ENTRY #9: PERCEPTION
Recently I've become aware of the power of human obsession. Perhaps,
to others, it's more than what I see it as.
But the act of writing simply encourages one to share his or her experiences with
the world. Is that not what we write for?
I don't believe a moral to this story exists. But maybe a perception change will.
After all, all cats are grey in the dark. People don't have names until we give
Acknowledgments to a little bit of an obsessor of my own.
Ideas and opinions are the two things that make us who we are—influence
how we perceive the world around us, its inhabitants, and how they act. What
strikes our heartstrings and the way it happens defines our personality, and
shapes who we are. It shapes our ideals, and our expectations.
What makes us who we are is what we have the ability to control. We have power
over our actions and our thoughts, even if only subconsciously. We are aware of
the validity of our judgements, but choose to ignore it; the way one is born
into the world knowing what justice is like, but chooses to ignore it.
It is from this idea that our judgement goes awry. We tell ourselves what we
know, and refuse to acknowledge what it is that we believe. What we perceive is
not always true.
Perhaps it was with this knowledge that the basics for human obsession was formed.
We cling to the safety of our lies, wanting to believe that they are true, whilst
knowing full well that they are not.
However, one could propose that the term 'human obsession' is broad, and divided,
too. Only according to our society is the connotation for human obsession looked
at like a half-empty glass.
As for the denotation, well, maybe it doesn't exist.
Is human obsession wrong?
Some think not.
It started with an idea...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I wasn't sure what it was that made him look at me over the back of his chair
with such hungry eyes. Admittedly, as a writer, there might have been some better
words I could have used to describe him—words that didn't make him sound
like a molester or something equally misleading. It was more so a curious hungry
that his eyes reflected, as if he had been offered a job and he intended to finish
Granted, that might have been my imagination. Maybe I was reading too much
contemporary literature that was written by adults for adults, and spending less
and less time with 'friends.' Maybe this was how people commonly talked to each
I took the time to reply with, "Niou. Good morning." Then I promptly turned to
begin my English homework set for last night. To my right, my seat mate tapped
me on the shoulder and offered his English book in my direction. I gesture my
thanks with a brief glance and a smile, and then proceeded to copy.
Niou and my seat mate exchanged a speedy look.
Niou's eyes flew mischievously to the clock and back again. He nodded at my
homework. "Time's a-ticking." He drawled.
"Really." I said, hereby uninterested in continuing the conversation. I went
back to copying.
Pity Niou wasn't about to give up. "What are you reading this week?"
"Sounds boring. By who?"
"Yoshimoto Banana." I said. For a moment, I put my pen down and looked at Niou
with full concentration. "Niou, I have a dire favor to ask of you."
"Shut up and let me copy this."
"That's so cold,
." Niou said. I ignored the teasing in his voice and went back to
This time, he let it go. But not before smirking at me, and then at my seat mate.
Reality was a misleading thing.
- x -
How one comes up with a story idea always used to puzzle me. In fact, the process
still amazes me. Maybe before I started writing Perceptions
, it was
writers' block that stifled my creativity, preventing me from doing what I
desperately wanted to. It just seemed to thrive off my pessimism. I'm sure there
were more symptoms that I had compared to Wikipedia's article the night before,
but very few things stuck while I was reading it.
What was it I needed to get over writers' block?
Well, for starters, a breakthrough would be nice.
My mind wasn't listening—the norm when it caught me trying to cook up a
story. This time, it found me atop a bridge overlooking the city, a notebook and
pen in my hand. It was coming to the point where I had half a mind to throw the
notebook and pen at separate passing cars, but managed to refrain from doing so.
I'd have to waste a trip to the convenience store to buy new implements, and
perhaps spare some time to get lectures from angry adults.
A waste of time and money—two things I had so little of.
Just when I thought that a burst of inspiration would come to me in my
boredom, a guitar tune came to life in my pocket. I frowned. I couldn't be bothered
to answer someone who had the nerve to call me in the middle of a crisis. The
deadline for LIT
magazine's competition entries were set for Sunday next
Brilliant. One week to extract an idea from my uselessly distracted mind. I was
I'd lost count of the number of years I'd tried to enter in LIT
writing competition. I'd write a story in hopes of sending in an entry, only to
chicken out the moment the deadline approached. Discouragement ate away at me for
the weeks leading up to the competition, so it was no surprise.
