The World Above

This is a little something I wrote yesterday (while the internet was down ;^; ) because inspiration struck at the oddest time. I think I may expand upon this world at a later date, but I had to get this out there. Let me know what you think, ok?

Oh, and bonus points if you can guess what inspired most of this.

Summers rained for years in that place. Sundrops fell from the sky as endless tears of joy, covering the land with a sweet ray of hope. Autumn came but once a decade, heralding the coming storm of Winter. Ashen snow fell and the people were filled with despair, fearing their beloved Fathers and Mothers in the sky descended with the frosty flakes. 

Riese spent endless hours staring at the icy burnt remains slowly drifting from the heavens, choking back tears at the thought that her Mother was among those destroyed by the despicable Winter. The pity of her village, Maelstrom, was her constant companion and everlasting shadow. Riese could only content herself with the knowledge that, by next Winter, she would join her Mother in the Upper World, where her tears would be ones of smoldering bliss instead of her frozen anguish here in the World Below.

 

One day, she thought, I will live in a world above pity.

 

With that as her beacon, Riese spent her days gazing at the sky, dreaming of her Mother, the woman whose face she barely recalled and voice was a distant lullaby in a foreign language. When she was a child, Riese heard the villagers say that her Mother would never rise to the Upper World because of her alien heritage and that Riese would be most fortunate to overcome such a genetic setback. In their own way, they wished Riese the greatest blessing they could devise.

 

Yet it was never enough to draw Riese from her thoughts, her self-inflicted isolation. Her heart warmed only with the coming summers in which her Mother’s love fell from the sky. She was sure her Mother was there, monitoring her daughter, waiting for the day when she could bring Riese back into her safe and loving arms.

 

As Winter dredged on, Riese fell into despair. The ashes slowly ceased to come and with their cessation, Riese lost faith in her Mother in the Upper World. Too many nights had her tears frozen to her cheeks and sobs replaced the gentle lullaby of her Mother’s songs.

 

Winter passed, bringing Riese into adulthood and further from dreams of the Upper World and her Mother. She was a practical woman now, and she shed her lonerisms for a husband and children, whom she cherished greatly. In the eyes of Maelstrom, she had overcome her disadvantage. The child wandering in the ashen snow had come home.

 

In the years of Summer rain, Riese became a prominent member of the community. Her research into the scientific causes of the seasons created much heated debate and great admiration from the multitudes. Neighboring chiefs would visit to hear her theories and spread the word to their people. It soon became common knowledge that the sundrops that fell every summer were what caused the trees to bear such delicious fruit and the hogs to grow fat so quickly. Their prosperity was not the whim of Mothers and Fathers who died every fifteen years. It was science.

 

In time, Riese exposed many of the secrets of their world and was renowned as a great Thinker. Her Daughter, who admired her from the moment Riese called her name at birth, branched off from Riese’s research, choosing to investigate the causes of humanity’s spread throughout the world. Riese’s son, however, continued to pray to the Mothers and Fathers in the sky, believing that his mother was not necessarily wrong in her research, but that the Mothers and Fathers were the driving force behind his Mother’s science.

 

The children grew up and Riese grew old. Her hair turned gray and her once bright and lively eyes grew tired and wrinkled. It was Winter again. As she had done in her childhood, Riese wandered the ashen plains, admiring the technological advances of Maelstrom. Her heart swelled with pride to see families warmed by harnessing the power of stored sundrops and eating meals preserved with the extract of evergreen trees. She was pleased with her work.

 

“Maelstra Riese!” called a familiar sweet voice in the distance.

 

Riese turned to face the sound, but there was no one there. Puzzled and, Riese admitted, a bit curious, she followed the source of the sound. It called her through the woods and halfway to Stracatto, the neighboring village, before Riese discovered the speaker.

 

“Maelstra Riese, I’ve been calling you all these years and you never heard me. Why did you stop waiting for me to call you home?”

 

The speaker was a young woman dressed in an ashen white gown that seemed to be made of the very ash they stood on. Her eyes were the soft amber of Autumn and her hair the brilliant gold of sundrops.

 

“You must forgive me, Miss, I was unaware that I was awaiting word from you,” Riese replied, a tad too sarcastically for the speaker’s liking.

 

“You begged me to bring you home when you were a child. Your tears would cling to your face, icy and cold, yet you did not waver. I saw your sorrow and took pity on you. I was going to free you of the World Below as soon as you came of age,” the woman explained. “Yet, when the day came, you had rebuked the Upper World for your science. What has that science done to dry your tears, Maestra Riese?”

