Original Works

Rebirth [12 Genre Months]

Once upon a time—a story always begins. The same four words that captures a child’s curiosity upon utterance—the opening to many stories, folklore, and legends. Alas, there was one beginning that commenced differently. It was a beginning that came forth once every five-hundred years—a beginning that repeated itself over, and over, and over again. For upon its very first once upon a time, there would never be an end—a fictional happily ever after that ceased to exist.

I was twelve-years-young when my mother told me the story. It began as a tale of a great adventure, where the hero traversed the golden dunes in the North Desert in search of the Fountain of Youth. It was said that beneath the great sea of sand was a cave—one that would rise above the earth when a mortal, worthy of its gift, should stumble upon it. And, like every other story, the hero had been worthy since birth. Still, it took the hero thirty-seven years to face his destiny—he had just turned sixty when he uncovered his calling.

It was a fateful evening when the ground shuddered and groaned. A rocky chamber emerged before the hero’s aging eyes, striking him in wonder and awe. It’s iron-grey accents, disparate to the surrounding topography, revealed a winding hollow that descended into the earth. And, the hero had no reservations. He strode into the mouth of the colossal chamber, leaving the world at the foot of the cave.

As the uneven and slippery path led him into the abyss, the hero soon found himself out of light’s reach. But in that darkness, where the hero thought of assembling a torch, he heard a disembodied voice—it asked a simple question with a deep resonance that reverberated through his bones.

“What do you seek?” The ghostly echoes of the question sent a shiver down his spine.

‘What do I seek?’ the hero thought to himself. The answer was easy. The hero had long sought for one thing and one thing alone—it was the reason for his quest, and it was the very thing the cave was said to offer. So the hero replied, “I seek what you promised.”

Just as the hero uttered those words, the cave trembled. And almost immediately, the hero hesitated—should he stay or should he run for his life? Then realising how he had wasted many years for that very moment, the hero stood his ground. And at the resolution, the trembling ceased.

Silence and darkness reigned. A nothingness prolonged—seemingly perpetual to warrant a response. But before a word left the hero’s lips, a faint light flickered in the hollow up ahead. It drew nearer and nearer, until the hero could see its very form—a ball of light akin to the sun.

Again, the hero was uncertain—should he embrace the fiery orb or step out of its way? Was it the gift he had longed for or a curse of death? The hero chose to remain. And as he closed his eyes in expectation of the magical light, the hero felt a warm sensation entering his chest. The comforting heat extended to every inch of his body. Then, it dissipated—its heat lifting from his being as a cold draft stirred around him. As the gift was dispensed, the voice returned.

“You will live for a thousand years, and a thousand more. Never will you meet death.”

Thus, the end of the story—the closure that every mother offered as she tucked her children to sleep. Alas, that wasn’t the end. I would know, as I went on the same adventure, only to discover that the story never ended there.

Unlike the hero, I wandered a few years short of twenty. I thought myself lucky—having not to spend another night in the soulless desert as a mortal. But as I uttered the words of the hero and embraced the gift, I came upon the part of the story that diverged. Oh, how I had hoped for a warm and comforting sensation in my being. Oh, if only the legend was true. Alas, the gift was a curse.

As soon as the fiery orb nestled in my chest, an eruption of raging heat burst forth. A searing sensation scorched my skin from the inside out. And before my very eyes, ash rose from my being. I thought I was dying—I felt myself die. To my dismay, I was still alive. When the pain eventually ceased, I could no longer feel my body. The only sensation that remained was an unending fire that stirred within.

“You will live for a thousand years, and a thousand more. Never will you meet death,” the voice said.

It was too late then. I would have renounced the gift but I had lost my voice. No longer was I mortal. I had become the sun. And I was destined to grace the skies for all of eternity—to live as a mythical creature that would be reborn in its own ashes over, and over, and over again. Thus… once upon a time, at every quincentenary, my story continues.


12 Genre Months © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

The Winter Raven [12 Genre Months]

Every year, at the arrival of the winter festivities, there came a call for the bravehearts—the warriors of hope, the heroes of peace, and the defenders of faith. A call that was sent to the chosen few—a call that came as a raven, perched on my window sill. Little did I know, being chosen meant that Christmas would never be the same again.

“Mum!” I called from my bedroom. “There’s a bird on my window. And it won’t fly away.”

I was an ordinary nine-year-old, who had just attempted to shoo the feathered creature with a pillow. Alas, it stood stock-still with unwavering determination to accomplish its task.

