REPORT A PROBLEM
She's a cute girl, just naturally with big bright eyes and fluffy brown hair that rests lightly upon her shoulders. And not only does she dress the part, with a pleated skirt and ribbons that match; but she acts it too, pouting with puffed cheeks and blushing bright red and tilting her head at all the right times. Many adore her and many don't; she's faking it, they say, she just wants attention, she's someone I wish I could be. She's assaulted with love and hate all at once, and in the end it's the latter that gets to her.
He's a cool boy, though perhaps overly so with his black hair cropped short, sure to keep out of those cold blue eyes. His outfit, fitted with a royal red cape and fine diamond accessories, enhances the image, yet at the same time he looks lost in it, as if wondering, "Aren't there more practical clothes I could wear?" He doesn't have a choice in his apparel though, nor his speeches or even his actions. Society hooked its claws into him a long time ago; that it should now lay claim to his appearance is, he supposes, just natural progression.
Okay, you know what? I'm tired of you. I'm tired of yielding to you all the time, of saying sorry for things I don't even feel sorry for, of feeling like I'm forced to double check every word I send to you, like I'm traversing a goddamn minefield every time I speak to you. I'm tired of tripping one up and taking all your shit. I'm tired of you not giving a single shit about me. And I'm tired of bending myself for you so I hope to hell you remember now how it feels to bend yourself for me.
O: "The last rat of the Rat Soldier pack lies dead at your feet. Your party has successfully vanquished all rats in the field."
E: "Man that was close... Let's take it easy next time, alright? I heal A with Potent Cure."
A: "Wait. Something's not right. I shoot the last rat to die."
O: "Its claw shoots up to catch the bullet before impact. Growling, the corpse rips open to unleash a Mad Demon that towers high above you."
E: "I- I don't know about this guy..."
O: "The demon lunges at you. What will you do?"
Arden doesn't realize just how little he is until he leaves home for his first year at college. It hits him his first step on campus that his parents aren't here to cook for him anymore, that his brother isn't here to clean up after him anymore, that he's alone, really alone, and that he's got to take care of his own messes from now on. Briefly he regrets not learning how to cook, never doing the dishes at home—and then he pushes them all aside and out of his mind. College isn't for worrying. Life isn't for worrying.
Aidan knew how little he was ever since he was thirteen, when all the other guys started towering over him, a boy not even five feet tall. He held hope for a growth spurt year after year, thinking maybe this birthday he would finally look his age, but when he hit nineteen and looked the same as he did six years ago, he let it sink into bitterness. So much for finally looking his age, he thought, and so much for finally being taken seriously. He'd carry this height and this baby face, and stay little for years to come.
"Alright, no more waiting! I'm definitely going to confess to her today! But how do I even do this? Just take her aside and say it? Or should I get a gift first, like flowers or something? That's kinda cliché but if not, then what else? You know what, I'll do it tomorrow. Just thinking about this is getting me all nervous..."
"Thinking about what?"
"Huh? What are you doing here?!"
"I left my bag behind. So? What were you thinking of?"
"Hey, don't feel forced to share, alright? I was just curious."
"No, it's fine... I'll tell you."
You think big in your head, think you're so tough and that you can say whatever you want whenever you want to whomever you want, but when you get right down to it, you're just like the sheep you claim to hate. You crack under the pressure. You hide your emotions and chime in with the crowd. You let them walk over you out of fear. What ever happened to standing up for yourself? Because I can't stand you. I can't stand you at all. You're just another little person in the end. Regardless of who you think you are.
This is going to sound kind of cheesy, but I met the perfect girl at the library today, or so I thought anyway. She was pretty, smart, and best of all actually shorter than I was, but when we talked about our classes, I realized she was just a freshman. I guess she had this mature air that made her seem old enough to be a senior too. She kept giving me these sweet smiles and this look I can't even describe but maybe I'm imagining things? Who knows, I guess. I wonder if we'll see each other again though.
Note to self: if ever upset, just remember when:
- Arden walked right into a low-hanging branch on the way home. Seriously, that was hilarious.
- Liadan danced with you for Ballroom Dancing class and... man this is way too embarrassing to write!
- we all went to that park during winter break. Somehow what was supposed to be a quick snowball fight before going to the movies turned into a full-blown brawl that lasted the whole day because no one was willing to back down. We ended up missing the movie of course, but ah well. I don't regret it.
"Out of curiosity, what do you eat at college?"
"Well, there are lot of good restaurants near campus that—"
"Wait. You don't cook? You know it's cheaper, right?"
