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Insurmountable 5: Seek and Hide (the Finale)


"I hate watching the television and see all the bad news. Not because I hear a lot of crime but because I remember myself being corrupted by the filtered media. I don't understand how but we are somehow hypnotized by the things they show on tv. That's why I don't watch tv." Charles whispered it to me when he led me to a place under his walk in closet. There is a small hideout there, about the size of four shoeboxes and a tiny cardboard, hard enough to serve as a camouflaged gate. He let me in there and I went inside. I cannot believe I can fit in this small hole. I dislike the view of darkness but I don't have a choice.

"Stay here, Stacey. I know it's your father. No matter what you do, do not go out here, okay. No one from the outside can see what's within, but you can see who's coming." And he ran towards the entrance of his house. I cannot see anything from them but I can hear them talk.
"Good afternoon. I thought this was an abandoned place. " Said my father.
"I am the caretaker."
"Have you seen this girl? She's my missing sixteen-year-old daughter. White, slim, 4'11", brunette. She's been lost for a week now and we've searched the entire town but this house."

"Haven't seen her. She's not here."

"Well, I guess I have to check it out." 

I inhaled deeply and peeked through the small filtered holes, trying to squeeze myself in. There are some rays of light that poke through the holes, and I wish it does not reveal my features from the outside. 


I hear baby footsteps stomp in a light way and I am sure that it's not a child nor a man...it's a dog! And I know exactly who he is, Romeo.

Romeo is my dad's dog. He's been there since I moved in and he's like my best friend. However his loyalty is with my father's. They always come a team, uncovering every crime, rescuing the weak, helping out others. Romeo has an exceptional sense of sight, feeling, and scent. I hope that he can detect my father's misdoings; though everybody treats him like a hero.

With these sudden flashbacks, I see his silhouette appear from the opening of the door, adjacent to this walk-in-secret-closet. I tuck myself tightly, praying that he doesn't bark or that he'd feel my plead, listen to my thoughts, and save me from this encounter. He walks slowly towards the path of this small cave, sniffing its way through me. I made a quick glance on what could be happening to Charles. Only an echo of whispers from both men and the ringing cling of the teaspoon to the porcelain mug. Charles may have been distracting my father. Can he read my father's thoughts? No matter how he might deceive him, father will never abandon his mission to get me! Yet the sound of Romeo's footsteps grew louder and louder. The feeling's tormenting my chest; as if every step it take would be the beat of my heart pumping faster.

I shut my eyes and hug myself and hid my head to my knees. I can hear his sniffs at the edge of the tiny door, the entrance to my sanctuary. I packed an ounce of courage to look at it remove the lid. To its surprise, it didn't left a sound. I looked at him widely, pleading no. I don't know what to do if he barks. But he didn't. We stared at each other, reading each other's thoughts, listening to each other's prayers. I pat his head and he closed his eyes as he rubs his forehead unto my palm. And he rested on the floor looking at me. It's like the first time I ever looked at him when I thought this huge six pound canine would debilitate me. However he lets himself be tamed by me. 

"Romeo, listen. My dad... he's not the hero." I whispered, "He did something wrong to me and I need you to protect me from him." I wonder if he takes any orders from people who isn't my dad. 
"Please. I need you to save me." I kissed his nose while he looks at my eye. He smelled my forehead, my hair, my neck, my arms, my knees, my feet, and my fingers. With this gesture, I was hoping that he could feel my sincerity. I hold his neck shakily; He placed his leg in front of me. A wound. How did he get one when he's so tough? Then suddenly, I remember the night on my birthday, when someone out the window cried before I ever did. My father is evil. He doesn't deserve an angel like Romeo.
Then he bit the door lid, and concealed me under this secret sanctuary. "Thank you" I mumbled. 
Off he ran and barked until the sound of him disappeared. My dad, at the kitchen, followed his pet until there is no sign of them.

I closed my eyes and wished everything was a dream when I heard hands opened the lid of the tiny door. Charles! He placed his index finger upwards to his chin, intersecting with his nose and lips. I really hated that gesture. However, that sign means retrieve... 
"We must leave! I suspect Officer Lee knows that you're here! I know where to go!" 
Without a word, I followed Charles. We packed everything we could--food, clothes, money to any place he knows is safe. I trust him.