“What bird?” my mother replied as she strolled in. After a quick glance around the room, she headed to the window to pull it shut. “How many times do I have to tell you to close the window before bed?”

“The bird,” I merely replied.

My mother shook her head as she turned toward me. Believing that she had dealt with the raven, I slipped under the warm comforter—ready to call it a night. Alas, night had only just begun. Once my mother bade goodnight, flicking the lights off as she did, I heard an echo of a deep raspy caw. It sounded almost ghost-like—not of an actual bird. And when I couldn’t ignore it any longer, I sat up and looked at the window.

There it was—on my window sill with an illuminating purple gem between its beaks. It bore no gifts earlier and I hesitated. Was it safe to approach the creature? But as a curious child—who still believed that there was magic in the world—the glowing stone was the perfect bait. Slipping out of my bed, I went to the avian messenger to unknowingly accept my heroes calling.

That night, the cut and polished stone determined my fate. For the next three years of my life—on the fifth of every December—my raven would return. I would take the stone from its beak and glimpse into the chaos of the world—the invisible monsters with life-sucking fangs and soul-crushing claws that sought to destroy the remaining hope of the year. These otherworldly beasts roamed the streets and entered homes in search of unsuspecting victims. And it was my mission to stop them from destroying my slumbering neighbourhood.

Who would have thought that a child could be a hero? I was nine-years-old when I was gifted the light—the radiant and blinding amber of hope that beamed from the palms of my small hands. It was the light that kept my family and friends safe. It was the light that made me the unsung hero. And though it meant that Christmas was when the monsters of my nightmares came to life, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For when I turned thirteen, the messenger went to another child.

At thirteen, I knew that my quest was over. Still, I couldn’t forget. And every night since, I would wonder about the shadows of humanity—was there an eldritch spectre outside my bedroom door? Unfortunately, it was no longer up to me to save the day. Another hero had been chosen—a reality I had accepted until my own child spoke of a bird on a chilly December night.

“Dad!” she called from her bedroom. “There’s a bird on my window. And it won’t fly away.”

“A bird?” I asked as I entered her room. Turning to her opened window, where I saw no avian creature, I frowned. “What bird?”

“There.” She pointed at the vacant space within the window frame. “It’s just… looking at me,” she added.

It had been over twenty years since my own encounter. And I would have shut the window—just like my mother did mine—if not for the strange inkling to keep it open.

“Dad, can you close the window?” she prompted. And therein, I remembered.

“It won’t hurt you,” I said. Crouching by the side of her bed, I continued, “But if it has a stone in its beak, you have to take it.”

“There’s no stone,” she stated.

“Not yet.” I winked.

“Okay. But what does the stone do?”

“It makes you a hero,” I replied. “It’ll make you brave. And even if the monsters scare you, you’ll be strong enough to destroy them.”

“Okay, dad.”

“Goodnight, Hope,” I said.

Flicking her bedroom lights off, I could only wonder if it were all true. I had grown to doubt. Still, I found a hint of belief. And if there was one gift I could offer my child this Christmas, it was to help her uncover the superhero within.


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

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

Original Works

Faith | Work | Love

“Tis’ the season to fall in love,” she said. “The snow is falling. The mistletoe is waiting. If anything, Christmas is when you find the one.”

“Right,” I replied. “But-”

“Just look at the movies! And don’t get me started on Hallmark,” she added.

“And your point is…”

“My point is that this is your season,” she said, with a gentle nudge of the shoulder.

With a halfhearted smile, I returned to the unopened files on my desk. As the week-long holidays were just around the corner, I intended to complete the remaining work at break-neck speed. Alas, my colleagues often found their way to my workstation with invites to Christmas and New Year parties—none of which I had any intention to attend.

“So you’re coming to the office party, right?” she continued. “You’ll get to meet the guys from the other departments.” She winked.

I sighed. If only the party wasn’t mandatory—our manager had invited each and every person with a personalised card—I would’ve skipped out. “Yea, I guess,” I replied.

“Great! Who knows, you might just find the love of your life,” she said with a beam.

“Awesome.” I gave a thumbs up before plugging in my earphones.

Oh, how easy I’ve made it for everyone to think that I was a Grinch. After all, I hadn’t shown much enthusiasm for the holiday. But truthfully, that wasn’t the case—I adored Christmas. I loved sitting by a decorated fireplace as the Christmas tree lights flickered on the surrounding walls. I enjoyed the company of family and friends as we shared a warm cup of eggnog after a hearty Christmas dinner. I didn’t even despise the music—I would prepare my very own Christmas playlist in November. But things had changed—Christmas was no longer about faith, love, and hope. Christmas was all about finding the one. And just like she said, don’t get me started on Hallmark.

