Light spilled into the darkness as a little girl opened the package, a smile breaking through her face like she had just found a treasure. She picked me up and gazed at me warmly.
“Papa! I found it!” she said.
A man appeared next to her beaming with pride–I recognized him. He was my creator. He had folded me and shaped me. Made my paper wings and beak with such care and love.
“Make her happy, my friend,” he whispered, as he hid me in a box.
I don’t know why he would talk like that to me. I was useless, a paper crane incapable of doing anything. Protect a smile? How could I do that? Yet, now, as she held me in her hands. I felt like my life suddenly had a purpose. She carried me and played with me as her father watched, delighted with her happiness. My world became colorful with her by my side.
But as the days go by, so do the happy times. Her father had gone, and she succumbed to her loneliness.
“You didn’t keep your promise!” She cried out. She hid me in a trunk, forgotten and decrepit.
They left there me. I kept wondering and wondering if there was something, anything I had done wrong. I was as useless as I had thought, and I felt guilt weigh heavy in my fragile heart.
Did I not keep my promise?
I waited and waited, even as my body started to mold, even when I start to lose my vivid color. I kept believing that she’ll be back.
One night, I had a dream–a memory of when he had made me. I could remember him writing something in my body, but I couldn’t read it. Black ink seeped into my paper body; the ink felt cold, yet; I felt honesty and love within these symbols. I wish I could speak and ask him about it, but I can’t speak or talk for I’m just a mere origami that he made for his daughter.
The next day, the trunk opened, and I saw her face again. She had changed. She became a beautiful lady now.
She scavenged the trunk for a phone, long forgotten like the rest of its contents. She continued to search until she finally noticed me, a small paper crane in the trunk’s corner. She picked me up and examined me. She, at first, thought of me like nothing and was about to throw me away again.
I panicked at first and tried to calm down. With the little strength inside me, I tried to move and shake until one of my folds became undone.
That was when she noticed the strange symbols inside me. She unfolded me revealing the writing inside. Tears began to form in her eyes as she saw the strange characters.
That when it dawned on me–I made her cry. I began to blame myself as she cried, thinking I was useless and terrible. Her hands held me tightly, and she ran out of the open doorway.
A woman saw her and hugged her, but I couldn’t care. I kept thinking I was terrible. Maybe I shouldn’t exist. Maybe I was just a mistake. I wish I could have stopped him.
The girl cried, held in her mother’s arms. Her mother reassured her and said, “I see that you found it. Don’t worry, your father loved you too. I know he has already forgiven you.”
They held each other for a while as she held the handmade origami crane her father made. Though the little paper crane thought of itself as useless, it accomplished something of great relevance to her life.
I’m Denelyn and I am residing in the City of Manila, Philippines. I live with my family and pets. A cat and a dog, respectively. I like to travel and have been to places such as Europe, Asia, and Australia. At first, I wrote poetry to express my mental illness in a safe way. Then, I began to enjoy writing and reading poetry books. I’m fascinated by how writers could tell stories so effectively that I now wish to pursue a career in writing. I still continue to write poetry and short stories and share them on my Instagram and Blog: Thoughtful Wisps. And I am very thankful for this chance to share this with you all!
She glanced at the paintings hanging on the wall. Some abstracts and some landscapes. It was a pleasant sight! When Henry wasn’t busy analysing enzymes and DNA in his lab, he used to paint in his studio. In the corner, she saw a sturdy shelf containing thick books. She trailed her fingers along the titles on the book spine. Secrets of the Chemists, DNA Demystified, and after more interesting titles. She reached his easel. On the canvas was a majestic swan gliding in a blue lake, that part was freshly painted with different shades of blue, which rendered it very vivid, she could almost catch the faintest ripple on the lake. She liked how the sky pigment sculpted the contours of the conifers around the lake.
It was amazing how he could handle electron microscopes and his paintbrush with the same finesse. She came near his table, a white mug contained water he had rinsed his paintbrushes in and the pots of cobalt blue and navy blue pots of paint he used to paint the lake lay next to it.
Cassandra had a passion for painting too but the sands of time wanted otherwise. Each time she started to draw something she was discouraged by her partner’s harsh comments.
Somehow seeing colours always brought back her childhood memories for those were the only colourful phase of her life. Unlike the last 2 years which were only a bleak black and white. She had been under constant psychological and moral abuse by her partner Jake, which had eroded her cheery personality and rendered her stoic. She was being dragged in the swirling vortex of manipulation without even realising it.
