I am showing my new name!

Funny thing, the way people seem to match the names their parents gifted them.

I was born with no name. Just like all of you.

“Oh, you must be Anne!”

“Oh, you need to change your name to Angeline…”

“Are you Annie?”

 

No. I am none of those. I am, in fact, Cordelia.

Cordelia.

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“Rocket Ships And Internet” Written by A Dreamer

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I wish I could find a place for me

Somewhere I could just be me

Butterflies and raindrops in the air

Everything all good and right and fair


But the world that I live in

Is war-torn and bleeding

The people are screaming

Save me now

Save me now

Chorus

Rocket ships

And internet

Beautiful people

And it’s all pretend

Take my hand we’ll

Run away

Into fairyland

Where it’s all romance


I wish I could fly above the clouds

Under the cover of midnight’s shroud

Taking my time oh it’s so grand

Soaring so high above the land


But the house that I live in

Is all plastic and filling

And the water is running

And somewhere an animal is dying

Save them now

Save them now


Chorus


Bridge

Take me and everybody

Somewhere safe

Somewhere lovely

We’ll swing from tires

And bathe in streams

Living on stardust and dreams


Chorus

Click here to listen to the tune. Take care. ❤

You Are Unseen Royalty

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I am princess, just like many of you (or a prince, if you’re male; princes can be just as lovely and noble, contrary to storybooks where they do nothing but miraculously save the day).


I was not born in a palace. I did not grow up in marble hallways paved with porphyry, wearing silken finery, with pearls in my hair and a pond of precious fish inside my bedroom. I did not, and still do not, live in a world, where suffering does not touch me. I do not go to balls, or have servants waiting on me hand and foot. I am not beloved, in the way beautiful, wealthy and important people are. There are no handsome suitors, waiting in a line for my hand.


But I know I am a princess, nonetheless. Even if all my hair and teeth were to fall out, and my skin to become wrinkled, if I stumbled through the streets in nothing but rags, if all the world burned and raged, and I lay amongst the ashes, nursing my wounds, I would know, with roaring ferocity, that I am, and always will be, a princess.


Because this is what it means, to be a prince, or a princess.


It means not to be wealthy, but to give your wealth to the needy.


It means not to be outwardly beautiful, but to be kind, a kind of unseen beauty.


It means not to live in a home that is like a wonderland, but to have a wonderland living inside your mind.


If you are able to dance to beautiful music in the dark, to stand on a balcony and throw your arms out and smile; if you are able to stroke an animal, and love it; if you can look at an orphanage, on the news, online, and feel nothing but a desire to help the children; if you are the man or woman who sits by themselves near the window and curls up with a good book to float away into the clouds; if Disney movies and childhood films take your breath away; if you are the kind of person to risk your own life to go back into the danger zone to save someone else; if you are an artist, who creates dreams using paintbrushes and pencils, if you believe in magic, and see it everywhere you go—
—then you, my friend, are royalty. You are blessed. You are a prince, a princess. You are beautiful. You shine like flowers in the sunlight. God looks upon you, and he cries tears of joy at your existence, at your exquisite, beautiful heart.


And it’s a funny thing. People who are truly princes and princesses, for most of their lives, never realise they are; usually, not until they get a bit braver, and stronger, more self-aware, and reach out to God in their adulthood, do they realise the beauty that shines from them.


Princes and princesses are not perfect. Like everyone, we commit sin, by which I mean, any act which makes us, after its completion, feel disgraced, or ashamed, or afraid. Our hands are not spotless. Our mouths have not always spoken kind words, nor our minds. But no matter how dark, how dismal, how deeply we fell into hatred or jealousy, our hearts remained pure and lustrous as pearls.


The reason we take so long to realise our birthright is because, from the moment we were born, full of daydreams, sensitivity and hope, our light is attacked by the darkness of others. There is a lot of poison in the world, and all of it comes from the hate, pride, greed and insecurity within the hearts of other people. There is nothing an unkind person hates more than seeing someone else showing kindness; nothing a conventional person hates more than unconventionality; nothing a cowardly person hates more than seeing another being brave; nothing an unimaginative person hates than seeing another bleed creativity from their veins; nothing an unhappy and miserable person hates than someone who seems to have nothing, yet is able to smile at the sight of flowers on the grass; nothing a person who gave up on their dreams and decided to follow society’s norms more than someone who lives boldly and bravely, pursuing their dreams to the ends of the earth, even if they die in the process; nothing someone who sees no magic in the world hates more than someone who seems to find it in everything and everywhere—


You are a creature of light. I say this in the hopes that you will not become egotistical, or self-righteous about it; you are a creature of light, in the way birds fly, and the sky is blue. You did not earn it. That is important. You were blessed with kindness, with the ability to be happy, to see beauty, to daydream, to love and to care for other people and animals. And for the longest time, you will feel completely insignificant and out of place, more bitterly lonely than some people can possibly imagine. A lot of the world is not bright. A lot of the people in this world, while they are beautiful, somewhere on the inside, have lost their light, and have been instead been consumed by darkness.


All those years you were trampled upon, bullied, neglected, abused, treated as stupid, silly, all those years of feeling “different”, left out—all of that, was because you shone too brightly for some people, reminding them of the light they had lost; all of the social persecution, hatred, jealousy directed at you today, is because there is nothing darkness hates more than light. You irritate those people more than anything else in the world, just by doing nothing except being yourself, by daydreaming, by expressing the gifts God has decided to give you, by feeling the happiness that you naturally let burst up from your heart. When people who have lost their light see that, they are so full of rage, and hatred, at themselves, that they seek to destroy you, believing that if they can just annihilate the light before their eyes, they will feel better about their own dark lives. What they don’t know is that darkness, if it destroys light, only becomes darker.


You are a prince. You are a princess. People may—and they will—tear the clothes from your back, whip you until you bleed, throw you into the pigs’ pen, leave you behind while they go to the ball and enjoy themselves, cast you into the wasteland of loneliness until you are in too much pain to even scream, until you lie, broken and gasping, naked and pitiful. Do not give in. The light inside of you will never abandon you. Don’t let people who seem to hate you, and put you down, for no reason, for being happy, for being creative, for being sensitive and kind, for daydreaming, for dancing to music or singing on your way to work, for following your dreams, for knowing you have, on some level, been blessed, gifted —don’t let a single one of them stop you from shining.


Royalty is not something you own, but something you already have, deep inside not a treasure chest, but a heart. You have been crowned, though nothing ugly and golden sits on your head, by the light and goodness that exists in the world; and no matter how much people who live in darkness loathe seeing a carefree, yet ordinary person walking around in a state of shining light, kindness, and a mysterious kind of happiness, a faraway look in their eyes, know that you are blessed, and that there is a kingdom where you belong, amongst angels and stardust.


