Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Sep 2010 · 1.2k
Daddy's Sea Dragons
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Looking out, I hear the croaky calls
Of husky-throated birds and the
Frothy licking of sea tongues.
Purplish azure spreading widely,
Timelessly, when once my Father told me

The beauty was infinite and he smiled at the pair of
Big bright brown eyes
Glowing up at him in belief and awe,
Believing the secrets of the sea
All the wonderful things he told me.
Holding my hand, imprinting the sand
With our shallow foot prints: big and small
My chubby hand in his, the other
Collecting the glossy, opaque nails of sea dragons.
Sometimes we found sharp, dull-colored ones
And these were the faded scales of their leathery tough
Skin. Craggy black wings folded jaggedly-
Mountains, the ignorant people called them
Only we knew underneath those folded wings
Lay a sleeping, ancient dragon with its
Golden eyes watching out for its children,
The White Sea dragons that ran along the edges of the waves.
Speeding on rapidly, diving under
Out swimming the run of short brown legs
Decisively deaf to a child’s sunny yells.
When the sky was littered with stars
Before I began dreaming I could hear
The rush of wind as the dragons unfolded
Their restless wings, the gentle splashing
As their children twisted in and out of the water
And what Daddy said, Sweet Dreams,
Arrived shortly thereafter.  

Yet today I search vainly for their younglings
Gone in sunlight, in the midst of red foreigners
Coming out of hiding after dragon-hot sunsets and
Only behind closed eyes.
The spikes on their powerful wings
Have melded into dark shadows of trees
The jar of multi-colored sea glass remains
By my bed, reminding me of how when Daddy’s eyes
Could no longer burn bright with belief
In such magic, he placed the spark in new eyes
That were identical to his:
In both shape and color.
Sep 2010 · 1.0k
Cloth Mouth Girl
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Once upon a time,
There was a little girl with a mouth too wide
She complained with a face as sour as lime
One day she was eating a bowl of hot rice
With fried crumbly meat
Cut up in tender slices
So there was nothing to complain about there
Until she felt a strand of hair
Inside the chewed rice-and-pork
In her mouth
Her shaking hands clenched the fork
Working up a quick furious indignation
With the flick of her tongue
She removed it from the side of her cheek
And pulled it out with her fingers
With a most ferocious shriek
Pulling
Pulling
Kept pulling
An increasing disgust as she kept pulling
For the hair was very long
Until something happened
Something went wrong
Suddenly she felt a tear in her mouth
On her pink inner cheek
Blood that leaked
And dribbled down her chin
Mixing with her tears
Ran home to her exasperated mother
Who gladly sewed the cut
And for some good measure sewed
The corner of her mouth shut
Tight.
So that now when she spoke
Only good words came out
And the Cloth Mouth girl
Never complained again.
They all lived happily ever after.
Sep 2010 · 2.1k
Uneventful Days
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Breathing dawn:
Cool breeze,
Quiet whirl,
Crumples in the purple cover,
Whiff of flowers from the wrinkled pillows,
Rumpled blankets,
Sleeping limbs stretching and awakening,
The call of feathered angels

Arising:
Bony copper-painted-toe-nailed feet
Slumping against a chilly wooden floor,
Burst of artificial light against reflecting tiles,
Water once smooth and clear in the bowl,
Red circular prints left on big brown thighs,
From lazy resting elbows,
The sound of a flush too loud,
Scalding hot water pounding,
Press of a thumb,
A minty blue worm

Preparing:
A wand and black coats from a baby blue bottle,
Soft white heads of cotton-buds turned black,
Timber home of nestling underwear,
Gray button,
Silver clip by the hip,
Spoon,
Chopstick,
Milk moustache,
Murmur of farewell

Starting:
Sliding elevator doors,
Buttons that light up with the warmth of my fingertip,
Then enters a stranger you’ve known all your life,
Awkward mouths moving,
Awkward Good morning,
Awkward lift silence,
Awkward who-goes-out-the-lift-first-and-who-holds-the-door politeness,
Awkward Goodbye,
Awkward realization they’re-coming-the-same-way,
Um, oh, hm? yeah…
Aversion.

Waking up:
Concrete walk,
Peeling red paint on rusty railings,
Moving figures,
Sunrays bouncing over murky polluted water,
Faces from a roaring water machine,
Same guy,
Same glaring pimple
White and yellow stripes

Bells the Dictator:
Piercing, infuriating shrill
Slamming doors
Pattering of running feet,
Instructive bossy voices,
Flick the switch,
Blinking electronic light,
Automatic finger exercise,
Droning lullabies,
Stifled yawns,
Quick chicken sandwich
Piercing, infuriating shrill,
Spark of inquisitive interest,
And there it… yes… dies,  
Remembering past mistakes are not always unpleasant,
Loud voices that encourage a fly-away imagination,
Numbers scrawled on a page,
Competition disguised as genuine interest and concern,
Inadequacy,
Arrogance,
Annoying shrill,
Stone steps,
Aching knees,
Clean plates dirtied with gravy,
Chilli specks swimming in soup,
Laughter,
Cluelessness given away by late laughter,
Fake un-sure smiles,
Laughter,
Pair of dark brown eyes,
Memories,
One secret hope,
A lifetime,
Big blue sky
Shrill,
Blanked-out,
Ashy stubble on a meaty discolored chin,
Shrill,
A boy with a guitar,
Mellow strumming,
That sweet earnest smile,
Another shrill too soon,
Lick of an eyelid,
Shiny shoes,
Squeaky floors,
Sweat,
Rosy cheeks,
The quick dance of a net with a ball,
Bruises blooming like inverted flower buds

Slowing-down:**
Clicking of plastic alphabets and symbols,
Dry patch of skin above the knee,
Itchy
Scratch
Scratch
Scratch
Big blue sky from the edge of a window sill,
Soaring, flying like an eagle up to the wispy white clouds,
Snaking through them like a sprinkler in the garden,
Blink of an eye,
Oh, a pile of homework,
***** statues behind glass,
Knocked down with a giant’s fist,
A great yellow eye with dilated pupils watching ferociously,
Sharp bob of my head,
Ahh, a pile of homework still waiting patiently
Give me a kiss and rest your hand on my head,
You know your love makes my day.
Sep 2010 · 1.1k
A Forgotten Memory
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Yesterday I stumbled upon a cluttered room
Its walls were crammed so tightly
And it reeked of an odd perfume
When many smells are mixed together

I recognized a little doll
A Dalmatian dog, my love when I was two
And remembered how every time I had a fall
I pressed his cotton head against my tears

But I had lost him so many years ago
When riding on the carousel
And was home before I realized with great woe
I had left him on the horses head

Next to him was a thick book
Filled with children artistry and letters
And when I took another look
I saw the E’s were scribbled in my hand

It confessed how I had been mad
When baby brother got the last cookie
And it sloped how I had been so sad
When I lost the race in the playground

But I had lost this book so many years ago
When that day, we moved houses
And I got a new diary, tied with a pink bow
I never remembered it again till today

My nose picked up a flowery smell
From my first fragrant bottle that sister gave me
And when I was six, I brought it for show-and-tell
I even sprayed a little into the air and impressed my fellow classmates

I was very proud as I ran out to play
For I was the only one who had a little smell on her wrists
And it smelled of daffodils and sunshine rays
I ran back to my cubby-hole to check on my treasure

But it was gone forever out of my sight
When that break, a jealous little girl
Snitched it out into her bag with fingers so light
So that it became her treasure, not mine.


Something glittered above my head
I looked up and saw it was the lovely necklace
That I use to keep by my bed
A blue leather string with a big bright star

The one that when I was eight
Bounced against my chest, winking the sunlight
And I bubbled with joy when I felt the weight
Of the silver star on my hammering heart

But I was a child and I loved to climb trees
Clambering the branches and hiding in the leaves
Until from my neck my jewel was set free
Caught on some tree in some park long ago

I stepped forward and kicked a golden object of the floor
Picking it up my mind rushed back to my mother
The only lipstick mother ever wore
The first lipstick I owned in my life

Christian Dior 024 Corail Hip Hop
A creamy dark red smudged on my lips
My first kiss that night on the rooftop
Like mother’s prints left on her milk mugs

It became my signature feature
Stuffed it in the back of my left jean pocket
Eating ice cream, till I noticed after
My left and right jean pocket were both now empty

A movement caught my eye and I spun
Faced the tall mirror that the wind knocked over
Years ago into pieces, looking like a bad omen
Of seven years of bad luck

I never met those seven unlucky years
But what I saw in the mirror was far scarier
Me, seven years ago, eyes bright as tears
“Hello?” she whispered, a question not a greeting

Her fat cheeks are sun burnt and brown
Big chocolate eyes blinking sweet and innocent
A curious face, so perfectly round
Pink lips that laughed and smiled


Her short thick legs energetically twitch
The softest rotund belly protruded
An allergic rash on her neck that itches
A straight fringe plastered across her forehead

This was the friendless girl who practiced with a basketball
By herself in the burning heat at home
Kicked a soccer ball against the wall
Drenched in sweat and panting tiredly

Suddenly we both laugh the same booming sound
I say, “I miss you, I love you”
Her ball-shaped head bobbed up and down
“You won’t forget me, I love you too”

The room fades into a corner in the back of my head

Ah, the room of forgotten memories.
Sep 2010 · 1.6k
Within the Mist
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Everything is covered in thick, heavy white mist. I inhale it in, and exhale a wispier, lighter version of it back out; my shivering lips parted in a small smile. I swirl the patterns of the mist in between my pale fingers, trying to beckon them into soft shapes in the air.

When I close my eyes lightly, the mist shows the little hidden stones in it to me. With my eyes closed, I can see the gently-colored ephemeral fragments rolling, tumbling gracefully along with the mist. I can capture one for three seconds with the fast nick of my fingers and read the secrets imprinted on their smooth surface, before they melt away from the little heat of my finger tips; because of this I do not steal the mists of its many secret stones. Some things are better left uncovered.

When I start dreaming away, the mist comes and whispers in my ear. I can hear all the little happenings it has seen as the years past by: stories of great loves, who loved with all of their hearts and souls; stories of children, who danced and smiled from the bottom of their beings; stories of kind hearts, always reaching out a helping hand; stories of bravery, and its many forms.

When my skin starts to go numb from the cold, the mist starts to circle my ankles and coil around my wrists. Little cold breaths of mist wriggle to the space in between my toes and fingers, tickling the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. It envelopes my waist and runs its fingers through my hair, giving me Death-cold kisses on my white cheeks; and presses its back against mine as an old friend, sitting there, with wordless comfort.

When silence nestles all around, the mist rocks me to sleep, blocking my ears from any noise and from any nightmares to enter into my mind. It forms in thick layers underneath me, so that I can no longer feel the rough ground below me but a soft blanket of mist. It lifts me a bit higher so that I can float. So I float while I dream, and my dreams become serene, floating pictures.

