Tag: fiction

a small difference between fiction and real-life

Life November 7, 2019

Maybe it is just me, but I feel like a novel — specifically way someone writes and phrases things reflect so much about who they are as a person. It could be the way a writer uses a particular word over and over again. Or the way that he simply limits a visual description to a sentence-long summary. A writer’s way of writing means more than just stylistic means of delivering an idea. It is a peek into his thoughts and preferences. He could insist on overusing the same word in his works because he thinks that the word carries a symbolic meaning and wants to deliver a cause. Or maybe because he just likes that word. He could also reduce his descriptions to a minimum because sometimes the lack of language forces you to imagine beyond the spectrums of the sentence. It sometimes is true, though personally I like it otherwise.

As for myself, I like crafting the protagonist’s thought process very intricately. Like stream-of-consciousness kind of intricacy. Because very often I derive my ideas from my very surroundings and develop my characters based on the details I observe around me. For example, one of the characters of my recent novel enjoys watching volleyball games. I added that detail because my dad used to be in a volleyball team. From what I’ve heard he was very, very good at it. (And it made me happy that he noticed it while reading my novel) I give my characters attributes I happen to notice from reality and sometimes what I write feels so real that it feels as if I live in it. I end up projecting myself onto the character’s self, and speaking through the narrative persona.

You could say that sometimes it is hard to keep a neutral distance from fiction and reality. Especially so if you see and feel things through the things you craft within your writing. I’ve had a very uncanny experience when I was having a meeting with my editor and a poet from the same publisher — she told me that I reminded her of one of the main characters in my novel, and the poet agreed. They said that I had similar vibes. I’ve built my narrative world so closely to my own experiences and thoughts that it turned out to be inseparable to my real self. So maybe it’s true that what you write is like a mirror that exposes who you are as a person.

The only demarcation between a fiction and reality then is just my persona that has the ability to decide which is which. I could probably frame a real anecdote into my so-called novel and call that a fiction. It could be fiction in the end — whoever reads that would think that the anecdote exists to suit the characters’ needs or to drive the narrative forward. It’s ultimately reduced to a narrative tool then. There is an element of omnipotence as a writer that you can wield any sort of information into a story. A story. A fiction. An un-reality. No matter what happens in that novel and how people read and think about it, only I’ll know that wasn’t actually just a story. It lives and breathes. But it wouldn’t matter, would it?

Because sometimes reality is just as fictional, in that it is unimaginable and unrealistic — in whatever sense that may be. Reality can be just as cruel. Even more so because in real life, unlike our novels, don’t often have very satisfactory endings. Or let alone have one to begin with. There is no rising action, conflict, resolution type of conveniency. Sometimes a story just ends there. And it is the character’s responsibility to deal with the unresolved thoughts and feelings that results from the incomplete story. There is no one at fault — the story just can’t continue. It just sucks that way. I think writing is a coping mechanism. The writer’s authority comes in favorable here. We can give unended, dead ends a nice clean closure, even that may not be absolutely true. But if everyone believes it, I guess it can come true.

내 사진의 초점

Korean February 6, 2019

문득 작가 프로필 사진을 고르기 위해서 갤러리를 훑는 도중 느낀 게 있다면, 어떤 사진은 내 모습이 잘 나와도 그닥 마음에 들지 않는 것들이 있고, 잘 나오지 않았는데 퍽 마음에 드는 것들이 있다. 사실 이것을 오늘 처음 와닿은 건 아닌 게 11학년 때 당시 절친이 찍어준 사진을 지우지 못하고 사진첩에 남겨둘 때부터 어렴풋이 느끼고 있었던 것 같다. 그날은 학교 바자회 같은 행사였어서 하루종일 동아리 부스에서 아이스크림을 팔았는데, 몇 시간이 지나고 보니 몰골이 그렇게 엉망진창일 수가 없었다. 머리는 산발이고 화장은 거의 지워지고… 여하튼 최상의 상태는 아니었다. 그런 엉망인 상태로 학교 육상부 트랙에서 노을을 등지고 찍은 사진이었는데, 사진첩을 정리할 때 그 사진을 계속 지울 수가 없었다. 몇 번이고 돌아가 봐도, 그 사진은 남겨두었다. 꽤나 못 나온 사진인데도 난 잊을만하면 계속 그 사진으로 돌아가 그때의 시간을 계속 곱씹곤 했다. 몇 번이고, 또 몇 번이고.

