Original Works

A Single Coal [12 Genre Months]

The world was different where I came from. At the rise of the blazing sun—the start of a broken record—the people awoke in preparation of night. They donned their wide-brimmed hats, clicked their cowhide leather boots, and locked their loaded revolvers in well-worn holsters from quotidian gun-slinging. Because unlike the cliches of the wild wild west, of which most of my dusty town proved true, there was something that made this world different—something we all fought that redefined how we lived our lives.

In the neighbouring cowboy towns, no men were allowed guns. There were no duels, whether it be under the sun or in the darkness of night. Most people died from diseases and at the hooves of their own horses—rarely would one see gaping holes in their abdomen. Occasionally, a band of bandits would pay an unwelcome visit but that was as rare as justice. The most exciting thing you would find is a tumbleweed, and even that was a sign of peace.

My town, unfortunately, had no peace. And ever since I was old enough to wield a fork, I was taught to wield a weapon. When the rooster crowed, my father would holler for me and my sister. He had a shooting range of old cans and glass bottles set beside the barn with loaded pistols ready to be fired. My sister and I would spend our mornings firing and reloading. But when my mother called for lunch, training for the day was over. My father would then head into town for the daily town meeting, while the rest of us cleared the mess from the night before—salvaging everything that could be reused for the coming dusk.

For the first twelve years of my life, this repetition was normal—boarding up the windows and sleeping with our guns under our pillows was what we called life. But everything changed the evening my father returned with dreadful news.

“I pulled a long straw,” he said to my mother.

My mother’s eyes widened. She didn’t know what to say. What did the news mean to our family? Neither my sister nor I fully understood. As far as I knew, those who drew long straws didn’t all come home. The family across our field had drawn long straws many times and once, their second son didn’t return. However, as much as such information should be made privy to everyone in our town, nobody told the children—I had learned of it from watching my neighbours and eavesdropping on the murmurs between my parents. Still, I found it strange that it was the first time my father uttered those words.

“I can’t buy out of this one,” my father added.

“Then we leave. There’s still time,” my mother replied. She took a quick glance around the living room before reaching for me and my sister. But before she could do anything further, my father pulled her to a corner.

Their murmurs began. They often thought we didn’t understand or that we couldn’t put the pieces together. And for the most part, we couldn’t. But that evening, we knew something was wrong—terribly, horribly wrong.

“We cannot abandon this town,” my father stated.

“Then who should I send tomorrow when you don’t return?” my mother retorted. “Myself or the children?”

“I will return.”

My father reached for the brown sack he had tucked beneath the old bookshelf. He often said that the sack was filled with coal, dousing my curiosity to peek inside.

“I want to go with you,” I uttered. I didn’t know what I was signing up for but I hadn’t miss a shot since I was ten. There were echoes of gunfire every single night—I could help my father shoot whatever it was they shot under the moonlight.

“No. You stay home. I will return in the morning,” my father said. “Don’t worry. It’ll just be like last night.”

Not waiting for my mother to protest, my father gave us each a peck on the cheek and left. For a few minutes after, my mother stood staring at the closed door. But the second she snapped out of her daze, she boarded the door up. That night, the gunfire sounded different—they were loud and never ending. The hours of the night also seemed to tick slower than the night before. And when day finally arrived, I had not rested even for a minute.

My father came home as he said he would. The first thing he did was refill the sack with coal. That morning, I learned that it was true. My father wasn’t lying—it was indeed coal. It was the only matter that protected him. But from what, I didn’t know.

Today, I pulled a long straw. It has been three months since—representing my family at the daily town meeting. And tonight, I would see what we’d been fighting. It might sound crazy that no one has ever spoken about what the night brought to our little town in the desert. But at the very least, my late father gave me a reason—the purpose behind our battles in the dark.

“We fight in the darkness for the light of day,” I told my sister. “And if you ever draw a long straw, a single coal can light your way.”