Henry had been abroad for some years. It was only two months ago that he came to Hamilton. At first, Cassandra plainly refused for the meet-up, like she had been doing for many other reunions and outings lately because Jake did not see it with a good eye.
In the beginning, she used to feel bad about not being able to meet her friends and relatives, but with time she changed. She started spinning a cocoon of low-esteem around her, and she showed no interest in sharing laughter with happy people.
Cassandra gave in only when her other two friends told her they would pick her up from work and meet over lunch. She would have been swallowed in a depressive tornado by now, if it was not for Henry, who saw how drastically she had changed from the happy-go-lucky girl he had known as a classmate to a forlorn girl with wrinkles of worry.
She went so far back in time that she inadvertently knocked over the cup of water which tipped over the pots of the navy blue and royal blue paint. A navy blue river started to form its way on the table sinuously until it reached Cassandra’s finger, which was lingering on the table. The cold water stimulated the thermoreceptors on her fingertips and flipped Cassandra back to reality. She stared at the mess in horror. She quickly picked up the cup and grabbed hold of some tissue paper and stopped the water from flowing from the edge of the table. Just in time before it reached the floor!
There was still some paint residue on the table. She reached for the tissue roll to wipe the rest of the paint only to find that it was over. She heard the garage door opening. Henry was back! Oh my god, what do I do now?! I created such a mess. It’s always me. Wherever I go things go wrong!
Her heart was pounding as she looked frantically around the room for something to clean the mess. Luckily, she found a bunch of filter papers lying on the bookshelf. She grabbed one of them and lunged towards the table. The knob of the door clicked and Henry’s shadow flooded the doorway.
“Am-am so sorry Henry, I didn’t mean to. I mean it’s my mistake, ev, everything just toppled over. I am cleaning it!” she muttered.
Henry just stood there staring at her. This made her even more uncomfortable. She wondered how will he react, will he brood? Will he scold? Or worst, will he beat me? This was how Jake used to react during disputes, with time she had been conditioned into walking on eggshells.
“Am almost done,” she said heading towards the table her cheeks turning crimson. By now the filter paper had absorbed most of the residual paint. She reached for it and started to crumple it.
She froze. She closed her eyes. It’s coming. She closed her eyes harder, conditioning herself to bear the pain.
She waited. Nothing.
“Cassandra …Cassandra!” he said in a soft voice.
Henry held her shoulders and turned her around and looked into her eyes. “It’s fine!” he said. “it’s just some paint,why are you getting so worked up?”
He picked up the filter paper and admired it, the blue colours which had seeped in had taken different hues of blue.
“This is beautiful,” he whispered.
He bent down took his paintbrush and dipped in the the navy blue pot of paint and brushed a few strokes on the blotting paper. Cassandra peered to see what he was doing but she could only make out a blue blob of paint at the rim of the paper. He dipped the brush in black paint now and painted few more strokes and placed it back.
Now she could make it out. He had drawn a woman figure on the filter paper.
“For you this might be a wasted filter paper meant to be discarded. But the artist in me sees a sky on that paper. And that’s you with all the sky stretched in front of you showing you that possibilities are infinite. Even if you soaked up all the mess that doesn’t make you less valuable, Cassandra. What you have endured does not put you to a disadvantage instead it has built you and armoured you with shields that will help you face harder days with ease.”
He stared at Cassandra’s awe-filled eyes and continued. “Don’t make yourself a victim of what you have undergone, you are more than just a sufferer. You are a Warrior! This sky is just waiting for You to open your wings and fly. Yes, Cassandra fly! Fly and conquer new horizons!”
I am from Mauritius, a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. Presently, I’m working as a lecturer in a Medical University. I started writing as a hobby back in college and gradually, written words became my lifebuoy. With life becoming more of a whirlpool, writing keeps me afloat and helps me reach out to people.
During my journey from medical student to tutor, I have come across many students with difficulty to cope at both academic and psychological levels hence my purpose to write motivational quotes. My other hobbies include cooking, drawing and painting. My current project is to bring together my paintbrush and pen to promote mental and physical health.
The woman in the reflection was unknown to her, a stranger. The figure sat poised and proper at the cherry wood vanity. Her ample breasts spilling out of her strapless black lace bra. Red lipstick clasped in her newly manicured fingers. Her petite hand, adorned with a 1/2 carat diamond on her ring finger, catching the reflective light of the setting sun.
The rays casting through the French doors that led to the perfectly tended yard. Her long golden locks, portraying the perfect illusion, whilst hiding the $500 extensions. She didn’t seem real. Who had she become? This version of herself masked the reality of what she felt. Was she a trophy wife? Is that what one would call it? If so, it was she that had allowed herself to obtain such a title.
