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Ghosts in the Mirror

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Deep down the mysterious continent of Asia, laden with centuries upon centuries of legends and stories to tell, lies the land of a thousand dynasties, China. The people of this land are known most for their vast seas of wisdom and spirituality. Their eyes look through the physical and value beauty on the purity of the soul and the mind, as we are going to see in the tears falling from the eyes of Zhong Kui, the King of Ghosts.

Bright minds are the spark of civilization yet no mind can shine brighter than Zhong Kui’s:

The hero of this story was a true genius, had the highest grades in his class, was the favorite of all his teachers, and was the teacher of all his classmates. A man of such talents deserves no less than the highest of honors and positions, and so was his thinking. Zhong Kui chose to apply for the imperial examination, to become an advisor of the king and do his part in the rising of his empire.

People in the imperial palace were astonished by Zhong’s brilliant answers and immediately invited him to assume his new position. The emperor, a pretentious man, all too pompous for the common folk was the type of man that wishes everything to be perfect and all too beautiful. He sat on his golden throne wearing the finest of his silk robes and a crown made of pure jade was resting on his head, waiting for our hero’s presence.

Zhong Kui finally arrived at the doors of the palace and presented himself to the guards who allowed his immediate entry. He could not be happier, but all of his joy sunk to the depths of the earth when he entered the emperor’s courtroom. The king gave the highest shriek when helaid his eyes on Zhong. He felt pure disgust as he looked upon our genius’ misshapen eyes and overgrown ears. He almost puked as he looked at our prodigy’s ragged clothes and dirty hair, and immediately expelled him from the palace vowing to never let something so horrendous sit on his imperial tables.

Zhong Kui wept his eyes dry as he left the presence of the emperor and walked with what he thought was shame until he reached the huge metal doors of the palace. Before leaving, he looked at his reflection on those doors and felt so much anger for the world that birthed him in such a fashion, and with so much rage and sadness building in his heart, he struck his head on the door, once, twice, and thrice, until his blood splattered all over it, and he kept beating on his brow until he fell on the ground dead, another victim of suicide.

Fortunately, his story does not end with his untimely death. As his soul traveled to the underground, it caught the eye of the King of Hell and fascinated by its purity, and sensing the talents of the new arrival. He knew that Zhong Kui was way too special to waste.

He honored him with a greater title than he could ever wish for in the emperor’s palace. He named him King of Ghosts and Hunter of Demons. Zhong was delighted and vowed to do right by his new duty, protecting all humans, including the emperor that caused him nothing but depression.

With plenty to take from between the lines of this tale, we can start with the fact that words are as sharp as swords and they can shred a soul to bits leaving a person broken, never to be repaired. There is no ugly, or hideous, there is only different. 

There are no two humans on this earth that look alike and that’s what makes being human beautiful. It’s okay to have features unlike those you see in the media and pictures of models, for those features are you and nothing is as pretty as your love for yourself. Beauty too can come in so many forms, and to the forces of nature, illustrated in this story by the King of Hell and God of Death, the most natural of all forces, nothing is more important than the beauty of your mind.

Superficiality is killed when the eyes are closed to let the ears hear the magnificent words coming out of your mouth, to understand the purity of your golden ideas, and to feel the true essence of what truly is you beneath the shell that might or might not be attractive by the common definition.

To wrap up the story of a prodigy and his unjust end, I advise each and every one of you to stand in front of a mirror and say that you are beautiful because if you accept it, no sword can scathe your soul. And you are not just beautiful because of what you look like, you are beautiful because of what you feel, because of what you think about when you steer away with your thoughts in public, you are beautiful because of what you love and what you cherish, because of the art that leaks like rainbows from your mind and most importantly, you are beautiful because you wake up and live every day to the fullest despite what the poison you hear from the people in your life.

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Another Leaf on the Tree

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He was dragged in chains and he did not struggle as he waited for the guards to lead the way. The face of the prison was almost familiar and the shriek of the rusty door, as it opened to his new home, sounded strangely calm. It was almost comforting as it cut through the cold silence of the empty courtyard. His jailors wore no faces, said no words and the brick walls loomed so tall over the prisoner as if to devour him. 