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

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

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Original Works

Tattoo | Cut | Window

A new beginning gleamed—the break of dawn with its inspiring hues, stretching across the horizon. There it was—hope within my reach—the fresh start I had dreamt of. But despite my inmost desire for the first light of day, something was in my way. Something so fragile and breakable yet capable of inflicting pain. Something that framed the world beyond yet kept me imprisoned within these four walls. Something I treasured in my solitude—a kaleidoscope of my aspirations—yet unyielding in its design. And the only way I could seize the opportunities beyond was to break free—shatter the only window in the confinement of doubt, insecurity, and fear I called my mind.

I have tried to escape. I had armed myself with the wobbly oak chair that often stood beside my study table. With all my might, I had swung the old furniture against the window. And it broke. The glass fractured. The warmth of the sun streamed through the rough edges, kissing my skin in delight. The cool breeze from beyond swept into my room, embracing me like a long lost friend. And the sweet scent of Spring, in full bloom and all its glory, rushed to fill the dead space—an amiable hello from a beauty I’ve never known.

I wanted out. I had a taste of the world I was missing out on—the adventurous and meaningful life that could be mine if only I was brave enough. So, I gathered my courage. I reached through the aperture in the window, bearing sharp edges in attempts to discourage my curiosity. And just when I returned the handshake offered to me by endless possibilities, my inner demons awoke. My forearm brushed against the uneven contour of what was once whole. The sharp edges tore my skin with the fear of the unknown. And there was blood—a deep cut that scarred my soul. Could I ever be free without a scratch? Was there a way to leave this dreary room without affliction? I didn’t know which was worst—to be stuck in the gloom of yesterday or to bear agony for a tomorrow. Should I try again?

Hope was still within my grasp. It was a new day—the first blank page of a book I was given to write. Every word and every sentence was mine to decide. The moment I chose to break free, my story would begin—the tale I was meant to tell finally told. It would be an epic journey with a fulfilling resolution, encapsulated within the final pages I would call my epilogue. But first, this prologue had to end. I had to make a choice—choose to try again or choose to remain in an introduction that never becomes a story. And so, I chose to live.

I chose to escape the lonely tower that rose high above this prodigious land of past, present, and future. I chose to be like the ones below—liberated from the restraints of the swallowing darkness that once plagued their souls. I was ready to embrace the pain—to home the markings of the cage. For despite the ink that blackened their skins—the tattoos that depicted their history—they were living. Those outside of these walls were truly living.

There—the rickety chair I doubted could carry my weight—my saviour. The study table wouldn’t mind if it departed. They weren’t a pair—they didn’t belong. And neither did I in this state of mind. This time, I swung the chair with the intention to let go. And I did. The chair crashed through—the window shattered at a force fueled by an ache for freedom. It was a sound I would never forget—the announcement of my new beginning.

Snatching for the covers of my bed, I wrapped it around my right hand—I had to clear the merciless serrations. I was ready for scars but if I could lessen the pain, why wouldn’t I? When only the chippings of glass remained—adamant about leaving the frame—I tossed my protection aside and reached for my exit. And, as I expected, the first weight upon my palms broke flesh. The warmth of blood brought hesitation. But, I wasn’t submitting to it this time. This time, I pushed down further to climb over. This time, I was taking a leap of faith. Even if I fell, breaking bones and tearing flesh, I wasn’t returning to the tower. I was going to live—truly live the life I was always meant to live.

And there it was—the start of my story.


Tattoo, cut, and window were words given by Caroline Guisson on Facebook

Since it’s the new year, I decided to write a little piece of encouragement for all those who are still hesitating to take a leap of faith. I know it’s scary and it can be painful, but the world beyond your fear and doubt offers endless possibilities. So make the choice to start writing your story this year!

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Perhaps this is the start to your own adventure? Give it a try! You never know what can happen.

*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.)

Others

Adventures In 2019! [Videos + Community + Guide]

We are 5 days away from the New Year! Are you excited? I sure am! I have a lot of NEW CONTENT coming your way and I cannot wait for you to watch them. Yup, you read that right—WATCH them!

If you have yet to read the past couple of posts, I shared about the FREE creative guidebook and the private Facebook group a.k.a creative community. My goal for both of these projects is to do something more meaningful for all creatives around the world. As a creative myself, I hope that I can foster an environment that allows creatives like YOU to learn, explore, and grow together. And thus why… I have created videos too!

