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.)

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Writing Journey

Why You’ll Never Be Ready

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives. – Lemony Snicket

If I waited to write my first book, waited to start this blog, waited to make videos—waited to pursue my passion… I’ll be waiting for the rest of my life. There would’ve been no stories told, no lives inspired, no leaps taken, no new experiences, no exciting surprises, and nothing to look forward to—the very thing that turned my humdrum existence into an imaginative and meaningful life. Heck, if I waited until I was ready… I wouldn’t be writing this today.

Personally, I don’t believe in readiness when it comes to pursuing our dreams. Readiness is not important, and it shouldn’t dictate whether we write that book, record that song, or enroll in that art class. Readiness is simply an excuse. And oftentimes, we use it as a reason to postpone the important pursuits in our lives. But, what is ‘readiness’ an excuse for? You might not like the answer but I’ll say it anyway—readiness is an excuse to not face the fear of the unknown.

We are afraid of the future. But… not the future in general. Our fear stems from a pessimism at reality that is ingrained in our human nature. Being optimistic is a choice—the believing that even in the darkest times there is still light. Being pessimistic, unfortunately, is often a default. But I’m not saying that being an optimist removes the fear of the unknown—this fear still exists. However, optimism gives us the little light we need—a light that can help us envision enough to take a leap of faith.

You’ll never be ready. You’ll never be able to predict the future either. But you have a choice. Is readiness a valid excuse to delay your dreams? Is being afraid of the unknown a sensible reason to put your life-changing plans on hold? Yes, you might fail. Yes, your work might not be the best. Yes, what you hope for might not come to past. But just because these are possibilities, they are not reasons. Heck, they don’t even exist to be legitimate reasons. Have they occurred? No. Will they occur? Perhaps—you don’t know for sure. And the paradox: not knowing is the reason to start.

Not being ready is a bad excuse to not pursue your dreams. But not knowing what will happen is a great reason to start chasing them. Life can only go two ways—the way we want it to and the way we don’t want it to. We can’t control what will happen nor can we predict the end result. What we can do, however, is choose to discover the other side.

Unlike avid hikers, I dislike hiking. My only goal, while I mutter under my breath about how torturous it is, is to find out what’s waiting for me on the other side. I like the discovery free from my expectations. It motivates me to complete the climb. And… at the very end of a hike, despite how tiring the ordeal, I find my reward—a sense of accomplishment. I now know what’s there! It might just be a plain landing surrounded by more trees, but now I know. And perhaps on my next climb, I will find the amazing view of snow-capped mountains I’ve been dreaming of. Now… there wouldn’t be any discovery without the climb, would there?

So stop waiting to be ready to go after your dreams! Be excited to find out what’s at the very end of each journey. Don’t be afraid to set sail because of the unknown. You might not know where you’re going—you might not end up where you’ve planned—but you’re going somewhere! And somewhere is always better than nowhere.

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.)

Others

Adventures In 2019! [Videos + Community + Guide]

We are 5 days away from the New Year! Are you excited? I sure am! I have a lot of NEW CONTENT coming your way and I cannot wait for you to watch them. Yup, you read that right—WATCH them!

If you have yet to read the past couple of posts, I shared about the FREE creative guidebook and the private Facebook group a.k.a creative community. My goal for both of these projects is to do something more meaningful for all creatives around the world. As a creative myself, I hope that I can foster an environment that allows creatives like YOU to learn, explore, and grow together. And thus why… I have created videos too!

During the past 2 months, I’ve been planning, recording, and editing over 21 videos for 2019. The videos will be up on my Fanpage every Saturday (or Friday—depending on where you are in the world) and will be shared with the creative community, Chosen Generation. Each video takes on one chapter from the creative e-guide, Being The Best In What You Do, without repeating any of the points but adding or looking at them from a different perspective. And, some of these videos that I’m really excited to share are, Why You’ll Never Be Good Enough, How To Make Work Meaningful, and The Best Way To Deal With Criticism!

Additionally, I’m hoping that my collaboration with an ONLINE MAGAZINE will be extended to you too! I would really love to share your stories with the world. So once I’ve worked out the kinks with this platform, I’ll make an official update over on my fanpage and Chosen Generation. So yes, a new adventure awaits in 2019!

Now, what will happen to this blog? Nothing—it’ll be the same as always. There will still be short stories as I intend to continue 3 Words 1 Story and 12 Genre Months in 2019. But, if you’re a creative looking for more content that could possibly help you on this journey, YOU’RE INVITED to join me over on Facebook! I am really looking forward to discovering your passion and talent, while getting to know you on a more personal level. So, I hope to see you on the other side!

Signing out of 2018; Happy New Year and may your 2019 be a better and more memorable year than this!

Others

8 Things I’m Grateful For In 2018

1. My trip to the UK. Though it was not the best nor the most memorable, I finally visited Potterland of which I thought was impossible.

2. My novel, The Slave Prince, finally hitting bookstores after the arduous hours spent on fundraising and editing.

3. My 3/4 page feature in The Sun newspaper. Who knew I would be given that much print space? Certainly not me!

4. My whole CLEO experience—from the photoshoot to the luncheon—that pushed me into the most awkward social situations, which have now made me a little bolder and more willing to say ‘yes’ to social events.

