Whisper Of The Heart

I had just finished watching this movie (directed by Yoshifumi Kondo) again and by god, it’s still just as amazing as before. This movie inspires me to never lose sight of my dream. The dream to be a great writer someday is always in my heart. Hidden as it may seem most days; I never truly let go of it. I don’t want to let go.

Whisper of the Heart

However, all of my procrastinating is not very helpful. My new iMac is the best one to use for writing my stories, but it is wide in the open and i can hear all sorts of noise; from the aquarium’s bubbling water to the echoes of footsteps and television from the main floor, etc. Keep in mind, I used to write in the dark of night, surrounded by the silence. That’s the most productive time for my stories, because I can let my mind wander into the fantasy without being assaulted by loud voices and mechanical sounds from all around. Lately, I can’t stay up that late due to work, but on my days off, I do try to write for at least an hour a day. If I’m working, I sit in front of my stories and try really hard to block out the noise and sometimes I can add a line or two–three, if I’m lucky.My laptop is still doing me great service due to it’s portability. I can lock myself up in my room and write to my heart’s content–granted that no one walks or yells or knocks on the door. Sometimes, I miss our small little old house, where my room was sound proofed by my bookshelves and humongous desk and my hoarder-type boxes and boxes of either clothes or notes and books from university. Our current basement would be the ideal place for my writing, but I love using my iMac for movies as well, which is why it’s in our second living room (on the second level of the house). On top of that, it’s sort of like a computer for my mom and dad to use, too. So, really it’s a matter of choice: share the computer with everyone else and leave it in the living room, or drag it in the darkness of the basement and lock myself with it so i can write to my heart’s content. … I feel guilty about my choice already. This is why I can’t do things that I want so easily; because I always have to put them/others into consideration; is that bad? Someone at work said I’m too nice. LOL, she just doesn’t know me well enough, but I don’t think I’m bad enough that I’m hell-bound.

Seiji and Shizuku

But I digressed so far from the topic at hand that I don’t even know where to start again. The movie really is inspiring, and since I’m a hopeless romantic (some of you out there probably are, too), I really like how the movie foreshadowed the future relationship of the two: when Seiji tries to climb up the hill riding his bike and “deciding” on his own that he would “climb up this steep hill, carrying you [Shizuku] with me” to which Shizuku replies, “Who said you could decide that? I don’t wanna be just a burden for you. If I’m going with you, I’m going to help you.” She says this as she is pushing the back of the bike, helping Seiji up the hill. See? Isn’t that absolutely romantic? Hahaha, you probably think I’m nuts, but for some reason that always occurs to me when I see that scene. Life would be much better if we see such things more often. Helping each other is a sign of respect, isn’t it? It’s the idea that the other person is important too, just like our own selves, and with that in mind, helping them is a sign that you respect them and their ideals; it’s like saying you’re equals and not one is better than the other. I don’t know; I’m starting to go beyond what I wanted to say on this post, but the bottom line is: Watch the film. It is a wonderful piece of art! =)

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Gong Yoo – Short Story Part 3

Okay! Sorry it’s a bit of a rush, I’m writing this way past my sleepy time. LOL! Here is the 3rd part of my Gong Yoo short story: (Click here to read the previous part.)

She looked worried for a second, before attempting a small smile. “Okay, but it’s not really guy material. It’s a bit of a drama type of story.”

I just nodded, somehow fearing if I talked more, she might stop talking to me altogether.

She heaved a sigh and shook her head. “The main protagonist is this guy that escapes from his rich and controlling parents to try and make it on his own. He ends up getting mugged and he even got forced into joining a gang. The whole story revolves on how he manages to escape all that and in the process, know himself more and mature into this more cautious and wiser person. He eventually returns to his family but with a stronger sense of self.”

“Wow,” I managed. “That sounds like a very interesting story. I’m a guy and I like the plot so far. Would I be given the honour of getting to read it sometime?”

Her brows were knitted together. “Well, I don’t really know you, even if you are a movie star.” She chuckled a tad nervously.

I smiled my sweetest smile as I extended my hand to her. “I’m Gong Ji-chul, better known as Gong Yoo. It’s very nice to meet you, miss…?”

She laughed as she took my hand and shook it firmly. “Kaori Johnson. It’s nice to meet you too, Mr. Gong Ji-cheol.”

“Ji-cheol is fine. None of that polite stuff; we’re not in Korea. So you’re of Japanese descent? If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t look Japanese.”

“I get that a lot. My mother is Japanese and my dad is British.” She shyly pushed back a lock of hair behind her ear.

“Ah.” I nodded, noting her slightly blondish brown hair and her pale and slightly freckled complexion. “I want to meet them so I can tell them that they have very good genes.”

“That’s just ridiculous,” she said, as she burst out laughing. I could see a faint hint of blush creeping into her cheeks. “Compliments are not going to get you to read the story.”

“Would dinner do it then?” I don’t know why, but I was feeling confident for some reason.

She stopped laughing. “What if I was a serial killer?” She gave me a reprimanding look. “You shouldn’t just ask random people on a whim, you know.”

So she was a cautious person. Understandable at this day and age. I just had to back off a little bit. “Alright. But are you going to ignore me then if I happen to see you the next day?”

“I would be tempted to, but I won’t. I promise.” She was smiling again.

“Good enough for me,” I replied. I remembered I had ordered food, and took a bite out of my sandwich. “I’m guessing you’ll want some space so you can finish that, huh?”

Kaori nodded. “That would be very helpful, actually.”

I scooted off to my own table and munched on happily.

~~ 0 ~~

To my dismay, I didn’t see her at all at the cafe the next day, but she must live close by because exactly a week later, when I was going home from the airport where I had said goodbye to Jo In Sung, I saw her again at the cafe. I usually come to The Bean once a day to get a cookie or two. On my way home, I remembered her and that was why I went and actually had lunch at the cafe. Half an hour later, there she was, walking and then sitting a few tables from me, all alone, failing to see me. I wanted to call out to her but she was texting on her phone. I was thankful for the fact that the people sitting in between our tables weren’t blocking my view of her. I ate at a leisurely pace, watching her every move. She ordered from the menu after a waiter came to her table and she smiled politely as he left. She must have gotten a message on her phone because she looked at it and smiled widely. She had a very cute smile. I was just realizing how I was beginning to really like that smile. I noticed the way she dressed today was very different from before. She wore a classy outfit, donning a beige silk buttoned top with dark slacks and a pair of heels. She had her hair tied loosely behind her back and small curls were framing her face. The smile remained although she was trying hard to suppress it as she texted on the phone. Setting it aside, she looked up just in time as the waiter came with her order. She smiled again at him and said thanks, then set out to eating her green salad. Texting intermittently, the smile got wider and wider; I was sure she was trying really hard not to laugh and her expressions made me curious about what it was that was causing her to smile so happily.

My own phone vibrated on the glass table and brought me back from my thoughts. I looked at it; a little irritated with it’s bad timing.

“Hello?”

“Ji Cheol.” It was my manager. “Ji Cheol? It’s me, Joon Kim. How are you doing over there, eh?”

“I was doing just fine, until you called.” I didn’t bother to hide the irritation in my voice.

“Oh? Are you busy? Out on a date or something?”