During the past 2 months, I’ve been planning, recording, and editing over 21 videos for 2019. The videos will be up on my Fanpage every Saturday (or Friday—depending on where you are in the world) and will be shared with the creative community, Chosen Generation. Each video takes on one chapter from the creative e-guide, Being The Best In What You Do, without repeating any of the points but adding or looking at them from a different perspective. And, some of these videos that I’m really excited to share are, Why You’ll Never Be Good Enough, How To Make Work Meaningful, and The Best Way To Deal With Criticism!

Additionally, I’m hoping that my collaboration with an ONLINE MAGAZINE will be extended to you too! I would really love to share your stories with the world. So once I’ve worked out the kinks with this platform, I’ll make an official update over on my fanpage and Chosen Generation. So yes, a new adventure awaits in 2019!

Now, what will happen to this blog? Nothing—it’ll be the same as always. There will still be short stories as I intend to continue 3 Words 1 Story and 12 Genre Months in 2019. But, if you’re a creative looking for more content that could possibly help you on this journey, YOU’RE INVITED to join me over on Facebook! I am really looking forward to discovering your passion and talent, while getting to know you on a more personal level. So, I hope to see you on the other side!

Signing out of 2018; Happy New Year and may your 2019 be a better and more memorable year than this!

Original Works

Five Words [12 Genre Months]

I’ll be back, I promise—five words scribbled in black ink on a note. They were the first words I read that morning as I headed to pour myself a glass of milk. Stuck to the door of the fridge with a magnet, I thought nothing of it—he had left many notes as such. But that evening and the evenings after, I started to doubt he would ever keep his promise. Until one day, twenty years after he’d left, another note appeared.

Would you like to reconnect?—five words in a sans serif font blinked periodically on a card. They were the first words I read on a chilly December morning as I went to collect the mail. The card made no mention of whom it was from but I had an inkling. Still, I hesitated. My thumb hovered over the green ‘yes’ button on the device. Was this how I wanted to see him again? I decided to accept the request. And, there it was, the chronicles of his life.

I scrolled through the magazine of what he had been up to—the places he’d visited, the parties he’d attended, the food he’d loved, and the people he’d met and then left as digital memories. He was using a different name, or at least, not the name I used to call him. And, after I had flipped through the past ten years of his seemingly exciting and adventurous life, five more words called for action—would you like to chat? I clicked the green button once more.

“Hey Will, how’s it going?”

Will is typing a reply—the device read.

“Hey! Long time no see!”

Could I define this encounter as ‘seeing’?

“Long time indeed. What’s up?”

I wondered if I should bring up the promise he’d made twenty years ago. It didn’t really matter that he left—I moved on. I had my own collection of countries, events, food, and people, in my own magazine of life. But I wanted to know why he left, with no explanation, only to reconnect now.

“I thought about you recently.”

“That explains why you reconnected.”

“Haha! Still sarcastic I see.”

“Why all of a sudden?”

“I made a promise, remember?”

So he didn’t forget after all—those five words that left nothing but expectation. Five words that gave me no reason for his disappearance. Was he finally going to own up to his broken promise?

“Right. What’s up with that?”

“Well, I’m keeping my promise.”

“Are you serious right now?”

“I am back, aren’t I?”

Was he joking? Did he think this was acceptable—that a simple ‘hello, I’m back’ on a device was enough? Did he not think to be a little more courteous—to actually show up in person after all these years? Who gave him the right to hide behind a screen?

“It was nice ‘seeing’ you.”

I wanted to end the conversation there. And I could. All it took was a click of a red button and I would archive the entire exchange. I even had the option to ‘delete’. Then, I could toss the card out and carry on with my day.

“Wait, don’t go just yet!”

“What do you want, Will?”

“Look, I’m sorry all right.”

“Of course you are, Will.”

“Five words are too little.”

“You realised that only now?”

“I mean, on this chat.”

Five words was how the device worked. ‘Five Words’ was what it was called. It was ‘a small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’—their tagline on every highway billboard and at the top of every salesman’s pitch. It was designed to reconnect people in a disconnected world. And the rule was simple: only five words—no more, no less.

“I know that too, Will.”

“I have much to say.”

“Then say it in person.”

“I want to, trust me.”