When the ringing of silence grows to a quiet music, the mist curls into the palms of my hand, and the delicate wisps interweave loosely to form a hollow ball, with a parting in its surface the size of my lips. I lift my palms up and place my shaking lips on the oval hole and murmur a secret to the mist. I tell my secret wish; a wish that everybody has, that they hold on with dear lives; one that some follow recklessly, one that provides inspiration and strength, one that some, for the benefit of those they love, place away in a little jewelry box.
The hollow ball colors a pastel, pale blue. The delicate wisps tighten their hold to one another and shrink into a small pebble, sweeping off into the mist.

The mist forms another hollow ball inside my palms and I whisper a message, asking the mist to send it to a soul. I fill the hollow ball with words of beauty of the world’s nature around us and finding the secrets, stories and wishes they’re just waiting to tell you, if you’ll only listen.
The wind carries it off and it appears again: not as a ball of mist or fading rock.
But as a story, written down for you to read.
Sep 2010 · 3.4k
Flames to Dust
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
It’s been a decade and a half that I haven’t returned back to my little home in that far away magical place. Fifteen years- exploring and travelling through the world. It was always my dream, ever since I was a young boy. Living this life is lonely. No one ever belongs to me, nor do I ever belong to anyone. Seeing a million things is marvelous, but it could be twice as marvelous with a companion to express the feelings over instead of my usual, battered black log book that never talked back but was filled with entries from all over the world. One day, I’ll publish it.

I guess the fact that I was always alone was the reason why the little home and my little mother that I use to take for granted became more and more part of me as I stayed away. The land, the gently curving hills and glassy lake grew clearer and clearer in my mind until sometimes, it was all I could see when I shut my eyes at night after a long day of work. Sometimes I would smell the soap on mothers’ skin acutely and played her voice in my head like a radio.
A blur of bright brown eyes.

I’ve been to almost every country in this world: Japan, France, America, Denmark, China and all the different continents… almost a hundred different countries. Each country held such a different (but slightly similar if they were in the same continent) flavor in the air and never failed to teach me one new thing. They all held such distinct character. Beholding the stunning sights and noticing the heart-wrenching small details of a new place was my passion. It captivated me, but the calm, steady love of my heart remained still.
Nothing touched me like the memory of home and my mother. Not the women who flickered through the chapter of my life, appearing in explosions of lust and never meaning more than ***, though some begged me to stay. My loneliness would sway my path of thinking for a short one or two week before I realized it wasn’t what I truly wanted.  
My lovers reminded me of cookie crumbs fallen from my mouth down onto my shirt- there for a brief, brief moment- sometimes picked up to nibble on or brushed away and forgotten.

Oh Love; Love never found me. Perhaps all the travel I did made it harder for Her to find me. I was never at a place for long. Perhaps She, Love, grew tired of trying to catch up with me as I crossed the seas and vast lands. Maybe She got lost one day in an Indian market with the exotic, fat fruits and glittering bangles- fading off into the air with the aroma of powerfully rich local dishes.
Or maybe I travelled away from Her, and She got left behind.

2 a.m.- On a train: the train is brand new and the metal is still yet glossy and innocent from hard rains, thick snow or fiery heat as the Southern part of my homeland is so prone to. The window is surprisingly see-through, unlike all the muddy windows covered in dust, grime, bird droppings and smashed insects (especially squished mosquitoes) I have looked out of in the past fifteen years. I think I’ll read a few chapters of that book about Cambodian culture to distract my impatient mind: sitting on this cold train that will take me home is all I can possibly think about. Hurry, you ******* train, hurry!
There is something about a train that calms me down and makes me feel all starry-eyed. It is the memory of the only girl I ever loved. A little girl I grew up with. Such thick dark brown hair, big round bright chocolate eyes and the loudest, most obnoxiously boyish laugh I have ever heard from a girl. Hmm, I recalled the small rounded chest and bottom.
We lived so far deep in the country side and one day, on an overnight school trip, the school we attended at took all hundred students on a trip to see the city for just a day. Flashes of her eating a creamy white ice cream sprinkled with tiny candies of the rainbow and standing in awe of the huge library made me smile to myself.
How when everyone was tired that night back on the train, even the teachers exhausted after an early morning and keeping a hundred thirteen-year-olds under control for a whole day, fell asleep. My eyelids were just drooping when she appeared- I smelled her first, sweet like honey with a tinge of something sour like orange or lemon peels. My senses have always been sensitive- especially sight and smell. She carefully peeled back the curtains around the bed, crept into my bunk and cuddled with me, curling her tough plump legs.
My mind flew in many wild ways- for as I said, my senses were sensitive and the curiosity and thrill of an inexperienced young boy did not help to make them any paler- and try as I might to quiet the thoughts, they leapt at her every movement.
I suppose it was her way of telling me she had fallen in love with me. Her cold monkey-feet pressed against me and whispering the night away: her tousled head as she kept sitting up to look out the window on the side to look at the stars. I sat up with her and held her against my chest. I remember wondering how my heart wasn’t bursting from the enormous love I felt for this creature in my lap, watching the dark silhouettes of trees rushing by and the black swaying fingers of rice patties illuminated by needle-point stars and a full, silver moon. The beautiful creature turned around, placed her icy finger tips on my hot neck, and gave a little sigh of relief before leaning in and kissing me.

My skin was covered in goose bumps.

Oranges are my favorite fruit.
I left her, my little home and mother at nineteen. The darling was mine till then. I wrote to her, but when she got around to replying I had already moved. And there my love became my once-loved.
The heart ache didn’t last too long. There was too much to see, I was young and full of cravings and impossible to satisfy hunger despite the countless number of women. I lived in the moment, the fiery moment of passion and life, and the memory of her were blown to wisps.
A ray of pink sunlight broke me from my thoughts and as I rushed back from the past to its future, I wondered in a haze whether she had married or not.

Five a.m. – the sun was up. The sky had streaks of dark blue, so dark it was almost black. A ****** red of a newly-cut wound ran through the sky, arm in arm with royal purple and a pink the color of a child’s lips.

Six a.m. - twenty-two or so students milled into the train chattering. The younger ones have neatly combed hair, slicked down with mousse and parted so aggressively the comb lines are visible cutting the hair in hard chunks with a paper-white hairline slicing through the scalp. The smallest one would be around thirteen and the oldest at eighteen. The oldest-looking one is very pretty with slanted gray eyes and chestnut hair- very matured for her age. A puff of powder to conceal any imperfection of her skin, and the first two buttons on her school blouse unbuttoned to hint at a cleavage of well-developed large *******. Her gaze darts over me frequently. She looks like a lover I had in Holland. I give her a small smile and she returns it, batting her lids to reveal matted dark lashes and shimmery pale blue eyelids like the wings of a butterfly. No child, only if I was much, much younger and had just left home as you will so soon.
A stench of too much perfume emits from the girl beside her. So much that I am momentarily diverted and glance up at her from my log book. I will be relieved when they leave. If there’s one thing I find extremely unattractive in a woman is an overload of perfume- it becomes a stench that is a reminder of gaudy prostitutes.

Six-thirty a.m. -  The train jolts to yet another stop and they clatter out but not before I heard the words, “That man on the train near us was rather handsome, wasn’t he?” I cannot help but chuckle.

Seven a.m. – the train has stopped at least five more stations. This is going to be a long trip. Rummaging in my packed bag for a pair of dark sunglasses I push them on, waiting for the fact that I haven’t slept all two weeks in excitement (and travelling at the speed of light half way around the world at the same time) to kick in and hit me unconscious with sleep.

Two p.m. - the dark glasses cannot block the glaring sunlight of the sunshiny afternoon. We have almost finished passing the city. The rows of buildings, large houses, one-story apartments are narrowing and shrinking in size. I know the railroad tracks have remained unchanged in destination and twenty-so years ago I took this exact same ride but everywhere is unrecognizable.  
I check my wristwatch once again even though I know the time: around nine more hours to go before it reaches the very end possible station and I take the long walk back to my little home.

Six p.m. - I talk amiably to passengers on the train. It is beautiful to hear my home dialect again. The words I speak have grown quite clumsy and my accent is rough. No matter, in two weeks time I’ll be fluent and chirping along with the same fluid accent as the old man beside me is.

Eleven-thirty p.m. – I am all alone on the train. The old man just got off at the station before. He shared a portion of his sandwich with me and a swig of beer from his water bottle (naughty old man), seeing as in my anticipation I forgot to buy any food for the day. A very interesting old man who was delighted to know I travelled just as he use to in his earlier days- quote to remember from him: “Too many people go on about this ******* of a ‘fixed’ home: Home isn’t where you live, son, it’s where they understand you. I’m telling you, that’s something so special in this crazy world.”
It is horrible to be sitting here alone counting down the minutes without a distraction but after all, it is near the last of stations and no one ever comes here anyways. There’s nothing here that could attract visitors. If I were a traveler nothing about this place would excite me very much. Yet for this first time in fifteen years, I’m not an outsider and this land promises me much. My hand shakes from fatigue- but mostly from eagerness. Little home, darling little home, I am coming!
It is a chilly, chilly winter night. My breath pants out in short white puffs. I wrap my scarf more securely around my neck, capturing the warmth as I step out from the warm train into the cold air outside. I can barely notice my environment on the way home except the path has remained unchanged. It is as if I am travelling back into time itself. After a while, the coldness turning the tip of my ears and nose pink is forgotten. All I know is each step is taking me closer and closer to home.

I finally see it. The small little house with a small brown door standing quietly alone next to other identical houses comes into my view. The little homes are clustered on the edge of a river bank, surrounding by dark green trees. The crisp rustling of the leaves in the winter breeze brings a melancholy happiness so great it makes my chest throb. I cup a tiny bit of snow from the ground in my mitten and taste it: oh the same sharp iciness on my tongue.

I wonder if she still lives in that one with the indented steps, the stairs worn out by the thundering saunter of her and her five brothers. They still haven’t bought a new flight of stairs?

The river’s surface is smooth and serene, its surface looking like molten silver rippling in the slight breeze. I remembered in the summer when we, the children, danced; splashing in the water and the elders watched lovingly.

Mother’s carefully watching eyes on me as I swam to and fro, my laughter mingling with everyone else’s. She was especially careful after that near-fateful day when I was six and foolishly went swimming in August without telling mother as she made us her special clear chicken broth. I had inhaled gallons of water before she fished me out, both of us soaking and sobbing. How wonderful it was to hold onto something warm and solid: something breathing, full of life, and I clutched onto her and she clutched onto me and my life.
Up the wooden steps… how surprised mother will be. The ghosts of memories come running to me, pounding their way towards me to greet me first as I open the wooden door with the key slung around my neck as always: mother with her hair curled in soft mocha *****, mother making an ice lollipop in the hot summers in her flower-printed summer dresses, mother swishing around the house cleaning in her blue apron, the hot fire with hot chocolate as we told stories, all the different cats we had purring in a soothing melody… Amalie and her laughing figure spread over the sofa chattering away, Amalie’s quick, hidden kisses in the corners when mother was out of the room or pretending not to look, Amalie’s long hands creeping towards mine… Amalie and mother gossiping together and mother declaring Amalie was the daughter she never had and mother eyeing me knowingly, expecting me to settle my ways and marry Amalie…

Oh little home, I am back, I am home.

