Original Works

Faith | Work | Love

“Tis’ the season to fall in love,” she said. “The snow is falling. The mistletoe is waiting. If anything, Christmas is when you find the one.”

“Right,” I replied. “But-”

“Just look at the movies! And don’t get me started on Hallmark,” she added.

“And your point is…”

“My point is that this is your season,” she said, with a gentle nudge of the shoulder.

With a halfhearted smile, I returned to the unopened files on my desk. As the week-long holidays were just around the corner, I intended to complete the remaining work at break-neck speed. Alas, my colleagues often found their way to my workstation with invites to Christmas and New Year parties—none of which I had any intention to attend.

“So you’re coming to the office party, right?” she continued. “You’ll get to meet the guys from the other departments.” She winked.

I sighed. If only the party wasn’t mandatory—our manager had invited each and every person with a personalised card—I would’ve skipped out. “Yea, I guess,” I replied.

“Great! Who knows, you might just find the love of your life,” she said with a beam.

“Awesome.” I gave a thumbs up before plugging in my earphones.

Oh, how easy I’ve made it for everyone to think that I was a Grinch. After all, I hadn’t shown much enthusiasm for the holiday. But truthfully, that wasn’t the case—I adored Christmas. I loved sitting by a decorated fireplace as the Christmas tree lights flickered on the surrounding walls. I enjoyed the company of family and friends as we shared a warm cup of eggnog after a hearty Christmas dinner. I didn’t even despise the music—I would prepare my very own Christmas playlist in November. But things had changed—Christmas was no longer about faith, love, and hope. Christmas was all about finding the one. And just like she said, don’t get me started on Hallmark.

If only I could celebrate Christmas the way I wanted to. If only I could make this holiday my own. If only I could return to the good old days—building a snowman with my sister, guessing the gifts under the tree, and singing cheesy carols without shame. And just as I thought about home, there came a ping from my desktop chat.

‘Wanna go home for Christmas?’ my sister sent.

‘Flight is expensive now,’ I replied.

‘So you’d rather spend it with people trying to hook you up?’

I chuckled. “Are you going back? I thought you couldn’t.’

‘I changed my mind,’ she said. ‘I forgot what Christmas was like.’

‘Me too.’

‘I’ll see you at home then,’ she added with a wink emoji. And at that moment, I knew that she had bought her air tickets—that she would be home for Christmas, experiencing the very meaning of the season that had been lost for many years. This year, my sister had the courage to choose her own holiday story—did I?

That night, before I slipped under the cosy covers of my bed, I made up my mind. I had no plans to stand under a mistletoe at my office Christmas party—unfortunately, I would have to gracefully decline the invite. I also had no plans to fall in love—to write my own cliche Christmas romance. There was, after all, more to this holiday. And since it was still my choice on how I wished to celebrate it, I chose to do so in a way that mattered to me.

‘I’ll see you at home,’ I hit reply. And then, to both my mother and father, I sent, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas. It’s where I belong.’


Faith, work, and love were words given by Caroline Guisson on Facebook.

This bite-sized piece of holiday fiction was written to remind us all that we still have a choice on how we wish to celebrate the end of the year—whether it’s falling in love, spending time with family, or using this time to reconcile, let’s celebrate in a way that matters to us.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. As the words are pretty ‘Christmas-y’, you could write your own Christmas story—perhaps a piece on what this season means to you.

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

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

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

Original Works

Cinema | Heart | Hospital

Romance movies—a poor imitation of reality. Yet, when I recalled that day—the evening I had long planned and hoped for—I found myself in an almost cliche plotline.

“I don’t feel so good,” I said.

We were barely halfway through the latest action adventure when my heart began pounding. No, it wasn’t from the thrill of the film and neither was it from being on a date—if, I was even allowed to call it that. The sudden eruption in my chest was something else, sending me into a panic. And, as much as I wished for my dear heart to calm down, I knew something was wrong—I had no choice but to call an end to our short time together.

“Can you… can you send me to the hospital?” I asked, embarrassed at the request.

At once, apprehension and concern swept across her previously entertained mien. “Why? What’s wrong?” she replied. Oh, how awkward it was from that point on.

Who would’ve thought that our first time alone would be in an emergency ward, wondering if I was having a heart attack? Who would’ve thought that it would end in such an ill-fated manner—a disappointment from the hope of a pleasant and delightful evening? Who would’ve thought that it would be cruelly memorable, like a tragic romance meant to make one weep? Who would’ve thought that it would make the perfect premise of a depressing love story?

