Unconfined Thoughts 20 – Faded

I am like that empty cup on the sidewalk, served its purpose and left to roll around with the wind like a waltz with the dead. I’m like the plastic bag, served its purpose and still revealing what I stood for but instead, I carefully drift away from paths once walked. I am like the forgotten notebook carefully balanced under the chair with scrawled notes, but no clear indication of current usefulness. I am like your footsteps and your tired gait, wanting desperately for something more to crack a smile once again, but it’s even a struggle to falsify it. I am like the slur of vocals against arpeggios that somehow lift my hopelessness up and grant me temporary wings. The constant pulsing begins to imitate my determined heart, so I pick up speed. I am like the many cracks on your hands. I am like the wavering speech. I am like the striking wind. I whisper, “Will we ever be properly visible or always faded?”

Written: 2/3/17 1:51pm

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Are We in the Woods Yet? | Quick Piece

We were coming from a sunset that left our breaths chilly, but our souls were so warm. Taylor Swift cheerfully played in the radio, paving the roads ahead of us. Kamikaze ember colored leaves made their debut in the windshield as we drove back to where we were staying for the weekend. I watched the colors and lights illuminate my spirits and felt warmth throw a smile onto my face. The car rumbled into a parking lot and two best friends who sat in front me started belting out a Taylor Swift song, repeating her angst and frustration but their smiles to each other were reminiscent of four years of friendship. Their clashing tones filtered through Taylor’s voice seemed to pause time and for a couple seconds, I sat in silence and stillness, uncertain if I should exit the car or remain and witness this bondage of companionship. A nervous dialogue in my head pondered if I should be a secret keeper to this memory that’s slowly forming in front of me or if I should intrude it by the opening and closing of my door. The girl sitting to my left fidgeted and it was clear that she wasn’t as aware of their bond as I was, so I made sure I faded into the shadows, only allowing my presence be softly known in the loud drumming and bass with my synchronized swaying to the two best friends. They took no notice of my participation, my personal revelation and happiness, when they were immersed in this memory they created for each other with their love for Taylor Swift. The girl next to me anxiously wanted to get back to the festivities that were being prepared to us inside, but at this point, I felt a sense of belonging not with the two best friends, but with myself strangely enough. When the song finished off, the last chord ringing out throughout the car and city, the driver exclaimed, “And that’s what four years of friendship looks like!” I solidified the statement with my laughter; delighted I got to witness something so precious.

Maryrose and Lucius | Quick Piece

Part 1: Carpus

“Don’t you want to be happy, Shila? Don’t you think you need something else in your life?” my sister shouted at me. Her eyes filled with tears and slowly started approaching me. “Yes, but you’re better at this than me, Jenni! You’re great! Please don’t be upset!” Her skin started fading to grey and she extended her arms to me. “I just have to go to do something. Actually, I’m fulfilling my Carpus fate! Please, where are you going, Jenni!” I frantically tried to get a hold of her, but the last words she said was, “Don’t fail the family, Shila.”

I woke up with a start, heart pounding and drenched in sweat. I started doing a bunch of checks to keep myself from overthinking. My name is Shila and I left home three years ago to fulfill my Carpus fate. I’m living in Washington right now and I’m getting pretty close. I looked around my apartment and saw empty cartons everywhere. There were water bottles, take out boxes and papers strewn everywhere. I muttered, “My mom would kill me if she saw my room like this.” The last time I talked to my mom was a week ago and our conversation was extremely stiff. She just asked where I was and I gave her one worded responses. There were sometimes several seconds where our faces would silently be pressed against our phones with only an exchange of our breaths. My mom would finish the conversation off with a quick “I love you.” and before I had a chance to say so, the line was cut. I got dressed and had a quick bite of breakfast before heading to class.

When I first left home, I was set on proving to everyone that I didn’t need the fate to prove my worth but the more I ventured off, the more stories I heard of failed attempts to ditch the fate. I’ve heard about people’s hands suddenly falling off. I’ve heard about people’s wrists becoming engulfed in flames and being burned alive. I’ve even heard about people disappearing and never seen again. I immediately enrolled in a school after being on the road for a couple months. There was someone in my class named Maryrose, but I never got close enough to see her wrist. I just had a reverberating thought that this was simply too easy. By the end of the year, I still hadn’t talked to my sister, made a group of friends and wasn’t able to get close enough to Maryrose. She must’ve realized that I was in her class, but it was a big lecture class after all.

