Posted in Poetry

Do My Eyes Betray Me?

Do my eyes betray me?

When I look at you

Do you see?

Are they windows to my soul

My storm

My inner turmoil

Can you see what I hide?

What I bury

Deep inside?

When I laugh

Do my eyes show?

The sadness

And all the sorrow

Do they glisten

With unshed tears?

Collected pain

From all the years

When I smile

Do my eyes do the same?

I can’t remember

A life without pain

I can’t recall

How it used to be

When things were good

And I was happy

My eyes are tired

I wish to close them soon

Find peace in the night

And solace from the moon

They say eyes can’t lie

And I hope that’s true

I hope my eyes don’t deny

My hidden truth

Do my eyes betray me?

I really wish they could

Find someone who’d see me

I wish you would.

Posted in Personal

Watching Movies and Anxiety

There’s a post that I found a few weeks ago. Basically it says that people with anxiety rarely watch new films or TV series. They prefer to re-watch old and familiar stories. That way, they wouldn’t be caught surprised or unawares.

Well, I have general anxiety.

And yet I love watching films in cinemas, and I binge-watch a lot of things on Netflix. I thought I was the exception to the rule, and I felt weirdly proud about it.

But I recently caught myself doing something that made me realize that I, too, don’t like surprises in either movies, series or books:

I read spoilers.

Yep.

I realized that I automatically google spoilers and plot twists on the internet before watching any movies. If it’s based on books, I try to read the book first and look up movie details before buying cinema tickets. All the movies I’ve watched, I waited at least a week and soaked up on spoilers before going to the cinema.

(The only time I didn’t do this was when we watched The Last Exorcism and that movie ended up disappointing me more than anything.)

I do this especially on Marvel films. I actually waited til they lifted the no spoilers ban before I watched “Endgame”. I read everything on the internet – be it Wikipedia, IMDB, Reddit or 9gag. If it has spoilers, I’ve visited it.

Even watching TV series, I research about each season and episodes. If I get particularly attached to one character, I also read their fictional biography. It’s so that I can mentally prepare myself if they should suddenly leave or die in future episodes. I also take note of episodes with cliffhangers. I try to allot enough time for me to watch all parts of a multi-episode story arc in one sitting.

If it’s updated weekly (like Game of Thrones was), I wait a day or two before I watch the new episode to make sure some people already updated its wiki page.

Books have not escaped this weirdness of mine. I used to find books on Goodreads or Amazon books. I read their summary and reviews. Some reviews have a bit of a spoiler, and I really enjoyed that.

When I go to bookstores and browse stuff, I still google some of the titles that intrigued me. If the books are open, I’d flipped through the pages and even read the ending. Books that have solid endings usually end in my cart. Those with cliffhangers, not so much. Unless I know that I can afford to complete the series.

So, I guess I am not an exception after all. I don’t like surprises. I don’t like not knowing when the ghosts will suddenly appear. I want to know if the character I am strongly rooting for (right now that’s Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds) will have a happy ending or not.

I overthink everything before I sleep at night and I do not need the additional worries over the fictional worlds I’ve been in the whole day.

Posted in Poetry

Orihime

Every day I wait
Across the ocean
Just to glimpse
Your smile, your eyes
Every night I pray
Patiently weaving
My tears into time
No matter how far
Our distance is
Yet our hearts
As closed as can be
Always hoping
For that one night
One moment
To be with you
And feel your warmth
Touch your hand
Feel your heartbeat
As we watch the stars
Connect the skies
Just for us
A sliver of sunshine
After an endless night
This tiny piece
Of eternity with you
Is enough, my star
Until we meet again.
Posted in Poetry

Evening Primrose

In the darkness
In the cold
A voice beckons
A hand takes hold.

All the sorrows
All the pain
In the corner
Let it rain.

Take a deep breath
Let it go
Push your fears
Let it flow.

Open your eyes
Watch the light
Slowly fading
Day into night.

Feel the cold
Let it in
Do not fight
Let it win.

Feel the wind
Caress your face
As you fall
Fall in grace.

Let the darkness
Set you free
Take my hand, dear
Come to me.
Posted in Travel

At the Peak of Mt. Takao

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With too many free hours these past few weeks, I dug up some photos from previous adventure. I was so busy last year between working and traveling, that I pushed all these posts to the back burner. So, I will try to share these now while trying to adjust to the new normal in Tokyo.

