11/23 Chapter 7
As an author, I have two sensei to thankful for: one is Google, the other is Jhing Blanco.¹Ulysses and Marco- These two men are characters from the novels that shares the universe of 23:11 written by the same author, Pilosopotasya. Ulysses came from as one of the female protagonist's brother while Marco is the male lead in (Tempted) and was also mentioned on being quoted by Miko: "I remember the words of my pal Marco who's a professor. He said'If you stretched your arm, that's 'free will'; but if you hit someone in the process, that's your limit." I'm thinking about translating those novels too but yeah… we'll see.
“When the lips could not speak, perseverance will deliver the message.”
“What's up with you now?” Facio asked Miko. “Are you sick? Is it SARS?” His questions made few of them laughed.
They weren't surprised when Miko did not use his voice to talk, he instead erased the words on the whiteboard he brought and wrote:
I'M NOT SICK.
"Then what?” asked another. “Did you went to the karaoke last night and sang to your heart's content that it made you lose your voice?”
I STILL HAVE MY VOICE.
“Aha!” Yayo, the pregnant editor who was severely fond of Miko, exclaimed. She tried to get the mouth mask from Miko but he stopped her. “Do you love KPOP? Koreans often use those mask ah!!”
Jhing’s heart pounded in her chest when she saw the smiling eyes of Miko which were almost gone because of his chinito eyes. What's even more annoying is the fact that his mask is really cute.
He couldn’t really take everything seriously, could he?
“What's that for then?”
IT WAS AN ORDER.
July asked, “Who the heck would order you to do that kind of trip?”
Jhing panicked in a matter of millisecond when her eyes met Miko's so she quickly turned away to stare at her computer.
What a shame because Jhing didn't see Miko's smiling eyes as he wrote:
That earned laughter from most of the book department, even Ms. Vams and Ms. Stels smiled at Miko's antics.
“You're high, bro,” Facio commented.
While everyone was laughing, Jhing decided she was too busy with work to understand Miko's weirdness. But when she couldn't help but take a glance, her palm immediately flew to her forehead the second she read what he wrote:
(/ﾟｰﾟ)/ HA HA HA HA＼(ﾟｰﾟ＼)
What the fu…. This is so embarrassing.
Miko always has ways to give simple things extravagance.
Sure, Jhing didn’t hear his voice for the past few hours but the thing is, the noise still didn't stop! The chatters even became louder at the cubicles near Miko because that guy kept drawing stupid stuff on his whiteboard.
Oh fine, he's the artist and sure, he quickly became close to everyone unlike her. After all, he has nothing to do with his life. He's like a child!
When lunch came, Miko left because his friends invited him to go eat. Jhing wasn’t interested in who he was with but her co-workers were curious so she unintentionally found out that Miko was with Ulysses and Marco¹ - whoever those men are.
“That guy does every kind of stunts,” July said over lunch.
Jhing also noticed that whenever Miko is gone, the editors will always talk about him. Not that she was complaining….
…. wait, she really wants to complain.
Can we change the topic?
“He's weird,” Yayo said as she munched on her bread. “But in a good way… He’s so cute.”
“My gosh, if you keep thinking about Miko, your child will be born like him."
“Why not?” she said as she patted her 5-month-old tummy. “He’s appealing, has a sense of humor, different weird but cute antics, and I think he has a big heart too. I’ll dig a son like that.”
Jhing almost choked.
“Oh Jhing,” July said, smiling, and offered her a glass of water. “What happened to you?”
Jhing made up an excuse “Something just got caught in my throat.”
Big heart? Gods.
Nothing won’t end with Miko.
When Jhing came back, no one was in the office because everyone was still hanging out in the pantry, lobby, or outside the building. She dazedly looks at the monitor until a hand from behind placed a mug on her table. Again.
The mug of juice made Jhing’s heart skipped a bit.
She turned around and met Miko’s eyes. Despite the black mouth mask, which is so cute because of its cat lips, hiding half of the latter’s expression…. Jhing is 100% certain that he is smiling. Grinning. Teasing.
Miko showed the whiteboard to Jhing.
MANGO – ORANGE JUICE?
