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Cuckoo | Eldritch | Serendipity

“I learned a new word today – eldritch,” I said.

“What’s that – German?” he replied, with eyes glued to the mobile device in his hand.

“No, it means sinister.”

“Oh. In German?”

“No, in English.”

“Well, it sounds German to me.”

“What do you know?” I retorted. He shrugged.

He didn’t spare me a glance, as his fingers tapped on the screen deploying troops around an enemy camp.

“You’re supposed to company me, not play your silly game,” I stated.

“Read your book or something – learn more words,” he simply replied.

“Why are you even here?” I muttered. He shrugged again.

Grunting, I reached for Homer’s opus. It wasn’t my first read – I’d completed the acclaimed author’s oeuvre a week after my arrival. But in the wake of my disease, the book now sat fragile by my bedside table. And soon enough, its spine would give way – just like mine.

“I need a new book,” I stated, as I carefully pried the cover open.

“Same book?” he asked.

“Same.”

“I’ll tell the others.”

“Great – that’s the only thing you’re good for,” I said. As his habitual response, he shrugged once more.

He was immune to my unkind observations – he simply didn’t care. In fact, he didn’t want to be here. He clocked in once a week out of obligation. And I wish, oh how I wish, I could shoo him away – sparing us both the agony. Unfortunately, neither of us had a say. It was the vote of the majority to keep me company. The others thought it was fair to share the burden – the burden of my existence. So, there he was, scheduled to linger by my side all day.

“When’s the doctor coming?” he asked. “I’m supposed to report back.”

“Soon. But the doctor isn’t going to tell you anything,” I replied.

My doctor was a gentle, middle-aged woman, who’d yet to disclose the diagnosis of my illness. I, myself, wasn’t even made privy. And truthfully, I didn’t want to know. Still, it was funny how the others insisted on knowing. Everyday they would attempt to unearth the truth, and everyday they would fail.

“Nevertheless, I have to try. The others will ask if I did,” he said.

“Then put your phone down – she’s here,” I replied.

On schedule, in white robes pressed creaseless, my doctor strolled into my room. She wore a pleasant smile – one I’m certain was genuine. Seeing as she’d arrived, my Thursday companion shoved his phone into his pocket.

“What were you playing?” my doctor asked.

“Some game,” he replied.

“What’s it called? I’d like to give it a go,” she said.

“You won’t like it.”

“How would you know? I like games.”

“So you’ve said, one too many times.”

“Don’t be rude,” I snapped. And he shrugged.

My doctor merely held her smile, as she took a seat to my right – across from him. I was glad she sat across the others. I didn’t want them to hurt her. Among them all, she was the only person who cared beyond her own intentions.

“So, how are you today?” she asked.

“I learned a new word.”

“What word?”

“Eldritch. And apparently, it isn’t German.”

“No, it’s not.” She chuckled. “I learned a new word too – serendipity.”

“You didn’t know the word ‘serendipity’?”

“I did, but not its meaning. Do you know what it means?”

“I guess – I’m not sure.”

“It defines as finding something pleasant by chance. Have you found something pleasant by chance?”

“No.”

“Would you like to find something pleasant by chance?

“The diagnosis.”

“You know I cannot tell you that.” My doctor leaned forward with an apologetic gaze.

“Why not?”

“Because the truth is scary.”

“I’m not a child, doctor.”

“But Jane is a child.”

My doctor had a point – some truths weren’t for children. Who could guess the cause of nondisclosure was Jane? Perhaps she was why we weren’t told all these years.

“Jane wouldn’t need to know.”

“Do you think she won’t find out?”

“We won’t tell her.”

“But what if the others slip up?”

“Do you plan to keep it from us forever?”

“No, I don’t. Let me speak to Jane first, and then we can move forward.”

That day wasn’t the first day my doctor asked for Jane. Unfortunately, Jane wasn’t assigned a day. My doctor never spoke to Jane, because the wide-eyed, bubbly girl, never visited me. The others claimed she was too young – that it would upset her to see me bedridden. Yet, my doctor thought otherwise.

“You can’t speak to Jane.”

“Jane is the key to recovery. You shouldn’t keep her away.”

“Jane is a child. She cannot do anything.”

“You underestimate her.”

“You don’t know Jane.”

“Tick tock, tick tock,” my doctor said.

“Huh?”