Alas, I was unlucky, bearing a fair share of dating mishaps. From a punctured tire, spilled coffee, and a broken nose in a single date to missing keys and an unexpected thunderstorm, my love life had either been a comedy or a tragedy. Why was it difficult to catch a break—a chance to have things go my way? Little did I know, it was all in my head—fiction that was once reality.

“What did the doctor say?” she asked.

It was the day after and I wasn’t sure how to feel about her call. She seemed to care. But perhaps, it was simply a natural, human thing to do. I would do the same, too, with a friend. Was I someone special to her—had my fate changed?

“I have to go back for a full check-up,” I replied.

“I see. Make sure to listen to the nurses,” she said.

“Okay?” I chuckled. It was an odd statement but I brushed it off. After all, she had called me first—she started the conversation, even if it was out of concern.

“I’ll come see you tomorrow, all right?” she added.

“Huh?” I replied. Were we set for a second date—was there a lapse in my memory? Just like that evening, in the dimmed theater hall, something felt off. Alas, I couldn’t pinpoint the problem—it certainly wasn’t my heart.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she repeated. And before I could reply, she ended the call.

I couldn’t grasp her words at that moment. It seemed strange and out of place. It didn’t belong in my world. Until it became clear, the following morning, when she knocked on my room door. I hadn’t forgotten her promise to see me but it was then that I had to face my reality.

“Hi dad,” she said, welcoming herself in. She placed a bag of lunch boxes on the table, before asking, “What time will the doctor see you?”

“Dad?” I asked with a frown. Wasn’t she the girl in the cinema—the beautiful Anna, with short curls and big brown eyes? At my confusion, sympathy glazed her gentle face.

“Are you hungry?” she asked. “I packed your favourite—peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“Who are you?” I asked. The more I looked at her, the less like Anna she was. “Where’s Anna? Anna drove me to the hospital yesterday.”

“She did,” she replied. “I’m Jess.”

“Where’s Anna, Jess? I have to speak to her after our terrible date,” I said.

I had to apologise for the trouble I caused—it was ungentlemanly to make her wait while I changed the flat tire, and more so humiliating to have her drive me to the ER again with a broken nose. One mishap after another, it was as if we weren’t meant to be.

“Mom-I mean, Anna is busy,” Jess replied. “But she’ll visit soon.”

“Soon? That’s great!” I beamed.

Not all hope was lost. Perhaps, we could go on a second date. Perhaps, I could win her over. Perhaps, we had a future. There was much that we needed to do, and much I was excited for—much like a love story with a happy ending I had long been waiting for.


Cinema, heart, and hospital were words given by Nick Ko on Facebook.

Initially, I wanted this story to be fully romance but I soon realised I’m not very good at romance. Thus my ‘poor imitation’ of what should have been a proper love story.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Let’s be honest, you probably can do a better job than I with these words. So why not give it a go!

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

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

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

Original Works

Your #Relationship With Words

Ah, relationships. Oh, how society loves to talk about relationships. We seem to care a lot about who got together with who, who is getting married, and who is still single. Our social media is filled with relationship goals and couple hashtags. But, have we ever stopped to think about our own relationship? Specifically, our relationship with words—the very words we speak into our own lives and the words we utter to everyone else? What is your relationship status with words?

Are You Single?

Are you single because the words you’ve spoken have left your heart broken? Or are you single because you cannot find the right words to say? Are the words you speak onto yourself, and onto others, hurtful and damaging? Or do you choose not to say anything at all, even when something needs to be said?

Let’s start believing in words again. Let’s start encouraging dreams, voicing appreciation, and verbalising affection. Let’s start building a relationship with words. Because words are potent enough to change even the most unchangeable person.

Are You In A Relationship?

If you’re already in a relationship with words, is your relationship healthy, loving, and nurturing? Or… is your relationship abusive and destructive? Are the words you’re speaking positive and uplifting? Or do you allow yourself to be battered by the painful blows at your self-esteem?

Let’s stop with the self-deprecating words that sabotage our confidence and devalue our worth. Let’s stop destroying ourselves and those around us with our very own tongues. Rather, let’s speak life and hope. Because words, once spoken, can and will determine our future.

Are You Committed?

Saying you’re committed means working at keeping the relationship together. It’s about accepting the flaws—that some days, you might make mistakes—but still striving to grow. It’s not about perfection, but loving yourself for who you are.

