She always wanted to have magical powers. To be able to help others and be a modern day superhero, she obsessively wished for that to happen. The beauty and grace that these magical girls in the cartoons exceeded, she was enamored. To save the day and let love conquer all, if she could do that, then she could have given up everything. That was, until recently. Since when did being a magical girl involve killing others? Murder? Death? Corruption? And how about consequences? Why did being a superhero come with such dire costs? Yes, reality did rear its hideous head upon her beloved childhood dream, but the girl tried to focus on what appealed to her about the genre. How the output outweighed the costs and sacrifices. How saving the day was more important than teenaged angst and drama. Looking at the small creature before her, she was hesitant. The opportunity to realize her childhood dream was just an answer away. But knowing what she did now, she knew that this door, closing would not be the end of her world. By turning her back away from it now, she would be keeping her dream alive.
A little gir, resting underneath a sky littered with cherry blossoms. She had nearly no recollection of her life before sleeping here. There was only one memory: an elderly man, whispering to her. “I’m so sorry.” He apologies in a hushed, croaked tone. He cut her loose of his tight embrace, as she fell. Walking through the pink hills, the girl felt awestruck. The pristine trees, pure ivory park and light, heart-shaped flowers that fluttered through the wind, it was a sight to marvel at. The girl felt like these flowers, they resonated with her. Looking at them, she felt hope, joy, and for some reason, guilt. Seeing these flowers gently glide past her. She could sympathize with their descent from the heavens. But unlike these fallen petals, the girl knew she could continue moving. She felt almost ashamed, as if she was leaving these delicate flowers behind. Being able to move forward, it seemed like something she was not supposed to be doing. Like her, small and untainted in the beginning, before being released, displaced, dirties, and discarded. She knew, deep down, that her innocence was sullied on her way here. Despite not knowing why, she knew that her past was a fall, but her future was a rise.
Our love did not exist. What we had was an illusion. A lie. We tried to be there for each other. Simply but, we were bad together. We hurt each other. We convinced ourselves that we needed each other. But you deceived me. Behind my bcd, you told others how you rely felt. My confidence, my self-esteem, I sacrificed those to be your friend, your confidant. I gave up my dignity. How foolish I was, to do that for anybody. I refused to think that I was in the wrong. I committed every thought and concern to your safety and happiness. Or so what I incorrectly perceived it to be. But you are not worth my love and trust. SOmeone who treated me like a monster in my moment of vulnerability. Somebody so insensitive, entitled, and immature. You do not deserve my attention. You do not deserve my focus. You are a waste of my time. Please do me a favor, and go away. Treat yourself like how you treated me. Maybe then you will understand how much of a brat and coward you were. Stop trying so hard to be the victim of this situation. You really are a disappointment of a human being. I am embarrassed to think that I let somebody like you hurt me. Somebody with such a cracked heart.
She was wandering this strange world for such a long time. It felt like years since she had seen a familiar face. She still remembered her friends, two young men, and how the three of them would be able to sit together and laugh at the simple things in life. What happened to those times? Succumbing to her doubts, she fell to her knees, clutching her head tightly with both hands. She could not understand why things had to happen the way they did. The three of them were promised a chance to explore the world. However, the situation soured quickly. Only one of them could leave their town. A small, rural village, in the middle of the mountains. None of them had ever seen the outside world before. They did not know life beyond those mountains. And when offered that opportunity, their friendship fell apart. Her friends, they argued and fought, screaming over each other why they were most deserving of this chance. The girl, she was willing to step down and let one of them travel. She was happy, living a simple life, and was okay with staying there with one of her two friends. But that was not good enough for either of the young men. Their tactics quickly shifted from arguing and debating to much more extreme measures. The consequences were dire. She still remembers that day. When she arrived at their usual spot. A small clearing on the cliffs, overlooking the rest of the village. The normally lush flower garden was stained red. One of her friends weakly crawled over to her, the stake pressed through his chest dragged through the dirt, and he grabbed her ankle pleadingly. He quickly succumbed to his wounds, coughing up blood, unable to utter his final words. Gasping, she quickly looked around the field, screaming her other friend’s name. Walking closer to the edge of the cliff, she was horrified. Her other friend, body mangled beyond recognition, was left hanging off the edge. Shuddering to herself, trying to cast off that horrendous memory, the girl frowned. She did not want to be the wanderer. But she wanted to honor their memories and dreams of escaping the village. For her, living out her friends’ wishes was enough for her to continue living on. She did not want to remain in the village, and be constantly reminded of their demises. She wanted to live a life, free of her trauma. Free of her pain.