I hoped that this year wouldn't result in the same turnout. But either way, I
didn't have high hopes for such an expectation.
All I need is an idea, damn it.
And so it happened, something answered my plea for inspiration. Naturally, my
lack of ideas plagued me so heavily that I didn't hear the sound of an idea
coming. In fact, I didn't hear the footsteps until it was too late, and nearly
jumped at the sudden appearance of a total stranger beside me.
In the process, I lost my pen and notebook over the edge of the bridge.
Fortunately, the stranger swiped a speedy hand over the railings and caught both
objects. He handed them back to me, a friendly look on his face.
I would have been grateful if it hadn't been his fault in the first place.
"Thanks... I think."
"No problem." He said. A bubble of gum ballooned from between his lips. His
nonchalant eyes roved over the street I was surveying; no doubt he was curious
what business someone like me had up here. "What are you doing up here?"
"Nothing's coming to me." In all honesty, a distraction wasn't something entirely
welcome—especially not at the moment.
He looked at me, blinking at the vagueness of my sentence. But instead of choosing
to respond with something equally as enigmatic, he fished into his pocket.
I inspected it. It was gum.
Then I inspected his face. He blew another bubble of green-colored gum. "Want
some?" He offered.
"Thanks, but I'm glucose intolerant." I lied, wondering if gum had glucose in it.
I was never one for general knowledge—or common sense, come to think of it.
He blinked, then checked on the back of the pack, most likely looking for the
Eventually, he gave up and pocketed his gum, opting
instead to lean against the rail and continue talking to me instead. "So, why
isn't anything coming to you?"
"Beats me. Old habits die hard."
"What kind of habit?"
I paused, wondering if I should even be talking to him. "A habit that eats my
ideas. It's especially unwelcome when I actually need one, too. Badly."
"What do you need one for?"
I looked at him skeptically. "A story." I said after giving up on staring
competitively with him. "Why do you ask?"
"I was just curious to know why nothing was coming to you."
"I have writers' block."
"Must be rough."
Figuratively or literally?
Aloud, I said nothing.
"So what do you need an idea for?"
Ah, he was the type who liked circling back to previous topics. Joy. "To write
a story." I repeated.
He turned his gaze to me. "Why don't you observe a random person and make up a
life story for them? I do it all the time. It's actually kind of fun."
I had to admit that I did People Watch sometimes. But it was far from amusing.
"I've tried that."
"Then, have you taken a lunch break?" He checked his wrist for the time, and then
discovered he didn't have one. Using his genius mind, he turned his eyes up to
the sky and squinted. "The sun looks a little bit in the middle of the sky, so...
it has to be noon...?"
He sounded slightly uncertain.
Not that I believed him in the first place.
"You're looking at it from the wrong angle, and that only works while it's on
the equator." I said, reaching into my pocket. I pulled out my phone and showed
him the screen. "Here. We have better technology than the medievals did."
He took it and peered at the time. "Eleven-thirty, huh?" For a moment, he just continued
to look at it, as though he were fascinated by such a contraption. I was curious to know
what was so captivating. When I took hold of his wrist and turned it, all I saw was my
The stranger eased the phone out of my hand, and God tell me why I didn't stop him.
I settled for eyeing him curiously as he started to press buttons on my phone,
keeping tracks of his movements, should he run off with it.
"What are you doing?" I asked him.
He made a dramatic show of pressing a send button, and when I swiped my phone
back to look at the screen, a beep accompanied the dialogue box that greeted
my eyes. 'Message sent,'
I fixed a stare on the stranger. "What did you do?"
"Just a little something." He said. As if on a convenient cue, his own pocket
beeped, and, wiggling his fingers, he pulled out a phone of his own. He flipped
open the lid and bragged the screen that said, '(1) new message!'
My eyebrow slowly went up. "What exactly did you send?"
He opened the message for me, and I almost wished I hadn't asked. My phone number
blinked at me on his screen. I tried to swipe for his phone, but wasn't fast
enough. He was leaping out of reach, dodging me every time I tried to catch him.
