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.)

Advertisements
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

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

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

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.)

Original Works

Food | Party | Head

Costumes, food, and music—that was what the invitation card read. Nothing more, nothing less, just a fun night with friends. As someone who preferred to cosy up on the sofa with a murder-mystery novel, I contemplated long and hard on my answer. But in the fear of missing out, I said ‘sure’. Did I regret my decision? Yes, but not in the way most introverts did. Rather, what I thought would be an insignificant and boring night changed my life… forever.

“Who are you going as?” I asked my friend—the very same friend that convinced me I would enjoy myself.

“I’ll probably just throw a mask on and be done with it.”

“Seriously?”

“It doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to try so hard,” she said with a chuckle.

“It says, come in your best costume.”

“I’ve been going to this for years—best costume simply means looking your best. Trust me, you don’t want to overdo it—you’ll be the weird one. Just go get yourself a mask.”

If she said so, she must be right. So I took her advice. After all, I was losing interest as the days went by, wondering if I should cancel my attendance. And perhaps, I should have listened to my gut. If only I didn’t feel the need to push myself to socialise and make new friends, I could have escaped this fate.

When the night of the event finally rolled around, I had already planned my exit. I had no intention of staying long and had made up my mind to excuse myself after an hour. But as I entered the three-storey bungalow, belonging to a complete stranger, I had an inkling I wouldn’t be allowed to leave until the host said so.

“This is Jon,” my friend introduced. “The man of the house.”

Jon’s costume was a dinner tuxedo, finished with a black Zorro mask. Alike everyone else, his only costume was a horrible disguise. And at that moment, I heaved a silent sigh of relief—having thrown on a red dress, and a party mask that I bought at a Halloween store. What a nightmare it would’ve been to be an oddity—a thought that would soon mean nothing.

“Welcome to my humble abode,” Jon said. “Make yourself at home—it’s going to be a long night.”

I nodded with a thin smile. But as Jon went to greet the next arriving guest, I turned to my friend and said, “I’m leaving at nine.”

“Why?” she asked.

“You know I don’t like this kind of gatherings.”

“You’ll like this one,” she said with a wink. And before I could utter another word, she ushered me toward a group of people she claimed to be her friends.

“Have you guys met Natalie?” my friend introduced, as she gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze.

For a moment, I was confused. Was she referring to the lanky woman with the broad smile? Or, had she forgotten the name of the person she’d known for almost a decade? “She goes by Nat. Be nice to her, all right?” my friend continued. “Now excuse me, I think I see someone who owes me something.”

Just like that—after tossing me into a bizarre scenario—she vanished. Should I reintroduce myself? I hesitated. Oddly, I chose to pretend that my name was indeed Natalie before feigning interest in the group’s chatter about the newest mobile phone. Oh, how dull it was. But before I could escape the torment, the conversation took a turn.

“So, why did you say ‘yes’, Nat?” the lanky woman named Amber asked.

“Yes? To what?” I replied.

“To tonight.”

“Oh, I thought it would be… fun,” I lied. I never once thought I would enjoy myself, despite my friend’s claims.

“That’s sick,” Amber said. “Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting into until I arrived.”

“Me too,” one of the two men echoed.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Oh,” Amber replied, eyes widening as though she had just realised I was clueless. “So you don’t know.”

“Know what?” I found myself holding my breath. I didn’t know why, but my stomach knotted—a strange urge to leave surfaced, but my feet rooted themselves to the ground.

“Sam hasn’t told you yet, but things are about to get interesting,” Amber said.

“Sam?”

Who was Sam? I had yet to meet anyone by the name of Sam. Unless, Amber meant…

“Your referral?”

Sam—Victoria’s fake name. What did Victoria drag me into? Why did she invite me to something like this—whatever this is that Amber would call me ‘sick’ for thinking it would be fun? I took an unintentional dry gulp, before scanning the room for Victoria. I needed answers. But more importantly, I needed to leave.

“Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine,” Amber said. “You’ll understand once they bring out the head.”

“What?” I asked. “What do you-”

“I’ve been told we have a good one this year—all the way from Germany.”

“I-I need to-”

“Look,” Amber prompted, pointing at the doorway behind me. “It even looks fresh.”

