Author’s Note: So yes, I know the ending sucks, but that’s what you get at 2.25 AM.
Also, just so everyone knows, I was flipping through my test pad at tuition the other day and found two sheets of paper containing this unfinished story that I realised I wrote three years ago for the Write Stuff column in The Star but never succeeded in finishing it. I was using petty choices of words then, so I rewrote the whole thing, even if I’d already forgotten my initial plot. (: Enjoy!
I am fearless, as swift as the wind, as quick as a tiger, as agile as a monkey.
No! I must not fail right now! I’ve come this far, failure is definitely knocked off my list. No, I must not fail.
Steeling myself, I squinted against the afternoon sunlight, sweat beading on my forehead. Come on, Holly, you can do it! Yes, I can. With an energetic yell, I charged forward, my feet taking off into the air, my hands clawing frantically in the air for something to cling on to. But the airborne feeling ended just as soon as it had begun, and in a matter of seconds, my feet found solid ground. I was safe. Stunned, I couldn’t believe that I had made it. I let out a gleeful whistle, only to clamp both my hands over my mouth in hurry. What was I thinking? What if they heard me? I’d be dead meat.
I scrambled to my feet and took off, jumping over tree roots jutting out from their trunks and avoiding menacing brambles that stood in my way. Just a few hours ago, I had the exact location of the plant imprinted in my mind, and I halted when I recognised the landmark that was indicated on the map. Scanning my surroundings, my eyes hit target as I saw the delicate flower protruding its head from the soil. Grinning from ear to ear, I fished a hand spade from my rucksack and dug the flower up, placing it in a glass jar and sealing it tightly with a satisfied smile. That should do it.
Just as I had half a mind to bask in the newfound glory of succeeding, the sound of the neighing of horses rooted me to the spot in fear. I stowed the jar into my canvas bag with ultimate speed and sped off, my agile legs carrying me to the big oak tree where I last recalled seeing Prince Osbourne’s horse being tied to its trunk. The white horse was waiting there patiently for its master to arrive and take him back the Castle, where he could have a peppermint feast and perhaps brag about his glory of being bound to a prince to the other stable horses. However, much to his dismay, my arrival was a shock to him when he realized who I was. Nonetheless, I stuffed a fistful of peppermints into his mouth and pulled at his reins to get him going. I could almost hear their footsteps approaching, and I really did not want them to get to me. The idea of what they might do to me –and the little flower in my jar- was…frightful.
“Hee yah!” I encouraged the horse on, wishing he would start moving already. The ride was a bumpy one as both the horse and I made our way back to the secluded lands of the Marble Castle. As soon as we reached the castle grounds, I dismounted Prince Osbourne’s horse, stuffed another peppermint in his mouth which he responded to by giving my fingers a little nip, and dashed into the castle doors, checking on the glass jar in my knapsack ever so often to make sure it was still intact.
I practically leapt up the stairs into the King’s hall chamber, beaming brightly for having beaten a group of twenty or more people in the forest to accomplish this task. Opening the brass doors, I found King Phillip seated on his high throne, stroking his beard so fondly that I had to suppress a gag. “Well, hello, Your Highness,” I smirked as I strutted my way up the red carpet that led to his throne on a raised platform. At the sound of my voice, it was apparent he wasn’t expecting me and his gallant smile turned into one of a frown. He looked ready to summon his guards, so I quickly snapped to the main point before he turned berserk and order his entire troop on me.
“I am here to present you a…gift,” I snickered, glad to be teasing the King with suspense. He was barely a patient person, and I wanted to see what his reaction would be if he couldn’t stand the suspenseful atmosphere for the next four seconds. I was right. He stood up abruptly from his throne and made a gesture as if to fly over to me and wrap his hands around my throat. I whipped the jar from a pocket in my bag and held it in front of him, a smug smile dancing on my lips.
“I present you…the Flower of Immortality.”
I could actually see King Phillip waver in his step, his lower lip trembling in lust and desire. Pfft. What a waste of authority. Typical of kings to be greedy for everlasting life. What a bore. If it were me, I’d rather spend every day thinking there were fatalities all around me. Now that would be a raw challenge.
