bedtime (short) story 2

i haven’t written any stories for a while, but now seems like a nice time to start again.

this is a story i often joke about with my husband. when i first found out what pesukarhu means in Finnish (= raccoon), the name made me giggle. because pesu in Finnish means wash, and karhu means bear. so basically a raccoon means washy bear. that was what first gave us the idea of this joke story. however, in my story, Pesukarhu is a bear, not a raccoon. 😀 hope that’s not too confusing!

meanwhile, kura means mud. since there is no animal in Finnish that has kura as a name (and in Indonesian kura-kura means turtle, ha! but i’m saving the turtle for another adventure), i just made it up as a name for a dog (= koira), obviously playing with the letters a bit, k and r.

so, this is my second attempt to write a children’s story, and since i had an extra time i even made simple illustrations to accompany it.

ladies, gentlemen, and babies, let’s meet: Pesukarhu & Kurakoira.

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Behind a faraway forest, in a small village, a washy bear named Pesukarhu lives. He likes to wash and clean everything he sees; he cleans his own mess, his family’s, his neighbours’, his friends’, and then it’s time to clean his own mess already again. His life is so full of cleaning!

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He cleans so much that those around him start to complain.

“When Pesukarhu was a baby, I used to have many things to do, because I was the one who cleaned everything,” Pesukarhu’s mother complains to a neighbour. “Now I barely have anything to do because he cleans everything! My life has never been this boring!”

“Tell me about it,” the neighbour rolls her eyes. “Sometimes I have just started to eat and already Pesukarhu comes to our house to wash the dishes. Doesn’t he have anything better to do?”

“This has really got to stop,” says a friend of Pesukarhu, who has lately become irritated by him. “Whenever I meet up with him for fun, he would always just end up ignoring me and start cleaning up the road. I think he’s addicted to cleaning, and I don’t know how to make him realize it.”

It is not long until the unpleasant news reaches Pesukarhu’s own ears. They all want him to stop his cleaning addiction, otherwise he will get evicted from the village.

Pesukarhu tries his best. In the morning he lets his mother clean the windows. But when she misses a spot, he quickly wipes it clean, and before he knows it, he ends up doing all the cleaning again, making his mother fold her hands and thumping her foot impatiently.

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Feeling ashamed of himself, he goes to his neighbour’s house. The neighbour sees him from the window, looking so sad and down. Even when she is annoyed by what Pesukarhu does, she still feels sorry for seeing him sad. So she invites him in for lunch.

Pesukarhu gladly accepts the invitation and tries really hard to stop himself from cleaning the kitchen while his neighbour prepares the lunch. Everything goes well while they eat lunch together, and the neighbour actually starts to become hopeful that maybe Pesukarhu can stop his super-cleaning habit after all.

But when the neighbour accidentally knocks down her drinking glass, Pesukarhu cannot hold it back any longer and jumps to clean it… along with the rest of the floor of the whole house. And the kitchen which he has been itching to clean. All the neighbour can do is let out a deep sigh.

Now feeling even more guilty than ever, Pesukarhu apologizes and runs out from the door. He is beginning to believe that he will really be banished from the village, never to return. But what can he do? Just then he hears somebody calling his name.

“Pesukarhu,” it turns out to be one of his friends who notices him walking alone. “Come join us for ice cream!” the friend says.

Instantly, Pesukarhu’s eyes lit up. Ice cream, who doesn’t like it? He nods to his friends and together they walk to the ice cream kiosk. They start talking about things, and for a moment Pesukarhu starts to think that maybe things are not as bad as he thought. But that is only until they reach the ice cream kiosk and see a little piglet eating an ice cream cone… and as he does so, the melted ice cream starts to drip to the floor.

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Suddenly Pesukarhu cannot take it anymore. He desperately wants to clean the mess, but he knows that once he starts doing that, he won’t be able to stop himself from cleaning the rest of the kiosk. His addiction cannot be stopped. He is sure of it now.

So he excuses himself from his friends and the ice cream kiosk. Before anyone can evict him, Pesukarhu decides to leave the village. It must be better that way.

