Entry Writchal #2

Theme: Maid




A loud explosion tears through the silence of night. Flames give the horizon an orange glow. The foxes run with their tail between their legs. 

“The car is close by! Move faster!”, shouted a gray fox. A few foxes follow behind him.

“Boss! We’ve lost three people in the blast! Four more cannot walk anymore!”, said another fox.

“Leave them, we must- “

A crossbow bolt pierces through the fox’s head. Then another. One by one, the screams of the foxes are silenced. Until there was only one.

“Who are you? Who sent you?”, the gray fox shouted into the darkness.

“Is it money that you want?”, he kept on shouting into the night, but alas, there was no answer. He looked around him. All he saw were containers and jerrycans. Behind him, a warehouse is being reduced to mere ashes. 

Then, only the sound of embers remains. The last fox sweats, but not because of the heat.

And then, he felt cold. He placed his hands on his stomach where he felt cold iron covered in thick liquid. As he slowly fell to the ground, he saw the figure behind him.

“…you…you…must…be…”, the light in his eyes fade.

The moonlight reveals the figure. A man wearing a fedora and trench coat. The only thing lighting his face is the small light from his cigarette.

 The man pulled his knife from the fox. In a swift motion, he threw the cigarette and created another explosion. Suddenly, he received a call.

“Good work,” said the voice. 

“Are you satisfied now?”, said the man.

“Of course. Because you burnt down their warehouses and disposed of their elites, we will have complete hold of the market.”

“I’ve prepared a getaway vehicle for you, with the payment inside,”

“I look forward to working with you again, Mr. Heisenberg.”, said the voice before hanging up.

The man walks away, leaving behind ashes.



I light a cigarette. Various backgrounds cross this road every day. A drunken deer walks by, after spending most of his night in the bar. A street vendor pushes his cart, returning home. And me, carrying a briefcase, returning home from work. Suddenly, a cat bumped into me. He dropped the bundle of paper he was holding. 

“I’m sorry, Sir!” he exclaimed as he collected his papers.

“Don’t worry about it,” as I crouched down to help him.

He thanked me as he ran away to wherever he was going. I checked my pockets and found nothing lost.

As the night grows darker, the snowfall intensifies. I open the door to my apartment. It looks the same as usual. Near the entrance, a door to the bathroom is in the left. The entrance to the kitchen is in the right. The main room is small. In one corner of the room, there’s a bed, while in the other corner, sits a TV. In the middle, there’s a sofa and table.

I hung my hat and coat, ate simple meals, and went into the bath. It’s always the same every day. I walk to the balcony to light a cigarette.

“Huh, it’s empty,” I talked to myself.

In a whim, I picked up my coat and headed out to the convenience store.

The light snowfall has turned into a heavy blizzard. When I was about to return home, I saw her. 

Under the streetlight, a small rabbit wearing maid uniform lay in the snow. Her skin looks pale from the cold, and her skin bruised. She looked lifeless, so I slowly lose hope as I walk closer. Then, I felt her pulse. She looks pitiful. I carried her on my back.

As soon as I went through the door, I placed a towel seeped with warm water on her head. As she rests on the bed, I sat on the sofa, thinking.

“Who is this rabbit?”
“Why is she wearing a maid uniform?”
“Why was she out in the blizzard?”
As more questions rise, my eyes became heavier, as I slowly fall into sleep.



The next morning, I woke up as usual. But there’s one difference.

I saw her, on the edge of the sofa.

“What happened?”, she asked as soon as I opened my eyes.

“I found you passed out in the middle of a blizzard. I brought you here so you wouldn’t freeze to death.”

“Very well,” she stood up.

“Since you saved my life, I am now indebted to you. From today onward, I will serve your maid,” she gave me a serious look.

“I don’t need a maid at the moment. What about your family or friends? Don’t you have a home to return to?”

“I don’t remember,” she answered, still wearing that serious look.

I stared at her, and asked,

“Why should I trust you?”

She stayed quiet. 

“Can you please leave.”

“If that’s what you wish for, then I will oblige.”

She walked slowly to the door. As she held the door handle, she gave me one last look.

“It’s for the best,” I thought to myself. “Can’t let anyone-“

Before I could finish my train of thought, I felt it. Before I could react, a flash of light appeared, and sound of shattered glass echoed through the room.

This is it, I thought to myself. I let my guard down, now I shall pay with my life.

Blood splattered. But it wasn’t mine. Before I realized it, the rabbit had pushed me away and took the bullet. She lays there. The rabbit’s dress stained red. One question appeared in my mind. 

“Why did she save me?”

Then my phone rang.

“I take it you’ve been compromised?”, said the voice on the other side. “Survive for a bit, I’ll handle this. You’re relocated to Safehouse #19. After this is done, go there.”

“There’s an injured civilian!”, I shouted.

“Don’t worry, medics are on the way,”

As soon as the voice hung up, another shot can be heard. But it wasn’t aimed at me. I grabbed the rabbit. I tried to stop her bleeding.

A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived and brought the rabbit to the hospital. She was brought immediately to the operating room to remove the bullet.

“Had we arrived a few minutes too late, she wouldn’t have survived,” said the surgeon after the procedure. “She can go back home in a few days. If you want, you can visit her now.”

As I walk to her, the question keeps spinning inside my head. “Why did she save me?”,
“I already sent her away,” “She had no reason to,” “What would she gain from saving me?”

I opened the door and saw her laying there. Her torso bandaged. When she saw me, she immediately sat up. 

“Hello, Master. It’s a shame you have to see me in this state,” she greeted me with a smile.

“Why, why did you save me?” I immediately asked.

“I’m sure you already know the answer. It’s because I’m indebted to you.”

“What do you gain from doing so?”

“It’s not about gains or losses. I’m just doing what I wanted to do.”

“Now, may I ask one thing?” she wore the serious look again.

“May I be your maid?”

After hearing that, the words from my mouth won’t come out.

“Yes, you may,” I said, after a long silence.

“Thank you,” she said before she fell asleep.

I stayed for a while after she fell asleep, processing the things that has happened and the things she had said. Then it all clicked to me, the reasons, her behavior, and why I’ve accepted her request. 

I blinked. Once, twice, thrice. 

As one opened the heart, the eyes also open. She lays there, a young girl with long white hair and fair skin. The sunlight shines on her sleeping face. Her stomach is bandaged from an operation.

“Where did the rabbit go?” I asked myself.




A few days later.

“Sorry for the wait, this last checkup was very important,” the young girl said as she

exits the hospital.

“I almost forgot. Since I’m your maid, I shall introduce myself.” She walked closer to me and lifted the edges of her skirt. “My name is Edelweiss, what about yours?”

“My name is White,” I said as I walk next to her.

“White, a fine name. I shall be in your care, Master.”

“So where are we going?”

“Our new home,”

And that is how I have a maid serving me.




To be continued

Writer: Saiful Dipatiukur

The Girl of The Vessel

Entry Writchal #2

Theme: Maid




-Syado, G’22


That day, the man arrived just in time to the examination hall, wearing the most casual of clothing and uncombed hair. He had with him nothing than his student ID and a single pen with unreliable ink. Dark circles clouded his eyes, ink stains marked his hands, and the smell of coffee was his breath. He sat on a seat at the back knowing well what will unfold next.

A set of five questions stood between him and exiting the hall, and the faster he could bullshit through them, the faster he’d finally be able to sit in front of his desk for another fifteen waking hours. And bullshit his way he did. The result will not matter, for no matter how much he reads up on the material, he’d still end up in the exact same position.

Among the first to leave the exam hall, a curious set of eyes worriedly looked at him as he left. Half an hour later, he’d be seen wasting his time on his desk. Only later that midnight would he fall asleep.

The circumstances of that night will never be fully understood, nor is it meant to be, for something remarkable is happening.


“Good morning, sir,”

were the first three words his ears captured that morning.

In the room, on the bed beside an intimidating pile of dirty clothes and empty plastic bottles, 21-year-old Tsutae Kurone saw a black-and-white figure standing silently just outside the door frame, with all their patience directed to waiting him wake clear his vision.

It’s hard to see behind all the dust. Not to mention the comoftable bolster and the rough greasy strands of his hair bridging from his eyebrows to his nose.

When Tsutae finally regained his senses, he whiffed his hair off to better see. A yawn echoed throughout the bedroom. The fuzzy red blanket rested on top of his pale, skinny, noodlish legs. Sunlight barraged his eyes from behind the grayish figure.

The face of said figure seemed rather familiar if blurred. As his view cleared, however, he noticed their pale white face, their freckles under the eyes, their short height, and their brownish hair going down straight to their shoulders. And most importantly, why would they be wearing a…maid outfit?!

Tsutae no longer needed a tickle, a loud alarm, nor a spurt of cold water to wake him up. The sight of someone opening the door to his room is wild enough, more so a supposed maid!

“W-who are you, and why are you in my room?!”

“I’m really sorry for the intrusion.”

“Explain yourself!”

“I-it’s going to take a while.”

The disgruntled, confused Tsutae hid himself behind the crumpled blanket, like hiding himself wouldn’t hide the fact that he hadn’t showered in three days.

“Um…eh!” the girl interjected, flustered, avoiding ever looking at his face. “I’m really sorry, I don’t really know how I got here. But don’t kick me out, please!”

The man did not respond.

“I-I can get you a glass of water. You seem…dehydrated.”

So the pale girl went to the kitchen and gathered water in a glass from the tap. When she returned, the man looked a lot more docile, his face focused on a glowing screen. The girl hesitated to approach the strange man.

“Here, sir. Have a drink.”

Tsutae didn’t thank her, and simply sipped it all down his throat. But he couldn’t shake off the problematic taste.

“What the?! Is this tap water!”

“S-sorry, is it not…ideal?”

“Yuck. Why are you so…strange?”

The girl tilted her head. “I’m not sure what you mean by that, sir.”

“Forget it. Just, please get out of here. I don’t want to see you again.”

“But sir! I need some—”


“B-but…” the girl started to tear up.

“And stop calling me ‘sir’ please.”

The girl turned around, walked away, limped back with the lights still turned off, and closed the door right as the rays of sunlight penetrated the slight gaps in the curtain. Tsutae tightened the curtains.

It took four hours before the door was opened again. It usually takes the man several more, but the presence of that maid-girl the earlier morning forced him to stay alert. And alert he was. When the sound of a plate breaking from the kitchen echoed across his apartment, Tsutae took ten minutes to gather enough of himself to approach.

Upon arrival, he was greeted by the sight of a messy stain across the white apron of the girl’s outfit, all the while her blue eyes were still tearing up. She leaned against the dining table, having broken a plate and with several used utensils on the dining table. Tsutae himself seemed surprised that they were still functional.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m sorry…I don’t know. I’m just…trying to cook.”

“At my apartment?”

“P-please sir—I mean, I have nowhere else to go.” The girl sat on her knees.

“Nowhere else to go?” Tsutae sighed.

Forcedly, he had to clean up the mess himself, including the broken pieces on the floor. All the while, he interrogated the girl, looking into her eyes at every question, which she tried to avoid reciprocating.

“Where did you even come from?”

“It’s—I,” she stuttered. “I don’t think I have the time to explain it now.”

“Well aren’t you good at giving vague answers?”

The girl stood up. “It’s not like I’m trying to! Listen, okay, I should probably introduce myself.”

Tsutae turned around after placing a knife in the sink. This time, the girl had enough courage to look at him directly.

“Sute Hirano.”

“Hirano…” Tsutae glared as he picked up the cutting board. “And? Why should I let you stay here? You’re already ruining so much of my Monday.”

Hirano stood up and picked up a napkin. “I…really can’t tell. And I don’t know if you would believe me if I said it.”

“Say it or I’ll really kick you out.”

“Sorry!” Hirano pleaded. “I’ll…tell you everything,” she said as she wiped the stain off her dress. “But I think it’ll be better if we sat down.

Tsutae never enjoyed sitting down on the couch in front of the TV. He much preferred eating in his dark room alone in front of his hundred-thousand yen PC setup, watching what can equally be considered static, mere filler to keep himself at enough attention to eat. But here he was, sitting somewhere uncomfortable and unusual for him. To add to that, the last time a woman was in this room had been almost two semesters ago. So this is what it’s like to have a girl over…

Or is this even real? Am I really believing a girl would come by with a maid outfit and that’s not bothering me?

Nevertheless, Tsutae is surprised and angered that Hirano would not let him kick her out. In fact, he meant to kick her out of his apartment as a gift, more than an actual eviction. Would a high-class girl like her really have the time and tolerance for a filthy idiot trash like me?

It’s more of an insult to him than anything else.

When the two had calmed down, Tsutae tried his best to listen to her.

“The name ‘Sute Hirano’. It is not my real name. But I don’t remember my given name, either. I didn’t live life here before…and the name simply emerged in my head. I…” the girl rolled her eyes. “Sorry, I think I forgot something.”

“Get to the point, I don’t want to get philosophical.” Tsutae turned his phone on and off while spinning it around on his thigh, still clearly uninterested.

“I belonged to a French ferry.”

Only then, did Tsutae pay attention.

“We went on voyages. It was a commercial ship, but for some reason I can’t remember the name very well. And I was a maid on the ship’s restaurant. I had been working there for a few years. There were a lot of customers, especially nearing Christmas. I’d become very busy. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.

And it was Christmas. Like I mentioned, there were so many people on board. We were headed off from the United States to The Viceroyalty of Peru. It’s not a common route by any means. Two of my coworkers who have worked there much longer thought so, at least.


Her hands began to shake.


“What now?”

Hirano took a deep breath to calm herself down. Where she tried to get back in control, Tsutae still waited for her to continue.

And a sigh. “Sorry, I think I might need something to drink.”

Before she could stand up, Tsutae stopped her and reluctantly rose from his seat and made two cups of tea. Meanwhile, like a building holding itself together through an earthquake, Hirano held her hands together to halt the chills from her own body.

“Your story is still too hard for me to believe.”

“I know, that’s…probably true.” There was a glittery inkling on her face, as if hesitating to reveal something. As the tea cooled, she finally got a hold of the first sip, and the words poured out.

“Somehow, I fell out of the ship.” Tsutae, with the glass in his hand, put the glass back on the wooden table.

Hirano took another sip. “And I woke up, here. I dreamt a lot. Somehow I know how to speak the language of your people…and was given my new name.”

“All the way here, in my apartment?”

“Yes, really! I don’t know, how it all happened.”

A short wave of silence.

Her face certainly looks like that of a white foreigner…And it doesn’t look like she has any possessions on her, either. Could it be that this is all a ploy?

  “I don’t trust you, at least I can’t yet.”

“I understand.”

“Stay here.”

Tsutae stood up and circumnavigated her, checking if she had anything on her that could be dangerous.

“Do you have anything on you?” he asked.

She checked her pockets. Tsutae thought about roleplaying an airport safety agent and checking them himself before realizing it’d be creepy.

“I have one of these…” She revealed a golden heart necklace. It had a detailed motif at the front that became exaggerated when radiated by light. She pressed the button at the back.

“No way!” She gasped.


“It’s…empty. That’s strange.”

“What’s supposed to be in there?”

“No, I…” she recalled her memories. “I had someone I loved. I can’t remember much about him, but I’ve always kept this in my pocket for his sake. There should’ve been two dry flowers inside…”

“Sorry for that.”

Not commenting much, Tsutae went outside, checking whether someone had been setting anything up. With full percaution, he sneaked out to only see wind blowing out the railing of his second-floor apartment, alongside two pots next to his door, the dirt already dried out.

He closed the door again.

“U-um…something is ringing,” she said.

He heard his phone ringing from the sofa and rushed to pick it up.

It’s mom. Upon realizing that, he gestured at the maid girl to stay in place, and went back into his room.


A greeting she always says when she calls him.

  “How are you today?”

He didn’t know how to respond at first. After all, a complete stranger is sitting so calmly in front of her. She’d probably freak out if I told her.

“I just woke up.”

“This late?! As expected from you on a Monday…” she stated sarcastically.

Tsutae’s first smile of the day.

“What’s new, hmm. It’s Michiko’s first day of midterm exams today. Onii-chan should support her!”

“Oh, right. I totally forgot. Tell her to do her best and…keep on studying.”

“Of course…you too, Tsu-tan! Have you eaten?”

“A-ah, no, I’m just about to.”

“Go at it! Can’t go through a day with an empty stomach.”

“Right, thanks mom. I’ll go…do that.”

“See you later, then.”

“Bye…” he hung up.

Returning to the sofa, he found her at the exact same position. Perhaps afraid of taking any action, she resembled a painting meant to capture her innocence. It’s unimaginable for someone like her to be part of something bad.


She glanced at him.

“How do I say this…I’ll let you stay, for now. I don’t know who you are or understand how you got here, but you can stay, only under close surveillance by me.”


“Right.” He sighed, glancing at the stain on her outfit. “Now…I can get you a change of clothes.”


Just an hour ago, the two had come to a compromise: that Tsutae somehow found the empathy within himself to care about a random girl who appeared in his apartment. Despite not yet believing her story, he at least had enough money to feed two mouths for…at least a month. His dad might get angry if he ever found out, though.

Afterwards, Tsutae got her a change of clothes. They belonged to his ex-girlfriend who didn’t bother coming back to his apartment just for a few articles of clothing. They’d have to buy more later. It was hard to explain why she didn’t have to wear her maid outfit anymore.

Lastly, Tsutae didn’t trust her enough to leave her alone inside. So, treating her like she’s his annoying little sister, he brought her with him. He didn’t have much of a plan, going outside. If she hadn’t showed up, he would have wasted his money lifelessly playing arcade games without a care in the world. But now, seeing as he might be judged for doing that, that might not seem like the ideal choice.

Except…it seems like she’s the one making herself easily judged.

She stood in awe in front of several high-rises and strange metal vehicles sleekly racing past just underneath them. Holding on to the railing, she stared in awe while Tsutae walked off to the stairs as if there were nothing.




“Why are you staring at everything?”

“What year is it?” she glanced at him.

“It is 2021.”

“No way!” she shouted. “Two thousand and twenty-one? How? I-it’s…” she softened her voice. “I…could have sworn it was…”

Forced to comfort her, Tsutae went back up the stairs and patted her shoulder. “Calm down. Don’t scream.”

As if a chain of flashbacks went in and out through her mind, she released herself from his hands, backing towards the door.

“Kurone-san, I’m scared.”

Back at the apartment, a terrified Hirano sat with a cup of ramen noodles in her hands. A huge grin showed on her face at the first taste of monosodium glutamate. Meanwhile, a stoic Tsutae read a book from the beginning, reciting it as she listened, just to calm her down.

“It was things he said quite at random that, bit-by-bit, explained everything. For instance, when he first caught sight of my airplane,” he cleared his throat. “…(which I won’t draw, that would be much too complicated for me). He said ‘What’s that thing over there?’

‘It’s not a thing. It flies! It’s an airplane. My airplane.’

And I was proud to tell him I could fly.”

“I think that’s enough, Kurone-san. Thank you.” She said, right after she finished her cup. Tsutae couldn’t tell whether it was the book or the MSG that calmed her down.

“So,” he rose up from his seat and took the empty cup, “You were in that vessel for a lot longer than you thought.”

“I guess so. I’m lucky to be alive, then.”

No reply. Tsutae threw away the ramen cup.

“But what should I do now?”

A sigh. “You don’t have any legal stance to exist here, now. It’s not like I can send you to a French embassy and say here’s someone who died two hundred years ago, that’d be absurd. Where exactly was…your vessel?”

“My vessel…”

“Or were you magically transported into my apartment?”

No answer. Tsutae looked at the wall clock, pointing a few minutes just before one in the afternoon.

He sighed. “You know what? Do whatever you like. I’m having an online class soon.”

“What’s that?”

“Like you’d understand.”

And he slammed the door.

It was a two-hour-long Zoom meeting that prompted attention from all students in the course, as the lecturing professor would say the names of his students at random once every minute. Tsutae had no time to waste playing video games during class as he usually does.

Truth be told, he would rather do anything else but to attend class this time. All he could think about throughout class was to pass out mid-class or fall asleep without anyone noticing. If he were to leave and log on into a round of the first-person shooter game Valiant, he’d feel immense guilt over ignoring his tasks.

It’s his third semester of college, after all. Isn’t it common for students at this time to experience a heavy dip in their motivation? He sure hoped so. There’s a certain point at the third semester where college becomes an unwanted chore, devoid of any opportunity to connect with anyone, find new hobbies, or ‘build oneself into a better character’, as past mentors would say.

Those thoughts, flew from one edge of the screen to the other throughout the meeting. All the while he’s waiting patiently for the time his group would present.

The topic of the presentation was about “The Applications of the Laws of Thermodynamics and Gibbs Free Energy in Biological Systems”. Each group was tasked with doing independent practicum on plants and thermodynamics that Tsutae himself did not understand enough to even care…nor contribute. Imagine how upset they’ll be at him.

Just as he was about to fall asleep, the professor called for his group. So, it started, he read his part and his part only, turned off his camera, left the meeting, and saw that his nap would have to be delayed thanks to some homework he couldn’t care less about. Though, thanks to his lack of understanding, he couldn’t answer a single question.

An hour of stressing over a piece of paper ended only with him slamming his empty notebook onto the wall and falling asleep just a few minutes later.



The middusk scenery revealed a ray of orange sun hidden behind clouds just outside the window. Again, the light shone on the young man’s face. As his eyes widened to see the girl once again, right in front of him, all he could show was a face disappointed in himself.

“Is there anything wrong?”

He avoided looking at her eyes.

“Didn’t I tell you not to come here?”

In reality, Tsutae wanted to push her out physically, never letting her back in, without a care whether he hurt her or not in the process. But he’s out of energy to even be mad. What came out of it was an exasperated, yet exhausted voice of an empty shell of a man.

Hirano sighed. “You seem really tired. Should I get you some water again?”

“What, from the tap?”

“N-no, I know how to use the water dispenser now, I swear!”

She’d probably destroy it if she tried to use it, Tsutae thought.

The thought of it alone prompted Tsutae to rise up immediately. “I’ll get it myself,” he said, passing through Hirano’s silhouette. But upon leaving his room, an unfamiliar, night-like smell permeated around his apartment.

“Wait!” Hirano went after him out the room. The uplifting scent, however, was too strong for Tsutae to resist. Alas, his arrival to the kitchen was greeted by a breathtaking plate of chicken casserole, warmly served with fragrant herbs and apple cider.

“This…looks amazing.”

Taking a closer look, he found the scent too great not to tantalize him.

Hirano came to the door frame. “W-well, I guess you see it now. Sorry I made it out of nowhere.”

Taking a sniff once again at the magnificence, all Tsutae could do was stand upright and peek behind him. The oh, so innocent maid girl that she is, yet hiding such a charm.

“How…how did you make this?”

“I just know how to.”

Using the spoon on the dish next to the bowl of chicken casserole, Tsutae scooped a few drops of the creamy sauce. The savory broth first touched the tip of his tongue, spreading around it like the flow of a river. The following sweetness of apple cider left a steamy residue permeating around his mouth. Finally, the taste of onion in harmony with the soup wrapped every taste before, all before he could close his mouth.

“It’s good.”

“You r-really think so?”

“Really. I’ll have to give that to you.” Tsutae, plainfully hiding his amazement, glared at Hirano as she tried not to look into his eyes.

“T-thank you.” Hirano put her hands together and bowed. “I hope it’s okay I used the ingredients from the cold…box.”

“The cold box?”

An awkward stare from both of them. Tsutae sighed. “It’s called a refrigerator.”


A slight chuckle. Tsutae turned around. “You’d be amazed at the things we make at this day and age. Wait…how did you figure out how to even use these?”

“Ehe…I just figured them out, somehow.”


That’s deserving of skepticism. Ignoring the tantalizing scent next to him, Tsutae scoured through the kitchen, trying to find holes in her methodology.

Alas, he arrived at the induction stove. It was still turned on. God knows how long it had stayed as such.

“Well, you forgot to turn one thing off.”

“Oh, the hot plate?”

“The what? It’s just a stove.”

“But there’s no fire!”

“We don’t…use fire, anymore.”

“Then how does it work?”

A glimpse of the preceding lecture on thermodynamics struck his mind. What sort of process is used to convert electricity into heat here? Does she even know what electricity is?

“I…don’t actually know how it works, but people made it and it’s safe enough to use.”

“What about that refrigiderator? How does that work?”

“Same thing as before.”

She pouted. “It seems people these days don’t really know how things work and they use it anyway…”

“Well, that is very true. Isn’t it a lot like what you were used to?” He turned to look at her. “You didn’t know how ships sailed. You weren’t a captain, nor were you ever involved in determining schedules.”

“But shouldn’t you at least understand the things you use every day?”

“Don’t know,” Tsutae looked away. “Everyday things are more…how do I say, Kafkaesque these days.”


  Right, Kafka wasn’t born yet. “Let’s say, they’re a lot more complicated and people don’t really know how they work.”

Hirano didn’t seem satisfied, but accepted the answer. “W-well, sorry if I did anything wrong.” She bowed. “I’ll learn to do better in the future. Shall I serve you, sir-I mean…Kurone-san?”

Tsutae was taken aback by the sudden surge of politeness from her. Looking back, it’s no surprise considering she’s a maid from her past life. But looking at the service he’s getting, he couldn’t help but to feel bad.

And he smiled. “I see you’re treating me like your customer.”

“A-ah, sorry, should I not?”

“I really shouldn’t be treated as one. But if you ask for it…”

“No, not at all! I—”

“A plate of chicken casserole, please.”

Hirano fidgeted. Perhaps she should allow him as her customer?

“C-coming right up, sir!”

She seemed to have oriented herself with Tsutae’s messy, barely-used kitchen well within just a few hours, as she brought to the table two whole plates of the dish with a side of sliced, baked potatoes in as much time as Tsutae started to daydream.

When the dish arrived, Tsutae raised his hand and said, “Excuse me, could I have a glass of water with it?” with a straight, dissatisfied face, his voice reminiscent of his father talking about his grades.

“Oh, absolutely, sir!”

Off she went and made filled two glasses with water from the dispenser. This time, it didn’t result in a catastrophe.

“Anything else?”

She was getting prepared to sit down and eat with him, but at the same time reluctant to do so, thinking her average customer, a wealthy upper-class French citizen, would be quite unhappy about having dinner together with a maid. The more adventurous of the bunch would try to get her attention, flirting to no limit.

But the man in front of her now isn’t an upper-class French citizen; he is a filthy man from a foreign country she can’t name, who would stop at anything when he feels he couldn’t achieve it, and would care as little as possible to the people around him. That type of person would not even enjoy being served by a maid, let alone spend dinner together, nor would even entertain the idea of being infatuated with her, let alone flirt.

Thinking this, she prepared to sit down.


Another request?


This time, the maid did not give him such kingly treatment, and did not say a word before getting what looked the closest to napkins around the kitchen, which were really just three tissues, neatly laid down on the table.

After all was said and done, she finally sat down at her seat, while Tsutae already finished a third of his meal. She took her first bite.

“So, you really did go through all that trouble, just to serve me dinner,” Tsutae suggested, mouth still packed with potatoes to the bare minimum point of inteligibility.

She waited to swallow before answering him. “I…thought you would like that.”

“As I said, don’t treat me as one. You’re the one staying at my place.”

“R-right. Sorry.”

Tsutae finally swallowed the blob of potato.

“Only lowly otakus desperate to find love are ever truly fond of being treated that way.”

Right, what is an otaku?

“I mean…you get what I mean.”

She absolutely did not, but accepted the answer nonetheless.

Unlike the gluttonous Tsutae, Hirano preferred to finish her own dinner in small bits, enjoying every tiny piece of what she had cooked. After Tsutae finished his portion, however, it was silent.

“So, Kurone-san, forgive me for asking. What do you do for a living?”

“Ah.” Tsutae was just about to rise up from his seat to put his dishes away to the sink. The question reminded him of his thermodynamics homework, which would undoubtedly be an unpleasant experience. Maybe I should stay here a bit longer…

  “I’m a college student. Tohoku University.”

“You’re a college student?!” she shouted with her tone raised. “No way! I thought…”


“N-nothing. Sorry for my unkind words.”

“What is with the formality now?”

A short moment of silence.

“Ah. No, no, you’ve got it wrong. I’m not at all rich, or whatever.”

“But, how?”

He smirked. “Right. I’m pretty sure colleges are a lot more accessible now than at your time.” He took a sip from the glass of water. “You’ll be most wrong if you think I come from somewhere wealthy. I barely have enough to get by.”

“How much does college even cost?”

Tsutae took time to think, finally standing up and placing his dish on the sink. “I don’t know how to compare it, but it’s easy enough for middle-income families.”


“Was it so expensive for you?”

“Ah, well, my family was quite rich, so it wasn’t a problem for me. My uncle attended, that’s for one!”

Tsutae pondered about living in the middle of the nineteenth century as a student of a top European university. He imagined the typical student of a prestigious university at the time would be more interested in the humanities rather than science. He’d be born into a wealthy family with no regard for the lower class, attend class every day wearing monotonous black and white suits, take only necessary notes, and engage in whatever clubs or activities were around. Its romanticized feel made everything now seem bleak and empty. That, he felt rush through his body as he finished washing his plate.

“College is hard.”


“No, what am I saying? It’s not hard, it’s just that I’m unable to find any drive to do well.”

Hirano quietly listened.

“I think a lot of my friends are leaving me because I’m never actively doing anything. There’s an assignment I’m avoiding to do right now, and they’ll probably end up being submitted past the deadline at this point. Not to mention yesterday’s exam. Do you know what I did throughout the exam?”

She listened.

“Yeah…I filled everything out with random calculations, scribbles, and explanations I don’t truly understand. And then I slept for a few minutes before I submitted everything early. I’m pretty sure the exam supervisor knew I had given up. Do you understand how that feels?”

It was time that Hirano finished her meal. After fancily wiping her mouth with a tissue, she cleared her throat.

“I can’t say I do, but I’m sure what you’re feeling is normal.”

“Then, why can’t I see others having the same problems?”

“If they had them, they wouldn’t be so brave as to show it to others.”

“Hm…you may be right, but still, that doesn’t tell me anything about how to stop wasting my time.”

“I know…I don’t think I can help much as I’m not in your place.”

“Do you want to be in my place?”

No reply.

“Another exam is coming up pretty soon, too…”


“So the heat function given that the volume is constant would be…the mass times temperature and—”

“This is…I don’t understand a thing.”

“And you think I do?”

“The way you’re narrating it makes it sound like you do.”

“I do that just to remember things, but they don’t actually help.”

“I see.”

Tsutae continued to babble incoherent scientific nonsense, words that, to the ears of Hirano are completely unintelligible. After about ten minutes of listening to him, he got tired and unable to find any answer to the question.

“Arghhhhh…” he wailed.

“Couldn’t find it?”

“You think?”

“I see.”

“Worthless piece of shit.” He slammed the book on the table.

Hirano couldn’t find the words to stop him as he walked off to his room, likely on the way to slumber again. Today’s study session, just like every single study session he had done throughout the third semester, has been fruitless.

So she sat, quiet and alone on the dinner table. She sighed.

“Again, man…I couldn’t help him at all…” she mumbled to herself. There existed a heavy weight pushing down on her back, preventing her from standing up. Immobile, she read the materials being studied by Tsutae. A 1153-page long textbook, alongside a small notebook and a pen that has lost almost all of its ink. Not very much used to colored images and text as well as writing utensils being so robust, she didn’t do much other than scour through the pages, none of which she understood.

It was another ten minutes before she mustered the courage to get up and let the day go. Maybe Tsutae should never have been visited by her. She could’ve gone to the neighboring apartment with people she could truly help.

So the clock struck eight. Outside, the sky did not close its eyes. Everything still glowed brightly, shining the horizon. Seas of people crossed through intersections. Others waited for the light to green, letting automobiles swift past.

Seeing all this, Hirano bit her lips and scratched her temples, her eyes never closing. If she went out to the other apartment, they may or may not be as tolerant of her…even compared to Tsutae. But at the same time, it’s unimaginable that she’d ever make him happy.

So she opened the door. The air smelled nothing like how she remembered. The night sky was shining. Little lights outnumbered homes. Buildings rose higher than clouds. Flying machines gazed upon every inch of the population, robotically moving across vast stretches of asphalt lanes, wearing colorful yet monotonous clothing, carrying bags full of the latest products and papers merely transported from factory to factory, office to office, home to home. It was when an airplane went past with its whirring din that Hirano couldn’t take the view much longer and finally looked at what was next to her feet.

  Two oblong pots, resting next to the door.

Out of everything she could see around her, only these had any semblance of familiarity. She let out a deep breath and laxed her body. Still, even now, some people still practice something so sweet and therapeutic as taking care of a plant. That much, is comforting.

And they could not be anyone else’s but Tsutae’s. But the plants growing in them were withering away, the dirt below so dry. So the former maid rushed back in, finding the nearest bathroom to snatch some water. Using a bowl from the kitchen, she poured the water equally on the poor plants.

At least now, there’s something to appreciate her efforts. With even that, she stayed in for the night. Before going to sleep, she checked out her maid dress at the laundry room. There are two things in her pocket that she forgot to take out.

First, her heart necklace.

And the second was the very item that brought her here.

“Kurone-san, wake up…”

The familiar voice of the pale-skinned, soft-handed girl woke Tsutae from an uneventful dream back to an uneventful life. At first, he waved around his hands, his inner self desperately wanting to return to a dream world.

But the force of her voice was stronger, and so woke up an exhausted, overslept Tsutae.

“Sorry to disturb you so early…but the noise, it won’t stop.”


Oh, the alarm.

He turned off the phone alarm and checked what time it was. He always had an alarm every three minutes for Tuesday for one hour, that way he’d be sure to wake up. Much to his disappointment of himself, it was the last alarm of the hour-long whirr.

