I had so many things to tell you, you know!
I spent half my week trying to put into words how much I dislike nonsense, but I never let those words out, because I was saving them for you.
I thought you'd understand more than most would.
I sat at the table or in the car or on the wooden verandah and listened to all the noise around me and I wondered what you would have to say if you were sitting there, too, because I don't mind that you talk so much.
It wasn't important, I guess, but I like listening to you better than most.
I went for a walk one day and my footsteps seemed to echo loneliness while the sun was out and no one was near to share it with me. I thought about all the people I could be walking with, but their eyes don't go wide with excitement when they describe little things, and they "agree to disagree" instead of arguing things out like you and I do.
Arguing is better. We laugh in the end because I believe you're crazy and you're sure that I am, and we like one another that way.
I wanted to tell you how it's hard to get anyone to even smile at you because they're too busy looking down at their phones
And I wanted to say that I can't stand growing up because being an adult is hard business and small talk makes life just that much more awkward
And I wanted to let you know about all the little annoyances and tiny bitter hurts and lonely days and quiet nights and ...
And then I saw your smiling face again and I called out "hello"... and all the other words just sort of slipped away, because somehow none of it mattered anymore.
Quiet on the Bridge
He would read through yesterday’s newspaper and then fold the pages into little boats to drop into the water below, as if each one represented the world’s troubles sailing out of view, and then he would turn and walk slowly, the heels of his leather shoes striking the cobblestones in the silence of sleeplessness. It was the same each morning as the bells tolled four and the mist lay across the water. Now and then he would find another sleepless chum to spend his half hour with before walking back to the flat, but only now and then, and he never did see them again. He wouldn’t be surprised if they preferred the solitary stillness of the river to his stiff company. It was not the expected thing to find a well dressed young man with glassy eyes dropping paper boats in the water at four in the morning, but they supposed he had a broken heart; he was most likely one of those disconsolate boys whose worlds are crumbling but who will soon find the courage to build them up again, and are better left alone. You might think that, to see him there.
Chapter 6: Akira (The Chronicles of Time)
Natsumi paced up and down the stairs, pausing every few moments, expecting to hear returning footsteps only to be disappointed.
‘Where did Yuu go?’ She pondered, then looked out the window. The wind pounded against the glass, and wailed along with its concomitant forces. Heavy rain crashed down, and the streets were vacant besides of the large streams of water tumbling down. With such terrible weather, just where on earth could Yuu have gone? And it wasn’t just him, but Koru has suddenly, and magically, gone missing as well!
“Don’t worry, Natsumi.” Sora assured her, sipping on his freshly made hot cocoa from the kitchen. He carried a tray with two other cups with such balance, that he looked like the perfect quintessence of a waiter. Currently, they were supposed to be watching a horror movie (Himari came up with the idea since it was the perfect weather), but Yuu disappeared halfway - leaving Natsumi to fret over his vacancy. The only one that was actually enjoying themselves was nonetheless: Himari.
He handed her a cup, then headed back to the living room where Himari resided with another hot cocoa.
She continued to be restless until she heard a large slam and a muffled quarrel at the entrance.
“Yuu where have you - !” She stopped short and gaped at the sight of an unfamiliar identity.
“Uwah!” The boy with snow-like colored hair jumped in surprise the second his eyes met hers. “I-I….”
“What are you acting so shy about?” Yuu said in a disapproving tone. The other boy glared at him, but his attention returned back to Natsumi’s perceptive stare.
“Who is that boy?” She set down her cup on a nearby table.
“Oh, him?” Yuu elbowed him, and pushed him forward. “He’s - “
“Don’t tell me, could that be…your brother?” Natsumi gasped loudly. It didn’t take long for the others to join them after hearing her exclamation without giving Yuu a chance to speak properly.
“Whoa!” Himari said, peering over the new boy. “Who’s this? He’s so pretty! He looks like a doll!”
It also didn’t take long for the girls to start fawning over the new addition, and for the boys to ignore their squeals and head to the living room.
“What have you guys been up to since I was gone for a bit?” Yuu asked, taking over the bowl of popcorn that used to belong to Himari. He completely blocked out the irritating noises the girls made from his ears.
Sora took a seat beside him on the couch. “Nothing really. We’ve just been continuing the movie without Natsumi and you.”
“Without Natsumi?” Yuu tilted his head in confusion. “But I was the only one who left?”
The girls let out another excited squeal as they adorned the new boy’s hair with ribbons.
“Oh yeah, but after you left, she started to worry about where you’ve gone off and loitered around the stairs.” Sora replied casually, pressing the play button.
“What’s with your old fashioned clothes?” Himari lifted up his sleeves. Flustered by the amount of attention he’s receiving, he didn’t answer.
“Hey, what’s your name?” Natsumi asked, filled with curiosity. He flinched at the sudden question and mumbled something underneath his breath. “Hm?”
“I-it’s…” he glanced at Yuu for assistance only to be briefly ignored which hit his sore spot. “Hey! You brought me here in this form, a-and you’re going to neglect me like that?”
The change in attitude made the girls blink and think that they must’ve heard his tone wrong.
“Huh?” Yuu slowly diverted his attention away from the movie and looked back at them from the couch. “Who said that I have to tend to your every need, and lend a hand? If anything, shouldn’t you be talking to your master about that?”
“Master?” That word piqued Himari’s curiosity. “What?”
“It’ll be easier to explain this way,” Yuu snapped his fingers and with a poof! - white fluffy ears sprouted out of the boy’s head and a luxuriously soft tail.
“Wow!” The girls both blurted out simultaneously. Natsumi groped his tail while Himari took over his ears, both of them captured by how insanely silky and satisfying it felt. The boy blushed, and his ears twitched whenever Himari’s fingers got too possessive.
“He’s so sensitive!” Himari teased, looking at his red face.
“S-stop!” He whined. Blinding white light surrounded him, forcing the others to cover their eyes. When they regained their senses after the abrupt dazzle, instead of a boy, they found a white large dog instead.