If only I could celebrate Christmas the way I wanted to. If only I could make this holiday my own. If only I could return to the good old days—building a snowman with my sister, guessing the gifts under the tree, and singing cheesy carols without shame. And just as I thought about home, there came a ping from my desktop chat.

‘Wanna go home for Christmas?’ my sister sent.

‘Flight is expensive now,’ I replied.

‘So you’d rather spend it with people trying to hook you up?’

I chuckled. “Are you going back? I thought you couldn’t.’

‘I changed my mind,’ she said. ‘I forgot what Christmas was like.’

‘Me too.’

‘I’ll see you at home then,’ she added with a wink emoji. And at that moment, I knew that she had bought her air tickets—that she would be home for Christmas, experiencing the very meaning of the season that had been lost for many years. This year, my sister had the courage to choose her own holiday story—did I?

That night, before I slipped under the cosy covers of my bed, I made up my mind. I had no plans to stand under a mistletoe at my office Christmas party—unfortunately, I would have to gracefully decline the invite. I also had no plans to fall in love—to write my own cliche Christmas romance. There was, after all, more to this holiday. And since it was still my choice on how I wished to celebrate it, I chose to do so in a way that mattered to me.

‘I’ll see you at home,’ I hit reply. And then, to both my mother and father, I sent, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas. It’s where I belong.’


Faith, work, and love were words given by Caroline Guisson on Facebook.

This bite-sized piece of holiday fiction was written to remind us all that we still have a choice on how we wish to celebrate the end of the year—whether it’s falling in love, spending time with family, or using this time to reconcile, let’s celebrate in a way that matters to us.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. As the words are pretty ‘Christmas-y’, you could write your own Christmas story—perhaps a piece on what this season means to you.

*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.)

Original Works

Circle Of Chalk [12 Genre Months]

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

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

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

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

“Another letter from the portal?” Dominic asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Dear fellow judges,

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

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

‘Best regards, Judge Bao’


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

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

Original Works

Disenchanted | Syncopation | Avalanche

“It’ll do you good, honey,” my mother said. “It’s only a year.”

The boarding school nestled at the foot of Mount Avalanche—a white brick building, accentuated with bay windows that overlooked the emerald-green garden with its ever blooming flower beds. The grand Victorian-esque structure had once served as a haven during the third world war. But five years after our last city was razed to the ground, the sanctuary opened its oak doors to final year students—promising those who graced its pristine halls a better future in the new world.

“We’ll get you at the end of the school year,” my father added, just as the towering iron gates swung open.

My parents were part of a humanitarian organisation on a quest to find and document all survivors of the war. As many still lived in the rubble of their desolated towns, it was their job to bring them back to civilization.

“I just hate…” I hesitated to continue. It wasn’t the school, despite the rumours of its strict and unorthodox regiment. It wasn’t the thought of living alone either—having done so countless times before. “Just… just be careful,” I said.

“We always are,” my father assured.

As the car rolled up the pebbled driveway, my only concern was of my parents’ safety. They had been assigned to the north, where ruthless scavengers were known to loot. But little did I know, my apprehension was displaced—the danger wasn’t in the wasteland. The danger was here.

“Have a good year, honey,” my mother said. “We’ll call whenever we can.”

After a hug and a peck on the cheek, I bade my parents farewell. And from that point onward, I found myself trapped in the facade of an academy—discovering the secret to its promise on the very first night, snugged under the covers of my soft feathered bed.

It began when the lights went out—a disconcerting rhythm, with offbeat syncopation, resonated through the dormitory. The music echoed down the empty hallways and filled the sleeping garden with its unsettling nature. Yet, the other students were unfazed. They remained sound asleep as though the erratic cadence was a soothing lullaby.

Seeming as though I alone could hear it, I believed it was a figment of my imagination. After all, the rhythm was oddly familiar. But as I struggled to sleep with the disturbance, I couldn’t place where I had previously heard of the discord either. And when morning arrived, my daily schedule left me with little room for contemplation.

From one class to the next—language, arithmetic, the sciences, and extra curricular—I could barely catch my breath. Students were given five minutes to walk to their next class. And meal times were kept brief—every single body moving in perpetual haste. It was only when the sun retired that I finally recalled the night before. And by then, the strange music had returned.

