Writing Prompt #12 | October 18th, 2017

Prompt: You accidentally end up as a character in your own story. You need to blend in at all costs: if the characters realize you’re the narrator, it will create a paradox, and you will die. (Reddit link, to the /r/WritingPrompts post and my submission.)

Start: Sometime this morning.

The young couple sits on the double-sized bed, facing each other with embarrassed determination in their eyes. They both know what they want—each other—but are wary of the risk of rebuke.

She stretches out her hand and touches his arm gently. He looks away, feeling his face turn red. This moment of weakness betrays his naivety towards love; she realizes straight away that this might be his first time. This emboldens her to take the lead.

Rising from her legs-crossed position to her knees, she leans forward and pulls herself closer to him. Awkwardly, he embraces around the girl who he had only mere weeks ago only dreamed of ever holding in his arms. The smell of the fragrance of her shampoo overwhelms him as he finally realizes what they are about to do.

But he moves his hands off of her, then firmly takes her by the shoulders and pushes her back. She, rattled, looks at him with questioning eyes.

“Do you… not want this…”

He sighs and shakes his head.

“It’s not that. It’s just…”

“It’s just that…”

“…I can’t do it with him sitting right there.”

The couple looks over to me with wary eyes. I, uncomfortable with suddenly being the center of attention, chuckle mechanically.

“Just keep going.”

“…Dude. Can you give us some privacy?”

His words urgently plead me to take my leave. But I cannot. For this is a young adult love story and I am its narrator, and my duty to the reader defines my entire existence. I am ever-present, commenting on the events which unfold before me and putting them into words for the enjoyment of all.

“I won’t get in the way. Just pretend I’m not here.”

“Please, Mr. Stranger… Can you give us just an hour or so to ourselves?” She chimes in, trying to negotiate for some alone time so they can make love in peace.

Oh, how much I would love to grant their request. We narrators usually leave the characters be in their intimate moments, as going to the washroom or engaging in coitus are often not of interest to the reader. Unfortunately, the author of this novel wants to sell sex with this trashy young love plot line, and so I need to be here to give a play-by-play of all the events.

“Would it fix the problem if I just change where I’m sitting? I can just crawl under the bed and listen instead.”

“…Dude. How does that make it any better?”

“Look, man, I have my reasons for being here. Do you really think I want to stay here and watch you blow a load after thirty seconds of thrusting?”

“Wait, what? Thirty seconds?”

She looks at me and then him with bewildered eyes. Apparently, the brevity of the time I predicted surprises her.

“I mean, yeah. Isn’t this going to be his first time or someth—”

“Are you trying to pick a fight or something? What are you playin’ at?”

This male protagonist gets angry at this kind of stuff, I guess. Maybe I said too much.

“Sorry. Slip of the tongue.”

The female protagonist, in her usual passionate fashion, looks at her lover with sparkling eyes.

“Don’t worry. If Mike can last an hour, then so can you.”

I burst out laughing as I consider how to properly narrate this turn of events.

“An—an hour? He was that good?”

“You can do way better than that, right?”

His face turns pale as he thinks back to his late-night porn surfing. He cannot recall spending more than ten minutes before blowing a load. He begins to imagine his current girlfriend, the wonderful girl before him, getting absolutely pounded by her jacked ex-boyfriend.

Sometimes, I regret being able to read people’s minds like this.

“It’s fine, man. Just focus on making it past the first thirty seconds.”

“I’m gonna last way longer than thirty seconds, man! Shut it and leave!”

“Are you sure you don’t need some advice on sex?”

“I’ll be just fine, thank you very much!”

Giving up on thinking of a proper way to end this scene, I walk out of the room and decide to just end things there. Closing the door behind me, I hear a small snippet of their conversation:

“…Shall we continue?”

“Nah. Let’s just watch Netflix instead.”

End: Later in the morning.

Elapsed Time: I forgot >.>


A little writing exercise to prepare for a short story contest.

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Writing Prompt #12 | October 18th, 2017

Conquer With Ink

This is a 250 word mini-essay written as part of a diagnostic of English proficiency.

The nature of open-ended writing lends itself to overthought and pretentious pieces of literature. A bright, young mind capable of holding intellectual discussions on any topic and making thoughtful commentary on an issue suddenly becomes confused when directed to wander aimlessly in the vast wasteland of free thought.