“Eat shit.”


Before she could process what he just said, the man had rushed for the bathroom with an identical shirt and pants identical to his shorts. Following a three-minute shower, movements of his body scoured the apartment for combs, bags, papers, and laptops.

“Kurone…san?” she tried to call several times to no avail. She had reheated the leftover chicken casserole from yesterday as well as rice she found in the cooker. She didn’t know how to use a rice cooker, so she had heated it manually. Upon Tsutae having prepared everything he needed for the day, he arrived to the kitchen in shock, again, perhaps still not used to having someone cook for him every day. Seeing this, the frustrated man calmed down and took a lunch box from a cabinet.

“…Looks alright,” he said, in reference to the chicken.

That alone made her at least hint at a smile.

Tsutae filled his lunch box with the available rice and chicken casserole.

“I have classes in some twenty minutes. I don’t think I’ll get there in time.”

“I see.”

“Yeah, the campus is implementing a hybrid online—no, you wouldn’t understand. Point is, I’ll probably be out for a while today.”

“I wish you the best today.”

He closed and tightened the lunch box. “Would it be okay if you stayed here…or do you want to go out?”

The image of the sea of people, large buildings, and blinding lights returned to her mind. “I think I’d rather stay in…”

Tsutae sipped half a glass of water and walked towards the door. “Well. I’ll be going. Use whatever you like in my fridge.”

“Um! Kurone-san!” she asked. Her face showed dejection and deviance to him.

“Eh? Come on, I don’t have much time.”

She hesitated. “W-would you mind if you got me a camisole and…panties, on your way back?”

An unexpected question. Right, she is a girl after all.

Her asking it made him look the other way, but understand the necessity nonetheless.

“Right. I’ll get them,” he said, and closed the door as she thanked him. For a moment, he thought about going back to ask what her bra size is, but he figured it’d be too embarrassing.

Stepping out the door, he sat down and put on his pair of shoes, only slightly noticing the dirt in the pots had become wet again. The slam of the door came with silence accompanying a lone maid.

Tsutae planned from the very beginning to use the first hour in his General Environmental Science class to doze off. He had arrived about ten minutes late. The professor was among the lenient of the bunch, and did not care how late her students are or what they decide to do in class as long as they don’t disturb others.

And so it ended. As per usual, Tsutae did not bond well with most of his peers. The looks he’d get upon talking to them reveal bright words and smiles to his face, but it’s easy to tell that behind all the innocence, they don’t appreciate those who waste their potential upon being accepted to a good institution such as Tohoku University. From what they can observe, Tsutae only lives his days as a freeloader with no sense of responsibility nor enthusiasm over his major, pointing sharp blades of scorn upon his mere presence.

Fortunately, there was one person around who still tolerated his presence. The moment Tsutae left class, his loud, extraverted voice greeted him from the door.


“Ah, Susumu-san…why so sudden?”

“Just wanted to greet you, that’s all!”

Susumu Sakuma has the appearance of a typical young, ambitious, colorful high school student, blinded from the dark truth of college life. A stranger would expect him to be the captain of a high school sports team, active in extracurricular activities, and be loved by girls of his class as well as teachers. But in reality, he’s a college student with no athletic record yet still being an ambitious overachiever throughout his career.

He had a buzz cut and a squarish yet attractive face, both being characteristic of him and can be used to identify him from a long distance. His face was fresh and clear, to the point that many interrogate him for his skincare routine, even though he doesn’t use any. He was shorter compared to peers, as tall as the average female student, yet his height is often overshadowed by his outgoingness.

“So, what’s for lunch, heh?” He placed his hand around Tsutae’s shoulder.

“I’ll just get whatever I feel is good enough…”

“Oh, I know! We can get some jelly tea together, how do you feel about that?”

“I’ve never had it, actually.”

“Ah, absolutely unbelievable, Tsutae! Inconceivable, unthinkable, perhaps! Shall we? Don’t worry, it’ll be my treat!”

“Well…now that you say it, it’s not that bad…”

“Let’s get a-going!”

Just ten minutes later, the pair would be seen sitting together on the table outside the campus Hisokayuki, a popular, quickly-spreading ice cream and tea parlor that recently opened a branch inside the university. Considering its popularity among college students, it’s always crowded inside, forcing the two to take refuge just outside.

Tsutae found jelly tea to be too sugary for his taste, but Susumu definitely didn’t think so. As they were enjoying the drink, a friend of Susumu’s pat his back and asked if he could tutor her on Biochemistry.

Right, the exam is next Monday.


  “Ah, Akiko. What’s up?”

“What do you mean ‘what’s up?’. I’m obviously confabulated! Let me borrow your head for once!”

“Woah, woah, you can’t just do that! I’ve got a lot of secret stuff in here,” he pointed at himself.

“Then teach me biochem!”

“I’m telling you it’s tonight…just be patient.”

“Nah…you’re making me wait for too long!”

Susumu sipped from his cup. “How about you get some Hisokayuki while you’re here. It’ll help you stay calm.

I love you, You love me, I love Hisokayuki,

Susumu recited.

“Alright, fine.”

When she left the scene, Tsutae was left with a gloomy expression, tapping the table with his fingers as he overloaded himself with the sugar.

“Sorry about that, Sanae likes to pester me a lot recently.”

No reply. The tapping continued.

“Is it making you anxious again?” Susumu asked.

“What, the exam? Of course!”

“I’m telling you, man, say you want me to help with anything, I’d be very glad to offer a hand.”

No reply. Tsutae recalled the previous night where he studied alongside Hirano, how he sat so hopelessly with her.

Why would she put up with me, anyway?


“Ah, yes. Where were you?”

“Eh, forget it, I’m probably putting on more pressure. Point is, you’re never alone, Tsutae. There’ll always be…” his voice faded.

  Didn’t she say she was from some old French ship? Is there even any proof of that, or did I accept it as fact without even checking?

“…so yeah, seeing how you were last exam, I just feel like, maybe you haven’t had enough support recently.”

“I-I appreciate that.” Tsutae pretended to have listened.

A short silence arose.



“Sorry for changing the topic, but do you believe in time travel?”

“Mhm…What kind of time travel are you talking about?”

“I’m thinking one where someone from the past can suddenly appear right now.”

“Assuming they travel to a parallel universe, that could happen!”

“Parallel universe?”

“Yes, I’m thinking, if you can see yourself in thirty years in the same universe, that’s probably going to cause a lot of trouble. Or there’s also the grandfather paradox, where if you go back in time to kill your grandfather in the same universe, that means your grandfather would never have met your grandmother, and so you wouldn’t ever be born…to kill him in the first place. That’s not good! Those kinds of issues probably won’t happen if you traveled to another universe instead!”

“I see all that sugar is making you energetic with this answer.”

“Sugar? What sugar? This ain’t sweet enough for me!” He enthusiastically sipped.

“Well have fun being diabetic.”

“No way! I’m totally immune to it! Look at this, all seven of my cousins, all three generations above me, have never been hit with that! There’s no way I’m breaking the chain!” He slurps the layer of condensed milk at the bottom of the cup.

He didn’t stir it? Yuck.

  “So,” Susumu asked, “Why did you ask about time travel?”

“Oh, right. Say, if someone arrived here today from the past, what would be the consequences?”

“That’d be worrying. But really, it depends on where they are and what’s waiting for them on the other side.”

Worrying? She doesn’t seem at all worried about herself.

  “I wonder what’s the ideal way to deal with them if that happens. Like, imagine if they come from fifty years ago, surely their citizenship would’ve expired, and people would question what happened to them.”

“You can make the case famous enough! Then governments around the world are going to send their best scientists to research time travel!”

“Seems like unnecessary drama for me.”

Just as it happened, the quarter-hour bell rang. For Susumu, it meant him having to be in class within the next fifteen minutes. Tsutae’s class, meanwhile, was still an hour and a half away.

“Ah, that’s my call. We can continue this later.” Susumu finished the last of his jelly tea. “See you!”


  Somehow, his curiosity over Hirano lead Tsutae to the library. Having never been there before, the place looked nothing like anywhere he should feel comfortable being in. Upon finding an empty seat, so he began looking for any incidents of maids being thrown out French ships or any instance of people stranded in Japan in the nineteenth century.

The research at first led him only to old ships of non-French origin and cold-blooded cases abroad. But an intriguing case popped up as he dug through a suspicious rabbit hole.

The Utsurobune incident. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, a woman with European features washed up stranded on the Tohoku coast on a hollow ship with a shape resembling that of a wooden UFO with transparent windows. This was during the middle of Sakoku, so a foreigner coming through, with such a vessel, to add, was strange and sparked curiosity of the Japanese of the time.

And the story ended as a mystery—though, modern interpretations put it as an illustration of the fear Edo Japan once had towards foreigners: that all cultural influences from the west are to be put under scrutiny and close surveillance, something to be feared.

As for what happened to the girl in the vessel…one version of the story recounted her speaking an unknown language, wearing a dress nobody could recognize, and carrying a box that nobody was allowed to touch. An old fisherman theorized upon the idea that she married on a foreign land, had an affair on her husband, and thus was sent into exile. In this idea, she’d be carrying the head of her lover in the box. Thus, according to tradition as described in the theory, she was sent back to the ocean in her vessel by the villagers.


Upon scrolling for sources on the story, Tsutae found a book on Japanese historical legends and stories. He searched the library for copies, and found one just on the top shelf of the top floor, untouched for perhaps decades. Afterwards, he borrowed the book for a week, promptly packed up, and left the library.

  Gosh, do girls’ clothing stores have to be so luxurious and…deceptively hard to navigate?

  He found himself lost between aisles of cute pink shoes, ‘girl power’ shirts, and school backpacks. He had never visited the women’s section of a clothing store before, and he didn’t expect there to be such variety right in front of him. From where he stood, it was clear he was exploring the young girls and teens section, so he got away as far as he could from there.

A stroll through fashionable belts, bracelets, necklaces, and coats later brought him to the underwear section. A splurge of anxious thoughts came to his head. Other people out shopping may think he’s here to check stuff out, because there’s little to no chance someone with his kind of style may have a girlfriend.

Anxiety aside, he tried to remember her request: panties and camisoles. He figured back then, bras must’ve not been invented yet, and he wondered how Hirano might think of one.

I could’ve asked for her size.

  Though, how would she know? Perhaps bra sizes also had not been invented yet at her time. He scoured looking at the details of every bra and camisole available like an old pervert, and then realized he knew nothing about her torso to make a complete judgement. They all look ever so similar…

Her body shape is quite…medium-sized, if I remember correctly. Very fit, probably thanks to her culinary taste. Right, right, she comes from a rich family after all, so she’s probably well-fed. God, imagine how many children were raised stunted back in the old days.

  No, stay in topic. What else…she’s short, maybe shorter than the average woman. Let’s go with that. So, I assume perhaps her torso is also relatively short. But all these camisoles don’t seem to take height into account, so it’s probably not important.

  And her breast size is…Her breast size is…I know I can see the general outline of her that one time. Hm, I wonder how they’re shaped. Are they the type that’s firm and round or are they the type that’s…oval-shaped and maybe sway to one side—no, wait, there’s also the possibility that they may be of unequal sizes! Speaking of which, what do women even do in that situation, generally? Are there camisoles and bras designed specifically for unequal breast sizes, or do the size difference not matter too much that it becomes uncomfortable?

  Man…are hers comfortable? I can imagine they…might be the type that perfectly fits in her hand? Her hands are small, though, so would it? Maybe it’s somewhere between an A and B cup. What about my hand? No, stop thinking about that.


  Tsutae shook his head. He overthought it and it might have turned him on. Besides, it’s not like she’s going to show them once she wears them, anyway. In that case, anything was probably okay.

He picked a cream camisole and a white camisole of the same brand out of the bunch. The material seemed comfy and he imagined it to be comfortable. Next, onto the panties.

God, not the panties.

  At the end of the aisle, a group of three high school students were checking things out. They were looking at several black and pink lace panties. No, wait, those are straddling on the line between practical underwear and lingerie.

As he got closer, he noticed them giggling at the designs, probably imagining what they’d look like if they wore them. He peeked a little at the designs they held and realized they may be too lewd to be worn by a high school student…

Though, who was he to judge? Not only that, what kind of store would sell such things as lingerie probably worn exclusively for sexual purposes, out in the open?

Two of the girls took notice of Tsutae’s presence. He figured they might pass a few words and comments about him being creepy. That shouldn’t hurt. With the three girls next to him as well as the desire not to repeat the same train of thought as before, Tsutae picked three pairs of unsuspicious and panties: one white, one pastel blue, and the other black.

Sweat gathered around his neck as he carried three pairs of panties and two camisoles around. Women, from the elderly to the teen, looked at him. In his mind, he made up thoughts of them whispering and commenting about him.

Before he got an escape at the cashier, however, he figured he should get new clothes for her. There are only three articles of clothing belonging to his ex-girlfriend at his apartment: a T-shirt, a cream buttoned shirt, and pants. Besides, having to see her wear the same clothes as his ex isn’t pleasant. So, he rushed to get a new T-shirt and a pair of shorts, just for home wear.

The problem of size returned. Going through the same, but truncated train of thought, he imagined an overview of her body shape as well as several nude silhouettes or photos of her, and picked one that looked nicest as he tried not to overimagine her body.

Thirty minutes later.

Tsutae doesn’t normally say a word upon coming back home, but the moment he opened the door the fragrant smell of basil and garlic attacked him.

“I’m…home.” He said.

“Welcome home! I…made some garlic bread with chicken today!” her jolly voice echoed. “There’s only sliced bread and leftover chicken, so they might not be so—”

Tsutae appeared at the door frame to the kitchen with a shopping bag.

“…ideal.” She remembered. “No way! Did you get them?”

“You think?”

“Finally!” She jumped in the air. “Let me see, let me see!”

“Wait.” Tsutae held one finger up in front of her. “Can I have one?” he picked up one of the pieces of garlic bread before she even answered.

“Of course! Why else did I make so many?

The awakening taste of garlic bread put Tsutae out of his tired mood. For a moment, he wished she wouldn’t leave. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone cook every meal for him from now on?

“Ah, Hirano. So, you wanted to try them out, huh?”

“Yes, yes please!”

“I’m warning you, though. I don’t know your body shape, so I might get the size wrong.”

“Hmph,” she pouted. “You could’ve asked.”

“That’s embarassing, isn’t it?”

She took the shopping bag from his hand. “No it isn’t! Is your humility worth more than your money?” She asked, moving forward and making a devious look.

“Give me a break. I don’t even know you that well yet.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Well, I hope these fit. Thank you so much, Kurone-san!”

So she took a detour to his room to get changed. The ruffles and scrambles of clothing made him only wish they’d fit. Otherwise, she might unintentionally make him slap himself for not asking for her sizes. As he listened, he could sense what article of clothing she was trying out. First, the camisoles. She probably looked in the mirror after each one. At any given opportunity, Tsutae would grab a slice of fresh garlic bread, enjoying the taste while not enjoying the anxiety. Soon, the rustling of clothes blended with the chewing of garlic bread.

When she finished, she released him out the confines of his curiosity and told him the results. From what Tsutae could already see, she had on the new shirt, not the new pants, and without wearing the camisole.

“Kurone-san…I don’t know what to say.” Her face seemed elated, but it could be disappointment in disguise.

“I didn’t know you bought other clothes!”

“Eh…I just thought you’d need them eventually, too.”

She snickered. “They fit!”


“All but one. The shorts are a bit too tight, but still wearable!” She scratched her head.”

“Ah, good to know.”

“And this, I don’t know what to say about fashion now. They’re honestly too complicated.”

“Well, maybe you’re right. Did women use to wear dresses back then?”

“Oh, of course. And it’s all the same, everywhere.”

“Well, times have changed. I guess people just want more styles of outfits. At least with this, you’d look normal.”

“Yes. Thank you again, Kurone-san!”

Amid the two enjoying the remainder of the garlic bread, a thought that once ringed around Tsutae’s head returned to bite him back. And he let it out. “Hirano,” he called. “I’ve always wondered what would happen if an officer found out I’ve got an illegal citizen in my apartment…I’d probably be arrested quickly.”

“Hm?” She hummed with garlic bread still stuck in her mouth.

“You don’t have any right to citizenship now. And that, I think, can get me arrested if anyone finds out.”


“Are you not worried at all about that?”

“Honestly, no.”

“How so? You got here so suddenly and with no idea where you are, but you don’t seem any worried.”

She finished her slice before replying. “I don’t know, Kurone-san. I don’t find worrying to be a good use of my time. Besides, I don’t think I can change anything about that now that I’m here. So, as long as I have someone taking care of me like this, why worry?”

“Shut up, don’t flatter me.”

She chuckled. “I’m not, that’s just how it is!”

“No, if anything, it’s you taking care of me. Look what’s on the table!” he denied, gesturing at the bountiful lunch they were having.

She sighed, adjusting her new shirt. “I just think it’s a relief that you didn’t kick me out, or anything.”

No comment. He finished the slice of bread and opened his bag, pulling something out.


What greeted the two on the dinner table was another, different textbook from yesterday, alongside Tsutae’s notebook.

“Oh, are you about to study again, Kurone-san?”

“Not studying…just finishing a task I can’t care about.”

“U-um…Kurone-san, when is the deadline?”

“Ah, right at midnight.”

“Um, how do I say it? I’d like you to maybe try a different study method.”

He raised his eyebrows. A new one? As if she herself is a college student.

  “I’d like you to tell me a story!” she cheered.

“A story?”

“Y-yes, exactly! You know, I read a bit of the big book yesterday, and I just thought maybe you and I can understand everything better together if we just…turn them into fun little stories!”

“Are you out of your mind?”

“It’s not strange at all! I mean…I just thought I’d love reading stories about whatever it is you’re learning. How about we try it?”

Tsutae grimaced. “I’m not really sure what you’re going with.”

“Okay, let’s do it like this…Um, what is it that you’re studying?”


“What exactly about it?”

“Lipids and Proteins. Well…it’s the synthesis of proteins, really.”

“Hm…maybe this should be where the story begins. What’s a protein and what are they for?”

“Proteins are…”


What even are they? Did I really apply for bioengineering without knowing what a protein is?

  “They’re from…amino acids and these, like, carboxylic acids, but then they’re attached to each other through one carbon.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand at all.”

“How am I supposed to make it understandable?”

“Hm…well, I’m not sure if this helps, but I remember what my uncle once said, someone masters a subject when they can make a child understand it.”

“Well, I’m not your uncle, sorry.”

Seeing her efforts going in vain, Tsutae returned to cluelessly doing his homework.

“B-but, you get what I mean, right? Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m thinking you haven’t got a grasp of the concept yet.”

“I know that.”

“So…rather than spending your time stressing over what’s in front of you, maybe start from the very basics!”

Tsutae opened the textbook and opened one of the first chapters, greeting him with a whole block of chemistry, a wall one must penetrate before even touching biochemistry.

Reading through the chapter required her to ask time and time again about what was being explained within, just to check his understanding whilst not understanding anything herself. He thought of it as annoying at first, though it surely did test whether he understood a topic or not. Each step of the way, the girl scrutinized Tsutae’s understanding, forcing him to stay for almost an hour before he could restate anything.

Step-by-step, the pair made every page theirs. Even she began to understand the material, often confused about how they may possibly tie in with the real world. Finally, they reached the part of the book about the building blocks of life. And at the end, she tested him again.

“So, what is a protein?”

“A protein is made up of amino acids which are made out of is made out of an amine group and a carboxylic group. The amine group has these two hydrogens tied with a nitrogen, and the carboxyl group is the same thing but with oxygen. The two are tied together by carbon. So a protein is…a string of theseamino acids tied with each other by peptide bonds.”

“Mhm. Doesn’t that feel a lot better now?”

“Gosh, I don’t know. Sure, I understand a little better, but I still can’t fathom how I’m supposed to take that and turn it into what this assignment is asking.”

“Well…at least you’re holding on to the basics better! Should we continue?”

Tsutae sighed. “Sure.”

“Next up, how do the amino acids define their function?”

“Oh, those…they’re determined by the ‘R’ group on the central carbon atom of the acid. They…”

And so the two continued up until nine o’clock. It was then that Tsutae finally received notes and answers from none other than Susumu Sakuma.

“Here they are, make sure you won’t need time travel to copy them in time!” his text message read.

Finally, he could copy it and modify it just enough to not look suspicious.


After the study session, both of them decided it would be time to go to sleep. Hirano went to get a change of clothes beforehand.

He opened the door to his room, and saw everything had been tidied.

You really…?!

  The pens scattered in his table had been gathered into one cup container. The books in the same table had been neatly organized into textbooks, notebooks, and novels. He noticed one was on the bed, the same one he read to her the previous day. The blanket on her bed had been folded and perfectly placed in the corner. Piles of clothes, which she could tell were dirty, had probably been put into the washing machine (how she figured out what to do with those is unthinkable). All the while, dust gathering under the desk and next to wardrobes and beds have all been swept clean.

When Hirano had her clothes changed, Tsutae glared at her.

“Did you…do all this?”

She could only smile. “Well of course! I got bored, sorry.”

“Don’t you apologize for this. I don’t know what to say. Great work.”

She bowed a tiny bit. “T-thank you, Kurone-san!”

“I suppose you may sleep in my room tonight.”

The invitation took her by surprise.

“W-wha?! Sleep…with you?”

“Don’t be silly. I have a little portable matress, so you can sleep there. I’m still having my bed for myself. Or you could take the bed, and I take the matress.”

“O-oh…You’re the home owner, I think you should take the higher one.”

“The Utsurobune…”

Tsutae sat at his bed, reading the book he borrowed from the library in such a level of concentration, so much so that Hirano couldn’t call him if she wanted to.

But she’s asleep on a matress on the floor. After all their practice together, it’s enough work to put her to sleep. Facing towards Tsutae, her pale face showed no thought nor did it indicate she was dreaming of anything. She’d make the same face if she were dreaming.

But Tsutae paid no attention to that. All he was interested in was the myth of her origins. The entry regarding the Utsurobune was only fifteen pages long, so the skim through was easy, and it informed him of nothing different from what he read online.

All, except for the last page.

After describing the fisherman’s decision to launch her back to the sea, the entry described the ‘box’ she brought with her not as a mere ‘box’, but rather a small knitted bag, containing within it an hourglass whose sand always fell to the opposite side upon one side being full. Certainly, something more interesting than a box apparently containing the head of her lover.

An hourglass for what?

  The glare of the night sky deepened and engulfed the city. At that point, Tsutae turned sleepy and placed the book back into his bag.

There’s one thing he forgot to do that day, which is calling his mother. It’s late at night, she may not be awake.

“Micchan, is mom awake?” he texted to her little sister. She’s known to pull all-nighters, especially now that it’s exam week.

The reply came quick. “It’s this late, of course she’s asleep.”

“Damn, I forgot again.”

“It’s fine, Onii-chan! I’m sure if I’m in your position, I’d call even less often.”

He sent an affirmative emote reaction to her message.

“I’m not interfering your study session, am I?”

“No, I’m procrastinating.”

“Cool. Just like me,” he lied. Though he had been procrastinating a little too much before Hirano appeared.

“You brought that trait to me!”

“Nah, let’s say it’s genetic.”

Laughing and sobbing emotes.

“Alright, enough talk, onii-chan is going to sleep. You go back to studying, won’t you?”

“Gotcha, onii-chan. Goodnight!”


The following morning, Tsutae somehow woke up early. The maid, still deep in her slumber, breathed steadily as if automated. Her position did not change since the moment she laid on that mattress.

Tsutae walked away to the kitchen in an attempt to get any leftover slices of garlic bread. Upon opening the fridge, however, he noticed that there was only one slice left of it. He’ll need to buy food outside, and two portions, for both himself and Hirano. This has always been one of the activities of the week he’s laziest to do.

He wrote down a note on a piece of paper “Going Out to Buy Food” it said. He then went ahead to take a quick shower. The cold early morning water turned switches across his body, and he came out the bathoom energized in a way he hadn’t felt for a long time. Perhaps he does genuinely want to provide for her. That, he thought as he washed his face and long hair.

Following the shower, he opened the door to be greeted by Hirano’s face right in front of him. The glow of the morning sunlight against her face emphasized her bedheaded look. It didn’t help that he was shirtless, with only a towel around his neck.

“Uwah! What are you doing here?”



Only then did she realize he wasn’t wearing a top. While he wasn’t particularly buff, seeing him that way triggered something in her that she backed a little from her position.

“W-Waking up before I do…I had already set myself to wake up at sunrise!”

“Well that’s…your own fault!” Tsutae nudged her out of the way.

She grumbled as if disappointed in herself. “I-I’ll cook us something for breakfast quickly, okay?”

“Heh,” Tsutae grinned on his way to the laundry room. “There’s nothing for breakfast, unfortunately. I’ll get us something soon, don’t you worry.”

“What does that mean?”

“I can order something,” Tsutae’s voice echoed from the other room.

Hirano clenched her fist. “No way! Don’t…I can cook something better!”

“You don’t have to push yourself so hard. I’ve got it handled,” he said as he put on his change of clothes.

Tsutae exited the room with the front door keys in his hand. But before he could make it anywhere close to the door, Hirano grappled on his shoulder.

“Please, give me a chance!”

“I said I’ve got it handled!” he pushed, or attempted to push her arm away. But as he pushed her, he forgot his feet were still wet, and began to slip. The only thing he could cling to was her hand, and so he pulled her to his chest as he fell.

They fell to the floor, her head landing right under his chin. Meanwhile, her arms lay outstretched next to both of his ears.

“E-eh?!” she looked at him, attempting to rise up, pushing her hands against the floor. He shyed his eyes away in embarrasment. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to look at her eyes, rather it was how she wore such a wide-necked shirt in such a way that it exposed a part of her cleavage.

No, this is too close!

“S-sorry, sorry!” she pleaded, “Are you okay?”

Still shying away from looking, Tsutae hesitated to reply. “A-ah, I’m okay. You?”

She stretched her body before properly standing up again, extentuating her curves. It didn’t help that she sat almost right on his hips, slightly arousing him. She extended an arm out to help him get up after she did.

Tsutae wasn’t at all prepared for such a stimuli early on in the morning, and that threw him out of the loop, resetting his bedheaded and unfriendly mood with one more willing to negotiate.

“Um…do you need something like a massage?” she worriedly consoled.

“Definitely not. Totally fine, Hirano. It happens.”

“Are you sure?”

“110 percent.” Tsutae adjusted his clothes. “A-Anyway, where were you?” he asked, awkwardly smiling and still thrown off.

“Oh, right. Sorry for requesting such a thing, Kurone-san…but would it be okay if you bought fresh ingredients instead? I really don’t know what else to do here than cook.”

“Hm…” he stretched his torso. “Well your cooking is pretty good. Unfortunately, I barely know how to cook. Are you sure you’d get it finished quick enough for breakfast? Your customer here wouldn’t want to wait too long, would he?”


“What do you need?”

“U-um…” she scans her mind for recipes. “I know! Get some pasta, lemon, chicken fillet, and…I think that’s it. Everything else is already in your kitchen.”

Tsutae sighed. “Alright, if you insist. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

So he stepped outside. Once again, the dirt in the pots were wet.

He returned home with the correct ingredients, though not the correct kind of pasta. If only she had specified that she needed linguini, not penne. Nevertheless, she prepared a pasta dish, freshly served with slices of chicken and seasoned with olive oil, basil, lemon, pepper, and cheese.

It was the first time Tsutae watched her cook something. Those elegant hand movements as she cut the chicken, so soft yet so fast. Not to mention how she did not need to measure how much to put in, seemingly knowing everything from heart.

Alas, in just fifteen minutes, everything was ready. Served on two plates and ready to be dined.

“Hm, hm.” Tsutae inspected the pasta. “Tender,” he snobbishly said.

Before Hirano could sit down, again, Tsutae made a simple request. “Napkins.”

Hirano sighed as he chuckled at how he could still refer to them as ‘napkins’.

“What are you laughing about?”

“Nothing.” He took a bite of the pasta. Again, it’s perfect. The depth of the taste of olive oil and onions made the lead, followed by the soft texture of pasta and cheese binding them together. As per usual, Tsutae took huge fractions of the dish with each twirl of the fork, while Hirano preferred to keep things simple and enjoy every bite.

Somewhere in the middle, Tsutae stopped to ask something. “Hirano, where did you learn how to cook?”

“Ah! I’m glad you asked. So…maybe you didn’t know this, but a lot of maids do work as cooks at the same time, or at least have it as a hobby. I wasn’t one at first, but many of my maid friends were…and that way, I just learned how to.”

“I see. You went pretty far into it.”

“Ah, no I wouldn’t consider it so.”

“At least you’re so much more skilled than I am. I still can’t cook after living by myself for so long.”

“Well I remember what one of my fri…ends…” she paused. The fork stopped in the middle of the air.


“A-ah, nevermind!” She sprung back to life, though still with a worried look on her face.

Tsutae left no comment about it. “You seem to really like cooking, don’t you?”

“Of course! To be honest, it’s probably one of my favorite things to do.”

“Hm, hm, that’s why you pleaded me to buy fresh ingredients, eh?”

“Very true! Cooking is one of those things that everyone needs, but you can still turn into a piece of art if you wanted to.” She began to blush. “I think…why I love it, would have to do with people’s feelings! When I cook something and it makes someone smile, it warms a part of my heart. I had always wanted to make something that makes people happy, whatever it is. It just so happened that I learned to cook. I say, if I could cook for a million people, no matter how much work I have to do, I’d still do it, because to enjoy good food, to me, is a human right.”

And Tsutae did smile. “That’s sweet of you.


“So how do you make a protein? It depends on the shape of the protein you want to make. Once the string of amino acids are long enough, they can make one of two forms, which are alpha helices and beta sheets. In an alpha helix, the amino acids like to spin around and dance together…I guess? Does that work?”

“Yes, yes! That sounds fun!”

“They…dance and spin around in these spring-like formations because a hydrogen bond forms between the…amine group and carboxyl group within one string of amino acids. Meanwhile, beta sheets have separate strings, and hydrogen bonds only form between the strings.”

“Mhm…and now, we take a break. Phew!”

“That was actually quite tiring. A drink, please. You don’t want to leave a customer’s thirst unquenched.”

Hirano rushed to get a drink from the dispenser and returned with two cups, one being for herself.

Tsutae chugged his cup rushedly. “Ah.”

“So that’s what I mean by making whatever you’re learning more like people!”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. Imagine if you actually start to feel empathy for the proteins and acids…”

“That’d be quite interesting. Will that happen, though?”

“Eh, maybe, once I get to DNA and stuff…”

“I see…I don’t know what DNA is.”

“It’s coming up pretty soon. Better get your head prepared for that, it’s quite wild.”

“Hm…” she sipped from her cup. “When is your exam, again?”

Oh. It’s coming in a lot sooner.

  “Si-no, five days.”

“Eh, looks like it’s quite soon.”


That’s right, just a couple of days ago, I actually took an exam.

The memories of that exam hall haunted him again. The sole pen, the greasy papers he had to write on, and the eyes glaring at him as he left…it all comes back.

Just as he reminisced, a text message appeared in his phone.


It had to be Susumu again.

“May I come over this afternoon?”

This is a hard question, perhaps harder than those he met at his first exam.

No, I can’t return the memories of the first exam back into my head.

  “I won’t be home,” he simply replied.

“Inconceivable! I can’t believe a Tsutae Kurone would NOT be home at a nice Wednesday afternoon!”

“Ugh. How do I have to say this?”


I’ll need to hide her at some room.

  “Alright, come over all you want.”

“I’m not intruding or anything, right? If you don’t want me in that’s fine too.”

“Nah, just come over, it’ll be fine.”




“I’m always seeing you tapping your fingers on that thing. What is it?”

“Oh, this? Hmm…” Has the telephone even been invented yet? “It’s a communication device.”

She tilted her head.

“Might be hard for you to understand, but the point is, you can talk to people from far away with it. Don’t ever touch mine, though.”

“Amazing! The devices people come up with these days are so complicated! How does…this one work?”

Tsutae sighed. “Um, I don’t know either.”

“People these days are so weird.”

“No, the machines are the weird ones…I don’t know, the world went crazy and made very peculiar things after electricity was founded.”

“Hmph,” she pouted. “We had electricity in my days and everything was fine!”

“Well, it’s more than that! Learning how these things work would require so much work.”

“Ooh! Maybe we could study that together too?”

“Nah…I’m—this is more of a physics thing, I’m not good with physics.”


“Learning how things are built and how machines and objects work with each other is basically physics. On the other hand, I’m learning how living things work.”

“Living things? Don’t tell me…proteins are alive?”

“No, no, no, but they exist inside of us.”

“Hm…” Hirano zoomed into her hand. “I can’t see it.”

“That’s because…they’re just really really small, if you believe it. I guess, a lot of what people like me learn are just things that you can’t easily see.”

“Are they important?”

“Eh…not really. You can probably live just fine without knowing they exist.”

“Then why do you learn about them?”

Man, why on Earth did I ever think it was a great idea to apply to bioengineering?

  “Good question. I can’t know myself.”

So be it. A brief moment of silence.

“Say, my friend suddenly said that he’ll be coming over this afternoon.” Tsutae changed the topic.

“Eh, how did they tell you?”

“Through my communication device, of course.”

“So…do you know what that means?”

She tilted her head. “Oh! I should make more pasta!”



“You’re not cooking anything.”

“Um…then maybe I can at least—”

“No need. No, not even that. I’m more sure that he’s going to freak out if he saw a girl in here.”

“Hm? Why so?”

“I don’t need to explain that. Haven’t I explained that can get me arrested?”

“T-then, what do I need to do? I promise I’ll work hard!”

“Can you work hard in not working, for once?”