Do not hate those who hate your light; that is a grave mistake that I make, and still do, because it is so easy to go on the defensive when others hurt you, and often quite badly, without knowing how delicate and sensitive you are; but do not hate them, in your hearts, because they are the ones who live in a dark world of pain that you have no knowledge of, that would make the wasteland they throw you into seem like a lush garden. Instead, let them hurt you, and walk on, stumbling a little, but stumbling towards the light, which is all that matters.

A Little “Doomsday” Prophecy

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There is a sight that I hate almost more than anything else in the world, and it is a strange one: that of a prospective parent, be it mother or father, holding their own biological baby to themselves, covetously, closely, greedily. Their body language says it all: this child is mine, look at me, I have made offspring, I have achieved a milestone in life. They are smug, and proud. They are loving, yet cruel.

Because as they hold that very same baby, in their nice home, in a first world country, over tens of millions of orphans exist around the world. Motherless. Fatherless. Starving, dying, getting raped, abused, exploited. Babies. Toddlers. Children.

Somewhere along the line—and perhaps this is a failing of humanity, or modern society in first world-countries—possessing children, giving birth, to one child, two children, or more, carrying that baby in your arms while a diamond ring sparkled on your finger, became a status symbol, like getting married, like owning a house, like owning a car, like going on holidays and splattering your social media with pretty pictures of your lovely, pretty life.

Here’s a little doomsday prophecy for you: in my heart, and in the minds and hearts of scientists and professors around the world, all is not well on Earth. And the reason for this is Overpopulation. Our planet simply has too many people on it. We are almost like ants, crawling over the planet, using up its resources, desecrating its lakes, its forests. I could throw a couple of statistics at you—for instance, that over 27,000 trees are cut down EVERY day to produce toilet paper for everyone around the world. Just think about that. With just that number, for toilet paper, something we use just to wipe ourselves after we go to the bathroom, entire forests are decimated every single year.

The wastage is indescribable. If Mother Nature could speak, she would be speechless with agony and pain. The amount of plastic, the amount of toxic waste, the amount of water consumed, fuel consumed, trees culled, rubbish thrown into the sea, poisonous fumes released into the air, is beyond comprehension.

Somewhere along the line, we forgot we belong to Mother Nature, that we came from God just like the trees and the lakes and the animals. Somewhere along the line, we decided to treat this beautiful planet as our very own playground, to be done with as we pleased.

Overpopulation. Millions of babies, being born everyday, at a rate far greater than people dying. Millions of forests, cut down. When you hurt nature, you hurt yourself. Do you have any idea how important trees are? I won’t go into the science of it—you already know that; they provide oxygen, they provide us with material to build houses and furniture, are homes for thousands of beautiful species of animals. But there is a spiritual aspect to trees you might not know about it. Place your hand against the trunk of a tree, and you will feel immediately at peace. The gentle strength of Mother Nature flows into you.

Bite into a juicy apple. Nature’s sweet gift flows into your mouth, your body, giving you strength. Drink some water, and clear, crystalline power of it enters your entire bodily system, refreshing you, healing you. Breathe air, feel the breeze, lie on the grass—all around you, Mother Nature is holding you close, telling you that you and Her are one. Look at yourself. Blood flows through your veins, you have skin, eyes, like any animal; you live on food that grows out of the ground, with the help of water and sunlight, like magic.

And I tell you that if Earth’s population doesn’t reduce soon, if we don’t start becoming a little more frugal, have less children and instead take care of the fatherless and motherless children that already exist, treat water as a precious commodity instead of something to be poured down the sink, consume less energy—

Then someday, many generations from now, a person will yearn to bite into some fresh fruit, and never be able to.

Someday, countries will go to war over water, something which we, who live in first world countries, get just by turning on a tap.

Someday, trees will be so few in number, the remaining ones will be guarded and preserved like national treasures.

Someday, millions of people will die, on a planet too polluted and broken.

Mother Nature loves you. She provides everything for you. Water, earth to grow food, trees that we can cut down, a couple here and there, to build shelter. But if we keep on taking until she is nearly dead, then we will die, too. We are like babies drinking our mother’s blood, instead of her milk.

I am afraid, and sorrowful.

