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Original Works

Circus In The Clouds [Music Meets Story]

“They’re here! They’re here!”

Every five years, I would hear the shouts of the children as they lifted their gazes into the sky. Their irrepressible excitement would echo deafeningly through the cobbled streets—a shrill of enthusiasm that broke all torpor and humdrum of the dreary city. For what then could be more exciting than the visitors from afar? The very thespians who promised a magical evening with sparkling silver hot air balloons, ascending into the ember dusk for a spectacle of phantasmagoria—the Circus In The Clouds.

‘Forget the clowns, the lions, and the freaks. Oh, what boring shows and unimaginative tricks. It is time to behold a mesmerising parade of wonder and awe. Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for more?

‘Feast your eyes on the unbelievable. Stir your soul with the mystical. Unleash your imagination with the stars as we whisk you away on a journey of a lifetime. Oh, you will not be disappointed, boys and girls!

‘So look right up, all citizens of the ground! For the circus… is in the clouds!’

I was merely three years of age when I first learned about the circus—too young to yearn for the great adventure that lay beyond. But when I turned eight, I discovered true envy. Oh, how I wished to own a Golden Ticket—if only every candle blown during each uneventful birthday would make this one dream come true. Alas, I soon learned that if I truly wanted to witness a display of amazing, daring, and death-defying acts, I would have to achieve it on my own. For some of us weren’t meant for just this—some of us were meant for more.

“Oh dear, the Golden Ticket isn’t for everyone,” my mother said—the same exact words, on repeat, whenever I coveted for a world beyond my reach. “Some of us simply have to live with what we’ve got.”

“But father might win a ticket this year,” I stated.

My poor father’s reward, for toiling for his master, was his name in the Golden Ticket raffle—a lucky draw with minimal odds of winning a prize every drudge could only dream about.

“And I’m sure he will let you have it… should he be lucky enough,” my mother said with a thin smile.

Alas, that wasn’t the answer that I wanted—after ten years of waiting, I couldn’t place my future in the hands of Lady Luck. Surely, there was another way.

“I’m going to check on the balloons,” I said.

“Don’t do anything silly,” my mother replied.

Was finding a way to truly live silly? Was choosing to broaden my horizons unwise?

“I’ll be back in the evening,” I assured her. “I’ve never done anything silly, mother.”

As the sun now settled in the clear blue morning sky, I shuffled up the deck and toward the stream of glistening hot air balloons. Their silver envelope reflected the shimmer of day as the shuttle crew ran their routine checks—for at the arrival of dusk, these baskets would brim with peppy children and their blue-blood parents. Oh, the wealthy below would soon have their minds bewildered while the penniless above… descend without his Golden Ticket.

‘Embrace the magic of night. Bask in great celestial delight. Be enchanted by our dauntless souls as they grande jeté with the spellbinding darkness. And if you wonder….

‘What truly is the Circus In The Clouds? Oh, it is a world without words, a place no man can ever describe. For all who have gone before has had their minds mystified—their only syllable now… is ‘go’!

‘So don’t miss our spectral stage. From North to South and East to West, bid us farewell now and you may never see us again.’

“That balloon! It’s slipping away!” I shouted as the rally for ticket sales boomed over the massive speakers. “Somebody, help!”

As promised to my mother, I had put all silliness aside. All it took was cleverness—a few loose knots and a smirk—before all heads turned to the rogue vessel. And within moments… I didn’t need to pay for my way down.

Slipping past the shuttle crew in their frenzy, I hopped into the nearest balloon, hastily set the knots free, and pushed against the starboard beam. I had learned how to navigate the silver vehicle from my father—a ferryman for the circus—and before anyone could stop me, I began my descent.

“Don’t worry, mother,” I muttered under my breath. I knew I couldn’t truly escape this life. But at the very least, I tried. “I’ll be home before the show even begins. Oh, the magical Circus In The Clouds.” I scoffed.


This story was inspired by the original composition, Highlands by Hans Magnus.

