An Irregularity In A Regulated Life Of Irregular Qualities
Li Lang’s eyes opened to the familiar welcome of darkness. Her vision tilted to the pink carpeted floor beneath her. A bright yellow alarm clock displaying the digits 6:29 could be seen laying next to the litter of shredded pieces of pictures, medical reports and pages from a memoir titled “Junior Lang”.
Bed sheet flipped open. Legs firmly on the vividly illustrated floor. A change of clothing at a revolutionary speed. Incessant muttering of what sounded like the phrases “One minute”, “Tidily” and “Sunrise”. Li stumbled clumsily past the closed curtains in her room and past a picture from an ultrasound, the only sheet still fully intact in the room as she desperately reached for the scratched door knob.
The door shut firmly behind her as she blinked.
Li Lang’s eyes opened to the embrace of a warm beam of sunshine coming from the sunrise leaking through the open window. Her vision tilted to the plain dark wooden floor beneath her. An analogous clock hanging on the patterned dark walls covered in the shades of white and black had its minutes arm pointing directly at the ground, trailing the hour hand which was 15 degrees ahead.
Gone was the bright furry pajamas that she’d donned not so long ago. What now covered her was a black polyester suit tightly held together in a neat and formal fashion by a tie that lacked pattern. Below it was a well-ironed pant draping all the way down to the top of her feet, concealing the long straight scars acting as remnants of her childhood, parallel to the ones on her back and perpendicular to the stripes of darken color that provided the pants with its design. With a calm breath of air as she noted that everything was in order, as they should be, Li proceeded down the stairs and past the lines of monotonous paintings, university degrees and finally, past the shelves of empty photo albums that had been organized in a fashion that would’ve only existed in a pipe dream originating from the mind of a person diagnosed with a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at the foot of the stairs.
The spotless floor below her creaked as she made her way through the dining room to the kitchen. Slowly, she slid open the bottom of the kitchen benchtop containing categorized utensils of identical shape and placement and grabbed out: a plastic cup from a color-coded pile, one of the many identically shaped and placed knives and a measuring spoon. Everything was in order, as they should be.
The antique wardrobes hanging on the walls opened to reveal a plethora of labelled containers neatly stacked and tessellated like hexagons on a honeycomb. Gently removing one containing Milo powder, Li scooped with the measuring spoon before carefully scrapping off the excess with the back of the metal knife and finally, pouring it into the cup. Everything was in order, as they should be.
As Li marched towards the hot water dispenser with the cup in her arm, she retrieved the plastic ruler connected with blue-tac to the wall.
11cm. No more, no less.
With her warm Milo now firmly grasped in her arms, Li headed towards the living area which housed nothing except a single egg chair of the color black placed next to a plain white wardrobe filled with books, ranging from “Oliver Twists” to “Great Expectation” to “Anne of Green Gables”. All which Li’s eyes had repeatedly feasted upon on numerous occasions since childhood.
It was reading time till the new piano student, who would soon learn to maintain an orderly routine, as one should have, that would guarantee immediate growth in both areas of practical and theory, just like the many pupils before her, should arrive at 11:30. Everything would be in order, as they should be.
The bell signaling the arrival of the raw and unpolished girl came synchronized with the announcement of midday by the antique clock next to the door at the entrance. The timing’s order was no longer as it should be.
Exerting a force that adequately shoved the now seemingly fragile egg chair to the side, she stomped her way towards the looming silhouette visible through the frosted glass pane on the door. Each instance of the wooden floor breaking away under her weary feet announced each of her lengthy footsteps as she hastily made her way towards the shadow that threatened to block the entirety of the glass pane.
Li unlocked the door as the sound of her actions rang loudly throughout her head.
A blinding ray of sunlight immediately flooded the room along with a pungent scent of bubblegum and daisies foreign to Li that seeped in and infiltrate her nostrils. With her nose now irritated, Li did the worst thing that she could’ve possibly done at that time. The catalyst that would set everything off. The toppling of the first domino and the flickering of a cigarette bud amid a Banksia garden. The destruction of her routinely grim image.
Such a tragedy.
