Thursday, 7 November 2013

But if I know you

Slow-worm's note: since it's November 7, two of my most important protagonists ever have birthday today. It's the twins Fai and Yuui, who have their origins in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, a fabulous manga series by Clamp. Fai and Yuui belong with Yue, an alternative universe created by me and A. For those who know the series: in our verse, Fai is real!Fai, and Yuui is real!Yuui, or TRC!Fai. I admit that "my" Yuui has been strongly influenced by his original prototype, while "my" Fai is generally my invention, although when some Horitsuba chapters were issued, it turned out that my and Clamp's vision of real!Fai are essentially rather similar. (And yes, it's Fai in my profile icon.)
I'm planning to write a separate note on Yue and its characters sometime in the future. For now treat yourself to this story below, which explains how Fai met his special one.

Credits

Original!Fai, Yuui and Kokuyo belong to Clamp.
Yue!Fai and Yuui belong to slow-worm.
Yue!Kokuyo belongs to A.
Story by slow-worm and A. Written and translated by slow-worm.

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Listen with your heart
You will understand
Let it break upon you
Like the wave upon the sand…
Listen with your heart
You will understand…

Dreams...

They say that dreams do come true. Or that at least –  some of them do.

And some people believe in them strongly. Some people build their lives upon dreams and around them, just like castles in the sand. Some of them don’t even regret it too much when such a castle collapses – they just get down then and build a new one. This doesn’t cost a thing, after all.

But me… I don’t have any dreams.

I guess my head is filled too heavily with my daily affairs, with my down-to-earth life. I don’t find myself capable of some romantic fits under the cover of the night. I leave dreams to the dreamers, just as I always used to do. What should a man like me dream about, anyway? About my patients’ health, or my brother’s happiness? But these are no things to dream about, or to long for them like for the stars in the sky…because these are reachable. Or in other words, it’s up to me and my own two hands whether they will come true. Why should I shove my responsibility for it onto the realm of the nighttime dreaming, then?

True, I could be just as well dreaming about changing the past. About fixing and saving that which is already irreversible and lost forever. About our parents. About our little brother. About Yuui recovering at last both mentally and physically. About that gloomy shadow that’s been marring his smile for the last few months disappearing from the corners of his lips. I could dream of it all. But there’s no way I could change the past. Such dreams would only remind me of my helplessness and convince me of the hopelessness of the current situation. They would be luring me into giving up without even fighting. And yet I know that no matter how difficult things are – that regardless of the drama of the circumstances, or how tough it could be for me, or how much pain would surround me – I must fix my gaze forward and just do my thing, and give it the best I can. Dreams about past would only distract me. I need no such dreams.

Perhaps someday there will be such a dream that will come across my life, too. And when that happens, that dream will give my world a set of new colours, inspire me with new faith, with a kind of strength different from what I’ve known up to now. Perhaps. But if it’s not to be, then that won’t make me unhappy. I am perfectly aware that the only thing that can make me happy is to serve my fellow people. This is something that I’m supposed to improve at, something I’m supposed to do as well as I can, to do it perfectly. It could be that it means I’m not capable of living for the sake of my own life, on my own account…I don’t care. At least there can be no one to criticize my life for being meaningless.

… The white of the paper, and the black of the numbers, lines, tables. The data still doesn’t reveal much to me, even though it is me who has been collecting it carefully for the last several days.  A graph of changes in the patient’s organism: temperature, pulse, breathing frequency, blood pressure… the last measurements prove that the condition has grown stable, but still there’s something about it all that makes me feel uneasy, so it’s better to keep a literally close watch on it and control it just a little more. This isn’t really my duty anymore, but the parents of this baby-girl are no affluent people, and so they can’t afford to grant their child a constant doctor’s care. And this disease is tricky – just a moment of inattention may end up with a tragedy. It’s nothing really big on my part. To call on a patient with a free visit once a day would not spoil my daily routine. Not to mention that to spend even whole days outside paying such visits would be something rather called for. I mean, Yuui still hasn’t returned to his work in the full, normal set of working hours, but to make sure his recovery is going as planned, he should be active physically, so short strolls to other districts of the town will do him good…And besides, I don’t feel like leaving him alone at home. And so I always take him together with me.
       
Just like I have today.  And today he’s so full of energy, this crazy little creature, just as if he had completely forgotten that only a few months ago he was on the verge of being paralyzed, a hair’s breadth away to complete numbness. I say “as if” – because we both know that Yuui will not nor does he want to forget it. Day by day he recalls each and every detail, scratching carefully each and every centimeter of his wound just not to let it heal and steadily cover up with a scar. But it’s not that he shows to anyone how he truly feels, too.