The soundtrack of chaos—there it was again. Was it still just in my head? Unfortunately, the exhaustion from the arduous day ushered me to sleep. Despite the peculiarity, fatigue drowned the noise. And in the hopes of a peaceful slumber, a memory filled the darkness of my eyelids. Oh, how I wished it was a pleasant recollection of the past—a sweet and comforting dream. Alas, I was swept into a disenchanted world—a time where the smoke and thunder of war robbed me of my simple life… and my sister.

“Let’s go back. It’s not safe,” she said, as the siren of an incoming attack shook the trees of the timberland.

“Yea, let’s go,” I echoed.

My sister and I hadn’t travelled far from our backyard. We had only followed the walking trail for fifteen minutes, escaping the harsh reality for Mother Nature’s comforting embrace. Alas, even Mother Nature couldn’t shield us from the war. It was there, amongst the sky-scraping pine trees, that the enemy struck—an air raid that ripped through my sister’s chest while I cowered behind a fallen tree trunk.

“Eva?” I called. “Get up. We have to go.”

I knew—I had found my sister sprawled on a bed of dried leaves. Her small body limp and lifeless on the forest floor. And I knew—I was simply too afraid to face the truth. Then, the siren stopped.

I snapped awake. Dawn had arrived at the academy. And at the chime of the first bell, my routine began—a regiment that, after a day, I had surprisingly acclimatised to. Every morning I would be awakened by the same nightmare. I would then shuffle through my draining classes, with short meals in between, only to return to the distressing memory. It was a never ending cycle with no answers and dead end questions. What was going on? I lost my grasps on reality. And it was only at the end of the school year that I finally understood—I now knew what a better future meant in this new world.

“We missed you!” my mother exclaimed.

“I missed you too,” I replied. “Why didn’t you call?”

“We did but you were always in class,” my father said.

“It must’ve paid off.” My mother beamed. “Your teachers said you did well in your tests. They’ve even recommended you to the New Order.”

“The New Order?” I asked.

“You’ve always been a fighter,” my father replied. “Think you want to enlist to defend our country?”

“Oh, sure,” I replied without thought.

“Eva would’ve wanted that,” my mother said as she gave me a tight hug.

“Yea, she would,” I echoed—Eva would’ve wanted it. That I knew… for sure.


Disenchanted, syncopation, and avalanche were words given by Ryan SMJ on Facebook.

Honestly, these three words weren’t easy to bring together—it was certainly a challenge on my end. But somehow, I managed to concoct something from them and I can only hope that this makes a decent read. So… if you have any thoughts on this story, be sure to leave it in the comments below.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. It might not be easy but it’ll definitely push the boundaries of your imagination and skill.

*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.)

Original Works

The Songbird of Andromeda [12 Genre Months]

I had long searched the galaxies for the songbird—the bearer of unparalleled beauty, the heir of unprecedented grace, and the keeper of the songs of the universe. She was known by all men—her transcendental voice echoing from the stars both near and far. Alas, no man has ever laid his eyes on her. And it was my mission to be the first.

Ninety-seven light-years from my planet, I travelled to the brightest star in Andromeda—the navel of the steed, Alpheratz and Sirrah. After a millennium of mapping the constellations, I had found the source of the songs. And if the stories were true, I would find the songbird in its blazing core—her wait for her saviour finally over.

Alpheratz and Sirrah was an incandescent mercury-manganese star. It was a blinding furnace, deathly to the voyagers of the galaxies. But I came prepared—my spacecraft was a creation of Jovian, the Father of the Sky. Upon my arrival at the outer atmosphere, my gifted vessel remained unscathed by the perils of its roaring nature. And it was there that I heard a song. It was called, ‘Epsilon’.

‘Return to me my fifth star, the son of Pegasus. From distances near and far, and across the universe. Remember our promise, the vow we made for us. Remember me my love, oh break heaven’s curse.’

Epsilon—a melody of despair, the story of the songbird’s fate, and a call for salvation. But it was more than a ghostly tune one would hear on the fifth day of each century. Epsilon was the name of her beloved—the fifth son of Pegasus, cursed by the Gods to forget his eld. It was only Epsilon who could free her—only Epsilon who could hear the words that made the music. It was only Epsilon who could find her. Granted, if he could remember.

If he could remember her tender smile, adoring gaze, and loving touch. If he could remember the rise of stars that bowed at her majesty—a shimmering of light upon her celestial being, as they fought for her hand in marriage. If he could remember the moment she chose a lowly and insignificant star—the epoch of their story. If he could remember the promise that they made to never part. Epsilon had to remember.