I shall go lie on my feathery bed and in the morning I’ll wake up and have no idea where I am before the thought comes back to me that this morning- no, I am not somewhere around half the world away- but in my little hometown.
As sure as the sun will rise, Mother will wake up at her usual eight o’clock and I’ll be downstairs in our sunny-tiled kitchen making a bowl of porridge for her and me.
After her tears and hugs, we’ll sit down by the fire with hot chocolate despite it being early morning and the skies aren’t yet jet-black. I see in my mind’s eyes her dark eyes huge as I unravel my colorful carpet of stories and treasure box of tokens from all around the world.
Maybe after that I’ll ask her whatever became of Amalie…
I hear the tread of footsteps on the stair case. They are heavy sounds. Has mother gained much weight in her old age? She was always a lithe little woman when I was here.
A burly shape appears in the shadows.
For one ******* blindingly stupid moment I think it is mother much fattened in a fluffy night gown, her hair curled up in soft ***** yet again. Perhaps I saw what I wanted to believe despite my senses and instinct suddenly prickling up in one jolt through the spine.
And the shape emerges holding a bat and the outlines gains focus to become a bear-like man with dark brows furrowed and a mass of curls. He starts yelling at me and slashing his bat dangerously.
I raise my arms up in defense and the world swirls around me. From far away I hear my voice shaking in fear and fury, “Where is my mother!” I yell her name and I yell my name to let her know I am here. I am insane with fear for the safety of my mother. No, it cannot be that I come home on the day a demon decides to rob the house of a frail gentle angel. If he has killed her, I will- “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HER?!”
“What?” he asks in a tone quiet from extreme bewilderment, his grip on the bat loosens and I am quick to see this and take advantage of it.
With an explosion of violent swears I leap onto him to throttle him to death. “MOTHER?! MOTHER! WHAT HAVE YOU ******* DONE TO MY MOTHER?! I’M GOING TO ******* **** YOU, YOU *******!”
A fast pattering of feet sound down the stairs and my mind registers them to be female before I am wrenched of the man and we are separated. I am about to clutch this woman safe from the hulking beast before I notice the skin on the hands pushing my panting chest away from killing the beast are too young to be mothers’. Her hair is a dark mahogany brown, not mild coffee like mothers’.
I stare at her, silent in shock. All the fight drains out of me.
Those eyes that were once so chocolate-brown and bright have lost their sparkle in her tiredness and appear almost… dull as she turns to me.
She says my name three times before I can reply. “Sit down here.”
It is strange that she has ordered me to sit down on my own sofa in my living room. Her frosty hands guide me. “Amalie… where is mother?” I manage to stutter, all the time keeping an eye on the monster of a man.
“Listen to me” she took a few shuddering breaths, “I’m sorry to tell you this way, I wished I could’ve told you any other way but this… your mother is dead. She died five years ago.”
She watched me with an exhausted expression, “In her will she left this house to you and me because she assumed one day-” she shot a cautious glance at the man who towered in the shadows next to her, nursing
Sep 2010 · 11.2k
Colors Underneath the Bed
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
I was born a sickly, screeching baby, two months earlier than expected. The doctor and midwife did everything they could to keep my little limbs moving and to keep my tiny heart beating, fluttering like the wings of butterfly.
“Is it a boy?” my mother whispered through her pale lips, as they bathed my naked body in hot water.
“No, ma’am, it’s a girl” The midwife struggled to add on something that would make the wailing creature seem more desirable. “With exquisitely shaped feet, so perfectly miniature”
She let out a croak of conflicting emotions: the joy and pride of a newly-founded motherly love, the fear of presenting a girl as a first-born, the relief that the hours of agony in childbirth were over and the dread of facing her husband once he found out about me.

My mother was not healthy after my birth for a long time; and when I was only one and two months old she fell dangerously ill, and the house whispered footsteps running to her room late at night and muffled voices of different doctors. Mercifully, she survived but was left barren and forever unfertile.
I can not imagine my father’s fury. He believed in having sons to carry on his old last name of thirty-one generations; it was his religion and had I been a son, I would have been worshipped as a god. I can imagine how my mother prayed and thanked her ancestors that her dowry was of a large one.

He could barely tolerate being in the same room as me during my toddler years. Every time he entered a room I was playing in, nurse would sweep me to our garden out side; answering to my startled queries, “Be an obedient daughter, don’t bother your father and don’t ask questions”
My body had been born frail, but my natural spirit was as healthy as could be, full of inquiries, wonders of the world around me and everyday I would learn something new just wandering around the neighborhood observing things, with my nurse trailing with a worried eye behind me muttering, “Girls are not supposed to be exposed to this” she spoke the words as if they were sour, “you should be sitting at home and accompanying your mother.”

Every day at dinner, the two females of the house, me and my mother, were silent while my father ranted on and on. My appetite being very delicate, I often just sat there as still as I possibly could and listened to my father talking about politics, jobs, money. Things he called ‘men business’. I longed to ask questions about these ‘men business’, especially ‘university’ for I had an inquisitive sort-of nature but was refrained with a sharp, piercing look from my mother every time I opened my mouth and sometimes, she pinched me under the table leaving purple splotches which flashed, “Don’t question your father”
Sometimes, he would talk about the future he had decided for me, “You will marry off, sixteen at the latest, to some one rich and beneficial to our family. You will do as I say till I marry you off, and then you will do as your husband tells you.”
“Yes father, for I should repay everything you have done for me” I replied as sweetly as I could.
“Yes, you’re a good daughter. Bear lots of sons for him and your house will be one of happiness.”
I was proud that he had given me a compliment. “Yes father, for it will make you joyful as I always wish to make you so”
My childish heart did not understand why my mother turned her head down while her left eyebrow twitched, and why that night, as she tucked me into bed, I thought I saw a tear roll down her cheek and why as she kissed me that night she whispered, “Do not love me so; love your father. The men in your life are your gods.”

My physical health would constantly limit the desires of my free spirit. I could not to do what others who were as free of spirit as I was could do, and couldn’t socialize with them and the rest of the children in my neighborhood had their siblings to mingle with, causing me to become the pitiful outcast.
I saw children around my age, around seven or eight, climbing trees and wanted to do so as well, but my white feet did not have grip enough to grasp onto the fat branches.
Father caught me once trying to propel myself up a tree and his expression was both of a resigned anger and sadness before he turned him and his face away and back into the house without a word.
That night, mother told me not to climb trees ever again. I noticed a faint bruise on her cheek bone that had been covered with white powder.

When I was eleven or twelve, and was allowed to wander further out into the neighborhood with my nurse I saw the boys fishing in the nearby pond and wanted to do so as well. Starting that day, every week I pocketed the three coins mother gave me until I could buy the best fishing rod in the little store and ran as fast as my skinny, weak legs could carry me to the pond. I mimicked the way the boys flung the fishing rod out over the water but the metal pole was too heavy for my pale, shaking arms. I tried over and over again as my nurse watched, biting her lip in anxiety. I held the fishing rod with trembling sore arms till  I felt a bite; I pumped my small arms to reel it in, but they were so tired and I was far too slow, losing the fish I had spent half the day trying to catch. “Ah, just bad luck, don’t worry! It was a smart fish, I tell you!” nurse exclaimed, though her eyes flashed a look of pity and I knew she knew it wasn’t just bad luck or a smart fish.
In anger, I sold the fishing rod to one of the boys for two-thirds of the price I had bought it for. He was delighted with the bargain and I watched with a lump in my throat as he caught three fish with the tug of his healthy, muscular arm within fifteen minutes. “This is a beautiful rod, and the pond is just filled with fish today, Little Sister!”
Wanting to spend the money jingling inside my pocket, money that to me was just a reminder of a painful memory, I headed off to the collection of little shops close to my house where I was guaranteed distraction. Nurse, sweating and complaining of the heat, followed me.
An ageing man with a bunch of filthy hair working away on a piece of thick, rough paper with wondrous colors inside a shop caught my eye as I peered inside the window. He turned the picture upside down and continued blending in the dark colors of the shape to create a shadow along the curve of it. I entered the shop. “What is that?” I asked of him.
“A face” he replied back absentmindedly.
“Doesn’t look like one to me” I confessed with my honesty.
He looked up at me, “No, it does not to you, and maybe, neither will it at the end. To me, it looks like an angle of a faded face. But slowly, with time, it will become clearer and clearer, yet only to me, and as it does, I will be able to choose more colors to make it yet more beautiful. The outcome of this painting is entirely up to me.”
I felt my challenging self rising up. “But what if you imagined a certain color in your head but couldn’t find it or be able to mix it to your mind’s perfection?”
“Then I would create my own paint color.”
“You know how?”
“No, but if I could not find the paint color already made I would make it myself, and no matter what, would learn how to. So far I have always been able to compromise and mix different colors to please me.”
“You do an awful lot of shadowing light colors with dark colors”
“Why do you think I do so?” he questioned me this time, with bright eyes.
I pondered for a moment to give as good an answer as he had given me and then told him my answer.
He nodded with impress, “Yes, yes, absolutely right. I never thought I’d hear that from a child” and looked at me with his head cocked in curiosity.
“What would you like to buy from here, Little Sister?”
Still deeply interested in our conversation I pulled out the coins I had in my pocket. “How much stuff can I buy with all this money? I’d like those crayons, I’ve tried them once before and they are so creamy and smooth.”
“Oil pastels?” he asked, a little confusedly.
Feeling ashamed of my ignorance, I nodded. The tutor father hired evidently bent to father’s strict rules of what should be taught and what would not be taught. Father disapproved of women painting, and would’ve dismissed nurse had he known that instead of taking me out for a little walk to smell the blooming daffodils, she in fact let me explore the environment around me to the best of my ability even in disgruntle.
The man gave my red-patched cheeks and undeveloped translucent frame a sympathetic look and when he spoke, his voice was gentle. “Little Sister, I’ve a whole basket of oil paints that I’ve used but rarely and so are still in perfect condition. Would you like to carry the whole basket home for all the money you have in your pockets?”
I handed him all my golden coins, “But first I must see if I like it.”
“You won’t be disappointed” he chuckled and walked with an imbalanced limp to the back of the store. I noticed a wooden stump protruding from the bottom of his long, black pants. My heart throbbed achingly; he was ****** limited too. I turned to his painting and smiled from deep inside, a smile I rarely wore.
He came back tugging a huge brown basket filled to the brim with sticks of oil pastels, some longer or thicker than others. He lifted an orange one up and showed the tip of it to me, which was stained with a black mark. “Sometimes when you blend colors this will happen, but it’s easy to rid off. Just softly, and patiently rub it off on a cloth until it disappears.” He demonstrated upon his black pants.
“Thank you. It’s kind of you. But...I can’t carry this home myself. It’s heavy.”
I turned to nurse and smiled my best pleading smile.