Let’s never forget how important this relationship is. What we say to ourselves can make us or break us. What we say onto others can motivate ambition or stir insecurities. Though it might sometimes be a challenge to say the right words, let’s endeavour to choose our words wisely. Because words will ultimately define who we are and what we become.

So, what is your relationship status with words? What are your relationship goals? Wherever you are in this journey—single, in a relationship, or committed—start cultivating a healthy relationship with words. Build a relationship that will make you a more fearless, self-loving, and confident individual.

Original Works

Wishing Well [12 Genre Months]

“Drop the coin and make a wish,” he told me. “But remember, it will only last a day.”

The moss-covered stone well, in the clearing of the town woods, was said to be magical. Every year, on the eve of a New Year, children would venture down a muddy path to where the stone well had been built. It was rumoured that the stone well, of which its depth no one could ever surmise, was the work of the early settlers who had sailed from Gaul. Though not in any historical records, many believed that the early settlers were Druids. After all, the strange occurrences in the small township of a thousand were often left unexplained. From the blooming of lavender in winter, to the display of red and green light streaming across one autumn night, one cannot insist that the place I called home was—for the lack of scientific explanations—magical.

“How do you know if it worked?” I asked.

“Make it an obvious wish,” my best friend, who had tossed a coin the year before, replied.

I was seven that New Year’s Eve. And so I made an obvious wish—a prayer, almost—that my parents wouldn’t go through with their divorce. That perhaps, for just one more day, we could be a happy family. And, though arguable that it might just be an educated decision on my parents’ end, they didn’t file the papers until I turned twelve.

Every year after my first coin toss, I returned to the stone well with my best friend. I made wishes, which were so realistically possible, that they never failed to come true. I was a child. I had yet chosen the path of a skeptic. It was only on my twenty-first year, when I returned home for the year end holidays, did I truly put the stone well and its supposed magic to the test.

“Are you sure you want to do this,” my best friend asked.

“Only for a day, right?”

“Correct. But remember how your parents stayed together for five years?” he recalled, almost as if he believed the fairytale to be true.

“Don’t tell me you still believe in this… wishing well.”

“Don’t tell me you have a reason for the frost flowers last summer,” he challenged—yet another bizarre phenomenon where the town lake blossomed ice crystals in the 40 °C heat.

“Yes, strange things happen here. But stranger things have happened elsewhere. Just Google it,” I stated.

“Suit yourself.” He shrugged. “I’m just saying, what you’re wishing for, if not for a day, can ruin you.”

I chuckled. What was the worst that could happen, I thought. If magic was indeed real, then I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore. If magic could save me from the agonizing pain—a pain I’ve failed to rid myself of for the past year—why not give it a try? And… if this magic decided to prolong its stay, it would be a blessing in disguise.

So on the night of December 31st, I met my best friend at the trail-head of the timberland with a coin and a torchlight in hand. We chatted about our school year for the entire twenty-minute stroll until, there it was, the stone well basking beneath the pastel moonlight. There was no one else around—the children had visited in the morning, the high-schoolers in the afternoon, and some of the adults had dropped by before their New Year celebration. At that hour, everyone was in town waiting upon the fireworks.

“You sure you want to do this,” he asked once more. “All you need is time. Wishing it away…”

Time—everybody told me I would heal with time. But how much time, nobody had an answer. They weren’t seeing her in class, watching her laugh with her friends, and witnessing the glimmer in her eyes when she held his hand. Oh, how I wish I could move on. But I was stuck—my soul crushed by a lost love over and over again.

“It’s been a year. I can’t—I’ve tried. Trust me, I have. I just… I can’t get over her,” I admitted.

“But wishing your feelings away isn’t going to make it better. You’re going to feel again after tomorrow. If… only if, the wish lasts a day.”

“I’m just going to wish to stop feeling for her. I’m not wishing all my feelings away.”

“Then make it clear when you toss the coin.”

“Don’t worry. I know what to wish for.”

And so I made my wish. I didn’t hear the coin hit bottom—no one has ever heard the echo of their wish. But from that New Year onward, I believed what some still thought to be a myth. The stone well was indeed magical. It had granted me yet another wish, but in the oddest way I thought possible. Because from that day, I never saw her again.

It wasn’t that she didn’t exist. She was alive. She was still in my class. I would sometimes catch her friends speaking about her. But, I never saw her. In fact, I couldn’t recall her face. She had become a ghost of a memory—a lost love that could never be found. And… it was all thanks to the wishing well in the little town of Bluestone.

