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Missing Buttons [12 Genre Months]

There were always two buttons missing—two buttons from my white, collared shirt, two buttons from the back pockets of my navy blue jeans, and two buttons from my black, iron-pressed blazer. I grew up with two buttons less than everyone else. And, it was never a problem despite the curiosity my strange circumstances stirred.

Growing up, everyone seemed to notice my missing buttons—my friends, their parents, the teachers, and the bullies. Nobody dared to ask where my buttons had gone to—some teased and made wild assumptions—but they were all very curious. From the way they parted their lips in hesitation of a question to the way their eyes darted to and from the loose threads, I knew they wanted to know. Alas, I myself had no idea where my buttons were. I didn’t remove them on purpose. There was no reason for me to un-thread them. They just always went missing in my possession. And the older I got, the more baffled I was by their mysterious disappearances. Yet, oddly enough, I didn’t see the need to find out why, how, and what. That is, until the day they reappeared—all of them… in my bedroom cupboard.

I had lived thirty-five years with two missing buttons from everything I owned. I had learned to adapt, using zips and velcros to hold things in place. People were still curious. I still shrugged in oblivion of the answer they sought. However, it wasn’t a predicament. I could live with missing buttons. I didn’t need them. But on the night of my thirty-fifth birthday, I found them.

I had just returned from a dinner with friends when I yanked my cupboard open for a clean pair of clothes. As the door clicked free from the magnetic lock, a heap of buttons streamed onto my wooden floor. At first, I thought it was a joke. Everyone I knew, knew about my missing buttons. There was a possibility that someone thought it would be funny to gift me hundreds of buttons to make up for all the missing ones. But while I cupped the buttons into an empty pail, I noticed something about them—most of them weren’t new. The white, plastic buttons had turned off-white, the metal ones had browned from oxidation, and the cloth-covered buttons were peeling from their seams. They were my buttons. And at the realisation of my past returning to haunt me, I hastily reached for the phone to give my mother a call.

“The missing buttons, mum. The ones from my shirts and pants—they’re all here,” I said, withholding not the apprehension in my voice.

“What about those buttons?” my mother asked.

“They’re here, mum. Right here, in my house—in my cupboard.”

“Just toss them out if you don’t need them,” my mother replied, too calmly.

“I know. I will. But why are they here? All of them—suddenly?”

“I don’t know,” my mother said.

“Wait…” My mother wasn’t reacting the way I thought she would—she was taking the event too lightly. Was she the culprit? Could I now heave a sigh of relief? “Was it you? Did you put them here?” I asked.

“Why would I put buttons in your cupboard?”

“This isn’t funny, mum. Are you and dad hiding in the kitchen or something?” I stalked toward the bedroom door, ready to call my mum out on her joke—ready for the birthday surprise. Unfortunately, such wasn’t the case.

“Ben, I wouldn’t take a five-hour flight just to put buttons in your cupboard,” my mother insisted—her tone now serious.

“Then how did they get here?” I demanded. “Who put them here?”

At that question, I froze. There was more to my fear—now rooting me to the ground. Who… put them here? Who was the person who had stolen my buttons for thirty-five years and had just decided to return them without reason. Was this person still in the house? Was this person watching me?

“Mum, I need you to ask dad to call the police,” I said.

“Ben, you need to calm down.”

“I can’t calm down, mum. Those missing buttons…” I paused, hesitating to leave the bedroom. “Someone was here. Someone put-”

“Ben, I need you to calm down.”

“How do you expect me to calm down? Someone-”

You… put them there, Ben,” my mother interrupted.

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Ben, I need you to listen.”

“Mum-”

“I need you to collect those buttons and throw them out. Can you do that?” my mother asked.

“I… don’t understand.”

“Just do as I tell you.”

“Why?”

“Ben, listen to me. You have-”

“I’ve got to go, mum.” I didn’t know what she was talking about. She sounded insane. “I’ll call you later.”

“Don’t hang up on me. I need you to throw the buttons away and tell me once you’ve done so.”

