Brief Daily Post Break

Hey Guys,

As finals are creeping up, I will, unfortunately, have to take a break from posting daily. I am also starting a new, ambitious project by the title of “Tales from Tartarus.” It’s technically the loose sequel of “My Neighbor Tartarus,” but it is going to be a lot more different from my past writing in that it is going to involve YOU!

No, I don’t mean Patreon — which is something that is still happening, please go support it — but I am writing a choose-your-own-adventure book. You get to decide certain outcomes of this story this time: I will be releasing stories for this series in small Books, where each one involve certain choices leading to different posts.

It is going to be really different and require a lot of planning, so I will need to take a break from these daily posts in order to make it happen. Thank you so much for dropping by, and I hope you enjoy my writing.

Cheers,

Meiko

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Hot Pot

I never liked hot pot: I was an impatient kid armed with a surprisingly scroogey sense of humor.

“If I wanted to go to a restaurant, why would I cook?”

Yes, the ingredients are all prepped. All I had to do was to throw them in boiling broths in a specified order that would appease my mother.

Oh no, I must stop myself before I analyze it as a metaphor.

Hell, I wrote this one for a reason. In an attempt to capture those rare winter weekends paired with icy rains and the usual polite indecision, when my family didn’t have the insight to make dinner reservations and opted to wait in line. Then we would be seated, hungry, order and watch as mother insists on throwing in the napa cabbage first and nothing else.

I reached for a meatball to earn a retort I knew coming.

“Don’t touch that, if you eat it, you will get breast cancer or other bad things for women.”

The last part was always added as father proceeded to drop all the toppings she deemed cancerous. And, as I settled with flavorless meat — soy sauce and variations were also forbidden — and piles of vegetables, assuming that my father only continue to throw those things in the pot may kill me anyway because he cared not of me.

Then, one fateful day on a rainy, foggy weekend, my friends made plans for hot pot. Then I noticed that all was already placed in the pot for me. Then I realized that there was no cancer threats for me. But the toppings felt so wrong, like the forbidden fruits of a mother’s threat-laced care.

I ate the whole pot and was satisfied.

Bruised

I thought purple was the prettiest color,

royal, refined, calm and deep.

It was the color my sister wore to Prom,

and I thought I am so lucky

I looked like her: because, God, she

was beautiful. Her date was lucky.

But now this was the only positive association:

it’s so much nicer that the color is

on silk than a metaphorical broken-heart.

Yet as I write, I press against the

Bruises. I guess, I won’t be able to do

this after all. Just like a blood

clot, the words stuck and wither and die

before I can ever speak of it. Perhaps

when it fades I can remember, no one will

beat me with logic again and break

All that is sweet and pure.

 

 

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Locked

“I hate it.”

“Oh my God, Gabe, I can’t believe that you are calling me past your bedtime.”

“It’s only 11 p.m., shut the fukc up.”

“…Fine. What were you saying?”

“I just…hate it. It’s too quiet.”

“Don’t play the pronoun game with me. Just play boring music for something so you’ll fall asleep and before you know it, she will be bac.”

“You think I haven’t tried that?”

“…Yeah?”

“Well, I did. And that was obviously a short-term solution.”

“…Whiny little fuck.”

“What was that?”

“I mean, do you want to rant?”

“Yeah, I mean…I’m just not used to it.”

“I don’t think you are supposed to be used to it. It’s only been a couple of days.”

“…It’s only been a week?”

“…Yeah.”

“…Oh…God…”

“Hey, you don’t hear me bitching and Ange is out of the country on 6-month intervals so…”

“…Yeah, I guess I am being a whiny little fu–”

“– I was just joking about that –”

“ — And here I am…wasting time that you could spend with An –”

“–Oh, shut the fuck up.”

“…”

“…What’s making you feel especially off then?”

“…Well, I don’t know. Everything? It’s just…I’m not used to not having to search through her closet to recover my sweaters, things staying in the order that I placed it…it’s just…wrong.”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“What? Hello?”

