Writer Go Hyee is a pen name by a freelance writer from the Philippines. He started writing flash fiction in 2020 because he enjoys making stories with unpredicatable twists, foreshadowing, and flashback with a hint mystery concised in a written work with less than 1000 words. His goal is to create flash fiction that would leave his readers puzzled and intrigued.
THE BRIDE'S PERFECT DAY
Leevy stands with much excitement and a bit of nervousness in front of the church door adorned with fresh flowers and white drapery which covers her view of the altar. She's euphoric, uneasy, joyful, ecstatic, tensed— she doesn’t really know exactly what she feels at this moment. She is like a fragile vessel holding strong mixed emotions that her overwhelmed heart can no longer contain. In her hands she holds her lovely bouquet of white roses and tulips. The lengthy train of her bridal gown, the long elongated part of her white elegant flowy dress, ripples down on the stairs and the lightest of the fabric in her veil is carried by the soft wind. When the lovely music from the violin and cello starts to resound inside the church. She knows it is time— just a second away to fulfill her dream of waking down the aisle on her own wedding day.
The old Hispanic church is sophisticatedly and ornately decorated with white roses and white tulips— her mother’s favorite. The place is like a garden heaving with greens and whites. Hanging on the windows are white shiny satin curtains with overlapping folds, ruffles, and twirls accentuated by fresh flowers. The bright red carpet that runs from the door to the altar is speckled with white rose petals forming small whirls as the soft wind blows from the door. This surreal ambiance is made more solemn by the bright orange light from the row of chandelier hanging low from the ceiling. Every detail and every decor in every corner is well thought by the bride and her groom. They know this special place by heart for this is where they first met. It was about five years ago; they were both young, fervent to their dreams, passionate in their craft, focused, independent, carrier- oriented, yet— when they met, they decided to give love a chance... and it was worthwhile. Since that day and until now, her love for him and his love for her has never wavered.
When the white curtains are drawn. She eagerly yet tensely takes her first step with a deep breath. She is so overwhelmed and so emotional that she has to hold back her tears so as not to ruin her makeup. She takes every step like a goddess in a grand stroll. As she walks, everyone beholds the most beautiful and stunning bride on her wedding day. The crowd seems blurry in her sight for her only thought is to reach the altar where her dashing groom awaits.
In every step, she reminisces the moments that led her to this day. She remembers her childhood with her loving mother and father by her side. Her parents who sacrificed their own happiness just to provide her with all her needs. Her mother who showed her the most genuine love in the world. Her father who selflessly cherished her and supported her and her dreams. She thinks of her younger sister and her brother... their sleepless nights playing tirelessly and their petty fights. Her siblings who gave her the best childhood memories. Her silly loving crazy companions— her best buddies for life.
In the next steps, she thinks of her closest friends. Her amazing friends whom she met along the way. The most jolly and high-spirited individuals who made her life even more wonderful. The best people she admires, she loves, and forever will cherish.
As she comes near the altar. She looks at her groom, her dashing groom in his gray suit. The ‘One’ in a billion who is made for her—her soulmate, her twin flame, her other half. The one who brightens her days and makes her feel more alive. A listening ear, her shoulder to cry on. Her source of strength whenever she feels tired and weak. The one who patiently and lovingly stayed by her side on days when she felt unsure of herself. Her motivation, her peace, her comfort— her home.
This glorious day, this beautiful wedding, is finally happening. The joy that this very moment brings in her heart is incomparable. She has never been more certain that this man, this love— to be by his side, to be the mother of their children will be her greatest dream in life.
As the ethereal music from the violin and cello resonates in the church, she slowly raises her eyes and through her bridal veil, she sees a faint narrow beam of light peeking through the shattered stained glass atop the altar.
She knows it is time.
The memories of this moment, her love, her family, her friends, her excitement, her pain... This perfect day, the best of all the days, shall forever stay with her as the long train of her white gown, her dress, her arms, all of her are slowly… gradually… fading in thin air. In the break of the day, she vanishes with much anticipation eager to walk again on this aisle and do this all over again in the night.
