|"Caged 囚" (model: Justina Woo)|
(English version below)
(translated by Jaime Chu: j----me.tumblr.com)
Under the dusky sky, a bleak and muddy yellow sea of light has flooded the city.
The piercing glare seems to be boasting of its bustling glory within. She squints, and vaguely makes out a few dark spots in motion, one after another.
People who are tired from their own restlessness, she thought, dazed. People who couldn’t afford to slow down for one second for the sake a warm meal at the end of the day. She used to be one of them, but now everything seems foreign.
She hears two cackles from afar right away, thanks to her sensitive hearing. Tearing herself away from the muddle of thoughts, right when she returns to her senses, someone has already appeared before her. She hastens to put a smile on her face. She looks, with eyes shaped like hazelnuts, straight at him.
After all these years, his hair is still perfectly coiffed, his clothes still neatly pressed, he doesn't seem to have changed. But a closer inspection reveals that the pair of glasses hanging on the bridge of his nose are in a different style; and behind the frame, how he looks at her has also changed.
Perhaps perceiving the non-threatening, though clearly anticipating expression in her eyes, he immediately shifts his gaze. He quickly puts down the dinner, turns around, and leaves.
It isn’t clear when it started, but at some point, he has stopped kidding himself. He has stopped caring; he no longer has the same fire in his eyes. She knows the reason, but she pretends she doesn’t. She keeps looking for reasons to avoid the truth, to somehow make herself feel better.
The food that he has brought still looks exquisite. But she has lost her appetite. It has lost its taste.
Perhaps the life she is leading is enough for any of her peers to be jealous of. After all, in the game of survival of the most beautiful, she emerged triumphant. She never has to shiver or starve again.
At the time, even though she knew she would soon become forbidden goods, stripped of freedom, her heart was still full of excitement and anticipation, visions for the future.
The present is the future of the past. But this kind of future — where, though physical hunger is no longer a concern, her emotional health is now dependent on the attention of one person, where she is nothing if not something to him — is a farce and a tragedy.
She has tried hard not to turn bitter and sour, but she is tired. No tears would come out of her dried eyes.
Unconsciously, her gaze falls on the golden lock that is sparkling from the refraction of the lights outside. And then she realizes, freedom has always been this close.
Suddenly, her breath flutters. She pushes the door open with a tremble. The lock immediately falls to the ground.
Overcome by a trance, she then recovers and remembers: she has wings. So they begin to flap, and she leaves without looking back.
She was the queen of birds, but years after years of being taken care of this way has damaged her mind. She has also forgotten her instincts.
Dragging an exhausted body behind, she could no longer launch into mid-air. Suddenly, she laughs. She laughs like it would drain all the blood out of her heart. Her laughter has more sorrow than tears.
She has thought it was a cage that imprisoned her. But it was also her body that has learned to adapt, and has been compromised. The open sky outside the bird cage has stopped being her concern a long time ago.
behind the scenes
I’m really scared of height, so every time when I'm shooting at somewhere high, I would need someone to stabilize my body, so special thanks to Jessie for all of the help on that day. (btw If everyone is into concert photography, you should go check out her work: http://www.jessielau.com/. :P she's a great concert photographer!)
This photo shoot meant a lot for me, not only because it was the first time the three of us (Jessie, Justina and I) did a shoot together (we all met in a harry potter online forum 10 years ago, long story, I'll get to that when I have time :P) but also it's the first image that I created with a story go with it.
Writing (Chinese) used to be my biggest hobby before I picked up the camera, therefore, I always wanted to write stories that can go with the images that I've created and the written stories are not supposed to illustrate the images literally; they could just have the hint of it, or contain the same atmosphere. I finally found myself to have the time / motivation / inspiration to try this idea and so far, I've enjoyed the process a lot and I hope some of you will enjoy it as well. (Unfortunately, there will be only Chinese version until someone is willing to do the translation. T__T)
Update: (July 16):A friend of mine, Jaime, did a wonderful translation for the story! :D Thank you so much. I can't say enough.