He leaves in a hurry, before anything else can change his mind, or worse… before he starts cleaning something again. He walks to the direction of the forest, not really knowing where to go or where to stay.

As he enters the forest, he realizes that he may just like it there. Back in the village, Pesukarhu can always spot the uncleanliness among the clean. But in the wild nature, it is different. Sure, there is the ground, mud, and anything else that can be seen as dirty, but they are where they belong. As long as Pesukarhu gets himself cleaned, he is fine with this condition.

Although… after a few hours of not cleaning, Pesukarhu begins to feel different. He is bored… and now he knows what the others at the village must feel when he does all the cleaning. And thinking of them makes him feel lonely. If he is going to live in the forest from now on, who is he going to talk to? Without any cleaning, what is he going to do?

Pesukarhu goes to a river bank and sits down, feeling sad once again. All of a sudden, he hears a bark.

A bark?

Pesukarhu tries to see where it comes from, but all he sees are rocks and trees.

“Woof!”

There it goes again! Now Pesukarhu knows exactly where it comes from. Except that it is impossible, for it looks like a big brown rock was the one who barked. A big brown rock… with a wagging tail.

“Hello?” Pesukarhu greets it, feeling unsure. Maybe he has completely lost his mind.

“Woof, woof!” the rock wags its tail happily. Pesukarhu can actually see its mouth when it barks, which is a relief, because now, finally, he understands it.

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“Come here, doggy!” he calls to the dog. The dog, formerly known as the brown rock, comes closer and greets Pesukarhu excitedly.

Incredible. The dog is so filthy that Pesukarhu at first thought it was a rock. Now from up close, Pesukarhu can see that it is just a normal dog. And a very dirty one as well.

Being a washy bear as he is, Pesukarhu immediately washes the dog with the water from the river. He feels useful once again as soon as he is done cleaning the dog.

“Where did you come from, doggy?” asks Pesukarhu, not expecting it to answer. As he brushes the dog’s fur, he notices that the dog wears a collar. Attached to the collar, is a letter.

Pesukarhu opens it and reads it, and meanwhile the dog is already playing in the mud again.

“To whom it may concern,” the letter starts, “the name of this dog is Kura, and it is named so because its hobby is to play in the mud, garbage bins, and any other dirty place you can imagine. It is with heavy heart that we decided to let it go, because although it is a sweet dog, we cannot keep bathing it every 5 minutes. We hope it will bring you joy.”

Pesukarhu looks up from the letter, and sure enough, Kura is already as dirty as when he first saw him. But instead of getting angry, Pesukarhu smiles. He has a feeling that he and Kura can be best friends.

And so it goes, that Pesukarhu cleans up whatever Kura does, and Kura makes himself (and Pesukarhu) dirty again so that Pesukarhu never runs out of something to do. And the best thing is that none of them is ever tired of the other one. They keep each other happy by just being themselves.

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When he feels ready, Pesukarhu goes back to the village, bringing Kura with him. He apologizes to everyone for what he did before, promising that he has changed because of Kura. Though everybody is sceptic at first that he can really change, they soon see that taking care of Kura–er, or rather, cleaning it–takes almost all of Pesukarhu’s time that he barely has time to clean anything else, and they begin to see that the washy bear and the muddy dog are really meant for each other.

The whole villagers live in peace and harmony ever since, and Pesukarhu and Kura continues to fulfill each other’s lives.

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note: the fiction is 70% written by me, Sax Silverain, and 30% by my husband. the illustration is 100% drawn by me. and i admit, i can’t draw animals. 

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bedtime (short) story

i’ve missed writing for the past few weeks. no matter how much i want to write a new one, i just still feel the ache of letting go of my last one.

but one day i was struck with a sudden inspiration… and so i decided to write it down in a short story.

this is my first attempt to write a… er… fairy tale, or bedtime story, i suppose. 🙂 it’s not very logical, and of course, there’s no complicated plot or whatever, but it was still fun to write (and re-read).

so, here it is, “Lily and Her Dream”. 🙂

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Mrs. Duck finishes drinking the water from the small river near her nest, and realizes that the sun is almost completely set. Goodness, she thinks, how quickly time passes when one’s taking care of 6 small ducklings at a time. She starts calling for them, and one by one, they come closer to her. One, two, three, four, five… wait, let’s count that again: one, two, three, four, five….

