Choosing a New Outlet

It would come as no secret to some that I have been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses over the past few years, and I am still continuing to struggle with this issue of mine. Dealing with depression with a side of obsessive compulsive disorder is the absolute worst combination that I can think of (at the moment). The experience has led me to a roller coaster of happiness that is destroyed by a fleeting thought that repeats itself constantly, until I lose all sense of hope at being able to recover from this problem that I am having. I end up pushing everyone away for fear of them getting hurt at my expense, and think of death as the only escape from the cruel world.

But here I am after all those years of struggling with the problem, and maybe there is a reason that I’m still alive after dealing with a series of stages in life that had a dash of bulimia, a huge amount of anxiety, and occasional feelings of anger towards life.

Okay, maybe those feelings of anger happen more often than I assume.

They all say that the best way to recover from a problem is to take up a new hobby. I’ve tried to go back to a variety of creative hobbies: Writing, Drawing, Singing, and Calligraphy, all of which have all worked to no avail. I’ve gotten a bit of a groove back with writing, although I rarely get the inspiration to write about it. I’ve also lost a lot of motivation in drawing (I admit my tendencies to compare myself with other people have gotten in the way of concentrating on improving my drawing skills). Singing is also down, which has also been a difficulty I’ve been having. The most singing I’ve done is when I’m all alone and I’m listening to music whenever I’m busy. The occurrence of me uploading recorded songs is very rare (although five to six years ago, I believe I’ve gone through the cycle of uploading them and then deleting them)

Okay, maybe it sounds like I’m being a whiny bitch (Or maybe I am), but it’s what I struggle with everyday. Every time I see someone improving, I feel so stagnant, despite people telling me that I’m doing fine. It’s something that has served as a hindrance for me when it comes to pursuing the things that I want to do.

Around Mid-March, I had the craziest idea: Photography. I noticed that I loved to take nice photographs, and then upload them on Instagram. I would admire the processes involved in creating a photo that appealed to its audiences. There was something about taking photos had appealed to me in the weirdest ways.

I didn’t immediately take the plunge to photography. First of all, why would I risk so much for something that I might give up on eventually. Secondly, I don’t see the point when I don’t have much time to give for photography. Third, what can I improve when I take up photography? These questions revolved around my mind until I consulted a friend about it. All he said was that I should give it a try. When I argued that it would be a waste on financial resources (If you haven’t caught it already, I’m stingy with money). But what was the use of saving up the money when you don’t even know where it will go? I guess I wanted to save for six figures for this year. Either way, I eventually realized that it’s okay as long as I try to go for it. I also found some reason for me to take up photography: By trying to look at the environment as a canvas I can utilize to take something beautiful, I might eventually apply this to looking at positive aspects of my life.

So on April 15, I asked my dad for a loan and received my camera five days later. I won’t lie and say I was excited to get my first DSLR (A Nikon 5200D). It’s currently one of my biggest purchases in the two years that I have been working as an employee. I wanted to experiment with the different settings (I prefer to go for Manual rather than Auto), which may give me an avenue to look at how each of the elements of photography contribute to the photos that I take.

As soon as I got home on Friday evening, I went for the first subject I could find: My dog, Prince.

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Minding his own business. He never left my side while I was taking photos of him >_<

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My dog did not mind being the subject for the day

The following morning, I met up with a friend, who I knew was somewhat more experienced in photography than I was. She was willing to teach me the basics of photography, and brought me to two parks in the Makati area. The only one I managed to take a photo of was Washington Sycip Park.

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Washington Sycip Park

 

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Meet the lady who tutored me in the Basics of Photography

More or less, I began to fall in love with photography after my friend gave me tips and tricks on capturing the perfect moment. I loved how I had to play with light and manipulate the camera so it would turn out as I want it to. Needless to say, when I got off the bus stop at Taguig to meet up with my parents, I immediately brought out my camera and gave it a spin again.

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McKinley Road
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Fort Victoria (5th Avenue)

I don’t think I would bear to let go of my camera right now. If I had the chance to practice my skills in photography, then I would take the chance when I have time. As of now, I cannot say whether or not I’ll be giving up on this hobby soon. With all the potential subjects I have for my photos, how can I give up on that?