결국 사진의 퀄리티와 선호도는 비례하지 않는다는 것이다. 어떻게 보면은 너무나 당연한 사실을 어렵사리 깨달았다. 그렇게 느낀 사진은 단 둘이다. 나머지 하나는 고등학교 때 서울에서 류이치 사카모토의 전시회를 보러갔을 때 전시장 앞에서 엄마가 찍어준 사진이다. 그날이 왜 그렇게 기억에 남았는지는 지금도 잘 생각이 나질 않는다. 다만 그때 그 동네 특유의 풀냄새가 좋아서, 7월 중순의 햇볕이 좋아서였는지도 몰랐다. 숨이 타들어가는 와중에 보이는 풀꽃이 좋아서, 그늘 아래 한 숨 돌리는 게 좋아서. 전시장에는 유독 기억에 남는 작품이 있었는데, 그건 천장의 수조 아래 누워서 물의 무늬를 그대로 관찰하는 것이었다. 눈을 감고 소리를 듣는 사람도 있었고 그대로 물을 바라보는 사람도 있었다. 난 어쩐지 손을 뻗어서 물을 만져보고 싶었다. 이대로 가라앉아 눈을 감아도 마냥 좋을 것 같았기 때문이었다. 그날 하루는 그렇게 기억에 무겁게 남았다. 이후에 모르는 동네의 언덕을 걷고 생소한 책방을 발견하게 되는 그 하루가 일상에 물결을 일었던 것이다. 기억이 찾아드는 날은 예기치 않게 찾아온다고 그때 생각했다.

어떨 때는 기억에 남기고 싶어도 당최 남겨지질 않았다. 사진이란 당시의 순간을 시각적으로 기록하는 것인데, 사진을 몇 장이고 찍어도 그날의 기억은 그리 인상적이지 않은 것이다. 내가 그날을 기억하고 싶어도 단순히 사진을 찍은 그 순간만 기억하고 그날의 전체적인 인상과 느낌은 잘 생각나지 않는다. 기억을 하고 싶어서 기록을 남긴 것이 오히려 그 순간만 잔뜩 부각시켜버린 것이다. 어쩌면 중요했을지도 다른 모르는 요소들은 잠식시킨 채. 난 사진을 많이 찍는 편이고 또 찍는 것을 좋아하기 때문에 내 사진첩에는 언제나 사진이 많다. 기억하는 순간들은 많은데, 마음에 남는 순간은 손에 꼽힌다. 요컨대, 기억하고 싶은 것과 기억에 남는 건 많이 다르다는 것이다. 난 어릴 적 엄마가 만든 케이크가 어떻게 생겼는지, 맛은 어땠는지 기억하고 싶어하지만 문득 생각나는 건 케이크를 만드는 엄마의 모습이었으니까.

사진 한 장 없어도 계속 기억에 남는 것들도 있다. 나는 유독 기억에 대한 이야기를 많이 쓴다. 봄날의 로즈에서도 로즈와 쥬드는 기억을 가지고 내기를 했고 내 온 마음을 담아서에서는 기억을 잊고 싶은 남자와 기억하고 싶어하는 여자의 정서적 교류에 대한 것이니까. 나는 그렇게 계속 머무는 기억에 대해 쓰고 싶었다. 사진 하나 없어도 기억에 영화마냥 재생될 그런 빛바래지 않는 기억 말이다. 나한테는 어떠한 기억이 중요했고 그 기억을 지키려면 어떤 것도 할 수 있었으니까, 가 내 얼마 전까지의 신념이었다. 하지만 며칠 전에는 눈이 많이 왔다. 눈이 그렇게 많이 오는 건 정말 오랜만이라서, 사진에 담고 싶었는데 생각하는 것처럼 잘 나오지 않았다. 그래서 그냥 그만두었다. 어차피 머물 기억이라면 굳이 사진으로 남기지 않아도 남을 것이다. 그리고 이제는 굳이 못 잊을 것도 없을 것 같았다. 시간이 너무 오래 지나서, 그 기억에게 묻고 싶은 것도, 궁금한 것도 없었다. 그래서 난 그날 사진을 남겨두지 않아서 내심 안도했다. 기록의 부재에 기꺼이, 몇 번이고 마음을 놓았다.

Our Apricots Held Summer

Poem June 18, 2018

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Few summers ago we held the tree close

Its trunk against our chests, its warmth rose

to our toes, our fingers, and our flushed cheeks

in a way that left us helpless and weak

then painted our skin in bright mellow shades

of orange, soft pink, lavender and bade

us such fond afternoons. What we loved most

though were the apricots the tree had lost.

