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Asian American Sad Inspirational

CW: Mentions of suicide and war.

*~*~*

The knife handle is cold under your fingers as you grip it as tightly as you can. Your armor, your jeogoli, and your quiver of arrows lie on the ground. With it off, your bare chest is exposed. Scars run along your skin, each one marking where the kullimjas and siches attacked you.

There are too many scars. There are too many times you got hurt during battle.

At least, that is what you believe.

I can’t do this anymore, you think. I have too much pain and shame that I can’t go back. I won’t go back.

You wonder what your sisters will think of this. Jageun’s small frame, Dalla’s curly black hair, and Salang’s wood-like dark brown eyes flash in your mind.

There is no way they would let you do this. But it is the right thing to do. You are sure of it.

But what if…, one side of you pesters. You push it out of your head before it can elaborate. There is no turning back. There is no turning back.

The knife gleams in the rising sun, and you see your reflection in it. Your chocolate-brown eyes are wild, and your black hair is choppy and uneven. The cut on your cheek is red and bleeding, looking like a lopsided nieun.

Ten seconds, you remember. It takes ten seconds for this blade to kill. There is no turning back once it stabs me.

Now is your last chance. And you toss it aside.

You plunge the knife into your chest, almost relishing how it pierced you and made you burn. You fall to the ground, and the thud as your back hits the mud shocks you momentarily. 

Your last glimpse of the world is of the swirls of pink and orange sky. Then everything goes black.

Ten.

Your years as a child flash in your mind. When you were a little boy, you thought of war as a fictional event that only existed in stories. You thought of it as an event that only happened in scrawling letters on dusty-smelling scrolls.

When you were a little boy, you would eagerly read war stories. One of your earliest—and happiest—memories are of the times you would sit on the wooden floor and read the tales of war with your siblings.

You and your siblings would always ask your mother, “Where’s daddy?” 

Your father was rarely at home; you barely know him.

“Away,” she would quickly respond. She wouldn’t elaborate.

You and your siblings never knew that your father was in a real war until after he died.

Nine.

The war stories flash in your mind. In them, the “good” side will always win. The few deaths are honored and remembered. The “bad” side will either get killed off or propose a peace treaty.

The deaths are few and in glory.

The injuries all vanish after the war ends.

There is no aftermath; everything ends happily ever after.

The “bad” side loses the war in a short amount of time.

There is no trauma and almost no pain.

And that is what your childish and foolish mind thought is a real war.

Eight.

Your hands flash in your mind. Your hands have many callouses from holding a bow for hours, shooting kulimjas and siches. The blood of you, your dead comrades, and your friends cover your knuckles and the lines in your palms.

Your hands alone can tell the story of a real war. A war hurts. And it kills.

Seven.

Your home’s wooden doors flash in your mind. Your sisters are undoubtedly waiting behind those doors. They are waiting for you to run inside, hug and kiss them, and tell them the three golden words: “I love you.” It keeps them going. And, as much as you don’t want to admit it, it keeps you going, too.

What will they think when they find your body on the ground?

You picture Jageun crying, her usual quiet voice rising higher and higher in pain. You picture Dalla curled up in a ball, clutching her stomach. You imagine Salang not moving, staring at your body in shock.

Second guesses build inside of you, but it is too late. You made your choice; the knife is in. There is no going back.

Six.

What you wait for flashes in your mind. Every day, you wait for sunrise, which is when the kulimjas and siches retreat. You and your comrades can rest until dusk. Every dawn, you would see your allies’ bodies vanish with the kullimjas and siches.

The worst part about watching is that you know they will be back tomorrow as the siches.

In your mind, the war is hopeless. Every single one of your deaths will result in one more enemy to worry about the next day. In your mind, that is the reason this war has been going on for a thousand years. In your mind, there is no hope left.

It is useless to wait for the little pleasures like the sunrise.

Five.

The kullimjas and siches flash in your mind. Day after day, the kullimjas rob you, and the siches curse you. It is a never-ending cycle. You don’t know how long you can continue to live.

The pain from the knife courses through your body like a fire does to wood. You are vaguely aware of the blood trickling from the wound. 

Not very long, you think grimly.

Four.

What happened today flashes in your mind. Today, the kullimjas took away something, and the siches cursed you with something. Something. What is this something? You didn’t know. You still don’t know.

Whatever they took and cursed you with, you fell and stayed down for the entire battle. The kullimjas would’ve taken away your life—and you would’ve thanked them—but your allies came to your rescue. You saw the pity in their eyes as they did so. You didn’t want it; you don’t want it.

You were the mighty and strong warrior, the feared archer, and respected soldier. But you fell under a shadow and a dead man. You are falling at the hands of yourself and your knife.