Why did she insist I do that? I turned to look behind me where the buttons had spread across the bedroom floor. But in the expectation of their disconcerting nature, I found them gone.

“Ben,” my mother called. “Ben, are you there?”

“Yes,” I replied. Where did the buttons go? How did they just… disappear. “They’re gone… the buttons.”

“You threw them out?”

Should I tell her that they simply vanished? I didn’t know what was going on. I wasn’t sure if I should continue to panic. Did I imagine it all? Despite the many troubling questions, I heard myself say, “Yes, I threw them out.”

“Are you sure?” my mother asked.

“They’re gone now.”

“Good,” my mother said. “Now, go to bed—it’s late.”

I hesitated to douse the mystery—to demand for an explanation. But instead, I did as I was told. After all, they were gone now—the buttons were missing once again. And honestly, that was all that mattered.

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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.)

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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Panda | Freckles | Space Pilot

“Is she the one?”

They spoke of me as if I wasn’t there. There was no friendly ‘hello’. They spared me not a single amiable smile. And there wasn’t any attempt at making me feel comfortable in the cold, white-walled office. They had no interest in being my friend. Thus, my only comfort came from the stuffed toy panda–stained red from a painting misadventure–I clutched at my chest.

“Yes. Should I get her ready?”

The lady in the iron-pressed lab coat nodded and gestured to the towering man in the faint-blue tunic. With the order to proceed, the man reached for my upper arm. His grip was strong. His guiding force tempted to free my stuffed panda from my grip as he led me out of the room.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said. What was supposed to sound comforting came with a tone that implied otherwise. “There are other kids like you here, so you’ll make lots of friends.”

I didn’t care much for friends. I just wanted to go home.

“And, if you do well in the tests, you’ll get double servings of dessert,” he added.

I would rather not eat cake for the rest of my life if I could be with my family. Why did my parents agree to this? None of the rewards were appealing in this pristine hallway of glistening-clean floors and spotless-white walls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice. I could be the future of mankind.

“We’ll be running one test today. If you pass, you’ll stay,” the man continued.

“If I fail?” I asked, suddenly hopeful.

“You won’t fail.”

How was he so certain? Did he evaluate my performance at school?

“But what if-”

“You won’t,” he repeated.

His insistence sounded like a threat. What kind of a man would threaten a child? So, in my stubborness, I was determined to fail. I didn’t want to stay in this place any longer. I planned to do everything within my power to leave. And in this case, I would do nothing. If the test was like any of the other tests I did at school, doing nothing should result in a ‘fail’.

After making two right turns, we halted before a sliding door. There was a single beep before the door slid sideways, giving view to the white room inside. It was an almost barren space with but a polished, metal-encased, reclining armchair in its center. By the chair was a woman in the same blue tunic as the man. The only difference between her and the people I met before her was the gentle smile on her face.

“I know this looks scary,” she said, tapping on the chair. “But it does nothing you imagine it would do.”

I admit, I was imagining the worst. Were there needles in the seat ready to pierce through my skin? Was the metal casing going to heat up and burn me alive? Never was my imagination as wild nor as terrifying as when I stood before the daunting-looking device.

“What… does it do then?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said.

“Nothing?”

“Take a seat,” she prompted.

The man finally released his grip on my arm, allowing me to move freely. For a brief moment, I contemplated running for the door. If I escaped, I wouldn’t have to do the test. Alas, it was a silly notion–I was just a child. So, I did as I was told and climbed into the chair. Planting myself firmly on the seat, my legs hung above the footrest–yes, I was rather short for an eleven-year-old.

“I’m going to put these two buttons on your temples, all right?” the woman said. She didn’t wait for my reply as she stuck the flat pieces to the sides of my forehead. “Oh! And look here,” she exclaimed as she pulled away. “What lovely freckles you have,” she praised. “My daughter has them too. She’s one of the kids you’ll meet later.”

“She is?”

“Yes. Now, I want you to close your eyes.”

I followed instructions, eager to disappoint the adults. As darkness replaced the white room, I waited for the next prompt. However, there came none.