“Right. I’m signing out now.”

“Wait wait wait wait wait.”

“Our friendship was long over.”

“Can you come to me?”

Was this another joke? Did he expect me to take the first step? I was not a pushover—I never was. If he wanted a convenient friendship, he came to the wrong person.

“No. You come to me.”

“I can’t. I’m… I’m sick.”

“Sick? What kind of sickness?”

“Life threatening, the doctors say.”

“Oh. Wow. I’m sorry, Will.”

“I’m not a good friend.”

“You left without an explanation.”

“Let me apologise to you.”

Perhaps I could make an exception this time. Perhaps, for a dying friend, I could put my pride aside. After all, he wanted to make things right… and in person.

“Where are you right now?”

“I left you a box.”

“You left me a box?”

“The Yung Brothers & Co.”

“Yung brothers? Who are they?”

“My lawyers. I’m really sorry.”

I was expecting the name of a hospital. I was actually willing to make the drive. Why did Will want me to meet with his lawyers instead?

“Your lawyers? Why your lawyers?”

“I can’t apologise in person.”

“What do you mean, Will?”

“I’m sorry. I should have…”

“You should have what, Will?”

“I should have said more.”

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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.)

Original Works

Coffee | Scientists | Existence

Scientists, they called us. Highly-educated individuals who make calculated risks for the betterment of humanity. Doctors and professors with achievements and awards, who were about to reveal to the world the capabilities of mankind. We were people your children would, supposedly, one day look up to—that was how we were defined. And that was what we believed too. But, we were wrong.

We weren’t glorified scientists. We were playing God. But unlike the Gods of the human faith, we made a decision that challenged our very existence. We were in delusion—we brought to life a beast that set the apocalypse in motion.

“Wake up,” she said, placing a paper cup of steaming black coffee on my desk.

“What time is it?” I asked, with a croak in my voice.

I had spent the past five days within the corners of these four white walls, running the numbers back-and-forth for our next test. Time had been relative to our research, that we didn’t have a clock to define our circadian rhythms.

“Eleven forty-three,” she replied. “Are the numbers correct?”

“I hope so,” I said.

We had done it three-hundred and fifty-six times. And that day, at noon, we would see if our years of trial-and-error had paid off. We would witness water turning to wine—we would have the answer to magic. If we finally succeeded, there would be no stopping us—magic would be science and science would be magic. But at what expense? Nobody cared enough to answer that question. We were playing with fire but we had no contingency plan to put out the flames.

“Then let’s go. The team is waiting,” she prompted.

Grabbing my cup of coffee, I followed my colleague to the largest lab in our facility. It was built solely for this experiment—as wide as an airplane hangar for two Boeing 747-8’s, with a ceiling that was eight storeys high. A spherical chamber of forty-meters in diameter, said to be made from glass as strong as steel, occupied the centre. The chamber was attached to grey tubes that drew biological matter from twenty-three molecule cylinders that were lined against the back wall.

“Do we need any changes?” our head scientist asked, just as I strolled in.

“Everything looks to be in order,” I said. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but never were we ever a hundred percent sure since the day we started. We could only hope that this time would be the last time.

“Great. Let’s begin.”

At the command, every member of our team took their place—ten of which planted themselves before a series of control panels. As I had done my part, I remained where I was, watching as the molecules in the cylinders began to churn. Shortly after, a humming reverberated through the walls of the laboratory as the chamber fogged. That was it—the moment we had been waiting for. It had been exactly like this in the previous three-hundred and fifty-six runs. But, I had a gut feeling that that day was the day. That day was… doomsday.

If only we’d learned from the cinematic adventures of Alan Grant. If only we took fiction a little more seriously—that just because it wasn’t real, it does not mean it can’t be. If only I entertained the doubts and reached for the emergency ‘stop’ button. If only I listened to the voice in my head that told me something was about to go wrong.

The spherical chamber began to shake. All twenty-three grey tubes unhooked themselves at the sudden quake, spilling matter onto the polished-white floor. As the fog within the chamber condensed, we didn’t know if we should celebrate or run. And in that moment of contemplation, we heard a crack.