Dependently Independent: A Millennial’s Dilemma

I’m pretty sure everyone has caught on with the current trend of expectations that are set on millennials. With the rise of technology and the increasing opportunities offered to everyone around the globe, from earning from YouTube videos to Instagram posts, it would be expected that a large number of millennials are able to support themselves as early as 25 years old, right?

Wrong. I’d like to consider possible arguments anyone has against the current generation in terms of the rate of success they have in their respective fields.

One thing you might think about are the YouTubers who can make millions off makeup channels, game streaming, or fitness videos. Check out the chart stats below. And as of today, there have only been around 100-200 Paid Channels, out of the thousands or possibly even millions of users around the world. It’s definitely a tough crowd out there, and you would also need to consider the frequency of  videos that you would need to put up so that your viewers will keep coming back for more. The amount of stress put into becoming a YouTube star is so overwhelming that there is a small chance that they have time to spare for their loved ones.

YouTube Distribution - 2009

Source: https://monetizepros.com/video-monetization/why-you-probably-wont-get-rich-famous-on-youtube/

Same thing for the Instagram stars. As far as my knowledge goes, you’d have to be famous enough to call the attention of brands that are willing to take a chance for you to be their brand ambassador. Bloggers are also another thing to consider, as it requires a lot of time and effort to maintain a blog. Lord knows that as an amateur blogger myself, I find it difficult to generate ideas that can capture the attention of audiences across the globe.

In my side of the globe, the Philippines has grown so much in terms of how the people look for alternative ways to earn money other than their desk jobs. There are probably thousands of resellers of the products of USANA, Avon, and other brands who are willing to have their products sold by other individuals. I’ll also factor in real estate agents because in a sense, selling condominiums is a business. I applaud the young individuals who have the balls to set up their own businesses as early as their college days. But what is the success rate of these individuals? Is it sustainable enough? Will it help them generate more income for them to live a good life? Based on what I’ve observed, it’s a rare occurrence for individuals to make enough in their businesses. Now I know what others might be thinking. It could be because they did not invest enough, they did not market the product well enough, they did not become innovative enough. Well here’s a taste of reality: not everyone succeeds in business. I hope I’m not crushing any dreams here, but there’s also timing as a factor that contributes to the success of business. With the boom of hundreds of businesses not only in the Philippines, but around the globe, it would be difficult to rise as a financially successful entrepreneur.

With the rise of technology comes along the rise of self-awareness, a hundred options that were unknown to several other individuals who were already in their respective industries prior to the boom of the internet. In addition, the choice of taking a college education is extremely difficult, with a graduate leaving the university with thousands of dollars in debt, which they have to pay off before they become capable enough to make a living with little assistance coming from their parents. Oh, and don’t get me started on the rise in demand for graduates with a Master’s degree, or even a Ph D. So what happens? Additional debt.

Now, the first thought is that it should be easier to pay back the debts because a degree means a higher salary right? Wrong. There have been major changes which have affected the millennial’s chances at becoming equally, if not more, successful than their predecessor’s. The current economy is jacked up. Seriously. We’ve all heard about how you could buy a house with a minimum wage back in the 60’s or 70’s, whatever. But in the present day, it’s impossible to do so. The most that can be done is to rent a dorm and hope that no one mugs you and leaves you dry until your next paycheck. The world is still recovering from a crash in global economy in 2008, which resulted in an inflation rate of almost 11% in the Philippines. Although this has dwindled down to 3.4% as of April 2017, it doesn’t help that there is no stopping the increase in prices for everything from rent to college tuition.

So if you ask me if the problem of the millennial’s failures are due to himself/herself? I honestly don’t think so. Because even if they tried hard enough, it’s tough enough in the world to struggle with paying the phone bill.

13 Reasons Why: Media’s Failure to Uphold Mental Health Issues

Warning: Spoilers, Curse Words, and a Lot of Ranting

13 Reasons Why is the most popular series of the season. I scrolled through the News Feed of my social media and saw all the advertisements promoting the show. Jay Asher, the writer of the standalone novel, has also been involved in the production of the series, which pretty much stands for how accurate and integrated this is with how it would be depicted in modern day.

The Netflix series has received so many positive reviews about the series. I mean, who has the balls to produce a series based on 13 tapes that tell a story of a girl who is led to kill herself. But hello? Newsflash, the production was based on a book, not on an original idea.

