Posted in Short Stories

A Civilized Beast

By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana

(Joseph Binder, Romulus and Remus, 1850)

“At the edge of the civilized farm a bloodthirsty beast prowled the wild woods, the untamed wolf.”

The Shepherd’s proverb taught Wolfe of the dangers posed by the barbaric nature of his own kind. Only after swearing loyalty to the Shepherd and showing no remorse for the pack of wolves, was Wolfe bestowed the gift of consciousness. To keep his sentient state, Wolfe had to fulfill his duties and stay within the borders of the civilized farm. Leaving wilderness behind, Wolfe chose to have an identity by embracing a sheltered life within civilization, thankful that the Shepherd had granted him a name.

Before the wolf was tamed, the Shepherd, in defiance of nature, had wandered away from civilization and faced the depths of human desire. Although tempted to relish boundless freedom, the Shepherd withstood nature’s melody, abiding by the laws of men as he traversed into the wilderness. Amidst the forest of chaos, there lingered a pack of wolves who reigned over this lawless land unopposed. Even though nature had no claim, here the wolves laid at the top of the food chain, with all other beasts laying at their behest. Driven by jealousy of the wolf’s grip over the forest, the Shepherd defiled nature. Alongside, the infuriating inability to submit them forced the Shepherd to build a farm. Retreating into the confines of civilization, the Shepherd hid in fear of the wolf’s wrath.

Afterward, sheer ambition of expanding the borders of men’s laws drove the Shepherd back into the wilderness to save beasts from themselves. A righteous purpose motivated the Shepherd into submitting nature, the survival of consciousness. By deposing the barbaric wolves and proclaiming himself ruler of nature, civilization would fear no rival and animals would be taught the laws of men. In a blessed night, as the full moon rose, the pack of wolves thundered from the forest to confront the threat, a civilized Shepherd. Betrayed by nature, a fog covered the moon’s light, leaving the wolves weakened. At the tipping point of the confrontation, the Shepherd shot the leader of the pack, turning the tide. In fear, the rest of the wolves spread and retreated back into the darkness of their caves. Amidst the chaos, a cub was left behind, with the Shepherd claiming the beast as his prize to civilize nature. Taking him back to the farm, the wolf was given a name, taught manners, shown how to communicate, and trained to fulfill tasks. Any sign of nature’s lawlessness within the wolf was stripped away and he became Wolfe, an animal destined to fulfill the Shepherd’s command, to spread civilization.

Inside the farm, various animals with different responsibilities served at the behest of the Shepherd’s will. The servitude of the herd was gifted with the commodity of living on the farm. In here, conscious animals accomplished duties and in exchange relished their identity along with safety. Among them, Wolfe found purpose as he guided the flock of sheep and protected them beyond the civilized farm. Outside, in the wild forest laid the pack of wolves, who in the eyes of Wolfe were uncivilized beasts, incapable of questioning or reasoning their very existence.

Whilst guiding the flock of sheep into the wilderness, Wolfe confronted the dangers within the forest. A constant temptation of turning berserk haunted Wolfe as he traversed nature. Standing at the top of a hill, Wolfe stared down at a pack of wolves that prowled nearby. In these situations, Wolfe was tested, as he gazed in fear of the pack, remembering his natural state. However, Wolfe recalled he was rescued by the Shepherd and gifted a consciousness that allowed him to relish an identity. With these memories, Wolfe came to terms with who he was, reminded of the purpose given by the Shepherd. If Wolfe was to keep his name, then he must obey his master by guiding and defending the vulnerable flock of sheep. Fending off the wild beasts, Wolfe fulfilled his task, serving a purpose to the civilized farm. Although Wolfe’s duty had been accomplished, this was done at the detriment of disassociating himself from the pack of wolves, a choice that reassured the tamed wolf a place amongst civilization while keeping an identity.

On the way back, as Wolfe entered again the confines of the civilized farm, he took a glance at the untamed pack of wolves, wondering if he belonged there. Tortured by consciousness, Wolfe uncovered his own morality, realizing it may conflict with his duty to civilization on the farm. Puzzled by his own identity, Wolfe begged to question if he was meant to survive amidst the natural habitat of the unconscious wild or was he meant to evolve and become civilized. Further on, Wolfe pondered if he was either meant to civilize the pack of wolves or to keep them at bay in their natural barbaric state. Turning away from the tempting glances of wilderness, Wolfe entered civilization feeling conflicted about keeping the borders between conscious animals and unconscious beasts at bay.