I shrugged. “Something like that.” I didn’t want him to think I was stalking someone, which wasn’t that far from the truth.

“Oh, I see, I see. Who’s your date? Anybody we know?”

“Nah. Not really,” I remarked in exasperation. I can hear his excitement through the phone. Was my life that sad, that my manager was like a parent when it came to my personal issues? I shook my head, unable to believe I was having this phone call with my manager.

“Wow, somebody unknown, huh. Okay, okay. Tell me more.”

“Hyung, listen. If I keep talking on the phone with you, I won’t have a date.”

“Oh, okay, okay. Tell me later, then.” He snickers excitedly. “Have fun!”

I turned off the ringer on my phone so nobody else could bother me. I looked up just in time to see her looking at me. I smiled and waved. Kaori smiled back, then looked down at her phone again. She didn’t have her paper and pen today. Must be meeting a friend, I thought. It better not be a guy, I suddenly thought. I frowned and took a sip from my coffee. Since when did I care who she was friends with? I tried to focus on my lunch and seem like a stalker, glancing her way every now and again. She was on the phone for a little bit, finished the rest of her salad and then she stood up. As she walked towards me, I almost choked trying to quickly swallow the food in my mouth as she got closer to my table.

“Hello, Ji Cheol. Nice to see you again. How have you been?” she asked.

Nodding, “I’ve been good. Nice to see you, too.” I offered a hand shake, which she took, just so I can touch her before she left. Suddenly, a divine plan came to me. “But you know what?” I put on my best puppy-dog eyes for effect.

“What?” She was looking at me a little suspiciously, but I ignored that.

“I’ve been trying to do some sight-seeing but I don’t really understand Japanese, so it’s hard for me.” That was mostly true.

“Aw, that’s too bad.” She looked at me for a few moments. The suspicious look faded and she looked more empathetic. “I can probably help you out with that, if you like. Nihongo ga wakarimasu,” she added, with confidence.

I was so happy that she offered to help. Although I had learned the basics of the language–mostly for work–I still wasn’t fluent in Japanese. “That would be awesome. I’m planning to see the famous Hachiko statue tomorrow.” I know that the statue was a famous meeting spot, so I wondered if she would get the hint.

She tilted her head to one side. “Really? The statue, huh.” Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly. I kept my face blank. “Well,” she eventually said, “I guess I can spare one day. We’ll be seeing Shibuya then.” She looked at her phone then back at me. “I’m sorry, I have to go. I’ll meet you here at ten in the morning, then?”

I grinned widely. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

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Author’s Note: I edited it and also added some details here and there. =)

The Life and Times of Me, Pencil (Part 4)

When I was about eight, nine or ten years of age (I was in third grade), I was becoming increasingly aware of social statuses and the difference between rich and poor. Constantly I would see the material things that spoke of money; in school or even close to home. My classmates were a good mix of high, middle and low class kids (which basically means: rich, not bad/middle, and poor). I saw the difference of old flip flops and sparkly new Sketchers worn to school. I saw cool hair accessories and new pens and rich looking parents. By then, I was getting shoes that were hand me downs from our cousins from out of the country. I’d get excited when I would get a new backpack from relatives out of the country as well. I still remember the leather shoes with the buckle and the loose long socks I wore. I remember thinking, ‘My feet are growing bigger.’ I remember thinking Milk, Brains and Hairy were in the rich side of society, and River, Fishie and myself were on the fine line between the ‘not bad’ and the ‘poor’. I was naturally a quiet kid and observing quietly and learning as I observe was one of the things I was (and still am) good at.

Whenever our relatives came to visit us, which was rare enough for us, I found myself being more observant than I wanted to be. I noticed how Hairy was favoured by Smiley. I noticed how Smiley would always take Hairy with her first before any other. Smiley is extremely affectionate and so this was something I was silently yearning for. I wished I was favoured just as much as Hairy was pretty and nice, as much as Brains was so smart, and as much as Milk was so cute. Being with Smiley back then was somewhat of a wake-up call for me, seeing as how apparent Smiley favoured whom she did before. Then with every one of us being excited about having relatives visit us, each cousin had their own traits pop out (I did say, I was good at observing). Chocolate Milk had always been the outspoken one in the bunch; very vocal and very confident. River was loud and playful and good looking, and Smiley was River’s godparent. Brains was pretty and smart and very witty. Hairy was the prettiest among the group and the nicest and sweetest. Fishie was adorable, cute, tiny and (I’ve heard this a million times) she looked like Smiley when Smiley was a little kid. Milk was the youngest in the ‘rich’ class among us so therefore had to be favoured by default among other things. Me? I had nothing to offer. I was quiet, and back then looked more like Softy than Eyeballs. Smiley’s personality was outgoing, so of course, Smiley gravitated to the outspoken ones. Chocolate Milk, River and Brains, and of course Milk were a shoo-in. Hairy and Fishie were personal favourites. I felt like I didn’t belong; I felt more like a background more than anything. You know that feeling when you watch people outside from a window? That’s what it felt like being with them all. I guess my personality was a factor in all of it, but it still didn’t make sense to me that I was so unremarkable to the rest of the family (and I mean very close relatives, including Smiley). I never got that reassuring feeling that it was okay to be me, to be myself. What I saw around me made me wish I was what I was not.

While all that was happening, I was realizing that Eyeballs would get really excited and happy whenever I get awesome marks in class, like exams and tests and projects. So I excelled in that. That was my moment of visibility. Eyeballs would tell the good news that I was in the honor roll when recognition/graduation rites came. And I was happy. I found my fifteen seconds of fame. I would get a very big smile on my face, all proud and excited. All for a quick pat on the back and a ‘Good job!’ to go with it. I get the occassional hug, too. That’s how I pretty much lived my younger years: aiming to please people through my academic standing because I thought I wasn’t good enough unless I was good at being something or someone. The only time our relatives would talk to me extensively–and by extensively, I mean about 5 or so minutes–would be about my grades in school. It was a lot of pressure and yet I was blind to that; I just wanted to be acknowledged. That was all I wanted.

All my life, I’ve been trying to establish this fact to myself: Pencil is important. Pencil is a human being worthy of respect and affection. Pencil is Pencil, and Pencil is enough. It’s a concept that was hard for me to accept for a long time, especially when I was younger. Everybody else had  such personalities in our big close-knit family. That was why I started looking for attention and acceptance from other people. My classmates since childhood like Rosebud, Timber, Dancer, Mango, became so close to me that at some point I developed this idea that my friends loved me more than my family. Well, from my point of view back then, my friends were the ones who were  with me and were happy that I was being myself, plain ol’ Pencil: one of the comedy acts in class, and got along with most of the class. At that point, my thoughts and feelings were usually excitement when I would go to school and see my best pals and on the other hand, I would be really mad and frustrated that I would be going home to people that barely noticed me. My mindset like that for a bit. I saw the toys that Fishie got from Smiley, I saw more and more the leniency towards River when it came to doing chores. I saw the amount of new house hold chores that Eyeballs taught me. I started hating house chores then. Everytime she would proudly say to random people how I knew how to cook already at that age, I felt exploited and used. The idea of the maids in Earrings and Boss’ household was a constant taunting in the back of my mind.