But let’s take the bullshit out. Take all the popularity of this series out and consider the deeper issue that’s involved.

Initially, society perceived mental health as a form of demonic possession that resulted in deviant behaviors that the Church said was dangerous. Thus began the construction of asylums, where patients were mercilessly treated: Imagine no beds, being chained to the floor, or possibly even starving the patients out. This was slowly eradicated in the 1800’s, when individuals began to speak out against the inhumane treatment towards the mental health patients. However, few medical staff would be unwilling to stay in mental health hospitals; hence, this drew out criticism from several people.

It was only around the 1900’s that people began to consider other options in treating individuals: either through outpatient services, providing medication without completely compromising the individual’s functioning, and the like.

In the Philippines, mental health was only fully brought up around the early 1900’s; as a result, hospitals have began to cater to individuals who were mentally ill. One of the most popular mental health centers is National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong, composed of 28 pavilions housing different cases of mental illnesses (schizophreania, bipolar, personality disorders, etc). Psychiatry is still slowly clawing its way up the ladder, with only a limited number of doctors in the said specialty who are available to its patients. Psychology is also another matter: The Psychological Association of the Philippines was only established in 1962, which still continues to struggle to make its mark on Philippine communities not only around the country, but also across the globe.

Okay, moving on to Thirteen Reasons Why.

Contrary to Popular Opinion? IT’S COMPLETE BULLSHIT. 

Alright, hear me out. No, I have nothing against mental health. I actually am an advocate of mental health, even going as far as studying for the sake of helping other people who are in need of that. Lord knows how many Filipinos need someone who can help them cope with emotional troubles which have continually shown up in their lives.

My problem with thirteen reasons why is the depiction of the story in social media. This has been so twisted up in a way that it makes it seem as if the dead girl, Hannah, wanted someone to love her so that she could be saved. My question? Does everyone want that when they feel depressed?

They need compassion. They need help. They need reassurance. Sure, love might help. But the one thing every individual needs is reassurance when they’ve gone down the rabbit hole. And while I do commend the show for depicting bullying in its most raw form, I think that the message was never truly exposed to its viewers.

Before you say anything, I don’t completely blame the viewers. I blame the bias that media has created for its viewers. Why? Media has transitioned from providing information to its viewers, to entertaining its viewers. While this is a good way to show a bit of positive vibe to one’s life, it’s not supposedly a good idea to mix it in to a show that is based on a book that directly addresses the issue that emphasizes the importance of being aware of mental health.

What happened?

We all know the rise and fall of monthly memes, especially for this day. Take this for example:

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Dude, really? This is a bit pathetic. 

Maybe some of you will start thinking “Don’t be dramatic, this is just a meme. It’s supposed to be a joke”. Maybe some of you may begin to roll your eyes and close this tab so that you can move on to more entertaining blog posts that ship Hannah and Clay. Maybe even talk about Bryce’s hot abs, or maybe even about how you all hate Jessica (if my recall of names is correct). But maybe you’re all missing the one person you need to think about: Hannah.

Do I need to break it down for you? It would be my pleasure.

Hannah Baker was said to be the new girl in school; meaning, she may be used to the whole transfer to different schools because of her parents… But nonetheless, she’s still a teenager. Teenagers, or even people in general, have their own thoughts about being in a different environment. I mean, it’s human nature. You want to blend in, or make a good impression. It’s an element that has been established since people started talking about what’s hot and what’s not. What’s cool and uncool.

Or maybe what’s slutty and what’s not.

Think of it this way. You’re called out for something you didn’t do. You’re ridiculed, excluded, humiliated, and basically screwed at for this reputation that was force fed on you. AND you’re the new girl in school. What a fun start to the school year, right? Let’s be crystal clear and cut out the bullshit: Everyone’s pretty much cruel at one point or another, especially when they’re part of the student body. You would feel sad right? Upset? Angry? And we all need someone who can listen and understand those feelings.

Again, we don’t really need to fall in love.

We try to consult a professional. They dismiss us, saying that maybe the best way to do so is to let it go. But hello, you’re filled up to the brim with dealing with the brutalities of everyday life. Who can blame you? You’re adjusting, and then life fucks you up in the ass because of a reputation that you did not want to earn in the first place. You’ve been betrayed, left alone, and you’re not sure where else to escape to.

