But how dare
a heart so young
be so worn?
But how dare
a heart so young
be so worn?
She lived in the deadliest of times.
When they first started appearing, she was intrigued. There was much to see, colors and odd shapes, in the gifts from the world above. Some were familiar, they looked like the sea jellies she loved, but they were flimsy and dead. There was no life in them, and no light.
She wasn’t meant to scavenge like a brute, or delve into the unknown. She was the king’s daughter. He’d named her Celo after her kind, and then called her strong and hard-cut and insufferable as she grew older. She had let herself be chiseled by the horrors of the sea, when her allies were drawn out of the water in tons and left to suffocate in open air. She witnessed it, and felt herself come apart when the whales hunted, and the sharks’ fins were cut clean off. She witnessed because she believed that she had to learn, in helplessness, the way of the sea to defy it.
But after a while, she didn’t have to scavenge. The trinkets found their way uninvited to the monuments and the corals she called home. Her father sat on his throne there, growing gradually more irritated by what the world above gave them, but still holding peace. She watched as the older ones broke into pieces over the years, and the newer ones clustered into whirring masses that blocked the sun and filtered its light into colorful, malignant rays.
She began twisting the small, thin lines from the tails of seahorses when she went on her forbidden trips to the surface, and ripped apart the threads that entangled turtles. She pulled sacks out of dead bodies, and many specks came along with them. Her home was being suffocated and sunk, and she wouldn’t float there and let it.
She let her anger burn with heat and acid, because it wasn’t the order of the sea that she had to stop. She learned that the humans sent the trinkets, and they drew her friends out to bleed and die, and they cut their fins and sent them back to sink. She saw them. It wasn’t the order of the sea that she had to overthrow; it was the two-legged beasts.
“Father,” she said, her hands curled into fists.
“Do not defy me,” he commanded. He’d known what she came for. His deep-set voice had always been a comfort, but the entire ocean was falling apart around them. There was no comfort to be found in that, none to be sought. “The sea will find way back to her order.”
There wasn’t a companion in the sea who would defy the King of it all, even when he held a naive conviction. She needed an enemy, so she found her way to the very depths, to the most sinister glow the sea held.
The Sea Witch was a siren, and the most beautiful the oceans had seen. In her lived a piece of the soul of the man she once loved. She was an Angler, after all, doomed to dissolve and consume. She held a grudge against males, and human males in particular. Her love was one, and legend has it she’d sung to him and he was lured. Her fate caught him running as soon as she’d declared him hers, and he vanished into the salt of the sea, leaving none behind but a piece that she held in her heart.
“Why,” she said, in a voice subdued, “if it isn’t the King’s daughter.”
And she hated the Sea King because he’d shunned her from his kingdom. Her hair held silver light, and it lured like her voice. It curled and flowed around Celo threatening, but how else would she treat the daughter of her foe?
“Give me legs.”
“Oh?” The Sea Witch said, amused, and tucked her palms beneath Celo’s jaw. “And so easily?”
“You will get whatever you ask for in return.”
And on feet that strode on shards of glass, she walked to the human world.
They were resting beneath the sun when she did, and no one took a single glance her way when she crawled out and toppled to her side. She was aching and tired, and her body wasn’t hers anymore. And the sun was so warm and bright it was almost personally provoking her.
He blocked the angry rays, and her eyes had to readjust to see his features as he knelt overhead. He helped her to her new feet, then and into his world. In a sense, he was helping hers too. The little trinkets laced the shore, and he had been picking them up.
Time passed and he taught her how to live. “These are plastics,” he told her, and he was genuine enough to find it amusing. “You’re like an alien,” he’d said with a chuckle. “How did you not know that?”
His face was framed with an air of innocence, an endearing child-like quality and a complete contrast to the world above the oceans. He told her about plastics and oil spills and whaling and shark-fin soup and how much he condemned all of them. He said that their factories send dark, toxic air upwards, and the ocean swallows it out of courtesy, and that he wanted it all to stop.
She let herself witness the order of earth like she did the sea before that. It bustled with noise and joy and carnage, and it was beautiful beyond words, with its trees growing thick and long, and their canopies intertwining for shade, and its animals treading dry soil and flying its skies.
But the humans refused to budge. They built and they rampaged, and drank out of plastic. Their killing wasn’t limited to the sea, she learned, because they killed one another and the land above. They did it with no conscious, and they proved undeserving of the gifts that the sea gave them.
Her voice was muffled and suffocated and sunk, like the lives in her home, no matter the signs, no matter the time that passed. Her time was counted against her, and the shards beneath her feet became unbearable. The sea was calling for her, tracing shores with death; whales and turtles she could’ve saved if she remained under water. She’d failed it. Her kind belongs in the ocean, and even the severest desire to fix what the past had wrecked wouldn’t change that.