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May 2, 2019

Mt. Takao is probably one of the places I regret not visiting in my previous travels in Tokyo. It is located in Hachioji, a mere 30-minute train ride from Toyoda where I am currently residing.

So, when my new friend (Lawrence) invited me for a hike, I immediately said yes. Mt. Takao (or commonly referred as Takaosan) has 6 different trails, each with unique views and special points. The easiest is trail number 1 which would take you to the 599-meter summit in just under 90 minutes. You can even reach it faster by using either the cable car or chair lift (tickets are sold separately).

image from livejapan.com

For our adventure, we decide to walk the first half of trail 1, and divert to trail 4 to see the suspension bridge.

image from japan-guide.com

I must admit, being out-of-shape was difficult during the hike. I had to rest multiple times because I couldn’t breathe properly. Good thing that the trails almost always have a bench or something similar where people can sit and rest.

Lawrence is a newbie vlogger, so we had to stop more than usual to take photos and video shots. And my goodness, the views were awesome and breath-taking!

meet my friend, Lawrence

We reached the summit after 2.5 hours of slow-paced hiking. We had lunch at one of the small restaurants at the peak: tororo soba and light beer (yep, we drank beer at lunch XD).

tororo soba and beer

After resting and enjoying the fresh air. We tried to find Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, it was a bit overcast, and Fujisan was hiding behind layers of clouds.

On the way down, we stopped over Yakuo-in Temple to add a new stamp for my collection.

We decided to take the chair lift to the mountain base. It was fun, albeit a bit scary. The chairs have no safety bars, or seat belts. We had to sit properly, or else fall down on to the safety net below.

At the base of the mountain, we took our time relaxing at the Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu. Since it was Golden Week, the entrance fee was ¥1200 per person – a little more expensive than the usual price. 2 glorious hours at the onsen can really wash away the stress and fatigue.

And we did all of this within 12 hours! I still couldn’t believe that I was able to trek that much. 🙂

I enjoyed the hike, but I am still a water girl at heart. I’d rather go to the beach than climb mountains. LOL.

Posted in JapanLife

Japan Lockdown: My Experiences as a Foreigner

On April 7th 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a State of Emergency (SoE) on 7 prefectures: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka. It was later expanded as Nationwide SoE, and extended until May 31st.

During this time, my hometown in the Philippines was already under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Family and friends had adjusted to working from home, no public transportation, limited mobility, and social distancing. Some friends who were required to still go to work (ie frontliners) were living in company-provided hotels near their employment.

They also told me about requiring quarantine pass – an ID provided by the local government for each household – just to go out and buy basic necessities. Because of that, and also limited capacity in stores, most of the people had to buy bulk and sometimes shops run out of items.

I’ve heard so many stories of the difficulties of ECQ from friends, family and even random people on social media.

Naturally, when news broke out about Japan’s SoE, my family was worried for me. I was living alone in a country where I barely speak the language. And most of the news articles in English sounded vague, and a little incomplete. Their worst fear was that I get deported for being a foreigner in Japan.

However, my experiences during Japan’s “lockdown” was anything but worrisome. My routine didn’t totally change, and I rarely felt the anxiety over the pandemic. Japan’s SoE was totally different from Philippines’s ECQ, based on my personal views. And I feel so fortunate that I am living in Tokyo during these times of global distress.

So, what did change?

The biggest change was that malls, shops and entertainment centers closed for indefinite period. Even parks and zoos temporarily shut their doors to the public. What amazed me about this is that most of these places voluntarily closed even before the SoE. They didn’t wait for any written rule from the government, but took their own initiative to protect their employees and customers.

Places that remained open (ie supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores) made every adjustment they could to lessen the spread of infection. Staff wore masks, face shields and gloves. Transparent plastics were used to cover the counter, and markers are used to measure the 1 meter distance for lines. However, their hours remained the same as usual, so I am still able to shop at the 24-hour supermarket without problems. There are no rules of capacity, but we had to undergo temperature check at the entrance, and we’re encouraged to use the free alcohol/sanitizer.

All the citizens were encouraged to stay-at-home and avoid crowded places. However, going out was not penalized by the law, and curfews were not in effect. Even so, since most of the places are closed, people hardly go out. There’s nowhere to go to anyways, so my friends and I just stay and have fun indoors.