Three.

Your weapons flash in your mind. Your bow is gone, lost in the battle. Your quiver holds four arrows, but they are incomplete and useless; arrows and a bow together are one whole. Apart, they are next to nothing. 

Two.

Your knife—the one in your chest—flashes in your mind. It has four different kinds of wood on the handle. Four scratches are on it, cutting through the outside of the wood. Four is an unlucky number.

The knife's handle has four kinds of wood ginkgo, oak, nutmeg, and eucalyptus. G, O, N, E.

It spells “gone.”

Your father gave you this knife, naming the specific types of wood. He looked you in the eye and told you to put it to good use.

You wonder: Is this a good use?

One.

People’s last words flash in your mind.

"Goodbye. Rest, at last," your grandfather muttered, sighing his last breath.

"I love you. I’ll see you soon," your father whispered in you and your siblings’ ear before going outside to “work.”

"I love every single one of you with all my heart." Your mother kissed you and your sister’s heads before going to sleep.

"Whatever you do, don’t be the one to kill me tomorrow when I’m a siche," your friend mumbled as she died on the battlefield.

"Take care of the girls for me." Your brother ruffled your hair one last time.

You add your own last words to the chorus in your mind. You choke out these words: The warrior has fallen, but his house still stands.

Jageun still stands. So do Dalla, Salang, your grandmother, and your friends and comrades from battle.

Zero.

*~*~*

This story is for you, reader. No matter how big or how small, no matter how internal or external, no matter how long or short, no matter how painful or peaceful, you are presumably in a war. And this story is for you because I want you to stay strong during it.

May 22, 2021 02:12

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52 comments

02:12 May 22, 2021

Positive compliments, constructive criticism, and title suggestions are appreciated! This story went through so many plots, tense, and perspective changes that there has to be an error somewhere. Tell me if I missed anything in the comments! This story is heavily inspired by Korean culture. Here are the Korean words in this story: Dalla (달라): Korean for different. In this story, Dalla is the protagonist's middle sister. Jageun (작은): Korean for small. In this story, Jageun is the protagonist's youngest sister. Jeogoli (저골이): the top garment ...

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18:57 May 22, 2021

:’( gahhhhh Why So Many Stories Have To Be So Sad >:( aRgH The second person went really well, and the count down added to the dramatizing. The plot was really creative too, great job! :’( - Amethyst

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19:43 May 22, 2021

I'm not sure, actually. I've been (mostly) cheerful for the past two weeks. I just think it's that my brain immediately goes to depressing story ideas. And back in January or December, I wrote a story that was supposed to take place in ten seconds. I think I stretched the prompt, so I think of this story as a redemption story, haha. Thank you for your feedback!

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21:52 May 22, 2021

I also have a default genre XD mine’s speculative lol. Any of your stories are a pleasure to read, so I’m complaining XD :) ah okay lol, np!

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23:02 May 22, 2021

Ha, I can see that. You're getting better and better at speculative, and I love it. And thank you!

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22:42 May 23, 2021

Lol XD thank youuuu! Np! :D

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11:29 May 24, 2021

How are you doing?

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Shea West
04:41 May 22, 2021

I'm such a nerd for second person! There is something about it that tells me the writer had to think hard and create in a clever way. Which I love! There's just something extra to it when it is done well, like it is here that makes me want to read them again and again. I did read it again after I saw your comment with translations at the bottom. I'm glad those were there! There were one or two things I noticed that may need correcting: Th kullimjas and siches flash in your mind. ( I believe you mean The and not Th??) Also the sentence ...

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12:13 May 22, 2021

Second person was definitely a lot of fun to write. And I’ll fix the things you pointed out! Thank you so much for your feedback!

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19:01 May 24, 2021

Amen. PREACH, SISTER!

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19:15 May 24, 2021

Haha, thank you!

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14:46 May 25, 2021

It's really good

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14:56 May 25, 2021

Thanks.

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06:44 May 22, 2021

Hellloooooo Annabelle :) Great story, loved the 2nd POV format! The idea of death and war intertwined with family was very clever, so good job! I feel like you could change up the title a little, so it fits into the prompt a tEeNy bit more. Nice work! :D

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12:15 May 22, 2021

Hm, I see your point. Any title suggestions? Thank you for your feedback!

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12:20 May 22, 2021

Well, you've already fitted "flash in your mind" quite a lot. Perhaps it could be "Whispers in Your Mind" to signify the last words of the family members? Up to you, Flash in your Mind is still good :)

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12:25 May 22, 2021

I’ll think about that! How are you doing?

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23:54 May 22, 2021

I'm doing alright, I'm a bit scraped and bruised from sports, hru?