“What do I do?” I asked.

There was no reply. I wondered if I should open my eyes. But, a second before I did, I saw the strangest thing in the blackness of my eyelids. I was… in space.

A control panel with a series of switches and screens encircled the chair I was strapped into. And, in that moment, I questioned my reality. Was I still in the white-washed research facility? Was it all a dream? Why was I suddenly in space? Will I awake in my bedroom, ten feet away from where my parents slept? I wished the latter to be true. Unfortunately, I had an inkling that it wasn’t real. This was my escape–a place in my head where I was a space pilot, far away from my dreadful reality.

“Good job,” I heard the woman say. In a snap, the twinkling stars vanished. Darkness returned. When I pried my eyelids open, she added, “You passed.”

“But… I did nothing,” I said.

“Exactly.”

The woman retrieved the buttons from my temples, before the man reached to pull me off the chair. “Come now. You’ll get two brownies with dinner as promised,” the man said.

“I…”

I didn’t want brownies. I wanted to know what was going on. How did I pass? What did the chair do? What made me so special? Sadly, the only thing I did know was that I wasn’t going home. And until I figured out why, my imagination would serve as my only escape from this reality–a reality where, I’ve been told countless times, every adult hated to live in.

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Panda, freckles, and space pilot were words given by HKay. A question for you, dear reader: what do you think is this child’s gift? Feel free to share your ‘theory’ with me in the comment section.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Oh, and if you think you have 3 words that will surely challenge my creativity, leave them in the comment section too. It wouldn’t be fair to give myself the 3 words now would it?

*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 July 26, 2018 in Original Works

 

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How About John? [12 Genre Months]

“How about John? He’s the closest to your type,” she said.

I shrugged in reply. It was almost always like this–conversations that moved from work to the possible candidates around me. And, because my type was often considered a niche, I was given the same names–encouraged to approach the same few men on a helplessly short name list.

“If you want, I know of a way I can get you and John acquainted,” she added, with a beaming smile.

Yes, I didn’t know John. But funnily enough, I knew a lot about him. Friends in common have showed me his social media profiles. They have spoken highly of him. They have shared their encounters and praised John’s admirable qualities. I wasn’t even sure if I could call John an acquaintance. I knew too much–it was as if we were actually friends.

“Nah,” I replied. My answer was always the same.

“A few of us are getting together this weekend. You should join–John will be there.”

“Nah,” I repeated. Why should I try? Based on past experiences, trying didn’t do me any good. Whenever I took steps to get to know someone new, I would quickly learn I didn’t fit their bill. It was always a waste of precious time–time I could’ve spent reading that book I bought three years ago or simply staring at a wall.

“You have to make an investment if you want something to happen, you know,” she said.

Did I actually want something to happen? Everyone made John out to be this sought after man, that I should make a move if I wanted to be noticed. But honestly, I didn’t care if he noticed me. So why did I need to get his attention? Why couldn’t he be the one seeking my attention instead?

Perhaps it wasn’t like this for John. Perhaps the gentlemen didn’t suggest names, show pictures, and offer help during their get-togethers. Perhaps it was only us ladies who tried endlessly to match-make our friends. Why did we do that? Why were we all equally guilty of making romance a key player in our happiness?

“It sounds like too much work,” I replied.

She sighed an expected sigh. It wasn’t the first time–I’ve made a lot of people sigh. They would either sigh at my lack of attempt or when I turned down a potentially good candidate.

“That’s not a priority right now,” I added.

She frowned an expected frown. It was a common response to my hypocritical statement. Despite the quest for love not being a priority in my life, it sometimes felt important–important enough to entertain suggestions and make plans. So yes, I was a hypocrite. But, not because I chose to be one. I had no reason for oscillating between genuine interest and resignation. I didn’t understand my actions and decisions in this subject matter. Was it just me? Or were we all on the same swaying boat, tossed in a storm of expectations and acceptance.

“How about Matthew?” she asked.

