She was abruptly awakened from a rare sleep by what sounded like a crash under her bed. She hid under the covers, which provided a warm, protected feeling, as she froze in fear. She was still curious as to what caused such a bang despite the intense fear coursing through her. It didn't help that she'd been having terrible nightmares lately about monsters under her bed. Childish, she realised. She felt a bolt of courage strike through her like a flurry of lightning, and she nudged her covers—her safety—away and set her feet on the chilly wooden floor. Her double bed was spacious enough for people to sleep underneath it; a large monster could easily do the same. She quickly ducked and peered under the bed after taking a deep breath. She backed away, breathing deeply, sliding under her duvet covers. She shook and shivered under the sheets. Meredith whimpered as her mother flicked the light switch; darkness consuming the room. Meredith turned her head to see a shadow when a large hand grabbed her mouth. No one will hear you scream, and nobody can help you right now, a muffled cry rang out throughout the spotless space. It resembled a hospital ward the most. Her knees were hit in the back by a chair. Under the large hand, she barricaded her teeth in an effort to free herself from their hold. When Meredith unintentionally fell into it, it laughed menacingly. She made no attempt to stand because she knew she would lose this battle. She was thrown to the ground, her eyes welling up with tears. Finally, with fists raised, the shadow moved to step into the light. Meredith woke up with a yelp and a jump. The worst part was probably that. To her mother, Meredith exclaimed. "The dream always comes to an abrupt end!" Meredith became irritated with her mother's lack of interest and stormed back to her bedroom as she simply nodded and busied herself around the office. She sighed as she sat on the bed. The monster's laughter. She is positive that she just heard it next to her. She clenched her hair in agony and cried, "I'm not crazy, am I? She mumbled. It responded, "certainly not," as a giggle broke out. Meredith spun around in surprise to find nothing there. Even as months passed, Meredith's "insanity" only grew worse. She even missed weeks of school because it was so frustrating. Her mother expressed surprise and even concern. Meredith murmured to herself as she held her dry lips in front of her coffee mug. She sighed as the mug became empty. Her head shook and her eyes fluttered shut, disrupting her sleep. The TV's glowing light illuminated the tiny space as she fumbled with her fingers and nibbled at the couch. Meredith slipped into a deep sleep and a nightmare in less than a minute. Meredith was bound to a chair by a rope around her back and her legs were fastened to the chair's feet. The thing said with amusement, "You're back." Meredith's lips quivered with a sob. “don't …. I beg you not to hurt me. Meredith pushed herself further into the back of the seat as the monster began to claw her. Her abdomen was freed when the monster's claws tore the ropes holding her body together. In the light next to her, a knife shone. She picked up the blade after covertly lowering her hand. The monster was preoccupied looking in the opposite direction, muttering quietly to themselves. She slowly pushed the knife against the monsters back, the tip slightly grazing their clothing. A whimper escaped the monster's mouth, “don't please don't.. Hurt me” it sounded like herself, she thought. Meredith had had enough with this madness and insanity. Although she has never considered herself to be a murderer, this situation could influence anyone. The monster's knees were thrown to the ground when she kicked the backs of them. She turned the monster over so that, but for the darkness of the space, she could see the monster's face. Meredith inserted the knife into their chest because it was too dark for her to see anything other than the outline of the body. The monster's muscles tightened around the blade, making it difficult for her to pull the knife out again. She kept slicing and stabbing the body. The stomach, legs, face, chest, and throat were completely dismembered. As she stood over the lifeless body below her, Meredith trembled in terror. The shaky breathing had stopped, and the squelching of the blade being pressed through her skin had also stopped. She gasped and woke up only to witness the end of her own life. She lay motionless, nearly dead, with a knife next to her and identical cuts and gashes all over her body. Her surroundings were covered in blood, and the metallic smell made her feel even queasy. She tried moving and screaming. She had no chance. All this time, she was the monster. She knew she would lose the battle.
Just 1 month until the release of, A Touch Eldritch, the first of an annual series, written for young teenagers. A collection of short stories to make you cringe, horror and spooky stories on the fringe. I am looking forward to hearing the feedback on this my first collection of short stories.