Mrs. Duck sighs (and out comes a long quack). She knows exactly who’s missing from the pack. Every night since she hatched from the tiny little egg, she always sneaks out far away from the rest of them, and comes back when everyone is already half asleep. Mrs. Duck starts to gibber in small quacks, as it is how ducks mumble and grumble.

“The rest of you, get inside our nest! I’ll go find her,” she says to her children as she prepares herself to leave them, and risk getting them all eaten by some wild beast, just like she has for the past two weeks.

But before she manages to set her foot an inch further, she sees the duckling she is looking for. “Lily!” Mrs. Duck quacks loudly. “Where in the world have you been? Don’t tell me you’ve been sneaking in to those humans’ farm again!”

The small yellow duckling’s feathers shake a bit when she sees her angry mother, but she answers, “I… well, yes, I did, but they didn’t see me, Mother! I swear!”

Mrs. Duck will hear nothing of it. She herds her youngest duckling to their nest even when she chirps with her squeaky voice, “I just like hearing the bedtime stories the humans tell their children. You don’t tell us stories before going to sleep, Mother.”

“Lily,” Mrs. Duck starts as she pushes Lily up to their nest. “We are NOT humans, we don’t NEED bedtime stories. We fall asleep as soon as the sun sets, you know that.”

“Yes, but…,” Lily tries to stifle a yawn, just so that her mother won’t immediately prove herself right. “… I like the stories. Tonight’s story was the best! It’s about a swan who can turn into a human girl, but she was cursed, so she needs to find a true love who can break the curse! It’s the most romantic story I’ve ever heard! Do you think we can also turn into humans if one of them tells us he loves us, Mother?“

“Hush now!” Mrs. Duck can’t stand it anymore. She plumps herself next to her children, and looks at Lily in the eyes. “Now you listen to me, young duckling! We are ducks, we have always been, and we will always be. Nobody has cursed us, and no matter how many times a human being tells us he loves us, or no matter how big of love a human being has for us, we will NOT turn into humans. They love us because they love to eat us! Some of them may love us as pets, but that’s as far as it goes.”

Mrs. Duck sees her child’s eyes start to be a bit misty, but she has run out of ideas on how to bring some sense into her. She must prepare her for her adult life, after all, where hunters will hunt her, and farmers will want her eggs, take everything they can from her and give her none.

“Now close your eyes, and forget about the stories. We’re not even swans to begin with, we’re ducks. There’s no point in dreaming to become a human,” Mrs. Duck ends the conversation with one last meaningful look at Lily.

The yellow duckling finally looks down and mutters, “Okay, Mother.” Slowly and silently she closes her eyes to sleep. But inside, she doesn’t give up her dream.

Not even one and a half years later, when it’s unfortunately the duck season. Lily’s all grown up now, and her mother has long left her and all her siblings to live on their own. Her first mating time has passed, but she was too busy concentrating to find food for herself and didn’t have time to look for a mating partner.

So now she’s running away from hunters. It’s actually a good thing she didn’t mate with anyone, because if she has ducklings by now, she would have a hard time running away from the hunters and trying to save her children at the same time.

Nonetheless, now she knows what her mother meant about humans wanting her. This realization hits her as she ducks from a bullet that suddenly came at her out of nowhere when she was just about to fly to the nearest river to eat.

She flies low to hide behind the trees, and that’s when she spots a well. She flies as fast as she can towards it, thinking that she can at least get a bit of water from the well, and maybe there will also be some insects in the water that she can eat.

She manages to fall inside the well just as she hears another bullet flies through right above her. And then… it goes very, very dark. And why does it feel so small here? She could have sworn the well seemed big enough for a small duck like her.