The basket was toiled up as nurse undressed me from my shower and father and mother were otherwise occupied. That night, with my precious basket safely under my bed, I cleaned all the multi-colored oil pastels on an old shirt, and as soon as the house was ringing with silence, I locked my door and flicked on the lamp light, and started pressing the smooth colors into the paper to blend and make a picture of kissing colors on a relatively large piece of white paper. A thrill ran from my finger tips and along my arm, and made my palms tingle as I held the colorful sticks in my hand to the paper. I hid it underneath my bed just as a rosy sun was rising.
*
I was sixteen, and I was thought beautiful: for now, at this age, it was considered beautiful to be so pale of skin, so small of feet and hands, graceful to have tiny limbs and charming to have little strength for it was now considered ‘feminine’.
It was three weeks after I had turned sixteen and for dinner, father had brought over an ugly man with a bulging waist and shiny bald head who continually made ****** jokes at the dinner table while he believed I did not understand them. He was infamous for the two wives he had had (before they died from sickness), and how he not only hit them but kept other lovers too. Yet he was desirable for his vast richness. He leered at me obnoxiously, in an attempt to smile.
Father caught him looking at me, “She’s incredibly silent, never says a word of defiance and will be a most dutiful wife.”
“Yes, she is beautiful”
My heart froze and my brain was stimulated to work twice as fast. Him?! Him?! The man who’s wives were killed through an illness called ‘abuse, neglect and disloyalty?!’
I cast my eyelashes down in order to appear a calm, modest young lady while my heart hammered in fury, disgust and a rising hysterical panic. I shot a look at my mother whose left eyebrow was twitching as she stared down at her dinner plate, and I knew she was having the same thoughts as I.
“I would be glad to have you as my son-in-law. You would have no trouble with her, and would be embraced with open arms into our family.”
They continued this path of talk through dinner while he eyeballed me in a way that made me cringe. I felt his foot nudge mine under the table and in haste tucked it under the chair with a little gasp. His eyes glittered at my gasp and I was furious with myself for letting him feel a rotten triumph. Though I had always felt an extremely strong dislike towards him from what I knew of him and sometimes saw of him with an immoral lady, something pushed in the pit of my tummy, and I knew it was pure hatred.
When mother tucked me in she was being strange. On closing my door she whispered, “I love you… so I wish you to know… don’t ever contradict men”

As I was secretly drawing a picture as I did every night till dawn, I heard my father’s voice roar in the dead of the night. In a sudden, I shoved my portrait under the bed and threw all my oil pastels into the basket, hid it, and switched the light off. I heard his voice roar again, accompanied by a thud. I was wild with fear as I crept to my door and pressed my ear against it, barely even shocked at my own daringness as my instinct, love, took over- my instinct of must knowing what was happening to my mother.
“How dare you say I’m wrong!?” there was another thud, and this time I heard a soft whimper. “She is worthless to me, not a son. And I will marry her off to a rich man who can actually benefit this family.” He roared.
There was a whisper which I strained to hear, “He will **** her”
“From the moment she was born she wasn’t made to live!” he yelled.
A hiss escaped my tongue and I coiled like a serpent, flinching as a thud was heard yet again and an immediate cry of pain escaped from both my lips and my mothers’.
A fire awoke inside me, burning my temples and my whole body and my eyes stung with hot tears; tears that burned my face as they splashed down. My whole body was shaking and my tightly squeezed eyes were going through spasms. I was no longer wild with fear, but with anger.
I turned my light back on and tugged my basket of oil pastels out. I yanked my portrait off from a thick of pile of different pictures I had drawn.
My breath was coming in quick short breaths as I finished my portrait to the utmost perfection, using every oil pastel in the basket. Every time I heard a thud, I colored with more fiery… shadowing my jaw line with the fat black oil pastel, in the crook of my ear, the corner of my mouth… where the light shone upon my fore head, how it reflected in the color of my eye and glowed on my cheeks.
When I was finished, the house was deadly quiet again and dawn was breaking. I looked down upon it and realized something that changed my life.
In frenzy I swatted out all the things I had ever drawn and stared at them in an awakening.
The colors on them were the events of my life, the things that characterized it, the decisions. They were beautiful for they had been chosen and controlled by me … I had chosen the colors I wanted and thought best for my pictures; and spent thought over how to blend different colors to the color I wanted.
And everyday, as I worked into the drawings with time, they became clearer and clearer on what was the right thing to do, and how it should possibly look like in the next stage.
I leaned over and kissed the thin lips of my portrait that didn’t look exactly like me for not even the most skilled artists have complete control over what they draw.

Then I remembered what I had told the one-legged man in the shop a few years go:
“Lights not only illuminate, they also cast shadows. The contrast makes you able to appreciate the power of both.”
Now it was time to truly let the light illuminate my life, and let the shadows let me appreciate the light that shines upon me; I color my own life, and choose my own colors.