I didn’t want to look, but I did. And unfortunately, I cannot say what I saw. For if I told you what occurred that night, I would have to give you a fake name too.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Food, party, and head were words given by Lars Driessen on Facebook. Fun fact: Halloween isn’t celebrated in my country. But, I thought it would be fun to write something in line with this season. Usually, I try not to craft such tales. Thus why I’ve left the ending open—I didn’t want to imagine anything more, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Perhaps you can take on a lighter approach.

*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.)

Original Works

Broccoli | Internet | Papercut

Three papercuts on a Friday night. Two more on a Saturday morning—my weekend had gone off to a great start. The stack of recycled paper, of bank statements and reports, were placed inked-side down on the living room floor. They were brought home the night before—a collection from an hour of rummaging through my office drawers for dated paperwork—all because of a special request.

“We need them,” he told me.

“It’s important,” she chimed.

“How many do you need?” I asked.

“As many as you can get,” he replied.

“The more the better,” she added.

I heaved a sigh and scheduled it as a to-do on my phone. Though, that wasn’t actually required—they reminded me on Friday morning of its dire importance. It was as though there were lives depending on my simple task. And perhaps, there were. After all, the duo lived on another plane. Their existence different from mine. Their requirements of survival more challenging to fulfill. And since I chose to be a part of their lives, I valued theirs more than mine. So there I was, on a Saturday morning, directing them to the old documents I had gathered.

“Thank you,” he said.

“Yes, thank you,” she echoed.

“You’re welcome,” I replied with a smile.

I was tempted to see what they would do with all that paper but my day wasn’t over. I had to peel three carrots, cut two broccoli, season one whole chicken, and toss them all in the oven for lunch. The carrots and broccoli must be soft to the bite and the chicken must be tender, as how the duo often requested them to be. The food must also be served on white oval plates with a side of a red sauce they called, ‘Scarlet’s Shadow’. It was a meal they would consume if done correctly. But if it was too salty, too dry, or too hard for their taste, I would either have to reason with them or start over—thankfully, the former has worked so far.

“They’re not going to be easy,” a friend once told me. “Are you sure this is something you want to do?”

I had contemplated long and hard about my decision. And when I finally said ‘yes’, I wasn’t planning to go back on my word. As enthusiastic as those who chose not to embark on this quest, I was ready to take on the challenge.

“There’s a reason why people are pulling out of this program,” my friend added. “It’s not as easy as you think.”

“I know—I know it’s not easy,” I said. “But, I want to do this. I know it sounds crazy, but I want to do it.”

My friend nodded. “You have my support then. If you need anything—anything at all—let me know.”

“Can I call you over to lend a hand?” I joked.

“No way.” My friend waved her hands. “Anything but that.”

Oh, how naive I was when I first signed up. Fortunately, I was quick to learn. I had the internet on my side—connecting with those who were on the same adventure and finding solutions to the strange problems these creatures presented. But, I won’t say that the journey has been smooth sailing.

There have been many sleepless nights—pulling myself out of bed after an arduous day—to attend to their bizarre requirements. Those late nights were often followed by hectic mornings, where I had to ensure the duo had everything they needed before I rushed to my desk job. Then, came the demands. I was told to follow the manual given, but when I refused to give in to their wants, they would change forms—the strength they could muster in their fits of anger would leave me breathless on the floor. So yes, I was and I am, tired. I have cried in frustration and exhaustion. I have stormed out—leaving them screaming and shouting—in attempts to preserve my sanity. I have wondered what I was doing wrong—those clueless days were the worst of them all. But oddly enough, I have never considered giving up.

They are unlike me. They are different. They don’t understand my world. Thus, I have had to accommodate—to be their guide. And though they have never once showed comprehension—unaware of the things I had to do, the tough decisions I had to make, and the effort I put into my work with them—I hold no grudge. I have hope that one day they would see. Perhaps when they enroll in a similar program themselves, they would finally understand my ‘no’s, ‘don’t’s, and ‘stop’s. But even if they never grasp the hardships of my journey, I would still love them. After all, they are my children.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Broccoli, internet, and papercut were words given by Billy Ho on Facebook. If you’d like to challenge me with your own 3 words, leave them in the comments below! There’ll be two more of this before the year ends and your word set might be used for one of them.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. You know the drill by now.

*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.)

Original Works

She | Was | Red

She was Red.

It wasn’t just the long golden locks pinned up in a neat bun, the wine matte lipstick tinting her thin lips, or the pair of rectangle black-framed prescriptions she chose to put on. It wasn’t just the dark blue dress she was fond of wearing, the leather-strap analogue watch on her right wrist, or the uncomfortable white wedges she loved so dearly—constantly gluing the soles back in extension of its lifespan. Red was more than the body she dolled up in the mirror.