After speedily mashing a few buttons on his phone, he flashed a charming smile
in my direction and made a peace sign. "Thanks for the message. Now it's
"Wait a minute—"
But he was already off, with a grin and a bubble of gum to remember him by.
Having never been a capable runner, I barely made it ten meters before giving up.
He was far away, vanishing down the stairwell at the end of the bridge.
I couldn't do anything but stare, wondering if reality really was as bad as I
made it out to be.
No, reality was bad like literature was. Just worse.
- x -
I gave a luxurious stretch, my shower having been refreshing enough to calm
myself. The encounter with the stranger this morning bothered me more and more
as the day went on and my mind was never at rest when I wondered what he planned
to do with it.
Hopefully nothing I had to worry about.
I sat down in my office chair, quickly checking if any contacts were on messenger
before starting to think about what really happened. I opened a blank Word document
on my laptop and started to vent about today. Since I was stumped for ideas to
elaborate on at the moment, I could make myself useful by ranting about the strange
encounter this morning.
Barely three sentences into writing it, I paused.
Did he say what his name was?
My gaze wandered to my phone. But I wasn't game to pick it up and text him to ask.
And as if fate were listening to my thoughts, my phone chimed. The ring tone for
unknown numbers. I frowned. If that were the case, it could only mean...
Stifling a sigh, I stopped writing and picked up my phone, bracing myself before
opening the message.
There was a phone number I didn't recognize written first, followed by, 'It's
me, from this morning. Add me.'
'Who are you?'
My phone just touched the table before I got a reply. I had to pick it up again.
'Heh. Marui Bunta, genius at your service.'
'I don't know you.'
'firstname.lastname@example.org. Last text, out of credit.'
. Pleased with his text, I set down my phone and resumed
typing in the document, with Marui's (as I recently found out his name was) few
texts driving my inspiration. At least, it was the closest thing to inspiration.
Naturally, now that all my creativity was coming back to me, fate evolved to
When my recap was fully narrated, an instant message popped up. At first, I thought
it might have been a contact I hadn't noticed going online, which was the only
reason I clicked on it. I regretted doing so.
You were a bitch to find.
How did you find me.
I'm a genius. Hah.
Somehow, I doubted that.
This is your way of picking up chicks or something? You hussle them
for their number on the street and try to creep them out?
Because you're doing a great job.
Of picking you up?
NO. Of creeping me out.
GENIUS is typing...
Admittedly, I was a little bit scared. In one day, I'd been stalked in town and
then on the net. It was hardly flattering.
Hey, just because you don't know me, doesn't mean that I don't
You're the creepiest person I've ever met. Has anyone ever
told you that?
Nope, you're the first.
You're bluffing. Who are you again?
I'm Marui Bunta. And you're
No, I'm Elmo. I'm a furry red critter.
I drew back from the monitor, now sufficiently creeped out.
Hey. At least I pay attention to the person who's always trying
to copy my English homework every morning. If you're such a lit fan, why don't
you just do it yourself?
My first instinct was to close the window and block this person who somehow knew
so much about me. But something in my mind was starting to unravel. Something
about him seemed a little bit familiar.
He said English homework. Then...
Wait. I think I remember you.
Just 'think'? Aw, you're making me feel pretty bad. Maybe I
shouldn't let you copy my English homework anymore, hey?
I did a mental recap. So this guy was Marui Bunta, who sat next to me and let me
copy his English homework every morning. Only now, he was threatening to take
away my liberty. Wouldn't be the greatest turnout, especially not with the
situation I was in.
Besides, it would be awkward enough, sitting next to him. Walking into homeroom
every morning and sitting down next to him would be a haunting reminder of how
creepy this Marui Bunta character was.
Well, I'm surprised you realized who I was.
You sure know how to flatter a girl.
Heh. What can I say? I'm a genius.
I hadn't meant it as a compliment.
So what are you doing the story for?
Curse his good memory!
Why do you want to know?
Just curious, since you're always writing away in that notebook
You're pretty good for a high school student, you know.
Mother of God, how does he know all of this?
How come you're so good at gathering intelligence? Just who
Heh, I'm a genius.