She wasn’t listening to me. No one listened to the boy who cried wolf. And, to prove my role in the acclaimed fable, I asked, “Who?”

“Hold on, let me show you.” She swiftly retrieved her phone from her handbag, excited to show me a new candidate. Alas, when I gazed upon his picture, I could only offer a disappointing response.

“Oh, this guy,” I replied with little enthusiasm.

“He’s almost your type.”

“Yea, but…”

“No?”

“No.”

“Seriously, it’s impossible to find someone you like.”

“I know.”

It was a blessing in disguise. If no one could fit my ideals, I could think about something else. I could spend my energy and resources on the other things that made me happy.

“How about you?” I asked. It was time to shift the conversation around–to stop dwelling on the fact that I might be single for life. Was that a happy or a sad fact? It didn’t matter. It was her turn to contemplate about her happiness. “Aaron is a nice guy,” I stated.

“He is,” she replied. “But our desires don’t align.”

“What desires? He seems like a good fit for you.”

“He wants a stay-at-home wife. I can’t be that.”

“Oh. That’s disappointing. I guess we can scrape him off your list then.”

“Yea.”

“How about John? He’s almost your type,” I said.

“I… don’t know.”

Was she now pondering if a relationship could truly make her happy? Did she care if John noticed her? Was she willing to take the first step?

She wasn’t like me. She never once said that a relationship wasn’t a priority. But, maybe she kept that thought to herself. Perhaps I wasn’t the only hypocrite. Or, maybe I was–she could be more hopeful than I would ever be. She could have more suitors and prospects. In comparison, my lack of effort could be a reflection of my unpopularity.

Stuck in the unknown of my own wants and desires, it was my turn to heave a sigh. I didn’t sigh at her response but at the undetermined, incomprehensible, and often bothersome state I was in. How long would I have to float in this unsettlement? Alike its very nature, I will never know.

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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.)

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Cologne | Magnet | Banana

There it was again–the smell of his cologne–a subtle blend of citrus notes with a mild woody undertone. He had just walked by. His light footsteps drowned by the chatters of the afternoon crowd. If only it wasn’t routinely busy at the hour of his arrival, I could, possibly, point him out. Alas, such was rarely a case in this joint.

Just like me, he frequented the cafe every Saturday. But while I clocked-in in the morning, he visited only by noon. I speculated he enjoyed the midday set meals. My favourite waitress once told me that their lunch sets were very affordable in this expensive city. So perhaps I would give them a try one day. But as for now, I preferred my regular order of plain banana pancake with a side of freshly brewed black coffee–those two made great companions to whatever book I was reading. They were all I needed, until he appeared.

That Saturday, I was pages away from completing The Magnet & The Mouse when I caught his scent. I was drawing close to the conclusion of the acclaimed philosophical book–how the mouse found its magnet after the thunderstorm–but loss all concentration when he walked by. I’m not one to be easily distracted. The noise in the cafe never once bothered me–my focus never disturbed by the yapping children, boisterous students, hollers from the kitchen, and hissing of the coffee machine. The smells of this establishment had not once drew my attention elsewhere–not the homely waft of fresh waffles, and certainly not the deep, soul-pleasing aroma of a dark brew. But, he was different.

What was it about his cologne that stole my senses? Why was his light, almost indistinguishable footsteps so aurally pleasing? I’ve never seen his face nor heard his voice, but I’ve yet to fail at sensing his movement–his presence. Oh, how I wish I knew more about him. The strange desire to speak to him–to learn about his past, present, and future–could not be shaken.

“Is this seat taken?”

There it was again–the smell of his cologne now stronger–as though he was the one who spoke. Then, there were those familiar footsteps as he moved to stand before me.

“No,” I replied, gesturing for him to take a seat.

Was the cafe busier than usual that he had to share my table? Or, did he notice me like I noticed him?

“Good book?” he asked.

“I’ve yet to finish.”

“What’s it about?”

I briefly contemplated about sharing the whole incoherent plot, but settled with, “Life. It’s about life.”

“Life,” he echoed.

“Sounds boring, I know.”

