Chapter 5 - Chains And Flowers
This is the story of a dead girl who resurrects 80 years later, with a ghostly body and strange powers. People think she is a ghost, a hologram, a goddess or anything else, but nobody knows who she really is. Each story is told by someone who encounters her at some point.
My name is Lihwa. I am now a grown woman. All my life, my parents were on the move. We settled in one place and something happened. We had to move, then we had to move again and then again. They built a house and made a future somewhere, then war broke through and we had to move. They settled in another place and built a new life, but at that time the nukes started to fly. We move to another place and started a new life, only to know that borders have collapsed and each empire is breaking apart into countless small states... and ours will be a harsh dictatorship. We sold everything, but by the time we got into a better place, hyperinflation stroked and with the money with which you could buy a house, now you could not buy a cigarette. How many times we moved from place to place? How many times... until one day, they died in an explosion.
From that day, I remained alone. What could I do? I crossed another border and found myself in a town where I could manage to find a job. From that day, I decided to stop traveling from place to place. I will just stay here. Now, I am completely alone.
Soon after I learned the language and my way through, I made a few friends, girls of my age. What surprised me is that all they were talking is about how to cheat on guys. No sign of affection, no nothing. All they were up to is money. My best friend was Dayiu.
"You show him your love, but never let him touch you. Smile to attract him, but then move".
"Why, Dayiu?" I ask.
"Lihwa, all what guys want is to get to bed with you. Nothing else".
"Maybe not all of them", I say. "My parents were not like this".
"You are still a child. They have a penis instead of a brain. You never knew the truth because your parents wanted to hide. You think my parents don't cheat?".
"I don't know, but I've never seen them".
"Lihwa, see the way I now hang with Huan. This is the way. And you know how I did in the first days?"
"No, Dayiu. Tell me".
"When we decided to move together, I cleaned the house, I washed all his clothes and waited him with food on the table. The next day, I said 'goodbye'. Watch the guy, when he is mad about you, it is time to give him the worst pain you can. Break-up when he is crazy about you. Hit him when it hurts, let him suffer, but when you see he is giving up, start to kiss him, love him. Just keep his hormones rise, then hit. This is the way".
"You speak like a devil, Dayiu".
"No. Huan is the devil, like all males. Males are made of toilette shit. You remember when I was cheating him with Bojing? And he found out? Remember how I stopped all from falling apart? Hit him, be rude with him, but don't forget to be sexy. Do you remember what I told Huan that day?"
"I don't remember, I was working late".
"Women should not be working!" she almost shouts at me. "When I seen in his eyes that he knows I've been cheating, I said short: How much pain are you going to bring to myself? Don't you see I have my whole purse full with medicine? And all is for my brain. All my brain problems are because of you and the horrible way you treat me. Because all you do you do you act like a baboon. Now the whole town is laughing at me because of you. Why are you acting so pathetic? Listen, toilette shit, because I am not going to repeat this to you. This night I will sleep here with Bojing. Until tomorrow, I want you to make-up your mind. Do you still want to be with me or you better let me go, because I cannot hold your behavior much longer. You change yourself or I will die".
"I am surprised that he still is with you, Dayiu. I would have long abandoned you if I were him".
"Lihwa, remember that guys think with their penis, not with their brains. You have to keep them beneath your foot. Do you know how many times I made love with Huan? Only twice when we met and that was over five years ago. I let him see me, but not touch me. He is willing to be with me, but I don't let him. This is the way, an endless frustration. And if I find he tries to cheat me... it is all the pain in the Universe. You remember when I tried to suicide because he were cheating with Biyu? In fact, I guess he was not cheating with her, they once were class mates".
"I am sorry, but I cannot be like you", I say. "I just cannot".