His bloodthirsty expression turned into a sly smirk. “So it turns out to be the notorious Holly Savana who gets me the Flower, after all those months of useless searching,” the King approached me slowly, taking his step one at a time as if mocking me with the click of his boots.
“Yes, the name’s Holly,” I said lazily. “Now where’s my reward?” I held out an outstretched hand to claim the 10,000 gold coins he had promised as ‘a thank-you reward for finding the Flower’.
King Phillip sneered. “Reward it is, you shall get.” And he turned around to meet the eyes of the Chief Guard standing next to the throne. “Guards! Throw her in the dungeons.”
Holly Savana was anything but healthy. The scenes that had been replaying in her mind was nothing but her imagination she had harvested for fourteen solid years. And harvested it well, she did, for she was now living in a world of her own fantasies, oblivious to the real happenings around her.
Exactly fourteen years ago, she had fallen from the seventh floor of her school building at a young age of four. She had lost a fatal amount of blood, and would’ve died had she been sent to the hospital five seconds later. However, despite her miraculous survival, she had slipped into a coma after she was diagnosed with a severe concussion. For fourteen years, Holly Savana had been lying on the same bed in the St. Abel’s ward, hooked to multiple machines. When she was first admitted into the hospital, she was only a young, brunette child, with a cheeky grin and a pair of twinkling blue eyes. Now, she was a fully grown-up woman of eighteen years with the same brown hair, only longer with curls, and high cheekbones that highlighted her beauty. Her skin was ivory pale after a decade of being out of the sunlight. It was such a waste of talent, people always said, for Holly was a very bright kid for her age, even at the mere age of four.
The doctor assigned to Holly was amazed at such a miraculous save. His patient was an inch from death, but yet she had survived, despite winding up in a separate room with machines acting as her organs. Even then, it was a wonder she remained stable even after a decade had passed. Chances of her waking up were rising each day, but yet she never did seem to be able to open her eyes to the world that has been waiting for her for fourteen years.
Lynn and Simon Savana, parents to the comatose girl, had lived a hard life, spending every day wishing, with daily renewed hope that their baby girl would wake up. Every day seemed like a new possibility, and even though they were more often disappointed than the opposite, they were a couple of great faith. They believed God wouldn’t want to waste such a beautiful girl that was so full of potential, so they lived through every day with sincere prayers, treating their daughter as if she was alive, talking to her, singing with her, and sometimes, if the nurses allowed, Lynn Savana would apply make up onto her daughter’s face and pretend they were having a mother-daughter conversation about teenage issues such as boys and whatnot.
However, the hardest part of taking care of Holly was facing the cruel perceptions of the society. Once people knew you had a sick child, their eyes turned into pools filled with pathetic sympathy, their mouths muttering neverending saccharine empathies all the time. It was more than Lynn and Simon could bear, but hold up they did, for their love for their daughter was so great it overcame many barriers for the past fourteen years.
Gallant talks are heart-warming, but doubts can also be collected alongside hopes at the same time, and if you’re not discreet enough, you’ll end up on the wrong side, and everything you’ve ever done and believed in will never be the same again. Even if you have lived every day with utmost faith and hope, the skies have dark clouds sometimes, and you can do nothing except crash onto the ground, where all convictions and beliefs are being tested, and once your confidence wavers, you are definitely off the hook for holding on much longer.
Which was why the Savanas were having second thoughts on letting their child continue living on machines.
I thought it was a joke.
Me? Being thrown into a dungeon? That’s stupid. But apparently, King Phillip didn’t think so. Two burly guards gripped my arms and led me to the underground chamber people always talked about where you would find countless disgusting objects down there. I kicked and squirmed my way to the dungeons, much to King Phillip’s delight, all the while screaming, “LET ME GO! I BROUGHT YOU THE FREAKING FLOWER, CREEP! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” But of course, my shouts weren’t heard, and I was sent into a cellar screaming my lungs out. I could almost imagine King Phillip’s leering face and wanted to slap myself for being so amazingly stupid. No, scratch that, I wanted to slap him more than I wanted to slap myself.