“No, it actually sounds interesting. What is life like for you?”

What is life like for me? Life was once bright, colourful, and beautiful. Then life became dark, lonely, and disconcerting. I didn’t know what to expect the moment I rose from my bed. I could no longer predict what would happen, or avoid–what was once avoidable–misfortunes. I was lost. I had to try harder at discerning the world around me. That was life.

“Ordinary,” I replied. “What is life like for you?”

“Scary,” he said. “How do you make life ordinary?”

I didn’t. I wasn’t. I lied. “I adapt.”

“Do you believe life can be exciting?”

I hoped–I wasn’t reading The Magnet & The Mouse because I enjoyed philosophy.

“Yes,” I said.

“You see, I-” he abruptly halted. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be insensitive.”

“Words are just words. What do I see?” I prompted.

“You see,” he continued. “I’ve been noticing you for awhile now, and I’ve been wondering how you do it.”

“How I do what?”

“How do you smile and laugh without a care in the world? How do you pardon the intrusive nature of your surroundings? How do you enjoy just that–a pancake and a coffee?”

“I read good books,” I replied with a chuckle.

“I thought so too, but there’s more than that. And I want to know what it is.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about. There wasn’t anything more. “Honestly, I just read really entertaining and engaging books.”

“Or, you just don’t realise how un-ordinary your life is.”

Yes, my life was indeed un-ordinary but in the bad kind of way. Did I miss the memo on how my life should be? Was my current predicament a celebration?

“I know I sound rude,” he added. “It’s just… I find hope in you.” I must have wore bewilderment, as he continued, “I… well… I’ve been told I won’t be able to see for very much longer. So with the days counting down, I’ve chosen to look at what gives me hope. And, you’re one of them–hope.”

“Me?”

“Honestly, I don’t come here for the food. I actually come here for you–the stranger with the book, coffee, and pancake.” He chuckled.

“I… didn’t know I made an impression.”

“Well, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean you don’t.”

I never thought that me being me could ever make a difference in someone’s life. How could someone so broken be a bringer of hope? Was I truly capable despite my disabilities?

“Thank you,” he added. “I truly hope, that one day, you’ll see what everyone else sees in you.”

Me too. “I hope so too.”

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Cologne, magnet, and banana were words given by Wei Keat on Facebook–I never knew one could actually bring these words together in a story until I actually tried. And boy, was I surprised at what came out of them.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And, if you’d like to throw a challenge my way, leave your 3 words in the comment section below! To be honest, I’ve almost used up all the past comments, so your 3 words will help keep this streak alive.

*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 June 28, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Moonlight Pavilion [12 Genre Months]

As the sky faded from bright blue to pale grey, I hurried to the well in the servant quarters. It had been filled most of the way with cement, topped with a wooden lid. Despite the narrow enclosure, there was enough room. So, I closed myself in and waited–I waited until my watch ticked twelve. And when the two beeps broke silence, I hastily climbed out into the peaceful night.

The ancient palace grounds were different under the starry sky. A mist had settled, the crickets and owls were now awake, and the trees rustled in the cool midnight breeze. There was also something magical in the air, stirring an emotion that sent my heart racing with excitement. Sneaking into a wide pathway, I hesitated not to set my imagination free. For where I stood had taken on a new life–one so real that I found myself startled when a maidservant ran right past me.

She wore a plain white dress, embracing a china vase in her arms. Night shadowed her face, but I knew she was in trouble. Unfortunately, right when I planned to follow her, I spotted two palace guards. They were armed with sharpened blades and stern, unfriendly faces. In fear of being caught, I slipped behind a bush. But when the guards finally strolled out of sight, so was the maidservant. Sighing at the missed opportunity, I headed to the royal garden instead.

The royal garden was a masterpiece at nightfall. Lanterns hung from towering trees, lighting the crystal clear ponds. Lotus flowers floated on the surface of the glistening waters as the fishes beneath rippled the reflection of the moon. I planted myself by the water, listening to a frog croaking in sync with a hooting owl. But halfway through their duet, another joined in. It was a humming of some sort. And oddly, I became determined to find it.

