Thursday, 15 September 2016

Leila

She is small, only 8 years old. Her name is Leila. She walks around with an almost too big, gray jacket with flowers in her pockets. Leila likes to take walks on the beach near her house. She likes the sea breeze messing up her thick black, hair. She likes the warm sunshine on her light brown cheeks. She likes the faint sound of a bamboo flute from somewhere far, far away.


Leila was walking along the shore when she saw a little girl only half her age, sitting on the sand. She was crying.
“What’s wrong?” Leila asked.
“Nothing,” came the little girl’s reply, without looking up, “That’s the problem. I’m just sad. I have no good reason. Everyone keeps telling me I shouldn’t be sad since I don’t have a reason.”
Leila sat down next to the little girl and said, “I’m sorry that you’re sad,” After a while of sitting in silence, “Can I try to make you smile?” Leila spoke again.
The little girl nods. Leila tucked her small hands in her big, gray jacket and looked for something. She opened up her palms, revealing a tiny yellow dandelion.
“This is for you,” Leila smiles, seeing the little girl’s eyes sparkle.

“And I must go.”


Leila kept walking along the shore. She then saw a boy from school, sitting with a bunch of colorful pebbles.
“Those look really pretty,” Leila said. “Are you playing with them?”
He looked up at her face and said, “No. I’m arranging them according to colors. Over and over again. I’ve done it all day.” The boy then looked down and burst into tears.
“What’s wrong?” Leila asked.
“I can’t find the perfect arrangement. I keep messing it up,”
Leila sat and watched his trembling little hands arrange and disarrange the pebbles.
“Can I try to make you smile?”
He looks up at her with hope in his eyes, and said, “Let me finish this first.” He puts down the last pebble, and says, “Everyone leaves after at least 6 attempts. You stayed for 13. Well, 13 and a half.”
Leila, smiling, tucked her small hands in her big, gray jacket and looked for something. She opened her up her palms, revealing a red aster flower.
“This is for you,” A smile crept up the boy’s lips.

“And I must go.”


Leila kept walking along the shore. She saw an old lady with beautiful white hair.
Leila asked, “What’s wrong?”
The old lady looked at her, and scoffed, “You too won’t believe me anyways.” She looked down and then up at Leila again, with her tired eyes.
“But I’ll tell you. Just in case. I was raped, 50 years ago. That means someone touched me without me wanting it. He was my father’s friend, a trusted man. I screamed and shouted and asked for help but it was useless. They never believed my story, they said I was making it up. That I was lying. But even now, after 50 years, I wake up in fear every day. Sometimes I even feel his hands holding my wrist down. I can’t run away from him. I can’t.”
“I’m sorry that happened.”
Leila asks, “Can I try to make you smile?” The old lady scoffed again, and said, “Sure,”
Leila tucked her small hands in her big, gray jacket and looked for something. She opened up her palms, revealing a purple bee balm.
“This is for you,” handing it to the old lady.
The old lady burst into tears and kept repeating, “Thank you… Thank you, child… Thank you…” Leila smiled.

“And I must go.”
It was getting dark, and Leila decided to go home. She says goodbye to the ocean that she loves, and starts walking. Leila walked alone, in the darkness. As she reached the outside of her home, she heard her mom and dad shouting, followed by the sound of glass breaking. Leila ran into her room before her parents saw her. She shut the door as quietly as she could. Leila sat next to her bed, tucking her small hands in her big, gray jacket and looked for something.
Leila couldn’t find anything.

- Shin Ling



Shin Ling is a short half Malaysian half Japanese girl with a loud voice, with tiny hands and big dreams. She identifies as an outspoken introvert and loves all forms of art – writing, singing, dancing, performing – because she believes that those are the things that drive connection. She is studying in the AUP (American Univerisity Program) in INTI Subang, about to major in Communication Studies after her transfer. She hopes that one day she will publish children’s books that address and educate kids about stuff parents don’t really talk about, like feminism and mental health, because she believes that knowledge shouldn’t be limited by age. She’s also really soft. You can check out her other work here

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