While rummaging through his op-ed notes, which he had barely jotted down, as he stood up to leave, Rufus sighed, as his mind or rather what was left of his sanity began to take a plunge into the abyss of what he called ‘the nihilist's cave'. It had been a rough day, as he had been staring at the blank Word document for hours, just waiting for the divine intervention after which he could start summoning his magical word prowess but all to no avail; the only highlight of the day remaining to be that of the scuffle he had with the Executive Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, about his previous article being provocative. Rufus had come out with blazing guns, all pointed towards the Editor, declaring him as a threat to the ‘real' journalism; yes, Rufus was extremely protective of his work, be it good or bad. Anyways, now he was reminiscing and thus, going down a rollercoaster of emotions, with clouds of emptiness and a grief unbeknown surging throughout his heart, making him feel nauseous. He clinched the edge of his desk as hard as he can, such that his hands were soon red as a freshly pluck cherry. His mind gradually filled with doubts: was his work really magical or did he even have a passion for journalism? Amidst the war raging through his mind, he felt like a loser, as simple and as basic as that. ‘Your work is losing its quality, Rufus.' ‘Your articles don't exude that energy anymore.' ‘Don't you think that this career may not be the right choice for the person like you?' Colleagues' rants, boss' remarks, and a part of his own soul were simply breaking him into shards of nothingness, at the moment. The cab that he had booked had left after waiting for half an hour. Yet, here he was, alone in the office, slowly succumbing to despair. He remembered the Sales Manager job, Dad had told him about, just a week ago, when he had asked him for some money to pay the rent, because his writing job at the local newspaper hadn't been paying him much, as he hadn't been able to feature for some weeks now. He thought that maybe he should apply for that job, with a dilapidated state of mind. The prospect of writing down the resignation letter for his current job, soon surfaced up. Putting his op-ed notes back, he switched on his old Dell laptop, which at least took ten minutes to light up. Navigating the cursor, through the tiny alleys, surrounded by app icons, he finally reached his destination: the same blank Word document which he had stared at, the entire day. As he was going to complete the first sentence of his resignation letter, his phone beeped; it was an Instagram notification. A woman named Philly had direct messaged Rufus, while sharing one of his written pieces, which he had uploaded on his blog page. ‘OMG, I am in awe of how beautifully you write!!! TBH, I think you have made my day!' As he read the message, tears swelled up, his mind cleared and remembered his Literature teacher's words, ‘Rufus, People won't necessarily read what you write, let alone like it. So just remember that you just have to write on and on. That's what makes out the best of the writers.' The divine intervention that he'd sought the entire day for writing had finally come; it was simply a two-liner message on Instagram. He couldn't thank Philly more. Whenever he rethinks about resignation, Rufus remembers that day and Philly. It is the smallest of messages which may mean the whole world to anyone.
Rose was born in a frozen land. She knew nothing but winter. To protect her from the cold, her body began covering itself with ice. It kept the small bits of warmth inside, and didn't let them out. Ice covered her skin in layers. Rose couldn't sense what she touched. It felt like her body belonged to someone else, someone cold and numb. Rose traveled through miles of icy lands, reaching out to things that looked warm. Flowers, birds, shiny stones. Rose was putting them into her frozen palms to see if it would warm them up. Bright colors, loud sounds, tasty foods looked warm, but didn't feel like it. Rose walked and walked, far ahead. Dark nights started to intertwine with days. She was in a new land. The snow drifts roze up to the sky and turned into clouds, soft like cotton blankets. The air was warm, yet something inside of Rose stayed cold. She couldn't walk anymore. Her legs collapsed. She layed, eyes closed. Under the eyelids was frosty darkness, deep like the polar night. Rose reached out trying to catch its endlessness in her palms. She begged to be rescued, to be warm. To find out what warmth even feels like. Then she sensed something. Rose opened her eyes. The Sun was looking at her. It was the first time she saw it. As if all the light of the world gathered in one place. Each of the rays embraced Rose. She felt the ice on her skin melting. She cried for the first time in her life. Rose could move again, even dance, like the butterfly that once visited her dreams. She could. But she didn't want to. Even when layers of ice melted, something inside of her stayed cold. As if some part of the winter still lived in her. Rose glanced up, through her tears and said: "Thank you, Sun. I wanted to feel warm and safe. I thought that when I would, all of the dark memories would melt away. I would forget and never feel cold again. But now, I want to keep them, even the painful ones. Maybe, one day I will become my own sun. And I will warm them up. I will shine on this part of me, no one else can reach, and give it love". Rose smiled. From the puddles of melted ices her reflection looked up at her. She had a crown of shiny beams around her head. *** P.S. First time posting. I'm overwhelmed and excited at the same time. Please, share your thoughts about the story! I'm ready for the feedback. And scared of it at the same time ;)
