Worth of Tears

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Worth of Tears

Post  Furu on Sat May 17, 2008 2:54 pm

Title: Worth of Tears
PROJECT ONE Submission

Genre: Angst/fiction/drama

Setting: A fictional village near the border between two countries. Mostly forested, plain area but near a few mountains and the mouth of a river where the river touches the ocean.

Characters:

1. Dai
2. Rain

Cultural note: Mourners are usually female…but is male here for symbolism (and my interpretation of a mourner is quite a bit incorrect…. The professional mourner, generally a woman, would shriek and wail (often while clawing her face and tearing at her clothing), to encourage others to weep. The practice is employed throughout Europe, but largely died out in the nineteenth century. They continue to exist in Africa and the Middle East (also in many countries in Asia). >: note copied from wikipedia.

Summary/Plot: A mourner and his life of consistency. A girl who threatens to change it.

Furu

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Re: Worth of Tears

Post  Furu on Sat May 17, 2008 2:57 pm

Character Profiles:

(<_< *is confused* @_@…*pastes the character profiles?*)

Dai: A professional mourner. Male. Average height and slender build. Brown (messy) hair. Most distinctive feature is his eyes, which are piercing and seem to be so true and sincere. He is stoic, and has trouble expressing his emotions. Blunt. Tends to speak to-the-point. Pessimistic. He lives for the sake of living, and may seem uncaring at times. He is in absolute control of himself- to the point that he can weep by sheer will (I’m leaving it purposely vague on whether he actually feels sad or not when weeping)- and he is good at it. Represents the consistency of life.

Rain: A girl of unknown origin. Fragile and sickly. Grey hair and crimson-violet eyes. Exact opposite of Dai, she tends to express too much emotions (though like him…she is hard to read). Moody- smiles at one moment and cries in the next. Her personality varies and changes, and she often does odd and unexpected things. She believes in too many ideals, and ultimately- the loss of her ideals leads her to try one last act to find her reality. Represents change.

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Re: Worth of Tears

Post  Furu on Sat May 17, 2008 3:01 pm

Worth of Tears

by Furu Kei

He looked to be his late teens, this young man; slender hands always hanging awkwardly on his sides as though never quite sure what to do with them. Should you look closely, however, you would see the spark of wisdom within his eyes, cool and composed beneath the untamed bangs of his light brown hair. He was of normal height, and carried himself with an intense nature that one would not think to doubt the level of his sincerity.

And it was probably this genuine look in him that made him famous. To cry was his occupation. To fall against the ground, face upwards to the heavens- hollering and questioning the Gods why turmoil was brought upon mankind, why death was inevitable and separation unstoppable…

They hired him to cry during funerals. To make as big a scene as possible, show that the deceased would be missed, and their life had been valuable…to encourage others to weep. There is nothing worse than a quiet, tearless funeral. A person’s worth in life is measured by the amount of tears fallen when they die, after all.

His name was Dai.

For the first seventeen years of his life, if you asked Dai what he thought about misery, pain, and the so-called angst written again and again within the novels of old…

/“Ne, Dai? Have you ever seen someone breaking down before? This is what they would look like.”/

He would tell you that he thought nothing of it.

Welcome to humanity. Death was something that occurred every day. He was just the professional mourner. His talent was provoking tears for the dead. Caring was not in the job description.

-----------

He did not know when, or how it started…

But every night walking home, Dai would pass by a little girl, sitting upon the gate wall at the edge of town. Her long silver-grey hair would flutter in the wind as the moonlight shined upon the starlit tresses like a cascade of water brushing upon her shoulders, draped against her back.

And each time as she jumps down to greet him, he would tell her dutifully “It’s dangerous for a girl like you to climb up there, you know.”

However, his voice would be monotone and he would continue to walk on as she followed him, a flute in one hand and a light skip in her steps.

“Mother says mourning is women’s work. If you can cry, then I can climb.”

Her crimson eyes would stare into his chocolate orbs, almost longingly as it bled into reddish-violet hues beneath long eyelashes. But he would shrug uncaringly; and his heart would remain cold to the beauty of it all, brushing the thought aside while she would begin to talk to him in the most casual of manners.

Every night was the same.

Yet so remarkably different.

