How it is: Chapter 23

“Hey, Val, do you have a moment?” Tarou noticed the Singaporean girl walking down the street and ran up to her. “Hi, Tarou. Actually, I needed to talk to you too.” She sighed. “Can we maybe go somewhere… more private?” The model suggested. “Yeah, that’s actually better for what I need to say too.” At that remark, Tarou could feel a creeping sense of discomfort boiling in his stomach. Was Valerie going to confess to him? Meanwhile, the pastry chef already could tell from the model’s facial expressions that Timmy did tell him; he most likely assumed that she was going to tell him about her feelings. But that could not be any further from what she was going to do in reality. After making their way into a nearby building, the two looked at each other. It was an intense silence. “So do you want to go first?” She gestured to him. “Nah, you look like you have something to say, and that you’ve thought about it for a while. Please tell me.” Tarou insisted. He wanted her to confess first so that he could at least hear her out. “So for a long time, I had a crush on you. Since high school, honestly. But after everything we have been through, I don’t have any romantic feelings for you anymore. So I just wanted to let you know that I still value you as a friend, but I feel like we are better off staying friends, and nothing more.” The model was dumbstruck. Save for the first sentence, that was not what he was expecting the pastry chef to say. “What did you have to say?” She looked at him expectantly. Truth be told, she was expecting him to reject her as well, so Valerie was relieved that they could meet a mutual agreement on this.

“Well, I was basically going to say that we should stay friends, and that Timmy told me about how you felt about me. But now I’m curious, what’s with the sudden change of heart?” “Well, I thought about it. A lot. And I even talked about it with chef, and she told me that I need to be blunt and think not about the emotional aspect of it, but rather, how this would affect us as friends. And the more I thought about it that way, the less I found myself attracted to you romantically.” She shrugged. “I see… well, I’m just glad we were able to sort out this awkwardness.” Tarou chuckled nervously. Despite everything, it still felt a little weird. “Look, Tarou, I think of you and Timmy as goofy brothers. You guys are two of my closest friends, and sometimes, that closeness can be a weakness for me. It makes the little things we do and say affect me on a much bigger scale.” She confessed. “But at the same time, it’s all in perspective. I feel like if you guys don’t see it that way, then I have no reason to either. We can be close without being so greatly affected by each other.” “Yeah, we can. And we will.” Tarou smiled in agreement. The two hugged it out and walked out. “So where were you heading?” “I was going to a study session.” Valerie sighed. Finals were coming up, and especially with all of the recent events, she needed to catch up on her studies. “Oh, don’t be late! Run! Run!” Tarou ushered her away. “Okay, I’m running!” She laughed, darting off.

“How did it go?” It was just a couple hours later, and Tarou was meeting up with Timmy for lunch. “It went well. We talked it out, and she was the one who told me that she was not interested in being in a relationship anymore.” He pointed out, much to the surprise of Timmy. “Wait, really?” He could not believe what he was hearing. “Yeah. She admitted she had feelings, but after thinking it over, she decided against acting on them because she did not want to affect our friendship.” Timmy had to give Valerie a lot of credit for that sort of maturity. Yeah, that was the reason why he fell for her to begin with, and hearing that made it harder for him to accept that they could not be together, but he had to respect their friendship before trying to compromise anything any further on his part. “You! You little motherfucker! How dare you bully our precious Tarou!” The two boys were startled to see an enraged Enya, Melissa, and Sarah storm up to their table. “You saw what I did to that table! And I can do much worse, you little bitch-”

“So it’s okay not to hate him anymore?” Melissa, frowning, sighed. She was hoping to snap somebody’s neck today. “Wait, I thought you said that you told all of your friends!” Timmy glared at Tarou. “Oh, I meant as in the people I was on board with.” He looked back at his friend before pulling him into a close huddle. “Plus, would you really consider those three my friends? They’re terrifying!” He noted in a hushed whisper before turning around to look at the disgruntled Melissa, who was being comforted by Enya and Sarah. “It’s okay, we can go to the gym and rent a punching bag.” Sarah suggested. Tarou smirked. “Yeah, so the two of us made up. The three of you are more than welcomed to sit and eat with us though.” The model offered. “Well, let me think about it…. fuck yeah, we’re sitting with you!” Enya laughed, as the three grabbed chairs and placed their bags down. It felt a bit weird for Timmy at first, being so close to people who previously wanted to slaughter him. “So, Tarou, what are your plans for the summer?” Enya looked at him, eagerly. “I’m going to be modeling in Japan.” He smiled. “OMG! I’m going back to Korea for the summer! You better visit me! I mean, either way, I’m definitely going to visit you!” She squealed excitedly. “Wait, no fair! We’re both going to visit you too, Tarou!” Sarah and Melissa chimed in. Timmy tried not to laugh as Tarou fought to hide his horrified expression. “Uh…. sure?” He shrugged. “Yay!” They all cheered.

“You really need to tell them that you’re not into any of them, or else they’ll continue to pester you.” Timmy frowned. “Yeah, but Mel scares the shit out of me. She broke a table in half with her foot. That’s just one foot. Imagine what she can do with two and two hands. I doubt my spine would even be in two pieces after I reject her feelings.” He shuddered. Sadly, Tarou had a point. “Well, I’m sure it will work itself out. Maybe?” “Honestly, I’ve just come to live with it. It’s not the worst thing, having your own fan club. Honestly, it’s funny.” He chuckled, trying to ignore the awkward moments where the three girls would make him greatly uncomfortable with their remarks and advances. “Well, whatever floats your boat, I guess.” Timmy shrugged. The two laughed as they finally walked back to their dorm. Finals were coming up, and it felt like this semester went by too quickly. But at least they were able to finish the year with their friendship still intact. “It’s really been a crazy first year. Hopefully, it’ll get better next year, right?” Timmy chuckled. “Better as in easier, or less drama?” Tarou snorted. “Hopefully both.” The computer engineer groaned. “At least your major will get you a high-paying job.” The model pointed out. “Well, if you become a supermodel, then same applies for you too, you know?” The Taiwanese boy smirked. “Let’s see how this first international gig goes, okay? I’m not going to rush into any conclusions, especially when modeling is just a side hobby to make money.” The Japanese male laughed. Although truth be told, he was excited to be going to Japan for the summer. This was going to be a whole new adventure for him.