"You have to learn, Lihwa, or you will be spending all your life as a worker. And a few more things: When he is very tired or he suffered something bad, hit him. In a week, Huan worked all day and all night. He came nearly in morning, very tired and could not even get in bed. He remained dressed in street clothes on the floor. You know what I told him? If you pretend to be that tired, why don't you just get in the other room and don't stress me like that? Men don't have the right to complain about anything. They have to be in perfect obedience. They exist only to serve us. Later, he had a fight with his parents, because he was stealing money from them to give me. So, I said shortly: If you have any problem with your parents, we should close our relationship. You get it, Lihwa? Always make him suffer. And when he has problems, hit him harder. When he is ok and brings you money, pretend that you love him, but not for long. Milk him like a cow, but if he no longer has milk, drain his blood".
"Dayiu, this is torture".
"This is what males deserve".
"I think they are humans, like us, only with a different gender", I say.
"You have mercy for them, Lihwa? This is pathetic".
I tried to meet other girls. I thought she was a special case, but later found out that most women are the same. The only thing they want is money. And this is the policy. Since there are almost no kind women in this town, guys have almost no options.
One day, I return from work. The town is crossed by a river and near the shore, there is a small bar. I am not into alcohol, but I do smoke. So, I go to buy cigarettes, then spend a little time with people there, to talk. I see Huan, Dayiu's partner. He seems exhausted from work, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. I just sit on a nearby table, so I can listen. He is with two friends, probably coworkers.
"I've seen your wife", says one of them. "She is cheating you".
"Don't you think I know?" says Huan.
"Let her go, man. Just let her go", says his friend. "She is draining your blood".
"And grow old alone all your life?" says the other one. "Don't you see all women are the same? I am getting old. What can I do now? I prefer a bitch that cheats me all day then to be lonely".
"I don't know", says Huan. "She is very sick. I still think somehow she loves me."
"Get rid of her", says again his first friend.
"She will suicide", says Huan to him. "It should be better if she goes to her lover and only comes to me for money, just let me alone".
"Better she go suicide. If not, you go dead", says his first friend.
"Or better you get a mistress", says the second one. "At least you will make love with that one".
"After all this, I no longer feel the need for love", says Huan. "Well, guys, I should go. She will make a hell at home if she feels the smell of smoke. She will think I met some girl at the bar".
He goes away. He is closing 30 and skinny. I clearly see all the stress and pressure on him. I guess he doesn't eat too. I don't stay much longer, either.
My job is something about recycling. It is amazing how many things people before us threw as garbage. Even if sometimes 100 years have passed, former dumping areas are now exploited as quarries. The same applies for former, abandoned cities and industrial centers. Concrete can be grinded and mixed with cement to be reused. Iron and metals are the most easy to reuse. But there is something which values more and that is plastic, asphalt or rubber. Oil is long gone. What little oil this planet has, is only used in pharmaceutical industry. Plastic can be converted back into many raw materials for industry. My job is to scan materials recycled from dumping areas for radioactivity. Whatever I find to be radioactive, I send back.
Huan also works somewhere in this domain, but not with me. He is in the sorting team. His job is to extract dirt. After all these years, garbage has decomposed and left a very good material for agriculture. The only problem, it must be cured of impurities, like heavy metals, objects, plastic, glass or concrete. The process is automated, but humans are still vital in many parts.
I know he is suffering. I know that Dayiu is feeding on him like a leech. On the other hand, I keep the friendship with her. She does nothing all the day. She goes to cosmetic upgrades, she goes to parties, she spends a lot of money on expensive clothes, while he works hard every day. I know him now. He takes extra hours to earn more money. I don't. I am happy with what I earn. It is enough to sustain myself.
One day, as I finish work, I see him. He has finished his job and now eats. I know he will go to the second job, which is equipment maintenance. He is eating bread, just bread, with nothing in it. No surprise he is so skinny. As he finishes eating, I come to him.
"Hi", I say to him, lighting a cigarette.
"Hi", he says.
"Do you want a cigarette?" I say, giving him one.
"Thank you", he says.
"You work very hard".
"I can handle it", he answers.
"Try to take care a bit of yourself", I say.
"If I will die tomorrow, nobody will care", he says and goes to his next job.