“Koru? So this is where you’ve been!” Natsumi said, astonished.
“Is that what you really got from all of that?” Yuu said, dumbfounded. “Even an idiot can tell exactly what occurred just now.”
“What are you - ?” A belated realization smacked her in the head. “Oh! Koru is that boy!”
“Yay! She got it!” He replied sarcastically. “What a genius idea! Who would’ve thought?”
Natsumi bit her bottom lip. “You can stop now. No need for the unnecessary rude remarks.”
“But who really would’ve thought that Koru was actually a human in disguise?” Himari questioned, glancing at the dog who hid underneath his paws. “If you didn’t come along, just how long would he have hid his true identity from us?”
“Who knows,” Yuu shrugged nonchalantly. “And also, he isn’t a human. He’s known as an ‘Okami’.”
“‘Okami’?” Sora said, puzzled. “Hold on, what's with all this unrealistic stuff happening?”
“Oh right! We haven’t told Sora yet!” Himari smacked her forehead. “So you see, Yuu is actually a magician! Ta-dah! Big surprise there!”
“Are you really?” Sora turned to him skeptically. Yuu snapped his fingers and the empty bowl of popcorn became full within seconds. That flipped his attitude. “Are you kidding me? A real magician? I thought that they only belonged in fictional stories!”
“Yeah, well that’s what Natsumi thought too in the beginning, and now look how wrong she is.” Yuu grinned.
“Oi!” Natsumi snapped. “Well who would even believe you to begin with? If it was anyone else, they would deem you as a lunatic and ship you off to the mental hospital!”
“...anyway, back to the ‘Okami’ thing,” Himari cleared her throat, and the mood became serious, “did he choose to protect Natsumi or destroy her?”
“Protect her, duh!” Yuu said. “Anyway, it seems that it has made a contract with you since you were young, so it's practically bound to you. It also seems that your parents also were conscious of that fact and continued to let the dog stay.”
The room became silent, and Sora shut off the television, intrigued by Yuu’s words. Koru whimpered and looked up at them with a questioning gaze.
“Oh…I see.” Natsumi said quietly. “So the whole time, I really didn’t know anything, huh? It felt as if…my parents were hiding everything from me for some reason; was it because I was too naive back then?”
Koru quickly reverted back to his human form frantically. “N-no! It wasn’t like that, master! Your parents were just worried about your safety, that’s all! It wasn’t like that so don’t cry - “
“Aww!” Natsumi shrieked, filled with adoration. “Do you think I didn’t know that? Were you trying to console me? So cute!”
The shift in her mood left him speechless. “Eh?”
“Well, well! You really could’ve just shown yourself earlier you know?” She put her hands to her hips with a huff. “I would’ve been super surprised as well as grateful! You’re really cute after all! And you’re some sort of deity as well! I couldn’t feel more honored! In fact, I feel super elated!”
They all grinned broadly besides Yuu who had a faint smile on his face.
‘Really, just how foolish can she even be? She hasn’t changed…at all.’
“He’ll sleep with me!”
“Huh?” Yuu choked on his spit at her bold declaration. “W-what are you - but Himari is already sleeping with you!”
“Oh, we can squeeze in another person, it’s fine.” She shook him off lightly.
“Yesh’ ples.” Sora said as he brushed his teeth. He spat out the toothpaste then reattempted to repeat what he meant to say. “Yes please. I really don’t want to share a room with someone else.”
“I-I will do my best, master!” Koru said obsequiously. His eagerness made him shine so much that Natsumi just couldn’t help but pet his head.
“So cute! So dedicated!” She purred with satisfaction. For some reason, it made Yuu uncomfortable seeing how much affection she poured to another male.
“But still - !” His mind jumbled up, and he became more perplexed. “Ah, whatever! Do what you want!”
He stormed off to his room in an annoyed manner.
“Geez, why is he so mad?” Natsumi said, racking her brain for a plausible reason. “Oh well, whatever.”
“Should we also apply Koru - I mean, Akira to the same school as us?” Natsumi suggested. It was a Saturday morning, and there weren't any classes. Recently, Koru came out of his shell, and started to speak more. But the name ‘Koru’ - which he was granted when he was a dog - didn’t suit a human boy. Although it sounded as cute and as lovely as the boy himself, it didn’t match. So the others gathered together and voted on a suitable name for him resulting in ‘Akira’.
Akira sat obediently in front of Natsumi who sat behind him, playing with his silky hair. His ears flickered sensitively, and his tail wagged behind him in pleasure. He had a new outfit and his old one was stored away. But since he didn’t want to part from his bell, it was fashioned into a mini necklace with the bell shrinked. It hung around his neck like a collar, and rang softly whenever he moved. “S-school?”
“Yup!” Himari added enthusiastically. “To put it simply, it’s like a building where all sorts of other people go and study and stuff!”
“Yeah, he knows that already,” Yuu scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Considering the amount of time that he spent stalking Natsumi - he’s just pretending to be as blank as a sheet of paper. He’s just acting ignorant!”
“You don’t really have to say it that way,” Natsumi shot back at him. “But having such an adorable stalker - well, how could I get angry?”
Yuu stared at her idignantly and sighed deeply. “There’s something wrong with your head. You call him cute, but when I was in my child form, you called me arrogant. How is that fair?”
“Mind you, you were pretty cocky back then; you still are now though.”
“Hold on, Yuu in child form?” Sora butted in, inquisitively. “I wanna see what he looks like!”
“He had really long hair back then,” Natsumi nodded as she recalled the memory.
“Yeah, I was really handsome and cute.” Yuu added.
“I wanna see!” Sora said, interested.
“I told you before, Sora really favors kids.” Natsumi said, shrugging.
“Then how come he doesn’t fawn over Akira like that?” Himari blurted out.
