Constellations Part 2: The Heroine

The hands that had spread maps before me and dotted them like the night sky now cradled my face, rough and dry and wearing away by age. They held worry and an odd form of pride when too little time was between us and the beginning of my journey.

I have yet to find anything as comforting as the warmth of my father’s hands that night.

He pressed his lips to my brow, and his frame was still as large as it’d been, refusing to bend down to age just yet. He was readily graying, though, and I’d given him grief for it. His eyes crinkled at the sides, lines much deeper than they were many springs ago. I thought it was clear why age had suddenly shown its weight on him. It had started once Mother got sick.

What took her was acute. It spared us no time to come to terms with any of it. A fever, short and sharp and the most horrifying thing I’d seen. Then she passed, taking along the light of her laughter from the life of my father and my own.

The yield had been especially poor then, barely enough to feed us. But the urgency of her illness brought surgeons in nonetheless, as many of them as it could. The cure could’ve been a few villages away, but she was too weak, and the limits of humans caught in a drought glared, ugly and desperate.

They blamed the crisis on the Woodwose, but I know the skies, their force too restless, too great, to be controlled by a being. The Woodwose’s roots exploited the richness of our lands, and that, compared to the unbound power of the sky, is a force that people perhaps can stand against.

But my journey was not inspired by revenge; that was that notion that pushed me to dig out his roots. There was the knighthood that I sought, the voice that it all held, one loud enough for the villagers threatened by hunger and illnesses and too much grief.

‘Not revenge,’  I had repeated time and time again, hoping that it would become the truth.

“You really are your mother’s daughter.”

Suddenly, I was brought back to the present, but as young as I had been when the life my father spent laughing under the sun hadn’t etched his lines as deep, back when my mother would bake apples while she answered all my questions, one from every corner of the world.

Who rules the East, Mommy? And the Southern Sea? Where are all the mermaids? Are they pretty?

Until my questions reached the sky, and right until then, she would answer like she’d seen it all.

What’s the brightest star in the sky called, Mommy?

Then Mother would smile and place her hand on my head. “Isn’t that question more suited for Daddy? You know no one knows the skies like he does.” He’d taught me how to chart the stars because I feared the dark.

“Would you grow up like Mommy, Constance? Or will you turn out land-bound like Daddy?

Or better yet, you’d grow your own self. I’m sure of it.”

I’d missed her, so much that it felt like something broke in half inside me, and I was faced with another parting still. The tightness in my throat ached fiercely. I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t, but the sob tore despite it all, and before I knew it, I was a child again, contained in the protection of my father’s arms. My hands grabbed fistfuls of the back of his clothes, desperate, broken things.

I was frightened out of my wits, the world was so large beyond our village, but not once did I doubt my desire to go, to see it and brave its seas. I caught my next sigh and swallowed it, out of the stubborn determination to ready myself for the journey if nothing else.

But what he said about my resemblance to Mother was blurred and muffled by my tears. I didn’t understand any of it then. I couldn’t, until many seas later.

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ties worn by time

I’m missing a bond, but I don’t really know whether I miss the person I had that bond with. She’s grown into someone I’m not compatible with, and I’ve done the same. Faulting her for it seems unfair, but there’s pain that lingers after severing ties that you can’t seem to build with anyone else.

I feel it more keenly than I would like to admit, especially considering that I’ve always been that indifferent one. She was only a friend, but it was odd how well we got along, how we’d the same sense of humour, peculiar as it was, and how we connected one level deeper than how we both usually did.

That friendship didn’t vanish into thin air, but we both watched it dissolve and fray. I tried to save it, and maybe, so did she. We’re no more than two distant people now, who go months and months on end without hearing of each other.

I’ve tried putting it into words several times, but I’d always been too worried about wronging her. Please read this unbiased, we both had our shares of being the bigger person and not. I’m still nervous about it, and there are so many things I want to say but I don’t even know if I want to put this up. But it happens, people do change, they grow, and they show you pieces of themselves that you might not like, and they could grow distant then connect to others, and as long as there’s no one who stays behind wallowing away in bitterness, it should be okay.

It still saddens me, though, and I wonder if it does the same to her. Perhaps not, but who am I to say. I’ve reconnected to many other friends, but I feel so severely secondary to all of them, and while they’re precious to me, it seems like that bond was a one-time thing.

I know I’m a pretty difficult person to get along with; I’m harsh and stubborn, I don’t have a redeeming quality that would make others want to befriend me, and I’ve got too much pride for anyone’s good. I think I also blame it on age, this inability to become something a bit more than “just another friend,” and there’s no bitterness in me, but it seeps in at times, some exhausted form of being tired of myself, too much to change. I don’t want to change, there’s no bitterness in me.

The life and writing update you don’t really need

Hello!

