Chapter 3:

Chapter 03 - Our Wonderful Discussion (1)

Dreams, Don't Die

“Tell me! What is your favorite manga?” the eccentric boy in the Naruto headband demanded.

Seriously, this is how he introduces himself? Not even a name!? I literally just walked into this room! What did Zoey rope me into?

I began to peer around the room, looking for something, or someone, to get me out of this situation. Or maybe I was looking around as an excuse to tell myself that this isn’t really happening. It was then that I realized…

Kai wasn’t standing next to me! Kai, my best friend who was head-bent on coming to this meeting with me…is not here! Where the heck did he run off to!? On the surface I was smiling embarrassingly, but internally I have the expression of shock and annoyance.

What a true friend you are, Kai!

I averted my attention towards the other two members. The emo goth girl continued to type away at the computer. She is completely unbothered! And the guy who is engrossed in his book…is still engrossed in his book. That must be some book he is reading for him to not give a flip about what’s going on with one of the members and a guest!

“Andy, it’s not time for the meeting to start. Please wait to greet yourself properly for our guest,” the guy said. Not once did he take his eyes off his book. Seriously, it’s not like that book is going to run away from you. And why does it feel like he bolded and underlined the word ‘properly’?

“Egah! I just lost 5 HP of health! Where are my manners?” the hyperactive headband boy projected.

You mean where are your senses?! Either way, that guy just rescued me from an uncomfortable situation! Thank you, fellow bookworm! You are a savior!

“Hey,” the goth emo girl interjected, turning around from the computer chair. “We’re going to introduce ourselves together anyway, so why not let the guy answer Andy’s question?”

She just threw me back into boiling hot water! Thanks a lot!

I looked toward the fellow bookworm. Internally, it was as if I was pleading for help.

“Hmm…you’re right. It’ll give us some time to waste until Zoey gets here. You, new guy. Answer his question!”

Whose side are you on?!

I took a long, heavy sigh, still maintaining my polite composure.

My favorite manga, huh? I don’t like being asked this question because sometimes even I don’t know what my favorite manga is. It varies based on the story and character development that intrigues me the most, especially if it’s an on-going series. Well, two series come to mind at the moment.

“If I had to choose my favorite manga,” I began, “it’d have to be either Bleach, because of the art style and appealing characters or Katekyo Hitman Reborn, because of the unique character interactions, development, story arcs and progression, and art style.”

“Whaaaa!? Seriously!?” the eccentric boy exclaimed. He posed dramatically, cemented in place like a crumbling statue, his face contorted in complete bewilderment.

“Seriously,” I said as I walked past him to stand near a desk. I feel tired just looking at him.

“Hold on a minute!” the eccentric boy shouted. He then freed himself from his crumbling statue pose and turned to point towards me. “You dare to insult the two greatest manga of all-time, Naruto and One Piece! Explain yourself, or face the wrath of my Infinite Tsukuyomi!”

Seriously, who the hell is this kid, and when is he going to pipe down? Not only do I feel tired just looking at him, but I also feel embarrassed just interacting with him.

The emo goth girl suddenly smacked the eccentric headband wearing boy on the head with a small pile of books.

“Enough already, Andy!” she said with an annoyed expression. “Not everyone has to like the same things you do."

“There’s more to literature than just manga, you know,” the fellow bookworm spoke. Still, he hadn't looked up from his book.

“Manga will always be the superior literature, and you can’t change my mind!”

This Andy kid…I’ve only been here for less than two minutes and it already feel as if I just ran a marathon in the humidity of August.

The emo goth girl released an exasperated sigh. “Suit yourself, kid. But keep your antics down. If a teacher finds out about you, we’ll all be in big trouble.”

“Right. My apologies.”

Big trouble? I wonder why.

“Sorry about that, newcomer. Andy can be a handful sometimes, but he’s good people,” she apologized. “The names Sarai Evans. Junior year student. Nice to meet you!”

“N-nice to meet you, too.”

I was never any good about meeting new people. I feel so shy. I don’t know what to say or how to carry on a conversation. I’m not one to just walk up to someone I’ve never met and start talking to them. It all feels so intimidating, a lot of pressure to be perfect and likeable from the get-go. I would feel forced to be anyone but myself. 

I feel that I wouldn’t be accepted or welcomed by the stranger if I were to be myself. Aside from my introversion, maybe it’s a reason why I prefer to keep to myself. I don’t know any of these people, but I have to join this club for the sake of getting into a decent university. Would I have to give up being myself just to get along and to be accepted by the members of ‘The Dead Writers’ Society’?