Also, the government asked companies to allow teleworking (work from home). In our office, 80-90% of employees did telework, leaving only a handful to work onsite. Since I live literally a minute away, I am one of the few who decided to continue working as usual. I also gained a new housemate. She’s a new employee who doesn’t have a car, and our CEO didn’t want her to commute everyday via train. She’ll move out again when the “new normal” begins.

Public transportation are still operational. I could still travel anywhere in Tokyo, but crossing prefecture borders were highly discouraged by the government. I’ve always thought Tokyo train stations as spacious, but seeing it without people was a bit mind-boggling. It was like living in an post-apocalyptic period.

Japan also closed its borders to most countries that had high infection rate. Unfortunately, Philippines was included and our passport and visa were restricted. It doesn’t mean I had to go back home and suffer, I just can’t go out of Japan for a while. And even if they lift the restrictions, I would still be required to have 14 days quarantine when I return to Japan. I cannot afford 2 weeks without work and staying in Narita airport (their makeshift quarantine area looks weird, honestly).

Good thing I could refund the airline tickets I bought. It maybe some time before I could indulge my wander lust again.

One thing that my friends and I were looking forward to is the financial aid from the government. I am still unsure if I am qualified for this, but most of the articles I read stated that foreigners are also eligible to claim. I would be very thankful if I do receive some aid, but I won’t be sorely disappointed if I don’t. I still have regular income after all.

Today, May 26th, PM Abe has lifted the SoE throughout the nation – a week before its deadline. Japan is one of the few countries that have successfully flatten the curve in terms of new cases. The local government now has the authority to implement rules they deem necessary to continue the fight against Covid. Some shops have reopened with adjusted hours, teleworking is still encouraged as much as possible, and people are still requested to stay at home.

We are now entering the “new normal” phase. I honestly don’t know what will happen next, but I trust the government, and I trust the people around me. I love the Philippines – it is my home after all; but Japan is the safest place for me. Every day I feel so lucky to be living and working here. I can only hope and pray that the Philippines will overcome the virus (and its other “diseases”) and that I can visit home soon.

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I hope that everyone is safe and secure wherever your are! Virtual hugs ❤ ❤ ❤ !! We can get through this. #WeHealAsOne

Posted in Poetry

Unsent Letter

Things left unsaid are heavy burdens to carry

But carry them all, I did my hardest

Until now, when the load has spilled

And my heart is too full to keep it inside

I wish for more days with you

For more moments of us together

I hoped to hear your voice once again

Your infectious laughter at my corny jokes

I wish I could have told you everything

How much I care for you and love you

I wanted to dance with you

Feel your arms around me

To believe that you feel the same as I do

But you don’t, and you can’t, and you never will

And all I have left are words unsaid

Feelings un-showed

I can’t hold you, but I can hold on to my memories

Memories of your smile, the twinkle in your eyes

I am yours, but you are hers

And I will not fight a lost battle

I will not break another person’s heart

So, I let my own heart break

Into a thousand pieces,

Each shard a mirror, with your face as reflection

You are my best friend, my soul mate

The best thing that could have happened to me

And your happiness is my happiness

Even as the tears roll down

And the screams burn in my throat

I will not let them out, I will not let my feelings show

I wished so hard that I could have held you

One more time, one last time

But it is for the best

And the silence is for the better

The distance is a good protector

In time, I will heal

I will be better, and I will be happy

And the words will just be words

One day, I will look back to today

And I will have no regrets.

Posted in Short Stories

34 Degrees Celsius

I wrote another horror short story for Reddit NoSleep. I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed writing sad horror genre. I feel like I could release some of the darkness inside me.

Disclaimer: All names and events in this story are fictional and not based on real persons or events. This story also includes child abuse, domestic violence and medical misdiagnosis. Trigger warning.

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My normal body temperature is 34 degrees Celsius. Medically, it’s considered hypothermia and I probably should be dead. My parents and even the doctors were confused why I am still alive, breathing, and functioning normally.

Honestly, I wasn’t always like this.

*********

My childhood was relatively normal. I was a timid child, preferring the company of dolls instead of playing outside with my older brother and sister.

My siblings, Oliver and Leann, were very rambunctious children. Our parents were used to going to the children’s clinic occasionally, after their horseplay. Unlike me, the two of them liked their scars. It was like a trophy or something in their minds.

