Original Works

Mirror | Plate | Umbrella

mirrorplateumbrella

He stared at the ghost in the mirror. The wet hair, pale lips, and the emptiness in those dark eyes – they were not his. The person gazing placidly at him looked foreign. And for a long time, he didn’t know what to call him.

As he glanced at the reflection of the window, framing the thundering world outside, he tried to recall the missing memories. Who was he? How did he get there? What was his name? Everything was a blur – her face, their words, his very own voice. Everything was lost in his hazy thoughts; everything… but a white, ceramic plate.

It shattered at a time much less gloom than this. The sun was warm and bright, and the air was fresh with a green scent. He was looking forward to a new start. But then a plate fell from the counter top and tempered the promising day.

“Don’t touch that,” she said, scrambling toward the toddler inching closer to danger. “Help me, will you?”

He looked up from his phone and spotted her annoyance. She gestured at the shattered glass pieces on the floor, before carrying their child out of the kitchen. Grunting, he dragged himself to clean the mess. Why did she have to drop it? Why was she so careless? When he was done, he snatched his bags and left without a word. There were no goodbyes or well wishes for the day – their marriage had come to that.

It was a sad and undeniable truth. But their marriage had grown apathetic not because either of them had changed. Both he and she, and their little one, were very much the same. He still liked sketching, she still liked reading, and the little one still liked his stuffed bear. But after the invasion, life became different.

The invasion: they came and they conquered. That’s how invasions work. They came and they conquered.

Friendly as they may be, their motive was never changing. They needed this planet. They took it to survive. And if you’re too weak to fend them off, you accept your fate. Those were the rules of the game.

Honestly, he didn’t like the game. And ever since they took over, their lives were never the same. Some would say it was for the better. But better is subjective. Everything was foreign and adapting to the change put everyone on edge. So, he didn’t blame his wife for pulling away. She had every right, and so did he. But perhaps he should’ve approached things different. Perhaps he should’ve tried to truly win the game. Then maybe he wouldn’t have a broken umbrella by the doorway and an empty house. Then maybe… she wouldn’t have gone home.

“I’m leaving,” she said that same evening. He’d just returned from work, soaking to the bone, after the heavy rain had contorted the man-made umbrella.

“To where?” he simply asked.

“Home. And I’m taking our child with me.”

“Home? This is your home.”

“No. This isn’t. This isn’t a home. You’re not here and I’m afraid to be alone. I just want to feel safe again.”

“You will. You’ll get used this. Just give it some time.”

“Get used to this?” She chuckled in disbelief. It was only when she picked up their child did he notice the packed suitcase on the floor. She was serious.

“You can’t leave,” he said.

“Yes, I can. They gave us a choice to return to the ship. I’m leaving with or without you.”

She stalked to the door and he stood frozen. He didn’t feel entitled to stop her, but he didn’t want to follow her either. As strange as it sounded, he wanted to try this new life. He wanted to give it a shot, even if it meant staring at a stranger everyday. But now he wasn’t sure. Who was this man before him? Who was the man with the high cheekbones and the scarred complexion? Why did he get the rose tattoo on his neck and why was he wearing this blue check shirt?

As the earth continued to rage at its new inhabitants, he finally remembered. His name wasn’t John. John was the host with the sad, soulless eyes. And this world… this world wasn’t his. Not the sky, not the trees, not the house, and not even this body. Yet he wondered why, for even the briefest moment, did he attempt to accept it? Why could he look past the foreign face and try to adapt? Why was he willing to lose his identity to live this better life? If this was the gold and glory of a war, why did he feel like a loser?

Perhaps he should return to the mother ship. That’s where his family had gone. That’s where he could be his true self again, until they found a way for earth to sustain their race. But perhaps he should just accept fate. Most of his people were doing it. So why can’t he?

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Mirror, plate, and umbrella were words given by angeloflove712. And boy, it’s harder than you think, working with three objects. At first, I thought of doing a crime-sherlock-esque story, but then I decided to go with something that requires a little more reading between the lines. I hope 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 and everything. You might think that makes it easier, but it isn’t. So write away and be sure to link your work in the comment section below.

Also, I’d like to hear what you think about this short story – your comment, constructive criticism, and feedback are much welcomed 🙂 Oh, and if you have 3 news words you’d like to suggest, leave it down below 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.)

Original Works

Dear Macy

Dear Macy

It was a dark afternoon. The clouds were thundering outside and the rain poured heavily. It was the perfect weather to work on my novel, so I grabbed my laptop from my bag and brought it to the fireplace.