In an effort to distract myself from my thoughts, I began to glance at whatever was closest to me. It was then that I noticed a small literary magazine in the pile of books she smacked that Andy kid with. On the cover was a strong yet cute image of a hawk wearing reading glasses, perched on top of a pile of thick books, gazing at something off camera to its right. The Beak is the name of this literary magazine.

“That cover catches your eye? I’m the editor of the school literary magazine!” Sarai said with innocent delight. 

It seems she’s passionate about editing, maybe not too far off from how I am about writing and storytelling.

“Wow, you put this together? Amazing!” I praised, joining her in delight of her passion.

“The artwork isn’t mine; it’s from a student who graduated last year. I was so smitten by it that I wanted to use it as the cover for last year’s literary magazine! An artwork like that shouldn’t go to waste, ya know?”

“Yeah, I see what you mean. It was a good idea to use this as a cover!”

“Thanks! That artwork inspired me to want to rebrand the school’s literary magazine. The principal and the school’s sponsors agreed with the decision and left it all up to me.”

“That’s amazing!”

Sarai Evans. She looks intimidating with how she dresses and her demeanor, but maybe that’s all a façade. She seems to be a kind and caring person. If anything, Sarai may be the most normal person in this club.

“You wanna know what I wanted to rename our school literary magazine?” she asked with soft enthusiasm.

I returned the favor, expressing genuine interest and delight. “Sure!”

The Grave.”


The uplifting atmosphere in the room suddenly became dark and gloomy. I imagined the sound of a piano crashing into the concrete sidewalk from the school’s one-story rooftop.

“Isn’t that such a kick-ass name?” Sarai was smiling from ear to ear. In fact, she was the only one smiling in the room! Not wanting to let her feel alone and embarrassed, I awkwardly smiled and chuckled.

“Ehehe, yeah. Sucks that the school didn’t go for it.” 

Why would they!?

“The school officials said it has to be in line with the theme of the school’s hawk mascot. It was previously named The Talon. What a horrible name. Where’s the art and poetry in that name? How does it relate to writing or literature? It doesn’t! The Beak makes a lot more sense! Every bird of every kind has something to say and something to express. The school’s literary magazine enables their voice, thoughts, and visions to be heard. When we hear a bird sing, we are captivated by its beautiful song. It all comes from the beak, not any different from how people communicate and express themselves.”

She’s right. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. This is how an editor is like. Truly an inspiration, a light that shines upon those who desire for their voice, thoughts, and vision to be heard, and yet takes little to no credit. Still, why try to call it The Grave?

“I commend you for your passion for editing, Sarai, but you should take care to also read the classics. A lot can be learn from them.” the bookworm spoke as he lifted himself onto his feet from the chair.

Finally, he closed that book!

The bookworm extended his hand towards me as a greeting.

“The name’s Ian. Ian Braderly. Treasurer. Nice to meet you, umm…”

Oh, that’s right. I hadn’t introduced myself to them yet.

“My name is Taiyo Moriyama, I’m a senior-year student. Nice to meet you.”

“Ah, senior-year. I’m a sophomore student. I hope I can learn from you in your final semester.”


I wanted to give a good first impression, and so far I’m not doing so much talking. My eyes peered around the room to find something to talk about. Posters? No. The desks? No. The old bookshelf in the back of the room filled with old books? Possibly, but it would be rude of me to wander over there to pick a book, and possibly even stupider of me to pick a book that I know absolutely nothing about. Crap, what do I do?

My eyes drifted towards something that Ian was holding, or rather something that he hasn’t let go of since I walked into this room.

“So, I see you are reading the The Silmarillion by Tolkien.”

“Ah, what a good eye you have! Have you read it?”

“N-no, but I have heard of the author.”

“Well allow me to delight you its magnificence. The Silmarillion is – ”

“An unedited boring piece of crap,” Sarai interrupted with a supreme lack of boredom.

“That’s not true! The Silmarillion is indeed an edited piece of work! Tolkien died while writing this legendarium and his son edited it and put it together!”

“Heh, then it’s poorly edited and boring. And legendarium? Either Tolkien was full of himself or you are holding that boring book to such a high esteem that isn’t worth it.”

“You take that back! His son did the best he did and had to fill in the gaps and imaginative his father couldn’t complete! And do you know what a legendarium is?”

