Genre: slice of life
Every day, on the way to school, he passed an open window that always framed an elderly lady. It was the highlight of his walk to share wordless greetings as he passed.
One day, he only saw a closed window.
Well, it was only natural to want to sleep in, right?
The window remained closed the next day.
Maybe the lady was away on holiday?
On the third day, the window was open, but empty. By the time he returned from school, he couldn’t pass by without doing something. He marched up the pathway to knock on the door.
It was only after an unfamiliar face opened the door that he had second thoughts.
“Hi. Err… I pass by your house every day to school. There’s usually a lady by that window,” he said and pointed at the window on the second floor, “I haven’t seen her the past few days. Is she alright?”
The stranger jumped in surprise, then something seemed to click in her mind.
“I’ve heard about you. Mother caught a cold, but she’s getting better. Please come in. I’m sure she’ll love to meet you.”
After seeing each other for years, this would be the first time they actually met each other.
“Hello, dear. Sorry to worry you.”
This was going to be exciting!
Genre: slice of life, background fantasy
He knew only two things about her.
One, she was quiet.
Two, she was always injured.
The first was understandable. It was normal to be quiet in the library. But the second worried him. Not even he, at his clumsiest when his body seemed to double in length every few days, had a new injury every day.
He had two theories.
First, someone was abusing her.
Second, she was one of those superheroes that started appearing late last year.
If it was the former, he had to report it.
If it was the latter, he… shouldn’t?
He scratched his head in frustration. It was the same mental debate, again and again. He couldn’t like this. He needed to find out more. He needed to talk to the girl.
Decision made, he looked up.
But the girl was gone.
It’s day 5 of NaNoWriMo. I haven’t started writing for today yet, but so far, I think I’m doing ok.
It’s actually been a pleasure to be able to write a bunch of words without needing to care about quality. Not sure if I’m using the right word? Just write whatever I feel it might be and move on. Need to transition between scenes? Just brush it over with a few words (or a few hundred words. Gotta hit that word count).
I find that I’m doing a lot of discovery at the moment. Especially of my characters. The caring, motherly character I planned in my head, after I start putting her on paper, turns out to have a mischievous, sadistic streak who loves teasing interesting reactions out of people. The character I was considering taking out of the story is turning into quite the worrywart, worrying over things I originally thought the motherly character would worry about.
By the end of this mad exercise, I may only keep a quarter of what I write, or maybe even less, but I’m excited to see what gems I’ll find under all the nonsense l’ll be writing just to fill the word count.
All the best to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo. And remember. It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you do.
Last month, my goal was to post something every day. Other than two missed days, I managed to have something up every day, so I’m counting October as a success 🙂
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts today, and over the 30 days in November, I will attempt to write 50,000 words. I will be putting most of my focus on that project, so I doubt there’ll be much activity here.
See you in another month, where I’ll hopefully be able to greet you again with good news.
All the best to everyone attempting NaNoWriMo this year!
Sweat ran in rivulets down his back.
“Hotter!” the mage said.
“Any hotter and we’re all going to burn too,” he grumbled but still cranked up the heat. The mage leaned forward in anticipation. Not for the first time, he pulled the mage back before she did something stupid, like try to touch the glowing hot ore with her bare hands.
A crack split the surface of the ore. It pulsed. Once. Twice.
The mage stepped forward. He pulled her back again.
“It’s fine. It’s ready for the next step.”
She brushed his hand off and stepped towards the ore into the heat. She positioned her fingertips over the glowing ore, took a steadying breath, and touched it.
Like a chef pulling dough, the mage pulled the ore into a long rod. With just her fingers, she prodded the rod into her desired form as if it was just clay.
He watched from a distance, sweat still running in rivulets down his back.
Magic was crazy.
Genre: general, fantasy
The king first met the girl in his own private garden. The palace staff held their breath, for he was a cruel king who was quick to repress any disobedience, and trespassing his private garden was definitely an act of disobedience.
Unsurprisingly, the king had the girl thrown into the dungeon, never mind that she was unconscious and young enough that they could easily count her age with the fingers on their hands. They tended to her as they did the other prisoners and stepped back when the king visited the dungeon, as was his routine.
The girl had no memory, not of how she ended up in the garden, not of herself. No matter what the king threatened, she could not give any answers. For the king, whose paranoia demanded that he knew everything, it was unacceptable, and he visited again and again, hoping to pry out her secret.
At some point, the visits became less hostile and more peaceful. The cruel king and the amnesiac girl spoke for minutes to hours at a time. Interrogation turned to exploration to conversation.
The palace staff kept watching and waiting for the day the girl made a wrong move and attracted the king’s infamous cruelty, but the day never came. Instead, it was the king, their stubborn, set in his ways, don’t-tell-me-what-to-do king, who changed. He became more willing to listen, more open to alternate opinions, more merciful in his actions.
Over the years, the king continued to change, but the girl remained the same.