Life Lessons In Your 20s: Smiling When You’re Sad

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I don’t know if many people have ever felt the need to look cheery and happy when in reality they are wailing and sobbing inside their hearts. Probably. I’ve never met someone in real life who has experienced such a feeling. They either smile to show they are happy, or look miserable to show they are sad, or if they have trouble hiding their sorrow but are desperate to do so, look down at the table or the floor. It’s something else, I think, to  smile as brightly as sunshine when you feel like a dead moon.
Funny thing is, though I can remember doing this several times during my life—smiling so wide I wondered if my lips were about to break and then ducking away into some dark and lonely corner tp cry my heart out—when I look back on the incidents that caused me to feel the need to twist myself into a contradition, I wonder why on earth I turned into such an emotional mess over nothing.
Well, in retrospect, it was nothing. At the time, it was everything.
My memories are vague. I think they were so traumatic my brain has actually tried to block them out. Isn’t that ridiculous? Other people block memories of the horrors of war, of horrifying occurrences like rape—and I block out silly moments of childhood and adolescence. Maybe I was just a vapid, little drama queen, desperate for attention, like so many young female teenagers in the world. Or suffering from some kind of deeply-buried childhood trauma I truly don’t remember. I actually don’t know.
I remember…
I remember seeing a boy I liked start loving another girl. Ouch. I smiled so hard that time, trying to make it seem like all was right in the world while was wrong inside of me, that I honestly think I twisted my soul out of shape and it hasn’t been the same since.
Another time…
Another time, I was extremely lonely. I think it was after my father exited my life. I was desperate for male affection. But I was too shy to go seeking for it—I was only seventeen, after all, and socially awkward. And when a friend of mine started dating a lovely, kind boy, I was so overwhelmed with bitterness and jealousy I had to put on my brightest smile as I gushed about this new development of her life with her. It felt like my eyeballs would fall out of my head from the strain. It’s not fair, I remember thinking, some people live such charmed lives, I can’t bear it. She had a caring father, who still loved his family very much. A tall and wonderful brother, so kind he once spent more than fifty dollars once just to buy her a tiny little memorabilia from a franchise she liked. A handsome boyfriend. A wardrobe of beautiful dresses. Beautiful and intelligent, gifted with the written word, lots of family and friends. Popular and adored. Her name echoed down the corridors of the school, spilling fondly from the lips of students who were greeting her or wanted to talk to her. I didn’t hate her. She liked creativity and words, just like me, and I could never hate someone like that. I think I hated myself.
One time, it was because someone else won an award I had been desperately wanting. I would have felt so proud, standing up on that stage. What made it worse, was that everyone thought I would get it. My entire class. But instead, a girl who had never treated me nicely got it instead, and she stood proudly next to another girl, both of them popular and well-liked. Extroverted and beautiful. Like lovely celebrities. And I stood in the crowd, in the shadows. It was the moment I realized sometimes being liked by people is more important for getting ahead in life than trying hard.
Another time, it was for a silly reason. I was nine, I think, and had my birthday party in the park. This was before the divorce. I had been given these strange and lovely balloons, all sorts of strange patterns and shapes. I wanted them all for my party, only, but my cousin started handing them out to other kids in the playground. Suddenly, my party wasn’t special at all, anymore. I remember feeling spiteful, filled with tearful rage. It was strange. I didn’t mind sharing things at school, or with my sister. For some reason, the balloons struck a nerve, but you wouldn’t have known it, looking at me, dancing and skipping on the way home.
I think if someone can see past your smile to the awful tears seeping like blood from a wound behind it, then they deserve to love you. If someone believes your smile when you are actually in agony, you should do yourself a favour and stop letting them fill your precious time.
I still have never dated anyone, I haven’t won any awards except for one writing competition four years ago, I forget my birthdays, I don’t lead the charmed lives some people do, all the men I have found likeable so far have had girlfriends or been married, I’m not the least bit popular amongst my acquaintances and still keep to myself a lot…
…but I am no longer unhappy. For years, I have never had to stretch my lips wide and crinkle the corners of my eyes in false happiness in front of anyone, when I truly want to scream out a neverending vortex of darkness. I think discovering God helped me. He soothes me all the time. Writing, daydreaming, movies and films, anime, music, studying—these fill my days, and make them bright, like the sun. I like to watch people, and the way sunlight slants through the clouds. I like animals and children. I like vegetables and fruits, they are nature’s jewels. I know everything will turn out okay in the end, even if it doesn’t, because God wilk always be there to catch you when you fall. I really believe that.
And the misery only comes once every blue moon, but when it does, I make sure to show my true feelings at the time.
Because the only one forcing you to smile when you are unhappy is yourself.
PS: I’ve recently realised how very INFP one of my main characters I write about is—she is often quite, and reflective, and full of shattered dreams. And in the end, instead of choosing love, to live happily ever after with her prince, she decides to sacrifice herself to save the world. A sweet flower, falling into the fire, so the forest won’t get burned. There is something so brilliantly romantic about martyrdom.

Fantasies INFPs Like To Have

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When you like to daydream more than I like to live in the real world.

  • Romantic fantasies

If you are a female INFP:

A romantic fantasy, for you, generally involves wearing something extremely pretty, and wearing a hairstyle you generally never wear in real life (or even know how to create), and bumping into a fantastically kind, handsome and beautiful stranger at a place where you are feeling lonely, sad and full of desire, who understands you completely. For instance, you are invited to a masked ball, and are insulted by some people—so you leave, in tears, to go and explore the rest of the mansion, and find yourself with a stranger in the library. But, really, as long as it’s swoon-worthy, anything goes.

If you are a male INFP:

Okay, as I have never met a male INFP in a real life, and am female myself, this is more guesswork and imagination. However, I believe male INFPs have romantic fantasies that generally involve watching a beautiful woman from afar, while quietly reading a book, and thinking they would never be interested in you—only to find out she has, in fact, noticed you quite a bit, and though she is outgoing and popular, she likes the same things you do, like reading and philosophy, and the two of you become close friends, then something more. A little less elaborate, to account for the differences in gender, but pretty much the same.

  • Heroic Fantasies

You save this [insert: cat, person, child, city, country, world, universe, flower, bee, mother, sister, father, friend, man, woman, table, chair, spoon] from being destroyed by destruction and evil, in front of everyone, risking your life to do so, cradling them to your chest with love afterwards, and are seen as a gracious, beautiful person by everyone forevermore.

  • Bad-Ass Fantasies

The definition of a “bad-ass person” is to be edgy, brave and outspoken in your words and actions. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what an INFP is. We are most of the time never bad-ass in our everyday lives, and if we ever do somehow manage to muster the strength to do be, afterwards we feel like we are having a heart attack and need to retreat into fantasy for several months. Fortunately, we have our imaginations, and female INFPs like to imagine themselves as women who fight foes with a kick of a high-heeled boot, and make others cower in fear with just a lift of a perfect eyebrow, while male INFPs might like to imagine themselves as quiet but dangerous types, who lean against walls and in shadows, ready to strike at any moment, such as suddenly appearing out of nowhere to grab an offending fist in mid-punch.

  • Friendship Fantasies

We’re not the most social or extroverted types—in fact, a lot of the time, we can be downright loners—and even for those of us who have some friends, they are often not completely to our liking—so what better way to find the perfect friends than to create your own, inside your own head, am I right, INFPs? No? These often involve being a part of a group or team in some fantastical world, like a military faction of a planet besieged by aliens, or a travelling party crossing through a desert on a magic carpet. Point is, these people are your perfect friends—kind, caring, brave and strong, who love and understand you, and together you go on adventures for all eternity. I may or may not have watched a little too much Fairy Tail.
Sensual Fantasies

Before you start asking me to put a PG rating on my blog posts, hear me out: I’m not referring to anything lewd here. Instead, for INFPs, it’s about pretending you are someone sensual and outgoing, not afraid to drape yourself over the handsome fellow who has caught your eye, or lure in a beautiful woman with your devilish wiles. Why? Because, to be honest, it’s very, very hard for INFPs to be alluring and sexy. Sure, we can be attractive, pretty or good-looking—but we’re only ever attractive and pretty in the way flowers or kittens are. Even if we made to look sexy—though take it from me, no INFP would ever willingly parade outside in the world in something horribly revealing that would draw unwanted attention, we don’t have the stomach for it—our personalities will never match up to it. Instead, we can only imagine ourselves being such daring people, a femme fatale, a player who gets a woman to fall in love with him in just a couple of days, with a wistful look on our face.

  • Kitten Fantasies

A old house with an attic and lots of stairs and secret rooms and doors—ENTIRELY FILLED WITH KITTENS.

‘Nuff said.

  • Magical Fantasies

I am a fairy, dancing in the moonlight, a child trapped inside a clockwork house, a princess who falls in love with a peasant boy, a star who comes to life…

…which year is it, again?

 

 

A Childhood Wonderland

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There are things inside my heart that have never seen the light of day, but are as gentle and miserable as a butterfly trapped inside a glass cage.

