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Trappist | Baby | Aubergine

“We have to travel thirty-nine, no, almost forty light-years for an eggplant?” he asked in disbelief.

“Aubergine,” I corrected.

“Aubergine, brinjal, eggplant, whatever you want to call it–forty light-years for a vegetable?”

“Aubergine.”

“And you said ‘yes’ to this mission?”

“It’s important. It won’t take long.”

“It’ll take us at least three years if nothing goes wrong.”

“No other ship can take the job–it’s government commissioned.”

“What does the government want with an eggplant? We have plenty on home planet.”

“It’s not an eggplant. It’s an Aubergine.”

My friend of ten years cum second-in-command wasn’t a bright person. He was courageous, ambitious, and zealous, but had no skill in deciphering hints no matter how obvious they may be–everything had to be spelled out for him. Unfortunately in this case, I could only insist on ‘Aubergine’. I was sworn to keep the nature of this mission a secret. And, as silly as it might sound to Gregson and my entire crew, we would still have to travel to Trappist-1 to retrieve the said vegetable.

“Ah, it’s because we’re a small ship, isn’t it?”

“It is,” I replied.

“Making us run errands–pointless missions,” he muttered under his breath.

I shrugged.

Despite the fact that our size–a spacecraft of only one hundred men–was the reason for being chosen, it had nothing to do with being sidelined from expeditions of seemingly great importance. Far from it, our size had put us on a hazardous path. A path Gregson would be excited to embark on if only he knew.

“Can you call for a crew meeting?” I prompted.

“When do we depart?”

“Tonight.”

Sighing, Gregson nodded and excused himself from my cabin. Shortly after he left, I headed to the main deck where my men had gathered. They donned their dark grey and ocean blue uniforms–their ranks marked by the number of stars on their shoulder pads. As I stood on the balcony overlooking the excited crew–ready for an adventure after months on the bench–regret swept up my shore.

If only I didn’t answer the call. If only I wasn’t as courageous, ambitious, and zealous as Gregson. If only I didn’t accept the mission out of a desire for some action. Even after hearing what the Excalibur had to do, I still said ‘yes’. If only my conscience pricked me then and not now–not when I had to keep a secret that could possibly cost lives.

“We will be heading to Aquarius,” I announced.

“McLaughlin, set course for 2MASS J23062928-0502285,” Gregson ordered.

“It’s a simple mission,” I said. “We are to locate Destiny–a cargo ship that last pinged near Trappist-1–and retrieve the Aubergine on-board.”

“A brinjal?” McLaughlin asked, as he tapped on his tablet.

“Eggplant,” Gregson said.

“Aubergine,” I replied.

Murmurs rose from below. My men didn’t raise their voices, but the disappointment on their faces betrayed them. Should I tell them the truth? I had sworn, but they deserved to know. After all, they were putting their lives on the line. Still, would knowing guarantee their safety? I chose not to the tell.

“Yes, it may seem like a pointless mission,” I stated. “But as part of this ship, you have taken an oath to go where no man will go. This time, it’s Trappist-1. Next time, it might be the Magellanic Clouds. The Excalibur has never chosen the adventures–we let our adventures choose us.”

It was a lie, but a lie worded to cloak their reality. Yes, my vessel and the men within have never chosen their adventures–I chose them for them. But this time, it was important. We had to successful return the Aubergine to our home planet. It wasn’t just a vegetable of seemingly little importance, it was a child–a baby in cryosleep that needed to return to earth. For if we didn’t save this child, leaving it to the wolves out for its throat, humanity would face complete annihilation. Home planet would cease to exist. And it would be the end of adventures… for good.

“We will depart tonight,” I said. “If any of you wish to sit out on this mission, you can disembark and leave your uniforms behind.” That was the least I could do.

“None of our knights will surrender their swords, Arthur,” Gregson said. “We shall all go!”

Many cheered. Some chuckled. A few shrugged.

“To save a vegetable,” Gregson whispered to me.

“Aubergine.”

“Aubergine, brinjal, eggplant–who cares?”

I did. I was the only one who could.