“That’s because we’ve been hogging Akira, of course!” Natsumi answered. That fact was quite conspicuous. Ever since Akira broke away from his disguise, he’s been the center of attention for the girls. “That, and I bet he’s into how Yuu will look like as a child, aren’t you? After all, Yuu is pretty standoffish, so literally anyone would like to see how he looks when he’s small and innocent - not that he even was innocent in his mini form.”
“Come to think of it, I never saw you in your child form either!” Himari realized, and automatically turned to Yuu sharply. “C’mon! Show us!”
In the end, he escaped from the persistent requests, and teleported out of the house for a breath of fresh air.
"As my world burned..." The familiar sound interrupted him. The sound which he has become so accustomed to that he even misses it when it temporarily gives up on trying to escape from its captivity and becomes silent for about twenty hours.
Chapter 5: Secret Identity (The Chronicles of Time)
It has been weeks since Yuu first appeared, bringing mayhem and all sorts of trouble into Natsumi’s mind and life. It did seem a bit weird to her how fast she quickly adjusted to the new addition in the house, and that her house has suddenly become some sort of boarding house. They also all lent a hand in cleaning up her parents room after a long debate of whether to make it into a guest room or to leave it be. In the end, Natsumi made the final decision, and granted permission to redecorate with a heavy heart. After all, the past has to be washed away either way. That cut off the strings that held her to the past, although she can’t refuse herself from reminiscing her childhood memories.
“You guys! Stop!” screamed Natsumi in annoyance. In her hands carried a mop and a bucket of water. “Ugh! Why do you all try to escape when it comes to cleaning?”
“That’s because nobody likes to clean!” Yuu shouted back from the end of the hallway.
“You too?” Natsumi scoffed in disbelief. “What are you talking about? Before, you used to be the maid of the house and scrubbed every corner ’till there’s no speck of dust left! What do you mean “nobody likes to clean”?”
“Well, no longer!” Yuu laughed, leaping down the stairs, then grabbing hold of the banister and jumped onto the floor below.
“Yuu, hurry!” Himari urged him from the front door with her shoes on, ready to go. “Hurry before she catches you!”
“Himari, I heard that!” groaned Natsumi from the second floor. “You both better come back soon! I’m not cleaning this entire house by myself! Ugh!”
“It’s fine! Sora will be back soon!” Himari assured her, then accompanied by Yuu, they both ran out the house hurriedly with the door slamming behind them. “I think he’ll return soon.”
“Haha! That was fun though!” Himari said, stretching her arm above her head. “Well, let’s go over this once again. Our motive for escaping cleaning duty - I mean, for leaving the house today, was to fetch a present for Sora; leaving Natsumi to prepare the house for the party.”
“I can’t believe your idiot brother fell for that trick about how your mom is calling for him.” Yuu snorted. “Now he won’t be back very soon. Your mom is going to make him work even though she didn't ask for him.”
“Ha! That’s what I always do to get him out of the house.”
They took a left, and after a while of riding a subway - with Yuu examining every inch in wonder - they arrived at a shopping mall. They looked through the windows of shops filled with many accessories and other products, but shook their heads at it.
“I don’t know what to get him!” Himari groaned, collapsing onto a bench. Yuu handed her an ice cream cone. “It’s not time for sweets, Yuu!”
“But you still took it, though?” Yuu smirked. “What should we do now?”
“I just said I don’t know!” Her head was getting more muddled. “If only Natsumi was here!”
“Regretting dumping her at home to do housework now?”
“Not really,” Himari shrugged, licking her dessert. “Mm! This flavor is really yummy!”
“What does Sora even like?”
“That’s not what I meant, and even if we do give him that, his “alone time” will probably only be during his cleaning duty.”
Himari laughed then slowly quieted down. “...this isn’t getting us anywhere.”
They wandered around the extensive building repeatedly walking in circles, and in and out of stores only to be empty-handed.
“I...really wish we didn’t abandon Natsumi at home.” Himari sighed.
She squeezed the excess water out of the towel and groaned.
“I can’t believe those two ditched me like that!” Natsumi grumbled, throwing the damp steaming towel onto the counter grudgingly and began to wipe. “Seriously! Those unappreciative no-good so called ‘friends’ of mine! I’m never helping them again!”
After cleaning every corner of the house to the point where it sparkled, she began arranging the table, and hanging up a large banner with the words “CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 17TH BIRTHDAY SORA!” largely imprinted. A large dark blue table cloth covered the table surface, reaching all the way to the floor. She struggled to flatten the cover out since her arms were only that short and could only reach that far.
Then after setting up all the decorations, she finally took a break feeling a bit dizzy. Exhausted from all that preparation, she took a deep breath and fell onto the couch, motionless.
“Ruff!” A large white ball of fur came into her blurry vision, and she smiled a bit. Her consciousness faded in and out, and her eyes threatened to close.
“I wish...you were a human. You’re the only one who didn’t leave me, you loyal dog….” She drifted off to sleep.
White fog gradually accumulated on the floor and eddied every step he took. The boy who wore a silk jōe with a bell tied in a red rope as a necklace paired with wooden sandals, stood over her. Three red dots forming the shape of a lotus were imprinted on his forehead, and his snow white hair and his sharp red eyes shining with admiration and care made him look divine. A gold aura was emitting off him, but gradually dimmed over time. The dog was gone, and in his place stood a godly-looking boy.
“I...really wish I could show you in my human form as well, master.” He kneeled down, and placed his forehead on her hand. “I pledge that I’ll do everything for you to my utmost ability.”
“Mmm….” a tired groan escaped from her mouth, making him smile gently.
“I shall...do my best to support you, master.”
The incessant routine of going in and out of shops tired both of them out, and they eventually ended up purchasing a shiny silver watch as the gift, and stopped by a bakery to get the cake. As a ‘thank you gift’ for Natsumi’s hard work, they also bought a variety of different cake slices.
“I think that it wasn’t such a bad idea leaving Natsumi at home.” Yuu said as they made a left turn down the street.
“I think that it was a bad idea leaving Natsumi at home.” Himari sighed. “At least we bought something for her, that’s pertinent if we ever have to face her in a sour mood.”
