The Girl and her Commonwealth

By: Anson Wong King To

Through the dark shadows and hopeless endeavors, the sky took on a grey tint in Berminova as Miki Bougainvillea struggled to reach the surface, as if she’s stuck in a bundle of chains, leaving her grappling in a steel chamber, having no means to escape from a trauma that caused her to spiral down towards the brink of her death. She looked around while slowly devouring in the flooded gates, reminiscing her last moments of guilt and distrust. But as a ray of light nearly approached her, a resounding voice could be heard from a distance.


“Miki…Miki!”


As a passerby shouted in fear while approaching towards the innocent girl, lying down in the gutter with tears and blood marks, the surroundings seemed to be helpless, but he knew how to handle the situation.


She had a short thought of the past before disconnecting herself from reality.


Nearly soon.


Amidst the serene night and the postcard-perfect sky, which then laid with pillows of clouds, blotching out the alloy-silver colored moon, as the mournful cry of a lonely wolf howled through the horizon. The little girl showed her mother a drawing that would otherwise be a visual equivalent of her quirk, or to put it into context, her passion to change the world for good.


“No!”


An old woman gazed deeply towards her eyes like a fearless tiger with her nearly broken spectacles, while exhibiting her disheveled grey cardigan that lost its spark, and her starched ankle boots that looked like an elite in a high-class conventional party, and her slowly fading cargo jeans that shackled like a drunk person had chugged down large pints of beer, lost, dragged, and unconscious. Her name was Miriam, the mother of Miki that stands no tolerance for going over her authority.


The innocent young girl seemed to have no other path to liberate, not even a path that would let her unchain from the demise. Her “villains” were cynical on her path, fearing that their prolonged years of flowing cash would drop to a negative value.


“Miki! Is everything alright? You don’t seem well to me. Don’t worry, I’ll bring you to safety!” as he hurriedly lifted up the girl.


The passerby was Jonathan Hodgins, Miki’s childhood friend for nearly a decade, he took her towards a nearby hospital while raindrops were dropping towards the crippled Earth. Fortunately, her conditions weren’t too critical, Jonathan let out a relieved sigh.


She wouldn’t have been saved if he did not observe her presence, leaving her to perish towards the light, as he waited outside of the patient’s room anxiously like a nervous child waiting for an examination result, with his cold, dusty shirt and ripped up sneakers, he pulled out his cellphone out of his trunk followed by a small amount of leftover cash from his payday, strolling towards the vending machine that has been “standing in the same position for nearly 5 years. He selected what’s known for Miki’s favorite beverage, just to radiate his joyfulness towards her out of bewilderment.


As the door swayed open, the nurse was ready to bring some good news to him.


“Are you, Miki Bougainvillea’s friend?” as the nurse asked Jonathan without any hesitant.


“Yes, I am.”


“Your friend seems to be in a stable condition, we gave her some medicine and advised her to rest in her bed, you can go inside now.”


As Jonathan acknowledged the truth, he quickly rushed into the room and handed out her long-lasting “beverage of the year” while she was overwhelmed to meet him, never had she desired to quench her thirst in such luxuriousness ever since the last time she had the same drink ten years ago.


“Be careful Miki, it’s still hot so be careful not to spill it!” he warns her. “This could get dangerous if you accidentally let it touch your healing skin.”


“I know.” she laughed. “I’m always careful when it comes to hot beverages, except for that one time, where I accidentally dropped my tea in front of my dad and he went psychotic at me.” as Miki finished her sentence, her emotions suddenly dropped down.


She placed the cylindrical can on the newly furnished table as she grabbed a stuffed bear next to her, wrapped her hands around it, and shed her tears of innocence while reminiscing her dreadful memories while she was in that particular scene.


The light in the dark, eerie room flickered repeatedly, while Miki’s father, Darren, enraged at her while they’re sitting face-to-face on the dining table, creating an atmosphere as if a person who was charged with a certain criminal activity, sitting in the middle of the court. He threw the cigar that lasted in his polluted mouth for hours two meters away, and raised his voice.


“In our family, accidents never happen, we conduct every single aspect in a perfect manner, and you have ruined our family’s hierarchy! You should not deserve to be here!”


“But daddy…” as young Miki cried in guilt.


“Daddy? What kind of pipsqueak would use that word? Address me as sir!” as Miki’s father continued to discipline her while Miki sat in the corner of the room near the flickering light, cried as she was absorbed by the harsh words, dragging her into a psychological trauma.


