction
To save her family from ruin, Mulan breaks law and tradition, disguises herself as a man, and takes her aging father's place in the Chinese Imperial cavalry. When accused of treason by a traitorous friend, she must risk yet another deception to clear her name and prevent a civil war. She prevails, but her actions expose her as a woman and Mulan must stand before the Chinese Emperor, arrested and accused by the general she has secretly grown to love.
I swirled my writing brush in the well and watched the bristles roll through the ebon liquid. The ink flowed perfectly, not too thick, not too thin. When the brush had absorbed just the right amount I drew it from the pigment and reached out to finish the waiting scroll.
Neat characters trickled down the parchment in straight vertical lines, each perfectly balanced to offset the one before. Together they composed a four-line poem, the best I had written in all my nineteen years. I spent months preparing the verse and weeks practicing my calligraphy. Only after hundreds of repetitions did I trust myself to commit the words to fine parchment.
I paused to orient my mind for the final strokes and reached forward to set the pictographs on the scroll, three characters which composed my signature and name, Fa -
My sister shrieked just outside the door. I jumped and dropped the brush. A dark smear spread across the parchment as black droplets spattered my delicate words.
Months of practice and hours of effort, destroyed in a moment.
"Mulan!" Sulan yelled again, bursting through the door with a long stick in her hands. "The matchmaker's here!"
Only the deaf could have missed her words but I failed to comprehend them in my sorrow over the ruined scroll.
"Meimei," I scolded, "you yell like a barbarian. I've ruined Father's gift."
Eight years old and wild as a starling, Sulan had little use for scrolls.