But we loved each other, and they tried to include me as much as possible in their games. When they played dragon (Oliver) and knight (Leann), I was the trapped princess at the castle tower (sofa). I was the queen, the humble peasant or even just a passerby with no real roles in the game. But I was happy. I was happy to be included and still avoided stitches and bruises.

Until the morning of my 6th birthday. I woke up with a terrible pain in my leg. I couldn’t stand from the bed and Leann had to run to our parents’ room for help. When mom pulled down my covers, my right ankle was red and swollen. They took me to the emergency room, thinking I had an extreme allergic reaction to something. But the diagnosis was weirder than they thought.

My ankle was broken. And I had bruises on both my legs as if I had fallen down the stairs.

The doctors asked my parents if I did fall, but our house was a 1-storey bungalow type. There were no stairs or any high places I could have fallen from. And the injury was too recent that it could have only been possible a few hours before we went to ER.

My parents, my siblings and even I was confused how it was possible.

In the end, the doctors concluded that I might have fallen off my bed. They put a cast on me, and I got to stay home for the next couple of weeks.

It was my first time to get a severe injury, and I did not like the feeling at all. I avoided joining my siblings’ game after that, too afraid that I might get accidentally hit.

Over the next few weeks, I stayed in my room with my dolls. One afternoon, as I was playing alone, I had a sudden pain in my right stomach. It was like a truck had hit me, and I couldn’t breathe.

Luckily, Oliver ran past our room on his way to get his baseball gear. He saw me lying on the carpet with my mouth wide open, trying to get as much air as possible. He called mom who was in the garden, and they rushed me to the hospital.

I had a large bruise on my right stomach, and the x-ray showed the bone on my lower rib cage was fractured.

I told the doctors I was alone when it happened – no one in my family had ever hit me. I don’t think they believed it.

Child protective services were called to investigate if there was any child abuse at home. Us kids stayed with our aunt while I healed, and our parents dealt with the investigation.

I think it was Leann who planted the first seed of idea in my mind, “You know, Bea, I got hit by a ball on my stomach when you got that pain. Maybe you’re feeling the injuries I get. Kind of like a twin thing – but with sisters. I’m really sorry.”

In our childish minds, it made sense. We were too bonded, and I was too sensitive.

The CPS investigation found no evidence of abuse in our home. My parents were good people who loved their children unconditionally. The three of us finally got to go home, and Leann promised to be more careful if I was indeed channeling her pain in some way.

I didn’t get any more major injuries after that. But we noticed that I had a lot of random bruises on my body. Sometimes I even wake up with marks on my body like a cigarette burn. Those hurt a lot.

Over the next couple of years, my parents sent me to doctors and specialists – trying to figure out if I had some sort of disease causing all those injuries. All my tests were negative. I was in good physical health, but I continued to get marks and bruises on my body.

It eventually stopped. For a while.

And then, when I was 10, it happened again. The five of us were at the park, flying kites or watching the ducks on the pond. I felt the air rush out my body, and my throat closed in. I felt like I was being strangled by an invisible force. The last I saw was my parents frantically calling for help before I passed out.

My memories of that time are kind of blurry now. But I remember seeing a kid in my dream. He was around my age, and he kind of looked like me except that he was very skinny. He was limping, and he had bruises all over his face. He looked at me with the saddest brown eyes – eyes that were eerily similar to mine.

When I woke up, I was again at the hospital. It had become like a second home to me. My face and neck were swollen, and my throat was bone dry. I heard the doctors talking to my parents, saying words that didn’t make sense to me.

“…strangulation…”

“…trauma on her face and neck…”

“…bruises similar to a thick rope around her neck and wrists…”

I just had an injury similar to a punching bag and we had no idea why. Once again, CPS was called, but there were a lot of witnesses at the park that day. They all said that I randomly started choking, with no external force whatsoever. The bruises also started appearing while I was unconscious, and the paramedics were trying to save me.

I felt very afraid. There was an unseen force trying to hurt me, or even kill me. My parents sent me to more doctors. They thought I might have epilepsy or mental disorder, and that I might have been subconsciously hurting myself. I was home-schooled, and my parents took turns watching me sleep at night.

When I turned 13, my parents decided to tell me the truth about myself. They thought that it might help understand all the things that were happening to me.