Her resentment grew for all but one man who under the sun told her that he loved the ocean.
So she took him to the shore of the place he loved and protected so fiercely.
It was ugly, and it was angry, that plunge of the knife and the splutter that followed. Humans were terribly warm, and his blood covered her like an inhale, and she felt the tightness in her stomach ease when she did it. “The oceans love you too,” she whispered, her eyes brimming with brine and more honesty in her wavering voice that she’d ever mustered.
“Bring me a human heart,” the Sea Witch had said, and without words, had asked for the destruction that came with it. “It’s a measly price. I’m giving you two gifts, after all.”
Before too long, he’d bled enough, and in despair, became still beneath her. It brought the thought of the sharks that had sunk. He was past the point of no return, as was the ocean.
His insides steamed and convulsed when she reached into his flesh, bones and blood intervening, and tissues cradling tight the organ she pulled. “I don’t want you to see it,” she told him. “The ocean we couldn’t save.”
It wasn’t at all a clean cut. It was vicious and furious and she couldn’t contain it, and, oh, it wasn’t him; it wasn’t him who destroyed our seas. But the order is only impartial, and humans shall bear it.
She held his heart to the sky, and it was slick with mercury. That dragged a giggle out of her, because did Mercury not guide the souls to the underworld? But then she held that heart to her own; it remained precious, and that was the Sea Witch’s second gift.
“I will plant in you the love for one human. It is his heart I want.”
His body was still tremulous and quivering, and she wondered just how broken it was, for his nerves to be protesting even after she’d cut him open and left him to bleed.
She felt the warmth dragging down to her elbows. Then she dropped the heart aside, and her gaze to the mutilated body under her. His blood burned and branded her as it flowed, it was toxic and lethal, and it tore her because he wasn’t that. It smelled of lead and mercury and the black liquid they spill into the sea. And in the gaping hole where his heart had been, she found the lungs that bore the scent of the black clouds that the oceans swallowed.
She reached for the knife and dragged it against his stomach again. From it spilled a million specks of plastics in cheerful disarray. They had found their way back into him, and were the color of fury and destruction and the sea, and they continued gushing between her fingers like the ocean itself, like a nightmare that wouldn’t end.
Come the waves and she left along with the ebb, her laughter trailing behind her and a marred heart in her hands. There was pleasant news for the Sea Witch; she didn’t have to plot the destruction of the human race.
They are doing well enough on their own.
There are many little things I hid in this, and I’d love for you guys to tell me what you found. I’ll be posting an explanation soon ❤ happy reading
This would be one of the posts I write as I go along (and I’ve forgotten how to write by the looks of it, so apologies in advance).
I went on a trip to Japan for 10 days. I walked more than I had ever, and I saw lights and snow and mountains and shrines. I held up a hedgehog called Mina, and pet deer that roamed around the parks of Nara, and the owls in its cafes, and touched a shark and screamed when I felt its pulse. I hiked up a mountain to a monkey park and bought a Ghibli music box that made me cry when it played. I also sprinted across Hong Kong Airport twice cause I was too busy eating melons and almost missed my transit trip.
I ate so much, and I wore so much. It was colder than the last time we’d been there and definitely colder than Dubai. I started understanding why people who don’t live in the desert hate the cold, but I didn’t come to hate it anyway.
It was a wonderful trip, and now it’s over.
(Photo credits to my brother @_bnfahad)
I’m not really sad, I’m grateful about how smooth it went. It was the first two-person trip I’ve ever been on (joke’s on you and all the people of Japan who thought we’re a couple staying in different hotel rooms. I went with my younger brother), and the first I was primarily responsible for planning. Needless to say, I was anxious as heck every time we had to catch a flight or a train, or to check-in into a different hotel. Which means a lot of anxiety, because we stayed in 3 cities excluding the ones we went for one-day trips to.
But I’m feeling less grounded now. It’s hard to explain, but I was so dependent on this through 2018. Every time my thoughts would get out of control, I’d remember that there’s a trip waiting for me at the end of the year, so I would look up places to go to things to do. I’m glad the trip lived up to my expectations, and there is something I am anticipating in 2019, so I’m grabbing hold of that now, and using it to keep my eyes set on my goals.
Speaking of which, have you any resolutions? I generally don’t believe in them, but I’ve decided to write a small review/summary of (almost?) every book I read and movie I watch in 2019. I’ve gotten frustrated with forgetting the substance of all the media I consume, so what better time to begin something like this than the beginning of the year?
And finally, thanks for putting up with this loser of a writer (me) who posts once every blue moon. I wish you all years of happiness and prosperity 🙂
The elevator stops with a pleasant chime. I look down at my feet; they’re in two little shoes with pink bows.
