These entries from August's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "August Writing Challenge."
Quietly sipping my coffee I observe.
Dripping, pouring it comes down in sheets against our clear barrier, contrasting the warmth of the cafe.
The hopeful woman with the makeup, alternating between the clock and the door all too longingly.
A boy with a dream that’s just out of reach, a guitar and a sigh that breaks your heart.
Her glasses buried in a book with the hair pulled into a hair-tie because she wants nothing but to escape reality.
Melting ice cream for dessert sits wanted but untouched by the waiting woman.
Dripping, pouring it comes down in sheets against our clear barrier, making the cafe cold.
she looked back at the girl in the mirror, dazed. she had set her soul on fire and she had watched it burn. movies and chinese take-out, couches and skin, broken glasses and laughable moments, bowls of cereal and milk and countertops and underwear and boxers and 2 am. he had set her heart on fire and he had watched it burn. for then the world was an irresistible playground, an open-ended sunrise, an unwritten book. how quickly the world turned to a fading sunset, a sinking compass, an uncatchable train, a land filled with bitter hate and ice. the fire in her heart was replaced with frost. she was once warm and blazing, she is now chilled and lost. he had set her world on fire, and now they both watched it burn.
When I was a child, someone asked me what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I started naming all my facial features, like my nose, my eyes, etc. But, now I don’t know what I see. Who I see. Everything was so simple back then. A drop of rain that touched our skin left us in an entanglement of giggles. Now it’s an annoyance that keeps us from going on with our day. School was a place where we went to play, not knowing that we were actually learning something. Today, it’s a hallway filled with crushed dreams that people have stomped to smithereens. There was a time where laughing and crying were the only two things we knew how to express. As time went by, it formed something emptier, an in-between perhaps. A sigh. The fire in our eyes crackled when we were young. Now it’s nothing but a pile of ashes and scars that accumulated over time. So, as I sit here, listening to the soft sounds of the guitar, I wonder what made life so irresistible back then. Was it because we weren’t capable of feeling emotional pain yet? Or maybe it’s because when the camera went ‘click,’ we were allowed to make silly faces. It’s funny how you wish to grow up fast, but when you do, everything slows down. Every good dream you have is an escape rather than ‘just a good dream.’ Every train you catch to work consists of you thinking how tired you are rather than basking in the excitement of actually getting to ride a train. Every sunset you watch is savored and cherished, no matter how similar it is to the last one you watched. Back then, the only bully was the clap of thunder that shook the house. Now, there are bullies everywhere you look. So who do I see now? What do I see now? I see a world of people who have forgotten the meaning of being alive. I see the happiness slowly starting to flicker and die out. I see emptiness.
Loss and Chaos
How does a pack of wolves feel when they lose the head of their pack? Lost, agitated, wretched.
That is how I feel, drowning in a dark ocean where no light pierces through because I just lost the light of my dark, the brightest star in our constellation.
Suraya typed her train of thoughts into her typewriter, more like punched in the keys as if in rebellion with the balance of nature. Her coffee sat beside her, all cold and untouched. She did not feel like gulping it down for now the bitter poison that life is temporary was flowing down her throat and intoxicating her system. The fire of hope that used to rush through her veins had extinguished completely by now. She knew life was vicious and unfair, that all troubles would eventually be resolved, she had that much hope. But now, all those springs of hope had dried up since her largest speck of inspiration, of hope, was gone. Life was cold in many ways but one, yet the anguish accompanying the death of a dear one was suffocating.
It was well after sunset by now; the clouds were also aggrieved as soft rain pounded down at Suraya’s window. She knew this was the hardest time of her life. A time when everything was meaningless, all other emotions hollow. Happiness is an illusion, she further typed, but grief never falters in its ambition of melting peoples’ hearts into candle wax; they remain solid, they still beat but each beat pounds aimlessly.
Suraya let out an audible sigh, wishing the death of her brother, so young, so healthy was just another bad dream. She wished she could just pinch herself awake into a world of bliss and peace. The fog of unbelievability clogging her mind had still not cleared, even though it was the early morning which brought this dread and devastation. This chaos of blues.
The clock counting all those seconds that had flown by since her brother’s demise by a sudden and quick heart attack didn’t ease the pain. Passing time couldn’t do that because, in a flicker, it was itself useless. Amid the sobs and wails, all time was lost.
They say time is the best healer, but Suraya never wanted to be healed. She wanted to envelope in this darkness of mourning to preserve his memories. No matter how dreadful it was, it was still comfortable to be cloaked in this grief of remembrance. Even if time worked its magic, it would never be able to comprehend the depth of this wound, let alone fill it. If somehow, superficially, it did, then it would leave scars, bloody scars on her soul which she’d cherish all her life because she didn’t want to forget that humble face, that angel’s smile on his lips, and the way he was a winner of hearts, a ruler of the kingdom of inspiration.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bully.
