Her hair waved around her as she floated in the water. She watched the dark tendrils, letting them distract her so she could last just a little longer without fresh air.
Someone said something above the water. Water garbled the words out of recognition but she still recognised the voice that said them. She should go up, but she still had some air in her.
She looked at her brother, who looked back. He pointed up to the surface, then showed three fingers. She nodded.
Three. Two. One.
They surfaced at the same time and gulped their first breath in awhile. Beside the pool, their father set a tray of food on the table. The savoury smell cut through the chlorine and made her mouth water.
Her brother dove like an eel into the water. She chose to keep her nose above the water and doggy paddled her way towards the delightful smell.
They could continue their competition after they fuelled up.
Genre: 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.
The best thing about the past is that it’s reliably unchanging. The worst thing about the past is that it’s tragically unchanging.
Growing up, I watched my neighbourhood like episodes in a long running drama series. I watched birthdays, movie nights, backyard games, and bed time stories.
I also watched breakups, angry silences, bullying behind doors, and final goodbyes.
I have watched the lifetime of strangers, good and bad. I have watched decisions stacked upon decisions and their spiralling consequences push people down the inevitable path. I have watched enemies become friends and family become strangers.
The lives I always end up returning to belong to a pair of cheerful fraternal twins who lived in the house across mine many years ago. The two siblings began life like one soul in two bodies, only to slowly drift apart over the years due to a multitude of misunderstood intentions, thoughtless actions, and nursed hurts. They both ended up moving as far away as possible from each other to live identically bitter lives until they both passed away from the same disease.
How tragic, I muse as I watch the familiar scene once more. My next thought is a familiar continuation, If only.
If only they had talked things out that night.
If only they would swallow their pride and apologize.
If only they had turned left instead of right.
No matter how many ‘if only’s cross my mind, nothing changes, because the past is the past. Irreversibly unchangeable. I can only take the lessons I’ve learnt watching the past to shape my present.
Genre: slice of life, family
His sister was the most venturesome person he knew. She always looked out for new locations, unique flavour combinations, limited time events and more.
His sister was the most fearful person he knew. She kept her bag packed with emergency supplies, first aid essentials, and even spare clothing.
“You never know what will happen,” she would say when asked, right before doing something crazy like throwing herself off a cliff into a lake below.
The contradiction made his sister a great travelling companion. She had a knack for finding the obscure and interesting in every area, and he could follow along without fear knowing that his sister had already prepared for all kinds of disasters. The only price he had to pay was following his sister’s punishing pace.
“This way!” his sister said as he was still gaping at the mind blowing bioluminescent underground waterfall, the fifth hidden gem they had found that morning.
“Right behind you.” He snapped a hasty picture and jogged after his sister to the next grand sight.
There’s a dragon on my homework.
The tiny lizard nuzzles my book, but otherwise does not look like it wants to set my homework on fire.
I don’t know if I should be relieved or disappointed about this.
Anyway, dragons are rare. Baby dragons even more so, and this has to be a baby dragon to be able to fit on my desk.
I cautiously approach the dragon, trying to look as non-threatening as possible. If the dragon is willing to enter my room, perhaps it – I note the non-branching horns – she won’t mind becoming my familiar.
The dragon merely looks at my hand, which I take as an encouraging sign. Here goes nothing. I touch her head.
Someone giggles outside my door, and I realise too late what the dragon actually is.
An illusion created by my mischievous little brother.
Well, if he wants to use his hard-learnt, world changing skills to play a trick on his precious family, so can I.
I slump in disappointment and use the movement to hide my own spell. In my disappointment, I pull my drawer open to bring out a container of delicious looking cookies and put them on my desk. But…
“Hmm. Need milk,” I say aloud and rise to my feet, giving my little brother ample time to scamper out of sight.
As expected, once I am out of the way, my little brother sneaks into my room straight for the cookies. He curls his fingers around my cookies… and can’t pull them out. He has fallen into my sticky trap!
“Ah hah!” I jump back into my room. “I knew it was you.”
I close the distance between us in a few strides and loom over him.
With both hands stuck to my cookie trap, my little brother can only squirm as I tickle him mercilessly.
“Will you play tricks on me again?” I pause just long enough to ask.
I tickle him once more.
“Will you play tricks on my again?” I repeat.
As I continue to tickle him into submission, a part of me keeps an eye on his breathing while the other part tries to figure out how I can stop without breaking character. Fortunately, my brother gives up first, and it is a relief to release him from his torture.
“So what did we learn today?” I prompt him.
“That I make good dragons,” my little brother says with a proud smile.
“Ok, I’ll give you that. And?”
“Don’t eat your cookies because it’s a TRAP!” He bolts out the room in the blink of an eye.
I shake my head and sigh in exasperation.
That cheeky kid.
Genre: fantasy, family
Check out the related fic The Sleeping Dragon on My Homework.
Genre: slice of life, family
“I mean, some days I can write pages and pages and pages in one sitting, but today’s not that day. It took me the whole morning to write two lines. Two lines. That’s nothing,” the writer complained.
The composer just grunted and tried to tune the noise out.
“Do you know how bad that is? Terrible. Disastrous. Catastrophic.”
“Go out for a walk.”
“Tried that. Only got half a page’s material at most. I’m supposed to have a novella ready in two weeks!”
“Stand on your head.”
“I’ll only get a headache from that.”
“Go bother someone else.”
