Thursday 25 April 2013

#atozchallenge: vampire

There was too much lust in the air. The atmosphere was tense and charged up and Shirley didn't like it. She smoothed down her little black dress in an effort to calm her nerves. Wannabes. Too many wannabes, she thought as she made her way to the balcony. She welcomed the soft breeze against her skin, tugging at the hem of her skirt.
"Imagine seeing you here," a wry voice said from behind her.
"Fancy that," she said, not turning to greet him.
"What, no nice words for an old flame?"
"What do you want? A kiss?" she shrugged his hands off her shoulders.
"Are you still angry?"
"What do you think?"
"Look, Shirley, I've apologised."
"That's not enough."
"What do you want me to do? Change you back? You know that's impossible. Besides, I thought that's what every girl wanted - to never grow old."
"I am old, Charles. I feel it in every cell, even if I don't look it."
"You don't look a day over twenty-five."
"I know," she finally turned to look at him. "Neither do you. Nice tux. So standard."
"What difference does a year make after hundreds of them?"
"It's all about the details." He smiled, that classic smile that had made her fall in love all those years ago. He took her hands in his and she didn't pull away this time.
"Do we have to do this every time?" he asked.
"Doesn't it ever get old? This has only been the hundredth time in two hundred years."
"Maybe if we met more often..."
"Without the cover of soirees like these?"
"Not much cover here," she said, looking back into the house full of young, dressed-up people.
"It's touching, how much they try to be like us," he said as he put an arm around her shoulder and steered her back into the house. "And how wrong they are," he added.
"I like the sparkling bit. I wish you would do that for me some time."
He rolled his eyes. "Why don't you try it first?"
They walked through the sea of teenagers and looked for an empty room.
There was too much blood in the air.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

T is for tantrums

That I am sorry for, but not sorry enough.
Though someday maybe I will regret,
Just not now.

Monday 22 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Story

What's your story?
I fell in love at fourteen and have never forgotten him. I cling on to a past that I cannot remember because I cannot live a future that I cannot see.

What's your story?
I fell in love at eighteen and dashed my heart against the stony rock of indifference. She never loved me and I pushed too hard, too fast, and even now we cannot talk without the awkwardness of the past intruding into our present.

What's your story?
I am twenty-two and I cannot fall in love. When I look into the eyes of the men around me, all I remember are the dashed hopes and the broken hearts and I've never been able to fall in love again.

What's your story?
It was there in the depths of her dark brown eyes. A sadness I couldn't fathom, a shadow that grew as the night dragged on. I wanted to ask her about it even as we ate, but I couldn't find a way to bring up the question. It seemed too strange for me to ask her, a friend who was almost a stranger, on a dinner that was not a date, a relationship in limbo, not for my lack of trying. There was a story behind that I couldn't define, couldn't discover.
We fell silent as the band played and I watched her as she closed her eyes and swayed to the music, wondering if that little bit of moisture at the edges of her eyes were really tears. I reached a hand out across the table, touching hers, slowly gripping it, waiting for her to pull away, but she didn't.
"I lost him, you know," she said. "Once he could have been mine, but I let him slip away."
There was a lingering pause as I scrambled for words.
"And now it's too late."
Still, no words came to me, the wordsmith, the story teller. I could not break the flow of her story. I didn't know how to.
"Maybe I should have been kinder to him when he told me he loved me, but I wasn't ready then and I was afraid."
"What were you afraid of?"
"I don't know. Love, the future, us, everything. But now I miss him."
"We could leave if you want."
"No, that would just be awkward. He's seen us."
"Does he still love you?"
"I don't know."
"Do you love him?"
She was silent for so long that I thought I had offended her. But her answer came in a silent sigh and a squeeze of my fingers that I'd almost forgotten were now twined with hers.

What's your story?

Sunday 21 April 2013

#fireplace: in all humility, a #peptalk

Dear you,

You know that verse where it says "In all humility, consider others better than yourself"? Yeah, that one. You know what it doesn't mean? It doesn't mean that you hate yourself either. It doesn't mean that you're allowed to indulge in extended bouts of self-loathing because you know what? You are good.

You are good at what you do, even if you don't always think you are. You are good at what you do, even if you don't do it at the same pace that other people do. You are good at what you do, even if it seems more difficult to you than to anyone else because you know what? You really do care.