I can tell he’s having a great time right now. He came across an itinerant seller of self-proclaimed “hot goods”, or maybe it was the the seller who came across him – after all we’re in one of our capital’s poverty districts, it’s actually a rule for the people here to earn the money for their daily bread like that…I admit I find it quite strange that this man is only the first of the likes of him who we have met today.

I must confess there’s something undeniably interesting about this man. I take a peek at him out of the corner of my eye, enticed into doing so by the enjoyable sound of his deep, sonorous voice which sounds like music no matter what trashy clichés he would describe using it. It turns out that the man is really tall – a head taller than Yuui – and brawny, and really handsome. His thick hair is of  beautiful, deep shade of black, and the colour so pure, without any halftones nor traces of other colours. I have to control myself to refrain from the silly smile, so natural for me to appear merely by seeing such a sight…I’m not going to deny that this charismatic tradesman seems exactly my type, so not only listening to him, but also looking at him, is a veritable pleasure to me.

What is it that he advertises like that? The very beginning of negotiations somehow passed unnoticed to me, so I must have missed this key information, too… Ah, right, indeed: it’s a set of cheap jewelry he himself proudly calls “amulets”. Perhaps I should show some interest in it? Just to improve my own mood, and to prove at the same time my appreciation, maybe not for the quality of the offered goods nor for the advertising skill as much as for this unusually attractive appearance of the salesman…

…Those pendants really are awful, under impression of this meagerness I’m silenced. And here I thought I had seen it all before. ...Still, I try to be delicate when expressing my opinions. I know that Yuui is going to be eager to do my part of criticism and scorn. Right, he has just stated that the pendants are seemingly made of the same substance he fixed our windows with in the wintertime when we had run out of putty ( I’d rather never find out if that’s the truth – but whatever it is, now I’m just feeling happy that we made it through the winter without pneumonia or any other consequences of the sort ).  Our sexy tradesman replied to it with a whole monologue justifying and again, advertising ( “You see how pretty they are, there, they look just like they were made for you! All right, I’ll give them to you for half the price!” ), seemingly well-prepared for such occasions of the customer’s resistance ( which probably means: all occasions ). Yuui doesn’t seem disturbed by that – I guess he feels like he met a worthy opponent to tease; he must be having good fun, mocking the Mr. Salesman so tauntingly and mercilessly…

I don’t really know myself, why is that or why it should right here and now, but somehow I am starting to feel pity towards this stranger who’s trying to earn his living with such enthusiasm and zest, even though this activity is rather humiliating, and all that he gets is mockery and sarcasm from his rather unwilling yet-to-be customers.

“Do not get carried away, Yuui, you have got no reason to make fun of it like that…Leave it be” I find myself hearing my own voice, and then without even thinking this step over I take a plunge into the stock of the “amulets” available to us. Accompanied by Yuui’s outbursts of laughter I’m trying to find at least a single piece of jewelry I could buy and then not feel ashamed of wearing it in public.

Mr. Salesman rushes to my aid. I bet he’s delighted to have a customer who shows sincere interest in his goods, and probably that’s why he decided to display before me some more pendants. This time they are of better quality; until now he has been carrying them in the inner pocket of his gown. Indeed, they look much nicer than the previous ones. They’re made of semi-precious stones, probably some cheap kind of ones, but at least they are finely ground, most likely with the hand of a craftsman,  instead of some happy-go-lucky amateur. The black-haired tradesman stubbornly insists that for one such piece he take the very same amount of money that he would for the previous ones, which are so inferior in terms of the material and craftsmanship…Still, I refuse. I’m going to pay for this article the price equal to its value. I can afford to pay an amount proportional to the value of the goods, whereas he – with this job and this quality of the goods he’s offering – cannot necessarily afford so recklessly to hand out discounts for anything he actually does sell once he has found a willing ( or credulous ) customer.

You say that I’m naïve? That I’m letting some anonymous expert at sales swindle cheat me as he’s eagerly using my benevolence – the kind of benevolence so typical of a spoiled child from a well-off home, who can’t help but wriggle with pity at the slightest symptom of humanly destitution? Or that I shouldn’t worry so much about Mr. Salesman losing anything by this transaction with me, for no such merchant would be happily handing down their goods for free, sacrificing their own gain? Perhaps you’re right, then. Thinking about it objectively, I would say say: yes, it’s very probable. And I... don’t give a damn. For me myself it would be irrational, it would be totally absurd to assume that this salesman is just taking advantage of my generosity or my trust in him. Even if it’s rather this behavior of mine that would seem to an onlooker just irrational and absurd.

