Chapter 17:

Trump Card

My Three Dying Rules

Setting: Grandpa’s house in the village / 30th June 2014

8 year old Pandora and 13 year old Leon are eavesdropping on a certain scene.

Grandpa: Listen, Benimaru, I liked you before, but it’s been more than 13 years. Just forget about her already or I’ll call the police.

Grandpa is talking to Benimaru through the door.

Benimaru: But I still love her! I won’t let her be with another man!

Grandpa: Enough is enough! Stop coming by every single week for god’s sake! I will never allow you to destroy this happy family!

Mother: What’s going on dad? Oh, Beni, welcome! Would you like some coffee? (Pandora’s Mother comes to the front door.)

Grandpa: No, he’s leaving. Right?

Benimaru: Right. Maybe later, darling. (He sticks out his tongue and Grandpa closes the door.)

Grandpa: Listen... This is not normal. I know that you can’t know or even imagine how your husband feels that this man keeps bothering you but take it from me, from somebody that understands you. You have to take into account your husband’s feelings. This man will eventually destroy your family, this is not how it should be. He is somebody you were with years ago but that’s over now. Please protect your family. Leave this village and go live in a distant place where you all can make your wishes come true.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Doctor: Hmm. So this man, Benimaru, was the lover of your Mother when she started dating your Father and he never left her alone even after all those years.

Pandora: I didn’t understand it when I was young but… once Leon mentioned that ‘it was all that man’s fault’ after Grandpa’s death, I put two and two together. The reason we were forced to leave the village was Benimaru. And my Grandpa protected our family with that advice all those years ago…

Doctor: I understand. So what happened at the restaurant?

Setting: At the restaurant / 10th September 2022

Pandora and Benimaru are dining together.

Benimaru: So you want me to get back with your Mother? Why?

Pandora: I just don’t like my dad. He’s a corrupt politician, he’s never home, and he doesn’t give us the love we deserve. But your devotion to my mom even after so many years. I figured you would give us much more attention than he ever could.

Benimaru: But there’s a slight problem in this.

Pandora: And that is…?

Benimaru: I still like your Mother, no doubt. But I like you even more, Pandora. You’re even more beautiful than she was at your age.

Pandora makes a disgusted facial expression as if she was about to throw up.

Pandora: You do realize I just turned 17 today. I am not an adult yet.

Benimaru: Do I look like I care?

Pandora: No, you truly don’t. But you make me sick. I could never be with you.

Benimaru: Such a pity. (He sticks out his tongue.)

Pandora: And please, do yourself a favor and put that disgusting foot off of my thigh.

She touches the tear gas as a warning. Under the table, Benimaru has taken off his shoe and was touching Pandora’s thigh with it before he was stopped. Pandora’s mobile phone starts ringing, Vulcan is calling her.

Pandora: (answers the phone) Hello~?

Vulcan: Where are you now?! I came looking for you at home so I could spend your b-day with you.

Pandora: I am having my birthday dinner, why?

Vulcan: Why didn’t you tell me the real reason you needed to move to that apartment flat?! Your Mother told me everything about your rare terminal illness!!

Pandora: Don’t panic man~. It’s just made up, I am not sick, it’s only to deceive my family~.

Vulcan: What? Pandora, are you joking?

Pandora: I’ll explain everything later. Now let me enjoy my dinner.

Vulcan: Are you with Alyssa?

Pandora: No. (She switches to a video call) Here, say hi to Vulcan, Beni! (She turns the camera at Benimaru)

Benimaru: Hello~.

Vulcan: What? Who is that old man???

Pandora: Oh come on Vulcan, that’s not nice. He is just an old family friend, you don’t need to be jelly.

Vulcan: But Pandora, I wanted to spend your b-day on a dinner with you!

Pandora: You don’t have enough money to treat me to something this luxurious. But don’t worry. I swear. I promise you, I would NEVER cheat on you. You don’t have to be jealous. I am no whore.

Vulcan: W-whore?

Pandora: Talk to you later~. (She hangs up.)

Benimaru: What a caring boyfriend you have. But as I was saying, I can’t make a deal like this. Because I want to have you, Pandora. If I can’t have you, then that’s that.

On a different table, Shinzo is taking pictures of Pandora and Benimaru.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Doctor: Looks like this is the limit of your abilities.