Even if you say you don't. Even though in your head and with your mouth you confess that you don't. But you really do, because you always go back and make it right and you try the best that you can not to let things slide, even though sometimes you just have to because there is just too much, too fast and it's all too overwhelming. And that's why you're so frustrated with yourself. Because somewhere deep inside you care too much to let it go and somewhere deeper still you still struggle with the belief that there's nothing good in you and nobody loves you and nobody appreciates you and it comes back to that one thing.

Stop hating yourself.

Considering others better than yourself doesn't mean you're perfect and that you'll never need correction or that you'll never do any wrong. It just means that you swallow your pride and accept that there are things in your life that are messed up and there are people in your life who are there to point out your mess and help you fix it (or at least tell you to) and that's perfectly okay. Because that never ever ever negates who you are and the fact that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (And fearfully made does not mean that you are a frightening monster, silly. It means with reverence and respect).

It doesn't mean that you put yourself down either. It means that when you know who you are and where you are, and when you can accept that, you are able to place others on a higher priority, or with a higher respect, than where you place yourself. You do not consider others better than yourself by considering yourself worse than others.

So stop it. Just stop it, okay? 

Remember that you are not what you do. Your identity is not tied up with your job or your performance or how you look, but with how much the King loves you and cherishes you. And He does. Always. Forever. Remember that.

And remember, I love you too.

Your self-esteem.

Saturday 20 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Rumpelstiltskin's secret magic potion

Rumpelstiltskin had been an alchemist. Maggie was sure of it. How else could he have spun the straw into gold? The trick was to find what was his secret - then she would be rich. Maggie threw herself into research. There was not much to go on - the Brothers Grimm's story was short on specifics, but she was sure there was something. A chant maybe, or a spell, or some concoction made up under the new moon or maybe the crescent moon using exotic ingredients, but what?

The only thing that was possibly a hint was the fact that he had danced around the fire on a moonlight night in a remote mountain she assumed was somewhere in Germany, seeing that the story had originated from that region. She ignored the insinuations that Rumpelstiltskin had been an imp or a poltergeist - maybe he was small, but he could have been a dwarf; a human dwarf, not a dwarvish dwarf. A random name translation on wikipedia caught her eye - Pear Stalk seemed quite a random translation in Swedish that there must have been something behind the name. Maggie bought some pears, packed her bags and headed to Germany. As an afterthought, she ordered a novelty spinning wheel and had it sent to the quaint cottage she had rented there.

The place was extremely remote and Maggie felt a little disoriented without her internet connection, but she put a brave face on it as she looked through her check list again. There was straw in the barn and her pear stalks with her, and she made sure that the man that did the place would make a bonfire for her that night. Having all these in place, she wondered how to start. The thing she remembered about alchemists was that they always had a laboratory with bubbling stuff - so she decided to boil the pear stalks. She threw in the pears as well on the basis that even if the stalks did nothing, she might as well end up with pear soup. With that in mind, she put in white fungus, lotus seeds and sugar to taste. Wandering out to the yard, she kept an eye out as as she meandered to the barn. Making sure that no one was around, she stuffed some of the straw into her carryall and hurried back into the house. It wouldn't do for some random person to ask why she was bringing straw into the house.

The pear soup potion was beginning to smell rather nice, so she sat down at the spinning wheel and stared at it. Having never sewn anything in her life other than buttons back on her shirt, she had no idea how the thing worked. Well, for anything there was google and wikipedia, wasn't there? Except that she didn't have wifi and her 3G was too expensive in a foreign country. Anyway, she was definitely smart enough to figure it out on her own.

Several failed attempts to get the spinning wheel working later, Maggie gave up and enjoyed her pear soup. It made her feel much better, especially when enjoying it on a cold night, sitting by the fire. It wasn't Rumpelstiltskin's secret magic potion, but it would do for now.


More information on Rumpelstiltskin found on Wikipedia here.
Actual story found here.
Pear soup recipe found here.

All research today has been powered by google.
Okay, you didn't really need a link for that, did you?

Also, for some odd reason, I'm getting a lot of spam on my Imago Dei post. Why, internet, why? I'm going to stop Anonymous comments for now. Sorry :(

#atozchallenge: Quilt

It was created a memory at a time. A scrap piece of fabric from when Daniel was a little boy, another scrap from when Caitlyn was born. More scraps collected from the growing years - torn t-shirts, favourite blankets too tattered for use, ruined bed sheets from playing Indians in the yard, ripped sheets from camping trips and that one sleepover that ended up in a cat fight. Then they had grown up and left the nest, and she started collecting scraps from the homeless centre she volunteered at, the church do's she cleared up after, the things her parents left behind when they passed on.