It is oft-said that putting a man in a desert fully equipped and setting him off towards an oasis is authoritarian, while leaving him among the dunes to fend for himself is libertarian. We daring explorers are trapped in the emptiness of a vague, unexplored, undefined thought-space. Though meandering around does result in some revelations concerning the workings of this desolate ecosystem and might even reveal ways for us to survive by our own merits, there is a crippling fear of independence innate to all of us. We all secretly yearn for the days when we were told to hobble over to Mommy, or to draw a pony, or to solve a math problem, or to submit a ten-thousand word essay on banana picking. Somehow, being forced down a path without control over the direction is so liberating; rather than realizing escape from an oppressive system, we are absolved of that pesky gnat—responsibility—which annoyingly buzzes right next to our ear and nips at us during high noon.

Tackling the unknown—venturing into an uncharted world!—is the ultimate test of one’s soul; the intrepidity of a diligent student of life is truly tested only by a blank sheet of paper.

Conquer With Ink

Writing Prompt #11 | July 12th, 2015

Prompt: Your whole life you have heard a strange melody playing in your head. You’ve never heard it anywhere else, and eventually you simply learn to live with it. One day, you walk past a man whistling that tune.

Start: 11: 27 PM

While walking down the street, the melody still played in my head. By now, it was nice background music as I went about my every day life.

Da dum da da di da…

Playing Pokemon on a Gameboy with other kids in the projects, I always thought it was cool that the main character basically had his own song. But when I am alone with my thoughts and I tune out my surroundings, my ambiance music plays gently in my head as I walk.

The sky is the slightest bit orange as the day is dying just slightly. There is almost no one, spare the few construction workers finishing up the day’s work. I walk past the mess of concrete and dusty machines as I hummed. Da dum da da di da…

After I walked past the site, I suddenly realized something.

“Woah, did the sound of my singing get hollower all of a sudden?”

While I was thinking, a worker came behind me and told me to get moving since it wasn’t safe to loiter. I bowed my head slightly and left. I turned around for a moment, to see the worker take a swig from a water bottle, grab his stuff, and start finishing up for the day. He hummed as he walked off.

“What a jolly fellow.” I am always impressed by people who have to do hard work but look so happy the whole time they’re doing it. I start humming again. Da dum da da di da…

Wait.

Didn’t that guy just hum this…

Oh.

I start running back towards the worker. He was walking in the opposite direction as me, so when I finally caught up to him and tapped him on the shoulder, I was sweating and panting.

“What’s the matter? You need some help, boy?”

I catch my breath and say in still slightly fragmented speech: “That song you were humming. Hum again. Hum please?”

He looked bewildered. Da dum da da di da… he hummed it again and looked like he was trying to humor me.

“Dad.”

He looked positively astounded. “What are you talking about?”

“You must be my father. You must be! Who else would know this melody?”

The worker looked at me and shook his head. “You’re crazy, kid. People hum the same stuff every day, it’s normal. Have you heard that one really catchy song on the radio?”

“That is MY SONG. That has played in my head for seventeen years.”

The worker seemed to suddenly lose all the color in his face.

He started singing, with the same melody he hummed before: “You are my precious son…”

“You are my darling, hun…” The words seemed to suddenly come to me.

“Each day I’ll stay with you…” He teared up as he walked towards me.

“We’ll live lives full of fun.” I backed away, in disbelief.

His arms wrapped around me. I couldn’t pull away.

“I am so sorry I left. I am so sorry.”

Suddenly, I felt angry. Mom and I had to break our backs to get by. She finally finished her master’s degree while waiting tables, but until then we lived in the worst part of downs, dealt with the worst people, saw the worst things. I grew up thinking my father was already long gone.

He’s still in this town, doing construction while singing my song?

I started to cry. He definitely felt the tears in his shoulder, because he pulled away and held my face with his slightly dirty hands. “It wasn’t you. I missed you every day. You were my world.”

“Then why would you leave me?!” I wanted to scream, but it came out in a weak, timid voice.

“I had a dream of finding myself. Of becoming famous and loved by everyone. I wanted to be a singer and do gigs all over. You are my world, but a dream can become your world.”

He looked very serious now, and his eyes glistened.

“That song you hummed, your mom yelled at me for singing to you because it was ‘so bad’. I was so done, I walked straight out the door. Your mom always said she wanted me out of the house so that you wouldn’t grow up remembering my stupid songs, and yet…”

I was too tired to listen to more. I just hugged him and hummed our song. Da dum da da di da…

“You were in my life all along, Dad. I’m sorry it came to this. Can you be my father?”

End: 12:08 AM (next day)

Elapsed Time: 41 minutes


Piece of crap. Posting anyways, as a record.

Writing Prompt #11 | July 12th, 2015

Writing Prompt #10 | June 29th, 2015

Prompt: Write a poem with the following words:

  • Competition
  • Tree
  • Sugar
  • Red
  • Puppy

Start: 11:10 PM

A tree loomed o’er the lovers,
Secluding them from others.
They looked on at shimmering lakes,
As they ate red velvet cake.
The sugar was not as sweet,
As this small scene so discrete.
Husband, wife, loyal puppy;
Cutest? Need no competition!