“No yeah, still here…just didn’t realize Saph fixed your OCD.”

“Never had OCD. Just because I’m more organized than you doesn’t mean–”

“– Yeah, yeah, cool. I still don’t buy it. But hey, if you just need someone to trash your house –”

“No.”

“…Gently trash your house? Ange says she will help me do it. Doubt that I’ll need her help on this–”

“– No, thank her for the offer, but no. I actually value my home.”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“I don’t know…also, I…found her locket, finally.”

“…Honestly, I didn’t know that it was missing.”

“Turns out it was in one of my hoody’s pocket.”

“Sounds…impossible, but okay.”

“Yeah. Well, Saph is…Saph. I don’t plan on questioning it too much.”

“…”

“…”

“Are you…alright?”

“No…”

“I can go over without trashing your house…too much?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I’m coming over anyway. See ya in a bit.”

“What?”

 

 

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Grave

He really hated seeing Canopus cry. And, it wasn’t even just because it was essentially like watching himself cry, it’s just…seemingly apocalyptic.

So he was trying to distract himself from their destination by analyzing the completely blank expression upon his brother’s face: he had long-ceased to make lame jokes and contented to staring at his feet or out the window in perfect silence, so Gabriel decided to clear the air.

“Uh, so, how’s –”

“ — Don’t worry, I don’t plan bawling within the next half an hour. No promises for anything beyond that though.”

“…”

“…”

“Why do you have to know everything I was going to say?”

“You are a bad psychologist.”

“…Yeah.”

They fell back to silence again as Canopus proceeded to watch the hovering droplets of coffee he forgot he was hovering.

“Aren’t you a little too old to still be playing with food?”

“Nah. Keep your eyes on the road, Gabby dear.”

“…”

“…”

“It’s okay to cry. Let it out.”

“Fuck you,” A scoff, and Gabriel knew better than to poke again until they were there.

It was almost mechanical.

Setting flowers and good wishes and whatever other people bunch together with social obligations. He never liked to linger. He didn’t need a cold slab of marble to remember ma and grandma, “I will…wait for you in the car.”

And so the stone-faced left him to his devices. It had been a well-kept secret for five years and he only cleared his throat.

“I’m sorry.”

No need to start every conversation with such, Canopus.

“…I know.”

You look malnourished, Canny, have —

— Please, he’s not a child anymore. No need to fuss —

— Well, daughter, I fuss as I please —

“Ha,” Of course, he could feel the knot in his throat again.

Look, you made him cry —

“ — Ma, please –”

— Oh, my dear child.

“I need help.”

The two finally stopped, what is it, child?

“I don’t know what to do. I…if I…have to do it. I’m sorry.”

No, you cannot burden yourself with such a thing. I do not condone it.

“But…I thought the two of you would be the last…or even I would be the last of it.”

Child, it pains me to see you as such. This is not something a single person can bear.

“I can, mother. I have to.”

…No, let our deaths be the end of it.

“It can’t be. She’s…almost killed gabriel. She would destroy all that I ever exist for.”

…Your father would have done the same. I suppose there’s nothing I can do in the end —

“ — No, that’s not my intention. I wasn’t here to just pass my helplessness to you.”

I think your son is right.

I know. It’s simply a mother’s selfishness.

“…I’m…sorry.”

Then they were gone, every time he feel the earth beneath his feet again, his knees become weak. He dared to breath in life yet he cannot help but wish he was with them. Thousands of “if only”s gritted against his soul and yet all he could do was kneel before cold marble and mistaken the tremor of his hands clutching it as a pulse.

So was this his burden to bear, a spirit raw and bare to agony untold for eternity.

 

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Tea

It started with a cup of coffee.

She was no stranger to the drink. Ever since they moved to this world, her parents assimilated to this human ritual for a brief period of time before ma decided that the bean juice lacked the spiritual reconciliation that tea apparently provides and retreated back to her archaic tea sets. But Saph was old enough to persist in that addiction, and the moments of solace warmed by a mug of milky froth and roasted aromas come to represent good, restful moments.