Pandora: Hehe, do you think so? After that, I left the restaurant and went home. Father was still a little angry about my TV debut but he chose to hold back since I was such an ill, unfortunate child~. When I went to school on Monday…

Setting: At Pandora’s high school, classroom / 12th September 2022

Pandora sits at her desk, Alyssa sits in front of her as usual. The bell rings, signalizing the end of a class.

Alyssa: Pandora! I know you don’t like expensive gifts so I made you this! (She gives her a ceramic mug with Pandora’s name on it.) Happy 17th birthday again! Finally in person!

Pandora: Oh, eh, thanks, I guess?

Alyssa: You guess?

Shinzo comes forward and notices the mug.

Shinzo: What the fuck is this shit? I wouldn’t even let my dog drink anything from it!

Alyssa: Go away, Shinzo! Why are you so annoying all the time? What did I ever do to you, huh??

Pandora: For once, I need to agree with the dogg- I mean, with this jerk. I don’t like it at all.

Alyssa: Y-you don’t? But… I made it with my own two hands with love just for you…

Pandora: Well, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean I won’t accept it! This is a gift from my one and only babe, after all! And since it’s mine, I can do whatever I want with it, right?

Alyssa: Heheh, should have figured you were just teasing me! Of course you can!

Pandora: (she ‘accidentally’ pushes the mug off of the desk, it shatters) Ooops. I guess my hand slipped.

Alyssa: (she looks at Pandora and at the shattered mug in disbelief) Pandora… why…?

Pandora: My family is short on cash, any expensive gift would have been better than this gross thing.

Shinzo: I guess you could never give her what older men give her. Look. (Shinzo spreads the photos of Pandora and Benimaru he has taken on Saturday night across Alyssa’s desk. The other classmates look at them with disgust as well.)

Alyssa can’t believe her eyes. All she could do is to run away from the classroom. In the fantasy, a certain pillar shows no sign of a crack whatsoever. Shinzo winks at Pandora and she punches his nose with full force.

Pandora: You pervert!!! Are you stalking me??? (The whole class is watching.)

Shinzo: (Wipes up his blood from the nose) Tsk.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Pandora: You could probably guess this already but it was finally Alyssa’s turn. And this was just an innocent beginning. A couple of months have passed. I tried many annoying things to get rid of Alyssa during the time period but I never managed to crack her pillar with anything. That girl loved me so much I had no idea how to counter that. Alyssa’s birthday was coming up next.

Setting: At Pandora’s high school, classroom / 25th November 2022

Alyssa: Pandora! It was my birthday yesterday so I am organizing the party at home that I talked to you about! You will come tomorrow, right?

Pandora: Of course babe! Did I ever miss your birthday party?

Alyssa: Hehe, I am so glad I could always count on you! We’re gonna have blast!

Setting: At Pandora’s high school, classroom /28th November 2022

The Monday after Alyssa’s birthday party.

Alyssa: (Looking sadder than usual) In the end, you didn’t come. And all those empty words from you…

Pandora: Well, you see, I didn’t feel like going. We see each other all the time here at school so I wanted to come see a different friend.

Alyssa: You are a terrible best friend, Pandora. I just don’t understand why you’re doing this. When did you change so much? What caused it? Are you hurting somewhere inside? I want to help you!

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Pandora: Instead of being mad at me, she kept making excuses for me. She turned it around, she was killing me with her kindness. I wish every single person in this world had a friend like Alyssa. A pure, innocent, untainted angel. She’s truly someone who doesn’t deserve to ever suffer from the loss of a friend. And so, I’ve decided to use my trump card.

Setting: At Pandora’s high school, classroom /28th November 2022

Pandora: I’m not hurting, I just didn’t want to go. Sorry, Ali. (smiles)

Alyssa’s jaw drops, terror strikes her eyes. She turns back and sits at her desk, speechless. In a fantasy, Pandora comes closer to a statue that grows two massive angel-like wings and carries halo above its head. For the first time after all Pandora’s attempts, a crack appears on the pillar beneath the statue representing the angelic Alyssa.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Pandora: My heart ached when I called her “Ali”. Alyssa carried an unimaginable pain inside that only I truly understood. I was the one who always protected her. I was the one who gave hell to anybody who called her “Ali” on purpose, despite her wishes not to call her that. And yet… I’ve decided to corrupt her heart and take a halo from the top of her head. Ali. The nickname that brought her back terrible memories from her traumatic past. The symbol of suffering.