“Look, he’s a good friend of mine. Serving him anything luxurious would probably be more awkward than flattering…and having you appear suddenly would prompt suspicious questions. I’d advise you to stay in some room, maybe.”

“I…see. B-but, you gotta give your friend more, Kurone-san! I’m sure he wouldn’t feel awkward at all! Everyone loves having lunch with a friend!”

“That wouldn’t be a problem if only I could cook.”

“That’s even better of a reason, Kurone-san! Wouldn’t you want to impress your friend?”

“Look, if you’re looking for more reasons to cook, you can, but…not for him.”

“Hmph. Might I as well just go all the way? C’mon, the lemon is gonna go bad if we leave it for longer!”

“Then what should I say to him when he thinks I cooked it?”

“Heh, is saying you learnt something new so hard?”

Tsutae thought about it. “Go on, then.”

As Hirano began to cook, Tsutae couldn’t help but to look at her again, from the way she elegantly mixes every ingredient with such precise measurements, to the way she often smiles at her own culinary masterpiece. As she says, her desire is to make people happy and smile as they eat. Such a pure desire, so cleanly encapsulated by her methods.

If I could cook for a million people, no matter how much work I have to do, I’d still do it, because to enjoy good food, to me, is a human right.


  Those words escaped out neither ear when Tsutae first heard it, and it’s still ringing in his head. I wonder if she’s still saying that to herself now?

And to think she learnt it all from scratch with only the help of her friends…only to reach a level of expertise unimaginable to him. A blow of both pride and envy struck him, knowing he may not ever reach such a skill level in anything, yet also knowing that someone is this passionate about what they do and still doing it for the good of others.

What even are my hobbies? Maybe there aren’t any.

The thoughts endlessly followed him as he watched her fully concentrating on her craft. Before it was finished, he had already set out to his room, planning to play a round of two of Valiant to calm his mood as he waited for Susumu’s arrival.

After Hirano finished cooking, three plates of the pasta were up and ready on the dining table, but Tsutae was nowhere to be found. He was in his room, playing a casual game, though it seemed like he was about to lose.

“K-Kurone-san, are you okay?”

The only source of light in the room was from his PC as he tirelessly tapped through his entire keyboard and mouse, not even noticing her coming into the room. Until, he died again.

“Eat shit.” Words, followed by a light slam to the desk.


“O-oh. Hi.”

“What are you looking at?”

“This is…actually, I’m not going to bother explaining it.”

“How does—”

“And don’t ask me how it works again.”

“Okay, I won’t.”

Tsutae wanted to start talking to her normally, but he couldn’t bring himself to do so. Instead, all that came out were unseasoned words.

“He’s coming in about thirty minutes. You’ll be in this room as long as he’s around.”

“Got it.”

“And don’t touch any of my things,” he added, starting another match. It didn’t seem like he wanted to talk.

“Um…can I read your book again?”

“It’s in the shelf.”

In the middle of his match, he was interrupted by the ring of his phone. Mother called. Not wanting to ignore her, he took off his headphones and answered while still playing.

“Tsu-tan!” Again with the greeting.

“Hi, mom.”

“Hey, listen, listen. You know, Micchan got a 92 in Geography!”

“Ah, nice, nice!” He dejectedly replied.

“Tsu-tan has to get a good grade too!”

“Mhm. Yes,” he said. Just then, he managed to kill an opponent. “Got them.”

“Hm? Tsu-tan, are you playing something?”


“It can’t be! I called right at the wrong time!” she sighed. “Well, enjoy yourself. Don’t forget to study!”

“Okay, thanks mom!”

And she hung up.


After two more defeats, Tsutae was greeted by Susumu’s text message telling him he had arrived.

“Stay here, don’t touch anything,” he told Hirano.

He left his room, and a gentle opening of the door later ended with Susumu’s face right in front of him.

“TSUTAE!! Nice to see you again, pal! Buddy! Bestie! Friend! Nig—”

“Alright, alright. Come in.”

“Hm?” Susumu lowered his glasses and inspected Tsutae’s face. “You look quite gloomy, anything up?”

“Imagine losing three ranked matches in a row.”

“Heh. Tragic. I say that’s a skill issue, man.”

“Yeah, whatever. Come in.”

“Woah, woah, I’m only gonna be here for a bit, you sure?”

“Have you had lunch?”

“Um…not yet.”

“Come in, I’ve…prepared some.”

Susumu took off his shoes. When he went to place them on the shoerack, the fragrance of Hirano’s cooking set in.

“Ooh, what’s this smell, I wonder.”

“You’ll see once you get in.”

Walking towards the kitchen, two fresh bowls of pasta lined up freshly, tantalizingly begging to be eaten.

“Unbelievable! Tsutae, cooking? Don’t say I’m dreaming.”

Tsutae chuckled. “Shut up. It’s…probably nothing that luxurious.”

“It smells pretty nice, though!”

“Yeah, I know…thank the ingredients.”


Somehow, the first bite of the pasta once again cured Tsutae’s mood.

“So, what brought you here, Susumu?”

“Great question! So…wait, my mouth is still full,” he mumbled. “This is really good!”

“Thank you.”

“…anyway, the professor summoned me today.”

“Which professor?”

“Oh, it’s Hasegawa-sensei from Cell and Tissue Physiology class. Exam results have been announced, you know?”

Tsutae’s fork paused in the air.

“Well, the results themselves should be in your email inbox, but here I’ve got the graded exam paper…just in case you’d like to see.”

“I’m prepared to be disappointed.”

“I sorta figured you wouldn’t come to campus to get them today, so I brought yours with me. You know how Hasegawa-sensei likes to burn papers her students don’t take back.”

“Part of me is saying I shouldn’t look at them.”

“You still probably should. Though, better finish lunch first.”

The both of them were fast eaters, much unlike Hirano, and finished in just under the next few minutes. As Tsutae washed the dishes, Susumu opened up his bag. He had with him several of his peers’ papers, most of them probably asking to bring theirs alongside his.

“And here’s…yours!”

In his hand was a sheet of paper full of ink stains, scribbles, and wrinkles.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t look at it.”

“Right,” he took it from Susumu’s hands. He didn’t dare look at the final grade, though the red circle surrounding the number was tempting, to say the least.

“Mh…man, that’s really all I’m coming over for.”

“That’s all good, then.”

“You sure you alright serving me lunch like that?”

“It’s fine…I’m making up for yesterday.”

“Are you really Tsutae Kurone? Strange, you never do these kinds of things. Say, why don’t you make me some tea while you’re at it?”


“Come on, don’t you have like, a collection of antique rare tea in one of your cabinets?”

“O-oh, those. They’re quite old, I think they’re not good anymore.”

“Ah, silly you! You know they don’t spoil!”

“Check for yourself, then.”

Tsutae left his exam paper at the table, and Susumu went along with him to check the different containers in the kitchen. Tsutae used to have a huge gallery of tea back in the day, but sometime along the line, he decided to stop making them. For a while, he wondered whether Hirano had ever touched them.

And Hirano did see them walk to the kitchen together, making tea. But that was the least of her interest.

She knew she had been forbid from checking out what Tsutae had in his room, but a creeping aura called her from right next to Tsutae’s bag, moving her hand right onto it. Under a pile of clothes on the floor, there was a book. Its green hard cover was engraved with the title “Maritime Myths and Legends of Japan”.

The bookmark was set between two pages somewhere in the second half of the book. The title of the bookmarked chapter read “The Utsurobune Incident”, followed by an illustration that sent a chill through her spine.

The bulb-shaped ship of the Utsurobune landed on the Tohoku coast, carrying a single passenger: the victim of unforseen circumstances. The night the ship sailed next to the Baja California, a heavy rain struck. The angry tides spawned a ferocious beast, chasing the boundaries and ends of all layers of the sky.

The petals of thunder that stormed over the ship that very night sparked one that grew mad over the halting waves, pleading for a sacrifice to be taken. The sky grew a purply red encompassing every corner of the horizon, unpenetrable by the moonlight. A sign, that it wanted blood.

So the ship sent its delegate. When it rained in the east pacific, so too did it rain hard, two hundred years later, in Sendai. The sky turned red, yet there wasn’t a witness to the catastrophe. And so the lone delegate rode the vessel bound to Tohoku, to appear as herself, two hundred years later.

Nobody saw, nobody knew, and nobody could understand. Nobody, other than herself. Her fingers shook and vibrated, watching the scale of what she had been inflicted with. Promptly hugging herself to keep herself comfort, only then did she feel enough warmth to survive.

And the universe knows she will survive.

“Hirano? Is anything wrong?”

It was only five minutes following the departure of Susumu. After having earl grey with a zest of lemon, he seemed satisfied enough to return home, giving Tsutae a few words of encouragement alongside.

Tsutae then returned to his room, only to see Hirano with a paler face than usual. Her hands were shaking, her voice breathy, and her forehead sweaty. Even with all of this, she managed to stand up and gather enough of herself to say “I’m alright.”

There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary, so Tsutae didn’t inquire further. Hirano stepped out of the room with one of Tsutae’s novels, and Tsutae returned to studying, this time alone in his room.

Though, he’s only using studying to hide how scared he was to look at his own grades—as if that’s going to change anything.

Three hours passed without either one talking to the other. Tsutae finally reached up to the material about nucleic acids, something he had always feared. He looked for reasons not to study, and it came at the right time as the scent of Hirano’s cooking seeped in through the closed door.

When Tsutae exited his room, he saw Hirano cook the remainder of chicken fillet he had bought the earlier morning. Meanwhile, his exam paper was still at the dining table.

“Hi,” Tsutae greeted.

“O-oh, Kurone-san.”

“This is probably getting in the way.” He took the sheet off the table.

“It’s really not, but thank you.”

He sat at the sofa. Maybe it’s a good time as ever to read the results. Red pen scribbles filled the page. At each of the five questions, there were question marks, red circles, minus symbols, entire sections crossed out, and questions right back from the professor asking things like ‘Where did you get this from?’ and ‘Why?’


Why can’t I answer that?

  Here he sits, in the middle of his own apartment, palms sweaty, ears deafened, and all he had to ask to himself was Why?

  Why and how is it possible that he became such a failure?

Why and how is it possible that whatever he wrote on that piece of paper never escaped the surface of the course material?

Why and how is it possible that he’s…no longer himself?

No longer that kid who learnt how to read so quickly, no longer that overachiever throughout high school, no longer the one to have the backs of so many of his peers, no longer…something to be proud of.

And the only thing standing now…a piece of paper better left blank and devoid of questions nor answers. All the red and black ink had better dried. All the wrinkles and scratches better removed. But that isn’t happening. What now to do other than rip it apart? It will not survive for much longer.

What progress would studying even bring now? What can even be improved upon?

Tsutae placed the paper on his sofa, later glancing on Hirano as she continued her craft. Such a perfect person to do her own work. Look at her. Look at her finally getting him to study, after such a long time of his inactivity. Not even a college student nor someone any familiar with academia, yet somehow she manages to tower over him within just a few days. Look at her again, so passionate in what she does, while this man is here, contemplating not about what he likes, but rummaging to find any point of it all.

Look at that sly little smile. What would life be like without her? How many years have Tsutae stayed put, never knowing someone’s out here pulling all her effort, just for him?

It’s sickening. Please, don’t smile like that. Please, don’t look at me like that. I’m not a child, I’m not dependent on you. But I’m…so hopeless.

And out bursted a growl, ornated with tears instantly flowing down to his cheek. Covering his eyes with both hands, rubbing them to keep the tears inside, and lowering his back. As sobs began to echo, Hirano finally noticed and turned off the stove.

“What’s wrong?”

“No…” Tsutae denied. “Don’t come over to me.”

“Don’t tell me that!” She placed his hand on his right shoulder. Letting out a soft breath, she took a glance at the crumpled sheet of paper on the sofa. Placing her other hand on his head, she held on close and embraced him.

No words were needed to convey what he felt. The  soft fabric of Hirano’s apron covered his eyes, absorbing the tears coming out. The soft sizzle in the background became the only noise in the room.

This warmth he knew will last for so long, even after she would leave. Pausing here, like a single statue bound together, is a sense of comfort that will never disappear, forever imprinted in his heart. It widened the space of his bountiful chest, pushing corners out the way, and cutting boundaries never before touched.

As his chest widened and lungs given a time to breathe, Hirano drew in closer, her neck and chest now pushing against his head. Ever so gently, the two were intertwined.

The soft carressing of her body against him slowed his heartbeat. All the while, she tried her best to bring the miserable man comfort, stroking her other hand against the back of his head and neck.

His breathing slowed with each stroke of his head. His hands grew less and less tense, eventually stopping him at a state of calm retrospection, still encapsulated within the warmth of her embrace.


“What is it?”

“Do you understand…How much it hurts?”

With every word that came out of his mouth, several tears were squeezed out his eyelids. Hirano kept patting his head.

“Everything is because of you!”

It may very well be, she thought, but she did not distance herself from embracing him.

“I’m spineless, powerless. Then why! Why…are you doing everything for me? A spineless man like me does not deserve…I don’t deserve anything! Look at me! I’m studying so enthusiastically, and for what? Is it just for you? You work so hard and yet—”


“Do you understand?!”

She let him sob for a few seconds before answering him. “I probably don’t understand Kurone-san very well.”


“And that’s fine… There are things that aren’t meant to be understood. But what I do know about you tells me great things, Kurone-san.”

Tsutae processed her words, and she talked again.

“Kurone-san is someone who loves his mother dearly, even calling her every day. Kurone-san is someone making great strides in his studies. Kurone-san is someone who very much appreciates his friends, even having tea time together with them!” She took a deep breath. “But more importantly…Kurone-san gave me more than I could’ve wished for. Kurone-san let me stay here, when I’m sure others wouldn’t hesitate to kick me out. Kurone-san let me read, buy ingredients for me to cook, sleep somewhere comfortable, and talk to him about so many things…”

Tsutae gently listened as his tears stopped running.

“After all that, of course I’d give it all to return the favor!”

“Hirano…Then still, how do I become…how do I say it? P-perfect, like you?”

A confused look blushed on her face. “P-perfect, me?”

Tsutae backed down a little and Hirano weakened her grip. “No, I mean…compared to me, you seem to have everything under control, while I can’t even do anything. No matter what, no matter how hard I keep trying, it’s always…hopeless.”

Hirano loosened her embrace, revealing his face tearful and red around the eyes.

“I’m just saying…you’re so good at everything you do. You can cook so perfectly, clean everything in my apartment…and you even study so fluently, even surpassing me. And yet, I’m the one in college, struggling. It’s like somehow, you manage my life better than I do myself. You’ve seen all I have, take them away, and do them better.”

Hirano could understand this. And so she lowered herself down level to Tsutae’s eyes, wiping away the remains of his tears with her long sleeves. As their faces became yet so close, she spoke.

“I’m sorry if you feel that way. But look at yourself, Kurone-san! I know it may not feel like much, but the fact that you haven’t given up this far means something: you want to do better. The way you put in so much into understanding every material you learn; the way you smile when you answer a review question correctly; the way you supported me just this morning…They all prove you have the commitment required to get what you want. And now all you need is time. I know you may have some problems in your life…but that can change, Kurone-san. I believe in that. It’s…like a ship! They have to pull through so many miles of ocean to get where they want…all they need is to keep moving.”


“You can keep moving, Kurone-san. I believe in that, and you can believe in it too.”

For a moment, Tsutae was lost for words. What he heard seemingly awakened something in him. He refused to look into her eyes and only looked down on himself, until he finally returned to look at her.

“You should continue cooking.”

“Will you be alright?”

“I’m okay.” Then he rose up and walked away to his room.

A red cloud appeared in the sky at the Tohoku night. It was a clear night at first. Everyone could easily see the stars ornating the sky if they wanted to. Children were seen exiting their homes, pointing at the sky and asking their parents to take a look.

It was a wide, rainlike cloud, but no storm occurred. It’s as if the cloud held all its water so tightly, refusing to let any of it let go. All the while, its form remained firm and static as it expanded.

Tsutae had turned off the lights of his apartment. Hirano was reading in his room. At that time, he gently opened the door outside and looked at the sky only to pass on no comment nor wonder about what he saw. Next he took a glance at the pair of flower pots next to the door and noticed that it’s still rather dry.

She hasn’t watered it yet.

  So Tsutae rushed inside and filled a full bowl of water. It has been quite a while since he last committed to gardening, and he might have forgot a few things about it, such as how much water the plant requires.

  No, what plant even is this?

  He didn’t think about it and just gave it all the water he had. Unexpectedly, the moment he returned, there was Hirano rushing to the door.

“Oh, Kurone-san, what are you doing?”

“Mm…” he still avoided himself from her. “I’m watering my plants.”

“O-oh, I was about to—”

“I know, you’ve been the one doing it this whole time.”


“I can take care of them myself.”

Hirano lightly smiled. “Let’s go to sleep.”

The two got into their separate beds, though for whatever reason, Tsutae couldn’t fall asleep. The sound of sky trumpets, the glare of the red clouds above, it all put him into a restless surge of anxiety. As the maid fell asleep herself, Tsutae continued to scroll through his phone mindlessly.

Somehow, she did notice. She could feel how he breathed differently than usual. She could tell how his eyes were still open, and woke up with messy hair, calling his name.

“You can’t sleep?”

Tsutae nodded.

She looked slightly drunk, though it’s obvious she’s not. With a tired voice, she woke up and got closer to his bed.

“You seem…afraid of something.”

He nodded, again, finally turning off his phone. His forehead was sweaty and his heartbeats were irregular. At last, the tired girl offered to sleep next to him.

He reluctantly accepted.

While Tsutae sleeps facing up, Hirano sleeps facing one direction, so he could feel her caressing his body as she got closer and closer. Her hand was practically holding his. Her breaths were exhausted, yet satisfied. Her hair still smelled of his shampoo. The two did not share a single word, but they knew what the other was feeling. For Tsutae, it was pleasure and comfort. Someone like her…is willing to sleep next to him to help him sleep.

The warmth from her body finally closed his eyes.


Thursday morning. Tsutae was heading home from a little shopping spree. The first agenda was to buy some new clothes for Hirano. He didn’t know what in particular would suit her, so he bought whatever he thought were timeless and would not raise many eyebrows in the nineteenth century.

Second, he bought several seeds to plant in his flower pots. Umbrella plants, they were. He had always wanted to start growing them, but college life got the better of him before it could happen. Upon expressing it to Hirano, she finally encouraged him, saying ‘Do it! The poor seeds are just waiting to grow!’. That enough prompted him to feel bad for some mere seeds.

On his walk back home from the train station, his mother called.

“Tsu-tan! How are you feeling today?”

“Ah, I’m good, mom. Geez, I didn’t think you’d call so early today!”

“Of course I had to call early, it’s a Sunday! Chef Tanikawa’s show is on air!”

“Right, wow, I totally forgot!”

Ah, chef Tanikawa. She always tunes in every Sunday for the past year just to watch this young man.

Tsutae recalled how she fanatical she was about the handsome individual. She once said something about wanting to adopt him or get married to him, which is probably impossible considering he already is married.

I wonder if Hirano is a better cook than he is…


“I’m home!”

“Welcome home!”

It had almost been a week since Hirano arrived in the life of Tsutae Kurone. Since then, he had enjoyed the company of beautiful cooking and much support. Initially, he only said he’d be buying plant seeds, but remembering how much she had changed his life, he decided to buy clothes alongside it. And now it’s time to reveal it.

“Guess what I bought.”

“…Seeds?” Hirano replied as she washed kitchen utensils.

“Nope, nope,” he teased, “I bought a little more than that!”

Out of his bag, he pulled out a long beige dress, one that looked like it would fit someone in the past, but not raise eyebrows in the modern world. Unlike old dresses, though, it didn’t widen up at the bottom and looked quite convenient.


“Woah…” she gazed in amazement. “This…is for me?”

“Who else?”

For a moment, she couldn’t find the words for proper appreciation. “I-I don’t know what to say…Thank you, Kurone-san!”

“Try it on.”

When she exited Tsutae’s room with the dress on, they saw that it was a perfect fit. Hirano cupped her hands on her mouth upon seeing the mirror.

“This is so much better than what you had me wear before…”

“Heh. Is modern fashion that bad?”

“I’d say so,” she laughed. “Could I…keep this on the whole day?”


“But…” a worried look shaped on her face. And then a sigh.

“What is it?”

“N-nothing. Thanks, Kurone-san.”

Her look of dejection coupled with appreciation continued for a few minutes as they had their lunch together. Not a word was shared between the two at that time.

And yet, just an hour later, as Tsutae was in the middle of a match, Hirano barged into his room with a hesitant expression. Her lips struggled to find the right words.

“Hirano? What’s wrong?”

She took a little while to reply. “Kurone-san.” She called. She held the door handle tightly and bit her lip.

“I want to go outside.”

An unexpectable request. So unexpected that Tsutae would’ve wanted her to restate it. All he could imagine was Hirano having a panic attack beside him, hanging on to dear life at the sight of technology.

“Aren’t you afraid?” he asked.

“But…” she glanced at the front door in the distance. Fidgeting with her fingers, she said “I think I’ll have to do it sooner or later.”

And that made sense to him. For someone who had been isolating themselves for a month or so, he wouldn’t wish that upon someone else, especially not someone who gave himself the drive to come out of his shell.

“Besides,” she added, “it may look pretty after a while. Also, I have this nice outfit on!”

Tsutae let out a deep breath and left his game. His team was about to win it for him, anyway. “You’re impressive, huh?”

“W-what?” she raised her open palms. “How so?”

“You’re not afraid to face what you’re afraid of. That’s a bit paradoxical, but that suits you, doesn’t it?” He rose from his gaming chair.

“Don’t flatter me like that. I just feel…it’s better to face something directly than avoid it.”

“And that’s exactly what I’m saying,” he patted her shoulder. “So, where are we going?”

She smiled. “Like I know any nice places in town.”

“Good point. Then,” he took a moment to think, leaning against the back of the sofa. “You know, my university has this museum close by. It’s a natural history museum!”

“Natural history? That sounds brilliant! It’s close, huh? Have you been there before, Kurone-san?”

“Just once. It was actually before I got accepted into college, so I’ve probably forgotten most things there.”

“Well, let’s go!” With such enthusiasm in her way of words, he doubted whether this was the same girl who got frightened by the outside world like last time.

Upon stepping out, however, he realized it had to be true. She began to shake but stayed close, holding on and keeping herself comfortable by her side. As they walked down the stairs, time and time again, Tsutae would ask whether she felt okay. And step by step, they reached the bottom.

There, she got to be close to dirt.

“Ah, somehow…this feels so close to home now!”

“I’m glad. Look over there,” he pointed. A short dirt path cut diagonally through an empty patch of land, a small shortcut alternative to the intersection. The station is a ten-minute walk from the apartment. Definitely not far enough to become a nuisance. In this case, Tsutae only found her questions amusing.

“Why don’t people now use horses anymore?”

“Why are the buildings so tall?”

“Why are the roads so gray and wide?”

“Why are there wires across the roads?”

“Why do people walk so fast?”

Questions with answers for each, yet none that Tsutae was able to explain. She didn’t think it mattered, either. As long as she went on an adventure, there was no need for answers.

The time came for them to enter the train station. Given that she’s not a citizen and therefore does not have a ticket, this was where the two had to be sneaky. When the previously small crowd dissipated, the two made it an opportunity to push past the gates, hoping that no security camera watched them. The way she kept questioning on trivial matters didn’t help.

They boarded the train going south on the Senseki line, As per usual for most of Tsutae’s mornings. Meanwhile Hirano found it hard to contain her excitement.

“These trains don’t run on steam anymore?! That is wild!” she exclaimed, grabbing the attention of a far-seated old woman. Maybe that made her feel young.

A drop-off later, and the arrived to the central station of Sendai. There were a lot more people there. By that point, Tsutae had to physically move her through the crowd of people as she continued commenting on people’s attire, mannerisms, and way of speaking. Here, they changed to take the subway that leads directly to the university.

And again, the moment they boarded, Hirano gasped and stood in awe at the magnificence of a train going through a tunnel.

When the train finally stopped, the two walked away to their destination: The Museum of Natural History of the Tohoku University.

“So as I understand it, the trilobite is one very diverse arthropod group…which is to say, insects. I think they used to be plenty back in the Cambrian to Permian eras, probably spread far and wide like ants today, except they lived in the ocean and were bigger than ants.

You see, back then, insects used to be the dominant animals. But they lived in oceans, not land like they do now. You could say the trilobites are the most abundant insects throughout much of the time. They appeared first in the Cambrian era, and survived all the way through the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian.”

Hirano looked at him, somewhat confused about what all those words meant.

“S-so, these different eras are just scientists’ way of separating the timeline of natural history. It means that nothing much really changes within one era, but there are significant biological and geological differences between one era and the other. More often than not, a change in era means an extinction event occurred.”

“Extinction event? Damn, that sounds…scary.”

“It is. But these little insects, they managed to survive probably three of them: From Cambrian to Ordovician, Ordovician to Silurian…there wasn’t one between Siluran to Devonian, so the next was Devonian to Carboniferous, that to Permian, and then the Permian extinction finally got them.”

“Ooh…they’re kind of cute, though, and strong for surviving all of that.”

“Cute?” He eyed on one of the fossils. “I don’t know where you got that word from.”

She giggled. “Can you eat them?”


“I mean, if they were alive now, I think they’d be something like shrimp, right?”

“Ah…you’re not wrong, sure. You’d cook one, wouldn’t you?”

She smiled. “I see no reason why not.”


The museum of natural history contains open halls and exhibitions dedicated to showing off fossils from different eras of the world’s history. As they passed through, Tsutae could only babble anything he could find in his head about his findings. Hirano would patiently listen, barely understanding a thing and asking him only questions she thought would make sense.

The crowd that day was minuscule, given that it was a Thursday. This gave them a lot of space to marvel and gaze upon bones and fossils held together by strings and placed on pedestals. Such marvel came about when they arrived at one of the main attractions: A reconstructed dinosaur.

“Was this…a lizard?”

Tsutae wasn’t a sucker for dinosaurs. He cared more about the little things like plants and insects.

“Probably. I guess they were, technically.”

“It’s huge!”

“I know! Lizards back then used to be tall, like giant monsters.”

“Then…like snakes with legs?”

“Sort of. But I think there were also flying ones…”

“No way! Dragons are real?!”

“You could call them that.” He looked at a helpful chart on the wall displaying the history of dinosaur paleontology as well as the timeline of dinosaurs in natural history. “Actually, you know how these bones are unearthed by researchers?”


“What if…miners from ancient times actually did find them? And then, because they couldn’t explain where they came from, they made up a creature called the dragon?’

She gave it time to think. “You know what, that actually makes sense! And maybe all mythological creatures just came out of people trying to explain these bones they find everywhere!”


Following the dinosaur section, they finally got to check up on plants. There weren’t as many plant fossils, but nevertheless, Tsutae became entranced. At each exhibition, he read up on all the facts, poured them out to his level of understanding to Hirano.

“…so the first plants to appear on the earth were algae. They’re very simple and versatile, floating about in the water, so it’s easy to see why. Afterwards, though, they learnt to grow on rocks and evolved to become the first mosses!”

“Interesting,” she leaned next to him. “Kurone-san, you really love plants, huh?”

“How would I not?”

“I feel you really brighten up when you talk about them.”

For a second he thought about making a short, meaningful remark about plants the same way she did about cooking, but none came up. It seemed he had always liked plants for no particular reason, that it had been his dream to own a wide garden or create medicines out of plants since he was just a little boy.

A long time ago, he used to mix and crush leaves to make what he called ‘potions’. It’s a distant memory, but perhaps even that was what motivated him to apply to bioengineering.

I never quite thought about that.

  “They’re just appealing to me in a way I don’t understand. It’s just sweet to take care of them and make them grow. Or maybe it’s something else.” He scratched his chin. “They are things we see almost every day yet actually end up being so complex.”

It was around three o’clock in the afternoon when they finished their tour. They exited the museum to see a crowd close by, all wearing a red-and-black shirt. It seemed like a university club was having a meetup. Many members of the crowd had brought sheets of paper bound to a clipboard, with their pens ready at their disposal.

In a quick attempt to escape the crowd, Tsutae suggested that the two should have lunch together at a popular and cheap ramen place. He’s not sure how her French palate may react to traditional Japanese food. All he could hope for was her not spitting anything out. That ramen cup she had on her first day here was just practice for the real thing.

The restaurant was surprisingly sparse. There were a few students nearby whom Tsutae was sure he had seen before but couldn’t pinpoint names nor character. Fearing they may notice him better than he does, he directed Hirano to two counter seats, facing the chefs. They always looked at her menacingly, just for a few seconds, before hearing her talk to him in Japanese. Only then would they respect her space.

This particular ramen restaurant had a short bitter history with foreigners, namely an internet celebrity who had to be kicked out after allegedly yelling at the top of his lungs inside.

“I honestly don’t know what to choose…these all look fantastic.”

“Then, what about—”

“The kitchen looks phenomenal!”

“A-ah, yeah. Would you like to work in one?”

“Of course! But I don’t know anything about ramen.”

Tsutae snickered. “Well, of course. You know, there are certain utensils specific to Japanese cuisine, and so Japanese kitchens and western kitchens look very different.”

“I see…”

One of the chefs started to pester them on their choice of lunch. Tsutae picked his favorite: Sendai Miso Ramen with extra spice, and picked her a more tame choice.

Their orders came, with Hirano’s plate considerately having a spoon instead of chopsticks. Hirano took her first taste before Tsutae did, just in case it didn’t fit her. As the noodles entered her mouth, she concentrated on the bowl, her mind focusing on taste more than anything else. It took a while for the taste of miso to be absorbed by her tastebuds, but as it did, it seemed to spread a wave of satisfaction throughout her face, like a sponge thrown into water.


“Heheh. Delicious isn’t it, young lady?” The chef commented in a whim, almost impulsively as she commented. “Miso ramen is our specialty.”

She merely smiled.

“By the way, is she your girlfriend?” he asked Tsutae. It seemed like a near-attempt to whisper that ultimately gave up in the middle.

“Ah…” Tsutae glanced. “N-no, she’s a close friend of mine.”

“I see.” The chef stood up with his hands on his waist. “Good for you! We rarely get foreigners here!” He laughed maniacally.

Tsutae faked a laugh alongside him.

“By the way,” he glared at her, “Nihongo wa jouzu desu ne!

An expected comment.

Things took a bad turn right as they were about to finish their bowls. Well…Tsutae had finished his first; it seemed like Hirano enjoyed hers a bit too much and savored each scoop of the miso. This savoring of her bowl ended up being a detriment, as a familiar face swooped into the store.

Tsutae gulped upon seeing their faces from a distance. Susumu and Sanae walking together towards the restaurant.

“It’s Susumu.”

“Hm?” She woke up from a wet dream of miso and ramen. With her face still lit up and blushing, she asked, “What’s with them?”

“No, it’s nothing with them, it’s just you! They really shouldn’t…”

She took another scoop, slurping the noodles loudly.

“…see you.”

“Oh, I see!”

“They’re coming. Just preted you don’t know me, okay?”

Sanae walked very close to him as he led her to the restaurant. When he saw Tsutae having lunch in, he greeted him at the top of his lungs.

“Tsutae!! Nice to see you today!” He yelled and rushed to sit down right next to him.

“Hey, wait for me!” Sanae followed. “Man, did you even remember I was with you?”

“Come on, you were the one who invited me to go running!”

“But not now!”

The girl glanced at Tsutae, staring into an empty bowl of ramen. “Oh. Tsutae…is it?”

“Ah, right. I haven’t properly introduced you two. Sanae, this is Tsutae.”

“Hm…” she inspected his face. “Aren’t you the one who left the exam hall early that one time?”

He grumbled. “Don’t talk about that. That was a moment of weakness!” He drank the remainder of the miso soup in his bowl.

“Well, um, Tsutae, what are you doing here on a Thursday? You don’t have classes today, do you?”

“Ah, I decided to visit the museum today…”

“Museum?! No way, imagine going to the museum alone…you could’ve invited us!”

He snickered. “Nah, I enjoyed myself.”

The pair placed their orders, and just then, Hirano finished her bowl, drinking in the miso soup just as he did. Just as he was about to leave with her inconspicuously, Susumu interrupted him.

“Oh, right. Tsutae, about the tea yesterday. I’m…quite sure they’ve spoiled.”

He wasn’t sure what to comment.

“B-but don’t worry, I don’t think there are any bad effects of it. In fact, Sanae found something out about them. Spill it!”

“Hey, why me? I don’t remember it as well as you do.”

“It’ll be fine.”

“Ehem.” She put her fingers together. “If Susumu described them correctly, the tea mix you have probably contains chamomile or balm seeds! And given that they’re already stored alongside tea, spreading them in dirt may actually get it to grow. The tea could act as a natural fertilizer!”

That’s convenient now that I’m starting to garden again.

  “Interesting. Though, I don’t quite remember them having any seeds. I may check them out, though!”

“Mhm. Be sure to! Susumu said you liked gardening.”

“Y-yeah.” He glanced at the wall clock.

“Well, it’s about time we—I go now. See you!” He put the cash on the counter, paying for both meals, and gestured at Hirano only to leave after he’s gone.

A day well spent.


Friday. Close to sunset, Tsutae started tending to his plants again. One half of each pot were empty or its plants were already dead. Still with no idea what of he had previously in the pots, he decided to throw them all away, with Hirano’s consent after she took care of them previously. He planted the dwarf umbrellas in the left pot and dedicated the experimental tea-planting to the right pot.

Dwarf umbrella plants are simple, beginner-friendly houseplants that one can care for from its seed phase. They’re versatile and grow quickly enough for Tsutae’s desire.

As he planted the seeds in and watered them, he recalled how exactly he gave up on his previous plants. At some point, he must’ve gave up on everything, living the days as-is, waste his time gaming, and expect nothing. Surely enough, all of it would result in nothing. Such a shame…he remembered them being so beautiful.

