I am sorry for the delay but it is finally time to announce the winners of The Monthly PAW: June 2021!
Photography - Summer, Sunshine, Solstice
Winner: sweetjacky (17 paws)
2nd Place: MegaHobbit (13 paws)
Art - Sports
Winner:MegaHobbit (15 paws)
2nd Place: negatibuhige (10 paws)
Writing - Time Travelling
Winner: negatibuhige (15 paws)
The sound of raindrops hitting the windowpane was soothing, almost like a lullaby. It started quite suddenly, lifting the heat a little. At any other time, Mala would have scoffed at the unseasonal rain for making the roads muddy and the traffic jams unbearable. However, thanks to corona(!), she was working from home without having to battle it all. Now, she didn’t even have time to look away from the rectangular screen in front of her. Thanks to corona(!), clients know that the management is working from home and thus, there is no office hour! Even 11 pm emails have to be answered promptly, or it is unprofessional. Now the clickitty clicks of the keyboards and the mouse rivaled the pitter-patter of the rain.
A ping notified Mala of her laptop’s battery running low. With a sigh, she clicked ‘save’ on the document and reached for the charger and takes the chance to look at something that was not a screen. Her eyes were tired. Her hands were tired. Her brain was tired. She let out a long breath. The company she worked at downsized a lot when the pandemic first hit the business. Mala somehow survived and her boss made sure to let her know that she had to meet all the expectations if she wanted to stay that way. The pressure was too much.
Mala pinched the bridge of her nose and let out another sigh. Was this what she wanted from life? Stuck away from family, toiling away her days to keep a job – she had known it was going to be this way but she hadn’t known how stuffy it would be to bear. Was there anything she could have done differently? Was there a choice that could have led her to a different future? One that didn’t make her end up a frustrated corporate slave?
From behind closed eyelids, Mala noticed a slight change in light. She looked up and groaned. “SERIOUSLY WINDOWS? YOU WANT TO UPDATE NOW????” The laptop stayed silent with the loading sign mocking her.
After some silent-screaming, Mala reached for her Tab. At least she had saved the files. Some data was stored in it and she might use the time sorting them out for when she would need it. Some tempura was leftover from dinner. She started the tab while munching on the no-longer-munchy tempura. A notification popped up on the tab's screen: “storage space running low”. Mala resisted the urge to throw the flat little thing against the wall. She got up, paced about a bit, then picked up the tab again. She needed to get rid of some junk? So be it. She did away with some old apps she no longer needed and scrolled through some old files. She happily deleted some data from 3 years ago because she was in a different department now. A long swipe brought her to the end of the list. Some documents from 6 years ago stared at her. She didn’t remember keeping them in the tab. Did she keep them here when she sent her laptop to be fixed?
Mala opened the documents. The first line greeted her like a scream:
HELLO FUTURE ME! I’M WRITING THIS ON 13 MAY 2015 AT 5 PM! I SHOULD BE STUDYING BUT I’M WRITING HERE HAHAHAHA.
A chuckle escaped Mala’s throat. That’s how she always started a diary entry. The introduction always had to be in caps lock. Always writing to her future self. But why did it start midyear? A little scrolling gave her the answer. The word file was getting too long and 6-years younger Mala didn’t want to scroll that far, so she had started a new file. She often did that, Mala remembered. How long had it been since she had written a diary entry? Probably not since graduation. By that time, her writing had already become infrequent. Mala from May 13th of 2015 was very enthusiastic because there was a test the next day and she wanted to procrastinate without resorting to anime or social media. She seemed to be quite proud of herself for discovering the hack.
“See, future me, you were a genius! Oh wait, I should still be a genius. Am I?”
Mala laughed. “No, you’re not, stupid.”
Apparently, this entry was written after quite a few months of silence, so there was a lot to be written. About how she cried after watching the first episode of Shingeki no Kyoujin, about the little sparrow that always came to sit at her window sill every morning at 7 am (writer Mala was pretty confident it was the same one), about how she had struck up a fight with an online forum member, about how listening to Yu Yu Hakusho songs after so many years made her nostalgic, and about how Mala would feel more nostalgic when reading this entry at some point in the future… Mala paused reading and frowned. Why is it all about her otaku life? Where are the people? Was she always this asocial?
As it turned out, she was. While her friends were hanging out, she was running to her part time job. While her classmates were arranging a school fest, she was running to anime conventions. While her friends called to invite her, she couldn’t pick up because she was on the clock. While her friends were going on trips, she was helping out her mother at the store.
Mala stopped. Wait. Did I always work so much? If she were an anime character, blue depressing lines would surely have appeared near her head. Flinching, Mala read on.
“eeeeeh. It will all be better when I graduate and get a job. Then mom can take a break whew! I can surely get a good job. Right? Right???? Yes, my future self, I’m looking at you =.= if you tell me you have to earn your livelihood from mom’s store, I’m gonna kill you Dx”
This made Mala laugh out loud. “No, you don’t have to. Mom doesn’t have to, either…” before her eyes started watering up, she scrolled down.
After May 13 came June 24, August 8, and so on. The bouts of depression, the suicidal phase – everything that she had made herself forget came roaring back to life in her mind. She skipped some entries and scrolled on.
“Maaaan you survived this long for what? Even the Shinigami doesn’t want you. Go watch some anime and work yourself to the bone. remember:
Maketa toki kara (Since the time I lost)
tsugi wa hajimmatteinda (The next has begun)
Ima wa nigaku shibui aji demo Babe (Even if the taste is bitter and acerbic now, Baby)
Itsuka kitto (Someday, surely)
Haikyuu is the best lifesaver yo \m/”
The file ended there.
From the corner of her eye, Mala noticed that her laptop was ready for work. With some quick taps, she saved the files to cloud and put away the tab. She stretched her limbs until she could hear her bones creak.
“Yosh,” she sat down at her desk again. “Let’s work hard, shall we?” She repositioned her mother’s framed picture in a corner of her desk and went back to typing with all her might. It’s not every day that a teenager leaps through time and motivates her future self to work!
2nd Place: MegaHobbit (10 paws)
Congratulations to all the winners and thanks a lot for participating :
It is time to hand out the flairs and I will also transfer the VCCash directly to your vaults so it won't get stolen. The names of the participants have been added to all the submissions in the voting thread for those who are interested.