I'm left in doubt.
It came to the point where I was desperately searching for the best excuse I could
think of at the time to get out of the conversation. I needed something that I
didn't disallow me from getting answers for English homework tomorrow. Just to
check if my answers were right or not.
I need to do my English homework.
Well, you can just copy mine on Monday. The teacher never notices
And I need to write my story.
I'll help you.
I was about to instantly say 'no.' But I was quick to reconsider.
How can I trust that you'll be helpful?
Hang on a second.
There was a lull.
What do you need to know?
Genre, theme, writing style, etc.
I was slightly impressed. Maybe a little bit more than that.
Wow. Maybe he actually can be of help of to me.
Let's start with a girl's name. First and last.
The lulls between his messages were becoming more and more noticeable, and I was
starting to doubt his credibility. I hoped he wasn't using Seventh Sanctum or
something to generate ideas.
Give me a loose idea.
How about a quote?
"All things grow with time—except grief."
Sorry, I'm not into tragedy.
Give me a genre.
Ideas don't always make a story. All you need is an object, theme,
quote, scenario, etc. to center a contemporary story around. It's a wonder you
haven't learned from Kitchen
How did Marui know that I was reading Kitchen
? I only recalled telling
Niou that. Granted, he could have overheard... but...
Now that I thought about it, Marui's writing seemed a lot more blunt, and
significantly less cheerful than it had been a moment ago. As I read over our
conversation, it occurred to me that Marui had turned bipolar from the moment
he volunteered to help me. His writing had lost its perk.
I paused, considering the unrealistic thought that was running through my head.
Could there be the remote possibility that it was Niou on the other end of the
line rather than Marui?
Who did you say you were again?
There was a pause. Was Niou scrolling up to look at the conversation that Marui
and I had before? To take advantage of the time he was waiting, I decided to
scroll up and scan some of the former small talk I'd exchanged with Marui. It
was almost obvious that Marui and Niou were two different people. While it was
commendable that the both of them typed properly, there was a clear difference
between the two: Marui was more easygoing, pepping his speech with little
interjections and adding character to his speech, whereas Niou spoke with blunt
That was just like him. He always spoke like he needed to get a job done.
You said you remembered me.
I'm Marui Bunta. Local genius.
The creeping suspicion didn't go away as I tickled keyboard keys, hoping for
something witty to come to me.
And luckily, an idea hit me. It would have been amazing if it was a story idea
rather than a lame plan to differentiate between Niou and Marui for certain, but
it was welcome all the same.
Okay. I'll try to write something about 'flowers.' I have
a favor to ask, though.
So... Niou was in Marui's account? What on earth for?
- x -
Niou was close to laughing. If Marui had paid him a little more, maybe he would
have tried to make more of an effort acting like the genius.
Ah well. It wouldn't have been any fun if
wasn't such a shrewd bastard.
- x -
I stared at the computer screen for a while, wondering how to respond to something
like that. I settled for burning the picture into my memory before slowly resuming
Tell me how you know so much about me.
Damn it. I knew joining Facebook wasn't a good idea.
The novel Kitchen
revolves around the significance of a
kitchen in Mikage's life. Everything about the book threads back to the kitchen
itself. Why not just pick an object and write a story based around it? Contemp.
stories usually use themes and motifs to keep the flow going.
If you don't want to do flowers, then there's always something else
I can suggest. You might like, "All cats are grey in the dark."
What does that mean?
"People are undistinguishable until they have a name."
I blinked, considering the idea, and then considering the idea that Marui's
morning encounter had given me. The two blended together in an odd sort of way.
I like that.
So was I helpful? Heh.
And suddenly his writing was perkier again. Curious. Then was it safe to assume
that I was back to talking with Marui?
I decided to humor the guy.
Sure. Pretty impressive for someone like you.
Hey! What's that supposed to mean? Hah.
Anyway, I should work on my story now. Signing out for
Hmm? You're not staying on?
I'll get too distracted when anything but a word processor
is opened up on my computer. I'll be tempted to reply if you keep writing.
You'd be expectantly waiting for them to come, huh?
has signed out.
