Chapter 87 – Monster of the Vanity Fair
Under the tangerine-hued sky, a deep blue butterfly kite spread its wings and joyfully soared. Its long tail rustled in the wind as if one could distinctly hear the excitement and abandon that rushed by.
Renly’s eyes lit up, as he followed the kite string downward.
A middle-aged man had his hands wrapped around a young girl, holding the kite string in his right hand. He controlled the speed while carefully protecting the girl. The girl was standing on the grass, clutching the kite’s reel with her feet, lifting her pointed chin to watch the kite soar higher into the sky. A smile gradually spread across her lips, even the setting sun paled in comparison to that.
Not far away, a middle-aged woman held her hands to her chest, gazing fixedly at this scene. A happy smile graced her lips, but her gaze remained unwavering. Unconsciously, her right hand, fiddling with a necklace pendant, revealed her inner tension.
That was Hazel, along with her father and mother.
A smile likewise crept onto Renly’s lips, and he laughed heartily. Though Renly had left the kite behind with the hope of witnessing this moment, the joy of seeing Hazel out of her sickbed and standing on solid ground once more overwhelmed him.
After putting away his guitar, Renly walked over to a nearby bench, sat down, and quietly watched the skyline formed by the towering skyscrapers, enjoying the New York sunset.
The setting sun blazed in the vast sky, its colours vivid to the extreme, as if releasing the final chapter of vitality, wild and exuberant. At the end of the line of sight, in an instant, the orange dimmed, and the indigo night descended like a waterfall, rapidly devouring every hint of colour below the sky. Before you knew it, even the indigo lost its radiance, and the world plunged into darkness.
Everything happened so quickly, too quickly for anyone to react.
“Click,” the first streetlight lit up, followed by a series of clicks, and the lights in all the homes became bright. The darkness retreated quickly, like an ebbing tide. The amber halo connected into a canopy of air, separating the human world from the natural darkness. Peace and noise, tranquillity and clamour, the contradicting two sides blurred at the edge of the halo.
Quietly looking at the radiant night scene in front of him, the sound of the wind whistling in his ears seemed to become noisier and quieter simultaneously, and the melody flowed from his fingertips on the guitar strings.
“So we were up
Trowin’ dice in the dark
I saw you late, last night, come to harm
I saw you dance in the devil’s arms.”
The quiet melody seemed to disappear into the night, gently tracing the whispers of the soul. The path to chasing dreams is full of twists and turns in the darkness, and the countless lights at the end of the line of sight are full of unknowns. No one knows which path is right, and no one knows the actual destination. Even with many scars, the effort may not necessarily yield a reward. That’s why some people risk selling their souls, dancing the most beautiful dance in the arms of demons.
It is hard to say what is right and what is wrong when the heart is full of sorrow.
“The night kept coming
Really nothing I could do
Eyes with a fire, unquenched, by peace
Curse the beauty, curse the queen.”
Should they give up now? Abandon their dreams, and return to the ordinary path of life, seeking a trace of inner peace and stability. But can reality truly provide the answers? Should they persist? Continue onward through the thorny path, struggling every step of the way, all for the pursuit of an unknown, perhaps an oasis, perhaps an abyss, perhaps a quagmire, perhaps a desert.
Should they choose to compromise? Abandon themselves, abandon their perseverance, abandon their pride, and compromise with the real world. Only by truly adhering to industry norms can the dream have a chance of realization; otherwise, the so-called ‘dream’ is nothing but an unrealistic slogan.
To achieve success, a price must be paid, even if it’s one’s soul.
“So we come
To a place of no return
Yours is the face, that makes my body burn
And here is the name that our sons will learn
Curse the beauty, curse the queen
Curse the beauty, leave me.”
Continuing to move forward with dreams on your back, you’ve trapped yourself in a place where there’s no turning back, with a bottomless abyss behind you. There’s no choice but to keep moving forward. The blood-soaked footsteps, painful and brutal, are worth it even if it means breaking bones, even if it means turning to ashes because every step defines your choices.
“So when you’re weak
When you are on your knees
I’ll do my best, with the time, that’s left
Sworn with your spirit, you’re fully fleshed.”
The harsh pressures of reality eventually became too cruel, crushing their shoulders, knees, and the last trace of the soul supporting their steps. Companions who walked alongside, one by one, were left behind in their place, leaving you alone to continue your journey. Looking back suddenly, you realize you have nothing left, standing alone in a barren wasteland, with no way forward and no way back. Screaming until you’re hoarse but receiving no response, suffering from injuries but finding no haven to rest.