“Unbreakable,” the scientists from Japan boasted. And perhaps the chamber was indeed unbreakable at the face of earthly phenomenons. But it seems, in that lab and on that day, we weren’t dealing with nature.

“Everybody, out,” our head scientist ordered.

Nobody saw the need to defy the command as we rushed to the exit. The second all seventeen were accounted for, the doors were shut. A lockdown sequence commenced. And from the outside we watched—through the lens of the closed-circuit televisions—the beast we created, breaking free from its glass egg.

Its black wings—spreading sixty-meters wide—shattered the chamber from within, sending deathly shards in all cardinal directions. Lifting its scaly head, we caught sight of its blood-red, oval eyes. It looked angry. It looked hungry. It flared its nostrils. And as it parted its jaws, lined with flesh-tearing teeth, it released an ear-piercing screech.

It was supposed to be a hatchling. It was supposed to be blind. It wasn’t supposed to be a beast that could rip through the steel ceiling of our laboratory—that could find land, despite our unmarked location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t supposed to be the end of mankind. But it was. It was the definition of our actions. It was blasphemy.


Coffee, scientists, and existence were words given by Jessica Chen on Facebook. So clearly, I went with the whole scientist and existence route which, you know, has been done many times. But I hope, at the very least, the story was entertaining. 

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Give it a try! You probably can be more creative than I.

*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.)

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.

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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.)

Writing Journey

8 Destructive Thoughts

On the outside, most people think I’m a self-confident individual. In fact, I once did a Johari Window test with the closest people in my life and the top characteristics they agreed upon were ‘confident’, ‘bold’, and ‘self-assertive’. Perhaps it has something to do with the way I speak and carry myself around the people I’m comfortable with. But on the inside, I’m not as confident as I seem. I’m just like you—I drown in insecurities. I struggle with doubt. I read too much into situations because I hope… I hope I don’t suck. And, there are times where…

1. I don’t believe I will ever be good enough—no matter how hard I try, I’ll be decent at most. It might sound strange, but receiving compliments make me a little uncomfortable because I find them hard to believe.

2. I’m insecure about my appearance—I judge my reflection every single day. There’s always something wrong with this body, and it doesn’t help that others have something to say about it too.

3. I question my personality—am I annoying? Am I insensitive? Do I make others uneasy with my straightforwardness? Am I a bad person for not caring enough? Why can’t I be more outgoing?

4. I wish people noticed me—if only I wasn’t invisible. If only I was an option.

5. I wish people cared more—I can always celebrate the ups publicly, but it seems I have to go through the downs alone. And if I do share my struggles, will anyone listen?

6. I am aimless. Directionless. Clueless—I wish I had more clarity. I wish I knew where I’m going in life. I wish I could see what’s coming.

7. I feel left out—I’m always a second thought.

8. Everyone else seems to be doing better—why am I left behind? There must be something wrong with me—what other reason could there be?

Recently, I began to realise how these crippling thoughts can and will destroy me. So I forced myself into a session of introspection. I looked at every single one of my insecurities and… I found reality:

He made me good. Not ‘good enough’, but good—I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I have the power to define what I see in the mirror—I am a work in progress and I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. I have weaknesses, but I have strengths too!

My personality makes me, me—there’s always room for improvement, but I shouldn’t try to be someone else. I’m not a bad person, but I can be a better person.

People do notice me—more often than not, it is I who don’t notice them. I don’t make them an option.

People do care—I had and will always have support. All I have to do is open up and share more.

For He knows the plans He has for me—it’s a promise. And He never breaks His promises.

I’m not left out—I choose to be. The choice has always been in my hands.

I’m doing better than I think—there’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve done some pretty awesome things and I shouldn’t forget even the smallest victories. I might not be succeeding in a way others are, but I have my own journey and my own story to tell.

I don’t know what your thoughts are, but I have a feeling we share some of these. And I want you to know that all these destructive thoughts are nothing but myths. None of them are true. We are our worst critics. We judge ourselves more than we should. So don’t buy into these lies. Rather, choose to believe in the truths—we are flawed, we can be better, but there’s nothing wrong with us.

YOU are worthy. YOU are amazing. YOU are unique. YOU are stunning. And YOU are, most certainly, meant for greatness.