And here goes society, saying “you aren’t alone”. I do appreciate the efforts, but IT TAKES A SUICIDE TO MAKE YOU REALIZE THAT? HAS SOCIETY GONE SO FAR DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE THAT THEY NEED SOMETHING TERRIBLE TO HAPPEN?

Oh, and don’t forget people who blame Hannah for not doing something herself. SHE WAS ALONE AND SHE HAD TO COPE WITH IT UNTIL SHE COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS AN INDIVIDUAL COMPLETELY. NO ONE.

I think what makes me hate this show even more is that the media’s depiction of mental health is so raw and so true to life that it fails to consider the implications of this to its viewers. I appreciate how it deviates from the usual display of mental health. But seriously? I’ve read the book, and I know how it ends. I’ve seen acquaintances who have been shaken by the whole series.

Yes, it may awaken society with its true-to-life depiction of suicide, but they could have done a better job at it. Because something so heavy must not increase the chances of them going down the spiral. It’s absolutely irresponsible for media.

I’m not going to force people to stop watching 13 Reasons Why.

But I do hope they are aware of the true issue that it irresponsibly brought up. And that they should know that it goes much deeper than listening to 13 tapes recorded by a dead girl.

Easy Complications

I flicked through the channels as I attempted to stifle my boredom. Although it was a fine summer day, my body felt heavy. What? It’s not like I have anything else to do for the day. My bed looks fine as it is. Okay, maybe I need to have it laundered because of some ink stains from that time I accidentally spilled calligraphy ink on the sheets but I never bothered to clean it up because I was too entertained with the pretty words I was writing down. At least my small apartment… no wait. Maybe I should have the fridge cleaned too. And when was the last time I cleaned up the bathroom? I could have sworn I saw dust bunnies on the corners of the bedroom, but they were probably my imagination, right?

As I debated on the pros and cons of getting up from my comfortable position on the couch, I heard a tune being played on TV. I shifted my eyes to the screen and almost gagged at the amount of bright colors that must have taken barely any effort to consider. The music sounded familiar, as if I had heard it from those YouTube videos I was watching during finals week, when I took…short breaks (two hours IS a short break, right?)

Oh, right! It’s one of those freaky ads I really don’t pay attention to because I skip them as soon as I see the video I’ve been watching slowly fade out into those commercials I cannot tolerate for more than 5 seconds. Hell, not even 5 seconds makes me frustrated enough to drum my fingers against the desk full of reviewers which I supposedly tried to read… never mind that. I passed the semester.

“Are you in need of help?”

I rolled my eyes and groaned loudly. My stomach growled, as if it was also complaining about how boring the commercial would probably be.

“Or perhaps some device to help you make your life easier?”

I stopped and faced the television.

“Guaranteed one of the highest rated products in the world, a Plumbus will aid many things in your life! Cleaning, cooking, you name it! For only xx dollars, you can get your own Plumbus with free shipping!”

My ears perked up at the sound of free shipping.

What? It isn’t like everyone will give the guarantee of free shipping nowadays.

I picked up the phone and called for an order.

***

The package came in three days later. The truck wasn’t hard to miss, with its hot pink body with the photo of the product plastered on the side of the vehicle. The deliveryman? Well, he managed to get away from all the colorful uniforms, as he came out of the truck in a black long-sleeved shirt and black jeans. I went down, not giving much of a fuss about my face (because really, I don’t think I’ll see the guy again, right?). The deliveryman must have hated his day, because he grumbled something about perky teenagers and hormones or something like that. Well no matter! I’m paying for this product, and I’m getting it to get the apartment fixed. Yes, I know it would have been cheaper to have it done, but it does pay to try out new things, right?

Wrong.

As soon as I sat down on the table (after I washed up, of course!), I opened the package and saw the product. My first thought was how accurate this… Plumbus was with the commercial presentation of it. I wondered what it was for, but ignored it as I spotted a manual that came along with the package. It did seem awfully thin for a manual. But less reading for me…right?

***

I rubbed my hands together and took a close look at the other tools that came in with the Plumbus. It said that it’s great with kitchens, so I decided to experiment with that function. There were a couple of things that came in the manual, but I skimmed it over, saving the reading and understanding part for later. Since a demonstration of the Plumbus involved the use of eggs, I decided to try to do the same, except maybe with some bacon too. I saw some weird tentacle-shaped parts on the Plumbus, so I turned it over such that the part served as the stand. I cracked some eggs and placed it on the flat surface of the Plumbus, expecting it to warm up immediately.