Exactly the same.
Before, they wondered about her safety. Now, they wondered about her.
The girl, as young as the day they mysteriously found her in the king’s private garden, merely smiled at their questioning glances and skipped with childish glee through the palace.
Genre: general, angst
On the TV screen, the main character sat in the corner of his room, not even bothering to turn on the lights so he could brood in darkness.
“He needs to stop angsting and just get over it,” her friend said.
She looked down to her friend’s clenched fists on the hospital bed, next to the stumps that used to be his legs.
“Are you saying that to him, or yourself?” she asked.
Her friend looked away, shoulders quivering. Shame rose in her.
“I’m sorry. It’s too early,” she said.
“I’m sorry it happened at all,” he said, voice thick.
On TV, the scene shifted to a light-hearted baking session in a home kitchen.
“It’s ok to ‘angst’. You have the right to react to what has happened to you,” she said.
“No one likes a downer,” he said, still looking away.
“No one likes a bomb either, and that’s what you’ll become if you don’t let yourself grieve.” Her hands tightened into a fist against her thighs. “It’s not fair that you lost your legs saving someone else. Get angry, get upset, complain, cry, just let it out. Give yourself permission to angst.”
Her friend shuddered and he pressed his fists to his mouth to muffle his sobs. Tears prickled at the corner of her eyes as her heart broke for him.
She spoke through the lump in her throat. “Pour yourself out until there’s nothing left to pour out, then you start putting yourself back together again.”
What happened to him wasn’t fair, but this was his new reality, and he needed this space to face his own feelings head on before he could move forward.
The TV continued to play, its content long forgotten as they grieved for what they had lost.
Genre: fantasy, slice of life
I was born with one brown eye and one black one. The brown eye sees things as they are, and although the black one does not always see the things in front of me, it can see much more.
It sees the past.
As cool and convenient this special sight is, it has its drawbacks. The main one is that the past looks indistinguishable from the present.
More than once, I’ve reacted to someone or something, only to find out later that they aren’t actually present with me.
The reverse happens a lot too. I’ve ignored my parents, teachers, shop assistants, cars, pets, bicycles, and list goes on and on. The one thing that separates the past and present for me is that I can’t hear the past, so I try to look for audible cues or unnatural silence, but that isn’t completely foolproof either.
Public transport is tough. Everyone naturally ignores each other and sits quietly in their own carefully guarded personal bubble. It’s pretty much impossible for me to tell for sure if a seat is empty unless I cover my black eye.
Despite my best efforts, I’ve made enough blunders that I’ve gained a reputation as a ditzy airhead who can’t be left alone for her own safety.
“Don’t leave without me. Ok, Eli?” Jenny says.
It’s embarrassing. I, who can find a person who has been missing for decades in the time it takes someone to grab a drink, can’t be trusted by my own friends to go to the restroom on my own.
Oh well, such is life.
She wasn’t good with kids. They were too needy, played too rough, cried too easily, and way too impressionable for their own good. It was hard to relax around them. One mistake, and she could ruin them for life.
“Don’t be silly. You’re great with kids,” her brother and sister-in-law assured her as their son happily ate his jelly beans in front of the TV.
“You only say that because you want me to babysit your kid,” she said.
“Well, yes, but we wouldn’t bother if we didn’t think you could do it,” her sister-in-law said.
“Think of it as practice for when you have your own kids,” her brother said.
“But three months. The longest time I’ve babysit your son is three days,” she reminded them, very quietly, so that her nephew didn’t hear.
“You’ll be fine. Mum and dad are just a phone call away if you need help.” Her brother clapped her shoulder and pulled her into a hug.
“Last chance. Don’t blame me if he picks up any bad habits,” she said.
“Don’t worry. If he can survive us, he can survive you,” her sister-in-law gave her a hug and a pat on the back.
She hung back as her brother and sister-in-law bid their son one last goodbye.
“Be a good boy for Aunty, ok?” her brother said.
“Ok!” her nephew agreed cheerfully.
She stood beside her nephew by the door and waved until her brother and sister-in-law were out of sight.
Then her nephew broke down and cried.
“Do not be afraid of the dead. Fear the living,” her father always said as they made their rounds around the graveyard.
Growing up in a family of graveyard stewards, she certainly felt more comfortable among the dead than the living. The world outside thought the graveyard was filled with spectres of the deceased, but here, the tombstones were just landmarks on narrow streets.
It also made her more reclusive. The living were unpredictable and often suspicious of them, a combination that made them dangerous. Most of the people outside stayed well away from the graveyard unless they had to, but a minority didn’t.
Those were the real threats.
As a(n eventual) graveyard steward, it was her role to protect the graveyard. Not for the dead, who wouldn’t know if their last resting place was destroyed, but the living, who could still be affected by curses and dark magic that used the remains of the dead.
So they made their thankless rounds, looking like spectres themselves in the dim light as they walked among the dead.