SIX DOG TAGS
It has been two years since I lost my father in an ambush attack in Afghanistan. He has served in the military years before I was born. In sixteen years, I’ve only been with him during holidays, and those were the best holidays I had in my life.
On this day, despite the loneliness and emptiness that we still feel, I and my mom decided to go to Aunt Becky's to welcome the New Year with relatives and close friends. This has been a nonformal tradition for us. A joyous gathering in the neighborhood which concludes in the lighting of the grand fireworks display making the gathering extra special and memorable.
At the stroke of midnight, the bright and colorful lights ceaselessly illuminated the cloudless sky. While everyone cheered in amazement, I could see tears rolling down from my mother's eyes as she admired the beautiful vibrant colors dancing, gleaming up above. She missed my father so much that mine couldn't even compare. My mother has been silently mourning, trying to be strong to keep going. She lost not only her husband, but her best friend, dear companion, the love of her life- her protector, her shield. We both lost the only man who brought love, joy, and life to our family that no amount of colors could ever paint.
It was in 2018 when the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was ambushed by an apparent insider attack in a remote village in Afghanistan. Reports indicated that an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun and improvised bombs. One was severely wounded and six soldiers were killed during combat operations. The 7th Special Forces Group Headquarters immediately notified the families of the fate of their loved ones. We were there waiting at the military base when the bodies of the six fallen heroes arrived on a C17 aircraft. Loud sobbing and wailing were heard as families mourned when the decorated coffins were carried out one by one. The only survivor, the captain of the troop, who was wheeled from the transport aircraft, could no longer serve in the military for he lost both of limbs in the attack.
As the fireworks kept roaring, I remembered our last New Year celebration with my dad at Aunt Becky's . Our relatives and family friends were all delighted when they learned that my dad would be joining us that night. He was the clown of the party- the man with a contagious laughter. When the grand fireworks display started, I noticed that my dad was not around so I hurriedly went inside the house to get him. As the sound of the fireworks started echoing even louder, I found my dad at the kitchen floor cowering in the corner, covering his ears—trembling. I was shaken with what I saw but I never told anyone, even my mom. I knew that my dad would never have wanted me to see him like that so I kept what I saw to myself. After the loud spectacular show, my dad casually stepped out of the house. I ran quickly to him and I gave him the warmest hug that I could give. I could still feel him trembling but he managed to smile and kissed me on the forehead. In the following month, he was deployed to Afghanistan.
It has been very difficult for me most especially for my mom. The pain of suddenly being left on our own was sometimes unbearable. Those who have experienced great loss couldn’t agree more. I despise war. I despise bloodshed. I despise cruelty. My heart mourns with families whose loved ones died under circumstances that could have been avoided. I weep for the precious lives taken away without remorse. ‘Combat fatality’, ‘civilian casualties’, ‘collateral damage’ -- nameless people who just fall under statistics. Six soldiers died, hundreds of people dead, seven students killed. Aren't their lives as important as anyone's? Dreams lost, future stolen in just a blink of an eye.
When the grand fireworks display was over, my mother and I started walking home. Neither of us had anything to say. From outside, anyone could feel the dull atmosphere of our lifeless house. Only the light from the lamp in the living room could be seen illuminating from the window. The loud laughter and hearty giggles were never heard echoing since the day we lost my dad.
My mother slowly opened the door and I followed her inside. I put my bag on the sofa and I looked at him as he sat by the window like how we left him—staring at the void, not moving, never disturbed. With the faint light from the lamp reflecting on his face, my dad's dull eyes were fixed on something only him could see. In his hands he held tight the six dilapidated dog tags of his men.
The One- Winged Angel
“A disgrace. The weakest. The enfeebled. An ignominy to the grand race”. These are such undesirable words that we, angels, are not allowed to utter for it is an outright deviation to our decorum as regal stewards of the glorious regions in the sky. However, these words, though unspoken, were deeply felt by the oddest among us. His mere existence was almost completely ignored by all of the majestic windborne beings who were busy going back and forth in the clouds attending to their divine duties.