They sat the three of us down and told me, “Bea, we love you. Your brother and sister love you. And we always will, even if we don’t share the same blood.”

I was adopted. My biological mother and I were found living on the streets when I was just a few months old. She was bruised, battered, half-crazed and rambling about leaving my other half behind. The good Samaritans took us to an asylum, where she passed away shortly and I was given to an orphanage.

During a church charity event, my parents went to the orphanage to give out toys and stuff. My father said I grabbed his hand and he decided he would never let me go. They adopted me on the spot.

After that revelation, I realized I might actually have a mental illness of some kind. My biological mother obviously had it, and I had no idea about my biological father.

Since then, I stayed indoors a lot. Whenever I wake up to a new bruise on my body, I just thought that I might have done it to myself while I was asleep. I didn’t tell my parents anymore injuries unless I had to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and my psychologist thought that I was subconsciously hurting myself during my sleep.

Still, I didn’t tell anyone about the boy I kept seeing in my dream. As I grew up, he also grew in my mind. We began to look more like each other, but his injuries worsened. I felt a weird connection to that boy in my dream, and I felt sad whenever I woke up.

The last major injury I had was when I was 16. I woke up in the middle of the night choking in my own blood. I could feel my lungs collapsing inside me. With the little air I had, I screamed for Leann, and she woke up and immediately called 911 as she raced to get our parents.

At the ER, I felt pain like I never felt before. I knew I was dying. The cold started at my fingertips, spreading like wildfire all over my body. It was cold and hot at the same time. I couldn’t breathe, and my vision was tunneling. When the pain reached its limit, I passed out.

I dreamed of the boy again, but he was brutally beaten. He was lying on the floor. And he kept whispering, “Ryan… Rachel.. Ryan..”

I woke up with fractured and broken rib cages, collapsed left lung, broken collar bone, swollen larynx, and multiple bruises on my arms and legs. I had multiple surgeries, and steel pins attached inside me. I had to be on 24/7 observation and they constantly drain water collecting in my lungs.

It was the most agonizing year of my life. Aside from the physical therapy I had to do, I was also subjected to multiple sessions with psychologists and psychiatrists. I was depressed and confused. My parents believed I did all those injuries to myself, and they were as depressed as me.

Even after my bones and wounds healed, I had to stay at the hospital for constant observation. My vitals were checked every 5 minutes because my heart rate was too slow, my oxygen level was also below normal, and my temperature remained at 34 degrees Celsius. In all medical sense, I should be dead. But I’m not.

After a year of daily check-up, the doctors finally gave up in finding the reason for my unusual temperature. I was allowed to go home to continue healing. My parents, my siblings and I continued seeing a family therapist to deal with the trauma.

During one of the private sessions, I mentioned Leann’s comment from so many years ago. How I was too sensitive to the pain of my siblings. And the therapist woke me up with this: “Probably. And even though they’re not your blood relative, your bond is still too strong.”

Yes, Leann and Oliver may be my siblings, but I was adopted. I shouldn’t have that kind of intimate connection to them. As Leann had said, it was a twin thing.

When I turned 18, I told my parents that I would go and find my biological family. I wanted to understand where I came from, and why those things happened to me. They were worried, of course, so Oliver decided to accompany me.

We went to the orphanage where I got to know my mother’s name: Rosalie Evans, and the asylum where she passed away. With a little help from my dad (who was a lawyer), I got Rosalie’s medical records from the asylum. She was indeed a little crazy in the end, but the doctors believed it was the result of years of physical and mental abuse. Her body had a lot of bruises and scars from old beatings.

I dug a little deeper into her life. She was involved in a lot of domestic abuse reports. It seemed her husband beat her a lot and their neighbors would repeatedly report him. But at the station, Rosalie would always deny the abuse and gave excuses about her injuries. She was blindly in love with that bastard, and she wouldn’t leave him. Until the day her children were born.

As I journeyed on to find my past, I was shocked by another revelation: I was a twin. I found my birth records using Rosalie’s name and found out my real name was Rachel Evans, and I had a twin brother, Ryan.

At that moment, everything clicked in my mind: the boy in my dreams was my twin. The man I refuse to acknowledge as my father was an abusive and disgusting excuse for a human being. My mother was able to run away with me but couldn’t bring my brother along. Ryan was left to be raised by that awful man, and he suffered all his life for it.