We sneaked out the back door and ran towards the next district. He leads the way as he holds my left hand. I love the way he makes me feel protected no matter how we're both frightened.

We kept on running faster, or maybe slower, but never stopping. The adrenaline of my body rises up. I begin to feel my knees oscillating and my calves begin to cramp. My dying need of air increases but I don't want to complain because I know that if I stop, I might give myself another opportunity to be a captive. There might not be another chance of something like this, an escape, a hope to something vague. Even though I am exhausted, I don't have to stop because there is nothing else to look back, nothing else to wait for...
I see no one following us. I see the dark gray sky waving us goodbye. I watch how the trees, houses, and streets disappear over my sight. I know I will no longer see them again as long as he lives. I might not exist in this place again; I'll just be a story passed on and on until no mouth can ever say and no ear can ever hear and no one could barely remember.

*****

I really don't know where we are. Charles and I must be lost. We didn't dare ask anyone for directions. There is no one to trust, for there is only a few here. We looked at the place that surrounds us. Nothing really familiar. The town looks like a casanova barn with sherifs and cowboys in the 18th Century. However people dress modern. We are in dying need of water; it seems impossible in this place for they are clinging beers and alcohol all over their cheers. We walked over a non-crowded wooden shop, hoping to have someone to offer us water. 

Charles pushed the swinging wooden door, and there are only a few people on the place. A cowboy, a bartender, and a few drunk men. No ladies. We walked over the bartender.
"Water," Charles tossed some coin over the man and he said "Beer?"
"Nah, water will be fine." 
The man seated on the front row beside me swung his seat to face us.
"Sheriff Smith." He says. Oh boy another officer. 
He has a smoothly shaven face, and a typical sheriff look. Blue eyes, blond hair, shiny boots, a gun on his belt pocket. I'm not scared of guns. Not any more. 

"Lee." Charles points at me, "Huwang" He points at him.
"You too seemed like you're running out of trouble. How about I call your folks, ah? Try to lift you home so you'd be safe."

How many people in this world would understand that not all families are reliable? I say this thought to myself and I know Charles understands me.

"Nah, we're just chilling. On a vacation, looking for water. Do you happen to know any river down town?"
"What makes you think I'll buy that story? I know kids these days. The Best Liars!" He has this odd look that inspects every detail of our features, our eyes specifically then our entire body. 
"Adults are great trainers!" I bluff as he laughs hysterically.
"Missy. You're pretty smart. I like you." He stares at me with a common adult infatuation. I really have a problem with that word. "Well, not for long you would" I added as I tighten my grip to Charles' hand. And he looks at him and then me, with an unreadable smile on his face.
"Ah, love birds." He sound bitter as the bartender hands us a mug of fresh water. "Don't think I don't know about my town, alright! I keep this place safe and sound and if I see you two fools play around," and he airs the sound of his gun. "There is a river down the hill. Me and my wife stays there, maybe you two could join me as I walk you to the river." He says.
"No thanks. We'll figure our way there. We love to get lost in the woods" Charles added as Sheriff Smith lifts his hat and places them on his head.

*****

The town looks great. It's perfect! It's as if I am going back time and into the old pages of my favorite books. I really loved how modern these people are, without the technology, but they also preserved the vintage beauty of their ancestral hometown. This is my home. 

"Hey, Smiley." Charles looks at me as we walk down the hills of the meadow, learning where the river lies. I love how his dimples appear on his right cheek, perfect for me to peek at when he stares at me.
"Hey," I responded. I breathe heavily. "I love how this feels."
"How you feel about me?" He teases.
"No," Oops, I shouldn't have said it, "How the wind pokes my skin and brings us together," I squeeze his hand and smiled at him, then at the yellowish knee-length grass.
"I'm glad you're happy." He added. "We'll find a river and could probably build our own cabin near it so we could stay there for a while."
In a while. It echoes my mind...why? I feel safe here. Yet, instead of interrupting, I trusted his guts. 

