The land of our ancestors.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

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The sun set early in the country of light drizzles, fog, and ancient history. It was barely five but headlights of cars broke through the dimness of night, reflecting against the wet roads. With closed eyes and a warm enough sweater, it was easy to picture being amongst those of PE5, with Mandarin permeating the air and confusion clouding my banana mind, but open eyes revealed Chinese signboards, drivers on the wrong side of the road, fog as far as the eyes could see, and most repugnantly, spit stains on the ground, which served as clear reminders that we weren't in Malaysia anymore.

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Day 1 of our trip to winter-time-China proved to be cold and dreary yet beautiful with their raindrops on naked trees and small maple leaves juxtaposed against colourful neon lights of the city.




With my family, conventionality is out of the question and our Khoo adventure began this time around with a private family tour by none other than non-English-speaking tour guides.

"It would be fine, they said. The Chinese would understand English, they said."


You would think that the language barrier would be the biggest issue.. But in one day alone, we survived a closed airport counter (late by 3 minutes!), were almost lead away by the wrong tour guide (this was later resolved with our garbled Mandarin & help from our actual tour guide), and two con jobs by our guides (sort of..) which taught us that:
A) China is a scary place;
B) Never go on private tours again.

The first of these two happened at the tea farm. As we know, it's compulsory for foreigners to be brought to tea and silk factories in China.



Warm tea was such a welcome respite from the cold that we happily gulped it down.. UP TILL THE POINT THAT IT WAS TIME TO BUY SOMETHING.

Boom!! - the Chinese vultures attacked. "You HAVE to buy 3 bags of tea," our guide insisted. "The government has a quota for all tour groups". Of course they couldn't force us to buy la but it was hard selling to the extreme. It was just.. Tension. The previously nice tea selling lady's face was black as night and our tour guide (obviously commission-hunting) was being super insistent (and annoying!!!!!!)

This has never happened before because when we travelled to China previously, it would be in a large group whereby someone would have certainly bought something. At that point I was ready to stand up and ask if they would hold us down if we refused to buy! It was so aggravating. GAH.

But my parents, being the mature individuals they were, decided to pick their battles and let this slide because of the remaining four days we had left with him. They kept the smile on their faces, bought more tea concentrate instead (to the disgusting pleasure of the horrible tea selling lady) and all was done.


Most tours provide the option of additional shows or visits for an added fee. Having woken up at 5am, we weren't exactly in the mood for the show that night which was exorbitantly priced at 300 Renmenbi per person anyway. So, my mom told the driver that we weren't going for the tour.

And the vultures attacked once again. "We already booked the tickets." "I thought you wanted to go." "Didn't you already say yes?" "Everyone wants to go."


Right after the tea room incident, we weren't exactly in the best of moods to be dealing with such Chinaman-ness but weren't sure what else we could do so we asked the price. Seeing our faces which really weren't very happy as opposed to the afternoon, our driver immediately said, "180 Renmenbi."

This was close to HALF the initial price he gave us. Imagined if we hadn't kicked up a fuss. He would've probably pocketed more than ¥120x6 for himself. I know the whole country operates on commission, but seriously?? It hadn't even been 24 hours and yet we got "conned" twice. -.-

It was lucky (for him and for us) that the show really was brilliant and while didn't ease the sting of the con job, didn't feel like a waste of money either.



But hey, they may have grouchy waitresses and a tendency to exploit their tourists (but to be fair, where doesn't?), but when it comes to their performances, they sure get it right.

The rest of the days flew by in a blur of Mandarin, food, and culture, with ever-present conning all around.

We were treated to watermelon slices…


CHINA style!


With me heading off to the UK next year, and my sister to the US, us Khoo siblings realized that due to the holiday differences and distance, the trip would probably be one of the last few we would have as a whole family in a long while.

We hugged each other..


We annoyed each other..


And we jumped with each other..



That came with a fair share of violence as well though..


Poor Dom.. 

The last few days of our trip brought us to Shanghai which was a stark contrast against the wooden houses of old with its towering skyscrapers which stretched up way into the clouds.


Namely, the Shanghai World Financial Centre.


This picture is more me than the tower but meh, you can see something there at the bottom left. Smile with tongue out 


We were in a lift that went up 8m per second, causing ears to pop and grandmothers to be frightened.


But we came down safely it was all good. Open-mouthed smile 

At night, Shanghai had even more to offer in the form of its glittering city lights.





A rainbow bridge!

Being in China in neat little hotel rooms by night..


And a dose of culture by day..


.. wasn’t the easiest holiday. Everything was in Mandarin and for a banana like me, understanding the history was difficult and watching the news was exhausting. Coupled with the fact that my severe dust allergy and China’s ridiculous pollution levels has practically made me allergic to the country itself, my third time in China (WHY DO PARENTS LOVE THIS PLACE SO MUCH) just makes me even more grateful for having been born in a country like Malaysia, away from earthquakes, four seasons, and with languages I understand.

I want to learn Mandarin.. Very desperately and resolve to do so at a less busy time in my life. For now, I will leave my understanding of China to rough translations from my mother and research on Wikipedia. After all, a country like China is overflowing with trivia and information independent to China alone.

Because really, where else in the world can we find a pink Spongebob?


Could You Love Me?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I started off writing fiction before I ever began to blog. Years ago, blogging was an escape from writing stories. I had so many in head, so many begging to be told, pushing against my fingertips, invading my dreams, imploring me to tell their story. I would sit in class and day dream about my characters, visualizing their faces and their destinies and to be honest, it was exhausting.

I was by no means an accomplished writer. I was just a thirteen year old with an active imagination. I turned to my blog as an escape from my character’s lives - to focus a little more on my own and over time, they stopped pushing against the door trying to get out. They lay dormant in my head, and slowly, gradually.. disappeared.

What I find most tragic about that is the fact that I never really did notice their absence. It always seemed easy to say that whenever I was free, I could easily go back to writing stories.