To pull out the colors underneath the darkness of my bed…
And spill it to the world outside.
Sep 2010 · 5.2k
The Third-Floor Bedroom
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
It all began when someone left the window open.
The love bird cocked its bright green head at the shut door of Woodren’s third floor bedroom, perched on her bedpost. Its bright black eyes glittered, listening for the sounds of Woodren’s footsteps. None came. It ruffled its feathers impatiently; waiting for Woodren to come back with some water for its thirsty beak.
The love bird’s first memory was of Woodren: her clear gray eyes expressing her great happiness through them and not through the tiny curve of a smile on her thin pale lips. Her small white fingers pressed on the syringe gently, and a hot, mushy substance that tasted of apples and bananas went down its throat. The tiny black beak clattered against the plastic syringe greedily. “Aw, you poor baby. You’re hungry aren’t you, my Hoopsie-girl?” she murmured.
She then later taught her baby lovebird to fly with the patience of a mother. As soon as its wings started flapping feebly, she lifted Hoopsie up on the palm of her hand above her head and drew her hand away quickly, teaching the lovebird to fly and landing on Woodren’s soft bed. On cold nights, Woodren would wrap her favorite emerald green scarf around Hoopsie and place her behind the television where it was always warm and sellotape the electric sockets and wires so that Hoopsie was safe.
Woodren never even considered snipping the feathers of Hoopsie’s wings; she would never hurt her darling creature, and snip of its greatest glory. She would comb the feathers with a miniature pink Barbie brush, noticing how blue feathers had started to appear on Hoopsie’s wings and red ones slowly layered beneath the blue as time went by.
Showering Hoopsie was the hardest of all. Aunt and Uncle Palmer had no idea that Hoopsie even existed and revealing her presence would leave both Hoopsie and Woodren with no home. Late at night, Woodren would have to sneak out to the bathroom on the first floor (not on the second floor because that one was right next to Aunt and Uncle Palmer’s bedroom), down the stairs (taking care to step over the thirteenth stair that groaned so loudly), turn on the taps quietly and wash a sleepy Hoopsie with warm water.
Her two youngest cousins often made fun of her for the funny smell that stuck on her clothes sometimes. Linda and Lucy, her bratty twin cousins, asked in their scornful sing-song voices, “Why do you lock your room Woodren? Scared we’ll find all your old ***** clothes under the bed that you wouldn’t let Ma throw away?”
“No, maybe she’s scared we’ll find naughty magazines? If we do, we’ll tell Pa and you’ll have nowhere to stay ‘cause Pa says that type of behavior is sinful and he won’t tolerate it in his house!”
Woodren found it in her heart to look upon her silly cousins as childish entertainment. What did they know of the love she had for Hoopsie? “No, I’m scared you’ll find the monster under my bed and start crying for your Ma”
Linda narrowed her blue eyes, “I’m telling Ma you mentioned Lucy’s fear of the monster under the bed to her face! Besides, you don’t have anywhere else to go. You live on Pa’s charity. Ma said so.”
It was the lowest of insults based on a harsh truth. Woodren’s mother had died of cancer when Woodren was very young and her father followed her mother not a year after with heart grief. Her mother had asked her younger sister to take in Woodren; they were her only relatives and had stopped being fond of her once their own two twin daughters arrived and Mr. Palmer started to have to work harder to feed the six bellies at his dinner table. She just became another mouth to feed.
The only person Woodren got along well with in the household was her eldest cousin, Max. Max rarely spoke in anything but grunts, thought of his two little sisters as annoying brats, refused to say more than two sentences at a time to his simpering mother and loudly obnoxious father and often came and sat in Woodren’s room with his large feet against the wall, stroking Hoopsie’s head in silence. She really was fond of Max sometimes. He could be so thoughtful. Just two weeks before, for her birthday, Max had bought her maroon silk curtains with white birds imprinted upon them. He had even gone further than that and stitched in white thread, “Happy birthday. I love you” a red wonky heart followed and then “From Hoopsie.” Simply imagining him sitting there with a huge, thick curtain holding a tiny needle in his bear-like paws, cursing as he stabbed his rough fingertips and fumbling clumsily made her shout with laughter.
It was Max’s idea to buy Hoopsie a big metal cage and attach it to a branch on the big tree in their garden with a piece of shoelace, hidden among all the green leaves. That way, when Hoopsie sang Woodren wouldn’t have to blast her music and radio at the same time or pinch Hoopsie’s beaks shut when her Aunt or Uncle come to  yell at her if she was deaf or crazy or both. And that way, Woodren’s room wouldn’t have its twangy smell of bird **** and Woodren wouldn’t have to be paranoid all day long at school, wondering if nosy Aunt Palmer had broken into her room and found Hoopsie. And that way, she could leave her window open during the day, trying to rid her room off the nutty, sugary smell.
Max’s room was on the same floor as Woodren, the third floor. Every morning, bright and early before school, Woodren would run with a small lump in her sweater and the keys to her locked room jingling on her wrists to Max’s room. Max would barely acknowledge her as she ran across his room, opened his window and climbed out like a monkey to the branch that pushed against his window sill. She crawled along it with speed and sat there, with her legs hanging down and the branch between her legs, fumbled for the cage door above her head, made sure there was enough water and food to last Hoopsie for the day, popped Hoopsie inside with a quick kiss, arranged the fan-like fresh morning-smell leaves to cover the cage completely and skate back towards Max’s window.
Hoopsie mourned with a few high whistling notes. She hated being away from Woodren during the day- waiting for the moment when the sun was getting hot, and Hoopsie was tired of chatting to the birds in the nearby trees, when Woodren’s sharp little white face with its explosion of frizzy black hair would appear in between the leaves with her happy grey eyes and let her fly around the tree before calling, “Hoopsie” followed by her signature tilting whistle. But for now, and for every morning till noon, Hoopsie would have to wait.
“You don’t think they’ll find her do you?” Woodren would ask Max as she clambered back into his window. It was their daily morning ritual.
“No. Pa told Ma that it’s all about privacy now that I’m a growing-up boy. I’ll lock my door; promise.” He would reply back, completing their ritual.
“Are you still eating lunch with that Ed kid?” he asked, completely breaking their ritual this morning.
“Yes.” She was completely surprised. Not only was Max breaking a routine, Max of all people, he was doing so by asking her a question about her personal life.
Woodren eyed Max strangely. To her, Max was her huge cousin that somehow managed to communicate with a variety of different grunts and hated cutting his hair because of his fear of sharp objects; but to the rest of the school and neighborhood, she knew Max was the “strong and silent” handsome tall boy, every girl’s dream, with his shaggy blonde hair.
“Why?” her gray eyes grew rounder when suspicious instead of narrowing.  
“You don’t have many friends at school.”
“You know I don’t get along with any of them but Ed. I don’t like being friends with people unless I actually like them… unlike all the other girls at school.”
“I don’t like you staying around the Ed kid too much.”
Woodren felt a little glow of affection for Max in her heart. She understood why Max was worried. Ed was unstable with the rest of the world. He did what he wanted to, he said exactly what he wanted to and he wasn’t afraid of anything because he didn’t care what anyone said. He was the kid that the no parents wanted their children to stay near. There wasn’t anything Ed hadn’t done before.
Despite what everyone else thought, Woodren knew that his morals and sense of good and justice were strong in his heart. And when it came to Woodren he was always there for her since he moved to the neighborhood more than half a year ago. No matter how many offending remarks he made, she felt he had become the only stable thing in her life in spite of him being so apt to change. She had learned to depend on him.  
At the breakfast table, Woodren’s gray eyes slid over from Linda to Lucy to Aunt Palmer to Uncle Palmer and rested on Max the longest. Until she had come to look at Max, all four of them were identical in their attractive features and identical in their pinched-up, suspicious and petty expressions glazed over with a courteous mask. Max’s blue eyes, though the same shape as Aunt Palmer’s and the same color as Uncle Palmer’s, expressed a good heart and sincerity.
Her first subject of the day was an art lesson. All she had to do was sit comfortably, a palette with swirls of colors, paintbrushes, charcoals and pencils, a *** of water, and a fresh-smelling page. Usually she drew herself as a monster, or Linda as the devil- disturbing pictures that made people believe she was “talented”. But today, it came to her all of a sudden she’d never done a good, worthwhile painting of Hoopsie. Sure, her tables and notebooks were filled with carvings she’d doodled in class but never something she would want to keep.
She started to sketch Hoopsie on her bed post, eyeing the nuts Woodren had stolen from Aunt Palmer’s snack cupboard. She drew Hoopsie in the big tree and painted a metal cage around her. Somehow, the silver cage ruined the picture completely, making Woodren grimace. When the paint dried, she erased Hoopsie from inside the cage and drew her beside it, her small black feet gripping a twig.
Woodren remembered how elegant birds looked when she looked up into the sky, and saw them with their wings spread out and imagined feeling the wind rush through her feathers and ripple down her head and spine, with a heaven of azure blue surrounding her, shooting through clouds cold and refreshing like a sprinkler in the garden. Maybe that’s what freedom tasted like. She tried drawing Hoopsie soaring in the sky before she realized she’d never seen Hoopsie soar like other birds do, because Hoopsie had never done so.
Broodingly, she packed up when class was dismissed, slowly and thoughtfully. Somehow, that small beginning of a painting had darkened her frame of mind completely. Still ruminating, she headed down the hall way to eat lunch.
“Woody!” Hearing the sound of that voice, she momentarily forget her unease and Woodren’s thin, pale lips spread in a smile even before she turned around to him. Ed was the only one who ever called her that. His oval head was covered in small black bristles and one of his black eyebrows rose as he smirked with his pink lips curving down. The diamond earring in his ear glinted like his teeth did. He caught her eyes with his hazel ones; his eyes were warm and lively.  His mouth formed words that were witty and charming and could always make Woodren laugh.
Woodren put a look of amazement on her face. “You came to school today.”
“What are you talking about? I’ve been coming to school nearly all month.”
“That’s why I’m surprised.”
He hit her arm lightly. A few girls nearby turned around and giggled when they caught Ed’s eyes. Woodren remembered when Ed had first come to school. All the prettiest girls at school kept sidling over to him and batting their eyelashes. Ed had taken one look at the curves on their bodies; his eyes flickered over their face, a little bored, and continued his conversation with Woodren as if there had been no interruption.
It was a mark of their friendship three weeks later when she told him about her family. His hazel eyes had burnt hotly. When he was angry, his voice was quieter, but strained as if the passionate anger behind the words were being controlled with the greatest effort, “People who ruin other people’s happiness on purpose and with joy are just plain evil.” He told her that he hated the monsters that kidnapped children, crippled them, not only in body but mind too, and forced them to beg, far away from those that loved them. Here followed a stream of facts, all said in the same tone that both scared and impressed Woodren.
“How do you know so much about it?” she had once asked him.
He looked at her with an odd gleam in his eyes, “Because I care.”
Now he was looking at her without breaking his gaze, the same odd gleam in his eyes, searching her face. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” She had still been brooding over Hoopsie in a cage, and why the picture upset her so much.
“Woody, tell me what’s wrong.”
Every time Woodren mentioned Hoopsie, Ed would go silent or make an offending remark about the way that Woodren took care of Hoopsie. Over a very short time, Woodren had learned never to mention Hoopsie’s name and though it drove her crazy with frustration, she knew Ed would never tell her reason the why if she tried to pry it out of him. Knowing not to answer truthfully, “I told you, nothing”
“I can tell when you’re lying. Your eyes grow whopping and your mouth pouts to the right.”
“Shut up.”
He looked at her searchingly before giving up with an irritated sigh.
“Come with me.” The chair scraped as he pulled out and pushed the table away from him. His tall frame dwarfed her.
He brought her to the back of the school where teachers and students never went, leaned against the wall and lit a cigarette. “You want to try one?”
“I don’t smoke, Ed”
“Why won’t you even try it?” The tone he used when he was about to state something that began an argument leaked into his voice smoothly, like oil. Woodren opened her mouth to list the damaging things it did to your lungs and heart but his voice had begun in its rapid, silky tone:
“Because society has brain washed you so that if you smoke when you’re a child, you’re a horrible ungrateful creature that will never go far in life. But when an adult smokes, it’s okay. You don’t smoke because people and teachers tell you not to try it. Well I say, **** them. These are the best years of your life. Do what you want, try everything so you can make the choices of your life later with a rounded experience and knowledge. I’m not saying get addicted. You have to be strong if you’re gonna be a risk-taker…” he inhaled deeply and exhaled in a husky voice, “I just thought you always went on about how you were such a strong risk taker.” He blew a cloud of heavy smoke above her head. “Oh, and of course you won’t try it because Aunt and Uncle Palmer said it’d be sin, isn’t that right?” he asked with a tantalizing grin in a mocking tone. He watched her face contort with anger, his hazel eyes dancing with glee. He knew he had hit at the bull’s eyes. No one ever jeered at Woodren’s inner power and then put her on the same note as her Aunt and Uncle.
A sudden snarling sound flared from her. She didn’t have to listen to anything Aunt and Uncle Palmer said… they never did anything worthy intentionally. She knew that. He was just stupid. She swore at him and knocked the cigarette out of his hand with a smart slap before storming away. An amused laugh from behind her made her ears tingle pink.
As soon as school was over, she pushed pass Ed who was waiting for her and ran back home. Opening the front door of the house, she scurried up the stairs to the third-floor and knocked on Max’s door. When she opened it, Max was already holding Hoopsie in his big hands. Hoopsie sang with joy when she saw Woodren.
“Hoopsie-girl” Woodren whistled with a tilting note that Hoopsie identified instantly. Hoopsie flapped over and landed on her shoulder.
“By the way,” said Max, “she must have knocked over her water because it was wet on the bottom of the cage. She kept trying to drink it. She’s thirsty.”
“Oh you silly Hoopsie! Why did you knock over the water? You know I’m supposed to have 8 cups a day?” she pampered the lovebird with caresses and endearing words before hiding Hoopsie in her shirt and running back to her room.
Woodren placed Hoopsie gently down on the bed post
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
O Helen of Sparta
A face to start a war,
To launch a thousand ships
And so it did.

Large, almond shape eyes in
A shocking green color, with a swirl of sapphire
Framed by the spell of her bristly, black, curled thick eyelashes
Dark and fluttering, like the wings of vultures circling the dead

Her figure is the envy of the most beautiful mortals
Graceful and tall, like a stretching cat
Even in stillness, seems to be vibrating with motion
As she stands, untouched, protected by thousands of mortals

Her rosy raspberry mouth,
The thought of kissing it, make the bravest men go weak
Curved tenderly, and frighteningly charming
Red like the blood of the wounded and dying warriors

Silky golden strands, cascade thickly down her back
Pale golden like the Sun in summer
With streaks of crimson mixing with the gold
Enchanting like a land’s last sunset

Her high smooth cheeks are pink
Like the petals of a blooming lily
Comparable to a soft peach, in the early spring morning
Stinging pink, like a mark of a sword, hitting against armor, on skin

Golden skin, completely flawless
Just the brush of it, will make you do anything
Shining, and radiating with its own magic
A magic that one welcomed its imprisonment

Her heart stolen by Paris
There love so powerful, by the magic of a goddess:
Aphrodite

A face to die for
And thousands did die
Along with a legendary land
O Helen of Troy
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
All my life I’ve watched them dance,
Swing and dip and sway
Rustle and nod, so fresh and sweet

The young ladies skirts are
All decorated with beautiful, delicate lace-like veins
Threaded through carefully,
Or sprawled decoratively

Some ladies are full and round
Frail and graceful
Or pointed and elegant
But all dance divinely.

Their skirts are
Sprayed with a pinch of cologne
Some smell too strong,
Are barely there
Or smell perfectly lovely
Yet all are carried off with the melody of the wind.

Stick-like creatures climb up and down
Our dance floor,
Picking one of us off our dance floor
And leave us lying on an eerily still ground.

I’m just a skinny bud
Pale-green, like all other buds
Yet I’m shamefully paler and skinnier
I notice a pale white spot beside me

Some time has passed.
The early-budding young dancers
And their pink flowers have wilted
To a strange orange color
Turning brown
Before falling to the still ground

It’s become my time.
My thin, curled frame has changed
Fanning out and my skirts darkening an enviable green
A deep, rich green with its edges colorless
So the sunlight can
Tint it a merry gold
The lace-like veins are fine and soft
Stitched to make an almost symmetrical pattern

The white spot beside me has blossomed to be
My pretty, pink flower
Soft against my skin
With a sweet, alluring fragrance
Enveloping my pointy-edged but round frame

It’s become my time
To dance as the wind conducts
Never-ceasing

The melody of the wind whispers
We lean gently, softly
The music caresses me
Sunrays glowing

The tune of the wind picks up
We rustle and nod
The music embraces me
Sunshine kissing

The beat of the wind crescendos
We dip and sway
The music rushes around my waist
Increasing the velocity of my dancing

The chorus of the wind starts
We swing and twirl
Our dance floor swings to and fro
The music whips my skirts
The last rays of sunshine start to leave us.

