Original Works

Circle Of Chalk [12 Genre Months]

‘I was sixteen. I was sold to a brothel after my father’s death. And just when I caught a glimmer of hope—a glimpse of survival—I was framed for murder. If, for a second, you thought that our dystopia had ruined all chances of a meaningful life, think again—all I ever wanted was to escape the gallows.

‘The year was 1259—one thousand, three hundred, and fifty-nine years after the Red Sun grazed our earth. What was once a thriving planet, with expeditions to the moon, had become a wasteland. Our people were forced to start over and our nations returned to their primeval state—to a past where famine and plagues descended upon the poorer folks, where the kings were chosen by the gods, and where my father died a poor man.

‘My father had accumulated creditors over his many years of Wei-Qi—a game he sought to master, in hopes of reclaiming the very wealth he’d wasted from it. Upon his death, I was sent to the House of Red Lanterns to repay his debts. It was the home to unfortunate women who danced in silky crimson dresses, plucked lyrical string instruments, and served sweet tea and cakes to its male guests amongst other unspoken services. It wasn’t a place for a child. But in the midst of its hopelessness, I saw a light. My saviour entered the brothel’s rosewood halls as a tax collector—the man who soon made me his second wife.

‘I knew. I was well aware—I wasn’t saved because of love. I was rescued from a life of prostitution because of my youth. I was young and fertile—I could bear the tax collector’s child, and I did. I gave birth to his one and only son, and became the mother of the heir to his fortune. Alas, that didn’t sit well with his first wife. It was bad news for the lady of the house—bad enough news for her to murder her husband, frame me for his death, and claim my child as her own. And that is why, Judge Bao, I am writing this to you. I need you to save me.’

“Another letter from the portal?” Dominic asked.

“Yes, as though our own universe isn’t filled with enough injustice,” I replied. “This Judge Bao is getting out of hand. Someone over there has made me out to be a hero.”

“Well, you did solve that one case with the butterfly dream,” Dominic said. “You’re quite the Sherlock Holmes.”

“Please, don’t get started with Sherlock Holmes,” I replied as I handed the letter to Dominic.

Standing from my oak desk, I headed to the bookshelf in my private study. Surely, its occupants had the answer to the hapless girl’s case. Perhaps one of the great kings of the past could free her from her inequitable predicament. But just as I retrieved a thick leather-bound book, an idea struck.

“Are you still getting those letters—the Sherlock ones?” Dominic asked. “I thought they stopped.”

I chuckled. “Stop? See that pile over there?” I said, gesturing at a box brimming with unopened envelopes. “They keep coming. Heck, I’d rather be a beekeeper at this point.”

“You’re afraid of bees,” Dominic stated.

“Precisely. Now read that letter and give me some advice, Watson.”

Dominic retreated to an armchair by the lit fireplace. And after a brisk read, he said, “This seems pretty straightforward.”

“Yes, I’m sure. So how do we help her?”

“I have no idea,” Dominic said. “If I did, I’d be you.”

“You’re always of great help,” I said. “Thanks for being here.”

“You’re welcome, Solomon.” Dominic hopped off the armchair. “Better get to replying that poor child. The gallows is a deadly place to be.”

“Yes. Death waits for no man.” I shooed Dominic to the double doors before returning to my desk. Hopefully, with the right instructions, the magistrates on the other side would save yet another soul—hopefully, that would be all from that universe for a while.

‘Dear fellow judges,

‘It has come to my attention that the tax collector’s second wife is being framed for a murder she did not commit. But to say that she is innocent without proper investigation would be a crime. Thus, I have found a solution to unravel the truth.

‘Before the girl is unjustly sentenced, draw a circle of chalk around the heir of the fortune. Then, instruct both the lady of the house and the girl to pull the child out of the circle. Whoever refuses to hurt the child in the process is the true mother of the boy. And though that will not discount the murder, it will reveal the true liar.

‘Best regards, Judge Bao’


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

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

Original Works

Hat | Handkerchief | Car

His name was Jasonian Arventus—the kind of name you wouldn’t forget because it had pretentious written all over it. Jasonian Arventus—who had always insisted I used his entire moniker, as he couldn’t accept the shortening of his name to that of a commoner—never once left his house without his silk, peach-coloured handkerchief. Routinely, he had it snugged in the front left pocket of his expensive grey-checkered, double-breasted wool coat, before taking a foot past the front door. The plain and glossy piece of fabric was akin to a child’s security blanket, for Jasonian Arventus—whose name I’m bound to misspell in the near future—believed it brought him good luck.