Out of one’s mind, he didn’t care a whit. Hence, he took out his long, sturdy stick, and bonked the floor several times, leaving an unforgettable sound in her head that would not fade away.


“Miki, Miki? Are you alright?”


She raised her head up and wrapped Jonathan around her arms, yearning for warmth and care.


“I don’t want to experience the same thing again, it’s too far for me…” she cried.


Jonathan grasped her weak, skinny arms that he nearly could felt the bones contacting with the skin, possibly from malnutrition. He felt uneasy for a moment, but continued to stabilize her from the traumatic experience, while Miki was overhearing her neighboring patient chattering with his parents.


“Mom, Dad, I want to be a geologist in the future!”


“Sure thing son, we’ll support you to the fullest since finding fossils is your favorite hobby!”


Miki gazed at the lavender-colored curtain while not being able to observe the joyful conversation between a son and his loving parents, she continued to sigh while fiddling with the stuffed bear that she found next to her pillow, so Jonathan decided to go to the cafeteria and bought Miki’s all-time favorite food – Curry with rice.

“Cheer up, Miki! I bought you your favorite food, please be care-“


“Curry with rice! I can’t wait to-“


“Ouch!” as she screamed in pain from contacting with the lunch box.


Her steamed fingers from the piping hot curry rice seemed to deceive her as Jonathan handed out the lunchbox without a hitch as it heated excessively once it was out from the oven, he sighed while grinning, hence, Miki loosened the lid, to allow the heat from escaping the plastic, stuffy box.


While enjoying her grub, Jonathan asked a question that derived from the neighboring conversation, although having no intention to hurt Miki’s feelings, he proceeded to ask regarding her dreams and passions as Jonathan approached near her face, surprising her in an instant.


“Wh – What are you trying to do?” as Miki blushed while her mouth was full with curry.


“Well, uh – I was about to ask a question.”


“What do you aspire to be in your life?”


Jonathan expected Miki to let down her face, fearing that he would hurt her feelings for the first time in their friendship, but she unseemly answered in an instant with a normal tone without any anomalies. Leaving him to be surprised that he expected the unexpected.


“I’m willing to be a member of a community service since I wanted to help my community that is well… currently in a state of helplessness, but my true passion is to be a part of the board of United Nations, helping others around the world that who are in need.”


“But for my parents, they never even supported me.”


“Not even once.”


Her contentment seemed to be quite helpless, although depending on how one was raised, a person’s judgment would either lead you to a cascading cycle of trauma or guilt, ignoring the valuableness of one’s certain potentiality.


“You can be anything you want! – “


“In specific fields of Engineering, Law, or Business, anything less is intolerable.”


No other options, they say,


no other options…


One’s capabilities and dreams had to be burdened, as there’s a merciless and competitive world out there, where everyone aims to reach the pinnacle of their destined mark.


100/100, anything less, is nothing.


But to crush the rebellion, it’s like stretching a finger to a further extent, they could even care less when the finger snapped into pieces, as their minds filled with the question of judgment.


“What would they say?”


She lowered her head down as if rain droplets started to plunder towards the ground.


“My siblings who were disciplined by my parents fiercely had forced them to shut their promising minds, just to become a slave that would work for death every single day, with the ruthless routine of counting, counting, and just counting, they wouldn’t even have time to converse with each other, even if I preached a simple ‘Hi!” towards them, they would just simply reply with the things that they absorbed during work, since my parents feared that they would drown in a pool of judgment.” as Miki explained further, once again her tears started to torrent out like a river going downstream at extreme speeds.


“But, why? Why would they – “ as Jonathan went in surprised.


“No more! I’m going to bed for a while.” cried Miki as she turned her sights towards the curtain, fixed her head on the fluffy pillow.


Jonathan nodded his head, tucked Miki in while she was sleeping uncomfortably, and started to imagine the boring, ruthless, and passionless routine of a person, some might proclaim the good or the bad side of being a human with such robotic minds.


But it’s worse than just being a robot itself, they plant no seed of laughter, hope and tolerance as the years grind off, while the grim years of regimentation have brainwashed such innocent humans to become “slaves-for-death”, where being passionate is intolerable, they see no more but the boss wants them to see, they hear no more but the boss wants them to hear, they say nothing but the boss wants them to say, and even worse, they do nothing but the boss wants them to do. Along with millions of other workers, their work, for now, is complete, otherwise, it could be said their work…


for…


death.


Miki woke up from her cradle, with her hair frizzing from the repeated turns that she made in her sleep, and Jonathan in surprise, saw the frizzled hair flying around her.