It didn’t.

Scratching my head, I looked at it closely. There didn’t seem to be any switch, neither did it come with a charging dock or something of that sort. I poked at its edges, expecting it to be hot to the touch, but there didn’t seem to be a reaction to it. Sighing, I decided to clean up the product. Maybe it needed to have a precursor to it, or something along those lines. As I picked it up, however, I yelped. The tentacle parts were hot to the touch, and I ended up dropping it. I quickly got a dish rag and carefully picked it up, relieved when I saw that there did not seem to be any problems.

If I recalled correctly, I could also use it to clean bathrooms. But the thought of cooking with it after cleaning up the toilet made me a little queasy. I tried to think of other ways to make use of it, but I eventually gave up on it because I did not want to use my brain cells for the sake of some product. It was supposed to be easy to use, right? I took a quick glance at the Plumbus manual, which seemed to be giving me glares. Sighing, I picked up the manual and started reading.

Plumbus is not alive, but DO talk to Plumbus for CO2

Wait, what? I read further, swallowing down my nervousness.

Pressing Plumbus against sensory organs will result in sickness or death

Exposing Plumbus to atmospheres greater than 8% Branzine not recommended.

Plumbus may cause emotional disconnect from duties

I tore my eyes away from the manual, looking at the Plumbus with cautiousness. What in the world was this? Covering the Plumbus with a dishcloth, I made my way to my laptop and did an elaborate search of where the Plumbus came from, and was distraught upon realizing that this was a product from something intergalactic, but I didn’t bother to read on it, because I immediately looked for the package that the product came with.

Better to just clean up on my own than get involved with something astronomical. Wouldn’t want to complicate my life any more than that!

Sneak Attack

If there was anything that Victoria Brooke could do, it was to look for a good story.

She was twenty three and was working as the an investigative reporter for Stealth, a journal publication which rose to the top on its 5th year of existence as it bagged awards for the most exciting stories. Everyone in Manila heard about it and raved about every article that got published, commenting on how it could even weed out as many secrets as it could, bringing surprises and revealing truths about every person from the top to the bottom ranks.

And she had been working for this company for almost a year. She couldn’t wait to get her next assignment. She had been commended by her other peers in other journal publications she had worked in even during her years in college as they continued to ask for tips from her on how she could manage to create great stories from practically nothing. She could imagine herself a few months from now at the International Journalists’ Gathering, receiving her award as Journalist of the Year…

“One nonfat venti cappuccino with two shots of espresso for Miss Victoria!”

She shook her head against the fantasy. Victoria had been trying to aim for the top, but no matter how hard she tried, and no matter how many commendations she got from her superiors even before she applied for Stealth, it did not seem that the top journal publication had deemed her worthy for any major assignments, which only took her away from her dreams of getting to the International Journalists’ Gathering. So far, all she was asked to do was research on gossip and verify them with the supervisor. She had not been able to go to the deeper and grittier stories.

Everyone knew that politics was grittier and more entertaining than showbiz itself, and she got assigned to the latter.

Victoria saw the barista, who looked like he was in his college years, kept glancing at her as he held on to her coffee. She marched up to the counter and forced her best smile at the barista. She wasn’t sure, but Victoria thought she saw him winking at her as she got her morning coffee. She thanked him, then walked out of the café into a bright sunny day. She checked her watch and took a deep breath as she realized that she still had an hour before she would be required to report for work. Victoria could have just stayed inside, but she wasn’t comfortable with the barista’s eyes glued on her for an hour. She thought of what else she could do, failed to do so, and proceeded to walk towards the office.

***

Victoria started up the computer, the machine humming quietly as if it wanted to match the ambiance of a quiet morning in the office. She saw some familiar faces from other departments, but she did not feel like chatting with them. She knew they would eventually wave her goodbye as they went out on their own assignments for the next two weeks. She sat down on her desk and browsed the files that she had been working on for the past week. Gossip, gossip, and more gossip. It was easy information to obtain, if one knew where to look. She also had several connections to the media companies, so being able to get information from them was easy as pie; it must have also been the reason that Stealth placed her in this line of work anyway.