 

Riese was speechless. Not once in her adult life did she dare to dream that the Upper World was real, that such a thing could exist. Her heart clenched tight and her eyes stung with the heat of her tears. For the first time since the Winter of her youth, Riese’s tears froze to her cheeks and she dropped to her knees in the ashes.

 

“Maestra Riese, my child, do not cry,” whispered the woman. “Please, my Daughter, do not cry any more. My heart cannot bear it.”

 

Riese lifted her head in disbelief. It was impossible that this young woman was her Mother, the woman who had left her for the Upper World so many years ago. It simply could not be.

 

“I must be losing my hearing, Miss,” Riese said carefully. “You see, I thought you had called me your Daughter and, well,” Riese looked herself over, “as you can see, I am likely old enough to be your Mother instead.”

 

The woman merely smiled and began to sing an old tune. Riese knew it well, for her mother had sung it to her to get her to sleep when she was very small and afraid of Winter. The melody recalled memories of summers, swimming in the lake and falling in love with the young carpenter of Maelstrom. Most of all, though, it reminded Riese of the hope she once had, the faith that someone from the Upper World would scoop her up and away from the pity of the villagers.

 

“My Daughter, please accept my kindness now,” the woman pleaded and Riese saw the desperation in her eyes. It was the same desperation she felt when her own Daughter had decided to leave Maelstrom in search of her own answers. Riese had begged her Daughter to remain in Maelstrom until her Mother passed away of old age. She would be free to roam the world afterward, but Riese could not imagine losing her beloved Daughter. In that moment, Riese realized the truth of the woman’s words.

 

“Mother, I’m so sorry. I’ve abandoned you like I feared my Daughter would abandon me,” Riese wept. “Yet, what would you have me do now? Leave my love, my work, my children for the dreams of a child who missed her Mother? I cannot. I will not leave their side, not now. They need me, Mother.”

 

Riese’s Mother smiled. Though her heart was broken at her Daughter’s choice, she was proud of the woman Riese had become. She had found her light, her purpose, and accepted it gracefully. And, despite what she had said, she would accept her Mother’s last gift with as much grace and dignity.

 

The sky above opened up and sunlight that rivaled that of Summer shone down on Riese and her Mother. Its warmth engulfed Riese and her frozen tears melted away. She closed her eyes and let the light swallow her whole. It embraced her fully and, for the first time in her life, Riese felt free.

 

She was living in a world above pity.

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Happy Homemaker vs. Independent Woman

It’s been a while since I had an update of a semi-professional sort. I’ve been using this blog as a means to vent (which was the whole reason I actually got a blog), but I’ve been thinking a lot about a new story idea.

It’s a lot less adventure-y and more of a statement about the expectations of the world and how women cope (with, of course, a bunch of mushy, romance-y stuff). There’s a massive stigma among women, from what I’ve seen personally, regarding being a mother and homemaker. More specifically, women are being raised now to believe that they should work hard to be independent workers and the professional equal of men. Which, of course, women who wish to develop a steady career should strive for.

But there are women out there who really just want to spend their lives raising children and taking care of their families. And it is extremely difficult to be a woman like that in today’s society.

Other women who want to prove themselves look down on the housewife, painting her as weak or incompetent, when, really, to stand up and say that, yes, she would love to be responsible for a defenseless child, an infant, takes just as much courage as being a woman who decides to join the military and carry a gun, knowing that, should she have to, she must make the split-second decision to fire that weapon.

There is constant doubt in her mind about the path she feels inclined to take. She fears that, upon finding out that all she wants is to have kids and settle down, no man would want her. With a strong sense of balance and equality, she fears that being a housewife would make her dependent and not a true contributor to the household, even if she is the one who keeps the house clean and manages to keep the children from running wild and makes all three meals every day and is always there to lend a helping hand. Even if she is the foundation the household sits upon, she fears it will not be enough because she does not financially contribute.

 

Untitled

I don’t know where I’m going with this. Part of it’s venting, part of it’s just an exercise. I haven’t written anything in a while and this seemed like a good place to pick up again. Besides, I think this might have some promise.

 

Sitting back in her tiny office chair, she wondered how long it would be before he realized he wasn’t truly in love with her. She knew somewhere, in her heart, maybe, that her smile and sad eyes could never mean what a relationship based on friendship would.