He sat alone, gazing into the dark ocean. The waves gently combed the sands, pulling the shells and kelp further and further away from the surface. He was watching the silvery full moon slowly sink back beneath the black horizon. After he had wronged the prince of the sky, he could no longer stay in one place. He was a foolish man, thinking he could trump the monarch in a challenge of strength. To think he could defeat a demigod was naive. He hoped to impress one of the prince’s subjects, a priestess by the name of Dalila. Her laughter and smile, he sought after them. Her kind heart, it tempted him beyond his own logic. Was it love he felt for her? No. It was lust. Idiotic, adolescent, animalistic urges he should have cast aside. As a priestess, she could not part with her deity. She was a part of his dominion. The prince of the sky, fathered by the sun himself. Between the two, they owned all of the world’s light. He was forced to be a denizen of the darkness. Wherever the sun was, he had to avoid. A heliophobe, living a life of constant peril and fear. Should he bathe in those rays of light, they would pierce through him, slowly unraveling his very existence. He could not be with the people whose company he yearned for. To want, a luxury for somebody like him. His entire purpose in life was to constantly hide. What was bravery? What was courage? All of these concepts did not matter now. He had no use for them. To survive, he had to continue running. Hiding beneath the moon’s gentle light. Seeing the moon finally grazing the horizon, the young man got up, and glided along with the fleeing darkness. He had to follow the night, for his own survival.
The orchestra was playing in background. It was a dimly lit ballroom. Couples were on the floor, hand in hand, dancing in tune with the music. Everyone attending were the city’s rich and elite. Sitting off to the side, a young woman with brown hair, held tightly together in a bun. She was sporting a dark red, sleeveless dress, her fingers tightly wrapped around a black clutch purse. Suddenly, her purse was vibrating. Pulling out her phone from inside, she quickly held it to her ear. “Hello?” She already knew who was calling. “He’s trying to leave through the back. You know what to do.” Hanging up, she calmly got up, and started walking out towards the exit behind where the band was playing. She was attending this non-profit gala for one reason: to assassinate one of the attendees. A stout, bald man in his fifties, Kingsley Bruinswicke. This man was a crime-lord who pretended to be a philanthropist working on beautifying the slums. He extorted many small business owners and made millions blackmailing them. The girl’s mother was abducted and sold in human trafficking by Bruinswicke’s men. Her father had committed suicide after his iron factory went under and he was unable to pay back his loans. The only remnant of them was her father’s bloodstained wedding ring. Nobody knew if her mother was still alive. But that did not matter anymore. Bruinswicke needed to die. He needed to be taken out so that other families did not have to suffer the same fate. Climbing up the stairs, she finally found herself perched at the window facing the back alley. The perfect vantage point for her to make a quick assassination. “Did anyone tail you, Mr. Bruinswicke?” A deep voice was riddled with skepticism and paranoia. “No. The only people who know about what I really do are you, and those scum in the ghetto.” He replied in a hoarse voice. I will expose you for the fraud you are. She growled to herself, peeking through the curtains behind that open window, and immediately noticing Bruinswicke’s bald head. Taking aim, she pulled the trigger. A deafening bang filled the alley. Putting her gun away, she quickly ran off. The deed was done.
