Day 2: Wild Imaginations

He shook his head wordlessly as he listened to the ghost stories circling the camp. With each sentence, they grew further away from the realm of possibility and morphed into living nightmares. He watched, smirking, as the younger kids would shrink away from the speaker and clench their fists, searching for a source of comfort from the imaginary monsters. He nudged the young girl next to him and smiled mischieviously. She turned to him, tilting her head in confusion. He leaned over and whispered something in her ear, holding back a laugh when she stiffened with fright. After his words sunk in, like colds hands wrapping slowly around her neck, she jumped up, screaming. Within seconds, her panic spread and the camp erupted in frightened shrieking.

Oh, what silly little children. Of course monsters did not live under beds.

Day 1: Birthday

Your birthday.

A day where, for once in three hundred sixty-five days, covers are thrown open eagerly in anticipation, non low-fat ice cream is devoured without a single glance at the calorie count, and age is disregarded as “just” a number yet also a very important number worth repeating a multitude of times within the span of twenty-four hours. A day where anything and everything passes without reprimand, friends, family, friends of family, and families of friends gather in the very tight space in front of the driveway, where candles are lit only to be blown out again in mere seconds. A day where, embarrassingly, the kitchen staff parades out, breaking out in song, and presents a slice of cake on the house, where two words and thirteen letters can be seen and heard at every corner, and all sorts of material possessions are added to personal worth. A day where a tiny invisible change happens, only marked by the different answer in the blank after the word “age.” A day where the spotlight focuses on you and only you.

To B.

For you, that day is today. Happy Birthday and best of luck in the future.

Note:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this post was delayed one day.

Notice

This blog will be inactive until April 29th, which is the birthday of one of the administrators of this blog (yay!). We are working hard to write as many stories as possible until that day so we can post one new one every day. Look forward to it! 

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One Of Us

The doctor touched her arm and said gently, “You or the baby will live. Not both. I’m sorry.” The woman laid back and closed her eyes for a moment, turning away. She was so, so tired. This had been the moment she had worried about for nine months, during all the morning sickness, the cravings, the contractions, the labor pains. The moment when everything she had known and believed in for 27 years, 167 days, and 9 hours, would be put to the test. But she already knew what she had to do. A stray tear escaped, creating a tiny stain on the pillow.

They say that when you are about to die, your whole life flashes before your eyes.

But not for her.

For her, it wasn’t her whole life, just those snippets of moments. Moments she wanted to forget.

Six years old, hand snaking out and snatching that watermelon flavored Lip-Smacker and shoving it into her back pocket, her round, cherub face beaming inconspicuously.

Eight years old, foot catching on the tablecloth, Grandma’s favorite vase shattering onto the kitchen tile and blaming it on her 18 month old brother who had yet to begin talking.

Nine years old, telling her best friend that her dress was ugly and then continuing to play with her dollhouse, even when she burst out crying and left the room.

Eleven years old, receiving a 78 on the math test and crumpling up the paper into a stranger’s trash can on the way home.

Thirteen years old, screaming at her mom, I hate you, go to hell, over a thrown away assignment that she later found sitting innocently under the bookshelf.  

Sixteen years old, falling in love for the first time and then throwing it away for the guy with the cigarette.

Eighteen years old, rejecting all the college acceptance letters and going to the community college next door, since her friends were all going there anyways.

Twenty-one years old, getting drunk and wasted and forgetting it was Dad’s 50th birthday.

Twenty-three years old, regifting her great-aunt’s wedding gift to a colleague from the 21st floor in a desperate attempt for a last minute housewarming present.

And in that instant, she let it all go, all of her built up regret, apologies, lost feelings.

She savored the moment, the smell of antiseptic filling her nose, her husband’s sweaty hand clamped over hers, her numb legs dangling on the hospital bed, the taste of iron in the back of her throat. She felt hot tears stirring under her eyelids but she was smiling in her head.

Maybe it would all end okay after all. After all those years, maybe this was what she had been waiting for, the time when everything no longer mattered and the only thing that she needed were those words, sitting on her tongue, threatening to be swallowed back into her throat.

She opened her eyes, knowing she was ready.

“Let me go.”