The writer gasped dramatically. “You’ll throw a struggling creative out when she needs you most? Your own sister.”
The composer had enough. He hauled the writer to her feet and turned her to the door.
“I have a symphony due next week that’s worth half my grade. Nothing and no one is allowed to bother my until I’m done. Good day.”
The door slammed shut.
The writer’s eyes lit up.
“I’ve got it!”
The writer rushed off to chase her new plot bunny.
Genre: fantasy, family
The drug had a plethora of side effects. Chronic fatigue, a constant low grade fever, an increased tendency for nosebleeds, reduced reaction time, and the list went on. It was uncomfortable and dangerous with no guarantee of success, but it was the best odds they’d had since the parasite latched on to her brother.
“This drug will kill you,” the parasite said as the feverish boy shifted restlessly on the bed.
“So will you, and between the you and the drug, we’ll take our chances with the drug,” she said with more bravado than she actually had.
“He won’t just be fighting the drug. I’ll fight him the whole way. Will you really risk your bother’s life to get rid of little old me?”
Her fingers tightened around his clammy hands. “He’s stronger than you think. The drug’s just giving him the boost he needs to kick you out for good.”
The rest of their group hovered around the bed, shooting down everything the parasite said to try and save itself while supporting her brother in any way they could. She sat vigil by her brother’s side, hands clasped tightly around her brother’s as if she could give her strength to her little brother if she tried hard enough.
Finally, finally, the parasite succumbed to the drug. While they could only watch before, now they rushed in to save her brother. Half a year later and more than two years after the parasite infected their youngest member, the nightmare was finally over. Her brother recovered his strength, and for the first time in a long time, the two siblings walked side by side along their favourite river.
“So, what did we learn from this?” she asked.
“If a weird parasite tries to take over my big sis again, I should block it.”
“The right answer is to ‘run away’.”
“You try running away when you only have one second to react. I should get a reward for fastest reaction of the year. It was this close to you.” Her brother pinched his thumb and forefinger together in emphasis. “Anyway, everything turned out alright so there’s no need to get so worked up.”
She looked at the cane her younger brother still needed, at the tremors that shook the once-steady hands, and the pouch they both wore containing medication to deal with the many lingering side effects of the drug. Her brother shrugged.
“I’ll get better. And if you really love me, you’ll get those rambutans for me because I’m not allowed to climb trees while I recuperate from saving your life.”
She released a huff that was equal parts amused and relieved. That her brother was interested in food again was another good sign on his long road to complete recovery.
“Yes, boss. Fresh rambutans coming right up.”
The woman launched a table at the man. The man ducked under the table so it flew over him to smash into the wall.
“Hey, calm down. Don’t fight,” a passerby cut in.
The two of them looked at the passerby.
“We’re not fighting,” the man said.
“The whole street will know if we’re fighting. This. This is just… a harmless sibling squabble,” the woman said.
Some people eyed the carnage around them and took a cautious step back. The regulars continued with their coffee. Someone from the outside walked in, stopped, and walked right out.
“You sure?” the same passerby asked.
“100%. Don’t worry about us. We’ll fix things up after we’re done. Right boss lady?”
The cafe owner just waved the passerby over to the counter. “They do this all the time. The regulars come here to watch the show. Just stay out of the way and you’ll be fine. What’s your order?”
Still with an eye on the siblings, the passerby said, “Mocha.”
“Have a complimentary cookie and please wait over there in the safe zone while your coffee is made. Have a lovely day.”
A tray of plates shattered. Half the shop merely watched as they enjoyed the meal.
What an usual place.
They funnelled the whole vat of liquid into the tiny bottle. An undeniably magical bottle because that was a lot of stuff going in there with no problems. Plus it still weighed practically nothing afterwards.
“Magic,” she argued.
“Technology,” her brother shot back.
As one, they turned to their uncle. “Which is it?”
“Doesn’t matter.” He pocketed the bottle. “As long as it works.”
She shared a look with her brother.
Their uncle sighed.
Follows after Dormant Thunderstorm.
Today, she was interested in one thing and one thing only.
Getting her powers back.
When she was younger, she had the power to create thunderstorms. Unfortunately, it was too much for her to handle, and it was locked away for everyone’s safety.
Now she was moving out alone for college, and a little thunderstorm was a great way to deter anyone from trying anything funny with her.
They tried throwing her into danger, tasers, other supers, creepy crawlies. Nothing would pull her power out of dormancy.
“Calm down.” A hand landed on her head and ruffled her hair.
A tiny bolt of lightning zapped her brother’s hand.
“Ow! Hey. You got it!”
More electricity sizzled in the air.
“Don’t touch my hair again.”
“Ok. Ok. Just calm down.”
The air lightened. So did the tension that had gathered in her over the day. She smiled.
“I like this.”
“Of course you would,” her brother grumbled.
“Are we there yet?” his sister trudged reluctantly behind him.
“Any time now.” He scanned the horizon. If he remembered right, it was on the left.
“Are you sure it even exists?”
He shook his head. “Oh ye of little faith.”
“I don’t even know what ‘it’ is,” she complained.
“‘It’ is magic and sparkles and dreams. I just need to find a shimmer.”
“That’s just the heat in the air. It’s normal for deserts.”
“I’m 100% sure I saw it. Just follow me.”
Hours later, the air remained frustratingly shimmer-free, and he admitted defeat.
Behind them, to the right, the air shimmered.