By the time she was done when she was seventy, it swarmed her with the memories of yesteryears, burying her in a flurry of nostalgia. It was thick and heavy with both tears and laughter and when her daughter visited, Caitlyn secretly wondered if she had gone slightly mad. I'm fine, she assured her daughter, laughing almost guiltily as she sent Caitlyn away with freshly baked cookies and a promise to stayover if she felt too lonely. I'm not lonely, she had replied. I have my quilt. 

The voices were strong in her head as she snuggled down into it, allowing the past to engulf her in its embrace.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

MAYDAY! NNNNOOOOOO.... OOPS (3 in one #atozchallenge post)

I'm sorry, the world has come to an end.
The juggernaut has crashed and the titanic has sunk.
The dinosaurs are being buried alive. Or eaten alive. or both.
And this is payback from the evil day job for the many Sunday afternoons of playing board games.
And ultra payback for Israel Houghton & New Breed's Jesus At The Centre Tour last Saturday.

Therefore there will be no a to z challenge fiction on this site until it restarts itself.

Did I tell you I'm an auditor in the midst of accounts filing season?



Ok. That did not make sense.

(goes back to work)

Saturday 13 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Lipstick

It wasn't the smell of unfamiliar perfume that did it. It was the dark, rusty red lipstick that stained the collar of his shirt that made her freeze like a broken down robot, the offensive collar stretched out in front of her by trembling hands. She wasn't sure what to do next, so she just stood there staring at it.


Sorry, this was all I could do before leaving for the weekend and I figured I might as well post it since its still Saturday somewhere in the world.

Friday 12 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Kitkat

Have a break, have a Kit Kat.

Remember that slogan? So here's a commercial break for you:

Submissions for the LOVE IN PENANG anthology closes in 18 days. What are you waiting for?

P/S several FAQS answered here:
1. Yes, we do accept international submissions.
2. Yes, the story needs to be based in Penang, Malaysia
3. Yes, you will get 5 free copies of the book if your story is accepted.
4. Yes, there will be some form of monetary compensation (so says Amir) but I don't know what or how much.
5. No, you don't have to pay anything to submit.

Thursday 11 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Jelly bean

This is going to be a short post. I'm down with the flu and having a blinding headache.
Since my word for the day is jelly bean, here's some to cheer you up. Hope you get a good flavour. :)

Wednesday 10 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Ink

Harry had the worse handwriting in the world. Imagine a doctor in a hurry, and you'd get something that approximated Harry's writing on a good day. Imagine someone writing poorly in Jawi, and that would be Harry's writing on a bad day. It made his teachers tear their hair out and sometimes twist his ears, especially if he had used an ink pen, which resulted in multiple ink smudges all over the page.

The Inkwell (TM) advertisement caught his eye one day after he had emerged from his form teacher's room with red ears and flushed cheeks. It was lying innocuously on the floor beside his bag, as if someone had dropped it on their way out.

IF YOU WANT TO INK WELL, USE INKWELL(TM) it yelled at him from off the glossy paper. Guaranteed to make your handwriting readable, it whispered in neat letters. What would it hurt? The only thing they could blame him for was getting outside help.

As soon as he reached home, he dialed the number listed on the brochure.
"welcome to inkwell! The only way to write well!" a cheery voice greeted him. "How can I help you?"
"I'd like to buy..."
"Of course! Why else would you be calling, right? Silly me."
"How much is it?" he asked. "Only I don't have a lot of money."
"Hmm, let me see. Could you open your latest homework?"
He thought it was a strange request but did so anyway. "How will you-"
"My, your handwriting is terrible! Tell you what- this first package will be on the house."
"What do you-"
"Enjoy, Harry!"
"Hey, how did you..." but the line had cut off and all he heard was the dial tone.

He had just put the receiver down when he noticed a little small bottle filled with ink on the table beside his homework.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Hammer

It was like using a hammer to kill a fly, or so they said. It didn't matter, she thought, as long as something died. It didn't help that she was sleepy and hungry and overall feeling extremely overwhelmed. There was no fly. But there was a hammer. And the hammer was gleaming in the bright office lights, enticing her.