Unwanted Companion

Leaves crunched behind her as she walked, but she brushed it off trivially. Who would want to follow her anyways? But she fingered her necklace in worry and quickened her pace, glancing discreetly around her, finding nothing but thin air. Yet a lingering feeling of dread settled on her, worming its way into her consciousness like the tendrils of smoke when the last bit of fire is extinguished. She cut across the grass in her neighbor’s yard and towards her house, pushing herself away from invisible hands. Her heartbeat slowed fractionally when she reached the front door, pulling out the keys hurriedly. A flash of gold caught her peripheral vision and she turned again, her back pressed to the door.

A pair of eyes watched from the bushes.

How I Put a Random Number on Speed Dial

Jessica turned the corner angrily, her five-inch heels slamming onto the fake hardwood floors. She had a sudden urge to punch the wall next to her, but she was afraid that the company’s cheap insulation would collapse, which would just be one more debt that she couldn’t pay back. She pressed the elevator button impatiently and waited. After what seemed like ten minutes (but had only been two), Jessica decided she was probably better off taking the stairs.

As she clomped noisily down the stairs, her heel suddenly slipped and she grasped the railing next to her, feeling herself wobble on the edge of the step before regaining balance. She cursed silently under her breath, wondering how much worse her life could get. After six flights of stairs, Jessica sneaked into the lobby’s lounge, panting, which was basically the only thing she could do. She flopped down onto the nearest couch and grabbed a soda from the fridge. She glanced at her phone, hoping for a missed call, text message, just something. Anything. She played with the thought of calling her one of her friends, but then dropped it immediately. It was impossible that any one of them hadn’t heard about what happened. Instead, she punched in some random numbers, just to call someone, just to talk, even if there wasn’t really anyone on the other end of the line. The phone beeped twice and seemingly disconnected.

“Hey there,” she whispered into the phone, “No one there?” Jessica paused deliberately, waiting. No answer. “Great. Nice to meet you. I’m Jessica. I really want to waste my money on phone bills. Not that I would be able to pay them, as my rent’s due and I can’t pay for that either. The landowner is a freaking forty-seven year old pervert who has a wife. My employer doesn’t give a crap about how I’m supposed to finish all the work he assigns me. I hate his guts and he hates mine. I’ve been working here for three years and no promotion, no raise, nothing, and he couldn’t care less about how I’m supposed to pay my bills. And oh, of course, I can’t forget about the hospital bills. I’ve never seen one before, but I will sure soon. I’m not quite sure how much you pay for chemotherapy treatment, but I’m sure twenty dollars and a smile won’t cut it, not to mention my mother’s measly salary as a lunch lady, but I guess I won’t know until the bill comes in the mail. Unless I get evicted before that happens, of course. My old man is lying on a hospital bed right now in Room 227 with terminal brain cancer, and I’m stuck here at my 60 hour per week office job in pantyhose and the cheapest pair of stilettos that Target carries. Every cent I’m earning right now is going to my father’s treatment and I’ve been living on ramen,” she snapped through gritted teeth and gulped down the rest of her soda, the carbonation fizzing in her throat. “And then, just when I’m needing some support, my boyfriend just walks out on me. For my best friend! No words, no explanations, no calls from either of them. So much for that relationship. And now I have no one to talk to and I’m blabbering mindlessly into the phone at no one.”

“Hi Jessica! This is ‘no one.’ Nice to meet you, too.”

Demanding

“Here. I need it fixed by tonight,” he said sliding the watch across the counter.

“That’ll be fifty.”

He slid twenty dollars across the counter, then slowly took out a cigarette, lighting it offhandedly. He raised his eyebrows at the woman, silently daring her to argue. She looked at him, blinking once and putting her hands on her hips. “That’s not fifty.”

A vein pulsed in his neck and his muscles bulged underneath his shirt. He leaned in closer and squinted at the woman threateningly. “Excuse me?” he asked softly, his voice silky and dangerous. The woman glared at him, but when he blew a smoke ring in her face with such blatant disdain, she grunted once and took the watch and the money. His lip curled into a harsh sneer and as he left the small store, he heard her yell something at him. Without even looking back, he made a rude gesture and continued walking.

He laughed.

He would always get his way.

Sunrises

Everything reminds me of her.

The sweet smell of tulips, pastel colors of the rainbow, the early songs sung by the birds every morning. Each of these simple things remind me over and over again how life is no longer worth living without the person I love the most – my mother.