Music Meets Story © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

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Original Works

Geheim [12 Genre Months]

‘I didn’t know what I was getting into until now—the moment I chose you. But as romantic as this sounds, we have always known that our lives would be different. From the day we chose this path, we are living out our vow to leave all normality behind—accepting that one day, we will be given a responsibility beyond our capabilities. Still, the choice is ours. It has always been and it will always be. Thus, you have a decision to make.

‘But… before you do, know this—it wasn’t an easy decision. Choosing you wasn’t easy. Our company has struggled to bring this case to a close, and only the most capable is trusted with the job. Alas, you are the most capable amongst our colleagues—both a compliment and a curse, I’m afraid. So even if you think you are not ready, trust me when I say, you are the most ready. Still, this will not be forced upon you.

‘You do not, in any way, have to feel obligated. I, myself, accepted this task out of choice. Thus you are free to decline. No one—neither those before nor those after you—will pass any judgement. After all, none of us wished to be called upon for this—the daunting quest we all secretly feared. The perilous journey where no man before has ever returned from—that even I can only pray to succeed as to not have the baton passed on to you. But forgive me, should you be reading this. I did try my very best.

‘Now, decide. At eighteen past noon, you are to drop this letter in the blue mailbox at the junction between Geheim Street and Upper Agentin Lane should you wish to accept. However, if you have chosen to decline, do nothing except erase these last words from memory. Once you have made your decision, you will receive your next course of action—either way, what we signed up for has no end.

‘I wish you good luck, my dear friend. I hope that you treasure every moment of peace in this turbulent world. It has been an honour to serve with you, and may you continue to make me and our company proud.’

“Sign,” she ended.

I scribbled my name at the bottom of the handwritten letter—crafted under her dictation—before handing it over.

“If you fail,” she added. “We will have to send this.”

I nodded. I knew the procedure. I had only one reservation—one that reflected on my countenance.

“What, Agent Lee?” she prompted.

“Well, I’m not too sure if the letter is convincing,” I said.

“You shouldn’t be worried about convincing your colleague,” she replied. “You should be worried about the mission, and accomplishing it.”

“Ah, yes.” Of course, succeeding at the mission was my top priority. The day I received my summon in the mail—the handwritten note that was supposedly sent by my mentor—I knew I would be the one that finally infiltrated the nuclear base. Still, a bizarre discomfort had settled in my chest—one that I couldn’t shake. “I’m sorry, you can count on me. It’s just…”

“Just what, Agent Lee?”

“The letter… and the words…” I hesitated. Was it even worth mentioning? It seemed, almost, trivial.

“What about them?” she asked.

“I… wouldn’t call this mission romantic. And I don’t use the words perilous or, say, turbulent.”

“Agent Lee,” she replied.

“Yes ma’am.”

“It doesn’t matter what you would call this mission or what words you say. The decision will be hers either way,” she stated.

“Yes ma’am.” She was right—the content of my letter didn’t matter. It was, indeed, trivial. It must have been the nerves. After all, I had a mission to accomplish—to do what those before me had failed to do. And should I succeed, the letter itself wouldn’t even leave the room.

“Now, report to weapons. We have a few upgrades,” she ordered. “And agent…”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Keep your head in the game.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll return with glory,” I said with a firm nod.

Glory—what a strange word. Was that a word Jonathan had used? Jonathan was a man of little words. He barely spoke, let alone write. Clearly he didn’t pen his letter, too. Still… glory—the only word I could recall from his letter. Oddly enough, everything else was a blur. But… it didn’t matter what he wrote—I was on a mission.

A mission so romantically perilous… that I chose to enlist in the fullness of my sanity.


12 Genre Months © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Writing Journey

Who Are You… If You Don’t Create?

I tried hard to write a short story last week to be published on this blog—pulling up my work file about 3 to 4 times in hopes of completing it. Alas, I just couldn’t get past the 200 words. And it wasn’t because I was lazy. After staring at the page for minutes on end, I knew that it was simply because my mind drew blank.

So, I did what I rarely would do and missed a week of posting. Despite wanting to create, with attempts at forcing an idea into fruition, I was unable to craft. And I wondered…

‘Was it okay to skip a week of posting? Was it okay to… not create? As a creator, who are you if you’re not creating?’