It was a warm Saturday morning in late July 1996. I was 9; almost 10. The birds were chirping in excitement, the morning dew, fresh and still, dripping from the tree leaves. I had been prepped hard for this day. Daily memory “drills”, 6 hours of schoolwork and 2 hours of home tutorials 3 times a week, learning new words and watching for current affairs updates from the local TV news. Like an athlete, I was primed, ripped and ready for this day. No stone was left unturned. My teachers rated me so highly, my parents never expected any less. I had progressed quickly through the 1st chain link of the famous 6-3-3-4 National educational system, with a “double promotion” in Class 4. Time was a blur. I kept outdoing myself, excelling in my grades and beating the competition. The National Common Entrance examination that year had been a great success, I was the best in my examination center, though one of the youngest candidates. I scored 503/600, if I re-collect. I was sure to get admitted into both Federal high schools selected. However, I wanted a lot more. Parents/Guardians were told to drop off their kids/wards at the school gate, so I parted from my mum with last minute pep-talks, prayers and "pocket money" (the favorite part). With the accreditation and registration processes completed, I was allotted a classroom and seat number. The exams started right on time. The first part – Mathematics & Quantitative Reasoning - was a landslide victory – I crunch numbers in my sleep. I needed the Part B of the exam to go just as well – English Language, Current Affairs & Verbal Reasoning. I knew the pass mark needed to secure a place at the International School, University of Lagos, one of the most prestigious high schools in Nigeria. The Part B section started after the lunch break. It was all going well till I hit a roadblock. There was an essay question, which read, "write an essay, about 150 words on 'Nigeria of my Dreams' ". I read the question again. I read it a third time. “This must be a mistake”, I thought. It didn't sound right to me. I looked around the hall, with my naive, pearly eyes. No other candidate seemed bothered. The room roared on in the ambience of a properly invigilated exam. I felt I was in trouble. How was I supposed to react? Where do I start? Do I have to fall sleep to come up with this dream? Don't we all only dream at night while we sleep? What if the heavens refuse to give me this dream within the required time frame? How do I select a specific dream, dream that dream, wake up and write about it? Would I wake up on time? I just had about 2 hours to write this exam section. I gazed at this problem statement, flipped, twitched and steered. Finally, my guardian angel whispered in my ears. “Leave this section, write the other sections and come back here”. I scrambled through the other exam sections, filled and shaded answers as the clock ticked away. Just as I finished and moved to get back to the essay question, I heard those 2 magic words, “Pens Up”. I felt it was all over. I had let myself and many people down. What would I tell my parents? How do I explain that we were asked to dream and write about it, and I couldn't do either? How could this be happening to me? “My teachers must have left this out; they did not teach me”. That was my conclusion, with my tail firmly tucked between my legs, as I walked towards the school main gate. I squinted from a distance to see if my mother was there waiting. I knew she would ask how I fared and would try to assess my body language. I had learnt not to lie to her pretty early, I wasn't taking a chance this time. I only managed to get a few in till I flew out of her nest to build mine. I happily told her that Part A went well. She knew my capabilities, no surprises here, smiles all round. Then to the bad news, Part B. I told her what happened. She listened intently, laughed and told me what was expected by the examiners. The scales instantly fell off my eyes. How was I supposed to know? I wish they framed it clearer. Could I possibly go back and fill this section? Of course, only in my dreams. I was consoled with an ice cream cone and we drove back home. My father laughed and sympathized with me but was confident I would make the pass list. The next few weeks were a nervous wait, a heavy weight. The hours and days gently strolled by. I could not bear the thoughts of failing an entrance examination into a prestigious school. My mother had left her senior teaching position at a State Secondary school and took a few steps down the career ladder to accept a teaching role at this school, just to ensure that my father only paid discounted school fees for my siblings and I. How could I let her down? How could I let us down? Finally, the news broke. I passed the exams, went on to pass the interviews and was admitted into ISL, UNILAG. I was overjoyed and relieved that I had kept my own side of the bargain. My younger siblings also made the cut in their times.