“I’m a little cuckoo clock,” she continued.

It sounded like a tease. Strangely, there was a familiarity that came with the seemingly random phrase.

“Tick tock, tick tock,” my doctor added.

“What-”

“Now I’m chiming one o’clock.”

“I don’t…”

“Cuckoo.”

As though it was a spell, my world plummeted into darkness. Someone flipped the switch in my universe – it was the rhyme. The nursery rhyme. Still, not all my senses were lost – I could hear them… for the first time.

“Doctor?”

“Yes, Jane.”

“Tell me the truth,” Jane said.

“Do you think you’re ready?” my doctor asked, in a loving, motherly manner.

“Yes. But you have to hurry.”

“Why?”

“The others don’t know I’m out.”
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Cuckoo, eldritch, and serendipity were words given by The Shameful Narcissist. As someone who’s often curious about split/multiple personality disorder, those three words were an immediate prompt. So forgive me if this one is a little dark.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Please refrain from taking my route – it would be a bigger challenge to craft an uplifting tale. And, if you have 3 words you’d like me to string into a story, be sure to leave them in the comment section below!

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3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Guitar | Bittersweet | Condescending

Bittersweet – the kind I like.

“Have a piece. It’ll calm the nerves,” she said, gently pushing the box of chocolates toward me.

I hesitated. The thin pieces, wrapped in translucent plastic, inclined along the grooves of the package. I doubted it calmed the nerves, but chocolate was a luxury these days. Still, I hesitated.

“No thank you,” I replied.

“Are you worried?” she asked. “Don’t worry. We’ll be there with you.”

She gracefully strode to my side – her long, white robe trailing behind her. Hands clasped together by her waist, she gave a pleasant smile. Unfortunately, it was devoid of my needed assurance. Yes, they would all be there – the elders, as they call themselves. But these people, with their glorified title, would be standing behind me – far from any range of fire.

“I know,” I merely replied.

“Nobody will harm you,” she added. “Remember, you’re the chosen one – the son of man. You speak the truth, and the people will listen.”

Such blasphemy. How did this happen?

All I wanted was to live. And there I was, about to give the last speech of my life. I knew the odds. In this so-called revolution, there were those who’d give their lives to save the world. Some would shed their blood to protect mine, while others would shed theirs to have mine. But I wasn’t one of them – not on the ruling end, and never on the opposition. I merely sought to preserve my life. Being the chosen one was supposed to save me – at least, that was what he said.

“You have the mark. Do you know what this means?” he asked.

“It’s a scar. I fell off my bike when I was a kid.”

“Nobody’s going to ask you how you got it. They just want to believe you exist. And you do.”

“So what, you think I should be the chosen one?”

“Hell yeah. Do you actually think you’ll survive this? When they start cutting the population, you’ll be the first to go – just saying. You have no talent, you’ve not held a job for more than a month, and you’re empty, up there,” he said, poking my head.

He was my friend, yes – a friend who was, more often than not, condescending. And as his friend, I was immune to his candid vocabulary. Sadly, little can be said about others. If only he kept his mouth shut, he would still be alive.

“Imagine what you’ll have as the chosen one. They’ll put you up in a mansion. Feed you food you cannot afford, even before all this. And you know what, I’m sure if you ask them for anything, they’ll give it to you,” he added.

“And what if they find out I’m not the chosen one? What then?”

“You die. But you’re going to die anyway,” he joked.

I thought he joked. I thought he joked about everything, until they came knocking on my door.

The day after our chat, he left in the early morning, claiming he needed to fix his guitar. I didn’t find it odd. He’d been practicing Chopin’s Marche Funebre for days – I thought it natural for the instrument to finally give way. Little did I know, he’d went ahead with a plan we never discussed.

“They’re here!” he announced, hurrying to let the devil in.

I wasn’t a religious person, but I knew to not give the devil a foothold. Instantly, as those black-suited men entered my safe haven, a wave of dread swept over me. And since then, I’ve tried to stay positive. I’ve tried to survive.

When they put me through a physical exam – scrutinizing the scar on my heel – I hoped to be excused as not-the-chosen-one. I hoped they’d see how ridiculous it was to make such vague claims about the saviour. Alas, nothing went as I imagined.

When they provided me a tutor – teaching me their crooked doctrine – I prayed they would see my incompetence. I prayed someone else would declare himself God and take my place. Alas, no one had a friend as brazen as I did.