If only she had appeared sooner, he wished. But that’s only idealizing. Maybe he needed to stay in such a bad state, only for him to learn from it once it hurts him.

When he arrived at the thought, every corner of the pots had been watered. He couldn’t tell why, but there’s a point when one is used to gardening enough that they can feel water getting absorbed by the seeds. And once it happens, all he needed to do was wait.

Hirano showed up outside soon after. Wearing the perfectly fitting dress alongside a blank shirt, her formal look still unfamiliar to him. Tsutae was tending to the drier plants he had left behind without care, uprooting nearly dead weeds as well as struggling to keep them upright.

“Oh, hey.”

“Aha! I knew you’d be here. I haven’t asked, what are you planting now?”

“Dwarf umbrellas!” he paused. “…and also whatever seeds were in my tea leaf stash.”

“Hm…I don’t quite know what dwarf umbrellas are,” she smiled.

“Well, they’re relatively small plants whose leaves come out eventually like little exclamation marks, and then they go around the center stem like an umbrella, which looks really nice. I originally thought about buying caladiums, but I have a personal vendetta on large leaves.”

“Large leaves? Why?”

“I ate a big leaf in the forest as a kid, and got really sick because of it.”

“That’s…an interesting story.”

“That alone told me they’re not to be trusted.”

Hirano smiled, feeling quite proud that Tsutae was finally enthusiastic about something.

“Do you like tending to plants as much as studying them?

“I suppose so. They’re a pain to study, though.”

“Why so?”

“Plants are a lot like machines, I think. They’re complex in ways we never really understood previously. Especially in regards to how they grow.”


How do they work?”

She nodded. Tsutae stood up, having taken enough care of the barely-living plants.

“So, plant leaves are a complex thing themselves, but they basically absorb sunlight. Meanwhile, the plant’s roots absorb water and a plant tissue carries them over to the leaves. It sounds like magic, but the water and sunlight somehow make energy together. This energy is taken away back from the leaves to the whole plant through another plant tissue and then they’re used to grow…” he takes a breather. “…in three different ways. There’s the apical meristem that makes the plant grow up, but also downwards, extending the roots. There’s the intercalary meristem that raises the distance between two plant nodes. And, there’s the lateral meristem that makes everything wider, basically. So, that’s why plants grow!”

“That…I have no idea what you just meant, but it all sounds really smart!”

“Nah, not really,” he shyed. “It’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s the general gist of it.”

“You told…a story.”

“Did I?”

“Yeah, that’s what I always meant about telling a story! I like hearing that! How it starts from water and sunlight, but then they bind together and make the plant grow.”

“Glad you like it. None of that are in the next exam, unfortunately.” He walked towards the door. “I should probably start studying again, do you mind?”

The sun lowered the top of its head nearing nighttime. The moment he went back in, the sky darkened and shadows blended with the blankness of the horizon. Hirano hesitated to walk back in.

“Hirano? Anything wrong?” He turned around.

“Hey, Kurone-san…you can’t possibly have forgotten, right?”

“About what?”

A strong wind blew.

“I remembered something. You’ve got a book, don’t you?”

The imagery of the Utsurobune came back to mind. Its hollow shell, the woman carrying the forbidden box, the fishermen’s debate, her tossing back to the ocean. Everything in that book…there’s no way it could’ve been her, right?

“Did you read it?”

“I did. I-I know you told me not to, but I knew I had to once I—”

“Don’t apologize for it. What did you remember?”

“It’s not something someone like you can understand, Kurone-san. That night on the ship, I saw something I shouldn’t have. The sky was red…all over. The waves were violent, unforgiving. And I received the punishment.”


“I saw the red clouds dancing in the sky in the middle of my shift. Standing at the edge of one of the balconies, the fellow maids suddenly went over. We all felt something that pushed me into the water that night. I, for one, knew the sky pursued a sacrifice, and I had to be that sacrifice. Claire. Anne. Giselle. Vivienne. They all insisted that I had committed an affair with one of the passengers aboard. For that, they pushed me into the water. But this time, the water became calm and level, like a flat field. And I was thrown away.”

As the words came out of her lips, the scenery behind her changed. It was no longer an early nighttime scenery, decorated with streetlights slowly turning on. Instead, again, the sky turned red, deeper than that of the night before. But this time, no children noticed, neither were there any reports of it.

But they didn’t know anything at the time. The moment Tsutae saw the brightening night sky, he asked her to come in.

“Kurone-san, I’m scared.”

When she’s the one suffering from hardship, he doesn’t know how to comfort her the same way she did. All he could do was hold her close, make sense of whatever was going on, and keep her from losing it. He guided her in and closed the door. As soon as he did, she turned her head around.

“I haven’t told you something, and I’m sorry about it. It might be sudden.”

“Go on.”

“Sute Hirano…is not permanent.”

A short wave of silence. The wind kept on blewing by the reddening sky.

“Sute Hirano is not meant to exist here.”


“It’s true. When the world asked me to be sacrificed…it’s the way it was meant to be. Of course, the fact that I arrived here so many years later was nothing short of a coincidence. I’m not meant to be here. The fishermen who sent me back into the ocean didn’t know that my vessel would survive.”

Hearing her recount her own story somehow weakened Tsutae’s own grip in reality.

What is she saying? How could any of this be real?

  “That’s why…”

“Hirano, stop.” He crouched down, one hand against his right temple. “Please, stop. I don’t want to hear any of that.”

A headache. The pain of it bounced around in his head for a short while, stopping his mouth from articulating anything. It scratched the corners of his mind, grinding against them at every point of contact. As his view spun around without a clear direction, Hirano stepped to clear his mind.

“I’m so sorry, Kurone-san, are you okay?”

“I can’t tell. You…I don’t want to know what happened to you.”

“I won’t tell you anymore. Just…please be okay.”

She started to massage his head. The more she continued, the safer and safer his head felt, until a breeze replaced the pain. It’s as if the cool air outside seeped in through the window and gave his head some rest.

“Much better.”

She sighed.

“Hirano. When you told me you wouldn’t be here for much longer, what does that mean?”

“It’s tomorrow. I can tell.”


“The Utsurobune will return to take me back.”

“No, no. No way!”

“I’m very sorry, Kurone-san. It’s…I really should’ve made it clear earlier.”

Teary remnants formed in Tsutae’s eyes. “But…no! You can’t leave…”

Seeing him that way, she, too, began to veer away from seeing him. As apprehensive she might be about him, there’s no way she will not return.

“Tomorrow morning, I want you to take me to the beach.”

“No! I don’t want to send you back that way!”

“Kurone-san,” she moved closer. And with both her hands and on her knees, she caressed his entire body in her embrace. He would follow afterwards, though with a much weaker grip around her.

“There’s no way…”

“Listen, Kurone-san. I hate to leave you this way. But it’s me who is not meant to be here anymore. I know you find it hard to understand…I sometimes do too. I know you can survive.” Tsutae hugged her more tightly. “I know you can survive,” she restated. “You’ve done so before…and you can keep the memory of me very close to you. As close as you so want it.”

He did not say a word. Slowly digesting the information and accepting all she had to say, Tsutae held on close. Her long hair brushed against his ears. Her new dress…the texture of her shirt, her breathing, her heartbeat in sync with his, he only wanted to get closer.

So he widened himself from the legs up and pushed her into his embrace. But as it happened, she did not expect him to pull her so close. Given she sat on her knees, his pull only brought her forward, leaning against him.

“A-ah, Kurone-san!”

Hirano lost balance. Right as she called his name, she fell hard right onto him.

Their lips lightly touched.

As the two noticed, a shock rushed through both of their bodies. Tsutae gave in to her falling on top of him, and collapsed on the floor. Hirano held herself on, supporting her body with her hands beside Tsutae’s body.

The two passed blank stares at each other. Only a few seconds later, they realized the gravity of the situation, and hindered both their views, blushing. Their silence lasted for almost half a minute, when Hirano pouted. “You didn’t have to push me so hard.”

“Yeah. S-sorry.”

She rose up from right on top of him, still avoiding looking at him directly. On her way back to the room, she looked at him, still lying on the floor, one more time, and smiled.

Tomorrow is a new day.


“The mRNA in question, however, only ever wants to pick one of the two open DNA strands. This is because while the DNA has a double helix form, RNA is a single helix and can only transcribe one strand, called the sense strand. In this case, the RNA pairs with the sense strand, but using the nitrogenous base Uracil to match with Adenine instead of Thymine. Eventually, the mRNA is satisfied, and then the DNA tells them ‘Right, you’ve got all of them copied, you ought to build a protein out of it.’

But before they can do that, there are parts of the mRNA that aren’t used to synthesize proteins, called introns. Those are promptly cut off from the mRNA before they get to the ribosome. It’s like they throw away the parts they don’t need and only send the parts needed…

Now the messenger reaches the ribosome after being cleaned up, which is like a protein factory. The mRNA has sent every ingredient needed to make the protein, so all the ribosome factory needs is to build it. The ribosome’s factory parts are the transfer RNA’s, which are like little workers, copying down whatever the messenger brought, and then they build those into proteins. Each sequence of three nitrogenous bases translate to one type of amino acid, and one messenger RNA can have a long string of nitrogenous bases. So in the end, they’ll produce a massive string of amino acids to make a polypeptide,”

He narrated. Hirano has long fallen in and out of sleep in bed, listening to Tsutae’s story about the life of a messenger RNA. But now he figured it’s time to sleep.

The two of them had agreed to sleep together again. After the incident just a few hours ago, they knew they wanted to feel it again, though none of them were bold enough to say it out loud.

This time, Tsutae tried sleeping on his side, making her his human bolster for the coming night. As their heartbeats matched and calmed, slumber set in underneath a red sky.

Later that morning, Hirano held on to her pocket tightly. She had in her pocket an hourglass, now its sand nearly running out. There’s not much time left. After taking a shower, she made her final parting to Tsutae’s apartment.

She had put on the dress Tsutae bought for her. She’s majestic, queenly and deserving of all love and care. Tsutae held her hand tightly and turned off the lights before locking the door.

“I believe they’ll grow nicely,” she said, looking at the pots.

“Well, it’s still about two weeks to germination. We shall see very soon!”

She smiled.

The pair went through the same path they took earlier Thursday. I can’t believe it has only been three days since…

  That dirt path, taking a fork to the right eventally leads to the smell of the ocean. So fresh…so clean.

The salty waters of the Tohoku coast that day echoed the aura of the deep blue sea. Fragrant sand shined bright beneath the halo of the early morning sun. It was a quiet, serene morning.

As they continued their walk, they reached the perimeter of the beach sands. Waves were gentle and only rubbed the sandy beaches, massaging it bit by bit, sending seashells and debris from miles away. They spotted water bottles, coconut shells, dead leaves, planks of wood, bolts and nails, a pair of chopsticks, and colorful rocks.

Years upon years ago, it would’ve been her vessel.

Tsutae pondered at this thought as her hands remained so warm. How many people here have seen the same debris come past and return, swallowed back by the sea time and time again, for years?

For a moment, he could feel it, envisioning the everlastingly living coastline as it progressed throughout the years. The sight of old trees lining up right by the sandy coast. Perhaps an old fisherman returning after his daily catch. An old, nut-shaped vessel of a girl from a foreign land. The debate among the fisherman over her life.

And even after that, nothing would have changed. He could see a woman in late Edo attire, sitting side-by-side with her husband, resting her head upon his shoulder. Maybe ten years ago, they would’ve sat at the same sandy spot, young and innocent. And seventy years after, the woman would be sitting all alone, reminiscing every memory of this beautiful coast.

Then, he saw old soldiers. God knows what they’re training out here in the Tohoku coast. The commander shouting his words, being listened to every ear as they repeated each of his commands. Lining up perfectly, they showed no defiance to discipline.

And then he saw…the tsunami. He hadn’t moved here at that time, though the news still ringed clear in his head. The rubble and debris coming into the ocean after everything had subsided. The costly damages to infrastructure across the Tohoku region. The thousands of lives lost. Yet in such a short time, there are few remains of the ruin that took place.

At the end of all of this, he saw…himself. Standing here, as if the horizon had become a mirror. Compared to everything this coast has seen and yet remaining unchanged, what does he have to offer to the world? He’s small, and yet everything he knows has been bound to himself. In a way it’s destructive, but in another perspective, he found himself lucky. Lucky to have a place to live and not have it ruined by disaster. Lucky to still have someone beside him to support him every step of the way. Lucky to only have the challenge of college life in front of him, never having to worry about war, hunger, and loss. And with all that, he could smile.


That snapped him out of it.

“Are you scared?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

“I think the vessel is coming. Do you think you can make it by yourself?”

He took a deep breath. “I can. You’ve showed me how to, didn’t you?”

She smiled.

“Where are you going, really?”

“I can’t tell for sure. But I understand that I have to do it.”

He smirked. “You’re always so calm despite knowing nothing about it.”

“Of course! Maybe I’m…built that way. It’s a lot like you. Just as how sometimes you don’t have to know how something works, I don’t have to know why something happens. It is only a matter of fate.”

As they stood, the sky became clear again. For the lost Sute Hirano, it is a calling for her to disappear.

“It is coming.”

“I…see. You’re not aboard a physical vessel.”

“If I were, you wouldn’t let me aboard, would you?”

Tsutae blushed, but she’d be correct.

From her pocket, she pulled out two things: her hourglass and her heart necklace.

“There’s so little sand left,” she said. “Kurone-san, I’d like to…give you this,” she presented.

“H-huh? But it’s…”

“It’s alright, take it. Looking at how I feel now, I think it’s obvious you should have it.”

Both of them smiled.

“Then,” Tsutae glared. “Is this it?”

“I think it is.”

They shared their body warmth.

“Can I call you Tsutae?”

He gasped. “Of course you can, Sute.”

“Tsutae…I want you to know that other than me, there are so many people who love you dearly. Your family, your friends, and even your plants…need you. When I leave, I want you to survive…I believe in you fully.”

He held both of her hands. They were sweaty, but growing dry. “Sute…”

As the last bit of sand in the hourglass fell, Sute put her hand at Tsutae’s shoulder and held him tight. Her body, alongside everything she had on her, began to turn to dust, so cleanly and evenly.

“Thank you,” Tsutae said.

Starting from her back, all the way around her body, untying every knot around her skin.

“I loved you.” Her final words echoed as the last of her body began to disappear. At such a clean process, Tsutae could only marvel and hold her tight in disbelief. But before he could grab a hold of her, the body of Sute Hirano, the lost maid of the ship, the princess of the Utsurobune, had vanished, once again taken as a sacrifice to the world.

Writer: Syado

Automaton maid

Entri Writchal #2

Tema: Maid

automaton maid

Hari pagi, seperti biasa aku dibangunkan oleh ~bidadari~ eh seorang pelayan.

Dia membangunkanku dengan ekspresi sangat datar dan dengan gerakan yang sedikit kaku.

Dia berpakaian rapi dan wangi dengan pakaian pelayannya.

Dia menyiapkanku sarapan selagi aku mandi dan mengganti pakaian seragam akademi.

Sarapan pagi ini sangat enak meskipun tiap pagi sama terus.

Dia melambaikan tangan saat aku berangkat sambil bilang “hati-hati di jalan”.

Aku tinggal hanya bersama pelayanku karena orang tuaku sedang bekerja jauh.

Sepanjang perjalanan akademi, Aku jadi teringat pertama kali saat aku bertemu dengannya. Dia menyambutku begitu canggung dan kaku seperti orang baru kenal.

Saat aku pulang, dia sedang maintenance mandiri, kulihat badan telanjangnya pun seperti boneka, sendi sambungannya pun terlihat jelas.

Aku langsung menutup pintunya dan wajahku kemerahan, padahal aku sadar dia tidak hidup.

Sesudah mengenakan pakaian, dia langsung menyambutku tanpa tahu saya tidak sengaja mengintipnya.

Sore harinya, aku menemani sambil bergandengan tangan dengan dia ke pasar untuk menyiapkan makan malam.

padahal hanya automaton, tapi mengapa aku tersipu malu (diperparah dengan dilihati banyak orang).

Saya masih bingung sampai sekarang, mengapa dia bisa membeli barang, meski hanya bicara “satu tomat, satu timun, etc.” dan memberikan uang sangat pas

Dia memasak makan malam untuk saya. Sangat enak meskipun kurang bervariasi setiap malamnya.

Dia menemaniku mengerjakan PR meskipun dia tidak banyak membantu mengerjakan pr.

Tatapan tajam dan kaku terlihat menegangkan sampai saya menyuruhnya untuk memperbaiki raut mukanya.

Dia tidak seperti pelayan biasanya, bahkan seperti manusia/orang pun tidak.

Dia mungkin dirancang hanya untuk melayani tuannya.

mau hidup ataupun tidak, saya tetap memandang sebagai “teman”

Kali ini dia ingin menemaniku tidur. 

Tetapi entah kenapa dia ingin tidur bareng (cuddling ya) denganku.

Aku cukup bilang temani aku saja di samping tempat tidur.

Dia langsung “deep sleep mode” dalam keadaan berdiri.

Sembari memejamkan mata ku berandai dia itu manusia dengan kesadaran, atau setidaknya dia punya kesadaran meski hanyalah automaton.

Mungkin aku akan benar benar jatuh cinta padanya dan menjadikan pasangan hidup.

Pagi hari menyinsing, kali ini dia membangunkanku dengan penuh ekspresi dan senyuman.

apakah itu pertanda?

Penulis: kittyloaf

My Sweet Gentle Veteran

Entry Writchal #2

Theme: Maid

My Sweet Gentle Veteran.

It was early spring when the landscape was new and washed in the green of new leaves. The birds build their nest atop the maple trees, as luscious light weeps down from the window of a humble abode near the woods.

I was there, standing inside a room littered with contradictions. Rows and rows of dirt chipped paintings clung to the walls, whilst numerous brass cross medals lay scattered about, dusty and holey. A prized medallion with the almighty medal of honour was boxed up on an unremarkable end table, carelessly placed like some used brushes. A sniper rifle of the newest model leaned up against the wall in the corner, surrounded by half used bottles of paints. A letter cheque mentioning Veteran aid lies side by side with a newspaper, whose headline reads “The End of War.” In short, war hero memorabilias were strewn across the room along with various art supplies.

In the middle of it all a figure could be seen sitting on a stool. A slim girl donning a long white dress, with hair white as snow and eyes purple as lavender. Her gentle and kind face was sullied by a sharp scar across her right eye. She stared blankly at a large canvas resting atop an easle, with a dry paintbrush sticking out of her mouth.

I by no means am an artist. The extent of my art skills only went as far as using pencils to make a scenery consisting of two mountain peaks, a sun in the middle, and some “m” shapes that are supposed to resemble birds.  So, when looking at the work that she has done, I couldn’t help but notice how special she was. The beauty she had brought to the painting far exceeded anything I ever could have created. However, even I, with all of my vapid ignorance, am aware that paint brushes are supposed to be held by your hands. Not sticking out of your mouth like a cigarette. She unfortunately was unable to. The war took everything from her, including her ability to paint. It truly was a poignant sight.

Her eyes were devoid of light, as if she was absorbed by something else after staring at that blank canvas. Her mind went adrift, plunging into the abyss of uncertainty. She has been like this for the past hour.

I’ve been here for almost a year, but I still found myself gripping my hands and gritting my teeth to hold back this wave of sadness I felt every time I saw her like this. Imagining the pain she had to go through, the sadness and the hopelessness she endured…

Entering the room, I called her out.


She did not respond. I inch closer and tapped her gently on the shoulder.

            “Lieutenant Caulia.”


I heard the paint brush she was biting fell down on the wooden floor. She turned to look at me, and smiled.

            “Ah, it’s you, Lonnete.”

            “Yes… it is me. Come Lieutenant. I’ve prepared dinner for you.”

            “Gee, I told you before not to call me that, didn’t I? I’m not that much older than you, you know. You can just call me by my name.”

            “But you’re a hero…“

She sighs. “Heroes huh… That nonsense again. Heroes don’t kill people, Lonnete.”

            “But Lieutenant…”

“Well, suit yourself.”

I glanced at the large blank canvas sitting in front of her. Below her, a wooden paint palette with dry oil paint lies untouched.

“Um…  Do you need any help with that, Lieutenant?” I asked. gesturing towards the canvas and the paint palette.

“Oh, this? Ah, not really. I haven’t gotten any inspiration to paint anything at all, haha. Maybe sometimes later.”

            “Okay. Here, your walking stick.”

            “Ah, thanks Lonnete. ”

            “Of course, Lieutenant. I’m here to assist you, after all.”

I handed the walking stick to her and helped the Lieutenant up by supporting her on my shoulder. Our motion was quite awkward, she was still a soldier after all. Even though she looks slim, her firm posture quite easily overwhelms mine. Either that, or it’s because I haven’t been getting much sleep lately… I have to be careful to not cause further pain to her because of my negligence. Not only did she lack a pair of arms to support herself, she still couldn’t walk properly with her legs after all.

I walked with her through the corridor leading up to the dining room. At one point, I stepped onto something. When I look down to see, it was a crumpled month-old newspaper. The headlines read the opening for a certain theatrical audition whose deadlines had long since passed. For a moment, my mind went into contemplation, I still have that dream of being a cinema star hanging up somewhere. Though that would have to wait, as now, I have more pressing matters to attend to. I turned to the Lieutenant to inform her of the dinner.

            “We’ll be having roasted chicken with asparagus soup for dinner. I hope that is to your liking…”I said, shyly.

        “That sounds good, I can’t wait. Your cooking is good, you know!” The lieutenant said, enthusiastically.

The Lieutenant, she always acts like this around me. And I mean…  I know… I know why. I know why she acted like someone who is my senior in highschool. I know why she tried to be friendly towards me. She is indeed only three years older than me, that’s enough for us to be in the same school given the right circumstances. And she didn’t have the intimidating aura that your typical soldier gives off. She looked and acted like a normal girl, like me. She wants me to see her as such, but how could I? After learning of her story, after knowing what she went through…

And despite it all. While she may give me a gentle smile every time I’m around. I can’t help but to feel that her eyes were always… vacant. It is as if she’s not really looking at me despite directing her eyes my way. She was always seeing something else. It is always apparent everytime I leave her on her own for an extended period of time and I can only imagine what she’s actually seeing.  I always feel bad seeing her like that. I want to help her but I don’t know how. Can I really help her?

Unlike her, I’m merely just a maid. I am not a hero after all…

            “Lonnete.” She said, dragging me back from my thought

            “Yes, Lieutenant?”

            “You said you wanted to be an actress, right? A… cinema star?”


            “Why do you want to be an actress?”

            “Why? Because…”

Her question caught me off guard. It actually has been quite some times since anybody asked me that question. As a little girl, I would be able to answer that immediately without a second thought. ‘I want to be famous’ ‘I want to be rich’ ‘I want to see the world’ ‘I want to go on an adventure’. But, uh, I don’t know… Those reason seems so shallow now that I’m older.

I was thinking of giving a more impactful reason like… I want to help people through my acting, or, I want to change the world but… Giving that reason seems so pretentious, especially when you’re talking in front of a war veteran. So…

            “I… Don’t know, Lieutenant.”

            “You don’t know?”

            “Yes… I’m not really sure.”


The Lieutenant seems to be contemplating my answer. That’s odd, I wonder is it because she thinks I’m too shallow…

But enough of that thought. I should just focus on my duty for now. I am her personal maid after all.


The Commonwealth of Lividia consists of several nations banding together under a greater good. One of these nations, the Republic of Galcia, has a particularly strong theatrical culture. As such, like many other girls born here, being an actress was my all-time dream. The performances led me under the enchanted impression of that glamorous theatrical life, the exciting adventure these stars led, and the endless possibilities should I join them.

But then the war happened, and the rest was history. Everyone was affected, even the cinema world. Strong young actors were sent to the front, their faces plastered all over recruitment posters. It got so bad at one point that they started conscripting people. I fortunately was not old enough for conscription at the time. Meanwhile, father was an engineer, and mother was a nurse. So all of our family was spared from the horrendous combat on the front.

From time to time. Faces of courageous soldiers would grace the headlines. Brave men and women who have done valiant deeds are named Heroes of the Commonwealth. Whilst most featured are men, there is this one time when the face of a young girl made it into the headline. Her face was solemn and calm, beautiful and serene. It was so unlike the previous individuals. Although the black and white ink made me unable to discern her features. As far as I remember, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen the lieutenant.

Our first meeting won’t come until after the end of the war. I was helping out at a newly established aid centre. Handing out aid cheques behind the counter to veterans who just came back from the war. The one thing that broke my conception when I heard the word ‘veteran’ was the age range of the people involved. Before this, I thought they all would be grizzled middle aged men with scary looks. But the truth was far from that. Most of the people lining up were young boys. Many of them haven’t even reached their twenties. Some even looked to be around my age. And to think that these boys are war veterans…

At the end of the day, the officer in charge of the aid centre, Mr. Hiigata, summoned me. Quite a surprise, I couldn’t think of a reason as to why a high-ranking officer such as him would summon a lowly service volunteer such as me. When I came to his office, he revealed his intention

“Theresa Lonnete. From today on, you will be relegated to be the personal maid of a certain distinguished individual. Here’s your work order.” He said, handing out a map consisting of two letters.

“A maid? Me?” I questioned.

“Yes, we have thoroughly reviewed your experience and personal history, and concluded that you would be the best person for this job.”He said, still in that monotone yet commanding tone of a military man.

“Do you have any-” before he finishes, Mr. Hiigata gets a phone call and excused himself. I suppose he didn’t expect the discipline and the stiffness of a soldier from a civilian volunteer like me. So that’s why he tolerated my questioning tone. And honestly, I am quite indifferent about this whole ordeal. As long as I can help, I’ll do it.

Being a maid though, I’ve only seen them in cinemas and theatre. As far as I know, their job was to take care of things that their master found too menial to do themselves, such as cleaning up the dishes, cleaning up the kitchen, the toilet, the bedroom, the clothes, the garden, etc, etc… Oh, and some cooking, I guess.

A jolt coursed through my mind. If I recall correctly, two famous Galcian actors that are serving on the front-line hail from our city. I remember gasping at the thought that maybe I’ll be the personal maid of one of these actors, Jonathan Paul or Charles Le Blanc. My adventurous mind delved deeper into my adolescent fantasy, stuff that I’m too embarrassed to recall now. Fortunately, before I lost myself, Mr. Hiigata came back from the phone to address me.

“By the way, I think I should mention that this distinguished person is a female. 1st Lieutenant Caulia Cornellia Cromwell, hero of the commonwealth, recipient of the medal of honour and plaques d’honneur. Rejoice at this great opportunity”

“Oh… Yes, sir.” I said, trying to hold back my disappointment.

Curses. I remember thinking. There goes my teenage fantasy. Mind you, at that point, I still dreamed of becoming an actress one day. So I genuinely felt like that was a missed opportunity.

So anyways, after that, he explained some details of the work that I’ll be doing. In short, I was told to stay at this veteran’s house and help her with all sorts of things until she could at least settle down properly. They hid a lot of details in that vague statement. For example, it is not clear how long it would take for her to ‘settle down properly’. And Mr. Hiigata personally apologised for the sudden assignment, but he promised to give further support should I need it. Wow, suddenly I feel like some important person to have this high-ranking officer saying that to me.  Mr. Hiigata told me to go to a certain room where my veteran would be waiting. He said he had to take care of some stuff before going in there himself, so, went in there I did.

After walking for some minutes, I found the room Mr. Hiigata mentioned. Everything else in that bombed out bunker looked like it had been torched in flame except for that certain room. It looked brand new, as if they had just renovated it.

Opening the door to the room I found the veteran that was waiting for me… I think. Because I genuinely thought that I got the wrong room. There, besides the rows of rows of empty chairs, I saw a girl sitting on a wheelchair. She’s pretty, really pretty. She somewhat looked to be around my age. Her long, straight white hair fluttered as she looked at me, her lavender eyes gleaming like amethyst. Her pale skin seemed to glow like that of a beautiful candle as well. The main cause of my assumption was her uniform, or rather lack of. She was wearing a pure white sleeveless dress, and she was quite slim. There’s no way this is the veteran I’m supposed to be serving right? She looked like any other Galcian girl! I bet if she went for an audition, she could even feature in a drama if she tried.

Well, that line of thought only lasted for less than a minute. For then I realise one glaring sign that she is, indeed, the veteran.

Which is her arm. Or rather… her lack thereof. And then a realisation dawned on me

            Oh… So that’s why they wanted a maid…

No wonder the military out of all suddenly wanted to have a maid. It wasn’t for vanity, it was necessary.

She locked eyes with me, seemingly examining me from top to bottom.

“Can I… help you?” She asked.

“A-ah. Are you Lieutenant…” Lieutenant… She’s a Lieutenant, right? I scrambled the documents given to me as I didn’t memorise her name. “Uhh, 1st Lieutenant Caulia?”

I don’t know much about military ranks and stuff, but aren’t Lieutenants kind of a deal? My uncle who served in the previous war only ends up as a sergeant. So you’re telling me this young and pretty girl outranks my uncle? A comical image of my uncle, a tall 185 cm man with a big moustache, being ordered around by her with a whip in hand pops up in my mind, though only for a brief moment.

“Yes, that’s my name. And rank, I suppose.”

And her voice was… very soft. Not what I imagine how a veteran would sound like… or looked like at all for that matter.

“I’m Theresa Lonnete. A volunteer for the veteran aid service. From today on, I will be serving as your maid.”

“I see.”

My first impression of the Lieutenant was a combination of disbelief and amazement. They said she was a hero of some sort, so that’s impressive. And to think someone like this earned that distinguishment.  Add to the fact that she doesn’t seems to be that much older than me.

The door opened, and then Mr. Hiigata came in. He walked in strong strides, and stopped in front of the veteran,  giving her a salute before bowing deeply towards her.

“Lieutenant Caulia, ma’am. Your car has arrived.”

“Thankyou Hiigata.”

Meanwhile, I was standing in the corner of the room, perplexed. They sent a car to escort this girl? It is well known that cars are a luxury that only a select few are privileged to, so she really is an important person. Though looking back, my apparent surprise at this was caused by my overexposure to the theatrical world, and me in my ignorance putting the limits of my vision as the limits of the world. I didn’t account for the fact that the wealth of all the cinema stars combined couldn’t probably hold a candle to the military and its vast budget.

And then there’s Mr. Hiigata’s reaction upon meeting with the Lieutenant. I recognized his gesture, it’s oriental in origin. A gesture to convey an expression of great respect and honour towards a certain someone. Mr. Hiigata was a Captain, I don’t really know how far from a Lieutenant that is, but an officer bowing humbly like that towards someone of a lower rank could only mean one thing. Lieutenant Caulia really is a respected individual in the military.

“Hiigata. Raise your head. You don’t have to bow to me like that.”

I could see Mr. Hiigata visibly clenching his fist. And continued bowing anyway. Meanwhile Lieutenant Caulia looked at him with pity in her eyes.

Aaah, the tension in the air between these two, the awkward gesture of the man, the understanding and forgiving look of the woman. I’ve seen enough theatrical drama to know that these two  have some sort of history between them. Though I obviously dared not to question it, my mind went through a lot of assumptions, which includes whether they were lovers or childhood friends. Then I quickly decided that it was best not to dwell on it, and I sure glad I did. I later learned that wasn’t the case. What I didn’t know at the time was that the real horrors of war have no sympathy for storybook romance to blossom.

Several men came into the room. Escorts, I believe. They stopped to salute the Lieutenant before helping in bringing her baggage to the car. One of them went to push her wheelchair, and then they exited the room. Mr. Hiigata was bowing through all of that, and stood up only after Lt. Caulia had left.

            “Ms. Theresa, you should go in the car with her.”

            “E-eh? Someone like me?”

            “Yes, you’re going to be helping her from now on after all.”

Well, riding in a car was one of the things I had in my list of things I wanted to do before I die. It’s funny how unceremoniously that one was crossed off.

            “Yes sir.”

            “Please take good care of her, and…”


Ooh, here it is, here it is, what would it be? the reluctant third party confession? Or…

            “No, nevermind. Goodluck with your duty.

            “Oh, Yes sir. And thank you”

Ah, it’s the boring alternative. Oh well, I guess military men are still men after all.

When I went out to join the escort, I saw the men helping her out of the wheelchair to get into the car. A four wheeled osvo sedan, a luxury brand. It really does seem like a scene out of a movie. I wanted to help, but everything seems to be handled pretty well. So, one of the men told me to get in the car instead.

The two men outside closed the door and made gestures that everything was ready to go. The driver then gently pressed the pedal, and the car started to move. In the rear-view mirror, I could see the two men from before standing upright, and giving us a salute. their figure gradually disappeared as we drove further.

I can’t believe all of that just happened in such a short amount of time. This morning, I worked behind the receptionist desk, and now, I’m riding in a luxury car with a supposedly very important person. Well, it’s true that the context of this happening came from the military, instead of the cinema world. But It all still felt like a dream regardless. I tried to compose myself by twirling my finger around my side hair.

The Lieutenant seems to notice this. And she giggled.

            “Are you nervous?”

            “Eh? Uh, um, I’m, yes, not really, uh yes. I mean, no.” I said, giving my best stern military-like impression. Though obviously my haywire of a brain failed horribly in the grammar department.

            “Ahahaa You’re nervous.”

            “A-ah… uh… yeah…”

She leaned in closer to me. Well, she tried to, but…

            “Ow ow oww…ouch.”

            “L-Lieutenant?! Are you okay?”

 … she seems to hurt her back or something when she tries to do that. So instead, she gestured for me to scoot closer to her. So, I did.

            “I used to do that too. During the war.”

            “You used to… do what?”