My novel was called ‘BFF: Best Friend Fail’. It was about two best friends who grew up and did everything together, until they met a man. The man charmed the best friends and they both fell in love with him. Since they each could not give up on that man, they became rivals.

I know, it’s a rather cliché story, but my agent said there was a market for it. I finished writing the first draft a few weeks ago, and I was planning on improving it before sending it to my editor. Opening up the file on my laptop, I began with chapter one, ‘Dead Macy’.

No, that was not the title for chapter one. It was an error. I quickly changed the morbid word to ‘Dear’ and moved on. By the time night had fallen, I was done with five chapters and ready for bed. I also felt good about myself; only thirty more chapters to go!

The following morning, I decided not to waste any time and started on my novel right away. As I swallowed my buttered toast, I opened up the file and immediately groaned at what I saw. Those bold words did not seem to have saved the last time. After changing ‘Dead’ to ‘Dear’ again, I scrolled through what I had done the day before to check if the other changes were saved. Strangely they were, but I did not dwell on it much.

That day, I managed to go through ten chapters. By then I decided it was better to print it out and work on paper instead; I always wanted to be an English teacher. So before heading to bed, I hooked my laptop to the printer and left it to print while I snoozed.

When morning arrived, I put off working on my novel and decided to go for a walk. There was a small path behind my holiday cabin that led to a lake, and I was hoping for nature to inspire me. After my walk, I returned to the cabin and went straight to the printer. Rearranging the sheets of paper, I came across a word that was starting to annoy me. Quickly grabbing a red pen, I crossed out the word ‘Dead’ and wrote ‘Dear’ above it.

Checking my laptop after, I found that the error was still there. Frustrated that my laptop was acting up, I retyped the word, and printed the first page. I was confident this time, as I strutted to the printer only to find the same grim word.

Somehow having inkling that my laptop had revised itself again, I decided to ignore my novel all together and read a book instead. Maybe my eyes were playing a trick on me or maybe I was just too tired after my walk to the lake, whatever the reason was, I was not going to touch it that day.

Cuddling up on the couch as a light drizzle began, I let the crime novel take me on an adventure. Halfway through Detective Frigate’s theory on who murdered Lady Gloria, my phone rang. Grunting at the disturbance, I pulled away from the Detective’s office and answered, “Hello?”

“Hey Rosy, how are you?” my friend asked.

“Good. I was reading. You interrupted Detective Frigate,” I replied

“Nice to know you’re feeling better,” my friend said with a chuckle.

Better? I was not sick, but I responded with a ‘thank you’ anyway.

“So, how’s the book going?”

“It’s going fine.”

“I heard you’re going to let Macy take credit for it.”

“Macy?”

“Sorry. I know, it’s too soon to be talking about her.”

I did not reply. I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Anyway, it’s good to hear from you. Jake said he could not reach you, so I was worried.”

“Jake?”

Who were these people she was naming?

“The guy that you and Macy always hung out with? The one Macy liked?”

“Oh, Jake,” I said. The conversation did not go on after that, because I became extremely disturbed by chapter one’s title. When my friend hung up, I went straight to the pile of printed words and read the first chapter again.

Chapter 1: Dead Macy 

My dead friend Macy was always kind and generous, but she was only kind and generous with strangers. With me, she had a habit of taking everything, even the man I liked. Too bad for her now. She’s gone and-

I could not read on. It was not what I had written a few weeks ago. Somebody had changed it. As I checked the rest of the chapters, I found one titled ‘Goodbye Jake’ and another ‘Daddy’s Funeral’. I had no recollection of writing any of it and I began to freak out.

Maybe I was sick. Maybe that was the reason my parents sent me away. Maybe that was why a doctor came this morning. What was his name? Doctor Lake? No, I took a walk to the lake. Did he ask me to? Wait, where am I? Where’s Macy?

We’re supposed to finish this novel together.

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Occasionally, a random idea pops up in my head and I write it down. This story is one of them. There’s no ‘moral’ to it, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway.

Do let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

Original Works

Inked

inked

It started after the fire, on a cold night with rain pelting heavily against the mouldy windows. I shot up on my bed from a dream I could not remember, and found sweat trickling down my forehead. Even though the air around me was bone chilling, I felt an intense heat inside my body. Desperately wanting to cool myself down, I headed to the window, ready to let a gust of cold air in. But it was then that I saw it.