When they prepared me to be their leader – bribing me with the splendor of my supposed calling – I wished it was all a dream. I wished to wake in my dingy bedroom, free from their unyielding grasp. Alas, reality was a harsh wake-up call.

Now at the fringe of death, made to declare my own sovereignty – of which I, myself, didn’t believe in – I wanted to live. I wanted to run. Alas, I was ushered out the door, into the velvet carpeted hallway, and up a stage set before an audience. They weren’t all friendly – I could see it in their eyes. And as I cleared my throat before the single microphone, I attempted one last time to survive.

“Please,” I said. “Help me.”

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Guitar, bittersweet, and condescending were words given by lielabigail, allowing me to write another open-ended story. Don’t you just love this kind of fiction? I joke. But I won’t lie, making readers question the end makes writing so much more fun.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Also, if you could give me more sets of words below, we can save the world. I cannot do this writing challenge without you. So please… help me.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Shampoo | Tiles | Shadows

There I was, hunched over the sink for a quick wash. It had been weeks since I left the office, and the only time I was ever alone involved lemon-scented shampoo. Unfortunately, such bliss was consistently short-lived. Just as I turned the squeaking tap off, the restroom door slammed open.

“He’s ready, chief,” my corporal reported.

Tossing my towel at the small-framed man, I crossed my fingers and stalked straight for the interrogation room. I had hope it was the end. That case had gone on for too long – those gruesome bodies and their weeping families – it was time to put it all to rest, as it should’ve been years ago.

“No more games,” I said.

“I was never playing one,” he replied.

“Good. So let’s get to it.”

A man in his mid thirties, with a healthy physique, and a head full of hair – dyed to conceal his premature aging – he mirrored the ordinary. But beneath the average and harmless facade was a monster. I had proof he’d stabbed and numbered his victims over the last fifteen years. And for the first time, I’d caught him.

“Do you plead guilty to the murder of-”

“I didn’t do it,” he casually interrupted, sliding into a comfortable position on his chair.

“You didn’t do it?”

“Without reason. I didn’t do it… without reason, detective. You’ll thank me if you knew.”

I frowned. I entered with intentions of withholding emotions, but that proved more difficult than expected. For one, I had an urge to knock his teeth loose – the devoid of remorse was provoking. But the first to lose their cool would lose the game. And I wasn’t going to lose again.

While I thought of a response to spur a direct confession, my antagonist straightened himself. Leaning forward, he added, “They were bad people, detective. All of them.”

“And that gives you a reason to kill?”

“A good reason.”

“Madeleine Matthews was a seven-year old math genius, about to change the world with her gift, before you brutally ripped her open. How was this child a bad person?”

“One day, she would be. Trust me, I know.”

“So you’ve decided to play god.”

“It’s all part of a greater plan, detective.”

“I see.” Done with the man’s crooked sense of justice, as it merely challenged my self-control, I went for the answer the nation needed to hear. “So, God, where are the other bodies?”

“What bodies?”

“Number three, five, six, nine, twelve, fifteen-”

“Not here.”

“I said, no more games,” I warned.

“I’m not playing any games, detective. They’re not here. You can search the whole country, and you’ll never find them… here.”

“I’m going to give you another chance. You either tell me now, or after I break every bone in your body.”

“Fine. Number three was sprawled on the bathroom tiles of his home in 1956,” he calmly replied. Apparently my threat made no difference, as he’d yet to lose his placid mien nor regain his sanity. “Number five was hung on a tree in a park in 2017. Number six-”

“Which park?”

“August, 2017.”

“I asked which park, not when.”

“It’s May, detective – it doesn’t matter which park. Shall I continue? Number six was left in a river in 1872. Number nine was buried in her backyard in 2038. Number twelve was-”

I slammed a hand on the metal table. “Enough,” I said. “You’re not making sense.” Rising from my seat, I glanced at the two-way mirror. Was my team hearing what I was hearing? Were they deducing him insane or concluding it as part of his game? I contemplated rounding them for a discussion, but I couldn’t shake off the anomalous feeling in the room.

“You’ll find them, detective – if you go back, or if you live long enough. All they are now… are shadows,” he said.

“Do you work alone?” I asked. Despite his modus operandi, it seemed as though he was implying something more with his grotesque accounts of history.

“Yes.”