____________________________________________________________________

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

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

Original Works

How About John? [12 Genre Months]

“How about John? He’s the closest to your type,” she said.

I shrugged in reply. It was almost always like this–conversations that moved from work to the possible candidates around me. And, because my type was often considered a niche, I was given the same names–encouraged to approach the same few men on a helplessly short name list.

“If you want, I know of a way I can get you and John acquainted,” she added, with a beaming smile.

Yes, I didn’t know John. But funnily enough, I knew a lot about him. Friends in common have showed me his social media profiles. They have spoken highly of him. They have shared their encounters and praised John’s admirable qualities. I wasn’t even sure if I could call John an acquaintance. I knew too much–it was as if we were actually friends.

“Nah,” I replied. My answer was always the same.

“A few of us are getting together this weekend. You should join–John will be there.”

“Nah,” I repeated. Why should I try? Based on past experiences, trying didn’t do me any good. Whenever I took steps to get to know someone new, I would quickly learn I didn’t fit their bill. It was always a waste of precious time–time I could’ve spent reading that book I bought three years ago or simply staring at a wall.

“You have to make an investment if you want something to happen, you know,” she said.

Did I actually want something to happen? Everyone made John out to be this sought after man, that I should make a move if I wanted to be noticed. But honestly, I didn’t care if he noticed me. So why did I need to get his attention? Why couldn’t he be the one seeking my attention instead?

Perhaps it wasn’t like this for John. Perhaps the gentlemen didn’t suggest names, show pictures, and offer help during their get-togethers. Perhaps it was only us ladies who tried endlessly to match-make our friends. Why did we do that? Why were we all equally guilty of making romance a key player in our happiness?

“It sounds like too much work,” I replied.

She sighed an expected sigh. It wasn’t the first time–I’ve made a lot of people sigh. They would either sigh at my lack of attempt or when I turned down a potentially good candidate.

“That’s not a priority right now,” I added.

She frowned an expected frown. It was a common response to my hypocritical statement. Despite the quest for love not being a priority in my life, it sometimes felt important–important enough to entertain suggestions and make plans. So yes, I was a hypocrite. But, not because I chose to be one. I had no reason for oscillating between genuine interest and resignation. I didn’t understand my actions and decisions in this subject matter. Was it just me? Or were we all on the same swaying boat, tossed in a storm of expectations and acceptance.

“How about Matthew?” she asked.

She wasn’t listening to me. No one listened to the boy who cried wolf. And, to prove my role in the acclaimed fable, I asked, “Who?”

“Hold on, let me show you.” She swiftly retrieved her phone from her handbag, excited to show me a new candidate. Alas, when I gazed upon his picture, I could only offer a disappointing response.

“Oh, this guy,” I replied with little enthusiasm.

“He’s almost your type.”

“Yea, but…”

“No?”

“No.”

“Seriously, it’s impossible to find someone you like.”

“I know.”

It was a blessing in disguise. If no one could fit my ideals, I could think about something else. I could spend my energy and resources on the other things that made me happy.

“How about you?” I asked. It was time to shift the conversation around–to stop dwelling on the fact that I might be single for life. Was that a happy or a sad fact? It didn’t matter. It was her turn to contemplate about her happiness. “Aaron is a nice guy,” I stated.

“He is,” she replied. “But our desires don’t align.”

“What desires? He seems like a good fit for you.”

“He wants a stay-at-home wife. I can’t be that.”

“Oh. That’s disappointing. I guess we can scrape him off your list then.”

“Yea.”

“How about John? He’s almost your type,” I said.

“I… don’t know.”

Was she now pondering if a relationship could truly make her happy? Did she care if John noticed her? Was she willing to take the first step?

She wasn’t like me. She never once said that a relationship wasn’t a priority. But, maybe she kept that thought to herself. Perhaps I wasn’t the only hypocrite. Or, maybe I was–she could be more hopeful than I would ever be. She could have more suitors and prospects. In comparison, my lack of effort could be a reflection of my unpopularity.

Stuck in the unknown of my own wants and desires, it was my turn to heave a sigh. I didn’t sigh at her response but at the undetermined, incomprehensible, and often bothersome state I was in. How long would I have to float in this unsettlement? Alike its very nature, I will never know.

____________________________________________________________________

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

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

Original Works

The Myth of Politicus and Zhen [12 Genre Months]

“I’m here to see Professor Lin. My name’s Rob Whelan–I made an appointment.”