‘For my heart can no longer bear, the void of this despair. Still with faith, I believe that you are there. Remember dear Epsilon, of how they tore our souls apart. Remember dear Epsilon, the missing piece of my heart.’

Epsilon had to remember the night that the Gods descended—the night that the Gods discovered their vow. Epsilon had to remember the curse—how he was made to forget the songbird and was sent to live on a foreign planet, ninety-seven light-years from home. Epsilon had to remember the heavy chains that bound his bride, trapping her for all of eternity. And until he remembered it all, they would remain as separate pieces of the same heart.

“I remember, my songbird.”

No man has ever laid their eyes upon the songbird but it was my mission to be the first—to be the only. When I remembered—the reason for the ache in my chest, the meaning of each melody that filled the vast universe, and the promise that I had made beneath the heavens—my quest began. And after aeons of searching for my lost love, I had finally found her.

“The wait is over, dear Andromedae. I remember.”


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

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

Original Works

Cinema | Heart | Hospital

Romance movies—a poor imitation of reality. Yet, when I recalled that day—the evening I had long planned and hoped for—I found myself in an almost cliche plotline.

“I don’t feel so good,” I said.

We were barely halfway through the latest action adventure when my heart began pounding. No, it wasn’t from the thrill of the film and neither was it from being on a date—if, I was even allowed to call it that. The sudden eruption in my chest was something else, sending me into a panic. And, as much as I wished for my dear heart to calm down, I knew something was wrong—I had no choice but to call an end to our short time together.

“Can you… can you send me to the hospital?” I asked, embarrassed at the request.

At once, apprehension and concern swept across her previously entertained mien. “Why? What’s wrong?” she replied. Oh, how awkward it was from that point on.

Who would’ve thought that our first time alone would be in an emergency ward, wondering if I was having a heart attack? Who would’ve thought that it would end in such an ill-fated manner—a disappointment from the hope of a pleasant and delightful evening? Who would’ve thought that it would be cruelly memorable, like a tragic romance meant to make one weep? Who would’ve thought that it would make the perfect premise of a depressing love story?

Alas, I was unlucky, bearing a fair share of dating mishaps. From a punctured tire, spilled coffee, and a broken nose in a single date to missing keys and an unexpected thunderstorm, my love life had either been a comedy or a tragedy. Why was it difficult to catch a break—a chance to have things go my way? Little did I know, it was all in my head—fiction that was once reality.

“What did the doctor say?” she asked.

It was the day after and I wasn’t sure how to feel about her call. She seemed to care. But perhaps, it was simply a natural, human thing to do. I would do the same, too, with a friend. Was I someone special to her—had my fate changed?

“I have to go back for a full check-up,” I replied.

“I see. Make sure to listen to the nurses,” she said.

“Okay?” I chuckled. It was an odd statement but I brushed it off. After all, she had called me first—she started the conversation, even if it was out of concern.

“I’ll come see you tomorrow, all right?” she added.

“Huh?” I replied. Were we set for a second date—was there a lapse in my memory? Just like that evening, in the dimmed theater hall, something felt off. Alas, I couldn’t pinpoint the problem—it certainly wasn’t my heart.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she repeated. And before I could reply, she ended the call.

I couldn’t grasp her words at that moment. It seemed strange and out of place. It didn’t belong in my world. Until it became clear, the following morning, when she knocked on my room door. I hadn’t forgotten her promise to see me but it was then that I had to face my reality.

“Hi dad,” she said, welcoming herself in. She placed a bag of lunch boxes on the table, before asking, “What time will the doctor see you?”

“Dad?” I asked with a frown. Wasn’t she the girl in the cinema—the beautiful Anna, with short curls and big brown eyes? At my confusion, sympathy glazed her gentle face.

“Are you hungry?” she asked. “I packed your favourite—peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“Who are you?” I asked. The more I looked at her, the less like Anna she was. “Where’s Anna? Anna drove me to the hospital yesterday.”

“She did,” she replied. “I’m Jess.”

“Where’s Anna, Jess? I have to speak to her after our terrible date,” I said.

I had to apologise for the trouble I caused—it was ungentlemanly to make her wait while I changed the flat tire, and more so humiliating to have her drive me to the ER again with a broken nose. One mishap after another, it was as if we weren’t meant to be.

“Mom-I mean, Anna is busy,” Jess replied. “But she’ll visit soon.”

“Soon? That’s great!” I beamed.

Not all hope was lost. Perhaps, we could go on a second date. Perhaps, I could win her over. Perhaps, we had a future. There was much that we needed to do, and much I was excited for—much like a love story with a happy ending I had long been waiting for.