“Your sleep was too good, wasn’t it?” assured Jonathan while in laughter.


Miki groaned for a second.


“Well, it certainly was, but since there’s no more for me to sleep in this rock-hard bed, I’m planning to take a visit to a certain place.” as she continued to finish her reply.


“To where?”


“To downtown Hollingus, that’s where my community resides. But before that I would be delighted to take a trip to the Berminova Market, we’re going to have a feast tonight!” as she replied with glee.


“That’s where I’m going to prove my parents wrong about my passion.”


Jonathan raised an eyebrow, deeming him that this trip would be more than just his typical everyday commute. He himself was surprised that the fact she invited him for an unexpected ride could mean a closer relationship with her. Miki hushed Jonathan while he was murmuring and took a bite of her leftover curry lunchbox.


Miki continued to grub while continuing her unfinished story.


“My father is currently a banker in one of the largest bank companies in Berminova, while my mother is a business trader and my siblings; an accountant and a businesswoman, and there’s me, aspiring myself to change a community as my passion. Our family didn’t have a really close relationship with each other as my parents would usually begrudgingly stare at me while I was browsing for articles about world peace, on the best times I was only able to enjoy one meal while others would enjoy high-class dining, and on the worse, I would dream for my parents to accept who I am.”


With her answer for their occupation that has the same degree of diplomacy, such matters regarding the occupation itself would not be discussed for years. For 7 days a week, 8 hours a day, not including overtime,


just yet.


They have been staring at the blank, hopeless screen while enlivening their fate that costed them less than a dime, either a half-sipped tea or high levels of paperwork on the near-collapsing table, the feeling of not being able to achieve a certain freedom is like jailing one’s self to a dead end, pointless, meaningless, and purposeless. Getting an extra hour to rest isn’t a common sight anymore, as to represent the world, is to let their freedom rest in peace.


“Shall we go now?” Miki asked Jonathan while softening her expression.


Jonathan accepted her offer expeditiously while proceeding to wipe off the excess curry on her alluring, curious face.


“Y – You didn’t have to do that, I could wipe it off myself, or if you wish to do that I’d gladly take that as an appreciation…” as Miki blushed while gripping his hand.


Miki still owned some cash in her trunk, which took back to her a week ago where she ambushed towards her father’s piggy bank, and grabbed a decent amount of money.


“Wow, that’s a ton of cash, where’d you get that?” asked Jonathan.


“I took it from my father’s piggy bank, there was one time that he drank too much vodka after work and got excessively drunk, as he opened the door in the front gate and laid on the ground, I proceeded to grab his golden treasure with his “consent” since I asked him, and took out some cash since I’d know that this would come in handy in case if I’m going back to my community’s house.” as Miki explained in relief.


Their journey from Berminova to downtown Hollingus seemed to went through a plentiful amount of obstacles as the lined-up traffic jam with three lanes of steel and tire would let them progress less than a kilometer in fifteen minutes, while the repeated cycle of internal circulating flow in their car started to heat up like an isolated desert, scorching the heat that would penetrate their barely smooth skin. It’s not until they arrived their first, or last stop, which was the Berminova Market.


Upon their arrival at the market, newsletters, and pamphlets that were held in place flew around like a Category 5 hurricane, scraping through against a banner that promotes job vacancies in a distance apart, while some posh-looking men with their unyielding torsos dominated themselves like an iron fortress, with their cutting-edge tuxedos that looked like a semi-formal party in the 80s.

These were a group of auctioneers, auctioning their valuables that would otherwise turn into profit.


“Three hundred dollar bid, now four, now four hundred, will ya give me four?”

“Four hundred, four and a half, four fifty, How about four fifty? Fifty? Fifty? Fifty? I got it!”

Looking into the marketplace itself, amidst the crowd pushing, shouting and shoving through the corridor that would turn into a straight file, making it extremely hard for the customers to pass through one place to another in a given time. They quickly paced through the packed jam, while there stood vendors with their aprons that covered in filth from meat processing, as well as the fresh produce laying on the countertop. Miki and Jonathan hastily went through every single aisle to bargain every single product possible for their feast; beef, chicken, pork, vegetables and such, as if they’re rushing to a time bomb that’s ticking to its end.


After three hours of tackling their journey of distress, they finally arrived at Hollingus. But as the sun hasn’t set to its sleeping state, she decided to take a stroll around the complex, only to realize the tremendous difference as she took the first step over the horizon. It was once that she laid in a peaceful haven had turned into an outlandish vicinity, surrounded by iron towers with paved roads that would otherwise look like an obstacle challenge, dangerous gangs were a thing of the past, but with a sight of crooked businessmen and their distorted minds, it’s worse than having a nightmare.