"What do you think about the town?" I asked
"Well, it looks primitive. You know how sick I am of looking at officers faces?" He adds
"I don't see the connection between old and policemen." I joked. "But I can see how great you handle yourself. Clap clap to your calm temper." 
"Well, I really don't trust these men, that's why. And I know how fascinated and irritated you are with my mystique temper Mrs. Huwang. You cannot read how dangerously sexy I am" He adds.
"Oh please. Maybe it's you who really cannot control oneself when you see my aura of beauty." 
What the heck am I saying? I never really flirt. Oh God, it's true, Charles is sexy and appealing and really attractive. And I don't know how to even handle myself when I am with him. Two words: Self Control. Or just one.

He suddenly stopped. "Can you hear that?"
"Water!" I said giddily
"Yes. And look, there's a tiny cabin there. Double luck for us." and we high five then ran towards the cabin.
"Do you think someone lives here?" I asked.
"Let's find out." Before he knocks, the door opened all by itself. We looked at each other, wondered if we should enter or leave. He gave a signal for me to stay as he entered the room first. A few steps, then he signaled me to come on over. I carried my feet, making sure I don't make a squeaky sound on the wooden floor. There are no portraits on its walls, but there is a comfy sofa for one at the middle, a kitchen with the stove open probably boiling a hot water for the owner, and a bed for two. There is also a huge closet that eats up two thirds of a wall space and a back door. 

"Someone lives here." I figured and Charles looked at me.
"You think." He says sarcastically, "okay let's leave."
When we were about to leave the door, someone enters the front door. An older looking, familiar faced woman with the same brunette hair as mine but hers is braided, same complexion as I have, a slimmer bone structure, and a white lace dress with a brown coat to cover.
Oh no, it's my mother!
We exchanged shock faces. I cannot believe how fate's been playing at me the entire day.
"Hope?" She opened her mouth with some kind of regret on her tune. "Is that you?" 
I ask myself the same question. Where is hope? and Is this me? Is that her?
"I'm sorry for trespassing your house ma'am, but I am not hope.
"Yes you are. You have that eyes, and that scar." She holds me up close and stares at me deeply. "I cannot believe I'll see you again!!!" She hugged me tightly, not ever wanting to let go. 
FUDGE! If it weren't wishing divine intervention to get me out of the hands of my father, I end up with my mother's? What is this life exactly. What are His plans for me? ARGH

Beside me, I can see Charles looking at me and he knows exactly how confused I am as my mom continues to embrace me. I forgot if I mentioned him about my mom, but I am hoping that I did. I try to pretend that I don't notice her...she deserves it. She and Him deserves to not be recognized by their daughter as parents. 

"Ma'am," I tried to cut it out, "I'm sorry but I don't think you I am the one you are looking for. I am not your daughter. I have a mom waiting for me in Seattle." I lied. I don't have a mother. I don't need one.

"But what brings you here Hope, if you always had what you wanted at home?" I was speechless by her words, "You came back! Your brother is waiting for you, too." And I widened my eyes at disbelief when I saw them at the front door on my mother's back. "I know it's you Hope!" And her arms widens as the tries to get me. 

Charles immediately blocked my mom at the front door as I tried to escape from the back. "Run!" He said. "I'll follow you later!" 

"No, go with me!" I say, "I cannot do it without you!" I am trembling in fear, holding the edge of the back door.
"Yes you can! You are strong Stacey. You are brave. I just imitate your gestures. Run before it's too late!"
And I opened the door and left, running wildly into the river. Hiding from the tall trees before I could ever see what's next. 

I kept running without looking back, not minding how really tired I am. The sound of the waters getting louder strengthens me. I follow the sound. 

And there I was. I sat down, managing to make no sound, making sure that no one can follow me. I just hope that Charles is okay.
Speaking of hope. . . 

***
8 years ago

"Hey Hope!" My dad said.
"Ew, I hate my name."
"You hate your name?"
I nodded.
"Then what name would you want me to call you?"
I didn't respond.
"Sweetie." He hugs me. "No matter what happens to your life, your name will always be your identity. Your name will keep you grounded in life. It will remind you of the things that matter in your life. So no matter how you change, you cannot change your name."