Original Works

Food | Party | Head

Costumes, food, and music—that was what the invitation card read. Nothing more, nothing less, just a fun night with friends. As someone who preferred to cosy up on the sofa with a murder-mystery novel, I contemplated long and hard on my answer. But in the fear of missing out, I said ‘sure’. Did I regret my decision? Yes, but not in the way most introverts did. Rather, what I thought would be an insignificant and boring night changed my life… forever.

“Who are you going as?” I asked my friend—the very same friend that convinced me I would enjoy myself.

“I’ll probably just throw a mask on and be done with it.”

“Seriously?”

“It doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to try so hard,” she said with a chuckle.

“It says, come in your best costume.”

“I’ve been going to this for years—best costume simply means looking your best. Trust me, you don’t want to overdo it—you’ll be the weird one. Just go get yourself a mask.”

If she said so, she must be right. So I took her advice. After all, I was losing interest as the days went by, wondering if I should cancel my attendance. And perhaps, I should have listened to my gut. If only I didn’t feel the need to push myself to socialise and make new friends, I could have escaped this fate.

When the night of the event finally rolled around, I had already planned my exit. I had no intention of staying long and had made up my mind to excuse myself after an hour. But as I entered the three-storey bungalow, belonging to a complete stranger, I had an inkling I wouldn’t be allowed to leave until the host said so.

“This is Jon,” my friend introduced. “The man of the house.”

Jon’s costume was a dinner tuxedo, finished with a black Zorro mask. Alike everyone else, his only costume was a horrible disguise. And at that moment, I heaved a silent sigh of relief—having thrown on a red dress, and a party mask that I bought at a Halloween store. What a nightmare it would’ve been to be an oddity—a thought that would soon mean nothing.

“Welcome to my humble abode,” Jon said. “Make yourself at home—it’s going to be a long night.”

I nodded with a thin smile. But as Jon went to greet the next arriving guest, I turned to my friend and said, “I’m leaving at nine.”

“Why?” she asked.

“You know I don’t like this kind of gatherings.”

“You’ll like this one,” she said with a wink. And before I could utter another word, she ushered me toward a group of people she claimed to be her friends.

“Have you guys met Natalie?” my friend introduced, as she gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze.

For a moment, I was confused. Was she referring to the lanky woman with the broad smile? Or, had she forgotten the name of the person she’d known for almost a decade? “She goes by Nat. Be nice to her, all right?” my friend continued. “Now excuse me, I think I see someone who owes me something.”

Just like that—after tossing me into a bizarre scenario—she vanished. Should I reintroduce myself? I hesitated. Oddly, I chose to pretend that my name was indeed Natalie before feigning interest in the group’s chatter about the newest mobile phone. Oh, how dull it was. But before I could escape the torment, the conversation took a turn.

“So, why did you say ‘yes’, Nat?” the lanky woman named Amber asked.

“Yes? To what?” I replied.

“To tonight.”

“Oh, I thought it would be… fun,” I lied. I never once thought I would enjoy myself, despite my friend’s claims.

“That’s sick,” Amber said. “Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting into until I arrived.”

“Me too,” one of the two men echoed.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Oh,” Amber replied, eyes widening as though she had just realised I was clueless. “So you don’t know.”

“Know what?” I found myself holding my breath. I didn’t know why, but my stomach knotted—a strange urge to leave surfaced, but my feet rooted themselves to the ground.

“Sam hasn’t told you yet, but things are about to get interesting,” Amber said.

“Sam?”

Who was Sam? I had yet to meet anyone by the name of Sam. Unless, Amber meant…

“Your referral?”

Sam—Victoria’s fake name. What did Victoria drag me into? Why did she invite me to something like this—whatever this is that Amber would call me ‘sick’ for thinking it would be fun? I took an unintentional dry gulp, before scanning the room for Victoria. I needed answers. But more importantly, I needed to leave.

“Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine,” Amber said. “You’ll understand once they bring out the head.”

“What?” I asked. “What do you-”

“I’ve been told we have a good one this year—all the way from Germany.”

“I-I need to-”

“Look,” Amber prompted, pointing at the doorway behind me. “It even looks fresh.”