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How it is: Chapter 22

“Chef, do you have a moment?” Service was just wrapping up as Valerie approached Janice on the line. “Yeah, what’s up?” The Singaporean girl wanted the executive chef’s advice on a couple things: should she compete in Warrior Chef: All Stars, as well as what to do about Tarou. Even though she’s only seven years older, Janice would still know more about what to do in these kinds of socially awkward situations than the young pastry chef would have. “So the first thing is that I got invited to compete in Warrior Chef: All Stars, and I was wondering if I should do it.” The executive chef smiled in response to that. “I think you need to do it, Valerie. You’re extremely talented, and honestly, you could easily win a Redemption competition if you put your mind to do it.” Janice assured her. “Wait, so you think I should? Because that would mean that I would have to take a leave of absence.” Valerie noted. “I’m sure it would be fine. Hey, Daphne!” Janice turned to the eldest pastry cook. “Yes, chef?” “Do you want to be promoted to executive pastry chef? Valerie’s going to be away, competing in Warrior Chef: All Stars, so we need somebody to fill in the position!” The mother was stunned by the offer. “Hey, it would be an honor. But I think Megan is more deserving.” She noted. “Alright, then I’ll ask Megan. Either way, somebody will just get promoted and we will hire a new pastry cook.” Janice decided. “So you don’t have to worry about leaving us behind. Valerie, you are talented and you will easily wipe the floor with everyone in that competition. By any chance, do you know who you’ll be up against?” Janice looked at her, curiously. “It just said that I will be going against former finalists, runner-ups, and memorable contestants from all of the past seasons.” She summarized. “Ah, I see. That’s going to be pretty intense, then. But you are a former runner-up yourself, and you made it that far for good reason. Go in there, and kick some major ass like I know you will.”

Janice’s words put a large grin on Valerie’s face. “Alright, is there anything else you wanted to talk about?” “Oh, right.” The Singaporean girl remembered the entire issue with Timmy. “Yeah, so I don’t know if you remember, but I have a friend, Timmy. And he has a huge crush on me, but I rejected him… because I have a crush on his best friend. And it’s just really awkward because we’re all childhood friends, and the more I think about it, the less I want to be in a relationship with either of them.” She frowned. “Ooh, so a love triangle? That’s…. very awkward.” Janice crossed her arms. “But you don’t want to be in a relationship with either of them, right?” “Yeah, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings either.” “Jesus, Christ, people are sensitive these days.” The executive chef rolled her eyes. “Valerie, don’t think about that right now. Do you feel comfortable being with either of them, in terms of a relationship?” “No.” She shook her head. It would be far too awkward. “Then there you go. That’s your answer.” Janice laughed. “I know I’m coming off as very black and white about this, but it’s because there’s no point in dwelling over things that you can solve easily, if you remove the emotional aspect. Sometimes, as human beings, we need to make the tough call.” Valerie nodded in agreement to that statement. “Thanks, chef.” “No problem. Hope it all works out for you.” And with that, the two executive chefs finished breaking down their stations and started heading out. “Now how do I do that?” The Singaporean girl sighed to herself. Just a day ago, she told Timmy she had feelings for Tarou. And disregarding the likely possibility that he told Tarou this already, Valerie felt uncomfortable going back on her emotions and relinquishing her feelings for him.

“Tarou, can I be honest with you?” Timmy looked over at his roommate. They were in their room, on their respective beds, getting ready to go to sleep. The other night was still bothering him greatly. “What’s up?” “So when I was with Valerie, talking it out, I confessed to her.” “Confessed to her? Wait, no, you didn’t-” “Yeah, I told her how I was feeling.” “And?” Tarou looked at his friend, expectantly. The Taiwanese boy paused awkwardly. “She rejected me.” “Hey, it’s okay. So she wasn’t the one. That’s not the end of the world, buddy.” The Japanese boy walked over to his friend, patting him on the back reassuringly. “It’s not just the rejection that hurt me, though.” Even though Timmy had harbored feelings for Valerie for the past 13 years of his young life, he could never bring himself to muster up the courage to say anything until that night. And for him to be outright rejected, that was tough. But to know that the person Valerie had her eyes set on was the very person comforting him, and after everything that just happened to the three of them, this was a lot for the 18 year-old freshman to handle. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Tarou looked at his friend, gravely concerned. Taking a deep breath, Timmy calmed himself down. “She…. she likes you, man.” He croaked. “Timmy, you don’t have to worry about a thing, okay?” Tarou looked at Timmy, reading the boy’s worried expression. “But what about when you guys lived together?” “Nothing happened. I swear.” “But what about her feelings for you?” “Are you kidding me? The last thing I want to do is jeopardize our friendship after the whole ordeal we went through just to repair it. Fuck that.” The model rolled his eyes. “If it makes you feel any better, the first thing I will do tomorrow is talk to Valerie about this, and reject her.” He offered. “Okay, you don’t have to go that far. But I feel awkward now because of this. I liked her, she likes you, and you don’t like her. It’s like a weird….love….line?” The computer engineer’s words were failing him at the moment. He was fatigued from all of the stress from this entire semester, and just wanted to relax and recover from it all.

