BFF (Part One)

NOTE:

The short story was meant for my editor. They put a call for short story entry but I guess this didn’t make the cut. The theme was #fear #psychoticmurderer #ghost stories. I put this one up so that you might enjoy it 🙂 Probably not as scary as you’d think. The whole story is about 5000++ words. I’m splitting it to 7 parts.

Have fun!

TITLE: B.F.F

Cream of the cream, my ass.

My ears were ringing. Was it necessary to repeat it all the time? It sounded better in French but the word sounded horrible coming out from an unfamiliar windpipe. The nerve they had – not strangling the R.

Laila woke us all at 5.30. Her short, curly hair puffed in a large afro. I’ve never met such a light sleeper. The alarm clock barely whispers. My right hand inched towards the small basket of toiletries under the bed. It rattled a bit and three pairs of eyes hushed at the noisy basket. I grabbed my glasses beside my pillow and together we tiptoed across 24 single beds and took our shower. The bathroom is always vacant at this hour but it had an eerie quality when entered alone. The 8 cubicles seemed to conceal something. A careless shadow. A sudden, cold breeze. A gentle, little steps splashing tiny puddles under the sink. We were always told to go to the bathroom in pairs. We learned this in the first book. Everybody knew what happened to Hermione when she went to the bathroom alone.

Safety first.

The plastic grey doors were flung with colorful things, mostly towels. Wool, polyester, sarong, lacy bras, all bundled up on the top of the door. I hate it when you’re in the shower, enjoying your anti-dandruff shampoo’s bubbles and a towel smacks you in the head with such force that your daydream was discontinued. Unfortunately, the system worked. It’s an unwritten law that we knew a bit too late. You can only take a shower by booking the cubicle with your towel. Then, you memorize the towels before yours and that is how your turn is fixed. Juniors take their shower last.

I have met the many faces of dread but disappointment took the crown. Disappointment is getting up at 6.15 and having had to wait for your turn at 6.55 when the daily morning assembly is at 6.50. We ran around the tennis court twice until Laila proposed this plan. The whole school laughed at us huffing and puffing until we finished four rounds of punishment.  Our brand new clothes reeked of sweat and recently dabbed perfume lotion. You have no idea how long you’re going to have to wait for the half moon circles under your arms to dry. Hours! Humiliation rubbed more salt to our injury. Never would I thought that emotional strain would stung me more than the physical exertion. The lesson was a valuable one.

After that day, we try hard to comply with all rules. Live in fear is better than death at the mercy of the firing squad.

They call it torture.

The dorm next door had this touch of event in the early hours of Monday morning last week. Separated by a corridor less than 100 meters, we didn’t miss much of the shrill conversation. I remember Zati and Una whispering to each other under the covers. I registered a sob or two. The seniors in our dorm joined in the fun. All beds were empty. Their shrieks bounced and echoed through the wall. Laila was rigid and clutching the corner part of my quilt. It’s not the kind of ‘torture’ that Vlad the Impaler would agree to but I would definitely categorize it as barbaric and unnecessary.

A junior (what everyone calls Form One students) did not initiate salaam with a senior (she was in Form Two.)

I know Sarah. She’s in my French class. Tall, dark and boyish looking, I would say she’s a rebel. The juniors were instructed to smile and greet the seniors adequately every time we pass each other (dorms and toilets are excluded) but I’m guessing she’s not the warm and friendly type. I, myself am not a morning person and smiling to a person that thinks about all the fun way to put you in a tight circle, pulls your hair, mocks your accent and spread the content of the dustbin on your head while laughing like Satan’s best friend definitely do not deserve anything nice.

So we lay low, trying to figure out how the teachers could ever feel proud that they manufactured such pesky monsters.

Kom, kak!” I said at their shoes when I saw a line of them coming from the dining hall.

END OF PART ONE.

p.s. As I’m alternating every other day with amateurish haiku, tomorrow is no different. Part Two will be published on the 20th. Thank you.

The Curious Little Pin – Part One

It was the most curious little thing.

The golden pin was introduced to the readers as Katniss and Gale were interacting with Madge, Mayor Undersee’s daughter. The tesserae system was mentioned not long after and we had a glimpse of the invisible division between the rich and poor; the merchant and the people from the Seam.

Nonetheless, Madge did not seem to care about it and apart of Katniss, I was quite surprised when she gave her the pin. Token from the district, she said. It sounded insignificant at first. Who would worry about a pretty brooch while being trapped in the arena with other 23 kids trying their best to murder you? Call me insensitive but I would have not even cared.

But the thing about Suzanne Collins was that she is a master of simplicity. It’s all in the little things. How love actually started an uprising. How a handful of berries fueled the revolution. How a whistle started a collective stand. How an innocent song translated as a tool for action. How a flower suggested hope. How a painting made powerful men cringe. How a book full of lost memories healed broken people.

O.K. Focus.

Back to the pin.

It was once belonged to Maysilee Donner, Madge’s late aunt who was Mayor Undersee’s wife’s twin sister. She was reaped 24 years ago in the 50th Hunger Games, otherwise known as the 2nd Quarter Quell. Unfortunately she didn’t make it back home and the victor for that particular year was none other than Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss’s and Peeta’s drunken mentor.

You could tell that Madge wanted to be just like her aunt, another brave soul. Unfortunately the odd was not in her favor. Theoretically, she could have waited for the coming year, when she would stand another chance in The Reaping but she decided to give the pin to Katniss. I do wonder that if for the briefest moment, she’d failed to do so…What would happen then? Would Katniss still be The Mockingjay? Will the bird stand a chance to be incorporated as the symbol of the revolution? Assuming everything else went according to the story; Katniss would still be recognized as The Girl on Fire. Wasn’t fire enough? Why did the writer have to invent a long story for an accidental hybrid bird mutt for the simple purpose of fueling the revolution?

Say we reverse the situation. Say Madge was picked by Effie instead of Prim. Would there still be a revolution? Was there really a plot designed by the rebels? (read a well elaborated plan called The Pearl Plot by Hogwarts Professor. Some people might agree but I did not buy it.) Would Madge even survive the 74th Hunger Games and gave the same impact to Panem as Katniss did? 

Very curious indeed.

Personally, I think fire is not a good choice because it could easily manipulated, tamed, crushed and put out. It doesn’t have the will and reason to survive, like the mockingjay.

As shared by Katniss, it was a slap in the face for the Capitol. The Jabberjays, a carefully engineered weapon backfired as the rebels figured out their sneaky purpose. The birds were left to die but they found new life instead by mating with the mockingbirds. The mockingjays, the instant result of two species had the best of both worlds. They can repeat a range of human vocal sounds and recreate songs.

This is foreshadowing another string of stories.

We perfectly knew that The Hunger Games was designed as the ultimate weapon by the Capitol. Imagine their surprise when a boy had such an impact in his interview only by using simple words and then a girl sang her heart out for her fallen ally. Like the mockingjays, they used love as their defense.Together they survived the looming death by protecting each other. Can’t you see? They are the mockingjay.

Of course we will go into this as one.” [Catching Fire, Chapter 15]