She changed me into a person who would love others through hate, who would have compassion and sympathy regardless. Someone who cares about everyone, who excludes no one, and who can also hurt me the most. And she hurt me, deep inside, when her life was cut short.

Depression that carried on for years followed, and I was miserable, not knowing how to cope with such a loss. She was my mother, my guardian, my heroine that protected me from all evils. And now she was gone.

I wandered aimlessly for so long, not knowing why I was alive, why she was dead. But…

Life is not worth living wasting it away with sad thoughts of what could have been, living in the past forever and losing the will to live. Life is not of melancholy, and depression.

Life was given to me for a reason. And it’s not to mourn my mother’s death forever.

For the first time since my mother’s death, I looked up to the sky, and saw a rainbow not as a death omen, but as a memory of someone I loved, a memory that will stay with me until my last days.

Being Forgetful

Ugh. Going to a new school was going to be such a bummer.

She glanced around the classroom, tapping her foot nervously, trying not to fidget. Her eyes unconsciously traveled around the room, observing her soon-to-be classmates. After what seemed like an eternity, the clear sound of a teacher’s shoes on the hard tile jerked the girl out of her trance. The teacher motioned for her to introduce herself to the class, smiling ambiently.

“Uh…I’m, uh I mean you can call me uh, wait um, my name is Jennifer,” she finally blurted out. She could feel the gaze of the whole class on her as she shuffled towards the desk that Mrs. Vanderhoff had pointed her to. She sat down wearily, glad to be away from the center of attention.

She suddenly heard a voice and wondered if it was directed towards her. She looked up and saw a boy standing beside her desk.

“Excuse me, you’re sitting in my desk,” he said, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Horrified, she noticed an unfamiliar bag next to the desk and realized that the teacher must have been referring to the empty desk behind it. Her heart sunk and she could feel her cheeks reddening. She hurried to stand up, stumbling over her own feet. How could this day get any worse, she thought angrily.

For the next 45 minutes, Jennifer listened to the teacher’s voice drone on. She doodled on the cover of her notebook and watched the minute hand slowly tick by. When the bell finally rang, she sighed gratefully and hurried to lunch, glad to leave the tense atmosphere of the room.

Jennifer stopped at her locker, looking down at the numbers she had scribbled on her hand that morning. The locker door swung open on her first try and she smiled for the first time that day. She grabbed her lunch box and a book and slammed it shut.

She followed everyone to where she assumed the lunch room was located and chewed on her lip. Where was the new girl supposed to sit? She surveyed the huge rows of tables and decided to sit in the farthest corner of the room, where (she hoped) no one would bother her. She took out her lunch container and took a moment to feel proud of herself for managing to find a relatively foolproof recipe for meatloaf online and scrounging together the ingredients at the last moment. And it did smell okay.

Just as she was ready to start digging in, spoon poised in her hand, ready for action, she heard someone sit down on the bench next to her. She turned, and her heartbeat quickened. It was the boy whose desk she had stole accidentally. Was he here to humiliate her further?

“Hey,” he said, grinning at her open mouth. He set down his lunch and began to eat, a content look on his face. Jennifer scooted a little farther unconsciously and chose to ignore him. But after several attempts, she began to realize that his presence was unavoidable. She entertained the thought of starting a conversation, but before she could say anything, she noticed a group of people making their way towards her table.

“Hey, we’re sitting over there. You can come sit with us if you want,” said the girl who was leading the group, trying to look flirtatious. Jennifer recognized her from her history class. She noticed a few of the other people giving her pointed looks, and was about to say that he was more than welcome to go and sit with them, but he answered before she got the chance.

“Nah, I’m good, see you in chemistry,” he replied. Jennifer cringed as the girl shot her a glare, flipping her hair and sauntered away, her 6-inch heels clicking on the floor of the cafeteria.

“So,” he continued, casually biting into a carrot. “How are you enjoying school here, Jennifer?”

Jennifer had just taken a bite of her meatloaf, and she almost choked at the acid taste. Foolproof, eh? At that moment, she also realized that at 2 AM in the morning, salt and pepper jars looked very similar. She was stuck between laughing and crying. Trying not to make it obvious, Jennifer tried to look away, but it was already too late.