Far from the realm of humans, nature breathed with a passion. The humming grew louder as I followed a narrow path, winding through the timberland. There was an absence of lanterns along the descending route, but the buzzing lights from a million fireflies brought heaven to earth. They guided me until I reached the end of my journey, where a large lake said ‘hello’.

The lake was like any other lake, except for the lonely structure in its center. With red pillars, adorned with paper lanterns at the four corners of the concave roof, the pavilion nestled within the full moon’s reflection. It wasn’t barren, but bore a low table homing parchment paper, paintbrushes, and a tea set. There was also a man, who stood when he saw me nearing his safe haven.

“Who are you?” he asked, as he strolled to the entrance of the pavilion. He donned a silky blue robe with a golden, dragon-embroidered crest on his chest.

“I’m… not supposed to be here,” I replied.

“Clearly.” The stranger eyed me from head-to-toe. Then, with a strange question, he asked, “Are you real?”

Frowning, I asked in return, “Are you real?”

He chuckled and waved me over. After a second of hesitation, I crossed a series of large rocks that made the pathway. And when I finally came face-to-face with the young man, he prompted, “What’s your name?”

“Rose. What’s yours?”

“Sun,” he answered, as he returned to the low table.

“Sun?”

Sun gestured for me to take a seat across from him. “Tell me about yourself, Rose,” he said.

“Myself?” Shouldn’t I be asking the questions? Nevertheless, I replied, “Well, I’ve been travelling a lot recently–exploring one country after another in search of a story. My publisher has been pushing me for a new book, and… I think I might’ve just found a tale worth telling.”

You’re a writer?” he asked.

“I write stories–fictional ones.”

“I’m a poet,” he said. “So, how long have you been travelling? Where have you been?”

“I’ve only been to a few countries in the past month.”

“In the past month? But how?” Sun seemed eager to know.

“By flying, I-”

“You can fly?” Sun asked in childlike amazement.

“No. I take an airplane–a vehicle with wings.”

“A dragon?”

“I guess… you can call it that.” I chuckled. “How about you, Sun? Tell me about you,” I said.

“Ah, well, I’m not really a poet by profession,” he confessed. “I’m, well, a prince–recently made crown prince, and conveniently betrothed to a princess.”

“Congratulations.”

Sun laughed. “Thank you. I’m not exactly excited, but thanks.”

“Being a king isn’t what you want?”

“I want to be a poet. I don’t want to rule or marry a princess I barely know.”

“Sorry. I wish I could help,” I said.

Sun heaved a sigh. There was a brief moment of silence, before he changed the topic. “Do you know what this pavilion is called?”

I shrugged, turning my attention to the unique structure–spreading across the ceiling was a swirling painting of the starry night sky, and sweeping across the floor were pastel koi fishes and blooming lotuses.

“I call it, Moonlight Pavilion. I had it built a year ago as a place to escape reality.”

“Moonlight Pavilion,” I echoed.

“Do you like the name?”

“It’s a nice name.”

We admired the pavilion for a few good minutes. A gentle breeze now settled in the air, and despite having more questions, neither of us said a word–Sun returned to his writing while I sat watching. Strangely, as the minutes ticked by, I slowly drifted to sleep. And, the last thing I heard–in the midst of nature’s symphony–was a question.

When my eyes reopened, day had arrived. I found myself on the floor of an old, abandoned pavilion–parts of the roof had caved in, allowing streaks of sunlight to bask upon my face. Reality has always been vastly different–the lake had dried up, the rocky pathway were missing a few steps, and what was a comforting escape in my head had become a dead and hazardous place. There was no wonder why the area was restricted.

Not wanting to linger on the forsaken ground any longer, I trekked my way back to the main path. Once on permitted soil, I spotted the earliest tour group ahead of me. Quickly joining them, I was certain I could get out uncaught.

As the group shuffled along, the tour guide announced, “Right behind us is a trail to the Moonlight Pavilion. It was built by the twenty-fifth crown prince, who later renamed the structure to Rose Pavilion.”