She drifted to the receptionist’s table and noticed that the girl was not there yet. She did, however, leave a pile of envelopes on her desk. The journalist could not understand how she could be untidy, when she knew that the receptionist was the most organized person she knew.

Her eye caught a hint of blue among the envelopes. Curious, Victoria picked it up and was surprised when it had her name on it. It appeared to be heavy, and she wondered who it came from, as there was no name written on it. She turned it over and was surprised to see a note attached to it: For your eyes only. Taking a quick peek at the hallway, Victoria held the envelope to her chest and walked briskly, giving an air of someone who needed to finish some tedious demands that the magazine had asked her to do.

Victoria took a sip of her coffee before taking a pair of scissors to rip open the contents of the package. A blue folder fell on her desk with a loud thump. Once more, the journalist looked around to see if anyone had heard; people had started settling on their desks, but no one seemed to mind her. She slowly opened the file to see a photo with details about the individual that the source had probably wanted her to uncover and Victoria felt her insides freeze over as she looked it over.

Name: Angelica Mae

Age: 23

Current Employment: Rising Business Executive in Crown Halls Agency, a company specializing in properties and housing for the middle class individuals.

Other: She is suspected of being involved with collecting thousands of dollars from other sectors of the city for unknown reasons. Find it out, and I will give you the one thing you have been looking for.

Victoria was looking at the photo of a blonde, fair-skinned woman whose face was facing the laptop, as if her photo were caught in secret. She took in the dark blue eyes she knew well from when they would go to the restaurants around their hometown, to the natural blush on her cheeks which she had always envied from the moment boys from their state college would give her a second glance.

This was her closest friend, at least until the time that Angelica often left the campus due to business opportunities which came to her because of her natural ability to see the problem in marketing, sales, and even the people in the industry itself. Angelica ended up skipping graduation day due to having been offered a high position wherein she needed to report as soon as possible.

And now someone was trying to get to her.  

Her skin pricked as she caught the sound of heels that tapped noisily on the floor. She immediately shoved all the files under her desk and faced her computer as she saw the high ponytail of her most admired individual in journalist in the company. She stopped right beside Victoria and she tried her best to school her face into neutrality as she faced her competitor for the top spot of the magazine: Jessica Winter.

“So, any interesting stories, Miss Victoria?” Jessica asked sweetly. Victoria pushed down her anger and gave Jessica her most endearing smile.

“You know me, dear. Just doing my job for the showbiz column.”

Jessica must have picked something up, because she stared at Victoria at this answer. Victoria cocked an eyebrow at her and gave her a curious look, rather than of someone who had just gotten information which might ruin her long time best friend, yet give her the chances of climbing up the ladder in journalism.

“Happy trails, little Miss Perky”, Jessica finally said, before moving to her cubicle.

Victoria took a quick look around, then began to work on the information given to her by the showbiz executives and assistants, which she proceeded to write. But for the first time since she got to the office, her thoughts began racing as she thought about the blue folder.

What had Angelica done this time? And who was the source? And why did he, or she, want Angelica exposed for something?

A/N: I wrote this in a rush to catch up with my organization’s daily prompts! I’ve missed a few days due to lack of motivation and the sudden amount of work I had to do. I wanted to add in more details to this story, but it seems that I’m tapped out for now. I might actually use this as part of my future novel drafts (if I ever have the time to write one). Hope you like it! 

 

Sparkles

A/N: This is a late post for the third day of my mini writing prompts, but I hope it will be worth it! I spent hours trying to think of a short story. This is what I think Peter Pan would have been if he let himself grow up in the streets of a busy city instead of a quiet town. Hope you like it! 

Peter stood looking at the several buildings whose lights indicated the presence of thousands of people who were too busy to observe the little things, such as how there were millions of lights that made up the city in hues of blue, red, and white. They failed to notice how the stars had disappeared from the sky because people no longer paid attention to them. Everyone focused on the screens of their phones and tablets as they communicated with people who were from different parts of the country. He found it ironic that people would rather wait hours for an instant message to come in while families and friends were nothing more than a few hundred meters away from their bedroom door.

Peter brought out his backpack and pulled out a paper bag, wrinkled from it being stuffed inside the bag for the whole afternoon. He had hoped that not a single of the contents spilled on his bag. He dipped his head towards the bag, and sighed in relief when he realized that the scent of the contents had not lingered, indicating that all was well for now.

