Chapter 5: The Meeting that wasnt...
It was time. Kylin was about to meet the 20 most important people of Oblicity, with the exception of the madwoman giggling next to her. She smoothed back the frizz of her hair on her head with the back of her head, yet tears welled up at the bottom of her eyes. She couldn’t figure out that she was crying until she was heaving gasps, hiccuping as she started sobbing. The thought of people watching her cry just embarrassed further, so she pulled up the rim of her tunic and hid under it, flushing with shame. She sunk her hands into the roots of her hair and tugged at them, wondering what was wrong with her.
Why was she crying? Kylin didn’t know. She hated this feeling of hopelessness she always got in a panic attack like this, the way she couldn’t help it but sob harder. She couldn’t put the tip of her finger on it. Maybe it was because of the stress of today, or maybe it was just because she didn’t know what to feel. But she didn’t want to go back into the wormhole of feeling sorry for herself like a year ago.
Last year, Kylin had panic attacks it seemed all the time. Whether it was after she was let out from school with her parents still at work, or being pointed out in class for doing something wrong, she couldn’t help but end up in a sobbing mess on the floor. It made her ashamed of herself. What had she had to worry about? Why did she have to have a breakdown unlike normal people, who seemed to be able to hold themselves together. During that time, her parents tried their best to listen to her scrambled sentences stringed together about her feelings whenever they happened, but it didn’t work. Either she wasn’t able to express her emotions clearly enough or they weren’t able to fully understand her, and it ended up with them just getting frustrated at her. They tried finding any problems troubling her, but couldn’t find any. They begged and pleaded, but nothing worked. Why couldn’t she just get it together?, they said, sighing after another breakdown. Are you just trying to act out? What’s wrong, why won’t you tell us why you’re crying?
When Kylin realized that no one would be able to help her with her problem, nevertheless help her deal with it, she just stopped. Whenever she felt her emotions start to act out, she clenched them deep, deep, deep down inside. When she did this, she could barely even feel the troubling feelings that always got her stuck in a wheel of anxiety that she couldn’t get out of. And Kylin knew that this wasn’t the right way to do things, that she should have tried talking her feelings out before suppressing them inside of her as she did, but what could she do when she only had her parents and her little sister to talk to? She had friends, but they were the superficial ones that one would only talk about surface level topics to, the friends that were more like friendly acquaintances. She considered talking to them, but she didn’t know how to, and even if anyone wanted to hear her complain about herself. They had their own lives and people to talk to, and she just felt like a third wheel most of the time.
The worst part of acting like how she did was people would always treat her like a fragile infant. When they interacted with her it was as if they wanted to prevent her from being damaged or broken. They tried to express their sympathies and empathize with Kylin, but all it did was make Kylin feel was that she wasn’t like everyone else, that she wasn’t normal. She felt as if she was already damaged, like she was already broken and they were just trying to ignore it.
After Kylin started not having panic attacks, her parents were overjoyed. They had thought that it was just from stress of the almost last year of school and late hormones. Kylin laughed it off and agreed with them, saying that it was probably just a little stress that went overboard, but she was okay now. She had kept up this facade, blocking her feelings, but the events of today seemed to come at her in a landslide. Her grasping thoughts at the Down Below everyday that she knew was just a myth and disappointed in herself for feeling sad that it was that and nothing more. Mr. Owen, who she only met for one day and hadn’t even known his first name was dead. Meeting Madam Amber, who she tried to please and put up with while still frightened. That Madam Amber could do something to her if she accidentally angered her. The fear for being called to the Oblicion, and not knowing the exact reasons why except for the vague ones Madam Amber had given. She had tried her best to keep it all in but she failed.
Madam Amber roughly shook Kylin by the shoulders. “Hey, get yourself together, this isn’t the time to cry”, she hissed into Kylin’s ear. “I’m not going to get embarrassed by all of these people here because you’re acting like a crybaby for some reason. Did I offend you for some reason? Learn to take jokes, sheesh.” Madam Amber tugged down the fabric over Kylin’s head, staring into Kylin’s red rimmed, watering eyes. “We’ve got no time for this, Kylin, stop crying!”,Madam Amber loudly whispered, glancing around at the staring people around her, more specifically the people in blue and yellow approaching the area. When Kylin didn’t stop her sobbing, Madam Amber grimaced, gulping, scratching at her head. A flash of some unknown emotion flashed in her expression. She started to open her mouth, but closed it, standing there, staring at the girl’s raw emotions on display.
“Kylin...I’m sorry for acting the way I did today,. It wasn’t very, uh professional and I don’t usually act like that. I guess I was tired of people thinking me as a senile old lady who didn’t know how to be the head of the Oblicion, and wanted to make myself feel powerful, in a way? Sometimes I often say things without thinking about them beforehand, which is probably why I’m not really close to anyone here, heh. Annnnnd I do know you might think this is just a way to get you to stop crying, a fake apology, and I get that saying sorry doesn’t really help, but could you do the favor of calming down, please?”, Madam Amber stumbled through.
Kylin hiccuped, surprised at what Madam Amber had said to her. While it wasn’t exactly a genuine apology, nor was Madam Amber the entire cause of her panic, it felt better to have someone talk to her in a straightforward manner. She didn’t know Madam Amber had it in her to talk in that way, and the little appreciation she had for the old lady grew a little bit more.
“Thanks, Madam Amber. Sorry, for the, you know, outburst...”, Kylin murmured, sniffling a little in between. She took a shaky deep breath in, and rubbed away the tears dripping down her face with her fists.