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00:18 May 23, 2021

Haha, I unfortunately and fortunately cannot relate. And I'm doing great; thanks for asking! I'm counting down the days until I fly to South Korea and spend the majority of my summer there. May and June are honestly my favorite times of the year, and I intend to keep it that way.

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wow. Second person is fun. It just is XD. That last little paragraph made all the more difference. "This story is for you, reader. No matter how big or how small, no matter how internal or external, no matter how long or short, no matter how painful or peaceful, you are presumably in a war. And this story is for you because I want you to stay strong during it." <333 But really, it helped me like a lot. so thanks for that. I think it could fit under 'inspirational' lol L.W.

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03:11 May 22, 2021

Yes, it is! I enjoyed writing in the second person perspective a lot. Aw, really? Maybe I'll change the tag. Which one should I remove? Thanks for the feedback!

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yesh same tho. hmm maybe the fantasy one np :)

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03:12 May 22, 2021

Got it.

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:D you're stories always hit home for me lol

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03:13 May 22, 2021

Haha, your stories do the same for me!

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heyyy nice new *organized* bio ;) this part stood out to me for some reason... I've gotten fond of dark subjects as well (anyone up for a good talk about death, mourning, and the deep and unknown meaning of life? No? Okay). maybe ~this time of the month~ brings out my dark side as well...it would explain my latest story.... anyways, just checking in with ya ;)

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22:07 Jun 16, 2021

Haha, thanks! Yeah, I agree with you. And I'll check out your new story as soon as I can!

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:))))

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just so you know, I can't use Remind anymore so that sucks :(

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Valerie June
17:55 Jun 09, 2021

This was very well written, Sky! The countdown added the perfect amount of suspense. I also admired how the emotion drove the story forward. The only critique I would give is maybe to express the character's physical pain, not just their emotional confliction. Other than that small detail, I thought this was a wonderful story. I hope you're enjoying your small break. :)

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22:36 Jun 16, 2021

(Sorry I didn't reply for so long; I was on a break.) Suspense and emotions in stories were never my strong point, so thank you! And yes, that makes sense. I'll keep that in mind! Thank you for your feedback!

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Sky, I respect your decision for taking a break. Reedsy (and remind for that matter) can be overwhelming sometimes. I just hope you do come back. Your stories are super duper amazing, and you're a great friend that I can relate to. <3

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21:03 May 29, 2021

Hi! Can you check out my new story? I finally posted after toooo long! 😊

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Alya Kaikuahine
02:37 May 28, 2021

I love this so much!! With every number that was counted off, I felt like my heart was starting to beat faster and more forcefully. I also really like the idea of using you as the point of view, it really feels like you are speaking directly to the reader. The idea behind this story and the note at the end are so powerful and are what I feel like writing is all about. Sure, we are definitely here to write fun stories, but we are also here to give a message to our readers. So, thank you for this message. :) PS I don't really want to be like...

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11:36 May 28, 2021

Thank you so much for your feedback! I’ll check out your story.

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Alya Kaikuahine
13:24 May 28, 2021

Np! Thanks so much!

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Kat Sencen
21:48 May 26, 2021

I declare June 10th as NATIONAL UPVOTING DAY!!! (Although it's not really national. That just makes it sound better.) On that day we will do all the upvoting we want to. Hopefully a lot. We won't necessarily focus on anyone, just people who have been downvoted. Every point matters. Copy and paste this message, and hopefully, we will do some major upvoting!

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
00:51 May 24, 2021

whooooooooooooooooooooooa i love the names you gave your characters because they had meaning, it's really smart! and the countdown format was great!

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11:29 May 24, 2021

Thank you!

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Amany Sayed
03:38 May 23, 2021

Aw, this was so sad. I liked it though. And I like that last paragraph. Title suggestions: Last Ten Seconds His House Still Stands When A Warrior Dies A Million Scars Last Words Last Words of A Warrior Hope you like them :) Keep writing~

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11:46 May 23, 2021

Thank you for your suggestions! I especially like the first two.

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Phoenix Langston
23:11 May 22, 2021

Wow, this was stunning. Like the others have said, I love the use of second-person perspective; it makes it hit harder, at least for me. The Korean cultural bits and "flash in your mind" repetition were also incredible elements of the story. I'd have to say that the final second was the most profound one because of the last words. And yes, that last paragraph is everything! I didn't see anything you missed, and I think the title fits perfectly. Amazing job!

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00:15 May 23, 2021

Thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate it.

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Phoenix Langston
04:46 May 23, 2021

No problem, Skybelle! (Love that nickname, by the way.)

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13:21 May 23, 2021

Haha, thank you.

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