The sand was always a constant reminder of death. At least, that's what Sasori always said. The only thing in his eyes that would always remain, was art.
Puppet making was a difficult task, one he'd learned from his grandmother Chiyo when he was just a child. I was, in no way at all, a child. Yet basic things always distracted me. How the materials lay, how one color could change everything, one weapon could ruin the whole thing. Details meant the world to me.
Sasori told me it was pointless to dwell on the people in town who told me the choices I'd made were all wrong. It wasn't a fault of mine, but of theirs.
I believed that as best I could. Though it's always a constant nagging problem. Never good enough.
We run a puppet shop. It's small and barely anyone ever visits, and if by chance one does, they usually leave quickly. Puppets are unique and require certain tastes to find them interesting. The Kazekage's brother visits often but otherwise clientele is low. It's a good thing we don't have this job for the money.
Years ago, well before the 4th Great Ninja War, Sasori entered a battle with a kunoichi from the Hidden Leaf, and lost. Supposed dead. Left buried in the sand where Hidden Sand ninja eventually retrieved him and returned him to the village. It was a well kept secret that he had more than one heart, though the only one who can repair a puppet - let alone replace it's heart - is another puppetmaster. Kankuro had that job, despite hating the idea of reviving the rouge ninja who almost killed him.
It was a wonder when Sasori was revived, that they didn't start fighting again. Instead, Sasori had told him about the young girl who had found him inside that cavern. Who had hid when the Sunagakure Ninjas appeared. Me.
I'd known since that day that making puppets was my favorite skill. I didn't like human puppets or at least the idea of creating them. I instead, focused all of my talents on creating animal ones. So when the chance at learning more about other villages and gaining materials with the opening of the Chunin Exams in Konohagakure, I had to take it.
Ninja tech advancements were booming within the past couple of years making ideas for puppets flourish. There were just endless possibilities. Especially with a focus on animal puppetry, the puppets could be as lifelike or as deadly as you pleased.
Upon returning to Sunagakure, I found that I no longer wanted to stay there. That the tiny little puppet shop wasn't going to cut it. I wanted adventure and mystery. I wanted freedom.
Sasori always talked of me eventually having my own shop, perhaps a traveling one where like a circus, I could visit other villages and perhaps inspire others to start making their own puppets. Word of mouth was the only way puppet making was ever talked about in the olden days, and even now it was still the same. No television show or phone could change the dying arts oddity. Or the strange looks people gave the moment it was uttered.
Honestly, you could have surmised it to be some sort of plague that ate away at people. How they averted their gaze and stayed clear of our path. It was a sad childhood that I had endured. One that I would do over for eternity if I had to. I regretted nothing then, and nothing now.
Isolation is know to drive people crazy. Sasori said the Kazekage had gone through that. He eventually received help in the form of friendship. I had no such luxury. Other than Sasori, there was no one else. On rare occasions I'd see Kankuro, but there was never much interaction between us. It was just me, working away in the shop, and him working tirelessly up in the Kazekage's home. Temari, his sister, doesn't even live in Sunagakure anymore. Having visited Konohagakure for the exams, I know exactly why she had left. It's bright there. Airy and clean. Not dusty and debris ridden like Suna.
Construction of a puppet mobile was about as time consuming as one might think. Luckily, I enjoyed the work. Refusal of aid from Sasori was automatic, which I'd known before the words even escaped my mouth. Puppets were puppets. Anything other than that was a waste of talent.
The cart was crafted within a few months, give or take. After that decorating came, and then stocking it with supplies. There was one thing I was most proud of about that cart. Without Sasori even knowing, I had designed it to act exactly like a puppet. It could change shape, had weapons built in and various forms that it could take. It was no simple shop, that was for sure.
Finally, the day to leave had arrived. I had triple checked everything I was to carry with me. Weapons, check. Puppets, check. Medical supplies, check. Poison, check. That was everything.
"Good luck, Chiharu."
It was the only form of goodbye I would receive, but I had known he meant well. Of course he did. Even if my going away meant he had to wait months if not years for her return, it was fine. He had grew out of being impatient a long time ago, so when I had departed from the village, all he could do was watch. It was not every day he got to watch his adopted daughter depart on a grand adventure.