Fino was quite a pitiful sight to see from the sky as he was the only angel who roamed on the ground. Every morning, before I flew to the clouds for my daily duties, I would see him fetching water from a nearby stream using a bowl of leaves to water his garden of tulips that he planted around his tree. Yes, each angel has his own tree. From the time an angel comes into being, a tree is also born. Trees serve as a resting place for our tired wings, our place of comfort– our own haven. Mine stood nearest to his tree which he planted with his bare hands. It was about a hundred years or so when he came to this side of the realm tired, weary, dragging himself on his feet like a defeated warrior. With nowhere to stay, he grew and nurtured his own tree until it became as sturdy as ours.
Fino was the only angel with rough calloused hands scarred from the splinters and wounds from toiling. I saw how he cultivated his garden from the moment he first tilled the soil with his bare hands using small branches from his tree. He carried boulders of stone from the valley past the meadow to build a low wall around his garden— which gave me a clear impression that he wanted to be left alone. It was with a heavy heart seeing him walked on foot with an unsteady gait balancing the weight of big rocks and his only wing. It was a sight of persistence yet a futile endeavor— an unnecessary labor. Flowers of all kinds and of all colors bloom everywhere. They need not be planted here in paradise. Each kind of flower blooms in its own season and wilts to give way for other flowers to be adored. We have seen this cycle of blooming and wilting in Fino's garden but he seemed imperturbable—unabated. For me, he was a sight of an ardent angel still persevering to have a purpose to his existence.
One time while I was resting on my tree, I saw him standing at his garden looking up to the sky with an expression so full of wonder. I saw a bit of a smile painted on his weary face. Perhaps he was imagining himself flying through the clouds–the wind under his wings, hovering above mountains, soaring through the cold breeze to the majestic heights, and gliding over the wonderful regions in the sky. I couldn't imagine how Fino must have felt all these years wandering on the ground all by himself. Then I saw him looked down on his flowers—the smile disappeared and the expression of his face turned to its usual. He slightly flapped his wing, his one useless wing. It must have been really hard for him.
Then came the day that none of us would ever forget. There was a spectacle in the sky so rare that all of the angels resting on nearby trees hurriedly flew in midair just to have a closer look at the very odd sight that we have never seen even in a thousand years. A peculiar angel suddenly appeared hovering above Fino’s garden. Angels of hundreds in number watched as she gracefully flapped her wings. Hundreds and thousands of angels from the realms in the sky curiously descended and watched her as she circled above the tree.
Fino emerged from the shade when he heard the loud flapping of innumerable wings above him. His hands dropped on his side as he looked up with great disbelief. It was the sight that he could only see in his dreams. All of the angels watched in astonishment as the angel in black and white wings took a slow descent on Fino's garden. He stood astounded as he could not believe that this moment has finally come. The two peculiar angels seemed frozen in time as they looked at each other with eyes speaking a thousand of words. It was in this moment that we finally understood what Fino had gone through.
We watched him as he walked slowly towards the angel in black and white wings. Tears began to fall as he spoke to her.
"Have you seen the world?" asked Fino.
She embraced him tight, and with a shaky voice she replied,
"Yes I have..., " she paused as tears streamed from her eyes, "... I'm sorry it took me a while to find a tree surrounded by red tulips."
THE WITCH UNDER THE MOONBEAM
It was past midnight yet a sound of splashing water, brisk scrubbing, and weak whistling could be heard by the stream. The lad who works as a saddle boy was diligently brushing and cleaning the saddles in the clear waters that runs between his town and the dark woods. He did a lot of chores in the day that he forgot to clean the saddles. His master would give him several beatings if he found the saddles still dirty in the morning. The lad could have fetched water to fill the buckets and the barrels but it would take a lot of time so he decided to take the saddles to the stream. Even though he was hesitant, it was his best option to finish his chores on time.