"Yeah, but it's not like I know how to. Though, my roommate cooks dinner us sometimes. So I'm kinda saving money like that, if that's what you're worried about."
"He doesn't mind?"
"Nope! Heck, he's the one who invites me."
"Come here for a second."
"I'm going to teach you some easy recipes. So that when you go back to college, you can cook your roommate some good meals in return."
As part of an icebreaker, my homestay group was asked various questions, including one on what kind of person we hated. "I hate shy people," a girl said, staring at me. "They think they're just so much better, like they're above talking to the rest of us."
Like hell we are, I thought. Our silence wasn't a sign of power. It was a sign of oppression, the aftermath of pressing us toward a goal we couldn't reach. We couldn't speak. The outgoing didn't allow us to. It was so typical of them, I thought, to make us the villains here.
The truth is, though, I hate shy people too. I hate watching them struggle to make conversation and find acceptance in some higher group. Just give up already, I want to scream at them. You know they're just laughing at you, right? You know they're laughing at your stuttering, your trembling fingers, your reddening cheeks, your vain attempts to fit in? You can try all you want, but in the end, you're just another clown to them. As if we'd ever take in someone like you, they're saying. So stop embarrassing yourself already! They'll never accept you. Or me either.
Do more, there's not much time left before the trip. Do less, you need to relax and make the best of these few days before you leave. Here's your checklist, make sure you accomplish all of these before you go. Stop worrying so much, it's fine if you don't get to do everything you wanted to do. How useless can you get if you can't even reach your own goals? How much more of your vacation are you going to ruin with your worrying? You want to be productive but you don't want to worry. When will you be satisfied?
There's this constant nagging that I'm not doing enough right now, I'm not nearly doing enough. What am I doing talking to my friends right now, what am I doing watching videos of cute dogs and ferrets? Just think about it; you're already selfish enough to pursue your dreams instead of a proper job. And your parents believe in you too, even though you don't believe in yourself. You have to support them in the future, you know? You have to repay your lifetime's debt to them. So don't you fucking dare look away from your work. Every second counts.
You know she has a thankless job, so one day when you see her after work, you tell her you understand. You understand it must be tough, always being looked down upon, never receiving praise for all the effort she puts in. And you'd understand if she just wanted to let it out sometimes. You're here for her to talk to, and as if to confirm this, you squeeze her hand a bit, noting how small it is in your palms. But she shrugs them off, your words and your hand, and says she's fine. She doesn't mind, she says.
The truth is, I've always wanted a fairytale-ish kind of romance! Like you know, I trip while walking in town but then someone catches me! It's a handsome boy with strong hands and there's a spark when our eyes meet, just like in all those novels I've read. He's a prince from a far away land in search of his one true princess, and while I initially join him to go exploring myself, it turns out that I am that princess and we have a happily ever after. The end! Or at least, something like that would be nice!
There's an old store around the corner of my home. The rule there is simple: you can change anything you dislike about yourself, so as long as you give up something you do like about yourself. All kinds of tourists come to visit there everyday, but there's one group that keeps our town constantly wary of this store. It's the people who come all excited and bright-eyed only to leave with a lost look in their eyes. Some come back the next day and leave again with a collected yet still solemn face. And some just never come back.
We could've stayed together, you know. We could've had a future together. I wish we could've gone down that path, but I can't trust you anymore. You know I don't trust easily. You know and you went and broke it anyway.
I'm sorry. It sounds like I'm blaming you, doesn't it? Even though I know it's not just your fault, but mine as well. It was just one time, but even so I don't think I can believe in you anymore. Is that too harsh? That's what I feel though, regardless.
I'm sorry. I wish we could've moved on together.
It's funny how meaningless life gets once you remove death from the equation. Sure, you might sigh in relief the first few times you revive, your hands held tight over still bleeding wounds as if reaffirming your triumph over death, but the feeling fades fast. One day you'll wake up (again) from the momentary darkness and realize suddenly that you're not afraid of death anymore. You'll realize too that everything you did before you became immortal was because your time was finite. Now, time doesn't even matter anymore. Nothing related to it matters. Not when you'll outlast them all anyway.
Time doesn't matter when you have an infinite amount of it. Consequently, anything bound by time also doesn't matter. Take people, for example. People don't matter because you'll meet millions of them and outlive every single one. What's the point of befriending anyone if they're only there for a fraction of your infinite life? If you can befriend them anyway, considering you're different from them all. Because people run out of time, they fear death, and because they fear death, they strive for a fulfilling life. However, these traits no longer apply to you. You are not a person anymore.