My yearning to return to the happy days of my childhood, a desire so powerful sometimes I feel as though I will be choked by my sadness. Bits of memories, that flash through my mind. Restaurant outings before my family split in two, laughing and talking around the table, walking home together under the stars at night. Days and nights spent at my father’s bakery, where I grew up, a tiny wonderland of delicious pastries and desserts. Fireworks against the sky. The feel of my father’s hands, the shape of his nails.

It all comes back to the happiest period of my life: a childhood spent inside a world of sugar and flour, fruit and egg, milk and chocolate. I tell a lot of people about my father being a baker, but no-one can truly understand how happy I was, living upstairs of that scrumptious establishment. Tasting the chocolate goodies and biscuits, eating them with a bowl of milk before bed. I would always choose the Chocolate Hedgehog, and my sibling the Happy Face, a biscuit dipped in chocolate, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and with Smarties for eyes, a chocolate mouth.

I would help my father clean the steel tables after he’d made pies, scraping away the flour, some of it hardened so it was extra tricky, and afterwards he would reward me with a bright, $2 coin. Under the kitchen tables, there were boxes filled with plastic sacks of dried orange peels or sultanas, which I would eat, gathering up a handful. At night, when the shop was closed, I would go out into the front, in the dim lights, with the display cases all filled with pastries and sweets and gently glowing, and my sister and I would play, pretending we were maidens lost in a forest, casting flowers out of her baskets onto the grass.

Vitamin C tablets in a jar on a wooden shelf, so tasty and acidic. The Mario games my father used to play, with the diligence of a mastermind, in between his work hours. Machines whirring deep into the night, rolling out dough, oven doors being slammed open and shut. Flour, everywhere. The time I stuck my tongue on some ice in the freezer because of something I had read in a book. The big freezer at the back of the bakery, filled with all the frozen goods, which my father always, jokingly, threatened to lock me up in, if I kept on misbehaving.

The snails I kept as pets. The rock sugar lollies, the gummy fruits. Watching my father decorate cakes, piping the icing into beautiful swirls, decorating them with his chocolate script, little carrot sprinkles and tiny silver balls. Cherries glazed in sugary syrup, which I found absolutely disgusting. Treats, delicious food, left, right and centre. The way he would play rock, scissors and paper with me, while I sat on the table, swinging my legs.

The make-believe games I played with my sister, using pencil cases to whack a balloon back and forth across the room, screaming “Lifesaver” if we hit a balloon upwards just before it touched the carpet. The endless movies and cartoons. Trips to McDonalds and KFC, coming back on the train. A shop that sold trillions of buttons in all different designs and shapes, as numerous as there are people on this planet, and fabrics in tall, towering posts. Lying in bed at night, and feeling the train passing by make the floor of the bedroom I shared with my sister gently rumble. The jelly my father used to always buy me, because he knew it was my favourite food.

You know, there might be a reason why I love fantasy so much. It’s because I practically grew up in one.

And then it all ended. It was like a room going dark. No, worse: it was like a busy house, full of colour and people, suddenly empty and grey. I was thrown from a beautiful wonderland into a cold, barren winterscape. One moment I was clothed, and alone in my room; the next, naked, and standing in front of a crowd of people.
I lost my father. Not in the physical sense, technically. He is still alive. If I wanted to, I could go see him. But he has changed entirely, in ways that are too traumatising for me to put into words. The last time I saw him, I felt like I was meeting a stranger, and the feeling—of loving someone so completely, and having them change like that—was nearly darker than anything I have ever felt before. I was a coin that had been flipped, and fallen into the gutter. I cried on the bus ride home, and then forgot about it. I didn’t even really know why I was crying. Crying because I had lost something, I suppose.

I will never have any of it back. I will never find it again. Not for as long as I live. Even if I forge a new life, full of my own magic and wonder, that tiny world of magic, of my childhood, is locked away, forever beyond my reach.

In this life, heartbreak is common. People talk about healing from heartbreak.

That’s not true. You never heal. Not for as long as you live. The people who say they get over things, like deaths and divorces, are lying, and probably in too much pain to admit it to themselves. Instead, you just keep walking around with the pain inside of you. Sometimes, you forget about it. In fact, most of the time, given long enough, it even seems to not even be there—you are laughing, joking. You are jubilant.

But inside, deep inside, where the pain is, there is nothing. And that nothingness will always be there, like a hole punched right through your chest. Like an empty treasure box. Like looking at some bones and a skull, and realising they were once a living, breathing person, just like you. Like burning books. It will be there until the day you die. And I say this as someone who has only suffered an unbelievably tiny fraction of the pain some people in this world and throughout history have.

So I guess it’s lucky we have God.

PS: Still unleashing my yearning for the lofty and idealistic by writing—am currently brewing inside my imagination a love story between two people set in a clockwork, Victorian world. It’s nothing original, but it sure is dreamy and satisfying. What I love most about stories, and books, is the last paragraph, or line. It has to be poignant—they fly off, ready for a new life—or tragic, the sun shines through a window and illuminates a music box, that will never be wound up again. Does stuff like that just make your heart spread its wings and shimmer?

 

I’m Not Evil…I Think.

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So. Dating has been on my mind recently.

And no, before you ask, I am not getting lonely, or desperate, or some needy combination of the two. With God in my life, and writing, and books, and anime, and films, and Youtube, and a potential cat and job in the age care industry in the future (did I word that correctly? The cat and the job are separate—though I would be glad to look after elderly people’s cats as well), and loving family members and a couple of (okay, I sometimes have to pretend I’m someone I’m not around them, but I’ve long ago realised that for creative, bookish people like me, who has yet to find another writer in her entire life, to maintain acquaintances and not seem cold and rude I have to put on a mask sometimes—and they’re more like acquaintances, to be fair) friends, I am not in a bad place. Anymore. Which is good.

Though everytime I feel myself getting a little too happy and hopeful with how things are going on at the moment, I remind myself that there are people in the world right now who are starving to death or have lost family members to murder and that shuts my overload of happiness right up. I don’t think it’s fair for some people to be so happy, while somewhere else in the world, someone is miserable enough to want to die. So, a tip: tone down on your own happiness, if you are fortunate enough to have it at the moment. Is that too pushy?

I ate chicken today. I hate eating meat, but sometimes my body just craves the protein, so I cave in. Today, while walking home, I passed these walls put up by the council around a building site, and they had been literally covered in pro-vegan slogans and writing, and recommendations to watch a 2005 film called “Earthlings”. I decided not to watch it. I can’t handle seeing any form of cruelty or pain. In the past, during moments of complete rage at people who I deemed had hurt me in some way, and pure malice, I did wish death on some people I had come across, but that part of me, after I have started to get closer to God, has been eradicated. Sometimes, I am surprised at how easily I could turn into a monster, if pushed far enough—never enough to actually hurt someone in real life, but enough to imagine hurting them. It’s a dark side of me that I am horrified of. That’s what comes of having a vivid imagination, I suppose.