There’s a whole world behind the doors that pull apart. In fact, there are two. One is filled to the brim with the laughter of kids and their mischief. I’m a good girl, I have always been, so I’ll keep to myself. In the other world I see home, and that one is brimming with my screams, because there are bad thoughts inside my head, and I am only as evil as they are, no matter how gentle the distraction of my mother’s perfume is. It is quiet at home, and I feel loved and cared for. But I am broken, and I deserve the unnaturally sinister sneers of little girls, as they look my way and whisper and laugh, and laugh and laugh, until I can bear it no longer, and I crumble and fall apart, and open my eyes back in that same box.
I look down at my feet again. This time, they’re in sneakers. My shoes are a little worn and tattered, but I’m bigger, and more grounded. The chime leads me to a dark place lit by tiny yellow lights and a carousel. Not unpleasant, but oddly comforting. It looked like a carnival, but it’s behind an invisible barrier beyond the doors. I muster up my courage, and cross over, and it’s bustling and warm, and the air carries the scent of candied apples in it. I hear my friends in the carousel, so I join. I spin along, savoring the carelessness, and laugh along with my friends, and there’s a world out there, and a life to be lived, but I can’t be bothered. I’m enjoying my time enough to spoil me rotten. But then, a call pulls me out; that I can’t go on like this. It’s a too-pleasant dream, and awareness draws your dreams to their end. There are struggles to overcome, and strength to be gained, and a life to be lived.
So this time, I find my way back on my own two feet, in the tattered sneakers that have become more worn. The elevator chimes, and behind the doors is the ocean, the very dark depths of it. I don’t find it threatening because I am ignorant. So I pass through the invisible barrier at the doors, first with my fingertips, then my hands, then my whole body.
It is not terrible at first. I suppose that I am still a little skewed, maybe not quite right. But it won’t get so bad. So I let the water consume me, bit by bit, grab hold of my fragile mind, and crush me inside out. It is deep, and I am suffocating and there’s no air in my lungs, and my voice can’t push anything out. I can’t say it because I’m drowning.
A hand pulls me back into the box this time, and I’m soaking and shivering and worn. My feet are bare, because I didn’t think I would escape, but that gentle perfume I can recognize. The elevator leads me back to the ocean sometimes, but I stand and resist when it happens, because I’m not falling again.
At least, I’m trying to.
The chime takes me to an all-white wall, and puts me in black kitten-heels. I trace my palms on that wall and walk along its side. I find a gap; the wall is a maze.
In the white maze I stumble and fall, and get lost more times that I can count. Others find their ways out easily, I think, and I have to remind myself that it is not always how it appears. But I can’t help it, and it eats me up, that comparison, and that desperate feeling of falling behind. I’m losing, and only pretending that I’m not, and I am clueless about the way out, or what sits at the very end. I’m dreading the next fall, or the next loss, and sometimes it’s not too bad because it really isn’t a race.
But today my eyes stung and my tears filled them all the way up, then they overflowed and burned down my cheeks. I can’t find the strength to fight them, but I think I’ve found something else. I’ve found the stairs, and I’ll kick these shoes off and run up and stumble and fall. There’s a purpose to be found, and a life to be lived, and I will soon learn not to fear any of it.
It’s ya girl’s birthday, and I cried out of existential dread, but had to write a little something here to celebrate (?) or to actually remind you guys to wish me a happy one. I hope someone takes the time to express what they’ve interpreted from all of this 🙂
I feel like I’ve been searching in me for something to write. I’ve tapped into what’s inside, trying to scribble it out into a poem or the like, just for the sake of writing something. Needless to say, I failed (several times over).
Then I considered that hey, that could be a good thing. There’s no grief for me to romanticize into pretty words and allusions to nature. But then I looked again, reflecting deeper, looking for anything.
I was empty.
It’s a haunting thing, to look back and notice that you’ve been caught up in a soul-deadening routine of willing your day to end and willing your week to end and forgetting that that’s your life running by. When your insides are carved out and hollow, there’s much room for you to sink into some depth of anxiety, one that forces you to look and see what a horrible person you’ve become, you and all that dwells inside you, you, and your dark, twisted envy.
I don’t know whether I’m able to snap out of this, or whether I’d grown accustomed to being constricted. It has been a while since I genuinely laughed, and far too long since I just had fun. It’s selfish, considering that I could be living my best life right now, with more blessings than I can count. But I’m longing for laughter and freedom and a new breath in my lungs. I long, and I can’t forgive myself for that.
There’s a lot I can’t seem to forgive myself for, wanting being the main thing. I never allow myself to want anything so much, because I can’t bear the thought of not getting it after that. This void inside me I carved out myself, digging out faults in every single thing that excites me, or that I long for, or that I aspire to be. I fear rejection dreadfully, and loss, so much that I want always to maintain things as they are, that I purposefully convince myself that I can’t do it, or that I don’t really want it. There are external restrictions, too, but I avoid defying them because I don’t really want it, or because I can’t really do it. It’s hard to fight for something you’re indifferent about.
