Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Beginning of the End

That night we both lay on the bed. Not looking at each other, instead staring at the ceiling. Silence, other than the occasional chatter of the bugs outside the house. The breeze swayed the curtains into a gentle ballet, and the smell of the ground and the grass lingered in the room.

I knew exactly what was on her mind. It has barely been a year since I fully recovered. And there I was, called back to my next mission.

“You’re not ready for this,” she once said many months back. Part of my body agreed with her. The deep wounds sustained from my past tour in the Pishrow unit took a toll on me, and truth be told, there was a strong and overwhelming burden within me that would have rather stayed back and rest. Recover, recoup, nursing my own wounds.

But a lot changed.

And more is about to change.

I gently folded the blanket over and climbed out of bed. Flipped the bathroom lights on, brushed my teeth and washed my face, the whole time knowing well enough that Nire was looking at me from behind. There was just no way I could look into her eyes. Her eyes were screaming at me. What would I do if anything happens to you? What would I do if lost you again?

I snapped on army uniform, pressed and crisps. Only Nire could iron my clothes that way. Other than my gears and equipments, everything else were packed and made ready by her. Even the boot shine. I slumped onto the chair near the door, gears locked and loaded. Everything’s ready, I thought.

Then I saw her leaning against the stairs. Sniffing, sobbing quietly. No, I’m not ready.

The bus approached. I walked up to her to kiss her goodbye. She cusps my face tightly, tighter than ever. “What would you do for the person you love?” she was desperate. I knew then, that she would have done anything, and absolutely anything to make me stay.

What would you do to make sure that you don’t lose the person you love the most?

What would you give up for me?

She caught her breath, and slowly asked, What higher price must you pay?

Her voice, so saturated in sorrow and soaked in agony. I drew her close to me, nose touching hers, eyes closed the whole time. Right in front of me, was the only reason I stayed alive when the trees and grounds around me gave way to enemy fire; right in front of me, then, was the only person who waited for me all those years just to return home, be it in parts and pieces, deformed or perfect, she waited nevertheless.

And it seemed, perhaps it simply was, cruel to leave her just when I returned to her embrace.

Must you leave me, again?

I kissed her on the forehead. My eyes too, were moist. In the darkness of the hall and stairway, I could see the glitter from the crystals formed on the edge of her hazel eyes. I looked deep and long into it, knowing that I very well may never see those eyes in a long, long time.

“For you,” I finally broke my silence, “I would give you anything. Everything

“Absolutely everything to keep you safe.”

That is why I have to go.

It took all the strength within me to break myself from her arms, to pick up my gears and walk out of the door without looking away. With those steady, yet dreadful steps, I walked towards the army bus only to be greeted by the Sergeant.

“About time.” Sergeant muttered in his usual voice. I raised my arm in salute, and he responded likewise. “I hope you’re ready.”

I’m ready sir, I lied.

“You’d better be,” he said. “This mission may well be your last.”

The Beginning of the End

and the Last

of Zanotopia.

Part 1: Sergeant Have Mercy on Me (Edited)

Part 2: Forgotten (Edited)

Part 3: Behind the Bronze Mask

Prologue: And the Reyarps Fell

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


To be honest, that day was a complete mess.

I woke up to that favourite, familiar fragrance of her hair. It took a while for the reality to hit me hard. The actual fact, that she’s really back.

My mind was a complete mess as I stirred the coffeemate into her tea. Why ain't I happy? Wasn't this exactly what I had waited for, hoped for? What's wrong with me?

But really... Why is she back?What if this isn’t real? What if this isn’t what I think it is? What if she’s just back to drop another bomb on me again?

What if she leaves again?

To be honest, I did stop believing.

I stopped believing that she will come back for me. It was two long, lonely months for me. Every night I played old videos I took of her back in university days to sleep. How her hair just swirled so smoothly when she turns around to the camera, how she always flashes that perfect smile at the perfect time, how her laughter could so powerfully strike my soul to the core that eventually I had to mute the sound just so I didn’t end up in tears again.

And those months, after switching the television off – if I even remember to – I thought, maybe, just maybe, one day, she’ll come back. I somewhat knew that she still loved me, somewhat still believed in me. Yes, I screwed up. But don’t we all mess up sometimes? Give her some time, I reassured myself. She’ll be back, it’s just a matter of time.

But after a while, it just got too difficult, too tiring to keep believing. It wore me down. The thought of her not being around anymore just got too painful. She just wasn't coming back. Or at least, not anytime soon.

To be honest, I did give up.

On the hopes and dreams and wishes of her walking back, on the possibility of even seeing her in my life again. Because 60 days, 60 days without you in my life, dearest princess, was just and simply too much for me to take.

Above all else, I gave up on myself. I deserved it. For not being there for you more, for not being the better man, for not being the one who would have fought for you, or held you and never let go, or...

... or for just not being what I used to be.

I did sometimes wonder. While cleaning up the dishes, or while mopping the floor, I often asked myself, does it really matter? How my house looks like, how clean the kitchen is, how neat the furniture’s arranged…

She’s not around anymore, so what’s the point?

I guess back then I never quite figured that out, why I did those things that would only remind me of her. Those times when the quiet and emptiness of home got the worse part of me, I just slumped back, buried my face in my hands, and just quietly prayed.

I prayed that I will get another chance – though I neither hoped nor deserved it – that she will just walk in, back home, one day. I prayed that she will be fine and alright, wherever she was.

'I prayed that you will be happier.'

But that morning, that morning when I woke up with her in my arms again, when I prepared her favourite butter and sugar toast, when I tucked her blanket up to her neck and pecked her on her forehead, it all came back. All the memories of the laughter and happy moments we shared, all those mornings we lay on the bed and just laugh for no apparent reason, all those nights we sat on the couch and watched her favourite series…

I hadn’t had my emotions and thoughts all straightened out, but I did soon enough. Soon after walking into the house, to find a lone pair of pink slippers neatly arranged beside a heap of shoes, soon after finding her luggage bag still in the hall, at bay beside the couch I slept on, soon enough after hearing that unmistakable sound of the brush scratching against the floor.

Soon enough after seeing the most beautiful girl in the world, on her knees, furiously battling the stubborn stains and marks on the edges of the toilet, with such determination and perseverance. I smiled as I watched from the door. As if she felt me coming, she got up, brush still in her gloved up hands, her long wavy hair all in that lovely mess, and that same smile she wore on the very first day she captivated and enchanted every bit and every part of me - and still did.

“Hello little boy.”

That very moment, I had it figured out. It all made sense.

I may have given up on a lot of things, I may have stopped hoping, even stopped waiting.

But I never stopped loving you.

The End

Part 1: Remembering

Part 2: Understanding