“Uh, are you okay?” the boy asked, his eyebrows furrowed worriedly. Jennifer tried not to look like she was about to throw up, and nodded hurriedly, swallowing. He looked like he wasn’t sure what he should do, and Jennifer couldn’t help but to laugh, but that just made her throat tighten up and she felt her eyes watering. Hurriedly, she motioned towards the water bottle that he was holding and he gave it to her, slightly confused.
She took a long gulp and sighed, embarrassed.

“Uh, sorry about your water bottle,” she said nervously, wondering if she should hand it back to him and eventually deciding against it.

“You were just about to die choking and you’re apologizing for drinking from my water bottle?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. Jennifer couldn’t help giggling at his expression, and soon, they were both laughing hysterically. She sneaked a peek at his face, and noticed a handsomeness that wasn’t there before.

“You want some of my food?” he asked. “I can’t cook, but I consider myself the master of sandwich-making.” She laughed at that and he offered her half of the sandwich he was eating. Gratefully, she shyly accepted and tried it, realizing how hungry she was. Her eyes widened with surprise and she refrained from wolfing it down.

He noticed her response and he grinned. “Good?” She nodded, quickly finishing her half. “Told you,” he said smugly.

“But I think I’m going to have to challenge you on being the sandwich master,” she replied.

“You think you can do better?”

“Yeah.”

“Prove it,” he retorted, “Tomorrow, you better have a sandwich with you.” He stifled a grin and wagged a finger at her in mock superiority. Jennifer decided to play along and folded her arms snootily, holding back a laugh.

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

Suddenly, Jennifer noticed the large, antique wall clock in front of her, and more importantly, the time. Which was late.

“Oh my gosh, I need to go find my next class, see you later!” Jennifer groaned, scrambling up and grabbing her bag. She hurried off, her thoughts already distracted by how she’d survive the rest of the day.
After introducing herself for the fifth time that day, Jennifer picked up her backpack, ready to go home. She glanced at the palm of her hand, noticing that the ink she had used to scribble her schedule and bus number was fading. She squinted, trying to read the tiny numbers scrawled near her thumb…

“Jennifer!”

She turned around and looked up, realizing that her hand was still close to her face. She dropped it, sure she looked like an idiot.

“Hey…” she paused. It was the boy from lunch…Jennifer suddenly realized that she didn’t even know this boy’s name. “Yeah?” she asked, trying to cover up her hesitation. He rifled through his backpack and pulled out a textbook.

“You left it at lunch,” he explained, smiling.

“Oh uh…thanks?” Jennifer replied, sounding more like a question than a statement. He turned to leave, swinging his bag leisurely over one shoulder.

“Hey! Hey, wait!” she called at his retreating back. He turned around and looked at her, tilting his head in confusion, which Jennifer found incredibly adorable. “What’s your name?”

“Joshua…I was hoping you would ask,” he said, winking. She suddenly felt butterflies dancing in her stomach and waved before walking off giddily. As she biked home, all she could think about was Joshua. She heard the sound of leaves crunching behind her, and she jerked around so suddenly that she almost fell off her bike, but there was no one there.

She took out her keys from her backpack and unlocked the front door, taking one last look behind her, a tiny part of her hoping that he would be there behind her, smiling cheekily. Her heart sunk, and she went inside, trying to push him out of her mind. She trudged up to her room, dragging her backpack behind her halfheartedly. She pulled out her books and dropped them on the table angrily, feeling frustration well up inside her. A light blue note fluttered out and she paused, her heart racing.

Hey Jennifer, the note was scrawled in a thick black marker, Did you guess who I am? Check out page 221 :). Jennifer quickly flipped the pages, scanning for another note. A small smile crossed her face when she saw the messy handwriting again, and she read it eagerly. I see you’ve found my note. She found herself nodding unconsciously, then continued. Well why don’t you start from the beginning and go in order? She could practically hear his teasing voice in her head as she shakily turned back to the first page.

I see you’re back, the marker scribbled crookedly, I missed you. And so did your textbook. Do you remember what page we’re reading for homework? Jennifer felt like hitting her head on her desk. He knew that she hadn’t been paying attention. She flipped the page exasperatedly, and she found a note lying on the page.

Just teasing. How do you do anything if you forget everything? Hope you don’t forget my phone number. At the bottom of the note was his number, the only thing that was written neatly. They may have been just seven little digits, but it made the butterflies in her stomach go back to dancing.

Maybe this new high school wouldn’t be such a bummer after all.