She picked it up. It seemed to be almost humming to her, a soft simple song that resonated within her chest, magnifying her murderous impulses. It was mesmerizing. She tore her eyes away from the silver hammer, looking back at the piles and piles of work that had yet to be completed. She wanted to kill something.

Two steps. She stopped in front of the water cooler, looking down at the hammer in her hand. She shook her head. She must be having delusions from working late all week, she decided. She placed it down on the counter top and turned to pick up her mug.

Seconds later, she found that she was still standing at the cooler, her mug having mysteriously relocated itself somewhere else, with a silver hammer bearing the name Maxwell gripped tightly in her right hand. She stared at the head of the hammer and hoped that the little dirty spots in the midst of the gleam wasn't what she thought it was.

Closer inspection brought a flattened fly and a paper clip to her attention. She almost sighed as she happily surmised that she hadn't bashed anyone's brains in yet. Her eyes wandered to the paper clip again. As she stood there, pondering, another paper clip flew past her. It didn't make sense and she didn't think she could muster enough energy to bother trying.

She put the hammer back down and went back to her table. There was a huge hole in the middle of her laptop, through the table top and down into a dent on the floor.

It was like using a hammer to kill a fly. She found a tissue and wiped the fly off the hammer.

Monday 8 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Gum

If there was one thing that really annoyed Natalie, it was stepping on chewing gum. There was that unpleasantness of the sucking feeling on the sole of your shoe when you first stepped on it, the embarrassment of unwittingly picking up stray pieces of tissue paper (or other kinds of rubbish that accumulated on Malaysian roads) as you tried to find a convenient place to stop and then the difficulty of trying to scrape off every piece of gum off from your shoe without tearing a hole in your sole (and bleeding in your soul). She'd stopped chewing gum herself at age twelve just because of this unpleasant experience and found herself contemplating a move to Singapore, where chewing gum was banned, at the age of seventeen, after stepping on another piece of chewed gum for what seemed like the millionth time.

"Don't be such a fusspot, Nat," her boyfriend, Henry, had said. "It's just part of your OCD tendencies."

Natalie put it down as a black mark against him. "Let's see how you handle it when you step on gum," she muttered to herself.

It was with pleasure that she took a trip down to Singapore to stay with a distant relation while she applied for universities there. As she stepped through the immigration office with her passport freshly stamped, she couldn't help grinning and saying aloud to the milling crowd, "Welcome to gum-free Singapore!"

A few teenagers from her bus stared at her, plainly thinking that she was crazy, but she didn't care. She hopped and skipped her way back to the waiting bus to continue the journey into the city, where her (somehow related, she forgot how) aunt would pick her up. It was precisely because she was so happy and carefree that she tripped on the curb and fell sprawling, everything falling out of her handbag.

Like a slow-motion movie, she watched as her favourite earrings rolled out of her bag, continued onto the road and ended by dropping down the grate of the drain. Some kindly souls came by to help her up and to gather her scattered belongings. A little sad sob escaped her as she stared down the grate to where her earrings lay amidst the dust. The iron bars were too narrow to allow anything more than her fingers to pass through, and they were too far down to reach. She tugged at the grate, but found that it was too firmly fixed in place for her to move it even an inch.

Just as she had given up her earrings for lost, one of the teenagers approached her, looking surreptitiously around.
"I have gum," he said in a soft whisper.
She looked up sharply at him. "But -"
"I can help you."
"But you mustn't tell on me. Promise?"
She looked uncertainly at him, then looked down at her earrings. "Okay," she finally said grudgingly.

Peering around again, the boy casually pulled out a stick of chewing gum from his jacket pocket and slipped it into his mouth. He chewed furiously, pretending to be talking to Natalie, even as she looked at him suspiciously. Pulling out a long, thick string from his pocket, he stuck the wadded up gum on the end of it and tested it for sticking power. Satisfied, he slowly slid the string down into the drain, wiggling it until it touched the end of one of Natalie's earrings.

Within two minutes, the teen handed Natalie back her earrings, a little dusty and a little sticky, but whole and intact. He carefully wrapped the gum and the string back in its foil and disposed of it in a nearby dustbin.

"Maybe gum isn't so bad after all," she said as she thanked him profusely.

Also, reminder all: submission deadline for Love in Penang is on 30th April 2013. That's three weeks away!

Sunday 7 April 2013


This weekend has been one of those kinds of days where you realise really random things.

Like for one, the teeny weeny little drummer boy is now... *drumrolls* taller than me and learning how to drive.