I used to plan my characters. I would plot out their vital stats, complete with height, hair colour, eye colour, face shape, etc. I would piece together bits and pieces of celebrities or people I would find on Google and created a folder for each character. She would have his eyes, her jaw would look like that except smaller, etc. I would give them personality quirks and bad habits even if they weren’t relevant to the story. I loved building my characters and the more I wrote, the more they felt real to me.

But now, it’s different.

I recently stumbled across stories I used to write - incomplete files with notes and bits and pieces, and though childishly written (it has been four years, after all), they struck me with such a sense of longing to return to the world of stories but it just isn’t the same. I don’t hear the characters in my head anymore, and neither do I feel the story. I don’t remember what I wanted to convey and words come out more hesitantly than they used to.

I’m on a hunt for the rest of my story files, but till then, here’s an incomplete story I had in there somewhere. The date stamp says July 20th, 2008.


A woman's scream.

Hushed voices.

Panicked faces, frightened cries.

A flash of bright light.

Suddenly, there was a noise.

He opened his eyes with a start and stared groggily at the scene before him.

The owner of the orphanage was holding the hand of a young girl with dark hair. Even at his young age of five, he thought that the girl was beautiful. Her huge brown eyes were bloodshot and she was gripping a fine golden chain that hung around her neck.

Miss Deanna gave a pointed look at the boy and walked away, her long brown hair swishing behind her, leaving the sobbing girl in his care. He motioned for her to join him on the floor.

"Why are you crying?" he asked her, more curious than concerned.

"My papa and mama are dead." she replied, her eyes downcast.

"It's okay. My father and mother are dead too..." he said, smiling faintly at her. "But you know... This way, they can watch over you better.

Miss Deanna says that my parents are in heaven and are looking down at me, making sure I'm a good boy. Maybe yours are too. My mother used to get mad at me when I cried. I don't think your parents would want you to cry..."

"Nu-uh! My mama said that crying makes you feel better! We're not supposed to hold it all in or we'll burst!" the girl countered, wiping away her tears.

"Well.. maybe it's because you're a girl and I'm a boy. Boys are supposed to be tougher. Girls are supposed to cry more."

"Really? I guess so.."


They were silent for a while.

"My mama once told me that she would be safe once she got married. She and papa didn't get married... is that why they weren't safe?"

"Well.. my parents were married but they died."

"Oh." She was forlorn once again.

It tore his heart to see her so sad. He felt a strong urge to help her.

Facing the young girl, he said, "If it makes you feel better...let's get married. Maybe it'll keep us safer."

A small smile lighting up her face, she responded with a simple, "Okay."

Outside, Deanna Roshwood smiled to herself as she watched the two exhausted children sleep beside each other. The orphanage was a lonely place for Lucas who had been abandoned there by his uncle. Although he was kind and sweet, the other orphans living there were much older and didn't have time for him. Maybe the arrival of the new girl would be good.

Mumbling to herself, Deanna concluded, "God knows they need friends in this place.”


"I want my mamma! I want my mamma!" Arcelia wailed loudly, teardrops blurring her vision. "Lukash! Why did they take my mamma away? WHY?"

Lucas held the young girl in his arms, comforting her with soothing sounds. "Hush, little one," he said gently, rocking her slowly, hoping to stop the girl's tears. "I'm here, Arcelia. Hush now."

She resisted against him, struggling and shaking but as she grew tired, she leaned into his embrace. "Mamma used to hold me like that if I didn't make her angry. It's all my fault, Luke! I didn't want to cry. The neighbours were not supposed to come! I didn't mean to make them take mamma..." she trailed off, her voice and body weak from her earlier shouts.

"Arcelia, never blame yourself. What happened to your mother wasn't your fault. She just needed to go somewhere where people could help her," he assured her, his voice calm. Arcelia nodded her head in acceptance.

It wasn't the first time she had cried in the middle of the night since arriving at the orphanage a month ago, but it still angered Lucas to know that such a sweet child had her youth stripped away from her due to her alcoholic mother.

Gazing at the face of the sleeping child, he smiled slightly. Arcelia was barely four, but yet, she was mature in her thinking. She was extremely insightful for her age and noticed things many didn't. Lucas tightened his grip around her and carried her to her cot. Giving the sleeping girl a small smile, he left the room slowly, careful not to make too much of a noise.

Right outside the door, Trixie was asleep. Her dark hair contrasted heavily against her pale face and red lips, and her closed eyelids hid captivating brown orbs. Having known her a decade or so, he knew she was there for a reason. He nudged her awake with his foot, expecting a violent reaction from the feisty girl.

Instead, she shifted slightly and went back to sleep. "Trixie and her sleep," he sighed, smiling slightly. He picked her up easily from the ground and carried her to their room. Trixie wasn't skinny, but in no way was she fat. She was relatively heavy but years of Lucas lifting weights in the dead of night made her considerably easy to carry.

Setting her down on her bed, he grinned. "The two women in my life are asleep. What to do? What to do?" he asked her sleeping form. He received a grunt in reply. Chuckling, he left the room. He wasn't tired although it was hours past midnight. He made his way towards the kitchen, marvelling at the difference in atmosphere of the orphanage during the day and during the night.

In daylight, the home was loud and full of activity, with children running in every direction, and he, Trixie, and Miss Deanna trying their best to maintain the peace. At night, the place was silent and slightly eerie.

Lucas stood awkwardly in the kitchen, looking for something to do. Spotting some flour, a smile stretched across his face and he got to work.

"Rise and shine, sleepy head!"

Lucas' cheery face was met with a loud grunt as Trixie rolled over in her bed. She wasn't a morning person and Lucas' happiness was hitting a nerve.

"Come on.. I have cupcakes!"

Trixie was silent, her face on the pillow.

Trying his luck, Lucas waved one of the cupcakes in front of her nose. Just as he was about to give up, she shot up and grabbed the cupcake stuffing it into her mouth.

"Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, Trix."

"Shush. Let me eat in peace. Shoo, now." She waved him away, cupcake chunks flying out of her mouth as she spoke.