“No, but I see you aren’t denying that it’s boring,” Sarai teased playfully.

Here I am, stuck in an argument between two passionate people. I chuckled nervously and slightly amused, but more so a chuckle to be polite and to feign to know what is being discussed. 

Why me?

“Hey, Taiyo!” Sarai called out to me, dragging me into their argument…or discussion? 

Why me?!

“Do you know why The Silmarillion is regarded to be the worst book written by Tolkien?”

“Not true!” Ian protested.

“Shut it, fanboy!” Sarai snapped back. “It’s regarded as the worst because compared to his other works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion is too serious, lacks character interactions, contains an archaic language that is difficult for readers to understand, and inconsistent or very confusing storytelling devices.”

“That’s because The Silmarillion is supposed to serve as the backdrop or a compendium for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It’s important and details more about Middle-Earth!”

“Then why make the first two books and then publish this one? Shouldn’t this one be released first?”

I have no idea what they are talking about. I have never even seen any of The Lord of the Rings movies nor have I read The Hobbit. Probably not something I should say aloud though.

Andy ‘ninja flipped’ in the space between Ian and Sarai, interrupting their wonderful discussion.

“Talk no jutsu!” he shouted.

“H-huh?” The two of them were very confused as to what just happened and what he said. I, on the other hand, suddenly became even more tired than before, as if trying to follow the discussion of Middle-Earth mythologies or whatever wasn’t already tiring in itself.

“Sarai, Ian,” Andy began, “let’s not fight amongst ourselves. We’re comrades, we’re supposed to support each other and our literary dreams. When I was young, no one accepted me or my dreams. But I never gave up. Never giving up is my – ”

“Why the hell is sad violin music playing from your phone?!” Sarai shouted in annoyance.

“And you’re still young! What are you talking about!?” Ian shouted alongside Sarai.

Happy to see those two coming together for a common cause. Wait, what are they doing? Ian and Sarai lifted Andy by the collar of his shirt and threw him into the air away from them…and towards me. Why me?

I fell onto the ground, laying on my back. Dramatically, though kinda comically, sprawled horizontally across my stomach was the kid himself.

“Talk no jutsu failed. Should have went for the Rasengan,” he said in a dazed stupor.

“Could you get off me?” I asked as politely as I could, though there was some rudeness behind my request.

“Oh, sorry Taiyo. Thanks for the landing, comrade,” he said, giving me a thumbs up in complete confidence. I’m not your comrade, pal!

In a single, swift leap, Andy was off my stomach and onto his feet, imitating Naruto’s pose when he came to Sasuke’s rescue back in that fight with Haku…and I feel like I have been participating in the Olympics for three days straight now. Let’s just get this over with, please.

“My name is Andy Uzumaki! Believe it!” he proudly announced.

“Say your real name, Andy!” Ian shouted from across the room.

“R-right. My name is Andy Hinton. Freshman student. Nice to meet you.”

If only this kid could take a hint from reality like his last name implies.

Wait, hold on. Did he just say…?

“You said you’re a freshman? I thought freshman students can’t join after school clubs.”

“Shhh,” Andy said with a toothy grin, holding two fingers to his lips, not unlike a ninja. “It’s supposed to be a secret. Just think of it as a super secret infiltration.”

It’s not a secret infiltration if we know you’re here! In fact, I don’t even think that can be considered an infiltration!

I grabbed a bottle of water from my book bag and began to drink. After all this excitement and discussions, a nice drink of water is will do the trick.

As I twist the bottle opened, and before I began to drink, I asked Andy, “So how did you join this club if you’re a freshman?”

“Zoey adopted me.”

I instantly spit out the water I was drinking onto Andy. Fortunately, he quickly side-stepped just in time.

“Ha! Nice attack, but that was my shadow clone!” he boasted.

Ignoring his antics, I proceeded to ask the question that came to mind.

“Adopted?! Zoey is only 17 or 18! Is something like that even legal?!”

“You see, here’s the story…”


Andy had begun to tell his story. It was as if I was watching a flashback, not hearing it. As he spoke told his story, I envisioned a lonely kid, eating lunch all alone, away from a crowd of his peers. He looked…miserable.

“At the start of my freshman year, I was alone. No one would accept me. No one except…”

The image of an unknown figure appeared within the flashback. Who could it be? The person leaned forward, revealing themselves to be Zoey. She had a gentle smile and reached a hand towards Andy. In her hand was a straw hat with a red band. Zoey placed the hat on Andy’s head and asked, “Do you wanna be my friend?”