And for another, the reason I don't like this person is because I feel he treats me as a non-entity, just by the way he talks. Or rather, just by the way he excludes me from his conversations, even though I would say I have a vested interest in it.

Also, if you're really passionate about something, you'd do anything you can to finish your project even if it means another sleepless night.

Unless, of course, you get distracted over another important project which means something to you.

But this then pushes the main part of your life down to an ever lower priority, equating to more late nights in order to catch up (because you essentially "wasted" your weekends).

Which comes back to the main thought of this week, or month, or whatever: I cannot sustain this level of living for too long without breaking down.

I need to slow down.
Cut back.
And it comes back to this thought.

To only do that which is necessary.

Saturday 6 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Flag

They said to raise the flag. They didn't say whose. So I raised the flag I saw fit. I raised the flag of truth and righteousness, of justice and mercy and equality. I raised the flag of democracy, the rule of the people, elected by the people, for the people. I raised the flag of unity, of a nationhood and citizenship beyond race and religion, ethnicity and language. I raised the flag of meritocracy and fair dealings. 

Red, for the blood of the martyrs, killed by those who were supposed to protect them. Red, for those who were slain standing for justice, speaking up for democracy, writing down the truth. Red, for the anger that courses through our blood for the years wasted, the years squandered to profit a few, when we could have advanced as a nation, progressed as a body, to the benefit of all. 

White, for the innocence lost and desperately sought. White, because we need desperately to find those with the lost idealism of youth, who still believe that you can change the world for the better, even when we aren't really sure what "better" looks like. We only know it doesn't look like the here and now.

Blue, for the skies to be free again. Blue, for the freedom to speak up, for the freedom to disagree, for the clear horizons that we can launch ourselves into again. Blue, for the future we have lost and seek to regain.

Yellow, for the royalty in us, as people of the land. Yellow, for the knowledge that we aren't just squatters in this country, but we are of it, we live it, we own this place in our hearts and in our bones, and even if we are not of royal blood, we live as those who would stand responsible for our village, for our city, for our state, for our country. And in that ownership, we are Princes and Princesses of our nation. 

And they would kill me for that.

To all Malaysians, please exercise your vote wisely. 

Friday 5 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Elevator

Oh, the things you do when you're stuck in an elevator alone, after calling for help of course. There's nothing to do but wait while the response team comes - you start to wonder if there will be a cute firefighter amongst them who might just strike up a conversation that would lead to a date (or maybe just some drinks first) and then you'd fall hopelessly, helplessly in love and get married.

After a while, that daydream fades away as the firefighters (or rescuers) take too long to arrive and you figure that maybe they're all old and haggard and tired anyway. There probably wouldn't be a handsome young guy in their midst, and even if there were, he would most likely turn out to be a jock or something. The brainy, sensitive guys wouldn't take jobs like those and you were sure you'd rather have an intellectual for a husband than a muscle man.

As you slump into the corner of the elevator, fanning yourself with a stray piece of paper from your handbag (last Sunday's church bulletin, you notice distractedly) you recall the last time you talked to that nice fellow in church - the one you've been secretly having a crush on for the past year. In your mind you're with him on the phone, telling him about your day and how you're stuck in the elevator and somehow you find yourself talking aloud.

Figuring that there's nobody around to hear you, you continue on the conversation, and find yourself telling him how much you like him and how you hoped that he'd notice you someday though you were fairly sure for all intents and purposes that he was actually eyeing someone else. Why else would she know everything about him? You let slip his name a couple of times, instead of the code words you use, even in your head, because you like the way it sounds on your tongue.

And then suddenly, you hear sounds on the outside of the elevator. You call out to them hoping that it's someone working to get you out but you hear a familiar snigger instead. Your face starts to flush as you realise you've been pouring your heart with the speaker button in the elevator toggled on and everyone in your apartment building has congregated on the other side of the elevator door to hear you.