Despite the lad’s cheerful whistling, his heart was fast racing. It was throbbing so loud as the stories from the woodcutters kept running in his head. It was the story about the gruesome horrid witch who wanders in the woods at night. The ghoulish creature with her crooked teeth, long hawked-like nose, and pale skin roams around hunting beasts and killing them savagely. There were stories of woodcutters hearing creepy resonating laughter as they pass through the dark woods. Some travelers saw dead animals by the road with torn ligaments, broken bones, and most of these lay dead without hearts.
The lad was almost finished with his chore when he heard a sweet melody carried by the wind. A cold feeling ran through his veins. Was it the witch?— he thought. But the melody was so beautiful and so soothing that he willed to find where it was coming from so eagerly as if he was enchanted.
Through the thorny bushes and the undergrowth and over the barks of fallen trees, his feet led him to the meadow of daffodils deep in the dark woods. There he saw something from a distance— a maiden in white dress standing under the moonbeam amidst the crowd of wild daffodils. He stepped back in surprise as he thought he was seeing a ghost. But no ghost could have looked as lovely as this maiden, he thought. Then he remembered the story of the atrocious ugly witch that has been lurking in the dark woods. His mind discarded the thought. The angelic being in the meadow of daffodils could not possibly be that horrifying witch.
He watched her as she gathered flowers in her arms-- smelling them one by one.“ What a beauty," he said as the maiden’s face was revealed by the light from the moon. Her long black wavy hair was softly carried by the night breeze. He watched her as she carefully put the daffodils in her basket. Then after a while, she walked towards the oak tree, sat under its shade, and quietly read a book under the lamp that she brought with her.
He stood hiding in the distance mesmerized by the maiden that he didn’t notice the passing of hours. Then he remembered the saddles which he left by the stream! He must immediately return those before the day breaks. So, he hurriedly went back to the town while the sight of the maiden in the meadow lingered in his thoughts.
The next night, with much caution, he went back to the meadow of daffodils at same hour hoping to see the lovely maiden once more. His heart beat fast when he saw her again gathering flowers. He couldn’t help but adore her from a far. "If she were the witch, I was indeed charmed."
For three days he went to the same spot watching the maiden from a far. Then on the fourth night, she didn’t come. The next night, she was nowhere to be found. The lad kept coming to the meadow every night despite the danger hoping to see the maiden but he always went home crestfallen. A month passed, when he was about to lose hope, his heart was flushed with joy when he beheld the sight of the maiden under the moonbeam once more. By then he realized that the maiden only visits the meadow on full moon.
The latest terrifying rumor about the witch in the woods circled in the town. In the past days, men have seen dead animals— young animals with scratches all over, ripped tails and limbs, and hearts snatched out. The townspeople were warned never to pass through the woods most specially at night. When the lad heard of this, he thought of the maiden and he feared for her safety. He must protect her, or the least, warn her of the danger. So, on the full moon of the third month, he once again went to the meadow and decided to reveal himself.
From the bush and the undergrowth, he stood tall, brushed his clothes, and mustered all his courage to approach the maiden. The maiden was startled when she heard footsteps approaching and she was even more terrified when she saw a shadow slowly moving towards her.
"Don't be afraid, I won't harm you," said the lad as he walked closer.
The light from the moonbeam revealed the lad's face and for the first time their eyes met.
"Why are you here? Don't come close!" The girl said clutching the daffodils to herself.
"I've been coming near this meadow for some time now and I always see you gathering flowers... Don’t be afraid, I will not cause you harm. I just couldn't help admire your beauty under the moonbeam."
The maiden blushed a little.
"I am Lazdit. I live in the town. How about you? What is your name and where do you live?
"I live beyond the woods, in a village on the hills. My name is Myrrah."
" So you travel that far at night just to be here? There are rumors about the witch hunting beasts in the dark woods. Aren't you afraid?” He paused for a while, “Tell me, are you the witch?
The girl chuckled, "Do I look like a witch to you?"
" No, no, absolutely not!” he replied in haste.” Well, if you are...you don't have to snatch my heart, I will give it to you in an instant."