Every day, from the safety of the civilized farm, Wolfe heard the spellbinding howling of the pack of wolves, as they called him to return into the wild forest. This sparked curiosity within the tamed wolf, as he wondered how these beasts could feel companionship with him if they lacked consciousness. For days Wolfe went back and forth guiding the flock of sheep out to the wilderness and back into civilization, as doubt grew of his true identity.

Suddenly, temptation struck on a cursed night as the full moon rose and the pack of wolves thundered from the forest. A pale moonlight shone above Wolfe, as his wild instincts awoke. Horrified, Wolfe swayed closer to temptation as he was entranced by preying eyes, grizzled hair, sharp claws, and salivating mouths of untamed wolves. The pack of wolves thrusts themselves towards the flock of sheep, fighting ferociously against Wolfe. Fulfilling his duty, Wolfe valiantly defended the flock of sheep, safeguarding civilization. Suddenly, Wolfe began to salivate, and his claws sharpened as the pack of wolves drew closer, with the dormant wilderness seeking to be set free. When the pack of wolves attacked, Wolfe had passed out. Upon waking up, Wolfe gained consciousness again. However, around him laid a slaughtered pack of wolves. Shocked by his actions, Wolfe gazed at the gnawed corpses that had been devoured. Terrified by the carnage he caused; Wolfe questioned his identity. As he looked over the sheep to calm down and be reassured by them of his civilized manner, the flock turned away in fear. Running for their lives, the flock of sheep hurried over to the civilized farm, to tell the Shepherd of what had occurred. Fearful of the Shepherd’s sentence, Wolfe shifted between his conscious and unconscious state. The flock of sheep were arrogant and neglectful of Wolfe, as they would not reason with an unconscious beast. Upon realizing that conscious animals had unjustly turned against him after saving them, Wolfe caved into his natural state. At that moment, the beast made an irrational decision that the animal within justified as rational, deciding to eat the flock of sheep to not allow his master to know the truth. In an act of desperation, Wolfe launched himself at the flock of sheep and feasted lavishly, succumbing to the wilderness of nature.

After the massacre, Wolfe lay petrified over his actions, knowing that for a split moment he left animal consciousness and tapped into beastly unconsciousness. Gazing upon the massacre, Wolfe pondered on returning to the civilized farm and facing judgment. However, he feared the wrath of the Shepherd, knowing he would be held accountable and ostracized. Without the Shepherd, the conscious Wolfe would forget who he was, losing his identity and name. There would be neither a comfortable safe haven nor a driving purpose for life anymore. As Wolfe was unwilling to face the weight of a guilty conscience, knowing he would pay a hefty price. Deciding he cannot go back, Wolfe pondered hiding in the wilderness of nature. Regardless, he had no family anymore and would be alone with no pack to hunt with. Furthermore, if he choose to go back into the wild, Wolfe would lose consciousness, forgetting his name and identity, deprived of a memory. Broken, Wolfe didn’t want to take either option, knowing he would end up without reasoning his existence, losing purpose and meaning for life. In a final act of reason, Wolfe rather than submitting unto nature’s lawlessness and becoming unconscious, opted to devour himself. At that moment, Wolfe rejected the option of living a long and lonely life in which he could die of old age in peace. This life terrified Wolfe, realizing he would not be able to reason his very existence, losing memories and consciousness forever. Instead, Wolfe chose to die ferociously by his own sharp teeth, preferring to leave this world while he could still cling unto consciousness. In the end, Wolfe greeted death peacefully, deeming it worthy to die young with memories, identity, purpose, and a name.

“Alas, the wolf could not be tamed, as nature reclaimed him in his rabid state whilst he devoured himself with table manners, keeping a shred of civilized dignity at the very end.”

Posted in Short Stories

What shall I wear today?

