spirit break

Spirit Break (Japanese: ソウルクラッシュ Soul Crash) is a damage-dealing Fairy-type move. The user attacks the target with so much force that it could break the target’s spirit.

And so the spirit, a lovely culmination of one’s very being. Their sole existence, their soul being. A place filled with marvellous mysteries and secrets, as well as winding wonders and discoveries each day. Shall it soar? Or perhaps it would go for a dip? The latter seems more plausible, wouldn’t it?

But as one’s spirit breaks, with such brutality and malice, can’t it be true that this allosteric change only causes more harm? What makes a spirit break? That’s the underlying meaning behind most of the feelings in this circumstance. A complete breakage. The spirit changes, but the feelings just continue to ascend, rise and transcend all boundaries.

Can’t it stop hurting? The spirit can only remain torn for just so long, for a glitch in the matrix, for a tear in the very fabric holding the plane of reality together, would just lead to a spiralling downfall of emotions. That blunt force isn’t a physical action, despite some sources screaming the obvious. It could, but that doesn’t mean there’s only one path to the fragmentation. Many times there are other factors, namely, the very emotions that crashed on the surface.

You broke that spirit. You broke my spirit. As the summer solstice ends with the movement of the trade winds to the southern hemisphere, a new season begins. A new season of excitement, prosperous promises and adventure! Yet, the fragments of the past couldn’t disappear. Rebounding, bouncing back, brash, bold, unwise decisions.

The spirit does not want that change. It wants a permanent inhibitor to bind to it, to prevent a further attack from the other enzymes that so cause it to change. Can it be hardened? So many thoughts of the past interfering with a blossoming relationship of support and encouragement, why did he have to break my spirit? Why can’t it just form back? Bandages don’t fix bullet holes, but that doesn’t mean that the pieces can be glued back together.

You’re young, you’re bold, you’re full of life. I cannot ruin this.

For you. For myself.

I would put aside the past. I would have to repair the spirit that was broken by bad memories of the past. To shield my spirit with an iron defence. For your sake. To be a better person.

After all, the Steel-type beats the Fairy-type.

10 minutes of hope.

“Evening, Dr. Tan. I’m calling about Mr. Chung in Isolation Ward 68A. He is our first patient with the SARS-CoV-2. The patient has complained of chest tightness, as well as a pulsing sensation in his neck. Our reports have showed that his heart rate has soared to 140 to 280 bpm. We seek further assistance in the investigation of this matter, as such complications have not been observed in the other patients.” Nurse Matilda anxiously spoke to Dr. Tan over the phone, while twirling the phone cord with her fingers.

The past few nights have been hectic for the team. Hours after hours of patients streaming in complaining of – sore throats, coughs and fevers. It was not just people from China anymore. Local transmissions were already rampant with the government amping up the DORSCON level from orange to red. Schools had been cancelled and supermarket shelves were wiped clean. Nobody dared to step out of their houses anymore.

Still, Matilda knew she had to do her job. Her eyes always felt heavy, with her face almost looking like a panda with the intensity of her eye bags. Frizzled hair and a stiff back, as well as the risk of getting the virus herself, all plagued her mind.

While she listened to Dr. Tan’s instructions, Matilda took a glance at Mr. Chung lying in bed, wheezing violently, while the heart rate monitor’s crests ascended and dipped steeply. Her soul melted at the sight of the suffering man, knowing that the pain he was going through was unbearable.

She had done everything she could – glucocorticoid therapy and even ceftriaxone drugs, but nothing was working. It was as if the virus was firing missiles at the drugs entering the man’s body, shielding him from treatment.

“I understand, Matilda. I suspect the patient has AV nodal reentrant tachycardia. Not to worry, I’ll be coming over shortly to investigate, but in the meantime, please prepare the 21-gauge needles and the BD Vacutainer tubes.” Dr. Tan instructed Matilda over the phone.

As she nodded and prepared to terminate the line, Mr. Chung’s endless coughing turned even more violent, as he spat blood out of his mouth, staining the white sheets. His body began to twitch uncontrollably, knocking over water glasses next to him, falling to the floor and shattering.