I tried to find Ryan, I told Oliver that I wanted to save him, but I knew in my heart I was too late. And I was. We never found where Ryan was buried, probably somewhere in a pauper’s grave. They moved a lot when he was still alive, so it was difficult to trace his life. But we found his medical records. Like our mother, he had many healed fractures and scars from years of abuse. At 16, he died of internal bleeding from a collapsed lung after an altercation with his drunk father who treated him like a punching bag all throughout his short life.

Everything that happened to me was because of Ryan. Leann was right, it was a twin thing. Every abuse and pain my brother felt, I felt. And when he died, I think a little part of me died, too.

I’m just glad that when Ryan left this world, he took the bastard with him to the grave. I found his name too, but I don’t feel like glorifying his memory in this post. He doesn’t deserve that. All I will say is that he was found at a roadside, crazed and mumbling something about his dead kid haunting his dreams. They took him to the same asylum where my mother died, and he was found one morning hanging from the window.

Years have passed since then; I have come to accept my weird past, and my even weirder present. I was lucky to find a man who was as warm as I am cold, and we are expecting twins in the summer. I think if I get boys, I’ll name one of them Ryan – for the boy of my dreams and the brother I never got to know.

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Posted in Short Stories

Tinder Nightmares

I love reading horror stories on Reddit and Creepypasta. Recently, I decided to try my hands on writing my own. This is one of the few I’ve posted on Reddit r/nosleep.

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It happened 3 and half years ago. I was newly transferred from our Manila office to the firm’s headquarters in Nagoya, Japan. It was an exciting move for me – for the first time in my 30 years of life, I would be living by myself. And the idea of becoming part of the main design team was motivating

I had very low Japanese skills, so I didn’t make new friends right away. But it was a good timing for me to learn how to be independent. The solitude was actually freeing and refreshing.

The first friend I made was Rica, who was working at the accounts department of our firm. She was married to a Japanese guy and they had one baby boy.

It was Rica who suggested I use Tinder in the first place. It was where she and her husband met, and she thought I could also find my true love there.

I had just gotten out of a long-term toxic relationship at that time, so I wasn’t interested in dating. I guess you could say I had PTSD – it was a traumatic time of my life.

But Rica was as stubborn as I was, maybe even more so. Eventually, we made a Tinder profile for me, and she even guided me on how to filter out the creepers based on their photos and bios.

I admit, it was kind of fun. And even though I swiped left a lot more that I swiped right, I still had a decent number of matches. It was also easier to flirt on chat. I had always been more comfortable writing down my words than actually saying them.

So, when one of the guys (let’s just keep his nationality private – he’s not Japanese) invited me for an actual date, I was both excited and freaked out. Of course, I’ve read about those internet stories about blind dates gone awry, and I was prepared for that. I asked him to meet at Sakae Station when it was usually crowded. I thought that if he turned out to be a creep in real life, I could just scream and run.

But all my fears were unfounded when we finally met. His name was Lucas and he was everything his bio said he was: athletic-looking but still had that hint of nerdiness. He was a scientist of some sort – studying sleep patterns and dreams in relation to mental health. Honestly, his line of work was a little confusing to me at that time.

We had a lovely time. He was very fluent in Japanese after living here for almost 10 years. We had a laugh at the waitress’ confused look when she tried to ask me (very Asian face) our orders and he (very foreign) answered for us. And it seemed we had a lot of shared interests in books, films, and places we wanted to visit.

It was the best first date I could have ever asked for. We parted ways at the station as I declined his offer to drive me home. When I got home, he sent me a message that, at that time, I thought was very sweet, “Had a great time with you. I hope you’ll dream of me tonight as I will surely dream of you. Good night.”

Well, you guessed that right, I had a vivid dream about him that night. I wouldn’t go too much into details, but I remember it was like the extension of our date. We were sitting on my couch and talking about the things we didn’t have time to share before. He asked about my favorite flowers, and I told him “lilies… the blue-violet kind of lilies.” He smiled in my dream and that was the last I remember of it.

Lucas and I continued to chat and talk over the next few days. He was sweet, kind and the complete opposite of my ex. I felt safe and comfortable whenever I talked to him. His work kept him busy even during weekends that we couldn’t go out again. Still, his daily “good morning” and “good night” never failed to make me smile

After a while, I noticed that he would always end his messages with a little lily emoji. I asked him about it, and he said, “It just reminds me of you.”