Culpa Believe nothing you hear and only one half that you see. E. A. Poe I woke up early as usual. My morning routine doesn't hold much: get dressed, wash my face, a cup of tea and I'm ready to go. Half a year had passed after my wife's death. For the past six months, I have been taking antidepressants as my doctor had been suggesting. Don't get me wrong. I was not going to kill myself or anything; I just needed some help, that's all. Thankfully, after half a year of belly full of pills, I was finally feeling better. The morning that day was outstandingly serene, almost too much and I remember thinking to myself that no other morning could be so suitable for working on the illustrations for a new book, called "Reflection: mind and soul". Yeah, I know, cringey as hell, but at least this job was putting food on my table, and that was all, that mattered. Besides, illustrating books was the only thing I was doing ok. Soon after I finished my tea, I gathered all my stuff and was ready to leave for the office. But the story is not about my work at all. The story is about a weirdo who would constantly follow me. I first noticed him in the subway. He was sitting right in front of me looking at me hardly ever blinking. I remember thinking then "what a weird look you have buddy, looks like someone's got a problem with the bottle, eh?" I mean he looked like a sot from an old Irish novel. And it wasn't because of the way he looked, no, not at all. It was his eyes, his wrinkled face, and the air of sorrow he had about him. I almost felt sorry for him, but it was my stop and I had to go. I would be sorry for him from the impression I had of him, but the things changed completely when I saw him in the office. Yes, right where I work. I came and sat at my desk and there he was, watching me, still with the same stare. I pretended as if I took no notice of him, turned on the screen of my computer, and started my work. The day went by pretty well. I did a lot of good work and was pleased with how it all turned out. However, my joy didn't last for long. Guess what. That weirdo was still following me in the subway on my way back home. And that goddamn moron couldn't think of anything better than to just come and sit in front of me again. The light was flickering and in the rapid succession of light and dark, his face seemed all distorted and surreal. This unnerved me and I started panicking, so when I was passing the jewelry store near my house I decided to stop and pretend as if I was looking at something in the show-case but in the meantime try and see if he was still following me. He was. Moreover, he was close. I was genuinely frightened and so I ran. I ran until I reached the front door of my house. Glancing over my shoulder, I was trying to find the keys in my pocket. And so, when I finally did, I got into the house, locked the door and... And I was petrified by what I saw. There he was again, right in my anteroom. He was silent, but this time there was terror in his eyes. He was breathing heavily, I thought he must have run after me, but even then, I couldn't understand how he could get into the house before me. I broke the silence, "Why are you following me?" cried I almost out of my breath. He was silent, was looking at me with tearing eyes full of horror. "What do you want from me?" cried I. He stood silently there for a moment and then whispered "Lisa". I shuddered as if a cold autumn breeze rushed through the hallway touching my face... Just like her fingers. I came to myself and cried, "What do you even know about her?" even louder bursting out of tears. "You don't know anything about her. I... I was beside her when she was going through it all, I was trying to be there for her, not you." I felt as if drowning but went on crying "You, you sick bastard, you were leaving her there in her sad and terrible hospital room and coming here... you were drinking all night, hoping it would help her. Did it, I am asking you, did it? Tell me, why don't u say anything?" I couldn't shout anymore and my voice was reduced to rattling sounds "You did that, you let her die alone." I thought I would drown in my tears but then I looked at him again. He was all in tears and was looking at me desperately. I felt the hate rise in me, burning like a fire that no number of tears could put out. I hated him so much, and so I couldn't help myself. I leaped close to him and punched him straight into his face. A loud noise almost deafened me. I fell on the floor not being able to control myself. The next morning, I woke up not as usual. I found myself lying on the floor with dried blood on my hands and amidst the shards of a broken mirror.
you can see the smile on her face as she laughs, as you tell a joke she says it alright and she is glad she got to spend the day with you she kisses your cheek softly brushing her hands over yours she tells you her dreams her always to be in your arms and you smile saying she is the one, you wait till she is inside bumping your fist to the air you smile waiting for the light to turn on and then you drive off but you don't, hear her soft whisper asking you not to leave asking you to take her away you dont see the bruises she tries to cover, you don't hear the sobbing as she says she loves you, you don't hear the shouting as she enters cause you are so married in happiness and when you wake the next morning you see that message, \\"she is dead.\\" refusing to believe you run to her house without catching your breathe and at that minute you know it true she is gone and you can only wish you listened more.\n