By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana

(John William Waterhouse, Echo and Narcissus, 1903)

Runway One: A Wardrobe Change

Within concealed walls in a dense room, an inkling of true personality scrambles to break free, as I cover it with an array of disguises, choosing which one will replace me today. Inside a vast wardrobe, fear calls me to taste a new appearance. A routinely procession pushes me into an unescapable habit, brandishing a different person every day. Each time I grow more attune within my disguise, feeding a cycle of repetition that’s become safe and eerily comfortable. This shroud of lies avoids me from ever wearing myself. With no need to display my inner self, any worry or anxiety quickly washes away. Finding utter tranquility by hiding behind another face, I choose to leave the strangling room lacking any originality in my attire, wearing a character that befits the outer perspective, whilst abandoning the comforting Inside.

Runway Two: A Performance For Festering Eyes

Hesitantly, I step away from the door, left with no other choice than to confront the terrifying Outside. Even though I eagerly await a swift return to the Inside, there’s a performance underway with an audience to satisfy. Desperately, I want to break the illusion of being a character. Finding more comfort in a serene room, reveling in my true inner self. However, the calming Inside is behind me, now I must traverse an unsettling Outside. The overcrowded streets with constant eyes fixed upon me, convey a distrustful ambience. Whenever traversing the boundless streets, a disguise shrinks me away from any undesired looks. This keeps me consistently wearing different faces to avoid disapproving glances and mortifying critiques. Regardless, the attire over time becomes a burden, with its weight dragging my pace. Every time temptation sways me to get rid of the mask, but the haunting thought of being noticed has kept the disguise on. Searching for answers, the Outside is quick to blame because its nature forces me into hiding from the judging Others, while gently caressing a wounded Inside that can’t be wrong, convincing myself into a lie of loving the attire.

Runway Three: Traversing Nature’s Course

Even though I’m in control over what to wear, a defiant wind from the Outside changes with persistence, whether to aid or hinder me. On one side, in summer, a rivalry arises between the sun and my attire. The heated rays drain me in an attempt to reveal the disguise. Each step of defiance lessens my pace, as a stream of sweat pours through my burnt body. Now, the layers of clothe turn sticky and uncomfortable to wear. In a weak state, I resist whilst boiling and drenched. Still undefeated, I dare challenge the might of the sun, bluffing that my burnt and soaked body still perseveres effortlessly. However, my strength has been spent unwisely, with the sun still ablaze, reigning over the Outside. Establishing its authority, the sun demands of me to get rid of the mask and unveil my true inner self that I’ve been hiding from the Other. Meanwhile, in winter, a union arises between the frost and my attire. This freezing ambience reflects my cold attitude in avoiding any contact with the Other. In winter, there’s an unwavering refreshing ambience that allows me to hide in disguise. A crisp wind reassures me that I’ll be concealed within the grasp of winter. Alongside, my attire is reinforced due to a cold-hearted weather that allows concealment. Regardless, both deal in treachery, aiding me while they ail the attire. Even though the sun blazes me to reveal the attire, its heat makes the Other want distance due to the soaked and boiled nature of summer. Besides, the freezing winds force me to seek warmth with the Other, in the chilling and petrified state it leaves my attire. This is nature’s chaotic way of betraying me no matter its state, forcing my true inner self to come out from the Inside to the Outside.

Runway Four: Comfortably Dressed

Heading back home, my excitement is unmanageable, for here I may relish again on the Inside. Once the door is closed, curtains shut and locks secured, I settle in with a mind at ease. Momentarily, I’m fleeting off the ground, free to enjoy myself. Straight away, I rip the intoxicating mask off, allowing myself a breath of fresh air. With little time left to relish the day, I enjoy every last ray that warms me, disregarding the sun’s decline. Inevitably, time prolongs as night deposes day, with a pale light making me shiver, I attentively watch the moon’s ascend. Suddenly, I’m reminded of tomorrow, knowing the Outside will be waiting for me again. Consequently, a once relaxed body now grows anxious. Before going to sleep, I stand right in front of the protective wardrobe. Following my procession, I worry over what to wear tomorrow. Quivering, I scroll through the endless attires to choose from. However, I’ve realized my wardrobe’s manipulative ways. Over time it has come to dictate what I wear every day. Turning around in defiance, I take a look at myself in the mirror. Desperately, I attempt to feel comfortable in my natural state of crude nakedness on the Inside. Agonizingly, the wardrobe reflects at my side, looking with disapproval over what I truly am. Moving away from the pile of clothes, I attempt to gain control over myself again. Meanwhile, the wardrobe pushes the clothes towards me, attempting to get a hold of my body. Struggling, we tackle each other for control over who will decide what to wear tomorrow. Sliding below and fleeting from above, piles of attires overwhelm my body. A horde of dull and plain costumes that hide my true inner self attach themselves to me. Attempting to break free is folly, with countless sleeves grabbing my feet and arms, twisting and tightening themselves around a frail body, forming inescapable knots. Horrified, I look over as the clothes stitch themselves to me from the tip of my toes to the top of my head. Painfully, in my petrified state, the attire attaches itself to a beaten body that’s defaced from the endless voluntary processions of sewing myself to false faces. Void of any will to fight, I succumb to the wardrobe that now possesses my body, picking the attire on the Inside and Outside, leaving me without choosing what to wear today.