“Hey, Timmy, are you alright?” A 13 year-old Valerie looked at the 8th grade Timmy, who had just fought off a bunch of bullies who were picking on Tarou. “Yeah, it’s no big deal.” Timmy laughed, hiding a large cut on his forearm. “No, you’re hurt!” She pulled his arm, revealing the gash. “Timmy?” The chubby Japanese boy whimpered, feeling horribly guilty. “I’m so sorry…” He was crestfallen at the sight of the wound. “You’re coming with me to the nurse’s office.” Valerie ordered. “Hey, I’m okay! Really!” Timmy tried to insist. “Nope, you’re not!” Despite his protests, Timmy appreciated how insistent and direct Valerie was. Unlike most girls at their school, who were passive aggressive, bitchy, and so keen on playing the damsel-in-distress roles in social situations, Valerie was open with how she felt and conveyed her intentions very clearly. She was brave, caring, and fearless. She was not afraid to stand up to anyone, much like how Timmy was against Tarou’s bullies. This girl, she was different in a way that Timmy really loved. He could be himself around her, and he thought that she was the one for him. “Here, let’s just wipe the wound with some of this first.” She reached for a dark brown bottle, containing rubbing alcohol. She dabbed the open tip of the overturned bottle with a cotton pad, before returning the bottle to where she found it, and gently brushed the dirt off of Timmy’s cut. The Taiwanese boy fought the urge to blush. He was so close to her. Against his better judgement, Timmy began memorizing her features. He could see the small freckles on her cheeks, the light pink shade of her lips, the way her hair parted to the right. He really was in love with her.

Sky Bird: Chapter 24

“So how was school today?” Mr. Skye looked at his children. It was Monday night, and they were all eating dinner together for once. “Well, I won this challenge thing in my Physics class, so I got extra credit.” Kendall started, unsure if he should mention Sophia at this point. “And we got an A in our Japanese movie project.” “Kendall, aren’t you avoiding something really important?” Megan stared at him expectantly. “Uh… well… so, everyone remembers Sophia Puckchareon, right?” Kendall’s parents and Gil nodded slowly. “What do you guys think of her?” “She’s very funny and smart.” Gil pointed out. “She’s really smart, right? You said she’s taking a lot of honors classes, and she’s on honor roll?” Mrs. Skye noted. “She’s pretty cute. I know you have a crush on Carly Ahn, but Sophia would suit you better.” Mr. Skye finished. “Well that’s good, because she’s my girlfriend now.” The room went silent. Mrs. Skye looked mortified. Mr. Skye’s face looked blank. Gil’s jaw dropped. “Wait. When? How? Why? What?” Gil babbled. “Son, I’m proud of you! Even though it took you longer than your siblings, I’m glad you finally got into the dating game!” Mr. Skye patted his eldest son on the back. “When will we get to meet her again?” Mrs. Skye looked at him, concerned. She wanted to make sure that her son was dating the right kind of person. “I’m sure you’ll see her soon enough.” Kendall smiled.

“Hey, Sophia, are you doing anything this Friday?” The brunette texted his girlfriend. He was laying in bed, getting ready for the rest of the week ahead of him. “Nothing. Did you want to go out or something?” “Yeah.” Kendall smiled to himself. He wanted to take Sophia to LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was an iconic place in LA, especially the white lamp display; it was an entire square with rows of street lamps lined up. There was something breathtakingly romantic about the sight, which was why he wanted to take here there. “Alright. Where?” She sent back. Sophia was in her own room at this moment, and she was curious what kind of places Kendall thought were date-appropriate. For her, it was a real test of Kendall’s idea of romance and its compatibility to her own. “Have you ever been to LACMA?” He sent back, grinning to himself. He knew she would love it.

“So I’ll see you tonight at 5?” It was Friday, fifth period. Sophia and Kendall were sitting together, discussing the details of their date later that night. “Yup. I’ll pick you up.” He smiled at her. “Do they really need to sit separately?” Fanny rested his head on his hands as he pouted. He was sitting with Carly, Megan, and Sharquiqui at a different table than Sophia and Kendall. “Bitch, I don’t know why you’re complaining. You get three lovely ladies all to yo’self.” Sharquiqui pointed out. “And I’m not into ladies, lovely or Yubin-like, so that’s just a wasted opportunity.” The Chinese boy rolled his eyes. “Megan, do you know where they’re going?” Carly looked at the younger girl. “I don’t, but I know that they’re meeting at 5 at my place.” She smiled mischievously. “You’re thinking what I’m thinking, right?” Fanny looked at her. “Crash their date?” She laughed, enjoying the prospect of doing that. “Yup. Chloe and I will pick up Carly and Sharquiqui, and then go to your place and we can tail Kendall’s car.” “Hold the fuck up, I will not be a part of this!” Sharquiqui frowned. “Too fried chicken?” Fanny raised an eyebrow at her. “Shut the hell up, fool. No! I have to teach another seminary at John Hopkins tomorrow, so I’m flying out tonight! But seriously, have a lot of fun. Make sure to record all of this. I will live vicariously through yo videos.” “Got it.” Fanny grinned.

It was finally 5pm. And as expected, there was a knock on the door. Kendall got up, and opened it. It was none other than Sophia, wearing a white blouse and a dark blue dress. “Wow, you look… amazing.” He trailed off. It was hard to believe that he was dating somebody who was kindhearted, smart, and beautiful. She was his perfect girl. “So this is Sophia?” Mrs. and Mr. Skye walked out and greeted the girl. “I’m Kendall’s mom.” “And I’m his brother.. no, I liked. I’m his dad.” Sophia laughed as she hugged Mrs. Skye and gave Mr. Skye a firm handshake. “Have fun, you two.” Mrs. Skye smiled. Sophia was a very polite and warm person. Just from seeing her, Mrs. Skye knew that she would be a good girlfriend to her son. “Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Skye. I will try my best to make sure that your son will be back before 12.” She promised as they left. “Mom, dad, I’m heading over to Chloe’s!” Megan chimed as she left, shortly after Kendall and Sophia were already gone. “Oh, okay. Have fun!” “Everyone’s out? Well, I guess I can play on wi-fi battles or something.” Gil grumbled, getting out his DS.