She laughed a little.
"In my village, we don't believe in those stories about the horrid witch in the dark woods. But I like that story. It makes people– wood cutters, flower merchants, hunters, avoid the woods. Do you see these flowers? These could have been sold by bundles in the market if not for those stories.”
“May I join you in picking flowers? I would love to gather some for my mother,” said the lad.
Under the bright moon, the lad and the maiden picked flowers while exchanging stories about anything and everything. Months after that, whenever the moon rose to its glory, the young lad would rush to the field of daffodils to meet the maiden.
"Why do you always go here at night when its full moon? It is so dangerous to be here at night.”
"I’ve been coming here for months. This is my favorite place. It's quiet here and I love the night breeze, " the maiden said in a serious tone.
"Why on full moon? I really think you are a witch. Witches love the moon," he chuckled.
"Silly. How would I see and admire the flowers here if it's pitch dark?" she replied and they both laughed.
The girl took her book and turned the pages with her delicate hand.
"What are you reading?"
"Just stories... This is the journal of my grandmother. She's a doctor in an infirmary when she was young. It’s the story of her life, her passion, her dreams, and her love for my grandfather. Someday, I want to be like her—passionate, brave, and unwavering.
"Do you stay with her?"
"No, she passed away. I live with my father. He is the village leader. He's passionate, wise, and prudent like my grandmother. He was very occupied and busy settling all the villagers' affairs that he sleeps very soundly at night, snoring loud most of the time– that’s when I creep out of the house to go here.”
“He would definitely not allow you to be here all by yourself.”
For several months, the young lad kept coming to the meadow whenever the moon floats beaming with all its radiance in the sky. He had never been so happy and so alive! His dearest acquaintance, the maiden in the meadow, had been the only thought in his mind. He enjoyed the nights they spent sharing stories and laughing until their bellies hurt. He loved spending time admiring his lovely amusing companion under the shadow of the bare branches of the lifeless oak tree.
"You are the loveliest and the kindest person I've known," the lad told her in a serious tone on the night of the ninth month while he sat beside her. "I want you to know that I began falling in love with you the first night I saw you here..."
"Love?” the girl replied with a slight disbelief.
"I couldn't help it," the boy replied, "I think I have fallen so deeply in love with you."
"Please… No. Not love,” she said with an intense tone as she stood and walked away from the boy. “I know love from the stories of my grandmother. Love is an obsession. Love makes a fool. Love is an illusion. Love makes you sacrifice anything whatever the consequences are. Love hurts you more than anything else in the world,” she said with much contention as she paced back and forth.
"No, that's not love... Love is beautiful! Love is the best feeling in the world! Accept my love and I am going to show you the love far different from what you know."
“I am afraid… I couldn’t... Your emotions are playing with you. You must be mistaken.”
“No, I am true to my words. It’s alright if you won’t accept my love right now. But I promise you, what I feel in my heart is true. And I know… somehow you felt the same too.”
As the dark clouds were fading, the lad must bid goodbye for it was almost dawn. He held her hands tenderly and declared his love once more with all sincerity. He asked her to promise him that she would be waiting for him under the oak tree on the next full moon. The lad left with his heart full of happiness and much excitement.
In the silence broken only by the soft howling of the breeze, the maiden’s tears started falling down on her cheeks.
“Did he say he loves you? said the voice from behind the oak tree.
“Yes…. Yes, grandmother, he did.” she replied as she wiped her tears inconspicuously.
“Very well… We shall all be looking forward to the next full moon,” scoffed her grandmother.
“ An innocent heart that loveth… shall fulfill thy yearning, “said the soft eerie ghostly voices from the oak tree as the lifeless tree shook and shivered. Its branches twisted and wiggled around as they transformed into ghastly old women wearing black velvet robes same as her grandmother’s.
The maiden stood pensively looking at horizon as the high-pitched laughter of many voices echoed in the meadow.