I stare at my sister's back as she generously scrubs down pieces of glazed earthenware. Her long hair is wrapped in a ring of rubber, and her blue, or perhaps purple, shirt seems too oversized for her stature. While waiting and holding a white tree in my hand, I am distracted by the inhabitants in my head, who without my consent, decided to rerun the day. Four hours ago, my mother was surrounded by a mound of clothing. I climbed down the staircase to see her fastening a knot on a big trash bag. My main intention was simply to grab a bag of chips and climb back upstairs to watch a movie, but I ended up asking her a total of four times what she was doing with these clothes. She never responded. I thoughtfully rolled my eyes after I turned around and walked back up the stairs frustrated and annoyed. When I got to my room, I kicked my chair that was old anyways and kicked it again because it made too much noise. I didn't want to care and just wanted to watch a damn movie. But my curiosity got the best of me. I put my ear to the door and listened intently to the sounds of her footsteps as she took the trash bag outside. I heard the slam of the garage door, and a few moments later, the creak of the house door. However, soon, I redirected my attention to “funny” videos that were more traumatic than funny. People failing to flip on trampolines or falling off a slide didn't seem that funny to me. Not long after, the summer heat made rain drip down the pale skies, and I rushed to the room next door that had air conditioning. There's only one in the house. I sat down on a bed that was covered in white and the occasional golden flower, a bed that has seen more countries and lived through more generations than me. I like how it seems to remind me of how little I am every time the moon sprinkles through the window. In the left corner of the room, I saw my sister studying hard with her red glasses on that made her look like Garfield. Seeing her crouched over her desk made me feel a pang of guilt as I reflected on how inefficiently I used my time. Fool. I picked up my books and started studying, completing drills and model tests that hopefully could mask the situation I'm in and most importantly, get me into college. It's been a month since I've started practicing, and one thing I clearly learned is that practice isn't enough. Minutes felt like hours as I dragged on with my studies on a stained chair that I dreaded to sit on everyday. I even began to feel liberated by my mother's call to dinner. Although I never enjoyed eating in solitude, I ran down the stairs and sat myself down at the dinner table before anyone else did. I helped myself to a bowl of buckwheat noodles doused in red and savored the taste of the fiery lake. When I was halfway through the bowl, I heard two pairs of reckless footsteps make their way down the stairs and head into the kitchen. I looked up to see my sisters, but their attention seemed to be on my half empty bowl of noodles. I guess I should've waited. I was in the middle of refilling my bowl with more noodles when I heard the sound of jangling keys at the front door. I looked up to see a figure wearing a blue button down with an embroidered patch on the right corner. It was my father. A smile surfaced on my face as I saw his tired, yet cheerful expression. He placed a bag of leftovers from a restaurant that his office usually ordered from on the dinner table. My sister grabbed the bag and opened the thin, plastic containers full of fried rice and meat. The kitchen was full of laughter that night. After dinner, I took a look at the kitchen sink and felt the urge to run up the stairs before my mother or my siblings could stop me. There were piles of plates and several large pans that would take forever to wash. I guess my sisters also had the same thought because a few minutes later, I heard them running up the stairs too. In high spirits, I turned on my laptop to continue studying and was about to plug in my earbuds until I heard some sounds coming from downstairs. I went ahead and turned the air conditioner off. I didn't hear anything so I started making my way back towards my laptop until I heard screaming. I froze and clearly heard three words: liar, debt, foreclosure. I looked at my sisters, hoping that I was just hearing things. But their expressions told me that this was real, that this was happening. You know, I never believed it when people said that your world can turn upside down, but now, I don't even know what to believe. My legs felt weak, but I somehow made it to my father's room and went through the pile of envelopes that I had seen from weeks ago. I opened the first, the second, the third, only to see the word...my sister shook me to life as I returned to see a pile of clean plates waiting to be dried. Suddenly, I am gripped with a terrible fear that twenty years later, all three of us will be in the same situation: the horror of reliving history.
