Original Works

Hat | Handkerchief | Car

His name was Jasonian Arventus—the kind of name you wouldn’t forget because it had pretentious written all over it. Jasonian Arventus—who had always insisted I used his entire moniker, as he couldn’t accept the shortening of his name to that of a commoner—never once left his house without his silk, peach-coloured handkerchief. Routinely, he had it snugged in the front left pocket of his expensive grey-checkered, double-breasted wool coat, before taking a foot past the front door. The plain and glossy piece of fabric was akin to a child’s security blanket, for Jasonian Arventus—whose name I’m bound to misspell in the near future—believed it brought him good luck.

Jasonian Arventus had a myriad of possessions but none as precious as his rabbit’s foot of a mouchoir. He lived in a Victorian mansion the size of a Slovenian castle, and had not one but fifteen automobiles that would awake your inner green-eyed monster. He also had a private collection of historical armaments from the Crusades and ancient scrolls from the age of pharaohs. And, if you ever had the patience to hold a conversation with him, he would boast of the ungodly amount of jewellery he owned that rivalled the royal museum. Yet, you would find that Jasonian Arventus would give it all up for his handkerchief—except for that one night, when he was offered a hat in exchange.

The felt hat arrived at his doorstep in a box. It wasn’t a package he had ordered nor was there a delivery man requesting for his fanciful signature. When Jasonian Arventus attended to the chime of the doorbell—he didn’t believe in squandering his wealth on a doorkeeper—he found a note attached to the parcel. The scribble of a letter read, ‘Exchange the kerchief for the bowler and you’ll receive your greatest desire.’

Some days, I wonder if I am to blame for what happened to Jasonian Arventus. However, it was a blessing in disguise. As I was, unsurprisingly, the only person who cared enough, Jasonian Arventus rang me over. He sent his chauffeur to my humble abode, ensuring that I couldn’t decline his seemingly urgent request—made a few hours shy of midnight.

“You have to help me, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus hollered, just as I exited from the daylight robbery he called his favourite car. “I don’t know what to do.”

My name is not Beasty—lest you believe my parents would actually pen such an atrocity on my birth certificate. Jasonian Arventus never saw the importance of learning my name as I did his. Thus, he called me Beasty—short for Aarion Beastanol.

“What is the matter, Jasonian?” I asked, questioning my kindhearted nature for attending to his almost always childish beck and call.

Jasonian Arventus, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus corrected.

“What is the matter, Jasonian Arventus?” I repeated.

“I received this.” Jasonian Arventus slammed the letter on my chest—forcefully enough to knock all the air out from my last breath. “And that,” Jasonian Arventus added, pointing to the box on the marble front porch.

“Hmm,” I said, after reading the hastily written words. “Exchange the kerchief for the bowler.”

“You think I should?” Jasonian Arventus asked. His eyes widened as though he had already decided but needed further affirmation.

“You want to, don’t you?”

“But you know how important silkie is to me,” Jasonian Arventus said.

“The letter didn’t say what to do after the exchange—there’s no return address. Once you make the trade, I’ll take silkie out and keep it for you,” I offered. All I so desired, as my eyelids weighed heavily in the need of rest, was to end the conversation.

“Good idea, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus said. He took my proposal as encouragement and shuffled to the package. Ripping the box open in unrepressed excitement, he swapped his prized possession for a promise. Then waving me over, he prompted, “Take silkie.”

Withholding a sigh, I did what Jasonian Arventus asked once more. If it meant that he would send me home, I was more than happy to abide. Little did I know, that was the last time I did anything for Jasonian Arventus. In fact, it was the last time I ever saw him or uttered his name. For the following morning, as I returned to Jasonian Arventus’ mansion, I found only the bowler.

Some Wednesdays, while I sipped on earl grey tea in my cluttered office, I would wonder about Jasonian Arventus’ greatest desire. What was it that he had secretly coveted—that made him, his entire household, and every paraphernalia that moulded his persona, disappear overnight? Other days, I would imagine a different scenario, of which I didn’t suggest he trade his handkerchief for the bowler—would he still be boasting his grand and lavish lifestyle? Fortunately, on most days including the weekends, I left my inquisitive thoughts at the back of my mind. After all, if it wasn’t for Jasonian Arventus’ vanishing, I wouldn’t have learned about my sickly aunt in Chenonceaux, France.

Who knew that I—an ordinary man of no stature—could be someone of great importance. Who knew that society would someday say my name—the entire moniker, Aarion Beastanol, that should not and could not be shortened to the likes of a commoner. Perhaps, Jasonian Arventus was right about the handkerchief—luck was now on my side. And should I be offered a hat in exchange, I would be less of a madman to make the same mistake.


Hat, handkerchief, and car were words given by Manua De Cia.