My friends and I just get carried away sometimes. That’s not bullying, right?
It started with just nicking his precious book. Then we smashed his camera. Before I knew it we were taking frogs from the lab to put in his locker and beating him till he was begging for mercy after school.
His name was Bailey. He was quiet, conscientious and smart. Really smart. Top of the class for literally everything; it was annoying, but what was more annoying was the way girls kept talking about him like he was irresistible.
He had thick blonde hair, almond-shaped brown eyes, and a tiny splattering of pale freckles around his nose. I had never before seen someone with such fair hair but such dark eyes — eyes that could swallow you whole. I had also never seen a guy who looked so feminine. If you looked him in the face and ignored the rest of him, you would think it was a girl — a really pretty girl too.
I’m not going to lie; I would never get tired of looking at him.
But my friend Paul who has been my friend for years decided all these things about him, made him a freak. So, the first instance was when he was walking down the corridor, with his head in The Catcher in the Rye — a book he must have read ten times. He had his reading glasses on — rectangular ones with thick, black frames.
Paul nudged me with his elbow. “Check out this dork.” He murmured quietly but still loud enough for him to hear and bring his chocolate-button eyes up to look at us.
“Hey! What are you looking at?” Paul began, and I, surprising myself, glowered at him too.
“Nothing,” he muttered, walking faster, but we formed a solid wall with our friend Ray. Bailey was pretty tall but still an inch or so smaller than Paul and twice as skinny. His expression was serious but hopeful, like he was begging with his eyes for us to leave him alone. I turned to Paul, whose expression was laughable, but I didn’t dare laugh, not even smirk. I had seen his bad side.
“I don’t appreciate people checking me out,” Paul deadpanned, looking Bailey up and down in a threateningly obvious way.
“Not even girls?” Bailey replied with a little smirk.
“Oi!” Paul grabbed his pristine blazer that hung loosely on his toned frame and shoved him against the nearby locker, causing a group of juniors to squeal with excitement and fear.
“What?” Paul asked him.
“I wasn’t checking you out,” Bailey said, blood rushing to his face, which was usually the colour of honey.
Then, Paul dropped him, grabbed his book, and tossed it to me. He then watched me with pointed eyes, so I ripped the cover page. Bailey let out some air, which he must have sucked in when pinned against the wall. I could tell I tore more than just a book. My stomach churned.
The time it got worse was after school. We were smoking joints just outside of the premises, and he came sauntering along with a girl — a rather hot one with the best hourglass figure you’ve ever seen — who I assumed to be his friend. They were laughing. Ray, this time, began the confrontation. I don’t remember the names they called him particularly, and I don’t think it matters. They were enough for him to look uncomfortable, frightened, and hurt as well as really embarrassed. I began to think that this girl was more than a friend. Then they began pounding on him, causing the girl to scream and him to fall down. She yelled at us, but before I knew it, Paul had pushed her away and I was joining in.
It continued for a rather long time — the attacking. Every day, it was the same. We even began to follow him as he tried other routes.
One day, I broke off from the group at lunch and headed to the toilets. He was there. He had rested his hands on the sink, using his arms to hold himself up as he stared at himself in the mirror. Tears streamed down his face like his eyes were dissolving. He gasped between tears as the crying was obviously taking his breath away. It was the kind of crying which means you are desperate and scared, and I wanted to hug him more than I have ever wanted to hug someone in my life — a desire which freaked me out. How could someone make you feel like this? Like there is a rope pulling on your heart. He spotted me, and his face began to become redder with embarrassment and fear.
“Please,” he started, to my surprise, “not today, not now, please.” He used his hand to brush some tears away and began to walk out, but I stopped him.
“Are you okay?” I asked. I wonder what he hated more, his own face reflected in the mirror or my face. He looked confused.
“The others aren’t here,” I added. He looked at me with darting eyes for a prolonged moment.
“I’m fine, please leave me alone.”
“You’re obviously not.”
“I am,” he spat in anger. Anger didn’t suit the beauty of his face. I wonder if it suited mine. He then pushed past me and left.
I found out today that he killed himself. Took a whole packet of pills and downed them, then took a knife and slit his vein — just to be certain that they couldn’t save him. I also just found out that. on the morning of that day in the toilets, his sister had died of cancer that she had been suffering with for the whole year — all that time we had been picking on him.
But it wasn’t us was it? That killed him?
It wasn’t my fault. Right?