Even though it was pouring outside, the moon was still peaking from behind the dark clouds. It shone directly at my room window, and when my left hand reached out, I saw a name on my forearm. At first I thought it was a stain, but after attempting to rub it off with my skin turning pink, I knew it was not. Thinking I was still dreaming, I returned to bed only to wake up the next morning with the same name on my arm; my father’s.

Not knowing what to do, I wore a long sleeved shirt to hide it from others. That was the best I could do while I cracked my brain on how to remove it. In this world of mine, having inked skin is not a good sign. Those whose skin are covered with inked symbols and names are thieves and raiders; the bad kind of people that terrorised smaller villages. To have ink on my skin might end badly for me and I knew I needed to do something about it fast. Unfortunately, I was too slow.

As the nights went by with me contemplating burning and cutting my skin, more names began appearing on my arm. It started with my father’s name and spread on with my neighbour’s name and the name of the little girl that used to sell me oranges every morning. The worst part was, the names that were appearing on my skin belonged to the dead… the ones that died in the fire that wiped out my whole village.

When I realized what was happening, I became desperate. I started acting strange and I snapped at anyone that touched me. The people in the neighbouring village, that took me and the other survivors in, thought I was mourning for the lost of my family, but my cousin saw right through me… somehow. She knew something was not right and she kept asking me about it. One afternoon, when she attempted to find out what was wrong, I ignored her and ran. I ran into the forest trying to get away from her, and when I thought I was far enough, I stopped at a small stream.

Pulling my sleeve back, I prayed silently that the ink would miraculously wash away. But when I dipped my arm into the cold water, none of the names came off. I began scratching my skin in anger, with my nails digging into my flesh, but when I saw fresh blood I quickly stopped. My hands were shaking and my body was trembling with fear. Why wouldn’t the names come off?

As I tried to compose myself, I heard someone coming up behind me. I did not need to guess as my cousin asked, “What’s wrong?”

I could not answer her, and without giving it much thought, I showed her my forearm. She looked at me with worried eyes, but she did not say anything.

“I don’t know how to get it off! Why are they appearing?” I asked in exasperation even though I knew she could not answer me.

Why the names were appearing made no sense, and I tried hard to deny the only reasoning I had at that moment. Was I cursed? If I was, what did I do wrong? And then I remembered.

I had blocked out what happened during the night of the fire the moment I found myself safe from the flames’ reach. It was not something I did intentionally as my mind always drew blank when people asked what had happened. That night, the blank canvas of my memory began to fill with colour.

It all started with a dare. I had challenged my friends to sleep in my father’s old barn on a chilling night. It was probably the stupidest idea I’ve ever had, but my friends took me up on it. So that night, we each found our own corner and shivered our way into a horrible sleep. A few hours into the challenge, I woke up to a flickering light a few feet away from me. Knowing immediately that someone was attempting to cheat, I crawled over to my friend and flicked the lighted match from her hand.

“You’re cheating,” I whispered angrily.

“I’m cold, alright? Spare me one match,” she replied.

“Go home if you’re going to cheat.”

“What difference will one match make anyway?” she asked.

Immediately after her question, we realized the huge difference one match could make. When I first saw the bright light coming from a stack of hay, I thought I was imagining it, but when my friend saw it too, I knew it was real. Within seconds, the flames leaped from one haystack to another and before we could fully wrap our heads around what was happening, the barn was halfway from being completely devoured.

Quickly, I scrambled to my feet and began calling for my friends. Because we had scattered ourselves around the barn, I had to find all of them before I could leave. By the time I yanked my last friend from his sleep, half of the barn had already caved in. We did not have to think twice as we both ran out of the barn, only to learn that the fire had caught on to the neighbouring wooden houses.

Almost instantly, my head began to spin; maybe because I inhaled too much smoke or maybe because I could not accept what I was seeing. Screams filled the air as people rushed out of their houses either in flames on in tears. And when I did not want to watch any further, my body did me a favour and shut down.

“I killed them,” I muttered, as the canvas of my memory began to fill with red.

“You didn’t,” my cousin said softly.

“I did. I killed my father,” I said, and when I looked at my father’s name on my forearm, my chest began to tighten as tears began to roll down my cheeks.

“You didn’t,” my cousin repeated.

She quickly got on her knees and reached for my hands. “You didn’t kill anyone. It was not your fault.”

“I did. I killed your parents too,” I choked on my words.

“The fire killed my parents, and the fire killed your father. You’re not responsible.”

“You’re lying!” I snapped.

“I’m not. You’re blaming yourself because you have no one else to blame. Even if it was your fault, it’s the past now.”