I return home. Usually, I take the hover trolley, but this time I go by foot, all the 7 km back home. I am the only one walking on the road. It is a concrete road, surrounded by vegetation. Cars are moving in all directions. These cars float about 20 cm above ground. But not cars are in my mind. What I am thinking about is Huan. I return home, make something to eat, watch a movie and go to sleep. He will be working late, as Dayiu is having fun with her lover. How could she be like that? In Biology, there is a fundamental difference between a germ and a parasite. Germs multiply and kill their host, then they die too. Parasites usually don't kill their host, because if they do, they also kill themselves. However, sometimes they do.
One day, after work, I go to Dayiu's house and we have tea. The house is not so well maintained. It looks like they never invested much in furniture and other things. It is clean where you can see with your eyes. A girl knows how to look if a house is clean. Look behind closets, look to hidden places. I also notice the fridge is almost empty and cooking tools appear unused.
I know she doesn't smoke, but I need a cigarette. So, she invites me out. In the yard, I see grass is not cut, flowers are covered by weeds and trees are not properly maintained. She does nothing in the house.
"You need to do something to those flowers", I say. "It hurts me to see them covered by weeds".
"Don't worry, I will put him to clean them, when he comes from work".
As we stay out in the sun, we see Huan coming in the distance.
"Come with me, Lihwa", she says. "I will show you how to work with a male".
I come, even if it hurts me to see this. First, we go to the living room and watch a movie. We hear the door opening, then we hear him moving. Except the sleeping room, all other rooms are not separated. In fact, the thing that separates them is a wall of glass. So, we clearly see him. He comes to the fridge and brings food in it. Wow! This means Dayiu is not cooking anything??? He drinks a glass of water from the sink and eats some bread, with nothing on it. Then, he comes to us. With his head down, he comes here.
"Hi", he says, looking at us.
"Hi", answers Dayiu. "What are you looking at? Go, change yourself and take a shower. You stink!"
He goes, then she says:
"This is how you say 'welcome' to a husband that seems tired, sick or has any problems. Now, stay inside and watch from the window. I will make him gardening".
When Huan comes, she takes him by hand out in the yard. I stay at the window and hear:
"Now, this is just too much. You made my friend laugh of me. You see those flowers? This is how flowers should look like? Why don't you take out all the weeds between them? She laughed at me. Now, I will go and throw myself from a rock. She will go and tell the whole town that our flowers are not well maintained. What am I going to do when the whole town will laugh at me?"
I need to smoke. But what should I do? I am supposed to stay at the window.
"This time, you crossed the line. You crossed any line. Don't you know how many pills I take? I am insane and all is because of you, stupid baboon. I said I will not give you any second chance, after all you have done to me".
She returns in the house, but I need too much to smoke. I go out in the yard. I light a cigarette and offer him one too. He refuses, but I insist. He looks to the house and then smokes, taking care not to be seen. I say nothing, just look at him. He has the eyes of a person trying to chew a lemon. This is too much for me. I just leave and walk back to my home. Too much pain.
The next day, I am back at work. Then, after work, I feel that I don't need to return. Instead, I go to the ruins of the former town. It was abandoned when people were afraid of atomic weapons. Now, there is nobody here. I know the place. There is an open-air theatre in a small park. I go there. The former concrete benches are still there.
I sit down and light a cigarette. I am thinking about what I seen last evening. A tear falls from my eyes. I rise my eyes to the sky. There is a small green star I see. It might be a drone. Sure, it will not disturb me. Well, I rise my eyes to the sky, hoping any god will hear me.
"Poor Huan!" I say. "Please! Is there anyone listening me? He needs help. That woman will kill him. I cannot do anything. He needs help".
Then, I look down. I clean my eyes of tears. And then, I hear a little noise. On the bench, near me, I see that letters are being dug in concrete. It is like an invisible hand is writing. What is this??? It takes a minute. Then, all is silence. I read the text:
In two days, invite them both to Renaissance Pub. Rent a car when you do this. Also, bring two flowers, a metal chain and a pack of cigarettes.