“In 1873 and 2030?”

“In 1872 and 2038, yes.”

“Why the sporadic numbers and years?”

“I’m not stupid, detective. If I logged linearly, I would’ve been long caught. And not by you.”

“So you wanted me to catch you?”

“I need to tell you something, detective. But you wouldn’t take me seriously outside of this room.”

“I don’t take you seriously now. Do you expect me to believe you can… time travel?” I scoffed.

“That’s not it.”

“Then what is?”

He waved his hand, signaling me toward him. Chuckling, I strode to his side and leaned in.

“Tell me,” I prompted.

“I’m your son,” he whispered.

Pulling back with a laughter of disbelief, I rested my hands on my hip. “I don’t have a son,” I stated.

“Number twenty-six was bagged in the boot of her car in 1988. Her name was Sarah Weber. Sound familiar?”

At the mention of the name, I froze. Yes, it sounded familiar. And so was the beautiful face that came with it.

“Did you murder Sarah Weber?”

“Don’t worry, father. Once I leave this room, you’ll never see me again. I just wanted to meet you, that’s all.”

“You’re not leaving this room, son.”

“Oh, I will.” He smiled. “You’ll see.”

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Shampoo, tiles, and shadows were words given by monkeyeverythingblog. And this story, well, it was inspired by a Korean crime drama I’ve been binge watching. Since I expected a plot twist that didn’t occur on screen, I decided to write my own crime piece with these three ‘horror-inducing’ words. What do you think – would this make a decent drama?

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Since I didn’t go the horror route, perhaps you can do so. It would be pretty cliche though, but who’s to say – my story above is pretty cliche too.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Undaunted | Corgi | Trove

“Let’s go, Pup. They’re coming,” I said.

My trusted friend, an adorable brown-patched corgi, bounced to my side. It didn’t have a collar when it first showed up, so I called it ‘Pup’. I know, it sounds strange. Who would abandon a corgi? But it happened, and I’m glad it did. Because unlike me, Pup knew the map of this foreign land. Pup was part of this world. And boy, I would’ve been long caught if not for this little fellow.

“We have to get there before they do,” I added, pulling the room door open.

Pup barked in reply, and trotted into the crimson carpeted hallway. It promptly headed to the stairway. And just as I caught up, I heard the expected elevator ding. Pup heard it too.

Placing a finger over my lips, I gestured Pup to the stairs. Together, we shuffled down in a fury. I can’t recall the floor we were on, but it was a seemingly long descent. Oddly enough, we touched ground without a gasp for breath. Once in the lobby, I pointed at the revolving door, and said, “Lead the way, Pup.”

Pup hopped in place, and dashed toward the exit. As though having eyes at the back of its head, Pup kept a steady pace. What a funny sight it must’ve been – a man tailing a puppy. But neither of us spared a second on passers-by. We had to reach the cave, before the mercenaries did. We had to find the trove, before shots were fired. We had to live up to our name, coined by the people forever on our heels.

“Keep going, Pup!” I said, as we entered a crowd.

Pup and I were in a country rich with culture, brimming with men, and dense with low-rise shops along mucky, narrow streets. A great chatter rose from its heterogenous society – the noise as obstructing as the bodies. But thankfully, Pup only had ears for my husky voice. And I, only had eyes for its smooth coat.

Swivelling through the hustle and bustle, we made our way to the end of the winding street. Tearing free from the suffocating mass, we spotted the beach. But the second our feet aligned, an eruption of gunshots ensued. I snapped toward its source and found a scurry of people. With no time to lose, I waved Pup to follow.

Jumping over the stone barrier, we raced along the ocean tide with the east end in sight. It was where the wall of a great mountain stood. It fringed the peachy sand, homing the hidden entrance to Blackbeard’s treasure… or so some said. One can only hope at that point of time – with the gunmen bolting after us, the truth would determine our fate.

“Will we live, Pup?” I shouted, in competition with the evening waves. “Will the treasure be ours?”

Arf! Arf!

“I take that as a ‘yes’.”

Arf!

For a moment, I had confidence unbeknownst to men – thanks to Pup. But when my feet skidded five feet short of the sawtoothed wall, pessimism settled. From a glance, I knew there was no entrance. Hoping my initial deduction was erred, I brushed aside the navy green vines. Unfortunately, in dread, I was proven right. Did I read the clue incorrectly? Was Pup mistaken? I’ve not once failed to piece a jigsaw puzzle. And Pup had a track record of finding the right places. So, how could we both be wrong, at the same time?