I wrote this with Discombobulate, from the Sherlock Holmes film soundtrack, on repeat. It may or may not have anything to do with the tone and setting of this story. Also, the names were given by a friend—an inside joke that could have, possibly, inspired the characters themselves.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And while you’re at it, feel free to challenge me with 3 MORE WORDS in the comment section below!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

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Original Works

Crown Prince Philius [12 Genre Months]

Once upon a time, there was a crown prince named Philius. Philius stood at thirty-eight inches tall, with feet the size of his oval head and arms that stopped short of his waist. He was a splitting image of his father the king—an actuality his mother often declared in pride.

As the firstborn of the royal bloodline, Philius was to inherit all of Aeter—every flowering crop, fertile soil, bountiful harvest, and living creature. But when his father left for the underworld, Philius learned that he would only receive half of what was promised to him.

It was on a rainy day when Philius and his envoy of lions set out for Shec. Shec was a prosperous city in Aeter—a place where many amphibians and reptiles gathered for their extravagant celebrations. However, on that un-fine day, all the inhabitants of Aeter assembled for one reason and one reason only: Philius’ coronation.

Despite the gloom, the ceremony was nothing less than festive. The multifarious crowd cheered, glorious steamed beetles were served, expensive gifts in the shapes of square and rectangle were stacked two-storeys high, and Philius was pleased. He was in a boisterous mood, until an unexpected guest arrived.

Thorad, an official in the former king’s court, invited himself to the party—the one who had once engendered a rebellion and fled when his crimes were uncovered. With a plain golden chest in his hands, Thorad said, “I have come to congratulate you, Your Majesty. Here is a gift I have brought from my travels in the land of Yellow and Blue.”

“Thank you. It has been a while,” Philius replied, contemplating if he should summon his baboons to escort the traitor out.

“Is has been a while indeed, Your Majesty. You have grown.”

Philius nodded in reply—he had grown nearly five centimetres since Thorad’s insurgence.

“Your Majesty, if I may add,” Thorad continued.

“You seek a favour?” Philius asked.

“Yes, Your Majesty. Your father has put a yoke on me and my birds. Now that you are king, I wish for you to lift this burden from us. With your kindness, we will surely serve you wholeheartedly,” Thorad said, with a seemingly forceful smile.

“My father has indeed put a heavy yoke on you,” Philius replied. “But as my father’s favourite child, it is only right if I make your yoke heavier.”

“I beg your pardon?” Thorad asked, with disbelief glazing his hawkish mien.

“My father sequestered you for your betrayal, but I shall banish you instead,” Philius said.

“Your Majesty, are we not your citizens? Don’t we have a share of this land? To banish us is cruel,” Thorad challenged.

“If I am cruel, your shoulder would be missing a head and your birds their wings,” Philius threatened.

Thorad lowered his head. “Very well, Your Majesty. Your wish is my command,” Thorad resigned. And with that, Thorad and his birds departed.

One would think that King Philius could rest well that night. Alas, Philius was afraid that Thorad might rebel again—the avian king had an army of wilful aves that would attack on his command. So to keep a watchful eye on the betrayer, Philius sent a three-eyed deer after Thorad. Unfortunately, before the deer could be of any use to the king, it became the rebel’s dinner. And with that one meal came a series of events that led to the destruction of half the land—the end of half of Aeter.

Instigated by the actions of the king, Thorad ordered his birds to incite the citizens against the ruling family. And in response to the threat, Philius sent his army of eighty thousand baboons to Thorad’s camp. Philius hoped to capture Thorad, and reclaim the land Thorad had attained through mutiny. But on the night before the battle, the Star bestowed Philius a message.

The Star instructed Philius to abandon the war and send another three-eyed deer instead. The Star could foretell the future, so Philius did as he was told. When the birds saw Philius’ deer, they directed the creature with their flattering wings and deafening squawks toward their leader. And when Thorad caught the mammal, he butchered it for dinner. However, unlike his previous carnivorous meal, Thorad shared the cuts of venison with his allies—a pinch of meat each to unify their forces. And, a pinch was all it took.

When the sun rose at the break of dawn, those who had consumed the three-eyed deer didn’t wake from their slumber. Half of Aeter—who had sided with whom they hoped would be their new king—had died. And with that, Philius won the fight against the anarchist. Alas, he also lost half of what was promised to him—destroying his own inheritance, with a deer that would’ve been his own dinner the same night before.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Ink | Carpet | Donkey

The joke was always on me. From Pharaoh’s scroll and the labyrinth beneath the royal palace, to my quest by the Silk Road and the expedition into space, I was a fool. But for you to understand why, I must start at the very beginning—the time when I learned I could live forever.

It was a time before yours—a time when people spoke different tongues, when the oceans were too great to traverse, when there were more gods than there were men, and when I was but an orphan child in a house made of clay. I cannot remember who my parents were—their faces have long faded from my memory. But what I can remember—my only recollection from that time—was the day he stormed into my home. He didn’t come to pillage. He had a different mission. The towering burly man, with a brown cloth hiding half of his face from recognition, pinned me to the ground. He lifted a glistening dagger above his head. And with a narrowed gaze, he drove the blade into my chest.