Posted in Short Stories

A Child’s Play

By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana

(Thomas Rowlandson, Drury Lane Theatre, 1808)

Act 1: A Choice

Late at night, passing by colorless streets, a dazzling theater illuminates the pale ambience. Deciding to halt for a glance, I’m frightened by an imposing shadow that creeps over me, constraining any movement. It’s the adult I’ve become, rashly yelling: “Stay outside and carry on with routine.” Tempted to turn around, a frail silhouette dashes over, willing to loosen any motion. It’s the child I’ve lost, gently whispering: “Go inside and try something new.” A flicker of impulsiveness sways me, eager to soothe a monotonous mind. “I don’t have time”, reaffirms an impatient adult. “What about me?”, longs an abandoned child. Will I empower the adult and neglect the child? In an act of recklessness, instinct kicks, as I’m drawn to purchase a ticket, seeking liberation in A Child’s Play. Thereafter, a frail silhouette hand grasps upon a shadow’s rugged fingers that cling onto my flesh, guiding both to the entrance. Once inside, a blinding light drives away both shadows, leaving me to make a choice. Should I leave or stay? Close by, murmuring adults apathetically diminish the play, discouraging any enthusiasm. However, far off, giggling children eagerly boost the play, driving away any pessimism. Steadily, I take a seat, choosing to embrace A Child’s Play, longing a return to what I’ve lost.

Act 2: Where I belong

Inside, a hall welcomes my arrival, while the stage neglects me. Upon seeing my adult drama, a somber hall illuminates the way to a seat reserved especially for me, whereas a joyful stage dims away and closes its curtains when noticing my lack of childish fun. Reality settles in, for I’m a part of an audience, not the show. Behind, there are grim adults ready to spectate. In front, there are cheerful kids ready to act. While those who live confined to reality are relegated to meager seats in a hall, those who live beyond in dreams are uplifted by rich lights to a stage. In the audience, there are no outstanding personalities. Everyone stuck in a seat, hides behind a fancy suit or dress that befits a norm. Ashamed of my true self, I sell a personality that complies with society’s expectations. However, in that stage, amongst actors, there’s a colorful wardrobe of unique personalities. Each one wears what abides to their own taste. Proudly, they rebel against society’s constraining guidelines. While spectators have chosen to dim away from the spotlight, actors embrace it. Suddenly, lights fade in the hall, neglecting my adult drama, while a stage brightens, empowering A Child’s Play.

Act 3: A World Of Imagination

Once the play begins, my spectrum of reality breaks away, easing into freeing an imprisoned mind. Brewing with life, the stage is transformed into magical domains and far-reaching corners of space. Inhabited by children, a stage is polished with performances that turn into whimsical characters, displaying unique personalities. They’ve come to embrace a playful essence, showing no shame, fear, or guilt in what the audience will perceive. From head to toes, children dress in silly clothes with outrageous amounts of makeup and ridiculous hairstyles. Regardless, they keep on enjoying each one’s performances carefree. Up there, a stage accepts you, letting true feelings be expressed without any judgement. This is a freedom only actors relish in; one a kid exuberates. Agonizingly, I’m stuck in an adult’s world of spectators, while they are free to act in A Child’s Play.