“We’re done, Pup,” I said.

Now, you must know, I’m not a quitter. Nor am I a stranger to danger. But when bullets are bound to whizz my way, I have no plans to offer myself as target practice. The treasure could wait. I’ll get back to it… once I can account for my life.

“We need to find an escape,” I added.

On cue, Pup galloped to my left and halted where the ocean met the mountain. Calling me over with its bark, Pup turned to look upward. When I hesitated, Pup nuzzled against my leg.

“I can’t leave you,” I said. “We’ll find another way.”

Arf! Arf!

“No, Pup.”

Arf! Arf! Arf!

“I said, no.” I grunted, thoughtlessly lifting my gaze above. And there, right before my eyes, was an opening in the wall.

Arf!

“I see it! But…”

Peering over my shoulder, my burly antagonists were minutes from accomplishing their mission. With weapons lock and loaded, the odds of me finding another escape was slim. But, I knew I couldn’t leave Pup to those men. What would they do to Pup? I didn’t want to imagine. Still, as shameful as it is to admit, I considered saving myself. I’ve not doubted Pup’s intelligence, so perhaps the corgi had a plan. With this belief, could I leave my friend behind? Could I abandon Pup for safety and possibly, gold?

Arf! Pup prompted. Arf! Arf!

“I… I…”

Never have I faced such a dilemma. But before my mind could be made, a pang shot through my right shoulder. It sent my entire back tingling. Did I just take a bullet? I didn’t hear a gunshot. Frozen in fear, I faced no mercy – another pang erupted, and then a third. And since third time’s a charm, I snapped awake.

“Oi! Are you going to sleep through the day?” My sister hovered over me, with her hand poised for another smack.

“You just ruined my dream,” I muttered.

“Oh? Was it about a girl?” she teased.

“No.”

“Then?”

“I… I dreamt…Well, it was something about a treasure. And a dog.”

“Like in those Disney TV movies?” she asked with a chuckle. “What were you guys called – the Undaunted Duo or something?”

I frowned. “We didn’t have a name. Or… did we? Whatever. Go away.”

“The treasure hunting boy and his corgi – ah, that would make a great show for ten year-olds.”

Groaning, I yanked my blanket over my head. Whatever the dream was, it didn’t sound as silly as she’d imagined it to be. But I guess… I would never know, would I?

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Undaunted, corgi, and trove were words given by Calvin Ng on Facebook. What a plot twist, eh? No? Not really? Well… OK. I tried though. Recently, I’ve been having dreams about being chased – for whatever reason – and I thought, why not write about a chase dream. So, here it is. I hope it’s a decent story… from something so random.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. And, as an added challenge, write it based on something in your life – that’s as random as random gets.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Pink | Apocalypse | Massage

The neon pink sign flickered overhead. Its buzzing no less perturbing than the placid stray cat by the door. In fact, the sound of its malfunction was comforting. Any sound, for that matter, was comforting. Perhaps there was hope after all.

Welcome to my world. Or, shall I say, what’s left of it. Before this dreary mess, hope wasn’t a preposterous pipe-dream. There was a time where, despite the toil of survival, laughter and cheer prevailed. A time of sound, I call it. Sound of cars whizzing down the highway. Sound of steam hissing from the coffee machine. Sound of trees rustling in the evening breeze. Sound of another – breathing, moving, living. But then they all came to a stop. The world ended – the apocalypse. Sound lost its dominance, as the living that made it drew their last breaths. And the world, as we know it, became silent.

I’ve lived in this quiet – alone – for a while now. There was a time I actually enjoyed it. After the chaos ended, the absence of even the faintest noise was solace. The peace, accompanied with the ringing in my ears, chased the maleficent thoughts away. Alas, it was short-lived. Soon I wanted to hear something – the howling wind, the dripping tap, the heavy footsteps. Soon, I needed it. Unfortunately, there were none. I could make my own to fill the void – to help me keep my sanity – but they weren’t organic. They weren’t real or true. They were contrived. But just before I lost all hope, I heard it – the sliding of paper from under my apartment door. It was deafening in my muted world. Its sound and its black, slanted words, offered to feed my hunger.