Just like him, I thought my short life was over. With a searing pain in my chest, I awaited my last breath. But as my blood saturated my tunic—the warmth ushering me into the afterlife—the pain abated. And shortly after my killer retreated, believing he had succeeded, I inhaled a new breath without a scar from the event. I was alive. I didn’t die. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. And when more like him came after me, I knew I was indestructible.

I was neither a man nor a god. The ancient scroll, gifted to me by Tutankhamun, accounted only of the deities in the sky. The ink made no mention of a creature like myself, dwelling between the heavens and the earth. For a century, I believed that I had descended from above. But the more I learned, the more I was certain—a god had more power than immortality. A god couldn’t feel pain, fear, or rejection. And it was only in the millennium after, when I finally accepted my lack of an identity, that I journeyed north.

During my years of study, I came upon the tale of a beast that roamed the labyrinth beneath the Palace of Knossos—a beast with knowledge of the universe that should you slay, you would gain its abundant wisdom. Hoping to uncover my origin, I crossed the Mediterranean Sea. I had a plan involving a donkey as a distraction and a sword as a weapon. Alas, I was centuries too late. There was no beast but a hollow of a labyrinth beneath a fallen structure claimed by disaster. However, all hope was not lost—or so it seemed, in a time as such.

In the rubble of what was once a grand and complex architectural beauty, I found an etched map on a broken stone tablet—a route that connected to the east—that led to a world of ancient magic. It ran parallel to the common route for traders except that it wasn’t for the common man. And when I found it, I was reassured of my uncommon descent. But what I truly am was still a mystery.

It was on the path by the Silk Road, where the human traders journeyed through the celestial world unaware, that I sought for the legendary carpet. Fei Long, a dragon I met as I neared the east end, said the carpet was capable of bringing me anywhere—even through the very fabric of time that connected me to this world. And so I spent five centuries, questioning ethereal creatures and bargaining with superlunary beasts, in hopes of acquiring the carpet. But when mankind no longer found use of the road, so did the mystical world. And when there was no path left to traverse, my quest came to an end.

You see, the joke was always on me—a life whose sole purpose was to find purpose. Yet strangely, despite the many years without an answer, I kept scouring the earth. Even in light of extinction—the death of humanity—I continued on my search. Though, I wouldn’t have died if I lingered. I could have been a god—claiming the identity I’ve always wanted. Alas, as coincidental as my encounters in the past, I found myself on the last shuttle to space. Despite knowing, deep down in my being—perhaps a ‘soul’—that my answer wouldn’t be amongst the stars, I looked once more. Ah, a fool I was and a fool I am… for never once looking within.


Ink, carpet, and donkey were words given by Chrystin on Facebook

I wasn’t sure what to write for these words as they weren’t easy ones to work together, but since April 1st was a few days ago, I thought ‘something along the lines of a joke and a fool’ might be a good story. So this is it—not what I was expecting for sure!

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And if you have three words you’d like to challenge me with, leave it in the comments below!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

The Little God [12 Genre Months]

In the Celestial Court, amidst the infinite stars, there were many gods—beastly and titanic, dainty and diaphanous, faceless and elemental. They were beings of great achievements—creators of many worlds—except for one, the Little God. The Little God was often in the shadows, seemingly of little importance. No other had ever lowered their gaze in acknowledgement as she had done nothing of significance. After all, her only attribute was bearing the innocence of creation.

Unlike the gods who wore their own divine flesh, the Little God carried the faces of babes, mimicking the youthful stature of a myriad of opuses. She was as little as her name—too small for grandeur. But at that particular time—that turn of the millennium—the Little God lingered not in the periphery. For in the rise of chaos that preceded a new dawn, the Little God spoke.

The Little God had not once spoken since the conception of time. Her gentle voice commanded no authority in the Celestial Court—her words inevitably falling on deaf ears. However, the gods were failing. When their creations refused change, the gods could not forge a new beginning. And should there be no resolve for the resistance, the ethereal beings would lose their purpose. They would no longer be gods—unable to wield the power of the universe, they would cease to exist. Thus, a little bravery was warranted. Thus, the Little God said, “Let me.”

Let me grace the worlds and remind creation of their genesis. Let me show them the finer masterpiece that awaits. Let me help them believe again.”

“Do you think our creations will listen to you—a Little God trapped in the past?” the Colossal One, with white scales and black beady eyes, said. “You are of paradoxical nature to our plan.”

“Am I?” the Little God asked. “To grasp the beginning is to release the future. And as paradoxical as it may seem, I am the reflection of dawn—both yesterday’s and tomorrow’s.”