“Hurry, hurry!” Megan gasped in a hushed voice. She ran into Fanny’s car, and they started to follow Kendall’s. Carly, Chloe, Fanny, and Megan were all wearing pitch black clothes as a way to blend in. “Wouldn’t Matt and Jared want in on this?” Chloe looked to her older brother. “Eh, I’m not close to Matt and Jared is terrible at keeping secrets or staying under cover, so I didn’t want to invite either of them and potentially blow our cover.” The Chinese boy was specifically referring to how his boyfriend overcompensated with pretending to be straight, which made it very obvious that he was secretly gay. “That’s true.” Carly nodded in agreement as she took out her video camera. “I am so ready for this. They’ll thank me if they ever get married.” The Korean girl laughed. “Carly, this is why we’re besties.” Fanny smirked. “Fanny, keep going straight.” Megan was in the passengers seat, keeping track of Kendall’s car.

“Okay, we’re here.” Kendall parked behind a 99 cents store, which was the only place nearby with somewhat free parking. There were signs saying that he needed to purchase something from the store, but they just ignored that. “I can’t wait to see LACMA!” Sophia clapped her hands together excitedly. The two walked over, crossing the bustling Los Angeles traffic and making their way to the heavily illuminated square. “It’s so beautiful.” The Thai girl trailed off, awestruck. Against the dark sky was a forest of white pillars, each carrying a beacon of light. There was something inspiring about this. As if everyone’s hopes and dreams can stand together and against the darkness. The two shared an embrace. “They’re so cute together!” Carly squeaked from afar, her camera recording everything. “Sophia, thank you for always supporting me. You were always there for me, whether I knew it or not.” Kendall looked at her graciously. “Kendall, you were the first friend I made when I transferred schools. You accepted me when others did not. I will always be grateful to you for that.” She returned. The brunette leaned in and gave her a kiss.

Sky Bird: Chapter 21

It was Friday afternoon, fifth period. “Here it is, Kawaguchi-sensei!” Fanny handed the bald man his flash drive. “The movie, delivered on Friday, as promised.” “Good job, Chiang-san. You saved Skye-baka’s grade!” He laughed. “Yeah, Skye-baka owes me his life.” Fanny laughed in a dramatic fashion. “You’re not allowed to do that! Only select princess-type characters in animes and dramas are allowed to!” Kawaguchi-sensei hit the boy in the back of the head. “Ouch. That fucking hurt.” Fanny groaned, walking back. “Alright, guys. So instead of watching a drama, we’ll be watching Chiang-san’s movie project!” He put the flash drive into his projector. “Alright, so here it is!” The screen projected the title “The Land of the Rising Love.” Snickers could be heard cross the room at the ridiculous title. “IT WAS KENDALL’S IDEA!” Fanny screamed, trying to avoid being laughed at by the rest of the class. Everyone else just rolled their eyes at him. The movie opened with Megan and Kendall, walking out of LAX. They were immediately greeted by Fanny, who welcomed them to the land of Japan. The movie started out really slowly, in Kendall’s eyes. They didn’t really aim for comedy unfortunately, so the brunette was worried people would fall asleep.

It finally got to the big scene. Kendall and Sophia’s kiss. The entire class gasped, as the two looked at each other, embarrassed by it. “Did you guys really kiss?” Kawaguchi-sensei paused the movie and looked at them. “No…” Sophia shook her head. “Lame. You guys should have just done it for the movie!” He shook his head. “Skye-baka! You’re the man! Grow a pair and kiss the pretty model!” “That’s what I said!” Fanny agreed, looking at Sophia and Kendall. “Take one for the team, guys.” “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” The entire class started to chant. “What the actual hell?” Kendall glared at everyone. That escalated really quickly. “No, we’re not. You can’t make us.” Sophia shook her head. The two were both starting to blush furiously. But the chanting wasn’t stopping. “Okay, fine!” Kendall growled, cupping Sophia’s face and kissing her on the lips. Everyone just gasped before going silent. That definitely stopped the chanting.

The rest of the day was awkward for Sophia and Kendall. The two did not speak since the kiss. It all happened so suddenly that Kendall did not know how to process it. He felt like the kiss was right. When their lips touched, Kendall just felt like Sophia was the person he needed to be doing that with. The feel of her lips against his made his heart flutter. But seeing how Sophia reacted, and the circumstances in which they kissed, he felt horrible. It was almost like being a rapist in that he did not get her consent to do that. He forced himself upon her. He genuinely felt like a terrible person at this moment. Quietly, he laid on his bed, pondering what will happen to their friendship. He did not know what to even say in this situation to rectify it. Dozing off, Kendall just tried to preoccupy his mind with other things.

“How dare you!” The girl in the white dress shouted at him. “My purity. My innocence.” She covered her face in shame. The flowers around her began to wilt. “It’s all dying.” She sobbed. The grass and trees joined the flowers, drooping and sinking into the soil. “Hey, what happened?” Kendall approached her. “I did not want this to happen. Not like this.” She sobbed from behind her hands. “Did not want what?” “The kiss. Not like that.” The girl placed her hands down. She was Sophia. The girl from his dreams. It was Sophia. “No. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. The chanting, the pressure, it just got to me.” Kendall slowly walked over to her before falling to his knees. He gently placed his hands beneath hers. “You’re somebody who was always there for me. Somebody I could rely on to make me smile, laugh, and keep me calm.” He smiled at her, fighting back the tears. “Sophia, I think I might love you.” He admitted. “Kendall… I love you too. I have for such a long time.” She confessed. Suddenly, the grass began to sprout up again. Green started to flood the meadows and plants. “Kendall, she’s waiting for you. The real me. Go to her. And tell her everything you told me.” She smiled, getting back up.