Now when did I start getting giddy about things, he wondered.

He brought out a container filled halfway with what looked to be glitter. However, Peter knew to himself that this wasn’t any ordinary glitter. There were elements embedded in it that not even science could comprehend. This was beyond the reality that millions had accepted as part of their daily lives. He began sprinkling some of this glitter on his hands and watched as they slowly lit up like sparklers on New Year’s Eve. Seconds passed before they floated on air and its colors changed from yellow, to red, and finally to a white. They swirled around Peter, whose eyes had lit up as they danced around him. He waved his hand and the glitter revolved around his hands and stilled, as if waiting for an order from him. He murmured a silent chant to himself, and sent the glitters on its way to the destination.

Now that the task was done, he took out another item from the paper bag: a white cup with a lid. Most people would perceive it as part of the urban ritual of taking out coffee in the afternoon, but he knew for a fact that today was special of all days, and he wanted to reward himself for it. He took out the lid and inhaled. The scent of chocolate wafted in the air for a moment and he felt his mouth water at the thought of taking a first sip. He forced himself to wait until the hot chocolate cooled down to a point where it was still hot but it would not burn his tongue, something that he frequently forgot whenever he bought hot drinks from nearby shops.

He closed his eyes, feeling a gentle wind from the north. For a moment, he could almost see himself in the skies as he flew with her. He could picture every detail on her face.

Her eyes which lit up when she saw him, and had sparkled when they drank in the evening skies in the countryside.

The chestnut hair which she always left uncombed because it was the only way she could rebel against the truth.

The blue jacket with linings on the sleeves, which she had never forgotten to bring when she would see him.

How long had it been since he last saw her? What was she doing now? Were her parents still alive? Was she even still living in the two floored apartment with a balcony that was barely enough space for him to fit through when he snuck in flowers for her?

He could visit her if he could, but he did not think that he could forgive her for the choice she made. So every year, he resorted to sending her these glitters which would light up for her as a reminder of what they had done together when they could still ignore the passing times.

He could see her face as he closed his eyes. He knew he still loved her, and that was enough for now until he took the next step: Seeing her again.

He took a sip of the hot chocolate and smiled at the bittersweet taste.

Yellow

Jillian sat in front of her computer, watching the cursor blink back at her as she struggled to form an idea that she wanted to get out for today. She took a shuddering breath and stared at her coffee, which had been left untouched since last night. Her clothes were strewn across the room, which had given it an impression that she had been here for weeks when she had only arrived three days ago. Her parents, kind as they were to leave her alone, refused to keep her out of sight for fear that she would return to the city to resume her studies in spite of it being a semestral break for a month. But she never told her parents about those things, for she did not think there was any reason to come home on the first and second week of November.

I must be a fool to let my parents talk me into this.

She walked out of the room and made her way to the bathroom, only to see that the door beside hers was ajar. She hadn’t seen that room open since the day she left for university. She did not even bother to look for belongings which she knew were in the nooks and crannies of that room, for fear of finding something that might only cause her discomfort in addition to the fact that she was back at her childhood home. But curiosity overcame her, and she opened the door.

***

For a room that was left untouched, the walls were still bright yellow, with paintings framed on one side of the wall. She had known her mother was responsible for keeping the room tidy, as books were placed in one box. She knew that most of these books were on gardening and drawing, which was something that Jillian wouldn’t pick up at first. But now, it had seemed that whenever she saw books like that on the store, she narrowly avoided these aisles.

Placed beside the bed were transparent containers with several items of clothing inside them. Upon taking a closer look, she could see that most of them had been vacuum sealed to prevent any dirt from coming in. Her eye caught a flash of yellow and she impulsively reached out for the plastic-covered dress.

It was nothing special: A sleeved knee-length dress with a huge ribbon at the back. But she caught a scent of flowers in the dress. She shuddered, wondering if her mother had even bothered to clean this up. However, the smell grew stronger in the room, and she froze in her place, thinking that this must have been set up by her parents. But she had known that her parents left early in the morning with a note telling her where she could find them. It was not possible for this scent to last for this long. She slowly turned around, already expecting someone. What she did not expect was the likeness of she was looking at.