“We are?” asked Andy.

“We are…”


“Hold on, none of that happened at all!” Sarai loudly interrupted.

The flashback abruptly cracked and shattered into pieces. I was now back in room 206, as if I was never visually inside the story I was watching unfold.

“That was a flashback of Naruto and One Piece combined!”

“Oh, I suppose it’s similar to those stories,” Andy chuckled sheepishly.

“It is!”

“So, here’s what really happened,” Andy began to explain. “No flashback. It was during the first week of school in the previous semester. I was just minding my business in the school courtyard, reading manga. Then, Zoey walked up to me. ‘Come with me kid,’ she said. Before I knew it, I became an unofficial member of the ‘Dead Writers’ Society,’ and Zoey and I would hang out during lunchtime and sometimes outside of school, thus establishing a mother and son kind of friendship.”

So, Zoey just attached herself onto Andy and they became friends, not like an official adoption or anything. I know almost nothing about Zoey, but from hearing Andy’s story, it seems like she’s the type of person who’d selectively attach themselves onto people. I guess it’s her personality, or something. Discarding the thought, I began to sip on my bottle of water once more.

“So did Zoey adopt you too, Taiyo?”

I spat out my water, once more.

“Zoey and I are just classmates! We barely know each other!”

“Well, prepare to know a lot more about her.”

“What do you mean about that?”

As if on cue, Zoey dramatically entered the room, almost bursting down the door.

“Hello everyone! Sorry I’m late!” she said cheerfully, not matching her dramatic pose.

“You’re about 30 minutes late,” Ian flatly commented.

“What else is new?” Sarai commented in the same manner.

“Your words! They pierce me so!”

Zoey, ever the flair for dramatics. It appears that she typically arrive late to the meetings, even though she’s the leader. What kind of leader is late to their own scheduled meetings?

“So, what’s the agenda today, Zoey?” Andy asked with shining enthusiasm.

“Heh, I’m glad you asked. The semester will end in May, right? So, it’s about time we start the school-wide creative writing selection! Original poetry, prose, fiction, art!”

“Hell yeah! I’ve been waiting for this since the beginning of the previous semester!” Sarai exclaimed with burning enthusiasm. “So what’s the plan?”

“The plan is to advertise for submissions across the school via flyers. Andy, I will leave that to you!”

“Right on it, boss!”

“What’s the theme this year?” Ian asked.

“Heh, I’m glad you asked. I have decided this year’s theme is ‘Sun & Moon’!”

“Ahh, an interesting theme.”

“An interesting theme, if I do say so myself!”

“Once we get the submissions, I will search for the art that sings from The Beak!”

“I can always count on you, Sarai!”

The members of the ‘Dead Writers’ Society’ are so dynamic that you’d think they would never get along with each other. Yet, they are working together in perfect tandem, not at all missing a beat. To think that this is the team that’s responsible for the school’s literary magazine. To hear me speak about doesn’t do it justice. It’s something you’d have to be a part of to experience. And, I will be a part of the experience.

“There’s one other thing I would like to announce,” Zoey said. “For this issue, we will do an open-mic event!”

“An open-mic event?” I asked aloud, becoming slightly nervous.

“That’s right, my creative writing friend! And, not only will those who wish to participate it will be invited, we, ‘The Dead Writers’ Society,’ will also contribute our creativity to the magazine AND present it at the event!”

An open-mic event. Andy was overly enthused about it, as expected. Sarai and Ian smiled softly in strong solidity. Me? I was shaking all over. Not only do I have to write something I’m not at all talented in writing, but to also perform in front of the whole school?

No way. No way no way no way no way no way no way no way no way no –

“I will give more details at the next meeting. Until then, meeting adjourned!”

And just like that, the meeting was over as soon as it began. Is this is how all of the meetings are? What kind of literature and creative writing club is this? I know I want to pursue my passion of writing stories, but what the hell is this? What am I getting myself into?

“Hey Taiyo,” Zoey spoke.

“Eeeeee!” I meekly yelped out of my mental conversation and into reality. It was only then that I realized everyone had already dispersed to return to their homes. “Y-yes?”

“Sorry if I scared ya. You’re gonna walk home, right? Mind if we walk and talk along the way? Let’s get to know each other.
Liber Mercury