On some nights she asked him to join her on the rocks by the seashore. And, having nothing else to do, he would comply. They would sit for hours, Dai always quiet while the girl chattered and laughed. She was always curious, always had something to wonder about the world.

Sometimes when she played the flute he would close his eyes, and the waves crashing towards them would become a harmony, tumbling and roaring in rhythm with the haunting sounds of her tune. Then the sounds would stop, and he would open his eyes to see her looking sadly into the distance.

“I’m in love with someone.” she said once.

“And just thinking of that person makes me smile.”

She’d laughed, reaching down to pick up a stone, and throwing it into the ocean as though she wished to throw herself along with it.

“But for some reason every night before I go to bed…I wash my face with tears.”

If he wondered about her heartache, he made no comment of it. They would walk home in their separate ways, and return the next day. And the next and the next…

One time it rained, and he stood upon the rocks holding an umbrella. Silently he watched as she danced, running into the waves below while water washed upon her from all sides. Like a child she splashed and waddled in the ocean, hair glistening with water and tongue sticking out to taste the heaven’s tears.

Later she would tell him that she loved the rain…and how the cold needles would fall into her skin, washing away all guilt and pain. It would also be the first time he learned of her name.

“Rain.”

-----------

He saw her during work one day. They’d called him over to mourn for an old widow, whose only family was a middle-aged cousin, a shrewd merchant who’d no desire to provide the woman tears.

Dai was hired to mourn for her then, and as he wept and burned incense for her he could see Rain standing by the door in the corner of his eyes.

She waited for him to finish.

That evening she asked him to watch the sunset with her.

“I admire you, Dai. Nothing seems to faze you. You have to be so very strong to handle seeing so many gone before your eyes. You can cry one moment, then make it seem like nothing the next. Does it hurt?”

He shrugged.

For a while she looked at him, taking in the simple, relaxed posture.

“There is this person I’m in love with…who touched my heart and reached out to me.” she sighed.

“But sometimes I wonder if I’d imagined it, because more and more…it seems that I don’t know who that person is.”

She began to cry, leaning on his shoulders as she did. He reached over to pat her on the head.

“An empty room. An empty promise. Is it too much to wish to see someone each and every day?”

She fell asleep that night beneath the trees. And as he draped his jacket over her before leaving for home, he thought.

//I’d help you if I could. I’d replace that person in your heart if only I knew how to fall in love with you.//

She wasn’t waiting at the edge of town for him the next night. Nor the next…and for one week Dai’s schedule went on as usual.

Work then home. Work then home.

Until…

She was leaning against a tree, face turned towards the stone wall she’d climbed on so many nights before. When he came she ran forward to hug him, burying her face in his chest as she did.

“I’d missed you!” she said, laughing.

Vaguely, he noted that her eyes remained empty.

He joined her that night beneath the rocks, walking barefoot on wet sand by the sea shore.

“Do you know what hurts the most?”

She smiled, looking towards the moon.

“What hurts is mom telling me I won’t be able to survive in the world if I remain myself. But I already know I won’t be here for long. And I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I don’t feel anything anymore. All I feel is this…almost empty sadness…and I think, I don’t want to live anymore.”

He blinked, suddenly feeling scared.

“Don’t die.” he said, though his face remained emotionless.

She grinned, tapping him on the nose.

“I won’t.”

Her voice was softer as she continued.

“For you I won’t. At least…not yet.”

The month after that there was a war in the area.

He worked day and night, called upon to weep for the thousands of nameless victims of the war. She was always beside him, giving out hugs to the family members who remained.

Placing her flute upon rosy lips, she played for them a nostalgic tune.

She told them to smile for their loved ones. Smile and move on with their memories instead.

She cried to him when they were alone.

“You don’t know how much I hate myself. My heart is still beating…yet here I am, wondering…why am I not happy. Why does living hurt so much?”

He didn’t reply. And as his work called him to travel out of the village into the war zone, she stayed behind.

-------------

Furu

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Re: Worth of Tears

Post  Furu on Sat May 17, 2008 3:01 pm

For one month they did not meet.

The next time he met her, he was riding a horse back through the village gate. The battles were becoming more frequent, and he’d just returned from a combat site after mourning for some of the unnamed soldiers.