Red was quiet but not shy. She kept her thoughts to herself unless in the company of her closest friends. Red often wore the widest smile whenever she strolled into a bookstore as she enjoyed epic flights of fantasy—knights, dragons, and great adventures—and held no judgement toward questionable covers of captivating-titled books. Red was also an avid tea drinker. Sunday evenings with her best friend Amelia would be incomplete without a scone and a cup of freshly brewed chamomile.

Red was ordinary yet different. She was bold and daring, but never loud or boisterous. She was a calm in the storm—the anchor that kept their ship from drifting into the abyss. And if you didn’t know Red, you would think she was just like everyone else—a creative twenty-two-year-old with talents, dreams, and goals.

Was she Red?

No, she wasn’t. She didn’t like her hair pinned up. Even in the heat of summer, she would let her locks loose—curling past her shoulders. She also preferred a brighter lipstick and would rather spend a few minutes everyday putting on contact lenses than the convenience of Red’s glasses. Often, she would shy away from Red’s side of the wardrobe—donning one of her wavy, floral dresses, paired with her comfortable grey sneakers.

She wasn’t Red. She was always the life of the party. And when she shared her inner thoughts and feelings, she trusted her closest friends to keep her secrets. She enjoyed the company of her support system—making time to shop, eat, laugh, and play with Amelia, Sasha, and Joy. She was also a coffee lover. She would almost always order a cold-brewed americano every Saturday breakfast with the girls.

She was different yet ordinary. She wasn’t brave or fearless, but she was kind and jovial. She was wild at heart—at times reckless with her decisions. And if you didn’t know her, you would think she was just like everyone else—a carefree eighteen-year-old with talents, dreams, and goals.

Red she was.

For most, it would be hard to imagine waking up in a foreign body. But for Red, it was her life. In her world, she stood at five feet four with short black hair, bright blue eyes, and a narrow chin. But in this world, they saw her differently. Everyone saw the girl in the mirror—a face and body that didn’t reflect her inner being. And the best that she could do was try… to look a little more like herself.

Red knew that Gwen didn’t like it when she tied their hair in a bun or when she walked a whole day in wedges. She knew that Gwen would frown if she found herself in a bookstore or a library. Gwen would certainly sigh if she had to finish a cup of tea Red had ordered. But those were the only things that made her feel like herself—Red being true to Red—while she faced the outside world. And thankfully, Gwen understood.

Red was she.

For most, it would be hard to imagine a split life—how can one have two, and how can two be one? For most, it would be difficult to even tell Gwen apart unless they truly knew Gwen for who she was—if they could look past the blond, athletic-framed teenager with brown eyes, to see the person within. But despite the challenge, Gwen needed Red.

Gwen knew that Red struggled too. Their life had never been easy—a battle since birth. And without one or the other, they wouldn’t be alive. Without Red, Gwen wouldn’t know how to live. So as much of a separate being as they both may be—with different thoughts, interests, and feelings—they were still one. They were connected—joined in a way that made them uniquely them.

Gwen was Red. Red was Gwen. They were each other in a way different from us being us.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

She, was, and red were words given by Ethan Otto on Facebook. Ethan challenged me to make sense of these three words and I think I did a pretty decent job. As someone who has always been fascinated with the human mind, I hope this piece brings to light the world of mental health. Let’s all learn a little more about the people around us—understanding that some of us may be different but still worthy of our care, love, and kindness.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. I’m now challenging you to make sense of them!

*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.)

Original Works

Panda | Freckles | Space Pilot

“Is she the one?”

They spoke of me as if I wasn’t there. There was no friendly ‘hello’. They spared me not a single amiable smile. And there wasn’t any attempt at making me feel comfortable in the cold, white-walled office. They had no interest in being my friend. Thus, my only comfort came from the stuffed toy panda–stained red from a painting misadventure–I clutched at my chest.

“Yes. Should I get her ready?”

The lady in the iron-pressed lab coat nodded and gestured to the towering man in the faint-blue tunic. With the order to proceed, the man reached for my upper arm. His grip was strong. His guiding force tempted to free my stuffed panda from my grip as he led me out of the room.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said. What was supposed to sound comforting came with a tone that implied otherwise. “There are other kids like you here, so you’ll make lots of friends.”