After a while, I looked up to Earrings’ family. They were rich and had a big house and everything that goes with that. In the meantime, my family barely owned a tube of toothpaste. I realized that if we didn’t have much food in our tiny little house, we’d eat plain steamed rice with either salt or sugar. And yet I loved that. I didn’t love the fact that whenever our relatives from abroad would send a package to the siblings Earrings, Eyeballs and Everhope (Chocolate Milk’s parent), Earrings’ kids would always get the coolest things. I felt even more unwanted every time I saw that. They’d have the coolest and prettiest Barbie dolls, the best backpacks, and shirts and shoes. It was too obvious to me that me and my siblings weren’t the favourite of the bunch. I wasn’t okay with it, but at the same time, I didn’t know what do except to accept that fact.

And yet, amidst all that, I thought and believed our whole entire family was the best family because we had some relatives out of the country (to me that meant I was a little closer to the ‘rich’ class by being associated with them), Earrings’ family was, in my eyes, in the ‘rich’ class so I was proud of the family as a whole. I was proud of everyone when they did something great, like be in a play or something like that. I was glad that as a whole our family was doing well. The cousins were cohesive and we mostly got along (unless someone was having tantrums). We were all pretty good with each other. Deep inside of me, it was a confusing mix of love and denial, of hurt and passiveness, and of pride and humiliation. To me, the different levels of feelings were what kept me observing. I couldn’t understand why, with the family, the gaps of understanding were so different and with different people, so small. I didn’t think much of it all after realizing these things, but they’re always there, buzzing around in my head. So to keep from thinking about it, I kept my focus in school instead.

The Windflower

Ok I have just finished the book by Laura London (aka Tom and Sharon Curtis) and of course I loved the characters, especially Cat. If you’re curious, the book is basically a romance and it happens aboard a pirate ship where the young girl Merry is kidnapped. You’ll have to read the book since right now, this is not a book review. This post is more like a tribute to my favourite character in that book, which is Cat. OMG, everytime, I think about him, I just can’t help it. Yesterday, I started a little story on him, I guess… So you could say this is a fan fiction story. But anyways, I tried to be true to Cat’s nature and the writing style so it it would seem like a continuation of Cat’s story after The Windflower. And so this is the first part….

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Cat stood out like a sore thumb in his class. Even though it had been two weeks since he’s been in the well-known university of Oxford, all the other boys around him couldn’t seem to get over the fact that he was real and different and of course, an ex-pirate. His ivory hair was braided neatly behind him, a dark green velvet ribbon at it’s end. The black and gold of the uniform he wore, similar to the other students, accentuated his pale but lightly tanned skin. From experience, he was used to people staring at him due to his exotic appearance. Yet while the cold and jealous stares were too petty for him to mind at the beginning, lately it was starting to wear out his patience. Avoiding any sort of exchange, even a simple conversation, in order to avoid conflict seemed to be making things worse for him but Cat had no desire to mingle with these stuck-up and condescending lot. If most of them weren’t looking daggers his way, they’d be sniveling behind his back with rumours and tall tales. Forcing himself to sit as still as he could, he half-listened to the professor’s lecture, his fingers absently twirling a pen. Inside his mind, he was back in the Black Joke, moving with ease, and familiar faces all around. He saw the rich blue satin of the sky and the far away line of the horizon. He could almost smell the wind as it caught the billowing white sails of the pirate ship. He pictured Morgan with his devilish face as he smiled saying, “Good luck, babe.” A sudden flare of anger burst inside his chest, but he extinguished it quickly, hardly taking off his gaze from the talking old man’s stout figure. Sometimes, he wished Morgan hadn’t made it known to his father that he was alive.

As simple as it was to come to this rich boys’ school every week day, it was an effort for Cat to try and be the son that Cathcart wanted him to be. He didn’t feel like himself and thoroughly felt like a fool pretending to be the same as these spoiled brats. It was bad enough that he now has to answer to a new name as was suggested by his father. “A new name for a new chapter in life, both yours and mine,” his father had said with a tender smile. He couldn’t bring himself to hate the man even if he consciously tried. Besides, the name wasn’t half-bad.

Cat let his eyes wander to the heads of the boys in the front row, settling his bored eyes to one who was busily scribbling in his notebook and intermittently looking up at the instructor and nodding as though in agreement before going back to his notes. Nobody else was as interested in law and ethics as the boy with the funny dark brown hair. All the other students, aside from him, were yawning or already asleep if they weren’t shooting glares at Cat. Cat allowed himself to wonder what the boy found so stimulating about lectures that included boring court statements and passing of bills and such.

A bell rang once and everyone seemed to come alive around Cat, hurrying out the double doors of the amphitheatre lecture room. The boy with the funny hair looked up as though surprised and scribbled some more before getting up and gathering his books. Cat sat there waiting, until all the other students had gone. Professor Langham, who was now putting his papers back into his bulky leather case, stopped to listen and waited as the boy tried to manage his books in his arms.

“Professor, if I may, why is it that only men can make laws? What about the girls, I mean women, don’t they have a say in law-making? The world isn’t populated in its entirety by males, is it?” A slightly challenging tone could be heard even from where Cat sat motionless, at the furthest row from the professor and from the doors.

The stout belly jiggled as Professor Langham cleared his throat. “Well, boy, isn’t it obvious that the genteel ways of ladies will be too strained to be handling things that the intellect of men can handle? Women serve their purpose by being the ladies of the house. That is the best they can achieve.”

Getting intrigued by the conversation, Cat remained seated and leaned on his palm, waiting for the boy to react.

“Well, isn’t that more of an assumption than fact? A fair example is the Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen; she ruled with excellence and she didn’t even need a king! She sure didn’t settle for sewing embroidery and waiting around for a husband to order her around. If you didn’t know, Queen Elizabeth was excellent in writing Italian, Latin as well as French and Greek. She’s one of the best educated women in her time!” The frantically escalating voice of the boy was getting pitchy from emotion. As Cat figured, the boy with the funny hair was more than a little willing to back up the reputation of girls or women, as he had mentioned. “Why can’t our society accept that today for our women?” the angry question came at an almost shout.

Flushing beet red, Professor Langham shuffled his papers into his case and shut it with a snap. “Young Evans,” he said, as his eyes bulged out as though trying to intimidate the boy with his glare, “You just have to accept the fact. Men govern, and women follow orders. Now, enough of this nonsense! Go off to your next class, shoo!” The balding old man kept mumbling about impertinent students as he made his way out and disappeared as the doors swung shut behind him with a bang. In the silence, Cat stared at the boy, who was still staring at the doors. Suddenly, as though he felt Cat’s eyes on him, the boy turned his head towards Cat. For a split second, the boy appeared to be searching his face. Again the pitchy voice came, “What are you staring at?” When Cat didn’t answer, the boy stormed out of the room.

After a yawn, Cat stood up and left. He wandered aimlessly through the halls as he always does, avoiding or driving off any of the others’ attempts at conversations with a single icy glare from his pale blue eyes. Nevertheless, his feet eventually took him past the arched halls and giant stone walls to a quiet spot where he was slowly getting developing a liking. It was a small garden in the northeast of the campus, past the wide field that was used for sports and ceremonies. There in the small garden were two benches made of gray stone which had cracks that told the age of the twin seats. In between those two benches was a tiny pond, overgrown with water lilies and water spiders crisscrossing the glasslike surface of the water. Behind it was a forgotten plot where vegetables must have been grown once upon a time. Cat saw some small tomatoes starting to turn orange-red he but couldn’t recognize the rest of the plant population among the small plot of land.