Sara_a06 - ‘Miss M. I have a question to ask you.' The screen of my smartphone lit up and this pair of exhausted eyes of mine found their way to escape from all the 26 alphabets on the laptop keyboard. I bit my bottom lip, hesitating whether I should take a two-minute break or just call it a day. Goodness, 9 PM! It had been more than ten hours, perhaps the latter decision would be better for my eyes… and health. It was another message on my Instagram, from her. Sarah, one of my pupils who loved asking questions. Most of her questions were about online tasks. However, some questions left me to ponder and reflect about holding responsibilities as a teacher. They left me thinking about life and choices. Although the schools were close due to the movement control order (MCO), her mind kept running freely that it reached the other part of the world. People in GMT+8 were asleep, yet she was exploring unique species in Amazon Rainforest. MissM – ‘Yes, dear. Go on.' My response was read in less than a minute. While Sarah was typing her words, I continued reading my pupils' essays. A few days ago, I assigned them to write their personal experiences of supernatural encounters. Although my initial plan was to provide a platform for my pupils to write their daily activities during this MCO, I received quite a negative feedback on my Instagram poll. They refused to write anything connected to the pandemic as most online tasks they had were about ‘life during the pandemic.' Some of them boldly voiced out by sending messages like: - ‘We don't do anything amusing during this lockdown, Miss. Why are the teachers so obsessed with our life at home?' - ‘Not for English, Miss. Your activities are so far the less cliché ones. Pleasee~' - ‘Miss M, do you mind if I just copy-paste what I did yesterday? It's the same routine. But I will translate them into English.' Reading their responses, they amused me! This was one of the factors why the pupils' voices should be heard. I mean, would they do my online tasks if their enthusiasm were taken away by Mr. Repetition? Repetition is meaningless if we don't acknowledge the use of that repetitive action. Sara_a06 - ‘Do you hate me? Perhaps, not hate. Do you dislike me, teacher?' I was taken aback. My heart began to pound and it blew away all my comfort. I held my phone, thumbs were ready to defend but I wondered, what should I defend? I took in a deep breath and started to type again. MissM – ‘I never hate you, Sarah. I am happy and grateful to have a student like you. You always ask questions. You even shared your short stories with me! I think there is no reason to hate you.' She read it but the conversation was silent. There was no quick ‘typing…' and eager responses from her. It felt as if she was staring at my words, doubting me. MissM – ‘My dear, are you okay?' Silent. I waited for her. From five minutes to five hours. Then, it reached five days. My days were always hectic although I was working from home. However, I noticed that I have lost track of time. The days were accompanied by the moon while the nights were greeted by the sun. Just like how she suddenly replied a week later. Sara_a06 – ‘Miss M. Thank you for telling me that you don't hate me. I have misunderstood you. Sara_a06 – ‘You see. My mom worked very hard and when she reached home, I would bombard her with unsettled questions of my homework. She would smile and try to answer. Sometimes, she just cannot answer but she would try her best to.' My lips curled into a smile. I was ready to shower her with compliments but Sarah had more than just an appreciation for her mother to inform me. Sara_a06 – ‘But today, my mom left us. She left my father and me. She said she was tired to take care of me. She hates me.' At that moment, I could not imagine how the sky of a young girl looked like. The word separation is as haunted as abandonment. MissM – ‘Sarah, I'm sorry to hear that. If there is anything that I could do for you, please tell me.' Sarah began typing and every second I waited for her reply, my heart shattered into pieces. I truly love my pupils and I would like to see them grow, ensuring that their hunger for knowledge was fed adequately. Sara_a06 – ‘You have told me that you don't hate me, teacher. That's enough. You always smile in the class while teaching us. I saw how tired you were after climbing the stairs but when I greeted you, you would still smile. My mom did the same thing. Always smile but she hates me. I wonder if people smile a lot to hide their hatred towards others. That's why I asked you whether if you also hate me.' I have always known that hatred is as strong as love but at that moment, I was not confident about how I should comfort her. Wrong words could burn bridges between people. Therefore, all I could say was… MissM – ‘I love you, Sarah. I can't wait to meet you when school reopens!'