***
(Reality)

So why did I call myself Stacey at Charles when he was the only one that earns my trust? Why did I lie to him when he was the only person who loves and helps me get rid of my permanent scars? I am a bad person! As these thought continue to reside in my mind, I began to cry. I felt the guilt of breaking someone's trust. Did my parents feel that way too when they've wronged me? Oh God, I just hope he'll understand what pain it gives me when I say my name, when I hear someone call it, when it came from them.
As soon as I calmed myself down, someone behind me cups his hands on my mouth and I didn't have enough courage to fight back! 
It's my dad! I bit his finger and kicked his groin as he screamed in pain. 
"CHARLES!" I shouted. I cried. Where could he be?
As my dad began to recover from the pain, I noticed that he followed my tracks. I wanted myself to be hidden by the trees, hoping that only Charles would find me. I hear Romeo barks once again. And right now I wonder if he's my friend or foe. But I noticed how he distracts my father away from me. He's really an angel.

I ran uphill and even though it's getting late in the afternoon, I managed to watch the sunset behind me, shrink my shadow. As much as I would like to witness the magnificent view, I couldn't because I am being chased by demons.

Oh Charles where could you be? 

As high as I got on top of the hill where we held hands hours ago, I saw the cabin from below. It's really small now. I trust that Charles would manage his way to me.

On the flat surface, I crawl and lied down, watched the sky...hoping that I could find peace in me. Suddenly someone held my hand. CHARLES!
He kissed my cheek and said, "We're fine now."
I looked at him with bliss and with fear as I saw my mom and brother behind Charles. 
"Look OUT!" I shouted.
"No it's fine!" He said.
"What? Have you been brainwashed too?" I asked him
"No. But I want you to talk to your mom."
"And you think talking will fix everything?"
"Yes!"
I was silenced.
My mom cleared her throat. "Hope. Honey. I know you are mad at me. I know how much I ruined your life. But Honey, let's fix everything again and start over. We could try to live a happy life with your brother, and"
"And what? Have me completely miserable within?" I cut her speech out. "You never listened, understood, loved or cared for me. It's always about my brother!" 
My brother interrupted, "That's not true, we always loved you."
"SHUT UP!" I said. I hope I'm not turning crazy, but they're all against me. I just wish someone's on my side now. I managed to continue, "I never had a happy life. All of them were lies. You took advantage of me!" As I look at my brother, "You didn't defend me!" I looked at my mother, "Father deceived me!", "And I counted on you!" I looked at Charles and he held my hand; I let it go!
"I can't trust anyone. No one is on my side!"
"I am," says Charles.
I managed to breathe. "Whatever!"
As I walk, they all followed me. I am beginning to feel the nuisance of this moment where everyone is trying to get into my good side.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" I shouted.
"Honey, we are trying to help you but you are not letting yourself be helped." As my mother talks, I noticed how she's never changed. She stayed the same old person. The one who'd play deaf, the one who'd pretend to know everything, the one who'd take the side of the guilty and not the innocent, the one who'd blame the victim, and the same person who tries to save things or to keep things the way it is the way she wanted it to be in order to look feel pleased. I am always hurt by her attitude. 
"Just go home!" Brother says, "We need you here!"
"You'll use me there." I say.
"We never used you. You just let yourself be handled by us. We were molding you into a wonderful prize everyone wants."

Suddenly, Charles let his guard up and defended me. He placed himself in front of me. "Don't you speak that way to my sunshine." He said.

"Your girlfriend is my sister. She belongs to us, not you!"
"Wrong! She belongs to me!" The voice of my father appears downhill as he swiftly ran himself towards us. Shiz! This is the worst reunion ever! "She's my sweet darling. No one can take her away from me." And I can see how Romeo got beaten up. 
"This dog tried to defend this girl's escape all along! Intruder. I thought we were pals! Buddies of the Century amongst all sort of crime but" Father fired his gun at Romeo.
I cried at Charles' shoulders. "No!" I said
"You're coming with me. I am your father!"
"No! I'm not coming with you!" I said
"Because she's with us now, Stan" mom said to dad
"I'm not with you either."
"So you're coming with your boyfriend? Ah. Tough ties, I thought we have. Family first!" Dad said
"I always followed your commands. I always did what you told me. I thought you're going to protect me. But you didn't! It was the utter opposite. You took advantage of me in spite of you knowing what they've done to me!" 
"Yes, you are my princess. I saw how obedient you are that's why I did it to you."
"You maniac!" My mother shouted and hit my father. "How could you let this happen to your daughter? You are a demon!"
"You were the demon first. And I was doing her a favor, woman. Get lost" and he punched my mother to the head. My brother defended my mother's honor so he punched father. He beaten dad down. 

