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*Yamini and Ruki are working out together: Yamini is punching a sandbag while Ruki is lifting some weights. Kala is reading while Wolfgang rests his head in her lap. Meanwhile, Mako is going through her phone. Right then, missabnormal enters the room*
missabnormal: Well everyone, it's time to start sporking chapter 4 of this, so break time is over. As for food and drinks: Yamini, there's murukku and guava juice; Ruki, there's Naga Viper peppers and goat's blood; Kala, there's chaat and sugarcane juice; Wolfgang, there's apfelwein and knödel; and Mako, there's some sake and sushi. As for myself, there's aloo tikki and mango juice.
Kala: *stunned* Ruki has to drink goat's blood?
Ruki: *nods* Goat's blood and extremely spicy foods are the only Human World foods I can consume.
Yamini: I'm more surprised at how he can consume whole chilli peppers, honestly.
Wolfgang: It does sound rather painful.
Mako: Thanks for the food.
missabnormal: No problem. Now then, let's get started!
We open up with Eleanor reaching home before her younger siblings, and is happy about it. Why? Because according to her, "[it] had been such a freak show when she'd walked in last night..."
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!: 2
*snappy* Any time you feel like not being so ableist, Rowell? Please let me know. And yes, I'm being mean today because I want to.
Yamini: So, what happened last night? Apparently, she "had spent so much time thinking about what it would be like to finally come home and how much she missed everybody-- she thought they'd throw her a ticker-tape parade. She thought it would be a big hugfest."
However, when she had walked in, it was "like her siblings didn't recognize her". *angry* So, not even her siblings welcome her home after she had been living in another person's house, courtesy of their jerkass stepfather kicking her out?! You know what?
ZERO TOLERANCE, MY ASS: 14
I gave it three points out of spite. Damn, this book is turning me into a bitch.
missabnormal: Bad literature can turn anyone into a bitch.
Ruki: My turn. *reads ahead* Only one sibling, known as Mouse, had greeted Eleanor. According to Eleanor, "[Mouse] reminded her more of a big, sloppy puppy-- always excited, always trying to jump into your lap."
*frowns* Why is she comparing people to animals, now? Are we really supposed to like her? At this point, I don't really care if she has an abusive stepfather, I really cannot find her sympathetic whatsoever.
So Mouse tries to bring the stepfather's attention to Eleanor, but he pretends not to hear. *clearly annoyed* The stepfather is already making me want to stab him. I absolutely loathe abusive parents with all my heart.
Yamini: *sympathetic* Me too, Ruki.
Ruki: We learn a bit more about the other siblings. There's Ben, who is eleven-years-old, Maisie, who is eight, Mouse, who is five, and an unnamed baby who is two years of age and should be called a toddler, not a baby. Eleanor's mother says that they'll have to readjust their sleeping arrangements, despite the room being too small. We get a description of the bathroom, which prompts Eleanor to think that the house was designed by cave trolls before we finally get back to the present.
Kala: *reads* Eleanor enters the house, which she sees to be even more depressing in the daylight. And in a moment that is rather sad, Eleanor thinks how weird it is to see her mother standing in the kitchen like normal. They have the typical conversation of how the first day went, and Eleanor can't help but admire the way her mother looks.
Apparently, when Eleanor was a little girl, "she'd thought her mom looked like a queen, like the star of some fairy tale."
Yamini: I can kind of relate to that. I mean, I've always thought my mother was beautiful, like she was a princess or something.
Kala: But according to Eleanor, "princesses are just pretty". She describes her mother as "tall and stately, with broad shoulders and an elegant waist. All of her bones seemed more purposeful than other people's." Basically, her mother is supposed to be incredibly beautiful and gorgeous.
*bewildered* This all sounds just so... bland. There's no energy in the text whatsoever, it sounds almost like a laundry list. Also, it's just very generic, like "you'd look at Eleanor's mom and think she must be carved into the prow of a Viking ship somewhere or maybe painted on the side of a plane". These are just very weird descriptors.
missabnormal: Also, what kind of plane were you thinking about, Rowell? I looked up pictures of airplanes with women painted on them, and the only ones I could find were fighter planes from World War II. You know, like these!
Also, as for the 'carved into Viking ships' part, are you talking about a figurehead? You know, a carving at the prow of a ship from the 16th and 20th centuries? Yeah, Vikings didn't have beautiful lady figureheads on their boats. These were Viking figureheads:
These sort of figureheads were considered to be protective and warding off evil spirits. So, Eleanor's mother should not look like a figurehead on a Viking longboat.
Wolfgang: While Eleanor's mother is described in very flattering terms, Eleanor herself is not. For example, she "looked like her mother through a fish tank." And at sixteen, "Eleanor was already built like she ran a medieval pub." Basically, she's overweight and unhappy about it.
After this, Eleanor's mother tells her daughter that he has something to show her, and it turns out to be Eleanor's personal belongings in a black trash bag. We also learn that they have to eat dinner around 4:30 because everything has to be settled before Richie comes home. *sighs* This chapter is very boring, was there really a point to it? It's almost like filler right now.
Eleanor finds some paper dolls, several books such as John Irving's The World According to Garp and Richard Adam's Watership Down. But she's not happy to see Erich Segal's Oliver's Story and not Love Story, another novel by him. She also sees Louisa May Alcott's Little Men, but not Little Women or Jo's Boys. *raises an eyebrow* So... she likes classic novels and American literature?
Mako: It's a common cliché in these books. The heroine always seems to like the well-known classic novels to try and seem 'well-read' and 'cultured'.
Yamini: And it all started with Bella Swan from friggin' Twilight. You can't even say that she likes the classics, 'cause she doesn't understand them! She thinks Wuthering Heights is an actual love story! She just likes the school's reading list!
DRAMATIC ANGST: 3
missabnormal: It's so boring. For once, I'd like to see a heroine who likes, I don't know, harlequin romance novels.
Yamini: Me? I like reading foreign horror novels. Europeans and Japanese people are some of the best at writing actually scary horror, but Stephen King is also really good! *smiles* My current favourites are Koji Suzuki's Ring, John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let the Right One In, and Patrick Süskind's Perfume. Foreign horror is just seriously terrifying and I love it.
Wolfgang: *surprised* Perfume is also one of my favourite novels. Though, I guess I'm into more of the thriller genre. The Millennium Trilogy is one of my favourites. The Swedish are really good at creating thriller novels.
Kala: I'm more into reading classical Indian epics, like the Mahabharata or the Ramayana. They've been my favourites ever since I was a child. But I also like reading romance novels as well.
Ruki: I haven't had much experience with every genre of Human World literature. However, I must confess that I enjoy reading tragic novels. Tess of the d'Urbervilles was one that really stuck with me. I could really relate to the heroine's situation. Doctor Faustus, Anna Karenina, and The Duchess of Malfi are also some of my favourites.
Mako: I love Japanese literature. My favourites are Norwegian Wood, The Tale of Genji, Battle Royale, Sanshirou, and Woman in the Dunes. And those are just a few.
missabnormal: I also like horror, but mainly by Stephen King. Carrie has been my all-time favourite.
Kala: I'd rather be talking about this, honestly.
missabnormal: Don't we all?
Mako: It's my turn now. *reads* So Eleanor starts organizing all her books and papers while wondering about what happened to everyone else's things. She also hopes that her mother's marriage to Richie is just temporary.
DRAMATIC ANGST: 4
She finds a box from her uncle, which is a Fruit of the Month Club box that he used to send to her family every Christmas. This box is used for holding her stationary and markers, promotional cards that smell of perfume, and her old Walkman.
missabnormal: A Walkman?
IT'S THE 80'S!: 4
Also, the box apparently smells like Chanel No.5 and pencil shavings.
To her dismay, there is nothing to do with her recovered belongings after she'd sorted through them. So she sets aside the box and books, puts everything else in the garbage bag, and puts that on a high shelf behind some towels and a humidifier. We then finish the chapter with Eleanor finding a cat sleeping on her bunk before shooing him out of the room.
And we're done!
missabnormal: Dear God, was this pointless.
Yamini: Like, nothing happened at all in this goddamn chapter!
Ruki: There was no character development, no important plot points, nothing!
Kala: Even the writing was just very banal and bland!
Wolfgang: The counts are at quite the standstill right now.
Mako: I'll be honest: about halfway through, I almost fell asleep.
missabnormal: Well, we're done for the day, and we'll see you all in the next chapter!
IT'S THE 80'S: 4
PAN-ASIAN FUSION: 5
FETISHIZING BASTARD: 1
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!: 2
MADAME BUTTERFLY MUCH?: 1
HERE COMES MISS SAIGON: 1
ORIENTALIST BASTARD: 2
DRAMATIC ANGST: 4
I'M DOWN WITH DA HOOD, YO: 0
ZERO TOLERANCE, MY ASS: 14
Mako: Are you feeling better, Ruki?
Ruki: *nods* Yeah, I'm fine now. Yamini and I lay down in bed in only our underwear, and I feel a lot better.
