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Thursday, August 25, 2016



             When Darlene decided the last minute to pack her bags and relocate to a secluded place for her next writing assignment, she knew it had to be Savannah. The land of Georgia has always fascinated her fragile memory ever since she was a kid. Her very own mother,Lynette, always took her little one to enjoy the fresh azaleas that stood bounty in the southern backdrop

Her daughter, Paige, felt otherwise. The eight-year-old girl preferred the glass enclosed buildings of Manhattan and relished the intermingling crowd of  Central Park. But at that point in time, the little girl had no choice but to succumb to her mother's wishes. Darlene challenged her to make an online journal about her six-month journey to the southern vastland
Their first stop was the ancestral home of Darlene. It looked perfectly carved like a good southern home that it depicted. When Darlene stepped into the living room, for the first time again, after her daughter was born, she gasped for a few breaths. "It's so refreshing to be back home," she muttered. But not so with Paige, who felt a bit creepy when she stood squarely on the tan carpeted area. She could not explain why the sides of her hair raised. 
Paige quietly looked up. And hidden behind the top of the staircase was a blurry image of a girl somewhat her age. "Oh dear," Paige half-whispered."At least I will have a playmate after all."
Soon after, Darlene began to inscribe the first few chapters of her new novel that was centered around a couple who cannot keep up with the latest technological trends. She was exploring the challenges in a relationship when either or neither party would envelop change. She was, in fact,realigning her new novel with the latest feud that she has just had with her equally well traveled husband entrepreneur. 
As Darlene was about to flip the next page on her Word Processor, Paige slipped by and jumped into her bed. She wore a frown that was hard to dissect.
"What's wrong honey?" Darlene intruded.
"I can't enter the gate of the garden."
"What garden are you talking about? Is that our neighbour's?".
"She gave me the wrong key."
Darlene dropped her eyeglasses o the keyboard."She? You made a friend today?".
 "Yes, mommy. Her name is Shaine. She invited me to play with her tomorrow in her garden." 
Darlene heaved a momentary sigh.At least for now, she wouldn't have to worry about Paige hovering around her during her writing time. 
A few days later,she summoned her daughter for a serious talk about her "newfound friend."
She served them both tea."Okay so tell me about your garden adventure."
"Mommy, I know how to open the gate of the garden. The code is her mother's name ELENA."
"Elena?" Darlene echoed back.
"After which, Shaine led me to a pretty bridge with thick bushes. And then there was the most heavenly garden I ever saw-full of colorful flowers. Red, blur, orange, pink and yellow!"she beamed.
"Like a rainbow."
"Yes, like a rainbow mommy."
"Sounds like an awesome place indeed."
"Shaine tells me the garden heals all the hurts and betrayals she has had in the past.She took me to this yellow brick road."
"A yellow brick road?".
"Yes, like golden steps."
"She disappeared."
Darlened spilled her tea."How can you let her leave you alone like that in a mysterious garden?".
"She reappeared and there was..." The color in Paige's face suddenly pailed."Blood all over her white dress."
One afternoon, Darlened called the caretaker of their old house and left her instructions on what to do in case she wouldn't be back over the weekend. The caretaker, Helena, also served as Paige's babysitter for now. 
"Don't forget her nightly vitamins, her inhaler...her bowl of cherries before going to sleep."
"Of course Madam, never forget."
Helena was born Hispanic and has been an immigrant to the country for almost 30 years, having chosen to serve the upper crust family of Darlene's ancestral line. 
Darlene was set to tour a cabin by the lakeside somewhere in the woods near their vacation spot. Paige begged for her to be taken along but Darlene said no. The lake was said to be dangerously deep. Darlene was a great swimmer. But Paige had a history of asthma attacks. 
"And Helena, I don't want you to let her go to her friend's garden. If you do so, I will hold both of you accountable when I get back." 
Helena was stupefied. "Garden?".
Darlene looked back at Helena,"My daughter has a playmate named Shaine, She has a beautiful garden or so she told me. Just don't make her go there."
Helen bit he lower lip."Oh the GARDEN. It existed A CENTURY AGO. Right in this place. The forlorn backyard at the other side used to be the garden of your great ancestors. That's what I've gathered from the former occupant of this house."
Darlene began to squirm. "And Shaine?".
"Didn't your mother ever inform you Madam?".Helena's eyes widened all the more. "She was your dead twin sister."
"Dead twin sister?".
"Your mother had given birth to both of you here." Helena recounted. "Your twin sister Shaine had a weak, fainting heart. She didn't make it."
Darlene covered her mouth with her one hand, "My mother never told me." She cried silently."How could she?".

