Heads & Tales 2021: HUM 243


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Foreword


The Tale of Nimsay
Polkadedot
The Hungry Man and Squirrel
A Tale of Just Desserts
Earthly Tallies
The Ocean and the Cliffside
Amanita and Sunti
Philipan Stag and the Hunter
Between Two Kingdoms
Globe Light
Cycle
The Dawn of our Sun
The Secret of Silencing
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The Demon’s Trials

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Mark




The Secret of Silencing

-
Shirley Yan, CivE’23


Art by Hannah Wu, A’22

Rue grew up in a modest household with a mom and a dad and no siblings. She went to school like the average kid, and played in the park with her friends in her free time.

Rue grew up swimming competitively and singing at local talent shows. Being a winner, being strong, independent, and capable were part of her personality. She was proud of her accomplishments, and people recognized that.

Rue grew up dreaming about the day she’d meet and fall in love with a boy who loves her, much like many other teenagers around her. When she finally felt old enough, she went to a party and met and instantly fell in love with the daring, dark, handsome, and funny boy who promised her that night that he’d love her no matter what.

Rue grew up with a secret—a secret so weird, so embarrassing, she's only ever told one person. Her partner, her love, is the only person that knows she's different. How else would she have described it, given that she turns into a trembling fairy at every sundown?

Rue is a fairy for three hours a day, which is not too long but not too short either. It is usually just long enough to make Rue feel restless and uncomfortable, but not long enough to get used to being a fairy and try to do something in her fairy body.

She feels completely different in her fairy stage than her usual self. Fairies can't swim. They can't sing, and Rue hadn’t yet figured out how to fly either. And they definitely aren't strong or independent. Rue’s partner used to promise that he’d love her no matter what, so he seemed the right person to confide in, even if they’d been together for only a month.

So when her partner found out about her secret and grinned wickedly, Rue’s typically animated story-telling hand gestures stilled. Surely you don't mean to tell me you're helpless and defenseless and tiny for three hours a day? he inquired darkly. Rue trembled, not understanding why the person she loved looked at her hungrily. Now that I know this, Rue, he cackled, you should watch out. You wouldn’t want to make me mad or anything, lest something happens.

The boy found out a month ago, and so it has been an endless month of him diminishing Rue's sparkle. The boy threatened to kill her if she didn't assist him in all his endeavors, shady or otherwise. He expected her to show up, act up, and anticipate whatever he needed. After all, her reputation was shiny and perfect, so any blow would affect her more so than him. The boy had always insisted on accompanying her to the bathroom in the past, never into the bathroom as he does now, and to her bedroom, never into the bedroom as he does now. Was I blind? Rue grimaces, He has never watched me so closely before. After a week of the sudden change, the boy insisted on her moving in with him. The boy would frequently pick her up when she’s a fairy and put her in a little cage, laughing for the whole three hours. The boy sometimes dressed her up in degrading costumes, enjoying her mortification while he took photos to satisfy his sick desires.

Rue no longer smiles or laughs genuinely, and is instead timid and obedient. No longer will you find her being competitive, or even jokingly being a sore loser. No longer does she dare to sing freely. Instead, Rue had lived these three months under the boy's green thumb. There was no flourishing happening beneath that thumb though: the green-eyed monster had taken up residence instead of Mother Nature.

Hardly anyone noticed, but Rue was petrified. She felt trapped, unable to fathom leaving the boy when he could easily track her down and pluck her out of existence whenever the sun set. Rue also felt duped, having believed that the boy was clean-cut based on his wealth and sharp outfits. She never would have guessed that his best friends were alcohol and testosterone-fueled rants.

Art by Hannah Wu, A‘22

Eventually, someone caught on. How, the person wondered, is this boy sucking the joy out of brilliant Rue's life? Something must be wrong. They decided to approach him at a bar and challenged him to a drinking contest, as the boy was infamous for drinking and partying.

Now, such contests were no stranger to the boy, and he laughed mocking at the person before him. Aww, the boy taunted, Mr. Ego over here thinks he can take me on. And without sparing a glance at Rue, the boy hopped off the barstool and sauntered to the center table, where he promptly drank the other person into the ground.

Rue watched, horrified and alone, as the boy puffed up his chest and started grabbing at nearby girls, kissing them in front of their partners. There he goes again, ruining another person’s day, someone mutters at the edge of the crowd. Day? scoffed another, Did you mean life? The second person spotted Rue hovering uncertainly near them, and threw her a pitying look. Rue began to panic, unable to look away from the spectacle before her.

Rue couldn’t take it anymore. While the boy drank up attention and liquor, she slipped out the back door. I’ve known about his whereabouts and whattodos for the past few weeks, and yet his awful behavior tonight pushed me over the edge, Rue thought out loud. She felt a tingle in her fingertips, as if they were numb, but dismissed it as nervous energy.

Suddenly overwhelmed with a full-body shiver, she dashed away from the bar in a frenzy, desperate to run away from the white lights of the suburbs and into the crumbling streets of the city just before sundown.

Watching the sun set, Rue cursed, mentally berating herself. What, Rue slowed to a walk, panting, was that? What am I going to do now? Her eyes darted around and she jumped into an alley before night fell.

Rue skidded to a stop behind a dumpster, waiting for the transformation. She didn’t know what she was going to do after, but she supposed she could hide until she changed back. Right after her change, Rue happened to glance to the right and saw the strangest thing.

Fairies! Rue couldn’t believe her eyes, Like me!

The fairies flew out towards Rue from a crack in the brick wall, all murmuring around her, wings fluttering. Rue realized she was surrounded by people like her, and felt a glow in her wings. They floated around and gently showed her how to fly.

Spread out a little and imagine yourself lifting up. And there you have it! a nice male fairy explained.

And then. The fairies heard a sudden noise. The fairies saw the shadow of an angry boy. The fairies smelled the scent of alcohol. The fairies tasted their own fear in the air. The fairies felt the energy in their wings, ready to burst.

And then. An empty bottle flies by the fairies. As the boy drunkenly barges into view, brandishing a full flask, the fairies hear a clap, see a flash, smell something burning, taste their own tears, and feel energy release. They look around at each other, bewildered at this new secret they now have to keep—the secret of silencing.

The boy never bothered anyone again.

Art by Hannah Wu, A’22
Mark