It came as a relief to escape Marui and Niou's clutches. I felt like I was a
witness under uncomfortable questioning, talking to a two-faced person. But it
was hardly more of a relief that I had one day left before I had to see their faces
again. I got the feeling that over the weekends, I would get no work done.
Sighing at tonight's conversation, I closed down every window except Word. I opened
up a new document and typed 'flowers' at the top of the page, hoping it would serve
as some sort of inspiration for my poorly idea-deprived brain. As expected, nothing
came to me.
Despite my honest efforts to write a contemporary short story, my attention kept
wandering to the unsaved document with my recount of today's bizzareness, from my
first encounter with a stranger who just happened to be my seatmate.
I frowned. That wasn't a coincidence. It was stalking.
Once the morning on the bridge was recounted, I headed my document up with the
quote, 'All cats are grey in the dark.' An explanation of the quote followed it.
Then I saved and moved onto the conversation part.
I signed back in as invisible, in case Marui was online. He didn't appear to be,
but he could well be invisible, too, waiting to spring on me in case I came back
on. It wasn't likely, but as today had proved, everything was unpredictable when
it came to Marui.
I was greeted with his offline message of, 'Aw, come on! Don't be so heartless!'
Heartless my foot.
It was once I had the conversation copied and saved did I decide that the 'flowers'
idea was not my forte. In all honesty, the idea of human obsession would be much
easier for me to write, especially since Niou's other suggestion would be easy
enough to incorporate.
And so—with my decision fitfully made, I went back and started to flesh out
my experiences with Marui, including the fact that I regularly copied his English
homework and my suspicions that I had been talking to Niou rather than Marui
Halfway through, I drew to a halt, unsure of what I was doing. I was basically
recounting the events with Marui, not necessarily writing a contemporary story.
Err... is this a good thing?
Slowly, I resumed typing the recount.
- x -
On Sunday morning, I signed into messenger as available. I was immediately met
with a message Marui must have sent to me after I copied the conversation in.
Well, good night.
So he had
been invisible last night.
I was just as immediately met with a message from Marui, who was online.
Lemme try again.
Morning, Elmo. How flows the story?
I'm not sure if 'flows' is the right way to put it. But now
that you ask, not too badly. I've got a loose idea.
Thanks to me? Hah.
In actual fact, Niou had done nothing for me except provide a nice few complications
for the story, one of them harnessing the quote he sent me. And perhaps the name,
too, if I didn't end up thinking of one better than Shiraga Kotone. I wondered
briefly how disappointed Marui and Niou would be, should they find out about my
new idea and that they were actually the basis for my entry.
You done your English homework yet?
Yep. Do you need the answers?
The answers for the English homework started popping up one by one. I pulled out
my own answer sheet from under a pile of books and started writing in the answers.
It didn't take long for him to finish posting, or for me to finish copying.
I squinted at the screen to make sure I'd read that right.
Did you just say 'cool beans'?
Sure I did. Problem?
Such the troll.
You learn something new about me every day. Heh.
I typed out a nonchalant reply in response. But my mind wasn't with the keys.
Marui's post had been thought-provoking. Now that I thought about it, Marui
(and Niou) knew more about me than I did about him. Them. Well, realistically, Niou was
out of the question. Considering the circumstances, it just seemed like Niou was doing
Marui's dirty work. Maybe that was the reason 'Marui' had been so proficient at gathering
intelligence about me. Niou was the only one who ever asked me things.
And for what?
When I logged into Facebook for the day, invisible as I usually was, I found a friend request
waiting for me. It shouldn't have been surprising that it was Marui.
Strangely, too, I found it somewhat accomplishing that I now had access to Marui's profile.
It made me feel like a creep myself, but that was the least of my worries.
(In fact, I didn't even think it was one.) Maybe I could use this to find dirt on him, or for a plot
idea. I scribed down an account of my morning so far, then accepted the friend request.
Moments later, an instant message from Marui popped up.
Finally accepted my friend request, eh?
I thought I should do my homework on you, dirt and all.
Aw, that's sweet of you. Too bad for you I don't put confidential
pictures of you on my Facebook. Otherwise all my rabid fans would be blackmailing
me to go out with them. Hah.
Why don't you?