Anyway. Back to dating. Last night, I prayed to God to wonder meet someone—yes, a romantic interest—who would fall in love with my creativity or something like that, and decide I am the light of his life, and keep me safe forever and ever. He would be tall. He would be Christian, and love God. He would like cats. Or just animals in general. He would be a writer. He would be creative. He has to be a fan of animation, whether it be Pixel or Disney or Studio Ghibili or anime. He should like books. Actually, make that a must. And then after that I prayed to get published, and then I prayed for a cat, and then I daydreamed a little, and then I fell asleep.

I’m sure you’re finding all this fascinating. This really is just a ramble, isn’t it, about my own little world. Welcome. What does the entrance of my world look like, you ask? Why, it is a fairy door, of course! A stone arch, covered in brambly white roses. Only the kind of heart can pass through, though a little darkness is allowed, of course. Otherwise it would be so boring. What was I talking about again? Oh, yes. Dating.

I actually figured out the most perfect way for a writer to meet someone. It would be for the two of us to find ourselves sitting next to each other in a library or on a train or some other public place, reading each other’s books. And I’d look up, and be like, “Hey, I wrote that,” and he’d look up, smile, and say, “Likewise.” And it would be the most romantic, to-die-for thing ever, because I am the kind of person who would die for my own writing (you think I’m joking, but if it was between my life and getting published, I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat, without batting an eye), and who would protect books and fantasy world inside books, animations and films, to my dying breath. It is the only place where I have felt truly happy, and belonged. So to meet someone that way—through books—is kind of a happily ever after for me. I calculate that the chances of it happening in real life are close to—the chance of everyone in the world deciding to stop eating meat even though it is available. Which are zero.

I don’t want to have babies. Ever. The world is overpopulated enough that having children, in my eyes, is a selfish thing to do. I want to adopt. Three children. But to do so, at least in Australia, I would need to have a partner. It’s not going to be easy. I love children almost as much as I love cats.

As for things like sex…well, everyone has hormones. We all got here somehow (excluding children who are born out of horrific circumstances, like rape). I suppose, under the right conditions, I would have the same urges as everyone else. But it’s not that important to me, because sex, like all physical pleasures, is incredibly short-lived. Sure, I’ve walked into a shopping centre or somewhere and thought—golly, he’s good-looking! Then, I take a closer look at him, at the way he talks or interacts with other people, and I realize, instantly, with my magic personality reading skills, that we would never be compatible. I worry, sometimes, that I won’t ever find someone who “fits” with me, psychologically. Still waters run deep.

My last post, about animations, anime and all sorts of stuff, is probably one of the best ways for someone to understand who I am. I am fantasy. Creativity. That’s it. There’s honestly nothing else. My favourite books in the world are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. And by favourite, I literally mean just imagining what happens in the books inside my head is enough to get me high with happiness. This is probably getting a little dull, but my passion for writing, for magic, is infinite. The only thing greater than it are things I care about, like the environment and family. Animals. I might not throw my books away for animals, unfortunately, or my mother (I am a hideous person, because the absolute truth is, since I don’t feel close to her, if I had to choose between publishing my own books and my mother’s life, I would actually find myself completely stuck and uncertain—and tempted to save the former), or a group of strangers who I have never had any contact with (honestly, if someone had to sacrifice my life just so their books could exist—I would gladly die for the greater good. I’m not kidding on this one. If my death, for instance, would have allowed Hayao Miyazaki to keep living, I would do so in a heartbeat.  And after I’ve published all of my books, of course, and only if the death is painless), but if it was a choice between my sibling, who I love more than my own life, or Mother Nature itself, who is everything to me, or Jesus, I would sacrifice my books (and by books, I mean the novels I’m currently working on).

I’m not a horrible person. I don’t think so. Maybe a little obsessed and egotistical. I just love books more than anything else in the world. And this might sound completely deranged (feel free to slap me in your mind), but when it comes down to it, I could imagine myself giving the OK to kill someone if they were going to do something horrible to my books, like use magic powers to erase all my books out of existence so that they were never published, never where even there. Just a random fantasy of mine.

This is what I was born for. To write. And I’m not even that good of a writer. I trust it all to God—everything, my future published books, my writing, my literary skills, my creativity. To hard work and practise. It is my purpose. Oh, and to do a heap of charity work until all my money is gone and I die of old age, surrounded by books and cats. All this is kind of hard to explain to people. Even when I tell the people closest to me that I must get published during my lifetime—or die, deep inside my soul, into an eternal blackness, the moment I take my last breath—they scoff, shrug, laugh it off.

It’s that important to me. Not because I want to be published and go, “Hey, I’m better than you, because I wrote these published books!” or for the fame, or for the money. I honestly believe my books need to exist, because they are very unique and pretty, and people have to have this burst of creativity God has gifted me.

Ha! And I promise I am not psychotic, or delusional, or plain crazy. I just know. I just know things. And I probably sounded really insane and evil in this post, spilling my thoughts out like this, so my dear dreamers, feel free to unsubscribe from your Dreamerrambling, who I am sure you all now believe is a demon.

Oh wait. This was meant to be about dating. In case you were wondering—a man who wouldn’t sacrifice his own life so my books would get to reach people is not a man I want in my life. Muahahaha.

Half of this post was tongue-in-cheek. I promise. I’m pretty sure I would sacrifice my own books in a heartbeat if it would save a pig screaming in fear from being slaughtered in front of me. Or a human being. It’s just easier, isn’t, if you can’t see it happening.

Chinese Animations, Anime, and old Barbie films

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I’ve been watching an anime recently, called “Fairy Tail”.

