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His Other Side

By: Patricia Dimaandal


            I take one look and clearly see what Loukios left behind. His window is still open and the patchy curtains billowed softly with the coastal winds. His dusty brown bed holds ruffled, thin white blankets lightly touched by the setting sun. The thick pillows are toppled over onto the left side. One of them seemed to have landed on his chair – or he could have slept in his chair. My brother would do that.

           The chair faced his desk which was crowded with sprawling diagrams and entries; surprisingly, it’s cleaner than before despite him always refusing to use newer technology. He loves traditional paper and ink. He often spouted to me that paper and ink would never betray him like technology. Technology steals, while paper remembers – it’s important for a researcher like him. In fact, it’s even more important to share them with the right people. I remember the first time he shared his research with me.

           It was midnight and Loukios had forgotten to eat again. I was carrying his tray of food upstairs – carefully enough to prevent the wooden stairs from creaking. It was one of his favorite meals: spicy curried stew with boar vine vegetables, a side of white mixed grains, and a glass of Grace Ale. I typically laid his tray of food near the door without him noticing, but, apparently, he saw me outside this time. A bright green eye peered through the crack of  his door.

            “Psst, Ezzy, are you busy?” He seemed pretty excited for someone who hasn’t slept for a few days.

            “No, do you need anything?”

            “Not really. Can you come inside? I want to talk to you about something.”

           I squinted my eyes and said, “Uh, sure?”

           The door creaks open. Inside his room, it was a bigger mess than it is now. There were diagrams stuck on the floor – like tiles to a forbidden, magical land. Loukios continued in a raspy voice.

            “Do you know what the Eru and Mortalis are?”

           I tilted my head and my ears twitched.

            “No. I’ve never heard of them.”

            He sneered. He looked at the biggest image on the wall – a beautiful woman holding our world, Caetherae, in her hands. Her tears fall from her big, blue eyes as her world is engulfed in flames. Her celestial cloak hides her war-torn body and seems to hug Caetherae.

            “Tch, not surprised. They are legendary beings beyond our current reach. There are rumors that they were the cause of the First War. The Mortalis, in particular, are the servants of the Eru and maybe the reason for that war. And this Eru.”

            He points his quill to the woman on the wall.

           “She is known as the Goddess of Life and created Caetherae…and the First War. These Eru may be our revered creators, but why did they disappear after the First War?”

           He continued to ramble on until the sun rose. I fell asleep on his bed, while he slept on the floor – wrapped up in his research. One page kept puffing up and down with his snores. It was the first time he truly opened up to me.

            Now, he lets me go into his room despite him being gone. He still has those diagrams on the wall, but they disappeared from the floors. The woman on the wall continues to tear up at her inflamed world. Back then, it looked like she was sad about her world and wanted to comfort us, but now her hug looks more selfish and suffocating. 

            At the bottom of the picture, there’s a quote etched in Loukios’ handwriting:

            “Mothers can love so hard to the point where their own creations despise her.”

            Mothers? I guess he has a point. I don’t remember our mother and he never talks to me about her. Our aunt told us once that our mother was a hero and Loukios scoffed at the connection. He was immediately threatened to be secluded in the mountains by our aunt. I can still imagine him shrinking in her presence – his eyes immediately lost their initial mischievous intellect at the sight of our aunt’s fury. I stifle a laugh coming from me. I hope he’s doing well at his university.

           Above the desk, there are more diagrams, article clippings, and notes pinned into the white wall. Red string surrounds the woman on the wall – connecting each piece of evidence to her. The closer his notes get to the picture, the messier and sprawled his writing is:

           “Date of Battle in the Irrigo Valley aligned with the Date of Mortalis Appearance in Irrigo Territory.”

           “Date of Building Collapse in Ardor aligned with Date of Mortalis Appearance in Ardor Territory.”

           “Mother’s Diary Entry 1 matches Date of First Mortalis Appearance.”

           He has our mother’s diary?!

            I stare at the stack of books on his desk and the shelves on the right side – each book is a different leather of a Caetherian beast. I looked through each book: a thin, purple one full of drawings of a Mortalis, 20 thick journals filled with notes sticking out, a few old mythology books, new books about Caetherae politics, 10 binders full of news articles, and so much more. It seems endless looking through here.

           I flung the pillow on the chair to the bed and shoved the chair to the shelves. I stomp onto the chair and grip the bookcase. There are three more shelves left. However, the most secretive one is the top shelf. It holds a single locked diary; its cover is a dark purple and has gold lining adorning it. I grab it and jump down the chair. It’s bigger than my hands and feels soft. The lock itself is golden and doesn’t seem to require a key – it has no holes and there is only the initials of my mother: A.C.

            I can only sigh – even here he won’t tell me anything more. I scratch my head and grip my bangs. The book lands on the floor with a huge thump.

           “Loukios, how could you?”