Thursday 4 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Dart

She was sitting in the park reading a book when she noticed the young man staring at her from over the hedge.
"What do you want?" she asked, almost rudely, annoyed at being distracted from Dr Ransom's encounter with the Hross. She thought vaguely that he looked rather familiar - probably someone she had met before, or someone from her library?
"I was just passing by," he said.
She gave him a flat stare, then turned back to her book. Minutes later, she lifted her eyes again. "Haven't you finished passing by yet?" she asked curtly.
"Am I annoying you?"
"Yes, you are."
"Oh, I'm sorry," he shrugged politely. "But this is public property, isn't it?"
"Didn't your mother ever tell you it's rude to stare?"
"I do believe she did, but then again, who ever listens to their mothers nowadays?"
She sighed in frustration, closing her book with a snap and shoving it into her sling bag. She had taken a few steps away from the bench when she felt a stinging in her bare arm. Twisting her head, she saw a small dart quivering on her right shoulder.
"You shot me," she said with some surprise.
"Yes, I did."
"It's not poisoned is it?" she asked, her eyes wide.
"Just a little tranquilizer," he answered, smiling.
Her hand reached for the dart, her trembling fingers slipping as she tried to pull it out.
"Let me help you," he said, stepping close to her.
She backed away.
"Are you afraid of me?"
"Shouldn't I be?" her fingers groped at it, trying to pull it out, but her vision was blurring and her hands couldn't find the strength.
He caught her as she slumped to the ground.
"Why would I poison you?" he asked her still form as he hefted her over his shoulder and carried her to his car. He sat her upright in the passenger seat and fastened her seat belt, gently leaning her lolling head against the headrest. He pulled out the dart and rubbed its tip on his pants before slipping it into his bag.
A droplet of blood seeped out from her bare shoulder. He frowned at it, then searched for his handkerchief to wipe it off. He congratulated himself on a job well done - perfect marksmanship, if he could say so himself.
The drive into the country was no lonelier than it had ever been, and he soon found himself talking to her sleeping form.
"I hope I didn't use too much tranquilizer," he found himself apologizing. "It was pretty hard to estimate the quantity especially since you're such a small-sized girl. No hard feelings, eh?" he chuckled. "It was my special dart too - I'm always lucky with that one. I'm sure you'd appreciate that. It's just so hard to meet people nowadays. Nice people, I mean. Not the types that would want to lock you up in a room just as soon as you start talking. I hope you'll like where we're going."
She stirred a little, the jolting of the car pulling her back into consciousness.
He spared her a glance. "Just enough, I suppose," he said. "At any rate, we're here."
He stopped the car in front of an old, ruined castle. She shook her head, trying to clear the grogginess, struggling against the lethargy in her muscles and bones. As soon as he parked and unlocked the central locking, she threw off the seat belt, flung open the car door and darted into the surrounding foliage.
"I wish they wouldn't do that," he said, reaching into his pocket for the dart. "Now I'll have to start all over again.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Corkscrew

There were days when the hurt inside was too much to bear. It was on those days that she would sit at her dining table at dusk, staring at the lone bottle of liquor that someone had bought ages past and had never opened. She'd forgotten who or when. A past housemate, maybe, or a past boyfriend. But they hadn't had a corkscrew then, and she didn't have one now, and even if she did, she wasn't sure if she would be able to drink past the first sip. She never had.
Instead, she would sit, staring at the bottle, to keep her mind off the small sharp razor that she had once bought cheap in a jumble sale. It was an old-school razor, like the ones in the black-and-white movies, and she had found it fascinating until it became frightening because her knuckles were white from holding on to the table so she would not reach out for it again.
                 Because she knew that if she touched it
she would start again on that spiral 
                                          where lines of red blossomed, like pathways 
to hell,
down, down, down to god knows where.
                             If there was a god (was there?)
he probably wasn't there either.
                                         It was where she stood alone
as she always had
                                                    in her own blood.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Balloon

Three long skinny balloons lay on Thea's lap. She was blowing up another balloon, grimacing a little at the squeaky sound it made as she tied off the knot. That was four done and another three to go. She glanced again at the manual beside her and smiled. Lou had once called it her crazy smile - the one she always smiled right before attempting to pull off some madcap scheme. It was a good thing he wasn't around right now, though she would have much appreciated his help in blowing up the balloons. She had wanted to use an air pump, probably a bicycle pump, but the manual said that it worked best with warm air, so her breath it had to be, since there was no one else around. She had made sure of that.

Seven long skinny balloons and she would have her very own pet. The manual guaranteed that if she did it right, the little monkey would come alive. She felt a little bit like Frankenstein, a little bit like God. Had Frankenstein felt like God when he created his monster? She laid the sixth balloon down and stopped to catch her breath. If it turned out right, she could make a business out of it. Balloons were cheap, and maintaining a balloon monkey, though it were alive, should work out to be cheap. What would they eat anyway?