I didn’t care much for friends. I just wanted to go home.

“And, if you do well in the tests, you’ll get double servings of dessert,” he added.

I would rather not eat cake for the rest of my life if I could be with my family. Why did my parents agree to this? None of the rewards were appealing in this pristine hallway of glistening-clean floors and spotless-white walls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice. I could be the future of mankind.

“We’ll be running one test today. If you pass, you’ll stay,” the man continued.

“If I fail?” I asked, suddenly hopeful.

“You won’t fail.”

How was he so certain? Did he evaluate my performance at school?

“But what if-”

“You won’t,” he repeated.

His insistence sounded like a threat. What kind of a man would threaten a child? So, in my stubborness, I was determined to fail. I didn’t want to stay in this place any longer. I planned to do everything within my power to leave. And in this case, I would do nothing. If the test was like any of the other tests I did at school, doing nothing should result in a ‘fail’.

After making two right turns, we halted before a sliding door. There was a single beep before the door slid sideways, giving view to the white room inside. It was an almost barren space with but a polished, metal-encased, reclining armchair in its center. By the chair was a woman in the same blue tunic as the man. The only difference between her and the people I met before her was the gentle smile on her face.

“I know this looks scary,” she said, tapping on the chair. “But it does nothing you imagine it would do.”

I admit, I was imagining the worst. Were there needles in the seat ready to pierce through my skin? Was the metal casing going to heat up and burn me alive? Never was my imagination as wild nor as terrifying as when I stood before the daunting-looking device.

“What… does it do then?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said.

“Nothing?”

“Take a seat,” she prompted.

The man finally released his grip on my arm, allowing me to move freely. For a brief moment, I contemplated running for the door. If I escaped, I wouldn’t have to do the test. Alas, it was a silly notion–I was just a child. So, I did as I was told and climbed into the chair. Planting myself firmly on the seat, my legs hung above the footrest–yes, I was rather short for an eleven-year-old.

“I’m going to put these two buttons on your temples, all right?” the woman said. She didn’t wait for my reply as she stuck the flat pieces to the sides of my forehead. “Oh! And look here,” she exclaimed as she pulled away. “What lovely freckles you have,” she praised. “My daughter has them too. She’s one of the kids you’ll meet later.”

“She is?”

“Yes. Now, I want you to close your eyes.”

I followed instructions, eager to disappoint the adults. As darkness replaced the white room, I waited for the next prompt. However, there came none.

“What do I do?” I asked.

There was no reply. I wondered if I should open my eyes. But, a second before I did, I saw the strangest thing in the blackness of my eyelids. I was… in space.

A control panel with a series of switches and screens encircled the chair I was strapped into. And, in that moment, I questioned my reality. Was I still in the white-washed research facility? Was it all a dream? Why was I suddenly in space? Will I awake in my bedroom, ten feet away from where my parents slept? I wished the latter to be true. Unfortunately, I had an inkling that it wasn’t real. This was my escape–a place in my head where I was a space pilot, far away from my dreadful reality.

“Good job,” I heard the woman say. In a snap, the twinkling stars vanished. Darkness returned. When I pried my eyelids open, she added, “You passed.”

“But… I did nothing,” I said.

“Exactly.”

The woman retrieved the buttons from my temples, before the man reached to pull me off the chair. “Come now. You’ll get two brownies with dinner as promised,” the man said.

“I…”

I didn’t want brownies. I wanted to know what was going on. How did I pass? What did the chair do? What made me so special? Sadly, the only thing I did know was that I wasn’t going home. And until I figured out why, my imagination would serve as my only escape from this reality–a reality where, I’ve been told countless times, every adult hated to live in.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Panda, freckles, and space pilot were words given by HKay. A question for you, dear reader: what do you think is this child’s gift? Feel free to share your ‘theory’ with me in the comment section.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Oh, and if you think you have 3 words that will surely challenge my creativity, leave them in the comment section too. It wouldn’t be fair to give myself the 3 words now would it?

*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.)

Original Works

Cologne | Magnet | Banana

There it was again–the smell of his cologne–a subtle blend of citrus notes with a mild woody undertone. He had just walked by. His light footsteps drowned by the chatters of the afternoon crowd. If only it wasn’t routinely busy at the hour of his arrival, I could, possibly, point him out. Alas, such was rarely a case in this joint.

