Category Archives: Continous Story

Beyond Retrospect (Prolog)

Prose by: Irwan Juanda

Also available in Indonesian Version


I went home while holding afterthoughts, something which is more to be sheets of cotton blanket inside my head. Tender, adorable, and sweet. My steps are like floating, as though I just got out from a different world. When 2 stalks of flower-which forsythia I’ve no idea about-came to my sight by the edge of the river that is going to my house, I was recalled of the two persons I just interviewed. Nikita and Jeremy.

You can say I am dumb, silly, or whatsoever. But as a journalist, I suppose their story is compelling, and  precious. Inspiring, to be exact. So I wrote this, as chances are this tale won’t get to be published on the magazine I am working for. Instead what’s what, but the magazine I am working for is an automotive magazine. Well yes, I am kind of ridiculous.

Yet, here’s how I caught this story. First of all I was covering a story about a motorcycle lovers club in this place, then I was introduced to the chairman of the club. “He’s easily recognized. There’s a long scar on his face.” This was the clue I had and turned out to be completely right because at the time I met him, I knew that he is… him. There’s a line of deep scar starting from his forehead to almost-half of his right face, I mean, what are the chances for 2 persons to have that same kind of scar? So, yup, that must be him.

I didn’t know anything about this man, but the first impression I got from him was that he is reticent, intensely quiet. I need to emphasize here, not stolid, but solemn, tough, like a rock, well I don’t really know how to describe him, but surely he is quiet. When I was interviewing him, he didn’t speak much, the kind of perplexing informant for me, then at some point he abruptly said, “there’s a  more appropriate person you need to meet for this thing.”

“Who is it?”


It’s his wife. Since 12 years ago.


“Hi,” Nikita addressed me with risen hands, bulging eyes, and ‘O’-letter mouthed when she saw me appeared from Jeremy’s back. Expressive. Besides that, the other first things that got to my attention were a big black-thick framed eyeglasses that she wore and her overhead-pigtailed hair, she looked like a tulip lady, a tulip lady with smart vestige.

While saying, “I am cooking, so, beg your pardon if I must make you wait. Problem is I just learnt this, and I am deeply worried and afraid that I am going to make my dishes overcooked into ashes. If they are, you bet that couldn’t be good since they’re going to be our lunch. Oh right, you haven’t had your lunch, have you? I bet you haven’t, so, well… I immediately added the portion when Jem told me you’d come.” And many more, Nikita brought me to the living room. Then the sound of something boom-ed in the kitchen made her rush there. Then in another second she came back with flashing movements, “but you don’t mind to have lunch with me and Jem, right? You haven’t planned anything with your lover or whoever it is, have you?”

I shook my head. Nikita nodded with excitements, “Great!”

At the same time, Jeremy who’s right behind Nikita’s back walked-need to note: soundless-to the kitchen when he seemed to see something was flickeringly-sparking from there (the kicthen is positioned at the left side after passing a corridor-like space which 2 big fully-bookloaded bookcases were existed on its left and right sides). In short time after that something boom-ed again. “For Shakespeare! My dishes!” Nikita disappeared again right after telling me to wait in the living room.

Nikita and Jeremy’s living room was themed with Victorian touch, believe it or not, there’re Bal du moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Woman Reading by Henri Matisse paintings facing one another in that room, though I was sure they’re imitations. I mean, for real? What’s weirder was, why those two paintings were in this room? Though am not an art lover, I knew the two elements of those two paintings are far-widely varied to one another as I heard or read from a source I couldn’t remember anymore. But, oh well, I don’t want to explain too much since this tale is supposedly not about Nikita and Jeremy’s living room, nor about those paintings.

While waiting in the living room, I could hear Nikita’s ear-popping voice from the kitchen.

“Just three tea-spoons, Jem. Three. As I read, it ought to be three unless it’d taste weirdly bizzare.”

But I failed to catch Jeremy’s reply.

“We must stir it with a movement creating the ‘M’ letter, Jem. This movement will help the flavors to mix.”

I still failed to hear Jeremy’s voice.

“Jem, please get me a bowl.”

Oh well, at least I got to make sure one thing nonetheless kept failing to hear Jeremy’s voice (or he actually didn’t say anything at all?).

 Point 7: Nikita calls Jeremy with “Jem”

Nikita and Jeremy seemed to still need much more time to deal in the kitchen, so I explored 3 books sprawled on a round wooden table in that room. First book was Half The Sky written by Nicholas D. Kristof, then there’s Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, and the last (also the most compelling for me) was Codex Alimentarius, which contents were less or more consisted of basis, code of practices and other internationally approved recommendations related to the making and safety of food and of course the food itself. Those two paintings, and Codex Alimentarius. Seriously, this is unusual.