He settled himself on a cracked bench and stared at the small pond. Seeing the dark moldy water, he was reminded again of the ocean. Shaking his head, he murmured to himself, “Jesus, this had better stop soon,” as though uttering it to himself would make it happen. The homesick feeling crept up on him when he wasn’t careful about his thoughts. He had to guard himself from remembering the freedom of the ocean breeze and the familiar ease of being with his fellow pirates. Somehow he couldn’t make himself believe that he was a university student now and not a pirate. He remembered his father’s kind but naive advice. “Try to get along with your peers in the campus and if there’s any trouble, tell me at once.” The aging man had a blessed soul but Cat knew he would never utter a word even if there was trouble. Not that he was keen on making one for himself in the rich boys’ school; he was more preoccupied with the fact that the Black Joke had already sailed, and without him.

Two weeks ago, right before he started university, the crew had said their good lucks and farewell salutes. Raven, clapping him on the shoulder and shaking his head desolately, aptly said, “Hey, Cat, I’m sorry you have to go to that school.” Morgan had pulled the dark skinned boy away from him and faced Cat. “You belong here now, not on a pirate ship. We will all miss you, babe. But, who knows, eh? We might come back here.” Somewhere in his captain’s dark eyes sparkled a vague promise of some sort; one that Cat knew if he took seriously, he’ll be the one falling for the trick.

Feeling he was close to tears, Cat had willed himself not to do so. He knew better than to shed tears in front of his mates. “Yes, I know, Morgan. You’ll pass by here again in a hundred years, right?” he remarked, letting the sarcasm drip with every word. The whole crew guffawed and a shadow of a smile could be seen from Cat’s lips.

Bringing himself to the present, Cat kicked a rock and he watched as it tumbled away from him to settle close to the edge of the pond. He sighed, knowing he should put his frustration in check before he exploded on someone. The lazy afternoon sun was still high and the hot rays made him feel close to boiling in the constricting and heavy linens of the uniform. His hair was shorter, now only reaching his shoulder blades and the single braid felt lighter. Stretching his neck from side to side, Cat silently wondered if this was now truly the life he was to live.

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That’s the first part. I still have to find a way to properly introduce our heroine for the story. =) Her name is Lilian but she is often called Lily. I have her character in my mind and she is one funny girl, very spunky, too. So, did you like Cat’s story so far?? I originally intended for him to still be on the Black Joke (I started thinking of his story before I even finished the book) but when the ending gave the fact that he was going to school, I had to change things around.. I still like the other version.. if I have time, I’ll write it down sometime.

Women of the Palace

I cannot remember how I allowed myself to be put in this palace. I mean, I never wanted to be a concubine for the emperor, and neither did the nine other girls in this room. I am not saying we are the only ones, but we are the ones who were forced into this lifestyle, partly by our parents and partly by the ministry of the emperor. All the numerous others are glad to be here, so more luck to them, but we, on the other hand, cannot find it in the life of us the reason to want to be here. I think that is why we are all sharing this hall, not to mention our living quarters, to pass the days groaning and sighing as our ladies-in-waiting fix our hairs and fan our faces. However, I am curious as to why, for the past years that we have spent here, the ladies-of-the-court never ever think of sending us home. Maybe because that would decrease the number of concubines? Who knows, really. Only the emperor of China can answer that question.

All ten of us have been in this place for four years now. Why, you ask? Well, because we are all from the same city. I shouldn’t even call it a city; the population size is just too small. It is more appropriate to be called a large village; and out of nowhere one sunny morning, it was announced to us villagers that our village was being scouted for concubines for the young emperor. Anyway, in the village where we are all from, I have come across some of them at least once. It’s a good thing too because here I at least feel somewhat at home when I’m with them.

There, at the middle of the room, the three older girls, and I say older because they are older than my twenty-four years, pouts and mumbles to each other. They always seem to be getting along so well with each other; maybe because their age differences are not too wide. Pruma, the red haired beauty, is the twenty-eight year old daughter of a merchant who wants to handle her father’s business, but instead she has been sent here to become the emperor’s concubine. She was practically steaming with anger when I first saw her called out by the emperor. Even the ladies-in-waiting were scared to walk behind her violent stomping steps. Since then, the emperor rarely called on her. He only calls her these days when he needs someone to play chess with, and she is one great chess player. Celina, the long-haired brunette of twenty six years of age, sits beside Pruma writing a letter to her parents with pursed lips. Ever since the day we arrived in the palace, she has been writing them, asking them to take her back to the temple of Xiao Hou where she longs to be the head priestess. She is truly great in meditating and telling us about all sorts of things about spirits, chakras and the such. Rarely have I seen her burst out in anger as well, she is that good in controlling her emotions, although of course, she has her moments. For example, when the emperor was reportedly bombarding her with personal questions one humid afternoon, she just stormed out of his Majesty’s room. Nobody dared asked her just what question triggered the outburst, even to this day no one can bring up the courage to do so. Although, I believe she’ll eventually tell us. Then there is Ginwa, the twenty five year old who longs to marry a handsome young man whom she had promised to give her love for as long as she lived. She is such a romantic, that one, but most of us cannot resist her dreamy stories of escapades and sweet conversations with her love. She even tells the emperor about him. Only the heavenly gods know how he reacts to the stories. She would never tell us no matter how much we pry, but since she is still being called on, we assumed he does not take offense or even get angry at her. I personally think the emperor enjoys her stories like we do. We sigh and swoon and lean in close towards her when a kiss is coming, but she’d always crush it with something like ‘but then our maid came running and we had to pretend we weren’t doing anything special’ or ‘but then I would remember what my grandmother told me.’ At those times, I’d shake my head in disappointment, and even Pruma would comment on how Ginwa loved to leave us hanging in the air when the story was going just right.

The six others are lounging or playing cards or mahjong while their ladies-in-waiting ran here and there, trying to keep up with the requests. Rosario, a half-foreigner of my age, has the blood of a Spaniard warrior within her. As she laughs boisterously, even slapping the table–I am guessing she won again, for the third time today–I can recall the times when she would wake up early in the morning just to train. The ladies-of-the-court would get extremely angry with her when she would come back sweating and heaving like a warehouse labourer, but she’d only roll her eyes and scoff at them. Oh, I almost forgot about that day when she showed off her skills to the emperor; it was said that he was so surprised beyond words and two ladies-of-the-court who had been escorting her were absolutely shocked at her behaviour that they forbade her to go see the emperor until she has stopped her ‘manly ways’ as they call it. I’ve seen her in the village running laps around the parks and lakes and I always admired her; I still do. Lately, there has been no one scolding her, so I assume she’s being extra careful and extra secretive about her training. Rosario acknowledges it, too, that she has no plans of stopping her training for anyone; she only refuses to tell us how she manages to do it without anyone seeing her or catching her in the act. Across the table from her sits the twenty year old Min-Lei, who apparently is a direct descendant of the legendary Chinese warrior Xiao Ming–and very proud of it, may I add (even the emperor now knows about it)–accusing Rosario of cheating for the tenth time. She is such a loud mouth but we all love her dearly because she cries a lot too. No, she is not a crybaby; she’s just very emotional and when she is thoroughly upset or mad, she tends to cry even if she doesn’t want to. The two other girls playing with them, who are both seventeen years old, Talis and Vera, are trying to calm Min-Lei down while also trying to hide their annoyance at Rosario for winning again. For some reason, those two look alike even though they are not related. The same curly hair, only different in shades, and even the same mannerisms. For example, when you catch either one of them staring off into space, they are inevitably twirling their hair unconsciously. It must be because of the amount of time they spend with each other. They are like twin sisters attached at the hip; we barely see them apart. When the emperor asks for one of them, the other tends to get lonely and introverted, but they are actually such sweet darlings who both are amazingly good painters and dancers. Seeing them in their art together, it brings forth a feeling of contentment.