She seemed different somehow, he noted, and the flute tied to her wrist had a small crack on it. She stood upon the town wall, hands extended to balance herself.

He climbed down from his horse, tying it to a tree nearby. As usual, he calmly admonished her with his dispassionate voice.

“It’s dangerous for a girl like you to climb up there.”

She laughed, twirling around before jumping downwards.

“There is nothing to fear, if I’m already dying.”

A stray arrow shot over the wall, landing close to where she stood.

He hissed, pushing her towards the wall.

“You-”

A pair of arms wrapped tightly around his waist, and his eyes widened as she easily flipped their positions. She leaned against him, one hand now raised to touch his cheek gently.

“I’ve been wondering how hard it would be…to get a bigger reaction out of you.”

Her face was only a few inches from his own, her breath tickling his skin as she spoke. As her eyes locked into his, he was unexpectedly aware that their lips were almost touching. Closer and closer she tilted her head…

And suddenly the moment was over. Her chin rested against his shoulders, as she clung to him as though her life depended on it. Her arms were once again around him as she held him firmly in embrace.

“Can we just… stay like this for a moment?”

Her voice was a soft pianissimo, yet it rang into his ears, striking a cord within him.

“Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to kiss you. If I am not your number one…if I wasn’t meant to be with you, then…”

She took a deep breath, then stepped back, smiling sadly.

“I’ve always…wanted…to do something. To become something more than the useless being that I am constantly reminded of being. I hear of all those people who died…and I think, wouldn’t it be better if I take their place?”

His laugh was hollow.

“The world is twisted that way. We all hurt ourselves. Then we hurt others in our search for pity. You hurt, and you curse the world why it’s so unfair that your life should be that way. ‘I just realized the people I love don’t need me. I was born knowing that I would die soon because of my disease. I’ve been wanting to die for such a long time. I feel oh-so alone. My heart aches, something tears me apart…’ So what? Deal with it. It’s pathetic. Then…there are other, luckier people in the world who spend their time doing nothing but trying to attain more power. People wage war on each other over nonsense. Then they buy tears-”

She shook her head.

“What good is a country, if it’s people do not believe in it? The war has already begun. How can we stop it if the opponent doesn’t stop as well? You ridicule about it if we stop fighting- saying that we shouldn’t surrender. You ridicule even if we continue, saying that so many of our men are dying. Before the war is complete- we have already lost to ourselves. Sometimes we can’t help doing the things we do. Sometimes we buy tears…but sometimes we need tears to remind ourselves of what we had lost. Of what we want to remember.”

Before he could stop her, she ran. She untied his horse then jumped upon it, urging the stallion towards the gates. As he chased after her, Rain called back.

“Do you know what’s really pathetic? I knew a girl once…who dared not to love and dared not to hate. She lived each day trying -but failing- to make sure that all who she loved would be happy…trying to become who they wanted her to become. Yet sometimes the wishes of those she loved contrasted with each other…and in the end, no one was happy.”

She rode on, yelling out for him to hear as their distance became further and further.

“She broke down then, and left to find herself. When she came back…she realized that she was never needed in anyone’s happiness in the first place. And it was then that she chose to fall in love. For once, to try and give herself entirely for one and only one person. But then…she wasn’t able to do that, either.”

The horse rode out of the village, until Rain could no longer see Dai. She slowed the horse to a stop, and muttered to herself.

“Ne, Dai. When you told me not to go…it was just…a human reaction, wasn’t it? You see…how can I believe that you need me not to go, when you are not here when I stay? Curse me, for I am selfish. It’s too late now.”

With a shout, she urged the horse forward once more.

----------

On and on she rode, deep into the forest and into the area where the battle was fought. Swords were clashing, and arrows whizzed across the field. Fires burned the trees, and the stench of blood and burnt wood polluted the air.

Taking a deep breath, Rain struggled to a stand above the horse- balancing herself the way she had done countless of times before upon the gate wall. For a while she watched the scene below, before closing her eyes and grabbing hold of the flute tied to her wrist. Slowly she set the instrument upon her lips, and began to play.