Yamini: It really helps him calm down, that kind of physical contact. *blushes slightly*
Ruki: I hope this chapter isn't as trauma-inducing.
*doors open, in walk Kala, Wolfgang, and missabnormal*
Kala: Hey guys.
Yamini: What's up?
Wolfgang: Sorry we're late.
missabnormal: And while this chapter isn't as trauma-inducing as the previous, it's pretty rage-inducing. So yeah, as always, I've got snacks and drinks, and I have an extra button here to put up cute or sexy pictures in case of extreme rage. Anyways, let's get started!
We find out immediately in this chapter that Eleanor did not talk to Park at all on the bus ride home. Apparently, he'd been trying to think of a way to get away from her, but didn't want to force attention onto himself by asking to switch seats! God, what a dick! What's so bad about sitting next to Eleanor?!
Yamini: *annoyed* I swear, any more of this and I might just destroy this book. I have my sword with me, and I'm not afraid to use it.
missabnormal: But that's not all! We've got ourselves a Pan-Asian Fusion coming right up!
Park had expected Steve to start in on him as soon he let the girl sit down, but Steve had gone right back to talking about kung fu again. Park, by the way, knew plenty about kung fu. Because his dad was obsessed with martial arts, not because his mom was Korean. Park and his little brother, Josh, had been taking taekwondo since they could walk.
PAN-ASIAN FUSION: 5
So... Park knows about kung fu, but he's been taking taekwondo since he could walk? *bewildered* What the hell?! Kung fu and taekwondo are two completely different styles of martial arts! Yeah, I gave it two for that reason!
First of all, kung fu isn't just a fighting style, actually. In Chinese, it's a term that refers to any kind of study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete. The original meaning can refer to any discipline or skill achieved through hard work and practice, not just martial arts. The first character, 功 (gong), means 'work', 'achievement', or 'merit', and the second character, 夫 (fu) is a particle or nominal suffix with many meanings. Also, there are hundreds of different fighting styles of Chinese martial arts. Ever heard of Tai Chi? Shaolin? Wudang? They're all different styles of Chinese martial arts. And above all, each region in China has its own unique form of martial arts, so it's impossible to know all about kung fu, especially since there's so many different varieties, and the term itself just encompasses all these different styles.
As for taekwondo? That's a Korean martial art, completely different from Chinese martial arts. That is a mix of Chinese martial arts, karate (which is Japanese), and indigenous Korean martial arts like Taekkyeon, Subak, and Gwonbeop. This style developed shortly after imperial Japanese occupation of Korea in 1945 when new martial arts schools called 'kwan' were opening in Seoul by Korean martial artists who had studied in Japan during Japanese rule. These were a ton of different styles and they were merged under the insistence of Syngman Rhee, president of South Korea, in 1952. It was originally called Tae Soo Do, before Choi Hong Hi advocated the change to Tae Kwon Do. This name consist of the hanja 跆 (tae), meaning 'to stomp, trample', 拳 (kwon), meaning 'fist', and 道 (do), meaning 'way, discipline'. Also, taekwondo is characterised by an emphasis on head-level kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques.
Yamini: In short? Taekwondo is very different from kung fu or Chinese martial arts. It's like saying that you're an expert on karate but have done Muay Thai all your life. They're both completely different fighting styles.
Mako: In addition, what is with Park's brother's name? Why is Park called, well, 'Park', but his brother has 'Josh', a Western name? It makes no sense.
missabnormal: Damn straight! If you're going for a Korean naming scheme, give them both proper Korean names! Also, it is kind of weird, but apparently Josh looks more white while Park looks more Korean. It still doesn't make sense. Methinks that Rowell really doesn't know much about genetics. But I'll save that issue for later.
But as for the mention about his dad (who is white), and his Korean mom? I'm gonna give it this point.
HERE COMES MISS SAIGON: 1
It's gonna go up pretty soon.
Kala: *reads* So Park is wondering how he could switch seats. He's thinking of switching seats and sitting near a freshman but not only would it mean that he was weak, but "he almost hated to think about leaving the weird new girl at the back of the bus by herself".
*frowns* Why is he calling Eleanor 'weird'? Can't he just be nice and let her sit next to him? I can't really support him if he's disdainful of others around him.
Yamini: I'm not even a popular kid like Park, and no one wants to hang out with me because they're instinctively frightened by me. I've been lonely most of my life. But you know what? I still have common courtesy! I'm polite most of the time and I don't just act all superior to other people! Hell, even though my default expression is 'resting bitchface', I still act polite, I don't act like a jackass! Just because you have your own troubles doesn't mean you can just ditch common courtesy!
Wolfgang: You're right. *reads* So Park starts hating himself for thinking like that, noting that, "if his dad knew he was thinking like this, he'd call Park a pussy. Out loud, for once. If his grandma knew, she'd smack him on the back of his head. 'Where are your manners?' she'd say. 'Is that any way to treat somebody who's down on her luck?'"
Mako: *irritated* Right. Because Asian people aren't as strong and powerful as white people, right?
MADAME BUTTERFLY MUCH?: 1
missabnormal: *sourly* I gave that one out of spite.
Wolfgang: *continues* However, Park doesn't have any kind of luck or status to "spare on that dumb redhead". *annoyed* I've done a lot of horrible things, but at least I never denigrated those around me. But it gets even worse. Apparently, Park is "kind of grateful that people like that girl exist". Why? "Because people like Steve and Mikey and Tina existed, too, and they needed to be fed. If it wasn't that redhead, it was going to be somebody else. And if it wasn't somebody else, it was going to be Park". And yet he knows that it's not right to think that way.
*a sudden crash startles him and everyone else; they turn to see missabnormal flipping over a table and glaring*
Kala: *surprised* Missy...?
missabnormal: *seething in rage*
'THEY NEEDED TO BE FED'?! 'THEY NEEDED TO BE FED'???!!!! WHY DON'T YOU ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND PUT A STOP TO THEIR BULLYING, DAMMIT?! YOU'RE GOING TO LET IT SLIDE BECAUSE, OH, YOUR 'FRIENDS' NEED TO BULLY AN OUTCAST?! YOUR PRIORITIES ARE MESSED UP, YOU JACKASS! WHY THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN FRIENDS WITH THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE IF YOU KNOW ABOUT THEIR BULLYING, HUH?! YOU JUST BLATANTLY ADMIT THAT YOUR FRIENDS ARE BULLIES AND YET YOU DO NOTHING TO STOP THEM?! THIS IS STUPID! JUST SHUT UP AND GO STEP ON A THOUSAND LEGOS YOU SLIMY JACKASS!!
*grabs an axe and starts cutting the table wildly while screaming incoherently*
Wolfgang: *concerned* Is she okay?
Yamini: *wearily* And that's how you know when someone has seen too many jackass love interests in YA. They do that.
Ruki: How are we going to calm her down?
Mako: *smiles* Don't worry. *presses a button* Missy!
missabnormal: *still raging* WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT-
*immediately, missabnormal calms down and becomed enamoured*
missabnormal: *lovestruck* Ahhhh, Ruki... you make sporking so much better, keep on working those hips~
Kala: *raised eyebrow* Well, that was fast.
Yamini: Okay, looks like it's my turn. *reads* So Park feels bad for swearing at Eleanor and I'm not buying it, considering that him not stopping his bully friends sent Missy into a huge rage. He feels as if her arrival in English class was meant to haunt him, and we get a flashback to the English class!
'Eleanor,' Mr Stessman said. 'What a powerful name. It's a queen's name, you know.'
'It's the name of the fat Chipette,' somebody behind Park whispered. Somebody else laughed.
*angered* Okay, I see where Missy's coming from. In fact, I'm gonna start us up a new count: ZERO TOLERANCE, MY ASS. This is gonna be used for every character who acts like a jackass towards one another, or whenever Eleanor is being bullied. So, how many do we have now, both in this chapter and the previous ones?
ZERO TOLERANCE, MY ASS: 11
Yeah, I started it out of spite.
missabnormal: *significantly calmer* Thank you, Yamini. I believe that this is quite important. I should have started it in the first chapter.
Also, as for Eleanor's name, the teacher is right. However, it's not just a queen's name, a lot of women in high nobility in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages had that name. In fact, the name 'Eleanor' is an Anglicisation of the Old French form of 'Aliénor', an Occitan name, and the most famous person with that name is French Queen consort Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Louis VII of France and Henry II of England.
Ruki: So, the teacher tells Eleanor that they're reading poetry by Emily Dickinson, and invites her to read out loud.
'I had been hungry all the years,' she read. A few kids laughed. Jesus, Park thought, only Mr. Stessman would make a chubby girl read a poem about eating on her first day of class.
Yet despite that, she reads ahead and is praised by the teacher. We also find out that in history, the teacher references Eleanor of Aquitaine after she introduces herself.
Mako: *raises an eyebrow* Why is everyone making a big deal out of her name? No one even does that these days. *reads* We're almost done, fortunately. So Park can't think of a way to get rid of her or move away from her, so he just turns up his music and listens to it, and is grateful that Eleanor doesn't try to talk to him.