The orchestra of the wind erupts
We joyfully prance and wildly flutter
The dance floor shudders violently
The echoes of the thundering cymbals excite us
Far-away spotlights of silvery purple pierce the dark sky
Fat, watery droplets pour
Trembling on our skin

The music holds me a welcome prisoner
All I can do is dance, dance, dance.
The Sun has disappeared from the sky
But is in our hearts right now

The fat droplets hang on the tip of my dress
And the sun glow them rainbow
Making me sparkle and shine
As I dance to my hearts content.
Rustling, whistling, dipping, swaying and swinging
My beautiful green dress

When all around us is dark,
And they’re no parties tonight,
We yawn and tuck in our skirts
While the dance floor rocks us to sleep.

When we wake we dance again.
This dance never seems to end
As the sun says hello,
And the sun says goodbye.

I see the pale-green buds watching us enviously
Watching me, with my rosy-petal jewel
As I watch the azure-blue patches of ceiling

Many sunsets and sunrises have past.
The whipping of my skirts are loosening
The energy of my hips are fading
My green skirt is getting old, ever so old
Its fringes turning an odd yellow-orange
Dancing has become wearisome
The dress slowly turns an ugly brown, with specks of yellow-green
My flower-jewel has turned brown,
And flown away with the music in the wind
Many of my friends have fallen from our dance floor
To rest finally in a beautiful sleep
We’ve all danced for too long and are tired
But I keep holding tight.
I have but one last dance to do.

I see the buds still watching me enviously
Surprised, I notice they’ve gotten fatter.
When blinded by youth and happiness
It was hard to remember I was ever one of them
But I remember now, I do.
I remember so clearly now that my time has come
To pick up my skirts
And silently fall…
So I dance to them my story
As I have danced to you mine.
mymaimonkey
Sep 2010 · 8.5k
Sunshine Baby
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Barely awake, it was only dawn
My sleepy feet stumbled out the front door
And onto the old swing on the grassy lawn

Awake in peaceful stillness, like death
No one else in the entire neighborhood
Not a sound, nor a breath

I yawned, my vision spinning side to side
The old fence creaked as I opened it
Trying to stand but swayed right outside

That’s when I saw a little girl who ran
In the distance; laughing happily and carefree
As only the innocent and young can

She had ruffled yellow hair
Shoved into two short bouncing sprouts
That bobbed merrily as she skipped, looking so fair

The sweet freckled face had the quality of a dream
The button nose wrinkled cutely
The white teeth flashed in an innocent beam

She had thick, warm honey eyes
That smiled as big as her red lips did
A smile that could warm the iciest heart full of lies

She wore the brightest of yellow overalls
And canary-yellow shoes
That bounced up and down like rubber *****

Out of her overall pockets floated out golden sparkles
Thick-looking and sweet-smelling, spraying heat
That left a glittering trail behind her dancing feet

A chubby brown hand clutched a swinging bucket
Filled to the brim with warm, sweet sunshine
The other scattering it behind her in an unordered line

She didn’t seem to be walking
She didn’t seem to run
Her feet pattered, like tap-dancing
She skipped to me with a happy beat
And as she did, she stopped and
Sprinkled some sunshine near my feet

The toddler looked up and saw my bewildered face
Her red dimpled cheeks blushing joyfully
Honey eyes sparkling with an unworldly grace

She did not say anything but came closer
Bringing a dizzy sweet fire
Erasing all cold cuts, leaving treasures to admire

She skipped around in a circle, tossing glitters on me
A sprinkle here… and… a little bit there…
And sat cross-legged right then
Wondering what my reaction would be

As I was about to ask her what she had done
Something with a slow melancholy beauty
Indescribable, yet true, and happening
Something vivacious and full of life’s fun

The golden sunshine diamonds sparkled on my skin
Wiping clean all scars on my heart
And with a golden, pulsing love beat
Seeped through, melting away all sins

I felt alive to the brim
My fingertips tingling
My mind filled with wild dreams
Pouring, gushing over the rim

A sudden, sweeping golden heat rushed from my heart
From the roots of my hair
A rush of great, great happiness
That reached my whole body, ever part

My cheeks flushed from the joyful heat
My lips redden from the welcoming warmth
Feeling the energy of a restless dance
Tapping in my normally dull feet

The three-year-old laughed as she saw my expression change
She handed me her bucket of sunshine
Her little warm hand in mine
We started to skip along the road

I reached into the yellow bucket
And felt the smooth and fine
Warm and sweet sunshine
In the palm of my fire-hot hands

Strange the heat did not hurt me
But made me crazy
Something one may only feel, never see
With all its powerful magic

I laughed like the toddler holding my hand did
From the bottom of our beings
I danced like the baby did
Never ceasing; without rhythm or rhyme
For an immeasurable time

We danced, and threw sunshine dust behind us
Watching the trail of sunray dust
Glitter and spread

Together, we brought dawn
The sandy, spicy glowing sunshine
Spreading out to blanket the land
Sunrise was brought by this child’s hand

When dawn had completely broken
She kissed me on the cheek
And hugged with her plump arms
Then bid goodbye forever with a
Twinkling voice full of innocence’s charm

Every year on that day, I wake up to watch
The dawn of hers and mine
She had not only two pocketfuls but a bucketful of sunshine
And a heart and soul
Full of pure, simple love
Sunshine Baby
Sep 2010 · 24.5k
The Enormous Urine
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Peeing: to ***; to urinate; to release the body of its liquid toxins; to pass or discharge *****; characteristically yellow- the strength of the color depending on the body’s hydration.
People have strange habits when peeing; urinating; releasing the body of their liquid toxins. Some people procrastinate it to the last minute and rush to the bathroom, barely yanking their pants down in time and shuddering in relief. They are those who habitually whip in and out, even when they don’t really need to. There’s the common usage of an escape from boredom in classes or meetings. Perhaps it even causes a slight blushing in the cheeks of painfully shy woman at hearing rushed tinkling so close by. And of course, they are also the people who love to leave surprises for the next person who uses the bathroom.
All in all, peeing seems to mean not much to people – a small part of life; but a very, very necessary part.  

                                 *                 *                    * .

The rain poured furiously outside the window as Emily sat, straining her brown eyes against the whiteboard flashing images of trigonometry from Mr. Well’s laptop, trying hard to concentrate. She was sitting in her usual seat in class, and also her favorite. It was a solitary table with a chair, away from the clusters of tables and the chattering children, and the only chair by the window. She liked to look out the window, even if it distracted her from Mr. Well’s loud explanations. The booming of “SOHCAHTOA” in her ears became distant as the wind’s movement caught her eye. She gazed out on sheets of rain flapping across the sky like giant teary spirits and pressed her fingertips on the glass. Cold.
Absent-mindedly, she pressed her cheek against the coolness and felt it absorb her body warmth. Her imagination kicked in and the glass became a panel of energy, ******* a little life from all those who touched it, vibrating with a strange purple light until it was so filled with energy the particles of the glass would explode and she would be the first to die from the sharp shatters that would spray across the room, causing droplets of blood to-
Ahem.
Mr. Well coughed meaningfully at her dreamy face. The class exploded into laughter and the bell rang. A skinny girl smiled at her but she was so lost in her own world, she forgot to smile back as she slung her bag on her shoulder and ran out. Maybe that’s why she didn’t have too many friends.
The dark skies were pouring furiously as only Bangkok in Monsoon weather can.
A walk home or a motorbike ride? A motorbike ride would be a little dangerous in this flooding… and with that reasoning she waved up a motorbike. The seat was soaked and so was the driver, whose brown leathered feet struggled to keep red flip-flops on as they sloshed through the flooded Sois.
Fat water bullets pelted her skin and the wind blew them ferociously into her face till her eyes stung. The motorbike swerved in and out of the cars stuck in traffic (slightly floating), the bottoms of their wheels immersed in ***** water.
The pockets of her school shorts were hastily rummaged through and she pulled out a soggy green twenty-baht note bank before running into the shelter of the lobby, dripping over the marble floor and completely drenched. The building-maid widened her eyes, and watched her horrified; knowing it meant extra work mopping and drying up the lobby floor as soon as Emily vanished into the elevator.
The plastic button with the circular metal piece glowed orange. It was strange how she was shivering with cold but her touch was still warm enough to light up the elevator buttons.
The usual itchy, impulsive, restlessness was building up inside her from the wet motorbike ride. Thunder roared and crackled through the lobby’s swinging glass doors and they vibrated slightly. Another flashing image of splintering glass splashed across her mind and in the split-second, she saw the diamond shards pierce the eye of the lobby’s guard and splinter across the floor-
She shook her head. This was what happened when she had too much pent-up energy. She had to do something- something reckless and fast and dangerous… now! A bolt of lightning went through her as a familiar wide open space came into her mind… the rooftop of her thirty-five floored building.
The elevator ride up was slow, much too slow for the fast pacing of her heart and she hit the metal doors with wet fists. Tearing out of the doors when it finally jolted to a stop, she climbed up to the top, running up the stairs two steps at a time and caught her breath. It was flooded up to her ankles and violent gusts of wind made her steady herself.
Emily’s Dad often told her stories of when he was child. “The winds in my home during Monsoon season were so strong we could lean into it with our fully body weight and we wouldn’t fall. It was almost as good as flying.”
Her lids squinted shut and the sensitive skin was immediately exposed to the pebbles of the rain and whipping wind; and in almost dream-like state, she leaned into the howling wind.
There was a comically slow fall and her bony knees hit the concrete flooring with a dull thud. She burst into tears of laughter in her own stupidity at thinking the wind could hold up against her gigantic frame and rubbed her ***** knees sorely. Reaching up to wipe her tears with muddy fingers, she laughed to herself again. There was no point in wiping away tears. They were so trivial in comparison to the current weeping of the skies.
Against the thick opaqueness of the wind, she could see how the view towered over a jungle of buildings as far as the eyes could see, with snaking concrete roads and skinny black canals. Slums scattered around nearby swanky hotels of the rich. The buildings faded into small dark shapes in the distance. Bangkok.
No matter how tall and industrial it tried to become, everyone ran for cover under this blinding rain.
Up here, completely a victim to nature’s power, she felt exposed; naked; real. The animalistic instincts inside her swelled up. Humans weren’t meant to wear these annoying pieces of material or shoved inside skinny architectural designs. With aggressive tearing motions, a pile of soggy clothes half lay, half floated on the flooded floor beside her and she stood there bare… and completely naked. Laughter spilled out from the depths of her naked chest with the two tiny hints of possible womanhood; it was louder than thunder. Screaming, laughing and gasping she stumbled around – climbing over objects and feeling the beautiful dizziness: a sweet, sweet dizzy. She stood up on a random block a meter high; spread her arms wide as her wet body shone with raindrops. The rain threatened to push her over, her soaked hair twitching heavily on her neck.
She ****** in her breath, ready to yell so that the heavens could hear but instead, the voice that came out was controlled with a shaky undertone of joy,
“I need to ***.”
And then she did.