So, there I was – under the sign of the dingy massage parlour embracing the buzz. I would’ve continued in my languor, but the creaking of the door broke the spell. As it opened from the inside, I saw my first human. He was a six-foot, clean-shaven man.

‘Are. You. Sure?’ he mouthed. He didn’t speak as though to deprive me further.

“Yes,” I replied.

The man nodded and gestured for me to enter. With hope, I did. Into the forsaken foyer, heavily laden with dust, I went. But inside was noone.

“Where are they?” I asked. “You said there were people.”

Shutting the only exit, the man spared no word and took the lead. I was tempted to ask once more, but I tailed him like a lost puppy instead. When we finally came to a stop, it was before another door. This time, he spoke.

“If you live, you live with us,” he said – repeating the offer on the paper.

“And what must I do to live?” I asked.

“Fight,” he replied.

The man pushed the door open, and a breath-snatching reverb hit me. It was overwhelming. My eardrums thumped. My chest tightened. And I hesitated. In the presence of my heart’s desire, I contemplated.

Ahead was a descending flight of stairs, and at its foot was a room lit in dim neon light. Rising from the unknown were disembodied voices. They shouted my name. And their calls wrapped me around their preternatural fingers. So instead of turning back, where it was bright and familiar, I shuffled down the stairs. Oh, how quickly I regretted it. The moment my feet stepped onto the solid ground, I received a nerve-shocking blow to the jaw. And just as I stumbled backward, a cheer erupted.

Where were the people? Attempting to get my bearings, I found myself in the dark. Despite the light, I could barely grasps my surroundings. Everything was a blur of swirls, alike the sky in a post-impressionist painting. What was happening? Where was I? I knew I had to fight to live – to live with these people – but how, when I couldn’t see?

“I can’t see,” I shouted.

There was no response. The cheering continued as a hand reached for me. To spare myself from another painful punch, I repeated, “I can’t see! Stop! I can’t see!”

To think those words would make a difference proved my naivety. Yet in the oddity of the entire experience, they did. Declaring my weakness, a white light flicked on – blinding me in an instant – as the voices quieted down. And in the return of silence, my eyes adjusted. Where I was, was an empty basement with moulding walls. There was nobody around, not even the man who’d ushered me in. And I was alone, in silence, again. What was going on? Had I lost my mind? I must’ve.

“Hello?” I called. “Is anybody… there?”

No reply. No echo. No ghostly creak. Nothing.

“I can fight now,” I muttered. “I can see now.”

Silence.

At that moment, I knew the only person I’d be fighting was myself. There was only me in this world. But as long as I could see, I could fight – whatever the fight was.

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Pink, apocalypse, and massage were words given by Vincent Lim on Facebook. If you have no idea what this story is about, great! It’s up for interpretation.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. But before you do that, leave a comment below with the 3 most random words you can think of. I need your creativity to stir my creativity.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Willow | Mouse | Hat

Once upon a time, there lived a mouse. He hid under the dying shades of a willow tree. And bearing the weight of a gargantuan human hat were his feeble shoulders. For most of his life, that was the frame of his identity. He was a small and weak creature, shielded from the world by a soulless perennial plant, with a destiny that mirrored a curse. And with such a fate, he couldn’t live. Yet, in the irony of his birth, he was told to live – a great and mighty life.

Growing up, he heard stories about the creatures beyond. They lurked outside the drapes of the sallow. They had monstrous fangs, sharpened claws, and an insatiable appetite for little mouses. And the one he trusted – the one that groomed him – the tree, continued to feed him those lies. It painted a hazardous unknown, one he feared the most. But then came the day he was done – tired and frustrated of living in the shadows.

“I cannot live like this, Willow,” he said.

“Then how should you live – as dinner for those beasts?”

“I can sneak.”

“And your hat?”

“I can be quiet.”

“You stupid little mouse. I’ve told you, these devils can smell you. They can’t see, but they can sniff.”

“Then what am I to do – continue with this purposeless life?”

“You have a purpose. You will be great one day. But that day, is not today.”

The tree shook its branches – shedding its browning leaves – ending the conversation. The mouse was left to wallow in the growing darkness, as day gave way to night. Soon, the moon would bask in the starry canvas. And soon, he would hear the terrifying howls of the monsters outside. Perhaps the tree was right. Perhaps he should remain where he was, do what he was told, and wait for the promise of a great life. But how long should he wait? He was no longer a pup. He could now carry the human hat with little difficulty. Should he wait till his shoulders were broader? They didn’t seem like they could grow any wider. Deciding to take control of his destiny, he left the tree.