It could have been worse, he thought walking between chambers framed with crooked crossbars. He peeked through the bars and felt relief that all chambers were empty. He was whole in his solitude and in what others might have seen as hell, he found a place of peace. Looking ahead, he saw an open door waiting, as if it waited for him his entire life. He was drawn to it and when the guards locked the door behind him, he stood with his head held high. 

This is what I deserve, this is what I need, he calmed himself and lay down on his bed, looking around his new home. The red bricks of his chamber were cracked and battered, looking like flames by the moonlight pouring down the small window, and yet they were cold to the touch. A large mirror hung in the middle of the rotting wall and its presence was felt. His eyes averted, for he feared his own reflection. 

The silence that was once soothing started to get heavy on his heart and he started to tap his fingers on the metallic headboard of his small bed, just to hear something that was not his thoughts. He looked for hours at the abyss that was the dark ceiling, and he kept on staring religiously so that he would not err and see the mirror, yet err he did. The darkness overwhelmed him and he sat up with a jolt, begrudgingly looking at it for it was the only thing to see, and the harsh eyes of his reflection shocked him. 

He did not recognize himself in the mirror. The eyes that stared back at him glowed red with malice and it filled him with dread. His image looked like the devil and felt like his own jury, judge and executioner. He felt disgust in his own image and minutes passed by with him enthralled by the man in the mirror, until the lips on his reflection slowly started to move. 

“Do you like what you see?” Said the reflection. 

“If I did I would not be here.” Answered the prisoner, with a mild tone of sarcasm. “Neither do I, to be honest with you.” Said the man in the mirror in a shaming way. 

“And what is it that you want from me?” He questioned in a tone of despair. 

“The world would love it if you stayed here. Frankly, you were born wrong.” Admitted the reflection and the prisoner’s temper rose. 

“And with I, you were born. My defects are yours too. We look the same, think the same and speak the same, and this is a life you must live alongside me.” He answered. 

As the prisoner snapped, his reflection softened. The face on the glass felt more human and his anger started to ebb little by little. For the first time in his life, he started to be at peace with what he saw. He found a friend in himself, which he never found anywhere else and it was more warming than he thought. It was a conversation he never wanted to end. 

“So is it you and I against the world?” Said the reflection. 

“Why should it be a fight?” The man was puzzled as he answered. 

“Well the world never accepted us, why should we accept it?” He asked. 

“Well we never gave it a chance to accept us, did we? The world was there and we never touched it.” Sighed the prisoner. 

“We reached and it backed away in disgust, did it not?” The man in the mirror asked. “No, my friend. It reached for us and we backed away. The disgust was ours and it still is.” He responded in shame. 

“But how can we? We’ll never find someone like us. What’s the point?” The confusion was apparent in the reflection’s voice, and for the first time, the prisoner saw himself and felt compassion. 

“I wouldn’t know, but is it bad if we were so different? We might not be much, but we can be another leaf on the tree.” He responded with heartfelt hope. 

“Alas, we are here and the world is out there.” Said the reflection as it glanced at the small cell window. 

They did not feel it, but they went on for hours. Time flew by and the endless stories they kept away from each other left no room for silence and before they knew it, the sun rose and their horrid cell bloomed and felt vibrant with light. Their heart was closer to peace than ever before and they craved the world. They talked about what they might see, what they might hear and what they might do. The secrets of the world they once rejected were novelties they wish to discover. 

Days went by as their bond strengthened and their hate for each other was a thing of the past. The freedom they once thought so undeserved, now they thought was their right, and so it was. Our prisoner itched to leave and he traced his cell, fidgeting left and right. He yelled for the guards but the guards did not answer. He shook the bars with impatience and he heard a faint clank on the chamber floor. 

The key fell right out of his pocket. He stared at it in total confusion, picked it up and it felt right in his hand. He held the world and the world accepted him, and he was finally whole. As he swung the door open eagerly, colours bloomed around him as his winter gave way to spring. He made his way out of his prison as it crumbled behind him, and finally he was a free man.

 

Written by: « Rib7 ».

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