We eagerly plucked the fruit off the ground

held them handful in our hands, round and round

in our pockets, our palms and in our homes

and carry them everywhere, even to foams

of our bathtubs. We carried their fresh green

and deep orange and light red – their skin clean

like the sun bursting into many rays.

We kept the sun in our hands, so it stays.

 

When the summer was over the tree bore

nothing, except autumn-stained leaves and more

warm fuzzy feelings that longed for traces

of the cicadas but only braces

us for impending wasteland of December

branches. But we will always remember

the warmth the apricot left on our palms

the sweet scent of the fruit that made us calm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

비가 오는 길

Korean June 16, 2018

그의 말에는 어떠한 힘이 있었다. 그리고 그녀는 비가 오는 날이면 어김없이 그를 생각하곤 했다. 단순히 비가 오는 날에만 그와 대화를 했기에 그가 생각나는 것이 아니었다. 어쩌면 그의 어투에서는 마음이 주륵주륵 흐르고 있어, 가랑비가 오던, 소나기가 오던 그를 연상케 하는지도 모르겠다. 빗소리 사이에 숨죽이는 가느다란 목소리가, 노래 부르듯 잔잔한 그 목소리가 계속 마음에 울렸다. 게다가 기억이라는 게 제 마음대로 되는 것이 아니라, 매개체만 있다면 곧이어 그 시간이 따르는 것일지도. 그녀는 그랬다. 비가 오면 그만이 아니라 그를 향하던 그녀의 눈길까지 생각이 났다. 누구를 봐도 감히 따라할 수 없는, 그를 보는 눈길이. 어떤 방향이 있는 것도, 특정 방법이 있는 것도 아니었던 눈길이었다. 그의 부재엔 감히 따라할 수 없는 그 눈길을 그리는마냥 떠올렸다. 그렇다고 비가 오지 않는 날에 그의 생각이 나지 않는 것도 아니었다. 오히려 있어야 할 것이 없어진 듯, 그 사무치는 빈 공간에 그의 생각을 더욱 꾹꾹 눌러 담곤 했다.

 

Only the Sun Gives Solace

prose June 30, 2017

There is no clear demarcation of the sky. The soft pink of the setting sun that sits on the edge of summer meets the garish blue that once engulfed the city entirely. The concoction of the colors creates a smudge, a blur of light that ripples throughout the vast expanse of the sky. The sun melts into a sort of soft, mellow purple that spills onto every patch of land and every handful of water. The sunset offers solace to the weary-hearted, the lost, and the sorrowful. It keeps their words and sends them echoes through the waves that return as gentle crashes against the bridges, the wind that sweeps past the green leaves that herald the arrival of summer, and footsteps with soles scratching against the cold surface of the asphalt. The worn out travelers return to the sunset like moths around a flicker of lamplight, desperately seeking for a slumber-like consolation, a sort of reassurance. Their words are swallowed, rarely spoken back, but still comforted.

Today’s Recommendation: Chaconne- Yiruma

 

Every Inch Closer to Home

prose December 1, 2016

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The bus often rumbled and shook when it drove over the pebbles on the ground. Hana frequently bounced from her seat and the wind ruffled her neatly combed hair, like the willow trees that swayed whenever the breaths of the season touched their leaves. She touched the yellow window pane, and traced her way back to her hometown. Hana remembered everything: the wheat field that enclosed the town, the smell of old grass, and the occasional hot puff of wind that blew onto her face. It had already been nine years since she left her home, and she had always felt uncomfortable at the thought of home, but the previous Sunday when she spent the night indulging in cold pretzels and apple soda watching late night soap dramas, she came across a dusty box under her bed that she had not been opening since she moved into her new apartment- that was eight years ago. It just had to be that moment when her empty can rolled under her bed, and that box just had to be the first thing that her fingertips touched. The box was full of letters, letters from ten, twelve, fifteen years ago. Many, many letters with handprints, ink stains and teardrops. That particular unopened letter she slipped into her bag held such an old, compelling sentiment that she could not ignore.