“Ha, don’t worry about it! Sometimes I even get that way, too!”, Madam Amber said, chuckling, but her words were tinted with a hinge of sadness that Kylin couldn’t detect. The old lady smiled warmly at Kylin.
“Now, let’s go to the meeting, shall we? To be truthful we are a little bit late, but that’s no problem! After all, I’ll make it no problem, alright?” Madam Amber grinned, back to her rambunctious and spontaneous self.
“Y- Yeah!” Kylin replied, but still had one more question that was bothering her. “Did… did anyone see me like how I was?”, Kylin asked, fidgeting with the ends of the strands of her hair. If her father was somehow out there, she was afraid of his reaction if he saw her here, having a panic attack in front of the head of the Oblicion.
“Don’t let them be the judge of how you act! Just ignore the fools who believe that you’re less important or lesser simply because of how you act. You aren’t weird, or strange for reacting to stress or anxiety. Think of it this way: Everyone cries, Kylin, but you just happen to be more likely to do it with people around”,Madam Amber stated, placing her arms onto Kylin’s shoulder and stared at Kylin, wiling her to listen.
“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind. But aren’t we going to be late to the meeting that you set up? The shame. Tsk Tsk”. Kylin warmed up a little and even ventured to joke with Madam Amber, even clicking her teeth at her in jest. When Madam Amber didn’t say anything, she was afraid she had gone too far and was too friendly, but her worries were quickly erased when the old lady snorted, smirking at Kylin.
“Why aren’t you getting a little bit of attitude right there, aren’t ya. More and more you just keep reminding me of myself at your age. It’s like looking at a mini teenage self of me! Gah, though you are right about being late. Gary’s going to kill me when I get there. Come on, if we rush and run a little bit, we might be able to make it!”, Madam Amber replied, taking a look at the pendant on her neck. Unlike Kylin’s it wasn’t made of a grey metal, but instead shined and glinted a rich yellow.
Across from them, about 30 feet away was a darkened wall that closed off a section of the Oblicion bubble. They rushed towards it, their bare feet bouncing off of the spongy ground. When they got there, they gasped and stopped to take a breath, putting their arms on their knees. While Madam Amber was still bent down forwards, Kylin caught a glance of a man right next to her, just leaning on the wall, not going anywhere, not leaving either, but just seeming to wait for someone.
The man’s head was shiny and smooth, and there was not even a strand of hair on the top of his head. Instead, it seemed as if all of the hair had migrated down below his chin, where an extremely bushy, curly white beard trailed down all the way to the floor. Kylin wondered if he had ever tripped on his beard once or twice. Like Madam Amber, his face was lined with the markings of old age, wrinkles across his sagging face. Unlike Madam Amber, however, his face had a natural warmth to it. When the old man smiled, the skin under his eyes wrinkled with merriment.
“Amber, we’ve been waiting for you! What took so long? You literally scheduled the meeting! Did you miss me?”, the old man grinned, raising his eyebrows and stroking his beard. Madam Amber scoffed at him, flipping her hand out at him. With not even another word to Kylin or the man, she submerged self into the darkened barrier and disappeared to the other side. Kylin heard shouting as soon as Madam Amber entered the room and winced.
“Don’t feel bad for her, it’s like this every time she plans a meeting. Ha, we rarely meet up for anything anymore, because all we do is argue!”the old man grinned, talking outloud.
Kylin jolted a bit, surprised at the old man starting a conversation with her. She wasn’t used to talking to that many people, with the exception of her family and a few of her friends, but she was usually more of a listener then a speaker. Basically, she usually left most of the talking to the other person in the conversation, occasionally nodding or making sounds in agreement and confirmation. When she hesitated to say something, the man mistaked her silence for disapproval, or that she was ignoring him.
“Oh, sorry I forgot my manners. I’m Kai, a member of the Oblicion, and you are…?”, Kai asked, turning himself around to face Kylin, who nervously took a small step backwards.
Suddenly self conscious of the Finder clothing she was wearing, she murmured quietly, “I’m Kylin. My mentor died today and I came with Madam Amber to get reassigned to another mentor.”
Kai’s eyes widened in what might have been surprise or recognition, or maybe even both.
“A person died today? Strange, I didn’t hear of that happening yet. Then again, if you were informed by Amber of that none of us probably would have heard of it. Amber tends to, uh, how would you put it, do stuff her own way, often without informing us beforehand. Then again, she is the head of the Oblicion, so I guess she can do whatever she wants - I mean to an extent obviously but, er you know what I mean, right?”, rambled Kai, who smiled awkwardly before nervously coughing into his hand.
“Well, I best be going into the meeting, are you as well?”, Kai asked, rolling up his lengthy beard in his arms. When he saw Kylin noticing, he chuckled and told her, “I’m never cutting this. Not only does it show my grand age, it also gets quite comfy when the cold wind from the Outside blows past me. It’s almost like a blanket! Alas, all good things seem to have consequences, and I have to stupidly roll up my beard before walking anywhere, and all the Oblicion love to laugh at me, especially Amber, heh. I’m thinking about braiding my hair into pigtails just to gain more laughs, but honestly I don’t know how to so-oh, yeah, better get going to the meeting.” The old man chatted on and on, until Kai, looking at the time on her pendant, quietly cleared her throat.
Kai stepped up to the wall first, still holding his beard. Shutting his eyes, he took a step into the material, and out into the other side. Kylin stood, waiting for a few seconds after the old man left, watching the faint shadows of the Oblicion. After a trembling breath, she dragged her body forwards, letting herself free fall into the spongy material and into the Oblicion meeting room.