Mirrors

There are a lot of beliefs surrounding mirrors. For example, if a person breaks a mirror, they get seven years of bad luck. In Irish folklore, witches can peer through mirrors to get a glimpse of their victims, and that’s why people cover their mirrors up. In the fantasy genre, mirrors are often used as gateways to other worlds.

There’s also a lot of symbolism surrounding mirrors. When a mirror shatters and you see a person’s reflection in the mirror, it means that they’re dealing with a perception of themselves that isn’t true. Perhaps it’s a reveal of someone’s true selves, or show the individual’s mental state. They can also be used to show how vain it is to worry about appearance or talents.

Either way, mirrors can play an important role in literature. For instance, the portrait in The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde acts as a mirror that demonstrates the protagonist’s true colors. In Evanescence’s music video, Everybody’s Fool, the lead singer smashes the mirror when she realizes who she tries to portray isn’t actually her real self. These very instances show just how powerful a tool mirrors can be.

It’s something that I hope my newest short story, Shattered, deals with. The protagonist is feeling unfulfilled in his life, and takes out his frustration by shattering mirrors in an abandoned warehouse. One night, when he goes to the warehouse, he meets a young man making wind-chimes out of the broken shards. Where the story goes, you’ll just have to read.

But as you can guess, mirrors play a big role in this story, besides the obvious. One is wanting to tear his own life down, the other is trying to build something back up. And while it might not be as edgy as Everybody’s Fool, and or as creepy as the witches from Irish legend, but I feel it’s interesting nonetheless.

 

Image by Free-Photos from pixabay.com.

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The Innocence Project

The Innocence Project is an organization dedicated to helping exonerate those who were wrongfully incarcerated. Living by what Martin Luther King Jr. said, that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” as of now, they’ve had approximately 364 exonerated based on DNA evidence. Not only that, but 160 alternative perpetrators have been identified. They have stories of from those who have been exonerated, from how frustrating the American justice system was, to the fact that no one believed them when they proclaimed their innocence. They’re celebrating their 25th anniversary.

Recently, I started volunteering at a crisis center, where many advocates work with victims of assault, domestic violence, ect. And as I’m writing this now, I can’t help but compare the two groups. After all, innocent people are sentenced to death row for something they never did, and even though they claim their innocent, we don’t believe them. It’s similar to victims of rape and sexual assault. They tell people they were raped by a specific individual, but no one believes them, either because the person who assaulted/raped them are extremely powerful, wealthy, upstanding members of their community, ect. Yes, the general public claims to be looking at the facts. But since they don’t know how to look for evidence for assault, many people end up getting the wrong facts. It leads to unnecessary judgements, and, at times, destroyed lives.

As humans, we like simple things. We like to think that there’s a clear-cut good and evil, that the information presented to us is real, that authority figures like police officers and prosecutors and the justice system would never really lie to us, or would never present false information for convenience’s sake.

But unfortunately, they do. And whether it be out of convenience, pride, or fear, it’s anyone’s guess.

My newest story, Letters to No One, deals with this. The protagonist, Elijah, is a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder. He was later exonerated and moved back to his hometown to live with his mother. There was a stigma that followed him around, simply because they don’t believe him. Despite the fact that he managed to get a stable job, even write an award winning children’s book, people continued to hate him for a crime he didn’t commit. His love interest, a young man named Alex, had a different story, but whether or not they have a happy ending, debatable.

Letters to No One is a book about the stigma that follows people around. It’s about when society gets the wrong perception, and what happens when they have to deal with the aftermath.

The Struggles of Love

He shut the album, and leaned back against the couch. He stared up at the ceiling, the decadent atmosphere echoing throughout the hallways. What would’ve been teasing and whispering of sweet nothings was replaced with silence, and a devastating one at that. His mind started wandering to the past, when things were still alright, when he wasn’t at the hospital bedside, when he wasn’t praying every minute of every second when his beloved took his nap, wondering if he was going to wake up at all.

Nathaniel.