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt a little nudge that something was off. I brushed it aside as simply a part of the walls I built after my last relationship. I was wary of getting deep into another relationship that might end up with me brutally battered mentally.

So, I kept it casual with Lucas. We talked when we can talk, and most of the time, we were chatting on Line. We met a few more times, for dinner or sometimes a movie. His busy schedule sometimes kept him stuck at work late at nights. Even so, I felt like I could take our relationship on the next level. On our conversations, he seemed like the perfect man for me. Even in my dreams, Lucas was a very prominent character almost every night. I really thought I could lower my guard for him, and then I met Alex.

Alex was also a foreigner on Japanese soil. We met in the Japanese class I took weekly. He was working in a factory, but he wanted to work in an office, so he was taking Japanese language lessons.

Alex was older than me, but he had a very youthful energy. I felt a different kind of calm when I’m with him. With him, I didn’t have to think about breaking down my walls – they simply fade away.

When I told Lucas that I won’t be seeing him anymore, I thought he would be mad. I was wrong. He simply said, “I understand. I’m happy that I met you. And I will continue to dream of you.”

The first night Alex stayed the night, I had another vivid dream about Lucas. It was weird, it felt real. He was talking to me and persuading me to think about our relationship again. He was talking about Alex too, “He will never understand you like I do. He doesn’t even know that you love lilies. He gives you roses, but you don’t like roses because of their thorns. He will never deserve you.”

It was an exhausting dream. I couldn’t argue back, it was only Lucas and his endless tirade of how Alex wasn’t the man for me. His voice was getting louder and louder until it was screaming in my head. It was unlike the Lucas I knew in real life. I woke up sweating and panting like I’ve just ran a marathon. Alex was awake beside me, his face full of concern. He said I was thrashing and crying, and as hard as he tried, he couldn’t wake me up.

I didn’t want him to worry even more, so I told him I just had a nightmare. We went back to a blissfully dreamless sleep.

The next morning, we had a surprise when we went out to go to work – there was a bunch of lilies outside my front door. A dozen or so blue-violet lilies carefully laid in a box and left at my door mat.

There was no card or anything, but I knew. I knew it was from Lucas. How or why? I had no idea. I sent him a message about it, but he didn’t reply. And when I tried to call him, the number was already disconnected.

The next few days, I would constantly find a lily anywhere I go. Even at the ladies’ room at work. At night, I would dream about Lucas – but it was a totally different kind of Lucas.

He would scream at me. He would tell me that Alex was just another guy who would break my heart. He would show me memories of my ex, but with Alex’s face replacing my ex’s face. And when I was a ragged crying mess in my dreams, he would hold me and comfort me. He still kept trying to persuade me to break up with Alex and come back to him.

I would wake up from these nightmares totally exhausted. I even had to take a few days off from work because I couldn’t function from sleep-depravity. I was afraid to sleep. The nightmares were like the sleep paralysis I had when I was a kid, but 10x worse. I couldn’t fight back, I couldn’t talk, and all I could do was cry trying to make Lucas stop.

Alex tried his hardest to comfort me. He stayed with me whenever he could, and even tried to take vacation time from work so he could be with me.

But even awake, I could feel Lucas’s presence. Before, the lilies would be somewhere public. I would find them at my desk at work, or outside my apartment door. After a while, they started appearing on my kitchen counter, my bath, and my closet. One time, I woke up from one of my Lucas nightmares to see a single lily at my bedside table.

I was exhausted beyond belief. I didn’t want to sleep, but I couldn’t stay awake. I was irritable and angry and I drove everyone I care about away. But Alex couldn’t be moved. He wanted to stay because he loved me, and I loved him too.

He suggested that I talk to a therapist, and that maybe the dreams were just manifestations of the trauma I had suffered from my ex-boyfriend. I agreed to humor him, but I knew it was not PTSD. I knew it was the real Lucas I was seeing in my dreams. And I also knew it was him who was leaving the lilies.

We found an English-speaking psychologist after days of research. I talked to her about my past relationship, and about Lucas. I told her everything except the fact that I knew they weren’t nightmares. I knew Lucas was somehow able to tap into my dreams to torment and torture me after I ended things with him.

Talking to the psychologist did help a little. She gave me some tips and exercises to try to calm myself whenever I get these nightmares.