"Egh. Pig," he said, grinning. Deciding to leave her alone, he reminded her, "You'd better be awake in ten minutes or you'll have to bathe the twins."

Groaning loudly, Trixie got up, oblivious of the cupcake icing stains on her face, as she stormed outside to give Lucas a piece of her mind.

"Lucas, darling. Could you help me out a little?" Miss Deanna inquired. Around them, the orphanage was bursting with activity, as each child was busy with their morning chores.

Nodding, Lucas followed Miss Deanna into her office, frowning slightly when he saw the amount of legal documents on her table.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Oh, no. Nothing's wrong. In fact, it's great news. I just got a call from a Grayson family. They're interested in adopting," she said, a huge smile on her face.

"Ah.. okay. Well, what do you need me to do?" Lucas questioned, knowing that it was too late for him to be adopted, for most families wanted a young child.

"Well, they had some.. requirements." She took a deep breath. "They wanted a child without allergies, mild mannered, preferably a girl, and under the age of eight. You see, his wife has been having some problems and they hope that having a child would be good for them."

"You mean they're trying out a kid?" he asked, disbelief etched across his face. "And you're letting them?"

"They can provide Arcelia with a better life!"

"So you've chosen? And there's no guarantee for that. What if they abandon her?"

"They won't."

"How do you know?"

"Because I just do!"

"That doesn't ensure anything! What if something bad happens? How do you know she'd be safe?"

Miss Deanna was almost in tears by then. "Stop asking questions and just help me, Lucas! We need this. I can't afford to take care of this place out of my own pocket anymore!"

"What!? You mean they've paid you for Arcelia?" he bellowed.

They stood there, glaring at one another, the younger boy towering above her.

"Fine. But if anything happens to her, it'll be on your conscience." Lucas broke the silence.

"Thank you! I need you to tell her what's about to happen and about her new family."

Lucas nodded silently and walked out of her office.

"Arcelia sweetie. There's this family who wants to adopt you."

"Arcelia, someone's going to take you away."

"Arcelia, you must remember that I'll always be here for you. You see, someone's interested in adopting you! You'll be having a new home!" Lucas said, feigning enthusiasm.

"Who's getting a new home?" Trixie asked, walking into his bedroom. "And why are you talking to the mirror?"

Lucas sighed deeply. "Arcelia's getting adopted."

"That's great! Are you going to tell her?" Trixie said, without missing a beat.

"Yeah.." he sighed again.

Trixie rolled her eyes. "Okay, Luc. What's wrong? You always sigh when there's something wrong."

He allowed himself a small grin. She knew him too well. "It's nothing," he said, softly.

She glared at him, unconvinced. But she knew he would tell her eventually. He always did.

"It's just, I think Miss Deanna's having troubles taking care of us. It was fine when there were just a couple of us but now, the place is almost packed."

Trixie concealed her smile at his predictability.

"And, I'm pretty sure she can't support us out of her own pocket for long!" he added.

Not detecting the connection to Arcelia, Trixie sent him a questioning look to which he replied, "Arcelia's new parents donated a lot of money."

Understanding dawned upon her and Trixie grinned grimly. "You know, take this as a blessing. If they're willing to donate cash to a place full of kids, they probably can take care of Arcie."

"A nanny and a babysitter isn't the same as love, Trix," he said, pacing slowly, his voice sad. "How am I gonna tell Arcelia that she's gonna be adopted?"

He turned quickly towards the doorway as he heard a sharp gasp. Arcelia was standing there, her hand over her mouth, looking sheepish. "I wanted to show you a drawing. I didn't mean to listen, Luc! I didn't! Please don't get mad," she pleaded, mistaking his guilty face as anger.

"No, baby. Come here." He pulled her into his lap, and tweaked her nose affectionately. Trixie smiled. Although she grew up with him in the orphanage, she was always in awe at how Lucas could make anyone feel better. Heck, he made her feel better when she first came here, offering her his friendship.

Once he explained the situation to Arcelia, she grinned toothily and gripped Lucas' hand. "Luc, will you miss me?"

"Of course."

And that was that. By the following month, Arcelia the orphan became Arcelia Grayson, the heiress of a billion dollar empire.


Trixie used to think about her family a lot. At the beginning, she would cry herself to sleep, picturing her mother's chocolate eyes and her father's set jaw. Nowadays, she could hardly remember their faces.

At times, she would wonder about her extended family, and if they knew that she was in an orphanage. She would conjure up eccentric uncles and nosey aunts in her mind, holding on to the fantasy only because she wanted to feel wanted.

But after a while, she got used to being an orphan. She got used to the idea of being abandoned. She got used to the idea that no one outside the orphanage gave a thought about her. She wasn't anyone important anymore.

Trixie Emma Hawthorn used to be treated like royalty, her life luxurious, filled with playthings and large manors. But not anymore.

It shocked her that her past was the only thing she kept from Lucas. That boy knew everything about her, from her favourite colour to her first period. But somehow, telling Lucas about her family just seemed odd. He had never asked, and she had never volunteered information. Trixie would like to think that he didn't really care, but she knew it wasn't true.

He was too insightful. Sometimes, when she was thinking of her family, he would appear out of nowhere and place a comforting hand on her shoulder. She wondered if he knew what she was thinking of, but she never dared to ask. Those times were becoming far and few, as she thought less and less about families.

But, the adoption of Arcelia awakened these thoughts.

Why didn't her parents get married? How did they die? Did she have any relatives? Why couldn't she remember anything about their deaths?

Where did she get her necklace from?

A few days later, Trixie went to look for Miss Deanna, seeking some answers about her past. She had been having trouble sleeping, her constant worries about her history keeping her awake. She approached Miss Deanna's office, pausing outside when she heard voices from behind the door.

"Yes. She's perfectly fine. If you want to be sure, drop by a visit. London isn't that far."

Peeking through the keyhole, she saw Miss Deanna on the phone. Being the curious person she was, Trixie stood there, her ear pressed against the door.

"Yes, I'm treating her well. No, of course I can't give her special treatment! She isn't a child anymore." Miss Deanna was getting irritated.