For those of you who have been living under a rock (sorry, that’s mean), anime is a kind of Japanese animation usually targeted at kids or young adults. It’s quite whizzy and wonderfully creative. There are all these wizards, who are part of a guild titled “Fairy Tail”, who go on all sorts of adventures fighting evil. The currency in the world is jewels, and each wizard has a unique ability; Lucy’s, for instance, is a young woman with the power to open doorways to let celestial spirits come through to the human world to fight on her behalf, Natsu is a dragonslayer who uses fire magic, and Grey an “ice-maker” wizard, who can block attacks with walls of crystalline ice conjured out of nowhere, and generate a multitude of ice-centred assaults. And there is Erza, of course, a lady with scarlet hair and fiery with determination, who can fight with a host of different equipment, re-equipping with the ease of a bird flying in the sky.
If my poor summary of the brilliant anime sounds a little appealing to you, I would recommend you check it out on Youtube; the first episode is HERE.
You know, it occurred to me that I have never really shared with my viewers some of my favourite animated shows, even though they form such a large part of my daily life and happiness.
I mean, there are the obvious ones, like the famous Hayo Miyazaki movies. But there are others, some of which many Western viewers may not have ever heard of, and which I grew up watching.
Alright, so here are some of my favourite animated movies (just click on the titles to get directed to the movies on Youtube): Barbie as Rapunzel, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, Barbie in Swan Lake, Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus. I know what you’re thinking—Barbie! As if I would ever watch anything so childish. But trust me, I grew up on these animated films, and they are literally works of art, that have age-old themes, such as the importance of bravery and kindness. Also, talking animals are always a good thing.
Oh gosh, I can’t believe how excited I am to tell you about these animated pieces of bedazzling beauty. Growing up, my parents also let me watch a lot of Chinese animations—we would put in this old-fashioned VCR, the animations were on CDs—and it really is a shame they are not more well-known outside of China. One of these is a short animation whose title, directly translated, is “The Snow Child”, though “The Snowman” would also work. HERE it is. Everything that happens is so easily understood you don’t even need to know the language to get what is going on. A little rabbit helps his mother to pick mushrooms. And a snowman comes to life. It is the most tragic, exquisite thing ever. My mum told me I cried watching it as a kid.

Another beautiful animation is called “Ne Zha Conquers the Dragon King.” HERE it is. Up until recently, I thought Ne Zha, the heroine of this story, a child, was a girl—but in fact, she’s a “he”, a boy. That was an unpleasant revelation for me—there’s a lot of Chinese animations about little boys, a reflection of the gender gap that still exists—but it made a good impression anyway; I mean, she’s a girl blessed with magic, who fights dragons, after all. And there’s a beautiful deer.

“Monkey King”, or “Sun Wu Kong”, who is the monkey in the film Journey to the West, is the old, original Chinese animation of the story, and it is absolutely brilliant. HERE it is, and it has English subtitles, and though this is only the first of many—it is a long journey—it was the only one I was really able to find on Youtube. I would upload them myself, but I have long lost my old CDs, which makes me very sad. It’s about this monkey who is bestowed with heavenly powers, has quite a mischievous and fiery-tempered personality, and decides to take on the entire heavens and its rulers all on his own. The music is astounding.

Mewmewpower is a Japanese anime about these girls who can, effectively, transform into cat-like people with superpowers. HERE it is. Honestly, typing that, it sounds rather lame, and the target demographic is young women, or girls (I watched it as a child), but it is still quite a pretty anime to look at.

Last of all is a Chinese animation series called “The Calabash Brothres”. HERE it is (seriously, just click on it for the opening music). Calabash means a type of gourd, and in this whimsical yet high-stakes story, seven boys are “hatched” out of calabashes each a different colour of the rainbow, each with different powers, to fight an evil monster who can transform into a serpent and takes on the appearance of a beautiful woman. The animation sparkles—literally, you’ll see what I mean—and the music is the kind of music that is beautiful but entirely different from anything around in Western countries.

It kind of kills me how little recognition these animations, especially the Chinese ones, get around the rest of the world—and the little widespread award recognition old Barbie movies and some of the beautiful animes floating around get—so please, do yourself and both the creators of these works, many of whom are long gone, a favour, and have a peek at some of them. They are too beautiful to disappear beneath the morass of modern day entertainment.

To be honest, sharing these animated shows with my readers is kind of the most wonderful thing ever, because they formed such a great part of my creativity and psyche. Without these movies and animations, my heart would be cut out. I would not be who I am. I would not be a storyteller. I would not be a writer. As I girl, I sat in a living room and sat glued to the screen, entranced by the magical worlds unfolding before my very eyes—and some part of me alresdy knew, at that point, who I would want to become.

My self-published short story: The Library of Owls

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Like all the owls, Sival was born in one of the many nests clustered in the attic of the library.

The first thing he clapped eyes on was a shaft of light lancing through a hole in the roof, golden and swirling with glinting dust motes. Its beauty shot through him like honey. He suddenly wanted to speak, to cry out, to share what he saw. But all that emitted from his beak was a feeble warble, which his mother, curled up exhausted next to the nest, took as a cue to cram a fleshy worm down his gullet, just a little too hard.

Sival choked, his first words stifled. Black despair poured over his initial wonder like tar. He spluttered. He gagged. He very nearly died. And so it was that when the other owlets ricocheted like tiny balls of fluff among the rafters of the attic, warbling to each other, Sival did not join in, and he did not make a sound. He only stared out the round window set into the wall beside his nest, a window that looked out on steam engines and carriages, well-dressed men and women, a riot of smoke and noise, none of it the least bit comprehensible, and thought his own thoughts.

To the elders, when Sival’s mother prodded him to their musty roost on the other side of the attic to shed some light on her son’s reticence, this was not a bad thing, this silence. On the contrary, it was a strength, for it would make him all the more easier to train.

Their training began in a backroom of the library. All the owlets chirruped with excitement at leaving the attic for the first time, but were soon silenced by the pearlescent gaze of the elders. That was the first rule they learned: talking during the day would now be forbidden. Even at night they were  only allowed to hoot softly to one another, so as to not get out of habit. One particularly mischievous owlet, upon receiving this ban, hooted at the top of her voice, the power of her cry nearly lifting her off her talons.

From somewhere in the library beyond the walls of the room there came an echo. A cry, exploding with fury, louder than anything the owlets had ever heard, or could make themselves. One of the eldest – the largest, and to the rest of the owlets the most frightening – flew over to the recalcitrant owlet’s side and slashed her across the face three times with his talons, leaving a cross-hatch of gashes seeping dark blood. The owlet trembled with pain, but made no sound. Those marks would eventually fade into scars, but never truly disappear, as a reminder to everyone of the consequences of making a sound.

Their training consisted of flying back and forth in that cramped, dusty room whilst trailing stone weights from their ankles. Day after day, they wove between old cabinets and files and abandoned chairs in utter silence, save the soft sussurus of twenty pairs of wings, while the elders watched on.

At first, as it always is when you try to do something new, it was difficult. Owlets twitched their little wings desperately, dipping and rising in their efforts to reach the other side, their beaks silent but their hearts screaming. Some made it only to collapse in a sprawl of feathers, unable to rise even when prodded. Still more fell out of the air like stones, spraining their ankles, twisting their wings. If any owlet made a sound, even a peep of shock, he or she received a sharp slash of talons.

Sival fell, again and again – sometimes he could not even rise into the air while weighed down with the stones. All that time spent with his beak pressed against the window had done little for his wing strength, and the same elders that had once viewed him as an object of potential now stared at him with blank disapproval.