Cinema, heart, and hospital were words given by Nick Ko on Facebook.

Initially, I wanted this story to be fully romance but I soon realised I’m not very good at romance. Thus my ‘poor imitation’ of what should have been a proper love story.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Let’s be honest, you probably can do a better job than I with these words. So why not give it a go!

*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.)

Original Works

Puteri & The Frog [12 Genre Months]

Once upon a time, there lived a princess in a white-bricked, two-storey house, complete with a shaded front porch and a tiddly garden. She had light brown eyes, thin lips, and a sprinkle of freckles—a reflection of innocence on her small, youthful face, framed by her short dark brown locks from her mixed heritage. She was like every other child, except for her name—her mother called her Puteri.

Puteri’s favourite past-time was an evening in the neighbourhood park—a gathering ground for the city-dwelling children to be one with Mother Nature. Every Friday, Puteri would bring her golden ball to the field, adjacent to a lotus pond, to toss, kick, and bounce. As she wasn’t very fond of the playground’s swings and slides, Puteri preferred her more solitude activity away from the other children. But on one fateful evening, to her dismay, her golden ball went bouncing into the still water.

“Do you need a hand?” a voice asked.

Puteri hadn’t noticed anyone else around—jumping startled at the sudden intrusion of her quiet playtime. Looking up from where her golden ball had disappeared into, she saw the owner of the voice—he stood across the pond with wide curious eyes, as though he’d never seen a girl before.

“Yes,” Puteri replied. “Can you retrieve my ball for me?”

“If I do so, will you be my friend?” he asked.

“Why do you need a friend?” Puteri frowned. She didn’t understand why friends were important—she enjoyed her own company and that alone was enough.

“I don’t like playing by myself,” he said.

“I do,” Puteri stated. “But if you don’t like playing by yourself, why don’t you go and make friends?”

“No one will play with me.”

“I see.” Puteri had no interest in being the strange creature’s friend, but she didn’t want to wade through the dark water either. So, for the sake of her beloved golden ball, she said, “I’ll be your friend if you retrieve my ball.”

“You will?” He beamed.

“Yes.” Puteri nodded and pointed to where her ball had sunken. “It’s somewhere over there.”

“At your service, princess,” he replied, promptly entering the pond.

The still water wasn’t as deep as Puteri had imagined—her imagination often wilder than her dreams. Once she was handed her golden ball, Puteri said, “Thank you.” Not waiting for a response, she promptly turned on her heel—ready to break her promise.

“Wait,” he said. “Aren’t you going to play with me?”

“Maybe next week,” Puteri hastily replied, before running home.

Puteri hoped to never see the frog again—his big round eyes, Cheshire-like grin, and stubby frame were perhaps the reasons why he had no friends. Alas, when the next Friday rolled around, there he was again.

“Hi,” he said, with a wide smile. “Do you want to play?”

“I-”

“You promised,” he said.

“I didn’t promise anything. I said, maybe,” Puteri stated.

“But you said you’ll be my friend,” he insisted. “We can toss your ball, and if it falls into the pond again, I’ll get it for you.”

Puteri hesitated. Then seeing how his excitement began to turn into disappointment—the mien of a broken heart—she said, “Fine. One game. Just one game.”

“Thank you,” he said. “We don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.”

Puteri nodded and tossed him her golden ball. For a while, the two played without a word—the golden ball bouncing back and forth, while the shouts and laughter of the other children filled the silence. It was a bizarre game but Puteri slowly came to enjoy his company—simply having someone to toss the ball to brought comfort. And it was then that Puteri entertained the idea of keeping a friend—to have someone who truly wanted her around. Alas, before she could ask her first friend for his name, the clouds began to grumble.

“Puteri,” her handmaid called. “It’s going to rain. Let’s go home.”

“I have to go,” Puteri stated, just as her golden ball bounced into her arms.

“Next week?” he prompted

“Sure,” Puteri replied with a smile.

“Let’s go, Puteri,” her handmaid repeated, reaching for Puteri’s hand. “Who are you talking to?”

“My friend,” Puteri said.

“Your friend?” her handmaid asked, bewildered as she glanced around. “Where?”

Puteri pointed to the pond where he sat poised on a floating lotus leaf, bearing the same curious gaze as though he’d never seen a woman before.

“The frog?” her handmaid asked.

“Yes. He’s my friend.”

Her handmaid chuckled. “Frogs make good friends,” her handmaid said. “Come now.”