Her brown, wavy hair flowed to her shoulders, as she had always wanted. Jillian knew that she refused to tie her hair because it would give her a sense of restriction, even when she was in the hospital. Her skin was tan, as compared to her expectations of the skin being pale since the last time Jillian saw her, as if she had been out in the sun after all this time she was gone. She wore the same yellow dress that Jillian now held in her hands. Curious hazel eyes looked back at her questioningly, with a smile on her face. Jillian could only manage to say a word.

“Mary.”

Mary’s grin grew wider as Jillian acknowledged her, arms wide open as she twirled in place.

“Jillian! I haven’t seen you in ages!”

“I could say the same about you,” Jillian managed to stammer.

“I remember the last time we’ve been together. Do you remember? The theme park was the best time of my life!”

Before you went away, Jillian said to herself.

Sensing the silence that enveloped the room, Mary sat on the bed and looked around the room. Jillian could distinctly smell roses when Mary approached the bed.

“Mom sure has cleaned up since I left. I almost thought she would convert this into her personal gym, but she’s obviously too busy in errands. Besides, dad wouldn’t let her spend a single dime on something she would only use for three months.”

Jillian failed to hold back a grin at this, but she knew deep inside that her mother was someone who would find it difficult to remove every bit of memory of Mary when she left. Her throat suddenly itched, and her eyes started to prick. She took a shuddering breath and faced her sister.

“I’ve missed you, Mary.”

“Have you been to the theme park, Jillian? We made a promise that you would come back to the theme park even after I’ve gone.”

“How could I when I can’t even come with you?”

Jillian blinked back tears as Mary’s appearance wavered for a second. Her brown hair had fallen out as a result of numerous trips to the hospital for chemotherapy. Her slightly plump form began to thin out, and her yellow dress turned white, resembling a hospital gown. She rubbed her eyes for a second and saw Mary’s original appearance once more.

Mary placed a hand on Jillian’s shoulder. The latter had noticed that her eyes were filled with tears as well.

“Do it for me? Please? You’re my baby sister, so please do it for me?”

Jillian was more than ready with her excuses on why she wouldn’t want to do so. She was ready to yell at Mary for all the possible explanations she could provide. But she found herself unable to speak. When she finally spoke, Jillian noticed that her voice was cracked.

“I’m not ready, Mary. I’m not ready to do things without you.”

“You need to. I’ll be around. Well, not around as in lurking in the shadows kind of around. But you get my point, right?”

Jillian nodded slowly, and Mary walked towards the hallway. Jillian could hear nothing else but the chirping of the birds outside.

***

The place was filled to the brim with people in black as they carried bouquets of lilies, chrysanthemums, and daffodils. Candles would be lit in every inch of the place, which would eventually be stolen by some of the children when the visitors wouldn’t be looking. Some would come alone, while some would come with their relatives. But no matter who came, people in the cemetery had one reason for going there, no matter what.

Jillian had avoided this day for three years, mumbling excuses to her parents about her being too busy with work to come along with them to the cemetery. She managed to avoid visiting her parents’ home during the first week of November, but she had run out of her luck when her friends managed to make her go home with the notion that her parents were in an emergency. However, when she got home, her parents could only look dumbstruck when Jillian huffed at their claims that they were both fine.

It seemed Mary found a way to get Jillian home.

Jillian avoided the piercing stares she got from the people who she passed by. She forced herself to keep her head high as she made her way to where her parents were, whose heads were hunched together as they lit candles on the ground. She coughed trying to get her parents’ attention. Her mother’s hands flew immediately over her mouth, her eyes almost circular in shape. Her father slowly stood up and faced his daughter, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“You came. And at a strange outfit for this day, at that.” He said, looking her over.

“She would not have wanted for me to wear something drab to her place,” Jillian said. She looked down at the yellow dress that she had paired with black boots and a black coat to compensate for the color, but the brightness of the dress was almost impossible to hide. She brought out the sunflowers that she had gotten on the way, and her parents made way for her to place the flowers in front of the headstone. The family took a moment together as the scent of roses caught Jillian. She could see the glimpse of her sister, waving at her as she disappeared amongst the crowds.

What a reminder to go to a theme park. Rolling her eyes, Jillian turned to her parents and made the strangest request she had ever given.

“Mom, Dad, can we go to a roller coaster?”