The Colossal One parted his lips. But instead of words, he hissed in reply—the Little God presented not a juvenile solution. “My very nature, of innocence and youth, is what we need,” the Little God added. “Your creations have lost the child within, and only I can help them remember.”

“Alas, we cannot be sure,” the Eidolon said—her form a silhouette, drowning in radiant light. “If we send you to our creations and you fail, we will all come to an end. We do not have time for such uncertainty.”

“But I am certain,” the Little God insisted. “Do you not trust me?” Unfortunately, the Little God knew the answer to her question the moment it left her lips. None of the other gods would trust her with this mission. None of them believed she was capable. Despite aeons of wisdom, The Little God appeared as a little one—young and foolish. “Please,” the Little God said. “Do not judge me by my appearance.”

“How can we not when your stature is the reason you fail to create? You can barely reach for the stars above—your hands unable to sustain their weight,” the Colossal One challenged. “We do not wish to look down upon you, Little God. Alas, you are what you are.”

“I may not be able to snatch the stars and wield the power they home, that is true. But I can reach into your worlds and speak into those souls—I can do what you can with your creations. Why not let me try?”

Murmurs filled the Celestial Court. The gods whispered amongst themselves and the Little God felt a pinch of hope. Perhaps they would finally accept her, looking past her childlike demeanour and believing she was just like them—a god in nature. If enough of them stood by her side, she could finally show the universe what she was truly capable of.

“I am sorry,” the Eidolon said. “I cannot believe in you, Little God.”

“Neither can I,” the Colossal One added.

“Why?” the Little God asked. “I am just like you. I can do great things.”

“You are just… too little,” the Eidolon replied. “Maybe one day, when you are able to seize a star from the universe, we will entrust our future in your hands. But for now, you shall remain where you are.”

The Celestial Court echoed in agreement and the Little God was silenced. She knew that she would never be what they wanted her to be—it wasn’t her destiny to create. The Little God had a different path—one that could save their very kind. Unfortunately, she was given no chance to prove herself worthy. The Little God would remain little… until the end of time.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

The Above [12 Genre Months]

“Do not, I repeat, do not do it again,” my mother chastised.

I had yet again provoked her with my disobedience. And though my actions were intentional, it wasn’t because I relished in my mother’s ire. It was simply because she had never given me a reason to stop. After all, I was curious—often wondering why not. Why was I forbidden from the surface? What danger did the beyond present that warranted punishment? What happened—a century before my birth—that forced us to live underground?

“Do you hear me?” my mother asked. Her anger had abated but she remained exasperated—a vexed disposition I could undo with a false promise.

“Yes,” I said. “I won’t do it again.”

My mother handed me a pair of yellow garden gloves. “You are to weed the garden. And if I hear any complain of truancy, you’ll be weeding the garden for the rest of your life.”

“Yes, mother.”

It was pointless to argue and more so futile to ask about the surface. My mother refused to disclose a single detail. Our subterranean society had kept the secrets of our past locked away, and only a chosen few were allowed to unearth the truth. So perhaps, my mother herself didn’t know what was in the above. Perhaps, she was merely repeating what her mother had said to her.

With the large garden gloves—appeasing my mother once more—I headed to the garden. From our small dome-shaped abode, I exited into a narrow tunnel that led to a fork in the path. Having memorised the passages—impossible to navigate if one is a foreigner with no guide—I took a right at the junction, then descended toward another split, where I turned left toward a seemingly never-ending hollow. When I finally came upon the end, there was a thick metal door. Turning the heavy handle, I entered yet another dome.

The dome, of 360 feet tall and wide, was called the garden. My mother was the chief caretaker of the only green space in our realm—the only place where one could gaze upon a palette of bright shades other than stale brown. It homed a variety of flora, sprouting from a carpet of deep green grass that spread across the floor and up the concave wall. It was paradise. It was also the meeting site for my expedition team—oh, if only my mother knew.

“Got caught again, I see,” my fellow weed-puller greeted.

“There’s always a next time,” I replied. “Did you learn anything new?”

Zee was the son of a chosen—his father frequented the above. Whenever his father returned, there would be new samples, ovules for the garden, and a journal full of notes.

“Nothing except that it remains inhabitable,” Zee said.

We had known that the world beyond was inhabitable for the past five years—the reports proved that we could ascend and start a new life. Alas, our people chose to remain. It was a strange decision—in spite of a reason to create a better life, there was no intention to move. Those un-chosen were still prohibited from venturing to the above—the claims of danger lodged into the minds of our people despite the lack of records to prove them true.

“I’ll try again tomorrow,” I stated. “Want to come along?”

“No,” Zee replied. He usually sat out of a mission if he had a valid excuse. But that day, he didn’t have one. He simply said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“What? Why?” Not him too, I thought. Zee had been with me from the start. He was always excited to try and try again. So why the sudden change of heart?