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Trappist, aubergine, and baby were words given by Vincent Lim on Facebook. Honestly, trappist set the direction of this story–if not for what I found on Google, I wouldn’t know where to start. Talk about random words!

Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of April to write a story of your own with the three words given. A shout out to Vincent for making this even more difficult than it already is.

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

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

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

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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Square | Exhausted | Populate

We all have stories to tell–stories of adventure, love, grief, and misfortune. Stories that shape who we are and the decisions we make in life. In every galaxy–on every living and dying star–stories flood the cosmos. This is my story, on a planet I call home, Bevattna.

Bevattna nestles in the Andromeda galaxy. It doesn’t belong to any solar system–static amongst many others. It has four moons orbiting its cobalt blue surface. And yes, the blue you see sweeping across this planet, from your expensive telescope, is indeed water.

Bevattna is a beautiful place covered by a great ocean–so I’ve read. No one knows how our people were able to populate–how we even began civilization–but we do know we’re a thriving race. It’s amazing when you think about it–being supported by an air bubble system beneath our concrete, man-made surface. How did we come so far? But my story isn’t about my sun-kissed countrymen and the advancement of our technology. My story begins in a square room I live, eat, sleep, and breathe in–the room I’ve never left since birth.

This room is white–blinding white. The white walls reflect the single fluorescent lamp hanging two feet from the white ceiling. A white, rectangular table sits at a corner by the white door, accompanied by a white chair. A white bed frame, nailed to the white concrete floor, cradles a white mattress covered in white bed sheet. All is white, and the only other colour in the room is me–the absence of light. So, why am I here? I don’t know.

Every day–breakfast, lunch, and dinner–a hand, in a white glove, will slip through a flap at the bottom of the door. The flap locks immediately after I receive my food tray, often bearing the same meals daily–a sandwich and a glass of milk. What do people eat beyond these walls? I don’t know. It’s a wonder I’ve yet to find myself exhausted by the lack of variety. It’s odd, don’t you think–I have no complaints.

After my last meal, I find the highlight of my day. It’s the most anticipated hour because I get to leave this room. Three knocks will come from the door. The knocks are an order to face the opposing wall. Once I position myself, I’ll hear the click of the lock and the faint grind from the hinges of the door–you have to really listen. A series of footsteps will then make its way toward me–one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight–before a pair of hands slip a blindfold over my eyes. The same hands will guide me out of the room, along a pathway I imagine to flank more white walls, before I arrive in another white room. When the blindfold comes off, it looks like I’ve never left.

This room is white too, except that there’s nothing but minute–almost unnoticeable–holes in the walls, ceiling, and floor. I can’t remember who taught me this, but in this room I’ll remove my white gown and place it over a hook on the door. Then, the hissing begins. Two seconds after, a burst of water escapes the holes–first clear, then foamy, then clear again. This room provides me my daily bath and dries me with a blast of warm air. It sounds fun, doesn’t it? But that’s not the reason why I’m telling you this. My story, up till today, has always been the same. Day in, day out, I write the same words on a blank piece of paper. But today, my story changes. Because today, when there was supposed to be three knocks, there was none. Instead, I heard the click of the lock.

All I’ve done since is write and wait. I’ve been waiting for my bath. I’ve been waiting for the person to arrive. I’m not sure if he or she is late. I don’t know what happened and why the schedule changed. I’m contemplating about going to sleep. But will the light turn off at the same time today? Will I receive my meals tomorrow? Something isn’t right and I don’t know what to do about it. Is this where my story ends, or is this where it starts over?

I’ve considered leaving this room, but I’m afraid the walls outside won’t be white. What if they’re black? That’s not how I’ve imagined them to be and it scares me. I’m not sure why I’m scared to leave. I only have one piece of paper and a pencil that is now blunt–I cannot write a list of why I think I’m scared. The only thing I can do, once this page is filled, is wonder and wait.