Now, I know that these days, most of my readers are not following my blog for the stories. Yes, despite being an author, somehow… you guys are now into this kind of content—content that is less fictional and more personal. So perhaps, you didn’t even notice the lack of a story post last week. Perhaps… it is only I who insists on being disciplined at writing week in week out. Still, who am I… if I don’t actually write?

I am STILL… an author.

And if you’re asking yourself the same question—who are you if you take a break or can’t seem able to create—this post is for you.

You are STILL a creator.

Yes, discipline is good. Yes, being consistent helps you to hone your craft. I advocate creating and creating often! But there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that sometimes… you just can’t create because of reasons you might not have. And it doesn’t mean that you are lazy or that you’re giving up—you know when you’re trying! It simply means that you are human with creative struggles all humans face. And being unable to craft something new doesn’t mean you are any less of who you are.

At the end of the day, doing what you love shouldn’t be a burden. Doing what you love should be an expression of your very being—of who you are from the inside out. And if you can’t create today, fret not. You will create tomorrow… because creating is what you were born to do—it is what you do best, and it is a part of who you are.

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Original Works

Quietus [12 Genre Months]

They had predicted it wrong—from the famed prophecies of Nostradamus to the scientific journals by acclaimed scientists—no one could foresee the end of times. And though the wild imaginations of filmmakers and conspiracy theorists were one step closer to the truth, even they had failed to be prepared. For in reality, the end of the world had long been in motion—we were simply blinded by our conceit and complacency to notice it happening… right before our very eyes.

It began on the dewy morning of August 6th, 1954—my arrival to the dying planet. The wheels of time, determining the fate of humanity, creaked in the rust of the lives that once were. And I… was the only being who could hear it. Funny, isn’t it? How not a soul that graced the earth had ever came to be with death in mind. Yet, from the moment they captured the beauty of the world, heard and uttered scores of intriguing sounds, and stumbled foolishly on their little feet, they were in a dance with death—death that they never knew existed. Death that even I wasn’t spared from. Alas, I was no different.

Despite my hope to be an observer, I had little choice but to be. Thus, it wasn’t long after my arrival that I learned of my never-ending demise. From the squabbles beyond my bedroom door that led to broken china, to the antagonistic notes I found in my school bag that framed my identity, every bit of the young starry-eyed dreamer was destroyed before I could even grasp the magnitude of the world. But thankfully, I saw the planet for what it was… and found a way to live.

Perhaps, you wonder—how did such a foreign being succeed? No, I hadn’t unlocked the secret to escaping death. I was no magician, nor crazed enough to concoct a draught for eternal life. In fact, there was no possible means to triumph over one’s destiny. After all, it was a dying planet—not the land itself but the very notion of life that lived within. So how then did I survive?

Just like the taunts of fate, that often sets a macabre stage, are the taunts that reach into the soul—the descent into darkness that swallows all hope, contorts all belief, and destroys the very essence of self. But I, unlike most beings, understood the purpose of those dreadful seasons—not the ‘why’ for their existence, but the ‘how’ to overcome them. Thus, at every dark corner, I learned to pick up the pieces of my shattered dreams and rebuild what was broken. And all it took was a single decision… to live again.

To live on a dying earth is an incredible feat—a planet designed to outlive all physical demise. Yet, in an apocalyptic world, with a vicious cycle of lost, pain, and regret, there was more—a bountiful land of wonder, love, and adventure. And though all life was set to run a course, truly living wasn’t escaping. It was believing that life prevails.

On the morning of August 6th, 2054, my dance was over. I took a step back, bowed at death, and received a deafening applause. It was a praise only I could hear, for keeping the twinkle in the eyes of the young starry-eyed dreamer. But it was all the praise I needed—an acknowledgment that I found a way to live until my dying breath.


12 Genre Months © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Others

“Watch your own videos,” they said.


“You SHOULD WATCH your own videos,” so I’ve been told.