At night, aching and exhausted, gazing out at the night beyond his window, the moonlight bathing his feathered face white, Sival wondered: Why? He could not fathom the reason behind their training. But he kept silent, as he had since the day he was born, and there was nothing to ask except the night and the moon and the stars.

As the days lengthened into weeks, the owlets grew accustomed to the weight of the stones, and began to fly back and forth across the room with ease, pinwheeling and zipping. Eventually even Sival could accomplish the journey with little effort. The elders nodded to one another. From then on, the weights were removed and replaced by books which they gripped in their talons.

For the first time they were allowed access to the library beyond the training room. Compared to the attic and the back room, it was simply enormous, with its towering shelves of books that reached all the way up to the raftered ceiling, row after row of them, and great lamps protruding from the polished wood-paneled walls, shining like tiny suns.

Here and there squatted a green armchair, while at the front of the room, near the beveled glass doors, squatted a low desk covered in rolls of curling parchment, as well as a inkwell with a sprig of black feather poking out of it. Sival surveyed all this with interest. In the language of the owls, there were certainly no words for “book” or “chair”, but all owls have keen eyesight, and all certainly possessed pictorial classifications for the objects they saw.

So when the elders taught them the various symbols to recognise on the spines of books, using a wooden board inscribed with them, it did not take the owls long to commit them to memory, and to seek out the correct books accordingly. The elders showed them strips of paper, upon which the symbols were arranged in various orders. They taught them tricks to get the right books, such as memorizing the first and last cluster of symbols rather than the entire row. And though it was never spoken, implicitly the owls knew that books were sacred things, only to be carried and never opened. They spent their first day in the library flying to various parts of the library to fetch the right correct books. Many errors were made at first, and the elders’ beaks tightened in distaste as book after wrong book were deposited at their feet by their tentative students.

It was here, however, that Sival excelled. His visual memory was excellent, and that very first day, after absorbing the layout of the library, he brought every book correctly, and the elders looked on with silent approval.

He was burrowing his head beneath his wings that night, filled with quiet, satisfied pride, when he heard a scuffling noise from the corner of the attic. Thinking it might be a mouse – they sometimes made nests in the walls – Sival padded over to investigate, only to find the source of the sound to be owls were bent over an open book, their necks jerking back and forth in inquisitiveness. Sival peered at the book, too. Neither paid him the slightest attention, accustomed as they were to the strange little owl who never spoke, and did not join in their games.

Hundreds of scratches, like the markings of talons on the attic walls, covered the pages. Strange. They looked just like the symbols on the shelves and the spines of the books, only multiplied a thousandfold. One of the owls gave a hoot of irritation, ripped out a page with her talons and stuffed it into her nest. The other followed. The sound of quiet tearing filled the attic. Sival returned to his nest, his sleepiness evaporated, thoughts broiling with those symbols. What did they mean? What were they? Who were they for?

Finally the day arrived. Why this particularly day was so important, no owl knew, but there thrummed in the air a sense of expectation none were immune to. The elders prodded the owl into the little niches set into the wall by the desk – like books, thought Sival, we’re like the books lined up on a shelf – and then the first creature came in, just like ones Sival saw strolling on the ground outside his window.

What a monster it was up close! So tall, so thin, and such strange, limp sort of wings, no feathers at all!  It stepped up to the walls of niches, reached out one arm; there was a soft clunk, as something fell through a slot in the ceiling of Sival’s alcove to land at his feet: a wooden stick, inscribed with symbols. Dutifully Sival bent his head and committed them to memory. Then he soared out into the dusty reaches of the library, eyes sharp and scanning for the right shelf, before depositing the book at the tall creature’s feet and nestling back into his niche. He watched the creature pick up the book and turn to the creature next to it and open his strange flat mouth and speak.

“I say Mr Offinal, you’ve got some damn smart birds in this library of yours.”

“Nothing smart about it,” replied the other creature, in an oozing voice that made Sival think of the slimy backs of worms. Its eyes looked different from the other one: they were obscured by round pieces of glass that glinted in the lamplight, the kind of material that made Sivel’s window. “They’re just well-trained.”

Whatever the creatures were saying, Sival could not understand it; it was all just a jumble of nonsensical sounds to him. But he watched as the one with glass opened the book, pointed to the pages, hooted some more in that slimy voice, and slowly an understanding formed in his mind.

Those scratches, somehow, were another way of speaking. Somehow, those scratches were the same as speaking, but on paper, preserved forever. He didn’t know how this thought occurred to him, but the moment he did, he knew that he was right. It was if another world had unfolded around him. To somehow communicate through these scratches, let others know what you were thinking – it was like magic! What was the secret? How had the creatures done it?

So it began what Sivel thought of as his true training. Fetching books was easy – any owl could do that. But to understand the scratches in the books? That was another thing entirely. He stole pages from the nests of the owls who had ripped apart the book and squinted at them by moonlight. But no matter which way he looked at them – if he was even looking at them the right way, that is – they remained stubbornly incomprehensible, no more than dead insects on the page.

He began listening closely to the sounds the creature’s made. Rather than go to sleep like the owls when no tokens clattered at their feet, he stayed wide awake, listening and listening. For weeks the sounds remained unintelligible. Then slowly some sounds began to stand out: the creatures always made the same sounds when they left, and when they came in.

One creature, a small one, liked to sit in an armchair and while a bigger creature spoke to her from the book. Sival made friends with her, perching on her shoulder and watching intently each time she visited as her fingers pointed to the words and pictures as she read. In this way, month after month, he connected many of the sounds with the words, and many of the words with meanings.

Years passed. Over time, the more he understood of this new language, the further apart he grew from his feathered brethren. They paid little enough attention to strange silent Sival before, but now blatantly avoided him, as if sensing his new wisdom. By now only one of the five elders still remained. She spent most of her time in the attic with her head tucked under her wing.

Eventually Sival stole a book, and found himself able to read swathes of it, though not understand all he read, as some words, despite him being able to make the sound of them in his mind, were not attached to any meaning. These he skipped. He read of creatures who journeyed to far off lands, of creatures who lost their homes, of sad creatures whose parents and friends did not understand them, and his little owl heart warmed and soared and grieved along with them. It was then he realised he was lonely. Very lonely. Perhaps that had been one of the reasons he had so immersed himself in his new task: to forgot the fact that while owls around him slept side by side at night and were even starting to pair up, he still slept alone in his little nest by the window with only the moon and the stars for company.

One day when the small creature visited again, coaxing him onto her arm from his alcove, Sival looked her deep in the eyes, then flew towards the table at the front of the room. She followed, a little cautiously. “What is it?” she whispered. “Do you want to show me something?”