Why she was returning, Hana did not know. Home now, was a nonexistent place. Even the very moment where she sat by the window and the bus started driving across the old town she doubted her decision and often questioned herself if she should alight and board the bus back to the city. She could barely forget the imprints of the memory on every footsteps made in the grounds of this town. Every inch she got closer to home, the letter in her bag felt heavier, and it made her anxious that she had to grip onto the handrails of the seat. And when the bus broke down and the driver told the passengers that they had to walk to their destinations, Hana might even have relieved a bit. It gave her more time to think- and more excuses to return to the city. It was a summer midday, and the hot air that rose from the ground made her sweat- though she wasn’t sure if those sweat was from her anxiety or simply the hotness of the weather. She hoped the latter. Hana took timid steps into the long path; the scent of the unripe wheat and grass filled her nose. At dusk the sun would melt into the wheat, with the golden light splashing onto every patch of the land. She remembered walking up the hill with Rosie, and watching the sunset every afternoon, and rolling down the hill after sharing a joke or two. Hana held her bag close to her; she felt like she could even touch the letter neatly folded between the pages of her diary. The letter that brought her home. The letter written by her sister before she died.

Frankly speaking, Hana was not aware of the presence of the letter until the very moment she spilled the box of old letters onto her floor, and only after the box was empty she found an unopened one among all the others. The words To Hana was vivid on the envelope. Below those words was another sentence; instead of the address, Rosie had written, from home, where everything is alive. Hana didn’t know what she meant, and she figured that she would never find out surrounded by murky waters of the sewer and tire-stained asphalt: so she decided to return home. Hana would see for herself, what remained alive, in the house that no one stayed. To Hana, the word home felt so distant that it felt as if her home did not exist in the first place. Home, she spoke. The word slipped from her lips into an awkward sound that dissipated into the air. Home, she repeated. The second time she could barely hear her voice. Hana stopped walking; she wondered if she should continue her journey. What was the point of returning to a place where everyone had left? Hana thought of turning around and catching a town bus back to the nearest subway station, and rewatching the fashion shows she had missed out the last night. And she thought of the letter. The unopened, unanswered letter. At least someone has to answer the letter. It was an unspoken rule within the household. All letters have to be answered. Dad first suggested it. They shared words on paper when they were either too embarrassing to be spoken aloud, or too harsh, like “your breath stinks, please brush your teeth in the morning.” It was just a game at first, but at one point, it became a ritual between the family, and they would always end off with “with all my heart”.

Hana stopped by the old road that leads to the empty grounds where the town fairs used to be held. If she walked left, she would reach the empty ground within a quick fifteen minutes. Probably ten if she quickened her pace. But Hana merely paused for a moment and stared at the grounds that appeared as a blurred smudge from a distance. There were days when the carnivals were in town, and on heart-soft whim, Dad would drive the three of them to the fair, and they would spend the sun-soaked afternoon wandering the fairgrounds- between stalls selling popcorns and hotdogs, and behind clowns that performed tricks with balloons. Hana would hold Rosie’s hand, though mostly being tugged by her to wherever her caprices guided her. Hana stood by the fences, and recalled the first time she had bought Rosie a caramel apple. She handed her little sister a candy apple with sticky brown caramel wrapped around the skin of the apple, and watched as Rosie carefully studied the apple. It’s sweet, she had suggested, and Rosie took a tentative nibble. Hana remembered laughing at the sight of Rosie’s eyes widening as she giggled with delight. They were both smiling at each other, one flushing with wild joy and one soft with many unsaid things, just close enough to infinity.  Hana wondered how they would have looked like from a distance as she continued walking toward the old home. That night Rosie had written to her that she would have brought home thousands of candy apples, and Hana wrote back she would have, too. Hana decided not to stop by,  because it would make her sad to see all the hustle silenced down to specks of dust and wasted dreams.

Hana was getting closer to her old home, and she often had to stop to reconsider her decisions. The town had begun to reveal itself to the returning dweller, and Hana was nauseous as she glimpsed at the red roof with fading colors on the highest ground of the town. The signpost read the town’s name in light paint that was barely visible with the time’s passage. Hana stood uncomfortable below the signpost. It creaked slightly when Hana leaned her arm against it. It felt like it was going to topple over in any second. It was pretty strong years ago, though. Dad had kissed them on their cheeks, at that very spot, with high hopes of finding a better opportunity in the city. He had a brand new hat and suit that matched the color of his tie. He was smartly gelled, shaved and brushed. Mom had wiped his shoes bits to bits the previous night, that it glistened under the sun as he took a step further away from the town. He said in a bright, hopeful tone that he would write them every day, and take them to the city as soon as possible. Hana was never sure when that ‘soon’ was, but she waited. Mom read his letters to them in their bed every day, and Rosie drew petunias, Mom’s lemon pound cakes and Hana’s mufflers- everything she could find. Dad said he missed home, and Rosie wanted to send him home. The letters stopped arriving; in the end, he did return, but simply as a news that travelled all the way to the small, old town.