Funny, how that’s a phrase I don’t expect to hear… yet hear it anyway. And I won’t deny it—at times, I really do NEED to watch my own videos. Why? Because I’m just as human as you are. And as an un-celestial being with only the epiphanies the human mind could ever comprehend, the next best thing I can do for myself is ‘preach to myself’.

Yes, preach to myself. Heck, you do it too!

Every time you coax yourself, reason your actions, and attempt to make yourself feel better, you’re preaching to yourself. Alas, some of our ‘sermons’ are more self-deprecating than edifying. In fact, we have a knack of boasting the torments of hell more than the glory of heaven.

But why do we do that? I’m sure there’s some psychological reasoning but that’s not why I’m writing this today. The purpose of this is to remind both YOU and MYSELF that more than the words others speak into our lives, our own words have a GREATER EFFECT on us.

We preach to ourselves daily. We tell ourselves what we can and cannot do. We decide how to think and feel. And, more so during this season in quarantine—adjusting to and embracing the ‘new normal’—we speak to ourselves more than we speak to others.

So the next time you hear a little negativity in your own voice, switch the channel. Preach only what is uplifting and listen only to what is true! Choose to be a voice of encouragement to yourself because… trust me, it makes a difference.

Original Works

Into The Sky [Music Meets Story]

“Have you decided?”

“I think so,” I said. It wasn’t a difficult decision—I had always wanted to fly. The great rush of the wind against my skin, in the embrace of the peaceful amber skies, had always been a dream.

“Well, no matter what you choose, know that I’ll support you… fully,” she said.

“I know,” I replied. I had never once disappointed her. In fact, I often believed I made her proud. My only fear then was making the wrong decision—despite it being an easy one. Alas, one could never be certain if easy was good, nor if hard was any nobler than easy.

“Goodnight then,” she said with a gentle smile.

As she left my wooden tent, I pushed myself seated. Turning to the window above my bed, I heaved a sigh. There were five days, three hours, and sixteen minutes left—the remaining time to reach a decision. Perhaps, I should stick with my first choice—to spread my wings and escape the never-ending battles and the haunting smell of blood that reigned over my reality. If I could close my eyes and wish it all away—taking to the sky with my glorious snowy-feathered wings—wasn’t that the hope of every being in a hopeless world?

With the stars twinkling in the distance as the cloudless night presented the full moon, I wondered why—when my brother made his choice, it was to run fast and furious across the golden sand dunes. And when my sister made hers, it was to brace the wrathful waves of mighty storms. Yet, just when I thought they could flee from the raging turmoil that plagued our land, they stayed.

Still, five days, three hours, and sixteen minutes later, I chose to fly.

“Have you decided?” I asked.

“I think so,” he said. It wasn’t a difficult decision—I always knew he wanted to fly, too.

“Good. You have my support, you know that, right?” I replied.

“Yes. But can I ask you something?” he said with a frown. Therein lay the same hesitation in his mien. The same hesitation that was once mine—if my choice was selfish and cowardly.

“It’s alright if you want to run,” I stated. “Everyone secretly wants to. I did, too.”

“Then why did you stay?”

I chuckled. Indeed, why did I? The night after I received my gift—to own the body of a magnificent bird of prey—I could have bid farewell. I could have left everything behind to start anew. I could choose the adventures I wished to embark on—ones that weren’t marked by death and destruction. But just as the battle horns blew at the arrival of yet another challenger, seeking the very ancient art that granted me my gift, I rose from my bed ready to protect what was mine.

“The same reason you might,” I told him.

“I don’t understand,” he said. Alas, neither did I in his state. “But it’s not wrong if I leave, right?” he prompted.

“No one is stopping you,” I replied with a smile. “And no one will judge you either. The gift is yours to use, however you wish to use it.”

He nodded. He had made up his mind—he was going to fly. And yet, I knew, he would stay. Just like every single one before him, the allure of the great beyond could never snatch us away from home—more than the magic we fought for was the family that fought alongside us.