Trixie was definitely intrigued now. Who was Miss Deanna talking about?

Suddenly, a hand clasped around her mouth, startling her. Turning quickly to glare at her attacker, she signalled for Lucas to keep quiet.

He nodded and imitated her position but on the opposite direction. Their faces were inches apart but they hardly took notice.

"I've always been keeping my end of the bargain. You're the one that's being late with the payments. Do you want me to send her off to live on the streets? That would look very bad for you, Mr. Hawthorn. Your own niece left begging."

Trixie was silent, her head reeling from the news. But she wasn't too sure that it was her they were discussing. It could be any of the orphans here. Pointing at the door, she signalled for Lucas to continue listening.

"No, I'm not blackmailing you! The orphanage really needs your money, Mr. Hawthorn and without it, the children might h-. Yes, that includes Trixie."

Having heard enough, Trixie ran to her room, Lucas trailing quickly after her.

Within the confines of her room, she said, "Oh my God, Lucas. My uncle! I have family."

Lucas kept quiet; thinking hard. Why didn't Miss Deanna let Trixie know about her uncle? After all, it was procedure to let them know of existing family members.

Something was up, and it didn't give him a good feeling.

Meanwhile, Miss Deanna was making a deal with Mr. Hawthorn.

"Mr. Hawthorn, I do know that you are the owner of In-.

No, of course I hav-.

Wait! I know that she has to ge-"

But she wasn't doing a very good job of it. Mr. Hawthorn was successfully monopolizing the conversation to his usage, leaving Miss Deanna flustered and stammering.

He was hoping winding her up would help him stall for time as he thought of ways to get out of his current predicament. For years, he had successfully avoided taking care of his brother's daughter by funding the orphanage.

But recently, the orphanage had been having some financial issues and as usual, he was expected to solve it. However, this time around, he needed the money.

Alfred Hawthorn was a greedy man, usually manipulating people for his own gain. Having found out that he was Trixie's godfather, he negotiated with her so he wouldn't have to take care of the child.

That was when they made a deal. Apparently, there was a young orphan at the orphanage that was attached to Trixie. Deanna feared that if Trixie was taken away, the boy, Lucas, would sink into depression.

And since then, Mr. Hawthorn had been paying a certain sum every month for Miss Deanna's discretion. Mr. Hawthorn was a wealthy man and very prominent in society. He was a handsome businessman and a child would ruin his reputation, although the child wasn't his.

Besides that, without Trixie in the way, he was a step closer to possessing his deceased brother's small fortune.

He never lost any sleep over the child, hardly thinking about her at all. The only time he thought of her was when he saw the diminishing numbers in his bank account. That was when he cursed her existence, cursed his brother, and cursed life in general.

In short, he hated Trixie Emma Hawthorn, the only thing keeping his away from his brother's money. The money would have gone to him, he was sure. But while his brother and his wife's dead body were found stashed in a closet, Trixie's wasn't and because of that, he needed to make her disappear. And that was why he wanted to get rid of her. He needed to.

Ending the call, he went to his office and called for a drink, trying to clear his head.

The initial euphoria of having a family had died down and Trixie was more than a little confused. She paced slowly in her room, arms swinging at her sides.

Burying her face in a pillow, Trixie groaned loudly as she replayed the conversation in her mind. She could only remember snippets and cursed herself for not listening more carefully.


Trixie pondered hard, her pacing making rhythmic thudding noises on the ground. Her thoughts were plagued with ridiculous ideas, from breaking into Miss Deanna's office to blackmailing her for information.

But, she couldn't bear to do anything against the middle aged woman. Although Trixie didn't have the bond Miss Deanna and Lucas shared, Trixie cared deeply for her.

Eventually, she came to a conclusion.

Lucas woke up with a start, startled to see Trixie bending over him, her brows furrowed.

"What?" he grumbled.

"I'm leaving."

At that, he shot out of bed. "What?!"

"I need to know, Lucas. I've been thinking about this and I think the best thing for me to do is to go to London to find my uncle," she stated.

"What? You're just leaving without telling anyone?"

"I'm telling you, aren't I?" She was starting to get irritated. Lucas was delaying her departure.

"What are you going to do? Do you even know how he looks like?"

"I think I have an idea. After all, how hard can it be?"

"Famous last words.. Do you even have any money?"

"Yeah, I have about enough to last for three months if I'm careful."

"Do you have a plan!? London's big, Trixie."

"I'll think of one once I get to London."

Lucas ran his fingers through his hair agitatedly.

"Are you insane, Trixie? It's London! It's big. You can't take care of yourself. Come on. You're fourteen! You can't go. I- I won't let you!"

There was a pause.

"Who are you to decide whether I can go or not?" she asked, her voice quiet. "I came here to say bye to you before I leave and you're giving me this."

Lucas glanced at Trixie, his eyes wounded. He left the room without a word. Trixie inhaled deeply. Grabbing a large sling bag, she started packing.

"Stupid Lucas," she mumbled, grabbing a few shirts and stuffing them into her bag.

"Thinks he can talk to me like that just because he's older than me." She was folding her clothes, muttering under her breath.

"Oh! I'm Lucas. I'm a big scary guy." Trixie was at her cupboard by then, looking to bring anything of sentimental value. Scrapbooks, cards, and pins went into her bag.

Then, she stopped.

She looked at the picture of her and Lucas, their arms around one another. It was taken during his 8th birthday. Once a year, each orphan is allowed to choose one of their friends to go to town with. Naturally, Lucas and Trixie had been choosing each other for years.

In the picture, Trixie's and Lucas' hair were windswept and messy. Their eyes glowed red from the flash and their faces glowed with wide smiles. Although their appearances were contrastingly different; Lucas with his fair hair and dark complexion, and Trixie with her pale face and charcoal hair, they truly looked like family.

Sighing heavily, she placed the picture back in her drawer and headed for the orphanage's front door.

She didn't make it to the gate.

Lucas' back was against a large tree, his head bent over a thin children's book, rereading it for the umpteenth time. It was a story about three imps who were kidnapped by a giant. They were forced to entertain the giant to save their lives.

