The Cursed Life of Carl Flowers

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The Cursed Life of Carl Flowers
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The Cursed Life of Carl Flowers

Geisty Shu, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


On the Planet of Larutan, everyone grows a tree on their head. At birth, a small sprout is already present on top of every Larutanian’s head…

Click here to read – The Cursed Life of Carl Flowers





Geisty Shu is a second-year student at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University majoring in Occupational Therapy. Born in Hong Kong, she lived in Boston and New York City, USA, and Taiwan, before returning to Hong Kong for her secondary studies. In her free time, Geisty partakes in a wide range of sports, including skateboarding, swimming, and basketball. She enjoys playing the guitar and listening to music. Imaginative and artistic, Geisty’s ambitions including exploring the world, meeting new people, and running in the mountains of Colorado.


My story centers on a place named Larutan where people grow trees on their heads. People there derive a sense of identity from how beautiful their tree looks and a sense of purpose from maintaining its beauty. To them, happiness is all that matters, and they bury all sorts of negative feelings. Larutan serves as a reflection of a materialistic society that prizes outer beauty above inner wealth. However, an inhabitant named Carl Flowers is after something different. To him, following his heart and expressing his emotions fully is what matters. This leads him into a fantastical adventure of his own.

The idea of this story came from my personal life. Adapting back to Hong Kong at the age of twelve after spending most of my childhood in the USA was crushing. Academically and socially, I stuck out like a sore thumb in my disciplinarily strict and highly competitive secondary school. Culturally, my traditional Chinese family members also humiliated me for the way I talked and behaved; like saying I was a ‘gwei mui’ who couldn’t even hold chopsticks properly. Being the kid I was, I couldn’t help being fun-loving and having a wild and free spirit that spurred me on to express everything I felt unapologetically. Yet, as more criticisms were leveled against my incongruence, the more I felt like a misfit. I was eventually pressured to toe the line of societal expectations. So, I put on a facade and tried very hard to control myself by suppressing my emotions and thoughts—all in hopes of becoming the person the society wanted me to be.

While at first, it worked, it gradually took a toll and deadened my spirit. After some years, I finally learned to sit with my true self again and let those feelings and thoughts be. It was then that I realized they were actually my source of strength. “The Cursed Life of Carl Flowers” was written to partially manifest this experience, but with the extra element of fantasy, which was a requirement I had to fulfill for my CAR subject ELC-1A04. I created Larutan, a mirror-image of a superficial society, to explore the lives of characters whose beliefs deviated from its social norms, and nevertheless were unafraid to be true to themselves and live the life they wanted whilst deriving strength and happiness from it.

I really enjoyed the course ELC-1A04: From Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter: Fantasy, Reality and Humanity. The best aspect was learning about the philosophical ideas underpinning my favorite fantasy novels. The lessons were also very interactive with a lot of discussions which suits my liking. The most important takeaway from this course was learning the features of writing a good fantasy story and attempting to write one myself. It was challenging, but worth it!