Every time she saw the two of them together, she couldn’t help but shrink back and shy away from even polite conversation. After all, he was the popular one, the guy that might piss everyone off, but they all still loved him and the other girl was pretty and thin and social. Everything that he could possibly need.

She knew she was far too broken to mean anything to him. She knew the sudden tears for no reason, the ongoing battle with depression would drive him away. Yet, when they first got together, she’d let herself believe that maybe he’d be the one to stand beside her and drive the darkness away. Foolishly, she’d let herself believe that even she deserved happiness with someone.

The computer screen in front of her taunted her, the spreadsheet she’d pulled up hours ago still blank. She hadn’t even gotten around to formatting it for the data that needed to be entered in. The fact that her personal life was distracting her from work only pulled her down deeper into the growing pit of despair.

It seemed unending, the way her heart would just suddenly break and her world came crashing down. It seemed so unfair that her happiness was so fragile. How could it be that she found happiness to be such a struggle when it came so easily to the rest of the world? She wondered how long it would be before she caved in and went to see a doctor about her depression. It was her own stubborn nature that kept her from going in the first place. To her, seeking help and taking pills to be happy were forms of cheating. In her eyes, if she was meant to be melancholy, she would bear it with pride. She wouldn’t surrender what emotions were rightfully hers just because they were too heavy a burden. She would rather break into a million pieces than lose the pain that had become so familiar to her.

Tapping her fingers on the keyboard rhythmically, she tried to think of things to take her mind off her pain. She tried thinking about the orders she had to place, the repair parts that were scheduled to come in that afternoon, or even the mess waiting for her in her apartment. She had been so stressed that she hadn’t been able to do laundry all week and hadn’t taken out the trash at all. Take-out boxes covered her table and half-emptied soda cans sat around her desk where she’d tried in vain all night to boost her word count. But, lately, even her characters couldn’t help her through the pain. Every time she tried to make some progress, her characters seemed as dull and lifeless as she felt.

It felt as though nothing was going right.

Then, one morning, when she climbed out of bed, still blinking and rubbing her eyes, she noticed something that wasn’t there before. A single miniature sunflower sitting in a mason jar of water. Stretching, she tried to think of how it could have gotten there. Had someone visited her in the middle of the night without her knowing? Or had it been there the whole time and she simply hadn’t noticed before? Whatever the case, she bumbled closer to take a look at it. Beside the jar was a small piece of notebook paper that read,

“I am just two and two

I am warm, I am cold

I am lawful, unlawful

A duty, a fault

I am often sold dear

Good for nothing when bought

An extraordinary boon

And a matter of course

And yielding with pleasure

When taken by force.”

Puzzled, she read the little slip of paper over and over again. It seemed so strange that someone would leave such a challenging little riddle for her in her bedroom. Aside from the note, there was also the question of how someone would even get into her room in the first place. She kept her apartment locked and no one else had the key.

Immediately, she began checking her room for signs that someone had broken in. It frightened her that someone could get in without her knowing, while she was asleep. Though, when she finally paused to think about it, nothing valuable was missing and the only thing that had been changed was the note and sunflower.

Still, it sent shivers down her spine to think that someone had been there when she was her most vulnerable.

Regardless, she decided to get dressed and head to work. For a moment, she thought of calling the police, but, when she stopped to think about it, filing a complaint that someone had put a sunflower and a riddle in her room seemed a bit ridiculous. She slipped on a pair of pale blue slacks and a pastel yellow blouse that cinched around her waist and checked her reflection in the mirror. When she was satisfied with her appearance, she slipped the sheet of paper into her purse and walked out the front door, checking at least three times before she was satisfied that the door was actually locked.

At work, the computer monitor taunted her once more. This time, however, her mind wasn’t on the vast number of problems that typically bogged her down. Instead, she was trying to solve the puzzle that had been mysteriously placed in her room. She loved a good puzzle as much as the next person, but everything she came up with seemed off.

Before she knew it, the day was over and she was still no closer to solving the puzzle. Sighing in defeat, she slipped the paper back into her purse and grabbed her phone to call a taxi. After unlocking it, she found that she had several missed text messages, all from her boyfriend. Part of her jumped for joy inside to hear from him, excited to be able to simply hear from him. The other part, however, ached because she had a gut feeling the messages were telling her he wouldn’t be able to come over because his other friend, the cute, slim-framed girl, had asked him to go hang out with her.