Lucas smiled sadly as he finished the story, his memories rushing back.

It was on his 8th birthday. He had chosen Trixie to go with him into town for his birthday celebration. In return, she had bought him a book with the meagre amount of money she had.

He remembered being incredibly fascinated by the book's illustrations. Although it took him a while, he managed to recite the book perfectly and would constantly tell the story to the younger orphans.

Trixie could read even before she arrived at the orphanage but Lucas couldn't. When he received the book, he had just learnt how to read and most letters were confusing to him. However, with Trixie's guidance, he managed to learn considerably quickly. Years later, he became a horrendous bookworm who read books ranging from classic literature to romance novels.

The fifteen year old boy flipped to the first page, his green eyes scanning the familiar words quickly. He didn't even have to read the book to know the words.

Suddenly, he heard a thud followed by angry mutterings. Out came Trixie from the bushes, her shoulder length hair adorned with leaves.

"I hate it that you always have to come here when you're emo."

"It's peaceful."

"I also hate how you manage to read in the dark and have perfect eyesight."

Lucas smiled at that. He couldn't remain angry with Trixie despite her irrationality.

"Have you decided not to leave, Trix?" he asked, his voice more hopeful than he realized.

Trixie looked at Lucas sadly. "No, I haven't."

He sighed.

"Lucas, I really need to do this. Don't look at me like that. I can hardly remember my parents; let alone what happened to them! I can finally figure out the truth." Her fingers subconsciously went to the necklace around her neck. "You can't hide me from every bad thing in the world, you know."

"Alright," he caved in. "But I'm coming with you."


Lucas and Trixie decided to leave that very night. She waited for Lucas to pack his things as she considered grabbing their birth documents. Of course, she had considered this before but with Lucas coming along, it seemed more real.

Exhaling heavily, she went to Lucas. "Hey, Luc. I think we gotta get our papers."

Looking up from his packing, he understood what she meant instantly. "Oh, right. I didn't think of that. Do you think we should leave a note?"

"I'll handle that. You just pack and... get the documents," she replied, taking charge. After all, it was her mission. It was her idea. If Lucas was coming along, she would be leading.

He smiled wryly and returned to his clothing. "Mustn't pack too much, you know. It would be a hassle dragging clothes around," he said, more to himself.

Trixie ignored Lucas' mutterings as her mind drifted; wondering what drove Miss Deanna to hide her uncle from her. "Maybe if I ask her.. No, I can't. I've made up my mind. I have to leave.."

A frown creasing her face, she searched for a pen and paper, composing a letter in her head. Once obtaining the needed stationery, she took a seat by the door and started writing.

She took a while, trying to convey a suitable message for the woman who had housed her for fourteen years. In the end, she managed to compose a note which read:

"Dearest Miss Deanna,
First and foremost, Lucas and I thank you so much for taking care of us. We are leaving and may not be coming back, depending on our fate.

I urge you not to panic and not to involve the authorities in this matter for the safety of the other children. We have taken our documents and valuables. It would be easier to pretend that we were never here that way.

I know you must be wondering why we are leaving, so I must admit that I have heard you conversing with my uncle. At first, I thought of confronting you about it, but then, I decided that I needed to take action.

I would love to meet this elusive uncle of mine. We are headed to London to search for him and hopefully find out more about my past. If things do not work out, we will return, hoping to be welcomed back again.

But if you feel you can no longer take us in, I'm sure Lucas and I would be able to survive. Do not fret. I must also apologize for leaving this abruptly but I feel this is necessary for my peace of mind. Yet again, thank you.

With love,
Trixie and Lucas"

Trixie signed off with a flourish and reread the letter, wondering if it was too regal. She didn't want it to be too personal to prevent emotions being involved.

She looked around for Lucas, not noticing that he had left earlier to retrieve their documents from the Office. Pulling herself up, she folded the letter neatly and left it on her bed, hoping Miss Deanna would find it in the morning.

She walked to the door, her pace slow. Turning back to glance into her room, she took in all the little details she hoped to remember in the future, and closed the door behind her for the last time. Trixie didn't notice the tears that were sliding down her cheek until she felt Lucas' arms embrace her.

She struggled, embarrassed. He held on, comforting.

"It's okay to cry," he said, softly into her hair. "We don't have to leave. We could figure things out another way."

Trixie pulled away, wiping away her tears. "No. I want to go." Her voice was steady.

And so they left. Two people, barely adults and without a plan, they gripped each other's hands and left the only place they were ever safe, ready to take on the world.

That night, Lucas and Trixie slept in the park. Their arms and legs were wrapped around each other, both keeping the other safe. From afar, they looked like lovers.

But to each other, they were their lifelines.

Trixie woke up to find herself looking into deep brown eyes. She backed up against the bench quickly. The eyes followed her as she edged slowly away.

"Missie, don't be 'fraid." She halted at the words. "Frankie won't hurt no one, Frankie won't. Frankie's mighty hungry and was wonderin' if the little missie had food."

Trixie shook her head, her eyes scanning around for Lucas. Looking at Frankie, she noted that he was dressed in rags and certainly looked hungry. As he didn't look like she was about to hurt her, she eased a little.

"I'm sorry.. but I don't have any at the moment," she said, checking her pockets for sweets. Locating a small box of mints, she offered it to him.

"Ah, Frankie hadn't seen one o' those in a while. Sure, why not?" he replied, taking the box and emptying it in his mouth. Once having done that, the bearded man took a seat next to her. "Frankie's been hungry for a while, Frankie has. Ran away, 'tually. Wanted to play some music. 'Course, dad didn't agree. Haven' seen him since. Last Frankie heard, ol' man got married 'gain."

Frankie seemed to have forgotten about her, engrossed in his memories. Trixie looked up to see Lucas' worried expression a few metres away, his hands carrying a plastic bag containing food. Beckoning him over, she introduced Frankie and Lucas.

Lucas didn't seem comfortable talking to Frankie and after a short while, excused himself and Trixie.

