If I was killed by my biological father. At least I was successful in making him live the rest of his life as a killer, a killer that killed his own daughter. Then, my life will be nothing but a victory. My father is a patriarch. He was the first person I witnessed as the one with no ability to see his own flaws. Most of the people in nowadays society have a problem with seeing too much flaw in themselves, causing them to live with insecurity. My father, therefore, was and is a troublemaker. One of us, the three siblings, had the greatest scar during our childhood. His wise word out of the community gives us more pressure to be seen as a good daughter. So, as a young kid, I decided to take the unfilial role, the antagonist of the story. While my sister consistently takes the good girl role like a good daughter in the tale of Cinderella, until the moment she grew older and tired of her role. But it was too late for my dear sister. My parents and the community had already pictured her as a perfect role of woman or what I divine as a free-slave.
What surprised me was the consistency of my own father. People change! A little or more, people are cardinal, we move upward or backward, constantly moving driven by gravity. Even phytoplankton with no flagella to give it a liberty, moves! Even if driven by the current. As my father was like a relic trapped on its own history. I was done trying to give him clarity. So, won’t he mock what he thought as praises.
I was no longer bothered to be called as a great person of the world. Looked up by others and let my name be written in a book of history. Indeed, I thought that through school I’d be one looked up to by others but what’s the point of looking up to humans? I no longer have a desire to be remembered. All I want right now is my own happiness and living my life not surviving this life.
Then, I walked away from my maiden house. Where my family born and raised me. Where my father always claimed his unconditional love with a consistent question of what was I given to him to pay the unconditional love, shelter, and life he gave me. What a funny hypocrisy, since my mother gave it all. I don’t believe it included the matter of maternal and paternal issue that’s acquired his lack of sensitivity. He just simply failed as a human being. One parent shall remember and so do I ought to remember, will or not I get a chance to be one. That no single child wished to be born. It was the parent action and decision to bring them to this life. Surely, it’s their responsibility to take care of their offspring. In my society, parents could and must criticize their child and child were prohibited to question their parents or the value they taught us, such as ‘religion.’ As I found myself having a right to walk away, then I chose to live my life.
I am Elaine and this is my story.
Few months ago, I married my best friend. Darren is a great man. Some said that he’s lucky for his life. Born with such a good look, good family, money, and unquestionably intelligent make his image as the winner of life grew boldly. One society didn’t know and will never want to know, a fact that such a term of ‘winner of life’ never really existed. Each of us bears our own pain, and each pain is incomparable. There’s no standardization to measure the value of pain, neither mine nor yours. As for Darren, his pain for incompetency to protect himself from what he loves has been his foe for years. This time, I was the one who took an advantage of his weakness. I know that it’s impossible for Darren to reject my wish. I also know how much he loves me and I need him now to clown around and make me happy. I’d be selfish this time and may leave with it an unforgettable trauma and unbearable pain.
Pink Martini has always been one of my favorite artists. Their song divine diversity itself, so powerful and outspoken. There’s one song China Forbes sang, “I am Woman” which was originally sung by Helen Reddy that was released in 1971. Nowadays, this song might have different power compared to when it was released for the first time. Women indeed in the most part of this modern society get more power and recognition of their rights than a few decades ago. But it’s not actually the truth. It was the third time I heard it in this car as Darren had driven for hours now. We’re moving into a house that he inherited from his great-great-grandfather with what Darren called as a ‘good-air’ for my health issue. Since they said I have cancer and my life has come to its end. I wonder, if I was a protagonist in my own story, which point of my life was the ending? Was it the moment I left my childhood house? When I won my first international competition? When I bought my first house? Or soon, when life will rob the air out of my lungs? My broken lung.
I was growing up in poverty. Need more than blood, sweat, and tears to drag my feet to stand steady on this point of life. Because of that poverty too, the hospital has become a place which its very existence has been questionable in my life. Even though I had enough money to buy one now, it stills unreachable. I have had acute asthma since I was a kid and my respiratory system is always as problematic as my life. So, I failed to recognize the first stage symptom and for the same reason, it was too late when I found the cancer. I decided to accept it as a special treat from God, I got a chance to know the end of my life and I was given a special right to choose my ending.