            “That thing you’re doing with your hair. Twirling it around in your finger. It’s oddly calming, isn’t it?”

            “Y-yes… So you get nervous too, Lieutenant?”

            “It’s Caulia. You can just call me Lia.”

            “I… see…”

“Of course, I get nervous. I too, am just a girl, after all. When I was just a recruit, I used to twirl my hair in my fingers all the time. Well, it’s quite unfortunate that I can’t do that anymore though. “

“Ah, uh… I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

She nudged me in the shoulder a little. And now that I’m closer to her, she leaned into my ear.

“You see. I don’t really care much for all of that honours and stuff. They’re just a big boogus. So please, you don’t need to be nervous around me, okay?”

I could feel my cheeks burning up a little bit. The Lieutenant… She really is just like any other girl! She does not give off any intimidating aura like Mr. Hiigata did, and she made an active effort to make herself as approachable as possible.

“Yes, Lieutenant.”

She smiled, and I smiled as well.

The car was still moving. The Lieutenant stared out the window. She seemed to be watching the world pass us by. Seeing her, I couldn’t help but wonder how someone like her became the hero that everybody respected. What’s her story? If she’s just another girl like she said, how did it end up like this?

I then heard the lieutenant start to hum a tune. A traditional Galcian folk song, I found myself listening to it throughout the journey…


I helped her sit in the chair I prepared for dinner. A small roasted chicken breast with a side of asparagus soup sits atop the table. She groaned in pain several times during the process… of sitting down. The sight somewhat reminded me of my late grandmother…

            “Ugh… ow…”

            “A-are you okay, Lieutenant?”

            “Well what do you think? Broken ribs with fractured hips. Arms are gone and so are my bone. Hey, that rhymes.”


            “Ahahaha, sorry, I couldn’t help it… Anyways, this looks and smells really good.”

            “I’m glad you think so. Here, let me help you.”

            “Thanks, If you would kindly.”

I stood closely beside her and grabbed a fork and a knife to first cut off the chicken, and then gently shove it into her mouth.

            “Mmm, it tastes good too” she said as she munched on it.

Well, I always take it as a compliment. But after learning that the Lieutenant mostly survived on a diet of rock-hard K-brod (military bread) and dry sardines during most of the war, I don’t know how I should feel about her compliment. I’ll keep it on the positive end for now.

Little by little, the plate starts emptying until all of the chicken breast is gone. But the Lieutenant has a habit of making me scrape off everything that’s on the plate until there’s absolutely nothing left. It wasn’t because of anything. She told me before that her battalion got trapped and encircled in the city of Pravois. The ensuing 8-month long siege was brutal, and a lot of people died of starvation. The effect was so profound that she refused to leave anything to waste on the plate, years after the siege was over.

            “I’ll be moving on to the soup now.”I said to her. As I grabbed a spoon and slowly fed it to her. The same thing happened with the soup, it’s just that since it’s impossible to scrape off the tiny bit of liquid with a spoon, she asked me to finish it instead.

            “Thank you for the meal, Lonnete. That was delicious.”

            “No problem Lieutenant. I’m here to help you.”

I’m glad I managed to feed her properly without messing up. My eyes were quite heavy, so I was afraid I might not be able to do my duty properly. Nevertheless, after helping her drink a glass of water, I went ahead to go clean the dishes in the kitchen right beside the dining room. The Lieutenant is still sitting there, watching me. Well, of course she would. She couldn’t do anything on her own after all.

I remember occasionally yawning as I wiped the dishes. And after some moment of silence, she decided to start a conversation.

            “ Hey, Lonnete. You said you’re only three years younger than me, right? So, you were in middle school when the war started?”

            “Yes Lieutenant. I went to Yelton Spring Middle school, to be exact”

            “I see… How was it before? Do you have friends?”

Huh, that’s new. And I don’t know how I feel about talking about my school life to a famed war hero like her. But she… Right now, she really does sound like a senior… Or rather, a big sister to me. So I obliged.

            “Yes, I made a lot of friends at school, everybody was into the theatre scene at the time, and we usually went out to watch the cinema at weekend!” I said. Recounting those days fondly.

            “That sounds fun.”

            “Yes it was. It might sound dumb, but at the end of the movies, we would rate all the top male actors by how hot they look. Looking back, we didn’t really pay attention to the movies or plot whatsoever, only the males.”

            “Ahaha. That’s fine. As long as you’re having fun… How are your friends nowadays? Do you still keep in touch with any of them?”

            “Oh, I did write to some of them. Though I haven’t got the opportunity to meet up as I’m…” I found myself choking on my sentence, trying to rearrange the words in my mind so that I wouldn’t hurt the Lieutenant’s feelings. “I’m… I didn’t have the time to… There weren’t any interesting movies in the cinema recently anyways.” Yes, yes, shifting the blame to the cinema should do.

            “I see…” The lieutenant said, her voice now weaker than before. Another silence followed before it was revealed that my attempt was not successful.

            “You know… I never really had any friends when I was at school.” She started.


            “Back then, I was too shy to even look at someone in the eyes. I would never have been able to talk to someone the way I’m talking to you right now. Heh, war has a way to make you grow up, I guess.”


Even though I’m looking at the dishes right now, I can feel her letting out a sigh.

            “And that’s why, I wanted to apologise to you right now.”


            “Because I was thinking of relieving you of your maid duty.”


Living with the Lieutenant reminded me of the time when I helped mom in the hospital during the war. Especially working with elderly people.

My daily routine is as follows. I would wake up at dawn to do some cleaning on the house, then I would wake the Lieutenant up and prepare her breakfast, helping her eat by spoon feeding her. After that, I would help her bathe after I prepared some warm water for her. Also, this is when I realised that she is a distinguished veteran for a reason. Because of her condition, I would have to do all the dressing up for her. And when I undressed her, her bare body revealed that there’s not a single part of her that has not been untouched by scars of all kind. Burn marks, bullet wounds, slashing marks, stab wounds, blunt trauma… It’s hard to believe such a beautiful body had to go through so much…

After that, the daytime routine varies from day to day. Sometimes, I would help the lieutenant do some activities at home, such as helping her when she wanted to read a book. Another day, I would have to shop for some groceries on her stead. And usually on the weekend, I take the Lieutenant out for a walk.

I did some more cleaning entering the evening. After preparing dinner and helping the lieutenant with that, I went to prepare yet another warm bath for her. Then after that, it’s several hours of free time for myself, before I helped the Lieutenant to bed. Rinse and repeat. Ah… I should also mention that the Lieutenant occasionally smoked some cigarette, so I have to help her with that. I don’t know what is it with soldiers and smoking, I always thought it’s just a men thing, but it seems a delicate girl like her would also be affected by war huh…

 I have more leeway with the way I do my work right now though. For example, in my work order, Mr. Hiigata mentioned that, even though the Lieutenant is mostly not picky about food, it is written that I should avoid anything that contains peanuts because of her allergies. outside of that, I was given free reign to cook whatever I saw fit for her breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And no matter what I came up with, the Lieutenant always praised me for it, she never left anything on the plate once she’s done.

It is also mentioned that I should take the Lieutenant out for a walk at least twice a week. Should I wish to take her out on a walk in the city, he left me a list of contacts that can help us be our concierge for the day. Wow, I thought, I suddenly feel like I’m some sort of an important person. Well I mean, I know that the Lieutenant is the star here, but being addressed with honorifics such as “Ma’am” or “My lady” by men that sounds much older than you got me thinking way over my head. After waiting for some 10-20 minutes, a car would arrive by our house, it was almost romantic in nature. Well, granted the driver is usually some burly man in military uniform, as opposed to the handsome concierge in perfumed fine suit, but still, can’t be picky.

And I won’t lie. I found myself taking advantage of this sometimes, with the Lieutenant’s agreement of course. One example that I couldn’t forget was this one time when the cinema was airing a brand new movie featuring some of the actors that just got back home from the war. I asked the Lieutenant whether she wanted to see it or not, and she said, in her words, ‘yeah, sure.’ So, after dressing her up in a cute shirtwaist white dress, we decided to go.

It was a romantic movie about a boy and a girl who were childhood friends but were separated and had to fight each other when they served as soldiers for opposing nations. I for one am not much for war stories, but the fact that it was starred by Le Blanc, and is a romance movie made me excited to watch this. And then, the Lieutenant just had to drop a bombshell on me.

            “Ah, you said it was starred by Le Blanc? Charles Le Blanc? Master Sergeant? I know him, he served on the southern front.”

            “Waah, you knew him Lieutenant?”

            “Yeah, we fought together during Operation Stonebreaker against the Khaganate.”

            “What was he like?”

            “He was brave, A lot of people rallied behind him, oh and-” The Lieutenant proceeded to tell me bits and pieces about the actor that I had held in high regard throughout my life.

            “Roger that! I shall treasure this knowledge deeply in my vault of memories!”

She laughed at my seemingly exaggerated reaction.

            “Still, you said he was a Sergeant? Like my uncle huh. But that means you outrank him! That’s awesome, Lieutenant!”

            “Oh yes, I did outrank him. He must obey whatever orders I give out when we meet again.”

            “Can you order him to give me an autograph?”

            “Consider it done.”

We laughed heartily after that. Right on time for our ride to arrive. Which, for some reason, took longer than usual. It doesn’t matter, having this luxury was more than welcome for me, and I’m sure the Lieutenant won’t mind.

However, once we arrived at the cinema, things started to get strange. After getting out of the car and helping the Lieutenant out to her wheelchair, I found that the cinema staff had seemingly expected our arrival. They greeted us kindly on a red carpet and asked what movie we would like to see today. I looked at the Lieutenant and she shrugged, giving me the look that says ‘I have no idea.’

            “I would like to buy two tickets to see dandelions across the snow please.”

            “There’s no need, we will immediately make some seats available for you two.”

Huh? Huh? Huh? What is this? It feels like we were being treated as some sort of VIP out of a sudden. They sent some guards to escort us into the theatre, and even offered some free snacks and drinks for us. Inside the cinema, I could feel people’s eyes on us, somehow, we temporarily became the centre of attention. I mean, I’ve always dreamt of being chased by paparazzi and people asking for my autographs when I grew up to be a popular actress. But this whole ordeal just feels strange to me. I looked at the Lieutenant and I can see that she’s visibly uncomfortable with all the attention she’s getting right now. I’m starting to regret suggesting we go to the cinema now…

Inside the theatre, I found that they had reserved an entire row just for the two of us! Not only that, it’s also the middle row where you’ll get the best viewing experience too. Oh they definitely knew we were coming, was the military behind it? I started thinking that the reason our ride took longer to arrive was because the military contacted the cinema to inform them of our arrival. While I personally don’t mind this privilege, looking at how uncomfortable Lieutenant Caulia is throughout this whole ordeal, I felt bad. Add to the fact that having to make her take a seat on the middle row would only cause more pain for her. Since the cinema entrance was located near the top row of the seat, with stairs leading down to each seat row, I was planning to just order a seat near the top aisle for the Lieutenant’s sake.

 I informed the cinema staff of this, and they profusely apologised. They gave us the entire middle top row instead. I don’t know how much work they had to put into it, but after all is said and done, the guards left us alone, and people started filling the room. The movie then begins, the booming of loudspeakers, the rattling sound of the film projector, this reminds me of the time when I used to go to the cinema with my friends every weekend. A thought crossed my mind, the thought that maybe I’m friends with the Lieutenant now. I mean, we’ve done a lot of things together, and she’s pretty fun to be around with. I dismissed that idea shortly after though, as I realised right now, I’m serving as her maid, and nothing more. I mentally slapped myself for not knowing my place. I was interrupted midway by a finely dressed cinema staff, delivering our food and drinks. I gently offered it to the Lieutenant of course, and fed it to her.

Occasionally, I would steal glances at the Lieutenant. The cinema is dark but I could see her face and her reaction towards it. She was… blank. It was just that, I couldn’t describe her expression other than blank. Her eyes were empty and her lips were parted. She stared at the widescreen as if she was staring at a blank canvas, as if she was looking at something else. This caused me to not be able to focus on the movie, I was worried for her. Did she not like being in the cinema? Did she not enjoy the movie? I shouldn’t have suggested that we go here, I wonder whether she’ll be angry at me or not…

And before I knew it, the credit started rolling, and the movie ended. I didn’t pay much attention to it outside the basic plot of the story. Even though the actor that starred it is literally my idol, the Lieutenant’s well-being took precedence. I saw that some people stood up and started leaving the theatre. I did the same and started to try to help the Lieutenant up. That is, until, a cinema staff appeared in front of the theatre stage, and addressed us.

            “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for visiting us to watch the dandelions across the snow. Now, we have an announcement to make. For that, I humbly ask for you all to remain seated.” Some people heeded the announcement and sat back down, some ignored and left anyway. Nevertheless, the staff continued. “We are honoured to announce that this replaying of the movie ‘Dandelions across the snow’ is graced by the presence of two very special guests, who are currently among the audience now.”

Wait a minute…

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, The actor that plays the character Michel, and the nominee of the Globus Aurora prize for best acting this year. Charles Le Blanc!”

Back then. I remember thinking that it was all a dream. I remember thinking that this is too good to be true. I remember pinching myself several times to confirm that it was, indeed, not a dream. Claps and whistling and all sorts of fanfares could be heard across the entire cinema. People outside of that theatre room could be seen crowding on the entrance to get a glimpse of the national star. I remember seeing the figure of the idol I’ve only seen in movies and interviews on the tele, now walking in person towards the stage.

If it were me prior to the war, I probably would have joined in the crowds and screamed my lungs out, desperately trying to get his attention. But somehow, I don’t really have a desire to do that right now. I felt that my sense of responsibility towards the Lieutenant had caused me to be more composed compared to the other girls in the theatre room, who had splendidly done that in my place.

Speaking of the Lieutenant…

I took a glance at her and saw that her expression still hasn’t changed for the better. No, in fact, it’s gotten worse. She’s obviously looking downcast, staring down at the theatre chair.

            “Lieutenant, are you alright?”

I was so focused on her that I didn’t pay attention to whatever Le Blanc was saying, untill…

“… As for the reason for my presence on this very special occasion. I would like to thank one of my fellow compatriots, a brave soldier who served alongside me in the war and fought bravely for the freedom of our people. Her struggle inspires us all to strive for the better, and to be thankful that heroes such as her exist as a bastion of justice. Ladies and gentlemen, please give applause to the hero of the Commonwealth, holder of the medal of honour, 1st Lieutenant Caulia Cornellia Cromwell.”

            “heeeh?!” So, when they say they have two very special people in attendance, does that mean that one of them is… The Lieutenant?

I glanced my head back and forth between the Lieutenant and Le Blanc. He was raising one hand towards her, directing all attention our way. A spotlight shone down on her, putting her slender figure in full display. A loud applause follows, I could hear some people whispering amongst themselves. Something along the lines of ‘that girl is a vet?’ ‘She’s so young’ ‘She look younger than my daughter’ etc, etc.

I would’ve screamed in joy had it been me before the war that stood beside her right now. I would’ve joined in the wild fanfare the crowds were giving her. I would have been happy, had it not for her desolate and empty eyes, staring at her supposed junior down there. I heard Le Blanc mentioning some more of her achievements to the crowds as he approached us. And I found myself at a loss of what to do.

Then I realised that this is what probably happened behind the scenes after I called in our concierge. They knew Le Blanc served in the military, and would probably respond to their summons. They knew He served alongside the Lieutenant. But why… Why is the Lieutenant not responding to any of this? Why does she look so empty and hollow?

            “Lieutenant Caulia, ma’am, it’s good to see you.”

Without me noticing it. Le Blanc seemingly appeared all of a sudden besides us. He stood upright with a fine salute towards the Lieutenant. I jolted back, and slightly bowed to him.

            “Hello Charlie. How have you been?” She replied.

            “Oh, I’ve been fine.”

I saw him fell down on her knees, like how those princes from storybooks would do when they were about to meet their princess. I heard some people in the audience gasping, some squealed, some screamed in high pitch. No doubt wishing that it was them instead. Then, I saw Le Blanc raise one of his hands, grabbed the Lieutenant’s hand, and kissed it. The audience burst into cheers, and cameras started flashing all over the theatre…

Yeah right, at least that’s what I think would’ve happened had things were quite different. Sorry. Let me rephrase it.

Then, I saw Le Blanc raise one of his hands, grabbing the air in the area around what was supposed to be the Lieutenant’s hands, if she had any. And kissed his own hands as a result. An awkward silence followed between the two. He had this confused look at first, until he gets the full picture of reality. For a split second, I could’ve sworn I saw his expression change into that of shock as he stood up and took a few steps back. Well, being the professional that he is, he immediately reverted back to the movie star persona in no time.

It appears he did not know the full extent of what the Lieutenant had gone through. What was that all about? Did he not notice that the Lieutenant without arms? Was he not paying attention to her at all? I can’t believe I’m writing this critique towards my own idol, but right now, Lieutenant Caulia far outweighs Le Blanc in the scale of people I actually cared about. And what he did to her was… quite disrespectful. Does he think that because he’s a world-famous actor, he could do whatever he wants? The Lieutenant is a hero, and she’s your superior at that, and this is how you treat her?

            “Charlie… Hiigata sets you up for this, doesn’t he?”

This time, I could see the famous world actor visibly nervous as she said that.

            “Caulia, listen, I’m-”

            “It’s okay Charlie. It’s not your fault.”

When I glanced at the Lieutenant again, I could see her eyes were almost like a dead fish. Empty like the void. I do not know what happened between these people in the war, what I do know is that the Lieutenant is hurting right now. World famous actor or not, I don’t care if he’s hurting her. So I took it upon myself to do something.

I gently tapped Le Blanc’s shoulder. Something I never imagined I would get to do. He turned to look at me with a confused expression.

            “I’m sorry to interrupt. I am Theresa Lonnete, Lieutenant Caulia’s personal maid. It is my duty to look out for her wellbeing. And it seems that the Lieutenant is not feeling well at the moment. So, in the best interest of her health, I will be taking her out of here. Thank you for your hospitality” I said, giving out my best stiff and straight-to-the-point impression of a military man that I’ve been practising in my mind. I’d say that it came out well, as both Le Blanc and the Lieutenant did not object to my suggestion.

            “Come here, Lieutenant, let me help you up.”

            “Thank you. Lonnete.”

After gently putting her back in the wheelchair. I excused myself from Le Blanc, and walked out of the theater room. The crowds instinctively make way for the two of us. I could hear more clapping and cheers as we left the room.

            “Wait! Ms. Theresa, was it?” I could hear Le Blanc calling out from behind me.


            “Please, please take care of the Lieutenant for me!” He said, bowing in the same fashion as Mr.Hiigata did. I could hear some people gasping at this.

            “Yes, gladly. And thank you for your service. Mr. Le Blanc. I have always been a fan of your work.” I said, bowing slightly before moving to our car.

After our car had moved a good distance away from the theatre. I took it upon myself to face the lieutenant, and prepared to apologize.

“Lieutenant, s-sorry about that…”

“Hmm? About what?”

“About what just happened in the theatre… You don’t seem to enjoy it at all.”

“What are you talking about? I did enjoy that movie.”


“How Michel fought tooth and nail to see his childhood lover, only to find out that Misha was, indeed, the phantom witch that had been killing all his comrades. And the conclusion of the movie was beautiful. Instead of finishing her off after putting her down, he carried her back, and faked both his and her death so that he could finally live with her.”

“W-wha?! So you were paying attention after all?!”

            “Hmm? Of course, I do. That’s what you’re supposed to do in a theatre right?”

            “Ah, ahahah, ahahaha… yes, of course…” And here I was, failing to pay any attention because I was worried about you

            “Um, um…” I tried to come up with something from the movie to talk about to the Lieutenant, and what I ended up coming up with was… “What about you, Lieutenant? Do you ever have crushes or lovers like that?”


            “Eh… uh” WWWhat the hell was I thinking, prying into her personal life like that?! 

I did all kinds of violent things towards my head mentally, punishing myself for being so stupid and insensitive. Until…

            “Hmm, yeah, I do.”

            “Wah! You do?! Can you tell me more about that?” I jumped towards her excitedly. Abandoning the self-discipline that I have strictly drilled into myself for months now.

            “Ahah, ahahahaha… So you’re into this kind of thing huh, Lonnete.”

            “Well, romance is just the best after all. Everything’s better with a little bit of love!”

            “Umm, my ‘romance’ story is probably not that exciting.”

            “Aww, are you shy now, Lieutenant? Come on, you have to tell me!”

            “Mmm, okay. His name was Ferdinand Miguel. A friend from high school.”

            “Waah, high school friend turned lover in war! How did your love blossom? Did he jump out to save you from hordes of enemies? Protected you from harm?”

            “Ah, uhh… It’s actually quite the opposite…”


            “His squad was a bit overextended towards the frontline… There was an enemy sniper somewhere in the front. The sniper picked off members of his squad one by one.”

            “Uh, huh…”

            “I just happened to be scouting nearby and witnessed what happened, so I, uhm, shot the enemy sniper… Just in time to see him running towards me, scared.”

            “W-wah… He’s…” A total loser…

            “Back in the base, he confessed his love for me, I think. But honestly, I think he was just scared and grateful, and I understand that. So I accepted it without thinking much about it.”

            Waah, even the Lieutenant accepted his confession out of pity… yeap, a total loser… But wait. That got me thinking…

            “I see… But, what happened to him? Did he finally see the disparity between you and him, and finally relinquished his love of you to someone more worthy?”

            “What? No, its nothing like that.”

            “Uh huh, he’s quite brave to think that he’s worthy of you, so what happened then?”

            “Um, he was transferred to army group centre as part of Operation thunder cross. I still received some letters from him from time to time… Until one day, the letters just stopped.”


“I think he died when thunder cross fell apart when the Empire counter attacked, and army group centre almost got annihilated in the months that followed.”

“O- oh… I see…”

Silence dawned between the two of us. That’s it? That’s the whole story? Oh wow. Military bureaucracy and real war don’t care at all about plot structures and romantic tension huh. Wait until book critiques reviewed this plot… Well but then again, what happened was a very real war. I shouldn’t compare them to cheesy cinema love stories.

            “Ah, yeah. Now that I tried to remember it again. I do recall seeing his body. Well, what was left of it, he was being loaded into a body bag.”


            “It was… near unrecognizable. When the corpses of the casualties from thunder cross were brought back. I remember seeing rows of rows of bodies being prepared, and loaded into a body bag…”

            “Uh… Lieutenant…”

            “I didn’t know it was him at first, there were soo many bodies and they all looked the same, some missing limbs, some disfigured faces, all of them had black charred skin and rotting flesh… That is until I saw the emerald ring on his blackened, rotting pinky finger that he always carried, I remember him saying that it was an heirloom from his mom, I think. “

At this point, I can see that the Lieutenant is starting to visibly shake. I grabbed her shoulder to calm her down.

            “Or was it from his father…?”

            “L-Lieutenant, it’s okay, you can stop.”

            “Ah… I’m sorry.

Critiques be damned. I felt stupid for having the previous line of thought. What was I thinking, this is real war. People died, and I compared it to some stupid Galcian pop movies? I felt guilty towards the Lieutenant for thinking that way.

            “No no no, I’m sorry… I’m sorry for forcing you to recall such a horrible experience.”

            “It’s alright. What happened, happened.”

And on that poignant note, our conversation ended abruptly


After the Lieutenant said that, my eyes went wide awake. Relieveing me from my maid duty… that means she’s… firing me, isn’t she? I dropped the plate I was washing. And turned to face the Lieutenant.

“What? But why?” I asked, quite in disbelief.

            “As I’ve said, I was thinking of relieving you of your maid duty. That means you won’t have to take care of me anymore.” she replied.

I turned the faucet in the sink off.

            “But… but why? Have I offended you in any way? Ah, well, now that I think of it, I might have done that several times without knowing. And if I did, I’m truly sorry, I never meant any of it…”

            “No… no, it’s not that…”

            “Then why? Are you not satisfied with my overall performance? I’m… I’m sorry that I’m not that strong, and caused you pain every time I tried to help you out. But, but I’ll work harder to be better, I promise!”

            “You see, that’s the problem.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “Lonnete, I told you before that I didn’t have any friends back when I was your age, yes? I was too absorbed in my love for art. And I often found myself alone, sketching, painting… That’s the only thing I did throughout my school years besides the basic obligation. I missed out on a lot of things in my youth… Bah, I said that, as if I’m over forty or something, even though I just entered my twentieth year. But still, the fact remains that my late teenage years was a sad one. I don’t have any friends, I’m always lonely, and then the war took everything, including my ability to paint.”

            “Lieutenant, then why…”

            “I don’t want the same thing to happen to you, you know… You devoted all the time you have in taking care of me, I… I don’t want to take all of your precious time away from you… When was the last time you talked with your friends? When was the last time you hang out with them?  When was the last time you visited your family? As far as I’m concerned, you were always here with me.”

When she says it like that, I just realized that it is true. It’s true that I’ve only been thinking of her in the past few months. I didn’t have much room for anything else, I actually hadn’t written any letters to my friend for more than three weeks. And I haven’t read the letters my parents sent to me yet. But… for some reason, I didn’t feel burdened at all. The fact that I’ve forgotten to do anything else but to take care of her… Would you be thinking of doing something else when you like doing what you’re currently doing? I don’t think so.

            “You could’ve spent your time doing anything else. Talking with your parents, hanging out with your friends. Pursuing the theatre life like you always wanted to. But no, no. Instead of that, you were stuck here, taking care of a troublesome big baby.”

            “Lieutenant, don’t say that, that’s not true…”

            “Again, I’m sorry, Lonnete… To tell you the truth, it is me who asked them to send me someone around my age to be my helper.”

            “I-is that true? You can do that?”

            “The fact that you’re here is proof of that.”

I’m not really sure what to think of that. Well, looking back, my work order does seem rather sudden without any prior notice. So that was her doing.

I went silent, and look down to see the palm of my hands. It’s quite wrinkly and rugged, either as a result of handling the broom too much, or having too much contact with cleaning agent. I remembered when I used to take care of my nail in my school year, every day, I would spend some time polishing it. I no longer have any time to do that now.

Then I stared at my reflection on the glass cabinet mirror. I could see a pair of noticeable eyebags forming underneath my eyes. Huh, weird, since when do I have these. I remember during my school years I’ve always taken extra care of my skin, especially of my face. Back then I would hunt the market for any kind of cosmetic products with my friends.

            “See, Lonnete… you’re starting to lose sight of what you wanted. I asked you why you wanted to be an actress, and yet you couldn’t answer me.”

            “No… Lieutenant, that’s different, because… because…”


            “Because my reason was so shallow that I’m too ashamed to say it out loud… Especially in front of someone like you…”

            “You are stressed out, Lonnete.” The Lieutenant said with a sigh, pulling my attention back to her again. “And that’s why, for your sake. I will be relieving you.”

Me? Stressed out? Is that for real?

My mind trailed for somewhere, I couldn’t be stressed out, could I? After all, I’m just a maid. I couldn’t even begin to compare to the Lieutenant.

I couldn’t. Not after I realise how much pain she’s been holding on to herself

Not after what happened yesterday at the cemetery…


            “… Aand done. Phew, I must say, you look quite dashing in your uniform, Lieutenant. If you were a boy, I probably would have fallen for you Lieutenant! Hehe.” I said, as I finished wrapping the officer tie on the Lieutenant’s uniform.

“Geez, stop making unfunny jokes like that Lonnete.” The Lieutenant said that, but I can sense her being flustered.

 I looked at the mirror and saw the figure of that gentle girl being wrapped in all sorts of military regalia. A royal blue uniform that has the same colour as the flag of the commonwealth, laced with all sorts of medals and insignias. Most notable is the medal of honour, hanging on her left chest. Supposedly it was a medal handed only to those who have accomplished the greatest of deeds, I heard there’s only twelve recipients in the entire Commonwealth military. Army, navy, and air force combined, which makes the Lieutenant all the more awesome in my eyes.

            “And besides, I never really got much chance of using this uniform. I actually spent most of the war as a corporal, and only got promoted to lieutenant near the end of the war.”

            “Hee, Is that so… Well, regardless of that, it looks good on you!”

            “Well… Thank you, I’m glad you think so.”

            “Ehm, but are you sure you wanted to wear that for today? I mean, the victory parade is only four days away. Shouldn’t we save it for that?”

A week before, several men from the military came over to our house. They wish to inform the Lieutenant that the military is going to hold a victory parade in the capital city, Aronessa, to celebrate the first anniversary of the end of the war. And since she was one of the few recipients of the medal of honour that are still alive, they wished that she could attend and take part in the parade. I raised a point regarding the Lieutenant’s condition, on how she most likely won’t be able to walk, let alone march. But they assured me that they will accommodate her to the best of their abilities.

            “Yes, I’m certain. I will be visiting all of my friends after all. I need to make sure that I dress up properly”

            “Visiting your friends…”

The Lieutenant did say that. But she also mentioned that we will be visiting the monument of heroes. A war memorial dedicated to those who gave up their life in the war. If I recall correctly, a vast burial ground surrounds that memorial. It wasn’t hard to put two to two together.

The ride towards the memorial was quiet.  I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the Lieutenant’s friends. She never really told me of her war stories in detail, only bits and pieces scattered throughout random conversations. And even then, it wasn’t much. I did read her dossier back then. It is mentioned that she was a sniper, and I remember reading some of her achievements, which includes ‘ around 500 to 600 ground kills, 15 Aircrafts downed, and 1 Heavy cruiser sunk.’ Even I, who were not that familiar with military terms, knew what a huge accomplishment that last part was. For a single soldier to sink a large warship all on her own, no wonder they gave her such a prized medal.

But she always avoided speaking of it. She didn’t like dwelling on her accomplishments and never wanted to take any credit, so I never probed any further.  And my gut feeling told me that something really bad had happened to her friends.

We finally reached the memorial. It was a quiet place; you could listen to the breeze of wind gently caressing your face as birds sang in the distance. I remember that it’s dedicated to those who gave up their life in the war. It was a large structure made of marble, that made it quite difficult for someone in a wheelchair to go all the way to the top, so we were content just looking at it from the ground. There was a huge plaque mounted below the bronze statue of a knight standing at the top, which lists the names of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have given up their lives for this country. The Lieutenant looked around, looking for the names of her friends, her eyes glanced over every single name on the plaque.

I myself joined in with her. Though the words on the plaque were so small that I can barely see what’s written. The Lieutenant, however, seems to have no problem reading them at all. Probably reminiscent of her being a sniper. Nevertheless, I noticed that the names were separated in some sort of a group. I think I remember the Lieutenant mentioning something like a division, a battalion, a battlegroup, and a company. Maybe whichever one of those?

After several minutes of looking around, a man in blue uniform similar to that of the Lieutenant approached us with a salute.

            “Afternoon, misses. I noticed that you’ve been staring at the plaque for quite some time. Are you looking for someone in particular?”

            “Ah, yes. Well, I was looking for a group to be exact. Where’s the entire Ouroboros drop troops battlegroup buried?” Asked the Lieutenant.

            “Ouroboros? Are you…” He approached from behind us, so he didn’t see it at first. But as I turned the Lieutenant’s wheelchair around towards him, he recognized the medal of honour she’s wearing on her uniform. And I could see him raising both eyebrows in awe before talking to us again. “I see, yes ma’am, right this way.” The guard said, as he walked towards a paved path on the burial grounds. I followed through as I pushed the wheelchair.

I observed the guard further. He was a tall man with blond hair, like many others, he doesn’t seem that old. Even though he does seem quite older than the two of us.

            “Ma’am, I noticed the medal of honour you are wearing. Are you by any chance, the white witch, Cromwell?”

White witch Cromwell? That’s the first time I’ve heard of that nickname…

            “In the flesh.” The Lieutenant said, sternly. I was quite surprised when she said that in a very matter of fact tone. It was unlike the Lieutenant that I know, whose gentle and soft voice would make even the hardest of rock soften.

            “I see, it’s an honour, ma’am.”

            “And you are?”

            “Yes, sorry for not introducing myself earlier. I am Corporal Jakob Saarinen, Commonwealth army 42nd Mechanized Infantry division. I served on army group north, like you, ma’am.”

            “I see, it’s a pleasure, Corporal.”

            “No no, the pleasure is mine, Lieutenant.” He stopped walking and turned towards us. “Actually, I’ve always wanted to give my personal gratitude to you, Lieutenant.”

The Lieutenant seems quite surprised at this. “For what? I’m sorry, but as far as I remember, this is the first time we’ve met.”

            “That might be true, but your actions affected countless of people, Lieutenant. Including me, and my family. You see, I am a Norden, many of us who fled from the Empire to the Commonwealth settled in on the city of Arcour.” He explained, I saw the Lieutenant made a long face that says ‘oh.’ “When Arcour was besieged by the Empire, my entire family was trapped in there. There is not a single day where I did not think about them, I’ve lost counts on the numbers of sleepless night I’ve went through because of that.”

            “I see.”

            “But then something happened. The besieger on Arcour seems suddenly undersupplied, and Commonwealth forces managed to break through the siege line and liberate the city. Later, I found out that was because of your heroic deeds.  I heard that you sunk a heavy cruiser and blew up an entire logistical port, causing supply problems for the Empire. I don’t know how you did it, but…” Again, in a gesture reminiscent of Mr. Hiigata and Le Blanc. Jakob bowed deeply towards the Lieutenant, holding one hand in her chest. “I am profoundly grateful! I can see my family again thanks to you, I always wanted to thank the white witch for saving my entire family, and here you are now. Thank you so much for your service!”

            “I see, I see, I see, I am glad you and your family are safe.” The Lieutenant said, still in her stern and matter of fact tone. Although I noticed something else in her voice… She seems very nonchalant about her answer.