"Trix," he hissed, once out of earshot. "You can't go around talking to strangers. It's not safe."

"But.. he's so cute," she replied, grinning. Lucas exhaled loudly.

"He may be but there may be other people who aren't as nice. Besides, don't you want to look for your uncle?"

Trixie frowned at Lucas. "Sure, spoil the fun," she muttered. Returning to Frankie, she offered their food to him and bid him farewell.


"So, where do we start?" Lucas wondered aloud, walking alongside Trixie in the crowded morning streets.

The younger girl ignored him, her thoughts focused on the encounter they just had with Frankie. Would they end up like him? What was she thinking, bringing Lucas into this?

Sure, Frankie started out with high hopes. He wanted to play music, didn't he? But now, he was living on the streets, relying on others for his survival.

Did she really want that? She said they would go back if things didn't work out, but would they?

Trixie's pensive mood didn't go unnoticed by Lucas. Steering her into an alley, he shot her an inquiring look, his arms across his chest.

She sighed. "Are we right in doing this, Luc?"

"Aww, Trixie. I thought you really wanted to do this. But, whatever it is, I'll be there for you. We won't end up like that Frankie guy," he offered. Chuckling slightly, he added, "Lucas thinks we'll be fine."

Trixie smiled softly at him. "I hope so. Well, I'm hungry!" she stated, changing the subject abruptly.

"Well, you shouldn't have given the food to Frankie, then," Lucas muttered. "Alright. Let's go find something to eat. Mind you, we can't spend that much. We're running on a low budget."

After what seemed like months, which were in fact a few weeks, Lucas and Trixie found themselves in the outskirts of London. They were huddled together, shivering from the cold rain, their frames thin and clothes ragged.

Their duffel bags were long gone along with their identification papers. It was stolen from them while they were asleep a few weeks back. At first, they settled for park benches and cheap inns. But slowly, as money became scarce, they moved into alleyways and abandoned houses.

Still, they refused to accept the spare change tossed their way. They both agreed that they would earn their keep. But as their money diminished, the temptation increased.

No matter how strong their wills were, they were growing children nonetheless and growing children required nourishment. A daily diet of a piece of bread could hardly sustain one child, yet alone the two of them.
Regret crossed Trixie's mind many times as they weren't any closer to her uncle. In fact, they didn't have the faintest clue where he was.

Trixie knew that Lucas found it ridiculous that they were on the streets merely hoping to run into her uncle, but he didn't question her. She was grateful for that.

Her stomach rumbled loudly as she pondered. Next to her, Lucas grinned. It looked foreign on his thin face. "Hungry?" he asked her, knowing what she would say.

"Only if you are, Luc."

"Hmph," he responded. However, he was thinking. It pained him so much to see her hungry no matter how much she denied it. They hadn't had a proper meal for weeks. The last meal they had was a piece of cheese they bought with the last of their money.

Looking up, he analyzed the carts in the marketplace. Would they miss a slice of bread? An apple, maybe?

Lucas made up his mind. No matter how much he was against stealing, he really couldn't bear seeing Trixie suffering. As the rain slowed to a drizzle, he made up his mind. The moment Trixie became distracted; he would grab a little snack.

He would do anything for Trixie. And it scared him.

Lucas turned, looking up at the setting sun. The once crowded streets were now empty, and as he faced Trixie, he found her asleep. She was hunched against a brick wall, drool trailing down the side of her mouth.

He smiled.

Getting up, he looked for the cart he spotted earlier. It belonged to an old man and his son. From his observations, he noticed that the old man was very absent minded. Of course, that made him the perfect target to steal from.

At that thought, a shudder went up and down his spine. He felt disgusted about what he was going to do. "Just take an apple, walk away," he told himself in his head.

Lucas took a deep breath and headed towards the cart. Before he knew it, he had grabbed an apple and walked by. He waited but the accusatory cries never came.

Pushing his guilt aside, Lucas knelt next to Trixie. "Hey, Trix. Wake up," he mumbled into her ear. True to her nature, she hardly stirred. He rolled his eyes and shook her awake.

She growled at him before opening an eye wearily. Lucas held out the apple slowly. Immediately, her face lit up. Grabbing the apple, she took a big bite.

Her mouth full of apple, she said, "Wheredya get it from? I haven't eaten apples for ages! Is there a tree nearby?"

"Apple trees don't grow here," Lucas replied, not meeting her gaze.

"Lucas...," Trixie stopped chewing. "Where did you get it from? Did someone give it to you?"

"Not exactly," he mumbled, eyes downcast.

Trixie didn't say anything for a moment.

"You didn't... take this, did you?"

His silence was her answer. Standing up, she looked around for the apple cart. Spotting the old man's son at the cart, she ran towards him. But before she could say a word, he grabbed her wrist tightly.

"Dad, I found the thief!" he shouted.


Trixie looked up, horrified. Her wrists were clamped firmly by the vendor's son. She was startled as his cold green eyes bore down upon her. He towered above her, even taller than Lucas.

Fear gripped her heart. Would she get arrested? She didn't do anything wrong! Where was Lucas?

Trixie didn't struggle. Her feet felt as heavy as lead. She felt numb all over. She felt herself go weak. Suddenly, everything became dark.


Nolan stared as the girl in his arms slowly slumped to the ground.

"Had I scared her that much?" he questioned himself.

He stood there, uncertain. Nolan looked around for his father. Was he holding a thief in his hands?

Earlier that day, his father told him that the local youths have been causing some disturbances, stealing food and what not from nearby carts. He was told to be on the lookout.

Then later, his father told him that he had seen someone taking an apple from their cart. His father's eyesight was failing and couldn't give many details.

But when Nolan saw Trixie coming towards him, he assumed that she was trying to steal something. Now, he wasn't so certain.

Her face, although scrunched up and worried, looked pure and innocent. She could have just wanted to buy an apple.

Nolan almost hit himself. He felt like an idiot. Of course she just wanted to buy an apple! And he scared her into a state of unconciousness. He felt terrible.