Opening her inbox, she found that her fears hadn’t been unfounded. He said that he wouldn’t be able to come over right away, that something had come up with his friend and she needed someone there with her. Though it stung to read (over and over again), she texted back that she understood and to let her know if he was going to be coming over later. She hoped it wouldn’t come across as her wanting him to choose between them because it wouldn’t be fair of her to ask, but, secretly, she did wish he knew just how much it hurt her to see him so happy with another woman.

She sighed once more and started back home. The taxi wasn’t a good idea, after all. She needed time to clear her head. Time and her headphones blaring an eclectic mix of rock, pop, indie, dubstep, and J-pop. The music consumed her as she walked home and, though she hadn’t completely forgotten her heartache, it had faded into a dull background pain, like being sore after a good workout.

When she settled into her room, she noticed something peculiar once more. The mason jar now had two sunflowers and another tiny piece of notebook paper. This time, it simply read, “Open the door.”

Curious, but frightened, she crept to the door and slowly opened it. There at the door was her boyfriend, holding a single sunflower in his hand and smiling warmly. Her heart pounded, both from confusion and happiness at having him come home sooner than expected. She embraced him tightly, however, and tried for that one moment to forget that she was still emotionally bereft.

“I’m sorry,” he said, when she finally let go. “I didn’t realize just how much I’d hurt you by being with her. I just wanted to make sure she was ok, you know?”

Her lip quivered and her heart felt like it was going to leap out of her throat and run away forever. She couldn’t stop the tears that were coming and knew she was going to say something she’d regret.

“I-I’m the one who should be apologizing,” she replied. “I shouldn’t be so upset, but I am. And I’ve made you feel bad even though you’ve done nothing wrong. I just sometimes feel like you’d be happier with her. I mean, you hang out with her all the time and everything about you two says that you’re dating. It doesn’t feel like we’re in a relationship at all! And I know that we have to keep it quiet for now. I know there’s no avoiding having to keep it a secret. But I just wish it felt like I was the one you wanted to be around, not her.”

Her boyfriend remained silent for a while and she felt her heart break even more. How could he hear her say those things and say nothing? Did that mean he had no intention of even acknowledging her feelings? Why wouldn’t he say anything?

“Did you figure out the answer?” he asked quietly. She shook her head, somewhat outraged that he thought a puzzle was more important than the problem they were facing. “Did you even try?”

“Of course I did!” she answered bitterly. “I sat at my computer all day trying to figure it out.”

Just then, he placed a hand on her shoulder and gently kissed her cheek. She tensed, thinking he was trying to seduce her to make her forget about the other woman.

“What was that all about?” she asked and he smiled.

“The answer.”

“A kiss? What does that have to do with anything?”

“I know you’ve been worried. You think I don’t see you hurting when the three of us hang out, but I do. I left that riddle because I know how much you love a puzzle and because I know how smart you are. I thought you would figure it out.” He sighed. “I left that riddle hoping you would realize it was from me. Because you’re the only woman I want to kiss. You’re the only one I want to hold at night. And, most of all, I want you to know that I’m here for you even when you don’t see me. Just because I feel responsible for someone else doesn’t mean I love you any less.”

Afterlife Progress

A quick sketch of Julia with some character notes.

A quick sketch of Julia with some character notes.

So, I got bored the other night and started working on Julia’s character. I looked back at the old chibi I did (which was super generic of me, now that I look back at it) and decided to redesign her. I also decided that being just a sweetheart with slightly stubborn tendencies and a high-stress job that she reacts ridiculously well to just wouldn’t work. I won’t go into too much detail here, but just about everything here is just background info. Julia’s story actually begins at her funeral. Everything that happens is based on her past, but tweaked to amplify her faults. After all, it’s no fun if your main character is flat and has no real personality to them, right?

Unless it’s something like the Persona games. In which case, a silent hero is actually a good thing.

The Keeper of Unshed Tears

This is a little fluff that I wrote out of boredom. It occurred to me that I haven’t really posted any writing other than venting about my problems, random musings, and relationship stuff. Now, how can I claim to be  a writer if I don’t have any writing to share?

Anyway, let me know what you think. This one’s quite near and dear to my heart.

Every day, she passes the Warriors, the Scholars, and the Lovers, a distant ache in her heart and tears stinging in her eyes. She is their Sorrow Bearer, the Keeper of Unshed Tears.