I am lucky!
“Is it your definition of ‘not-too-far’?” I rolled my eyes,
“No-too-far if you listen to me fly with Heli.” He stretched his back,
“What a great excuse! How many more hours do we need to drive?” I said, when from the end of the road I could see an enormous gate with ferns wrapped around it. It’s a huge black gate that blocked what’s inside, the ferns looked like ready to swallow the gate the moment we passed it. The gate gives me the sensation of entering my own fairy tale, like I am an Alice that’s created my own story.
The actual building was a bit far from the passage. It’s a huge old mansion, like I expected when Darren asked me ‘Which fairy tale I want to live in?’. The building stood majestically between two lakes with pines surrounding. The ivy had befriended the mansion’s wall, greeting us with some spooky vibes. I was shivering by the breeze of the wind as I stepped out of the car and faced that enormous old house. ‘Vluxeneria’, it’s written in front of the door that looks more like a gate to hell than a door to a comfort house.
“isn’t it too much?” protests me,
“Didn’t you always wish to stay in a place like this?” Darren was always like that. He always had power to read beyond me, to know me more than I know myself and magically provide me with an absolute ambience of comfortability. Darren was strangely the first person to make me feel comfortable as I just be around myself. I never knew that such a feeling existed, that I could feel comfortable with a stranger. Darren is the last person I want to romantically love. Because he’s too precious for me and I am not brave to take the risk of losing him. So for years, I kept him around as a friend and supported him behind the wall. Now it is different, I thought even if I have to die, I still didn’t want to lose him. A bond as a friend seems not strong enough to strengthen our connections from two dimensions, then I decide to marry him and end my life as his wife.
“Mr. Lee, Mrs. Lee, I am Oscar and this is Linda the housekeeper. We’ll provide anything you need and please enjoy your stay.” The two workers come from nowhere, left our question remain unanswered.
“Oscar and Linda have been working here since I was a kid. Originally they worked for my grandfather.” Darren explained,
“was it just both of you worked here?” I asked,
“No Mam, there are some other workers from the nearest village who help to take care of the mansion, but only us stayed.” Linda's voice was clear and warm, I had a sense that we might be good friends.
“then let everyone know that I don’t like strangers in the house, try your best to not be seen by my eyes. I just want peace, that’s why we moved here, thanks.” I asked, and Linda shook her head as a sign of understanding.
Behind the door was completely different with how it was seen from the outside. I thought the whole part of the mansion would be as old as the exterior and in fact, it is old yet beautifully young. The glimmering of sunlight hails me from the moment I stepped in, led the way through the pool behind. It’s blue and clear and heals me with the smell of tulips out of nowhere. The wall colored white-egg and blue-dongker with a balcony next to the fireplace. There’s no television here, Darren said that it’s not necessary. We’d like to spend more time doing things we could not do and no time to waste for watching nothing important for our life. It seems like Darren is the one in a rush by the time more than me. Since I boldly rejected any medication and spent weeks to persuade Darren that with or without medication my death will eventually come. I would die like any other living things had ever existed. I even tried to convince him with the ridiculous tale of vampires and other immortal beings in the movies that also died in the end of the story, dead from love or even simply, sunlight. Death wasn’t something I feared about, not since I left my home. It’s a possibility, a fact, and a part of life to experience, and I have to face it in the end. So, I choose to spend the rest of my time looking at beautiful and crafted bunch of good memories rather than prolong my life like a mirage, believing that I’d magically survived, in fact that I was too tired. Death isn’t on my hand to decide, but how I would spend my life before it comes is on my hand.
In the south wing basement, the floor was all covered by water like an indoor pool I always dream about, but it seems like the height with the north basement was different. It’s glimmering with blue like skies with the light from the lamp as its supporter. The both wings were connected by the alley full of water and ended in the North wing stairs and chairs. A pool in the backyard. A lounge, kitchen, laundry, and library on the first floor. A bunch or rooms in the second floor and what Darren called a no-supposed-to-explore room in the third floor, the one just like in the movies, an old house with secrets.