The phone still in her hand, Matilda turned her head at once, but then, the heart rate monitor’s crests suddenly all dropped, with a flatline appearing on the screen and the characteristic “beep” sound ringing through the hall.

Matilda’s heart skipped a beat as sweat dotted her forehead. She immediately recounted to Dr. Tan about the sudden occurrence and promptly terminated the line. Along with the resuscitation team, they sprung into action and rushed towards the man’s bed, drawing the circular curtain around him.

They swiftly turned Mr. Chung onto his back, began to observe for chest movements, and assessed his carotid pulse. However, it was evident that the man was showing no obvious signs of life.

“Janice, prepare the defibrillator at once. I’ll begin the chest compressions. Everyone, please be on standby. Cut off at 10 minutes.” Matilda instructed her team as she interlocked her left hand on top of her right hand, placing them perpendicular to the middle of the lower half of his sternum.

30 chest compressions. 2 ventilations. Check for breathing. Repeat. Matilda continually ordered herself in her mind, directing all her focus to revive the patient as she pressed her hands up and down with ‘1s and 2s’, stiffening her arms while doing so. It was going to work, it just had to. He couldn’t die yet. He just couldn’t. The virus can’t be that strong.

2 minutes later. Nothing. The light above them seemed to have dimmed slightly as Matilda quickly motioned to another nurse to take over, to maintain quality. Like a paper being swapped out of a folder, their hands changed positions in less than a second.

Another 2 minutes. The light had grown dimmer to them and sweat trickled down Matilda’s back while the room suddenly seemed to grow quieter. Only the constant beep of the flatline and the rhythm of compression filled the atmosphere. The tension was clear. Janice quickly swapped in.

The sound of footsteps shuffling across the floor, around the bed was heard after yet another 2 minutes of silence. Matilda began her compressions again. 1 and 2 and 1… oh? Breath! She had just started the cycle again when she felt tiny gasps of air blowing against her arm. A constant rhythm was heard from her left. Turning her head, the crests of hope had finally returned as the heart rate monitor displayed a regular heartbeat. It worked.

The light above them shone brightly again. 6 minutes was all it took. Matilda and her team prepared to open the curtain when the monitor unexpectedly dropped again and the dreaded flatline screen was displayed.

However, the man’s body was still twitching aggressively, while a mixture of foam and blood poured out of his mouth. Everyone looked at each other worriedly as Matilda looked down at her hands, shocked and flabbergasted. Did I do that? Were the compressions too hard? Dr. Tan, please, please, please come soon. This isn’t normal, Matilda anxiously thought to herself while the rest of the nurses prepared towels and began to do a final cycle of compressions.

2 more minutes of agony and fear. Hope turned to dust. The twitching had degenerated even worse while an endless river of foam continued to flow. Yet the dust reformed back to hope. The sound of beeps from the heart rate monitor was heard again at the end of the 2 minutes. Still, it was misplaced and short-lived. As though the monitor was playing a twisted joke, it collapsed back to a constant flatline again. And then it surged up.

Crests and flatline. Crests and flatline. Finally, a single flatline. Matilda’s bit the inside of her mask hard, grinding her teeth against it. She scrambled through her brain to recall any medical knowledge that could explain the situation. But to no avail.

Janice rushed to paste the defibrillator at the respective parts of the man’s chest. The last resort. Matilda continued the compressions as part of the protocol, despite worries that it would harm the patient even more. Rapidly, she lifted off her hands while the shock was delivered to the chest.

Three shocks, continued compressions after, in another forbidden 2 minutes. 10 minutes had passed in total. 10 minutes of hope, despair, hope again, but ultimately, confusion. The heart rate monitor showed no signs of improvement, but the man just couldn’t stop twitching and foaming. No one knew whether he was resuscitated or undergoing cerebral perfusion. The limit was reached, but Matilda did not care. She had to save this man.

Then, he paused. The heart rate monitor showed a crest starting to rise.