We were in a barren city. The storms kept hitting. Nobody knew when they were coming next. Blackened sky. Disastrous rain. Wailing sirens. Police officers, yelling orders into their PA systems - their voices blaring through the speakers. Debris flying. Them: “Hands up!” Us: “Don't shoot!” Them: “Hands up!” Us: “Don't shoot!” Them: “Hands up!” Us: “Don't shoot!” Over and over and over again. We ran into the stores and warehouses, hiding under retail carts and equipment made of iron that might keep us safe but not for certain. We maneuvered the industrial carts from one side of the space to the other to escape the bullets....but they wouldn't stop. They came for us. They came for our skin. The bullets sinking into our yellow and tearing holes through our black. We were hurting; broken on the inside, but brave on the outside. We were angry but we were together. The flag waved tattered and tired in the background, grayed by the smog. When the war on the foreground was over we would walk, looking for younger children that didn't belong to us - not because we were covetous but because they were our allies. They looked ivory as bone, helplessly washed in glistening shades of white by the hands of God our maker. Some were painted a dark red. Others were dipped in bright yellows and fine golds. Most of the children were polished in the prettiest brown and black tones; a stony trail of ebony by the wayside. We walked. Then we sped. Then we ran. Them: “Hands up!” Us: “Don't shoot!” Them: “Hands up!” Us: “Don't shoot!” Them: “Hands up!” Us: “Don't shoot!” Again, we sought for cover, trying our best to remember the “duck-and-cover” protocol from our lock-down drill days in grade school. We were adults on the inside who knew righteousness apart from injustice but we wore the bodies of fifth graders, and seventh graders, and eighth graders. We were us, but the us from our youths, staring each other in the eyes as if to scream, “fight for your life! It is our God given right to live!” Imagine that? A God given right. The upmost right that not a single white man had the right to strip away, but he did so in plain sight because he could. Their stark hands collected the muscle memory of the last lynchings; their craving for the next victim....insatiable. We fought for the right to breathe the same air as these white law enforcement officers. We were not privileged enough. To them, black or yellow meant filthy and unpardonable. They counted us as unworthy. We hid for the sake of preserving our right to bleed red. They saw us. We owned our anger. They opened fire. The color of our skin didn't inspire the crime; it was the crime. They raged, offended that we were still awake. They seethed for fear that we were not yet left for dead in pools of our own blood. They wanted us asleep forever. They were scared of us, threatened by a beauty that challenged their white privilege. They called our skin dominant so their society made us inferior. We became a part of it, having no choice but to play the role of the weaker vessel. How did I not know that this series was on repeat for over 400 years? Yet, the world remained quiet about our dread. Instead of defending us, they eyeballed our ascent into a Heaven that called us home too soon. Glory demanded us. We carry on, filling up the streets as if nothing ever happened; traveling on threadbare feet that were tired of amounting to the stereotype that “all minorities do is run.” They blame us for running but it's the only option they offer us. We run until we see Heavens gates swing wide, shadow-less and full of acceptance that our prior world ruled we didn't deserve. God waits on the other side to meet us and we grow nervous, buckling before His bigness. Were we ready all along? Did He count us as so from birth? Either way, He doesn't shun us. He doesn't know how to, so instead He bear hugs us. Deep in my soul, I can feel hundreds of thousands of God's children fling their eyes open from the same nightmare, all at once and in different time zones. They feel like my friends. One, by one, by one, we wake up with a disturbed kind of energy that sends elastic waves from the Earth's epicenter to its opposite poles. We sense that the racists could feel the aftermath of our torment. “Why can't the nightmares remain nightmares?” we ask rhetorically. Our voices echo from different bedrooms. We ache for dreams only to wonder if they are worth writing down or fighting for. The media tells us, that we might not ever survive to see our dreams. They don't tell us verbatim of course, but the reports all end on notes that shrill with dissonance and screech with injustice. For the first time at age 26, I am unsettled by my indigenous features, alarmed that I am a double minority, who can't scrub the color off of my skin. I am Latina. I am a yellow woman.