Jhing didn’t have the chance to talk, decline, or get the mug away from the table when she heard familiar voices. Shit. Their co-workers! Jhing went into panic mode. She wanted to stand up and leave Miko but she was stunned when he himself suddenly walked away.
When the group reached their chairs, Miko was already sitting in his cubicle. He looks so serious while working. On the other hand, Jhing was staring at the mug.
She didn’t drink even a single drop from it even after the day ended.
The following day, Miko was still not talking. The act was not a big deal anymore so everyone just let him be foolish. Plus, they were all busy with work. They don't have much time to play around.
Even Miko was surprisingly serious.
Amazement was evident from Miss Zue’s face when she saw the book department concentrating on work. Even the remote-controlled helicopter was ignored, collecting dust on the top of the shelf.
Miss Zue got the attention of the team, “We have a meeting at 3pm in room A3,” she said. “Don't be late ah!”
Everybody said their “Yes ma’am”, but Miko, still with his mask on, held his whiteboard up high with writing and a drawing:
SIR YES SIR!!!!! (￣^￣)ゞ
Jhing saw the weirded out reaction from Miss Zue. For some reason, the former felt embarrassed from what the guy was doing that she even wanted to get inside a hole or something.
That whiteboard had to stop. And that fucking pa-cute mouth mask too.
Before the meeting, Jhing finished the initial reading of the manuscript she would be editing soon. When the clock said it was almost 3, she wrote a note for the first few paragraph.
I woke up at ten in the morning. I'm late. [1* I woke up late.] I removed my pajamas. I carefully turned the shower on. I shivered. I used shampoo and soap. It took 30 minutes for me to finish in the CR. My hair was wet. I put on some clothes. I eat while letting my hair dry. I went outside. [2* Paragraph can be shortened or deleted]
My day is greeted by my scary boss who was waiting for me in my cubicle that is located by the window. His arms angrily banged my wooden desk. "Why did you not show up last night, Ms. Yue?" [3* Why didn’t you show up last night, Ms. Yue?”] he asked, anger in his voice. He whispered in an angry voice, “Do you not want to have a date with me?” [3* “Don’t you want to date me?”] “You do not want to date me, huh,” He angrily said. [3* You don’t want to date me, huh.”] I saw his eyes darkening in anger.
- Most of the sentences are passive; not that it isn’t right, but writing in active voice will be more advisable.
- A step-by-step character’s action that doesn’t push through character and plot development can be shortened or deleted. This is just a morning ritual. To get the right word count: you only need to write the events that are different and/or interesting than what they usually do or encounter.
- Use contractions for realistic touch in dialogues. Don’t. Didn’t. Won’t. Can’t.
“I wonder if it was because I was late for work that Sir [name] greeted me in my cubicle with anger. I was so embarrassed because I felt like his stares can pierce through me. [Deleted the wooden table and the window description because the information is not important.] I was shocked, even my co-workers who heard him flinched when Sir [name] banged his fist on my table. [Consider the people/environment the characters are in. If the Boss is raging, it sure can get a lot of attention especially when they're in the office.]
Shit! [Or] I closed my eyes in shock. [Or] God. I don't think he's angry because I was late for work. [Insert more samples here]
[A first person POV rule: When an action has been made, consider writing the character’s thought, emotion or reaction to it. They will turn into a robot when they don't react to what's happening.]
“Dialogue,” [name] whispered. “Dialogue.” His eyes slowly darkened. “Dialogue.”
[Deleted the anger/angrily words and sentences because when someone banged their fist on the desk, darkened their eyes, and doesn't care about the environment… it already screamed the anger his feeling. The writing’s already showing the action, so telling it every time isn’t necessary. No need to rub it in for emphasis. Once or twice is enough. Or delete the telling and make the readers read between the character’s actions/description.]
Jhing felt as if her brain turned into ashes again after commenting on the manuscript. She was so focused that she didn't notice the whiteboard getting closer and closer to her side until it was too late.
Beside the whiteboard, Miko was holding a mug in his other hand.
The whiteboard said:
Jhing glanced at Miko. “Not a fan of milk tea,” she deadpanned.
She went to the meeting room like nothing happened, and sat next to Yayo; the whole team was in the room already. A few seconds after, Miko entered the room with the mask still intact and his whiteboard, without the milk tea.