At that moment, the man’s arms quivered again, punching one of the nearby nurses in the stomach. The team quickly stepped back while the heart rate monitor then immediately spiralled out of control. He rolled out of the bed and slammed onto the floor, disconnecting himself from the IV drips and monitor, while his body trembled up and down . The team was at a lost of words while Matilda began to shake her head, wide-eyed, in disbelief.

As if on command, the twitching stopped. One of the nurses bent down to check for the man’s pulse when suddenly, the man’s eyes opened, looking as though he had not slept for 10 years. The man that would have been called Mr. Chung then jerked his head to the nurse’s direction at an uncanny, un-human like speed and bit down hard on the nurse’s hand.

The nurse screamed and stood up, stepping back and crashing through the curtain, into a trolley of medical equipment. Scalpels, syringes and forceps all fell onto the floor with a metallic bang.

As the patient got up from the floor, he rushed at the next nurse that was closest to him and bit him in the shoulder. Blood splattered everywhere. The nurse collapsed onto the floor as Janice grabbed Matilda’s hand and dragged her out of her trance with the rest of the team, fleeing from the ward as the patient charged at them with a crazed, supernatural look.

She glanced back and saw the two nurses that were bitten foaming at the mouth and the patient chasing after them in hot pursuit. At that petrifying sight, Matilda let out a blood-curling scream, pleading for everyone in the hall and connecting Isolation Wards to flee at once.

Don’t stop running. Don’t stop running, Matilda repeated to herself. Other nurses from nearby the Isolation Ward 68B looked out at the hallway in uncertainty, as Matilda and Janice rushed past them. Before they could even say a word, they were greeted by the foaming patient, who turned his attention to them and pounced on them like a leopard on its prey.

Visitors, patients and other nurses saw the onslaught happening in Isolation Ward 68B and took no time to think. Parents scooped up children as nurses assisted elderly patients out of the hall at once, with everyone desperately scrambling for the glass exit. The sounds of ripped gowns and masks, as well as the moans of the patient reverberated throughout the hall, accompanied by a stampede of feet from other parts of the ward.

10 minutes. 10 MINUTES. How could everything just collapse in a mere 10 minutes? Everything was done right, we followed the 2-minute rule with almost no interruption to the compressions. Is he even alive at this point? Matilda scolded herself repeatedly in her mind over and over again, blaming herself for the unfortunate turn of events, as she ran for her life. Tears started to stream down her face. Tears of fear. Tears of built-up stress. Tears of a heart that lost its passion to serve others, after so many gruelling, endless nights.

Crash! Her thoughts were instantaneously broken as she felt contact with soft fabric. She looked up and saw that Dr. Tan had arrived. Forgetting everything that she had learnt as part of her nursing code, she threw herself to the doctor on the floor, bawling and sniffing uncontrollably, wiping her tears with her sleeves, wrapping her arms tight around the man.

Dr. Tan lifted his hands up in shock.

Was this woman even the same, sane head nurse he knew?

“Matilda! Snap out of it. You can’t do this right now. We have a patient to attend to and-” before he could finish his sentence, he looked up and his jaw dropped. A patient, that looked like a reanimated cadaver from his schooling days, along with other nurses with ripped gowns and bloodied gloves were galloping from the ward in the distance. Fast.

That wasn’t natural. That WASN’T natural. Am I hallucinating? Must be the hospital air, right? He questioned his sanity.

Then, Janice, who had faithfully waited by her head nurse despite the severity of the situation, shrieked and pointed at the horde of creatures storming over.

Ding! The inviting elevator doors then opened timely, with its charming music being broadcasted out onto the dark hall.

Dr. Tan jumped to his feet and helped Janice to drag Matilda into the elevator, who was screaming and resisting, ordering them to drop her. She felt no reason to live. Not after what she did to Mr. Chung, the very patient who had entrusted his life to her.

Nevertheless, they managed to enter the elevator as Janice furiously tapped on the close button, just in time as the doors closed on the man, that used to be called Mr. Chung, showed up in front of the elevator door, with uncontrolled fury and malice in his eyes, surrounded by his new group of infected individuals.