They arrived at the footsteps of their home, and slowly unlocked the door. He spotted a little white cloud surrounding the surface of the floor that gradually faded, which made him doubt his own eyes. Something felt off. He was suddenly filled with trepidation, but his confidence in his power soon consumed the unsettling feeling.
“You give it to her, and explain why we abandoned her under the pretext of going out to complete a secret mission for her or something!” Himari whispered, nudging at Yuu’s elbow and pushing him forward.
“Really? I have to do it?”
“It was you who propounded such an idea of leaving her behind!” She hissed back. “Now deal with the consequences!”
“Huh?” He exclaimed indignantly. “That’s not how it works!”
“Yes it is!”
He was pushed into the living room with a box of cake slices in his hands, dumbfounded. Himari gestured for him to get a move on, and he rolled his eyes in agitation. He looked around, trying to spot an angry figure ready to claw through someone’s throat, only to find Natsumi sleeping on the couch.
“Uhh...she’s sleeping.” Yuu whispered and turned around but only to find Himari gone. “She left me? How rude!”
“Hmm….” beside him, the girl began to stir.
“Morning, sleepyhead.” He plastered a sly grin quickly onto his face and bent down so he’s face to face with her.
A spiteful expression met his playful one. “I can’t believe the first thing I see when I wake is your face. You got some nerve coming back.”
He gulped, sensing danger, he pulled out his backup. “I brought you cake.”
“Oh really? Did you think that would please me?”
“But you’re still taking it either way, aren’t you?” He eyed the box that she took from his hands as she sat up.
“Well I shouldn’t let it go to waste,” she muttered. He smirked triumphantly. “Anyway, I prepared all the stuff needed, you guys did get the present right?”
“Yeah, we got him a watch.” He showed her a white box with a shiny silver watch placed delicately inside on top of a plush.
“Whoa!” she exclaimed. “Good choice! Anyway, where’s Himari?”
“I don’t know,” Yuu shrugged.
Moments later Himari poked her head into the room expecting a raging fight breaking out only to find the opposite. It was tranquil, and her two friends were occupied with preparing dinner in the kitchen. She cautiously stepped into the kitchen and was immediately spotted by Natsumi who shot a glare in her direction. Slowly mustering up her confidence, she started to lend a hand with Yuu smirking at her everytime she had eye contact with Natsumi and flinching. It didn’t take long for Sora to arrive as well and join them to be surprised with a table filled with food and a welcoming aroma which made his irritated mood dissipate.
“Happy birthday!” The girls shouted while Yuu waved his hands dully.
“Whoa, what is this?” Sora gasped, attracted to the warm meal on the table.
“Uh, we’re over here, remember?” Himari said with sarcasm.
“I know, I was just more allured by the food than your betraying faces.” Sora snapped,
“Yeah, mom made me mop the entire floor of both the store and our house. Then she went on to make me carry all kinds of luggages, and I didn’t even get a congratulations for my birthday! I also got surrounded by a crowd of girls and - did you know one of them clinged on to me? It was so hard to shake them off! Thanks to you all!”
The others laughed at his troubles and eventually they settled down and celebrated the joyous occasion. After dinner they all crowded around the couch, and presented their gift.
“What?” Sora said, puzzled. “It’s just one?”
“Hey!” Himari said, displeased. “It was expensive, you know?”
He opened the box to find a watch and he sighed. “...Well, guess that’s all I’m getting this year.”
“We didn’t really know what you wanted.” Natsumi said quickly.
“I made it quite obvious that I wanted a new anime figure to replace my limited edition Monkey D. Luffy one that got broken.” Sora huffed, disappointed in all of them.
She recalled the past few days only to realize that Sora was correct. The many times where he stated conspicuously in front of them of an anime figure repeatedly.
“D-did you?” She laughed awkwardly, scratching her cheek in guilt.
“Well I wasn’t listening to begin with,” Yuu said, nonchalantly, “at least we got you something.”
Sora, who was already attuned to their behavior, tossed on the watch and sighed. “Yeah.”
He absolutely disdained this feeling, the thought of being overpowered constantly oscillated in and out his mind.
“No, I’m sure it's just a sneaky fox somewhere.” Yuu muttered to himself. The cold night air blew past him and ruffled his silky black hair which flowed like long threads in the air. “There’s no way it can be him.”
Just a quick flashback of the overwhelming and immense power he felt that day made him shudder, but grin and tingle in excitement. It was such a thrill that he almost lost his entire existence that time - as well as his purpose and almost eradicated the entire world. Until that tiny whisper made him hold onto that sliver of sanity he barely managed to have.
He blinked, and shook his head. “What am I thinking? The dead are dead, so why am I thinking back to such an old memory?”
“You dirty scoundrel.” A low growl made Yuu smirk. It was just as he anticipated.
“I’ve been waiting for you, you know?”
A silhouette emerged from the shadows, and the scenery suddenly became blurry and cloudy with a dense fog. It vanished, then reappeared from many locations. Yuu remained unfazed, and stood rooted to his spot.
A sharp claw shot out from the cover of the fog, striking at Yuu who dodged it so casually.
“Feisty, huh?” Yuu said, taking a step back before he gets pierced.
“You bastard!” The shadow made another attempt to maim Yuu, but only to stumble and trip. The fog cleared away, making a tall white-haired man naked to the eye, conspicuous. He clenched his eyes, expecting a blow in the head for all those relentless attacks, but only to find the complete opposite transpiring.
“Get up,” a hand came into his view, offering to help him up. Mortified by such an embarrassing defeat, he slapped the hand away, and quickly straightened himself up. His long white robes with a huge bell that bounced and hit his chest whenever he jumped, made him look like he was from the old era. A red eyeliner highlighted his rose-like ruby eyes which was similar to Yuu’s, but looked much more pure. Furry white ears twitched on top of his head. Even though he was a man who looked to be older than Yuu, he acted like a child. How weird.