Juuling, has taken over schools and workplaces across the United States. Students and adults have fallen in love with this appealing new addiction. Some argue juuling is not malicious because it is less dangerous than smoking, but after its release in 2015, the Juul has become the most dangerous trend. Restaurants, airports, middle schools: Juul is everywhere because of its sleek design. Juul's resemblance of a flash drive makes it easy to conceal. During class kids pull it out, take a hit, and slip it back into their pocket without a look from the teacher. Juuling has become so popular in schools that kids satirically make fun of their fellow addicts by calling the bathroom a juul room after its newfound purpose. Its cool technological design makes it an item to be seen with. Kids are intrigued by the slim metal object with a blinking light. The more people who try it, the cooler it gets; the cooler it gets, the more people want to try it. Juul's increasing popularity is its strongest asset and our strongest weakness. The popularity forces people try, but addiction keeps them juuling. High schooler Matt Murphy first tried juul at a party and later found himself hopelessly addicted. In college, he found his “vaping was about maintenance, keeping the craving irritability at bay” (Hoffman). It took Matt three years to realize he had an addiction and all the while he was buying hundreds of pods. Juul is making money off of the entrapment of youths, a characteristic of the immoral society that exists in America. The most concerning element of this addiction is the teenager's inability to rationalize their addiction. Most juul dependent teenagers completely deny the possibility of addiction (Stanford Medical Center). Kids try it once and end up like Matt wondering how they have become so dependent on Juul and why they got addicted to something that seemed so harmless. An entire generation of people has been enslaved to a flash drive. Juul, however, is not totally to blame. Today's society conditions teenagers to chase highs and live for the moment. Juul just took advantage of this because it is depicted as a low-risk way of getting a buzz instead of a lifelong contract signed with one puff. Many of the long term effects of juuling are not known but the few that have been found are concerning enough. According to Dr. Rachel Boykan, a professor at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, “Nicotine may disrupt the formation of circuits in the brain that control attention and learning”(Hoffman). My generation has the smallest attention span and highest rates of attention disorders. Add a device specialized in creating nicotine addictions to the mix, and kids will soon be unable to function or complete tasks that take longer than five minutes. This translates to the loss of an entire generation of effective employees and leaders which will have catastrophic effects on the world because juuling is not just a U.S. problem, it's everywhere. This is surprising considering juul was only released in 2015, meaning it spread across the world in less than 4 years. Because the juul is so new, there could be mountains of unknown consequences. Matt starting realizing that he would be short of breath when exercising shortly after starting his addiction.Matt said, “‘We called it ‘Juul lung,'”(Hoffman). Teenagers have started unearthing unknown effects of juuling themselves and there are other unproven concerns about juuls effects on the heart and possibly the arteries too as well (Hoffman). The unknown component of juul makes it appear a lot safer than alternatives and is part of the reason it is so popular. Little do the kids trying it know that it has the potential to become the next cigarette. For all scientists know, juul could even be worse. The false safety given by ignorance is another trademark of today's society unearthed by juul. People would rather be in the dark of the consequences of their actions than accept them. Juuling is the most dangerous trend because users are susceptible to its addiction forming abilities and long term health effects because of its widespread popularity. America today is filled with addictions of every kind because of the mindset of its people. Juul is the perfect product for young Americans because it highlights their mindset of living in the moment and denying future consequences. If juuling continues to gain popularity without repercussions, America as a society will decline as people continue to have shortened attention spans and weaker abilities to learn. Citations Hoffman, Jan. “The Price of Cool: A Teenager, a Juul and Nicotine Addiction.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Nov. 2018, Web. 9 Jan. 2019. staff, Science X. “Juul e-Cigarettes Pose Addiction Risk for Young Users, Study Finds.” Medical Xpress - Medical Research Advances and Health News, Medical Xpress, 19 Oct. 2018, Web. 4 Jan. 2019.