He nudged her slightly. She didn't look like she'd be waking up anytime soon. His father wasn't around to help him out either. Making up his mind, he walked home with her in his arms.

Before he could get very far, Lucas ran out of the shadows. His face was flushed, his eyes frenzied.

"St- stop," he panted. "D- Don't do anything to her! "

Nolan stopped in his tracks and glanced at the boy. "You know this girl?" he asked.

Lucas nodded. He looked at Trixie. "What did you do to her?" he asked, his worry increasing. He took a step towards the taller male, an obvious threat in his stance.

Holding out his arms, he reached for Trixie. However, Nolan pulled her against his chest protectively. "How do I know you aren't some freak?" he questioned Lucas.

Lucas retorted quickly, "My friend's unconcious in your arms and you're questioning me?"

Realizing the ridiculous situation he was in, Nolan thrust Trixie into his arms. "Fine, you're responsible for her then." He didn't think that arguing with street urchins was going to do anything. He didn't even know that girl. Who was he to look after her? After all, he still needed to clear up his cart and look for his father.

Turning away, he cast one more look at the unconcious beauty. Guilt was consuming him as he looked at her closed eyes and limp body. It really was his fault she was in this condition.

Before he could say anything else, Lucas shot him a sharp glance. "What did you do to her?" he asked, stroking her hair comfortingly. It was obvious to Nolan that the girl was someone important in Lucas' life. Probably a lover.

Banishing the sudden violent thoughts towards Lucas, he realized that the girl was obviously in good hands. She didn't need his help.

Nolan was yearning to return to the comforts of his home. Not wasting time, he replied swiftly, "I thought she was a thief. I confronted her."

Immedietely, Lucas' face changed. Instead of the look of anger he was constantly shooting Nolan, guilt and a little bit of fear was apparent in his features.

"Was she a thief?" Nolan asked, sensing the change in Lucas.

"No. No, she wasn't. I- I am," Lucas responded, looking Nolan in the eye. "Trixie wanted to return the apple."

Trixie, Nolan thought. Her name's Trixie.

Pushing thoughts of the dark haired girl to the back of his mind, he straightened up and glared at Lucas. "You're a thief. And you let her come here to return what you stole?"

"I didn't know she was going to return it!" Lucas said. "Well, she was hungry! She hadn't eaten in ages. I just wanted to give her a treat!"

A treat from our cart, Nolan thought. But then, he made up his mind. It wasn't Trixie's fault that Lucas was a thief. She didn't deserve harsh treatment.

"Be sure to thank your friend," Nolan said. "Because I'm taking you and her home with me."

Lucas seemed to snap to attention. "What?! No! Why?"

"Obviously you're not fit to take care of her. Look at her condition. And I suppose I feel slightly responsible for her state," the other boy replied with ease.

"No," Lucas said, firmly. "I can take her."



"You live on the streets, don't you?" Nolan questioned.

The two teenagers glared at each other in silence for a moment.

Lucas' mind was whirring. It was obvious they couldn't continue their lifestyle. Trixie wasn't any closer to finding her uncle either. They might as well use some shelter.

"Fine," Lucas said. "But I'm carrying her."

"Suit yourself."

Leading the way, Nolan went back to his cart and did a little bit of packing up before heading to his home. After a five minute walk,they stopped in front of a small cottage. Nolan knocked on the door, which was answered by an old man. He was almost completely bald, except for a tuft of white hair on the back of his head.

"Nolan. Ah. Good, you knew I was here. I told Miss Monroe to tell you that I decided to come home early. I wasn't feeling well." he said to his son. Then, he noticed Lucas and Trixie. He peered curiously at them. "Who are your friends?" he questioned.

"This one's a thief, Father," Nolan replied, gesturing towards Lucas. "And this one's Trixie, a girl he's supposed to take care of," he continued, pointing at Trixie.

The old man nodded his head solemnly. "Let's come in and you can tell me all about it over a nice cup of coffee. Yes, you too, thief."


The interior of the cottage was simple. However, it had certain homeliness to it that Lucas had never felt at the orphanage. He felt awkward and guilty.

He had stolen from the old man and there he was, being offered coffee and biscuits. Trixie lay on a sofa, her breathing shallow.

Lucas felt a surge of anger as he saw Nolan glancing at Trixie. He shouldn't have scared her like that!

But then, guilt overrode his anger. If only he had been there faster. If only he hadn't stolen.

"So, now then. Will anyone care to explain to me what has just occurred. I suppose we should introduce ourselves first. I'm Mr. Green. My boy there's Nolan," the old man said.

"We shouldn't talk to a thief like friends," Nolan retorted.

"I'm Lucas," Lucas said, ignoring Nolan's comment. "I'm sorry, . But I do not deserve your hospitability. I just need a place for Trixie to rest. We've been out for quite a while and I suppose the lack of food has gotten to her."

I did steal from you, I must admit. I'm sorry. I truly am."

Nolan snorted.

"Small matter. You are forgiven. It's obvious you were desperate and you really do seem sorry."

Outrage showed on Nolan's face. But before he could react, Mr. Green continued.

"But, I would like to hear your story. So, how did you come to this dire state of hunger?"

And so, Lucas told him everything.


Mr. Green looked at Lucas slowly and let out a loud sigh. "Well, there's only one thing we can do," he said gravely. Lucas swallowed hard. "You'll have to earn your keep though."

Lucas bowed his head then abruptly looked up. What? Smiling at the startled look on Lucas' face, Mr. Green continued, "You didn't expect me to turn you in to the police for a mere apple, did you?"

Ignoring the mutterings of his son, he said to Lucas, "As long as you don't make me regret it, you're welcome to stay as long as you wish."

Gratitude and joy filled his heart. Lucas wasn't even planning on staying, he was just hoping to avoid being arrested, but this was something else entirely. Someone opening up a home for complete strangers was a rarity and he was immensely pleased to have been so lucky.

However, his thoughts went straight back to Trixie, thinking of how a stable home would benefit her for a while. They didn't really have a clue on where to go; only that London was their main destination. As for now, they needed some time to gather their bearings.