*sighs* And with that, we're done!
missabnormal: Well, this was another bizarre and infuriating chapter to read.
Wolfgang: Does Rowell think that bullying is some sort of rite of passage in high school? It's nothing lke that, it's a very unpleasant experience. I've been bullied before as a child, it's not fun at all.
Kala: *gently places her hand on his shoulder* It's okay, Wolfgang.
Yamini: This is why people who think bullying is no big deal always piss me off.
Ruki: This chapter was indeed very tedious.
Mako: I sincerely hope that Park gets his act together and ditches those so-called 'friends'.
missabnormal: We're done for the day now, and we'll see you all in chapter 4. Now then, let's go and take a break.
IT'S THE 80'S!: 3
PAN-ASIAN FUSION: 5
FETISHIZING BASTARD: 1
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!: 1
MADAME BUTTERFLY MUCH?: 1
HERE COMES MISS SAIGON: 1
ORIENTALIST BASTARD: 2
DRAMATIC ANGST: 2
I'M DOWN WITH DA HOOD, YO: 0
ZERO TOLERANCE, MY ASS: 11
Continue to: Chapter 4- Eleanor
Go back to: Chapter 2- Eleanor
Kala: So tell me, Yamini. What kinds of powers do you have?
Yamini: It's called Magia Umbra, which means I can control shadows. Ruki has the same kind of powers as me, and so did my mom.
Wolfgang: You know how to use them?
Yamini: Not really, they've been dormant most of my life and they've only been awakened on the first day of school after some guy bragged about vandalising my mom's grave. *winces* It was probably the worst thing I've ever done.
Ruki: It was quite violent, what happened.
missabnormal: Alright guys, it's time to start chapter two of this dreck! I've stocked up the cabinets and fridge with food, in case any of you get hungry, so let's get started!
Yamini: *unenthusiastic* Yaaaay.
missabnormal: Chapter 2 is from Eleanor's point of view. We open up with Eleanor considering some options! And what are they?
1. She could walk home from school. Pros: Exercise, color in her cheeks, time to herself. Cons: She didn't know her new address yet, or even the general direction to start walking.
2. She could call her mom and ask for a ride. Pros: Lots. Cons: Her mom didn't have a phone. Or a car.
3. She could call her dad. Ha.
4. She could call her grandma. Just to say hi.
So basically, Eleanor is trying to decide how she could get home while staring at her school bus, especially after the disaster on the bus in the morning. She's poor and has an abusive stepfather, so her resources are very limited. I'd feel sorry for her if it were presented in a much more emotional way. This sounds more like a laundry list.
Then- *cracks up laughing* Oh boy, this is too funny.
Her bus was right there. No. 666.
Yamini: Pfftt- *cracks up with laughter* Just look at that symbology! It shows that high school is truly Hell, so that's why the buses have the Mark of the Beast on them! *continues laughing* I'm sorry, but this is just too hilarious!
Ruki: *dryly amused* Does the author expect us to take this seriously?
Mako: *chuckles* This is about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
Kala: *smiles in amusement* I think everyone knows that high school is a hard time, but this is just kind of ridiculous.
Wolfgang: *snorts* So what, is this school going to be named after Lucifer?
missabnormal: *coming down from laughter* Rowell, everyone already knows that high school is generally a rough place. This here? I really can't take this seriously. Look, we understand that high school is not a good place for Eleanor, but there's no need to smash us in the face with... whatever the hell this is!
Oh hey! Looks like we're getting another count!
DRAMATIC ANGST: 1
Yeah, this is for whenever the typical teenage angst comes up.
Kala: *reads ahead* Eleanor wishes to avoid taking the bus, but she knows that she'd still have to deal with these kids the next day, referring to them as "the devil-kids". Given the way they've treated her, I don't blame her for thinking that way.
Ruki: Even demons are more polite than those human kids. At least we see all humans as equal in strength and value, regardless of gender, age, race, or size. *frowns* Don't insult us demons by comparing us to those lowlife kids.
Kala: Eleanor then ponders about the girl named Tina, saying that "[you] could practically see the horns hidden in her bangs. And her boyfriend was possibly a member of the Nephilim".
Wolfgang: Nephilim is a Hebrew word that's often loosely translated to 'giants'. I'm not religious, but I do my research from time to time. I agree with Eleanor. Those two are very odious characters.
Yamini: Damn straight. *reads ahead* Eleanor states that all of those kids hate her as if they'd been hired to kill her in a previous life and- oh! Looks like we've got some stereotypes ahead!
Eleanor couldn't tell if the Asian kid who finally let her sit down was one of them, or whether he was really just stupid. (But not stupid stupid... He was in two of Eleanor's honors classes.)
ORIENTALIST BASTARD: 1
*surprised* Damn. We're only in the second chapter and the Orientalism is already starting to show.
Mako: *annoyed* Oh, of course Asians are in honour classes! It's because they're smart, and all Asians are smart, right? I don't care whether this is a positive stereotype or not, but it's just insulting to claim that Asians are good at school because they're Asian! Not all Asians are in honours classes or exceeding in school! Not all Asians are bookworms who are obsessed with their grades!
Yamini: It also erases Asian kids who have disabilities. And besides, I've heard of Asian people being told to their face, "Oh, you're not a real Asian" just because they don't exceed in school! It's degrading and offensive to be told that you're smart just because you're Asian!
Ruki: And I really don't like the way she called him 'stupid'. Doesn't that insinuate that Asian people aren't as smart socially?
*starts reading* Apparently, Eleanor's mother had wanted her daughter to be put in the honours classes after seeing how bad her grades were from the previous year. Eleanor seems very indifferent to this whole situation and decides that she may as well stare at clouds during her classes.
Eleanor also can't tell her mother about the situation on the bus because her mother had told her that she didn't have to ride the bus. We then get a flashback to a conversation between the two from the previous night.
'Richie said he'll take you,' her mom said. 'It's on his way to work.'
'Is he going to make me ride in the back of his truck?'
'He's trying to make peace, Eleanor. You promised that you'd try, too.'
'It's easier for me to make peace from a distance.'
'I told him you were ready to be part of his family.'
'I'm already part of this family. I'm like a charter member.'
'Eleanor,' her mom said. 'Please.'
'I'll just ride the bus,' Eleanor had said. 'It's not a big deal. I'll meet people.'
*blinks* As it turns out, this 'Richie' is Eleanor's stepfather who has abused her and her family many times. However, the mother is trying to force Eleanor to make peace with him? Make peace with someone who abused her many times? I... Okay, I see that she's also being abused herself, but that does not mean that she should force her daughter to try and make peace, especially if she's trying to make peace in her own way! And for that matter, why the hell is the mother prioritizing her husband over her daughter?! *starts to get upset and agitated*
That... That's like asking me to make peace with... with Empusa of all people! The one who helped Hell's Army brainwash me when I was eight, tortured me as punishment for whenever I did something wrong, and who has been raping me since I was thirteen! No one believed me when I told them, I was slapped and called a liar and put into isolation as punishment! *tears start to fill his eyes* Those who actually listened me just gave me some pathetic excuse to justify her actions and told me to obey and it wouldn't happen again... I can never forgive Empusa for what she did to me! I never will, and anyone who tells me to make peace with her can go straight to Hell! *on the verge of a tearful breakdown*
This is disgusting! I'm starting to get flashbacks all over again, especially after I tried to report her! They told me something similar to this, justified her actions, slapped me, and then put me into isolation as punishment for lying! *worn out and miserable, he buries his face in his hands and starts sobbing*
Yamini: *worried* Ruki! *she hurries over and wraps an arm around his shoulders, speaking to him in a soothing tone* Hey, it's okay. You're not there anymore. She isn't here to hurt you. You're safe now. *tentatively gives him a hug* It's okay, Ruki.
Ruki: *wipes away his tears* Th-Thanks... *accepts Yamini's hug*
Kala: *concerned* I... I'm so sorry, Ruki. Is he going to be okay?
Yamini: He will. Eventually, I hope.
Wolfgang: *also concerned* For his sake, how much more of this chapter is there?
missabnormal: *worried* We're almost done. After this, you're all free to take a break. Ruki especially. And as of now, we've got another point.
DRAMATIC ANGST: 2
Mako: I'll spork now. *glances in concern at Ruki*
Eleanor notices that her bus is leaving soon when someone passes by her and accidentally kicks her bag. But before she can apologize, she notices who it was.
--but it was that stupid Asian kid, and he frowned when he saw that it was her. She frowned right back at him, and he ran ahead.
ORIENTALIST BASTARD: 2
*sighs* You could have just said 'that Asian kid', Rowell. Was there really a need to call him stupid? Anyways, Eleanor decides that it's on, and we finally close this chapter.
missabnormal: *shakes her head* Even though this was short, this sure was quite disturbing. I do kind of feel sorry for Eleanor, but it's gonna disappear pretty fast. And great, Park just started to become Edward Cullen 2.0.