Perhaps if the light don’t turn off tonight, I’ll peek outside. Maybe if the meals don’t arrive tomorrow, I’ll leave this room. If you–whoever you are–are reading this, without me by your side, it means I’ve started a new story. But if you find me with this paper, clutched to my chest… well, my story–amongst a great many others–is over.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Square, exhausted, and populate were words given by Matthew Lok on Facebook. Like a majority of my 3 Words 1 Story pieces, I started with no idea where the story is heading–forcing me to leave the dull white walls I often find comfort within. Though I’m not sure how well a story as such will sit with you, I can hope some find it enjoyable… or, at the very least, intriguing.

Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of February to write a story of your own with the three words given. If you choose to take on this challenge, be sure to link your work in the comment section below!

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Is Genre Important?

I think we’ve all wondered, at some point during our creative journey, if genre is important. We question if fantasy sells better, if post-apocalyptic is hot this season, if memoirs win more awards, if our genre – the one we love and consider mastering – is worth pursuing. So, let me just clear this up today. This is a personal statement. I am in no way claiming my thoughts are based on a rule, and I’m speaking from my belief: personally, I don’t think genre is important. What brought me to this conclusion? Why – why I write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m not trying to be the next bestseller. Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to be the next bestseller. Heck, if that’s your goal, go for it – I’ll cheer you on! But, personally, my goal isn’t to write the next hit novel. I have no plans to craft what the majority of people want to read. My goal is to write what is meaningful to me and what I think is important to share. And if I end up being a bestseller along the way, that’s a bonus! If not, it makes no difference in my authoring career. I’m still going to write what I want to write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m also not trying to win any awards or competitions. Again, if that’s your goal, please don’t take any offense at my personal statement. I know what type of a writer I am – far from literary and a fan of simplicity. And through my past experiences, writing for awards and competitions, I’ve found myself pretending. Well, it feels like it – it feels like I’m ditching my voice and writing to suit the preference of another. And I know… that’s not me. That’s not how I write. Though there’s nothing wrong with challenging myself and writing outside of the box, I don’t enjoy doing so for the sake of winning. Personally, it doesn’t feel right. And, well, it’s just not fun – it kind of feels like work.

Genre isn’t important, because it doesn’t fit my writing goals. But of course, the same cannot be said for you. Perhaps your goal is different. Or, perhaps, you’ve yet to find your genre.

If you’ve yet to find your genre, I encourage you to try them all. Play around with bildungsroman, attempt a crime (story), and dive into satire. Don’t limit your ability to be creative just because science fiction is gaining traction, or because zombie novels are adapted into movies. Find your genre by exploring them. But more importantly, know why you write.

Steven Furtick once said that if you have a strong ‘why’, the ‘what’ doesn’t matter. What genre you’re writing doesn’t matter if your why is the force behind it. So, if you’re questioning your choice, I encourage you to uncover the reason behind your passion. If your reason is to win awards, then write to win awards. If your reason is to be the next J.K Rowling, then write to become a bestseller. If your reason is to inspire, then don’t let anyone tell you to write otherwise. And if your reason is purely for entertainment – because you love writing – then don’t be ashamed, just write!

In the big picture, genre pales in importance. Yes, it’s a facet of writing. But, it doesn’t make a masterpiece. It’s the pastel in the background – the base on your canvas. The real art are the strokes on top – the story that stands out and makes a statement. Your story holds greater value – it is your artwork and skill that sells by the millions, not your chosen base colour. So don’t focus on the genre. A good story can be written in any setting, but a bad story finds no success even under a popular label. It is what you say that matters most. And you can’t say anything substantial without a solid why.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Write To Challenge

writetochallenge

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that writing isn’t just writing. In order to become a better writer, I’ve got to do more than writing.

You see, writing isn’t just about writing my niche genre, building familiar worlds, and creating characters I can relate to. Yes, it’s good to have a label under my name. And it’s natural for me to keep building it – heck, I should build it. I should master the art of my choice. But in order to become a stronger writer, I have to expand. I have to grow. Just like a kingdom, once established doesn’t remain stagnant, I need to push the boundaries of my world. But… how do I do that? Do I change my writing style and publish novels in different genres? No, I don’t. I simply experience – experience what I’ve never experienced.