But then, there’s still a voice of hope, as Miki heard a fainted sound of singing and laughter, only to realize that her community seemed to be as active as ever, despite the somber of greed and gluttony, she was able to comprehend the nearly abandoned, but decently-sized house that stood robustly in the same position for nearly two decades.


“Miki, you’re finally back! We’ve been waiting for you for years!”


Their tears of joy overflowed as if a bride had thrown her banquet in a wedding party, she couldn’t help but to run towards the crowd of hope, ready to share every single story from each unique minds.


Jonathan hoisted the heavy weighted supplies and sighed in relief while glancing at Miki and her friends chattering with joy, ready to carry the supplies for the barbeque dinner that they’ll be having at a certain time, he took out his bottle of vodka, and gulps it while emanating his satisfaction and fulfillment towards his partner’s happiness.


Meanwhile, in the Bougainvillea’s workplaces, located miles away from Miki’s community home, things were going towards a shadier path. As time passed, they were being deceived by their bosses; cutting off their income, followed by an increased load of signature signing and report filling, they smiled like a gentleman as if they’re proclaiming a sentence that goes “Young lad, this is where you took the wrong way.”, startling Miriam and her husband, Darren. Arguably said, they requested not to do that as they kept complaining that their reputation towards the family must remain as their top priority.


“I understand that Mr. Boss, but there’s no room for us to lose our reputation towards the Bougainvillea family…” as Miriam tried to please one of the bosses.


Their bosses refused it, with the Bougainvillea couple’s mere excuses and a plan to escape from their demises, they felt that they’ve been pinpricked, alarming their senses to deport the obscure couple in no time.


While Miki was having the time of her life, wavering the barbeque pan with mouth-watering hamburgers for the grand feast, she could hear a voice that sounded familiar, but instead, it sounded helpless.


“Is that…my parents?” doubted Miki while gazing her sight as the couple was approaching towards her.


Cashless, Hopeless, and having nowhere to seek for support, they first thought her beloved daughter was nowhere in sight, but as they saw Miki, the Bougainvillea couple heaved towards her, kneeled down right in front of her knees to show that the realization of their wrongdoings were immoral, bringing their legacy of harsh discipline to an end.


Everything went silent as they stood apart at a short distance, the dusty leaves on the cracked concrete began to drift towards Miki’s direction, the wind audibly shouted, and the sky tainted vividly brown, while Miki’s agonizing tears poured out as the grim memories she had during her childhood started to appear once more, but she didn’t really remember every single detail of it, little did she remembered that her mother threw her out from the house.


“Get out! You’re no longer welcomed here!” as Miriam shouted at Miki relentlessly like a lion roaring, who she was weak and hopeless at that time, making her way to the filthy, unutilized gutter.


To seek forgiveness, is to let one’s self understand their own faults, realizing that their actions have affected one’s mindset, either physically, or psychologically. But for Miki herself, she sees no other direction other than letting her parents to be forgiven despite her journey of grim and grime.


Although she doubted it for a while, but it’s high time that her parents will receive an opportunity to become better people, with her vast knowledge of open-mindedness, and a long journey of community-based experience. To grow a person, it takes a decent amount of time to go through the dreadful, the sinister, and the distress.


Miki looked at Miriam and Darren with a warm smile and gave them a freshly-cooked burger, while she hoped to leave their bad memories behind and to continue their life with fruitful and valuable experiences that they’ll never forget.


“I’m home." Miki whispered this sentence while her tears continued to flow.


“Welcome back, Miki, I guess it’s time for us to learn what life has to offer for us.” As Miriam and Darren wrapped Miki around their arms, sending out warmth and care while restoring the fragmented pieces, into a newly-built puzzle.


Miki’s parents looked behind Miki, gazing towards her extravagant community singing and dancing with pure joy, it came to known that Miki’s true passion has finally achieved, who once the community used to be separated into groups, often involved in conflicts and brawls, but with a little bit of consulting and help, it turned into the happiest place in Hollingus.


The night clouds had fallen into the shadows as the sky made way for the brightening stars, the winds started to whisper silently, with the shimmering moon once was invisible, revived back to its alloy-sliver color as it shined through the promising land. Miki assembled the community members and her family into a wide circle, with the bonfire in the center that’s made of branches and twigs that were taken from the abandoned forest, with remains of a particular tree that was being cleaved.