There’s such a complexity in being human. Throughout this post, I’ve called my inside an empty void, but it also is a mess of thoughts and worries and gratitude and joy and brokenness. Being left with my thoughts is frightening, like a heavy, awkward meeting with a half-stranger. So I savor the emptiness when it comes, and I can’t tell if I love myself or if I hate her, but I want that emptiness to stop being an amplifier of my thoughts. I want it to transform into a stillness, into a symbol of peace within. I want it to give me room to ignite, to burn up and down with what I love should I find it.
I want peace and forgiveness, and a burning will to see all that life could offer.
The fluorescence light above flickered, pushing me to an edge I never knew existed.
It pressed me down into the illusion of solitude. It was all white, all white, the sheets and the beds and the walls. My fingertips were pale; stripped of warmth and color and all that would render them human.
I was cold and dying.
I bore a distorted truth, the sense of time and the lie of its shapeshifting. I never sunk into its rhythm, because it is a distasteful thing to have a clock ticking away at the side of a dying patient. The ticking I heard had always been a fragment of my imagination, because time stretches painfully when you’re cold.
Nights were especially long and quiet. They sent me into panic; the definite end that they hold threatened me and what little I had left. I broke into cold sweat when it happened, and felt my body come apart at the seams. I wanted to be released and contained all at once.
But then mornings came, and I heard her laugh across the hall sometimes. It filled the void that the night spent the minutes carving out of me. She was the sun, unapologetically barging into my life with a bustling warmth almost visible around her. She wore white, too, but her skin was dark and rich, a calm contrast to the dull ache that pressed on to me.
Our encounters were all in the company of needles and IV drips. Maybe, I made a drug-induced confession. Maybe I told her how much I feared the tick-tocks in my head, or how much I wanted to see her hair big like she would wear it outside the hospital, or how unfairly fast time passed when her work ethics allowed her to give the convict more warmth than she did her other patients, whose families would give all the warmth they needed, because there was no cold like the cold of hearing muffled voices of laughter and encouragement walls away when you’re withering in seclusion. Maybe I told her that she was a beautiful beginning following the end that crept closer every night, that I was sorry for all that I’d done, that I would give anything for another chance. Maybe I told her that she was the sun, because she spared me a second after her shift once, where she wasn’t putting things in my body or taking things out, and she smiled, not like she always did, because it looked so true and a little sad. It looked like dawn.
And maybe this is the end, because it is so warm I can’t stand it, and it’s everything I’d ever wanted. Time is stretching languidly, and I have nothing to do but to bask and let it seep through me until every piece of me is enclosed in it. I’ll bask until the day is done.
“It’s not right,” she tells the Ringmaster, a fire in her eyes evident even to me. I saw it once before, in the eyes of my own kind, when my mother and I were taken. “What we’re doing is not right.”
She’s in a little dress that shines, and she’s a fierce one. The expression that she wears when the masses arrive is nowhere to be seen. There is fire in her eyes, and it only grows hotter when the Ringmaster gives her his back, and, led by his belly, leaves the tent.
I think people see more colors than we do. I cannot imagine more colors, though. But does it enthrall them the same way our obedience does? Is that why we’re ornamented when the masses circle us, with rags on our backs and jewels atop our heads? Their noise is overwhelming, always, and their flashing lights are, too.
Oh, but I know better than to defy the keeper. See, my mother did that when I was hurt into discipline; she was later hung by a rope. I didn’t know what that meant, but then she never moved again, and it didn’t matter how much I called for her to.
So now I know that when I’m told to stand on a raised piece that can’t carry my four feet, I should stand on two. I know that fighting for the family I left in a wide grassland far away will only lead me to a noose.
I don’t fight. But she does, the human in the little dress that shines. She tries to convince the Ringmaster, then she tries to convince the other humans. I hear her voice become loud against our keeper, and I know she is fighting for us. She’s a fierce one.
But she fails, and curls on the dirt under the sky by our side. I don’t understand it, because the show is over, and she should be inside, sleeping with other humans. But I touch her head, once. She looks up, and there’s no fire in her eyes anymore.
She rises, and maybe I upset her, but I don’t feel that. She stomps away, and I consider the noose. Would it really be so bad? But no, I trust her. She fights for me.
She runs back after, and the expression she wears for the masses is back on again. But it’s genuine now, a “smile.” Human affection is an odd thing, but I still understand it. She holds her body close to my trunk for a moment, and I feel a fast and steady thump. “It’s going to be all right now,” she tells me. “You’ll be set free.”
Farther away, I see it. The fire in her eyes found its way to our world, and it is growing. It is glowing, in colors I have never seen. The fire in her eyes is consuming the tent, glowing as it eats away at our home.
She set me free.