Half an hour later Nikita came back, Jeremy’s seen bringing portions of dishes to the other direction of the house behind her. Truth is I was a bit confounded, it’s not about feeling that they’re impolite, but what I mean is, even so Jeremy was (as said) an ex-thug or so, letting a barely known person to be alone in a quite long time like this in your house, when worse, there’s  one of the most expensive paintings in the world looking free to be taken away (notwithstanding the fact it’s most probably fake), what’s in the heck is in this husband and wife’s very mind?

“Sorry for keep you waiting for this much long time. Like I said, I just learnt the art of cooking. Haha…” Nikita laughed politely. Her tulip hair moved adorably while she did it.

“Oh, no worries. Your living room is very cozy, frankly I am not lying, I even am willing to be left much longer here.”

“Really?” Nikita looked flattered by my answer before her expression changed into a jolt when she saw a thing she called, “ah, there there my cooking book! Turned out I put it here.”

Guess what’s the book she meant.


“So, how long have you been a journalist?” Nikita asked after finished serving lunch she cooked. The three of us sat neatly on the table. I was facing Nikita. Jeremy sat on her right side. When they sat like this, I could see chemistry sparkles between them. Two, odd couple, looked good and bad together at the same time. An anomaly, I suppose.

“Almost 2 years. 1 year, 11 months, 27 days, to be exact.”

“Haha. Detailed. I like that.” Nikita, she took a mouthful vegetable to Jeremy’s plate.

Jeremy started eating without much talking, actually, he hadn’t even talked at all since he took me to this house of his.

“So, I think now we can start your interview while eating. Relax, in this house, there’s no rule that says ‘no talking while eating’, someone can talk when he wants to, and can not-to-talk when he doesn’t want to. Isn’t that so, Jem?” Nikita.

Jeremy gave smile with his closed mouth to Nikita. I am sure that meant, “Yes.”

Then, Nikita began telling about Jeremy’s motorcycle lover club. How it all started, its purpose, and stuffs. In one of her utterances, Nikita also mentioned Jeremy’s ‘credibility’ as the chairman of the club.

“Someone needs not to talk much to be a good leader. Leader, boss, or anything with the same position with it, gives examples, not orders. Your actions are more important than your words. That’s my opinion.”

But after reaching some point (actually since getting into that house), I was no longer possessing any interest in the motorcycle lover club material as planned before. There’s something else more ticklish to be explored.

“Sorry. But… can we talk about you guys instead?”

(To Be Continued)

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The Potion Of The Apt Option (Part 2 – Ending)

Previous here:

The next day, the eldest son found the sky’s clear. Not even a sign of raining could be seen there. He then happily dried his cottons and thanked his father for the nice weather he had yearned for the previous day. That whole day, smile was painted on his face because joy was what he constantly felt. His cottons had never been any fluffier and stronger, and had higher quality. He could sell them with the highest price, and gained more money to expand his business, or, to buy a present for his father as a thankful gift. So he made up his mind and promised to himself that the next day, he was going to visit his father.

On the other hand, still in the same day, the youngest son found that the sky’s crying. The abundant tears were almost flood his field. But thankfully, his drying yet thirstful crops were in need of a lot amount of water, so nothing bad could happen but a revived field. The youngest danced joyfully after finding out that his crops were back to theirs good condition, moreover, they’re getting better, even, unexpectedly had reached their best condition. Tomatoes were never that red before, watermelons were never that juicy, there must be some kind of miracle from the drop of the rain. He could sell his crops with the highest price due to their qualities. Didn’t forget about the help behind that magical occuring, he then prepared a gift and would bring it to his father, as planned on the next day.

Short to tell, that day then had passed, and that tomorrow had come, and both of the youngest and eldest had arrived at their father’s house at the same time. They got into a short conversation while knocking the door and waiting for their father to come out.

The eldest said, “I came here to give this present to father as he had wished for me such a beautiful weather yesterday. A weather that’s not only had saved my cottons but also my life. And you, my brother, what’s your purpose to come here?”

The youngest chuckled a bit and said, “funny, I came here just exactly for the same reason. Of the beautiful weather father had wished for and for the life he had saved.”