Severo, the bookworm, is sitting alone at the table beside the four. Books are piling at her left and right. She reads and reads and tells us about what she reads. I used to wonder if she was lonely deep inside, but when I see her face when she reads a book, there is always that twinkle in her eyes and the small smile on her lips as she comes across an entertaining character. She gets extremely animated when she retells the stories and the only one who doesn’t appreciate her extremely–and when I say extremely, I mean it takes us four hours to listen to one story–descriptive retellings is Min-Lei. Min-Lei would interject in the middle of the story and tell her to get on with the story. Once, both Pruma and Rosario whacked her on the head to keep her quiet. It was truly funny seeing that; Min-Lei, of course, made the entire room remember who she was by yelling out her family tree. The guards outside had called for the ladies-of-the-court thinking we were all fighting with each other. Then there is Alice, a girl of merely fifteen years of age, who lay sleeping on a red lounging chair. She is a fairly big girl who absolutely adores food. I had thought she was big because she is fond of food, but I recently found that her entire family are big people. I remember one time she was telling me that her father once forbade her to eat and when I asked her why, she told me that it was because she was too lazy. I don’t know if I would call her lazy after being with her for four years in the palace; she just doesn’t care very much about anything. She used to have a job before, when we were still in the village; she used to be a tax-collector. Tax-collectors were assigned to only three women who would have to dress up in thick layers of clothing to give off the impression of big bodied persons. Their faces would be painted white then they would wear black masks that would not even give a hint of their true identity. They would also wear those shiny, curly raven black wigs on top of their heads just to throw everyone off and so no one can guess who they are. It’s not because it was hard to guess or because the people hated tax-collectors, it was because no one cared, really. I still remember walking past them one afternoon and I remembered thinking, That’s Alice right there. I can easily tell because of that blank look she always has in her eyes. I don’t know why but over time I developed a really close friendship with her, as peculiar as her views are. I asked her a long time ago what she wanted to do if she wasn’t a concubine for the emperor and she answered me simply with one word, ‘Sleep.’ I think there is something beyond her beguiling words but I’m not even sure anymore. Sometimes I think the deeper meaning is there then sometimes I think she really did mean she wanted to sleep.

Looking at all of them, I remember all their ambitions and their goals for their own future and how they were all crushed the moment we entered the palace to become concubines for the emperor. Well, even Alice’s ‘sleep’ is a goal for her so it still counts. Sighing, I take a small sip of water as I shut my eyes, thinking I can have a short nap while waiting for the ladies-of-the-court to come and get one of us, or not. The other other women, who are all ecstatic to be here as concubines, occupied the living quarters far from ours. Of course, every day no one knows who the emperor will pick, but all ten of us can care less.

The emperor, Fy Song, is a year younger than me and although he has been educated into becoming a great emperor, it is evident that he doesn’t have much experience with women. Not even his good looks can get him anywhere. Those dark brown eyes and wonderful cherry lips won’t save him even if he tried. It’s something about his personality that nobody truly understands. He is such a shy person, or so we believe, when it comes to girls. He doesn’t really court anybody either. When he calls one of us, it’s only because he has to or he wants somebody to talk to or he’s bored out of his mind and wants somebody to bother. He has a habit of asking us women personal questions, from childhood days to our first loves. It’s something not all of us are willing to talk about, except for Ginwa of course, but there are limits when it comes to her lover as well. Yet I find that I tolerate him the most out of all of us in this room. He told me so, quite a few times, too. I think it’s because of my intuitiveness. It is, after all, what made me realize he has no interest in women.

I found out not too long after I have been assigned as a concubine. The two of us, alone in his room, happened to be talking about his friend, Chang, and that’s when I noticed it. Something about the way he described him to me, the way he had talked about their friendship that started years ago. Something in his mannerisms gives it away, too, no matter how subtle it is. Yet, after four years, only I know this fact. I have never thought of saying anything to the other women. They never ask, nor do they seem to even have an inkling about the matter. Thus, the secret remains between the emperor and me.

“Why don’t you tell anyone?” Fy Song had asked me then.

“Because I’m not obligated to,” I answered. Then I frowned, “Am I?”

He had laughed, giving me pat on the shoulder. “No one knows except you, Dalho.”

I had looked at him in confusion. “Not even your friend knows?”

Ah, how his reaction gave away his feelings that day. Since then, I ask him about Chang often but he replies as though we never had the conversation we did a few years back. I hate to see him that way, pretending he has no feelings for the man who protects his life day and night. I’ve only seen Chang in glimpses and personally I find him perfectly suitable for Fy Song, if ever he is interested in the emperor. He’s tall, with skin slightly darkened by the sun and he has that thin moustache that reminds me of my father. From far away, he looks stoic and he seems distant, but from what I hear from the emperor, seeing Chang face to face is a completely different matter. It is stressful to think about what the emperor feels whenever he interacts with his friend, Chang. It makes me sigh a lot; I wish I could help him, although I don’t know how.

“Ehem!” A shrill voice calls out above the chatter and breaks through my thoughts. “Where is Dalho? The emperor wants to see her.”

I sigh before getting up and straightening my dress. “I’m right here.” As I look towards the ladies-of-the-court I see their eyes looking at me with contempt for reasons I know too well; namely the displeasure of being concubines. My reason for not wanting to be here is my own secret; I must not disclose it. One thing I will say is that I do believe in destiny. I believe I have been chosen to come here for a purpose and until I find that purpose, I will try not to be incredibly depressed about the whole concubine idea.

Walking down the hallway between the two ladies-of-court, I get a peek of the setting sun for moments at a time in between the rich red curtains. My lady-in-waiting walks not too far behind me. Upon reaching Fy Song’s chambers, the ladies-of-the-court and my lady-in-waiting stands aside and opens the door for me. Passing through, I murmur a thank you before they shut the doors behind me. Raising my head high, I walk down the carpeted marble floor lined with soldiers wearing armours of gold. Finally, two guards open the inner doors into the emperor’s private rooms.

“Your Majesty?” I call out. I can’t see him from where I stand.

Soon enough, Fy Song comes out from behind a curtained archway, looking despondent amidst his purple and gold robe. “Dalho. I want to ask you something.” He walks towards the huge bed and sits close to the pillows, hugging one to himself. I follow him and I sit at the edge of the bed.

“What is it?”

“Can you stay here for the night?”