Why is that I believe him so much? That I believe in him so much?  In a stranger, in a street merchant who probably makes his living out of trickery and frauds, the more and the defter the better? It’s funny how obvious it is to me, how sure of every step of mine I am under such circumstances, unyielding and consequent. It’s just that I know for sure that this man, unknown to me even by his name, doesn’t deceive me. He cannot deceive me. Not here, not at this moment, not…me. I said I knew it?...Or it may be rather, more accurately: I feel it…

That’s right, I feel it. It’s an odd, unrestrained, instinctive conviction that this man wishes me just as well as I wish for him. The certitude that he wouldn’t want my loss or my harm in exchange for anything in this world, for any riches of this world. For any riches…he, the man who makes a living from dealing with riches, from gathering them and then exchanging them for some other riches, right? It’s a paradox. And yet I’m sure that it is true, just as I’m sure that I hope for all the best for this man, even though I have no real grounds to feel this way.

It is all so weird, and still I’m aware this feeling is beautiful and noble, incomparable to anything I’ve known before. And to think that I feel it towards merely a sort of a suspicious stranger! To think this happens to me, always holding so tightly to stiff rules and regulations and keeping his safe distance even against the people who I’m co-working with, those who I’ve been meeting day by day for years! …There are no words I could explain it with – this security, this calm trust, everything that I’m filled with right now.   

And the fact that I cannot explain it doesn’t trouble me at all. In some mysterious way I feel that I have control over the situation anyway, and that everything’s in my hands, developing in accordance with my will. Just the way I like it.

As for Mr. Salesman, not only did he advise me both kindly and accurately as to which of those more exclusive pendants I should choose ( and I purchased it eventually for its normal price, not the discounted one ), but also he included a souvenir from the distributor. The souvenir means another pendant, and according to the speaker it’s his favourite, so he will gladly present me with it for free, because it’s not everyday that he can meet such customers as myself. I don’t know just how sincere this opinion is, but the souvenir itself brings me a lot of joy – this fine ribbon made of thick fabric, combined with shiny, carefully polished stone of my favourite azure shade. I’m not used to wearing such adornments, but maybe I should try it? Out of sheer fondness towards this bubbly peddler who I met by chance and who I’m probably never going to see again…

…or maybe I will – in my dreams? …

Could it be that this is what is supposed to be my dream? This stranger and this encounter – this rough work of coincidence that so amazingly raised my spirit and brought to my lips a smile of earnest, unconditioned joy?

My thoughts have taken a weird course. I must admit I don’t know myself how I should interpret them. I’m distracted. I’ve been trying to fasten this so fortunately achieved blue pendant on my neck, but it’s not as easy a task as I hoped it would be. Engrossed in my musings, I cannot make my fingers deftly obey me.

And suddenly – I can feel the touch that brings me back to reality. The touch of strong, manly fingers on the small of my back, the touch that sends rapid shivers down my spine. These fingers are warm and their skin is rough – until now they must have got to know very well what hard work is about…They’re firm but agile, and as they glow with energy and health, they seem capable of both creating and destroying. And yet they’re so delicate to me, they’re full of such tenderness as if this ordinary gesture of theirs was only a cover-up for most sensitive caresses…   

“See? Now it’s okay” the tradesman informs me with his sensual, low voice, as his swarthy face lightens up with a playful, good-natured smile. There’s something so irresistible about him, so devoid of any and all pretense that just by thinking of it my whole soul seems to shine, pompous as it may sound. I could stay like this with him forever and only inhale his cheerful aura, and this alone would be enough for me to remain forever happy and satisfied.

“Thank you.”

Until now I’ve been avoiding his eyes. Why should you seek eye contact with the likes of such people, those who you meet under such circumstances? If you look into someone’s eyes, it’s a sign that you’re trying to get into personal touch with them, which may not me the best solution if it’s a street salesman we’re talking about.

But now to me he is not a mere street salesman anymore, not just one of hundreds like him in this city or one of tens of thousands in this country. The very last of my walls seems to have collapsed the moment he touched me – now it’s the time for me to return the favour.