To grow as a writer, I need to write beyond the comforts of my pigeonhole. I need to write outside of what I’m accustomed to. It will make me extremely uncomfortable, yes. I will struggle to convey my thoughts. And potentially, I’ll create disastrous pieces. But in order for me to become better, I need to take the leap of faith. I need to explore the vast universe and adapt to its varying nature. I may not be a master of all realms, but I have to experience them. And who knows? I might just write a decent piece.

There’s a reason why writing challenges and writing prompts exist. They don’t merely serve as a filler for when you don’t know what to write. These challenges, as they are called, challenge a writer to write something different. Despite not being good at a particular genre, world, or character, taking the challenge helps one get better. It is the stepping outside of a comfort zone that carves a writer. It is the embracing of something new that broadens the mind.

Personally, I’ve endeavoured to write in other genres, embrace different worlds, and toy with characters. I’ve written and will continue to write sci-fi, romance, mystery, and other genres outside of fantasy. I’ll mould different worlds with different cultures, beliefs, and eras. And I’ll create protagonists whom I’ll dislike more than the antagonist itself. Even if I don’t excel in these challenges – even if I don’t write novels through them – I’ll write anyway. I’ll write to challenge. I’ll write to challenge myself, my imagination, my skill, and my potential. I’ll write to challenge, because I know it has helped me in many ways. And I’ll write to challenge you, to write to challenge too.

I’m not just saying this on a whim. Through past experiences, I’ve grown from the challenges I put upon myself. From Dr. Slubgob’s Letters, a novella about a demon and his quest for the truth, to The Clubhouse, a blog series with characters I disassociate from; I’ve learned to construct deeper worlds and fuller personas. I’m still not good in either arenas – I don’t think I’ll ever master them. But, I have improved. And with a long way to go in my writing journey, I’ll continue to challenge myself.

This 2017, my writing goal is simple: write to challenge. As this year revs its engine, I encourage you to adopt this goal too. In fact, I encourage you to adopt this goal in general. It isn’t just for writing, but for anything – for areas you want to see growth. And If you stick through it, no matter the obstacles, you’ll come out a finer jewel than before.

Also, it can be quite fun.

quote-the-further-you-get-away-from-yourself-the-more-challenging-it-is-not-to-be-in-your-benedict-cumberbatch-6-89-37

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Red Dragon

Red Dragon

The sun was shining brightly in the cloudless blue sky, and the trees were dancing in the gentle breeze. A sweet smell of flowers lingered in the air, as crystal clear water gracefully flowed down a shallow stream. This was the perfect dream, a dream of home and a dream of hope. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

A loud siren and the flashing of red lights snapped me back into reality. It did so, so violently that I found myself sitting up right away. As the others in my team jumped off their bunk beds and got dressed, I slipped out from under my warm blanket and reached for my communicator. Once in my ear, I immediately knew what was going on.

“Kindly report to your stations immediately. We are under attack,” the robotic female voice repeated, too calm for a distress wake up call.

Following her orders, I quickly put on my suit and made my way to the door. As the other men in my team joined the stream of rushing fighters, cadets, and everyone else that were far more important than me, in the main hallway, I began to wonder if this was the last day of my life. Was I going to explode together with this massive vessel when it takes a deadly hit from the alien force outside? The chances are… I might.

Pushing those thoughts out of my head, I found myself standing at the entrance of the white walled dormitory. But just as I was about to join the stream of people, a sudden and forceful tremor sent me sprawling on all fours. I heard questions being raised all around me immediately, but I got the answer first.

“Dex, Red Dragon has jammed! Fix it now!” the chief engineer of the starship shouted in my ears.

Hearing those words, I responded with a quick ‘O.K’ and jumped to my feet. The Red Dragon was the mother of weapons on our ship. She was the wall breaker in battles, shooting a glaring ray that broke through force fields with ease. With the Red Dragon down, we were sure to lose.

Suddenly, I felt important. The minute engineer in this giant vessel now had a role to play, and I was determined to save the day. Picking up pace, I dashed through the panicky crowd and scrambled down flights of stairs to the base of the ship. Once I was in the engine room, I headed to a metal trapdoor on the floor, engraved with the warning, ‘Do not enter during battle’. Whoever decided the warning probably never envisioned a real battle.