This old building was a lucky one for me. it’s old yet unforgotten, it's clean and neat. Even though some spooky feelings come sometimes, when I was alone. Once, I asked Darren about the story behind this mansion. Darren told me that his great-great-grandfather was in love with a what-so-called-a-witch that time. He built the mansion and named it with her name, Vluxeneria. His great-great-grandfather was never married. He spent all of his life inside the mansion with Vluxeneria and bequeathed his assets to his nephew, Darren’s great-grandmother.
As for the mansion, then I preferred to be called ‘castle’ instead of ‘mansion’, which is not quite fancy. The castle was way too far to reach from the nearest town. We drove for about thirty minutes deep to the forest and found an enormous gate just to lead us into deeper isolation inside, full of the pines. In the morning, I could see from the balcony, a majestic moving fog. A mist from the tale of my own. As the fog moves into lower latitude, forced by the gravitation. It looks like the pines were eaten by the fog. The castle was pretty much located in Mesopotamia with lakes instead of rivers. The north wing has a door that is directly connected to one of the lakes. Darren loves it, no! He adores it. He often asked me to brave myself and put my feet in, but I was too scared with what was unseen underneath. Maybe watching too many horror films wasn't a good idea.
Oftentimes, we’d spent our time in the library. The one I adore in this castle. There were tons of old and rare books in the library. All freely accessed by me. One night, Darren was drawn into a book, and I decided to begin a bit of a difficult conversation.
“Darren” I whispered,
“hmm,” Darren was drawn into the book in his hand, answering me indifferently.
“If I die, I want you to burn my body and spread half of the ash in the ocean, half in the highland, and keep some to plant with it a willow tree here.” Now, he turned his head, stared at me with some creepy eyes.
“Ok!” he said, I was quite surprised with his acceptance. Even though we both hate drama, I think he’d at least taken back by my word.
“just, OK?” I asked,
“you said it before, right? Birth and Death are two destinies you can’t change. Every life will have its end. I think you’re right. At least, I have a chance to know the end and give you a proper end is a luck.” His eyes stare at me with all the warmth he had, as his arms drag me in.
“Do you know that, I love you?” I asked him again and he chuckled as he hugged me tightly.
“We both know that we loved each other. You have done your best Elle. You bravely experienced every part of your life. You challenged yourself to found the most authentic version of you, and you had succeeded to make me in love with you.” I could feel his tears from my back. So, I held his hand tightly, as I felt my breath getting harder.
“Let’s go outside! Out on the moor, I want to lay down there and face the sky. I want to be sucked by its blue with you underneath it.” I begged him,
I wish we could meet faster.
My pretty Elaine has gone. Leave me alone with the memories of her. I didn’t know if she remembered our first meeting. That day, the tide was high, and Wobbegong would appear on the reef. I was diving with the boys as I saw her floating over me, she’s about 4 to 5 meters above. She tried for uncounted times to dive in and see the Wobbegong, but kept failing. What’s amazing about her is that she's not giving up. So, I gave my hand and she reached it, as I pulled her in. Deep in water with her long black hair dancing through the current, I was enchanted by her smile. The girl that the world introduced me to. All of my friends and colleagues said that there's a woman that looks so much like me and I have to meet her. Too many mentions her existence to make me not recognize her. Years later, she’s my one and only wife in this life.
Everybody always said that I spoiled her with too much love, I love her more than she deserved, I love her more than she loves me. But God, Elaine, and I knew the fact. Elaine, did the one love me more than I deserved, sacrifice her life for me, and give me more than I can give her. She’s just too down to earth. She’s always been the one who gave the spotlight to others. For Elaine, being looked up to by others was always nothing but useless. In all of her life, she’s always tried to look up by herself. And at the end of her life, what I could give her was the family name she always wished for.
Elaine Lee. She said that she hates Cinderella and tried her best to be independent. Deep inside, we both know how much she craved to lean on someone, to be dependent on someone, and how much she was jealous with Cinderella. I wish we could meet faster.