Nodding his head, Lucas agreed to the terms. At that moment, Trixie stirred. Lucas rushed to her side, disturbed to find Nolan already there. Although Trixie was talking to Nolan, her gaze automatically shifted towards Lucas, sending him a short smile.

Lucas sighed in relief, his heart giving a little jolt. Trixie was alright, he practically sung aloud. Paying Nolan no mind, he kneeled down beside her and started stroking her hair. "Where am I?" she asked him, in a whisper. "I'll tell you later," he replied, just as softly, his eyes boring into hers.

Obviously annoyed at being ignored, Nolan said, "Trixie, would you like a drink?"

"Water will do. Thank you," she replied, smiling at him. Nolan smiled, shot Lucas a sneer and headed for the kitchen.

"That was sweet of him for leaving us alone," Trixie muttered absently. Lucas felt the green monster within him swell. Sweet, was he? Sighing, he realized that being envious towards their host would bring them nowhere. Suppressing his anger, he said in a gentle tone, "Trix, I'm really sorry and I know you wanna go see your uncle as soon as possible, but frankly, we're not in a state to go anywhere."

As the younger girl opened her mouth to reply, he interrupted her, "We're at Mr Green's house. Nolan's his son and well, they're allowing us to stay here till we're ready to head off."

Sitting upright, she said, "Luke, don't worry. It's alright. I don't mind staying here. But we really can't take advantage of their hospitality like that."

"Yeah, I was thinking of looking for a job first thing in the morning. I hope I'll be able to earn enough to pay them for letting us stay. Well, I'm going to be saving a little for us to get to London too."

"How far is London from here anyhow?"

Lucas stared at Trixie. Truthfully, he said, "I haven't really gotten to that part yet. Didn't ask, actually."

Trixie chuckled at Lucas abashed face. But before she could say anything, Nolan returned with a two glasses of water in his hands. Stonily handing over a glass to Lucas, he turned towards Trixie and cast a charming smile.

"Thanks," Lucas muttered wryly. "No problem," the taller boy said, still looking at Trixie. Pulling her to her feet, he said, "Would you like to have my room?"

Trixie turned deep amber and started to stutter. "Of co-course not! The couch is just right for me."

"But then, I couldn't let a fine lady like yourself sleep down here alone. My conscience just won't allow it."

"Oh, really! It is no problem at all," Trixie said, giggling. "Oh, but where's Lucas going to sleep?"

Immediately, Nolan's head turned towards Lucas' and his easy-going demeanor vanished. "Trixie, you're taking my room. Lucas and I will be sleeping down here."

And with that, there was finality in his voice that Trixie dared not question.

There was a family of five seated around a large oak table. A huge turkey was in the middle of it. The atmosphere was exuberant and laughter was aplenty. The four year old Trixie was laughing uncontrollably, finding the joke her father told her hilarious.

Meanwhile, her elder sisters were in a heated discussion over one of their servants. Ever knowledgeable when it came to gossip, the Hawthorn sisters were well-known to be the life and soul of a party, always ready with a story of some sort.

Not by any means did they have any sinister intentions. They were merely terribly nosy people who really didn't see the point of secrets. Trixie smiled at her older sisters as they argued over something silly. As usual, the young girl found them ridiculous, but she loved them all the same.

Suddenly, she saw a face by the window. Recognition dawned upon her and she started screaming, yelling as loudly as she could.

"AAAAH!" she screamed into the night. Her face was sweaty and her eyes were swollen. It was just a dream, she told herself.

She hadn't had that dream in a while. When she was younger, new to the orphanage, she had constant dreams like that, with the dreams ending when she saw Lucas' face peering into the room.

He always looked the same, dirty and thin, his eyes looking too big for his face. But tonight, he looked different. His eyes were bloodshot and frenzied and scars adorned his face.

He wore all black and his eyes; they were the worst. They were cold; void of all the warmth Lucas' eyes usually held.

Dreams of her family used to pain Trixie so much but now, all she could think about was about the dream-Lucas, looking cruel.

Shuddering, she tried to go back to sleep before the door of the room swung open. Nolan stood by the door frame, looking panicked and ready for a fight.

"What's wrong?" Nolan demanded. He was so confident and bossy, but yet, Trixie found herself drawn to him. Suddenly craving human contact, she got out of bed and ran into his arms, hugging him as tightly as she could.

At first, he was stiff. But slowly, his muscles relaxed and he wrapped his arms around her body, neither of them saying a word.


And there it ends. I have no idea as to how I planned to continue it, or if I had anything else in mind, but I know that I left for a holiday soon after that chapter, then PMR came about.. and I guess that was it.

But fourteen year old me,

I wished you never stopped.

Now I wonder if I can ever go back.

Out & About

Sunday, December 9, 2012

They say pictures speak a thousand words.

If that’s true, you’re about to speed read through 21,000-odd of them for here’s a picture post of my last weekend spent brilliantly with great friends.

The Bee, Publika.

En Leang.

En Leang & Jocelyn.



Decent food, cozy environment, and disappointingly understocked (we had to reorder multiple times due to our orders being ‘unavailable’), it was alright enough for a visit, but probably won’t warrant another from me.

Dissatisfied with dinner alone, we headed to trusty ol’ Ben’s for dessert.


With a walnut brownie, chocolate cake, and apple crumble, all of which had a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

With Mr. Hong.

And Ms. Ho.

Uh-oh, someone’s in trouble..

Jocelyn stayed over and took me out for lunch to celebrate my much belated birthday.

Meatworks, Solaris Mont. Kiara.

As it is when vanity is allowed out on a field trip, we spent about 60% of the meal (or more) taking pictures.



4/3 πr3


Pretty pwiness!



The mushroom soup was meh.

Carbonara was great!

And so was their meat, of course!

For a touch of sweetness to end our food-filled weekend, we headed to Swenson’s for some icecream.


Despite the hole in my wallet and extra inches on my waistline, would I do it again?

Most definitely.

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