Snippet Saturday #7 Reverie (Part 2)

When I regain consciousness, I’m lying against the Jell-o wall of a building. The Nightwalkers are gone, but the crazy, violet-eyed guy from before is there.

“Do you want to die?” he says, bending over me.

“Of course not!” I say. “Why do you think I took the pill?”

“There are more coming.” He reaches out a hand to help me up.

I contemplate it for a moment but I’m still too groggy to get up on my own. My head is spinning so I feel like I’m on a ship being pitched on tumultuous waves.

I follow his gaze and see the Nightwalkers he’s talking about. Spinning around, I see more on the other side. Once again, I’m hemmed in, but now I only have one pill left. Even if I can get more, I’m not crazy enough to use up my last pill.

“Think,” he says. “There have to be other ways.”

He doesn’t sound too worried. There’s a hint of challenge to his voice, as if he knows the answer but wants to know if I can come by it on my own. The tone angers me. I dislike wanting to prove myself to him.

“How many pills do you have?” I say first, even though I have a feeling it isn’t the direction he’s thinking in.

“None,” he says simply.

As rare as it is for anyone in the city not to carry pills, I’m somehow not surprised at all.

I glance around, taking in everything there is. The marshmallow walls of the buildings around us are no good for climbing, so we can’t use those. What else is there, though? Ah–a plant! It’s a tiny thing, cropping up between the lightning bolts sizzling on the sidewalk. I press my hands against it, willing it to grow. It sprouts up instantly with a creak as the wood stretches. Branches fan out and reach leaves toward me. I grab a leaf and use it as a whistle, the sound shrill and high.

There’s nothing. The violet-eyed guy and I stand back-to-back, facing the Nightwalkers on either side. They’re close enough now that I can see the burning coals that are their eyes and the torn, blackened flesh that hangs from their jaws and ribs. I clutch my pill bottle in my hand. One more left. If this doesn’t work, I can still take it. I still have another way out. The violet-eyed guy doesn’t, though.

A Nightwalker’s fingers grasp at me, brushing against my collarbones. I gasp. They’re like hardened lava, leaving searing burn marks on my skin. Recoiling, I step backward, colliding with the violet-eyed guy.

“Well?” he says.

“Just wait a moment,” I say, praying this works.

Just then, a dove dives down in front of us. I’m not sure if it grows or if we shrink, but we’re suddenly on its back, and we’re flying higher and higher toward the singing stars.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.

Snippet Saturday #6 Reverie (Part 1)

“He wonders if the world is becoming a dream or if the dream is becoming the world.” – Bande à part (Band of Outsiders), 1964

“There’s no such thing as reality anymore,” a man says to me. He might be attractive, but right now he’s disheveled and there’s a slightly wild look to his violet eyes. “Don’t trust your memories. Don’t trust anything in front of your eyes. For that matter, don’t even trust me.”

Normally, I would just keep walking–mostly because I’m too afraid to run into the Nightwalkers–but today I’m in a good mood, so I stop and respond. “If I trust you about not trusting you, doesn’t that create a paradox?”

He doesn’t say anything to that because the clock in the town square chimes just then. It’s already elephant o’clock. Clutching my purse close, I start to hurry. I need to get home before the jellyfish moon is up. A deep blue goldfish swims through the air by me, leaving a trail of alcohol bubbles that college students follow.

“Better get home soon,” I call out to them.

One of them grins and shakes a pill bottle at me. I smile and shake my own bottle back at him before moving on. There are only two pills left, so the rattle seems particularly loud.

Once I round the corner, I get a view of the jellyfish moon floating among the singing stars. If I’d been listening, I would have realized that they are already singing their song of warning. Something is moving toward me with the slow and deliberate walk of a being that only has bone and no muscle.

My heart flips in my chest. I’ve seen the Nightwalkers far too many times to count, but it never gets any easier or any less frightening. They seem to move slowly like you have forever to escape, but the next they you know, they’re right upon you.

I whirl around, but they’re coming from that direction too. I try to climb the walls of the building next to me, but they’re made of soft and sticky Jell-o that crumbles red in my hands as I try to climb. I should take my pill. It’s  the best and most reliable way to escape them, but I only have two left.

The pounding of my heart matches the march of the Nightwalkers’ bony feet on the ground. Their bodies move oddly, all angles and limbs. I can smell them now. They have the acrid scent of sulfur and ash–everything burnt and dead.