I have no idea what this is or who did this.
"Thank you, I will do!" I shout, then return home.
As time flows, I keep on thinking what is this about. Who wrote this? What will happen? Did any god listen me? Well, I don't know. I just go to Dayiu and tell her that I invite both of them to Renaissance Pub, to have dinner together. I prepared all what was written on the bench, even a rented hover car. Well, I drive, but I am very bad at it, since I lack experience. I get dressed as usual, Dayiu gets dressed in a very provocative way, while Huan is wearing a costume that almost falls off his skinny body. Since he is the best driver, I insist he will drive.
"Just watch the road, baboon", says Dayiu, as she steps near him.
He drives. As we enter, she says to him:
"Try not to make people laugh at me. Just sit and don't do anything. I don't want people to know I am married with a baboon".
We get to a table. This pub has a large screen, like some sort of cinema. In fact, it is a place where people love to come to see together sport games, like football or zero-G cricket. Now, there is nothing rolling on the screen, There is almost nobody inside. Music is playing in the background. I order something to eat for everyone. We get the food. We, women, eat, but Huan is not eating.
"He must not eat", explains Dayiu to me. "I don't want people to see he has no manners".
Then, I light a cigarette. I instantly offer him one.
"What?" says Dayiu. "You smoke? You know nicotine remains in the air and on your clothes. You know that harms me. You've been killing me ever since".
All this time, I waited for some sort of a miracle, but nothing ever happened. Quite nothing. Maybe it is all my imagination. Maybe there was nothing written on that bench. Maybe I am getting crazy. So, after I finish smoking, I invite them both back in the car. As we get in, Dayiu says:
"You are burning money on smoking! Shame on you! You know I need money for my medicine!"
Well, this time I got in front, not Huan. I will be driving. They are both in back. I start the hovering car, then light a cigarette. Well, my smoke will not kill her, but his will. The car stops like if it ran out of power. No movement, no hovering, no lights, nothing. Doors are all blocked.
As we try to figure out what this is, I see a green star on the sky. It is growing in brightness and comes to us. It moves fast and... It is not a star! It is something that resembles a woman, but with green wings. What is this thing? Yes, it looks like a woman with wings and with a green fire above her head. She has horns. She comes close and enters the car, taking a seat near me.
"Lihwa, drive back to the theatre", she says.
The car then has power again. It floats and starts moving. The car is surrounded by a little green haze. I drive, very careful. In the back, I hear Dayiu scared, screaming at the green girl:
"Who are you? Are you going to kill me? What are you?"
I drive. In this time, Dayiu gets so upset, that starts hitting the windows.
"Do something, don't just stand there, baboon!"
I see something strange. The green girl is smoking and makes a green smoke, but that has no smell. Also, her wings pass through the roof of the car and through her seat. It is like she is not material. At tight curves, her body tends not to remain on the seat. She moves a bit to one side. It is like she is not attached to matter and she passes through objects.
But nothing helps. I don't know what to do. I just drive, hearing her screaming and punching in the windows. I don't know why, but I am not scared. Well, we reach the theatre and I stop the car just near the bench where I sat. The doors open and we move out.
My bag moves out from the car, alone, flying. It lands on the concrete bench, just near the place where I seen the inscription. It opens. The flowers, the metal chain and the pack of cigarettes emerge. Dayiu wants to run, but she simply cannot. Something, some sort of force field, is keeping her in place. Me and Huan are going close, to see what is going on. As we get closer, two cigarettes emerge from the pack and start floating in the air, going to us.
"I guess they are for us", I say, looking to the green girl.
She does not look at us. Her wings are slowly moving. I notice that she also smokes something green. We take the two cigarettes and light them. She instantly turns toward us, with a smile on her face, then comes to us, very closely.
"I have 3 gifts, but it looks like you chosen the best two", she says. "Your souls are like two flowers. This is why the flowers are for you. May you both be happy".
