I cut off my social circle and left New York for college in Seattle. In those four years, I thought I've done all the growing I needed to, sampled every feeling there was, and figured the map etched on my palms. Four years later, I come back to a life I hastily erased.

I thought I was returning as an adult with a shot at normalcy. More stronger and mature this time.

Four years later, I realize I was wrong. It turns everything are grand illusions depicting half-truths. Now I think I'm starting to see that we're just broken resilient people looking for happiness.


PERFECT WORLD

Chapter 1:

Thousand Seals


Sincerely, – enter, enter, enter – Celine Yeung.

"You done talking to yourself?" A high female voice questioned from behind me.

I knew that voice. I knews that from a million miles away. But apparently I couldn't recognize my own voice.

My legs pushed spun the chair around until I was facing the offender who unlawfully broke my bubble. "I don't know. Are you done taking my clothes without telling me?"

Her face was wholly innocent. "What are you talking about?" She asked. "I did tell you this morning. I came in, I took what I liked, and then I told you I'd be borrowing it in your sleep," she shrugged.

"Or you came in this morning, took what you liked, and then left without bothering to close either my drawers or closet door."

We both turned to the opened drawers with clothings hanging out and the closet that was slightly ajar.

"Do you remember now?" I probed.

"Oh. He, he," She continued on innocently. "Must have been thought of another morning." She paused for a second and countered, "Are you sure it wasn't you?"

I looked down at my pajamas that I wore to bed last night. "Absolutely, one hundred percent – it was me. You got me red-handed, you, you, you," I raked my head for the word, "clever fox."

"But of course."

We didn't speak for a moment. She took the first step and sat right beside me. At once we both rested our heads on each other.

"Celina…" She started our poem that marked the weirdest moment of our friendship and made us official.

"And Halema." I continued.

"Named after Celine Dion."

I looked at her, "After Halemaʻumaʻu."

Hals looked at me, "Vow to be friends," we through our hands in the air and sang, "foreva."

"Wherever, whenever," We sang in unison. "Halema and Celina."

We fell on the bed laughing instantly at how cheesy it was. It was titles as 'Thousand Seals' as tribute to what the first syllable of our names plus an 'S' sounds like in a badly spoken sentence. Thousand Seals, Hals N' Ceils. It sounds alike, I'll tell you. But I will admit to this, it's a dumbass title to a dumbass poem, but we loved.

Funny thing is we never wrote it down on paper. We wrote in air and etched it in our heart. That's how we remember it by. We remember from within. It was born out of jubilant high and free spirit.

It didn't belong on paper.

When our giggles died down, I found myself silently pondering how we could do this. Numbers for long-distance relationship are spotty at best, lies at worse. Imagine how much more it would be for long-distance friendship.

Halema, or Hals as she's commonly called, sighed, "So you're leaving soon."

"Next week."

"Okay." She turned into her stomach and used her arms to pushed her upper half up, and popped her lips, "This is what we do: We're going to get drunk, we're going to have fun, and we're going to our spot."

"That's a vague list," I stared at the ceiling.

Smack. "Owww," I bemoans and rubbed my stomach

"Whoops." Halema regretted and smiled sheepishly, "I totally meant that to be less hurtful." Her eyes looked up unusually high, "Where was I?"

"Get drunk, have fun, go to spot."

"Right…" She stretched the word thin. "Okay, if you want details, I'll give you details. We're going to party and drunk at a gay bar, we're going to find a street and streak down through it –"

"Oh my god, no way!" I cried, interrupting her, and tried to push her away. "That's insane!" My arms were shaking in hopes of fending of the stupidity of it.

Halema paid no attention and rolled right on, "– And relax at our spot."

"Whoa there, girl!" I demanded. "We are not streaking. That's crazy! That's insane! I am not doing it! Foot down!" I jumped to the floor. "And our spot isn't even relaxing!"

"Whataya talkin' about? It's a great plan."

"If you want to get arrested," I scoffed. "Orange is not the new black, and I'm too young to be murdered by parents!"

"No?" She looked at challengingly, "We need to do something crazy together as last memories."

I tried to go through a list I have of things to do that I've always been afraid to do. I combed my hair, stopping short at the end, "A haircut and and color melting," I declared finality. "Something brown, red, or orange. Maybe even blonde," grabbing the tip and inspecting it, I imagined myself sporting a new a 'do.

Hals thought it over, "A makeover, huh? I like that, I like that a lot."

"So it's agreed?"

"It's agreed."


Walls vibrating, hair swaying, body humming, heart pulsing to the beat, my mind was tuned only to the music. I couldn't produce a single though.

I slowed down and drank in the view of topless, half naked men, enjoying the views. Eye candy is eye candy no matter their orientation. A few of them were even were wearing but a tight extremely revealing underwear. Oh, you didn't need to use your imaginations at all – Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Hals was still one her feet like there was no tomorrow when I looked around for her. Knowing that I could never match her dancing stamina, I decided to settle and down one, or two cocktails and wait the night out.

Three cocktails and two shots later, I felt someone brush up against me and slinked on the empty seat to my left. I didn't pay him any attention.