“So fuck your dreams
And don’t you pick at our seams
I’ll turn into a monster for you, if you pay me enough
None of this counts, if you do, cloud up.”
Standing in this isolated place, you realize that you can’t go back anymore, without a future and a past. You can’t remember the reason you started in the first place, you can’t remember the origin of all this, and you can’t remember the reasons you persevered along the way. It seems only survival instinct remains, like a wild beast standing under the spotlight of fame and willingly giving up dignity as long as there’s enough profit.
Dreams? They only exist as decorations in memory, adorned with beautiful wreaths, radiating a sacred halo, leading people forward and yet leaving them feeling lost.
“So we come
To a place of no return
Yours is the face, which makes my body burn
And here is the name, that our sons will learn
Curse the beauty, curse the queen
Curse the beauty, leave me.”
The road to your dreams is so long, so long that you can’t see the end, and the only thread of belief is the reason to persist. However, this path that is filled with countless temptations and dangers -making a deal with the devil, and taking the first step, means there’s no turning back. The land of darkness is a point of no return, and with every step you take, you lose a piece of your soul. Once lost, it’s gone forever.
How should you know if you made the right choice? That you are not making a deal with the devil? How were you supposed to stay sane and keep going on this lonely road?
That kind of confusion and powerlessness leaves one at a loss.
“Curse the beauty, leave me.”
His fingers stopped, and the strings abruptly went silent, as Renly sat on a bench, lost in thought. A cold wind blew, causing his body to uncontrollably shiver.
He thought of Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Ryan Reynolds. He thought of Rami Malek and James Badge Dale, and he even thought of that guy in “The Pacific” boot camp whose name he couldn’t remember.
Embracing the dream of being an actor, bearing the opposition and pressure from his family, he recklessly plunged into Hollywood, uncertain of his talent, unsure of how much his advantage of being reborn would pay off, and even uncertain if acting was the right choice for him. But, he still embarked on this path.
So, what is there at the end of this road? What should be considered as his ultimate dream? Amidst the hustle and bustle of fame and fortune, how long can his dream persist, or rather, remain pure? Will he, like Chris, get lost in the glare of the spotlight, forgetting his initial intentions and the original meaning of his dream?
Will he become a monster driven solely by fame and fortune, devoid of reason?
He has never truly pondered this question, or perhaps, he thought he did but never truly grasped the essence of the problem.
The constraints of his previous life were indeed too heavy, imprisoning the freedom of his soul in the first half of his life and the freedom of his body in the second half. When rebirth came, he almost rushed towards that halo like a moth to a flame, clutching at the straw of his dream and then began to run freely, intoxicated by the beautiful air of freedom. He has been running all the way to this point without stopping.
Now, he suddenly hit the brakes, and there was a sense of confusion. Chris’s twisted face and manic gaze come and go in his thoughts. Will Chris’s face one day appear in his expressions? No one can answer this question.
Renly was quietly sitting on a bench, his fingertips following the ebb and flow of his thoughts. Between the melodic humming, fragmented language pieces come together, like a beautiful but incomprehensible poem. The sorrow heard between the lines was like a wounded bird flying heavily amid a curtain of rain, doing its best to lift its wings and fly, but with increasing difficulty.
Hazel stood quietly in place, watching Renly’s back, an inexplicable sadness permeating her heart.
In this night, those broad shoulders were like the eaves on a rainy day, dividing the world into two parts, one raging and one tranquil, one violent and one peaceful. A faint halo roughly outlined the curve of his profile, making all emotions blurred. However, the clear and bright guitar strings were so vivid and lifelike.
In that tranquil melody, there was a faint sense of loneliness and sorrow. The lyrics, like those of a wandering poet, left Hazel feeling bewildered, even making her question, “Was that English? Or some other alien script?” She could understand every word individually, but when they came together, it felt enigmatic.
However, when she heard the line “So fuck your dreams,” a surge of emotions suddenly overwhelmed her, catching Hazel off guard, and tears instantly filled her eyes. In that moment, she understood Renly’s heartfelt expression: the inner turmoil and confusion of a dream chaser.
Song – Monster by Mumford & Sons
Link for the song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8ljmmNBla0
T/N – This chapter was really deep, tried my best to translate it as best as I could.
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