So my family’s gone abroad for a vacation, and I decided to stay home. In a community where you’re expected to live with your parents until you’re married, that quiet is more daunting than I thought it would be. Home’s generally quiet anyway, and although I’m not explicitly lonely, it feels like this kind of change gives way to some unnecessary thoughts to barge in.

Work has been overwhelming, and I cannot believe that when I’m finally (legally) able to take a couple of weeks off, I can’t find the right time to do it until the end of APRIL. Yes, I am on the verge of tears.

(Emphasis on verge, since today’s payday)

But writing has been going well, although I don’t know how my pace slowed down this much compared to when I was writing my first little novella (undisclosed, that was cringy as heck ughh). I really need to think up a new title for Constellations if I want to extend it.

I wrote a character introduction piece for my sea witch who isn’t actually a sea witch, she’s just that well informed. There’s something about writing people of color that can serve as my main motivation to write.

(Yes, I am a person of color too, but the people I write are often from other races. There’s so much to learn when you research that, even if you’re not sticking to our real life cultures when you’re writing up your own world)

I think I’m gonna post that under character intro and a flower prompt series I’ve been thinking of doing, one that includes the meanings of flowers or what they signify.

Heck yeah, science people don’t play.

Thoughts on Constellations a thousand friends

To the thousand followers of this blog, and to everyone who took the time to comment or like, thank you! I hope my pieces, short and chopped as they are, continue to provide some value or inspiration to you.

Now, I’ve never been a fantasy gal (nervously looks back to obscene amounts of true crime content). I guess starting one shocked me into writing Constellations after a writing block that lasted too long. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a shot and let me know what you think about the Woodwose, about the story, and/or about Constance. I’ve considered expanding into an online novella if people showed interest in it, but still a bit reluctant.

I found myself exploring the Woodwose and his past, and Constance with her adventure and the world they live in, and the creatures in it. Hey, this might actually grow into a series of novellas, not just one, if I magically gain the commitment that beats how worn out I get by writing up 1500 words (and a beta-reader, I must magically gain a beta-reader). And yes, “Constellations” is only a placeholder title that I decided on before self-doubt managed to seep in and toss the story in the trash.

I’ve also been trying to find good online short stories, things to draw inspiration from (and to force myself to read outside my typical genres). If you’ve written one, feel free to post a link to the full story, a chapter, or an excerpt. Anything is fine as long as it isn’t NSFW.

Thank you all for the thoughts and encouragement again. I’ll be looking forward to receiving your feedback!

Downs and downs

I’ve been in a complete writing slump.

With both my magazine column and my story, I’ve only been drawing blanks.

The words won’t flow, and I’m starting to think that I could be the least creative person on this planet. And to make matters worse, I’ve been unable to even look at my own writing, trashing ideas, notes, and my self-confidence every time I open a draft.

As for my column, I decided to go with a more scientific topic, which will give me less space to be cringy. Did you know that 2021-2030 has been named the Ocean Science decade by the UN? The little nerd inside me is ecstatic.

But my story, well. I hate it. Not the concept of it (it’s a piece of sea fiction with a strong female lead. Wait, I just noticed the ocean theme overlap), but where I’m going with my plot (spoiler: nowhere)

And yes, the setting is difficult to write and needs an awful lot of research (and the consumption of even more nautical fiction, yay!) but friends, what even is storytelling? The number of dead-ends and their discouragement companions that I’ve met over the past several months is sad.

I tried storytelling guides and plot-building tools, but I’m still struggling. And sometimes, it’s better to receive a direct point of view. I know that writers face this, and the more experienced ones have overcome plenty of times.

So, let me know how you break your way out of a writing block that feels like it isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. Please?

1994

Dear me,

It’s the seventh of November 2017. It’s your birthday; you turned 23.

Somehow, you’re terrified of the number. You’d thought that you would have so much figured out by now. You’re confused, and sometimes it makes you sad, but you’re alright.

You’re alright.

A younger you wouldn’t have believed that you managed to make it. You smile and you laugh like you did then, but it’s far more genuine now. I’m proud of you.

During your 22nd year, you felt worthless sometimes, but you’re no stranger to that. You worried yourself sick, but you persevered. I hope that you manage to feel that a little less now.

You’ve cut ties with a friend you loved with the entirety of your heart. I know you tried to build that relationship over, but you couldn’t. You were told that it’s so difficult to be your friend. Remember to try your best, but some things aren’t meant to be. And the break drew you closer to a number of other friends, you got in touch with those you hadn’t talked to in long. You made new friends, too.

Last year, you learned to better take opportunities when they presented themselves. You cowered away from less and stepped out more. And there’s so much more I know you want to do; so much more I know you can do. You’re still letting fear hold you back, but remember that إن شاء الله , God willing, you can do anything.

And I pray for you and your family; I pray for health and happiness.

Yours,


a half an hour piece, not meant to be anything more than a reflection. I hope I won’t have to edit it and take away from its charm (if it has any) because im tired as heck.