As he cautiously slipped from under the willow’s shade, the glorious evening hues had altogether vanished. It was now the darkest hour. There was no warmth in its embrace, and absent was the comforting scent of spring. His little feet scurried to the nearest rock for safety – his shadow stretched distorted under the moonlight. And in the silence, his ears perked for the familiar call of the beast. Yet oddly, there was none. Were the monsters in hiding? His eyes darted to every moving shadow, as his breath grew short.

Five feet behind him was the tree in its slumber. It was unaware of his truancy, and he was tempted to scuttle back in fear. But, he pushed forward. He’d caught sight of a glistening body of water, and its preternatural attribute called to him. Its stream winded through the field of grass. Its current stirred a soothing melody. And in its transparency, it reflected the night sky. Dragonflies zoomed above, unafraid of the night and the monsters in hiding. Having not met any creature outside his cocoon, the prospect of friendship excited him.

“Hello there,” he greeted in a whisper.

Three dragonflies buzzed past, but one stayed behind. It had a peculiar question, one the mouse didn’t expect to hear.

“Why are you whispering?” the dragonfly asked.

“The beasts. They might hear me,” he replied.

“What beasts?”

“The beasts that devour mouses like me.”

The dragonfly, in its graceful flight, oscillated from left to right. “I see. But you don’t have to whisper,” the dragonfly stated.

“The beasts-”

“It makes no difference, little mouse.”

“It doesn’t?”

The dragonfly caught the night breeze. It rose in its lift before diving down. “It doesn’t. And with a hat like that, you’re safe.”

“But Willow said my hat makes me vulnerable.”

“Did it now? See that owl on that tree.”

A few feet down the stream was an autumn tinted tree. Faint were the colours of its leaves, but bold was the predator on its branch. The snow white bird swivelled its head toward them, and a shiver ran up his fragile spine.

“That’s a beast!”

In the panic, he scurried into a bed of periwinkles. The dragonfly promptly lowered itself on a leaf beside him.

“One of the many beasts in this world, I’m afraid. But look, it isn’t coming after you,” the dragonfly said.

“Because of my hat?”

“Because of your hat, and because of you.”

“Me?”

“Go to the water, little mouse. It’ll show you who you are.”

“But the beast…”

“Go.”

The dragonfly didn’t wait for him, nor did it offer to watch his back. It left him words without assurance, taking off into the sky. But as it did, a strange desire to see himself sparked. So he took a bold step forward. And with one step, came another, and another, until he was at the bank. In his peripheral, the owl remained perched. But the caution toward his predator evanesced when he caught his reflection.

Staring back, in the mirror of the universe above, was an aged man. Adorning his head was a shimmering crown, embellished with rubies and sapphires. Draping from his broad, square shoulders was a crimson robe. He was no mouse – he was a king. The willow had lied. And a costly lie it was. But could he blame it and not himself? He chose to believe the willow’s tale. He chose a sheltered life. Now, if only he was braver sooner. If only he wasn’t fearful of the unknown, he could’ve lived a greater and mightier life – a life promised from birth. But at the very least, he could now die a man. At the very least… he was no longer a mouse.

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Willow, mouse, and hat were words given by SJJ. When I think of these words, I think fairytale. Hence, I’ve attempted to write a story one would read to a child during bedtime. I’m not sure if I did a good job, so I’ll leave the judging to you.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. You could, perhaps, take a fairytale spin to it too. The choice is yours.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Love | Hearts | Roses

loveheartsroses

It was on a sunny day in the year 1995. I stood by a tree in the park, with a box brimmed with origami hearts – it was what she wanted, or so she told me.

“Hey!” I called, waving her over in the middle of her game of hide-and-seek.

“What?” she asked.

Her hazel eyes reflected my grin, as I handed her the gift. That day, she wore a yellow floral dress with puffed sleeves. Alike a princess, she caught my breath in her innocence and grace.

“What’s this?” she asked. “And who are you?”

“It’s what you wanted,” I said.

“My mummy says I shouldn’t talk to strangers.”

“And your mummy is right.”

She frowned, as bewilderment glazed her small face. I had the urge to reach down – to brush her hair – but I pocketed my hands instead.