Mmm. I already like someone.
He had a crush on someone else, eh? How hadn't I heard of this until now?
To be completely honest, I felt a little bit of self-doubting at that.
Who is it?
Hah! As if I'd tell you!
I was put off by that comment.
What does that mean?
I'm not going to tell anyone.
They all say that! Hah.
I won't. In fact, I'll probably forget as soon as you tell
Trust me, you wouldn't. Heh.
Why do you want to know so badly? Maybe you're jealous?
That struck me, for some reason.
Woe is me! Heh.
You had it coming.
It was barely an hour and I'd had enough of talking to him for one day.
Hey. I have to get back to work.
Hmm? Why not stay on? I can help you again.
That's alright. I work better offline. But thanks anyways.
Suit yourself. Log on later.
Hm. I'll try.
had signed out.
Contradictory to what I said, I was not going back to work just yet, no matter
how imperative it probably was. Rather, I opened up the window to Marui's profile,
sifting through the information. I learned a significant amount about him,
considering I previously didn't know more about him than his class number. It
was fair to say that I got a shock when I found out he was in the tennis club.
I got even more of a shock when I found out that Marui had a fan club. A huge one.
With hundreds of members.
I stumbled across it accidentally when I opened up Niou's profile, having low
hopes in finding any dirt on the trickster, but motivated (for the moment) to try
regardless. That was when I found out he had joined the 'Marui Bunta Fan Club'
with several exclamation points following it.
That made me twitch a little, as it did most writers.
The profile wall was littered with love confessions, shameless groveling and 'can
I meet you here' posts. I scrolled over most of them, trying not to sigh at the
stupidity of most girls my age. Marui, of course, had responded to none of them.
That was, except one.
Marui-sama! Can I have your autograph? I want to marry
Go to hell.
Then I found more in the same conversation.
Marui-sama, why would you ever look at that bastard from
post one? You should pick me! I'll make bento and cake for you every day, and I'll
always be there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on! You cry a lot anyway,
so I thought I'd man up for you.
Marui-kun! I want to be your friend!
Dear Marui-sama, I'm a twelve-year old girl suffering
from cancer in a hospital. The doctors expect I may not live. What would make me
the happiest person in the world was if you married me. I'd love for you to visit
me every single day in the hospital. Please don't accept the hand of any other
girl! I'll be waiting. All my love, Seiichi.
I hope you all die in a hole.
Marui, you still owe me. Cash.
Why do you need to post that here
You never remember anywhere else I post it.
That's a lie! He's a fan, just like the rest of us! And
also because publicity is your worst enemy. Take note, fangirls.
Note taken. (:
I started to laugh.
Unable to resist, I started a new conversation, so as to not interfere Marui's
other old friends.
Curious. So this is what popularity does to a person.
I minimized the window and went back to my recount. But, as usual, it wasn't long
before I heard a Facebook alert, meaning that Marui was online. Brilliant.
Hey, you liar! You said you went off to work! Come to post a
Maybe it wasn't the best idea to post right
Guess there's no escaping it now.
Who, me? I just got distracted by Facebook and Tumblr is all. I
would never want to make your crush jealous now, would I?
Facebook was the distraction at the time. Tumblr was a lie.
After barely typing two more sentences into my recount document, there was
Hah, she wouldn't be. Trust me.
I didn't reply after that, partially to be able to work dedicatedly, and partially
to consider what exactly Marui meant by that.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Princo & Ribbon
June 28, 2012.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
So this was an idea that came to me a few years ago, when I had
a really bad case of writers' block. I guess the idea to write a story about
writers' block came to me eventually, and I wrote down some inspiration
before discontinuing. That inspiration has served me faithfully in writing this.
As has Princo, who had to bear with many typos during editing. Mostly because of
my compulsive habits to type wrong words in the wrong places.
Oh well, you live, you learn.
This would have been so much more fun to code had Ribbon used less
bold. OTL. AND LESS CHAT. Ah well, another two more chapters to go! Hohoho. If I
made any errors, even small ones like two spaces instead of one (if any of you
guys even bother to check or pay attention to those details HAHA), please don't
hesitate to tell me! Just give me the sentence it's in and I'll fix that.