Act 4: A World Lacking Color

Amidst the intermission, my spectrum of imagination fades away, returning into a confined seat, that promptly recalls reality. Dwindling with life, the hall remains dull. Down here, rows of seats don’t undergo any transformation, for there’s no time to be wandering in places that I’ll never reach. A hall encompassed by deprived adults, doesn’t display uniqueness within anyone. Instead, a monstrous somber essence feeds off from fear, shame, and guilt being suppressed into hiding from outsiders. Amongst spectators, there’s a sea of identical standard clothes and faces, hiding behind a facade. Each one is careful, avoiding any display of emotion. I follow suit by succumbing any feelings, because if exposed, rejection will follow. This is a suppression only spectators suffer in; one an adult represses. Once I was an actor, now grown into a spectator, with time holding me back from ever returning to A Child’s Play.

Act 5: My Awakening

In a grim moment of self-defeat, I come to terms with a stage far from my reach, while a childhood essence of memories attempts to refresh mind, body, and soul. This cheerful aroma drives away the dismal fume. Although I’ve descended from that stage, these children remind me what it was like to dawn an actor’s performance. In that play, they pass on what the audience lost. Suddenly, a child’s curiosity is awakened within me. A wondrous sense of adventure comes back, amazing me of every trivial discovery, replacing indifference. Thereafter, a child’s joy is sparked. Through giggling kids, miseries wash away. Afterward, a child’s innocence initiates. In an act of carelessness, feelings of guilt drive away. However, I’m the only one rediscovering wonderment, laughter, and innocence. Realizing none have joined in the act, I begin to hide again with judging eyes sharply criticizing. Regardless, I’ve come too far to give in, proceeding to neglect at least for once the adult and empower the child. Now, gathering up a child’s bravery, I’ve completed my transition. Consequently, fear lays weak, with childhood fully awakened in triumph over adulthood. Nevertheless, a childish essence reaches the audience, with frowns turned to smiles, shame to empowerment, and reality to imagination. A somber hall is awakened by spectators, who even though they’ve long left the spotlight, now ecstatically remember what it was like to be up there. Finally, A Child’s Play is embraced by spectators who relish in the freedom an actor embodies, refreshing memories of curiosity, joy, innocence, and bravery.

Act 6: A Show Must End

Enlightened, I savor this last moment with my rediscovered inner child, knowing the play won’t last forever. Unwavering eyes gaze upon the stage, recalling a concealed bubble that an actor fills up with dreams of a hopeful future. Inside, there were written scenes and a character’s guideline to follow through. Abruptly, the bubble burst upon facing reality, leaving characters stranded, without any sense of direction. Outside the theater, away from a stage’s spotlight, nothing was scripted, allowing despair to take over while I sought to uncover my true character. Whilst lingering in thoughts of lost youth, A Child’s Play came to an end, witnessing an actor’s culmination. Performers were stripped from characters and lines, leaving an exposed nakedness of personalities barely defined. Then, each child bowed before the audience, subjugating to reality. They’ve given away the curiosity, joy, innocence, and bravery of frivolous characters. Soon after, a harsh transition occurs, relegating everyone to a role backstage. In there, each one will be interacting behind the scenes, close enough to the action, yet far away from the thrill of the main act. A time will pass through, where they’ll mature, undertaking a journey to find their true selves and replace me. Meanwhile, I get up and give my seat to the next one that passes from backstage to assume a role in the audience. My time here is up, but at least I’ve been reminded of what it was like to be a child. Once more, a frail silhouette with smooth hands grasps upon my wrinkled ones. Now, it guides me back to the hallway where I made a fateful decision. Here, I chose to embrace my inner child. However, behind lays my imposing shadow, longing to stay. Desperately, it grabs my hand abruptly, begging me to return. Although tempted to relish again that feeling of being young, I’m dissuaded, opting to rather give another the chance to experience it. Decisively, I turn away the older shadow, as it peels off from any hold in my body. Whatever energy was left in me has been sucked away by the play and a fleeting decayed shadow. Passing through the hallway, my mind eases, accepting there’s no return to childhood, yet thankful those days ever happened at all. Where once night reigned when I came in, now day deposed it with my exit. Upon these final moments, a frail silhouette takes the leap upwards, to a dazzling light, with energy surging through again, I return in my purest form, that of an actor, in the eternal embrace of A Child’s Play.