The following year, I was in a different class and it had less people. There weren’t that many people that we could introduce ourselves. I sat in the front of the class and I noticed that someone jumped when they heard my name. I looked back and saw a guy who couldn’t have been older than me. He made eye contact with me before glancing at his wrist. It wasn’t until he introduced himself with his eyes locked on mine did I realize that there was a match. As I walked back to my apartment, thoughts ran in my mind. My first instinct was to call my parents and tell them I potentially found my soul mate and enemy at the school I was attending. I just had to find out who was which, but the thing is that they would want us to meet and I wasn’t prepared to speak to my sister yet.

One day after class, I was going to grab some lunch before I ran into Maryrose again, drawing me close enough to see her tan wrist. I clearly bore Shila on her wrist and before I could say anything, she bolted from the restaurant, with my forgotten lunch left behind and my mission quickly drawing to an end. Eventually, I caught up with her in an alley. Her hands were on her knees, her chest was heaving and her glare was unforgettable. They bore through me and before I could say anything, she shouted, “I know who you are! Get away from me! I don’t want anything to do with you or the Carpus mission!” I slowly approached her and said, “Look, I don’t know if you’re my enemy or my soul mate. I also hate the fact that we have to do this, but let’s get this over with. If you’re my enemy then I’ll leave you alone. If you’re my soul mate, then let’s work this out.” I wasn’t sure if my words made any impact, but I kept approaching her. “Don’t come any closer!” she shouted, from her back pocket, she pulled out a knife. I thought to myself, if she wanted to have a fight, then I’ll give her one. I lunged at her and narrowly dodged her knife. I managed to land a couple hits on her, causing her to pause and smirk at me. “Come at me, bitch.” she muttered as she slices my arm. I scream in pain and leaped on her and we wrestled around in the dark and dirty alley. I managed to wrestle and kick the knife away and I sat on her stomach and before I could pummel her face with my punches, I heard a distinct shout. I looked over my shoulder and saw Lucius holding a woman’s hand. We stopped fighting and sat up. “Maryrose, I know I avoided you last year because I was also in the process of fulfilling my Carpus fate. I met Keara and I immediately knew that she was my soul mate. When I saw you, I knew you were my enemy and I was afraid.” Lucius slowly said. His words only started to register with me when I sensed Maryrose standing up next to me. She extended her hand to me and without a word, she pulled me in for a hug. Instead of feeling hatred for her, a new feeling erupted within me as I made eye contact with Lucius who smiled to me and then smiled to Keara. “How come you aren’t fighting me?” I stammered to Lucius. Maryrose nodded in agreement and added, “I always thought you have to somehow defeat your enemy. When I saw Shila, I just got the feeling to defeat her. Maybe the paranoia was getting to me.” Her sorrow filled look erased the hard feelings I had for her. Lucius laughed and said, “As long as you recognize the relations of the names, then the fate will be settled.” And from then on, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.

A month later, Maryrose and I share an apartment and each day with her is a new adventure. Sometimes Lucius and Keara would visit us and we would happily catch up. After that night, I glanced at my wrists and to my surprise and dismay; I found the names completely faded from my wrists. Since then, I had tearfully reconciled with my sister with a five hour phone call and we’ve visited each other many times afterwards. And from then on, I knew that everything was settled again.