End: 11:16 PM

Elapsed Time: 6 minutes


The words were supplied by my girlfriend. I am awful at this.

Writing Prompt #10 | June 29th, 2015

Writing Prompt #9 | June 16th, 2015

Prompt: Instead of the old saying “Life is too short”, write a story around the idea that “Life is too long.”

Start: 12:10 AM

For the probably-millionth time that day, she stumbled over to the picture on the opposite side of the room she was in and planted a solid kiss on it.

She still missed her husband. Every single day. Every counselor, every support group, every book told her that time heals even the deepest of wounds.

But aside from having no more tears to cry, it still felt like the first day.

Most people are so happy on their wedding day. Vows of spending forever with the man you love? This is a dream girls are raised to look at as the pinnacle of happiness.

But his life was a ticking bomb. And when it finally set off, it certainly did cause so much pain, so much turmoil. That day has by now turned into a mush of chaos, loud noises, and sirens.

Why did he have to suddenly go? Why did he leave me here? Why can’t I follow him?

She started to cry again. She couldn’t stop herself this time, and for a second she thought she would open the drawer that held her wedding gift. She was so tempted to use it. But she stayed strong, just like all the sixty years since she got married.

Only he had the sort of morbid, wicked humor to give her a noose as a wedding gift. “We will keep this as a promise to each other,” he said. “This is one of those gifts that we receive then vow to never use.”

Vow she did. And she was too much of a woman of principle to go back on the words she said to a man who has now passed on.

She looked again at the picture. They had gotten photos done before their marriage, and it was worth every penny. He was so handsome, and she looked absolutely brimming with youth and joy. She can’t remember, now, what happiness really is.

Life really is too long, she thought as she poured herself one last cup of tea before bed. Those who say life is too short are the ones who have been spoiled.

She walked upstairs on her two unsteady feet to her bedroom. She didn’t fall down this time, either. No matter how much doctors said she was at risk for falls, she seemed to never be allowed to fall.

She climbed into bed. Maybe tonight, I’ll die of a stroke too, she thought. Or maybe a heart attack! Or maybe, or maybe…

Her excitement started to tire her out, and she eventually fell asleep.

And again, the following morning, she had to wake up and wait again for bedtime.

End: 12:30

Elapsed Time: 20 minutes

Writing Prompt #9 | June 16th, 2015

Writing Prompt #8 | June 10th, 2015

Prompt: Humans are only capable of using each word in the English language once during their lifetime. As they approach their final days an aged individual has saved their best words for last.

Start: ???

The old man sat in his hospital bed. He was silent, reflecting silently on his situation.

After two battles won, he lost the third. This time, the cancer will kill him.

Each time, a doctor had to run out, find someone selling their words, and instruct them through photocopies of an old document that they must say “cancer” to the patient. This certainly wasn’t cheap, so this old man sitting in the hospital bed surviving twice already cost the hospital a few thousand dollars.

But this time is the last time. The doctor, who always seemed solemn and unaffected by his surroundings, used some of his saved-up precious words just for the old man, much to the latter’s surprise: “Cancer, dying. Sorry.”

It was so rare to use up words that not even teachers spoke in school. Textbooks from before the declaration was put into place were all students had, usually. The teachers just helped mark pre-written tests.

The old man heard the door open. He turned to see his wife.

She had slightly puffy eyes. Her aged face seemed to have been weathered even more by the torrent of misfortune that swept the poor couple off their feet. But somehow, looking into her eyes now, he saw the beautiful, loving, perfect young woman he married so many years ago. Back then, he didn’t even know her name, but they bonded silently over some tea and enjoyed each other’s warmth and company. When he finally asked her, “Marry?”, she said “sure”.

At their wedding, they both said “yes do”.

They lay there silently, not knowing what to do. The old man could already feel himself starting to slip away. He didn’t feel like he was going to die, but he didn’t feel alive either. He was a flesh ghost.

His wife always seemed very happy and had a good humor. Still, it was unexpected when she opened her mouth and said her first word in probably ten years: “F___.”

She smiled just a bit, and the old man had to, too. His reply: “F___ s__t sh__.”

As children, everyone sees these words in their dictionaries and heard them in those old R-rated movies they stole from their parents. How magical the moment was, to savor the feeling of those words escaping your tongue at such an advanced age, still giggling inside like a twelve year old.

The amount of expletives they uttered in the ensuing conversation probably served as great entertainment to the patients in neighboring rooms. They, too, probably thought back to those days when they would open their dictionaries, show each other words, and burst out laughing.

Then, more silence. They resumed their quiet contemplation once more.