5. The many times I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, agreeing to ‘things’ I never thought I would agree to, to push my limitations both in my personal and work life. I accepted so many challenges this 2018.

6. Learning a lot from my day job that has helped me to map my personal plans for the future. I never knew I could take such a route on my authoring journey. I never knew I would be so fond of the words, ‘business’ and ‘consultant’. Simply being willing to learn has helped me to see the endless possibilities standing before me.

7. A life plan for 2019 and beyond that doesn’t just involve writing novels but has a more meaningful purpose. Finally, there’s more to do! And I cannot wait to share it with you. So be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming posts!

8. My friends, especially the (unlikely) people who are so supportive of my plans and have offered a hand to help me make it happen. And my family, for still being a close unit—still going on family trips and spending Sundays together. Hopefully, next year won’t be that much different.

After all that has happened and that is to come, I have a feeling 2019 is going to be an amazing year. 2018 is just the start of my novel, and like all epic adventures out there…. it’s about to get exciting!

Is there anything in your 2018 that you’re grateful for? Make a list!

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.

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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.

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

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

Original Works

The Murder Of Lady Patricia [12 Genre Months]

The body of Lady Patricia was found sprawled at the foot of the hallway stairs. She had arrived at the party a mere ten minutes prior to her death—the night still young when she met her demise. It was a seemingly straightforward case with an evident cause of death. But if it was indeed as simple as I hoped it to be, I wouldn’t have been called to head the investigation. Oddities were my specialty. And the oddity that came with Lady Patricia’s passing were the five suspects—the people present during her murder—who were all below the age of twelve.

The first suspect was the young, blue-eyed Master Lucas, who proudly declared he had just turned five upon our introduction. He claimed to be in the kitchen when the incident occurred, snacking on a couple of forbidden cookies before dinnertime. The boy apologised for what he deemed as a serious crime—projecting a remorseful mien—but made no mention of the death that occurred in his home. It was almost, as if, he didn’t even know.

The second suspect was nine-year-old, soft-spoken Miss Matilda. During the entirety of our conversation, Miss Matilda kept her gaze on the polished oak-wood floor and fiddled with the frills of her pastel pink dress. She claimed to have been with young Lord Harry, clinking glasses of grape juice in the living room. According to her testimony, it was only after their conversation about her talking parakeet that she heard a series of thudding coming from the hallway—both Miss Matilda and Lord Harry found Lady Patricia in her lifeless state.

The third suspect was none other than Lord Harry. Lord Harry was the oldest amongst the five—barely a few months short of the age of twelve. He was the most respectable guest with a spotless family background. When I spoke to the young man, he confidently gave a detailed account of the night, proving he was indeed with Miss Matilda. But despite having an alibi, I wasn’t convinced—both Lord Harry and Miss Matilda claimed to be unaware of Lady Patricia’s arrival.

The fourth suspect was in her bedroom when the incident occurred. Miss Rebecca had to change out of her white dress when she accidentally spilled grape juice on herself. She claimed to have heard footsteps outside her bedroom door shortly before Lady Patricia’s murder. Miss Rebecca only left her bedroom when she heard Miss Matilda’s scream. The seven-year-old saw no one on her floor prior to and after the incident.

The last suspect was the only suspect who spoke with Lady Patricia. Master William had greeted her at the door, ushered her into the reading room, and offered her a drink. He informed her that dinner would soon be ready, before returning to the kitchen to check on the turkey in the oven. The ten-year-old claimed he had been preparing dinner with Miss Rebecca when the doorbell rang. But upon his return, Miss Rebecca was nowhere to be found.

After speaking with the young suspects, there were a few statements that didn’t match up. Miss Rebecca and Master William were shuffling from the kitchen to the dining room—in preparation for the party—but did not once see Master Lucas in his cookie thievery. The living room was located adjacent to the front door—sharing a hallway leading to the kitchen—which meant that both Lord Harry and Miss Matilda had to be speaking in high decibels to have not notice the doorbell. There was also not a single drop of grape juice, nor an extra drinking glass, to be found in the kitchen despite the stained white dress in Miss Rebecca’s room. And upon the arrival of the police, the roasted turkey was no longer in the oven but nestled in the center of the dining table complete with the feast for the night. Which begs the question: who was telling the truth?

Did Master Lucas have the strength to push a fully grown woman down the stairs? Were Miss Matilda and Lord Harry co-culprits of Lady Patricia’s death? Was there a more sinister cause of the stain on Miss Rebecca’s dress? Why did Master William set the table after a death in the house, or had the table been set prior to Lady Patricia’s arrival? And, the most baffling question of them all: why was Lady Patricia invited to a party, hosted by people outside of her social circle? Did the five children plot her death or was I over-complicating the case—was it the doing of an outsider who saw no threat in a house full of children? Or was it… simply… an accident?

I concluded that the most likely culprit was Lord Harry. He requested the assistance of Miss Matilda—a child infatuated with her best friend’s brother—to act as his alibi and rehearse the story he concocted. And though the young Lord had a spotless history, the evidence I’ve stacked against him could not be ignored. All I did was say he was guilty and the boy took the fall—it was that easy. But wait, who was the real murderer? Oh, how naive of Lady Patricia to even think she could get away. Out of the mouth of babes she often spoke, and out of the mouth of babes I shall rest my case.

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

(Click HERE for the 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.

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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.)