“Rose?” I muttered under my breath. Wait, was my sanity in question? I couldn’t recall that fact from the time I read the visitor’s brochure. In that instant, I knew my answer to his lingering question. Whether it proved me sane or mad, I knew what I had to do.

“Will you come back, Rose?” he asked.

“It seems… I have to.”

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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.)

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Alexa the Great Explorer [12 Genre Months]

Gunshots were fired. The explosion of gunpowder reverberated through the trees. Rustling the timberland, the intrusion sent nesting birds into the sky and wildlife into burrows. The only two beings unable to hide raced down a slippery path, wet from the midnight showers.

“Do you know where you’re going?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

“What? You don’t know?”

I wasn’t sure if I should trust her or express my concern. But despite my question, I kept my pace. And despite her answer, she kept hers. She didn’t take a single glance behind and neither did I. We already knew who were after us. We knew what they wanted. And though we didn’t know the distance between us and the mercenaries, we could hear them loud and clear.

“Keep moving,” she said, as the trees began to thin.

Not wanting to be left behind, I stayed hot on her heels. I ignored the burning in my calves and thighs. I gave myself no excuse to stop. But then, she did–she stopped. Her shoes skidded across a muddy patch, her arms briefly flailed at her sides, before she halted at the fringe of a cliff. Unfortunately, when I discovered why she had stopped, it was too late. I skidded through the same pool of mud, my arms flailed by my sides, but momentum was against me. I tipped over the edge and lost all hope of survival. I was certain I was done for, until she yanked me to safety.

“Watch where you’re going,” she stated.

“Thanks,” I muttered. It was a close call, but she gave me no room to digest my brush with death.

“Do you see another way?” she prompted.

I took a quick look around, hoping to find another path. Alas, there was none.

“No,” I replied. And instantly, I had a dreadful inkling. I knew what she was going to say, and she said it.

“Jump.”

“Are you insane?” I asked.

The hollers and shouts from the men stampeding after us grew louder at every second. They were getting close. And the only option, as we stood at the edge of the rocky cliff–plummeting toward the rapids below–was to jump.

“Jump,” she repeated.

This time, she didn’t wait for my response. She did what she always did best–escape from danger. As my only guide of this world leaped off without hesitation, I stood rooted to the ground. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t her. This wasn’t my world–it wasn’t my adventure. Yet, there I was. And if I wanted to continue on, I had to jump before I took a bullet in the chest–before it’s game over.

“I can do this,” I coaxed myself. “If Alexa can do it, so can I.”

Alexa was the bravest adventurer known to men. Everyone, or at least almost everyone, knew who she was–Alexa the Great Explorer. The one who would brave snow storms and scale icy mountains, the one who would swim in dangerous waters and wrestle sea monsters, the one who would jump off airplanes and, at that very moment, off a cliff into the angry river far below. Alexa was fearless, bold, and resilient. In comparison, I was a scared child.

As I looked upon the raging water, ready to engulf me upon my descent, I took a deep breath and said a short, silent prayer. Should I survive the jump, what was next? This world has tried to kill me more than once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it finally succeeded.

Hesitating no more, I shuffled backward–ready to leap into the unknown. But as I took one foot forward, the world stopped–time stopped.

“It’s dinner time,” my mother called from the kitchen.

“Just let me finish this chapter,” I replied.

“Don’t make me come get you,” she threatened.

Dragging my reluctant self, from my bed and into the hallway, I pleaded, “Come on, just a few more pages.”

My mother peered out from the kitchen doorway with a death stare. If the mercenaries didn’t kill me, my mother would.

“Fine,” I said, bookmarking the page as I returned to reality.

“You can continue after dinner,” my mother stated.

“It’s not the same. It’s not exciting anymore.”

“Well, I’m sorry you have to eat.”

Rolling my eyes, I slumped into the dining chair with the book on my lap. All I had to do was get through sixty minutes in my world, before I could return to Alexa’s. Then, once there, I wouldn’t leave until the story ends. With such an adventure waiting–one worth embarking on–nothing and no one will stop me from finishing it.