Ruki: I'm... sorry about my rant.
Yamini: Don't apologize. No one blames you for it.
Kala: It's going to get worse, isn't it?
Wolfgang: If one of us has already broken down in only the second chapter, then it's definitely going to get even worse.
Mako: And I have a really bad feeling about some of these counts. They're probably going to start increasing in the next chapters.
missabnormal: And on that somber note, we're done. We'll see you all in Chapter 3. Now then, let's take a break. We all need one, especially after... whatever we just read.
IT'S THE 80'S: 3
PAN-ASIAN FUSION: 2
FETISHIZING BASTARD: 1
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!: 1
MADAME BUTTERFLY MUCH?: 0
HERE COMES MISS SAIGON: 0
ORIENTALIST BASTARD: 2
DRAMATIC ANGST: 2
I'M DOWN WITH DA HOOD, YO: 0
Continue to: Chapter 3- Park
Go back to: Chapter 1- Park
Yamini: *stunned* Drunken Monkey's a form of Kung Fu, you idiot! It's part of a Chinese martial art, named after Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, in Journey to the West, which is a classical Chinese novel! Geez, we're barely into the story and we're already witnessing the blend of different Asian cultures!
(The sporking theatre is empty, save for Yamini Subramaniam, Ruki, and Mako Mori, who are engaged in a conversation together. Right then, the doors open and missabnormal walks in with two newcomers: an Indian woman and a German man. They are Kala Dandekar and Wolfgang Bogdanow)
missabnormal: *claps hands to get everyone's attention* All right, everyone! I have two new sporkers who are going to join us in our sporking of Eleanor & Park. *gestures to the woman* This is Kala Dandekar. *gestures to the man* And this is Wolfgang Bogdanow.
Yamini: *perks up slightly* Kala Dandekar? Whoo, another fellow Desi girl! Yeah! *smiles at Kala* I'm Yamini Subramaniam, a half-demon Tamil Desi from Toronto! It's nice to meet you, Ms. Dandekar, Mr. Bogdanow.
Kala: *smiles* Nice to meet you, Yamini. Just call me Kala.
Wolfgang: And just call me Wolfgang. *smiles politely*
Ruki: *bows slightly with a polite smile* My name is Ruki, and I am a demon from Jigoku. A pleasure to meet you, Kala, Wolfgang.
Mako: *smiles politely* My name is Mako Mori, but you can call me Mako. I'm a Jaeger pilot, and it's a pleasure to meet you two.
Kala: *raises an eyebrow* Half-demon and demon?
Yamini: Don't worry, we're not going to hurt you!
Ruki: I know it may be a bit surprising, but it is true.
Wolfgang: *shakes his head* I don't know if I'm dreaming or...
missabnormal: It's true. Well! Now that everyone's gotten to know each other, let's get started!
Wolfgang: I'm just curious, what is sporking?
Ruki: It's where we analyze poorly written literature and point out all the flaws, the unfortunate implications, and the unlikeable nature of the characters.
missabnormal: And it's also where we sometimes get so angry at the text that we flip tables, throw things out of windows, and just rage on and on while metal music plays in the background. *shakes head* Yeah, a lot of us have some berserk buttons for some of the things we see.
Kala: *surprised* O...kay?
missabnormal: So! We start out the first chapter from the perspective of Park Sheridan! *unimpressed* Park. You named your half-Korean character Park. Rowell, are you serious?
Park is a Korean last name, you fool! What kind of a parent gives a friggin' last name to their child?!
*blinks* Wow. We've barely even started the chapter and I'm already raging over the main character's name. It took me to Chapter 3 of Halo to start raging, yet I'm already raging over the chapter title in this book! What, am I gonna start raging in the dedications when I spork For Such A Time?!
Moving on, the first sentence tells us what Park Sheridan is like!
XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus.
*shocked, but quickly becomes disgusted* Are you serious? This is how you start the book? By becoming Edward Cullen 2.0? *throws her hands up* How many more times am I gonna have to see a reincarnation of that fairy asshole?!
Yamini: *equally disgusted* This is more like if Edward Cullen had good taste in music. But he's still an asshole.
Ruki: *confused* What's XTC?
Wolfgang: They're an English rock band from the late 70's, early 80's, part of the new wave movement.
missabnormal: And with that, we've already gotten ourselves a new count: IT'S THE 80'S!. This will show up whenever there's a reference to a band that was part of the many different movements in music during the 80's. So we have one point now.
IT'S THE 80'S!: 1
Now then, Kala, would you like a turn at sporking?
Kala: Sure. *opens up her book* So Park plans to bring some more music, mainly by "Skinny Puppy or the Misfits". He wishes to make a special bus tape of music. *confused* Who are those bands?
Wolfgang: Skinny Puppy is a Canadian band, and they're considered one of the founders of the electro-industrial genre. I remember hearing about them performing at the Doomsday Festival in Dresden in 2000. They were pretty big during the 80's. The Misfits are an American punk band, and they were a key part of the hardcore punk movement in the 80's. They're also considered the creators of the horror punk genre.
Kala: *impressed* You really know a lot about this, Wolfgang.
Wolfgang: *smiles slightly* Felix and I grew up listening to these bands.
So it seems like we have two more points.
IT'S THE 80'S!: 3
I guess I'll take over now. *opens up his book*. Park decides to go back to New Wave after getting his driver's license, as his parents told him that he could have his mother's Impala. He believes that "[once] he started driving to school, he could listen to whatever he wanted or nothing at all, and he'd get to sleep in an extra twenty minutes".
Yamini: To be honest, that does sound kinda relatable, I'll give Rowell that.
missabnormal: Mako, would you like to go?
Mako: Sure. *starts reading* Right then, an argument starts up behind Park.
"That doesn't exist!" somebody shouted behind him.
"It so [f***ing] does!" Steve shouted back. "Drunken Monkey style, man, it's a real [f***ing] thing. You can kill somebody with it..."
"You're full of shit."
"You're full of shit." Steve said.
*surprised* This is... quite a bit of profanity.
missabnormal: I'll give her that, since that does kinda sound like how a lot of teenagers speak.
Also, about the Drunken Monkey, it's a real thing. It's a form of Kung Fu and a variation of the Monkey style. The whole drunken aspect comes in the middle when the practitioner plays the movements of a monkey drinking stolen wine. Visually, however, it's incredibly beautiful and agile. But being drunk doesn't improve this movement, 'cause it's about the concept of imitating being drunk, as actually being drunk will impair the ability to perform complex movements.
Mako: So then this 'Steve' character, who we don't know about, starts calling for Park's attention, but Park ignores him.
Sometimes, if you ignored Steve for a minute, he moved on to someone else. Knowing that was 80 percent of surviving with Steve as your neighbor. The other 20 percent was just keeping your head down....
Which Park had momentarily forgotten. A ball of paper hit him in the back of the head.
*annoyed* We're barely even into the chapter and we don't know who this Steve is, and I already don't like him. He just sounds so obnoxious. But Park is no better either. Is Steve considered to be his friend? Because that really does not sound like how one would treat their friends.
Yamini: You're right about that. *reads on* So then, some girl named Tina gets angry at Steve for throwing the ball of paper, which happened to be her Human Growth and Development notes. Okay, who the hell is Tina? Is she one of Park's friends? *shakes head* Steve then apologizes and promises to "teach [her] all about human growth and development", and I just threw up in my mouth. I'm out now. *disgusted*
Ruki: My turn. *reads* Someone tells him to teach her this Drunken Monkey style, and Steve calls out to Park again, which makes him take off his headphones and turn to face him. We get a description of how Steve looks like a grown man with a full beard, and that Tina is his girlfriend. Apparently, in middle school, Steve had punched a guy in the face for making fun of him. These paragraphs are quite lengthy so I'm doing my best to summarize them.
Steve finally asks Park about this Drunken Monkey style.
"Park," Steve said, "tell Mikey about Drunken Monkey karate."
"I don't know anything about it." Park shrugged.
"But it exists, right?"
"I guess I've heard of it."
Mako: *just as surprised* Exactly. Karate, on the other hand, is Okinawan. It was developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom but became popular in mainland Japan thanks to Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate.
missabnormal: So now we've got ourselves a new count: PAN-ASIAN FUSION. This will come up everytime Asian cultures are blended together and mixed up.
PAN-ASIAN FUSION: 1
My turn now! *reads* So Steve goes 'I told you so' to this Mikey person and- Oh my God, we have ableism, fetishization, and racism straight ahead at twelve o'clock!
"What the [f***] does Sheridan know about kung fu?" Mikey said.
"Are you [r*tarded]?" Steve said. "His mom's Chinese."
Mikey looked at Park carefully. Park smiled and narrowed his eyes. "Yeah, I guess I see it," Mikey said. "I always thought you were Mexican."
"Shit, Mikey," Steve said. "You're such a [f***ing] racist."
"She's not Chinese," Tina said. "She's Korean."