I frown. If he calls one of us, it automatically means we stay for the night, which means we sleep in his private rooms. With him asking me that question only gives me ideas of what he could possibly be troubled by. “Of course I’m staying, Your Majesty.”

He sighs exasperatedly. “We both know you don’t really call me that.”

I grin at his expression. “I was checking if you were still yourself.”

He frowns. “Why would you say that?”

“Why would you ask me if I could stay for the night when we both know the fact that I’m here right now means I am staying for the night?”

He opens his mouth, about to say something to defend himself I’m sure, but he doesn’t say anything and instead lets himself sink back into the pillows. “Something’s bothering me.”

I put my hand on his lightly. “I can tell.”

He looks away from me, blushing slightly. “Well, I don’t think I want to talk about it tonight. Let’s go have dinner.”

We eat the scrumptious dinner in good spirits, like old friends, teasing and laughing at each other. Yet he is constantly trying so hard to avoid the subject but even I could tell what the matter is. There is only one thing that can make him like this. As I watched him talking on and on about random court stuff while he lounges on the bed, I sigh quietly. I have to get him to talk about it.

“Fy Song,” I cut him off mid-sentence.

His smile is frozen on his lips while his brows furrows slightly.

“Tell me what’s bothering you.”

The smile dies quickly and the emperor looks away, troubling or embarrassing thoughts in his mind. “Well, it’s not really all that important,” he mumbles.

I stand up from where I had been sitting to sit right beside him. “Oh, come on. If it’s bothering you this much, then just tell me; I might be able to help.” I give him an encouraging smile.

He sighs and shakes his head from side to side. “It’s too embarrassing.” Slowly, his face turns crimson from the neck up. I almost laugh at his reaction. His face is too cute; I want to hug him.

“Try me.” I look him straight in the eye in all seriousness.

Another sigh from Fy Song. “Chang’s getting worried,” he mumbles.

I lean closer to him, quite sure I misheard his words. “What’s he worried about?”

Fy Song looks at me, shocked at my question. I think he gasped.

I frown at him in return; I don’t know why he’s giving me that look. “You said he was getting worried. About what?”

The emperor pouts and hides his face in his hands after telling me that that was not what he said.

“Oh, sorry. Then what did you say?”

Hugging a pillow to his face, he mumbles his words into it. I hardly recognise the words.

“What? I can’t understand what you’re saying.”

Fy Song looks up, his face burning. “Dalho, Chang’s getting married!”

“Oh.” That is really shocking. Mixed feelings are swirling inside of me and yet part of me is already thinking of a way to help the situation. Suggestions are at the tip of my tongue. Stop him then, you have the authority. Tell him to pick you. Announce your feelings for him for all to hear. Or refrain from doing anything and just let it go. Forget your feelings for him. You have your duty as emperor. But I refrain from voicing them out. I have to truly understand the situation at hand. “What are you going to do about it?”

He sighs yet again. “I don’t know. Nothing.” He looks at me with pleading eyes. “I know he has to marry but…” The tears came. I hug him close to cover the sobbing noise; if he cries too much, I may end up crying alongside him.

“Fy Song.” Seeing him cry for the first time was a truly scary sight to witness; I feel like he wants to kill himself for some reason. “Fy Song, listen to me.”

The emperor tries to hush his crying as he looks up at me.

“If this is going to make you do something unwise, then I suggest you tell him your true feelings.”

“Unwise? What do you mean?” he asks, confusion in his voice.

“I’m not giving you any ideas, and stop trying to change the subject. Just tell him, Fy Song.”

He resumes his crying as he hides his face on my shoulder once more. “I can’t. I just can’t, Dalho.” A sniff. “He’ll hate me. He’ll hate me for sure.”

As he sits there crying his heart out on my shoulder, I feel the tears form in my eyes. I have to be strong for him so I blink them back as I look up at the ceiling. “Well, you’ll never know that unless you try.”

And try he did. At least that’s what he told me two nights after our talk. He calls me again to tell me how it had went. I honestly am so surprised at seeing his expression. I can tell something good had come out of it. “It went well?”

He smiles sweetly at me as his eyes well up with tears. “I won’t stop him.”

I frown at Fy Song. I’m almost afraid to ask. “Are you sure about that?”

He nods and the tears fall down his cherry cheeks. He laughs as he grabs me by the shoulder and sits me on the bed. “You’ll think I’m lying if I told you.”

“Told me what?” I am thoroughly confused now.

“He knows but we both agreed. It’ll be alright.” He sniffed, then laughed once more.

“Tell me what happened already.” Judging from his ecstatic expression, it must be something wonderful.

“We slept together.”

I gasp in shock. “You did what?”

He laughs at my reaction. “Listen and I’ll tell you the entire story.”

I feel satisfied to have made him take action upon his dilemma. “I’ll listen to the very end.”

Fy Song smiles sweetly at me before he gets that distant look in his eyes. “As usual, he was visiting my quarters to check the area. I got into a little conversation with him.” He laughs bitterly. “I was only avoiding the topic of his marriage, however. Until the man mentions it himself. He was so serious about it that I had to joke around to delay what he would inevitably ask me.” He stops, breathing in deeply before continuing on. “Chang can be very blunt sometimes. He just went right out with it. ‘Is Your Majesty in favour of my marriage?’ It was awful. I couldn’t even face him. I mean, he was my friend. I did not want any ill wishes for him but I couldn’t answer him, Dalho. I couldn’t.” Fy Song hugs a pillow closer to his chest. “He knelt in front of me and then said that if I disapproved of the marriage, he would not continue with it.” He shakes his head. “Dalho, I couldn’t do that to him. Not ever.”

I nod and touch his hand gently.

“I told him to continue with the wedding and I was doing very good at hiding my feelings until he reached out and wiped a tear from my cheek. I didn’t know I was crying.” Fy Song’s eyes fills up. “I cried right in front of him. And you know what he did? He hugged me and said ‘I know how you truly feel and that is why I needed to ask.’ I must have looked pitiful. An emperor crying? What a hoot.” He smiles at me again and squeezes my hand. “Anyway, at that moment, I was at my weakest. I told him that I loved him. I thought he would hate me for sure for actually saying it, but he held me closer instead. ‘Know that I would be glad to return your feelings were you not under such scrutiny as an emperor. I do not want to endanger you by engaging in what our country considers a sin.’ Dalho, the happiness and the sorrow I felt at that moment, I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling. Then he kissed me.”

“Don’t go too much into details now.”

Fy Song laughs. “Of course. It happened all too sweetly but I would never tell anyone. Not even you.” He winks at me.

“Of course. Privacy is what everyone prefers.” I smile at him. “Curious as I may be at this moment, I would like you to stick to your word and not tell me anymore beyond that kiss.”

“Roger.” He gives me a mock salute.

“We should sleep.” I prepare the bed while Fy Song goes off to change into his sleeping attire.

That night, laying side by side, we stare at the ceiling. Thoughts are swirling around my head. “Fy Song, will Chang still be by your side?”

“Yes,” he whispers in the air. “Even though he will be bound to another, I will treasure what happened on that night. At least now, I can face the future knowing what he truly feels towards me.” He chuckles as he hugs me close. “Dalho.”

“Yes?”

The room is silent for a few moments. “I’ve been thinking about getting an official empress too. For the country’s sake.”

