Writing Prompt #13 | October 25th, 2017

Prompt: One night you realise you can continue dreams from previous nights. You start building your perfect life but in your obsession you start neglecting reality. (Reddit link, to my submission on the original /r/WritingPrompts post.)


I cannot stop thinking about the faceless maiden from my dream last night.

I woke up late this morning and had to scramble to arrive on time to that coffee shop at which Jenny told me to meet her. Brushing my teeth in the shower and buttoning my shirt as I put on my shoes, I stumbled into my car and drove across town in serene Sunday morning traffic.

When I arrived at the coffee shop, Jenny greeted me with a hug and a peck on the cheek before pulling back. She gives me a pout before badgering me about my late arrival.

“What took you so long?”

I shrugged and avoided her questioning gaze.

“Just overslept.”


A vast, pastoral landscape.

The grassy hills that roll around across the field and surround us. The clear blue sky that bleeds into the horizon. The breeze that blows and gently weaves with her hair.

The faceless maiden in a white summer dress turns to me and smiles with her shapeless lips. I cannot hear her silent voice, and yet it grips my entire being with every uttered word:

What a beautiful day.

Those nocturnal days with her linger with me even after I wake.


I go to see Jenny at her place. She has come down with a cold, so I bring medicine, some chicken stock and spices for a hearty soup, and a bootleg copy of a movie she wanted to see at the theater. I let myself into her house with the key hidden underneath the flowerpot on her front porch and immediately get to work conjuring up a meal with the ingredients I brought and the scraps in the back of her fridge.

As the water boils, I chop up a rigid broccoli stalk as I think about the image which has stayed in my mind’s eye since I woke up this morning. Glancing out the window above the kitchen sink, I only see a dull, overcast grey.

Too focused on my repetitive chopping and the dichotomy between reality and dream which has bothered me for weeks, I do not notice Jenny stumbling into the kitchen behind me until I feel her arms slip under mine and wrap around my torso. She buries her face in my shoulder right at the base of my neck and breathes in deeply, then out.

“You feeling okay?” I put down the knife in my right hand and move to ruffle her messy hair. Despite usually being against me touching her hair like this, I feel her body relax and push into me as I gently pet the top of her head.

“I threw up.”

“I brought some medicine with me. Maybe you should take some right now while I finish up this meal?”

“Let’s stay like this for a while.”

I try to keep cutting into the firm broccoli in front of me, but I decide to just let it be and put my hands on her hands which cross over my navel. I enjoy this intimate moment with an inexplicable but palpable guilt.

There was once a time where her pressing her bra-less chest against me like this, with only a thin shirt over her swells, would have excited me and caused me to become flustered or embarrassed. And yet, here we are, casually holding each other in front of the beginnings of a patchwork dinner splayed out on the kitchen counter.

The water begins to boil over. I move to turn off the heat, breaking free from Jenny’s hold. I take the cutting board with an assortment of half-chopped vegetables and put them into the hot water with a shrug. Whatever. Good enough.

I put the lid on and turn to face Jenny. Immediately, her arms shoot up around my neck and pull me into a tight embrace. I hug her back, resting my hands on the small of her back. Looking down at the ground, I am bemused as always by the sight of her standing on the balls of her feet.

“Make sure to get better before this weekend, okay? In time for the eclipse.”

Indeed, a solar eclipse is going to happen this weekend. For the people of this town, who live every day restless and aching for novelty, the excitement and anticipation surrounding this astronomical event is a temporary distraction from the mundanity of everyday life. A community gathering at city hall has been planned, which has been pretty much the only thing Jenny talks about these days. She has always been interested in astronomy, and the incoming total eclipse is basically a dream come true for this girl who has never seen beyond our town.

This girl deserves to see her eclipse. I feel a pang of pity for Jenny as she lets out a pained groan.

“I feel so shitty. I’m gonna die before Sunday.”

“Not with me taking care of you.”

She nestles her face into my chest.

“You’re here for me now, and you’ll also be there with me on Sunday. Will you always be by my side?”

“Of course.”

Jenny looks up at me with expectant eyes. I move my hand to cup her cheek as I draw my face closer. The world turns to black as we both close our eyes and—

I feel her palm right there her lips should me. I open my eyes to see her covering her mouth with her hand.

“Vomit.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

I kiss her on the forehead before we both break out into hearty laughter. I think about how lucky I am to have Jenny right here with me at this moment. And yet, somehow, this scene in the kitchen with a pot of half-assed soup cooking behind me and a sick girl in my arms leaves me feeling just a little empty.


The same perfect scenery, illumined by the brilliant Sun characteristic of my nighttime fantasies.

Although the light cannot pierce through the imperceptible veil on her face, I know that she’s smiling and laughing with me. The nameless maiden has laid a white blanket on the grass, and we sit together enjoying the imaginary birdsong which accompanies this timeless day.

She leans forward from her sitting position and moves into a seductive crawl, inching closer to me and lithely settling right between my legs with her knees between mine. Even this close up, with her head moving right next to my ear and our bodies almost touching, I still cannot make out her face.