Father tried to reach for his gun and said, "Sorry son, I win!" and aired his gun at my brother's forehead. 

My mother was hysterical. We were all splattered by my brother's blood. 
"Go to hell!" My mother said to my dad as she kicked the gun away from him and slapped him repeatedly at his shoulders.
"Run Hope, run!" She said to me as she tries to beat my dad.
"I'm not going anywhere!" I cried
"It's okay. This is the price I have to pay for. I'm sorry Hope. I'm just really sorry. Now go!"
Charles held my shoulders, commanding me to leave as dad recovered  his gun again.
"No!" My mom screamed her last words and BAM.
There was silence.
BAM! There was another gun shot. . . 
Oh no!
I tried to search for who was the last shot aimed for, and I hope it's not Charles.
"Sheriff Smith." He says his own name. I noticed how my dad's shoulders having bled down the grass. The sheriff cuffed him before my father could ever access his weapons again.
"Name?"
"Officer Stan Lee."
"Officer Lee, you have the right to remain silent!" He said to my father


"I told you kids that I know everything about my town and I'd be here when you're running into some kind of trouble." He winked at us and I finally had a huge gasp of air to relief.

*****
5 months later.

Watching the sunset isn't always my favorite hobby. I love books because it gives me the sense of adventure. But after what happened months ago, things have changed. I have discovered what life is and what life isn't. Life gave me some twists that I never expected to welcome into my life. I wasn't armed or prepared for battle. I was scared.


The same thing sunsets can do for most people. When the sun sets, darkness comes after. People fear that it would be their last day to ever see light. 

"Hey sunshine." Charles appears over the terrace with two cups of hot chocolate.
"Apparently it's gonna get dark and gonna be cold in a while." I say
"Well," he goes near me with a smile on his cheeks and his feature that I love appears...his dimples. "We must start getting warmed up." And he steals a kiss from my lips.
"Hey! That was my first kiss. I hate you!!!"
"No you don't. You love me!"
"Yes I do."
"I didn't ask you to marry me yet, now you're saying I do. See how excited you are. You can't live without me. I'm your hero!"
"Whatever. I do hate you, I mean. And I can live without you."
"Really?" then a pout resembles his face.
"Yeah." Then I watched the sun set again.
He hugs me from behind. "Sorry for stealing your first kiss." He emphasized on the word first.
"Everybody I love steals things away from me." I said. I can't believe how serious he is now having the fact that I am not really mad at him. He looks at me with his wide, dilated eyes. I keep on forgetting that he is Chinese but not when he looks at me. He continues to pout at me, making his full lips look bigger. I feel the temptation to bite his lips. I always feel this unique sensation around me whenever he teases me.

******************
3 months ago (before the sunset), at the police station.

"How did you know I was Hope?" I asked him
"Remember at the bookstore when I followed you? You were once my neighbor at Detroit where you used to live. Before your father took you away from your mom."
"How did you know I was Hope?" I asked him again.
"Because you had those eyes that are the brightest among all stars. Because you had that lips that I always wanted to save my first kiss for. Because that scar on your right eye that I love the most. I woke up each morning and look at the mirror to look at my own scar and see how much we are alike. We have the same tormenting pasts. But each day I woke to see you at your window. I wanted to see hope in my life; and whenever I see you, I recall that no matter how hard my life can be right now, if I will be with you in the future, every hardships could be worth it. 
***


"Your skin looks great on the sun set." I trace his scar near his right eye. "Tell you what, I'm going to give you another chance to kiss me while the sun sets. Go! Now"
"Ah, Miss Lee is so demanding with her first kiss. Desperately wanting to kiss me." As he replied, I narrowed my eye on him. "Okay. I'm sorry baby. I love you." he traces my hair and inhales deeply. He embraces me and lets my arms wrap around his shoulders. 
I looked at him while he looks at me.
"You are my Hope, my love, my life." He said. "I love you Stacey Lee slash my Hope Lee!"
"I love you too Charles Huwang Huwang Huwang." I replied and laughed. He laughed. 
And we kiss





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Insurmountable 5: Seek and Hide (the Finale) Insurmountable 5: Seek and Hide (the Finale) Reviewed by Michelle Tan on 6:26 PM Rating: 5

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