“Just,” Zee said.

“Just?” I asked in disbelief. Zee was the third member on our team to abandon our cause. What reason could he have for giving up a better future—to live in a place full of possibilities, free from this mundanity? “Just is not a good reason,” I said. “Aren’t you tired of this aimless life?”

“I’m tired of trying,” Zee said. “Maybe, one day, we’ll be chosen. Then we’ll see the above without getting in trouble.”

“You want to keep waiting? What if you’re never chosen?”

“Then I guess I’ll just make do.” Zee shrugged.

“What is that suppose to mean? You’re willing to live here for the rest of your life? We already know what lies above us. We know it is worth the risk,” I reasoned.

Zee shook his head. “You can keep trying but I’m done.” He didn’t wait for me to respond, stalking toward a colossal tree of which its very seed came from the land we were banned from even glimpsing.

“Zee,” I called out. “You can’t just give up.”

Zee turned a deaf ear. Alike the two before him, he had relented. But at what cost? Was our search for purpose a meaningless pursuit? Was it justified to let go—to never gaze upon the hues of the sunrise and the awe-inspiring oceans? Would I lose hope too?

No, I will try again tomorrow as I said I would. If I had to spend my days weeding the garden, I would. If I was the only one left believing, then so be it. I had no plans of outgrowing my faith because the above held a promise the present could never offer—the above held a future.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

You | Me | Us

You.

Where you come from, the night never sleeps and the day never ends. A dimension where dawn and dusk aren’t defined by nature but by your very hands. It’s an unceasing universe powered by the undying vision of its driven core. A realm I call foreign, though not quite—known waters I’ve yet to tread. And should I choose to venture into this familiar yet unexplored plain, I will have to wield a courage unprecedented in my domain.

Me.

Where I come from, the night isn’t night and the day isn’t day. A place where time is relevant to its inhabitants—an undefined and fluid pace. It is a single moment in a single space that homes a million stories. Its mythical depths full of untold tales—its very essence defining its entirety. I cannot leave this realm—of strange and unknown adventures—not without taking a piece of its soul. And should I ever go beyond, I risk converging our seemingly different worlds.

Us.

Origins diverging from the start. Polarities in space and time—disparate beings in dichotomous habitats. But perhaps, there will be a moment when we aren’t worlds apart—our realms coalescing with merging topographies. Our planets aligning on the same plain—orbiting around the same blazing sun and surrounded by the same myriad of glistening stars. Perhaps, if we take a risk, we will find that we are not so different after all.

The north and south, though poles apart, are both covered in snow. Yet an auto-antonym is an irony in itself—is to cleave to cling or to split apart? And here—the very definition of you and me—is us; the sui generis nature in plurality finding singularity—a distinctiveness of individuality in pronoun. If the risk is simply redefining, will we take it—will we choose to believe in… us?

Paths don’t cross without reason—just as parallel roads don’t remain disconnected without cause. And perhaps, if we believe, we can build a new world together. A place better than our own—a place where we define what us… means to you and me.


You, me, and us were words given by Natalie Fong on Facebook

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it’d be fitting to write a love story (?) Or at least, my attempts at something poetic about love in flash fiction. Honestly though, I don’t even know if this can be classified as romance. What do you think—is it Valentine’s enough?

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. You would probably do a better job than I did. So if you’re feeling romantic, why not turn these three words into a story of your own?

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

A Single Coal [12 Genre Months]

The world was different where I came from. At the rise of the blazing sun—the start of a broken record—the people awoke in preparation of night. They donned their wide-brimmed hats, clicked their cowhide leather boots, and locked their loaded revolvers in well-worn holsters from quotidian gun-slinging. Because unlike the cliches of the wild wild west, of which most of my dusty town proved true, there was something that made this world different—something we all fought that redefined how we lived our lives.

In the neighbouring cowboy towns, no men were allowed guns. There were no duels, whether it be under the sun or in the darkness of night. Most people died from diseases and at the hooves of their own horses—rarely would one see gaping holes in their abdomen. Occasionally, a band of bandits would pay an unwelcome visit but that was as rare as justice. The most exciting thing you would find is a tumbleweed, and even that was a sign of peace.

My town, unfortunately, had no peace. And ever since I was old enough to wield a fork, I was taught to wield a weapon. When the rooster crowed, my father would holler for me and my sister. He had a shooting range of old cans and glass bottles set beside the barn with loaded pistols ready to be fired. My sister and I would spend our mornings firing and reloading. But when my mother called for lunch, training for the day was over. My father would then head into town for the daily town meeting, while the rest of us cleared the mess from the night before—salvaging everything that could be reused for the coming dusk.

For the first twelve years of my life, this repetition was normal—boarding up the windows and sleeping with our guns under our pillows was what we called life. But everything changed the evening my father returned with dreadful news.

“I pulled a long straw,” he said to my mother.