/You…you who writes and speaks

Of gallant heroes

Or fighting monsters…

I say, wouldn’t it be better

…if the only story I write is of peace and happiness?/

It was a soft, lulling melody…and the warriors did not hear at first. But the tune was a familiar one; a children’s song that reminded them of joy and hope…

/Do you remember the laughter…

Of our younger days…?

An ice-cream break after hide-and-seek in summer…

And in winter,

Huddling together around the fireplace./

A song of home.

A stray arrow pierced into her arm, then another to her chest. Yet she continued, the melody nostalgic and bittersweet as itself pierced into the hearts of those who are fighting.

/I love the fire lights best

At night…

Because it reminds me how bright we can shine.

Then life is more warm and beautiful.

Don’t fight.

Hey…let’s go home./

One by one they stopped, humming along with the tune as their weapons dropped to the ground, unheeded.

/Let’s go home./

/Let’s go home./

As the last note rang into the air …Rain’s wounds proved to be too much for her to continue. She fell, white clothes now painted in crimson blood as she lay, hanging across the horse’s back. The flute -once in her hands- flew into the air, before shattering upon a rock nearby.

The warriors were broken from their trance then, and they picked up their swords, looking at each other in bewilderment. All of a sudden, the loud, anguished cry of birds echoed from above the trees, while the horse carrying the little girl neighed and ran off. An army of ants scurried across the forest floor, as if searching for higher ground.

A thundering sound echoed in the distance, and someone yelled out.

“The dam! Hurry, the dam is broken! Go home, tell the villagers. This area is going to be flooded.”

At once the warriors dispersed, each running to warn their own villages as the war against each other was forgotten. For days they worked, stacking thousands of sand bags to block the water’s flow.

Some of the water swept across the area, carrying off many homes in its wake. The cattle were evacuated towards the highlands. Children and the elderly were brought to safer places.

But the war was over, and together the warriors and their families labored to rebuild the villages.

-------------

Dai was walking home one day, returning from mourning for some villagers in a neighboring village who’d died from the flood. The clopping sound of a horse’s steps resounded into the quiet night, and he turned to see Rain- one hand touching grayish stones as she rode alongside the town wall.

Her face was pale in the moonlight, and she smiled wanly, urging the horse closer to him. Into his arms she jumped, both hands clutching tightly around his shoulders.

“If I had ever told you I want to be alone, don’t…don’t trust me on it.”

His eyes were blank when he looked at her. His heart was beating fast, but he remained silent as he carried her. He continued to walk past the gates, towards the rocks by the sea.

Upon reaching the shore he stopped.

“Foolish girl. Did you think someone weak and sickly like you can create a miracle? Those things only exist in wishful fantasies…it’s impossible. The world will right itself up without you. It always works out that way.”

She laughed, the sound of her voice like water trickling down.

“It was worth a try. I knew someone once…who believed in eternity. And all she could think of was the song in her heart that was playing for the world that she loved.”

He frowned.

“What happened to her?”

Rain reached towards the waves, splashing a few drops of water towards the young man as he lay her down. He raised one hand to block it, face turning away.

“She died. In the end, she still could not stop her heart from wishing to gain acceptance and love for her loved ones. To see herself in their eyes just once. Yet when that they turned towards her…she did not dare to look into their eyes.”

Her voice was a bare whisper as she continued.

“Ne…Dai? When I leave…promise you won’t cry for me.”

He looked at her, seeing a mysterious glint in her eyes. Weakly she sighed, before resting her head upon his shoulder.

“I don’t want those tears to wash away everything. I want you to remember me forever.”

The mourner closed his eyes, not saying anything.

Below them, the waves continued to crash, drowning the words away.

-----------

End.

Once upon a time there was a mourner.

Who cried, not for the dead…but for the living.

And each and every day he would walk through the same road of the same town…

Taking a swift glance at the empty space beside the wall-

Only to realize that no one is waiting there anymore.

He would continue on, the empty space just a passing thought…

Until he walked home the next day.

/One day as you walk by the edge of town, Dai…you will discover that I’m not here anymore. And on that day if you feel the slightest bit of longing…then my life was not a waste after all./

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Re: Worth of Tears

Post  pitoli on Sun May 18, 2008 2:42 am

I think I saw this in your gallery because you're on my deviantWATCH.
It's well-paced and interesting, and reads like fanfiction. Smile
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