“Is mummy coming home for dinner?” Puteri asked. Her mother often encouraged her to make friends—it would excite her to learn that Puteri had actually made one.

“Not tonight, dear,” her handmaid said.

“And daddy?”

Her handmaid gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Maybe next week. Your mommy and daddy are very busy people.”

“I know.”

“You’ll have dinner with me tonight and we can talk all about your new friend, all right?”

Puteri nodded. She would rather have dinner with her friend, but she doubted her parents would let her bring him home. Though, would they notice if she did? They were rarely around. The only thing that was of them was the golden ball. And that itself was merely a reminder of their existence. At the very least, it made her… a friend.


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

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

Original Works

Search Future [12 Genre Months]

It’s not everyday that you’d stumble upon an odd feature on your web browser—the kind of feature that would, perhaps, make you wonder if it’s April Fools’ Day. After all, our technology couldn’t have possibly advanced in such a way. Or, at the very least, not in any capacity to question our reality.

“They haven’t rolled it out for everyone yet but I got the update this morning,” I said. “Have you?”

“Nope,” she replied. “Don’t tell me you think it’s legit.”

I chuckled—of course not. Not a single sentence of the user algorithm commentary, listed in the patch notes, made any sense. So perhaps, April Fools’ Day was really in August wherever the developers were from.

“Sounds pretty cool though,” I said. “I’ll play around tonight.”

That night, I allowed my browser to run the application update. It took ten seconds before a solid crimson ‘forward’ icon appeared beside my ‘ad block’ extension. Without any hesitation, I launched the feature. And instantly, a search engine page flicked to the front of my screen.

“Search future,” I read the minimalist block typography in its archetypal red. “All right. Juke Matthews,” I echoed, typing my name in the search column. Then, setting the date to a year from that evening itself, I hit enter.

About 59,300 results turned up in 0.46 seconds—majority of which weren’t me. There was ‘Juke Matthews the physicist’, ‘J. Matthews the science-fiction author’, but no ‘Juke Matthews the boring accountant’. What was I expecting? I wasn’t famous. I was a nobody. But perhaps, I wasn’t looking far enough. Deciding to change the date—fingers-crossed that one day I’d find recognition—I began scrolling through five years, ten years, twenty years, and even up to fifty years into the future. Alas, I never accomplished anything noteworthy to make it on the internet.

“Never mind that,” I assured myself. “Does this work with socials?” I furrowed my brows before excitement sparked at the wild possibility—could I peek into my future through my social media accounts?

On the same page, I pulled up my favourite platform and logged in. Expecting to see the familiar layout—of which I’ve spent most of my weekends staring into—I was briefly confused. Had I just logged into a bogus site? Did I foolishly give my login details away? A second later, it dawned upon me—this was my timeline ten years into the future. Surely, the interface would’ve updated. Ignoring the settling apprehension, I clicked into my profile.

“I have… a girlfriend?” I asked in disbelief. My profile picture had changed from the badly lit snapshot of me at my cluttered work desk to a vacation photo with a woman—a woman I had never seen before. Granted, our faces were barely distinguishable as we stood against the sun—the sandy beach and the deep blue ocean prominent in the background. “Not bad, Juke. I’m impressed.”

If the update was a prank, it did a great job at making me a fool. Oh, how I wished it was all true. Despite my lack of internet fame, I seemed to be doing all right in the future. Expecting to find myself further entertained, I scrolled down my profile.

There was a job update—“Ah, I got a promotion. I guess Aaron isn’t such a prick after all.” There was a picture of a black Labrador pup, presented as a gift with a pink ribbon tied around its neck—“Oh, I always wanted a dog.” There was an essay-long status about the ten things I was grateful for—“Wow, life sure is good.” And then… there was a picture from when I was a baby, cradled in my mother’s arms—the caption read, “We will never stop loving you.” That picture came right after another of an empty hospital bed—“Cancer?”

“Not funny,” I added. “Not cool.” I contemplated closing the page but curiosity kept me lingering. Even after the little voice in my head had warned me not to proceed, I still needed to know.

Down the timeline I went—one status update after another. But after eight years, I still couldn’t find a beginning. When was the diagnosis? Perhaps, it was too sensitive to publicise. Wondering if I should act on the information, I decided to give my mother a call. It was better to be safe than sorry.

Grabbing my phone, I dialed her number. The moment the phone line clicked, I said, “Mum? I need you to see a doctor this weekend.”

Silence lingered on the other end of the line. “Mum?” I repeated. “Can you hear me?”

“Who is this?” my mother asked.