As she says this, she puts her hand on the flowers. I see how her hand gets through matter. A few petals separate from the flowers and twist, until they form two rings.
"Take them", she says.
"Who are you, bitch?" screams Dayiu from behind.
We take the rings, but at that moment Dayiu hits Huan in his back.
"What do you think you are doing, baboon?" she shouts. "Put that down and go back home!"
"I also have a chain", says the green girl. "For who should it be?"
"Not for me, you slut!" she shouts.
"Someone said males worth like toilette shit", says the green woman. "Well, whoever says that, is not worth to be a woman. Now, what should I do with such a person?"
"I never said that!" shouts Dayiu.
"Please, don't hurt my wife", says Huan. "Have mercy, whoever you are".
"Does she have mercy on you?" says the green girl. "You work and starve and she consumes your money on make-up and clothes. You spend your time working more then your health can handle, while she spends her time in hotel rooms with her lovers. You eat bread and she eats caviar. How I wish other people could see the souls of surrounding people, just as I do".
"You must be a goddess", I say.
"Lies, lies!" shouts Dayiu. "It is all a lie, don't believe her! I spend my money on medicine!"
"I am The Legend", says the green girl.
Then, Dayiu takes her purse and tries to hit the green girl. Her purse instantly burns and all what is left is a cloud of ash. She goes to Huan, takes him in her arms and says:
"Let's go! Take her away from me! She is going to kill me!"
"I heard your cry, Lihwa", says the green girl. "I seen you and came to help. What do you want me to do with them?"
"Is there any way to solve this and still them to be together?" I ask.
"Just look at their souls", she says.
The next moment, she moves her hands in front of my eyes. I feel her hands touching me. It is like some sort of cold air, but that gets through my body. When I look, I see a bright light instead of Huan. A bright, shiny light. But, instead of Lihwa, I see darkness. Something bad. Toilette shit. I am so shocked, that I scream.
Then, she moves away from me and comes to Dayiu. She falls paralyzed on the ground.
"Don't kill her!" screams Huan. "Don't touch her!"
"Relax, I will not do anything bad to her", says the green girl, touching her body below her belly. "I will only do what needs to be done. From now on, she will be a man. In a few days, she will be transformed into a man. She will have to work to sustain herself. Don't worry, she is not sick at all. Huan, if you love her, just leave her. You will only herm her if you touch. Let her alone in your house. Let that house be her, while you two will move together".
In that moment, the two rings made from flowers rise and come in front of us. We take them and put them on our fingers. The chain also starts floating in the air. It comes to Dayiu, who screams and fights to move away, but she simply cannot. The chain comes to her, breaks into two and each half encircles one of her hands.
"Now", says the green woman, "take her to her house. You two go to Lihwa's house and stay there for at least an year. Try to take care, you two. And for her, just keep distance. It is her only chance. If you try to help her, next time, she might die".
After saying this, the green girl opens her wings and starts flying. She vanishes in the sky. We do just as she told us. We take Dayiu back to her house and let her there. Then, we return to my house and sit here. The next day, we return the car to its owner.
It took us about two months until we became friends and form a couple. His love for Dayiu is strong and beyond question, but he understands it is better this way. What happened with her? What actually happened, appeared on the news. She came with a story that Huan was cheating her with me, that we took her to the former summer theater and tortured her there, things like this. We just kept distance. Then, she felt very bad and went for a few days to a hospital. No doctor could understand how it is happening, but in a few days her breasts just fallen from her body. She transformed herself into a man. It appeared as a great mystery in the history of medicine.
Soon, police came to us and forced us to declare everything. And we did what they asked us to. We confessed all. Everybody was so amazed about this story.
As time passed, we formed a stronger couple. Now I am pregnant and wait a child. Dayiu? She is now a man, living alone, working somewhere. She stays in her house. I think she (or he, now) will remain alone for a long time. When he sees us, he just turns away.
Who is the green girl? I don't know. I think she is a goddess. She was a human, but ascended into another level, just like Buddha. She said she is The Legend... and that is all I know.
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