The secretary–who looked like a student of the university itself–scrolled through a list on his tablet. When he found my name, squeezed between a Professor Doherty and Doctor Lyon, he rose from his seat and gestured at the oak door to my right.

“She’s expecting you,” he said.

Already late for the appointment, I thanked the young man and stalked into the mahogany-themed office–a uniform decor of the historical establishment.

“You’re late,” she stated.

Lin was seated behind a polished wooden table, surrounded by books stacked high on the carpeted floor–the bookshelves against the four walls offered no space for the newer editions.

“Sorry. Bad habit,” I replied.

“Have a seat,” she prompted.

Lin’s dark straight hair, deep set eyes, and thin lips were the same as how I remembered them to be. But on that sunny afternoon, Lin wasn’t in a pink, silk gown. She donned–what most educators in a place as such would–a dull, black and white suit.

“It’s been awhile. How’s your book doing?” she asked.

“Not good. My publisher wants another. Soon,” I admitted, planting myself on the velvet armchair across her desk.

“And… that’s why you’re here.”

“Partially.” I smirked.

Lin chuckled. “So, what do you want to pick my brain on?”

“The myth of Politicus and Zhen.”

“What about it?”

“I have a few ideas to run by you.”

“Something you could’ve done via email.”

“True. But I wanted to see you–it’s been awhile, like you said.”

Lin and I met when we were ten. She lived with my family for two years, while her parents had ‘some issues to sort out’. We kept in touch after she returned home. And, once in a few years, our families would get together for Christmas. But since she began teaching at the university, it was almost impossible to meet her–she was a fourteen-hour flight away and always working on the holidays.

“We can catch up later. Let’s get to work first,” she said.

“Right. So, Politicus and Zhen–do you think they could’ve actually existed?”

“The Empire of Chrysus isn’t in any historical records, neither is King Politicus and Queen Zhen. I would say their story is parallel to Greek mythology.”

“But, I did some reading online, and some people theorise that Queen Zhen was the youngest daughter of Emperor Gaozu.”

“None of Emperor Gaozu’s daughters left their country. That’s a fanboy theory, Rob. But, a good one to roll with. Is that your intended direction?”

“No. I just wanted to know what you think.”

“I don’t think they’re real.”

“I see. Personally though…” I hesitated.

“Personally what?”

“I believe otherwise,” I stated. Lin raised her eyebrows. But as her lips parted to question my belief, I continued, “Anyway, do you think it’s possible for Politicus to retain his memories after each life?”

“The original tale didn’t say he could. But since you’re writing fiction, anything goes.”

“Do you think, that with his memories, he can help Zhen remember their past?”

“How–with true love’s kiss?” Lin chuckled. “Wait, is this new book a romance novel?”

“A little romance doesn’t hurt.”

“The themes of this myth are greed and violence. The consequence of Politicus’ brutality was an eternal curse–witnessing the death of his lover in each life cycle, with no hope of happiness. You can toss in a little romance, but a happy ending will be far-fetch, not to mention, cliche.”

“He can break the curse.”

“By wakening Zhen’s memories?”

“That’s a good idea, isn’t it?”

“Not really. It doesn’t quite make sense.”

“Why?”

“Is your story set in the twenty-first century?”

“Yes.”

“Then first off, Politicus claiming to be Politicus will make him seem insane. Nobody will believe him, let alone Zhen. Secondly, Zhen recalling her memories won’t save her since thematically, the myth isn’t about love. What I logically foresee, is Zhen living in an endless loop, well aware she only has twenty-nine years each cycle. And, the idea that Politicus helped her remember–under the pretense of breaking the curse–paints Politicus as selfish as he was before. It won’t be a show of love. Making the love of your life aware of eternal damnation isn’t love. Love is Politicus suffering alone until he breaks the curse, which is unlikely to involve wakening Zhen’s memories.”

“Right.”

“But, that premise can make quite an adventure–Politicus and Zhen working together to free themselves from the curse.”

“It just… doesn’t make logical sense to you.”

“It doesn’t.”

I sighed. Why couldn’t I see it before? Still, I had to ask. “One more question,” I prompted. “If you were in Zhen’s shoes and Politicus awakened your memories-”

“I might grow to resent him,” she interrupted.

I nodded. “Well, I guess it’s safe to say romance isn’t my forte.”