Over the years she has given permission for her old self to die away and for the new model to be on display. Disgusted by what stared back at her, she stood, tossing the makeup into the vanity drawer. She sauntered to her closet where her gown for the evening’s festivities hung. Still covered in plastic from being picked up from the dry cleaners earlier in the day. Gently removing the plastic covering, she carefully wiggled her tiny frame into the crimson velvet dress, squeezing her $8,000 bust into it as best she could. She pulled at its ends, causing the fabric to form even more fittingly, hugging her small curves. She slipped her toes into the black Louis Vuitton’s, and took a step back to take a gander at the presentable finished product. She was indeed quite the most beautiful specimen.
But in that moment, it didn’t matter. Her beauty. The big 5,800 square foot home. The gun metal Maserati in the garage, or the crystal flute etched with a golden rim that housed the sparkling Veuve Clicquot. She raised the glass to her lips and took a sip of the delectable liquid. She took one last look in the mirror, raised her free hand and matching the gesture of the pristine red nail of the middle finger, uttered aloud, “Fuck you!” For, It was all a facade.
In a moment she would make her grand entrance. The guests would “ooh and ah” with hushed tones upon her arrival and she would elegantly walk towards her husband and he’d kiss her on the cheek. He would gawk and gush, exaggerating his delight with a plethora of compliments; all the while his gaze straying towards another beauty that stands nearby with smiles of adoration. It was all a game. Lies and falsifications disguised with laughter and grins. Yet, she knew she would play the part, wear the smile, for how could anyone with “all this” be unhappy. One should be grateful for all that they have, and to turn a blind eye to his adulterous ways…was understood, was acceptable, and she would be crazy to give it all up.
She turned away from the reflective image, and she began her walk down the hall to embrace the insignificant faces of the evening. His colleagues, long-life friends, those he had added to the list last minute to simply rub his success and blissful life in their faces. She was his to show off, right along with the cognac that they had brought back from their trip to France, they were all on display. She could hear the chatter and clinking of glasses, and with one last sip and one deep breath (causing her bosom an attempted escape from the constricting dress) and a smile…entre’!
Suit and ties filled the room, various scents (colognes and perfumes clashing) filling her nostrils causing them to flare. In efforts of disguising the overwhelming fragrance, she delicately brought her glass to her lips, taking another gulp whilst holding her breath.
As she walked about the room, greeting her guests with nods, smiles, and hellos, the men’s eyes followed with each sway of her hips. All filled with lust and longing and some aglow with jealousy. The women were dressed to the nines, with various shades of their black and gray splattered about, yet unable to compare to her.
She caught a server by the elbow, trading her empty flute for another crisp cold bubbly, this one embellished with three pomegranates floating at the top, grazing her plump lips as she brought it to her mouth, quenching her thirst.
In that moment, just as she had assumed, her husband, began his approach to her. With much chagrin leaving the side of his muse, but not before whispering sweet nothings into her ear, causing her eyes to sparkle. Anger stung at the corner of her eyes, which then transformed into shame. She felt embarrassed by her husband and his mistress’ cavalier attitude. Their behavior wasn’t blatant, flaunting was even to crass of a word, however; they certainly didn’t disguise their relationship. It was such a ridiculous ruse, and it was expected that she would swallow her pride, her dignity, her value, her worth. She deviated her eyes away from the spectacle. In response and perfect self deprecating fashion, she finished her champagne, and found the server grabbing another.
Much to her dismay, he had chosen to wear his gray Armani suit. Upon purchasing it, weeks prior, she had mentioned that the suit was simply too small. The areas that it hugged and accentuated were not flattering by any means. Yet, he disagreed claiming that it was his exact size, a 42L (in reality a 46 would have sufficed perfectly). But, as he paraded across the room, his red velvety tie caught the flickering of the ambient candlelight that decorated the large room.
It was an intentional choice (the tie) to match her formal wear. His gait was proud, slow and steady, even with his confidence accentuated in each step, he was still unable to hide his middle-age bulge, that was so desperate to be released from the restraint of the single button of his suit. It was laughable really. How ridiculous he looked, yet the compliments and validation he received was all that he required, and of course it was given. The pats on his shoulder, the hand-shakes as he walked by, the nods of approval…the superficial confirmation filling his ego.