Writer Go Hyee is a pen name by a freelance writer from the Philippines. He started writing flash fiction in 2020 because he enjoys making stories with unpredicatable twists, foreshadowing, and flashback with a hint mystery concised in a written work with less than 1000 words. His goal is to create flash fiction that would leave his readers puzzled and intrigued.
A Locket for Anita
For fifty-six years I loved her, My Anita, your grandmother. This I am going to tell you and promise me that you will tell this story to your grandchildren too.
I met your grandmother when she worked as a servant girl in the bakery beside the cathedral. She was just sixteen when she started working there after she ran away from home. All I know is that she was an orphan raised by her abusive stepmother-- a typical fairytale in the making if you would ask me. A simple pale skinny maiden yet she was the loveliest in my eyes.
I know your grandmother liked me first. She always wore that same sweet smile every time I came buying for bread. Every morning, I would rush to the bakery to buy bread for breakfast, then I would go there again to buy bread for snacks, bread at noon, and another piece of bread for dinner. At night, I would be lying on my bed half asleep excited to rise early to do it all over again. It was my joy to see her lovely face every day. For months, I had been religious in my routine--never tired of going back and forth to see her smile.
When the war broke, I had to leave. I decided to confess my love which she warmly accepted. As a sign of my devotion, I gave her this gold locket that I've worked hard for. Honestly, I wasn't hopeful that I would ever return but I told her to wait for me so we could both have our photos taken for the locket.
Four years had passed and I returned home as a man. I went to the bakery but I didn't find her. The owner told me that she went back to her hometown the day I went to war. Without waiting for another day, I set forth to find her. My dire heart has longed enough and I wouldn't want to waste another day without her by my side.
When I came near to the wooden gate, I saw Anita from a far as lovely as ever. My Anita, wearing the necklace I gave her. When our eyes met, my heart raced! I ran to her and hugged her really tight. It took her a while before she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me even tighter so tight that it seemed as if she never would want to let go. Just three days after, I asked her to marry me which she happily agreed to.
My Anita... I loved her every day since. Sadly, your grandmother died not knowing who I was to her-- dementia caused her a lot. Her last words were "Anita, Victor, Anita, Anita, Victor" and I said, "Yes, my darling, I am here." She peacefully passed away holding this locket which she cherished with all her heart.
A month after the funeral, while I was on the porch holding this locket, I could imagine my beautiful Anita dancing, prancing, and laughing under our favorite tree. The gold locket is old but it still glimmers. When I opened it, I saw my picture which was taken after the war. On the other half, a picture of two girls who looked exactly the same.
The Tale of the Mice
"Where is Verit?" the Gossiper mouse asked.
"I don't know...," replied the Mother mouse as she was holding back her tears. "He was just in the other room last night and now..." the Mother mouse started crying again.
"Hush, stop crying... Maybe he just went out for an early walk."
"That's not possible. He was very weak and very pale. Verit started acting rather odd after his long walk with Yezdit the Traveler and the Walker. He seldom talked to me– always sitting in his room drowned in deep thoughts and giving out long sighs. Yesterday, I caught Verit staring at me with the saddest expression I have yet seen of him. He seemed very disturbed. I asked him what's wrong but he never said a word. He just looked at me with his loving eyes and started talking about his dreams for our child." The Mother mouse continued sobbing, deeply worried for what might have happened.
"Please stop crying, you're still weak. By the way, where is your newborn? Zabota the Caretaker said it's a boy."
The Mother mouse dried her tears in attempt to answer.
"Yes, I gave birth to a son. What a precious gift to the world. Our baby is still in the safe room right now. It's best to keep him warm in the meantime."
"Did you and Verit have an argument?" sniffed the Gossiper.
"No, we didn't. Last night before we went to sleep, while I was nursing my wound, he started talking about our son. 'Khodit… what a beautiful name, ' Verit told me, 'Khodit the Wanderer… Our precious son, my precious boy...When he grows up, I want him to travel to beautiful places far from here. Someday I hope he visits the vast lush greens of vales and hills that we heard from the stories of Skazat the Storyteller. Khodit will surely enjoy travelling to places different from the world we know..." He paused for a while trying to hold his tears. "Though I liked the name, I want to change it with something better-- Spasti, we are now going to call him Spasti the Saviour... Always tell our little boy that he is important no matter how small he is..."