Without wasting anymore time, I swept my identification wrist tag across the door and it slid open. Once I saw the ladder leading downwards, I jumped into it and hurried down. When I reached the bottom, I was standing in a triangular room with the Red Dragon positioned at the front. It was a huge, cylindrical weapon with tubes connected to it. It also occupied the entire room, giving me barely any space to move about. Hence, it was not hard to find the reason of the weapon being jammed.

“Dex, what’s the hold up?!” the chief engineer demanded through my communicator.

“There’s a dent in the wall pushing up against the Red Dragon,” I said.

“Fix it!” the chief engineer ordered.

I had no idea what he wanted me to do, as the dent was not something I could kick back in place. As I took a closer look at the Red Dragon, I noticed that a couple of its tubes were disconnected from the weapon, and the dent was making it impossible for me to reconnect them. Cracking my head for a solution, I attempted to kick the wall.

Leaning against the ladder, I gave the hardest kick I could give. There was a loud thump but the dent remained. Just as I was about to give it another go, another sudden tremor sent me stumbling forward. My chest landed heavily onto the back of the weapon, forcing the air in my lungs out. Quickly drawing in a deep breath, I returned to my position at the ladder and gave another kick.

“We need the Red Dragon now!” the chief engineer’s voice screamed in my ear.

I know! I thought to myself. When the chief engineer began demanding a miracle, I pulled my communicator off and threw it to the ground. Then, without having any other option, I kicked continuously at the dent in the wall.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve! I stopped to catch my breath. My brief resting period was accompanied by another tremor that propelled me towards the dent. It was then that I noticed the little difference I made through my kicks.

Picking up the tubes on the ground, I began locking them into their positions through the gap I had made. The moment the last tube was secured, the Red Dragon began glowing red. That was when a new wave of panic hit me. The Red Dragon was charging and the control center did not even care that I was with it. Dashing back to the ladder, I shuffled up the steps quickly and when I hit the metal door, I frantically waved my wrist tag across it.

At that very moment, seconds felt like hours. As the rumbling sound of the Red Dragon reached my ears, I pushed my palm violently on the metal door. If I did not leave now, I would be toast! Just as the rumbling hit an inaudible pitch the door finally slid open. Pushing my way out, I was safely outside of the Red Dragon’s lair a second before the floor beneath me heated up; a sign that the Red Dragon was just fired.

It did not take me long to feel insignificant again. I was nearly collateral damage and I did not feel any better about it even after we won the war. The Red Dragon successfully took down the enemy’s defences, making their mother ship vulnerable to our attacks. Once the mother ship was down, they fled. Hurray.

As I stood with the crowd outside the command center, I found myself lacking a cheer for the captain and his team. I was going to let them pass me by, but to my surprise, someone decided not to. The captain, a man I knew but never spoke to, stopped in his tracks when he was in front of me and said, “Thank you.”

At first, I thought I was imagining the whole scene. But after hearing him repeat the words and giving my shoulder a squeeze, I found myself nodding my head with a small smile. Suddenly, I felt valued. It may seem as though my feelings are prone to flipping sides, but I can assure you it would not any longer. The captain thanked me because he knew I was important to the win. And no matter how small or low I ranked in this giant vessel, I was needed.

For once in my life, I knew I was right where I belonged. Not home on earth, but in space as an engineer that made a difference.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Do you feel small and insignificant? Like a spec of dust that makes no difference in this world? Let me just tell you that you’re quite the opposite. Not all of us were meant to make headlines and be a star, but all of us were meant to make a difference. Wherever we are in life, we are inspiring, changing, and influencing lives. We are right where we are supposed to be, and we should never ever doubt ourselves. I know a lot of us feel like we don’t matter, but I just want to tell you that you do. You matter to me too, as a reader of my story! So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise 🙂

Anyway, this is actually my first try on pure science fiction. I’m planning my third novel to be set in that genre, hence I decided to test it out through a short story. So let me know what you think of it in the comments below! Your comment is important to me 🙂

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Original Works

 

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The First Dream

Tad was special. His mother was told that she could not bear any child, and when the doctors told her she was pregnant, his parents immediately knew he was a miracle. The day he was born, the stars sparkled in the clear dark sky and a bird sang a beautiful song as it perched by the window, watching the baby boy breathe his first breath.