Carpus | Quick Piece

For my entire life, I’ve lived in Abington with my family. When I was little, I loved playing outside with my sister and we would fantasize about fairy realms. I always played the fairy queen and my sister would play the peasant, but in the end, she would always be the fairy princess. I remembered long hours where we would dart around the woods, pretending we were fairies. As we got older and our imagination evolved, I became a fairy ice queen and my sister became the fairy fire princess. We ran so fast and often that our bodies grew strong. In times like these, we would forget about our destiny that often haunted us when we were little. Whenever we had to attend council meetings, we tried to convince our parents that our fairy kingdom was going to collapse and that they desperately needed us. They would convince us that the fairy police force had it taken care of and we would sadly head to the council meetings with our family. At the meetings, the mayor would talk about our Carpus fate and updating us who had successfully completed their deeds, who was currently taking part of it and he would end the meeting by motivating us to take part in it because it was our fate. I still remember when my parents first talked to us about it. They explained that the two names on our wrists were the two people that would shape me and my sister’s lives. My parents would tell the story of how they found each other. My mom held out her right hand and Brandon, my dad’s name, was there. On my dad’s left hand was Cindie, my mom’s name. They talked about how they helped each other find their enemies. I remembered asking my dad why they even bothered to find their enemy. He said that even though they’re your enemy, you have to identify them so you can clear their name. I still never understood why, but I understood this growing burden that I would soon have to take on.
My sister and I went to school and started seeing more people who had people’s names tattooed on their wrists, but didn’t know who were their soul mates or enemies. People would talk about what they think would happen, but since they didn’t have much time, there wasn’t much we could do. I just stared at my wrists and wished that they would go away. On my left wrist was Maryrose and on my right wrist was Lucius. They were both written in an elegant script that was a different style than the two names my sister had. They were blockierand there were rumors that the style that the names were written in described your personality. I didn’t feel very fancy. Our teachers would always remind us about our deed, but I would take my eraser and try to scrub it away. My wrists became bright red from all the scrubbing I would do and my classmates started calling me Lobster for some reason. My sister tried to back me up, but when she started getting called Crab, she backed away from me. Ever since that, I stopped talking to her. We would only tell each other that dinner was ready and we would silently retreat from our rooms and quietly eat, our parents uncertain of the situation.
One night, she bought up her fate. She proudly announced that she had already found her soul mate. My parents sat up straight and started asking her questions. Apparently she met him at the restaurant she worked for and when they met, their tattoos faded to the grey that indicates that you were successful. She stuck out her hand and her left hand was faded to a grey that matched my parent’s status. My mother’s shaky hands caressed my sister’s hands and gently kissed it with her soft lips. “Well done, Jenni. Well done.” my dad whispered as tears brimmed his eyes. He knew that his daughter wasn’t his anymore. “Tonight, we’ll head to the Council meeting and meet your soul mate.” my mother finally said. For this entire time, I sat with my hands under the table, furiously rubbing my wrists until they were raw. Without a word, I walked away from the table to my room and started to cry. I already heard stories at school of how they had also found their soul mate. Some of them even found their enemies and talked about epic battles. One of my friends even found their soul mate and she would constantly talk about how magical it felt. I still hated the Carpus fate. I lay in my bed and stared at my wrists. “What if I never find you guys? What if it takes me 50 years to find you? I’m sorry I’ll make you wait that long.” I muttered. “You’re just lazy, that’s what. You’re not even trying.” I heard my sister say from my door. I leaped from my bed and shouted, “You really think so? Do you really think that I want this stupid fate stuck on me ever since I was born? Heck, I didn’t ask for this!” She shouted back at me, her face turning bright red. “Don’t you want to be happy? Don’t you want to be successful? For all I know, you’ve failed!” I took a step towards her and rolled up my sleeves. “You don’t know me, bitch! And you? You’re not the same anymore. You would never be worthy of the fairy realm anymore.” I said, hoping that some childhood nostalgia would remind her for who she was. She laughed loudly, her high pitched squeal echoing throughout the house. “We’re not in the fairy kingdom anymore. Wake up! It’s the real world where you have to face your problems.” I lifted my hand up to her face just as my parents raced up the stairs and stood shell-shocked of the scene unfolding in front of them. My mother let out a whimper, but neither of them reached out to stop us. It was already too late and whatever’s been said has already done its damage. My sister closed her eyes, ready to take my blow, but something held me back. I simply whispered, “I guess everything we did together didn’t count then.” I lowered my hand and retreated to my room. I could hear my sister shouting at my parents and her door slamming shut, shaking everything violently. I started packing immediately; throwing everything important into my backpack so my mind left no room for reflection. In the distance, I heard my parents begging me to come out so we could talk. The noise quickly died down. I let the only noise I make be a whispered good-bye. I walk out of the house, seeing the entire house shrouded in an unusual quietness with the reverberation of my parent’s hurried whispers leaking through their walls. I walk until I reach the opposite sidewalk and drop my bags. I hold up my scripted wrists in front of the house, seeing my sorrow-filled sister’s silhouette in the window and close my eyes. I shout to the skies, “I’m coming for you, Maryrose and Lucius!”

Part 2: Maryrose and Lucius

One Wild Ride | Quick Piece Breakdown

One Wild Ride

Hello! I hope you’re doing well! This piece was written with prompts from one of my friends and I’m really glad how it turned out!