It was in a Wenchang, China. A small girl was quietly folding dumplings in a dimly lit kitchen. She loved making these tiny crescent-shaped parcels, her jiaozi. The girl lived with her grandparents in a small shack. The front of the building was a food stall, facing the street. Every day, people would stop at the stall to eat the dumplings the girls would lovingly prepare. She immersed herself in the experience. Preparing food with her grandpa, serving the townsfolk with her grandma. It was a simple life. Nothing complicated. Her grandparents’ stall was modestly successful. The girl knew all of the regulars. Mrs. Ip, who owned the nearby clothing store. Mr. Liu, who managed the local market. Ms. Zhang, a grade school teacher who always ordered the wan zhi tang with a side of jiaozi. And then there were Mr. and Mrs. Wu, an elderly couple who owned a rice and cabbage farm. These people were her friends. They people she interacted with on a daily basis. She did not need wealth or education to feel happy. Folding dumplings and servings others was all she needed to feel complete. Handing out these dumpling that she created, made with love and care.
A small town girl. The big city was in the distance, along the horizon. She wished to be famous. She craved being noticed. She wanted everyone’s eyes on her. Grabbing her guitar, she strummed the strings to one of her own songs. She sang with her window opened, in hopes of being discovered. Closing her eyes, she imagined the crowd, cheering her on. She was on the stage, microphone stand in front, guitar in hand. The spotlight was shining on her. Opening her eyes, the girl frowned. It was just another dream. Getting up, she donned her uniform. It was time for her shift. “It’s only temporary.” She assured herself, opening her apartment door. It was another day behind the counter. Another day as a cashier. It was like this now, but she knew that she was destined for greater things. At least, that was what she convinced herself. She wanted to prove her parents wrong. Dropping out of college, turning her back on biomedical engineering, it was not a mistake. She knew it was not. Burning that bridge was hard, but it needed to be done. She needed it to be done for her to be free. She wanted to find happiness in her own way. She wanted to be famous for her voice. The world would know her for her singing, not for her accomplishments as an engineer. It was her destiny. She will do whatever it takes to be famous.
A little girl, playing on the beach. Golden sand, as far as the eye could see. The salty breeze tickled her tainted ivory skin as she dove into the crystal clear blue. Beneath the surface, through those cloudy goggles, a new world unfolded. Strange, colorful structures, coral and kelp forests. The denizens of beneath, the sea life, drifting through the tides like small birds in the sky. Floating to the bottom, she found the sea’s natural treasures: sea shells. Snagging the oysters from their barnacle crusted crags, she quickly rose back to the surface. She desperately wanted a pearl of her own. The girl came from afar, abandoned and bruised. The beach and sea were her sanctuary from the perils of her past. She sought after something so smooth and untarnished, in hopes of becoming one and the same. Breaking apart the shell, she gasped in delight. Nestled in the tan and black flesh was her beloved underwater gem. A metaphorical symbol to her outlook. The world was like her oyster. She would continue to grow. Starting as granules of rock and sand, and transforming into a singular, elegant pearl.
The gears turned. The hands ticked. The pendulum swung. The clock tower was the perfect place to hide from her troubles. It was gargantuan, ancient, and labyrinthine: getting lost was a high possibility when you entered it. Getting injured from the fragile structure, even more possible. The tower dwarfed the entire town. Everyone would know what time it was, whether they cared to or not. A girl, no older than ten, walked up the stairs, ignoring the warnings. She smiled, when she saw her friend. A snow white owl, hooting back at her. They were inside of the clock itself. “How do you do, Mr. Owl?” She curtseyed. The bird hooted back in acknowledgement of her greeting. “I wish to fly free like you. In a place where I am not always reminded of time.” The owl spread his wings, and took off through a crack in the ceiling. How badly the girl wished to be a bird, and join her friend. How she wanted to fly in the air, and feel unshackled by responsibility and urgency. But alas, she was not born an owl. She was born a human. Time worked against her. As she grew, she was held to a higher standard, because she was capable of more. Her life got more difficult to live as expectations of her continually rose. But this was the hurdle she was born with. And this is the challenge she was taught to constantly overcome. To continually rise to the occasion. To never back down or run away when she had to try harder or dig deeper. Every step forward in life was scary. It was uncertain. But all that mattered was getting it behind her. The girl knew that she could one day be free of these responsibilities and expectations. With due time.