Book Review: The Geography of You and Me (Jennifer E. Smith)

Theirs was a relationship built on neutral ground and impartial geography: park benches and stone fountains and picnic blankets.  (Ch. 3)

A light-hearted read with an easy-to-follow narrative. Not much tension really. It’s about two teens falling in love during the most casual, but unconventional first encounter – *spoiler alert*a city-wide blackout.

But the story’s far more than just romance. It’s a story of family, life, and quest of finding oneself. It’s also a gentle reminder of how people come and go; Of how fleeting relationships can be and how simply they vanish when not nurtured.

Finding relationships don’t always come with options. But nurturing one is a personal choice.

They were like a couple of asteroids that had collided, she and Owen, briefly sparking before ricocheting off again, a little chipped, maybe even a little scarred, but with miles and miles still to go. (Ch. 10)

This is a linear read with a quite predictable outcome. Simple but not boring. But definitely not for those who want passionate romance. This isn’t it.

‘Before Dying’ – A Bleach-Inspired Fanfiction (One-shot)

DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN BLEACH. Takeshi Konomi does. And its production company. 

There is only one, true ‘Kenpachi.’

Unohana Retsu, Captain of Gotei 13’s 4th Division retired to her quarters exactly eight o’clock that evening.

It was a long day; typical but meaningful.

After all, it’s her last.

She received her mandate – a death match.

Unohana-taichou released a deep breath, slowly padding towards the small wooden desk, which she intentionally placed in front of the window. Atop the furniture were few sheets of blank paper and a pen. She couldn’t help but smile at the simplicity of it all.

Whereas a number of her co-captains flooded their desks with stacks of paperwork and books, she chose to free her personal desk with anything other than the basic writing necessities.

Unohana Retsu never liked writing. Definitely not when speaking directly towards the object of her sentiment works better – faster.

But tonight is different.

She’s compelled – no, more like obligated to leave an important notice to his loyal vice-captain. Isane Kotetsu, has, after all, served her and the entire Gotei 13 spectacularly. She’s a strong woman deserving to stand by her captain’s side.

Still, Unohana believed Isane’s no frontline fighter. Her vice-captain is a natural when it comes to caring for people. And while this is ultimately a strong factor as part of the Gotei’s ‘Healing Squad,’ Unohana saw it as a vital weakness.

When she dies, she knows quite well how Isane would react.

She’ll just have to tell her that everything’s going to be all right.

Unohana sat down on the wooden chair, picked the pen, dipped it on ink, and started writing.

Greetings to: Isane Kotetsu – Yon ban – tai Fukutaichou

You, reading this letter, would mean that you’ve come looking for me after learning that I have not made any appearances in any of our scheduled rounds. For this, I truly apologize. It must be difficult filling in for me on those duties, ne, Isane?

I am grateful to have you around.

Unfortunately, it is with deep regret that I have to tell you that this  message might as well be the last mandate I’ll hand you as the 4th’s captain. I and Zaraki-taichou has finally received the orders to settle our long due match, which I assume, you already know about.

I will go all out with the intent to kill.

I am certain you will wait for my return, but I order you not to. Rather, do take my post as the interim captain and heed the commander general’s orders.

I command you to stay strong, Isane. Heal the wounded and fight for my stead. This is war and people die. The 4th division exists to save lives, but should you need to take up your sword to slay an enemy, by all means do so with full honor.

I, Unohana Retsu, captain of the Gotei 13 4th Division, do hereby allow you to practice full authority on my behalf in performing the 4th’s duty to Soul Society.

May the Soul King guide us all.


Kyouraku Shunsui, the recently elected new Commander General, had shown much consideration as to give Unohana a choice. Zaraki Kenpachi’s true power needs to be awaken, and Unohana’s apparently the only shinigami in existence capable of doing that.

Shunsui gave her a choice.

To refuse the mandate of a death match.

Unohana didn’t.

She knew what she’s capable of; knew exactly why she had her powers suppressed up until now. She is the captain of the 4th Division tasked to heal the wounded – to save lives.

But she was and is a warrior, a cold-blooded criminal with blood on her hands. She backs out of combat when ordered, but never when given the choice. She’s the first Kenpachi, a true-blooded, frontline warrior who slays without an ounce of regret – holding nothing back.

Shunsui gave her a choice.

And she’s taking it.

Unohana breathed deep, folded the letter, and unsheathed her zanpakutou. After decades of waiting, it has finally come.

Only one deserves the name ‘Kenpachi.’

Unohana knew that.

And she’ll fight through her last to claim it back.

“Gambatte ne, Minazuki,” she said, giving a lovely smile to her zanpakutou.

The smile we never saw again.

Introvert’s note: I’m not particularly averse to the idea of Unohana dying. I somehow saw it coming at some point considering her inevitable battle with Zaraki. Still, it’s a bit disappointing how their battles and background stories weren’t given much depth. They’re both excellent characters in the Bleach-verse. And I really hoped for more. 

Consider this work my frustrated outburst. 

Why do I write letters to fictional characters?

Why do I write letters?

Why do I write letters to fictional entities whom I can’t meet? Letters which will forever be hidden – unread?

Letters which express my profound appreciation of art.

Characters who are very well crafted leave a mark. They aren’t real but strangely feels real. They are even more relatable than real human beings – the funny thing about fiction.

There are characters who broke me.

Characters who made me happy.

Characters who taught me things I could never ever learn at school.

Such power is found on those characters that I sometimes hope for them to be real. To speak to them in person – to understand them at a personal level. It would be a pleasure.

But they are fictional.

They can’t be real.

Their dominion lies on the pages of the book I read, on the creative muse of those who brought them to life – their writers.

But I never regret meeting them – knowing them.

Some remained.

Others left with a lesson.

It’s a mysterious feeling. Weird. But beautiful.

Writing to them makes them feel real. It’s relaxing as it is meditative. It lets me dive into their world, speak to a character I’ve never known before – a chance to bear thoughts I never knew existed prior to writing them down.

Not all people see the beauty of writing.

Only a few.

I’m glad to be a part of the pact. Nothing could beat the feeling of wonder I have when writing.

It’s the craft I love – a craft I will forever do.

In God’s grace.