Thea looked at the seven long skinny balloons laid out in a row beside her. She flipped the manual to the next page and studied the diagrams carefully. She didn't want to get this wrong. She was tired of blowing balloons for today. She decided she felt more like God than like Frankenstein. After all, God had breathed into Man and he came alive, rather like how she had been breathing into the balloons. Frankenstein had still relied on the wind and the thunder - all acts of God, not his own. She scoffed at him.

Twisting the balloons was harder than she expected and her fingers twitched nervously, half expecting the balloons to burst with every squeak they gave. The squeaking was reaching a fever pitch by the time she had finished, and she wondered why the noise was still there even when she had laid the seven inch tall balloon monkey down on the ground and wasn't touching it anymore.

Her next act was to take the terrarium down from its storage above her cupboard and place it on the table beside her bed. It was empty now - she supposed she would fill it up with sand and stuff later on, when she could get it. But for now, she turned to stare at the balloon monkey. She almost swore it had moved. Picking it up, she did the last thing the manual had instructed - she placed it in the terrarium, instinctively stepping back a few paces to see what would happen.

The howl that emitted from the terrarium almost deafened her. As she went off in search of ear plugs, the only thing in her mind was the glum thought that Lou wouldn't be very happy when he came home. Why hadn't the manual said that it would be this noisy?

taken from

Monday 1 April 2013

#atozchallenge: Asparagus

He crept slowly along the corridor, keeping as much as he could to the shadows. There was a stir of air above him and he paused, looking up. A dark figure stood outlined in the dim window opposite, a stray curtain flapping in the soft breeze. He froze. The figure stood there for a long time, seemingly gazing out the window, and he wondered if it - he or she, he couldn't tell - had seen him. But no hue and cry was raised, nothing startling happened, and in due time the figure disappeared. He closed his eyes momentarily, heaving a silent sigh of relief. He touched the slim packet in his coat pocket to reassure himself.
Glancing about him, he continued on his cautious journey, often casting a quick gaze back at the window until he turned the corner and emerged in the courtyard. The pale crescent moon was reflected in the deep, still pool, floating a short distance above the overhanging trees. At the far end of the courtyard, he could see her slender form hunched over on the long bench, her face in her hands.
She was crying.
"Hush, I'm here," he said as he sat down beside her, placing an arm over her shuddering shoulders.
"I know. But you shouldn't be," she whispered, raising her tear-stained face to his. "You should go. Now."
"Why? I only just got here."
"They're coming, George," she said. "I couldn't stop them."
"Do they know-"
"Yes. You have to go. They'll kill you if they find you here."
"Don't worry, I have it all under control."
She tried to laugh at his confidence, tried to believe that what he said was true. But she knew them. She knew them by heart. They were her family, her friends, her captors.
He took her hands in his. "Trust me on this, Julie." Even as he said that, he wondered about the figure in the window. Who was it, and what did he want? Pushing his fears aside, he told her about his week, detailing his plans to get her out of this place and to make her his wife.
"You love me, don't you, Julie?" he asked.
"Yes, yes I do." She was smiling now, telling him of her plans to decorate their future house, about the light lavender hangings she had seen in the store the other day and how nice it would look draped over the couch he had told her of two weeks ago.
"When, George?" she asked, eyes shining.
"Yes, when, George?" a mocking voice came from across the courtyard.
George tore his eyes away from his love, and looked into the face of his sworn enemy. Julie's nails pressed into his wrists.
"I told you..."
"Stay calm, Julie. I have this under control." George stood up, slowly dusted himself off, and walked towards Julie's brother.
"I know what you want, Harold, and I'm prepared to do it."
Harold folded his arms, narrowed his eyes. "Show me."
George smiled as he put his hand in his coat pocket, pulling out the land title deed that Harold had fought him for five years ago. As he did so, his hand gripped the little asparagus knife he had slipped in between the papers and in one swift movement, he stabbed Harold in the heart.
Julie stared at him wide-eyed.
"Don't worry, Julie. They'll never find the murder weapon," George said with a wide grin as he pulled the knife out. He stooped by the pool and rinsed his hand and the knife in the cool water. Then he popped it into his mouth and crunched down on it. Asparagus was definitely his new favourite vegetable.

taken from

S/N: SPECIAL SHOUTOUT to Arlee Bird, the founder of the A to Z Challenge! We're having a blast! =)

30 days left for you to submit your short stories for the Love in Penang anthology.