Original Works

Rebirth [12 Genre Months]

Once upon a time—a story always begins. The same four words that captures a child’s curiosity upon utterance—the opening to many stories, folklore, and legends. Alas, there was one beginning that commenced differently. It was a beginning that came forth once every five-hundred years—a beginning that repeated itself over, and over, and over again. For upon its very first once upon a time, there would never be an end—a fictional happily ever after that ceased to exist.

I was twelve-years-young when my mother told me the story. It began as a tale of a great adventure, where the hero traversed the golden dunes in the North Desert in search of the Fountain of Youth. It was said that beneath the great sea of sand was a cave—one that would rise above the earth when a mortal, worthy of its gift, should stumble upon it. And, like every other story, the hero had been worthy since birth. Still, it took the hero thirty-seven years to face his destiny—he had just turned sixty when he uncovered his calling.

It was a fateful evening when the ground shuddered and groaned. A rocky chamber emerged before the hero’s aging eyes, striking him in wonder and awe. It’s iron-grey accents, disparate to the surrounding topography, revealed a winding hollow that descended into the earth. And, the hero had no reservations. He strode into the mouth of the colossal chamber, leaving the world at the foot of the cave.

As the uneven and slippery path led him into the abyss, the hero soon found himself out of light’s reach. But in that darkness, where the hero thought of assembling a torch, he heard a disembodied voice—it asked a simple question with a deep resonance that reverberated through his bones.

“What do you seek?” The ghostly echoes of the question sent a shiver down his spine.

‘What do I seek?’ the hero thought to himself. The answer was easy. The hero had long sought for one thing and one thing alone—it was the reason for his quest, and it was the very thing the cave was said to offer. So the hero replied, “I seek what you promised.”

Just as the hero uttered those words, the cave trembled. And almost immediately, the hero hesitated—should he stay or should he run for his life? Then realising how he had wasted many years for that very moment, the hero stood his ground. And at the resolution, the trembling ceased.

Silence and darkness reigned. A nothingness prolonged—seemingly perpetual to warrant a response. But before a word left the hero’s lips, a faint light flickered in the hollow up ahead. It drew nearer and nearer, until the hero could see its very form—a ball of light akin to the sun.

Again, the hero was uncertain—should he embrace the fiery orb or step out of its way? Was it the gift he had longed for or a curse of death? The hero chose to remain. And as he closed his eyes in expectation of the magical light, the hero felt a warm sensation entering his chest. The comforting heat extended to every inch of his body. Then, it dissipated—its heat lifting from his being as a cold draft stirred around him. As the gift was dispensed, the voice returned.

“You will live for a thousand years, and a thousand more. Never will you meet death.”

Thus, the end of the story—the closure that every mother offered as she tucked her children to sleep. Alas, that wasn’t the end. I would know, as I went on the same adventure, only to discover that the story never ended there.

Unlike the hero, I wandered a few years short of twenty. I thought myself lucky—having not to spend another night in the soulless desert as a mortal. But as I uttered the words of the hero and embraced the gift, I came upon the part of the story that diverged. Oh, how I had hoped for a warm and comforting sensation in my being. Oh, if only the legend was true. Alas, the gift was a curse.

As soon as the fiery orb nestled in my chest, an eruption of raging heat burst forth. A searing sensation scorched my skin from the inside out. And before my very eyes, ash rose from my being. I thought I was dying—I felt myself die. To my dismay, I was still alive. When the pain eventually ceased, I could no longer feel my body. The only sensation that remained was an unending fire that stirred within.

“You will live for a thousand years, and a thousand more. Never will you meet death,” the voice said.

It was too late then. I would have renounced the gift but I had lost my voice. No longer was I mortal. I had become the sun. And I was destined to grace the skies for all of eternity—to live as a mythical creature that would be reborn in its own ashes over, and over, and over again. Thus… once upon a time, at every quincentenary, my story continues.


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

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

Original Works

The Man With The Missing Fingers [12 Genre Months]

Six weeks ago, he woke from his slumber to a missing thumb. It was the thumb on his right hand—the very thumb he sucked on as a child. But tomorrow, there would be a missing hand—a bizarre addition to the story he was once told. He didn’t expect it to get any stranger, despite having five fingers left⁠—two on his right and three on his left—exactly five days ago. He thought, what more could happen? Would he lose his toes too? How about his eyes, nose, and mouth? Alas, two months from yesterday, he would discover having no hands left. And from that day onward, he would begin to lose his toes too.

At twenty-four, she didn’t think fables and legends were real. Yet, she always thought they made for a good warning—a whimsical threat to put things and people in order. And so she would spend many hours scouring books for a worthy tale. Days and nights, years before and years after until finally, at the age of eighteen, she found the story of the man with the missing fingers. Who was the man, what was his name, and where did he come from—futile questions she didn’t ask. All that mattered was the day she turned thirty—the day she told him the story.

When he was seven years old, his mother told him about the man with the missing fingers. She had told him the same story when he was five, three, and even before he understood what words were for. The myth was rather nightmarish for a child—a man whose fingers disappeared overnight. But when he turned fifteen, he began to question his mother’s story—how could fingers disappear? Were fingers secretly magicians? Who stole those fingers? Unfortunately, despite his disbelief, his fate remained. On the morning of his thirtieth birthday, he found himself with nine fingers—a little finger had vanished from his left hand.

She thought that if she told him when he was old enough—at the acceptable age of fifty-two years young—he would change in his stubborn ways. Many legends had worked to her favour, alas the man with the missing fingers had failed. Why wouldn’t he believe? If only he did, he would still have all his fingers. If only he believed, he wouldn’t awake to the horror. It was strange that a man his age refused to accept the reality in her stories—didn’t wisdom come with age? To her dismay, she was left with a man now incapable of caring for himself. Oh, how she regretted—perhaps she should have told him later rather than sooner.

The man with the missing fingers lost all his fingers before he actually became a man. One would assume he was a man when he lost his fingers but that was a supposition made into gospel by those who retold his story. Now, if he could correct them, he would. Alas, after his toes had left him so did his mouth, nose, and eyes. How could he address the rumour, let alone add to the bizarre tale in his unfortunate state? How could he give a complete account of the plague that had struck him? And so the man with the missing fingers became a legend. He became a myth that was all too real for those who followed after him.

Six weeks ago, she woke from her slumber to a missing thumb—the same for all and for one. Sadly, before she could even utter the horrifying truth, there would be nothing left of her—nothing but the mind of a peculiar anthropoid. And that itself isn’t the end, for how truly frightening is the end, no one would ever know.


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

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