Sunday, November 13, 2011

Side by Side


Not so long ago I wrote a short story inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman chronicles. I didn’t publish it right away after writing it because I thought it's still incomplete. Soon it grew into a longer novella-like piece, and I’m currently (and unofficially) working on it this NaNoWriMo. Here's an excerpt featuring a conversation between two of my characters, Sorrow and Bliss:
When I first came into this world, I hated my job. The tang of the darkest human emotions invades my taste buds whenever I run an errand, and during my first hours, I attempted to wash them away. I despised how my own feelings always buoy to the clouds whenever I see tears soiling pillows at night, whenever I hear sobs muffled by inch-thick bedroom walls. Dichotomy, I learned the word later. But to tell you the truth, I despised how I have feelings at all. I despised the unknown reason I even exist. 
Over time, though, I learned to love my job. Acceptance at first; I was needed, after all. 
“It’s called the Law of Conservation of Happiness,” my partner told me one day. He was leaning against the venetian blinds that sliced the rising sun into several blinding slivers. “Happiness is limited stock, so we have to preserve it. They say when one person is happy, somebody else becomes sad. That’s where you’re needed. It’s balance.” 
“You don’t know how it feels,” I complained churlishly. “People want to…experience you. No one wants me.” 
He shrugged. “I said need, not want.” 
“Easy for you to say.” I slumped on the patched sofa, which sighed an old, foamy smell beneath my weight. “You don’t get this overwhelming feeling when I see someone cry. It’s like you’ve gone inside my system. I become happy…and I hate it.” 
He heaved a sigh, then went over to me to ruffle my hair. I slapped his hand away. 
“That’s the problem with you, I think. You’re too young to shield yourself at the first sign of humans rubbing off on you.” 
“They don’t rub off on me, Bliss. It’s my natural emotions. Damn, I don’t even know why we have emotions, we are the emotions! Anyway, I don’t go anywhere near your people; they repel me.” 
“You don’t go questioning the Creator’s Plan now, okay? Also, my people will always become your people too and you know it. They can’t be happy all the time.”
When I was reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I came upon a quote that immediately reminded me of the story I’m writing: "you cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness." I don’t know what’s with me lately, but I’m becoming more and more fascinated by tales that emphasize the need for joy to stand cheek by jowl with misery.

I guess it’s related to what I’m experiencing irl right now. I’m by no means Pollyannaish, but I seem to be always positive that my frowns will twist up into smiles anytime soon. God has plans for all of these, and all I can do is trust Him while I do what I need to do. It never really occurred to me to shield or protect myself from sadness. We’re not living in any fictional utopia so that’s never going to happen. Crying, feeling blue—it’s part of being human. How can you tell if you’re happy if you never experience being lonely?

No one wants to be sad, but we need it so we can feel more human. :)

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