What Miko did to the milk tea, Jhing didn't care to ask.
Miko sat beside Facio who was sitting near July. Across from July is Jhing who couldn't look at Facio when he tried to talk to her.
The meeting started when Miss Zue and Sir Franz arrived. They discussed sales report for the book they released. "The profits are high on Part 1, but the Part 2's sales dropped at 84%,” she started. “If this continued, we’ll go downhill.”
Sir Franz backed up. “We decided to not make a part 2 and instead edit the stories into one book because most of our markets are teens who don’t buy part 2 books. They even complained why we had to split it into two books.”
That made Jhing’s heart sank an inch. Even though she's an editor who understands the world of publishing, she’s still a writer at heart and it felt like shit to know that her imagination will be compressed into a one part book.
At the same time, it made sense for her as an editor. There were so many filler chapters that don’t help the character nor the plot development.
Still! Her imagination was hurting. Ahh, the contradiction was fucking her brain.
“Can’t we publish a bigger book? Thicker than the usual?” Yayo asked. “If 300 is the normal range, 500 to 600 pages won’t hurt.”
“Great idea,” said Sir Franz. “But consumers hate a price more than 200. They'll think that we're just stealing their money. And the bookbinding will be hard because we can't use our ordinary resources on a thick book.”
“We’ll struggle to make a 200k word count drafts to a 50k book,” said July. “A lot of readers will rage if cut a lot of scenes. Readers are unforgivable, right, Jhing?”
Jhing nodded. She could almost hear all the rants in her head which made it ache worse.
After a few ideas, the meeting ended up with a unanimous decision: it’s official, they’ll publish single books with a maximum of 80k word count.
“Next topic: Halloween Party,” said Sir Franz after a head aching meeting about the sales. “We’re all going, yes? We all agreed to have a theme for the book team. There will be a prize for the one who has the greatest costu—”
Everybody looked at Jhing’s raised hand. “I’m not going.”
“What?!” Miss Zue almost shouted as fellow co-workers reactions followed. “Why! This will be your first Halloween with us! You don't want to join?”
Not that she didn’t want to bu—okay, fine. Jhing doesn't like the idea of going to the office wearing unusual clothes.
She wanted her life, her face, and her overall to be normal, thank you very much.
Fortunately, they quickly forgot about her killing the fun when Miss Zue asked, “Any suggestion for our theme?” not minding Jhing’s grunts and disapproval.
Everyone looked at Miko when they heard the tapping sound of his marker against the whiteboard. He showed the costumes he drew which made Miss Zue smile, but again, with a weirded look.
“Why aren’t you talking?” she asked.
“Miko hasn't talked since yesterday, Ma’am. He doesn't even have a sickness or anything.”
Yayo giggled so Jhing scooted away from her, not wanting to get involved with the giggling.
“What happened, Miko?”
'Ay! The memo pad July brought is so pretty!'
So Jhing stared at it. More interesting than the trashcan and the keyholder.
The tapping of the pen became louder so Jhing became even more magically interested on the memo pad.
Unfortunately…….. To Jhing’s horror, she saw a slender hand with marker stains reaching to her across the table.
MIKO POKED HER.
In front of the fucking book team!
For everyone to see!
Jhing was on the verge of fainting when Miko held the whiteboard for her and everyone!
JHING? PERMISSION TO TALK? PLEASE?
The widening of Jhing’s eyes made Miko assume that it was a go signal so he took his mask off and breathed in a little longer before he exhaled. That's when everyone noticed that he was actually chewing a mint gum.
With a smile, Miko said, “Hah, finally, fresh air!” with his voice a little raspy.
That felt strange.
Of course, it wasn't only Jhing whose jaw dropped on the floor.
The whole book team, composed of more than 15 adults who have no idea what the fuck just happened, did too.
He even said her name with glee in his voice!
Fuck you po!
Miko leisurely kept moving his jaw as if he hasn't used it for years while not minding all the stares and Jhing’s distorted face.
If Jhing was a protagonist in a movie, this was the scene she wanted to get hit by a truck. Ten Wheeler. Dead on the spot.