I didn’t want to look, but I did. And unfortunately, I cannot say what I saw. For if I told you what occurred that night, I would have to give you a fake name too.

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Food, party, and head were words given by Lars Driessen on Facebook. Fun fact: Halloween isn’t celebrated in my country. But, I thought it would be fun to write something in line with this season. Usually, I try not to craft such tales. Thus why I’ve left the ending open—I didn’t want to imagine anything more, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Perhaps you can take on a lighter approach.

*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.)

Writing Journey

Imagination Is A Superpower [#TRUESTORY]

JG Cover

This story begins in 1999. You might be wondering if I got the year right, and chances are, I might be a year off. But let’s just assume it was indeed 1999.

At that age, I had a classmate who was a great storyteller. Her tales were so unbelievably far-fetched, yet oddly I bought every one of them. And because she often sparked my imagination—like how she attained a publishing deal as a nine-year-old—I started creating stories of my own. It began with the haunted Barbie doll that sat on a black dustbin near the library. God knows how many tall tales I concocted about the doll—a doll which strangely no teacher seemed to care enough to get rid of. There was also that haunted storeroom, in the classroom at the end of the top most hallway, with existing horror stories that I added to. Random question: why is everything haunted as a child?

10 points to Gryffindor if you can spot me!

In 2001, I moved to a different city and enrolled in a new school. This was when I took my storytelling up a notch with a group of friends. It was during that season that Charmed became my obsession—what can I say, magic has always been a fascination of mine. So during recess, my friends and I role-played as the Charmed Ones. I was Piper. I had a Leo. My friend who was Phoebe had a Cole. All these names would sound foreign if you have never seen the original Charmed series. But if you know what I’m talking about, you can safely assume we were big fans for having our own Book of Shadows.

A couple of years later, I started secondary school. Role-playing had moved from play-pretend to internet forums. It was in secondary school that I had access to the Harry Potter books, and thus began the sleepless nights and eager evenings to continue a story I was writing with five other Potterheads. And because role-playing was no longer expressed physically, I didn’t just write stories online, I started concocting tales before bed too. In the privacy of my bedroom, I imagined going on adventures with Harry and the gang. I even vocalised the dialogue. It sounds insane but trust me, writing my own stories make me seem more insane—this was just the tip of the iceberg.

However, as I aged up, I gradually stopped with the crazy imaginations… because honestly, it felt crazy to me too. So instead of feeding my imagination before bed, I turned to writing. I wasn’t very good. And people knew that—they were aware I wasn’t the best at stringing words together. I didn’t win a single writing contest. And on two accounts, someone close to me said I wasn’t going to make it—that I should quit because I wasn’t going to be good enough and that I was talent-less. If you’ve had someone close to you put fire to your dreams, you probably know how it felt. Did I believe them? No. Did their words hurt? Yes, so very much. But I was determined to succeed. And so I chose to use my imagination instead.

Born an imagineer, always an imagineer.

Imagination is a superpower. And with great power comes great responsibility. Just like any other superpower, you can use it for both good and evil. You can choose to imagine the worst, where you feed your doubts and crush your dreams. Or… you can choose to imagine an epic adventure where you ultimately become the hero of your story. When such a power is in your hands, the choice on what to do with it is entirely yours. And, I chose to keep my dream alive.

These days, I don’t use my imagination in the same way as I did growing up. As an adult, I channel my flights of fantasy into novels and the positive what if’s into reality. I imagine what could be with a dash of hope in the impossible. Of course, I am not completely free from the monsters of my imagination. But just like in any story, no matter how many times a villain rears its ugly head, it never wins. So if you’re an imagineer like me, start using your imagination in a way that will propel you on your own journey. And if you think you don’t have this gift of imagination, take a look at your childhood—screen through those years where you were free from reality. I honestly believe that the spark is still there, and all it needs is for you to reignite it… again.

Original Works

Voices From The Attic [12 Genre Months]

Whispers, they often called it—unintelligible whispers between people. But unlike the visitors, I didn’t hear an utterance of a word coming from the dead space. In fact, I couldn’t hear at all.