“Ha! Did you really think that I would fall for your dirty tricks?” His sneer threatened to falter.
Yuu stayed silent. The atmosphere felt tense. The man was cautious, and watched Yuu perceptively, anticipating his next movement. After a moment, Yuu smirked and proceeded to move towards his opponent.
“Y-you! D-don’t come closer!” He growled warily. His reactions didn’t conform with Yuu’s actions.
“Stay still, I’m trying to revamp your appearance. You’ll look way better, and Natsumi for sure will prefer you in that form.”
The moment the man let down his guard a little at the mention of Natsumi’s name, Yuu - availing this - swiftly approached him and within a few seconds, a tremendous amount of mist burst forward when Yuu touched him.
Yuu waved his hand, and striked it down towards the ground violently, and a gust of wind was conjured; blowing the mist away only to reveal a small boy wearing a jōe, and a red lotus symbol imprinted on his forehead. His crimson beady eyes shined with confusion and daze, then widened, abashed.
“Y-you - !”
“You look better now, don’t you think so, Koru?”
I had my breakfast the way Papa always used to have it, little sardines fried crispy in crumbs and butter, coffee with three sugars and no milk, bread and vinegar and olive oil. I tipped my mug towards the rafters to reach the last drop and licked my greasy fingers like Papa would do. It's funny, when someone's gone, you do the things they did just to feel like they're back again. Magdalena watched me from the bench as she kneaded dough with red, floury knuckles. She never approved of the way Papa ate. She liked people to have respect towards her food.
The clock above the stove said six; still too early for the sun. Magdalena had hung the lamp from its usual place on the hook beside the granite bench and the open fire lit the room well enough for me to see what I was eating. The dark made itself comfortably at home in the corners and at the windows, and it was not unfriendly, but familiar. Magdalena took the pot from above the fire and poured more coffee in silence, leaving me to put the sugar in. If she wasn’t so bitter she would have done it herself, maybe even smiled a little.
“Thank you, Dalena,” I said. It seemed to fall on deaf ears. I wiped my hands on my clothes when she wasn’t looking and began to peel an orange, watching the steam from the coffee rise into the air. It was true that the lady didn’t like the way I ate and licked my fingers and spoke to her and everything else I did, but she still looked after me well. She put jasmine in my bedroom, tucked the sheets tight, made sure the jugs were full of water, fed me more than I could hold, and sent me on my way with everything I needed. On the outside, Magdalena might be looked upon as nothing more than a personified draught of chilled air; but I knew her better.
“It’s raining,” said Tino.
I hadn’t noticed him before. He sat close to the door on a tall wooden stool and clasped his hands together in his lap, big black eyes watching from a round olive face. His long hair was tousled from sleep and he had not dressed yet; he had finished his bread and milk and set his bowl down on the floor for the kitten to taste what little he had left for it. I smiled at him and he simply continued to look at me, curious and quiet, until he left his place to come to the table and look at me closer when Magdalena was busy with the frying pan, holding out one hand confidently. I put a sardine in his little palm. His browned arms and bare chest were covered in long, raised scars; but they couldn’t take away from his handsome face, not with eyes like that.
“If it’s raining, Nico can’t leave,” Tino observed, looking up at his grandmother.
“He’ll have to stay for today, then,” Magdalena spoke short and sharp, like herself. “His name is Nicodemus. Where did you get Nico from?”
“It’s easier to say,” Tino answered.
“Don’t get attached. Once you give a man a new name it’s impossible to let him go.”Magdalena's harsh face relaxed a little as she finished shaping her loaves. Sometimes it was possible to see her a little sad, and then you couldn't ever feel quite as disinterested in her, or treat her with the same coldness with which she treated you, because you felt you knew something about her that no one else did. She had been in love with Papa once. A long time ago. I wondered if maybe she called him Nico, too.
I gave Tino another sardine before he went back to his stool and he sat there nibbling it, saving the tail till last, those big black eyes sparkling with the firelight. I wanted to know who had made scars on such a gentle boy. I couldn't ask him, and I couldn't ask Magdalena, because I was afraid of the way she stared at me when I asked questions. I thought of the way Tino had saved the milk for the kitten, and I saved the last of my coffee and passed it to him because I knew Magdalena would never let him touch it. He took the mug in both hands and looked into it as though it were a never-ending well. He hesitated, then dipped one finger in and sucked it. The coffee was not warm anymore, but it was full of sugar. Boys like sugar.
"What does coffee taste like?" he asked of Magdalena, hiding the mug behind his back and looking up at her innocently.
"You wouldn't like it, Santino," she replied brusquely. "It tastes like burnt wood. Nicodemus only drinks it because he is a man and men are fools."
Tino turned back to me with his head on one side and thought for a moment. Suddenly his eyes crinkled and he smiled, a beautiful smile, so that he barely looked like a little boy anymore, but more like a dark haired angel. "I must be a fool," he whispered. “I never knew burnt wood was so sweet.” And, still grasping the mug tightly, he slipped off the stool and out of the room to find a shirt.
Dexter: The Best Film Adaption Ever
This series is rather old, so I am sure that no one cares if I put any spoilers in here. But I am going to put a warning right here, right now, saying that if ever you plan on reading or watching the Dexter series, now is your chance to leave.
Dexter: New Blood has recently been released. In the process of it being advertised, I, as I often do, decided to check to see if Dexter was a book. In my research, I found it! Jeff Lindsay’s first novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter was released in 2004, nine months after I was born. Oh, hey, that’s pretty cool. It’s as if… you know what, I won’t connect those dots. That is weird. But I will leave this here so that you clever ones will figure it out. It also won an award in 2005: the Dilys Award. No clue what that is, but, I mean, there ya go. On October 1, 2006, a day before my third birthday (dang, this book really revolves around me all of a sudden. I swear I didn’t know this when I sat down to write about this…), the first episode of its television adaptation was released.