So they knocked the door. Knocked and knocked but no one came. Soon, they began to feel anxious. Thus they broke into the house but found no one. Mr. Whitinger had dissapeared. Nothing was left but a house that’s still arranged neatly. They got no clue where their father had gone. Scarely, they began to ask for his father’s neighbors, friends, and even to their mother who had divorced with their father a long time ago. But no one knew where he was. In distress, they then remembered about the story Mr. Whitinger had told them when they’re little boys.

There is a legendary tree in the forest of knowledge. Its branches are holding the roads to all worlds. It’s leaves are the beds for the foundation that keeps the balance of the living and the death. It has lived longer than any living beings in the universe. The great Yggdrasil is what it is called, and it is believed that it also holds the answers to all things.

Therefore, there was where they went. In short time, because of their knowledge of land terrain and location-finding, they’ve found the Yggdrasil, and not to wait any longer they began to ask it about the presence of their father.

“Where had our father gone, great Yggdrasil? We had lost him without any slighest clue where he could have left for.”

The Yggdrasil neither said nor telepathed a thing, it only shook the earth’s skin, and with one of its root, it pointed to a spesific direction. The same way to where Mr. Whitinger had left for-the hut of the soothsayer-to get the potion of the apt option.

So, just like what Mr. Whithinger had gone through, the two sons also walked into the journey of thorny vines, rocky roads, dark tunnels, and countless more dangerous paths. Their feet bruised. Their sweats had dried to their last drop of exhaustion. But of the will to find and save their father, they gained the power to keep moving and finally arrived at an unknown hut. They didn’t know what it was, but when they saw a lying door, they got no more option but to jump in. After went throught an aberrant transportation, just like what their father had, they found themselves standing in an unfamiliar room, which they don’t know as the soothsayer’s room.

“Welcome to my homey,” was the first thing they got from the owner’s of the room. A young man-not older than 20 years old, they believed-was smiling at them, “what are your matters to find me here, ahh… the sons of Mr. Whitinger?”

“How did you know who we are?” Asked the eldest, trying to hide his stratling.

“I know everything, Ian.” He pointed his finger to the eldest’s nose, “your name.” And move it to the youngest’s, “and also yours, Bigg.” He then turned around, and turned back again, without any exact purpose could be seen from his choose of actions.

“I know that both of you come here to seek for your father. I even had knew it before you planned to come here, or before I knew you would come here to seek for Mr. Whitinger. More, I must say, I had knew it even before i knew i would know that both of you would come here, far before the both of you found the reason of coming here-which is-the gone of your father. And, I had knew it even before Mr. Whitinger came here to find the potion of the apt option, or before he had the reason to find it, which is because of—–the both you.” The soothsayer giggled, grinded, and made a gesture of dancing. Felt excited over the words he said himself and laughed louder when he saw Ian’s and Bigg’s confused faces.

“Wait, so our father had come here? To find that potion of aptitude or something? But for what?” Asked Bigg according to the information he could dechiper.

“Because you asked for the rain,” he suddenly threw powder to Bigg’s face and also to Ian’s before he continued his words, “and he asked for the contrast.”

The sons began to look at each other and started to understand everything. “Oh, no, what have we done? It’s all because of us.” whispered Ian to himself while looking at the floor’s tile that looked like a map of the world.

“Yet it is.” Bigg agreed to his bigger brother. “But, what exactly had happened? Did father drink the potion? What happened after that? Where is he?”

“Ssssh, sssh, hold it, Bigg. I found that you have the same fondness as i have, which is the liking of asking questions, eh, but would you really want to know the answers?”

“Yes, i would.” Ian & Bigg shouted in unison.

“Well, then. Listen and watch carefully.” The soothsayer spread colorful powder into the air and images of Mr. Whitinger’s journey started to appear. “First, yes, he drank the potion of the apt option. He’d dared himself to the consequences i’d told him before for the love he had for both of you. And he turned into-” The image showed how Mr. Whitinger’s body little by little turned into the cloud and flew up above, higher and higher, wider and wider until it really changed into—“the sky.”

“So there he is, up above. Therefore, he could control the weather and by that, he managed to bring rain to his youngest son’s field and keep the sky clear for his oldest son.”

Ian and Bigg couldn’t feel anymore shock than they had at that moment. “Oh no, what should we do now?” They began to ask themselves, but couldn’t find any idea how to solve that problem.

“If there’s just something that can help us to choose for what’s right to do now. If there’s just anything like that existed. I will know what to do.” Said Bigg with great grieve shown on his face.

“There is!” Ian suddenly responded. “There is a thing that can help us!”

“What?” Bigg couldn’t get what his brother’s been talking about.

The potion of the apt option.