“Are you ok? Your head’s turned so red I swear if I left you on a road, cars would literally stop dude.”
“Dude?” Joking about her appearance? “How dared she!” Li thought in her head as she promised herself that those were things that would soon change as she looked down and furiously wiped her nose.
This foolish girl. She knew how it was going to end. The same way it ended with the arrival of other girls since Yin who’d threatened Li’s priority at that time, a priority that remains the same today: to live a routinely and regular life.
It was after all the late arrival of Yin, the very first girl who started it all with her foolish decision to whine on the same week of the departure of the protagonist of the memoir in her room above that gave birth to the solution to Yin, her, or as the original Li, who now retreated to only taking command between 6:30am to 6:30pm would call her, “Tidy Li”.
A version of Li, that could take care of little monsters like Yin despite any emotional barriers. A counterpart filled with apathy, discipline and power. “Something the “Original Li” shamefully lacks!” Li snorted to herself in her mind. “My creation to be the solution to these wretched children was crucial for my weak alter ego!”
And today would be no different. This new girl, like Yin and the girls before her, would act like the stubborn “empresses” that they were during their first communications with Li.
Lifting her now fixed and regulated face, Li spat spitefully “How dare you distastefully offend your teacher. I-”
Li’s lecture came to a sudden halt as her eyes caught something that made her blink furiously.
Li Lang’s eyes opened to the colorful figure in front of her. Her vision tilted to the face possessing something that had awoken a new feeling in her.
The girl ahead was smiling.
“Soz if it offends ya, the name’s Yang,” grinned the plump preteen girl that took up the entirety of Li’s vision. The bright picture of a newly metamorphosized butterfly painted across her aqua blue pupils and the rainbow glitter that covered the entirety of her lucidly colored and designed choice of clothing reflected light onto Li who’d ended her blinking feat and was now staring blankly at her.
“Could you help me with me books please, me apologies, gotta untie me overly tight shoelaces.”
After a moment, Li returned her smile and said: “Happy Li”
What better solution to handling a smile than to return it?
“An Irregularity In A Regulated Life Of Irregular Qualities” tells the story of Li Lang, a middle aged woman diagnosed with multiple personalities disorders who regularly switches between two of her personalities “Tidy Li” and “Original Li” at 6:30 am and pm. Symbolism is heavily utilized and evident within the description of the surroundings and environment of the room during the presence of each personality to show the stark contrast between the two.
“Original Li”, who the reader is introduced to first, is depicted as a messy and clumsy character through the sheer messy state her room is in (litters of torn pictures and pages). Her “stumbl[ing]” while getting out and the “scratched door knob” can all be used to infer that multiple brash and desperate attempts has had occurred in her endeavors to open the door and an adequate number of unsuccessful attempts were made to leave scratches on the knob.
“Tidy Li”, on the other hand, is illustrated as the monotonous, traditional and uniformed counterpart of “Original Li”. With the constant emphasis on the shades black and white, in contrast to the “vividly illustrated” surroundings of “Original Li”, present in her surroundings, choice of clothing and ground, her monotonous nature is clearly displayed to the audience. Other occurrences including her extreme behavior in the kitchen and her abnormally long period of reserved time for reading contribute to the painting of her as a character.
Other than symbolism (e.g butterfly face paint on Yang’s face to signify the beginning of a metamorphosis in Li’s life), other writing techniques including repetition (e.g ” Everything was in order…”), The Iceberg Theory by Ernest Hemingway (e.g ultrasound pictures and shredded medical report indicate a miscarriage, the titles of the books share an orphan protagonist) and humor (e.g. “What a tragedy.”, “Happy Li” being a homonym to “happily”) are used to respectively indicate Li’s changes in personality, add complexity to the story and engage the audience.
Overall, an overarching message of a small irregularity in everyday life (Yang deciding to smile instead of whine like Yin) can have a huge butterfly effect (creation of “Happy Li”), even in the most uniformed of lives, can be found in the story. A moral which is especially important in today’s depressed society that is filled with toxicity and people choosing to criticize rather than to see the best in people and support each other.
”What better way to handle a smile than to return it?”