Lin chuckled. “Stay away from romance, Rob. Stick to your action-adventure-treasure-hunting stuff. It’s what you’re great at. Honestly, I thought you were going to ask me about Politicus’ sword of vengeance. The sword makes a good set-up.”

I forced a smile. “It sure does.”

There was no need to ask about the sword–I knew a lot about it already. And she was right; the sword did make a good set-up. It brought upon a curse I could only blame myself for. But trust me, I’ve tried. No matter how far and wide I’ve searched–in this lifetime and the ones before–I’ve yet to find anything that will break this eternal damnation. But admittedly, I am selfish to wish I wasn’t alone. Is it wrong to desire recognition from the one I love? I’ve lived more than a thousand lives with her by my side, but not once has she looked at me the way she did when she first died. Even in this twenty first century life–a month and fifteen days before her death–there was no love in her gaze. And, if I didn’t want her to resent me, I will have to watch her die… again.

“Free for dinner tonight?” I asked.

“No questions about the sword?”

“None.”

“I should be free tonight.”

“Great. It’ll be awhile before we get to meet again.”

Lin chuckled. “That’s life, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “That’s… how it always seems to be.”

Perhaps in our next life, I’ll finally break the curse—ending this vicious cycle–and make what Zhen calls a cliche ending… our reality.

____________________________________________________________________

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

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

Writing Journey

The Hate In Art

Recently, I read an article about a young adult novel under fire by the YA twitter community. Influencers claimed the pre-released book was racist. They questioned the publisher for publishing it. Members of the campaign advised their followers to stay clear of it. And whatever good reviews it previously received… well, those were buried under a 1-star average rating on Goodreads. But, while I scrolled through the article – it was really long, so I skimped through – I found myself frowning. I frowned not because the book was supposedly racist – I frowned because I felt for the author. And after I wondered how she faced the criticism without breaking down, I feared… for myself. Reminded that this world is unafraid to voice its opinions – most of the time in a brutal manner – I was anxious.

Yes, we know not everyone will love our work. There’ll be haters. Many will bash the good out of our art. Some will even take it personally and attack us as creators. It’s a scary world we live in. And as much as we wish for harmony, kindness, and our faith in humanity to be restored, the reality stirs warranted anxiety. It’s something we, unfortunately, cannot avoid. So, I guess now’s the perfect time to say, we can change the world, right? Alas, I can’t say that. Because, we can’t. At least, we can’t change how people chose to respond. We can’t convince others to go easy on us. We can ask, but it doesn’t promise a kinder response. However, there is hope. Because amidst the hate, there is love.

Out of curiosity, I headed to the questionable book’s Goodreads page. There, I found an average 3-star rating. Outside of Goodreads, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, it had an above 4-star rating. It’s safe to say, the heat it took prior to its launch didn’t burn it to the ground. Now, I’ve not read the book itself nor do I intend to -I’ve long past my teenage years obsessed with supernatural YA novels – but I’m glad. I’m glad for the author. Though the review section alternates between good and bad ratings, the book has its defenders. There are those who saw what some found negative to be positive. There are those who chose to give the author the benefit of the doubt. While I don’t dismiss the bad reviews, because some of them are objective, not all hope is lost for the future of this book.

Using this book as a case study, I realised how fleeting events are. No matter the intensity of a campaign, for or against something, it will come to an end. It has to come to an end. Though some crusades last decades, there’s always a finish line. Just like a ripple, its waves eventually abate. We cannot predict how long it takes, or when the remaining residue evaporates, but we can find rest in knowing it’ll end. And such is the case with hate.

I believe hate has no lasting throne. Despite its countless attempts to crown itself, through events, people, and circumstances, it’ll ultimately be dethroned. So the next time we find hate in a battle to take us down, let’s look at the end. Let’s find love in those who’d stand by us. And let’s not forget, that in time, it’ll be over. Hate may have the power to set us off track – detouring our dreams and destroying our passion – but hate can only do so within its short term. If we stand firm during it’s brief tenure, it’ll lose its power… and we’ll win the war.

Original Works

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.)

Original Works

Window | Pillow | Chocolate

windowpillowchocolate

It has been three years. Three years since we boarded the plane together. Three years since we fought over the window seat. Three years since we flipped a coin, just to see who should ask the air steward for an extra pillow. Three years since he proposed with a box of chocolate. And three years since we said goodbye.

As I curled up in the stiff economy class seat, I wondered what life would’ve been if he didn’t walk away. Would we be living in the cozy apartment we imagined? Would we have named our first child after his favourite actress? Would we be flying to Peru, right at this moment, for our great Machu Picchu adventure? Would we still be in love? If we didn’t say those words, would we still be together?