Stay with me for a while. Her silent voice beckons me to enjoy this eternal summer day with her.

However, I hear a persistent beeping noise over the horizon. I do not know what it is, but I sense that it is time for this meeting to end.

“I have somewhere to go, now.”

The world begins to fade as I feel the vision in my eyes sensing some sort of dull otherworldly light. I see a digital clock screen showing [9:00] juxtaposed with the bright scene I am so reluctant to leave behind.

Just a little longer.

I somehow know that her shapeless lips are curling into a coy smirk, inviting me to spend eternity with her and escaping from the waking world—

“Sure.”

I reach my arm through to the otherworld and turn off the alarm. The beeping stops and the clock display abruptly disappears. Once again, it is just me and the faceless maiden on a beautiful day with fields and sky in all directions.


I wake up utterly confused.

Although my clock reads [2:00] and my phone clearly shows that it is indeed 2pm, it is completely dark outside.

It takes me more than a few sleepy moments for my brain to finally take control of my rattled instincts and figure out what’s happening.

“Shit!”

I throw on some clothes and rush out the door fumbling with my car keys. As I back out of the driveway near blind, without the aid of any streetlights, I look out the window at the magical daytime sky with stars scattered around a mysterious ring of light. But I do not have time to admire this once-in-a-lifetime view while drive through the streets. All I see ahead is someone running and using their phone as a flashlight—

“Stop! Stop!”

I hear Jenny’s voice. I skid to a stop and jump out of my car to see Jenny running toward me, out of breath.

“Where the hell were you?”

She is angry. Her eyes brim with ire as she tries to catch her breath. I try to think of the right thing to say—a flowery apology, or a funny line—but instead stand silently while she boils over with rage.

“I waited there for hours! I found us the best spot! I was calling you this whole time and worrying that something happened to you!”

She unleashes a barrage of fiery words at me, and all I can do is take it underneath the darkness of this once-in-a-lifetime daytime sky. I gazed behind her at the bright ring in the sky, which right before me bursts in a flash of light as the Moon slowly uncovers the Sun.

“This was the first eclipse in this town in over a century! I looked forward to this for months! It was going to be the memory of a lifetime, seeing an eclipse with you!”

The stars, which twinkled gently during this tense scene, suddenly hid away once more as the Sun’s light once again filled the daylight sky.

“I’m done! I’m leaving!”

She storms off and leaves me standing there in the street. After a while, I stumble into my car and drive back home while looking at the daytime sky and wondering if the scene that just occurred had actually happened.

By the time I arrive home and stumble back upstairs and into bed, not a trace of the eclipse remained in the afternoon sky.


The faceless maiden looks at me with what I somehow know to be a questioning gaze. I look away and silently enjoy the rain which falls around us and covers the usual nightly perfect summer day in a curtain of grey.

We sit underneath a tree which somehow completely shelters us from the raindrops which pound on the otherwise completely empty field which stretches in all directions.

I have spent countless nights—countless days in this dream world—with this faceless maiden. And yet, even though I still do not know her name, I feel at ease silently sitting here with her as the dull sound of rainfall drowns out my thoughts.

Listen…

Her silent voice calls out to me. Just this once, I’ll ignore it.

Listen…

I turn away and reach my arm out to feel the raindrops—

“Listen.”

This is not a silent voice. I turn around and, to my alarm, see the no-longer-nameless maiden’s face. Jenny, wearing a white summer dress, gives me a forlorn look which juxtaposes with her earnest smile.

“Listen.”

I feel myself choke up and cry tears of sorrow as the field and sky crumble away and give way to reality. As I am plunged back into the otherworld, Jenny comforts me with her no-longer-silent voice.

“I love you.”


I wake up and immediately jump out of bed to get dressed and run to Jenny’s house. It’s the middle of the night, but I have to see her.

However, as I slip my leg into my pants, I see that I was not alone in my bed.

It seems that while I slept, Jenny had snuck into my house and moved into my bed between me and the wall.

She stirs at the sound of me moving. Moving closer to observe her face, I see that her eyes have opened a crack and that her lips have curled into a smirk.

“Going to meet someone at two in the morning?”

I glance over at my clock and realize that it is indeed that time. Somehow, I managed to sleep another twelve hours after sleeping in this morning.

“Looks like she was right here with me.”

I slip my arm around her and she pulls herself closer to me. We stay there for a moment in silence before I finally speak up again.

“I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

In all of our time together, I have taken for granted how forgiving she is of my countless faux pas. I thank the world for letting me meet and fall in love with such a good girl.

“You know… eclipses happen all around the world. I can buy tickets to somewhere where another eclipse will happen.”

I feel her shaking her head.

“Nah.”

“But… I screwed up and ruined a once-in-a-lifetime event. I want to make it up to you.”

“No need. I don’t really want to go anywhere. Besides…”

She moves her head up and kisses my cheek before whispering in my ear:

“Every moment with you is already once-in-a-lifetime.”

While she nods off to sleep, I shed a few tears of happiness at the thought that she feels the same way.


This became way longer than I originally intended, but I really like the idea.

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Writing Prompt #13 | October 25th, 2017

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.

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