I smile. “That’s a good thought. When are you planning to get married then?”

“Not so soon, maybe in two or three years’ time. I hope by that time, I’m mentally prepared.” We laugh at that. Then he whispers to me. “Will you marry me then?”

I remain quiet for a while; shocked. “What?”

“Will you marry me? I mean, you’re a very dear friend and I may as well keep you beside me.”

“Fy Song, do you know what you’re saying?” I sit up on the bed. He pulls me right back down and embraces me.

“Dalho, tell me what I can do so you’ll marry me.”

I thought for a while. “Will you let the girls go and let them choose their future?”

“Your pals?” He sighs. “I will miss them, but yes. They are an interesting bunch.”

“All the more reason to let them go, don’t you think?”

He leans his head closer to my hair. “I’ll do even that so you’ll marry me.”

I feel like I’m being used for  substitute but I know better. I know Fy Song. “Okay. I will definitely miss the girls, too, though.” I sigh.

The room is silent again. “Really?” he asks.

“Yes, really.” I turned to pat his cheek. “But what are you going to do about heirs, dear?”

Fy Song let go of me promptly. “We’ll figure it out as we go along.”

I laughed before I gave him a kiss on the cheek. “We’ll figure it out.” I close my eyes, knowing that the rest of the girls are going to be back on their feet and walking towards their destiny. I guess my destiny is here in the palace, after all. I am the one who can help Fy Song fulfill his destiny.

“Thanks, Dalho. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That is one of my short stories that come to me in a flurry. No plot thought of ahead of time, or any of the characters for that matter. Sometimes, the writer inside me just knows what words to put down and it just flows out like a river. That’s why I feel a special connection to this piece, but then again that’s how I feel towards most if not all of my writings. How do you like it?? =)

The Life and Times of Me, Pencil (Part 2)

I’m such a loser, aren’t I? I can’t even fight back even when I know I’m in the right. It’s not that easy in my case; I’m half Softy and half Eyeballs, anyways. But–there’s always this big BUT–only in DNA, is what I like to say. The Softy part of me I’ve abhorred most of my life; the Eyeballs part of me, I’m indifferent about it. Being part Softy, I got specific traits like being shy and quiet, stubborn, and very hardheaded. The traits I got from Eyeballs included being bossy, unforgiving, and quick-tempered. Although I got my height from both sides (grandfathers), I got mostly the facial features of Softy, the eyes and mouth mixed in with Eyeballs’ cheekbones and jawline. Even today I refuse to say I look like either of them (they bicker about it) and I just tell them I look like myself.

Eyeballs and I have a love-hate relationship from what I can tell. When me and my siblings were still small, Eyeballs stayed at home for the most part doing all the household chores while Softy was working abroad. I used to be fear-stricken whenever Eyeballs would get mad for not doing our homework before playing or watching TV. Eyeballs ruled with an iron fist. It was very hard to get away with anything, but we did try to get away with things nonetheless. One time, probably before I was about third grade or so, we had moved to our new house. It seemed like a big house to me back then; it had 3 bedrooms but one was converted to a kitchen area, a living area, dining area and of course, a washroom. The washroom was unfinished. So when we needed to have a poo or a pee or have a quick wash, we had to get out of the house, walk for about a minute to get to our old washroom. The little house we used to occupy was destroyed by a typhoon, but the washroom area stood. The floor was cement and one wall was connected to the kitchen sink and counter area made of hollowed blocks put together. With all the other three sides made of wood, it was easy to climb up the wooden parts to get over the cement wall and get out on the other side, onto the sink/counter area. This piece of information was very helpful when me and Fishie got locked in after finishing our wash. “What do we do?” Fishie had asked me. I was pulling at the door and yelling out to anybody who might possibly hear but no one came and the wooden door wouldn’t budge, stuck onto the doorframe like glue. “You’re smaller,” I remember saying, “so you can climb up the wood, get down onto the sink and push open the door from outside.” Fishie looked up, looking like it didn’t really look that high up.

Eventually, after a time of delaying, Fishie finally climbed up. I didn’t want to say this, but we were both butt-naked. We didn’t bring our change of clothes, thinking our house was very close. The towels were a hindrance at that time so Fishie climbed without anything on. Upon reaching the cement wall, I was looking up, admiring how Fishie was so courageous to do such a thing. From where I stood, Fishie suddenly looked very high up. Straddling the cement wall, Fishie looked to the outside where the sink and counter were then she looked back to where I stood. “Go on, then. Just get off and come open the door.” Did I mention how old Fishie was as this point? Let me think, third grade… three years younger… I think Fishie was about six years old. I  didn’t know what was going on in her mind back then but I was getting annoyed that she wasn’t moving. “Are you just going to sit there?” I had asked. “I want to get off,” she said. I picked up on the panic in her voice, but I tried to calm her down and not seem scared that she could possibly fall off or be stuck up there forever if she didn’t move any further. “Oh, alright. Get back down here then, and I’ll do it.” I remember seeing her hands gripping the wall in fear. Two eyes started to water and Fishie’s face changed as a loud cry came out. It was my turn to panic. Trying to hush Fishie, I kept saying the same things over and over. “Be quiet! Eyeballs will hear you! Just move and get back down here! I said be quiet! Eyeballs will hear you! Fishie, just move and get back down here! Hurry up!”

Even though I sounded very bossy and demanding, I was turning all kinds of goo inside. I knew my life was over at that moment, that Eyeballs would punish me and I was in big, big, bigger-than-life trouble. I heard people coming closer and I heard Eyeballs. I heard that voice, alarmed and upset, panic-stricken and furious at the same time. “What are you doing up there!” was the demand from outside. I tried to justify what they saw  and reason with them all at once. “The door was stuck; it won’t open. We couldn’t get out.” I gave a show of pulling at the door, but it opened. I stared at it for more than a few seconds, stunned at what just happened. I was completely stuck on the fact that it just opened that easily after my pulling and straining earlier. Eyeballs was giving instructions to people on how to get Fishie off the top of the wall and there were some bystanders watching the whole thing from a small distance. I quickly wrapped the towel around me and got out of the washroom as soon as Fishie was back on the ground. I wanted to run back to the house, but everybody was in the way. Lingering in the background, I wished no one would notice me while Fishie cried. But then they were asking what had happened and she was relaying the whole thing all too easily. I was getting uncomfortable and Eyeballs was getting hysterical, especially when she heard that I made Fishie climb up. Eyeballs–literally, all of them–zeroed in on me and Eyeballs came stalking towards me. I tried to back away but there was nothing to back away into.

I was cold with fear. Seeing Eyeballs going straight towards me sent red flags to my brain but I couldn’t move; I knew if I so much as ran away a few steps, my punishment would be worse than it already was going to be. Eyeballs grabbed me by the arm, pulled me closer so that I saw a set of eyes going cross-eyed in fury. “Why would you make her do that, huh, Pencil? Why? Fishie is not as big as you are and you make her climb all the way up there? What if she fell and hit her head? What if she was badly hurt? Would you be happy if she fell off and died?” I knew my role. I kept quiet–it was the best alternative; any effort of answering would mean I was backtalking Eyeballs. She looked away from me for a few seconds, setting those eyes on a older cousin of mine, Chocolate Milk. “Get my walis tingting.” Now, let me just explain what a walis tingting is (even though you probably won’t be able to imagine it)… It’s basically made of the middle part of individual coconut (tree) leaves, pulled apart to look like skinny little sticks. So it looks like dried sticks which are less than a meter long. In big bunches, it’s used to sweep the ground, but in smaller bunches, it’s used to swat flies. For Eyeballs and most parents from that time who were just as strict, the smaller bunch was used to discipline naughty children. And that day, I had been extremely naughty.

