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Sunday, 16 July 2017

SHORT STORY #9: I Have The Dress (Chapter Five)

#9: I Have The Dress
Chapter Five: Valiant Endeavours That Followed
“La, la, ruff! la…stay down! woof! la, la---don’t move, silly! ruff ruff ruff! laaaahh…”

Rui Lee knelt awkwardly among her mother’s pretty flowers in the garden. In one hand, she held a flower stalk, that had already been trampled on accidentally by clumsy paws, trying very hard to smell it and sing to the dog at the same time.

“Ahhhh… smell that lovely fragra---” she gagged. Its now dulled petals reeked with the nauseating smell of mud and … Ruff’s paws.

“Lala---listen to me, Ruff!” Rui Lee yanked the puppy by its tail. The poor canine howled. “Sit beside me and listen to me sing. Lalalalahhhh……”

Yesterday, Rui Lee had come home, half walking, half kicking a dog, to a very shocked mom.

“Rui!” mom exclaimed, both surprised and delighted. “What a cute puppy you’ve brought home. Does it belong to anyone?”

“No, mom,” Rui Lee said. “It doesn’t have a name tag or anything. It’s probably abandoned.”

But mom wasn’t listening anymore. She was looking at something behind Rui Lee. Before Rui Lee could follow her gaze, though, a flurry of feathers blinded them momentarily.

It was the sparrow!

“Go away!” shouted Rui Lee, waving her hands around, but that did no good at all to the agile bird. However, Rui Lee was more unnerved than irritated. When she was little, birds usually took off immediately when she approached, even from behind them, which was explainable due to their sharp monoscopic vision. This queer bird, that seemed to have an unfathomable liking for…dog food, flew towards her despite the dog’s presence, and now it has followed her home! This bird was so peculiar and so extraordinary.

The brown feathered sparrow landed on the side table beside the door, refusing to budge.

“I guess we have to keep that too, until it flies away,” said mom. “A bird can’t do any harm. My, my, little princess! You sure have become a Snow White!”

Rui Lee smiled, knowing this “becoming Snow White” incident wasn’t accidental, as her mom had surmised.

But, Rui Lee remembered, part of it was unexpected, wasn’t it?

After many vain attempts at completing her school assignments, still unaccustomed to the ceaseless barking, Rui Lee gave the puppy a bath. The puppy kicked and thrashed, and she thought it strange to be giving someone else a bath, even if it was for a puppy. It felt weird too, the running of soapy water and the writhing of soft fur mixing together beneath her hands. Later, Rui Lee put down a proper bowl filled with the square-shaped crackers for the puppy. Without thinking twice, she named the puppy “Ruff”, which was most typically impulsive of Rui Lee.

Ruff ruff rauffff!!”

“Oh, Ruff. Won’t you sit down!”

Rui Lee sat with her bottom in the grass. The uncanny sparrow flittered around her head like a halo. She’d given up trying to protect her precious mint green shorts, which was dotted with mud, just like Snow White’s dress. She got up. “Wait here, doggy. I need some water to soothe my throat. I am not born a singer, you know.”

She went into the house to pour a cup of water for herself. Then she brought her cup out to pour the leftover into Ruff’s bowl.

To her utmost horror, when she walked out into the garden, Ruff was gone! Rui Lee was disappointed, but didn’t dwell on it. Mostly she was glad it had only been with her for one day, and she hadn’t got too attached to it yet. Why am I so worried anyway? she thought. It was not like her to get attached to a little animal.

Something cold and wet fell on her hand. She looked down.

Bird poo.


Rui Lee’s mom stood at the door of her room, looking very amused.

Rui Lee halted abruptly in midair, landed with a very unprincessey-like elephant’s thump on the floor, and hastily reached to pause the dance song on her phone, tripping over a pile of dirty clothes by her bed in the process.

Even if in the first place, her aim was to let her mom notice what she was doing.

Rui Lee feigned an exaggerated sigh. “Mom. You have no idea how difficult this dance is. Our teacher is really asking for too much, you know, it’s…it’s, a group project…”

Her mom laughed. She looked at Rui Lee’s phone. “What has gotten into you, dear?”

“It’s a group project, mom, the, uh, I have to dance for the school play, and our teacher recommended we choose this dance. Yes, yes. And that no-good Muthusamy, he agreed to ‘take on the challenge’. Mom, you have no idea…” stuttered Rui Lee, sounding more like convincing herself than convincing her mom.

“The nutcracker,” her mom said. “Something is very wrong with my daughter.”

Rui Lee sighed. She plopped down on her bed. “You said you wanted me to become a princess, mom. I was trying to……”

“That wasn’t what I meant, dear.” Mom laughed. However, she didn’t give further explanations. Not because she wanted to act all mysterious. She just didn’t know how to put it.

“Then what did you mean, mom?”

Her mom hesitated. “Rui, there are a lot of other ways to become a princess. Every girl has styles of their own. In the end, though, it all still revolves around a fixed centre, which is the very, very vast definition of ‘a princess’.” Towards the end, she slowed down, with drastic gestures for ‘fixed centre’ and ‘vast’, trying to get it across to her daughter. Almost immediately after, however, her mom dropped her hands in frustration. “It’s hard to explain. A lot of meanings and rules of nature are extremely vague, excluding the fact that they already change and change and change as time goes on. There is almost no general meaning for anything at all. You need to come up with your own way, Rui. A way that defines a princess, and still defines you.”

Rui Lee quieted, processing what her mom just told her. After a century, she said, “Uh, thanks, mom, let me think about what you mean.” She made a funny face, so that the atmosphere wouldn’t feel so serious.

The outlandish bird flew into her room and perched on her head. 

To be continued...
What's with the peculiar bird...?

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