Of Two Girls

Wednesday, July 10, 2013



Hello friends :-)

I'd just like to share with you a short story that I wrote this year for the purposes of my Literature Alternative Assessment last semester. It is purely fictional, though a lot of it is inspired by my own thoughts and feelings. Occasionally, I just feel like I could do with less pressure and stress; but don't worry because I am okay :-) Here is the story, if you're interested and could do with a bit of reading! It is not a good piece of writing, but it showcases a portion of what I go through at times (which is basically what I write about on this blog, except that it has taken a story form today).

Do click if you're interested in reading it! :-)

Of Two Girls
by Yap Li Yin

I

          The pleats on her navy blue skirt evidently ironed down, unruffled and free from wrinkles; her white blouse crisp; her tie drawn securely to her collar, she strides into school. Gingerly fingering the glossy badge with the word “PREFECT” boldly imprinted on it, Sofia looks up. The sky is tinted a brilliant orangey-yellow hue, signaling the start of a new day; a new school day. As she walks, the grip her right hand has on her bag strap tightens and a slight upward curve emerges from the sides of her mouth. Afterall, she has every reason to smile, excelling in almost every aspect of school.

            The envy of many, Sofia is this perfect model pupil in the eyes of her classmates.

“Class, who is able to solve this Math problem on the whiteboard –“and before Ms Teo can complete her sentence, Sofia’s hand shoots up. “Yes, Sofia, I know you’ll be able to solve it. How bout you give some of your other classmates a chance?” Flashing a genuinely sweet smile, Sofia nods and picks up her black pen. Punching the buttons of her scientific calculator, she gets back to work on more trigonometry exercises, three pages ahead of the class. Consistently producing excellent academic results, she is the apple of every educator’s eye.

Charismatic as she is, Sofia is extremely popular amongst her classmates.

            “Hey Soph! Would you like to come and join us for a quick bite at Far East after school?” With a gentle wave of her hand, Sofia declines the offer. “No, thanks, you guys go ahead.” The last bell of the day rang and school is over.  

II

            My name is Rui Min and hoards of sweaty human bodies are now pushing against me, forcing me into the rear of the public bus but I am not bothered at all. All I am concerned with is the fact that school is out and I am free for the next few hours till school starts again tomorrow.

            No one really empathizes with the way I feel. The stuffy feeling I go through every single day. Just like now – in this moving vehicle, though possibly worse – the people surrounding me are judging me constantly for the way I do things. Every action I make, every emotion I experience needs to be aligned with what society has preconceived for me. How I wish I could simply get off this horrible ride; just like I am right now. Making my way to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café located at Orchard Central, the many hours I spend there alone allows me to get away from the haphazard and hectic ways of life; away from the pressure and stress, away from the forced smiles and assuring others that “I’m okay” when I am really not.

            Ordering my go-to drink, “a medium sized caramel ice blended please”, it is an overly sweet concoction of ice and a chocolate beverage, coupled with a generous drizzle of a thick, buttery-brown caramel sauce and just enough caffeine to keep me awake for the next few hours.

“Alright, that’s seven-twenty and also, may I have your initials?”

            “R.M.” I say, as the friendly counter guy keys in those two letters to be printed on the receipt.

            Carefully pulling out a seat, I try my best not to disturb the other patrons, not that there are many. Settling into my favourite spot near the miniature water fountain, the tranquility of the sound of the flowing water calms me down. Biting the purple straw in between sips of a familiar mocha taste, I watch as a smartly dressed young male executive rushes in, buys two shots of espresso and slides his laptop out of his briefcase. Frantically looking for a power plug to charge his device, I pointed to one near me. Muttering a soft “thanks” under his breath, he drags out a chair and plops himself down, typing hurriedly and periodically taking mouthfuls of hot, bitter coffee, clearing oblivious to its temperature.   

            I close my eyes and let out a sigh. Is this how my life will eventually become? I am just a student now, but the pressure of society is already getting into my head.

            Time is up and freedom is yet again taken away from my clutches.

III

            After seven hours of lessons with most students staring at the clock and counting down to the end of school, the final “thank you and goodbye” was monotonously recited and immediately, everyone started grabbing their bags and leaving the classroom. Sofia throws her sports duffel bag over her shoulder and heads to the bathroom. She emerges from the cubicle with her hair pulled back into a slick ponytail and wearing a pair of shorts and a round-neck T-shirt with “DANCE” printed on it in a striking neon green typeface. With a skip in her step, she confidently heads to the dance studio to get ready for her co-curricular activity (CCA), Modern Dance, to start. Plugging in the cable of the speakers into her iPod, she swipes her thumb across the ‘play’ button, causing the rhythm of David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’ to fill the room.

            Her head down, Sofia tilts it slightly as a soft beat dropped. Gracefully breaking into a contemporary series of body movements, she throws her hands up into the air as the chorus starts.

            “I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose”

            Gliding across the smooth surface of the floor, Sofia’s feet skillfully draws circles in the air.