                                                *         *            *.

His eyes are brown. Dark chocolate brown – a simple, solid color. Simple and solid like him.
Because he was so simple, people enjoyed his companionship. Though he was simple, he was not boring. Rather he was sharp-mouthed, quick on his feet, witty and observant speaking bald truths about people that either provoked them to scandalized laughter or humiliated fury.
What some people forgot to recognize was that he didn’t really love anyone. Plenty called him a close friend, but so absorbed were they in their own world; they seldom realized the fact that most of his thoughts were concealed. Kept in a little box of surprises in the back of his mind, and hidden so well nobody knew they existed.
He could spend months with a friend traveling in a different country, and return back home with no feelings of attachment. He could care for a friend while they were here and not really miss them while they were gone.
Most of the time his eyes were neutral and observing and they would sparkle amusedly when he had provoked someone with his words. This was how remained to almost everyone; everyone but one person. The one person that could turn his normally calm face even more still, the dark brows would rise slightly and a quick flash of fire would shoot through his eyes- and for a long while, they would burn slowly like two twin coals; the one person who could cloud his eyes dreamily; the one person who could make them glint wetly.  
He reached over and grabbed her hand. Emily turned smiling eyes at him.
A group of teenagers were strolling down the closed roads, armed with water guns, pasted in thick white powder, thoroughly drenched in the hot, dry weather and skipping over puddles (except for Emily who splashed into them).
Songkran in Bangkok: celebrated in the middle of April where temperatures reach forty-degrees Celsius, Thailand’s New Year and a time to pay respect to the elders in the family, but as most traditions, they became really just an excuse to enjoy oneself and in this case, one-year-olds to eighty-year-olds roamed the ***** streets splashing ice-cold water from hoses and water guns and smeared each other with chalk in buckets.
The street they were being shoved along was crowded with slick, drunk bodies. The heat of the afternoon sun shone down on their backs. The sign that introduced excited people in was sprayed by a passing pick-up truck filled with screaming locals. “WELCOME TO SOI COWBOY” printed the red letters.
Red-faced fat foreigners held in each arm a tiny ******* with their bright lace bras showing through the wet see-through shirt and their black eye shadow playing havoc with their cheeks.  Country-side Thai music blared in its jumpy, quirky manner with the over done sound effects. Those nasal voices of dark skinned women with their skins covered with make-up to an ashy white whined out of the stereos. A man with the head of a buffalo mask sauntered past. It was a mark of how wild things got at Songkran that eyes merely flickered over the shirtless buffalo briefly with a quick laugh. Transsexuals clad in diamond-studded flip-flops, wet white tank tops and mini jeans shorts the size of underwear danced to the blasting music from the open pubs down either side of the road. Their surgically-made ******* were all-too visible in the white shirts, their dark ******* poking out as they grabbed the crotches of good-looking men and boys that passed by, squealing and rubbing their bodies against white men especially. Most of these white foreigners had a look of bewildered pleased ness... for only a few realized that underneath that squeaky voice was a very deep rumble, and underneath those lacy thongs lay a very big surprise indeed.
One of the better-looking boys in the group, his green eyes and pointed chin drawing the fancy of many hookers, was pulled off by four pairs of wet skinny arms touching him and yelling in broken English, “Oh so handsome! You so handsome! I love you! What your name! You tell me your name, handsome boy!”
The handsome boy proceeded to manage some sort of scream for help while laughing until his stomach ached. It was Songkran; it was a merry time, and he knew he was good-looking. Kat, who held a secret crush on him laughed amusedly at his yelping.
Emily stumbled after him with Kat and parted through the crowd of ladies in time to see a tiny little ****** trip on her squeaking flip-flops and fall beside a sprawled figure, face down in the ***** road with a massive bag of ice on top of him.
“Hey! Are you alright?” Emily cried, half-amused and half-concerned, lifting the heavy ice bag off his shoulders.
Kat rushed forward, laughing but compromising her concern with furrowed brows and helped him up. “You okay Tom?”
He whimpered in pain and put a hand on his neck, rubbing it sorely. “That ice bag was ******* heavy.” The girls decided to make no note of his skinny arms.
They walked back to their group of friends who turned around and saw a limping green-eyed boy and roared with laughter. The noise caught the attention of predators searching for a good target and they were hosed down with water pipes.
Suddenly Emily felt a huge body lift her up and swing her around while hands plastered her with wet chalk.
“Emily!”
She felt safe hands grab her and looked up into the pair of dark chocolate eyes. They were a little annoyed as they flickered over the fat drunk man who released her heavily but it was Songkran, and he managed to laugh at her bewildered expression.
Just then they passed a horde of prostitutes and she felt him being ripped from her. “I like this one!” screeched a passing market lady who rushed in to jump on him. “I like this one! Let’s keep this one!” They dunk his head in a bucket of white goo.
She screeched with laughter and even at something that silly, felt protective of him. “Brad!”
He was too busy being attacked. “Brad!” she tried to reach in and he opened his mouth to call out to her. That was a big mistake, he realized, as he received a handful of powder in his mouth. Spitting, coughing, and trying to breathe through nostrils blocked with powder he managed to wipe his stinging eyes clean. The prostitutes released him but not before a huge ******* screamed with glee at his straight nose and thin red lips, and reached forward giving his crotch a good grab. He screeched in genuine disgust and fear, had a moments feeling of guilt in case he had offended the ******* which was immediately wept away as he, no she, no it, yelped joyfully and massaged his **** before trotting off to his, no her, no its next victim.
Where was Emily? With his height, he managed to see a brown head that stuck above the other dark-haired and light-haired heads being jostled out of the street by the moving crowd. He ran to catch up and grabbed Emily’s hand as the group of teenagers tripped out of “Soi Cowboy”.  
They stood for a moment catching their breath. Zoey, a tiny little girl with a chest that threatened to put her out of balance, pushed her brown curls out of her face. A red glow was starting to spread over her cheeks.
Kat laughed scornfully, her wide smile spreading generously over her face. “Sunburn?! You white girl!”  
They had all been out around the streets since early morning and it was late in the afternoon now. Rose’s cheeks were flushed and the tip of Kat’s nose was a little pink herself. The rest of them, with their darker skin, had tanned slightly but unnoticeably. They laughed at Zoey for a short while. It was an interesting group of friends: all of them of mixed heritages from around the world with different backgrounds that became common in the world of International schools. It was alright to tease Emily’s honey skin; it was funny to crack jokes about Stefan’s hairiness; it was hilarious when Zoey tried to tan.
Emily shot a picture of everyone laughing: their clothes wet, their faces scrunched up, eyeliner smudged (Kat and Rose had lined their eyes with water proof kohl that of course wasn’t really waterproof), their cheeks and chin caked a crumbly white.
Kat and Zoey clambered over her shoulders, peering at the little digital screen of the water proof camera. “Ew! Gross!” yelled Kat who was only used to pictures of her lips rosy from lipstick, camera at a flattering angle with a bright flash from her professional equipment that made her black-lined green eyes sparkle like emeralds.
“Delete! I look sick!”
Even Zoey, who admired Kat’s photogenic ness to a great extent, could find no words of solace except to say, “Me too! I look gross! Delete! Now!”
Emily just laughed and said, “No you don’t.” Of course it wasn’t a type of picture they’d profile on Facebook, but all the same it was beautiful with their wild-looking and uninhibited faces and un-posing body shapes, curled up in laughter.
Zoey snatched the camera from her and they fiddled with the buttons till the picture was deleted. It was regretful, annoying, but not unexpected.
Emily rubbed her sore knees and noticed how Tom was still rubbing his neck sorrowfully with Stefan laughing at him, shaking his head wearily. Brad was holding onto her arm a little tiredly, Kat and Zoey had their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulder for leaning support and Rose and Emily’s younger brother, Jason, were standing together, staring absen
Sep 2010 · 4.0k
Jack Jack Shine the Light
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
I swirled my fingertips on the surface of the water and sent a message across with shiny, glossy ripples that grew slowly, and gracefully. He kneeled on the other side of the moonlit pond and watched as the ripples from my fingertips reached him. He cupped the ripples of the water into his palm and drank the cold water, sighing happily.
“What does it taste like?” I whispered hoarsely, as loud as I dared to be while knowing we would be reprimanded fiercely for sneaking out of the huts at this time of night.
“Love” he called back.
I burst out laughing in panting breaths and tried to stifle the noise with my fists. I heard him bellow out, and the echoes rang freely through the woods before he quickly shoved his face into the water and laughed in there, the bubbles of his laughter surfacing violently.
“You idiot” I whispered joyfully when he brought his head up from the water, his dark hair curled against his forehead, “I didn’t even write anything to do with love. I wrote how foolish of a boy you are.”
“And you still stick with me so that’s love isn’t it?” he teased me. His finger tips swirled in the water for a minute. “Your turn to taste, Masra”
I waited till the ripples hit the side of the pond and quickly dipped my tongue in and lapped the water. I pursed my lips, pretending to debate what his message was. The surface of the black water was littered with reflection of the stars. It was so beautiful that I momentarily forgot the little game we were playing and gasped, “Oh stars!”
He took a quick intake of breath and stared up at me with wide eyes. “Really?” he asked in an unbelieving tone.
“What do you mean?”
“Stars?” he asked again, sounding like a sweet little confused child.
“Yes!” I laughed. “Stars!” and I splashed the surface of the water to show him.
He shook his head. “I can’t believe you could read, I mean, taste that... That’s incredible…”
It took me a second to realize what he was talking about. I decided to play along anyways and whispered dramatically, “Yeah, but I didn’t know what you were trying to say”
“A million stones on fire with wishes
Yet the brightest star is not up there” he recited his favorite lines from an old love poem.
“You are disgustingly soppy” I got up from kneeling by the pond and treaded softly on the dry leaves so that they wouldn’t crackle so loud. Reaching him, I kneeled down beside him and ran my fingers through his curly wet locks. His dark eyelashes were still wet with water and the chestnut eyes gleamed brightly.
I curled into his lap comfortably like a cat and he rolled over with me lying on top, while his strong arms held me. I buried my face into the skin of his beautiful brown neck and inhaled the sweet, musky smell. Reab smoothed my hair before murmuring huskily, “Why do you always do that?”
“It smells like you, the old Reab smell. It makes me feel safe and warm and happy.”
“I love you.”
“Do you think we’ll always be happy like this?” I asked, speaking of my deepest fear.
“I will never stop loving you, if that’s what you mean. And if we are caught sneaking out, I’m pretty sure no one would be too surprised. They all know from the way I look at you I intend to marry you when Chief thinks you’re old enough and finally say okay.”
I laughed at the thought of Chief being able to give me away.
With my parents both gone since I was a baby, Chief had adopted me as his daughter and he loved me tremendously for all his lecturing ways. Reab laughed a little too but without any fear of Chief rejecting him. Chief loved Reab too and approved of us most of the time.
“Do you remember when he caught us making ‘sheep-eyes’ at each other as he put it and he was furious?” We chuckled at the memory of Chief turning storm on us, declaring we were too young.
“What would he say now?” he turned my face to face his and kissed me for a while, with the wind blowing the tendrils of my hair on his face. He smiled mid-way through our kiss, for the soft strands of my hair on his face always tickled him.
I didn’t want to continue with my question after that happy moment. But I had to; he was the only man who would tell me the truth. “Our tribe has enemies. We have many men, many strong men… but I know we are in a constant threat. I have seen the midnight meetings you men hold when you think we are asleep and more weapons that normal are being made nowadays.”
He looked at me with sad eyes; with so much love and desire burning in them that my own eyes began to swell up with tears. I fluttered my lids to get rid of the wetness but he reached over and caught a tear on his pinky and licked it. Then he licked all the tears off my face and I giggled as his tongue flicked over the tearstains on my cheeks.
“The tribe is in some danger. You and I are not. I will love you forever.” I shook my head and was about to interrupt with another fearful question when he continued, “You know what Chief always says. We don’t live just one life. I loved you since we were babies. You know what I think?”
“What?” I asked, his voice slightly soothing my fears.
“I think I’ve known you before. There’s no way you can know someone the way I know you in the short life time we’ve lived. This is not the first time we’ve met.”
“You’re not worried if a battle comes we won’t be together?”
“No.” he answered and kissed my forehead.
“Why?” I couldn’t get rid off the idea of such a terrible fate.
“I think…” he struggled to get the words out, “I think we’ll always be together somehow. Masra, I’m… I’m just not afraid”
We lay there for a while until I fell asleep in his arms. I was awoken a little later with him shaking me softly for us to sneak back into our own huts.
There was a little advantage in having both my parents gone. Lela, my cousin who shared the hut with me, stirred only a little as I crept back in.