“Aaaaah, the potion of the apt option, do you mean-” The soothsayer danced his right palm and its fingers gently, and pooofff-ed, a flask contained with a putrid, pleghm-like elixir appeared from nowhere, “-this?” —– exactly the same event that Mr. Whitinger experienced.

“Wait, brother, you’ve seen what had happened to father after he drank that fishy potion. We don’t know what’ll happen to us.” First, Bigg was against that idea, but then his brother changed it with the words that crushed his heart,

“My brother, father had been very brave to took this potion for us because he love us so much? Won’t we do the same thing for him? Aren’t our loves is as big as his?

Bigg shook his head for the questions that doubted his love for his father, and after that he nodded, to the decision whether he’ll take the same path as his father took or not.

“Then, I and my brother have agreed to this idea. So, please, let us taste the same drink as our father had drunk before, but before, tell us that it will bring us to re-join our father once again.” Ian said to the soothsayer.

“Yes, you’ll be together once again, the three of you. Maybe not in the way you’ve imagined, but yes, you will.”

“That’s all we need to hear.” Said Bigg unhesistantly. Thus, the soothsayer handed the potion to Ian and Bigg. Ian drank the half first, and Bigg drank the rest.

The potion tasted like nothing much different than water. But the reactions were undescribeably strange. Bigg started to cry, he couldn’t stop his tears and Ian gradually started to lost his memories and shrink into his younger self. And after that, a canvas of painting suddenly appeared from nowhere and sucked them in. In that canvas, Bigg still couldn’t stop crying until he turned into the sad, gloomy sea. Ian himself had turned into a litttle boy that keeps looking at his little brother, the sea, and couldn’t stop wondering why it is so sad. In the end, Mr. Whitinger, who is at the moment formed as the sky, also sucked into the canvas. Thus, the three had rejoined in the painting, but unfortunately, not in the way the had ever imagined—–just like what the soothsayer had said before. (More about the painting here:

“What a beautiful painting.” mumbled the soothsayer with a grind on his lips, “I think i know who will love to have this painting.”


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The Potion Of The Apt Option (Part 1)

One day, an old man came to the forest of knowledge to find the great Yggdrasil —– the holder of all worlds. The old man was in need of help. He needed someone, or something, or anything to share him the right idea about choosing the right decision. Here was the crux. In that day’s morning, before the dew fell from leaves, both of his sons had come to ask for his prayer. Both came in their own time, but asked for the same-different prayers.

The eldest arrived first, he wanted his father to pray for him. “Dad, please wish for the sky to hold his tears. I need no rain tomorrow, I have to keep my cottons dry. The rain doesn’t suppose to fall tomorrow, and i really mean it should not. But if it does, i’d rather to kill myself by jumping into the sea.”

Of course the old man couldn’t resist and let his son down and said, “yes, my boy, i will wish you the weather you asked for. You need not to taste the salty death in the sea.”

After the leaving of the eldest to his house, the youngest came right in time to aggravate the old man. He asked for a contradictive prayer, but for the same purpose like his bigger brother’s —– a prayer for his own good. “Dad, please wish for the tears of the sky to shed the day after today. I need it to revive my field. My crops are all almost die of drying. The rain must fall, it should. But if it doesn’t, i’d rather to burn myself and turn into ashes.”

As a father, apparantely the old man couldn’t let himself to dissapoint his son, or worse to let him die so he nodded. “Yes, my boy, i will wish you the weather you asked for. You need not to taste hell’s fire before you die.” And then, his son went back to his house. Left the old man confounded to his knees and fingers,

he couldn’t grab the right hint concerning what he should do to keep his promises and to prevent his sons from killing themselves.

“Ygg, please help this hopeless man. Tell me what should I do to save the both of them?” questioned the old man with sad voice and his forehead bowed to kiss the land’s soil, right in front of the Yggdrasil. Thus, touched by the old man’s true love for his sons, the Yggdrasil answered him by telepathing a voice inside the old man’s head.

“I can’t help you to choose for what is right, old man. But I can help you to find who can assist you with your matter and give solution to your cause. Listen carefully, not far from here, lives a great soothsayer, he has invented the potion which can clear the mind and help whoever drinks it to take the right step over the most crucial bent road in life. You can find him by following where my roots lead to. May you find success with your journey, great father.”

After the Yggdrasil finished its last sentence, the old man lost the connection. The giant tree gave no more clue but a little movement from the earth’s skin with its roots which suddenly moved and pointed to the direction of Northeast. There, then the old man took his next course.