The book was absolutely amazing. You sympathize with a serial killer, you see where he is coming from, and you feel what he feels. Jeff Lindsay did an incredible job writing Dexter. All of his thoughts are perfect. His biting sarcasm gives you a few laughs throughout the book. Reading about his attempts to blend in and to act normal, you almost begin to think the same way he does. You get attached to characters while hating characters as well. Jeff Lindsay offers an insight into police work, as Dexter is a blood analyst for the Miami Police Department.
Yes, he uses alliteration in the book in a few instances. It’s rather beautiful, isn’t it?
I remember when I was younger my father watching the series. We own most of the series because, in the words of my father, “It was cool to buy a TV series the moment it came out on DVD.” We own seasons one through six, so I have been thinking about watching it for a while. I was just waiting until I had permission to, and when I finally asked after not doing so for ten years, I was told that I could. I excitedly began the series after I finished the book, and I must say: this is the best film adaptation that I have ever seen.
I reached this conclusion relatively quickly into the first season. Not only did they do an incredible job bringing it to ‘the big screen,’ a phrase that does not work unless you are referring to a movie, but they did better than the book. You see that next to never. Actually, I don’t think you see that period. Feel free to let me know of any shows/movies better than the book it is based off of.
The sarcasm and internal dialogue of our dearly dreadful Dexter is kept, and they fit it into the show perfectly. His fascination with the ice truck killer’s work is perfectly presented by the thoughts and facial expressions of the actor, Michael C. Hall.
Not only this, but we spend more time with the characters. We learn more about them than we do in the book, and we grow a deeper connection to them. Along with this, we see more from the Dexter and Rita relationship, seeing them grow a little as a couple (or, at least, she grows. Dexter doesn’t because he is Dexter. Though there are small spurts of growth that he makes). We get to learn more about Paul and we get to meet him. The subplot with Paul is spectacular.
We meet the ice truck killer, which is something Lindsay couldn’t do in his book, as it was a first person perspective. Though this is that as well, TV shows have more freedom to leave their main characters behind and focus on someone new. We learn how his brain works, we see him getting his victims, and he has thrown himself into Dexter’s life in a way that just fits so perfectly into the show. The book did not have this. His identity was one hundred percent a secret until the very end of the novel.
Another thing that the show did better: Deb doesn’t know. At the end of the first book, Deb finds out who Dexter really is. She kind of just accepts it, and it is weird. Deborah doesn’t figure it out in the show, and that will make for more drama in the remaining seasons. It also fits her character better.
I wasn’t a big fan of the ending of the book. Dexter just barely keeps himself from killing his sister (which is a powerful moment that was incorporated into the show as well), then LaGuerta bursts into the shipping container, and he kills her with his brother, Brian, the ice truck killer. That is what the ice truck killer wanted the whole time: to get Dexter’s attention and kill someone with him like brothers again. This scene, the scene where Dexter and Brian kill LaGuerta, does not get brought up at all in the show, and I think it was wise for the producer to not include it. It stays truer to Dexter’s character, and Deb remains in the dark.
We get to see more victims, and we even get a small subplot with one of his victims (who, spoiler alert, wasn’t actually a victim, but committed suicide in prison later). Though this is a positive, it makes sense that Jeff didn’t jam his book full of Dexter’s kills.
More character growth, more victims, better ending: the first season of Dexter was incredible, and much better than the book. The only cons to this is that it is a Showtime series, which is basically synonymous to us calling something an HBO series today: there is nudity and sex in it. More than I would have thought there would be.
I have come to the conclusion that we have been handling books the wrong way. Rather than making movies out of them, we need to go the Dexter route and turn books into TV shows. There is more time to include character development, you can add and enhance things… all in all, it’s just a great idea. I mean, look at what Marvel is doing now on Disflix. We are getting well crafted stories that are more satisfying. Not because we are being put in suspense for a week, but because they have more time to build the story, develop characters, and go on side quests.
If you are below the age of seventeen, I suggest asking your parents prior to watching this series. If you are below the age of fifteen, don’t watch it.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a book to read before I can move on to the second season, and I would like to watch the rest of this show, so… I’ll see you guys later. Probably write something on No Way Home before I go back to writing short stories. I will see you guys soon! Oh, and, Harry, I’m not trying to steal your thing. No Way Home will be the last time… I swear! Also, if you do find this, tag me in your No Way Home post. Thanks.
I should probably go. My burritos are probably burning.
Remnants of a Writer’s Block: Part II
For a passerby, the cottage of the Littles down the slanting road would have appeared uneventful. The couple, though old, always stood together despite their trivial and inevitable domestic clashes. As time passes, people trapped inside the walls of a building are expected to have their silly disputes. In that way, homes are no different from prisons. You are trapped with other individuals within the walls of a compound. Wherever you go, you return home at the end of the day.
Anyway, the Littles shared what one can call the conventional husband and wife relationship. Mr Little talked little, hands behind his back, and short-tempered. Mrs Little talked far too much, hands waving in the air, and perhaps was the most patient person on the face of the entire Earth. She loved cooking, while he loved building. She loved him, and he loved her.
But again, people trapped inside the walls of a building are bound to have disagreements. Sometimes, Mr Little walks out of the home, ensuring each step he took reverberates through the entire neighbourhood. And when one walks in, probably Mrs Hutchinson, they would find Mrs Little by the dining table, crumbled tissues beside her. Still, they were the most conventional couple ever to be made. Mrs Little would say something like, "It's not that he is heartless. He sometimes just doesn't understand. Men are always angry."
The Long Walk Home
It takes Li Hyun nine minutes to walk home from school. Through the busy roads with the loud traffic, that is. He despises that path. Though no one knew, he never took that road home. He slips through the back gate of his school, down the small muddy track behind the messy Andersons, and through the deserted longer route to the Seoraksan mountains.
That Friday evening, Li Hyun did the same. He never had many people to call friends. Except one, and he had been missing for a while now. So, his evening escapades had never been noticed by any.