I can still recall the night of our tiff. It was a pleasant night. The day was filled with gentle showers, setting dusk in a cool breeze, fresh with the scent of rain in the air. It was the perfect night to cuddle with a hot cup of cocoa, as we shared the stories from our uneventful day. But that didn’t happen. We would still be together, if it actually did.

“So you’re coming to my mum’s birthday party, right?” I asked.

“Sorry love, I can’t make it this weekend. I’ve got work.”

“It’s the weekend. Why are you always working on the weekend?”

“Trust me, I don’t want to. It’s the boss. You know how he’s like.”

“You should quit.”

He turned to me, eyes wide with surprise. Then he chuckled.

“I’m serious,” I added.

“I can’t just quit. The wedding needs money.”

“You’re not the only one working.”

“But I want to be. I want to give you the best wedding ever.”

Resting his hands on my shoulders, he gave a gentle squeeze as he flashed his famous childish grin. I smiled. How could I not?

“Fine. But you still have to attend my mum’s party. She’s turning sixty,” I said.

“Only sixty. She’s still young.”

“You know how some of the older people are. Sixty is a big deal. And if I go without you, she’ll ask an unbearable amount of questions.”

“I can’t go. I really can’t.”

“Just tell your boss-”

“I can’t,” he interrupted.

Why did he interrupt? If he hadn’t done so, I might have given in. I might have let him skip the party. I might have held my tongue.

“Why are you so straight with your decisions?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why can’t you try to work things around? Saying you can’t when you’ve not tried-”

“How do you know I’ve not tried?”

“I know because I know you. And I know, for sure, you didn’t ask your boss if you could have the weekend off.”

“Are we seriously arguing about this right now? I’m tired. Let’s talk about it tomorrow, alright?”

“It’s always tomorrow with you.”

“Yes, because I don’t want to say something I’d regret. So let’s talk tomorrow.”

He gave me a quick peck on the forehead before stalking toward the door. Here’s my regret. I didn’t let him go. I made him stay at a time he needed to leave the most. I went after him, reached for his wrist, and pulled him back.

“No, let’s talk about this now. We will forget about this tomorrow-”

“And maybe that’s a good idea.”

“How is that a good idea? We’re getting married. This is something we need to discuss. How do you expect me to live with a man who will be absent every weekend?”

“It’s only this weekend. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?”

“It’s always ‘only this weekend’ with you. Fine. Go then. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

Like a child, I folded my arms and glared. And for that brief moment, I had hope. I was expectant. I thought he would stay and ask for forgiveness. That he would choose to work things out, instead of leaving. But I guess, he really was tired. And without another word, he walked out the front door never to return.

I have cried enough over what happened three years ago – stifling tears in the shower and hyperventilating by the sidewalks. But nothing I did brought him back. What could tears do to bring the dead to life? Was there a potion for resurrection? Would true love’s kiss work? When I became too tired to feel anymore, I forced myself to move on. I forced myself to disassociate the past from my present. Though unfortunately, the memories live on. I can recount every part of it as if it were a movie I’d watch one too many times. But even if I don’t tear up, it leaves a bitter aftertaste of regret.

As the air steward walked past with a pillow in hand, as the child clumsily unwrapped his chocolate bar, as I gazed at the cumuliform clouds, I wondered once more what life would have been. And then I concluded before the seatbelt sign blinked red: life would’ve been great. We would’ve been happy. We would’ve created wonderful memories. But life, unfortunately, goes on. And if I were to ever find love again, so should I.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Window, pillow, and chocolate were words given by kara562. Firstly, let me apologise for writing this rather depressing piece. You see, I’ve been watching too many sad dramas recently that they’ve had an affect on me. So, when I saw those three words, the two things that came to mind were aeroplane and regret. I don’t why. Hence, this story. I do hope it was an engaging tale though.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. It’s fun. You don’t have to try so hard. And oh, it makes a great writing practice.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Crumpet | Tuba | Aspirin

crumpettubaaspirin

At the age of five, I was obsessed with crumpets. It’s spongy texture, covered with bubble holes, and slathered with butter and syrup, filled my little heart with delight. Whenever I get a waft of it in the air, I’d squeal like my sister at the pony fair. It’s insane, thinking about it now. Every day during my obsession, I begged my mother to make me crumpets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a craving I couldn’t ignore. Thankfully, my mother gave in… but only on Sundays.