“Miss.” She touched his face as she said it. Her eyes glistened and tears started beading up.

He took her other hand and held it tightly. “Much. Die desire negative.”

This was enough to make her sob. They hugged as her frail body shivered from the fatigue caused by her crying.

He suddenly felt lightheaded. The end was near.

He pulled away and looked at her in the eye. Their eyes stayed locked and he lowered himself into the bed. “Brenda.”

She jumped a bit. She hasn’t been called by her name in how long?

He starts feeling the world evaporating around him. He doesn’t have much time. But the words won’t come to him.

A lifetime of wariness when speaking has gotten to him. He was at a loss for words.

But then he realized. He had just the right words left over, for the situation.

“I love you.”

His dear wife hugged him and put her face on his chest. “Adore you also.”

He laughed as he passed on, remembering what she said to  her dying mother many years past.

Oh, what silly laws. He lay there, happily sleeping with a smirk on his face.

End: ???

Elapsed Time: Morning and evening (early morning of June 11th too). Written intermittently.

Writing Prompt #8 | June 10th, 2015

Writing Prompt #7 | May 25th, 2015

Prompt: You are naturally gifted. You can learn anything, but for you, this is a curse…

Start: 12:10 AM

I picked up the pencil, and as if in a trance I filled in every blank, circled every correct choice, and wrote out solutions to every word problem. When I handed the test in, the teacher told me i could go. I casually threw the eraser at the doorknob, and like every other time it turned the knob just enough for the door to be opened gracefully by the draft outside the room. As I walked out of the classroom full of totally indifferent students, I could see the teacher out of the corner of my eye writing 100% on the top of my test paper and putting it in his test folder without even checking any answers.

By now, everyone knew. It wasn’t special or new anymore. It was expected.

I could learn anything by barely trying ever since I was a kid. As soon as one of the kids showed off that they could snap their fingers, I started snapping with both hands in very complex patterns. When a teacher spun his pencil with his hand to show off to impressionable children, I took the pencil and weaved it through every finger on both hands before flicking it upward and catching it perfectly balanced on the eraser with my tongue. A single tutorial for the piano allowed me to enter a huge competition two weeks later and cash into first prize. Too bad the prize money was useless, since I already had all the money I would ever need from creating fake IDs to play Internet poker.

I ran up to a wall and ran up along the side to get up above the lockers. I took my lunch bag off of the ledge on top of a locker, then grabbed my laptop from the top of another. Who needs a locker when the top of everyone’s locker is a storage place?

Being exempted from  class is great. Being guaranteed a solid future is great. Being able to munch on this delicious lobster I tried preparing for the first time last night is great. It’s all stuff people tell me they would die for.

But I dunno. Where’s the sense of accomplishment? It’s so easy to do something that I never surprise myself and no one that knows me is shocked either. Making friends and being popular has been so easy in the past that I stopped having any friends because I am now morally considering my interactions with people manipulation. I am not even sad or mad about the whole situation; being able to perfectly assess situations without emotional bias was something I learned so early on, it might have been even before I learned my fifth language before my first birthday.

After I finished eating, I threw my lunch bag over my shoulder and it landed perfectly on the ledge of the school’s roof. I can climb to the third floor later to grab it anyways. That can be a fun little game.

I was gonna start writing my valedictorian speech this weekend. Somehow, I was voted even though I haven’t said a single word these entire four years I’ve been at this school. I guess the body language I learned is enticing enough that people like me without even knowing me.

Look at me! I want to scream at them. Look at me, and actually see me!

Eh. While thinking over angry thoughts, I finished writing my speech and wrote a few more poems to add to that growing collection. Tomorrow, I will try only using the first thirteen letters of the alphabet for the whole poem. Not angry anymore; perfectly controlling my anger makes me a bit happier. I guess.

What is “happy” again?

My speech was good enough that everyone cried. Everyone wanted a picture with me, and while people looked at the pictures captured on their cameras of my perfect photogenic smile I slipped away to go home. I picked the lock to my front door, scaled the wall to climb up into my room, then dove perfectly under my covers and went promptly to sleep. My commencement was just another normal day.

I guess my fate is to always live normal, perfect days. Oh how much I wish I could break free. I am too composed to want to kill myself or even think about hurting other people. it looks like I will be living like this forever.

In the morning, I used my foot to throw my trophy for long jump at the doorknob to turn it and open the door. In the hallway is my mom looking completely normal and unaffected. She smiles. “Hey, ready for another day?”

Just another day alright, I thought as I gave yet another perfect smile and lied once again about how excited I was for this new day.

End: 1:00 AM

Elapsed Time: 50 minutes

Writing Prompt #7 | May 25th, 2015