My mother’s eyes widened. She didn’t know what to say. What did the news mean to our family? Neither my sister nor I fully understood. As far as I knew, those who drew long straws didn’t all come home. The family across our field had drawn long straws many times and once, their second son didn’t return. However, as much as such information should be made privy to everyone in our town, nobody told the children—I had learned of it from watching my neighbours and eavesdropping on the murmurs between my parents. Still, I found it strange that it was the first time my father uttered those words.

“I can’t buy out of this one,” my father added.

“Then we leave. There’s still time,” my mother replied. She took a quick glance around the living room before reaching for me and my sister. But before she could do anything further, my father pulled her to a corner.

Their murmurs began. They often thought we didn’t understand or that we couldn’t put the pieces together. And for the most part, we couldn’t. But that evening, we knew something was wrong—terribly, horribly wrong.

“We cannot abandon this town,” my father stated.

“Then who should I send tomorrow when you don’t return?” my mother retorted. “Myself or the children?”

“I will return.”

My father reached for the brown sack he had tucked beneath the old bookshelf. He often said that the sack was filled with coal, dousing my curiosity to peek inside.

“I want to go with you,” I uttered. I didn’t know what I was signing up for but I hadn’t miss a shot since I was ten. There were echoes of gunfire every single night—I could help my father shoot whatever it was they shot under the moonlight.

“No. You stay home. I will return in the morning,” my father said. “Don’t worry. It’ll just be like last night.”

Not waiting for my mother to protest, my father gave us each a peck on the cheek and left. For a few minutes after, my mother stood staring at the closed door. But the second she snapped out of her daze, she boarded the door up. That night, the gunfire sounded different—they were loud and never ending. The hours of the night also seemed to tick slower than the night before. And when day finally arrived, I had not rested even for a minute.

My father came home as he said he would. The first thing he did was refill the sack with coal. That morning, I learned that it was true. My father wasn’t lying—it was indeed coal. It was the only matter that protected him. But from what, I didn’t know.

Today, I pulled a long straw. It has been three months since—representing my family at the daily town meeting. And tonight, I would see what we’d been fighting. It might sound crazy that no one has ever spoken about what the night brought to our little town in the desert. But at the very least, my late father gave me a reason—the purpose behind our battles in the dark.

“We fight in the darkness for the light of day,” I told my sister. “And if you ever draw a long straw, a single coal can light your way.”


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Tattoo | Cut | Window

A new beginning gleamed—the break of dawn with its inspiring hues, stretching across the horizon. There it was—hope within my reach—the fresh start I had dreamt of. But despite my inmost desire for the first light of day, something was in my way. Something so fragile and breakable yet capable of inflicting pain. Something that framed the world beyond yet kept me imprisoned within these four walls. Something I treasured in my solitude—a kaleidoscope of my aspirations—yet unyielding in its design. And the only way I could seize the opportunities beyond was to break free—shatter the only window in the confinement of doubt, insecurity, and fear I called my mind.

I have tried to escape. I had armed myself with the wobbly oak chair that often stood beside my study table. With all my might, I had swung the old furniture against the window. And it broke. The glass fractured. The warmth of the sun streamed through the rough edges, kissing my skin in delight. The cool breeze from beyond swept into my room, embracing me like a long lost friend. And the sweet scent of Spring, in full bloom and all its glory, rushed to fill the dead space—an amiable hello from a beauty I’ve never known.

I wanted out. I had a taste of the world I was missing out on—the adventurous and meaningful life that could be mine if only I was brave enough. So, I gathered my courage. I reached through the aperture in the window, bearing sharp edges in attempts to discourage my curiosity. And just when I returned the handshake offered to me by endless possibilities, my inner demons awoke. My forearm brushed against the uneven contour of what was once whole. The sharp edges tore my skin with the fear of the unknown. And there was blood—a deep cut that scarred my soul. Could I ever be free without a scratch? Was there a way to leave this dreary room without affliction? I didn’t know which was worst—to be stuck in the gloom of yesterday or to bear agony for a tomorrow. Should I try again?

Hope was still within my grasp. It was a new day—the first blank page of a book I was given to write. Every word and every sentence was mine to decide. The moment I chose to break free, my story would begin—the tale I was meant to tell finally told. It would be an epic journey with a fulfilling resolution, encapsulated within the final pages I would call my epilogue. But first, this prologue had to end. I had to make a choice—choose to try again or choose to remain in an introduction that never becomes a story. And so, I chose to live.

I chose to escape the lonely tower that rose high above this prodigious land of past, present, and future. I chose to be like the ones below—liberated from the restraints of the swallowing darkness that once plagued their souls. I was ready to embrace the pain—to home the markings of the cage. For despite the ink that blackened their skins—the tattoos that depicted their history—they were living. Those outside of these walls were truly living.