It was right after she said that awful word that I felt like crying. I thought to myself, I had no underwear on and no shorts to pad my skinny little bum from the pain it was about to recieve. Seeing Chocolate Milk run to the house and run back to Eyeballs just as fast sent thoughts of ‘Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod,ohmigod, I’m gonna get the walis tingting‘ to my poor brain. It was at that point in time where no one wanted to see little Pencil get hit on the bum, so the bystanders (mostly relatives) quickly dispersed and all that was left was Chocolate Milk and Eyeballs and Fishie and someone who was cooing and comforting Fishie.

I looked at Fishie, hating her for being such a baby. Then I looked at Chocolate Milk, hating her for bringing Eyeballs the fearsome walis tingting. Then I looked at Eyeballs, fearing the look in those fury-filled eyes. “Turn around!” I resigned myself to fate. Turning around, I knew what was to come. And as it did, in swift but painful whips, I swore to myself never to go with Fishie again to wash. That must have been the turning point on how I viewed Fishie. Ever since that incident, Fishie, to my eyes, was nothing more than a crybaby and a tattletale.

(To be continued…)

Mermaids…

ok so this is the very first introductory part of the story. =) It was very hard to try and visualize the landscape under the water and the fish tank only helped out a little bit.. you probably saw all my other posts about this story, if not, just search the word ‘mermaid’ and you’ll most likely see all of them. I went ahead and showed you a part of the story that came after the intro, called “The Surface” and I’m continuing that (see post called: Mermaids in My Mind) since I managed to make the intro for our little mermaid. =) but anyways, without further ado, here is the very beginning of The Story of the Mermaid: Triton’s Daughter (temporary title)

~~~The Story of the Mermaid: Triton’s Daughter~~~

A long, long time ago, underneath the waves of the Seven Seas lived a great kingdom ruled by the god of the sea, the great King Triton. In the time of his reign, the mer-folk flourished and lived happily by his rules. Alongside the king of the merfolk was his queen, Amphitrite. Together, they loved and cared for their eight beautiful daughters.

Acantha, the eldest daughter was the wise and patient just like her mother. Anthea, was the peacekeeper within the siblings. Alcina was always the temperamental one and Adelpha was the shy one. Abella was the fastest swimmer of them all, while Amera and Arytha were both the best dancers of all the sisters. Anemone, the youngest of Triton’s daughter’s was the best singer of them all. Triton never voiced it but Anemone was his favourite because of her resemblance to her mother. Although all eight daughters felt equally loved by their parents.

Living in the quiet depths of the far reaching waters, the merfolk kept to themselves and deemed the surface to be a dangerous place. As a law, no merfolk were to go even a hundred feet of the shores or the surface unless granted permission by the King Triton himself. Everyone obeyed, seeing no reason to go to the surface and perfectly content with their lives underneath the waters. Or so it would seem; unknown to all merfolk, the youngest daughter of the royal family had a curiosity that often led her to trouble, and one particular curiosity was of the surface and what lay beyond it.

In the month of a blue moon, Triton’s daughters were attending practice classes to fine tune their performances for the celebration of the appearance of the blue moon. The blue moon was a grand and symbolic event for the merfolk. To them, it meant the migration of the animals that often lived with them for a year or so until the next blue moon appears. Lantern fishes, anglers, schools of bristlemouths, and even some merfolk leave with them to make sure they travel safely. They often follow a route that goes through a few merfolk colonies in the outskirts of the kingdom before devoting themselves to keeping the creatures safe until they migrate back to the kingdom.

As all eight daughters sit around their instructor, they were obligated to pay attention in order to give good performances for the blue moon as well as the first equinox of the year. They celebrated both equinox and solstice during the year and it was generally a time of great festivities and at these times, the princesses’ skills are presented.

Being the tenth day in a row of lessons, it was no surprise that half of the sisters lost interest. Anemone was particularly bored.

“I’m starting to hate our instructor,” Abella remarked, as she dejectedly sat on a rock formation. Her silver white hair shimmered under the reflected light of the sun.

“Abella, we always do this, you should be used to it by now,” Amera replied laughingly as she tied her dark red locks into a bun. All of Anemone’s elder sisters headed for the dining area where refreshments were served for them.

“Ladies, be a sport. This is important for our parents.” Acantha addressed them all. Her long flowing bluish green hair flowed behind her as she swam in front of her sisters. The ring of pearls around her head made her look all the more elegant.  “Do your best and we can finish earlier today.”

She only had to sing in the ceremonies and she had her songs memorized. On the little time that they were given for a quick break, she decided to skip the rest of the lessons entirely. At sixteen years of age, it was understandable for a daughter to be a little of a nuisance, and Anemone knew that her parents wouldn’t be too angry at her for skipping one lesson. Covering her orange-gold hair with huge seaweeds, the young mermaid tried to avoid detection as she edged her way out of the palace. Guards were posted in the front gates but the back gates were hardly watched as it was against a tall cliff of hard rock. She swam carefully, sticking to the dark shadows of the underwater flora and huge boulders. In a matter of minutes, she had evaded the two guards and other members of the palace household. Swimming as fast as she could, she aimed for the east and smiled happily as she reached a familiar spot. The rocks stood flat, with clumps of corals and vibrant green weeds swaying softly in the unseen currents. Anemone swam behind the rocks and soon found the little barrel that she filled with her treasures. These treasures were completely alien to her and she was always excited to try and figure out what they were. Removing the big hunk of coral that she placed on top of them, she took out her particular favourite. An image of the two-legged folks carved in iron. It was only as big as her palm and the figure was holding a shield and a sword. She peered closer at the legs and tried to imagine how awkward it would be to have them. She had heard stories of the folks who lived outside the water and settled on the lands. There were tales of adventure, violence and other unfavorable accounts. The folks from above seemed uncivilized and dangerous; and yet Anemone was drawn to them. Ever since the first story of the two-legged folks came to her ears, she was filled with curiosity. So other creatures lived in the world besides the merfolk, she had thought to herself. Someday, I will be able to see that world and live with the two-legged folks. It was a child’s wish that never faded. As Anemone grew, her curiosity grew and grew to the point where she would venture to the surface without her father’s permission. She had been reprimanded over and over, but she would always find a way to sneak out.

Swimming towards the flat rock surface, she placed the small figure on it and contemplated the thought of meeting one. Thinking it would be appropriate to greet the indivual, she smiled at it was about to state the traditional greeting of the merfolks when suddenly a shadow covered her and the small figure. She looked up and saw a moving object. It was gigantic, and it created turbulence on its hind as it propelled forward. Gravitating and slowly swimming towards the strange object, Anemone thought of what it could be. Thinking back on the stories and account that she had heard a thousand times, it took her a while to figure it out. Then finally, the word dawned on her. The strange moving object was called a ship.