Her heart went heavy as she recalled their conversation. The Mother mouse wiped the tears in her eyes that was about to fall then she continued, " Those are his exact words. I heard a painful crack in his shaky voice whenever he mentioned our son's name. Was it him saying goodbye to me? I should have known." Tears flowed incessantly from her eyes once more.
"I know Verit, he would never leave you just like that. The worst thing that could happen to him is to disappear just like what happened to the Borba the Fighter and the Mechta the Dreamer. Have you asked Yezdit?"
"No, I’ve never seen him since..."
Their conversation was interrupted by a loud thump from the Walker who had been standing at a distance. Even though the Walker was far from them, the Gossiper mouse have noticed him from the corner of her eyes looking at them from time to time. She moved a little closer to the Mother mouse and spoke in great caution.
"Do you think the Walker had something to do with this? the Gossiper mouse whispered. "I really find him very suspicious. He leisurely walks around during the day passing by our houses not saying a word-- never greeting anyone. Some neighbors think that he’s responsible for the disappearance of Borba and Mechta because they went missing after the Walker accompanied them. And look at him… he's very odd, very white, and very huge!
"I don’t know.... the Walker never harmed us. I think it was Yezdit. Maybe they fought. They never talked after the long walk. Maybe it was their argument that bothered him. Verit started having nightmares saying words I didn't understand, "esssSlabi,slabi...nache..natchela.." The attacks became frequent lately. Last night, I woke up to a very strange sound- a groaning sound. I saw Verit cringing on the floor so I asked him what's wrong. He tried to stand very slowly catching his belly, trembling, shuddering, yet he told me that it was nothing. I could tell that he was trying to move his limbs but he couldn't. I saw his eyes- that helpless expression in his sad eyes, but I couldn't do anything from a far…I myself am still weak."
"You should have been alert. They say the disappearances took place at night. The Weaver mouse said her husband, Borba, was gone when she woke up, the following morning Mechta disappeared! You should have stayed awake. You could have..." The Gossiper mouse abruptly paused when she saw the Walker briskly walking towards them.
The two mice were scared--petrified they couldn't move. The Walker went closer to the Gossiper and looked at her straight in the eye. The Gossiper mouse gulped in fear. In one swoop, the Walker grabbed her tightly! The Gossiper mouse squeaked in fear! She was frantically trying to escape from the Walker's grip. The Mother mouse, shocked and appalled, tripped on her feet as she stepped back.
"Vot Etot!" said the Walker in a loud roaring voice.
It was the first time they heard him speak!
The latest abduction took place in broad daylight!
The Mother mouse couldn’t believe what she just witnessed as she was still trembling in fear. At that very instance, the safety of her family crossed her mind– her precious son, Spasti, her husband– his dreams. The mere thought crushed her heart. Then she remembered what Verit said— "Someday, our son will save lives."
(The story is inspired by The Monument to the Laboratory Mouse, a sculpture in the park in front of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The monument commemorates the sacrifice of the mice in genetic research used to understand biological and physiological mechanisms for developing new drugs and curing of diseases.)
The Beauty Queen and Her Fancy Bracelets
She puts on a nude rose matte lipstick as the last touch to the perfection she beholds. Who would say that she's over forty now? Her skin-her face, is beaming with vitality. She was once crowned the most beautiful in her youth and now she leads an extravagant, joyful, and almost perfect life. The sole heiress to the bountiful fortune of her mother and a wife to one of the sons of the richest clan in the country; What more could she ask for? Money. Fame. Fortune. Loving husband. Her mother was right, "Choose the right man, and you’ll be happy all your life." Her devoted husband supports her in everything that she does. In fact, it would cause not a bit of a fuss if she goes on a last-minute jet-setting shopping-spree to buy millions-worth of jewelry abroad.