The Warriors scold her, though they know better. They call her public tears disgraceful and unbecoming, though each fallen tear is to mourn a fallen comrade. Each drop of anguish from her eyes is a weight off their hearts, allowing them to fight the battles she never could.

The Scholars explain that her melancholy is irrational or that it is a hormonal imbalance. They say they can fix her with a pill though they would never give it to her. They know better, understand the terrible pain they would feel should she cease to bear the burden of their fears.

The Lovers try to tell her that she will never find her true love if she carries on the way she does. No man would want someone who cries so much. But the tears from every failed relationship, every sleight from the mouth of a vicious Lover has been borne by the Sorrow Bearer.

Not once does she doubt the nobility of her calling. The Keeper of Unshed Tears knows well the agony the world would endure without her. But every so often, she watches them live their lives. The Warriors march to battle and those who return are celebrated as heroes. The Scholars unravel the mysteries of the world and share them with an eager audience. Even the Lovers who lay about in each others’ arms writing of their eternal affections are adored for their humanity.

But no one sings the praises of the Sorrow Bearer. She sits lonely in the shadows, loving each and every person in the world for their humanity, never asking to be loved herself.

Then, everything changed.

The man who refused to surrender his pain, who swore to bear it all on his shoulders, came to her and asked why she let the rest of the world abuse her so.

“Because I love them,” she replied simply. “I bear their sorrows, their fears and regrets, because I love them.”

The man was astonished. In an unprecedented swift motion, he reached out and clutched her tightly, tears spilling down his cheeks and onto the Keeper’s shoulder.

In that moment, a weight was lifted from her shoulders and the Sorrow Bearer felt her heart pound rapidly, a new, unknown feeling surging through her like a jolt of electricity.

“Why did you do that?” she asked, frightened and glad all at once.

“Because I love you.”

An Update of Sorts

Because I’ve been absolutely terrible at making this a daily thing. My bad.

So, the cake pops went over great. When I made them, I used a little trick my dad taught me to make them stay moist longer (substituting two egg whites for an egg), so they were super delicious. I used boxed cake mix, so I can’t claim that 100%, but they were good. I used some sort of triple chocolate cake mix and topped it with melted white chocolate dyed pink.

Also, the boyfriend thing has been going amazingly well. I’m not going to ramble about it (even though I probably could), but I can tell you that I’m ridiculously happy with him right now and I hope it stays that way for a long time. He’s just the right blend of sweet and snarky for me.

Now, on to an update on Afterlife. This’ll be quick. There’s nothing new to report. No real progress, nothing of note to inform you of. I haven’t really been able to think about it lately. I’m not giving it up, though. I’m just taking a moment to reconsider some of my plot and what exactly I plan to do with it. I mean, it’s a great idea, in theory. It’s putting it down, making it more than just an abstract grouping of events and ideas that makes it tough, you know? Plus, I’ve had a bit of a healthy distraction lately.

Work’s been going all right, too. Shockingly. I’ve managed to finally show my boss that I do my maintenance right and that I’m not a complete piece of shit sailor. So, we get along now. Yay. Also, my equipment (my real job) is getting some work done next week and I’ll probably be living on the ship for that. Meaning, of course, that I won’t be able to update very often. It sucks, but it’s the only way I can stay in my gear without causing problems for both of my work centers. So, I’m going to be very sleep-deprived and overworked, but definitely thrilled to be in my gear again.

And… that’s it. Hope everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day or Thursday or whatever it is you decided to call it!

Afterlife – The First Sketch Derp

Just some random doodles based on my current writing project, "Afterlife."

Just some random doodles based on my current writing project, “Afterlife.”

It just occurred to me, as I was pulling this up, that I haven’t even introduced Afterlife and here I am, getting ready to share some derp about it.

So, what exactly is Afterlife?

It’s a novel WIP of mine (at least, I’m hoping it comes out novel-length) about a young woman named Julia who wakes up at her funeral. Well, not really wakes up. Her spiritual form becomes conscious at her funeral. When she comes to, she finds herself confronted by a woman who claims that Julia has a second life to live, one that will determine whether she goes to “heaven.” But, in order to get there, Julia has to face down her greatest fears and weaknesses.

I’m still developing a lot of the story and characters and what I have here isn’t everything, but it is the gist of it all. I’m in love with these characters and, if I ever get a chance, I’d love to finish it.

More info to come in later posts~! :3