Hana stepped into the town. The town was now a barren wasteland, with no life evident on the streets. Not even the rats that lived in the sewers peeked into the daylight. Hana disliked the silence that filled up every corner of the town. Just years ago Hana heard a cacophony of high and low-pitched voices rising from every visible parts of the streets. The silence in the town made Hana wince at the disparity it had caused. Only her footsteps echoed back to her. Only the streets and the shrubs that grew by the paths welcomed the time’s waters, and what stayed were the vestiges of unfulfilled yearnings. Hana passed by Mrs. Whittaker’s bakery, where Rosie saved her nickels in a jar to buy her favorite raspberry tarts. Hana remembered gardener Joe, whose wife Mary was a florist who lovingly handed Rosie a rose or a daisy. Rosie had taped a fallen petal onto the letter she wrote to Hana that day, and Hana was sure that letter was somewhere in the box, though the petal would have dried and withered. That day Mary had told Rosie about Provence’s lavender fields where waves of purple stretched till the horizon that even the sunlight looked purple. Rosie scribbled her letter in purple, and said she would ask Dad to take them all to see the purple sun, when he came back. Hana recalled not being able to write about the lavenders, because she knew Dad would never return, and there would be no one to take them to Provence. She only said someday they would get there. Soon, someday, one day. These words held meaningless promises of reunion that no one kept.

Hana walked past the houses that no one resided in anymore, and stood before the familiar red-roofed house with ivies invading every hole between the bricks on the wall. She hesitated for a good amount of time, nearly turning her footsteps twice. The letter in her bag held her back every time; it seemed to call her back home, a home that was no longer home. She walked, into the doorsteps that she had promised herself she would never return. She had watched the departure through the very doorstep she had just passed, and she had to frown to stop herself from crying. Hana walked through the hallways; the air reeked of old wood, and it felt stale, as if from another era. Hana imagined Rosie sitting by the fireplace, writing her letters with terrible, squiggly letters. She walked by the grandfather clock, which that stopped ticking ages ago, and climbed the spiral stairs slowly, pressing her foot onto each step she made. Somehow her heart felt fleeting and wandering- lost. She stopped before Mom’s room. Hana had expected her room to be locked, just like the day she left the house, but it was open. The doorknob felt hot in her palms. When she stepped into Mom’s room, a faint stench of alcohol brushed her nose. Alcohol bottles were strewn on the floor haphazardly. Hana took a step back and held her breath. The day Dad’s letters stopped arriving, Mom locked herself in her room, and refused to come out. She could never take it well, because she became utterly cold when Dad was mentioned, and Hana understood. It was never easy to let love hide from your sight. Hana prepared all the meals and left the trays outside her room, and only occasionally were they emptied. She slipped letters through the small space below the door, but the letters were always unanswered.

Hana sat on Mom’s bed, and dust rose into the mid air like snowflakes. Something rustled beneath her old bedsheet, and Hana uncovered some unwritten, some unfinished letters beneath it. Some simply had Dear Rosie or Dear Hana; some had two lines, and some had none. Some was just signed off, With all my heart. One, buried deep under the pillow, was dated back to days after Hana had left: it said sorry. She wondered what Mom had been thinking all those years, locking herself up in solitude, refusing to let anyone into her own space. Until the very last moments in her house, Hana didn’t get to see Mom. Did she leave the house in the end? Hana didn’t expect Mom to find her. Hana closed her eyes and took a deep breath; the faint stench of alcohol floated in the air. The day Rosie caught a bad cold, Hana had knocked onto Mom’s door, telling her that they needed to bring her to the doctor. It was the worst winter they had experienced in years, and the blizzard was devouring everything into its bleak white gulf. Hana was pretty sure Mom had heard it, because she heard rustling inside her room. Hana fed Rosie a spoonful of old cold syrup and a lemon drop, and told her bedtime stories until she fell asleep, cocooned in Hana’s embrace. In the morning Rosie’s fever worsened, and so did the blizzard. Nothing could be seen beyond the porch, and at least, Hana then thought, with Mom’s car, they could drive Rosie to Mr. Williams’s, the town doctor. The knocks turned into desperate bangs, and echoes that returned to Hana unanswered. Hana stood up and walked over to the door. She ran her fingers against the door, and imagined what Mom could have thought then, when Hana cried for help. Help, Mom, Hana whispered. Her voice escaped her throat as a thin whisper, still an unanswered echo.