The giant brass door slammed shut and I was trapped in this forlorn cellar with a dank smell so strong I felt like puking. There was nothing in this room except for a wooden table set in the centre of the room, piled with an inch thick of dust and full of scratches that disturbed me. I tried to wrench the door open and even whammed my whole body against it but nothing gave way. It was frustrating.
I, Holly Savana, self-proclaimed Huntress of the Marshes couldn’t possibly lose to such a pathetic king! Everyone knew my reputation, how much of a tough cookie I was. I had been spending years building up on my impressive resume, it couldn’t be all for nothing. If only I could escape from here, I’d be fine. Everyone would be expecting me to get away from this sticky pile of mess. In fact, I was pretty sure King Phillip was wondering whether he would be seeing me in here the next morning. I could get away with anything at all, that was my special ability.
Then why did I feel scared? Why was I all panicky, when nothing had even happened yet?
“Let me out!” I shrieked again, but for all I knew, the room could be soundproof and my shouts would be like the wails of an ant to the audience outside this room. This was stupid. I was being whiny. What good could shouting do? Nothing. So, instead of wasting my vocals away, I might as well be productive, right?
But how the hell was I supposed to be productive in a situation like this?
“Dr. Sanders?” Simon Savana was shaking terribly as he made his final decision. “We…we need to talk.”
The Savana couple and their daughter’s doctor had a brief conference in the hospital cafeteria, where Simon insisted on having. Dr. Sanders was surprised by what Mr. Savana had to say.
“You must know we love Holly. A lot. We really do.”
“I know, Mr. Savana, so-”
Simon held up a hand. “Please, doctor, just hear me out.” He took a deep breath and continued. “Lynn and I came to a consensus that we didn’t want to see Holly suffer anymore. We can’t bear to see her in this state. We have been dependent on hope for too long now; it will never come. She will never wake up. I know that. And we don’t want her to be in pain any longer. I can just imagine what those daily needle dosages do to her system, how much pain she has endure for so many years. I think it’s time she’s left in peace, where…where she belongs.” Not at home, nor in my arms; in heaven, he thought.
Dr. Sanders was taken aback. He had greatly admired Mr. and Mrs. Savana for their determination and strength, but he now realised everything had its limits. Disappointed as he was, they were his clients, and he had to comply. “Alright then, I’ll see to it tomorrow.”
I don’t know why I was crying, but those tears…they were like desperate bullets coming out from my eye sockets. Each drop singed my cheek, and ounces of strength were pulled out of me. I was devastated, but it was definitely not because of my imprisonment. It was something else, something that I was playing a significant role in, but something I couldn’t figure out. How could that even be possible?
I felt energy drain from my veins and fatigue claimed me. I wasn’t about to let tiredness pull me away from reality, but it wasn’t as if I had a choice. It was as if I was being sucked into a vacuum cleaner, leaving a shell of a body behind.
My last thought was to scream for help, for anything to come by and take me away from this vacuum machine as I felt my body go weaker and weaker and finally went limp as I lost the ability to stand. A few minutes later, I discovered I had lost the ability to even emit a sound. It was all so fast and unbelievable I barely had time to recover from the shock.
A wave of emotions created a whirlwind within me, and I felt myself stagger with such a huge force blowing against me. I had nothing to cling on to. I had nothing to depend on. I had nothing, and I was losing everything, fast. I needed something to hold on to, as this influx of emotions started to gobble me whole…
The last fleeting image I saw before my entire body gave in was the bright, stinging white light of a ceiling lamp, and two pairs of eyes staring worriedly at me, their faces wrinkled with worry, faces that demanded recognition from my memory.
Then I was gone.
Lynn Savana was absolutely sure she had seen Holly open her eyes. And she was fairly sure her husband had seen it too, otherwise they wouldn’t have gone rigid at the same time. “D-did you see that, Simon?”
Simon Savana was at a loss for words, then his sense kicked in and he was on his knees, howling at the eventual death of his beautiful, precious daughter.
After that, the only words I heard were ‘mind over matter’.
Over and over again.