Though she has been married thrice- all three to a widower, no controversy about her marriages ever caused ill rumor in the high elite class. Her late husbands have shown much adoration for her that when she was widowed everyone who knows her mourned with her for she herself is such a sweet, kind, thoughtful, generous lady—a "woman of great propriety" to all her acquaintances.
When her makeup is all set, she stands and unlocks her jewelry closet with a fingerprint censor. Today, she must choose the finest piece of bracelet that will match her clothes. She will be meeting her friends casually in the Oliver Messel Suite at The Dorchester hotel to formally welcome the new member in their elite socialite club who just flew in from Munich, Germany.
Of all the jewelry, she fancies bracelets more. It is the only thing in the world that makes her heart flutter with joy. She thinks she inherited this fascination from her mother whose bracelets comprise at least half of her collection. As she runs her delicate fingers over her fancy bracelets, she remembers her mother and her best days with her. Her loving mother always tucked her to bed every night, read her stories, and made her recite verses of foreign languages until she fell asleep. Then her mother would always whisper in her ears that someday, she would be the prettiest queen with the fanciest bracelets in the world. Her mother spoke the truth. She smiles as she adores her wonderful collection. “You’re right mum, you’re always right.”
She gazes on the stunning florette cuff in 18k white gold with diamonds and pink tourmaline. It is a perfect match to her simple white cashmere long-sleeved tops. She puts on the bracelet, admires herself in front of the mirror, and turns around several times with subtlety and elegance as a prima ballerina in pirouette. Then she sits down on her Doshi Levien chair and let out a long sigh as she carefully rolls down her sleeves to hide her imperfection—the small cystic lumps on her arms same as her mother’s. The permanent uncurable lumps all over her arms and back started to appear on her body a year before her first marriage. Since then, she had to wear fashionable long sleeves to hide her unpleasant repulsive secret.
The Oliver Messel Suite is one of the signature suites at The Dorchester. It is the sophisticated suite designed by Oliver Messel which is adored by a shimmering history of illustrious guests– and in this room, her socialite friends happily greet her upon her arrival. They are all instantly captivated by her stunning florette diamond cuff. She can sense envy in their sweet praises, and she secretly likes it.
While they are having conversation in between sips of tea, the newest member of the club arrives. Everybody greets her warmly. They inevitably pry on every detail of her outfit. Check. Check. “Oh my God!” The ladies exclaim. She is wearing the Cartier-designed Diamond Panther bracelet! An extravagant pave-set with brilliant single-cut diamonds, calibre-cut onyx, and two marquise-shaped emerald. The new lady’s bracelet becomes the hot topic in the room as everyone is so thrilled to see this rare antique jewelry right in front of their eyes.
“What a fancy bracelet,” she tells the lady as her pupils dilate briefly and unnoticeably.
“Thank you dear, it’s from an auction from Milan. My husband bought it for me as an anniversary gift. And…uhm… I just want to show this beauty to the ladies here,” the lady replied in modesty.
"Really. You are married to Mr. Schultcher, the billionaire with a large shipping business, " she states in a toneless voice, “Will your husband be here as well?"
“Yes, in a month he’ll be here."
“Perfect,” she replied inaudibly. ”Come sit with us. We really love your bracelet!” She says with much excitement and ushers the lady to the sofa.
In the middle of the resonating chit-chats and high pitched laughter in the room, she excuses herself and stands in the far corner appearing to be talking on her phone. She mutters indistinct words of verses she knows by heart through gritted teeth while her eyes are sternly fixed on the fancy bracelet. After a few minutes, she walks casually near the lady and gently taps the lady’s shoulder twice.
“I’m sorry, are you saying something?” the lady asked.
“Oh nothing, I just thought there’s something on your shoulders."
It has started.
Her lips arched a nefarious smile as she sips the cold tea from her cup. She can feel intense itching in her arms and back, but she still smiles in delight.
She meets the lady’s eyes who sits across the room and lowers her sight once more to the fancy bracelet.
“What a conversation starter," she tells herself.