Sival tried to nod. He bobbed his head once. It gazed down at him with its dark enormous eyes, uncomprehending. He pattered, talons clicking over the wooden surface of the desk, to the inkwell. Picked up the black feather between two talons, as he had seen a creature hold it many times. The little creature watching on made a funny sound in her throat, one she always uttered when happy. “Oh, what are you going to do, little owl? Write?”

Relief radiated in Sival’s feathered breast at that. She understood! And now, maybe, he could make her understand him. Slowly he began to write, scratching the wet tip of the feather across an empty page of parchment. Above him, there was a quick intake of breath, but he ignored it, concentrating. Splotches of ink coated his talons. He tried his best to copy the symbols from the books. When he finished, he stepped back and surveyed his work. The words weren’t half as good as the ones in the books, but it would have to do. To his disappointment, when he looked up, the small creature had disappeared. He swiveled his head. Where had she gone?

In a sudden flash the parchment was snatched up from beneath his feet, sending him tumbling across the desk. Lying on his back, he found himself gazing up into the face of the creature with the glass circles over his eyes, the slimy voice, who peered down at the words Sival had written. Beside him, dwarfed, stood the smaller creature, wide-eyed and staring at Sival. Sival felt a surge of pleasure at hearing the creature with the glass circles read his words aloud, even if it was in that unappetizing voice.

Hello. Nice to meet you.” It peered down at the smaller creature, who ducked its head beneath its gaze. “You’re quite sure it wrote this?” The smaller creature moved its head up and down strenuously. “Oh yes! Yes, I saw it with my own eyes.”

So they didn’t believe him, did they? Well, he would make them listen. He would make them understand. Quickly, dipping the feather into the inkstand again, he repeated his performance, this time with the larger creature watching.

When he finished, hands shot out and grasped him tight around the waist. He squawked and squirmed in surprise, dropping the black feather.

“Oh, don’t hurt him, don’t hurt him. What are you going to do with him?”

The creature grasping Sival said nothing. Its forehead glistened with moisture like the condensation on Sival’s glass window on winter nights. It twisted its fat neck to look around at the library, at the owls huddled in the niches, at the few circling among the shelves like tiny puffs of clouds, and those perched on armchairs or lamp holders, silent and watching with their quiet tawny faces and liquid dark eyes. Its talons tightened so hard around Sival he was afraid of being crushed, and suddenly he was afraid of something else, something he could not put into words or pictures or thoughts. Something he wasn’t sure he even understood. Had he done the right thing? He had only wanted to talk to his friend. Clamped in the creature’s sweaty hands, a worm of doubt curled in his gizzard.

They took him away from the library, to a new room, one with more chairs and tables. They placed him in a cage, which was like a nest with no way out. Everyday the little creature came and opened a little door in the cage and slipped him some food. Sometimes, when the other taller creatures were absent, it even slipped him a book, or some parchment to write with. It always looked tremendously surprised and excited whenever it read what Sival had written.

 Why take me

 “Oh, because I forced uncle to promise to let me keep you! You’re the most wonderful creature I’ve ever owned!”

Though he missed his mother, missed his roost by the window, the soft warbles of his clan, this comforted Silvan somewhat. He had been chosen, singled out; his years of learning had all paid off.

Other times the creature would lift the drapes from his cage and sit by him and talk until its hooting grew soft and its eyes quiet. Sival felt safe with it. Still, it would be nice to be allowed to fly around a bit, and he wrote this request the morning after he had arrived, scratching away while the creature stared. It picked it up once he finished it and read it, eyes darting back and forth, tongue poking out between its soft beak. Then it lowered paper and looked at him.

“Let you out? Oh but uncle said I wasn’t to. He said I mustn’t. He said you were a – a demon. You know, I had to beg him to let me keep you as a pet. Do you understand what I’m saying? Sometimes I feel like you understand everything.” It passed one talon across its face. “Oh, I suppose it won’t hurt. Just a little while. I’ll shut all the doors and windows.”

It opened the cage door. Sival hopped out, stretched his wings with a quick flutter. Then he leaped from the edge of the desk and soared and flew and spun around the room, heart beating a fast exhilaration. He had forgotten the joy flying afforded. Then the creature left, having been called away by another creature in the building, and he was alone.

He explored the room that he had gazed upon for so long from the confines of his cage. He perched on the windowsill and peered outside. From his time in the attic, windows were familiar. But this looked out on something different. Not a road, swarming with the tall creatures. Instead…he cocked his head. Pressed his face against the glass. Outside came shouts and cries. It was a street, a great expanse of grey. Strung along it from tall sticks were white lengths of rope, and strung along the ropes were tiny bundles, like the kind the creature wore on its fleshy talons when it was cold.

He looked a little closer, eyes focusing.

A squawk of shock tore from his throat.

They weren’t bundles at all, but row upon row of owls, pegged upside-down to the ropes by their talons. His mother. His clan. Smoke rose from their charred feathers in black tendrils. They were being killed. They were dead.

When the small creature returned to coax him back into his cage, Sival bit it on the finger. It shrieked, even louder than the shouts outside. More creatures poured into the room, all of them hooting louder and louder. Tight talons gripped Sival, shoved him roughly back into his cage in a puff of loosened feathers. Sival lay on his side, eyes dull. The cage lifted; the world beyond the wire swayed, changed colours.

He had not meant to bite the creature who had been so kind to him. He had not meant to bring death upon his clan, for he knew now, with a strange knowing, a strange certainty, that it was he who had killed them. If he hadn’t written those words, if he hadn’t tried to read the books…

 He was placed in the hands of a creature with a yellowed, jutting mouth and a missing eye, who stuffed him in a glass cage shaped like an upside bowl. In there, day after day, Sival wrote down names, symbols arranged in a line, which the creature read to him, spitting the words into a little brass pipe attached to the top of the glass cage. Blurred faces peered at him, magnified by the curvature of the glass so that their mouths looked big enough to eat him as they had eaten his clan. Sival wrote. Each time he spelled something right he received a slip of gristle; when he got it wrong, he got nothing. He went hungry. He wrote until his talons ached, symbols after symbol after symbol. No longer were words his freedom, but his prison.

And one night, when the sight of those burning bodies roared in his mind and words swirled like hundreds of writhing black worms in his vision, he threw himself again and again against the glass cage, again and again, battering himself against the glass, until it slid off the table and splintered with a crash on the floor.

Despite his disorientation, he took to flight, aiming for the square of light, the open window. The creature with the jutting yellow mouth leaped to its feet, shouting, talons reaching out, but Sival was quicker. One final wingbeat, and he was free, soaring away and up into the white sky, the wind ruffling his feathers, high above the little brown buildings that lay beneath him like so many closed books. The sun beat hot upon him, a dead blank eye.

Sival flew towards the light, towards the horizon, headed for a forgotten land of no name.