He jolted upwards.

He looked around, cold sweat racing down his forehead. He shot up, his heart pounding against his eardrums. He ran upstairs, and threw the door open.

And there his beloved was, sleeping soundly in their bed.

Nathaniel crumpled to the floor, staring straight ahead. His hands remained motionless at his side. An eternity later, he felt the beginnings of a smile on his face.

He’ll wake up. Tonight, at midnight. He’s already paid so much. But he’ll wake up. He was sure of it.

He had to.

 

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Remembrance

I love him, despite the lies and the betrayal. Even if I have to sacrifice everything for him. Even if no one else stands with us. Even if everything around us burns to ash. 

I love him.

A short story collection that includes Bleeding, Ashes to Ashes, Madness, and His Last Goodbye.

Excerpt: 
Just a moment later, he saw a familiar figure, burning. He saw his charred flesh, saw the tears in his eyes as he was fighting to break free. Saw the scorch marks on his skin, his scalp, though he refused to cry out. And when the man looked down, when the man saw Auriel in the crowds, being dragged to his death, he gave him a small, sad smile.

“I’m sorry,” Joshua whispered, before the flames overtook him.

Auriel watched as his body burned to the ground. Watched as they tore his corpse from the stake and shoved it to the ground. Watched as the people that Joshua once cared for, once protected, spit on his body and trample on it like it was their last day on earth. Watched them laugh cruelly, the fear was deeply entrenched in their eyes.

He watched it all.

And he screamed.

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His Last Goodbye

Ethan looked down at his hands, as if they were the most interesting thing in the world. He opened his mouth, then closed it again. He was ecstatic. Very ecstatic. So much so he felt like he was back in that cafeteria, when he first saw Damien using his powers. And again, he felt like he was hallucinating. That he was delusional. That somehow, someway, he was going to wake up, and find himself in a mental institution going on and on about superheroes. 

Suddenly, he heard a phone call. He jumped, and saw Damien reach into his pocket and check it. He looked up, disappointment evident in his features. “I’ve ah…I’ve gotta go…”

“W-wait.”

Ethan’s brain was still trying to process what’d just happened. But nonetheless, he forced himself to say something. “Y-yeah. Yeah, that sounds fun.”

Suspicion crossed Damien’s eyes. But nonetheless, he nodded. He walked out of the room without saying anything. When the door shut behind him, Ethan buried his face in his book, and tried suffocating himself for the remainder of the night. 

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Superheroes

I have a friend who is obsessed with superheroes. While he tends to favor one over everyone else (he’s a Batman fanatic), whenever there’s a new hero in the horizon, he won’t shy from them. He’s the type to drag everyone to see the latest movies, comics, and shows that peek his hero obsession, such as My Hero Academia. He’s even trying to secure a job that allows him to work on his passions, though to be honest, I really do admire him for it.

From The Incredibles to Teen Titans to those Saturday cartoon shows where we can’t help but cheer on our favorite protagonists, we’ve all, at one point, dreamed about being heroes. And with the advent of movies such as Captain Marvel and Black Panther, it’s clear that anyone can become one.

Even now, we’ve wanted to save the damsel-in-distress, help our favorite heroes fight crime, even get some of the glory. I myself, on more than one occasion, have thought about using my newfound powers for righteous revenge. Still, despite the fervor surrounding these superheroes, you can’t help but wonder if those heroes ever get tired of being…you know, heroes.

After all, everyone gets burnt out eventually. Sometimes, they’re just tired of all the red tape, while other times, they’ve had a change of heart. Perhaps they might’ve been bad all along, and wanted to showcase their badness in the most dramatic way possible. Maybe they’re just doing hero work because it’s expected of them. Or they might even be using it as a mask to hide their inner insanities. Or they’re heroes in their own eyes, but villains to everyone else’s.