I don’t have a choice. I have to take one of the pills. It’s okay, right? I can always make an appointment with the Somnologist and get some more. With that reassurance, I unscrew the pill bottle–a Nightwalker reaches out toward me–and pop the pill in my mouth, forcing it down my throat.

And then–and then–and–

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.

Foreign Friday: Oppa

Oppa. She always hesitated to use that word. The intention was too confusing, she thought. How was he supposed to know if she meant “oppa” as in “older brother” or “oppa” as a term of respect for an older guy she knew…or “oppa” as in “honey…” “darling…” “sweetheart?”

It was unfair for a word to have so many meanings. Okay, maybe it was the only word in any language to have such nuances, but it was one word whose meaning should be absolutely clear and without question.

They started walking to school and back home again everyday. It wasn’t planned. He lived two floors above her. She hurried out of her apartment one day, shouting exasperated agreements at her mother, only to come face-to-face with him on the stairs. That was when it started.

She would walk beside him, listening to him speak, trying to think of the right things to say. Her clammy fingers would find their way to the skirt of her school uniform and clutch at the fabric. She always wondered if he would notice her if they didn’t live in the same building.

All the while, her mouth would rebel against her efforts to call him oppa. Honey. That was what she meant, and she wanted so much for him to know. How was it so easy  for the other girls to call the boys oppa? They didn’t waste any effort doing it. She was the only one who seemed to have something broken inside her.

In a fit of desperation, she took to listening to Girl’s Generation’s Oh! on repeat. “Oppa, oppa, I’ll be, I’ll be, down, down, down, down,” she sang with them. Maybe she said it over and over, it would be easier to finally say it when it counted.

It seemed to work.

“Yes, oppa,” she said in response to his question, her heart ballooning in her chest, sweet spring air filling her lungs.

He patted her head as though she were a child–or a puppy.

“I’m so glad you’re finally calling me oppa,” he said. “I think of you as a sister too.”

Oppa. She could imagine the deceptively innocent word pointing and laughing at her.

Boy, did she hate it.

Curious about the meaning of “oppa?”

Foreign Friday is an introduction to Indian and Korean culture in honor of my YA contemporary novel (tentatively titled) Shadows Fall Behind.

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When I think about my grandfather, I think about walking. I clearly remember him walking me through a leafy, suburban lane to kindergarten because both my parents were in the hospital the day my sister was born. I remember him walking me home from Jr. KG back when I lived in Mumbai when I was very, very young. I remember him visiting us in the U.S. and telling us that there was a community center within walking distance of our house. We only found out because he went exploring whenever he was in a new place. I remember him walking my family to the school where he was on the school board, despite being retired.

My mom and my uncle tried many times to get their parents to come live here in California, but both of them refused because it didn’t matter that they were getting older–they still had lives in Mumbai.

That image is of my grandpa meeting the president of India. It’s because of his volunteer work on the school board that he was able to do so. The picture so perfectly exemplifies him. He was always doing something. He played tennis right up until a few years ago. He was 85 years old, and he sent us eGreetings on our birthdays and Skyped with us.

And he always, always asked how my writing was going.

I miss you already, Ajoba.

R.I.P.

 

Poem: Between Two Rains by Nora May French

It is a silver space between two rains;
The lulling storm has given to the day
An hour of windless air and riven grey;
The world is drained of color; light remains.
Beyond the curving shore a gull complains;
Unceasing , on the bastions of the bay,
With gleam of shields and veer of vaporing spray
The long seas fall, the grey tide wars and wanes.

It is a silver space between two rains:
A mood too sweet for tears, for joy too pale—”
What stress has swept or nears us, thou and I?
This hour a mist of light is on the plains,
And seaward fares again with litten sail
Our laden ship of dreams adown the sky.

Mystical Monday: Lothlórien and Galadriel

 

One of the first times I really understood the meaning of “mystical” was when watching The Fellowship of the Ring. Peter Jackson did such a fantastic job of capturing the ethereal quality of the elves–both in Rivendell and in Lothlórien. I decided to go with the latter for today’s Mystical Monday post because I think these images perfectly capture the blues and whites and silvers that give an image a breathtakingly fantastical feel. Of course, these are just images. In the movies, these scenes are accompanied by Howard Shore’s hauntingly beautiful music.

Mystical Monday is about anything fantasy/supernatural/ethereal in honor of my YA Urban Fantasy novel, Synchronicity.