And that is as much as I'm going to show you because I'm nice. So Park's mom is apparently Tina's hairdresser since grade school. Steve then comments about how hot Park's mom is. *annoyed* As such, we've already got us some more points!
PAN-ASIAN FUSION: 2
FETISHIZING BASTARD: 1
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!: 1
Mako: *angered* That comment just rubbed me the wrong way. No matter how old we are, East Asian women are fetishized and degraded in so many different ways. We're always hypersexualised into being submissive and delicate, and they never see us as people. They only see us as porn stars.
missabnormal: Also, this story's set in Omaha, right? During this period, there weren't that many Asian people in Nebraska. There was a small community of Chinese laborers in the early 20th century, and the first Japanese people in Omaha had arrived to work in the stockyards. There were hardly any Korean people in Omaha, and I honestly can't find anything about when Korean people first came to Omaha. And since this is 1986, I'm willing to bet that Park and his mom are the only Korean people living in Omaha.
Also, Omaha has had many periods of racial tension throughout its history, since this is Nebraska, one of the midwestern states. This resulted from the high numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants, and African-American migrants from the Deep South. There was a lot of competition for jobs in the early 20th century, and the instance of anti-Asian racism I found was in 1905, when 800 school students had protested the presence of the Japanese students in their school.
There was also a huge riot in Greek Town after a Greek man shot an Irish policeman who tried to arrest him for an apparent relationship with a "white" woman, when he was actually taking English lessons from her. Then there were several anti-German sentiments in the years after World War I, when many German immigrants were forced to learn English in schools. This was after a law was passed in 1919 that enforced the teaching of English in public schools.
Then there was Red Summer, when an African-American man was lynched after being accused of raping a white woman. That sparked up a huge riot where a lot of white men tried to attack the African-American neighbourhood. There was also severe anti-Black racism throughout history, especially during the Civil Rights-era.
The point is, I don't think that Park would have had many friends in the 80's, especially white friends. Interracial marriage was still a very touchy issue during that time, but we'll be focusing on that much later. Either way, Park is half-Korean, so he'd probably be facing a lot of discrimination and prejudice from his white classmates, and he'd probably have more friends who were Chinese-American or Japanese-American. But no! He's all fine and dandy with white people!
Kala: *surprised* Sun Bak would hate this novel. *reads ahead* So Steve and Mikey go back to talking about Drunken Monkey when Park notices a new girl on the bus. When the girl tries to sit down next to a freshman kid, he blocks the seat with his bag and looks the other way, and so does everyone else.
*disgusted* What is wrong with these kids?
Wolfgang: *scowls* Park's friend Tina also laughs because apparently "she lived for this stuff".
Why is he friends with this kind of a girl?
missabnormal: I wanna slap Tina already. I'm getting really unpleasant flashbacks to middle school when everyone was a whole bunch of jackasses.
Yamini: We then get a description of the new girl. She's a redhead, overweight, and dressed strangely. A few more kids get on and push past her, claiming their seats. The bus driver tells the girl to sit down, so she goes to the back of the bus. Park is rather alarmed and wants her to turn around because it's like walking into a lion's cave.
*frowns* So why is Park friends with a whole bunch of jackasses? Doesn't he have any sort of dignity to stay away from those kinds of people?
Ruki: The girl tries to sit down next to Tina, only to be rudely brushed off.
Yamini: *muttering* Jeez, what a bitch.
Ruki: Park finally decides to let the girl sit next to him. But he does it quite rudely, yet she decides to sit down next to him. *surprised* We're barely even into the story and I already don't like these characters two much.
Kala: I have a really bad feeling about this.
Yamini: I'm really close to saying the Eight Deadly Words.
Wolfgang: I can already see the raging that's gonna happen in later chapters. And it's not going to be pretty.
Mako: I hope that we can get through this.
missabnormal: If this is how the first chapter has gotten us, then I fear what the next chapters will have in store. We'll see you all in the next chapter.
IT'S THE 80'S: 3
PAN-ASIAN FUSION: 2
FETISHIZING BASTARD: 1
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!: 1
MADAME BUTTERFLY MUCH?: 0
HERE COMES MISS SAIGON: 0
ORIENTALIST BASTARD: 0
DRAMATIC ANGST: 0
I'M DOWN WITH DA HOOD, YO: 0
Continue to: Chapter 2- Eleanor
Go back to: Prologue
Yamini: Welcome back everyone! Ruki and I have finished our break, and we're ready to get started on Chapter 9 of Halo! So, let's do this!
The chapter opens up with Phantom the dog growling at the door before going up to it and sniffing it. Almost immediately, Gabriel is furious.
"What's he doing here?" Gabriel muttered under his breath.
"Who is it?" Ivy and I whispered simultaneously.
"Our heroic school captain."
*rolls eyes* Of course, it has to be Xavier friggin' Woods. Bethany is immediately alarmed by this, and do you know what she does? She looks at herself in the mirror and frets over the fact that she's in her pajamas, which amuses Ivy. And what does Bethany do? She then says this!
"Please don't let him in-- I look awful," I begged.
(Yamini is silent for a moment. However, she is unmistakeably annoyed) You know, if I were of legal age, now would be the time for me to get drunk. Because look at this shit! Bethany is supposed to be an angel, right? But right now, it's like she's a thirteen year old girl! Do I get all panicky when Ruki sees me all sweaty and covered in blood and grime after a particularly grueling fight? No! I don't care at all! Because he's also sweaty and grimy, and because I'm more concerned about getting healed and cleaned up! I cannot believe that this girl is seventeen years old! I'm seventeen, and here I am, showing more sense than her!
*sighs* I... Please take over now, Ruki. I really can't take this.
Ruki: *gently pats her shoulder* Of course, Yamini. In all seriousness, Yamini is right. I do not get the impression that Bethany is an angel right now, considering this behaviour. She says that she does not want to even meet Xavier after getting inebriated at Molly's party.
After a minute, Bethany asks Gabriel if he's gone, to which he tells her that Xavier is still there. And according to Gabriel, Xavier "appears to have no intention of going". *raises an eyebrow* He does realise that what he is doing is considered rather disturbing, right? Not to mention, incredibly disrespectful. Anyways, Phantom is still at the door, and Bethany is desperately trying to get him to stop sniffing before she asks Gabriel what Xavier wants.
Gabriel responds by reading Xavier's mind, and what he sees makes him angry.
"Well, I think that's rather presumptuous."
"How long have you known this young man?"
"Stop it, Gabe. That's a breach of privacy!" I snapped.
"Honestly." Ivy got up, shaking her head. "I think he's probably heard us by now. Besides, we can't just ignore him. He recently did Bethany a good turn, remember?"
Now, while his mind-reading does make me raise an eyebrow, I can somewhat understand Gabriel's frustration. And also, I believe that they are perfectly within their rights to not have to answer the door. Xavier is the one who is being disrespectful.
Yamini: And "did Bethany a good turn"? That's Australian, for crying out loud! God, if you're going to use Australian things, at least set the damn story in Australia!
Ruki: Bethany asks Ivy to at least wait for her to go upstairs, but she's ignored in favour of calming Phantom down and answering the door. *frowns* Why is Ivy encouraging this? She's supposed to be at least millions of years old, so she should be just as frustrated as Gabriel is. Xavier comes in, and Gabriel regards him coldly. The reason why he stopped by was to make sure Bethany was doing okay, apparently.
Ivy thanks Xavier for bringing Bethany home before offering Xavier something to drink, to which Xavier declines. However, Ivy tells him to sit down and then takes Gabriel with her to the kitchen, leaving Bethany alone with Xavier.
Left alone with Xavier I was conscious of how ridiculously sedate we must appear, with no television in sight, my siblings making hot chocolate and me ready for bed at eight o'clock.
Again, I ask. Why is Bethany so worried about his opinion? If she's an angel, she should not be showing so much concern about a human's opinion on her life. *sighs* Xavier compliments Phantom, and Bethany half-hopes that Phantom would growl so she'd think that Xavier is not completely flawless. However, to show that he is indeed a gentleman, Phantom nuzzles his hand.
Bethany tells him that she took Phantom in after his owner was moving to a retirement home.
"Oh, he must be Alice Butler's dog."
"How'd you know that?"
"Small town." Xavier shrugged. "You know, I was worried about you last night." His gaze was fixed intently on my face.
So... everyone in this town knows about Phantom the Weimaraner, but none of them knew about the loud party from the previous night? It does not work like that, Ms. Adornetto.
Yamini: Bethany tries to reassure Xavier that she's fine, but her voice is shaky and she feels all giddy like some lovestruck schoolgirl. *rolls eyes* Look, even I never acted that around Ruki, not even when I realized my feelings for him! Yeah, I was a little flustered and shy, but I could still talk to him! Same with him!
Xavier then tells Bethany that she should be careful about who she calls her friends. Excuse me? Who the hell made you the boss?! Yeah, Molly was irresponsible, but it wasn't completely her fault! Bethany says that it wasn't Molly's fault and that she herself should have known better, and then we get this!
