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 Little God [12 Genre Months]

In the Celestial Court, amidst the infinite stars, there were many gods—beastly and titanic, dainty and diaphanous, faceless and elemental. They were beings of great achievements—creators of many worlds—except for one, the Little God. The Little God was often in the shadows, seemingly of little importance. No other had ever lowered their gaze in acknowledgement as she had done nothing of significance. After all, her only attribute was bearing the innocence of creation.

Unlike the gods who wore their own divine flesh, the Little God carried the faces of babes, mimicking the youthful stature of a myriad of opuses. She was as little as her name—too small for grandeur. But at that particular time—that turn of the millennium—the Little God lingered not in the periphery. For in the rise of chaos that preceded a new dawn, the Little God spoke.

The Little God had not once spoken since the conception of time. Her gentle voice commanded no authority in the Celestial Court—her words inevitably falling on deaf ears. However, the gods were failing. When their creations refused change, the gods could not forge a new beginning. And should there be no resolve for the resistance, the ethereal beings would lose their purpose. They would no longer be gods—unable to wield the power of the universe, they would cease to exist. Thus, a little bravery was warranted. Thus, the Little God said, “Let me.”

Let me grace the worlds and remind creation of their genesis. Let me show them the finer masterpiece that awaits. Let me help them believe again.”

“Do you think our creations will listen to you—a Little God trapped in the past?” the Colossal One, with white scales and black beady eyes, said. “You are of paradoxical nature to our plan.”

“Am I?” the Little God asked. “To grasp the beginning is to release the future. And as paradoxical as it may seem, I am the reflection of dawn—both yesterday’s and tomorrow’s.”

The Colossal One parted his lips. But instead of words, he hissed in reply—the Little God presented not a juvenile solution. “My very nature, of innocence and youth, is what we need,” the Little God added. “Your creations have lost the child within, and only I can help them remember.”

“Alas, we cannot be sure,” the Eidolon said—her form a silhouette, drowning in radiant light. “If we send you to our creations and you fail, we will all come to an end. We do not have time for such uncertainty.”

“But I am certain,” the Little God insisted. “Do you not trust me?” Unfortunately, the Little God knew the answer to her question the moment it left her lips. None of the other gods would trust her with this mission. None of them believed she was capable. Despite aeons of wisdom, The Little God appeared as a little one—young and foolish. “Please,” the Little God said. “Do not judge me by my appearance.”

“How can we not when your stature is the reason you fail to create? You can barely reach for the stars above—your hands unable to sustain their weight,” the Colossal One challenged. “We do not wish to look down upon you, Little God. Alas, you are what you are.”

“I may not be able to snatch the stars and wield the power they home, that is true. But I can reach into your worlds and speak into those souls—I can do what you can with your creations. Why not let me try?”

Murmurs filled the Celestial Court. The gods whispered amongst themselves and the Little God felt a pinch of hope. Perhaps they would finally accept her, looking past her childlike demeanour and believing she was just like them—a god in nature. If enough of them stood by her side, she could finally show the universe what she was truly capable of.

“I am sorry,” the Eidolon said. “I cannot believe in you, Little God.”

“Neither can I,” the Colossal One added.

“Why?” the Little God asked. “I am just like you. I can do great things.”

“You are just… too little,” the Eidolon replied. “Maybe one day, when you are able to seize a star from the universe, we will entrust our future in your hands. But for now, you shall remain where you are.”

The Celestial Court echoed in agreement and the Little God was silenced. She knew that she would never be what they wanted her to be—it wasn’t her destiny to create. The Little God had a different path—one that could save their very kind. Unfortunately, she was given no chance to prove herself worthy. The Little God would remain little… until the end of time.


12 Genre Months © 2019 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.

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

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