Just like me, he frequented the cafe every Saturday. But while I clocked-in in the morning, he visited only by noon. I speculated he enjoyed the midday set meals. My favourite waitress once told me that their lunch sets were very affordable in this expensive city. So perhaps I would give them a try one day. But as for now, I preferred my regular order of plain banana pancake with a side of freshly brewed black coffee–those two made great companions to whatever book I was reading. They were all I needed, until he appeared.

That Saturday, I was pages away from completing The Magnet & The Mouse when I caught his scent. I was drawing close to the conclusion of the acclaimed philosophical book–how the mouse found its magnet after the thunderstorm–but loss all concentration when he walked by. I’m not one to be easily distracted. The noise in the cafe never once bothered me–my focus never disturbed by the yapping children, boisterous students, hollers from the kitchen, and hissing of the coffee machine. The smells of this establishment had not once drew my attention elsewhere–not the homely waft of fresh waffles, and certainly not the deep, soul-pleasing aroma of a dark brew. But, he was different.

What was it about his cologne that stole my senses? Why was his light, almost indistinguishable footsteps so aurally pleasing? I’ve never seen his face nor heard his voice, but I’ve yet to fail at sensing his movement–his presence. Oh, how I wish I knew more about him. The strange desire to speak to him–to learn about his past, present, and future–could not be shaken.

“Is this seat taken?”

There it was again–the smell of his cologne now stronger–as though he was the one who spoke. Then, there were those familiar footsteps as he moved to stand before me.

“No,” I replied, gesturing for him to take a seat.

Was the cafe busier than usual that he had to share my table? Or, did he notice me like I noticed him?

“Good book?” he asked.

“I’ve yet to finish.”

“What’s it about?”

I briefly contemplated about sharing the whole incoherent plot, but settled with, “Life. It’s about life.”

“Life,” he echoed.

“Sounds boring, I know.”

“No, it actually sounds interesting. What is life like for you?”

What is life like for me? Life was once bright, colourful, and beautiful. Then life became dark, lonely, and disconcerting. I didn’t know what to expect the moment I rose from my bed. I could no longer predict what would happen, or avoid–what was once avoidable–misfortunes. I was lost. I had to try harder at discerning the world around me. That was life.

“Ordinary,” I replied. “What is life like for you?”

“Scary,” he said. “How do you make life ordinary?”

I didn’t. I wasn’t. I lied. “I adapt.”

“Do you believe life can be exciting?”

I hoped–I wasn’t reading The Magnet & The Mouse because I enjoyed philosophy.

“Yes,” I said.

“You see, I-” he abruptly halted. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be insensitive.”

“Words are just words. What do I see?” I prompted.

“You see,” he continued. “I’ve been noticing you for awhile now, and I’ve been wondering how you do it.”

“How I do what?”

“How do you smile and laugh without a care in the world? How do you pardon the intrusive nature of your surroundings? How do you enjoy just that–a pancake and a coffee?”

“I read good books,” I replied with a chuckle.

“I thought so too, but there’s more than that. And I want to know what it is.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about. There wasn’t anything more. “Honestly, I just read really entertaining and engaging books.”

“Or, you just don’t realise how un-ordinary your life is.”

Yes, my life was indeed un-ordinary but in the bad kind of way. Did I miss the memo on how my life should be? Was my current predicament a celebration?

“I know I sound rude,” he added. “It’s just… I find hope in you.” I must have wore bewilderment, as he continued, “I… well… I’ve been told I won’t be able to see for very much longer. So with the days counting down, I’ve chosen to look at what gives me hope. And, you’re one of them–hope.”

“Me?”

“Honestly, I don’t come here for the food. I actually come here for you–the stranger with the book, coffee, and pancake.” He chuckled.

“I… didn’t know I made an impression.”

“Well, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean you don’t.”

I never thought that me being me could ever make a difference in someone’s life. How could someone so broken be a bringer of hope? Was I truly capable despite my disabilities?

“Thank you,” he added. “I truly hope, that one day, you’ll see what everyone else sees in you.”

Me too. “I hope so too.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Cologne, magnet, and banana were words given by Wei Keat on Facebook–I never knew one could actually bring these words together in a story until I actually tried. And boy, was I surprised at what came out of them.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And, if you’d like to throw a challenge my way, leave your 3 words in the comment section below! To be honest, I’ve almost used up all the past comments, so your 3 words will help keep this streak alive.

*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.)