Learning to love myself has been one of my longest life challenges. My self esteem has been at battle with a twenty-year old eating disorder. Turning eleven brought a birthday gift of weight gain and put me on a path of restricting, binge eating and over-exercising. It seems like it has taken forever to understand how manipulating my weight and appearance in both healthy and unhealthy ways was a reflection of how I felt on the inside of myself. Bombarded with images in the media of impossible beauty standards and socialized norms of feminine behavior, my eyes looked into the mirror for a sense of self esteem. Instead of empowering female friendships, mine were competitive. Who had a thigh gap? How many boys were drooling after us? Whose closet was larger than life? All that criteria was external and I couldn't win. So I skipped parties, weddings and graduations because I felt unattractive. The "when, then" game ruled my life: I thought 'when I lose twenty pounds, I will have a boyfriend" and "when I lose twenty pounds, I will be happy." I didn't realize that projecting my happiness to the future meant I was missing out on the present moment. I lost a lot of time to this unhealthy obsession. Instead of building personal coping tools like meditation, work-related skills, or even participating in sports, I spent years hiding in therapy and eating disorder programs. I was desperate to find out what was so wrong in my core that I put so much emphasis on looks and weight. One mind-blowing incident started my journey towards self-love. I remember spotting her six years ago while I rode the subway. She was my ideal self: petite, with manicured nails and blond hair. Why couldn't I look like her? For sure she had a boyfriend! I ruminated over this for most of the ride. Finally my ears decided to interrupt my brain and I heard her speaking to her friend. Her voice was sharp and she spent the whole subway ride complaining about her life. She seemed miserable and shallow. I came home and told my mom I would never want to be that pretty if it came with being so negative. My family physician also held the key to a lesson I still think about daily. She sat me down once and asked me to look outside her door. There was a woman in head to toe Michael Kors, dripping diamonds, with highlighted hair. She asked me what I thought of her and I went with "beautiful." Within two breaths my doctor told me that her patient's life was falling apart because of divorce and bankruptcy. "Never assume someone's happy based on what they look like or what they wear," she warned me. That day my doctor really called me out for the way I was looking at the world. It was as disordered and self-destructive as my eating. Working in fashion was also one giant leap towards recovery for me. I am a sales associate, fitting women of all shapes and sizes and working hard to establish our collective self-esteem. When I accompany my clients to their fitting rooms, young women and their mothers regularly share with me their fears regarding the shape of their thighs, booties, and breasts. It was out in the open now and I confronted how ingrained body shaming is across my gender. Answering “does this outfit looks good on me?” or “does this make me look fat?” is my opportunity to reassure women. I let them know that confidence, posture, and inner beauty radiates beyond body shape or size. As they try on the latest in Spring styles. I like to vocalize my appreciation for what sets them apart, be it their freckles, or their life accomplishments, friendships and career achievements. There are too many stresses in young women's lives. The pressures of social media, peers and fierce academic/job competition face girls every day. Dinners are hardly made at home anymore. Routine discussion between family and friends is often interrupted by constant texting. The pressures of exams, lack of sleep and Red Bull, penetrates young lives. I hear about my client's struggles with their bodies, Mara Teigen and Ashley Greene on Instragram, as well as what boys think about them. This the context in which our feelings and thoughts about our bodies are developed. So when will this self-deprecation end? As long as there are to be beauty products and fashion brands to be sold, marketing may continue to rule female self-esteem. I am writing to let others know that there really is a path to becoming self assured in ourselves. When I chose to put the most value on achieving personal goals, and deciding to really interact with the world, there was socializing and activities which built up my self-esteem. I could really list what I liked about myself based on my capabilities and social media has been banned from my life. I am finally doing the activities I always dreamed of despite of how I worried I am or anyone else is about my looks. I cross my fingers and wish that for every girl and women I ever get the opportunity to dress!