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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.)

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Dear Victor [12 Genre Months]

Dear Victor,

You need to stop. Stop making me think these vicious thoughts. Stop putting these vile images in my head. Stop filling my dreams with these disgusting fantasies. Stop turning me into a monster. I beg of you, Victor. Please stop. I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to be an animal. I’m a person. I’m a good person. Please let me be a good person, Victor. I don’t want to be the bad guy any longer. Please… just let me be human.

Thy Adam

“How many letters are there?”

“Hundreds.”

Dear Victor,

You are a sick and cruel man. You need help. You are deranged. The news people call me horrible names, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know that it’s not me. It has never been me. It was always you. You and your sinful plans. You and your crazy desires. You’re the corrupted beast they talk about. Not me. Never me. Now look at what you’ve made me do. You must be happy. You must be proud. But enough. Enough of this madness, Victor. You have to stop now. I’m not going to do your bidding anymore. I’m not yours. I won’t be yours. I cannot be yours any longer.

Adam

“Where do you think he planned to go with these?”

“You think they’re made up?”

Dear Victor,

I told you to stop. I told you many times. Don’t push me, Victor. I can do scary things on my own. Vile, vicious, scary things that are worse than anything you can come up with. Worse than the thoughts you put in my head–worse than the actions you make me take. If you don’t make me a hero like those before me, I’ll be the monster you created. And I’ll destroy you. Before my story ends, I’ll take you down. You will never see the success of your wicked plans. You will only regret–regret everything.

Adam

“They can’t be real.”

“The writing isn’t in his own hand–we ran tests. And based on the interviews, we have reason to believe these weren’t his own words.”

Victor,

I’m done reasoning with you. Do you think this is a joke? I’ve seen you laugh at my letters. I’ve heard you mock them, as though my words are meaningless. But they’re not meaningless. I will find a way to reach you. And when I do, Victor, I will end you. Just like your plan to end my life, I will end yours. You won’t be able to corrupt my future any longer. You will be in a grave. I will put you there myself. I will use these hands–hands you’ve used to kill innocent lives–to kill you. It will be the end of your story. Now, wouldn’t that make a good plot twist?

Adam

“So we’re talking about a homicide–not suicide?”

“I don’t know. The pieces don’t match up. There were no signs of a break-in or a struggle. It looks like suicide, but something just doesn’t seem right.”

Victor,

I’ve found a way through. I can reach you now. I can physically reach you. I don’t have to leave you letters anymore. You cannot dismiss me now. You cannot ignore me. Just you wait, Victor. I’ll come for you when you least expect. But until that day, where you finally face the monster you’re so proud of, I’ll watch you. I’ll remember your last laughs. I’ll be thankful for the life you gave me. After all, you are my beloved creator. And you deserve what little gratitude I have for you… before I write you into my story.

Adam

“Possibility of a crazy fan? You know how some of them can be.”

“That’s my first theory. But even his closest friends didn’t know anything about his new book–only his publisher had access to the notes, and even they weren’t made privy to what Victor had already written. And, if it was indeed a crazy fan, why didn’t he report the letters?”

Victor,

Tonight is the night. I have it all planned out. You cannot rewrite this story. This won’t be a draft. My plans will not be edited. You have no control over me, not when I’m in your world, and no more after tonight. I look forward to seeing you, Victor. I’m ready to meet my maker.

Adam

“This investigation has gone on for too long, mate. His fans are demanding a resolution, so just make up a story and we’ll run with it.”

“That’s not how I do things, you know that.”

Dear Victor,

May your story live on, and may the lives you’ve written be finally free.

Thy Adam

“Oh look, this last one makes for a good book dedication. Just right the report, all right? Then you can finally call yourself an author.”

“That’s a crime.”

“Aren’t all authors criminals?”

“Not in their world, they’re not.”

“This isn’t your world. This is Victor’s.”

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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.)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Original Works

 

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