“Hey, can we talk?” Kendall messaged Sophia. His heart was racing. He did not know what kind of response to expect. “Okay, sure.” Sophia sent back. “I’ll go to your place.” The brunette sent back. He got up and went into his car. He needed to see her. Arriving at Sophia’s apartment building in Westwood, he sent her a text. “Okay. Coming down now.” The girl appeared and got into the passenger seat. “Hey.” She seemed to be avoiding eye contact with him. “So you wanted to talk?” “Yeah. Sophia, I’ve known you since we were little. And honestly, I didn’t really think much of you beyond being friends at first. But I realize how kind, patient, and caring of a person you are, especially with me. You’re somebody who I genuinely appreciate. I really like, Sophia. That kiss, I’m sorry that I forced it on you like that. But it felt right to me.” The brunette confessed, terrified of what she thought of him. “Kendall… I’ve had a crush on you since you first defended me in the first grade. You’re somebody whose friendship I have valued for a long, long time. You mean a lot to me too. That kiss, it just confirmed what I had already felt about you.” The brunette blushed as he turned to face her. Their hands met, and then their lips.

“Oh, I need to get going. I’ll see you later, okay?” Sophia blushed, after their lips separated. She got out of the car, and ran back up to her apartment. Kendall felt happy knowing that Sophia reciprocated his feelings. He honestly did not think that he could date anyone after Carly and him never got off the ground, but he was happy with the end result. Sophia, on the other hand, was still in shock. She did not think that she would ever date Kendall. But it looks like that was a very likely possibility at this point. She finally got her Cinderella moment so to speak. Her proverbial prince charming had arrived, and swept her into his car. That sounded horribly inappropriate, but it was not remotely as illegal as it sounded.

Responsibility: realization 24

With great power comes great responsibility. That cliché has been one I have seen throughout all of my team or organizational experiences in college. People who are given leadership positions, they really have the power to change entire groups of people in whatever way that they want. I have seen entire organizations fall apart because the leader is not competent. When I became an editor-in-chief, I was internally freaking out at first. I did not know if I was cut out to do this. But I quickly realized that to be a leader, I needed to just train my subordinates so that they can do their individual jobs better than if I were to do them collectively on my own. And that has been working thus far. Not going to jinx it. However, with great responsibility, it comes with great fear. For me, anyways. You need to be a mature person so that you can wield power in a responsible way. And my biggest fear is that I am not mature enough to be responsible. Hence, that’s where the fear comes into play.

For me, being mature means that you can typically handle a serious situation in a composed and calm manner, and when you cannot, you take, maybe 2-3 hours for a small argument, no more than a day tops, to get over your emotions and then confront the problem. Basically, you know to put your own feelings aside and try to solve the problem before it gets any worse. It’s funny to think that there are still so many people, even in college, who are passive aggressive, non-confrontational, and even evasive. That sort of cowardice, you have to live with it. You have to live with the guilt of knowing that you were too afraid to confront the problem. You bear that regret of not being able to be brave and face your fears head on. You will start wishing that you actually did something, rather than running away with your tail between your legs.

For that very reason, I try my best to be confrontational at the very least. Being passive aggressive does not solve anything. Trying to involve other people, using them as messengers because you are afraid to look somebody in the eye, it shows that you are just immature. You are not strong enough to fight your own battles. As an adult, you need to be able to do that. There will not always be a time where you have the luxury of making someone else be your human shield. When it comes down to it, if you have a problem with somebody, speak up about it and to the person who needs to hear it. While I will admit that I am emotionally frail and inept, being unable to control my emotions properly, I know that this is my weakness and to compensate, I typically just don’t use my emotions, especially not when making decisions. I can still take most confrontational criticism constructively (unless I am in an emotionally charged state, but that is why I do not use my emotions to begin with). Bottom line, there’s a reason why I am afraid I am not mature enough to handle being responsible. The moment emotions get involved, I am literally the worst. And I have to take ownership of that.

I will not deny the things I say or do, even when I am not in control of my brain or heart. I have to stand behind myself. I will not go around, spewing that I have changed or that the person who said those hurtful things was not me. Because that is an unfortunate part of who I am. I am still working on being less emotional, but that’s a project in itself. Being responsible or mature ultimately to me means that you will own up to whatever mistakes you have made, and that you will be confrontational when it comes to clearing up any misunderstandings. But at mature as you try to make yourself, keep in mind some people just aren’t mentally or emotionally mature enough to listen. Those kinds of people, just let them live, and ignore them. They are not worth your time. Stick to people who will hear you out and give you their time of day, and not make you wait to confront. And within yourself, find ways to make yourself someone you can be wholeheartedly responsible for. That way, you can live a feather-light life, where you are the one in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own actions and thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sky Bird: Chapter 8

“Sophia, did you hear?” The half Thai girl noticed the message notification on her phone. It was from Carly. “Hear what?” She typed back. “Kendall found out about Fanny and Jared.” “Oh, no! Are Jared and Kendall alright?” She got up from her bed, concerned. “Well Fanny just “bitched out” Kendall on Jared’s phone (his words, not mine), and now the two of them are at his place, trying to make each other feel better.” Carly stated. “Oh geez. I hope Jared and Kendall make up. Fanny and Kendall, probably a lost cause haha” Sophia typed back. “Yeah, I hope they make up. These kinds of things take time, though. Kendall must have said some really hurtful things to Jared.” Carly’s last message could not have been any more true. When two people who normally care a lot for each other get hurt by one another, recovering from that and confronting the situation can be difficult, if not impossible, especially when the two people are teenagers in high school. “I can’t believe that the guys have more drama in their lives than us. Not complaining though.” Sophia added, feeling grateful that her life was not the horrendous disaster that the boys were currently experiencing.