There—the rickety chair I doubted could carry my weight—my saviour. The study table wouldn’t mind if it departed. They weren’t a pair—they didn’t belong. And neither did I in this state of mind. This time, I swung the chair with the intention to let go. And I did. The chair crashed through—the window shattered at a force fueled by an ache for freedom. It was a sound I would never forget—the announcement of my new beginning.

Snatching for the covers of my bed, I wrapped it around my right hand—I had to clear the merciless serrations. I was ready for scars but if I could lessen the pain, why wouldn’t I? When only the chippings of glass remained—adamant about leaving the frame—I tossed my protection aside and reached for my exit. And, as I expected, the first weight upon my palms broke flesh. The warmth of blood brought hesitation. But, I wasn’t submitting to it this time. This time, I pushed down further to climb over. This time, I was taking a leap of faith. Even if I fell, breaking bones and tearing flesh, I wasn’t returning to the tower. I was going to live—truly live the life I was always meant to live.

And there it was—the start of my story.


Tattoo, cut, and window were words given by Caroline Guisson on Facebook

Since it’s the new year, I decided to write a little piece of encouragement for all those who are still hesitating to take a leap of faith. I know it’s scary and it can be painful, but the world beyond your fear and doubt offers endless possibilities. So make the choice to start writing your story this year!

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Perhaps this is the start to your own adventure? Give it a try! You never know what can happen.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Five Words [12 Genre Months]

I’ll be back, I promise—five words scribbled in black ink on a note. They were the first words I read that morning as I headed to pour myself a glass of milk. Stuck to the door of the fridge with a magnet, I thought nothing of it—he had left many notes as such. But that evening and the evenings after, I started to doubt he would ever keep his promise. Until one day, twenty years after he’d left, another note appeared.

Would you like to reconnect?—five words in a sans serif font blinked periodically on a card. They were the first words I read on a chilly December morning as I went to collect the mail. The card made no mention of whom it was from but I had an inkling. Still, I hesitated. My thumb hovered over the green ‘yes’ button on the device. Was this how I wanted to see him again? I decided to accept the request. And, there it was, the chronicles of his life.

I scrolled through the magazine of what he had been up to—the places he’d visited, the parties he’d attended, the food he’d loved, and the people he’d met and then left as digital memories. He was using a different name, or at least, not the name I used to call him. And, after I had flipped through the past ten years of his seemingly exciting and adventurous life, five more words called for action—would you like to chat? I clicked the green button once more.

“Hey Will, how’s it going?”

Will is typing a reply—the device read.

“Hey! Long time no see!”

Could I define this encounter as ‘seeing’?

“Long time indeed. What’s up?”

I wondered if I should bring up the promise he’d made twenty years ago. It didn’t really matter that he left—I moved on. I had my own collection of countries, events, food, and people, in my own magazine of life. But I wanted to know why he left, with no explanation, only to reconnect now.

“I thought about you recently.”

“That explains why you reconnected.”

“Haha! Still sarcastic I see.”

“Why all of a sudden?”

“I made a promise, remember?”

So he didn’t forget after all—those five words that left nothing but expectation. Five words that gave me no reason for his disappearance. Was he finally going to own up to his broken promise?

“Right. What’s up with that?”

“Well, I’m keeping my promise.”

“Are you serious right now?”

“I am back, aren’t I?”

Was he joking? Did he think this was acceptable—that a simple ‘hello, I’m back’ on a device was enough? Did he not think to be a little more courteous—to actually show up in person after all these years? Who gave him the right to hide behind a screen?

“It was nice ‘seeing’ you.”

I wanted to end the conversation there. And I could. All it took was a click of a red button and I would archive the entire exchange. I even had the option to ‘delete’. Then, I could toss the card out and carry on with my day.

“Wait, don’t go just yet!”

“What do you want, Will?”

“Look, I’m sorry all right.”

“Of course you are, Will.”

“Five words are too little.”

“You realised that only now?”

“I mean, on this chat.”

Five words was how the device worked. ‘Five Words’ was what it was called. It was ‘a small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’—their tagline on every highway billboard and at the top of every salesman’s pitch. It was designed to reconnect people in a disconnected world. And the rule was simple: only five words—no more, no less.

“I know that too, Will.”

“I have much to say.”

“Then say it in person.”

“I want to, trust me.”

“Right. I’m signing out now.”

“Wait wait wait wait wait.”

“Our friendship was long over.”

“Can you come to me?”

Was this another joke? Did he expect me to take the first step? I was not a pushover—I never was. If he wanted a convenient friendship, he came to the wrong person.

“No. You come to me.”

“I can’t. I’m… I’m sick.”

“Sick? What kind of sickness?”

“Life threatening, the doctors say.”

“Oh. Wow. I’m sorry, Will.”

“I’m not a good friend.”

“You left without an explanation.”

“Let me apologise to you.”