The elevator descended slowly, but Matilda’s own thoughts were fragmented, as she descended faster into madness. Hyperventilating in a corner, Janice attempted to calm her down while Dr. Tan paced up and down, trying to think of a logical explanation. After an elevator ride of eternity, with surprisingly no stops, they made it to the basement. Dr. Tan hoisted Matilda onto his back while Janice opened the doors.

Everything was a blur to Matilda. Muffled sounds and sights of families staring at them as she clutched onto Dr. Tan’s back. A ringing sound kept going in her ear as she squinted at the sight of a car’s headlights. Before she knew it, she felt plush leather against her body, through her torn hospital gown. Janice squeezed her hand and she could faintly make out her reassuring words.

As Dr. Tan’s car turned and sped out of the basement onto the street, Matilda looked out of the window at the crumbling world on her left. A place where she used to feel solace, a place where she once felt joy saving the lives of many.

Everything, gone in one night. The lights of the shimmering hospital blinked in some windows, as silhouettes of liquids splattering against the glass windows and people running out of the building onto the street could be seen, some limping, some bleeding.

Where did it all go wrong? What really is the SARS-CoV-2? A strain of a virus. A strain that could be a biochemical weapon. A strain that took away her entire career in 10 minutes. Nothing made sense anymore.

Reports from the news came flooding in on the radio, but Matilda did not care. Everything seemed bleak, hopeless and lost. Red and blue lights passed by the window, while Dr. Tan’s car drove further and further away, as the hospital shrunk in size, cast against the background of towering residential buildings. The moon was covered by clouds and street lights flickered.

10 minutes of hope, Matilda mocked herself, sniggering at the thought. What rubbish.

I never knew I could taste such crystallized sweetness until you.

Arms tied, blindsight, faded midnight.
If only I knew. If only we knew.
The butterflies fluttering within an arms-length were sick to the core.
You didn’t know how revolting this bad kind of butterflies could taste,
how convoluted this is.
Intoxicating indeed. But at the expense of your initially glimmering soul.

Now we know.
Daylight transcends midnight, hindsight.
Fireflies dominate and gleam in the sky darker than midnight black.
Toxicity within, liberated, purified, expelled.
You and me, we lost our ways in the dark.
I lost your shadows when the clock struck 12, and no glass shoes, no clue.

I thought I lost you forever and agony seeps through.
That’s how they took over this delirious state, your obscure state.
How much more shall we give thanks to the light that shone at the darkest night.
How much more shall we honour and glorify Him
Now that we both reprieved, unshackled.
I could feel your radiance, bright as the sun.

Even if words concealed, banter non-existent, adoration suppressed.
Reverence was explicit, appreciations unclouded.
Feelings ambiguous, yet crystal clear.
In the air, love is.

I never knew I could taste such crystallized sweetness until you.
And this time round, in the light, no more losing trace of your shadow,
no more losing sense in the darkness,
no more losing our souls to the world.
Heart intertwined, souls unite.
Heaven sings in joy, angel rejoice.
Would you dance with me this time?

sweater

sorry i didn’t bring my sweater today

but it’s freezing in here

can i wear yours?

i like your sweater

it looks just like mine but

it fits different.

makes me feel like you’re giving me a big hug

it’s warm and nice and comforting

i wish it were mine

(i wish you were mine)

sorry i didn’t bring my sweater today

but it’s freezing in here

thanks for letting me wear yours

River

I could barely hear your screams that day.

Like a old portrait left to fade, my face disappeared under the surface of the glassy water. Everything else after that passed me by in a muffled blur- bubbles rising up as if to mock my own worldly weight, and fishes darting by, glittering like the river’s surface on a June morning.

Of course, I couldn’t see you. You were many miles above me, safe on land. That I was glad for. I was content that you didn’t join me in the murky depths, for even the radiance and warmth of the sun couldn’t stretch as far as the seemingly endless bottom of the river. You would have hated it. The further down it was, the colder it was, too- was this what it was like to be estranged, bit by bit, from the grace of God? Was this what Lucifer felt? I could only stare up at the rippling, almost mirage-like surface, watching it hover ever higher above my head. It was out of my reach forever, I knew that much.