It was the first time Kendall had ever been to the Chiang residence. He parked his car outside of the mansion on the sidewalk, and the three walked uphill to the gates. “Hold on, let me call Chloe.” Megan got out her phone. “Hey, Chloe? Yeah, Kendall’s here to apologize in person.” She explained, hoping that her friend would not call the police on them. “Oh shit, he’s actually here? Um, okay, let me open the gate.” She hung up the phone. Moments later, the gates opened slowly. To Kendall, it was an ominous feeling. He did not know what to expect from seeing them in person. There were too many possibilities; he could break down in front of Fanny, a huge argument can ensue, they could make up, they could become friends again, it was just too much to take in. “You ready, Ken?” Gil looked at the shaken teen. “Yeah.” He gulped nervously, walking towards the large estate.

“Fanny! He’s here!” Chloe shouted, running to her brother’s room. “Wait, he actually came?” Fanny raised his eyebrows in disbelief. Jared was stunned silent. “Uh, we should probably go down. Let’s not look like complete jackasses here, especially since he actually came.” The Chinese boy decided, getting up. “Jared?” His hand reached out to the still sitting blonde. “Yeah.” He grabbed his boyfriend’s hand, and got up. The two walked out with Chloe, and down the stairs. The two stopped, only to see Chloe at the other side of the foyer, the door already open, and the Skye siblings standing there, just as uncomfortably nervous. “Fanny. Jared.” Kendall nodded curtly. Man, this is awkward. Basically what everyone thought at this point. “Okay, you know what? Megan, Chloe, let’s go talk about whatever you guys talk about.” Gil sighed, gesturing towards the two girls. “Alright. Sounds good! Megan, Gil, let’s go to the theatre. Fanny, Jared, Kendall, have a nice talk.” Chloe led the two down the stairs to the family’s underground movie theatre.

“Wait, you guys have an underground theatre?” Gil was still in disbelief. “Yeah. Our mom used to take us to movies and plays all the time when we were children and that’s where our love for the theatre began.” Chloe explained as she pushed through the black double doors. “Welcome to the family theatre!” Megan had been in the theatre before, but for Gil, the youngest Skye sibling was in complete shock. This theatre had about enough seats for fifty people. The screen was the size of two lap pools on top of each other. “Why were we here again?” The middle schooler was too awestruck to remember. “Let’s watch Mean Girls. That’ll get our minds off of this.” Chloe suggested. “Yeah, that’ll do it. Chloe, whatever happens with our brothers, we’re still cool, right?” Megan looked at her. “No, duh. We’ve never let this whole family feud thing stop us from being friends, and we never will.” The girls laughed in agreement while Gil rolled his eyes.

“So you have something you wanted to tell us?” Fanny sighed, crossing his arms. The three of them were in the backyard, sitting in the center of the hedge maze off to the side of the pool. “You know why I’m here.” Kendall rolled his eyes. Even when he was in a particularly vulnerable position, Fanny can still be such a condescending dick. “Yeah, but I was just making sure you’re not here to yell at us more. We’re kind of not about that.” The Chinese boy glared at him. “Okay, well for starters, I’m so sorry. Jared, I’m sorry that I made you feel so uncomfortable about your relationship and your sexuality in general. You’re one of my best friends, and you’re like a brother to me. I don’t care if you’re gay, and I don’t care if you’re in a relationship with Fanny. I still want you to be a part of my life.” Kendall started, tears welling up around his eyes. “And Fanny. Where do I even begin? Years, and years, I’ve hated you, and for no good reason. I spoke to my father, and he explained to me that your dad helped us out. He was the reason why I’m not living in a homeless shelter or in foster care right now. Fanny, for the longest time, I blamed so many of my problems on you. Whenever I saw you succeed where I failed, I just said it was because you were rich and I was not. I kept on holding onto a grudge that was based on a misunderstanding.”

Kendall’s tears were rolling down his cheeks. But he wasn’t crying out of sadness. He was crying out of relief. He finally felt like all of that stress and guilt was coming off of his shoulders. “Fanny, you are a talented actor, a great runner, a smart student, and a great guy. But I couldn’t see that because of how… jealous I was. I couldn’t believe that somebody could have it all. I’m really sorry that I treated you like shit for all of these years.” “Kendall, honestly, I just assumed that me sassing you out was a part of our playful banter, so I really just went with that. And yeah, it’s cool. But for me, it’s really all about Jared. Babe, are you okay?” He turned to the blonde, who was silent this whole time. “Kendall, we’ve been friends since kindergarten. I still remember meeting you when we were 4, and bonding over the fact that we love Pokemon. But when I see you now, I just remember those harsh things you said to me. How you couldn’t take my relationship with Fanny seriously. It was hurtful that you couldn’t see past your grudge even for me, your best friend.” Jared’s voice croaked. “But Kendall, thank you for apologizing, and doing it in person. I accept your apology and I forgive you.” Jared reached over and hugged his friend. “I’m just glad you were able to learn from your mistake.” “Jared, thank you.”

“And want to know what they say about you? They say that you’re a less hot version on me!” Regina screamed as she walked to the street. Suddenly, a loud buzzing interrupted the movie. “Oh, it’s Kendall. Pause the movie please?” Megan looked to Chloe. “Got it.” The movie stopped as the lights turned back on in the theatre. “Hey, Kendall. What’s up?” Unsure of what happened, she was very nervous. “Oh, okay.” She got up. “Gil, Chloe, he wants us to go to the backyard. He said they’re by the pool.” The brunette gestured before walking off. “Uh, Megan, care to fill us in on what’s going on?” Chloe and Gil weren’t sure how to react either now.