Paige hugged her mother. And she held back when Darlene tightened her grip of her.
"Tell me more about Shaine honey."
"She always has bruises." Paige recalled."Purple and pinkish bruises.I wonder why."
"Is she beautiful?".
"Yes mommy sometimes she looks like you. One time she smiled and she looked exactly like you in your favorite picture!".
"What else did she tell you?"
"She said she used to have a mother that was mean to her."
Darlene listened intently."Did she tell you why?".
"She just showed me the rolling pin, the bottle and the long stick that her mother used on her."
And Darlene burst into tears.
"Mommy, why are you crying?".
"I will never do to you what my mother did to me Paige." Darlene broke into unstoppable sobs."I will never abuse you." 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


              Mei Lin woke up on a Friday morning with dread. Already her chest was heavy with deep breathing. Just as suddenly, she remembered instantly it was her 12th birthday and all the more she had a panicky beating in her heart. Every young girl would anticipate her birthday with longing but Mei Lin would like to push the time backwards and be a pure little girl once again. 
             Over the past year, Mei Lin has been experiencing severe gnashing and nagging from her disciplinarian mother. Half-Vietnamese and half-Australian, Mei Lin was born to inter racial parents-her doting cheeky mother Sui Mun and her very understanding Aussie father Raymond. 

             The three of them have managed to survive the trials and challenges of a queer marriage and unique parenting styles. 

             And on this day, her 12th birthday, the loving but misunderstood couple have promised to give Mei Lin her best birthday present ever. 
            Mei Lin felt a mixture of consternation and amazement upon the surprising object before her. 

             "A vase? What would I do with a vase? " Mei Lin almost shrieked, wiping the sweat on her forehead. 

            "Oh honey, i's not a vase, it's a pottery." Mr. Jenkins explained, half-smiling. 

           "But dad, you know very well I hate gardening and I'm not fond of flowers." 

           "We know sweetie," Sui Mun interrupted. "Your father and I really enjoyed our vacation in Hoi An Vietnam recently. And there was this cash strapped vendor in 
Thanh Ha Pottery Village that offered us a really special pottery for a bargain price. "

           Mei Lin sneered. She has worn this despicable sneer since she was 10. "So what would I do with an ancient pottery?".

           Mr. Jenkins guided his daughter to the doorstep. "You can either display it over here, right beside the door or next to your bed, whatever." 



           Over the next few weeks since Mei Lin took over the possession of the red pottery,  she has been grueling with some bizarre dream sequences when she went to sleep. In her lucid dreams, she is brought to this queer village with rows and rows of houses. And a throng of erstwhile villagers are surrounding a ceremony of some sorts she could not clearly see. 

           Many times, she would open her eyes, unsure whether she was still living in reality or fantasy. She actually thought at one point that she was floating in the air...

           Then one day, as she stared so hard at the red pottery, a thick smoke began to swirl outside it and it crept to the sides of her bed. 

          Nausea enveloped Mei Lin and she was about to collapse for good when stern hands grabbed her upper hand. 

          "Do not be afraid." The voice hailed. 

          And the thick smoke morphed into a figure of a dainty lady, also wrapped up in a red attire. She looked so charming...but how could that be? 

         A swirling smoke and then a lady in red. She must be crazy!

         "Who are you? Where do you come from? What do you want from me?" Mei Lin started to distance herself from the forlorn figure. 

         "I was sacrificed by our village in exchange for power and influence over other villages." The lady said in a soft whispery voice. "I was 12 when they threw me into the sacrificial den."

          "But why did they choose you?" 

         "My family was noble. So our blood was a fitting offer." 

          Mei Lin could not fathom that she was really talking to this lunatic being." 

         "I came here to warn you. Your days are numbered. They will come after you next." 


         Sui Mun was looking for her daughter all day. She regretted that she nagged her incessantly the past few days over her lunchbox, her litter box and her unkempt dresser. Sometimes she wished she could be more docile toward her offspring.But back when she was little in her Vietnamese home, she underwent the same rigid training from her ardent parents. They always told her what to do and when to do it. They never gave her her voice. 

        "Mei Lin, Mei Lin, where are you?" Sui Mun quivered. "Oh I'm so sorry honey for all my blabberings." 

         Two days have rightfully passed by. Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins decided to report their missing daughter to the police.


        Two police officers dropped by 563 Tolson Avenue. One of them got a small notebook and began the inquiry. 

         Sui Mun was crying vehemently. "Maybe she was so mad at me. She tried to escape and sleep over in her one of her friend's house." 

         "Hush, hush, "Mr. Jenkins tapped his wife gently at her back. 

         "Is this her picture? " The other officer peeked thoroughly at the photo frame. 

        "Yes, she is a very high spirited girl. She just turned twelve." 

         Huge pearls of sweat were splashed all over his face. "Are you sure?"  This time he looked as pale as anyone could imagine. 

         Sui Mun's head jerked up. "But why officer?".

         "Her body lies at the morgue. Her throat is slit...and from the looks of it, she was carnaged like a sacrificial lamb in a ritual."

         "A ritual?" Mr. Jenkins shook his head in disbelief.

         The first officer finally spoke up." We have some Vietnamese immigrants who practise this sort of thing underground. It's like a pact for a deal of financial abundance and strength. And there were broken pieces of a red pottery all over the ritual site. "


         And in a sudden pour of memory, Sui Mun recalled the village that the vendor told her she had lived-it was called Ba Be. And she uttered something like "a cursed pottery that needs to be freed..." 


        And Mei Lin was finally freed. She agreed to live in a forever seclusion in a never heard of paradise where she can sing with the birds and hop on a grassy land...if she lent her soul to the red lady in distress. 

         The rigorous  nagging from her mother would stop.

         And the red lady would again have a taste of earthly pleasures, far away from the pain of her past.