After months of nightmare-filled nights, I finally knew what I had to do. When I went to bed that night, I immediately saw Lucas in my dream. I still couldn’t answer back, but after many nights of these, I could convince my subconscious mind that I was dreaming. I didn’t cry, instead I smiled, and I nodded in agreement with everything Lucas said.

I think it was that smile that took him aback. Suddenly I could feel air rushing into my lungs, and I could speak.

“Do you see now that I’m the right man for you?” he asked.

I nodded, “Yes. But I need proof that this is real. That what we have is real.”

Out of thin air, Lucas pulled a single blue-violet lily and handed it to me. “This is proof. I know who you are inside and out. I know everything in your mind. That Alex will never be the man I am for you. He doesn’t know you. He will never love you as much as I do.”

I held the flower in my hand, admiring the beauty of its petals. I felt sad that I would have to do the next step.

“You’re right, Lucas. Alex will never be the man that you are.” I smiled and held his gaze. “Because he is so much MORE than you.”

And then, I broke the flower in my hand. I crushed its leaves and petals and tore it into a thousand pieces. As I did, Lucas crumpled at my feet, screaming and begging. I continued to step on the broken flower until Lucas’s voice faded and my mind went blank.

In the morning, I woke up feeling rested and happy for the first time in so many months. In my hand was a single lily petal, crumpled and wilted.

Alex and I had a normal relationship, and we really enjoyed just staying in at nights watching movies until we fall asleep. I didn’t have any more nightmares, and I stopped seeing the psychologist. My dreams were filled with hopeful possibilities of my life with him.

A few days after that night, Alex and I saw the news on the internet. A very promising young scientist in the field of sleep analysis was found dead in his laboratory. The EMTs who found him were confounded about the cause of death: he was lying down on the laboratory bed, but every bone in his body was broken as if he had been trampled on. On his chest, they also found crashed and wilted pieces of a blue-violet lily.

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Posted in Poetry

When I Am Gone (**Trigger Warning**)

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I’ve actually written this weeks ago, just wasn’t sure if I should post it. This is one of those cases wherein the words came to me in the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep until I wrote them down.

Now, I realize it is some form of a catharsis for me. 3 years ago, I gave myself a 3 year deadline – to find a purpose for myself. I’ve planned to give my family and friends 3 more years time with me, before I can finally surrender to the darkness that was surrounding me. Luckily, I found light before that deadline passed, and I am trying my very best to stay in that light.

This poem is the letter I would have written if I followed through with my plan. The dark clouds still clung to me sometimes, and I think I needed to write these words to prove to myself that I am strong enough to resist it.

I also hope that this poem may be a source of comfort for those who have lost a loved one from depression. Just maybe.

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When I’m gone

Do not mourn for the lost

You cannot lose me

I am a part of your heart

As you will always be a part of mine

I am not lost

I’m in the breeze

That gently caresses your face

On summer nights

I’m in the rain and in the sunshine

The soft snow flakes

That kisses your brow

As you look up to a cloud-filled sky

When I’m gone

Do not shed tears of sadness

For my suffering has ended

And the pain that seeped slowly

Into each crevice of my soul

Is finally gone, my wounds are healed

And the storms hovering my head

Will become clear skies of freedom

Because I will finally be free

Of the darkness that has been my life

When I’m gone

Do not lament future memories

That will never be true

Remember instead the time we had

Your hand in mine, my heart in yours

Filling me with the joy I rarely feel

Do not blame yourself

You did not fail to save me

You were, are and always will be

One of the few best things in my life

And in that blackhole that was my existence

You are a ray of light

A sliver of hope

But I am broken

Broken beyond repair or salvation

And the only way to be whole again

Is to let go of this earthly vessel

Holding me in this prison of despair

When I’m gone

Do not forget me

But do not cling on to the past

Live your life the way I never could

And find the happiness I wish I had

Do not be afraid to love

And do not fear the unknown

I will be by your side for always

Wherever you may go

Think of me, remember our moments

And go on living to make new ones

Do not worry about me

I am at peace

And my soul is free

When I’m gone

I will not be truly gone

I will continue living

In your heart and in your memory

Do not despair, do not be sad

We will meet again

Someday, somehow

In another lifetime

So, smile and be happy

Be thankful for every minute, hours we had

And have the best life you and I dreamed of

I will just be here, guiding and watching over you

Even when I’m gone.