So why did I stretch out my hand one last time, as if I could latch on to yours again?

Why did I silently sound out my last words to you, carried through the water by those brilliant, transient bubbles?

And why, though I was five fathoms deep by then, did I shed a tear upon hearing your voice resound through my watery tomb?

Questioning.

What is love? No really, what is it? She wondered, pondered, contemplated yet no tangible answer came to mind. Was it a feeling? Was it a spark of sentiment rushing through one’s being, electrifying their essence and embedding itself within their very core? Or was it factual? Was the nature of love calculative, taking into consideration how well two beings complemented one another? The girl sought to find answers yet her efforts were futile, almost as if she was but a nameless child lost in the maze of an endless forest. She looked to her left, then to her right but she couldn’t see past the blanket of fog encasing and shrouding the mystery of what one would call “love”.

Thus, as any other inquisitive child would do, she began to reflect.

Lips upon lips, tightening grips, foreign hands on her hips, she wondered: was this love? No passion, no drive, no desire for more. He was a hungry predator and she, his willing prey. In the heat of the moment, the girl’s gaze remained impassive, her posture languid, her heart beating in it’s ever-constant, almost clockwork-like rhythm for her very conscious itself was trapped in a daze. She neither accepted nor rejected him but instead trapped herself in a spectrum of grey in-betweens. She heard his whispers in her ear. Whispers of promise, whispers of assurance, yet they never truly registered in her mind. After all, this seemed like a faraway dream consisting of her and a nameless stranger, a fleeting moment which she knew would soon be lost in her sea of memories. A twinge of guilt stabbed at her from deep within the confinements of her chest. Had her detachment truly transformed her into a manipulative puppeteer controlling her little marionette? However, when viewed in a different light, she too was tied down into this newfound “commitment” which she soon would not keep. 

Another kiss from another boy shattered her soul into a million specks of broken stars. It was soft, meaningful, affectionate; nothing like what she’d ever tasted before. Facades and masks crumbled beneath the solemn midnight ambience. It was as if all the fragmented pieces, unsaid words, unexpressed sentiments gathered in the form of the liquid starlight streaming down her cheeks. He was not nameless, he was distinct, palpable, and present. Why? She didn’t know. Once again she was tossed into an abyss of confusion with no way of escaping. Disembodied whispers of her thoughts crescendoed until it was a pandemonium of unintelligible voices screaming at her from the depths of her mind. It was then, that all fell into silence. An emotion, she didn’t know what, pierced through her being like a lance impaling flesh, sending jolts of amplified sadness and reinforced guilt. Beneath the twilight sky, she gazed into the faraway horizon wondering, pondering, and contemplating. Was this love? If love was so dismal, unpredictable, and destructive, yet so gentle, patient, and reassuring, she couldn’t decide if she wanted to be a part of it or not.

Thus her conclusion became a series of “I don’t know”s.

‘The Coronet’, as told by a Devil’s Advocate

(a response poem to andrew marvell’s ‘the coronet’)

The flowery crowns you have long, too long,

With many petals gracing the cold ground,

Have torn asunder, rendering them bound

To icy death, a most unkindly wrong.

So why do you neglect and hate them so,

These crowns that never wronged you any way-

The devil’s in the dahlias, you say,

But I see beauty in these blooms- I know.

Your flowering vines of metaphors and words,

Shall they not grace a garden of the mind?

Your daisy dictions, woodbine words that bind

The heart, shall they be merely fed to birds?

Alas, poor soul, deceiving yourself so!

There is no snake, but glory’s laurel crown,

That twines amongst the verse that you have grown,

So proudly wear this coronet, and lo!

The people, charmed by blooming lyric grace,

Forever shall bestow on you their praise.

Why, even God would excuse human fame,

For so rich a tribute, this lilied hymn!

So why do you still kneel, and beg for him

To shatter too with me your curious frame?

Go, free yourself from humility’s chains,

And bloom forth with your marvelous quatrains!