Dreams…

Why is that I’m so certain I’ve seen these eyes before? After all…there’s no way something like that could have happened to me, is there? No way that I’ve ever experienced anything that would resemble them anyhow…

A pair of brown eyes. A pair of eyes whose colour is that of a tree bark on a warm, sunny day. Although they’re dark, they seem clear and full of life, but I know, I’m just sure there’s something hidden beneath them, or maybe beside them? Something they don’t want to reveal, something that even the warmest rays of sun won’t pull up to the surface. You could read the whole history of the world from such eyes…From such eyes where mature, cheerful wisdom covers up each and every trace of sadness and sorrow evenly, carefully. From such eyes that have tasted every flavour of the humanly life: the sweetness, the tartness, the bitterness. From such eyes that have seen every colour that life may have… From such eyes that combine mildness and decisiveness, reason and madness, sensitivity and sociability, rioting spirit and far-sightedness – basically, every humanly contradiction. And they do it in such a way that within them it all seems just natural and obvious…

These noble, touchingly warm eyes of a young man, in which I see now the reflection of my own self so clearly…

I wonder what it is that he has seen in my eyes just now? Does he see himself the way I see myself in his eyes? Maybe just like me he cannot help the conviction that these eyes do not belong to the present – that he must have seen them before, that everything about them is so familiar: the colour, the expression, and… the gleam as they’re looking at him?

For a moment the Earth stopped turning. The magic that flows our way, the magic which we’re both immersed in, made the time stop its rush. There’s only the two of us. And I’m full of this beautiful man with his unbelievable eyes, I’m full of this extraordinary stranger who I seem to know so much about, just as if we knew each other so well – as if we had known each other for years…

Now I feel I should verify my opinion about dreams in general, and about my own dreams in particular. Now I am sure. I may have not remembered my dreams, but it doesn’t mean I have never dreamt at all. It doesn’t mean I have never desired anything. It doesn’t mean that they…haven’t shown me the way.

So that now that the guest from my dreams appeared before my eyes I could recognize him in an instant.

And realize at once that I’m never ever letting him go.

Never again.

I know you
I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you
The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
Yet I know it’s true
That visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you
I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once

The way you did once upon a dream       

Ask slow-worm

You will find below a "fake FAQ" section, meaning my answers to questions I imagine people could ask me about this blog. Certainly, if you happen to have another question, please do ask me directly in the comments section and I'll try to give you the best answer I can.

1. So what do you actually write?
Short stories, mostly. However, they're usually not really "one-shots" in the sense that they tell an utterly independent story completed within a single piece of writing. I tend to come up with whole universes populated by an army of characters whose lifetime stories more or less directly intertwining with each other I keep projecting in my mind. It would be a disastrous pain to try to write it all down (I did try it once back in high school and the thing went on hiatus at about 1,600 pages - no kidding), so instead I usually pick a subplot or two, or a scene or two, and try to write about it, possibly concisely (although "concise" by far is not my middle name) in such a way that it still can be understood even without the reader's knowledge of the story and universe background. The result is usually a chain of short stories loosely related to one another, connected by the common theme of their universe.
On the other hand, I do have a couple of longer stories in my record, or "novels" if you wish. Some of them are embarrassingly long and lenghty (not to mention old and in a desperate need of a contents and style brush-up), others quite decent in terms of volume and storytelling. I have also tried to write poetry every now and then, but it's not really the means of expression I feel most comfortable with.

2. Do you write fanfiction?
Simple answer: Yes.
Complex answer: yes, but not quite. I have written very little "pure" fanfiction, i.e. my own intakes or interpretations of what happened in the canon of a series, a movie or anything. However, a lot of my work has a fanfictious nature. Since I was little, I have always been tempted to insert my own characters to a story I liked and see what would happen to the story with their influence. This tendency stays with me strongly until this day. It could partly be because of my laziness and lack of willpower to create my own story universes from scratch, but I think that the fact that I am often very easily and deeply inspired by what I read or see on screen, so moved that I can't get the plot and characters out of my head, is much more of the cuplrit here.
I realize that merely adding an OC to the story would still perfectly fit the notion of "fanfiction" and all my rambling above would have to be deemed redundant. The point is, however, that once I install a character or two in the given universe, especially if I do it with the help of my role-play partner, the characters soon begin to deviate from the main storyline of the series, show etc. and start to live their own lives. Ultimately they may end up having nothing to do with the original series apart from the background.