There were tears in her eyes and her gaze was as firm as my father’s. They had the same eyes and it was as though I was looking at my father for the last time.

“Forgive yourself, my sweet girl,” I heard him say.

And when I did, the names disappeared.

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Two weeks ago I wrote about forgiving others and remembering those who have forgiven us. This week, I thought I should address the kind of forgiveness we struggle the most; forgiving ourselves.

When certain bad situations happen in life, we tend to unconsciously put the blame on ourselves. We don’t know we are doing it and we continue to pile on the guilt on our shoulders. When we finally feel the weight of it, we collapse emotionally because we firmly believe we are responsible. Yes at times we are actually responsible, but either way, living in guilt cannot turn back time. The only way to move forward and to carry on is not to keep calm but to forgive yourself. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

I hope you enjoyed this story 🙂 As always, let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

Original Works

The Puppeteer

The PuppeteerI can’t really recall the day I first met him. I was probably too young to understand what he was at that time. What does he do? Why was he with me? He was something I could not comprehend, and he was also something I could not discard. Since I came into the world, he has been by my side. He was a gift and he was a great gift at first. He acted as a companion and became an extension of who I was. He followed me to school, to the park, and he slept not too far from me. But as the years went by, things began to change.

There is something dark and sinister about him. I did not realize it when I was younger, but when I started to understand how he worked, I saw his true nature. What was once a docile being now took on the character of a madman. One day he would wear a smile, and the next day he would wear a frown. I did nothing to trigger him, yet he somehow managed to come alive. He … became alive.

At first I thought it was merely my imagination. How could something I had control over become independent? He was an extension of me, and if the life he had was coming from me, I should be able to stop him … right? I was wrong. The day I realized I was wrong was the day I realized that I was no longer in control. He had taken over and the roles had switched.

Those who I’ve found some form of comfort in told me to separate myself from him. But what they do not understand is that I cannot run from him. He is a part of me and I cannot remove him no matter how hard I try. We were put together since birth and we will not separate till death… and that thought haunts me. With no solution to this nightmare, all I can do now is wonder.

Some nights, I would ask myself why I let him take over, and on those nights I find no answer. It is not because of denial, but it’s because he is always there to stop me. He would watch me as I lie in my bed, staring at me with those big, round eyes. He never says a word and that makes it even more terrifying. Other nights, he would sit next to me and stroke my arms as he whispers in my ears. His words are never clear but they always send shivers down my spine.

Day was always better than night, though. I would wake up with the lack of sleep knowing the sun would protect me because in the presence of others, I feel the safest. Even though he is with me, he cannot do anything to me when there are people around. But sometimes, he would still find a way to torture me with his evil glares and sinister smirks. I do not know what I’ve done to make him treat me this way, and I wish I knew.

To be honest, not everyday is a hell on earth. There are days where he still brings joy to my life. I know I sound crazy saying that, but it’s true. On the good nights, I would hear him walking outside my four walls and humming a sweet melody. He would peek his head into my room and wish me a goodnight, but he never comes in to taunt me or watch me sleep. On the good days, he would hold my hand and whisper encouraging words to me. He would even listen to me and know exactly what will cheer me up. But that only happens on the good days.

These days, the good days have become scarce. I don’t even know if there would be any good days left after this week. He has not been very happy recently and he has been tormenting me. I wish there were more good days or at least enough to balance the bad days, but I don’t know how to bring them back. Maybe if I regain control over him, I could make everyday a good day… but how? How do I switch the roles back to what they once were? Shouldn’t it be simple? It is simple, isn’t it? Please tell me it is.

I hate what this life has become. I hate not knowing what tomorrow would bring, and I hate being so afraid. Afraid he might sneak into my room one night and end my life, afraid that he might threaten me into doing things I do not want to do, and afraid he might hurt those I love; my family and friends sitting on the shelf, watching the agony I have to endure. I’m just afraid.

Fear is all I feel these days and fear is all I have. Fear… fear of the puppeteer.

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This story is my metaphor of emotions. Emotions are an extension of us, they bring us joy and they bring us pain. But are we in control of them? Do we have control over our emotions or do our emotions control us? Do our emotions tell us what to think and what to do? Or do we keep our emotions in check and not let it take over?

Sometimes, we have the tendency to let our emotions control our actions, and there’s no harm if those emotions are good emotions. But if the emotions we allow to take control are anger, pain, and even guilt, our actions might end up being something we regret. Never fear your emotions and never give it power over you. Your emotions are an extension of who you are, and not the other way around.

I hope this story was pretty entertaining 🙂 Do let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)