Jasonian Arventus had a myriad of possessions but none as precious as his rabbit’s foot of a mouchoir. He lived in a Victorian mansion the size of a Slovenian castle, and had not one but fifteen automobiles that would awake your inner green-eyed monster. He also had a private collection of historical armaments from the Crusades and ancient scrolls from the age of pharaohs. And, if you ever had the patience to hold a conversation with him, he would boast of the ungodly amount of jewellery he owned that rivalled the royal museum. Yet, you would find that Jasonian Arventus would give it all up for his handkerchief—except for that one night, when he was offered a hat in exchange.

The felt hat arrived at his doorstep in a box. It wasn’t a package he had ordered nor was there a delivery man requesting for his fanciful signature. When Jasonian Arventus attended to the chime of the doorbell—he didn’t believe in squandering his wealth on a doorkeeper—he found a note attached to the parcel. The scribble of a letter read, ‘Exchange the kerchief for the bowler and you’ll receive your greatest desire.’

Some days, I wonder if I am to blame for what happened to Jasonian Arventus. However, it was a blessing in disguise. As I was, unsurprisingly, the only person who cared enough, Jasonian Arventus rang me over. He sent his chauffeur to my humble abode, ensuring that I couldn’t decline his seemingly urgent request—made a few hours shy of midnight.

“You have to help me, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus hollered, just as I exited from the daylight robbery he called his favourite car. “I don’t know what to do.”

My name is not Beasty—lest you believe my parents would actually pen such an atrocity on my birth certificate. Jasonian Arventus never saw the importance of learning my name as I did his. Thus, he called me Beasty—short for Aarion Beastanol.

“What is the matter, Jasonian?” I asked, questioning my kindhearted nature for attending to his almost always childish beck and call.

Jasonian Arventus, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus corrected.

“What is the matter, Jasonian Arventus?” I repeated.

“I received this.” Jasonian Arventus slammed the letter on my chest—forcefully enough to knock all the air out from my last breath. “And that,” Jasonian Arventus added, pointing to the box on the marble front porch.

“Hmm,” I said, after reading the hastily written words. “Exchange the kerchief for the bowler.”

“You think I should?” Jasonian Arventus asked. His eyes widened as though he had already decided but needed further affirmation.

“You want to, don’t you?”

“But you know how important silkie is to me,” Jasonian Arventus said.

“The letter didn’t say what to do after the exchange—there’s no return address. Once you make the trade, I’ll take silkie out and keep it for you,” I offered. All I so desired, as my eyelids weighed heavily in the need of rest, was to end the conversation.

“Good idea, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus said. He took my proposal as encouragement and shuffled to the package. Ripping the box open in unrepressed excitement, he swapped his prized possession for a promise. Then waving me over, he prompted, “Take silkie.”

Withholding a sigh, I did what Jasonian Arventus asked once more. If it meant that he would send me home, I was more than happy to abide. Little did I know, that was the last time I did anything for Jasonian Arventus. In fact, it was the last time I ever saw him or uttered his name. For the following morning, as I returned to Jasonian Arventus’ mansion, I found only the bowler.

Some Wednesdays, while I sipped on earl grey tea in my cluttered office, I would wonder about Jasonian Arventus’ greatest desire. What was it that he had secretly coveted—that made him, his entire household, and every paraphernalia that moulded his persona, disappear overnight? Other days, I would imagine a different scenario, of which I didn’t suggest he trade his handkerchief for the bowler—would he still be boasting his grand and lavish lifestyle? Fortunately, on most days including the weekends, I left my inquisitive thoughts at the back of my mind. After all, if it wasn’t for Jasonian Arventus’ vanishing, I wouldn’t have learned about my sickly aunt in Chenonceaux, France.

Who knew that I—an ordinary man of no stature—could be someone of great importance. Who knew that society would someday say my name—the entire moniker, Aarion Beastanol, that should not and could not be shortened to the likes of a commoner. Perhaps, Jasonian Arventus was right about the handkerchief—luck was now on my side. And should I be offered a hat in exchange, I would be less of a madman to make the same mistake.


Hat, handkerchief, and car were words given by Manua De Cia.

I wrote this with Discombobulate, from the Sherlock Holmes film soundtrack, on repeat. It may or may not have anything to do with the tone and setting of this story. Also, the names were given by a friend—an inside joke that could have, possibly, inspired the characters themselves.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And while you’re at it, feel free to challenge me with 3 MORE WORDS in the comment section below!

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

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