She could feel her stomach churn at the idea. The visualization of of the figures filled with greed and envy was more than she could bear. She could see the hunger in their eyes instilled with complete idolization towards this man. Her man. Her husband. She envisioned the gnawing and gnashing of their teeth diving into his flesh in ravenous frenzy in efforts to fulfill their gluttonous adoration. It was sickening. Vile. She had to clear her throat to stifle the bile that was journeying upwards from her belly.
“You look ravishing, my dear,” he muttered under his breath, along with a tooth-filled smile kissing her hand. She nodded in response, her eyes catching the envious stare of his Jezebel from across the room. She then tapped her glass with the base of her ring finger, creating a high clanking, grabbing the attention of the visitors.
“Would you all please raise your glasses?”
The room complied with her bidding. She scoped the great room, a large Christmas tree stood tall and stoic in the corner. Decorated to its absolute perfection. Ribbons and wreaths were strewn above the window and fireplace; the atmosphere so breathtaking that one could easily find themselves agape at its elegance.
“I want to thank you all for being here this evening,” her voice as soothing as the trill of a songbird. “As we celebrate the passing year for all its triumphs and downfalls, I hope we are all able to reflect on our journey with positivity and continue to grow and learn. I do hope that the coming year brings good fortune, enlightenment, and an opportunity of discovery as we move towards a brighter and more satisfying future.”
She paused for a moment, lowering her raised hand, scanning the faces of all those surrounding her. She could feel their piercing eyes of judgement, their smiles of false truths, burning deep into her core, and she could feel the loneliness rising within her depths. It was a room of strangers who desired to be called friends. A room filled with beings that knew nothing of her soul.
With an escape of a small chuckle, she raised her glass and continued, “So, fill your ravenous appetites, indulge on the flowing cocktails, taste all the delicacies proffered within these walls, TAKE what is given, and appease your voracious sinful souls! here’s to you!” The room, in automated response echoed, “Cheers!” She then locked eyes with her spouse, as they each took their sip in response to toasting tradition.
His brow furrowed, as he stood quizzical and confused. She gave him a sly smile and a devilish wink, then ventured towards his muse.
The young woman began to shift and stir in her bargain heels, nervously fidgeting with the diamond earrings that hung loosely from her lobe.
A gift for being, “Such an amazing assistant, a godsend really,” or at least that’s what she was told when she found the bill from the jewelers, that had accidentally fallen from her husband’s pants pocket earlier that morning.
As she reached her destination, the young woman attempted a smile, all the while with quivering lips and her eyes darting sporadically in the direction where her husband still stood watching. She leaned in towards the girl, she placed her lips upon the girl’s cheek, giving a delicate peck, slowly she moved her red lips towards the girl’s ear, and whispered HER sweet nothings.
“He’s all yours, dear.” She placed her empty flute down on the glass coffee table, exited the room, fully aware of the whispers, gossip, and giggles.
Upon returning to her bedroom, she closed the door and fastened the lock behind her. Safe within her solitude. She went before her mirror, freeing her feet from the three inches of height and began unzipping her dress. The red velvet fell to the floor, and with the unsnapping of her bra, her breasts were now liberated. Her nipples stood erect from the sudden exposure of the air. She then removed her underwear, tossing them to the side. She stood before her image. Naked. Susceptible to judgement; her own. She was vulnerable and she was frightened. As she looked about the clothing scattered on the floor, she removed all her jewelry, adding them to pile at her feet. Lastly, her ring. The last materialistic item that connected her to him. The identifier that allowed the world to see that she was taken, that she was a Mrs., that she was still his. She held it in the palm of her hand, feeling its weight. She then chucked it across the room, hitting the wall above their bed frame, dropping to the hardwood floor, giving a thud of finality.
Her skin had been shed. And she could feel a rising fire growing from within her belly. She could feel a new strength flowing throughout her veins. Her heart raced. With one inhale, deeply filling up her lungs, awakening all senses, electrifying her soul and setting her eyes ablaze.
She had been reborn.
About the Author
Robin LeOra Anderson
My name is Robin LeOra Andersen, I am 43, married for 20 years, and have 4 beautiful children. I am a stay at home mom, but do help my hubby and older son (when needed) with our family business. I am located in Northern California, I am a classically trained pianist, I home schooled my children (an incredible blessing and adventure), and have always dabbled here and there (as a hobby) with writing. This past year, and as my children are getting older, I find I have more time for myself. I am taking my writing more seriously and am currently working on completing my first novel. It’s an exciting new journey for me, and I am eager to see where it leads. My poetry can be found on Instagram: @leoras_beautiful_chaos_poetry