“I’ve been hearing from your sister that lately you have been waking very late. I don’t approve of this laziness.” Chief said to me as I sat on the floor of his hut, admiring the new spear he had just made. I sharpened the stone a little for him and smiled up brightly. His face softened. Chief was not usually an easy person to get around, but he always said he loved me more than was good for me. “I saw Reab today. He didn’t look so alert and awake.”
My mind clicked into place as I realized Chief had his suspicions. “Reab?” I inquired with an innocent expression. “Is he ill?”
“He just looked tired.” Chief replied with raised eyebrows, his eyes were a little puzzled. I had fooled him for now.
I balanced the spear in my hand. “You hold a spear too well for a woman” he grunted. “Spending too much time with me, I suppose. You should spend more time with your sister Lela. It would have been different if your mother was still alive. She would’ve taught you some womanly manners.”
“I think I’m feminine enough.”
“Look at you, blundering around after the men of the village, killing creatures and planning your attack even better than my men.”
“I don’t plan Chief; it just comes to me”
“Making it even worst!” he cried with a hidden pride.
I burst out laughing and bade him good night. He ruffled my hair fondly. “You go to sleep now Masra. Get some good sleep. Tell Reab that too” his eyes sparkled wickedly. Perhaps I hadn’t fooled him after all.
“You tell Reab, won’t you? I won’t see him till tomorrow morning.” I replied demurely.



And here passed, long uneventful days with the occasional nights that Reab and I would sneak out of the huts to spend the cool nights together and forcing ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn along with the villagers, exhausted but happy. I suspected Chief still had his own wary thoughts, but with a denial somewhere in his mind, he did not seek to expose the truth or confine stricter rules on me through Lela. The few months that went by, I watched as Reab grew from a boy to a man.
A man I loved more than life itself.
One night, as I was lying in his arms I poked a thumb against his forehead and breathed out happily before nestling into his chest.
“What?” he asked me, amused at my random, loving behavior.
“I like to check that you’re real.”
He had no words in reply to that but tightened his hold on me, and swiftly kissed my dark hair with a sudden passion. His fingers caressed my head, and he inhaled the flowery perfume from the brown strands clutched in his hand.
“I wish you a long and happy life.” I whispered softly, afraid of the feelings that were surging through me.
“With you.” he replied back.
“No. Not just with me… anywhere… as long as you’re happy.”
“So with you then…”
Some days after that night, when it was pouring so furiously everyone had retreated back into their huts to cozy up, gossip, and flirt while warming their hands on hot wooden mugs we snuck off and climbed a special tree.
It was special because it was a giant, and very old with gnarled branches and knobs that made it easy to grip on with our toes, but the trunk itself was as smooth as a baby’s skin. It overlooked most of the village and the canopy was so thick it protected us from the rain except for the small wet drops that would escape through.
The tree stood apart from the woods and was very difficult to get to. One had to climb several other trees to reach it, ducking in and out of the tangle of branches up in the canopy like a maze. Only Reab and I had spent enough time up there to discover the path in reaching it. We were yet to discover how to reach it without getting scratches and bleeding scabs all over our skin.
Every time the thunder roared deafeningly Reab would yell, “I love you!” and no one could hear but Reab, the heavens, our special little tree and I.
He was so beautiful; like a lithe dangerous animal and his muscles were graceful and strong as he climbed around on the branches. I wished for the rest of our days to be like this and I remembered the lines he had recited to me only a little while ago,
““A million stones on fire with wishes
Yet the brightest star is not up there”

*

A distant roar erupted. The stars had not granted my wish, they had granted my deepest fear. The sound of drums rumbled steadily over the noise of screaming villagers, over the noise of animal fear in those I loved and lived with.
It was the sign that our enemies were finally in sight. We had been waiting for there attack all year long.
Lela grabbed me by the arm. “The chief says all women must flee!” she gasped and choked. Her eyes were leaking with tears. I stubbornly shook away her hand and I could see the desperateness growing in her eyes.
“There is no time to cry Lela”, I tried saying confidently but my voice shook. “Where is Reab?”
Even in her hysterical state she did not want to answer the question I already knew the answer to. “Where is Reab?” I repeated. When she did not reply I narrowed my eyes.
In the face of danger I had never been woman-like and cowered.
Chief had raised me stare any wild beast straight into its cold, predatory eyes before slaying it. I was not unfamiliar to thrusting a jagged dagger into the heart of danger.
I would not leave a man I loved behind like the running footsteps of women carrying their babies, pushing old people along, and dragging wailing children were doing.
I would not leave and I would fight when I could.
Lela stared at me as if she’d just read my mind.  “You may not fight Masra!” she cried. I pushed her aside.
“Help the women evacuate! Grab a baby, help a village elderly; just do it Lela!” I yelled violently and ran through the women who were running towards the woods.
I shoved women aside to get to the battle. My long legs tangled with the other woman, and I fell on my knees. They were both bleeding badly when I got up. Running with my knees stinging, a huge man suddenly grabbed me and swung me to face him. For one moment, I thought he was Reab and I clutched onto him; then I saw it was Chief, and I clutched to him even tighter.
“Chief, please don’t make me go away! Please let me fight with you!” I was screeching and begging with no sanity left in me.
He smiled weakly, “I wanted you to come without little Lela, I knew you would be headed this way. I have not much time Masra, my men need me. I have something I want to give you to make sure you will be safe enough to last through this war if I die,” he spoke softly.
I shook my head and hugged him. “But- but you- you wont!”
Chief gave me a sad smile. “I don’t know that.”
His brown hands reached to his neck and tugged a simple black leather string free. He shoved it into my hands. “Remember this, Masra. Just say to it, ‘Jack, Jack, shine the light’ when you feel there is nobody left in the world for you. Be ready for what happens. Goodbye Masra…”
He touched my cheek and warmth spread though me, momentarily making me feel safe.
“Why Jack?” I asked wretchedly, in a detached curiosity and trying to prolong the moment that Chief would be safe.
Jack was a commoner’s name; no one in our tribe was called Jack. We all had strong, powerful names that spoke of destiny, truth and purity.
“Chief Traben!” a man cried from the noises of surging mob of warriors.
“Go, Masra, go!” Chief said hurriedly, and pushed me away before whipping out of sight.
Chief had been like my best friend, my big brother and … my father. I wanted to fight with him, for him. But I knew in doing that, I would go against his wishes, and that was the last thing I would ever want to do.
A sudden thought made me realize I did not have to fight. I just had to be there or I would **** somebody in my own village for leaving behind loved ones. I knotted the black leather string determinedly on my neck.
I ran to the bottom of a slippery tree and climbed up to the canopy and began to duck in and out, swinging between and onto branches in the maze-like chaos of sticks and concentrated leaves to get to the special tree Reab and I shared.
I hid among the thick tangle; so thick no arrows would be able to pierce me and no enemy would see me. Growling and cursing myself, I remembered I carried no weapons with me and hastily patted my clothing to check again.
Then I remembered it would be useless to have any weapons unless I intended to go down there, for the abundant tangle worked both ways. A spear thrown from where I was would only get stuck in the dense branches below.
I could see the battle though, and that was enough: for now. I searched vainly for Reab, scampering along the top, trying to find where Reab was. I was wild with fury for him for coming.
He was just a boy, newly turned a man. He could still run and hide without shame. When I had him back in my arms again, I was sure to hit him and berate him for choosing to fight for me instead of being safe for me.
It never occurred to me once that Reab might be dead.
It still didn’t occur to me when I saw his body lying on the dirt below, with a man from a village - someone I couldn’t recognize from this height- dragging him. I shouted out, careless of the arrows of enemies.
For the first time in my life, I was terrified of blood: the blood that was seeping out of the wound on his stomach. I didn’t think he was dead; I believed he was injured and I thought of all the herbal concoctions I knew that I could paste over the wound to clean and heal it.
It still didn’t occur to me Reab was dead when the man left him by the bottom of a tree to return and fight. The men in our village did not leave those who could be healed. They stayed and helped them heal to the best of their ability before hiding their healing bodies’ safe in a bush. They only left behind those they could do no more for.
I trembled at anger in the neglect one of our men villagers had shown Reab; the disrespect in it. I would **** him if he were not killing our enemy. Somehow, in the wild pulsing of my body, I found myself climbing down and creeping stealthily to where Reab was and pulling him to safety in a bush.
When he was safe in the bushes, I held him and whispered to him that I was here. I said hold on Reab and I would go and make sure he was safe. I was sobbing. I could not comprehend what was happening for my mind had gone numb and blank.
How could a man who I loved so much bleed so much? All I knew was Reab was not moving in my arms and he must be terribly hurt.
I pressed my fingers to the blood on his stomach. I knew no man could have survived such a wound and so much lo

— The End —