As he leapt over the small fence behind the apartment of the Andersons, he reached his favourite spot. The path where maple trees lined up on both sides of the road. It looked just like how it was in the desktop wallpapers. There were differences, of course, but only two souls in the entire world knew about them.
The little boy pulled down the straps of his bag to the maximum. His coffee-brown eyes nearly glistened in the sunlight below his messy, light blonde hair.
"Do you have a minute, sir?"
Oh, I forgot them back at home. Would you like me to get some? Though the words never made it out of the chambers of his mind, Louie was sure that his expressions took no effort to conceal the emotions. He turned around, midway through his haste to the office, late as always. And he instantly regretted not taking the effort to suppress his actual emotions. The college girl who stood before him seemed to have popped straight out of a fairy tale. Was she glowing?
"Sir." She repeats, but it is not loud enough to help Louie discern that he was staring at her without the slightest trace of shame. "Sir," it was almost a shout on the second turn, and it successfully brought Louie back to his senses.
"Yes, yes! How can I help you," Louie paused, "ma'am?" Well, this is getting formal. Louie was never good with girls. Well, people, in fact. There should be a reason why he knocked out the very first person who had the guts to interview him. That man lost his two canines on the right side that day with a single blow. It's expected of an older gentleman, isn't it? It cost Louie a few bucks too.
"Uh, we are doing a survey, and if we could have a minute of your time, it would be great! It's okay if you're busy, you know." The smile that occupied her face the very next moment almost announced that it wasn't okay. And Louie had a hard time deciding between the girl's awkward smile and Katherine's sweetly threatening grin. But again, has any gentlemen his age survived the cute smile of a young girl? "I am totally free!" I am so more than done.
Well, the questions in the survey felt more like a personal attack than the sweet reception Louie had expected.
Do you hate your job? Hell yes!
Do you feel like your earnings are less than what you deserve? Am I even paid?
On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your current standard of living? Negative!
But the answers that made it to the paper could not be further refined. That's how good it was. There might have been a lot of things Louie was unaware of. Doing a survey wasn't one among them. It paid him even more than his job does!
Since the weekly challenges are returning to the fold, and that Christmas is nearly here, and that I am flooding with ideas, I decided to include all the unfinished stories, as of yet, in this segment of the series. Ah, it is a relief to get it out of my mind. Hope you enjoy the story! Now, let me go and do some serious research on Ted Bundy. And also, I have a Christmas story coming up. Let me try to finish the year with a bang ^-^ Lots of love <3
Pen to the Paper 16: The Announcement
Nick stared at the creature in front of him.
"You will choose me as the winner of this challenge!" Hypnorc said.
"I will choose you as the winner of this challenge," Nick repeated, walking towards the desk in the back corner of the dressing room that was less of a dressing room and more of an all-purpose, whatever-I-need-it-to-be office.
When he reached the desk, he pulled out the stack of notes, through away the note with the winner on it, and began to work on a new note card, announcing Hypnorc as the winner.
Satisfied and feeling like he accomplished his mission, Hypnorc left the all-purpose room.
Just at that instant, I stepped out of the bathroom.
"I would not go in there if I were you, Nick," I said. "Oh, hey! Thanks for grabbing those for me!"
He handed me the note cards. "I think it's time for you to get on stage, my friend," Nick replied.
"Yes indeedy! Now where did I put… ah, yes."
A couple minutes later, a spotlight shone on stage, and a human sized chicken emerged. The speakers began playing The Chicken Dance. And, yes, the chicken began dancing to it.
I removed the mask and called out, "C'mon, guys! Join in with me!"
Pretty soon, I had the entire arena doing the chicken dance with me. And I couldn't help but laugh.
"Man, I love this. I think you guys have earned to learn who the winner is this month!"
The crowd cheered, still doing the chicken dance because the music was still playing. "Okay, I guess I'll join you guys. Though it may be difficult to read these while I dance…"
Beginning to dance once more, I said, "In third place, we have Sanjana's post 'Chasing the Birds We Made'! It was a very wholesome story, and it was very descriptive, as expected from the one and only Sanjana_S!
"In second place, we have someone I thought was an instant winner. I fell in love with the story from the start, and, though it ended just perfectly, it made me want to read more. So, if ever you do write more to this story, booklover_2020 please keep me posted because 'Alone' was spectacular! I loved every second of it.
"Now, first place shocked me. I've never had an instant winner get knocked out of the instant won spot before. But there was one post that I thought stood out against them all. It was just so incredible. Hold on while I clap, I don't remember who wrote it."
I finished clapping, I did the weird open-and-close thing, then I focused hard on my notes as I flapped my "wings" and sank to the ground.
"The winner is Roses311Sublime's… wait a second… Roses, I'm sorry for teasing you like that, but I believe there has been a mix up here. Excuse me one moment while I go talk to Nick… And don't stop doing the chicken dance!"
The elevator slowly sank down to the dressing room. Once I made it down there, I walked over to Nick. "Hey, man, I think there was a mistake. Who won?"
"Roses311Sublime did," Nick replied.
"I thought we decided on someone else over breakfast this morning."
"Yeah, we did. But I had second thoughts."
"You're supposed to come to me with second thoughts, Nick."
"I know. But there was this weird orc-lookin' dude, and he was very convincing."
I gave Nick a quizzical look. "So where's the notecard with the winner on it?"
"I threw it away. But I made a back-up set, and that's riiiight here," Nick said, pulling out a stack of note cards, flipping through it, and handing me the winner.
"Thanks," I said, walking back to the elevator. Nick pressed the 'Up' button and I began my rapid ascent.
When I emerged, everyone was still dancing, and I rejoined.
"Glad to see you guys are still having fun!
"The winner of Pen to the Paper 16 is… HashtagFiction with his entry 'Riot'! Your story was amazingly detailed, and incredibly interesting. You kept me glued to my seat and painted the scene so vividly I could see how everything went down. This is another entry that I would like to see more of so, please, keep me updated if you do.
"Now for some honorable mentions.