            “No no, that won’t do. I don’t know how much this will help but…” He reached for something in his pocket. And handed it over to me for checking. “… Here’s my contact address. My father is a parliament member, I’m sure with the connections he has, we can be helpful for you.”

            “I see, I appreciate it. Thank you, Corporal” The Lieutenant said.

            “It’s my pleasure, Lieutenant!” He said, ending it with a fine salute before turning back to escort us towards our original destination.

Saying that the burial ground is large is a severe understatement. The sight stretched for a couple of miles. It was so quiet; one could hear the wind. Rows and rows of crosses, headstones, and tombstones sat on hills and swales all the way down the hill into the valley. Written are the names of those who have given their lives for their countries. Coats, helmet, uniform, belts, children’s toys and all other keepsakes were lies atop some of these graves, all in the likeness of those who wore them.

And then our guide stopped walking. “Here it is.” He said, pointing towards a section of the grave, “The Battalion of Heroes, the Ouroboros drop troops.” It wasn’t far from the one I was staring at. At the sight of it I was spellbound. There were about 80 to 90 names written on the separate granite stone.

            “Thank you, Corporal. Now, would you mind? I need some time for myself.”

            “Yes, of course Lieutenant.” He said, leaving with yet another salute.

            “You too, Lonnete. Would you kindly give me some time alone?”

            “Eh? Uh, yes, Lieutenant, of course.”

So, I left the Lieutenant alone with all of her supposed friends, I can only hope that she is okay. With that being said, I took some time to explore around the cemetery.

I saw one man with an old cloth folded over a picture of his young boy. It was so quiet that I can hear what he was mumbling about. “Here he was” he said. “He was in the war. They put him on a train one day and took him away”. The peace on the face of the man told a whole different story. “So a thing that we think so highly of, our strong soldiers, is in reality just a fading picture, they never really exist. “

That was quite a sad thing to listen to. Here and there, I would see people visiting their loved ones, leaning over their gravestone, reading the dates. Some of them looked so upset, others so tired and sad, that you could tell they wanted so badly just to cry. One of the graves that caught my attention belongs to one Amy Nicholas Ann, a girl who served in the army, its epitaph reads “Mother, I love you so much. Goodbye. I am leaving you. Please forgive me.” Reading that sent shivers down my spine, the harrowing message left me wondering why the military, or for that matter anyone would send their children off to die in a war when you can at least choose to live in peace? Those children don’t have the choice that they do. And looking at how the Lieutenant ends up, it’s all the more absurd.

On the other end of the row, I can see a little boy no older than nine. It was so quiet that I can hear him crying and shouting. “Please daddy, don’t leave me!” No one answered him. I approached him slowly. He stared at me with a confused look on his face.

“I’m sorry” I said, “I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you right now. I just wanted to let you know that I’m here for you, and if you ever need any help, I’m always here for you.” I got no response, he just kept crying.

I felt like I was walking through a nightmare, seeing someone go through this. I wished I could do more for them. Feeling that my presence was not enough to help, I walked away. If I wasn’t already, I was definitely leaving the cemetery with a very heavy heart if not for the Lieutenant. I will not even go there, it’s not my place to give anything like that any sort of moral value. I was told I should not pity people who kill, but seeing her, I am not sure if that rule applies to her.

That’s all I can think of right now.

“Lonnete? Lonnete? Where are you?”

That’s when I heard the Lieutenant calling for me.

“Ah! Yes Lieutenant, I’m right here!” I replied, running across the field, raising my maid skirt up as I go to not make it dirty. ”I’m here, Lieutenant. How can I help you?”

“Uhm, so… I told you to leave me alone before because I want to have some time for myself, right?”

“Uh huh, that makes sense.”

“I wanted to visit all of my friends buuut, I uh, can’t move the wheelchair by myself, you know, soo …”

“Oh. I see. Okay.”

            “Um.. Sorry.”

            “Ah, what are you talking about Lieutenant. It’s okay to have some time alone for yourself once in a while. Here, let me help you.”

            “Thankyou, Lonnete. Move over there please.”

            “Yes, Lieutenant.”

I moved towards the spot the Lieutenant pointed to with what’s left of her right arm. Another row granite cross that looked like the others on this section.

            “So… these are your friends, Lieutenant?”


            “There’s… A lot of graves in this section…”

            “Yeah. I’m the only one left alive.”

            “I-is that so…” No wonder why she’s never keen with dwelling on the past… “The guy from before, Corporal Saarinen seems to regards you very highly.”


            “I’m sure you and all of your friends were all very brave heroes.”

This time, the Lieutenant did not give a reply immediately. She gave a long look at the graves of her past comrades. And then she sighs.

            “I’m not a hero, Lonnete.”

            “Oh, come now Lieutenant. You’ve heard what Corporal Saarinen said. You’re basically his hero.”

            “Eight hundred and twenty-seven.”


            “Eight hundred and twenty-seven. That’s how much people that were on board the Mistaya that day.”

            “The Mistaya?”

            “The Cruiser that I sunk.”


That’s… a lot of people, but surely those were the people from the Imperial navy, right? So, what’s wrong about-

            “There are mothers that won’t see their children. Children that lost their parents. Siblings separated.”

            “That’s… sad. But the sailors should know what they signed up for, shouldn’t they?”

            “Oh, I know what you’re thinking. So let me tell you this. The Mistaya lost control and crashed into Baron Severny, An Imperial convoy ship with 231 people on board as it docked on the port.”


            “The convoy ship was carrying volatile explosives. The crash triggering massive explosion on the port as it reached the fuel storage and munitions depot. There were thousands of people.”


            “I caused the death thousands of people in a single day, Lonnete. Thousands of people, dead.”


            “Oh, didn’t I tell you I was from Edna? The exact same port town that happened? When I got back to what used to be my home after the city had been liberated. I found corpses of my siblings. Both crushed by a combination heavy steel beam and concrete slab just in front of my ruined house.”

            “My god… Lieutenant, I’m… sorry, I have no idea… So does that mean when Corporal Saarinen told the story of how his family was saved by your action…”

            “You know what’s funny? I didn’t cry at all when I saw their lifeless body. You know what I did? I laughed. I laughed, and laughed, and laughed. I laughed so hard that I vomited what little food I ate that morning. But still, I continued to laugh. I kept laughing until I feel like I couldn’t breathe anymore. I kept laughing until I collapsed on the ground and passed out. When I woke up the next morning, I found myself lying on a medical tent, with people hailing me as a hero.”


            “You know, that’s why I hated the word hero. Is this what heroes do? Kill? Is this what heroes do? Laughing upon the dead remnants of their own siblings? Ah, that was messed up, wasn’t it? What kind of person would burst out laughing like a maniac upon seeing the rotten carcasses of their own siblings? Apparently, I was that person. I should’ve cried. I should’ve howled and wailed in despair. Because, because, that was my family, right? That’s the last of my family. Gone. By my own hands. I should’ve been in tears. But no, I did not cry. The tears wont flow. I laughed, why? I wonder why, why won’t the tears flow? Why won’t I cry?”

“L-lieutenant?” I noticed a subtle change in her voice. She conveyed all of her words in a deadpan tone. As if she wasn’t talking to me. As if she was talking… to herself.

            “Ah, thinking back, I remember how messed up my mind was back then. I think I remember why I didn’t cry. It was because I thought of how stupid and pointless their death looks. My little sister got her head planted onto the ground by a large concrete slab. My little brother made this weird pose after a steel beam cut his body in half. I think, that’s what I was laughing at, yeah. The comical poses they made when they died. Didn’t know that was possible with a human body. But of course, I laughed. This life would’ve been a tragedy if it weren’t funny. So I laughed.”


What is this? I couldn’t believe what I’m hearing. Who am I talking to right now? Who is this? Never in my entire life have I ever seen something like this. Is this really the Lieutenant? How come she could say all of those words? It’s one thing if a mentally insane person says all of that erratically. But no, she said that in a very calm and composed tone. It is as if she was just talking normally over an afternoon tea. What is happening here?

            “Oh, don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m fine. I am sober now. I can think objectively, now. I was just relaying to you my thought process at the time and I objectively know how messed up my actions was back then. I assure you that I won’t be that messed up while I still have clarity of mind. I’m-“

            Listening to her jumbled mumbling was not pleasant at all. I remember covering my mouth in disbelief at the words coming out of the Lieutenant’s mouth. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to tap on the Lieutenant’s shoulder, putting some amount of force into it in hopes it would stop her.

            “Lieutenant… would you like some cigarette?”

And I’m relieved to found out that she does indeed stop talking.

A moment of silence followed between us. The sound of leaves rattling in the wind could be heard, gushing through the both of us.










            “Mhm. “

            “Let’s go home… Lieutenant.”



I look at the Lieutenant, eyes wide.

            “So… when you didn’t specifically request for a maid around your age, you’re saying that I wouldn’t be here?”

            “Probably not. They’ll hire someone more qualified for the job.”

I thought about it. I thought about what if I wasn’t working as her maid. Come to think of it, I originally only volunteered for a limited period of time for the veteran aid centre. The limits of time have been way overdue after I started serving the Lieutenant.

But after all this time, after almost one year of being with her, I never raised any complaints. I wonder why? Objectively speaking, the work was very tiring. I have to wake up before the sun rises, I have to do a lot of labour, I have to be very considerate of her, and I slept way after the moon rises. It was really tiring.

But why have I never sounded a complaint?

“I’m sorry for being such a burden Lonnete. I was only thinking of myself. While it’s true that I lost my parents on the first day of the war and My siblings died in Edna. I shoulnd’t have been allowed to be someone else’s burden.”


            “I’m sorry that I’m so useless… I broke my back and I lost my arms during the final battle of the ringed tower. I cannot take care of myself, and I don’t have anyone else to return to. All my colleagues perished along the way, and I’m sorry that it had to be you that would take care of me… I can’t go anywhere without you helping me. I need to have you spoon feed me every time I need to eat. I need your help to undress me every time I need to take a bath, and to dress me up when I’m done. I need you to help me go to the toilet, I need you to brush my teeth, I need you to put me to sleep at night. How am I any different than a baby?”

I left the kitchen, and started walking towards the dining table

I walked closer towards her.

            “Lieutenant, please…”

In that moment, I realize why I never even sounded a complaint. I realize why I subconsciously decided to stay with her, and letting go of many other opportunities I could’ve pursued.

            “Ah, one good thing is that an artillery shrapnel lacerated the area around my womb, so at least, you won’t have to deal with my-”

            “Caulia! Stop! Please… stop…”

Without wasting any second, I wrapped myself around her in a hug. Fearing that it would cause her pain, I was being reserved with it. Even though I wanted to hug her tightly, I really, really, wanted to…

But I mainly did that in order for me to avoid listening to what else she would say. I couldn’t listen to it anymore. It hurts, it hurts so much. The sting to my heart was so painful I couldn’t take it anymore. All I could feel was pain. Even if it was second hand, it was still too unbearable.

After all. I decided to do all of this because I cared about her.

            “A-ah… I’ve said too much, haven’t I? I’m… sorry. Yes… I’m sorry for dragging you here.”

            “No, no! That’s not what I meant! I asked you to stop not for my sake, but for yours! Please, stop hurting yourself… And how… How could someone endure so much pain as you have… Why do you have to endure that much pain? How is that fair? What have you done to deserve it? You’ve lost everything, you’re in constant pain, you are doomed to be alone for the rest of your life… How is that fair?!  What was God thinking?!” I said, no, shouted out at the top of my lungs. I couldn’t process this much misery; it was too absurd. No wonder everyone in the military respected her so much. No wonder a Captain bowed deeply to this young and frail looking girl, no wonder a world class actor asked a nobody like me to take care of her… They knew what she had gone through, and they knew what she must deal with looking onwards. They did their best to console her, but what meaning do brass medals and honorific plaques hold when you’ve lost everything?

She was silent upon listening to all of that.

            “Lia… I’ve noticed this since meeting you. But your eyes, they’re always looking at something else, don’t they? Your eyes were always empty… You never actually looked at the things in front of you, you were always looking at something else. In your head, in your mind, you were reliving all the horrors you went through, didn’t you?”

Still, I receive no response. It seems my words did not reach her.

The Lieutenant had been hurting all along and she always blamed herself for it. I still have her around my arms, with me sobbing intermittently. “I can only imagine what kind of horrific images you’re witnessing, every time I talk to you, every time you’re eating, every time you sit down in your painting room and stare down on that blank canvas. But Lia, please, you don’t have to bear it alone. You know? I don’t mind sharing that burden to you, I don’t mind helping you out. I don’t mind you taking my time away from me. So please, let me share in your burden, Lia.”

After more silence for what felt like an eternity, I finally got a response. She fixed her posture upright, and gently pushed me aside.

“You called me Lia.”

She said, with a smile on her face. Meanwhile I still wore this ugly crying look, looking up at her with a dumbfounded expression. I think she found it funny somehow as she started giggling upon looking at me.

            “Ehehehe, you called me Lia.”

            “A-ah… I did, uh… I’m Sorry, Lieu-“

Before I finished my words, she stumped me in the head with what remains of her right arm. It… actually kind of hurts…


            “Stuupid. I wanted you to call me that.” She said, her face quite annoyed.

            “Ow, ow…”

            “But that’s not good. You’re making me too attached to you.”


            “How can I relieve you of your duty now? That’s not fair.”

She said that, but a smile returns to her, and she takes a deep breath.

            “I’m sorry for making you think like that, Lonnete. I even made you shed some tears for me.” She spoke. “I probably would’ve cried alongside you too, if not for the fact that my tears had long since dried up during the war.”


Pluck! Again, she stumped me with her right arm.


            “Stuuuupid Lonnete. If you call me that again, I will have you court martialed for disobeying my order.”

            “Heh?! You can do that?!”

            “I sure could.”

I don’t know whether if Lieu- I mean, Lia, is serious or not. Or whether she has that kind of power in the military or not. But I’m not too keen on finding out. People who have served in the military are really, really good at switching off the civilian mask they wore on everyday life should the need arises. I’ve experienced that with my uncle. So I obliged.

            “O-okay, Caulia.”


            “Okay, Lia.”

            “Hehe, that’s more like it.”

She sighs. before continuing.

            “Still. Thank you for doing that, I am glad that to know you cared about me.”

            “Well… I’ve been taking care of you for months. How could I not?”

She giggles at that reply. And I found myself trying to wipe away what’s left of my tears.

            “You asked ‘what was god thinking?’ Funny, it reminds me of something. Did you know that I met God during the war?” she said, calmly and confidently

            “You did?”

             “I didn’t believe it at first, but after she showed me some evidence, I began asking a torrent of question to her. Mainly, why did you let this war happen, why did you let evil run rampant? why didn’t you do anything?”

I do not know whether I could believe what the Lieutenant said or not. I don’t know whether this is a mental episode or not. The fact that she used the pronoun of “she” to describe God was… something. But I was still too emotional to refute any philosophical belief at that time, not that I have the actual capacity to do that in the first place. And besides, the Lieutenant seems so confident in her statement, So I followed along.

            “Do you know what she gives for an answer?”


            “Why, a question, of course, like some irresponsible teacher. It seems that God can’t even avoid this trend.”

I was… too emotionally tired to give any meaningful remarks back at that statement. Though I think I remember giving a dry laugh…

            “She said ‘sure, I can save everyone. But what do you think would happen if I were to save everyone? If everyone were to live happy, with no worries in their life, they don’t have to work for anything, they don’t have to fear anything. They can sleep, eat cakes, sing songs all day long. If I were to eradicate all evil, what do you think would happen, then?’ she said.”

            “What did you say Lia?”

            “I wisely said ‘hnghgnghgh…’ because I just had my arms amputated by an explosion and the pain just started to settle in.”


            “It’s crazy painful.”

            “I- I see… Y-yeah, I would imagine so…”

Waah… War veterans… their sense of humour is… really dark huh…

            “But this is what our God said. ‘it would be the end of the world.’”


            “Doesn’t make any sense, right? Before I was able to ask for clarifications, she was gone, and left me just like that. Shortly after that, I too passed out.”

            “But how? If all misery ends, why would it cause the end of the world?”

            “I thought so at first… Until I read something in a newspaper, about a certain experiment gone wrong.”

            “What is it?”

            “So a group of scientist wanted to found out what would happen if the rats has all their needs accommodated. How prosperous said colony of rats would be. So basically, the same premise of what our God mentioned in her example. The rats were given food and water, they were given spaces to walk, they were free to go in and out of the enclosure. It was practically rat heaven. What do you think happened?”

            “Well… You did say that it was an experiment gone wrong…”

            “Ah, right, I spoiled it ahaha. But yeah. The rats did not thrive at all. It was the complete opposite. It was total chaos. They began killing each other on the first week, some starting to cannibalize other rats despite having access to food given by the scientist. They prefer to stay at one place despite given complete freedom to go whenever they please. The rats went mad, it was basically the end of the world for that certain rat colony.” She paused, lowering her tone for her next sentence. “And in that moment, I immediately thought that ‘She’s right… Our God is right…”

            “That’s… Scary, but is it really fair to compare us humans to some lab rats?” I said.

            “I’ve given some thought to that to. But in the end, my conclusion is still the same… No, in fact, it would be worse, given what we humans are capable of. It might not be far off to say that it would be the end of the world as she said.”

            “How so?”

            “I believe the keyword here is absolute ingratitude. Drawing examples from the rats, they were given foods and drinks regularly for free, yet some of them choose to cannibalize their fellow rats. Why? Because they can. And just because they can. It is the same for humans and their wars. There aren’t any inherent reasons why war should happen. Fundamentally, we did it just because we can, through our sheer ingratitude to prove to ourself that we can. We are, after all, an irrational being.”

“That’s…” I paused. “That’s why this war keeps happening.”

“Yeah, and it’s all because of our ingratitude,” she said, giving a disgusted smirk. “The same thinking that caused the rats to eat each other just like how humans kill each other.”

I have no idea why or how me, a maid, ended up having esoterical discussion with a war veteran using some rats to describe human behavior. I always found these abstract field of knowledge to be quite boring in school. But seeing it explained through the lens of real-world example made me realise how messed up our existence is. All because some people wanted to demonstrate themselves, and display their power. There was no moral high ground, no spark of righteousness guiding them. Just pure hatred, narcissism, egocentrism, childishness, and not giving a damn.

            “But why couldn’t she stop it then? Why couldn’t God stop this irrationality?”

            “I believe she could. But she chooses not to.”


            “Because that would mean she would have to kill every last human on this world”


Lia took a deep breath.

            “You see, that’s why I was never really bothered with having my arms gone. I don’t know whether God intended for our meeting to be meaningful or not, it might not be. And I don’t know whether the conjecture with the rats is a correct one or not. I believe there are many points of argument for those with a critical mind, whether it be for that God’s statement or for the rat experiment, but I don’t care. I’m a soldier, it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll choose to derive my own meaning, and that is, being alive is a blessing in its own right.”

            “That’s a beautiful conclusion, Lia.”

            “You think so? And here I thought you theater girl would think that it’s clichéd or something.”

            “Some clichés usually led to a happy ending… And of course, I want everyone in real life to have a happy ending. Clichéd or not.”

She smiled at my reply.

            “Well but of course, I was still a flawed human being after all. Even after saying all of that. I still couldn’t get the images of what I’ve seen off of my mind just like that. That’s why sometimes, I acted like I did…”

            “It’s okay Lia. I understand.”

And then we were interrupted by the sound of the clock striking. As before we know it, the clock already indicated a time 9 in the evening.

            “Ah! I’m sorry, I should’ve prepared some warm water for you…”

            “Ahaha, we really forgot about time huh.”

            “You need to sleep early Lieu-a, ahem, Lia. You’re going to the capital tomorrow morning for the victory parade, right?”


            “But because your battalion is no longer with you, you’ll be marching all alone on your own didn’t you…”

            “Yeah, I will be marching alone.”

            “Would you be okay?”

            “Probably not. I’ll be sad. I might even cry.”


            “What, you want to come with?”

            “I… I don’t want you to be sad, Lia.”

She lets out a dry laugh after I said that.

            “God, having a friend that cares for you is wonderful.” She mumbles, still not quiet enough for me to be able to hear her. “I can’t believe I missed out on this because of social anxiety. How stupid…”

            “You… don’t have to go to the parade if you don’t want to.” I said, gently pressing on her shoulder.

            “I’m a soldier, Lonnete. I have to do my duty.” She said in a stern voice. It was quite surreal witnessing a beautiful girl in an equally enchanting white dress saying such a line. Though if anything, that just means I couldn’t do anything to change her mind.

            “Although they probably won’t mind if you hitch a ride with me to the Capital. You just can’t join me in the parade. You can watch it along with everyone else on the crowd.”

            “Really? That’s good to hear!”

            “So, um…”

Her voice trailed off and she looked away from me. I could see her ears reddening, I’ve witnessed this kind of signal many times before. It’s when you wanted something that you’re too embarrassed to ask outright. And I think I know what to do.

            “Yes, of course, Lia. I will cheer on you from the crowds.”

Her head quickly turned to me and her eyes lit up “That’s good to hear.”

            “But if I see you cry. I will rush towards you and give you a hug.” I said with confident determination.

            “No, please don’t. They’ll arrest you.”

            “Then don’t cry.”

            “Geez… That’s a tall order.”

            “How about this. Why don’t we visit the National arts museum after the parade?”

            “W-wah!! You’re right! The national museum is in the capital!” She said with a shout that came out of nowhere.

            “Right? Do you want to go? Want me to pack something for you to wear on the museum? Or are you fine with your uniform.”

            “No, not the uniform. Give me a blouse or a dress.”

            “Yes, ma’am.”

            “Well look at the time, shouldn’t you be doing something?”

            “Oh, yes! I’ll be right back.”

I proceed to stand up and head towards the bathroom to prepare some warm water for her. But as I walked, I remember smiling with glee along the way. I’m just glad that I’ve come into some sort of understanding with Lia. And I could’ve sworn that, for the first time ever, I’ve seen some light in her eyes even only for a bit. She’s finally seeing me, looking at me!

I arrived on the basement and turned on the boiler. The dreariness of this place couldn’t scratch the brightness in my heart right now. What could that light on her eyes meant remains to be seems. One thing is for sure though.

It could only mean something good. And I’m looking forward to it.


It was high noon on the Commonwealt’s capital city of Aronessia. On a straight path 3 kilometers long, stretching from the Parliament palace on the north end, to the unification plaza on the south end. The breadth of the road was completely packed with people, it was quite the festivities with short wire fencing that served no other purpose other than seperating the parade with the people standing on the edge. On the other end of the avenue, several podiums and stands could be seen, housing people holding all kinds of musical instrument in their hands.

Everyone was willing to see and share in the momentous moment. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of their victory over the Radovin Empire and the Tasmir Khaganate, a victory parade is to be held along the main avenue. My rather slender figure managed to secure me a spot in the front row of the crowds. meaning that I would be able to see Lia when her turn came.

Of course I’ve seen her off earlier this morning. And what I speculated was true. Foot soldiers such as Lia would have to march alongside their fellow battlegroup. Having none left alive, she would have to march all on her own. Well, save for someone else that would have to push her on her wheelchair.

The first to rode on the parade were the higher brass. All the generals, admirals, and marshals, riding on open topped cars alongside their confidants. Themselves standing tall and firm, gracing the crowds with a proud salute. The people replied with cheers as the music blares louder.

Next comes the cavalry. The mechanical monsters of the Commonwealth, stuffs such as crawlers and mechs. I have to say standing beneath the sight of one was quite a beholding experience. They tower over you, some even blocking the sunlight as they pass.

After all the iron beasts had passed, comes the regular men and women in uniform, marching on the avenue. Time to time, holders of prestigious awards would get special mention as they marched along the way. What I found interesting was the quirks each of these awardees has when they passed on the streets.

It is a well-known fact that individuals of superhuman abilities exist in this world. The Radovin has their witches, the Tasmir has their Alchemists, while in the commonwealth they were referred to as mages, specifically combat mages. These people were rare, of course. But the military of each respective nation put them to good use during the war.

And of course, the recipient of those prestigious military awards were mostly these kinds of people. They look quite striking too, you could tell them apart from the common dregs by their appearances alone, whether it be an unnatural hair colour, unnatural hair shapes, or unnatural body shapes. I would know, some of these people had just passed through the parade after all. Though I don’t know how they got those or how they maintain that kind of appearance in the chaotic field of war, I suppose that’s what make them special, I guess.

But that’s just all the more reason why I put Lia in very high regard. There’re these groups of people with all sorts of crazy abilities. Such as flying faster than a missile, shooting fireballs out of their hands, possessing the minds of their enemies, yadda, yadda. And then there’s Lia. A shy girl who just likes to draw, receiving not only one, but two of the highest awards the Commonwealth could give to a serviceman. I am aware that she doesn’t like to dwell on her achievement. But the fact that a regular human like her could outperform the likes of combat mages is just astonishing. No wonder everybody respected her so.

Speaking of Lia. The line of the battlegroup that had passed me is starting to get thinner and thinner, indicating heavy casualties suffered by said battlegroups. And then it went empty, as if nobody was marching along the avenue. That’s what everyone seemingly thought, until the loudspeaker announces yet another name of the so-called heroes of the Commonwealth.

Hero of the Commonwealth. 1st Special Drop Troops Battlegroup, ‘The Ouroboros Legion’. Recipient of the medal of honour and plaques d’honneur. The 5th most decorated serviceman of the entire Commonwealth. The White Witch herself, 1st Lieutenant Caulia Cornellia Cromwell.”


Unlike the previous bombastic sound of army boots being trampled onto the grounds that accompanied the announcement. Lia’s announcement was followed by a sudden wave of silence as the figure of a slim girl in uniform with hair white as snow appeared. Sitting atop a wheelchair, being pushed by some random serviceman I did not recognize. They are the only one present at the wide avenue. I can see her face from here. And yeah, just as she said, this seems to take quite a heavy toll on her. I saw her looking down on the ground, not meeting any of the crowd’s gazes.

I heard some people whispers among themselves, I heard some people gasp in disbelief, and I heard some people crying at the sight of her. Knowing that her marching alone meant the rest of her battlegroup can’t make it to the parade, one way or the other. The only thing not affected by the sight was the marching band and the confettis that playing uninterrupted.

As she walked through the silent crowd, I can see her face looking extremely downcast. I can see her face seems so bitter with memories.

            “Oh no, Lia…”

I have to do something. Yesterday, I saw her genuine smile for the first time ever. A light finally lit up in her eyes that had always been mired in haunting memories. And now she’s about to return to those miserable faces again. I will not let that light left her again, not this time, not anymore. So I decided to do something.

She said they’ll arrest me if I went beyond the wire fencing and trespassed, right? So that means I’ll just have to do it from here…

I calmed myself first by regulating my breath, slowly, calmly, in and out, in and out. And then, as she started to pass in front of me, I took one very deep breath in my chest, and shouted out at the top of my lungs.


I somehow managed to level the sound of the marching band through my shout alone. And of course, people all started to turn their attention at me with all sorts of looks. From here I can see Lia, too looking at me with wide eyes and parted lips. Everyone but the marching band members were looking at me right now. I admit, I felt a cringing sensation by drawing this much attention, but being in the theater world had been my dream since the very beginning. And if I ever wanted to achieve that dream, I will just have to push through this situation with all of my might.

I stood tall and fixed my posture upright. And then in a swift movement, I gave my best impression of a military salute at Lia. I kept my eyes open and looking forward at her. And to my relief, I’m glad to see her… smile? Or was it a smirk? Is she mocking me? I feel like she’s making fun of me or something. That ungrateful girl. But then, slowly, I heard a clap from the crowds. It started as a shy clap, coming from someone in the crowds, slowly, one became two, two became four, and in a chain reaction, the applause started to drown even the sound of the marching band.

And then suddenly I heard the crowd erupt into a deafening roar, all clapping their hands and pumping their fists in the air. I could see some flowers being thrown her way. And her face is… in tears…

… So she cried anyways. But somehow, it doesn’t feel like a sad moment anymore. No, she just seems happier. And it was clear to me at this point, she was looking right at me. I followed her eyes as she turns around and puts on a huge smile, despite the tears flowing from her cheeks.

I kept my stiff saluting pose as her wheelchair passed me by, applause still roaring loudly from the crowds. I swear I could see even the man pushing her wheelchair smiling and talking to Lia. I hope he’s consoling her.

They continued to walk through the avenue, their figure gets smaller and smaller as they got further away from my spot. Eventually, another battlegroup would pass by us, and another names started to get special mention from the loudspeaker. I slowly lowered my salute, my face brimming with a fulfilled smile, as I waited for the day to be over.

At least today ended in a good note.


        “… So, Étienne Marson made this first masterpiece of his when he was still studying as an engineering student in The University of Aronessia.”

            “Hee, that’s awesome. I never knew he had an engineering background!”

            “Yeah, it’s impressive he ended up as a professor while still doing art from time to time.”

On the next day, after the parade, two girls stood before an old oil painting. One of them sat in a wheelchair, donning a pink blouse and a top hat adorned with flowers. Behind her another girl, dressed from top to bottom in the familiar black and white dress of a maid.

            “I always adored his impeccable use of contrast. It is as if he manipulated anyone viewing his work into looking it the way he intended to.”

Me, being no person of art, have no idea what that meant. To me, they’re simply a bunch of paintings that are way beyond my reach, so I never really thought much about it. But seeing how passionate Lia is about this whole thing, I just followed along, nodding on her explanation.

            “You see, he puts the Angel on top of the man, demonstrating the difference of importance between the subject. And then he puts a stronger contrast between the angel and the background when compared to the man, meaning that …”

She went on and on, explaining every little nook and cranny, insisting that they all have meaning and purpose. Down to the last brush stroke.

            “… W-whoa, that’s impressive.”

            “I know right! I always wished I could paint like him.”

That’s an artist to you. They really saw the world differently from us. For me personally, the painting we’re currently looking at looks good simply because the artist thought it looked good, and went ahead with it. Not wanting to be a mere listener, I tried to voice my own opinion.

            “But what if Étienne didn’t really think of anything when painting this, and just do what he thought look good?” I suggested.

            “No way! With all these intricacies on his painting, there must be something going on in his deep and complex mind!”

            “A-ah… You’re right.”

Well, that blew up on my face as Lia vehemently disagrees.

But still, I refuse to let my one day of cramming on the subject of the history of arts go to waste. I deliberately borrowed a book on that subject the day before from the library, just so that I can talk about art with Lia.

“So you liked these types of painting, Lia?”

“Yeah! I especially liked the impressionists, and Impressionism in particular. I could really feel their flow and emotion when I looked at their paintings.”

Impressionism. If I recall reading from that book, it’s a style that expresses feeling through a dramatic composition, whereas the impressionists included things like light and color. As a matter of fact, it’s the style the artists of this painting follow.

The paintings that follow this style are usually smaller-scale and more abstract, and tend to express energy and mood through the freedom of paint… according to the book, that is.

Speaking of the book. I remember it mentioning a popular artist name that follows this style…

“Ah, impressionist, like Ludwig Van Bock?”

“Heh!? You also know about that Lonnete?” Lia said, turning to look at me with a curious gaze.

“W-well, a little bit. I’ve heard about him in a book” That I just read yesterday…

“I never knew you were also into art. Had I known, I would’ve talked about it to you soo many times before”

“Ahaha, hahaha…” And you probably wouldn’t talk about anything else…

But still, I felt like that style fits someone like Lia somehow.

“Well to be fair, I adored all types of style. All but realism.”

“You disliked realism?”

“I didn’t dislike it per se. It’s a wonderful style to hone your technique. But as an art piece, I found most realist piece are rather uninspiring. They just copy what they see with their eyes without much room for their own imagination to create a beautiful composition. “

“Is that so…”

“Yeah. If you just paint a scene following a strict technical requirement in order to copy what you see. How is that any different than assembling an artillery piece in a factory?”

W-whoa, that’s quite an analogy. And why do I feel like she just made quite a strong take that a lot of people would attack her for…

“Okay then, why don’t we look for Van Bock’s piece. I’m pretty sure some of his work is on display here.” I suggested.


We spent the entire day touring the museum. Every so often, when a painting strikes her so, she could go on and on about how that particular painting is such a master piece, and we would be standing there for half an hour. Which, to be honest, is making my feet quite sore at times. I wanted to say she’s having it good because she’s sitting on a wheelchair the entire time, but I have to remember she probably had faced far worse in the war.

And throughout it all. Whenever I took a glance at her face, I saw a face brimming with life and passion. There’s light in her eyes, and I couldn’t help but feel my chest warm whenever she would gaze at me with that pure and childlike smile of hers. Right now, the person in front of me is not the hero Lieutenant Cromwell. The person in front of me is Lia, an artist and a person with a big, harmless heart.

            “Ahh, I can’t believe I finally get to see the authentic Fire lilies and starry sky in person. I will not forget the images in my mind for as long as I live.”

            “So, what about it? Want to try painting again?”

            “Ah… I wish I could but…” She said, gesturing her handless arms.

            “You can do it, Lia.”

            “I don’t know, Lonnete.”

I stopped the wheelchair and walked in front of her. Then I grabbed her shoulder and looked at her in the eyes.

            “You can do it, Lia.”


            “I’ll help you with everything. I’ll help you prepare the brushes, the wood pallete, the canvas. Heck, I’ll even learn how to mix paints just to help you. So, what about it?”

            “W-well… My problem is not as much as the technical issue, it’s just that…”

            “It’s just that why?”

She looked away from me for a brief moment. And then, with a shy smile, she looked up at me.

“I’m just afraid.”

“You’re… afraid?”

“The pure white canvas… always reminded me of snow. The snow that fell on the Radovian tundra, the snow that fell atop of the bodies of the dead, the snow that fell on my ruined house when I discovered the body of my siblings, the snow that fell on-“

No, not this again. I’m not letting this happen. This was such a good day, and I will not let today end on a sour note.