“Shy kids never shine” Naturally, as a 17 year old girl living as Gen Z, this quote struck my eye as I was about to swipe through the never-ending Snapchat stories. I replayed this particular story about five times, just to make sure that I had read it right. There it was, written on the whiteboard at the top in blue marker surrounded by a bubble. My initial reaction was to make a pun, also natural but in a more personal way. Ahaha yeah, shy kids never shine, they shy-ne I snickered in my head, too embarrassing to say out loud. An hour later though, it floated right back into my head, because of a stupid comment by a stupid teacher. I'm aware of how much I sound like a 21st century teenage cliche, and that's okay. Once you learn how to accept yourself, it's much easier to go through life without having to meet people's expectations. Before the quote really hit me, I had gone to the careers office in my school, as my friend had requested my presence while she went to pick up a form from the careers teacher. As I stood idly, waiting for the teacher to fish out the paper from one of the desk drawers, she turned to me and said “Have I seen you before?” Hmm. I had a feeling where this was going, but I replied nonetheless. “Not personally. I mean, I've come to this office a few times when my friends had career committee meetings, but not like, personally to get advice from you.” A pause. “I have never seen you. Or is it because you're wearing your hair open today?” I shook my head no. “And the fact that you're a prefect too? That's sad.” She scrutinized my red tie and the badge that read “prefect” in bold, gold letters that the school insist all of us authoritative figures wear. I felt myself get defensive immediately, intimidated by her tone and the words that accompanied it. “Um, I mean you have seen me though, I've gone up in assembly for being a prefect and my clubs and…” She cut me off and said “Yeah but that was in a group. You've never been up to speak individually have you? Mmm. So you kind of just…fade into the background. No one ever remembers the shy students.” And just like that, my good mood had turned sour, and it was as if someone had poked a hole in my body as it slowly deflated. What irked me the most was the fact that I had been doing so much in the past year as it was my last year before university, and that was clear as I indulged in activities such as community service and made a name for myself such as holding a prefect position. And not even because I needed them to look good on my c.v, but because I had finally started to come out of my shell and genuinely enjoyed them. So why did I care so much that this teacher, who wasn't even involved in other aspects of the school apart from careers, didn't recognize me, and so essentially, recognize me as a student of this school? It was because I knew the type of person that I used to be, and how far I'd come, and her blunt words bought me right back to the past. Introvert. Shy. Awkward. Behind the scenes. Under the radar. Closed-off. Quiet. Mostly synonyms of each other, and none of them new to me. In my previous school, I had been the dictionary version of a wallflower, never really participating in any events, though I knew it would benefit me later on. Always sticking in my comfort zone, with the same group of equally as shy friends. Always cowering away from the limelight. Neutral. Unknown. Faded. Even though I knew that I had become a completely different person in a good way, improving myself and getting to this point where I participated in a bunch of clubs and socializing with people, it made me angry that a teacher could be so blunt and crush someone so easily. Even if I was still that shy girl that I used to be, it didn't make me any less worthy than people who had the confidence to speak in assembly all the time and make themselves known. Some of the most famous people were the most shy kids, and most of the processes that work today are due to people behind the scenes, sometimes never getting credit for the effort they put in. The world isn't fair like that, but for a teacher to put someone down without even knowing them, it's a different story. I know I'm just 17, but I truly have made so many experiences in the last two years of my A levels that have provoked me to reflect on myself everyday, and want to share them with people who can relate. Like I said in the beginning, it may be cliche, and sometimes I may act like it too, but as long as you know your abilities, it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you. For any teachers, or even parents out there; please encourage your kids in the right way. Let them know that they're never too quiet or too loud, and that they can achieve regardless. For those of you who're still trying to figure this whole life thing out like me; you'll never be too shy to shine, and a quote I used to relate with that still makes me smile, “never let them dull your sparkle.”