"You're very different from the girls around here," he continued.
"How do you mean?"
"You don't get out much, do you?"
"I guess you could call me more of a homebody," I said, trying not to sound defensive.
"That's not a bad thing," Xavier said. "I think that makes a nice change."
*disbelieving* So wait, every single girl in this town is a promiscuous party girl? Dear God, I hope Adornetto realised what she was writing!
But on a more serious note, really? Bethany's only worth looking at because she's a Good Girl, she doesn't party, and she doesn't let guys get into her lady bits, huh? And every other girl does what Bethany doesn't do? Look, this is not realistic! There's no way that every girl in Venus Cove gets around like that! In her attempt to make Bethany look like the Good Girl and the pure heroine, she just exaggerated every other girl into become sex-crazed nymphomaniacs!
And why are you so judgemental about this? Yeah, I don't get around either, but do I judge girls that do it? No!
Ruki: This is exactly what Amestris hates. She herself has slept with several women, especially succubi, and her opponents always like to make jabs at her sexual activity by calling her a harlot or a tart. But Amestris is free to do whatever she feels like, so I do not get involved.
Yamini: Bethany then wishes that she was like the other girls, and Xavier tells her that "there's no point pretending to be something you're not". *rolls eyes* You're one to talk.
"How can I ever repay your kindness?" I said with a hint of what I hoped was flirtation in my voice.
*snorts* Adornetto does realise the double-entendre to that, right? *becomes more serious* But be prepared everyone, for what will happen next will royally piss us all off.
"There is one thing you could do..." His voice trailed off suggestively.
"Go out with me. How about next weekend? We could catch a movie if you like."
And this is it, people! Xavier is officially a Nice Guy™! *looks furious* So this is who Adornetto considers her ideal man?
Ruki: *confused* Can you explain what a nice guy with a 'tm' means? I'm afraid that's something I have not studied about in the Human World.
Yamini: Sure. To start off, this isn't about a genuinely nice guy. When there's capitals and a trademark, this is the sign of a douchebag. These are the guys who always whine and bitch about how they're so kind towards women, and because of this, they believe they're entitled to sex with women. Basically, they think that being nice to women = sex. But really, just because you do basic acts of human decency doesn't mean that a woman has to go out with you. We're not friggin' vending machines where if you put enough niceness, we'll get laid with you!
Not to mention, when the woman turns them down, the Nice Guy™ lashes out at them, calls them a bitch and says that they were being Nice, so they deserve to touch their lady bits! Also, there are plenty of girls who act like this towards the guy/girl/person they like, so it's also pretty gross when they do it.
Ruki: *disgusted* How deplorable. No one owes you anything for basic decency.
Yamini: I am so pissed off that you won't believe it. You know who Xavier's reminding me of right now? Azazel, from Hell's Army. And Azazel is the worst type of Nice Guy™ there is, it's not even funny! He's a very murderous Nice Guy™, like Elliot Rodger!
When Hell's Army invaded the village that my mother was from in Naraka, a realm of the Netherworld, they killed her entire family and they were about to kill her as well. However, Azazel told them to spare her, since she was a talented blacksmith. So in the end, they forced her to become the blacksmith of Hell's Army, even though she would have rather died. But do you know why Azazel did this? He had a fetish for demonesses from Naraka, and he expected my mother to be all submissive and demure to him so he could make her his own.
Well, too bad for him, because my mother ran away to the Human World the first chance she got, contracted with my father and fell in love with him, and they got married and had me. And that pissed of Azazel. Because according to him, my mother chose to sleep with 'human filth' and have a pathetic 'half-breed child', rather than spreading her legs for Azazel and having 'pure-blooded demon children' just because he spared her. Well, my mother loved my father because he treated her with respect and care!
And guess what? Azazel even tried to kill my mother and I when I was only a month old! And then when I was four, he actually killed my mother! And all because he was pissy that my mother refused to satisfy his fetish.
There's another person worth mentioning, and that is Bellamy, the guy who vandalised my mom's grave. He had a fetish for Indian women, and he acted like I should have gone all submissive and spread my legs for him, the bastard! He'd always call me his 'exotic brown sugar', which was disgusting! Not to mention, he expected my best friend Pascale to be all over him, just because she's French! Even though she's both a lesbian and ace!
Xavier is acting almost exactly like a less murderous version of Azazel, and a less fetishistic version of Bellamy! Which is why I'm just absolutely disgusted and angry and... great, I feel like flipping this table over.
Ruki: *purses his lips* A note for you aspiring authors: if the love interest is on the same level as the demon who killed Yamini's mother, then you need to do some serious revision.
*glances at Yamini* I'll take over now, so you can calm down.
Yamini: *smiles at him* Thanks.
Ruki: *smiles back* You're welcome. *reads on* Well, Bethany is too stunned to respond.
Had I heard right? Was Xavier Woods, the most inaccessible boy at Bryce Hamilton, asking me out? What was the appropriate response? Where was Molly when I needed her? My hesitation lasted a fraction too long and he mistook it for reluctance.
*sighs* If I ask again, I'm only going to be repeating myself. But what in the name of Beelzebub is the purpose of Bethany for this mission? All she's doing is wiling her time away preaching about how a good girl must act and becoming smitten with a boy she hardly even knows. I am not convinced that Bethany is an angel right now, because she is no different from the human heroines of novels like this.
Xavier tries telling Bethany that it's okay if she doesn't want to, but Bethany agrees, so Xavier gives her his phone number. After this, Bethany walks Xavier to the door to see him off, he smiles arrogantly at her with a half-smile, and compliments her sleepwear. And Bethany then goes on to describe his looks.
It would be easy, I thought, to look at his face all day and not get bored. Humans were supposed to have physical flaws but Xavier didn't seem to. I took in his features--his mouth shaped like an archer's bow, his smooth skin, the dimple in his chin--and struggled to believe he was real. He was wearing a casual shirt under the jacket, and I saw around his neck a silver cross threaded onto a leather cord that I hadn't noticed earlier.
I find it incredibly difficult to believe that this is love. Yes, I can understand being absolutely stunned by a person's attractiveness, but this is coming across as infatuation to me.
Yamini: You're right. I mean, when I first saw Ruki, I observed him a little. And yes, I did notice that he is quite beautiful, but I don't go on and on about it. You know what made me fall in love with him? His kindness, his dedication, his sincerity, and his loyalty!
But ultimately, the foundation of our attraction to each other was the fact that we both could see a bit of ourselves in each other! I was struggling to control my powers, and Ruki was still feeling guilt over being brainwashed at eight years of age and being in Hell's Army until he was sixteen! Even though it was two years, and he had worked hard to atone, he still felt a tremendous amount of guilt!
In addition to that, we both like blacksmithing and heavy metal music, so we bonded over that, and we became friends! However, when we fell in love, it was because of our desire to be there for each other and protect one another forever. Also, when I fell in love with him, yes, I started noticing how attractive he is more than usual, but I never obsessed over it. So, love shouldn't be based solely on physical appearances, otherwise it'll be a very shallow relationship.
Ruki: *nods in agreement* In addition, I was patient with her. I didn't force my feelings onto her, and I respect her wishes. She also respects me, so that was how we were able to get along well.
Anyways, after a brief bit of flirtation between them, Xavier goes home. Meanwhile, Gabriel and Ivy are both alarmed after Bethany tells them about how she's going to go on a date next weekend. Gabriel asks Bethany if it is really a good idea.
"Why wouldn't it be?" I challenged. I was relishing the idea of making my own decisions, and I didn't appreciate my independence being taken away from me so quickly.
*stunned* Bethany is really coming across as a spoiled teenager right now.
Yamini: You idiot, this is not about you being independent! This is about how you, an angel of the Lord, are going against your orders and your Father for the sake of a hot guy! I don't know why this is being written as if she's begging for an extension on her curfew or something!
Ruki: Ivy then tells Bethany that she needs to consider the repercussions of her actions, and she looks more serious than usual, which alarms Bethany, since Ivy never usually looks serious.
"There's nothing to consider. You two always overreact." I wasn't convinced myself by my breezy argument but refused to accept there was reason for caution. "What's the problem?"
The problem is that you are an angel, and you are deliberately going against orders, you ignoramus! Gabriel and Ivy have every right to be cautious about this!
Yamini: *snickers slightly* Ignoramus? I should use that someday. Old insults are hilarious.
Ruki: Gabriel tells Bethany that dating was not and will never be a part of their assignment. And Bethany is completely aware that she's making him even more doubtful of her, but she still disobeys him, even when her mind is telling her that a date with Xavier is dangerous, considering their situation.
Ivy tries to defuse the situation by telling Bethany to keep a lower profile and that they should "collaborate on some ideas designed to raise social awareness in the town". I must ask, social awareness of what? And also, I'm glad that someone is finally suggesting that they start doing something for a change.
However, Bethany tells her that those aren't her own ideas, and that she wants to find her own way. I could believe this if her own way did not involve a rendezvous with an attractive boy!