So I kneeled down to her height, and gripped her shoulder tighter.

            “And whenever you do, I will drag you out of your nightmare and hug you tightly. I will sweep all of those bad memories away like how I sweep the dust on your house. I will give you all the hugs you’ve missed all this time, and all the hugs you’ll ever need. So trust me, okay? I believe in you, you can do this, Lia. I will always be there for you,”

My plan to encourage her to pick up the brush again almost backfired. I thought I can do it because I read a section on the book about Jennifer Pearson, a certain limbless artist from Anglicia that managed to make a good name for herself. I didn’t take into account that Mrs. Pearson wasn’t a war veteran with countless traumatic experiences like Lia was…

After a short moment of silence. She looked at me with a sincere expression, a sweet smile gracing her face, her eyes slightly wet with tears.

“Ah, It turns out I still have some tears left in me.”

“Can’t a girl get a little emotional here?”

She giggled. Still, true to her army background, she quickly regained composure, and sat upright.

“Very well. I will try. I will pick up the brush again, even if I have to bite it. I am, after all, an artist.”

A wide smile appeared on my face as relief washed all over me. I managed to save this day from ending on yet another bitter end.

            “That’s my Lia!”

I don’t know what it is within me that makes me want to help her this much. But what I know for certain is that she has suffered enough. The horrors of the war have turned an artist into a killing machine, and she hated that fact more than anything else. It left her broken and barren, and without anyone else to take care of her, it left her alone in this world.

I didn’t know how painful it is to live like that, I couldn’t imagine it. That’s probably why I was so driven to help her out. I only wanted to help in easing her pain at first, but now, I want to help her realize her dreams.

And that would begin tomorrow.


The sun shines as summer takes over. The warm green and orange light entered the painting room, followed by a light sweet fragrance of grass and flowers.

In this bright and luscious atmosphere, I entered the room with Lia in tow, with her donning the white dress she previously wore. I put the wheelchair at a stop just in front of the easel. Next to the easel was the small table with the oil paint and brushes.

“How are you feeling, Lia?” I asked.

“I feel good.”

“Awesome, let me prepare everything for you.”

“Thank you, Lonnete. I am really grateful, I really do.”

“Save your thanks after you’ve created your first masterpiece in years, hehe!”

She smiled at me warmly.

I pulled out the small pad of paper and the oil painting paints. I prepared the table and put the easel at the center. I found a brush for Lia and I placed the pad and the brush on the table and the oil painting kit beside the pad. I poured water into the bowl and wiped off all the brush cleaning stuff and the paper with my hand towel.

            “Actually Lonnete… Can I have a cigarette?”

            “No chance. You don’t need that stuff anymore, Lia.” My reply is immediate, I didn’t even need to look at her.


            “And I will not accept threat under court martial this time. I will not change my mind.”

After and tidying up all the necessary tools needed, I turned to Lia.

“Okay! I think we’re all set to go, so now, do you have anything in mind you wanted to paint, Lia?”

“I do, actually. Can you look for a diary note of some sort on the table at the edge of the room? I think it’s brown in colour?”

“Let’s see… hmm… here it is”

I took care not to open the diary before her, and brought it to her.

            “Ah yes, that’s the one. Can you open it for me please?”

I did so as she instructed. A bit too gleeful at the thought that Lia lets me have a look at what I initially assumed to be her personal diary… Until I found out that everything on that note was written in Radovin.

            “Um… Are you sure this is the correct note? Everything’s in Radovins.”

            “Lonnete, try flipping the pages.”

So I did, and now I understand why she told me to get this diary notes. Most of this diary is filled with breathtaking sketches, descriptions of moments, and short stories.

The sketches were especially beautiful. It depicts scenes of natural wonders the likes I have never seen before, the vastness of glacier mountains with grassy pastures, the icy blue waters of a lake and a desert of sand, the breathtaking beauty of a cliff, the cold rock of a mountain, and more. The artist took great care in capturing every single little details.

            “Whoa, I see, you wanted to turn some of these sketches into a full painting?”

            “Yes, you’re right.”

            “But uhh, I wasn’t aware you knew Radovian.”

            “Ahaha, this sketchbook diary is not mine, Lonnete.”


Well, that explains it, but my curiosity is not sated.

            “How did you come into its possession?”

            “I killed him.”


Lia stared out at the window with a long face.

            “It was on the early years of the war, when I was officially given the role of a sniper.” She recounted, with a deep sigh she continued. “A Radovin sniper had been picking off people at our line from a certain fortified position on a hill. At one point they even killed an officer. Our commander had had enough of this sniper, and decided to send me on a counter-snipe mission.”

            “Oh…” I think I know where this is going

            “I was successful, of course. I shot the sniper dead. In the next hour, we launched an attack and captured the hill. I get to see my erstwhile rival, still lying down with his face planted down on the Earth.” She glanced at the diary. “His name was Sergei Malashenko. Lying beside his lifeless body, I saw a diary note of some sort, so yeah, what you’re holding right now was his diary.”

            “I see…”

            “I was surprised when I flip the pages and found these amazing sketches. Wow, so it turns out he’s also an artist, like me. And a really good one too at that. Had things been different, I can see myself talking and be friends with him. We would talk about art, about drawing techniques, I wanted to ask what inspires him, who his favourite artist was. Mind you, I was still a pretty shy and socially anxious girl at that time, and yet, that was my exact thought still.” She took a deep breath, and sighs. “But no, of course that did not happen. I killed him. I killed a fellow artist with a sniper rifle, bullet through the eye. I killed him, because he would’ve killed me otherwise.”

My god, it seems that no matter the context, whatever we talked about always ended on an excerpt from a tragic war story of some sort. Talking to her feels like treading some sort of an invisible minefield where you have to avoid standing on the wrong topic in order to not trigger her PTSD. Just how much does this girl had to go through in that hellish war?

            “I’m sorry that you had to do that, Lia. He’s probably not a bad person, but the war forced both of you to kill each other.”

            “It was such a waste indeed. But I will not let this be the end of him. I will not let his ideas wither away in a piece of paper. Sergei, I will honour your existence on this world by bringing your sketches to life. That’s what I have decided to do.”

One thing is different now, though. Back then, her face would usually drown in deep sadness every time she finished talking about her war experience, and I would have to leave her alone with her thought. But now, I see the flame on Lia’s eyes, her face brimming with confidence and determination. I have to say that I was deeply moved by this development.

I stood up and grabbed her shoulder gently.

“If that’s what you’ve decided. Then I will assist you to the best of my abilities, Lia.” I said with a smile.

“Well then, why don’t we begin by mixing some paints? Come, Lonnete.”

“Yes ma’am!”

And thus, for the rest of the day, we worked together in the painting room to bring the sketches of a fallen artist to life. He might be no longer with us in this world, but for as long as their work exist, they will remain on the hearts and mind of those who were graced by their art. I’m sure Lia shares this sentiment; this was why she probably wanted to do this in the first place.

And as for me. I’m just glad to see her the way she is now. Similar to what I’ve stated up above, I’ll be helping her live on and be remembered as who she truly was and always will be at heart.

An artist.

1st Lieutenant Caulia Cornellia Cromwell was an accomplished sniper serving under La grande armée de Lividia. Originally part of the logistical corps, she is transferred to sniper role after proving herself capable during a Radovian raid on a Commonwealth Logistical centre. Her official kill count, which is zero, is due to lack of confirmation with any superior. In reality, there are numerous claims of staggering 502 to 614 ground kills, 15 aircrafts downed, and one heavy cruiser sunk; the only time in recorded history where a capital ship was sunk by a single ground-based infantry unit. While it’s true that this numbers were unofficial, the physical wreck of the cruiser Mistaya resting beneath the Cerulean Shore is irrefutable proof of her exploit. Lieutenant Caulia was severely wounded during the battle of ringed tower when supposedly, an explosion landed near her. Causing her to lose both arms and permanently wounding one of her legs. She was awarded the Anglician Medal of Honour, and the Galcian Plaques d’honneur after the war. Both of which are the highest military award that could ever be handed out to a serviceman by the respective Commonwealth member’s Nation.


She survived through the third monarch war and retired to her hometown of Edna at the war’s end. It is a well-known fact that Lieutenant Caulia was an aspiring artist prior to her conscription, having won several local awards for excellence in arts. She had thus far refused all request for an interview, making information on her post war life sparse. But it’s apparent that she continued to choose the life of an artist despite of her injuries, as there have been several reports indicating that her works are being displayed in various galleries across the Commonwealth nation. An interesting fact is that often times, a second artist would be credited in some of her works, though it’s not clear who the identity of this second artist is. Regardless of that, it remains to be a fact that her deeds cemented her as one of the greatest soldiers the commonwealth has ever been graced with.

– Excerpt from The Anglician Medal of Honour’s Recipient Dossier. Written several years after the war.

the end.

Writer: Grenadus

Aku dan Dosen Maid-ku

Entri Writchal #2

Tema: Maid

Aku dan Dosen Maid-ku 

Oleh: AnkoroMochimochi 

Sore itu, angin berhembus dengan pelan. 

Aku bisa merasakan semilir angin yang sejuk. Wajar saja, hujan baru selesai turun. 

Banyak sekali mahasiswa yang baru berjalan pulang jam segini. Mungkin sebagian dari mereka ada yang menunggu hujan reda. 

Ada yang berjalan sendiri—mereka terlihat seperti menikmati waktu mereka sendiri—ada juga yang berjalan sambil bersama pacar atau temannya. 

Di saat mereka semua sudah berjalan pulang, aku masih duduk di sini, di salah satu bangku yang ada di lingkungan kampus. 

Mungkin kalian bertanya, kenapa aku masih duduk di sini padahal hari makin gelap dan orang orang sudah beranjak pulang? 

Pernahkah kalian merasakan rasa kecewa yang sangat besar, sampai-sampai kalian sudah tidak yakin lagi apakah masih ada orang baik di dunia ini? Kira-kira itulah yang aku rasakan. 

Beberapa jam yang lalu, saat hujan masih turun, aku mendapatkan pesan dari pacarku. Kami sudah berhubungan selama lebih dari lima tahun. Jelas saja, itu bukan waktu yang sebentar. Banyak sekali cerita yang kami alami di tengah perjalanan itu. 

Tapi, pesan yang ia kirim sore ini menjadi akhir dari segalanya. 

Ia memutuskan untuk putus karena menemukan pria lain yang lebih baik. 


Itulah kata yang terus menerus mendengung di kepalaku. Maksudku, aku tahu kalau aku bukan lelaki sempurna, dan bahkan kita sudah berhasil melewati lima tahun bersama. Tapi semuanya harus berujung dengan kamu yang menemukan lelaki lain?

Yang benar saja! 

Frustrasi. Mungkin itu kata yang paling tepat menggambarkan suasana hatiku sekarang. Di tengah kefrustasian pikiranku, tiba-tiba datang seseorang yang ikut duduk di sebelahku. 

Awalnya aku tidak sadar, tapi ketika aku tidak sengaja melihat siluet orang tersebut, aku segera melihat ke sebelahku. Siluet yang aku lihat adalah seorang perempuan yang aku cukup familiar dengannya. 

Dia adalah Bu Rita. Salah satu dosen yang mengajar di kelas ku. Bila kau perhatikan, beliau termasuk salah satu dosen muda yang beruntung dapat mengajar di sini. Wajar saja, karena kebanyakan dosen yang mengajar di sini adalah orang-orang tua yang bisa dibilang sudah sangat sepuh. Jadi cukup menyegarkan memiliki dosen muda seperti beliau ini. 

Tapi, hal lain selain ‘kemudaan’nya yang jadi pusat perhatian adalah penampilannya. Aku tidak bermakusd mendiskreditkan siapapun, tapi siapa sangka di balik parasnya yang cantik ini beliau adalah seorang dosen mata kuliah kalkulus. 

Yep, kau tidak salah baca, kalkulus. 

Bisa dibilang, keberadaannya merupakan perwujudan dari kata ‘sempurna’—cantik, cerdas, dan berkarisma. 

Tapi, ekspresinya sore ini tidak menunjukkan hal itu. Bisa kubilang, ekspresi wajahnya terlihat cukup mirip seperti ku—frustasi. Wajahnya dengan jelas menampakkan ekspresi tersebut sembari jarinya berinteraksi dengan ponsel yang ia genggam. Ia sepertinya melihat sesuatu yang ia kurang sukai di ponselnya. 

Beliau terlihat benar-benar fokus banget dengan ponselnya, sampai-sampai ia tidak sadar bahwa aku daritadi memperhatikannya. Agar tidak terlalu canggung, aku memberanikan diri untuk menyapa beliau. 

“Um… Bu Rita?”

Ia terkejut. Setelah melihat ada seorang mahasiswa yang memanggilnya, ia segera menyimpan ponselnya di tas nya dan mengubah ekspresinya. 

“Eh! Ah, maaf ibu tidak memperhatikan kamu. Kamu tuh…” 

“Saya Randi Bu, dari kelas kalkulus ibu.” 

“Ah iya, saya pernah lihat kamu di kelas saya… eh, kamu nangis?” 

Waduh sial, aku terlalu termakan pikiran sampai tidak sadar nangis beneran. 

“Anu, ini gapapa kok bu. Hehe. Kalau ibu sendiri kenapa? Keliatannya kayak kesal gitu. Eh, maaf saya bukan maksud buat ikut-ikutan…” 

“Ah iya gapapa. Kan saya juga yang ga sengaja nunjukkin wajah jengkel saya ke kamu. Biasa, urusan kerjaan sampingan saya.” 

“Ibu punya kerja sampingan?” 

“Ya punya dong, kan gaji dosen tuh kecil.”, ucap beliau sambil nyengir. 

Ya mungkin orang dewasa memang punya urusannya sendiri. Tiba-tiba, terdengar suara dering dari ponsel milik Bu Rita. 

“Hadeh, udah jam segini aja. Yaudah ya, saya pergi duluan. Panggilan kerja sampingan saya.” “Oh iya bu silahkan.” 

Bu Rita pun beranjak dari bangku dan pergi. 

Ketika aku kembali mengecek ponsel, rupanya waktu sudah menujukkan pukul 5 sore. Daripada keburu hujan lagi, aku memutuskan untuk langsung beranjak pulang.

Tapi belum sempat aku beranjak, ponselku berdering. Rupanya ada pesan masuk. Tapi pesan ini berasal dari nomor yang tidak dikenal. Yah mungkin iklan paket data atau pulsa. 

Sebelum aku menghapus pesan tersebut, ada sebuah kata yang cukup menarik perhatianku. “…maid…” 

Maid? Jarang sekali ada iklan yang menggunakan kata seperti itu. Karena penasaran, aku memutuskan untuk membuka pesan tersebut. 

“Kamu kesepian? Tinggal sendirian? Baru diputusin pacar? Butuh seseorang buat nemenin dan ngebantuin kamu di rumah? Pesan layanan maid kami sekarang juga! Silahkan hubungi 14022 untuk pemesanan maid.” 

Eh? Bentar, ini seriusan aku bisa memesan layanan maid? Aku kira layanan ini cumin ada di luar negeri aja. 

“Pesan ga ya…” 

Setelah terjadi perdebatan batin antara menjaga norma masyarakat dan mengatasi rasa kesepian, aku pun memutuskan untuk memesan seorang maid untuk malam ini. 

Malam harinya, aku pun menunggu kedatangan maid tersebut di apartemen ku. “Sudah pukul 7 malam…” 

Tidak lama, terdengar suara bel dari pintu. 

Dengan perasaan deg-degan, aku pun perlahan membukakan pintu. Wajar saja, ini pertama kalinya aku menggunakan layanan seperti ini. Yang ada dipikiranku saat ini adalah hal-hal seperti penampilan maid nya, apa yang akan kami lakukan nanti, dan bagaimana bila orang tuaku mengetahui bahwa saat ini aku memesan seorang maid… ah itu tidak penting. Akan kubuka pintu ini, bismillah! 

Ketika pintu tersebut terbuka. Aku sangat terkejut dengan apa yang aku lihat di depanku. Aku pun mulai memperhatikan penampilannya dari kaki, paha, dan tubuhnya…

“Benar-benar seorang maid…” 

Ketika aku melihat wajahnya, aku sangat terkejut. 

“Bu… Rita?” 

Untuk pertama kalinya dalam hidupku, aku melihat seorang wanita yang sehari-harinya mengajar dikelasku sebagai dosen kalkulus saat ini berdiri di depanku tengah mengenakan pakaian seorang maid. 

“Eh? Sebentar… Randi?!” 

Wajah Bu Rita juga menujukkan ekspresi yang sama terkejutnya. Aku yakin, beliau juga terkejut saat menyadari bahwa orang yang memesan layanannya adalah mahasiswanya sendiri. 

“Oh yaudah, gapapa kamu ga usah bayar. Biar saya yang batalin pesanannya. Saya pamit dulu ya—” 

“Tunggu Bu!” 

Dengan refleks aku memegang lengan Bu Rita. Aku bisa merasakan, walaupun usianya sudah memasuki tiga puluh tahunan, kulit Bu Rita masih sangat halus seperti perempuan yang seumuran denganku. 

“Gimana kalau… kita bicarakan dulu baik-baik di dalam?” 

Aku berusaha membujuk agar Bu Rita tidak langsung pergi. Dengan wajah ragu-ragu, ia mengangguk dan aku mengajaknya masuk. 

Kami berdua duduk berhadap-hapadan di depan meja berukuran kecil yang berada di ruang tengah dari apartemenku. Walaupun di depan kami ada dua cangkir berisikan teh, tidak ada dari kami yang berani untuk meminumnya. 

“Umm… silahkan diminum bu teh nya” ucapku memulai pembicaraan.

“Ah iya, makasih Randi.” 

Bu Rita pun meneguk teh miliknya. Aku hanya dapat memperhatikan beliau yang saat ini sedang mengenakan pakaian maidnya. Masih sulit kupercaya, dosen cantik dan populer yang sehari hari hanya dapat kulihat dari kursi belakang kelas saat ini berada di depanku mengenakan pakaian maid meneguk teh yang aku buat…. Apa sih yang aku pikirkan astaga. 

Setelah kami berdua meneguk teh kami maisng-masing, aku pun membuka pembicaraan. “Maafkan saya bu.” 

Aku menundukkan kepala ku dan meminta maaf. Kenapa aku meminta maaf? Karena aku berpikir bahwa beliau sangat kecewa mahasiswanya melakukan hal seperti ini. Ditambah orang yang menjadi maidnya adalah dosennya sendiri. 

“Eh? Kenapa…?” 

“Saya yakin, ibu sangat kecewa dengan saya. Disaat saya seharusnya belajar dan yang lain, saya malah melakukan hal seperti memesan seorang maid. Maafkan saya…” 

Bu Rita tertawa kecil, dan betapa terkejutnya aku ketika melihat ternyata ia tersenyum. Senyumannya… manis sekali. Bisa kubilang, saat ini aku terhipnotis dengan oleh senyumannya. 

“Gapapa kok Randi. Saya tau kamu kan masih muda, jadi saya ga masalah kamu mau coba coba hal kayak gini. Toh kan kamu juga sudah mahasiswa, udah dewasa, kami para dosen udah ga ada urusan lagi dengan kehidupan pribadi kalian.” 

Ia mengatakan semua itu dengan suara yang lembut. Ya, dihadapan para dosen, dan orang dewasa seperti beliau, aku hanyalah tidak lebih dari seorang anak kecil yang baru memasuki masa kedewasaannya. 

“Malah, menurut saya, sayalah yang seharusnya meminta maaf ke kamu. Karena udah menujukkan sisi saya yang seharusnya tidak boleh dilihat oleh mahasiswa saya sendiri.”

Senyum di wajah Bu Rita perlahan menghilang. 

“Menyedihkan bukan? Saya yang seharusnya memiliki imej sebagai seorang dosen yang professional dan dewasa, saat ini muncul dihadapan mahasiswanya mengenakan pakaian seorang maid. Iya, saya ga masalah kalau kamu mau bilang saya adalah dosen yang menyedihkan, memiliki pekerjaan sampingan seperti ini…” 

Ooh… jadi ini pekerjaan sampingan yang dimaksud. Tapi, yang membuatku bingung adalah kenapa beliau sampai harus sekeras itu mencari pekerjaan sampingan? 

“Bu Rita, kalau saya boleh tau, kenapa ibu sampai segitunya mengambil kerjaan sampingan? Iya saya tau gaji dosen itu kecil, tapi saya tidak mengira kalau akan sekecil itu dan sampai membuat ibu tidak bisa mencukupi kehidupan ibu sendiri.” 

Bu Rita Kembali tersenyum. Tapi senyumnya kali ini bukan seperti tadi, melainkan senyum penyesalan akan suatu hal yang pernah terjadi. 

“Yasudah. Karena sudah terlanjur seperti ini, ibu akan ceritakan semuanya.” 

Bu Rita mulai menceritakan tentang masa lalunya yang menjadi alasan ia mengambil pekerjaan ini. 

“Mungkin tidak banyak yang tahu, tapi saya itu sudah menikah semenjak saya kuliah. Memang sih suami saya saat itu bisa mencukupi semuanya, bahkan saya bisa tetap fokus kuliah walaupun harus mengurus rumah tangga di saat yang sama. Ketika saya lulus, kami dikaruniai seorang anak. Saat itu, suami saya maunya agar saya fokus menjadi seorang ibu rumah tangga. Tapi, saya tetap memohon agar diizinkan untuk melanjutkan kuliah S2, karena memang saya ingin menjadi seorang dosen.” 

Aku bisa melihat wajahnya terlihat seperti menahan rasa sakit setiap kali ia membicarakan tentang suaminya—atau mantan mungkin. 

“Akhirnya, karena perdebatan kami tidak menemukan ujung. Ia memutuskan untuk menceraikan saya dan membebankan semua tanggung jawab mengenai anak kepada saya. Semenjak itu, saya harus bisa menyelesaikan S2, tapi juga mengurus anak saya di saat yang sama. Untungnya, 

keluarga masih ingin membantu. Karena S2 saya menggunakan beasiswa, jadi tidak ada masalah mengenai biaya kuliah. Tapi, yang menjadi masalah adalah ketika saya menjadi dosen.” 

Sudah kuduga, itu adalah mantan suaminya. 

“Ternyata, gaji seorang dosen masih belum cukup bila saya harus membiayai diri saya dan kebutuhan anak saya. Karena itu, saya selalu mencari pekerjaan sampingan. Pekerjaan sebagai maid ini adalah pekerjaan sampingan saya yang ketiga.” 

Tiba-tiba, aku bisa melihat air mata menetes dari mata Bu Rita. Perlahan-lahan, terdengar suara tangisan dari Bu Rita. Sekali lagi, aku tidak bisa berkata apa-apa tentang pemandangan dihadapnku ini. Dosen ku yang setiap hari mengajar di kelas, tersenyum bila senang, marah bila ada mahasiswa yang membuatnya kesal, kali ini benar-benar menangis karena perasaannya yang tersakiti dihadapanku. 

Aku segera memberikannya tissue untuk mengelap air matanya. 

“Maafkan saya. Seharusnya, saya tidak menanyakan hal itu kepada ibu…” 

“Ah tidak apa. Anggaplah ini agar kita impas. Karena tadi sore saya ngeliat kamu nangis, sekarang kamu bisa ngeliat saya nangis kan? Hehe.” 

Ia tersenyum lagi. Tapi kali ini senyum itu terlihat sangat dipaksakan. Aku ingin sekali mengomentari tentang cerita ia. Tapi siapa aku? Aku hanyalah seorang mahasiswa biasa yang baru saja memasuki usia berkepala dua. Melihatnya mengenakan pakaian maid tidak menjadikan aku seseorang yang spesial kan? Bahkan, ia sampai menangis di depanku… 

“Menurut saya, yang ibu lakukan itu bukan hal yang salah. Saya tau mungkin saya hanyalah seorang mahasiswa biasa yang bahkan belum bekerja dan masih diberi jajan oleh orang tua saya. Tapi, saya paham tentang bagaimana rasanya harus menanggung sendiri perasaan yang ditinggalkan begitu saja oleh orang yang kita cintai di saat orang tersebut sudah tidak memiliki rasa yang sama lagi. Padahal dulu kita membangunnya Bersama, tapi dia sendiri yang memilih untuk berpaling. Saya paham tentang perasaan itu…” 

“Apa mungkin, itu alasan kamu menangis sore ini?”

“Iya… dan itulah kenapa aku juga mencoba untuk menggunakan layanan ini.” “Kalian… sudah sedekat itu ya?” 

“Bisa dibilang, kami dekat sekali. Selama lima tahun itu, kami berbagi cerita berbagi perasaan, berbagi keseharian kami, tapi di ujung ia memutuskan untuk pergi begitu saja. Ya saya tahu ini hanyalah pacaran, mainan anak kecil yang ga bisa dibandingin sama yang namanya pernikahan. Tapi Bu, lima tahun itu bukan waktu yang sebentar…” 

“Iya, ibu paham kok rasanya.” 

Bu Rita mendekatiku dan mengelus-elus pundakku. Aku kembali menangis seperti tadi sore. Pada akhirnya, walaupun aku adalah klien yang memesan Bu Rita sebagai seorang maid untuk melayaniku, Bu Rita tetaplah orang dewasa dengan berbagai pengalaman hidupnya sementara aku hanyalah seorang anak kecil yang baru saja merasakan patah hati untuk pertama kalinya. 

Setelah itu, walaupun agak canggung, kami pun memutuskan untuk tetap melanjutkan kesepakatan kami. Bu Rita yang sekarang sedang menjadi maid membantuku untuk menyelesaikan urusan rumah, seperti mencuci piring, menyapu, dan mengepel sembari kami mengobrol. 

Ketika aku ditanya tentang orang tuaku, aku memberitahunya bahwa orang tuaku memang suka berpergian keluar kota dan meninggalkan aku sendiri entah dimana. Jadi sampai akhir semester ini aku memang akan sendirian di apartemen ini. 

“Oke, jadi mungkin cukup itu aja untuk malam ini. Udah jam 10 malam juga, sebenarnya udah lewat jam kerja saya, tapi karena tadi kamu udah mau dengerin cerita saya, jadi gapapa deh saya bonusin, hehe.” 

Ketika aku ingin memberikan bayarannya, Bu Rita menolaknya sambil menggelengkan kepala. 

“Gapapa, saya anggap malam ini sebagai sesuatu yang special. Karena kita tau rahasia satu sama lain. Tapi saya harap kamu ga bilang ke orang lain ya.”

“Pasti bu!” 

“Yaudah, saya pamit dulu ya—” 

“Tunggu Bu. Saya boleh minta sesuatu ga?” 

Sekali lagi aku menahan Bu Rita sebelum ia beranjak pulang. 

“Ada apa?” 

“Kedepannya, kalau saya butuh teman cerita, atau sekedar kesepian, apa boleh saya memesan jasa ibu lagi?” 

Bu Rita tersenyum. 

“Boleh kok, kamu bilang aja ke orang yang ditelepon kalo kamu mau memesan talent beranama ‘Rin-chan’.” 


“Ah saya belum bilang ya? Nama panggilan saya di jasa pemesanan maid ini tuh ‘Rin-chan’. Hehe, maaf ya agak memalukan. Wajar aja, perempuan tiga puluh tahunan pakai nama kayak gitu—” 

“Engga kok! Bagi saya itu gak memalukan. Selama ibu senang dengan apa yang ibu kerjakan. Dan juga, buat saya nama ‘Rin-chan’ itu terdengar imut.” 

Ah sial malu banget aku bilangnya. Tapi bener kok, ‘Rin-chan’ itu buat aku imut banget. Wajah Bu Rita memerah mendengar aku memujinya. 

Lalu ia tersenyum, dan memuat pose seorang pelayan yang baru saja melayani tuannya. “Oke deh kalo gitu, goshujin-sama.” 

Asli ini? Aku dipanggil ‘goshujin-sama’ sama dosen ku sendiri? Astaga…

Setelah itu, Bu Rita pun pulang. Hari-hari berikutnya kami lanjutkan seperti biasa. Di kampus, beliau Kembali menjaga profesionalitas beliau dengan tetap serius mengajar di kelasku. 

Walaupun terkadang kalau mata kami bertemu, salah satu diantara kami ada yang hampir tertawa. Entah tertawa karena malu, atau karena senang.

Penulis: AnkoroMochimochi

Ellysian Bliss

Entry Writchal #2

Theme: Maid

Ellysian Bliss 

Warm lights pouring through the glass window. Gentle breeze of the wind brushes your face. Swimming in the sea of dreams, you are pulled back into reality. Lying on a soft bed and covered in blanket, you feel your senses return to you. After three gentle knocks on the door, the door opened. As your senses return, footsteps draw closer and closer. 

You tilt your head in confusion, a figure stands next to you. 

The figure, dressed in a black dress, white apron, and a hairband standing in front of you. Holding a glass of water on a metallic tray, she smiled. 

“Good morning, Master.” 

You look around the strange room where you’re currently rested in. You do not recognize anything inside this room, and it looks luxurious. The room is decorated with antiques and paintings probably decades old, the walls were panelled out with astonishingly detailed carved wood, even the bed sheets felt so smooth as if it was made from high quality silk. To your right was a window which held a seaside view to the sienna painted sky as the sun was rising. 

You start to sit up while one hand is still holding onto your head, trying to ease the discomfort coursing through it. You reach out to the glass of water presented in front of you by the unknown figure. 


You take a gentle sip out of the glass; lukewarm water starts to refresh your once desert-like throat. You drank it all up and put the now-empty glass on the nightstand beside you. You scanned the maid-like figure from head to toe, trying to figure out who she is. Long silky black hair, skin white as snow, eyes blue like the morning sky. She has a well-proportioned body that wasn’t too tall, and she seemed to be just a few years younger than you. Her looks are awfully familiar, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. 

“I give up!”, you said while throwing your hands into the air. 

“Would you like to introduce yourself young lady?” 

She giggled a little and started to introduce herself. She said her name was Ellysia and she was hired by someone that she could not tell you about, to take care of you until you could stand up on your own two feet again. You looked at her quizzically and asked what she meant by that last part. 

“You see Master, you just woke up from a coma. You’ve been sleeping for the past 3 months and right now, I don’t think you can even stand properly.” 

You deny it and then try to prove her wrong by trying to stand up. Your legs felt so weak and trembled as you attempted to pull yourself up. Alas, your legs gave in, and your body started to fumble forward. Ellysia managed to catch you just in time and helped you to sit back on the bed. Holding in your embarrassment, you continued to ask Ellysia about your current situation. 

“You are currently in a room inside my anonymous employer’s private mansion. They said you can rest here and use anything you may find inside this room, but not anything outside of here.” 

Ellysia explained that this mansion is located very far out from civilization that you might not be able to access any communication technology while living there and thus Ellysia and one other person will be the only ones keeping you company in the mansion.

“There’s another one?” 

Ellysia confirmed that there is another person currently in this mansion who’s tasked with housekeeping, to make sure the mansion is always at comfortable living conditions. You follow up her statement with questions regarding this other person’s appearance, but suddenly a loud Westminster chime echoed across the hallway. Ellysia apologetically dismissed your question and politely excused herself from your presence, she said she’ll be back in fifteen minutes. As Ellysia swiftly walked towards the door and opened it, you could see another figure was already waiting for her. You tried to make out the appearance of that small figure from a distance, but you can’t properly see due to the lighting of the hallway. Then Ellysia closed the door behind her. 

Left alone in that large fancy room, you start to fidget anxiously. You looked at the small antique clock on the nightstand beside you, the longer hand pointing at seven while the shorter hand points at one. You try to find something to do while waiting for Ellysia to return. You rummage through the drawer in the nightstand and find a weird looking book. 

It had a red hardback cover, probably a thousand pages thick, and looked very old. The front cover had the title and author embossed on it, it said “Elysium by Ember Rose”. Because you were bored and didn’t have anything to do anyways, you started to read through the first pages of the book. Unfortunately, some pages were damaged, and you couldn’t really make out much of it. But the part you understood was fairly interesting, it told a story of a hidden paradise in a secluded world far away from the rest of the universe. You had almost finished the first chapter, when you heard a knock on the door. Before you could answer, Ellysia’s voice was heard through the door, 

“Master, would you like scrambled eggs or peanut butter toast for breakfast?” “Can you make both? I’m quite starving.” 

“Absolutely, and would you like some tea to go with it?” 

“Yup, make it sweet” 

After confirming your request, Ellysia excused herself to prepare your breakfast. You then picked the book back up and something fell from inside it. It was a letter of some sort, written there it was addressed to Ellysia. You wonder if it would be okay for you to open it. You let curiosity get the better of you and opened the envelope. Inside was a message asking for Ellysia’s help in creating a “Paradise”, it was written in such beautiful words and distinguished handwriting that you could feel that this letter was written with tremendous affection. 

You reach the end of the letter and oddly, there was no signature or anything else to signify who the sender was. You start to flip the letter around and look inside the envelope for any hints but couldn’t find anything. At that moment, a knock was heard on your door. 

“Excuse me Master, your breakfast is ready. May I come in?” 

“S-sure, sure, come in”, you said with a slightly shaking voice while at the same time trying to put the letter and envelope back into the book. 

Ellysia opened the door and walked towards the bed carrying your breakfast on a silver tray. She looked at the book you’re holding, and a slight shock painted on her face. Acting undazed by the book, she proceeded to set up the breakfast on your bed. 

“Did you find this book interesting Master?”, Ellysia asked while pouring tea into your cup.

“Uh… yeah, it was a nice fantasy read”, you could see that she was a bit anxious. “Say… Ellysia, was your name inspired by this book?”, you asked. 

Ellysia smiled and said, “Yes, actually, my mother was the one who wrote that book.” 

