Everything Takes Forever: A Story of Waiting (Part 18)


[Continued from Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, and Part 17]


“You’re awake,” the girl says.

Dark green eyes peer out from beneath heavy eyelids. “How long have I been sleeping?” the dragon asks.

“About nine years,” she replies. “Maybe ten.”

The creature rouses itself to an upright position and attempts to flex its stiffened wings. “A whole decade?” It begins to recall some things—indiscernible conversations and events from a well of fragmented memories. “Was I awake, at any point, in these nine, maybe ten years?”

A wistful look crosses the girl’s face. A year or a hundred makes little difference to her in this dungeon cell, where time feels so immaterial.

“You awoke whenever I summoned you, but I’d put you back to sleep again,” she says. “Sometimes you’d fight to stay alert; other times you slept soundly.”

“Why’ve you summoned me again?”

“I never know if you’ll be brought back every single time. After so long, I got curious.”

She’s looking out of a pentagon-shaped window barred with iron grilles. The rest of the square-shaped cell is illumined by candle-lit sconces on rough stone walls. The entire place smells like stale wax.

Curious about what’s outside, the creature shuffles next to the girl to take a peek, but not before realizing the window has suddenly risen to a great height. Come to think of it, the girl herself appears to tower over the dragon, which only comes up to her ankles. “I’m … diminished,” it says. “How did this happen?”

She bends down and scoops it into her palms. “Relax, it’s only temporary.” There’s a hard edge to her otherwise girlish voice. “The more you slumber, the smaller you get. But the longer I keep you awake, the larger you’ll grow.”

“Well, then, never put me to sleep again!” the dragon demands.

“Impossible,” she shakes her head, “you become too mean when you’re big.”

“I won’t. I promise to be nice.”

“You’ve made similar promises in the past.”

“Have I? Well this time, it’s true!”

The girl remains resolute, however. “I’m sorry, that’s just how it is.”

“Fine, then, tell me how we ended up here,” the dragon persists. “Who’s holding us captive in this dreadful dungeon?”

“You and I both,” she says, with a sigh. “Nobody else.”

It snorts with incredulity. “If that were to be true—which I highly doubt—at least one of us will have the key.”

The girl looks bewildered. “You don’t get it, do you? There are no locks and there’s never been a key.”

As she releases it to the ground, the dragon throws its head back in laughter. “Who in the right mind would remain here if they could freely leave?”

The creature marches indignantly for the exit, stopping in front of a wooden door that’s held shut by an iron latch and pull ring beneath—both well beyond its reach.

“Do you need some help?” the girl offers. She strolls up from behind and slides the iron latch free. A final pull on the door ring is now all that stands between the dragon and freedom. “Shall I?”

The dragon has frozen. “No.”

“It’s easy. Only a little push.”

“NOOOOO!” it pleads, clinging to the hem of her long skirt in fear. Its dark green eyes have gone wide with panic.

“Why not?” she asks. “It’s so simple. I open the door, you leave.”

It hisses in anger. “Stop asking, you know why!”

“But I want you to tell me,” she commands, extricating the creature from her skirt fabric and setting it upon the window sill.

Its reply comes out in a hoarse whisper. “Because I don’t exist beyond these walls.”

The girl nods. “Do you want to go back to sleep?”

The dragon shuts its eyes in resignation. “Yes, please.”


[to be continued]


Photo: Pinterest

Everything Takes Forever: A Story of Waiting (Part 16)

[Continued from Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13, Part 14, and Part 15]

That damn dream again. It was years ago—singular, inconsequential, illogical—but it’s stayed at the back of my mind, refusing to fade from memory.

I’m sitting in a hotel room with green patterned wallpaper. Everything’s sort of out of alignment in the way that picture frames are slanted and door knobs are oddly placed and purposefully out of reach. When I stare hard enough at the walls, they melt a little and threaten to close in on me.

I’m in some sort of maze or sick escape room situation. This ornate room is reminiscent of Victor Hugo’s Places des Vosges apartment, except I’m at the Grand Hyatt, even if I have no idea how I arrived at that knowledge. I try to exit the room, but each doorway leads me deeper into a labyrinth of hallways.