            “Fire away, fire away”

            Eyes hypnotic and lips pursed, she was completely immersed into her dance.

            “Ricochet, you take your aim”

            The intensity of her movements increases drastically, with powerful kicks and turns.

            “Fire away, fire away”

            By now, a crowd consisting of some of Sofia’s CCA mates forms around her, watching her every spin.

            “You shoot me down”

            Sofia unexpectedly tumbles to the ground –

            “But I won’t fall”

            – turns out, it was part of her routine and flawlessly stretching her legs out, she bounces back to finish with off with a strong stance, fists clenched and chin up.

            “I am titanium.”

            Silence ensues. Sofia reaches for her iPod to prevent the next song of her playlist from blasting. Quickly breaking away from the troubled expression she had while dancing; she beams at those watching her.

            “Shall we wait for the rest before starting CCA proper?”

IV

CCA has just ended and I am on the way home. As I get into the train, I peer out of the windows. The train station – complete with waiting commuters – whizzes pass me and in its place stands myself. A reflection of myself is now visible, standing against the black background of the underground tunnel.

I look horrendous. My eye bags are dark and huge and I have stray hairs flying everywhere. The slump of my shoulders caused by my heavy schoolbag is obvious. Sweat-drenched, I am pretty sure I stink as well. My hand is slowly slipping down the handrail due to fatigue. I look nothing a sixteen year old should look like; supposedly youthful and full of energy. To me, such an image seems so wrong in every single way.

If this is what school is going to continue to do to me, why should I even continue? Oh yes, because dear society expects me to excel or I would never be able to make it in life. Yet, if this is how life is going to be, why continue?

The questions go unanswered and the stressful but pointless mundane life carries on.

V

“And class, there is a Chemistry assessment next Thursday. Remember, it constitutes 35% of your overall Chem grade” The class groans in unison, and Sofia reaches out for her daily planner. Flipping the pages to arrive at her schedule for next week, she stares blankly at the page with “Thursday, 15 August” printed on top. Below the date, in Sofia’s neat handwriting, read:

1.      Meeting with Prefectorial Board
2.      Meeting with CCA EXCO
3.      English project due
4.      Math class test
5.      CCA Camp Proposal Form deadline

Picking up her black pen, she scribbles “6. Chemistry Assessment” illegibly
below the previous five points and slams the book shut, startling several of her classmates. Leaning back into her chair, she grunts and runs her hands through her hair, using a little too much strength than she should have.

VI

            With her schoolbag already packed before the last school bell of the day rings, Sofia fidgets in her seat. Catching a glimpse of the clock ever so often, she stands up immediately when the shrill sound echoes through the corridors. As she runs down the stairs, Sofia misses a step by accident and her heart skips a beat.

            “Ugh, bloody…” Before she finishes her swear word, Sofia stops herself just in time. She is determined not to leave this place in bad mood. Doubling the pace of her steps, she rushes to the bus stop and boards ‘190’. It is not the peak hour, and the bus is therefore fairly spacious. Plonking herself onto an empty seat, Sofia looks out of the window and saw the world zoom pass her. The frustrated drivers behind their steering wheels, the commercial buildings with huge billboards, and the little insignificant people walking on the streets, probably entangled in society’s web of expectations.

            Alighting from the bus, Sofia takes a deep breath. She is going to be free at last. A leisurely stroll to Orchard Central for some coffee is definitely apt at this point of time.

            “My usual, please,” Sofia tells the friendly counter guy working at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. She waits as the barista pours a cupful of ice into the blender, together with a cupful of chocolate mocha. Before pressing the button to blend it all together, he grabs the squeeze bottle labeled “caramel sauce” and squirted a liberal helping of it into the machine.

            “Here you go, R.M.”

            As the icy cold coffee slides down Sofia’s throat, she feels a little tingling sensation, almost as if the caffeine is taking effect. With the newfound energy, a certain sense of lightheadedness descends upon her and she heads to Somerset MRT station with spring in her steps.

            Glancing at her reflection in the train carriage, what Sofia could see is someone powerful, strong, and capable of making her own decisions. She is one who will take control of her own life and decide the path that she is going to take. Yes, that is what she is seeing and that is what she is going to do.

VII

            “Do you have any recommendations for something that can help me achieve analgesia?” Sofia asks the pharmacist.

VIII

            The principal of the school walks up to the podium. “Good morning school. Today, I bring to you a piece of sad news. One of our students, Sofia Lee Rui Min, has passed away yesterday due to an overdose of painkillers. A student of outstanding achievements, the demise of Sofia is an unfortunate one. She was one who would have been a valuable asset to our society, showcasing in her a potential to make positive contributions. In commemoration of her, let us observe a minute of silence. “

            Well, indeed. A minute of silencein memory of me is very much appreciated. Afterall, I know that I am worth much more than to be stuck in this institute. Tired of living under a mask of perfection, there is truly a limit as to how long one is able to pretend for. I am proud to say that though I might have been a victim of society, I have successfully escaped from its clutches.

            “You shoot me down, but I won’t fall.”

I am now truly free. 

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