Hana clutched the letters in one hand- she could only guess now what those letters meant to say, but she wished Mom had finished writing those letters and opened her door on that day, few years back. Hana held the doorknob and collapsed to the floor, just like the day she fell, on the other side of the door. She had screamed that she would wait for Mom to come out and take care of them. She cried all night that day, and she did check on Rosie once in awhile, but when she returned to Mom’s room, she fell asleep by her locked door. Hana was barely fourteen, and Mom was just very sad. That night the blizzard wrapped its hands around every household, breathing onto the roofs and engulfing all presence of warmth. And Rosie was very, very sick. Hana cried, recalling all her last moments in this lonely home. Winter put everyone into a long sleep, and it was as if Hana was the only one awake amid the cold snowstorm. As soon as the winter ended that year, Hana ran away from home, cursing that she would never return. Now she wasn’t sure if it was anyone’s fault, but even when she was away from home, she often thought of home. She thought of Dad staying home, in his humble pajamas instead of smart suit, and she thought of Mom opening her doors wide, and thought of herself and Rosie running into her embrace, with her arms enfolding around her mother’s waist. She thought of her sister running in the wheat field, her gold locks dancing in the air as the sun splashed its lights onto them. This, she thought as she held the old rusty doorknob and opened it, this is where it ends. Hana carefully unzipped her bag and opened her diary, gingerly slipping the envelope from the pages of her diary. She tore it slightly, and opened the envelope. A small, colored paper fell from the envelope.

Dorothy walked along the yellow bricks to find her home. If all the paths Hana walked were the yellow bricks, where was her home? Hana unfolded the colored paper that fell from the envelope. Inside was a drawing, carefully decorated and colored with crayons, of Mom, Dad, Rosie and Hana by their red-roofed house. They were all smiling and holding one another’s hands, looking very, very happy. On the back Rosie had written: Hana, this is a present for you! I hope everyone comes back soon and we’ll all be happy together. Home, home, where everything was alive. Hana held the drawing close to her chest. She could almost feel the slightest sentiment of warmth lingering on the paper. As Hana held the letter close to her; she tried to imagine Rosie speaking to her about their beautiful red-roofed home with Mom baking cakes and tarts every weekend and Dad reading them books. She reminisced them sitting by the fireplace with hot chocolate in their hands, speaking of all the small sparkling things that happened in their lives. She recalled all the letters they shared overnight, reading and reading them as the night deepened. All the days and nights where they spoke of hope. Hana thought about the day Dad left and when only his brand new silk hat returned, and when Mom started building her own solitary cave. Hana stood outside her door, speaking to the door that never answered back, Then she remembered the pile of letters in Mom’s room, her unwritten letters of apology. Hana could almost see the hesitant fingers hovering above the empty papers, chasing the time that had already passed by her, leaving ink blotches on the bed. The thousands of unspoken, untouched words that finally echoed back to Hana’s unanswered letters. For all these time Hana had been running away from home, chased by the ghost of the past. And when she finally turned around after years and years, the ghost was nowhere to be seen. Hana wished she had stopped halfway to turn around earlier.

Hana turned to the final station of her destination. She stood by the door that led to Rosie’s room and held her drawing close to her palms. The room smelled of old vanilla and lavender, two of Rosie’s favorites. The room was still and preserved, as if time hasn’t resided in that room since Rosie left Hana. It was exactly like the day Hana left, with Rosie’s box of crayons still by the corner of the room and her wooden horse on the other side, gently moving from side to side as wind blew. It felt as if Rosie was waiting for her the entire time, throughout the years that passed and Hana yet distant from home until the very moment Hana stepped into the doorsteps of her room. Hana stood in the middle of the room, and each step she took creaked from beneath the wooden floor. Hana took a deep breath as she held the drawing even closer to her palms. Rosie, Hana spoke. Her voice echoed in the room; a summer breeze tickled her cheeks, as if Rosie was answering to her calls. Hana closed her eyes as the breeze brushed against her eyelashes. I’ve finally come home.

Full- Pensées d’amour

prose October 19, 2016

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Today’s Recommendation: Bruch Romanze, Op. 85, for viola and orchestra


Their conversations were a pocketful of love songs and serenades that filled the night with sentiments of yearning. He spoke to her with his voice muffled under blankets that they have used to build a fort, softened under the sound of radio playing old country music, and she whispered to him back lovingly; they built bricks around their forts and only the flickering lamplight could intrude in their space. Their words embroidered the night, each minute and every hour colored with indecipherable codes of love that only they could decipher. Time was meaningless; clocks seemed to have paused their machinery as they shared their words, and the hands of the clock told their story captured in each second. They held their time in their words, and even Father Time himself could not have stopped them.