“It’s me, mum. It’s Juke. I need you-”

“Whoever you are, this isn’t funny,” my mother replied.

“What are you talking about?”

“Goodbye,” my mother said, before promptly ending the call.

Bemused, I dialed her number again, and again, and again. Alas, not once did she pick up. Resorting to a message, I asked for an explanation—why was she acting strange? Did something happen? When my mother finally replied, after my twelfth line, she wrote, ‘My son is dead. Stop messaging me or I’ll call the police.’

I frowned. Did my mother change her number without informing me? Shaking my head, I contemplated calling my father. But before I did, a notification appeared on the screen before me.

“Your session will expire in sixty-seconds,” I read. “Click here to continue.” I clicked.

Upon the command, the page scrolled on its own—breezing past all posts and settling on a date. It was that day—the day I ran a poll to see who else had the browser update. The day right before a series of condolences filled my page—“We will miss you, Juke. You were a great friend.” The day my brother posted on my behalf for the first time—“Keeping this page alive in memory of Juke. Love you forever, bro.”

But who else had the new search engine feature? No one answered my poll—it was only me.


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

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

Original Works

Reach | Goals | Hotel

They say that some goals are impossible to achieve—that no matter how fervently you imagined, dreamt, or even planned, it could never come true. And perhaps, they are right. But, did I believe them?

“What do you think—grand, isn’t it?” I prompted, as I showed her yet another one of my sketches.

My mother responded with a thin smile. It was the same smile that had graced her meek demeanour for the past few years—an empathetic expression of little belief. Though, there was a time when she truly did believe—a time when we would have sweet cereal and cold milk for breakfast, when the weekends involved a game of frisbee at the park, and when my father would take us on spontaneous road trips in his sputtering jeep. It was a time of jaw-aching laughter, silly yet dangerous pranks, and wide grins of true belief in the bright side of life. But within three years, my mother had lost it all.

Some days, those memories didn’t seem real to me either. It would play in the blackness of my eyelids right before I fell asleep—like a family-friendly film in the popcorn-scented theater we had not visited since. It often felt like someone else’s story—perhaps, the story of another me from another universe. Were we really that happy? Is that how a genuine smile looked like—raised cheeks and wrinkles by the eyes? Some of those memories had slipped from my mind all together—now surreal.

“There’ll be three floors of swimming pool, connected with a swirling water slide. It’ll shoot through the ceiling!” I added.

“That looks like a lot of fun,” my mother said. “But you’ll need lifeguards.”

“Right. Like at the public pool,” I noted.

I almost forgot about the swimming classes I took every Friday. My father would pick me up after school—my yellow swim bag and metal lunchbox often placed on the backseat. Yet, in the recollection of those sunny afternoons, there were gaps in what was once a weekly routine. I had forgotten the warmth of the sun on my skin, the soothing humming in my ears while underwater, and the shiver in my spine as I dashed for my towel on the pool bench.

“Is it almost done?” my mother asked.

“Almost,” I replied, flipping through my sketchbook. There were a few sketches left before the blueprint of my first hotel was complete. It would be my proudest creation yet—the first step toward achieving my dream of becoming the world’s youngest architect.

“Don’t forget to show your dad,” my mother said. “He’ll want to see it.”

“Yup! I also need to ask him about the piping.” I smiled. And at that moment, I wondered—was my smile a true smile? I had no mirror—were there creases by my eyes? When my mother responded with a loving gaze, I knew—I had a smile of belief.

My parents may have long lost their belief but I had yet to lose mine. Despite the past years of uncertainty and fear, I still believed. Even when I struggled to be brave, even when I cried into my pillow, even when they could no longer remove the endotracheal tube, and even when the doctor said it could be any time now, I still believed that dreams do come true. That if you stretched your hands—reach for the stars—nothing was impossible. And though I might have forgotten what life was like—what it should be for a healthy twelve-year-old—I had not given up on it yet.

One day soon, I would be free from my restraints. I wouldn’t have to peer out of the hospital window to glimpse the stars, I would stand beneath them. I wouldn’t have to replay old memories, I would make new ones. There would be no more tears. There would only be belly-aching laughter. One day soon, my dream would come true—I would be the boy who conquered death. And there would be plenty of smiles—authentic smiles of true belief.


Reach, goals, and hotel were words given by Mervin Raymond.

It has been awhile since I’ve written something like this. And honestly, I found myself tearing up a little. I’m sorry if I made you a little sad too. I just felt like writing an emotional piece and this was it.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Perhaps you can lighten the mood with a story of your own?

*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.)