While the rest of the family had proper meals, she made me crumpets all day long. Sundays became Crumpet Days, and she kept at it until my obsession ended a year later. I’m not too sure how healthy it was for a child to be consuming 52 Sundays worth of crumpets, but because I did, crumpets became my childhood icon. It wasn’t Tic Tacs, sugar sprinkled buttered toast, Voodoo Jelly, or hot cocoa on a rainy day… it was crumpets.

And crumpets wasn’t the end.

At the age of fifteen, I joined the school band. My sister warned me that being in the school band would be tough. She forgot to mention why. You see, when I was growing up, school bands weren’t a thing. Back then, school bands didn’t make it on YouTube or went viral for their choreographed marching. Nobody cared for the school band – nobody but me.

The first thing I did, at the start of the school year, was beg my parents to buy me a tuba. Of all the instruments I could’ve wanted, I chose the tuba. I know, a strange choice. When I got to school, the music teacher was thrilled to have me. It seems I was the only tuba player around. Just like my father said, “Tubas aren’t popular. How about a trumpet instead?” Well, it was a good thing my mother convinced him otherwise. What would the school band do with five trumpets and two drums?

My tuba days lasted until I graduated secondary school. During the first year, my parents attended Sports Day just to watch me march the field and huff into the heavy brass. My sister was forced to come along for moral support, but all she did was pout. That was the first and last time my whole family came out to cheer me on. In the following years, it was only my mother who showed up. She was proud and she wanted to scream my name, no matter how embarrassing it got. My father, on the other hand, gave up in convincing me to join the sports team. I’m guessing he and my sister slept in on two years of my embarrassing life.

The people in black chuckled. I chuckled along. With a thin smile, I continued on.

When I began my university years, my parents were the proudest they could be. I was thrilled too, to have beaten my sister with more A’s, and to be able to finally live my own life. I was a free bird. Kind of. During my final year, things got a little tough. I wasn’t in a healthy relationship, my lecturers were giving me a hard time, and I couldn’t stay focus long enough to prepare for my finals. Because of the stress, I developed a migraine. It was the throbbing kind that lingered throughout the day. It wasn’t splitting my skull or pushing my eyes out of their sockets, but it was there, annoyingly thumping the back of my head. I tried all kinds of painkillers to fix myself. But when they all failed, I ranted about it to my sister. A week after that, I received some aspirin in the mail.

I learned one thing that day: you shouldn’t tell your sister everything. With the aspirin came a note from my mother asking me to give that particular brand a shot. She said it always worked for her. As though her words were some kind of incantation, I popped two tablets and the migraine left… for good. It was then I realised something.

I heard a sniffle. I hadn’t even read the heart-wrenching part, and there was already a sniffle. It only made it harder for me to go on. Inevitably, my throat tightened and my chest began to ache. When I turned to look at my father, he gave a firm nod for me to go on. So I did.

I realised the power of a mother.

There was nothing special about the crumpets I craved as a child. There were no drugs in them. The only secret ingredient was my mother’s love. And to be honest, I wasn’t a good tuba player. But my mother never stopped encouraging me no matter how terrible I was. As for the aspirins she sent, they weren’t any more powerful than the ones I bought myself. Subconsciously, my body trusted her words and healed itself.

A mother is special because there’s power in everything she does. And that power, which she uses to guide, nurture, and protect, comes from an unfathomable love. I cannot comprehend this love – maybe my sister can – but I surely cannot. All I can do is remember.

Turning to the open casket behind me, I took a deep breath and gazed upon the woman who gave her all. I was blessed to have her in my life. She was always there, waiting to come to my aid. Now, I’ll just have to live on my own. If this is what a free bird feels like, I should’ve never grown up.

“I love you, mum,” I said. “I’ve never said it before, I know, and I’m sorry. But if it counts for something, I’ve always remembered. And I’ll continue to remember your undying love for the rest of my life.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Crumpet, tuba, and aspirin were words given by LionAroundWriting. On a regular day, these words would’ve been a challenge to make up a story. Thankfully, it was just Mother’s Day. So in the spirit of honouring mothers everywhere, and also remembering my own mother’s unfathomable love, I’ve decided to write this piece. Hopefully, you liked it.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. It could be about anything or it could be themed for Mother’s Day too. It’s completely up to you. Just write however these words inspire and be sure to link your work in the comment section below.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all! And happy writing to you too.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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