"Hey beautiful," He started.

I turned at him and smiled, "Hey you."

His gaze subtly dropped down to my chest. "Why don't you let me buy you a drink?"

I cut to the chase and countered, "What is good looking straight guy like you doing in gay bar?" I may have been tipsy, but I was still fully aware when someone's trying to get in my pants.

He turned his to a group of people. "Out with my friends," he shrugged and turned to me, "You?"

"Out to have fun."

"I'm Ryan by the way," he beamed and introduced himself, "and you never answered my question."

I leaned in to his face, "If I wanted to get laid, I would have gone clubbing somewhere for straight people." I was sure he could taste the alcohol on my breath. I smirked and pulled away, giving him a look over, "So let me tell you this because you look like a decent nice guy: You buy me drinks, we flirt, we walk away hands clean. That's it."

"That's…" Ryan thought it over, "More than I asked for," and grinned. "Who said anything about getting laid?"

I smiled back feeling satisfied, "Celine," I ignored him and introduced myself. "How'd you my sexual preference?"

"You looked like you were out to have fun – No hidden agenda and all."

I raised my brows at this, "Oh so you were staring at me, huh?"

"What can I say, you're a beautiful woman."

My head fell back in laughter. "That's good. Why don't you buy that drink already," I turned to the counter and waved my cocktail glass, "and if you entertain well enough, next one's on me."

Ryan nodded his head, "I've never had a woman buy me drinks before.

"Yeah? Well then I'll be your first," I waved the barman over.

I turned slightly at him and twinkled when I saw one side of his lips pulled up. Looks like the night is still young.


"Why did I agree to this?" I question out loud. Is there such as thing as early onset experiencing buyer's remorse? I'm already on the chair waiting for the dresser to finish prepping. If I back out now, now harm no foul will be done. "What am I doing, Halema" I turned to her, "What the hell am I doing?"

She didn't bother to look from her magazine. "You're going to get your hair down, and you're going to look fabulous in the end." She flipped the page over and drew out a long, "Oohhhh." Halema turned the page to me and cheerily pointed, "It is you, and you is looking hot."

It was photo I did about a summer ago to help me pay tuition. I looked good but I looked extremely off put looking.

"Yes, it is I – Now get I out of here."

"Oh, no, no, no," she wagged a finger at me, "You suggested this and got me pumped. You don't get the chance to back out." Halema pointed to the chair, "Now sit back or else."

Looking down, I didn't even realize I got up. "My parents are going to be so surprised when they see me," and sat back down in resignation. I really didn't want this.

Halema cackled evilly and rubbed her hands together, "They're going to be blown away."

"So we ready?" The stylist popped right beside me.

"Yes she is," Halema spoke up.

Her apron was on, she had her brush thing, and her hands were ready and gloved. I was not ready.

"Let's get started." The stylist grabbed a lock of my hair, "So what did you have in mind?"

"Ombre." The words didn't come from but from Halema who, I guess, will now and forever speak for me. "And she'd like cut a little bit past her shoulders please."

The stylist gave it some thought, "I think we can do that. Your hair is really black," I stared at my reflection as she combed my long black hair, "but I think it will work."

Just one problem, I don't think I can do this. Silently, I wished my hair farewell until we met again when the color washes off.

"You do know what you're doing?" I whispered. "I have never done anything this drastic."

She smiled assuring me, "Don't worry about it hun,"

Needless to say that at the end my jitters were unfounded. I was fawning over my new tricolored her that was a mix of black, brunette, and blonde at the tips. It was way shorter, but at least it made my hair more manageable.

"Didn't I tell you would look fabulous." Halema stood there looking arrogant.

I looked at her reflection, Halema decided to settle for a more subtle dark, reddish brown in balayage style.

"No," I straightened up, "We look fabulous."

"Come on," Halema hooked arms with me and flicked a strand of her hair, "let's show off the world in style."


I stared at the deep ravine in between the rail cracks. "Now matter how many times we've visited this place, I can't for the life of me, calm my nerves," I looked up wide-eyed and scared to death at the Ramesh siblings who were standing tall near the edge.

We were 347 meters above ground and I could feel my heart thumping and my stomach constantly dropping whenever either one of them would occasionally lean to look at the edge. I couldn't help but reach out to every time they did.

Unlike them, I was deathly of height which is why I'm on all fours after I mustered all my courage that could have otherwise last me a lifetime to follow them to what across the bridge. This time I whispered, "I think I want to go home Hals. Rana, I think we should go."

Rana Ramesh is Halema's older brother and old flame who I briefly had a thing with. Halema was one of my roommates during first year; when she introduced me to her family during spring break, Rana and I sort of clicked. We probably lasted a little more than one month.

On one double date with Halema and some guy, we decided to take a road trip out of the city to Vance Creek Ridge. We've been making annual trips back as a thrill trip until the summer of before my fourth year when they closed it down.

After all this was where Hals and I composed the 'Thousand Seals' while the boys looked on and pretended they didn't know us.

