Weeks #46&47: The Portal

He hadn’t seen anything like it in his 20 years of teaching. The class inventor had outdone himself again. With his exceptional knowledge of time and space continuum, the student had managed to create a time travelling medium. One simply had to sprinkle a special solution on a printed photograph. The photo acted as a portal – anyone could transport to the time and date the photo was taken, but the person could only stay for 30 minutes in that point of history.

His sister wanted to try the time portal out. “There’s someone I wish to spend 30 minutes with,” she explained.

“Pacifico said it’s still in its testing stages, sis.”

“Pacifico is a genius. I know the thing works.”

They sprinkled the boy’s solution over a photo she printed from files she kept in her old Nokia N73. “Are you ready?”

“Ready.”

Pale laboratory walls vanished and the girl found herself surrounded by rose bushes and butterflies. The air was cool, just as it was in the north. She was exactly where the photograph was taken. At a garden in Cameron Highlands.

There she was. Stuck in a pose, smiling. The woman was wearing sunglasses. She wouldn’t know if the smile ever reached her eyes. “Teh?”

“Oh hey! Are you enjoying the trip so far?”

“Yeah. I’m taking lots of pictures.”

“Take some more! Here, I’ll take one of you.”

She wanted to tell her so many things but she just stood there and smiled at her mentor. Gosh, she missed here.

“Take a photo of me eating the grass!”

“What??? If you say so, teh.”

30 minutes. That’s all she had. It was a good five years between the present and the date in that photo. She decided to just live in it and not make any changes, lest the fluttering of the butterfly wings bring great storms in the years ahead.

“Sis, are you okay?”

It was over. The teacher looked at his sister and saw that the corners of her eyes were more than a little moist.

“I’m okay. Tell Pacifico I said ‘thanks'”.

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Weeks #44&45: Four Times a Matchmaker

LTTF Elevator. Capacity: 10 people. Current occupants: 9. One hipster joe in a flannel tee, two newbie corporate janes, one big shot ceo on his cell, a shy wallflower blending in with the elevator walls, two hunky swimmers fresh from a chlorine bath, a petite lady fiddling with her iPhone 6, and me, the resident lady in black. There’s space for one more, but the swimmers’ gym bags keep anyone else from squeezing in.

The elevator goes down. Down. Down. And down. From level 143 to the lower ground floor. No one presses any other buttons in between.

Level 127. Hipster Joe and Corporate Jane 1 seem to be making eyes at each other. Hmm. Interesting. What happens if I give the two a little nudge?

Level 101. Corporate Jane 2 seems bummed that her bestie has left her for some man. She tries to discreetly glance around. Aha. Swimmer Dude 1. He looks interested. A slight push, maybe?

Level 83. Mr. CEO has finally let go of his phone. Ms. iPhone 6 has used up all her batteries. Good. Disconnect to connect, they say.

Level 59. Swimmer Dude 2 has been sneaking glances at Ms. Wallflower for quite some time. There’s a word for that in my language. Torpe. Come on, bro. Just talk to her already.

Level 40. 31. 25. Ahh, love is in the air. The pairs are making small talk inside the claustrophobia-inducing space. I hope you get each others’ numbers. We’ll reach LG soon.

The door finally opens. The couples throw furtive smiles at one another. I hustle, pushing my way out. There he is.

“Hey, love. Guess what happened just now? I was four times a matchmaker. Pretty cool, huh?”

He gives me a peck on the cheek and adds in a wink. “Pretty cool.”

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Weeks #13-15: The One That Got Away

13. Dialogue: “Do you think he crashed the car on purpose?”
14. Scenario: You’ve been ordered to kill someone you’ve fallen in love with. How did you get into this situation and what will you do next?
15. Title: The One That Got Away

“Do you think he crashed the car on purpose?”

“I doubt it. They were both pretty drunk, I’m told.”

“But what about the drinking? I didn’t know he was a drinker. I could have sworn he’s more responsible than that.”

“Just because he drinks a little doesn’t automatically mean he’s an irresponsible guy.”

“Oh sure. But when he’s the designated driver?”

“You’ve got a point.”

“Maybe his drink was spiked.”

“Oh come on.”

“You can’t rule it out as a possibility!”

“Fine. Let’s say someone did pour some vodka into his soda.”

“Yeah! Someone who knew he’d be driving on an unsafe road that night!”

“Why would anyone do that?”

“We don’t know what other people’s motives are!”

“…”

“Too bad, though. The girl was really nice. Really pretty, too.”

“So those are the words that sum her life up, huh. ‘Really nice’ and ‘really pretty, too’.”

“I don’t mean to be disrespectful… I just, didn’t really know her in person, you know?”

“She was an amazing person.”

“Oh.”

“…”

“You knew her well?”

“Very well.”

“You must be crushed, then.”

“We are all crushed.”

“You’re taking their death very well.”

“You just think I am.”

“Oh. I see. I’m sorry.”

“I am, too.”

Weeks #11&12: The Horse

11. Subject: Write about a phobia.
12. First Line: The horse came back alone

The horse came back alone. He wasn’t supposed to. Where was the carriage? Where were the passengers? Where was the horseman, the guy they assured me was the best in the land?

His deep black eyes were flooded with terror. His gait was unsure and he trembled when I tried to touch his mane in an effort to calm him down.

“What happened, boy?”

A whiny. Well of course he’ll never put all that he had seen into human words. I pulled myself up the saddle. “Giddy up! Take me to where you had them last.”

He didn’t want to budge. Of course he didn’t. But I needed to know.

I needed to know what happened. I needed to know if they were safe. If they weren’t, I needed to go over there and rescue them.

“Giddy up, boy!”

This time, though still panic-stricken and hesitant, he started to gallop and head west.

100 Words Reject

3:30. My date is late. Where is he, I wonder. I look around the cafe, hoping to find distraction in the browns and greens, but, every few seconds, my eyes still flicker over to my tablet’s screen. I push the gadget away after setting the ringer’s settings to loud. A couple is taking selfies three seats away. Behind them, a pair is snogging unapologetically. Meanwhile, these lovers next to me are scrolling through their phones’ respective feeds. Kids these days. Finally, my tablet rings and his apologetic face fills the display. “You’re late, love. Anyway. Waiter, one cappuccino, please.”

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Mr. Responsible

He needed to slow down. He was almost running on empty. Too many thoughts tumbled in and out of his mind. Thoughts about the bills. Thoughts about new houses with out-rented parking bays. Thoughts about mattress cleaning; sofa cleaning. Thoughts about broken bed frames and two-month-old cucumbers left rotting inside bacteria-infested refrigerators.

He needed a break. He needed to get away.

But if he did – if he let go, took an AWOL, who on earth would stay behind and make sure that all the expenses were paid?

Maybe he just needed to fill his gas tank up once more.

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Defying Gravity

We were flying above a sea of clouds. Had they always been that fluffy? I’m not sure if I really noticed or cared before.

I was staring at the window, trying to keep tears from spilling out of my tired eyes. I had been travelling since two o’clock that morning. The plane was scheduled to make touch down that afternoon at half past five.

I should be used to lengthy and lonely flights. And, even more, I should be used to all those pathetic goodbyes.

“Defying Gravity” from Wicked and Glee serenaded us as we prepared for landing. How fitting. That was my theme song when I struggled with the same unwanted farewells four years back.

As we hit the runway, I started to sing along beneath my breath.

“It’s time to try defying gravity. I think I’ll try defying gravity. Kiss me goodbye, I’m defying gravity. And you won’t bring me down.”

The plane came to a halt and a single tear cascaded down my eye.