"Let's continue this discussion when you're thinking more clearly," Gabriel said.
"I won't be treated like a child," I snapped and turned away defiantly, clicking my tongue for Phantom to follow.
*shaking his head, appalled* This right here? This is most definitley not an angel. This is a spoiled teenager who is throwing a little tantrum because her parents are not allowing her way. She should be knowing better than to act like this on a mission, in which they have not even accomplished much.
Yamini: I think I'll take over now. So, Bethany and Phantom sit at the top of the stairs to sulk and listen in on Gabriel and Ivy discussing downstairs.
"I find it difficult to believe she would jeopardize everything for a whim," Gabriel was saying. I could hear him pacing.
"You know Bethany would never deliberately do anything like that." Ivy tried to defuse the situation. She hated any sort of friction between us.
It isn't too hard to believe, Gabriel. She's already doing it. And nice, Ivy's trying to act like a fifties housewife, isn't she? Always trying to play the perfect peacekeeper!
"What is she doing then? Has she got any idea why we're here? I know we must make allowances for her lack of experience, but she's being deliberately rebellious and headstrong, and I don't recognize her anymore. Temptation is always here to test us. We have been here only weeks and Bethany cannot find the strength to withstand the charms of a pretty boy!"
Yes! Thank you for summing it up, Gabriel! This is exactly why Bethany needs to go back to Heaven and stay there, because she is jeopardising their mission for a cute guy!
"Be patient, Gabriel. It will go much further in..."
*snorts* That's what she said. *snickers* But on a serious note, what are you trying to say?
"She tries my patience!" he said, but quickly collected himself. "What do you advise?"
"Put no obstacle in her path, and this will surely die a natural death; obstruct her, and it will give the situation an importance worth fighting for."
*purses her lips* Bad idea, Ivy. Not only will it not go away, but it's essentially telling all impressionable teenage girls that they're free to get into dysfunctional, abusive relationships because no one is going to stop them! Listen, you need to set your boundaries and make them clear to Bethany, otherwise it is not going to go away!
Gabriel comments on how Bethany's emotional depths are unnatural, almost human, and they need to have it contained. And they even call her love more powerful and dangerous! Yeah, I'm not convinced. And then we get Bethany's reaction!
I didn't wait to hear anymore and crept to my room, where I threw myself on my bed on the verge of tears.
*blinks, then bursts into laughter* Oh my God! She actually just typed that with a straight face! *laughing hysterically* Is this now a soap opera or something? Because it sounds like it! *dissolves into a fit of laughter*
Ruki: *chuckles* It is definitely an overreaction to such a situation. And this whole passage is too long, so I'm just going to point out some key lines.
I deeply resented being discussed as if I were nothing more than a laboratory experiment. And their implication that I was doing something wrong, not to mention their lack of faith in me, was disturbing. Why were they so determined to bar me from the human interaction I craved?
You are doing something wrong, Bethany. You are going against divine orders for the sake of a boy, and that is incredibly serious. They do not need to imply it because you are doing it already.
Bethany starts wondering if she's truly becoming human, but instead of being scared, she's even more intrigued.
That night, Bethany has a nightmare. In it, she's being brought before the jury in Heaven, and Ivy and Gabriel are among them, and they will not look at her. The verdict has already been announced, and she's cast out of Heaven into Perdition, and a mysterious figure smiles at her. This is about as much as I can summarise, because it is quite long.
The next morning, Ivy comes into Bethany's room to offer her some coffee.
"I've never heard Gabriel sound so angry," I said, eager to smooth things over with her. "I've always thought of him as... sort of... infallible."
"Have you ever thought that he might be under stresses of his own? If things don't go well, he and I will assume responsibility for it."
Her words struck me like a physical blow, and I felt the sting of tears welling.
Bethany, why are you getting so upset at the truth being pointed out? What she's saying is definitely true.
Yamini: Bethany then says that she doesn't want to lose Ivy's good favour, and Ivy reassures her that she hasn't because how could anyone be mad at little Bethany? Gabriel only wants to protect Bethany, and Bethany says that she doesn't see how spending time with Xavier could be dangerous.
*disbelieving* Are... Are you stupid?! You just had a nightmare about being cast out of Heaven! You're starting to do things that got Lucifer kicked out of Heaven, dammit! I fail to understand just how clueless Bethany is!
Ruki: Ivy tells Bethany that she needs to be careful not to start things that can't be continued. And with that, Bethany starts to cry and laments over how she had been stupid.
I barely knew Xavier Woods, and I doubted he would react with a deluge of tears if he found out he couldn't see me for whatever reason. I was behaving as if we'd sworn ourselves to each other, and suddenly it all seemed a little absurd. Maybe it was Romeo and Juliet rubbing off on me. I felt like there was a deep, unfathomable connection between Xavier and me, but maybe I was wrong. Could it be possible it was all just a figment of my imagination?
*raises an eyebrow* So... she's comparing herself to Romeo and Juliet, even though that "love" story lasted for only three days before they committed suicide. And this is not love at all, this is infatuation. You two do not know each other and there is hardly any mutual affinity between you two.
Yamini: Bethany says that she has to forget about Xavier, and wonders whether she wants to. She then states that they were supposed to be "messengers, harbringers of hope, and nothing more". And we then end this chapter with this!
When Ivy had gone, I fished out Xavier's number from my pocket where it had stayed all night. I unrolled the tight wad of paper and slowly tore it into fragments the size of confetti. I went out onto my narrow balcony and threw the fragments in the air. I watched sadly as they were carried away by the wind.
*dissolves into laughter again* Am... Am I supposed to feel bad? Because this is just so emo and hilarious!
Ruki: *chuckling* With this incredibly amusing passage, we finally end Chapter 9.
Continue to: Chapter 10- Rebel
Go back to: Chapter 8- Phantom
missabnormal: Since I already said at the end of last chapter that I really couldn't do this, I've decided to have two of my original characters from my novel come and spork this chapter. Here they are!
(The theatre doors open. In walks a Tamil-Canadian girl with piercing spring green eyes, wavy and messy black hair, and wearing her favourite black kurtha and jeans. Following her is a demon with the appearance of a young and handsome Japanese man with long black hair, red eyes lined with eyeliner and red lipstick on his lips, pointed ears, and is dressed in a sleeveless maroon turtleneck shirt, black jeans, and combat boots).
(The girl is Yamini Subramaniam, a half-human, half-demon girl with the ability to control shadows. The demon is Ruki, her companion who helps her with her training, and he too, can control shadows)
Yamini: So, what are we supposed to do?
missabnormal: Your job is to spork this chapter of a bad paranormal romance between a female angel and a human male. There's snacks located in the fridge if you get hungry, so good luck!
Ruki: *looks slightly confused* I don't really understand what she meant by 'spork', but let's get started anyways. *opens up his book* So, we start the chapter with the heroine, Bethany, waking up with a headache and suddenly remembering the events of a party that she went to the previous night.
Yamini: Sounds like she's got one hell of a hangover. She can't remember too much, but she does remember Xavier, the love interest, coming to help her out. And... *reads on* Oh my gosh, she just referred to him as a gallant knight! *disgusted* Sweetie, you're an angel! Why are you acting like the damsel in distress?! Do you have a kink for being rescued?!
And to make this even more pathetic, she starts to whine.
I was overcome with a mix of regret and humiliation. I buried my burning cheeks under the quilt and curled myself into a ball, hoping I could stay that way forever. What must Xavier Woods, the school captain of Bryce Hamilton, think of me now? What must everyone think of me? I had barely been at the school a week and already I had disgraced my family and proclaimed to the world that I was a novice at life. How could I have not realized how powerful those cocktails were? On top of it all, I had proved to my brother and sister that I was incapable of looking after myself outside of their care.
*rolls her eyes* Bethany, you're an angel. Why the hell are you so worried about other people's opinions about you? And why your love interest in particular? And what, you seriously think that you've disgraced your family just because you got drunk? Put on your big girl pants and toughen up!
Ruki: This doesn't seem to sound like much of a big deal as Bethany is making it out to be. *frowns slightly* People your age have things far more severe to give this much amount of worrying.
Yamini: Damn right! Like when I lost control of my powers and beat up a guy for vandalising my mom's grave! I was horrified at myself for that, and you know what I was like? I was terrified that I was seen as a monster by my dad, that my only best friend wouldn't want anything to do with me, and that all attempts at managing my anger had gone to waste! Sure, I might have felt a little bit sorry for myself, but for the most part, I tried to pull through!
Ruki: You're right. Moving on, Bethany can hear Gabriel and Ivy discussing something downstairs, and she then realises that she may have compromised their mission. "Their reputations were on the line as well as mine, and mine was now undoubtedly in tatters. I considered the possibility of us packing up and starting afresh in a new location. Surely Gabriel and Ivy wouldn't expect me to stay in Venus Cove after the spectacle I'd made of myself".