I have to admit that this piece was pretty difficult to write. I know I say this pretty much every single time, but this piece required a lot of exposition to bring out the last paragraph. Instead of the theme being the usual, friendship and loneliness, I chose family. This kind of love that comes out of families is really special and unique, so I tried to write a story that emphasizes it.

This story circulates around the Duflo family (I got this name from a random surname generator 😛 ), mainly Paul. In the first paragraph, it’s focused around Paul’s childhood when his family goes to the waterpark during the summer for relaxation. As a child, Paul loved the water slides and running around. It was a lot of fun to write and I kind of structured young Paul around when my brother was little – a happy, energetic, and speedy kid. In the next couple of paragraphs, Paul grows up and he goes to college and then tries to find a job which he fails. As more things don’t go his way, Paul ends up lying to his parents about his current status. At the same time, his parents do the same.

One day, Paul gets stuck in traffic and becomes very frustrated with everything. He passes by the waterpark he cherished when he was little and races home to get his parents to join him. I tried to write this scene to be as sensual as possible with young Paul’s energy and enthusiasm. The entire family goes and just stays on one ride. In the end, Paul’s mother asks if he wants to go on the water slides like he always has, but he stays with his parents.

The title of this piece is really important because you get a different sense of it as you progress through the story. In the beginning, the one wild ride is the orange slide that Paul loves because of how fast it was. In the middle the wild ride ends up being the difficulties the Duflo family ends up having and still staying together. And in the end, the wild ride isn’t very wild. It’s the Lazy River that as Paul states, it’s a well-deserved ride.

I really wanted to emphasize rest and familial love. The Dad in the story is always working, but he does rest and relax with his family even if it ends up being an annual event. And Paul rests after beating himself up over his failures. And the familial love ends up being sacrificial for everyone’s happiness. They lied about their severity of their troubles which may not be admirable at the first glance, but it’s a clear indication of selflessness.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my story!

Alice

Twenty | January 19, 2016

As of today, I’m no longer a teenager. I’m entering into my third decade and in all honesty, I still feel like I’m 16 years old, excited about being able to drive soon. I still feel like I should be memorizing all the times tables until they were part of each step I took, echoing down the long hall ways and giving me light where to go. I still feel like I’m bumbling around with no direction in where I’m going. To be honest, I still feel like a kid. Yet, my age no longer says “teen”, an awkward adjusting human who is still figuring out things.

Throughout these last ten years of ultimate growth and questioning, I’ve found that the last four years have made a definite impact. I found myself asking who I was many times and afraid of the answer I would get. I found myself constantly angry and not knowing what to do about it, wanting time to go faster but it just dragged behind. I found myself staring at the sky and feeling so small. I found myself being enveloped in hugs and feeling their warmth seeping to me. I found very valuable friends whom I will hold tight to my heart and cherish. I found myself drowning, but coming up into the surface again.

I’m so grateful for each year, each month, each second that I’ve lived. Without each trying moment and tear, I wouldn’t be who I am now. Who knows who I would be when I’m 30? But I know for sure, I’ll be Alice Chen.

Alice

Curse | December 21, 2015

As you may have noticed in my writing, I’ve been using more curse words in my stories. To those who know me, they know that I don’t curse like a sailor. More or less, I don’t curse at all except sometimes one would slip out when I stub my toe. That’s just my expression of pain. Anyways, it’s just my preference. I just think that it really isn’t a great way to express yourself. Spewing out four lettered curse words about an annoying homework assignment isn’t as colorful to me than using all possible adjectives to describe how irrelevant that useless piece of paper is. Also, as a Christian, I find that I should constantly display the love of Christ that is, not blending in with the rest of society.

Although in writing, it’s a different story. When I want to give my characters more depth, I’ll have them spew out curse words but the moment that they choose to use the curse words are specifically chosen according to their character. If they’re like me, careful about their words and reserved, then I’ll only have them curse when their angry or frustrated. If they’re a little more rowdy, then I’ll do the opposite, but they won’t curse without reason. In a couple stories back, I tried out the entire “cursing without reason” for a character and it just made the character seem witless, the opposite of what I intended.

The moral of this is post is basically to give your characters enough realistic color. Don’t overdo things and make it too extreme. Make them as someone you would see on the street or interact with in your class or even one of your friends.

Alice