Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
While enrolled at THINK Global School, students are encouraged to be introspective during the course of their studies and travels. When the students document these thoughts, we are often delighted with the results. Below you can find a short story written by tenth grader Yuan Yuan, in which the setting is a world devoid of religion. As the story begins, the titular “Dreamer” Luke ponders aloud to Samantha the concept of Heaven, which results in a sort of cynical wonderment on her part.
I DREAMT OF HIM; (I have no right to utter this sacred verb. Solely spirits of his reverie have earned that privilege.) Images in head, head in hand; in cloud – glassy eyes unfocused, staring off into the distance. I dreamt of his idealism in its purest form as he conjures up a vision of a world light years away from ours; a utopia. I dreamt of his mind, caught within a realm in between fantasy and life, proceeding to process vivid images so beautiful and scenarios so imaginative that actuality morphs into his own misshapen truth; even if he was not able to recount them moments later.
One spring night, I found him (as I usually did) perched on roofs of quaint little houses in our European village – cross-legged, he always sat, overlooking the horizon like a rooster overlooked the morning sun. His pale, wispy hair danced with the gust of wind, eventually resting on his forehead. His moonlit face, decorated with soft and delicate features, was highlighted by the midnight candles scattering the endless azure. Like glancing a scene, I forget the sound of his voice, or the shape of his eyes at this moment. Even his smile is blurred as he walks through the night; amongst the fireflies yet not one of them.
“Luke?” I softly call out into the silent (though occasionally broken by the chirps of crickets) hours of the night, as his eyes of jade fluttered open; not immediately, but not long after. It looked like I interrupted his train of thought; a thing that made guilt a black hole at the pit of my stomach, even though he was both used to it, and couldn’t be less bothered by it. Motioning me to sit next to him on the painted cement molding, his lips curved into a subtle smile, just as dashing as one that might reveal his pearl-like teeth. I imitated his position, straightening out my tattered robes to hug my legs close to my body, leaning against the hollow molding. Little did I know that that very night would be the last I would ever glance his angel-like existence.
We had been fostering him for about a month now, but my father still didn’t understand such a character; they couldn’t fathom his ways of thinking or his eccentric way of conversing. They were very much opposites; father was a realist and a cautious man, while Luke didn’t follow any type of rule, limit or boundary; especially when it came to his mind. Father didn’t like it much that Luke had been the topic of the town, with his past — so peculiar, they questioned his sanity.
He whispered to me, mesmerized. “We are two in a world of hundreds of millions of people; people, in one planet of many, and one universe of an infinite amount. Imagine what’s out there, Samantha. Life is so limiting, but what about after that; after our hearts stop beating and our lungs stop working? What if our real life begins when this one ends? I cannot put this in words, Samantha, or even find a word to define such an idea, but the “afterlife” (what he chose to call it at this moment) – so full of possibility and adventure within our own minds – can let us dream without distractions nor pain; without the limits of our bodies.” He beamed, eyes wide with hope that I would grasp such an idea.
I pursed my lips and pondered this abstraction, gripping the rough molding and tucking a strand of hair behind my left ear. He has spoken such enrapturing nonsense to other townspeople, but this had been the most preposterous conception of them all!
“Luke, it would be…” I struggled to find a more creative word that accurately represented what I was considering, “Nice.” I finished lamely. I could see the hope wavering in his expression, but could not let him go on with these tainted images in his head.
“Just don’t let such folly cloud your judgement on real life” I gave a polite smile, as a parent would give a child when they asked for an extra treat.
The joy in his eyes drained, and were replaced by disillusion, as he exclaimed,
“But can’t you see, Samantha, that to die now would be to live forever?”
That was the moment I truly saw his desperateness, and how clouded he was by his version of reality; to have such optimism on something so hideously inevitable must be wondrous. I suspect though, he was not very capable of reality.