*disbelieving* She just got intoxicated, that's all. So why the hell is she acting like she murdered someone? It's not like they are going to abandon the town to Hell just because Bethany was intoxicated! She is truly making a mountain out of a molehill. *sighs* Look, we demons have had failures in missions in the Human World before, such as attempting to save hybrids in danger, only to be overpowered, or reaching too late. But do you know what we do? We try not to lose hope, we take responsibility, and we aim to save someone the next time.
Yamini: Ya know, when a demon's being more responsible than an angel, there's something wrong.
Well, whatever. Bethany goes downstairs, where she sees Ivy doing some embroidery and Gabriel acting all strict like a Fifties patriarch. And because Ivy's a Seraph, and is supposed to be very powerful, this just angers me. So Bethany goes to the fridge and takes some orange juice, and she's acting all scared of Gabriel because she thinks that he's mad at her. No kidding, it's "I cared too much for Gabriel's regard to lose it. If nothing else, his anger would have helped ease my guilt".
Ivy asks Bethany how she's feeling, and much to Bethany's surprise, she doesn't sound angry or disappointed. Bethany apologises for getting drunk. And how does Gabriel react?
Gabriel turned to look at me, his eyes the color of thunder. But in them I only saw his deep affection for me.
"There's no need to fret, Bethany," he said with his usual composure. "Now that we're human we're bound to make some mistakes."
"You're not angry?" I blurted, looking from one to the other. Their mother-of-pearl skin was incandescent in the morning light.
"Of course we're not angry," said Ivy. "How can we blame you for something that was beyond your control."
*mockingly* Oh Bethany, of course we're not mad! No one can ever be mad at you! *disgusted* If I got drunk, I'd deal with the consequences in the morning. That's what my dad tells me, at least.
Ruki: After some more reassuring, Gabriel makes Bethany a homemade cure for her hangover. It's described to be quite disgusting, but Bethany just takes it. And so today, Ivy suggests that they stay in the home and reflect.
*surprised* You know, I'm a little confused as to what this mission is supposed to be. What the hell are they doing? Because when Amestris and I were doing our mission in the city of Toronto, we had absolutely zero time for things like reflecting. Everyday, we'd go to school, afterwards we'd go for our part-time jobs, and then we'd do surveillance in every single neighbourhood of Toronto to look for hybrids. The only time we stopped was after Yamini chose to train with me, and when Amestris had to train Yamini's best friend after making a contract with her.
However, these angels do not seem to be doing much to help others.
Yamini: Yeah, you're right. Why aren't they making themselves useful and doing some charity work, or working in a soup kitchen, or I don't know, working to spread the word of God!
Oh whatever. Bethany then goes onto describe how they live without any technology whatsoever. And why?
We thought of technology as a sort of corrupting influence, promoting antisocial behavior and detracting from family values. Our home was a place where we spent time with one another, not whiling away time shopping on the Internet or watching mindless television programs.
Are you serious? Look, people have always looked for reasons to avoid talking, way before technology was invented! Why is this author sounding like some sort of old lady?
Ruki: Technology is important for us to use. When we came to the Human World, we had to use devices called cell phones, but they were not filled with distracting applications. Same with computers. We only had those for school assignments.
Apparently, Gabriel hates television, and to emphasise that point, he showed Bethany and Ivy some sort of a reality TV program that made fun of obese people. You know, Gabriel is supposed to be an Archangel, right? Why is he sounding like an old man?
Moving on, rather than using their time wisely to try and help people, they just stay at home, lazing on their deck "reading, playing Scrabble, or simply lost in [their] own thoughts". *frowns* You know, whenever I reflect on my training with Yamini, I often spoke with my mentor, or wrote about it.
Yamini: Bethany also states that fruit has become her favourite food, especially melon. "The clean, sweet freshness of it reminded [her] of home". Is this all that happens in here? Nothing important seems to be happening, you know. It's like these Dark Forces are like, "let's wait so they can relax a little!". Pff, Hell's Army didn't even wait that long before they had one of their members set a manticore on my ass.
After some pointless prose about the sunlight and Heaven and all that, Ivy then shows them a newspaper in which the cover story is about bombings in the Middle East. Er... these angels are Christian, right?
Well, apparently the main reason that this is happening is because "'the forces of darkness are overpowering the forces of light'". Bethany finally shows some sense and asks about what they could do. However, Gabriel tells them that they aren't authorised to act. When Bethany protests, Gabriel says that they've been instructed to watch over Venus Cove, and that's that.
*annoyed* Yeah, sure, a sleepy beach town really needs saving, huh? Well what about Detroit? Caracas? Fortaleza? Baltimore? Acapulco? San Salvador? Those places have high crime rates, so I think that they need the presence of angels even more than this place!
Ruki: In the afternoon, they discover that they're almost out of groceries, so Bethany offers to go grocery shopping. Ivy tells her to get "fruit, eggs, and some bread from that new French bakery that's just opened".
*raises an eyebrow* They shop from a French bakery? You know, another point I have to make. When Amestris and I arrived in the Human World and we had to buy some food, we just went to the nearest grocery store we could find. Everything there was at a reasonable price. We had to avoid spending frivolously and try and keep our identities concealed. However, with the way these angels are acting, they are going to end up giving themselves away.
Bethany takes her bike to the general store. After chaining it up outside, she sees an elderly woman and a caretaker come out of the shop and sit on the bench. Next to the woman is a "silver-gray dog". It's described as having"an expression so thoughtful it might have been human. Even seated, it held its body upright and had a regal air. Its jowls were slightly droopy, its fur sleek satin, and its eyes as colorless as moonlight".
The old woman is upset because she has to give her dog away to someone else, as she herself is going to a retirement home. The caretaker tries to tell the woman, now known as Alice, that it's for the best. However, Alice says that her dog, named Phantom, will not be able to understand whatever is going on. The caretaker continues to be rather callous, saying that the dog will be fine. After this goes on for a bit, the caretaker goes into the store to get dog treats.
Yamini: Bethany compliments Phantom and asks what breed he is. According to Alice, he's a Weimaraner. *surprised* A Weimaraner is a hunting dog, you know that? They're pretty strong, so I'm a little confused as to why Alice, an elderly lady, would have such a powerful breed of dog.
Anyways, Bethany lets him sniff her before he offers his paw. *rolls eyes* So what, are little birds gonna start flocking to Bethany now? Along with rabbits, squirrels, and deer? What the hell is this, has Bethany suddenly become friggin' Snow White?
Ruki: *chuckling* It sounds ridiculous, honestly.
Yamini: I know, right? *laughing* And what, is Bethany also gonna start singing to them? *quickly becomes serious* Because if she does, I quit.
Alice remarks on how strange it is, saying that Phantom is usually more reserved around strangers. Bethany asks her where she's going, and Alice tells her that she's going to a retirement village where they don't allow pets. And then, Bethany gets an idea!
Perhaps this meeting was Providence offering me an opportunity to make amends for my recent lack of responsibility. Wasn't this what I was meant to be doing after all-- making a difference to people wherever I could rather than focusing on my own egotistical obsessions? There wasn't much I could do about a crisis on the other side of the globe but here was a situation where I might be of use.
So she impulsively adopts the dog without consent from her family to make up for getting drunk! Yeah, no. And won't that add some extra responsibility onto you, when you have a mission that you're totally failing at focusing on?!
Ruki: Alice is happy with this arrangement, and the dog doesn't make a big fuss as her former owner and the caretaker drive away. *shakes his head* Did the author do research before? When I was studying Human World fauna, I had read a little about dogs, particularly the hunting breeds, which includes the Weimaraner.
These dogs were originally bred to be hunters. According to my reading, for the first year or so, you need to do serious training to make sure that they are well-behaved. Yet they are still highly energetic when they grow up. And Yamini is right, it's a little surprising for an elderly woman to have this kind of dog, especially because they tend to jump on people. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation as well, otherwise they'll become nervous. And because they are hunters, they will chase and kill anything that resembles prey unless properly trained.
In addition, they often have severe separation anxiety. They panic when left alone and have even hurt themselves trying to get out. So it's pretty much impossible for this Weimaraner to suddenly adapt to being with Bethany with no problem whatsoever.
Yamini: Why not just make the dog a Golden Retriever or a Lab? That would probably make more sense.
Ruki: You know, this animal reminds me of Amestris's battle animal, Tuya. She's of a prehistoric feline-esque species known as the Ember Apexia, and those are known to be extremely loyal to their owners that they refuse to be separated. Not to mention, those animals are highly unpredictable, so it's best to train one when they're young. When they're well-trained, however, they are great healing companions as well.
Yamini: So, Bethany takes Phantom home and Ivy starts gushing and cooing over him, even though she forgot to pick up groceries. She tells them how she got Phantom and they allow her to keep him! This is also an opportunity to see Gabriel smiling, since he smiles so rarely.
The chapter ends with a knock at the door, and with that, we're done! Finally!
Ruki: We're going to take a break, since we're in charge of the next chapter as well. We shall see you then.
(They leave the theatre for a break)
Continue to: Chapter 9- No Boys Allowed
Go back to: Chapter 7- Partay