SPLASH! She has reached the end of the well, and man, did that hurt her back. That’s never happened before to her, usually she could gracefully land on top of any water surface, but just now it seemed as if her body’s too heavy to move gracefully. How is that possible, for she is just a mere duck?

Little did Lily know that the well is no normal well. It’s a wishing well.

And I’m sure you know what she was thinking just when she flew into the well?

The dream that she never gives up from her ducklinghood: I wish I could turn into a human.

But of course Lily doesn’t know all this, she only sees above her a human looking in to the well where she is right now. A male human, who looks about as young as herself in her duck years.

“Ha, I got you now!” the male human says. But his face turns to shock when he sees Lily, in her new figure, inside the well. He quickly pulls his head away from the well and clears his throat, “Uh, sorry, Miss. Are you… uh, are you okay?”

‘Miss’? What in the world is he talking about, Lily wonders. She looks down to find the water to drink, but oh, now she sees human legs and human feet under herself! She jumps from her own surprise, thinking that she has landed on top of a human body, but the legs and feet move with her, and hey, they ARE hers.

She’s so puzzled but she decides to talk back to the male human. “Um… help?” It sounds funny, she thinks, to hear herself in human voice.

But the male human is kind. He throws her a rope to get her out of the well, and even gives her his coat to cover herself with. He doesn’t ask how she ended up in the well, but asks whether or not she has seen a duck that went into the well.

When Lily says no (which is half true, for she hasn’t seen one… she WAS one herself), the male human looks so sad that Lily instantly remembers what her mother told her. He’s not ever going to declare his love to her, is he? Because he only wants to eat the duck. He wants to eat HER.

But the male human suddenly says in shame, “I’m sorry, I can’t provide you with anything else other than a shelter and that coat. I’m a man who can’t hunt, for I have been trying to catch anything and everything I could, but never succeeds. I can’t even get a small duck to feed myself, how can I even dream to give you something to eat?”

Lily looks at him. He reminds her of her mother and now it’s her turn to say to him, “There is plenty more to life than hunting. I can teach you how to catch fish, and make food from vegetables, if you’d give up hunting. But you should never give up your dream. Because one day, it might just come true.”

And so it is that the man gives up hunting for good (and gives up eating meat, too) and gets Lily to teach him how to fish and eat vegetables. Just as Lily said, one day, his dream comes true, and he is able to provide Lily with things to eat, and with all the time they spent together, helping each other, grows love between the two of them.

Unlike in other fairy tales, Lily doesn’t turn back into a duck, but stays as a human and stays on the man’s side. They live happily ever after.

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note: the fiction is 100% written by me, Sax Silverain (highly influenced by Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Hans C. Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling).

empty

i knew this day was coming, but i kept on going anyway, until it’s finally here. the day when i finished writing a story.

that doesn’t sound too big of a deal, does it? but it is a big deal to me. because this story has occupied my head (and heart) for around 15 years. until now. now it’s finally there, black on white, albeit only inside the computer and not printed out, but still.

when i was around 8 or 9, i had this small notebook, in which i would write short stories. i started doing this because i once saw a classmate of mine writing her short stories into her own notebook, and she wouldn’t let anyone read it. she said i especially couldn’t read it, because she wrote something inspired by me and this other classmate (a boy) that the whole class seemed to think had a thing for me, LOL. i guess i decided then that i could write my own story if she wouldn’t let me read hers, so i did. the short stories i wrote were all based on what i experienced, or what the people around me experienced. i would make a few illustrations too, since my real passion was drawing after all. after writing around 6 or 7 stories, i ran out of ideas. 😀 and i guess i decided that drawing was much better, so i moved on to… making comics.

oh, those were the days when Japanese manga was something new and exciting, so i began to draw comics. i’d staple 4 sheets of A4 papers in the middle, fold them, and start drawing on it. after i was done drawing in all of the pages, hey presto! it’s a comic book! 😉 just like before, i drew what i knew. girls, elementary school life, the beginning of puberty, etc.