"GLD's 'Flashbacks to Then' was beautiful. I absolutely loved this write! I would quote the last stanza here, but I think instead that I am going to just tell each and every last one of you to read this post!
"Roses311Sublime, your post 'Villains Like Writing Challenges II', I thought, was a fun read. Thank you for documenting the conversation… and can you help me with my orc problem? Thanks.
" 'Cat' by roboggeek was hilarious! I loved it. Thank you for sharing.
"Raybug63 almost had me in tears with the post, 'A Visit'. It's hard to get me to cry when I'm reading, and I definitely had tears in my eyes.
"And last, but certainly not least, I would like to see more from 'Gone', SeanTILDawn. Funny in parts, interesting in others, I want to see more from this story!
"Thank you, one and all, for entering! I'll see you next month for another Pen to the Paper!"
Chasing The Birds We Made
She stared at me through her wide red rimmed eyes, unblinked, adorned by dark black circles stretched in perfect curves underneath. Her hair was unkempt, her dress torn, her skin all wrinkled and tattered. Those stationary irises looked at me as if engrossed by something inches behind my skull. I forced a smile and clutched her hand, my thumb rubbing her phalanges. Her cracked lips slightly opened to reveal her yellowish brown decaying teeth that crammed inside like émigrés in the last train. Her expression displayed no emotion at all, trying to convey the buried truth of pain untold. Her pale cheeks navigated in to divulge her classic dimples that talked of those days when none of us would have imagined her to become a sick seed growing in the dark.
"Seriously, you don't want me to walk you home?” I asked, standing on my knees, pushing the wisps of ebony hair behind her ears.
“Ah, darling, I’ve been in this shit for three years. I can manage,” she said, brushing my hand aside, her eyes glassy with morphine.
“See ya then,” she said, one hand, working on the wheelchair, the other waving to me. I hesitated, then finally raised my hand. This wasn't the girl I grew up with. This was not the June I knew. She inched down the sidewalk, using her hands to turn the wheel and propel the wheelchair that encased her twisted torso and a pair of bell bottoms covering what remained of her crippled legs. A few people on the street collided with her vehicle, but she never seemed to care at all. She heard, saw, felt nothing. It was as if the whole planet moved in turbo speed whilst the world of her own was put on a pause.
A few feet before her way, she could see a beauteous little girl, walking on the pavement, holding her mother’s hand. A red ribbon, matching her tiny boots, was tied around her flaxen hair in a cute hippie style. June smiled, her dimple smile as she moved past her.
“Mama, is dat a helicotter o’er there?” she asked, her forefinger pointing to the skies where a mini chopper came flying through a clump of white cotton clouds. June’s heart skipped a beat and she stopped moving for a while.
“Jessica?” she called out my name just to check if I was still there. She opened her mouth again, trying to call a bit louder, but before she could finish the first syllable, I dashed across the sidewalk, almost tripping, and pushed the wheelchair in supersonic speed.
“It’s going this way!” I shouted into her ears, turning the wheelchair right in the bend which led to the next street.
“Jesus, Jess! What on earth are you doing?” she panicked, her bony fingers curling around the handlebars, holding them firmly. “The people, they're looking at us!”
She spat out words in the air, her brain unable to process the current situation. You could count all my thirty two teeth in that cheshire smile that was plastered on my face.
“Do you mind?” I yelled, speeding up my pace, my head rolling up and down, fighting in this quandary on whether to follow the helicopter or to focus on the road.
“Well, not really,” she mumbled, slowly loosening her grip and tilted her head up to get a good look of the flying chopper we were following. We were close; in fact, we were ahead of them. “But seriously, how old are you? Five?”
I shook my head, letting out ripples of laughter blend in the air and replied, my lungs expanding, my legs moving like pistons as I roared up and down the sidewalk. “Darling, I don’t care if I am five or forty five. Aeroplanes and helicopters, they're my thing.”
She closed her eyes and spread her arms in the air, allowing the hasty wind to entangle her thick black hair. She then opened her eyes which now saw nothing but the endless skies of clear blue to realise that it was the helicopter that was now following us.
“Jess,” she cried as fresh pails of tears rolled down her cheeks. “I am flying! I am flying!” This was exactly what I wanted. This was the June I wanted to see.
I came to a halt at the junction where humongous vehicles usually moved on the main roads on a typical Sunday morning.
“I am Jessica and this is my friend June!” I shouted at the skies, looking at the direction of the chopper, my hands cupped around my mouth.
“Don’t forget us!” June shouted too, playing her part as the word ‘us’ came reverberating back. The chopper flew past us as we watched it go in silence with a childish gleam of achieving something big surfaced on our faces. We waved to the skies maniacally as if burning fires were crawling over our calves. We then looked at each other and moved our hands in rapid circular motions like a spinning top, making sounds of toco-toco-toco, trying to imitate the helicopter.
I sat on the road of tarmac, my hands stretched back for support, laughing out heartily. Pearls of sweat surfaced on June’s forehead as she brought forward her shoulder to rub them away with her sleeve.
“It was flying so low!” I cried, bending my knees up and wrapping my arms around them.
“I know!” she squeaked back, running her tongue over her lips. The pale cheeks had turned ripe red and the queasy expression had long disappeared.
“You know what?” I said, looking into her eyes. “Perhaps, I should do this.”
“Ah Jess, it’s alright. You don’t have to walk me home,” she said as her glabella sunk in to create tiny little lines that grew out to be furrows in her forehead.
“Oh yes, of course, I am not going to walk you home,” I said, standing on my feet, stretching my knees and dusting off my harems. I rubbed my palms together and clicked my tongue, winking my left eye. This was definitely going to my diary.
I was actually turning on my laptop when I heard this helicopter and jumped out of my room to watch it. That was when this idea crossed my mind. I have my Economics exam the day after, but I know very well that if I don’t write this down now, I am never going to write this in the near future. We can deal with the exam later, this is what matters right now. So here we are! Hope you all like it ^-^ And I better get back to studying!