So he was already on her better side when they decided to catch up one Friday. They were in college then, and they have had a surprising amount of success in keeping in touch, a fact she attributed to the fact that he and his brother were the first people she ever met in this world.

And it was helpful that he was quite…dashing. She meant kind. He was very kind and gentle, that’s all.

“How are you?”

“Much better now,” She cupped the cappuccino in its full, detailed glory. “You are getting so much better at this.”

“Ha, I mean, if you have to make hundreds of coffee each week, you would get better naturally.”

“I suppose.”

Then they chattered about something trivial enough that allowed her drown in his voice and smile and stupid puns and something to diss Canopus with. A sip, a slip of his mind, and he was looking at her differently.

“Haha, I mean…really?” His disbelief was adorable, but she was too embarrassed to notice and thought it wise to bury her stupid grin in her mug.

It’s a wonder, she didn’t dare to touch that mug now. She hadn’t even dared to drink coffee for the past week in fear that their sacred memories be tainted. There was no adorable, boyish grin in recent memory but a subtle smirk illuminated by moonlight and bloodlust, and she couldn’t breath. She flinched each day she was ambushed by her reflection, the dark purple and red peeking through her scarf. It only hurts when she pressed against it, but the time had yet to come that it would fade just yet. So she waited and told the teacup in her hand, “It wasn’t him, wasn’t him…wasn’t…”

 

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Tart

For some reason, she was back in that too-polished, white room, blinded by the rude circle of light. Then there was those robed men and women. There was that woman. The woman always bring in a cloud of small storms, snapping at her own henchmen and tell them to break her. The woman didn’t know she could hear so well. Pity.

“Look, she is already healing.”

“But…she’s a…kid.”

“Do you really think I am so desperate as to torture a child? It’s just a disguise.”

“But…”

“If you do not have what it takes, I completely understand. Perhaps I should transfer you to another project — ”

“ — No, no…sorry.”

Sometimes, if she remembered right, when time don’t flicker in and out like the rude angry light and stretch and leave her like the sparse spirits that wanted to protect her giving away each day, she would tell those men with scalpels to stop and to call them cruel. She would suddenly take her to a different room. There would be something delicious and something sweet. And the woman would wait until she was done. So, sweetness meant something else, they tasted so bitter, so horrible.

The last time they dined, she her just a tart. A beautiful, flower blooming in bitter gull. She hadn’t ate in days, perhaps it was just a week, only a month. She was exaggerating. But she didn’t want her time in this room to end.

“We are almost finished, Vega. But, they almost found out. Sorry that I couldn’t get you anything better.”

“It’s alright.”

“After this, you will be free.”

“…Yeah.”

“Go on, then.”

“Okay.”

And sometimes, the woman dared to take things in her hand. She knew how.

“We are going to find it, don’t you worry,” The woman would observe her over the machines and tubes and tables, smile.

“What do you mean by that?”

“The core of who you are, Vega.”

“…”

“We all have…what we are meant to be as the Creator intended deep within –”
“– You believe in the Creator?”

“….Yes, of course. We are all his vessels.”

“I guess…you don’t know Them, then,” She would stop listening to her, but at some point she remembered the images: the woman made sure that she was well-informed of each cut and slice, every trickle of blood that escaped her. She tried to find ways to still trust.

“Until you are what the Creator want you to be,” The woman would say. Layer by layer, stripped in a cycle, methodical, regular.

Perfect.

Nothing but ribbons of what she was laid waste by man, unfurled, painted by agony and tears and eyes stinging when she was too dehydrated to cry. She couldn’t recall, she didn’t want to be here, she had to go. But everytime she opened her eyes it was the rude white light and scarlet-splattered room.

It felt much longer than it was.

When she finally opened her eyes to comforting darkness and those soft colors of familiar eyes in place of the bright cyclop, she just wanted to see her hands without the white of her bones, to feel their weight, the comforting of another human’s heart and warmth humming against her.

 

 

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