after a while, i moved on to drawing on A4 papers, without making it into a book. 1 sheet of A4 drawn on both sides, and that’s it, one “volume” of a very short manga, to be continued to the next A4 paper. after this mode, i moved on to drawing on blank loose leaf, and this way i could always add new pages whenever i felt like it. sometimes i even drew 2 different mangas at the same time (2 different stories altogether), so whenever i was bored with the other one, i could switch to the other, and vice versa.

i went quite far with drawing. i even attended a manga school. yes, seriously. i was around 20 by this time. i had a Japanese mangaka teaching us how to draw manga the REAL way, and the papers we used were B4 sized. well, that’s a bit hard to get, but then i practiced using A3 papers, which is a tiny bit bigger than B4. again i started many mangas at once, switching between this one and that one.

simultaneously, i started writing again. in high school, i wrote horror stories (hey, RL Stine was popular back then!), and then in college, i wrote light romantic stories (highly influenced by my fascination over Japanese drama series).

unfortunately, all of these “projects” had one thing in common. they’d die before they were even finished. i did manage to finish one manga when i was in middle school, but it was one of those that i lost interest with and decided to put the word “the end”, just so that it would end, LOL. another unfortunate thing is that they’re all probably gone, all those hundreds or thousands of papers, during all the recurring floods at my parent’s house.

about 2 years ago, i felt the need to write again. i was thinking, well, i probably won’t finish this, AGAIN, what else is new. but i had to let it out somewhere, these stories i had in my head. it got very near to the end, before i again put it on hold. again, i began to feel that it’s just way too cheesy, i didn’t have the energy to turn into a blue cheese myself, LOL.

by the end of last year, something suddenly came back to me. a story i had in my head when i was around 14, that i never got the chance to write or draw, except for the 3 main characters. and then i thought, hmm… what if i start to write that now? and the funny thing was, i actually already have the ending in my head too. not just the ending, but also the beginning, and the middle part.

so i began writing it late last December. i started at the end, and continued with the beginning. all the free time i had, i used it to write. it was almost like magic, since the story had been in my head for so long, writing it down didn’t even take that long. those times when i didn’t write, i would use to write down the “sketches”, scenes to fill in the gaps between the main ideas that were already done in my head. connecting the beginning to the middle and to the end. sometimes, i felt like going back to my old habit, to leave the story unfinished. but for some reason, i always managed to push myself to go back to writing it, come on, just one more page, one more, and one more, yes, that’s it… and before i knew it, i was back on the roll.

before i knew it, i was writing the last page of the last chapter. before i knew it, i already reached the 435th page of my story. before i knew it, i typed the last dot. period. the end.

and then, it hit me. the empty feeling afterwards.

this is something i’ve never felt, obviously, since i never did finish any story before this one. my husband said, i should feel happy that i’ve finally finished my writing. he said that it’s not really “gone” from me, but it’s now somewhere that i can read over and over again, and i don’t even have to try to remember how the story goes anymore, because it is now written down.

but i guess i’m still in a surreal mode right now, not quite believing that i’ve actually created a finished product that took years of process. it’s a different thing than when i finish sewing something, because, well, when i sew something, it usually lasts for 3 days at the max.

this one was, and is, so dear to me. i never told the story to anyone at all, and now it’s almost like i’ve shouted it to the whole world (even though i haven’t). well, okay, not really, but when you’re done creating something you’ve only had in your head all this time, you’d feel like you have, in a way, told it to the world… right? because now it’s there. it’s inside my computer, and i’ve sent it to my sister and mum to read and edit (hopefully, if they’re willing to!). it’s no longer just yours. it’s for someone, ANYONE else to see and read… to think about… to enjoy.

and now what?

yes, maybe i’ll try to publish it. maybe the empty feeling would subside after my story is really out there, or maybe it’ll just get worse. i don’t know.

what do writers do after finishing their writings, anyway? how do they get over the empty feeling inside, or am i the only one feeling it?

the art of story-telling

after doing this test 2 weeks ago, i got reminded of my long-postponed project.
a few background stories first though, since i’m feeling chatty tonight (as in, talking to myself, that’s what ).