He sought for her whenever she swept the streets like the lost wanderer in a barren wasteland, and caught her as she fell into her own fits of troubled thoughts that engulfed her. She was somewhere far, sometimes, and he had to bring her back from her reveries like a child would catch his butterflies in the prairie. Yet he savored each moment, and thought time was worthwhile with her, even if it meant that he had to stand behind a step behind her, holding her as she fell into the hollow abyss of nothingness. They always had a presence of absence between them, and knowing that, they tried to fill up the emptiness with words, more words, and words to blow thoughts into each moment, so as time passed, they would keep each moments, imagining themselves as Arabian bandits with treasures in their hands.

When she wandered, lost in her thoughts, he spoke to her about the colors of the sunset- the wisp of oranges, the locks of soft lavender within cranberry reds. She would then look up to the falling sun, the golden pupil of a closing eye, and tell him she loved the sunset too. When the golden eye of the sun fell and the shades of melting blue and deep purple was blown into the sky, she would lift her arm and wrap her fingers around the moon, telling him that she would catch the moon for him, and he would laugh, again and again. His laughter would then mix with hers, and they would look at the same moon, a pearl in the vast sea of deep hues of blue, and feel each other’s warmth right beside them. The sunset to moon-watching was all they did, but the time melted in the moon they watched was what made it precious.

Some nights they were never together. She would break herself from the space they have created and lock herself in her own vault of dark secrets, spending the night alone in that small, confined vault, reminscing her misery and sorrow all over again. He somehow knew he could not pry the vault open, only trying would break the vault, and her. He waited by the cold, unfeeling vault all night, telling her his thoughts of love. He was never really sure if she could hear him from the deep bottomless pit of the vault, but he tried nevertheless. He spoke to her about the sparrow’s aubades and the nightfall’s afterthoughts, and she listened, even if she couldn’t hear him from the vault. His voice was muffled and soft, and his words reached her like lumps of unclear tune, but she closed her eyes and listened anyway, as if listening to the callings the ivories of the piano make.

Some deep nights when even the clouds have smudged the littlest traces of the moonlight, she would scream and curse for him to leave, her voice piercing through the night’s cavern of silence. And as he told her all the stories and tales of the history he knew of, he realised that they were standing precariously on the edge of the cliff, their toes touching the ends of the rock- one small move would pull them both into the blue hands of the sea, into depths of the unknown where lost, weary-hearted sailors would end up. The sea was the end, and he knew that she, left breathless from all the storms she had been through, would very willingly throw herself into the undending space of blue. The thought saddened him; so before she could, he let himself into the blue ripples of the sea, sinking down and below the singing seagulls and sobbing clams.

Father Time has gathered times and seasons, and the hands of the clock travelled as if they were catching up for the time they had missed. Some nights she recalled him in her dreams, standing on the cliff, waving to her as the summer’s breath brought him to the sea. Then she remembered that they sat on the summer’s end, whispering endlessly of the old tales. When she woke up she felt the coldness in the empty space of the bed, wondering if the bed had been that big. Days she spent by the sea were meaningless, waves that came crashing up the shimmering sand tickled her toes and her fingers swept through the cold waters but he would never know. She knew though, that he wouldn’t want her to follow him into the deep blues of the water. So she stayed on land. He was in the sea, and she was on land, touching the dead ground: only time was between them.

Procession of the Cherry Blossom

prose October 11, 2016

These days I’ve been busy working on a new novel. I am writing in three segments, each in a different perspective, and that, I suppose, is a challenge for me. This particular short fiction I wrote was for a school assignment, whereby I had to expand on a single memory of something. Korea has magnificent cherry blossom flowers in spring, and I remember standing between apartment buildings, the paths surrounded by cherry blossom trees, with its pink flowers filling up the entire space. It was a pretty impressive scene for me, so I decided to write on that.