“Anyway, that’s for you. Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily,” I said.

“Eww!” she exclaimed. “You’re not my boyfriend.”

I chuckled. And just when she proceeded to unwrap her gift, I left.

1995 was the last year I saw her. It was also the last time I did something for her. But it wasn’t the only time. At least, in this respect, I was in control.

It was on a rainy day in the year 2007. I stood outside the diner, with an umbrella and a bouquet of velvet roses. It wasn’t something she wanted, but perhaps something she needed.

She once recounted a tale of being stood up by her date. The boy blamed the weather for his no show, and she laughed at the absurd excuse. But as I caught the glistening tear, trailing down her cheek that evening, I needed to rewrite history.

Entering the quiet eatery, I confidently strolled to her booth. In the warmth of the building, she wore a polka-dotted, monochrome mini dress. When I halted before her, she gazed at me expectantly. Then realising I wasn’t her high school crush, she turned away. Her disregard of my presence broke my heart. But I wasn’t there for me – I was there for her.

“I have something for you,” I said.

“I don’t know you,” she replied, eyes fixated at the barren street outside.

“Someone asked me to deliver these to you,” I added.

Shoving the bouquet in front of her face, I left her with no choice but to accept it. And when she did, she promptly asked, “Who?” Her dejected mien now replaced with curiosity and anticipation.

“Not whoever it is you’re waiting for, that’s for sure,” I replied. I had to tell her – he wasn’t worth her time.

“Then who?”

“Your secret admirer.”

“I have a secret admirer?”

I nodded. I contemplated on asking if I could join her, but the eyes behind the counter narrowed on me like a hawk. So after acknowledging the presence of the stranger, I turned to her and wished, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily.”

“Who’s my secret admirer?” she repeated. “Tell me.”

I shrugged in reply. Then before I raised further suspicion, I stalked into the wet outdoors – leaving her wondering from behind the glass window.

2007 was a memorable year. I lingered for months to see the result of my intervention. It didn’t alter the course of history, but it did repaint a memory in good light. That was my intention all along… after I failed her.

It was on a cloudy day in the year 2017. I stood by the sidewalk, moments before her death. She wore a red, fitted dress – one I told her not to, but she insisted anyway.

“I’m ready,” she said.

“No. Let me try again,” I replied.

“You said it yourself. Nothing you do can save me.”

“Please let me try.”

“How many times have you said that – how many times will you watch me die?”

She wasn’t afraid of death. The fear in her eyes, and the dryness in her voice, were for me. She fought back the tears, threatening to break her in the face of death, for me. And at that moment – the moment I’ve experienced countless times – I knew it was the last. Her words were different. Her countenance was foreign. In this timeline, she embraced her fate.

“Emily,” I pleaded.

“I don’t want you to live your life on repeat. Please let me go this time.”

“I can’t do that. I cannot let you go.”

“You can. And you will.”

“No, I need to go back. There’s a loophole somewhere. I know there is.”

She sighed. Then reaching for my hands, she said, “If you must go back, then go back. But when you do go back, don’t return to this moment.”

“What?”

“Let this be our first and final goodbye.”

“I…”

A wrenching pain wrapped inside my chest. Its asphyxiating nature dragged my soul into a darkness I never knew existed. My throat tightened in response. My head scrambled for words I couldn’t say. And my eyes blurred in her final moment alive.

“I love you,” she said, with a thin smile.

“I… Em…”

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

That was, indeed, our first and final goodbye. Of all the endings to her life, I’d found the one with the most peaceful facet. And so I heeded her words – I went back.

It was on an ordinary day. I stood before the place I called home. As I reached for the door, ready to accept the life within, the door opened from inside.

“You’re back!” she squealed. “Happy Emily Day!”

With a smile, I picked her up for a tight hug. That day, she wore a navy blue jumpsuit.

“Happy Emily Day, Emily. Did you miss me?” I asked.

“Every second of every day.”

“I missed you too, Emily.”

Every second of every day.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Love, hearts, and roses were words given by breezyonthebeach. In fact, they were given as a Valentine’s Day prompt last year. I thought, since it’s Valentine’s Day next week, I might as well run with them.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. If you’re not up for a fictional tale, then recount your Valentine’s Day with these 3 words. It shouldn’t be difficult… unless you’re as single as I am.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Original Works

 

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