This was a no trespassing area but we still snuck, and made it all the to the way to the midpoint of the bridge. The first time I was scared witless, this time I'm scared witless and looking over my back for law enforcement will be itching to kick us out the moment they spot us. We managed to evade them for now, and intend to keep that way.

I say 'we' as if I'm doing this wilfully, but I'm really peer pressured by these so called friends. I'm a good girl who stuck by the rules. Hals was a wild child who pushes the envelope daily. Rana, well I guess Rana is her accomplice from time to time.

"Guys!" I mouthed. "Let's get out of here."

Halema who was busy taking photos turned to me and said, "One more photo of all of us and then we're out."

I reluctantly got up on my face, made an attempt to look happy, and got back down and crawled my way to safety. Halema casually walked past me with no sign of help coming her way. Thank god Rana was more thoughtful than his younger sister who held out a hand for me. "Don't pay attention to the height and you'll be to ground in no time," he assured. Rana was always such a sweetie.

I took his hand and gripped hard. Talking was too much of a task to my fried nerves so I didn't say anything until my toes touched soil.

The three of us walked back to the car chatting about anything that popped in our minds until we reached Rana's car.

"So I'll pick you both up at ten in the morning on Saturday," Rana looked at me from rearview mirror.

I looked back at the trees blurring by, "That's the plan."

Halema who sat in the front passenger said nothing. I'd like to think she was counting the seconds as we rode the way back to Seattle in silence.


This time Halema sat with me in the back when Rana picked us up.

"I wiki'd myself once," Halema mused at random.

I shot her a confused look. "Halemaʻumaʻu, I know that you know that you were named after that place in Hawaii your parents honeymooned at."

"Not that," she explained, "I'm talking Hals."

"Uh-huh," I motioned at her continue.

"It was a couple of years ago. I'm either the surname of a somewhat well known dead man from Europe or a some municipality in Denmark that no longer exists. I kind of want to visit along with Hawaii"

"Where are you getting at?" I prodded her, pulling her into a half hug.

She took a long breath. "It would be me once you're gone." Halema squeezed my hand as tears pooled in her eyes, "Promise me that we'll text me everyday and Skype at least once a month no matter what."

"Forever."

For four years this has become my home, and I never realized it. I've been more happy in Seattle than I ever have in New York. I would have stayed if it wasn't for the student debt and lack of job opportunities for an English major like me. Compared to others I knew, I was blessed enough to get a paid summer internship with HarperCollins in my pocket. There wasn't much choice, I had to go.

But sitting here as Halema sniffled and my eyes were burning, I didn't want to let go.


"Dadster!" I exclaimed when I saw my dad waiting for me.

"Poopy?" He looked confused for a second before figuring it out, "Poopy!"

We both yelled out at the same time when the door slid open into the arrival hall and ran to each other's arm. Our arms locked into a bear hug that affected me more than it did to him.

I may have been taller than my father, but the sight of his only child gave him enough strength to smother me in familial love.

"Poopy you look different," Dad remarked trying not to offend me.

"Hals got insane with an idea and I couldn't calm her so," I pointed to my head, "this is what happened."

Dad stood there nodding his head trying to figure out how he should react, "Did you get a tattoo?"

"No. Don't plant it on Hals though because she'd probably get us twin tattoos or something."

Dad's face was now in full on worried mode, "I'll try not to," he shook his head numbly

He looked really scared.

"Where's mom?" I asked as Dad grabbed my suitcase from me. It was nearing midnight

"Your mom got pulled into an emergency surgery this evening." We started walking out.

"Oh," I mouthed in disappointment. "Just my luck."

"Before she left, she was making you your favorite dinner: Paella and tempura," dad patted my back, "Your Ngin finished it up for her. And for dessert, she bought authentic dried mangoes from the Philippines."

"Aw, that sounds so delicious compared to airline food."

"It's good that you're still hungry because mom prepared for a lot."

It was a car ride, a flight, and a car ride again until I was standing in front of my childhood home where my life started.

Somewhere between my flight from Seattle to New York, I scattered parts of me. I left a part of me in the university I used to walk through, the basement that Halema and I lived in, and in the forests and trails that used to captivated me. But I think that in the process, I found bits and pieces of me that I always meant to find.


A/N: I write to the voices of Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, and John Oliver. Why am I saying this? I just wanted to find a way to announce to world that I miss Jon Stewart so much.

So I'm rewriting the original 'Scandal Sheets'. The original second chapter will be rewritten to a large extent, if you got a chance read the third chapter, it will likely remain the same situation wise but how I write the chapter will most likely change... If that makes sense. If I find myself not changing it too much, both will be posted at the same time so I can work on the next chapter. All the original characters will be there, but hopefully I can convey more in depth. As for the characters, they'll be there but this I'll convey them more in depth.

The more I thought of 'Scandal Sheets' the more unhappy I got with the way I introduced it. This time I think I have a way of nailing it down. It felt like the prologue and first chapter boxed me in way too much, so please forgive me. I promise to do better this time. On my profile I've started looking for who I imagined the characters look like. Celine and Halema are up so check it out by left clicking and 'open in a new tab' to check it out.


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