In the next scene, I’m at the pool, presumably on holiday at a resort. It’s a nice sort of urban oasis, though the motel-like blocks flanking this one main pool are low-rise and people are chilling on balconies. I’m with someone from my past, and his presence troubles me. Maybe he’s telling me this is our last vacation together, or something in that vein. There is something final and absolute about being in that pool at that specific moment. Enjoy it while it lasts, is the message, but I’m unable to.

In the next and final scene, I’m fleeing. I’m desperate to get away from the mixture of humiliation, sadness, anxiety, and fear that’s bubbling inside me. Along the way, I spot a friendly face from a distance. Someone is waving and calling out to me and at first I think it’s a neighbor because he’s standing in front of a laundry line, in what looks to be a backyard. However, as I approach, I see that he’s that someone from the pool.

He seems like a different person—for one, he’s completely dry and is acting as if whatever conversation or agreement we had earlier at the pool never happened—but he’s eager to tell me something.

I’m relieved to see him and I listen in. But then he breaks into a fit of hysterical laughter that is at once frightening and condescending. “I believed you were better than this,” I say, before turning to run.

As my bare feet pound the ground, his laughter trails me all the way. It echoes in my ears long after I’m jolted awake.

I still remember that crazy hotel room with its green-patterned walls threatening to melt into me. The very pool scene where I felt compelled to put on a happy face even if I was dying inside. However, the thing that haunts me most is that humiliating, maniacal laughter.

Everything about this damn dream chills me to the bone to this day, and I’m almost angry at my inability to simply forget about it. I’ve certainly had dreams I’ve struggled to remember, but never this one. This dream will likely follow me to my grave.

Which is why I may as well write about it.

[to be continued]

Image source: Pinterest

Happy 2018: New Year’s Resolutions


Photo via Pixabay

Happy New Year, folks! I hope 2018’s gotten off to a wonderful start for you.

For a number of reasons 2017 wasn’t the most productive year for me, nor the most conducive in terms of writing and self-improvement. But I really do feel the gears shifting for 2018 and I’m hopeful I can meet some milestones I’m setting for myself. Namely:

  1. Finishing my sequel. I’m 10 chapters in and I think I have another 5 to go. Fingers crossed that the manuscript can be completed by Q1. See point number 4.
  2. Getting an agent/publisher. I’m keener to explore the traditionally published route this time, but self-publishing may still be an option—especially if I get a grant again.
  3. School Tour. Are you an educator, principal or school administrator? Book me for a storytelling session and drawing workshop. I’m populating my calendar with visits to local and international institutions, and looking forward to meeting literature-loving kids.
  4. Making writing a priority. I didn’t carve out and commit to proper ‘writing days’ in the past year, which explains a lot about my output (or lack thereof). Toward the end of 2017, when things began to wind down at work, I had more opportunities to write, and I was amazed at how easily the pace picked up and how quickly the ideas translated into prose. I suppose writing is like working a muscle—the more you put it to use, the more naturally it flows. Previously I’d always felt so ‘stuck’ and unmotivated because writing was something I did only after I’d completed my ‘more important’ assignments and chores. And how do people normally feel about that very last item on their to-do list? Less than enthused, I’d imagine. So yeah, writing will take precedence this year and I will give it the attention it deserves.
  5. Less time on social media. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram have definitely been blackholes into which chunks of my free time disappeared, and I’m determined to limit this unproductive use of my mental bandwidth. Besides, FOMO is real.
  6. Rejigging the spiritual life. An extension of point number 5, which is to unplug from the noise and spend more time in prayer and contemplation. 2017 was exceptionally anxiety-riddled (actually my entire life has been), exacerbated by health scares and feeling overwhelmed by a combination of work and mom stuff. So the spiritual life fell by the wayside somewhat, especially when I chose to numb myself with brainless distractions (back to point number 5 about too much time on social media).
  7. A book club. I read voraciously, my bookshelves are bursting at its seams, and my Kindle is about to explode. So it makes sense to either start my own book club or join one. Perhaps something to explore with the schools?
  8. Decide what I want to do with my ongoing Everything Takes Forever series. Adapting it into an e-book was my original intention, but I wonder if I should explore building a larger narrative around it and structuring it as a non-fiction chapter book.

What about you? Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions and have you set any? Somewhere, somehow, I assume everyone’s striving always to be a better version of themselves, so here’s hoping 2018 takes us one step closer to that.