when i was in 3rd grade, i & my 2 classmates made this “business” where we’d staple some tiny pages of paper together so it’d look like a book, and drew some doodles & created silly stories. then we’d “sell” it to our other classmates, where they’d pay us with phoney money.
it stopped after around 3 days, cuz our teacher found that out.

then on the 5th grade, i & yet another classmate made comic books, which was based on our real life. the idea was the same, we’d staple some (a bit bigger) pages of paper together so it’d look like a book, and actually used rulers to make the comic strips.
then we’d draw straight there, using pencils and of course, no shadings or whatsoever.
on volume 2, we stopped dead. i guess it just happened because our friendship was also somewhat ending.

then, i made comics on my own. oh yes. those days.
first i’d make them on A4 papers (landscape), still using rulers and pencils.
as time went by, i got to know a thing called loose leaf + folder, so i then drew there.
i don’t even remember anymore how many comics i’ve made, but it’s more than 5, i can tell you that! and i’ve actually managed to finish ONE, though my sister (who was the only reader, also my biggest fan, har har!) said that the story didn’t match with the title as the ending didn’t even conclude anything at all (which was true. i was just tired of that comic, and wanted to end it. lol.)

when i was drawing those comics, i found that i had these expressions on my face that’s exactly portrayed on my characters. weird huh.
i mean, when i tried to draw my character being happy, i found myself smiling. when i tried to make them angry, i found myself frowning. and so on.

then, came the time when i actually went to a manga school. i learned to draw in bigger “canvas”, ink them, use copics and screen tones. i also went to a fashion design course, in which i learned how to exaggerate human anatomy, learn the body contours, how to ink & shade them, etc.

afterwards, during college, i & my 3 friends created our so-called collab manga, where we each had our own characters, we all drew our own characters, but they’re all joined in the same adventure. that sounded greater than it actually was, we never got around to finish it, of course (what else is new??).

in the meantime, back when i was in high school, i began reading loads of R.L. Stine’s novels. as in, horror novels. unsatisfied by the sometimes-too-cheesy ghost stories (those are the kinds that attract me most, even now), i decided to make my own. in English.
i got around to chapter 5 this time, if i’m not mistaken, before once again, the papers prolly got flooded somewhere (yes, i actually wrote it down to pieces of paper!) or then i just deliberately forgot to continue it.

in college, as i watched lots of J-dorama, i AGAIN began writing some cheesy love story which was set in Osaka. i even had in mind who i wanted to play those characters if it were to become an actual J-dorama one day, ROTFL. fat chance.
on around the 4th chapter, i finally gave up since i didn’t know SQUAT about Osaka.
i do still have the story in my head though, maybe one day when i finally don’t feel too lazy anymore to do a bit of research, i will finish it. that’s a BIG maybe.

somehow, though, all these “starting up a project and never finishing them” didn’t stop me from doing it again . i can’t help it, i guess. i love reading, either books or comics.
i also am a dreamer, making up stories in my head the whole time.

ahem.
so last year, specifically in January, i started it again, writing something.
after getting into chapter 3, after a few paragraphs, i stopped yet again.

but then i took that test, and what do you know? i should’ve been a writer afterall!
i don’t know what happened then, i suddenly just got bursts of ideas again, and continued that writing.

then, i find that i smile when my character’s happy, and become distracted when i write how sad my character is. on days when i have to go to work, i can’t help thinking what my character(s) are feeling, what they are thinking now, it’s as if they’re my children.
well, they are, in a way, since they’re my creations.

i don’t know yet how long this bursts of ideas are gonna last, i hope it’ll last until i finally, FINALLY, finish at least ONE whole complete story. i don’t even dare giving it a title yet, let alone showing it to anyone.
so yeah, i don’t know where this is going, but i won’t let this one become stranded in the middle.

btw, this new story i’m writing is in Indonesian. in a way, it’s a good chance for me to keep on practising my mother tongue, and on the other hand, it may be handy if i decide to push my luck & try publishing it in my home country (not making any promises here!).