“So you’re good with Fanny and Jared now?” Megan sighed in relief. “Yeah. We’ve made up!” Kendall and Jared grinned at each other. “I’m just glad we managed to sort everything out here.” Fanny chuckled. Suddenly, Gil’s stomach growled, followed by Kendall’s, and then Jared’s. “Come to think of it, we haven’t eaten dinner yet. And it’s like 8.” Chloe frowned. “Ooh, want to go to Cheggo in Chinatown?” Fanny suggested. “Ooh! The fries there are the best.” Megan smiled in agreement. “Sounds good. Let’s drive there!” Kendall chimed in agreement. For the first time, the Chiangs, Skyes, and Jared were acting like one huge family. As Kendall and Fanny pulled up in their separate cars, they drove off to Chinatown for food.

Sky Bird: Chapter 5

“Hurry up!” Kendall shouted down to Matt and Jared. The three of them were on the hiking trail in Malibu, Kendall far ahead of the other two. “Jesus, what’s gotten into you?” Jared panted. “I didn’t know he had this much stamina.” Matt sighed. “Oh, look who it is. I spy an a Kendolt.” Immediately, the green-eyed brunette froze when he reached the top of the hill they were climbing. Sitting at the top were none other than Fanny, Megan, Chloe, Carly, and Sophia, all of whom were admiring the view of the ocean. “Are you kidding me?” Kendall rolled his eyes. “Hi, Kendall!” Sophia and Carly waved at him. “Hey, what’s up?” The brunette tried to ignore Fanny and the fact that Fanny beat him to the top of the hill. “Wow, Kendall. Please explain to us how we managed to beat you!” Megan laughed. “It’s because he’s destined to be inferior to us, obviously.” Chloe teased. “Well look what we have here.” Jared and Matt appeared behind Kendall. “It’s funny to bump into all of you like this!” Carly smiled.

The eight decided to continue the trail together, since Jared, Matt, Carly, and Sophia were relatively exhausted already. “So Fanny, I heard you got one of the leads in the upcoming play! Congrats, man.” Jared grinned at the Chinese male. “Thanks. I’m looking forward to playing the main villain. Something about being a Hun general and dictator that really resonates with me, you know?” Fanny beamed back. “So, Kendall, do you have a group for the Japanese movie project?” Sophia looked at him. “Well, not really. I’m guessing that the four of you are going to be a group?” “Probably. We had this idea to do a love story, but Fanny doesn’t want to play the love interest, so we’re still brainstorming.” Sophia sighed. “Well, I don’t mind playing that if it means that I don’t have to story-write.” Kendall offered sarcastically. “Wait, are you serious? Because I think Carly wouldn’t mind that.” She laughed. “Oh, Kendolt wants to be in our group?” Fanny looked back at the two. “I’m not against it. But he better not cram our style.” Megan smirked at her older brother. “Hey, Megan! That’s not cool! He’s your older brother!” Carly frowned, crossing her arms. “Older brother or not, just don’t do anything to embarrass us, okay?” Megan rolled her eyes. “Shut up, Meg.” Kendall stuck his tongue out at the younger girl.

“Okay, it looks like we’re at the end of the trail.” Carly pointed out. “Well, that’d explain why we’re at the beach. Not that I’m complaining!” Fanny grinned, running up to the water with Megan and Chloe. “Last one to the ocean is a Kendall!” He squealed, sprinting. “Well, good jobs, you guys.” Matt smiled at Kendall, Jared, Carly, and Sophia. “Ah, it feels great to be a the beach.” Sophia stretched her arms before falling back onto the sand. “Yeah, it does.” Carly sighed in relief, laying down with her. As annoyed as Kendall was to be dealing with Fanny, he had to admit, hiking as a large group of friends like this, it was actually a lot of fun. These kinds of simple times, where the only thing he had to worry about were classes, he knew he would one day miss this. “Ouch! I can’t believe you guys gave me crabs.” Fanny glared at the younger two girls, who were laughing at him. “Ew, okay that just sounded wrong. We didn’t give you crabs. We just put a crab down your trunks.” Chloe rolled her eyes. “False alarm, guys. Chloe did not fuck her gay brother. Oh-” Megan covered her own mouth. Everyone just went silent. “What?” They all looked at Fanny. “I totally called it.” Jared whispered to Kendall. “Oh. I thought that was obvious. Is this breaking news to everyone or something?” Fanny looked confused. “Well, I guess? We’ve known you since middle school, but we still love you, Fanny!” Carly smiled.

“Well, what should we do now?” Matt and Jared sighed to Kendall. The three of them were exhausted, still on the beach with the others. “Well, the five of us were going to go to Korean barbecue in KTown? Want to join?” Sophia offered the three. “Ooh, all you can eat?” Matt grinned eagerly at the thought. “Obviously. If it’s not all you can eat, it’s a ripoff.” Chloe added. “Oh, heads up!” “Ow!” Right at that moment, the younger Chiang was hit in the head with a beach ball. “Chloe, you good?” Sophia and the boys turned to see that it was Fanny who accidentally spiked the ball at his sister. “You fucker. I’m going to send you back to hell!” She charged at her brother. “You’ll have to catch me first!” Fanny laughed, sprinting off. “Don’t worry, Chloe. I’ve got this!” Megan grabbed and water bottle and threw it. Spinning, it knocked Fanny over. “Perfect. Getting crabs put down your trunks is the least of your problems.” Chloe grinned sadistically, crackling her knuckles as she caught up to her older brother. “Oh geez, don’t kill him.” Carly got up. “Fine.” Chloe rolled her eyes, stepping back. “Seeing you eat shit at the hands of a water bottle, that’s already enough for me to be happy about.” She smiled.