Tad had dark hair and big brown eyes that would light up every time someone made a funny face, forcing him into the most adorable giggles a baby could give. He was the talk of the town for a while as his presence gave dark times a glint of hope.

As Tad grew older, his father pampered him more than his brothers. He was given better clothes and was spared from the farm work. But on the down side, Tad was forced to study, day in and day out. As though education was only made for him and not his brothers.

At the age of 7, something rather peculiar happened. One night, while Tad was asleep in the room he shared with his brothers, he heard someone calling to him. Even under the loud thundering rain, the voice was so distinct as though it was in his head. And when he finally could not ignore it any longer, Tad got up and squinted his eyes in the dark, hoping to find the source. The same deep voice then told him to look out the window and Tad obediently did as he was told.

When he pressed his palms on the cold window pane, he saw a baby bird in a nest, on a tree near the window. Its parents were not around and it was struggling to stay in its wobbling nest as the wind blew. Tad tried to pry the window open, to safe the baby bird from impending danger, but his small hands could barely lift the weight of the tightly bolted panels.

And then the worst imagination Tad could have at that moment, happened. The nest fell and Tad gasps. But to his surprise, the baby bird took off into the sky, flapping its small wings as it battled the strong winds. Every time the bird seemed to be loosing its fight with the wind and the rain, it would force itself to try harder. And every time it tried, it succeeded. Tad watched for a while before he felt a heaviness in his eyelids and as everything plummeted into darkness, Tad could not even remember walking back to his mat on the floor.

The next morning, Tad hurried out to see the nest, hoping to be able to place it back to where it was, but there was none.

“Where’s the nest?” Tad asked himself as he looked around the tree.

“What nest?” Roth, his oldest brother, asked.

“There was a nest. I saw a nest last night and the wind blew it off the tree.”

“Well, if the wind blew it off, I guess you won’t find it anymore,” Roth said as he walked off to his morning chores.

“But…”

“I kicked the nest, destroyed it, so the birds won’t have a home anymore.” Simon, his third oldest brother, smirked with his arms folded by the door.

“Why would you?! The baby bird won’t find its home anymore!”

“Aw. I imagine the baby bird to be you, lost and alone, with no home, and no mommy and daddy to cry to,” Simon said and laughed.

“You’re mean!’

“And just like the bird, nobody wants you.” Simon shoved Tad against the tree before he left.

What Simon said made Tad scramble around, looking harder for the nest, but when he found none, he retreated to a corner in his room and sobbed. He didn’t know how long he was there until his mother came looking for him. When she heard his soft sobs, she hurried to his side and gave him a hug.

“Mommy, the baby bird is all alone,” Tad said softly as his wet brown eyes stared out the window.

“Baby, there was never a nest in that tree,” his mother whispered in his ear. His brothers must have told her the story.

“But I saw it last night!”

“It was a dream.”

“No, it was real!”

“It was a dream Tad. If there was a nest, I would know. Trust me o.k?”

 “But mommy, the baby bird fell and -“

“Don’t worry about the baby bird, it will be strong, even on its own. It will learn to fly and reach for the stars. Just like you!” his mother said as she tapped his nose.

“Like me?”

“If ever you think you are alone, and if the world throws you out of your nest, just trust yourself and fly.”

Tad nodded and gave his mother a tight hug. If only he knew his mother’s words would carry so much weight in the future, he would have memorized it day and night.

Tad never knew his first dream would come to pass, in fact, he had forgotten about it over the years. But as he fell in and out of consciousness in the sweat smelling van, after the cold-hearted betrayal of his brothers, he vaguely recalled what his mother said, and it was the strength he held on to for as long as he could.

“If the world throws you out of your nest, just trust yourself and fly.”

(Wanna know what happened to Tad? Get an E-book copy of The Dreamer at USD3!  Visit the bookstore to purchase one!)

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Book Teasers

 

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