At the next blow of the battle horns, we would be the vigilant eyes in the sky. Our brothers would rumble the earth with their spirited roars. Our sisters would wield the elements of the sea with righteous anger. This… had been the ways of our ancestors—to unleash the primeval beast within, to defeat the teeth-baring demons that were hungry for our souls, and to grasp onto hope with our fragile hearts… even when there seemed to be none.

“Goodnight then,” I said.

Five days, three hours, and sixteen minutes later, he chose to fly. And as quickly as an enemy arose, he was by my side—not on a quest to resign from life but to be bold, passionate, and determined… to fight for it.


This story was inspired by the original composition, Everything Will Be Alright by Niklas Ahlstedt.

Music Meets Story © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

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Original Works

Tragedy [12 Genre Months]

I often thought it was a tragedy—how life, as you know it, could change the moment you lost your family. How horrifying it must be as the one left behind. Yet, I never once believed that it could happen to me. After all, I was of noble birth. So who would have thought that I, the child of a respected minister, was just as vulnerable—unspared from the anxiety, fear, and torment? It was only when they came that I realised… I was just like everyone else.

It was never my choice. It was the law that governed our flawless society. Alas, with one wrong step, your blood didn’t matter. For when they came for you, just as they came for us, no amount of pleading or gold could save you from their loaded rifles. It was, after all, a merciless procedure—your fate had already been sealed. And just like mine, I was the only one left—once belonging, now alone. Once free, now a captive.

“Welcome to the cage.” The cage—introduced so indifferently after my mother told me to run. “You’ll get used to it.”

A cold metal collar was strapped around my neck—its incessant beeping tracked my every move. And with the plain white, over-sized uniform hanging loosely on my shoulders, the guards of the hidden world led me to my isolation. This was my new reality—no longer a being but a number. If only… I could find a way to escape.

“You want out?” she asked.

“You know, if they catch you trying, they’ll zap you,” he said, tapping on his own collar. 

“They won’t kill you though,” she stated. “They’ll just warn you not to do it again.”

“I’d rather die,” I replied. “They might as well kill me.”

I had anticipated my cell neighbours to nod in agreement. Oddly, they laughed—a belly-aching laugh, with tears at the corner of their eyes, as if I had told a good joke.

“Why is that funny?” I asked with a frown. 

“Because it is,” he said with a smirk. 

At that instant, I had an inkling that they knew something I did not. And though I was tempted to ask, I was unsure if I could trust them. For some bizarre reason, they seemed rather contented with their lives.

“You’ll find out why, once you get used to this,” she said. 

Life in the cage wasn’t difficult—honestly, it was easy to get used to. There was nothing to do but eat, sleep, and play—there was no work or chores, except for the 3 p.m. gathering in the hall where we would watch static for an hour. From the outside world, where I was told that no one in the cage ever saw the light of day, I was given plenty of sunlight within the confinement. So perhaps, they were right. Still, why did they laugh at my desire for more?

“You don’t know a lot, do you?” she asked. “You think this is a nightmare.”

“I had a life,” I stated. “I had parents and friends.”

“We had parents, too,” he said. “But they weren’t real. None of it was.”

I furrowed my brows.

“Don’t worry,” he added. “One day, they’ll let you out again. You’ll get new parents and new friends… if that’s what you want.”

What were they talking about? Was I missing a memo? Not once did any of the guards offer me a chance to leave. 

“But, you’ll be lucky if they don’t let you out,” she said. “If they do, the cycle will repeat itself. And it kind of sucks, trust me.”

I couldn’t grasp their words—it was a strange notion that the life I knew was fake. But even more difficult to comprehend was wanting to stay, when there was a chance of a new life beyond the cage. Little did I know, they were right. Three weeks later, I was free.

The choice was a vicious cycle. At the end of every experiment, I would wish for a freedom I already had. I would ask the same questions, frown at the same notion, and realise the truth of my predicament a little too late. I would return to the test tube over and over again—unable to change my mind, before I lost all recollection of what was.

Funny, how I once thought it was a tragedy—to be trapped by fate and robbed of a future. But the true tragedy was a joke—a joke on whoever believed that that… was all what life truly was.


12 Genre Months © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)