“Ah, this is the best.” Matt sighed, completely satisfied. He was slumped in his booth, stuffed to the brim with grilled brisket and pork belly. The eight of them were sharing a table at a Korean barbecue restaurant, Dream. It was a great day. Hiking, fun in the sun, and they were ending it with all you can eat Korean barbecue. Kendall in particular was happy, because he was sitting with his two best friends and Carly on one side. He finally got one-on-one time with her. Or at close as he’s really ever gotten before. “So, Kendall, do you know what you want to do after you go to college?” Carly asked. “I’m thinking about aerospace engineering.” He replied, a bit startled at her forwardness. “Oh, really? That’s so cool! I know Sophia is actually thinking about engineering herself.” She pointed out. “Oh, yeah, I am!” Sophia piped in; the girl was sitting next to the four. “But I was thinking pre-med with a biomedical engineering background. You know, got to keep my options open.” She added, grinning shyly. “How about you, Carly?” Kendall looked over at the girl sitting across from him. “I’m probably going into journalism. There’s something about reporting, it’s like history in the making, and I just love that.” The girl’s eyes gleamed with a deep-rooted sense of inspiration. “A journalist, huh?” Kendall drifted off. He was already imagining Carly, reporting the next big scoop in America. And there he would be, loyally tuning in every night, eagerly reading her every article, just being as supportive as he could of her and her dreams.

“Well, Kendall actually thinks he has a shot with Carly?” Chloe whispered to her older brother. Sophia, Chloe, Megan, and Fanny were all in the booth directly next to the other four. “I highly doubt it. Carly’s too put together and career oriented. Yeah, she’s nice to him, but she’s generally really nice to everyone anyways, so the way she’s acting, she only sees him as a friend.” Fanny dismissed the idea immediately. “If you’re talking like that, it sounds like you have seen Carly in love before?” Chloe wondered aloud. “Something like that, I suppose.” Fanny grumbled, chewing on his pork belly. “But it got really awkward really fast.” He sighed, reminiscing of a deeply embarrassing middle school moment. “Fanny, I like you!” A much younger Carly confessed. “You’re always looking out for me, and I could see myself living the rest of my life with you.” “Uh, Carly, that’s touching and all, but I’m gay, so that will never work. Sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.” A middle-schooler Fanny shrugged. The present-day Fanny shuddered at his words. He didn’t mean to reject his best friend so bluntly, but it was the truth and there was no point in hiding that from somebody he trusted. Looking back on that faithful day in 7th grade now, Fanny still felt really uncomfortable about the entire situation. He wasn’t expecting anyone, let alone a girl, to confess their feelings to him like that in his lifetime. Besides, he only had enough room in his heart for one person: himself.

“Thank you, Fanny!” Carly and Sophia waved as they were dropped off at the Grove. Both girls lived nearby that area, and they’d generally like to take a detour there before heading back home separately. “Well, looks like I’ve got to head back with my brother.” Megan rolled her eyes as she got off Fanny’s car, and walked over to Kendall’s. “Later, cool-peeps.” She grinned mischievously, waving at her friends. “Megan, what do you even see in those people?” Kendall scoffed at his little sister as she entered his otherwise empty car; Jared and Matt were already dropped off earlier. “Well, for one, they’re good people. I just like spending time with Fanny and Chloe. They’re funny, they’re hardworking-” “As hardworking as our parents? Those two have never worked a real day in their lives. They’ve just been skating by on their dad’s money. There’s no natural talent there.” The older brunette was fuming at this point. “You’re the only one who says that! Mom and dad, even Gil, they all love the Chiangs! You just hate them because they’re better off than us, but the truth is, Kendall, you’ll never be as talented as Fanny! Period!” Megan finished, before quickly realizing the severity of her words. “Look, Kendall, I didn’t mean-” “Shut up. We’re going home. And you’re never allowed to talk to me again.” Her older brother finished as the car took off. He was visibly angered to the point of being dark red, but he was deeply hurt by what his sister just told him. And it only made him dislike the Chiangs that much more. They even took his sister from his family.

Dear diary: dream 19

We all have secrets we would like to bury somewhere. As children, we had diaries and journals. As adults, well, it depends. Some people get psychiatrists, others, book clubs, some like me get anonymous blogs. Basically, we want to keep our secrets a secret, but we also need to appease the urge to blurt them out. When I think about all of the secrets I have kept over the years, it does get tough to keep them all hidden. But I have seen somebody else who had to swear a lot of conflicts to secrecy, and as a result, he internally broke down. I tried to do the same, but it got harder and harder as time progressed. I didn’t want to keep those aspects of me a secret any longer.

The idea of secrets, I just wonder why we need to have them. Why can’t we be open about our lives? Granted, I should be able to answer that rhetorical easily, given that I am writing from behind an alias. A digital mask, keeping anyone from knowing who I really am…hopefully. We keep secrets for several reasons. We want to protect somebody else or spare their feelings, we don’t want to be judged or labeled for our actions or mistakes, generally it all comes down to us not wanting to hurt somebody, whether it be someone else or ourselves.

I wish this was a world where we did not have to keep those secrets bottled up. Yes, I have had an eating disorder, tried killing myself twice, and had sex with a stranger almost twice my age a week after turning 18, but if I said those things in real life, people would judge me. People would tell me that I am a psychotic whore. But those were my secrets. Those were the things I had to keep bottled up for years and years. But I will say them now. I have a digital mask on anyways, so there are hardly as many consequences. Granted, should you find out who I really am in real life, then I will embrace the fact that I did those things, because those secrets or mistakes, they have made me stronger and smarter. Plus, that 30 year old was a total 10, so you know, another notch under my belt.

My sadness from being betrayed by friends repeatedly, regrets for having so an anti-social adolescence, these are all things that I would have written about if I had a diary. My dreams of opening a bakery, of finding true love, starting a family, again, all things I would have written about. Dear diary, you have become this blog. I continue to write about a world that would be ideal for me. A world where secrets did not have to be buried in a journal and pages. Where secrets just don’t exist. It is a naïve wish, but I would love to live in this open world of my feather-light dreams.