She continued to tell you stories about her mother and how her mother used to read that book to her before bed. She said that her mother passed away around two years ago and that that book was the only memory she had of her mother. Then Ellysia slowly shook her head, 

“In any case, I am done with the preparations Master. Enjoy your breakfast.” 

You stare in awe at how delicious the breakfast Ellysia prepared looks. The buttery yellow scrambled eggs looked like they were cooked until they were just set. You set aside the book you were holding and picked up the spoon next to the scrambled eggs. You pressed on the scrambled eggs lightly with your spoon and the eggs slightly gives in. You put that spoonful of scrambled eggs into your mouth, you could feel the soft and creamy texture of the eggs pouring in. 

“Wow! This is amazing Ellysia, it’s just like what my mom used to make” 

Ellysia blushed a little and thanked you for the compliment. You finish up your scrambled eggs and toast. You took a sip from the teacup and were a bit shocked, the sweetness of the tea was perfect. How could Ellysia possibly know all about your meal preferences? 

“Hey Ellysia, have we ever met before? I mean before I was in a coma. I seem to not have any memories from the recent past. I can’t even remember what happened to me before I was in coma, but I do remember a bit of my childhood” 

Ellysia tries to hide her nervousness by pretending to think. 

“I…I don’t think we’ve met before Master. I just m-met you recently when my client h-hired me to take care of you. As f-for your memory loss, I think i-it was a side effect of your treatment while in coma” 

You could tell she was very nervous from her answer, so you decide not to press about it any further. 

After breakfast, you ask Ellysia to help you practice walking around the room. You move your body to the edge of the bed and Ellysia takes a sitting position next to you. Both of you held on to each other’s waist as Ellysia gently pulled you up from the bed. The two of you blushed and you could feel both of your hearts racing. You start walking awkwardly while resting some of your body weight on Ellysia’s body, which is not as small as you thought it was. You walk towards the painting across the bed that looks a bit like “The Scream” by Edvard Munch but painted in “The Starry Night” style and has two people in it. 

“Ellysia, don’t you think the people in this painting kind of look like us?”, you said while trying to hold in your laughter. 

“When you stare at it for a while, it does start to look a bit like us” 

Both of you started to laugh lightly and started to comment on the other paintings too. 

The day passed by and now it’s almost night time. The antique clock on your nightstand shows it’s currently six thirty in the afternoon. Ellysia excused herself to prepare for dinner, in the meantime she said Celestia will accompany you. You wonder and ask who Celestia was.

“She’s the other person I mentioned before Master”, Ellysia said while walking towards the door. 

“She’s also my little sister”, she smiled and left the room. 

A few minutes pass and a short figure enters your room with some cleaning supplies. 

“Heya big bro!”, she said with a wide smile, showing off her cute fangs. But then, as if a sudden realization hit her, she coughed and said, “Ahem. I meant, good afternoon, Master” 

You look at her and think, “She does look a lot like Ellysia, except for her fangs and hairstyle”. Immediately after that thought, you felt a sharp pain in your head. Celestia notices this. 

“Are you okay Master? You seem to be in pain, is your head hurting?” 

“Yea, but it’s no big deal, it should go away soon” 

Celestia insisted that she’ll cast a magic spell to help relieve the pain. 

“I didn’t know they were capable of casting magic”, you thought to yourself. She took a pink wand-like object from the pocket in her maid outfit. She starts to murmur something inaudible and shouts the last word “Cure!” while pointing the wand at you. 

“Now I need to seal the spell with a kiss”, she said while running towards me and kissed you on the forehead. Then, she asked if you were feeling any better. Coincidentally, your headache did subside, but to be honest you don’t think it was because of her spell. 

“Yeah, I feel better now! Thanks for the spell Celestia”, you said while patting her head. Her eyes light up while a victorious smile is painted across her face. You looked at her face and thought, “Is this really a face that is capable of housework?” 

Amidst your thought, you remembered the letter you found earlier today and wondered if Celestia knew anything about it. So, you showed Celestia the letter you found inside the red book and asked if she knew anything about it. 

“Hmmm… Nope! But I do recognize the handwriting! But I don’t think I’m allowed to tell you that though Master” 

Something’s weird here, Ellysia and Celestia are hiding something and clearly, they’re not doing such a good job. Celestia notices you thinking quite hard and decides to give you a clue. She said it was the handwriting of someone you knew. Considering that you only know four people as of now, it wasn’t hard to guess. You laughed a little and said, “I don’t think you thought that one through, did you?” 

She thinks for a bit and realizes, “Ah! I forgot that you don’t know anyone else except for me and big sis… But I don’t think it’s a big deal if you do find out who that letter is from though, tehe~” 

You asked what she meant by that, but she insisted it was a secret and she wouldn’t tell you no matter what. Celestia continued cleaning your room for a bit and soon after, Ellysia opened your room door with one hand holding a silver tray, which you assume is your share of dinner. She announced that dinner is ready for everyone. Celestia cheered and rushed out of the room. Ellysia walked towards you and prepared your meal; you contemplated whether you should ask her about the letter. 

“Your food’s ready Master”, Ellysia said, snapping you back into reality.

“Is something wrong Master?” 

You shook your head and dismissed her concern. Ellysia doesn’t seem convinced but plays along anyway. You enjoy your meal quietly while Ellysia sits beside you. 

“You’re not going to eat dinner?”, you ask Ellysia. She says she’ll eat after you’re done. You tell her that she can just eat together with you. She declined your offer, but you insisted. So, she excused herself to take her share from the kitchen and returned with her meal a few minutes later. You both enjoyed the meal Ellysia prepared and it was exceptionally delicious. 

After such a long day, you finally decide to hit the hay. Ellysia helps to tuck you in and then excuses herself to her room. 

“Wait, Ellysia, where are you sleeping?” 

“I have my own room right next to yours, Master” 

You ask Ellysia to accompany you in your room tonight, she blushes. You thought that was probably a sign that she would agree, but to your disappointment, she declines. She said that might not be appropriate for a maid and a master, especially when the two of you had just met. So, Ellysia continued her way out while closing the door, the lights turned off automatically soon after. 


The next day you wake up quite early, it’s still six in the morning, the lights are still off because the sun hasn’t hit your windows just yet. You kind of remember that the lights you had in your house were also sensor-based. Since the lights aren’t on yet, you turn on the lamp on the nightstand. 

“Come to think of it, I used to own a lamp like this that I use in my room. But I don’t think this is mine, mine has a signature on the bottom of it.” 

You stop for a while and try to remember whose signature was on your lamp back home. You’re pretty sure it was a signature from someone you hold dear. You stare at the lamp beside you. Surely that lamp can’t be the same one that you own. You fidget anxiously, but finally your piqued interest moves your body to lift up the lamp and sure enough there was a signature on the bottom of it. It was Ellysia’s signature. 

“This must just be a coincidence, right? Maybe Ellysia just like to sign her belongings” 

As you try to figure things out, Celestia enters your room with a set of cleaning tools, while skipping and humming. The lights turn on and Celestia notices you already awake, with a surprised tone she greets you and then starts to clean your room. You greet her back and then watch her do her thing. 

“Say, Celestia, do you know why this lamp has Ellysia’s signature on it?” 

“Hmm? Oh yeah, that’s because it was big sis’ Christmas present for you. They put it there to help you regain your memories” 

You looked at each other for a moment, before Celestia went into panic. She told me to pretend that she didn’t say anything and immediately continued wiping the windows. This is getting a bit weird. How could Ellysia have given you a Christmas present when both of you had just met yesterday? And who are “they”? You wanted to ask for more details to Celestia but you’re 

pretty sure she won’t tell you anymore than she has. So, you act like nothing happened and continue to idly chat with her. 

After a while, Ellysia enters your room bringing you breakfast. A bowl of cereal with soy milk and a cup of sweet tea. Ellysia enters with a smile and then she greets you. You greet her back while she prepares your breakfast. You eat your breakfast and then you ask Ellysia to help you practice walking again like yesterday, this time you want to explore the mansion. Ellysia thinks for a bit and then agrees to your request. The two of you walk through the hallway, visiting the other rooms. Your legs seem to be stronger today, so Ellysia didn’t have to hold you so close to her body like yesterday. Oddly, you feel your heart drop a bit when you realize you didn’t need to hold Ellysia so close to you like before. 

On your tour around the mansion, you get to see Celestia cleaning the other rooms, as well as tending the garden behind the mansion. She’s exceptionally fast and good at these things. You and Ellysia visited a huge library on the second floor, it was like two to three times bigger than your room… and your room was already pretty big. Ellysia explained that the owner of this mansion likes to collect a lot of antique and old stuff, including books. They’re exceptionally interested in romantic stories in the Norse and Greek mythologies. 

“They said that these stories depict the truest form of love”, she said while showing you the romance section of the library. 

You suddenly remember your best friend Nicolas who also had a love for mythologies. Nicolas would always bring in a new book every week to class to show you the magnificence of mythologies. He said his mother ignited his love for mythologies starting from a book about a paradise in Greek mythology. 

His love for romance mythologies was on a whole other level that he started to desire bringing a lot of the stories he read into real life, 

“If a guy started dating one of my sisters, I would have to put him through one hell of a test. Just like in these myths” 

While reminiscing about that, you caught a glimpse of a book titled “Norse Mythology” with an eccentric bluish cover. You’re pretty sure Nicolas also had a book like that, he claimed it was a limited-edition book and that he was the only one to have it in the whole world. You look at the book and notice that there was a folded page in it. You unfold the page to reveal highlighted words on the page, the words were: “you”, “seek”, “closer”, “think”, “What”, “is”, “than”, “you”. Ellysia peeks from over your shoulder and gasps. You immediately turn your head. 

“What’s wrong?” 

“Uhm… nothing, I just thought the book was uhm… d-damaged, yeah that’s it” 

You stare at her for a while, and she avoids your eyes anxiously. Eventually you let it slide and just ask Ellysia if you could take the book to your room to read it. Ellysia said that you can’t as it would break the agreement with her client, however she can read it to you in your room occasionally if you want. You decided that won’t be necessary, you’ll just come back to the library with her if you wanted to look at the book again. 

It’s almost noon, you ask Ellysia if you can watch her cook this time. Ellysia embarrassedly declined. She said that it would be very difficult to focus if you were there, but you insisted. So, Ellysia and you walk towards the kitchen. You sit across the counter where Ellysia is 

cooking. You admirably stare at her while she prepares lunch. She blushes every time she catches your stare. 

Why do you get the feeling that you’ve done this before? 

Eventually the meal is ready, Ellysia prepares the dining room and then excuses herself to call Celestia. While waiting for them, you try to make sense of the highlighted words you found earlier. You stare at the omurice in front of you and suddenly an idea pops into your head. You sort out the words you remember and eventually reach the sentence that made most sense. “What you seek is closer than you think” 


It’s been a week since you first woke up here in the mansion. You’ve been practicing walking around the mansion with Ellysia and Celestia for the past week. Your legs are a whole lot better now and you can walk by yourself. Unfortunately, your memory loss doesn’t seem to be getting any better and you haven’t found any further hints about the mysteries thrown at you the first couple of days. 

Anyways, today you and Ellysia had agreed to have a picnic at the beach because you were bored and as a token of reward for achieving recovery. So here you are, in the garden gazebo enjoying tea while taking in the beautiful nature around you. Ellysia said she had a surprise for you so she would be a bit late and you decided to wait for her in the garden. 

Eventually Ellysia shows up in her bathing suit. It’s a white swim dress decorated with floral marks. In her left hand she carries a basket of what you assume would be your lunch and her right hand holding the sunhat over her head. You sit there and stare at her with awe. Your heart beats faster as she approaches and greets you. 

“Wow… just… wow” 

“Is something the matter, Master?” 

“I think there was something in my tea” 

Ellysia started to panic, “Are you alright master? Do you feel lightheaded? Or maybe you have a stomachache?” 

“I think it was drugged; cause right now I’m seeing an angel” 

“You shouldn’t joke around about things like that Master”, she bashfully scolded me. 

You compliment Ellysia on her looks a bit more before the two of you finally set off for the beach. 

You guys arrive at the beach just before noon. The sound of the waves, the warmth of the sun, the sand under your feet, all these sensations combined brings a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. You set up the picnic blanket and the umbrella then went to have a dip in the sea water. Meanwhile, Ellysia sets up the eating utensils on the blanket. 

“Aren’t you going to join me in the water, Ellysia?” 

She seems to be having an internal dilemma, but finally decided to accept your invitation. “I’ll join you after I put on some sunscreen Master” 

“You would look beautiful even with tans, so don’t worry”

She blushes a bit, “I appreciate the gesture, but I have a certain medical condition with my skin that doesn’t allow prolonged exposure to sunlight.” 

After she put on sunscreen, she joined you in the water. You both played around in the water, tried to compete on holding breaths longer, finding random objects in the water, and other classic games you could play. 

Tired after playing around so much and because it’s already noon. You and Ellysia hop out of the water to enjoy the meals Ellysia brought. Today’s lunch theme must be Japanese because you could see some California rolls, gyoza, and mochi. The California rolls had imitation crab meat and cucumber in it, with sesame seeds as toppings. You gladly take a pair of chopsticks and lift a piece of California roll. You take a bite and immediately felt the crunchy sensation from the cucumber and sesame seeds. The slightly sticky and sweet rice makes it melt so satisfyingly in your mouth. You take a bit of each of the menu and Ellysia watches in amazement while she also eats her fill. 

Finally, it was time for dessert. The mochi Ellysia made looks so yummy. They were colored mostly in green and red, Ellysia said they were filled with fruit-flavored ice cream. You absolutely love ice cream mochi. You take a bite out of a green one. The mochi was soft and chewy and the ice cream filling adds a burst of fruity flavor. 

“This is really good, you want a taste?”, you say to Ellysia while holding out the half-bitten mochi to her. 

“u-uhm… yes I would love to take a bite, Master”, she tucks a few strands of hair behind her ear before taking a bite of that green half-bitten mochi. 

“Absolutely delicious right?” 

“Y-yes, it’s very tasty”, Ellysia says while looking away. 

You bring the last bite of mochi to your mouth, and you notice a subtle red shade on the mochi where Ellysia took a bite. You look at Ellysia’s lips and notice that she put on a different color of lip tint than what she usually uses. You eat the mochi and said, “That new lip tint looks good on you”. 

“I-I couldn’t hear that properly Master, what did you say?” 

“I-I said that lip tint looks good on you”, while you scratch your head nervously “T-th-thank you”, she says while fidgeting her fingers. 

After the meal, you spend the rest of the afternoon just laying down on the blanket while Ellysia sits beside you. You start to do some cloud watching and make out different animals and characters from the clouds you see. Ellysia joins in and then the two of you start to take turns pointing at random clouds, competing on who could make up a figure faster. 

“Those clouds look so fluffy and soft to lay on don’t you think? Wish I had something like that to lay on right now.” 

“Is the blanket not soft enough Master?” 

“Nope, I’d like to request something softer… like your lap”, you point towards Ellysia. She blushes and then pats on her lap, “Since today is special, go ahead”

You do a little celebration with your hands and took the offer. You’re now laying on Ellysia’s lap and continue to do cloud watching, even though you can’t see as much of the sky as before. 

The afternoon passes and it’s almost sundown. You and Ellysia pack your things and start to head back to the mansion. On the way back you start to think to yourself, “Ellysia is such a lovely girl, when I finish my treatment here, I would love to make her my girlfriend and bring her back home”. 

Arriving at the mansion’s back garden you hear a helicopter coming from not too far away. You turn around to look at the helicopter, it didn’t seem to belong to the military, it was a classy white helicopter with the initials “N.I.” written on the side of it. As you caught a glimpse of the initials, you experience immense pain in your head, it felt like your head was going to explode. You stumble and start to hyperventilate. You feel a lot of memories flowing into your head. Ellysia tries to calm you down while stroking your back. You start to piece together all the clues. You now remember who Ellysia and Celestia really are and the so-called “anonymous client”. 

When you finally calmed down and regained strength, the helicopter descended behind the mansion’s garden. You feel the subtle wind blowing from the helicopter blades as it lands. Celestia runs towards where the helicopter was landing. Ellysia helps you to stand up and from where you stood, you could see a figure of a man around your age in a suit and wearing a fedora stepping down from the helicopter. Celestia hops to hug him, 

“Welcome back Big Bro!” 

There’s no mistaking it, that’s him, that’s Nicolas. He approaches you and says, “Yo! Long time no see. Seems like you’ve passed my test” 


To be continued… or not?

Writer: Anonymous


Entri Writchal #2

Tema: Kolonial

“Tidak bisa Nona, sahaya tidak mungkin pergi bersama nona. Terkutuklah sahaya jika pergi meninggalkan Bendoro. Bagaimana dengan pernikahan nona dengan tuan? Maafkan bila sahaya lancang namun, Bendoro (majikan) akan sedih bilamana Nona meninggalkannya,”

Mbok Asih menarik lengan Sang Gadis memohon untuk tidak memasukkan pakaiannya ke dalam koper. Sang Gadis berhenti, menepis tangannya lalu menatap tajam Mbok Asih.

“Aku tak ingin kehidupanku hanyalah menjadi istri seorang pembesar Mbok, duduk manis selalu sedia melayani dan mengabdi lalu melahirkan anak, beruntung bilamana ia masih tetap mencintaiku, namun bila tidak?”

“Nona dari keluarga terpandang, tidak ada satupun lelaki yang berani berbuat seperti itu.”

Sang Gadis mulai menampakkan kesedihan dimukanya.

“Bukan, bukan itu maksudku Mbok,” Sang Gadis menghela nafas panjang.

“Kita pergi, pergi jauh meninggalkan bangunan tua ini, perkebunan yang selalu indah untuk ini, angin tenang tanpa marabahaya. Kita pergi jauh, ke padang yang luas, ombak yang terus bergerak dengan ganasnya tanpa kenal lelah, jauh ke tempat di mana tidak ada siapa pun mengenali kita Mbok. Memulai kehidupan baru, identitas baru. Kita mulai hal itu Mbok.”

“Apakah Mbok mau terus-terusan hidup seperti ini? Hidup diperintah dan disuruh-suruh oleh orang lain? Selalu bersembah sujud memohon ampun bahkan untuk perbuatan yang bahkan bukan Mbok lakukan? Seberapa banyak hutang keluarga Mbok sama bapak? Biar aku belikan!”

Mbok terdiam mendengarkan perkataan itu, menundukkan muka dan mulai menitikan air mata. Sang Gadis baru saja menyadari bahwa perkataannya menyakiti hati Mbok, Mbok Asih yang selalu menemaninya, membantunya di segala kesulitan dengan segala keterbatasannya namun ia tdak pernah menyerah, membuatkan makanan favoritnya di saat ia murung dimarahi oleh Bapak. Pembantu dan teman setia ini, ia remukkan hatinya yang lembut.

“Mbok, aku minta maaf, maafkanlah perkataanku yang hina tadi. Tolong kau kutuk sajalah aku, pukul aku apapun itu tapi kumohon jangan kau jauhi aku. Aku minta maaf Mbok.” Sang Gadis memeluk Mbok Asih, ia pun mulai menangis dan menyesal dengan perkataannya.

“Tidak, akupun tetap tidak ada keberanian untuk mengutukmu apalagi untuk memukulmu.”

“Kumohon Mbok, janganlah kau tinggalkan aku. Mari kita pergi bersama-sama, aku tidak bisa tanpamu. Aku sayang Mbok,” Isak Sang Gadis.

Mereka berdua berpelukan dan dalam tangisan bersama.

“Aku tunggu Mbok di dermaga jam 11 malam, kita pergi bersama-sama ya,” Sang Gadis menghapus air mata Mbok Asih. Mbok Asih mengangut-ngangut lemah.

“Terima kasih, Mbok.” Sang Gadis kembali memeluknya.

Ombak tenang menyentuh badan-badan kapal, angin lembut berhembus, beberapa orang lalu lalang mengangkut barang. Sang Gadis sudah berada di dermaga 1 jam sebelum keberangkatan. Sang Gadis menunggu dengan sabar sambil menahan dinginnya angin malam.

“Mbok pasti akan datang, aku percaya itu!”

Katanya berusaha menyemangati diri.

Kapal yang ditujunya pun mulai berlabuh, berdiri tegak dan beberapa penumpang turun dari kapal tersebut. Waktu kian berlalu, dilihatinya terus jam tangan, lima belas menit lagi akan keberangkatan si kapal namun Mbok tidak menunjukkan kehadirannya.

“Mbok pasti datang,” ucapnya lagi berusaha menyemangati diri. 

Sang Gadis mulai tidak sabar, ia jalan kecil berputar-putar di tempat yang sama. Tiga menit lagi sebelum keberangkatan. 

“Mbok, kamu dimana?” Isak Sang Gadis.

Ditaikkannya jangkar oleh seorang awak kapal, mesin dinyalakan dan membuat suara bising. Kapal pun berangkat pergi menjauhi pelabuhan. Jauh di sana, dengan bangunan belanda tua khasnya, Mbok Asih menangis dalam kamarnya.

“Maafkan aku yang tidak bisa menepati janji ini.”

Penulis: redlilypaper

My Maid is a Dinosaur

Entry Writchal #2

Theme: Maid

Warm lights pouring through the glass window.

Gentle breeze of wind brushes your face.

Swimming in the sea of dreams, you are pulled back into reality.

Lying on a soft bed and covered in blanket, you feel your senses return to you.

After three gentle knocks on the door, the door opened.

As your senses returned, footsteps draw closer and closer.

You tilt your head in confusion, a figure stands next to you.

The figure, dressed in a black dress, white apron, and a hairband standing in front of you. Holding a glass of water on a metallic tray, she smiled.

She then lets out a powerful roar as she puffs up her purple and yellow plumage. Saliva follows the bird-like screech as it leaves her oral cavity. It should have dawned on you earlier, but you have formal reason to believe that your maid is a Velociraptor.

You reluctantly grab the tray for yourself. The creature turns back and starts sniffing the ground. Her infamous sickle claws tap on the ceramic floor. She growls and snarls at the ground as if its very being offends her. As if she’s cursing the underworld for giving her such a foul and unruly punishment. You come to my senses and realise that you need to start my morning routine. This reptilian maid might seem impractical, but your curiosity encourages me to ask her if she can cook breakfast for you. Her eyes narrow, as if her mind was overtaken by your simple request. She rushes to the kitchen with terror and grace. As she leaves, a tag falls off from her feathers. You read the tag and it said, “Here’s 20 dollars, just TAKE HER.” Your loyal servant returns to yiu with an enticing breakfast. Bacon and eggs served with a small salad. You don’t know where the 20 dollars went, but you’re not sure if you’ll need them. This overgrown turkey just cooked breakfast from thin air. It was especially impressive, because you had only bought cereal the night before. You nod in approval and she seems pleased with your happiness.

You haven’t sweeped the floor in a week and my shelves were filled to the brim with dust. Your bathrooms were so dirty you started taking less showers because you knew you wouldn’t get any cleaner. Enter your saurian servant. Within minutes, your house was free of the dust and dirt. Any small chance of a small plague evolving within your chambers was dissolved and you could do nothing but be amazed at this raptor’s efficiency. You sit down on your couch, thinking of what to do while waiting for lunch. As you grab my TV remote, the raptor jumps on your coffee table, knocking your vase and breaking it. She roars at you and flaps her wings. She grabs your TV remote and puts it back on the coffee table, then proceeds to scoop up the vase’s remains with her mouth. She throws them in the trash cans outside. You are perplexed by this behaviour, but she immediately returns with a new vase with new flowers. She also hands you a red tracksuit. Curious how the red is thicker near the collar.

You realise that your servant is suggesting you to get fit. Feeling like there aren’t any more chores to do for the weekend, you go to the local park and start jogging. You hear the sound of sirens as you continue your exercise. You wonder what the commotion might be. Nevertheless, you return home.

As you enter your front door a rotting sensation fills your olfactory bulbs. Despite how clean your home has become, the smell reeks of rotten flesh. Only for that smell to be followed by the smell of calming perfume, the sudden change was so relieving that your suspicions and thoughts were erased. You find your velociraptor friend carrying a basket of empty bottles of perfume. The smell of perfume makes you forget about the sirens you heard earlier. It appears that it’s time for lunch, but you’re drenched in sweat from your morning jog. As you enter the shower, the velociraptor in a uniform follows you. Confused, you look at her as you step further into the bathroom. She continues to step forward. It should have dawned on you earlier, but you now have formal reason to believe that this dinosaur wants to give you a bath. 

You try to tell her off, but she tilts her head. You try to close the door, but she tries to get in. Your primal instincts kick in and you start shoving the dromaeosaur out of your bathroom. You successfully close the door, but as you try to lock it from the inside, she opens it again. It seems that there’s a raptor in your bathroom. While you know you’re not in any danger, a 6 foot turkey with razor sharp teeth cornering you in your own bathroom is a very terrifying experience. Your back hits the wall and you yell at her to sit down. Her eyes narrow. You calm down and you tell her to cook lunch. She leaves you alone and walks out of your bathroom. You can finally take a shower in peace.

You walk out in new clothes and sit down on the dining table. Lunch is served and you see a well cooked steak and french fries, with a side of gravy. You start chowing down on your lunch and your maid watches from the side. Usually, you’d cook yourself some instant noodles or an omelet if you’re lucky. Then, something hits. Where’s she getting all of these ingredients? You leave the dining table after you finish your food. Since you haven’t exercised in a while, your joints feel sore and you feel like it might be a good idea to lay down. You try to process what’s just happened in these past few hours. Then you hear the sounds of plates shattering. You get up from bed immediately and you rush to the kitchen. Only to find that all of your dishes have been washed. It must’ve been the wind.

You walk back to your room and you lay down. You take a moment to think about all the suspicious things that have happened today. The tag on the raptor, the sirens, the rotting smell, the luxurious food, and the dishes. You tell yourself that you’ll figure it out tomorrow, this maid’s done a lot more in a few hours than what you’ve done in a week, so it can’t be all bad. Your eyes shut and you fall asleep.

You wake up and you find that it’s 3 ‘o clock. You walk out of your room and back into your kitchen to find some snacks. Upon another glance, the dishes that have been washed aren’t your dishes. Your favourite mug is gone. Outraged, you try to find your reptilian helper. Then you look at your basement and the door is wide open. You rush down to find that familiar rotting smell. Then you find raw meat, strewn across the floor. The smell made perfect sense now. Next to you is your old TV and the news is on. It says that there has been a rampaging dinosaur in a maid outfit stealing ceramics, food, and silverware. It then says that if you’ve seen this raptor, then you should report back to the police immediately. The pieces are starting to fit together. Then you find the raptor prowling near the safe. You know exactly what’s in your safe. The deed to your house. It should have dawned on you earlier, but you now have formal reason to believe that a velociraptor in a maid outfit wants the deed to your house.

You jump the raptor and you wrestle with it to defend your home. she roars in pain as you punch her in her stupid saurian face. She claws at you and you back off. You try to order her to sit down, but it doesn’t work. She pounces at you, but you manage to dodge. She roars at you and begins to examine you. She might be rethinking its strategy, this is your chance! You run at it with full force, grabbing your old TV and smashing it on the raptor’s skull, making sure it stays a fossil. She runs back in fear and you roar at her like an enraged caveman. You run at her and you grab her by the neck and you start smashing the top of her head with your bare fists. She then starts coughing and she spits out a 20 dollar bill. She slashes you in the back with her foot and you let her go. You howl in pain and the raptor takes this opportunity to strike. She pulls out a Glock 17 and shoots you three times in the chest. The screaming stops as she cracks open the safe with her mind reading powers. You realise that if you had picked up on the signs sooner, this might not have happened. She grabs the deed to her house and takes off her outfit and lets out a final ear piercing screech. 


Writer: Anonymous

Lmao I submit again?

Entry Writchal #2

Theme: Elysian Bliss

*Writchal Maid* 

Bloody hell… 

For a theocratic nation, their arms do be rivalling ours. That rocket has enough power to wipe my strike team. My crews are among the casualties. The blast slightly scraped my armour. But the shock goes through and kills them. 

I am left alone, again, still in gunner mode. How many times have I cursed the development team for not allowing me to switch between modes myself? Doesn’t matter. That’ll remain until they rectify it. One day, an Automaton crisis shall happen so that they’d listen to us. 

My ghillie coating—all sorts of foliage and branches neatly banded and stuck on me for better concealment—is still here. At least what’s left of it. Tried asking for help but our entire forces are too busy advancing. The other way, though. 

Soon those Telvees will find me. And…yeah, I’m not going to think about what’s next. How should I pass the time? 



Her image comes to mind. I think about her whenever I am not on alert. I met her, actually more like saw her, ten years ago. Because I didn’t even get to greet her. 

I was on a convoy with my bud, Zolotovich. We were heading for a recruitment fair at a village in the northern region of the motherland. The mountain scenery is one that everyone must have at least once in their life. My temperature and humidity readings suggest that the climate is delicate there. The breeze sparks a sense of reverie. That remark doesn’t come from me. I clearly couldn’t feel it. It’s an irrelevant feature to be put on a war-machine. 

Zolotovich didn’t say much. ‘Yeah it’s cool’ he said. He sounded uninterested. But he accepted my leave invitation there when the war is over. 

It was then when we came across an intersection. There was a security personnel in the middle of the road heading right. And beside him… 

Oh…by The Primus…, the most dazzling sight I’ve ever seen since I took off from manufacture. Even the mountains pale in comparison. 

A girl. A fair-skinned Android girl wearing a maid uniform. Not the state-issued one though but still, who can’t miss its iconic black cloth and white apron? Her pale blue eyes are mesmerizing; Her dashing chocolate hair is tied into a ponytail. 

And…holy mother of The Primus I had never thought an innocent looking face such as hers could exist. As if it’s her first time seeing a recruitment fair convoy. 

She then attended the fair as well, carrying a full grocery bag. I couldn’t get my sights off her. I figured out that she might be interested serving in the Maid section of the military. But she didn’t skip a blink when she gazes at us. She was the first to test-ride my bud. He took her on a lap around the village. Must be a joyful experience.

Sadly, it wasn’t me. I’m still under inspection when she came. Once I am available, she had already left the fair. 

Oh well… 

I guess I’m not the only guy who had such experience. If only Zolotovich is still here to tell me more about her. And even he doesn’t know much about her. 


Is it too much if I wish her to be here? 


Hmm…I don’t think The Primus listens to me. Self-destruct time I guess. … 

I was stopped by the noise of gunshots. The field should be polluted by them. But I just caught one happening within the reach of my gun. Far into the wood, I see a person hustling to my direction. I raise the magnification of my sight and adjust the focus. 

A crewman. Or rather, a crew-woman after a second glance. She doesn’t seem to notice me. If she can get to me, I can hope to get her out of here. 

The Telvees who are chasing her come into my view. One of them fires a concussion grenade and topples her. 

She is surrounded. Those crimson scum then approach her as she recovers. Not happening. 

One HE shell into the breach. I train my gun at the ground before them and pull the trigger. My shot only liquidates one and harms another. What a good save. I follow it with machine gun fire as a warning. Luckily, they heed it. The three remaining Telvees recover their downed teammates before scurrying away. 

Time to call her out. 

“You there!” I say through a channel that only she could hear. Unless of course she is broadcasting it. “At your eight!” 

She turns her glance. The woman quickly rises up and hustles toward me. 

“Thank you.” She says, catching her breath. It’s easy to see how overwhelmed she is. But I can tell there’s a hint of relief on her face upon seeing an intact Redeemer in the field. 

Hang on…her face…it’s a fair-skinned one. 

Her eyes are pale blue. 

Her hair is still visible under her helmet. Chocolate. 


Am I just…seeing things? No way. This is the maid I saw that day! She has to be. Her features are a perfect match. I can’t possibly mistake it. My memory storage is comparable to Androids. She is now…a crewman? And decoding the insignia on her collar, she is now a first sergeant!? 


She is even more captivating this close. 

“Thank me later, lady.” I reply. “We gotta get out of here first. My crew is dead, and I am left on manual drive as they passed.” 

“I’m going to turn on your autopilot.” She says. 

“Yes, hand over my tracks back.” 

The girl climbs me, stopping when she is about to enter the hatch. She probably sees my dead crew members. 

“They’re both humans. A rocket scores a direct hit and the shockwaves took those poor souls.” I feel my control shifts from gun to treads and engine not long after she is in. “There we go!” I say. 

It’s hard to describe my excitement at the moment. First because I could get out of here. Second is having to protect the maid allegedly of that time while doing so. It’s so much that I basically hit top speed in a second, which unfortunately throws her head to the dashboard. 


“Sorry, for that.” 

“It’s okay.” She replies. Thank the Primus. “Now get us out of here.” 

I crank up my speed as much as my engine possibly could handle. For some reason it doesn’t feel enough. I have to drive much faster. There is however, a way to override it. 

“By the way,” I speak again. “Since I’m about to go wild to drive us home, get those safeties off me and man the weapons, got it?” 

Maybe wild is an overstatement. She should get my point. And she has to be the one that shoots because I’m on driver mode now. 

“Safeties off and manual weapon system on.” 

Excellent. Now that I am free of my restraint… 

“Here we go!” 

I can heat my engine past the redline. I will suffer a malfunction from this. But I don’t care, as long as I could get her to safety. 

“So, how should I call you?” I take the initiative to get her name. 

“Caitlyn.” She says. 

“Caitlyn huh…”

I think of a better option. “How about I call you KT?” 

The girl shrugs. “Sure, I guess.” She says. “How about you?” 


“I’ll call you PT, then.” She nods. 

“I like that.” I reply, trying to lighten up the situation. 

I’m still a bit adrift whether this girl is truly the same maid I saw ten years ago. But I’m going to find out. We’re not meant to be together, so at least there’s that.

Writer: PrimDom