Today’s Recommendation: Bruch- Romanze for viola and piano


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Every passing moment Sophie would recall a remnant of the past, distinctly lingering in her mind as if Father Time was telling her to cherish that particular piece of time. Some odd dawns she would wake up, thinking about the scene that had been repeating again and again in her past night’s dreams. Sophie could never forget: she would find herself on the asphalt barefoot, amid two paths endlessly lined with cherry blossom trees. She would look up, and the soft pinks and cranberry reds of the flowers would revolve around her head, some drifting to the spring’s winds and falling to her palms. It was as if the whole world had been painted pink, or drenched with pink; even the sun seemed pink, as if carefully wrapped its daylight around each and every petals of the pink flowers. When she woke up from incomprehensible dreams every morning, she would look out of the window- at the barren wasteland that the blizzards have brought- and think about the petals of the flowers that cannot be felt.

Sophie thought about the day when the cherry blossoms had engulfed Nana beyond her world. Nana was a woman of spring. She was a woman who picked up strewn flower buds on the side of the streets and hold it in her hand as if it was a precious gem. She was a woman who linked flowers with her nimble fingers- dandelions and cherry blossom petals- together to make flower crowns for her grandchildren. She was a woman who held her youngest grandchild close to her under the falling blossoms, and telling her stories about fairies who painted colors on the petals of flowers every spring. She was an epitome of everything spring could be: warm, soft, and loving. Sophie remembered that she smelled faintly of elderflowers. She would cocoon herself to Nana’s embrace, and choke herself with the scent of elderflowers from her knitted sweater; now Sophie could barely recall the scent, not even a slightest bit. But she was a woman of spring; Sophie reminded herself as often as her memories let her, because that was all that was left of Nana.

Nana took her last breath as the light breeze of spring brought cherry blossom flowers by her window. When Mama opened the windows, the wind blew its sighs into the room and the petals that had been stuck to the windowsill swept into the room, floating around Nana’s frozen face. The concoction of the scents of blooming spring flowers rushed into the room, and for a moment Sophie had thought that she could smell elderflowers too. The cherry blossom petals that the wind carried into the room soon fell by Nana’s side- by her unmoving fingers and unsmiling lips- and Sophie glanced at the red-rimmed eyes of Ralph and Ana. She knew that they were recalling the same moment as she was. Sophie, as well as Ralph and Ana have seen it; when they were much younger, when time had not been too relentless on them, Nana always took her three grandchildren for cherry blossom watching in the spring, and often had morning tea under the largest cherry blossom tree in the neighborhood. Each time, she would place her flower-embroidered handkerchief on the grass, and place her small teapot of green tea onto the handkerchief. Nana then offered the three children a cup each: Ana, being the eldest and the wisest, held the cup gracefully and sipped it, Ralph spilled some onto Nana’s handkerchief, and Sophie held her cup with two small trembling hands. And they would watch the sea of soft pink and red in the trees, endlessly dancing and dancing midst the air. When Nana had finished her tea, she would rise and talk a brief stroll under the cherry blossoms. Standing amid the flowers, she would close her eyes and let the falling petals gently land on her cheeks, letting the trees spill their colors onto her.

The cherry blossoms had taken Nana away, and only the three children, who grew up to be adults with few words, were left behind. Only the passing time had brought them together, and led astray from one another; none of them spoke any word. Sophie, Ana and Ralph often exchanged glances throughout the whole funeral. Sophie saw Ralph’s lips moving an inch, as if he was about to say something, but no words slipped from his lips. They remained by Nana’s grave until the sun began to set and the golden pupil of the sun began to close. The cherry blossoms fell on the neatly-clipped surface of Nana’s grave, and somehow Nana felt as if she was around once again. The warm and loving lady of spring. Only when hues of deep blue and purple were blown into the remaining shades of daylight Ana left, then Ralph did too. No word was shared to the end, and it saddened Sophie to think that they have entirely drifted away. Sophie watched the soft pinks and reds on the branches of a cherry blossom tree that hung over Nana’s grave. Everyone has left, and only the cherry blossom remained- that was all.

Many springs had passed, and as the first greening of the grass heralded spring’s arrival along with a glimpse of colors that soon carpet the green everywhere, Sophie would return to the land where vestiges of her past still lingered. It has become an unspoken promise over the years, and she would return to dwell upon her past for a short moment. With spring many flowers bloom, each marks another splash of color and life in the canvas of nature: snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, forsythia, irises, apples and cherry blossoms. Sophie would stand under the streets of cherry blossom she once walked with Nana, watching the dancing blossoms touch her two cheeks and to her palms; seven springs have passed since Nana had been there beside her, and she was now the one noticed by the passing seasons. Sophie would return nevertheless, for Nana who would still be standing in the world drowned by mellow pink and faint red, under the dancing cherry blossom flowers.