I was raised in an old Victorian house. Every year, my father would order tins of white paint to keep the pillars, balustrades, and walls in pristine appearance. He would often check the floorboards—quick to fix even the softest creak. And every single time I asked him why he was in a rush to mend the walls and polish the doorknobs, he would declare his love for the place we called home.

My father claimed that our home held more history than the local museum. He would rattle about the heritage to anyone who would listen. But strangely enough, my father never once shared a story about its past—who built it, what happened to the early settlers, and why was it worthy of his love? Those common questions were left unanswered—the moment someone brought them up, my father would default to babbling about the weather. Strange, yes. But though his response always made me curious, I chose to remain ignorant.

For the most part, nothing bizarre occurred within the ever-white walls. The house wasn’t haunted—or at least, it never felt that way. Nothing moved or went missing, and there weren’t any cold spots as how TV ghost hunters would determine the presence of otherworldly beings. However, when I was finally old enough to host sleepovers, I began to wonder if my father had a reason for withholding his stories—if they were more sinister than I expected.

They said they heard voices, I told my father. Voices coming from the attic.

“Voices?” he asked. “What time did you girls go to bed?”

Ten. It wasn’t that late.

“You know what happens when you’re tired, right?”

I shook my head, clueless as to what my father was implying.

“You imagine things,” he merely stated.

My friends could very well be imagining the voices they heard. After all, children had a knack for exaggeration. But because of the whispers—claimed to have come from right above my bedroom ceiling—none of my friends would sleep in my house again. From that day onward, I had to go to theirs. And, for the rest of the summer, everyone thought my house was haunted.

Was I ever curious about the voices? Yes. But just like my friends, it was a fleeting curiosity. I was quick to forget the conversation I had with my father. And since no one else mentioned about hearing them, I forgot about it altogether. It was only after fifteen years—when my husband and I visited my parents—did that particular memory resurface.

“Are there people in the attic?” my husband asked.

No. Why?

“I… never mind,” he said.

What is it?

“I thought I heard something, that’s all.” When he caught apprehension sweeping across my face, he added, “I must’ve been imagining it—it was a long drive.”

Let me ask my dad.

“He’ll think I’m crazy.” My husband chuckled. “It’s probably just the fatigue. Let’s call it a night.”

I agreed—perhaps it was indeed the exhaustion. But as someone who couldn’t hear a single sound since birth, I found myself awoken in the middle of the night by an intrusion I least expected.

“I want them to leave,” a female voice whispered—words seemingly carried by the wind.

The hair on my nape stood as I pushed myself seated on the bed. While I contemplated waking my husband, I heard another voice—belonging to a man—reply, “They won’t be staying long.”

The voices were coming from above my bedroom—the same bedroom I slept in for eighteen years of my life. But as I gazed up at the ceiling, I saw nothing but well-patched plaster. Was I imagining too? Was it a dream?

“I’m leaving tomorrow. I cannot live here anymore,” the female voice insisted.

“They won’t harm us,” the other replied.

“Then why are we hiding?”

“I’ll… I’ll call him tomorrow.”

“Tell him we’re selling—I’m not raising our child in a haunted house.”

Silence followed after the woman’s declaration. There were no more whispers—no more voices from the attic. I strained my ears for a decibel of a sound, but I heard nothing. Assuming it was all in my head, I returned to sleep. But when the rooster crowed, I found it hard to ignore what I had heard. So I pulled my father aside after breakfast, hopeful for a reasonable explanation.

I heard voices last night, coming from the attic.

“Voices? What kind of voices?” my father asked.

Human voices. They were talking about us.

“What time did you go to bed?”

Dad, I’m not a child.

“Then you should know better than to ask.”

What do you mean?

“I mean, go to bed early. You shouldn’t be hearing anything.”

I don’t understand. Why-

“If they can’t hear you, you can’t hear them.”

Dad, you’re not-

“Forget it,” he sternly replied.

Dad, what’s-

“The weather looks good today, doesn’t it? We should have a picnic—I’ll inform your mother.”

From that day onward, I didn’t hear the voices again. There were no more ghostly whispers. The attic was silent. And not because I went to bed early. It wasn’t even because I was deaf. There were no more voices because there was a fire—a fire I would soon have to forget for this story to repeat itself, over and over again.

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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.)