She's always visualized a romantic death for herself, a poetic farewell others would tell long after she's died. That's why when her friends realize someone needs to stay behind for the rest of them to escape, she's the first to run back, before anyone can stop her. They argue with her with tears in their eyes and all she tells them is the building's already crumbling, there's no time to decide. What she doesn't tell them is that she's okay with this, even as concrete rains upon her last glimpse of them. She'd live forever with this sort of death.
"I believe I've found a way to extend our life spans. Possibly for an infinite amount of time, if so desired. I know it sounds unbelievable, but if you could just skim over my notes and tell me what you think--"
"I think you should stop this research of yours. Before you get any deeper."
"Because I like you, you know? You're a good friend of mine, and someone I want to avoid hurting."
"Are you threatening me?"
"'Threatening' is such a harsh word. But you're welcome to think that way if it means you'll listen to me."
"So, let me get this straight. Physically you're twenty-years-old, but the truth is that you're actually thirty."
"And it's not just because you look young or anything, but because you stopped aging ten years ago."
"That's seriously unfair! Why did you stop at twenty when I stopped at twelve?"
"Everyone treats me like a kid because of how I look! I can't count how many times people have aww'd at me when I tell them I'm actually nineteen!"
"They pinch my cheeks! They pat me on the head! It's just unfair!"
"Aidan, seriously. Chill."
"Hey Toko, I've been wondering, why don't you ever wear any color in your uniform?"
"Because I don't want to."
"Huh. Don't you think it's kinda boring wearing black and white and grey all the time?"
"Well, I think it is! You'd look like ten times cuter if you just wore something colorful for once, like--"
"Kiri, I realize fashion and one's appearance as a whole is important to you, but please don't contest me on this. My looks are my own business, and I don't intend to change them."
"Alright, sheesh! I was just trying to help."
"So you just pushed Kiri away?"
"I know she's a good friend of yours, but honestly my appearance isn't any of her business. She shouldn't have asked or even said that to me."
"I think you know too that you're being overly defensive about it, right? Yeah she was being kinda nosy, but that's a harsh thing to say."
"I realize that, but it doesn't change how I feel. I don't want to be told any of that."
"... Toko, when're you gonna tell them that you can't see--"
"Never. If I'm lucky, you'll be the only other person who knows."
"Though honestly, I never intended for you to find out either."
"...I don't think differently of you 'cause of it, you know."
"I know. You're not that kind of person. Even so, I don't like that I failed to hide it."
"I'm kinda happy for that though, honestly."
"'Cause it means you have someone to confide in now."
"I don't mean to sound cheesy or anythin', but I think it was probably kinda rough hiding it all this time, right? So maybe it'd be easier to have someone to talk to about it sometimes."
"...I don't know. Maybe."
"So you have trouble relating to other people. Why hide it?"
"From what I've learned, it's not something you tell others about."
"But if you don't tell anyone, no one can help you with it!"
"From what I've learned, there's no one who wants to help."
"That's not true."
"If I may be frank, I think you're too much of an optimist to understand. Human society is built upon a strict set of rules that define a 'normal' majority. My difficulty in relating to that majority and understanding their rules would only make me a target and--"
"That's not true!"
"If it really isn't true, then I would like to hear a counterargument."
"I don't need one! That kind of thinking is just-- it's just wrong, okay?! You can't think like that. It's way too sad."
"Well I don't want you telling me what I can and cannot do just because you think it's 'sad' or whatever. I've spent the entirety of my life ruled by other people's judgments and expectations and the last thing I need is yet another person pushing their beliefs onto me. Least of all someone I trusted enough to share one of my secrets with."
I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm forcing the issue, but I really do believe your view on human society or whatever is mistaken. People wouldn't attack or target another person just because they're different or not "normal" or whatever. At least, I don't think they'd do it because they want to. I mean, I was targeted before too, but I'm sure no one really meant it. People might do mean things sometimes but deep down we've all got pure hearts and good intentions. That's just how humans are! And I really think that, you know? I really think that.
"So you've lived blindly following mainstream beliefs, without ever considering for yourself the reasoning behind them. Correct?"
"W- Well... that's because I've never had to question it. There's never been any need to."
"And you're content with it?"
"Yes, okay?! Can we just drop this now?"
"I'd rather not. Your thinking makes no sense to me, and is thereby fascinating. I can't imagine why someone made an outcast by others would continue to trust them, especially in a way as disbelieving and desperate as yours. Hmm, and now you're crying about it. You really don't make any sense at all."
The Tip Jar