Perhaps I could make an exception this time. Perhaps, for a dying friend, I could put my pride aside. After all, he wanted to make things right… and in person.

“Where are you right now?”

“I left you a box.”

“You left me a box?”

“The Yung Brothers & Co.”

“Yung brothers? Who are they?”

“My lawyers. I’m really sorry.”

I was expecting the name of a hospital. I was actually willing to make the drive. Why did Will want me to meet with his lawyers instead?

“Your lawyers? Why your lawyers?”

“I can’t apologise in person.”

“What do you mean, Will?”

“I’m sorry. I should have…”

“You should have what, Will?”

“I should have said more.”

____________________________________________________________________

12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Coffee | Scientists | Existence

Scientists, they called us. Highly-educated individuals who make calculated risks for the betterment of humanity. Doctors and professors with achievements and awards, who were about to reveal to the world the capabilities of mankind. We were people your children would, supposedly, one day look up to—that was how we were defined. And that was what we believed too. But, we were wrong.

We weren’t glorified scientists. We were playing God. But unlike the Gods of the human faith, we made a decision that challenged our very existence. We were in delusion—we brought to life a beast that set the apocalypse in motion.

“Wake up,” she said, placing a paper cup of steaming black coffee on my desk.

“What time is it?” I asked, with a croak in my voice.

I had spent the past five days within the corners of these four white walls, running the numbers back-and-forth for our next test. Time had been relative to our research, that we didn’t have a clock to define our circadian rhythms.

“Eleven forty-three,” she replied. “Are the numbers correct?”

“I hope so,” I said.

We had done it three-hundred and fifty-six times. And that day, at noon, we would see if our years of trial-and-error had paid off. We would witness water turning to wine—we would have the answer to magic. If we finally succeeded, there would be no stopping us—magic would be science and science would be magic. But at what expense? Nobody cared enough to answer that question. We were playing with fire but we had no contingency plan to put out the flames.

“Then let’s go. The team is waiting,” she prompted.

Grabbing my cup of coffee, I followed my colleague to the largest lab in our facility. It was built solely for this experiment—as wide as an airplane hangar for two Boeing 747-8’s, with a ceiling that was eight storeys high. A spherical chamber of forty-meters in diameter, said to be made from glass as strong as steel, occupied the centre. The chamber was attached to grey tubes that drew biological matter from twenty-three molecule cylinders that were lined against the back wall.

“Do we need any changes?” our head scientist asked, just as I strolled in.

“Everything looks to be in order,” I said. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but never were we ever a hundred percent sure since the day we started. We could only hope that this time would be the last time.

“Great. Let’s begin.”

At the command, every member of our team took their place—ten of which planted themselves before a series of control panels. As I had done my part, I remained where I was, watching as the molecules in the cylinders began to churn. Shortly after, a humming reverberated through the walls of the laboratory as the chamber fogged. That was it—the moment we had been waiting for. It had been exactly like this in the previous three-hundred and fifty-six runs. But, I had a gut feeling that that day was the day. That day was… doomsday.

If only we’d learned from the cinematic adventures of Alan Grant. If only we took fiction a little more seriously—that just because it wasn’t real, it does not mean it can’t be. If only I entertained the doubts and reached for the emergency ‘stop’ button. If only I listened to the voice in my head that told me something was about to go wrong.

The spherical chamber began to shake. All twenty-three grey tubes unhooked themselves at the sudden quake, spilling matter onto the polished-white floor. As the fog within the chamber condensed, we didn’t know if we should celebrate or run. And in that moment of contemplation, we heard a crack.

“Unbreakable,” the scientists from Japan boasted. And perhaps the chamber was indeed unbreakable at the face of earthly phenomenons. But it seems, in that lab and on that day, we weren’t dealing with nature.

“Everybody, out,” our head scientist ordered.

Nobody saw the need to defy the command as we rushed to the exit. The second all seventeen were accounted for, the doors were shut. A lockdown sequence commenced. And from the outside we watched—through the lens of the closed-circuit televisions—the beast we created, breaking free from its glass egg.

Its black wings—spreading sixty-meters wide—shattered the chamber from within, sending deathly shards in all cardinal directions. Lifting its scaly head, we caught sight of its blood-red, oval eyes. It looked angry. It looked hungry. It flared its nostrils. And as it parted its jaws, lined with flesh-tearing teeth, it released an ear-piercing screech.

It was supposed to be a hatchling. It was supposed to be blind. It wasn’t supposed to be a beast that could rip through the steel ceiling of our laboratory—that could find land, despite our unmarked location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t supposed to be the end of mankind. But it was. It was the definition of our actions. It was blasphemy.


Coffee, scientists, and existence were words given by Jessica Chen on Facebook. So clearly, I went with the whole scientist and existence route which, you know, has been done many times. But I hope, at the very least, the story was entertaining. 

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Give it a try! You probably can be more creative than I.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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