For example, there are terrorists who have been regarded as heroes in their own country, when everyone else painted them mass murderers. Soldiers fighting for their countries could kill on the battlefield, and use the excuse of defending their homes to stave off their guilt. Police officers who were once hailed as public heroes have come under scrutiny for corruption, as do politicians and doctors and anyone else we publicly trusted.

Because no matter how hard you might try to put someone on a very high pedestal, absolutely no one in this world is entirely blameless.

My newest story, His Last Goodbye, deals with the perception of heroes and villains and this weird thing we call morality. It talks about freaky stuff like humanity, and if we’re willing to risk our own selves for the sake of a person we don’t even know loves us. Their questions that have plagued me, ever since my friend launched his superhero obsession on me.

And while it can get disturbing at times, I can’t help but thank him for it.

Image by aitoff from pixabay.com

I Will Follow You Into the Dark

Lately, I’ve been listening to a song on repeat. I’ve heard it before, but I’ve never thought about it until now, as I’m reading through articles involving grief, love, and hope, as well as various short stories that I’m going to publish soon. It’s a song by Death Cab for Cutie, and it’s called I Will Follow You Into the Dark. Below are the lyrics:

Love of mine, someday you will die
But I’ll be close behind and I’ll follow you into the dark
No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight, waiting for the hint of a spark

If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied
And illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark

In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black
And I held my tongue as she told me,
Son, fear is the heart of love, so I never went back

If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied
And illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark

You and me we’ve seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary and the soles of your shoes
Are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
But it’s nothing to cry about
‘Cause we’ll hold each other soon in the blackest of rooms

Madness

As the silence dragged on, he looked back at the creatures emerging from the darkness. All obedient, in his eyes. All willing to feed, to protect both themselves and he from any harm. And Alex? Alex was their prize, their saint, their god.

Jace could feel the syringe in his pocket. For a brief second, he wanted to take it out. Take it out and end everything. Leave his body to Alex to feast on, or maybe even kill the both of them. Pull that romantic shit about leaving this world together.

But then he stopped himself. And instead, he turned back, and pressed his forehead against the tank.

“Don’t worry,” he murmured. “It’ll all be over soon. Just….just wait, okay? Wait for me.”

Alex didn’t answer.

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Death in American Culture

Back in my undergrad, I took an interesting course called “The Psychology of Death and Dying.” It involved studying different aspects of grief, controversies surrounding suicide and assisted suicide, as well as the beliefs surrounding death. And while I was intrigued, I put it in the back of my mind. After all, I already had a morbid fascination with death back in high school, and I didn’t think it’d be healthy to revisit that obsession again.

Well, fast forward a few months later, and here I am, gleefully killing off characters as we speak.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice  how pervasive death is in our society. Despite America trying to emphasize youth culture and immortality and leaving legacies, it just emphasizes the truth that we’re all afraid to die. From the philosophical questions posed by shows like Bojack Horseman and Rick and Morty, to the fact that bringing up the subject may force people to label the individual depressed or suicidal, to even my boyfriend believing it to be creepy that I actually want to volunteer in hospice places; because America put so much emphasis on life, we’ve actually forgotten to talk about what happens at the end of life, including death.

It’s probably the reason why a lot of people tend to believe in religions who have a concept of the afterlife. After all, no one wants to die for nothing; for most of us, it’s just too depressing. We’re so focused on leaving something for people to remember us by, or trying to find cures to cover up the fact we’re aging. And while I can certainly understand the reason behind this, it doesn’t make up for us still not being ready.

It’s the reason why I’ve been exploring it. Short stories like Ashes to Ashes, Timeless, Seasons, and The Imaginings of Paradise have allowed me to delve into my thoughts on death, thoughts I probably wouldn’t have been able to explore otherwise. And while representation is important (LGBT and all), I think it’s also important, as a writer and a human being, to think about Death, so that, when we’re at our end, we wouldn’t be scrambling around, trying to take care of unfinished business. Instead, we’d be proud of what we did on this Earth, and leave peacefully, hopefully without suffering.

Image by prettysleepy1 from pixabay.com

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