His journey ought him to pass through thorny vines, rocky roads, dark tunnels, and countless more dangerous paths. His feet bruised. His sweat had dried to its last drop of exhaustion. But he didn’t stop even once, because he knows the time won’t let the day hold its movement. And he knew he was right, because just in a blink of his blurred eyes, he found the sun almost set, in another second, light had gone and the night had come.

So he hurried, cared not for his own life force, all he knew were he had to find that soothsayer and ask for his potion —– the potion of the apt option.

“I need to save both of my sons.” is his motivation, he repeated those words each time he couldn’t move his feet and each time his body petrified of losing energy. Fortunately, before he really collapsed and passed out of tiredness, he had reached the soothsayer’s hut. It was weird, the walls were constructed from glowing mushrooms that emit thousands of colors that keeps changing by themselves. Its roof was made of papers and leaves, spinning without exact direction like a non-stop hurricane. Its doors and windows were not standing but sleeping on the land, the dimension of the hut was irational. But those bizzarenesses didn’t prevent the old man to find the soothsayer, even though he is hesitant, he then crouched to open the door and jumped into the hut. Magically, after past through an abberant teleportation, he found himself standing in an unfamiliar room which he thought is supposed to be the soothsayer’s room.

“Welcome to my homey,” suprisingly, the old man heard a young man’s voice behind his back. In that instant, he turned his head and found a teenager-not older than 20 years old, he believed-smiling at him. “what is your matter to find me here, Mr. Whitinger?”

“How did you know my name?” The old man tried to hide his stratling.

“I know everything, Mr. Whitinger. That is not something surprising, I even had had known your reason of seeking me to my place here. More, i must say that I had had known that i am going to have had known your problem, before you had it or before i knew i’ll know that i’ll had known it.” The soothsayer giggled a bit. He looked & sounded crazy.

“If you had known all of it even before all of it happen, or before you-yourself knew that you’ll know all of it, why you asked me the question just now?”

“Ahhh, what a rigid old-man. can’t I just have a little fun over there, young man? I have a fondness over asking questions, so please bear with it a little, can you, young man?”

“I beg your pardon, but i am far older than you are, so don’t call me young man, Mr. …” Mr. Whitinger realized he hadn’t known the soothsayer’s name.

“It’s Nameless. Just call me Nameless, or Anonymous. I love those to be put as my name. And, to your knowledge, Mr. Whitinger, about my age… wait, before that, i must ask you a question first, do you know how old is the Yggdrasil?”

Mr. Whitinger tried to calculate but he couldn’t find the right number. So he shook his head.

“That’s too bad, because i think someone just might know my real age.” Mr. Nameless grinded a little, moved in uncertain directions and gave out wacky gestures.

“Excuse me, but are you the Yggdrasil?”

“Is that the matter you want to ask me by coming here, young man?”

“No, it is not.”

“So hold your tounge! Be more polite to someone older than you are!” The Soothsayer suddenly turned angry. Mr. Whitinger could see his hair started to change color into auburn. That signed him to stop asking unnecessary questions.

“Mr. Nameless, i didn’t want to infuriate you, but, about the potion…” Mr. Whitinger timidly spoke after encouraged himself with the thoughts of his sons.

“Aaaaah, the potion of the apt option, do you mean-” The soothsayer danced his right palm and its fingers gently, and pooofff-ed, a flask contained with a putrid, pleghm-like elixir appeared from nowhere, “-this?”

“Yes, it is. Mr. Nameless, i begged you, please, can I have a little drop of it to help me choose for the right decision to solve my bad situation i’m having right now?”

“It depends, young man.”

“Depends on what?”

“On how much you dare to sacrifice yourself. There are unknown side effects to the drinker of this potion, young man?”

“What are they?”

“I don’t know.”

“Didn’t you say you know everything?”

The soothsayer walked closer to Mr. Whitinger and whispered to his left ear with a naughty tone, “what if i don’t want to tell you?”

“I’m fine with that, as long as you can tell me that my sons are going to be alright.” Mr. Whitinger didn’t want to argue with the insane soothsayer’s annoying behavior, he focused himself to the concern of his sons.

“Yes, they will, not that alright, but definitely they’ll cheat the death.”

“That’s all I need to hear.”

“So, ready to sail?” The soothsayer handed the flask to Mr. Whitinger.

“Anything for my sons.” Mr. Whitinger took the flask without a single doubt shown on his face and drank the potion of the apt option to its last drop.

(To Be Continued)

***Note: The part that tells about the sons which asked for the same-different prayers from their father was adapted from a fairy-tale book I read when I was little. I forgot what’s the title of that tale. But, besides that, the other parts were my original idea to expand the story.

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