“Miki, I’m truly sorry for how I brought you up, and I truly regret every single words and actions that I had conducted. I deserve to be dishonored – “ as Miriam cried.


“No! It’s fine mother, despite everything that we had gone through, it’s best to let it be, all we have to do now is to restart ourselves, to create another story that fits perfectly in our puzzle.” as Miki replied without any hesitation.


“And father, I’m sorry that I took some of your money, I wasn’t able to conceive my emotions so I broke your piggy bank.”


“What are you talking about? You’re doing well, Miki! Look at your friends over there, they’re happy because of your will to contribute, so it’s time for me to have my night for you.” Darren finished the sentence with a relief.


With their will to forgive, there’s no room for any other dreadful memories to continue from its happenings, so Miki decided to have her night for everyone.


“Let’s gather around, my friends! And let’s make the most out of this night!” as Miki started the night session with her hands on the guitar with a nearly damaged guitar pick that remained for around a decade, and started to sing joyfully as others clapped to the rhythm, while Jonathan continued to prepare the delectable meals for everyone, he gazed at Miki, her parents, and her friends easily forming their bonds while huddling together hand-in-hand. He couldn’t be more thankful than that.


“Food is ready! Get your plates here and let’s enjoy our feast!” Jonathan exclaimed happily, as he proceeded to pack out the freshly-packed plates, ready to serve to the community anytime.


“Burgers or Sausages?”


“Sausages, please!”


Miki then proceeded to approach Jonathan, enfolded him with her arms, and gave him a surprise kiss, as a token of appreciation.


“Thanks for being with me until now, without you, I wouldn’t be here, reviving the hopeless community to be a cheerful one.” as she echoed in his ears.


She then sat next to her mother while gazing towards the starry night, as the moon shined brightly towards the prospective land, perishing the sins and atrocities that came into existence. Miki never seemed to expect that her efforts would pay off, proving her mother wrong that money does not always run with a valuable reputation, but one’s happiness, can be paid pricelessly, with one’s simple apology and a friendly hug, forgiveness and happiness will reprise from its solitariness. On the other hand, Darren would play the banjo while having a tango dance-off with Miki’s friends.


“The moon’s shining bright tonight isn’t it?”


“It sure is, mother, now that we’ve forgiven each other, let’s continue our life with fruitful and valuable memories that are worth collecting.”


Miki started to feel the anger and hatred fading away from her, with the pain of not being able to wish for the things that she wanted, and following aimless longings of the regime, she had a thought that her existence won’t do any good to anyone. Shouting these harrowing words “Please, stop!” “I beg you, mother!” “I want to run away from home!” won’t do her any good or get her anywhere, with her blasted fate, and actions that no one could imitate, her passion is now pursued, reviving one community at a time. Her parents eventually acknowledged her will to support broken communities, starting a new legacy of hope.


“What’s this huge object standing here? This looks like a tube to me!” as a little girl answered with curiosity.


Jonathan chuckled a bit, with her pure mindedness and a will to answer every single question, he proceeded to justify the answer.


“It’s a telescope, Erica. You can observe the stars by looking into this small tunnel.”


Ten years have passed, as Miki and Jonathan looked up towards the luminous sky in Berminova while laying down in the breezy meadow, she guzzled the remains of the lemon tea that she bought in the convenience store at a distance apart while their daughter Erica was observing at the stars, hoping that her fate will soar through the promising skies, leaving no regrets behind.


She opened her album that she grabbed from her house’s attic, mesmerizing into the resplendent photographs that represented the contribution towards her community during her time as an ambassador in the United Nations. With blissful faces of joy and captivating memories where they would go to a nearby bar to enjoy the jazzy night music, or to have barbeque sessions that would last for hours, she couldn’t comprehend more from escaping the bars of misery, as to be accepted by others, allowed her to continue strengthening herself to be better.


To prove one’s power and taking on unknown challenges while facing a spiral that represents the requisite barrier, depending on how one sees it, some may pass through without any hesitation, but knowing that there’s a price from pulling the trigger, there’s no turning back now. In this world, competitiveness from a young age is very crucial in some places, one missed step, and a price will be paid. But for Jonathan and Miki, they know what’s best for their child.


Is to let her write her own story.


It was at this moment, Erica knew what she aspires to do to contribute the world.


“Daddy, Mommy, I want to be an astronomer!”


Miki turned around as the breeze started to brisk easterly, ruffling her fawn hair with confidence and joy, she knew that her daughter would aspire to the pinnacle of her life.


“Go on, my dear, continue your own story, and radiate your future.”