3. What are the main themes of your stories?
Relationships. Emotions. Overcoming obstacles, especially internal ones as opposed to those external, imposed upon the characters by the circumstances and/or other people.
My writing is character-driven and emotional, to some extent impressionistic even, rather than action-oriented. If you're interested in adventure or action stories filled with excitement, then you should probably go looking someplace else for a good read. If you're more into tear-jerkers and sitting in a character's head for dozens of pages, then I'm quite sure this place won't let you down.
There's also a lot of romantic feels in my writing. My protagonists are usually in a relationship, or on the go looking for one, or getting over a failed one. Quite a lot of my characters are male homosexuals, so be warned if you're not comfortable with this subject. (For the record, my pairings are either heterosexual or malexmale homosexual. I have never really succeeded in inventing a meaningful lesbian pairing, and given the multitude of strong female characters I've created so far, I can't really tell you why I keep failing at that.)

4. Why "Thursday's children"?
There's this beautiful song by Dawid Bowie that touches me really deeply and makes me live the lyrics ever time I hear it.
http://youtu.be/7uS4xyZRKps
My protagonists are mostly the same as the character in this song. For some reason they have it difficult in their lives and never really fit in, but then they meet this someone they learn from, they grow and they realize that all the shit has had some meaning to it. No pain, no disappointment, no moment of loneliness has been in vain. They had a long way to go, but it was worth it.

5. Why "grey side of the moon" in the address bar, then?
Since every possible combination with "thursday" and "chidren" had already been taken, I just made up something random :D. "Grey side of the moon" felt more or less okay. It represents the bittersweet mood I want to convey in my writing surprisingly well, along with my views on life as such - it's never the bright nor the dark side, it's not conspicuous, something in the middle, but compelling and mysteriously beautiful anyway, provided you can take a careful look.

6. Who goes the credit for your work to?
Other than the original authors for my fanfictious universes, it's my role-play partner (I'm not sure about him willing to appear under any recognizable nickname in this place, so let's call him A.). We've been creating our stuff together for almost ten years and he's probably contributed more or less directly to some 90% of works that you're going to see in this blog. Sadly, he himself hasn't written that much, which is a shame, because his take on the stories is always fascinating. But, all this time he's been a source of an endless inspiration to me and I keep learining from him a lot. Our characters have always had this unbelievable dynamics I could never have achieved if I'd kept creating things on my own. Two is better than one, after all.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Introduction

I've been making up stories and people for as long as I can remember, living their lives in my head with much more passion and engagement than my own. I began to try to write those down rather shortly after I even learnt to write, but I usually after a few pages I would give up, either out of ideas or too embarrassed by the outcome (or both).
I had my first remotely successful writing attempts around late middleschool. By "remotely successful" I mean longer chunks of stories with an exact vision of what happens next that would exceed the next two A5 notebook pages. I gained some confidence and in the years to come I would literally mass-produce my written stories. For a moment I actually thought I could be doing this for a living, or, more realistically, become a "real" author, as in someone who publishes printed stuff that people go to buy in a bookstore. I don't really care about this part anymore, but back in the day the very thought would give me enormous inspiration.
Anyway, life goes on and people change, and recently I've found myself spending less and less time on not only writing, but also on creating as such, thinking up the stories, developing the characters etc. I have literally dozens of unfinished works and undeveloped ideas about completing which I feel little excitement. The saddest part is probably that as I am  letting go of something that used to mean my life to me, I can't even bring myself to feel that I am losing something precious and irreplacable.
So, I decided to have this blog to have it kind of remind me of this part of me, and all those things that I can still share with others. And probably even more so, to have something that could keep my mind off the crazy daily routine, something I could truly enjoy working on in my spare time rather than staring blankly into the computer screen viewing the same web pages all over again.

As my mother tongue is Polish, most of my writing has also been in Polish, so this will be the language most frequently represented in this blog. My posts (and "meta-posts", i.e. comments to the actual contents of the post) will usually be in English in case somebody of no Polish-speaking background should come across this blog. I'll be also trying to provide English summaries of what's going on in the pieces I've just posted so that you can get a rough idea of what's going on in the story.
All in all, this blog may not feel really reader-oriented, since my primary goal is to keep myself busy with something related to my creative production, with posts tagreted to a hypothetical reader in my mind. But if you do happen to be reading these words at the moment, then naturally you are welcome to leave any constructive feedback you can come up with. Polish readers, you leave your comments in Polish (unless you want to practice your English really badly ;3).
So, without no further ado, let's get down to the business. Have fun and enjoy your stay.