Over the past year, I have survived- fully functional- without the aid of the modern-day ‘iPhone'. I have made friends, engaged in healthy social interaction, and largely missed out on absolutely nothing in my life because of this quote-unquote detriment. I have still been able to participate in nearly every aspect of my life, from school to my social life in a fairly normal way. The only part that I have missed, in my opinion, is the normalcy of being a teenager in this fine, unholy mess of the present day. The world has evolved, as everyone who reads this is surely aware, in a way that has sewn phones into the fabric of our lives in a deep, irreparable way. We suffer without them- Or at least we think we do. From the moment we wake up to the moment we lay our heads on our pillows, they are in our hands and influencing us, movement-to-movement. They wake us up for work and school every morning and ceaselessly pester us throughout the day- “Wanna go out for lunch?” a message may read. “There's a party this weekend! You should come!” another may offer. ‘Three new likes on your post.' ‘Four new comments on your post.' When you see the situation laid out in front of you this way, it may seem like nothing more than an unhealthy obsession we humans have created for ourselves, and that it is- for some people. We cannot neglect the fact that, through technology, we have infinitely eased some of our daily life hassles. We have additionally greatly improved the safety of our world in many ways, too. Without phones, you would not be able to quickly message your parent and ask who's picking you up from school. You would not be able to quickly check your bank account so as not to spend more money than you have. You would not be able to shoot your boss a message, letting her know you're too sick to come in this morning. I've made my case in support of phones, but I have yet to acknowledge their dangers. Not having a phone, and therefore experiencing these minor inconveniences, was one-hundred-percent a result of my own choices. I had repeatedly made mistakes- And when I was given grace, I made the same mistakes again. I will not use a phone incorrectly moving forward. I couldn't, knowing the damage it can, and has, caused. I am not willing to ruin my own life- To burn before I've even gotten off the ground. I will not engage in online interaction with people I don't know. Stranger Danger is a phrase we have been teaching our children for years- But the only real danger is when that stranger is behind a screen. The term ‘stranger' even extends to include people you've met in real life before, but don't really know. I will not send messages or images that are in any way considered inappropriate or could be held against me in the event the person I once felt comfortable and trusting in decides to turn against me. I never felt like this was a real thing that could happen to me, but I am now very aware that it's not such an uncommon thing to experience. I will not send secretive and malicious messages that are worthy of hiding. The phone is meant for communication, sure, but only the positive and polite kind. I must be honest with what I say through the phone, and be careful of the way the things I say may come across. I will not interact with the dangerous- Frankly even deadly- world of social media. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are a breeding ground for hate speech, cyberbullying, and life-ruining miscommunications. I am, quite possibly, the most aware of the dangers of technology due to the massive impacts it has had on my life. As a member of the first generation to be unable to remember a time without the internet, we have had these phones in our hands and in our lives since we were born. I personally have come to be alright without having a phone- Grateful, even- Until fairly recently. I desire the functional, organizational tool that is a cell phone. As someone who now has a job, a bank account, and very well may be using the, admittedly sketchy, Indianapolis public transit every day to get to and from school, having a phone displays obvious benefits. The only way I can properly use these aforementioned benefits is when I am very cautious not to abuse them. I would like to be able to reach my parents when I arrive at school in the morning. I would like to be able to get messages from my manager when she needs me to work extra days one week. I would like to be able to check my account balance before I buy those Chick-Fil-A fries at lunch and dip into the negative. I would like to be able to talk to and call Lindsey and Kaikeyi and the rest of them when I am not physically with them, especially Kristi who lives far away. I would like to take beautiful pictures of my art, makeup, and cosplays, and friends when people ask to see them. I would like to use a phone as a business tool to further the reach of my commissions. And finally, I would like your trust, even on days when it's hard. I would like nothing more.
Don't blame yourself. No one sees it at first. She's a fifteen-year-old girl on that frozen park bench, sitting on her hands to keep them from getting just as cold as her nose. Your eyes catch sight of the way her hair is dampened and unkempt. Her clothes are torn, hanging off of her body to reveal the story on her skin that she wished no one would ever read. And her face...it's covered in the grime of the city's malice. Did she fall? No one sees it. Her heart is cracked and bloody. The red consequence that pours from it is becoming frozen in these conditions. If she were to tell you that she is growing cold, you would reply you were too. It is, indeed, time for the leaves to take their last leap from the arms of the near-barren trees. Clouds should soon stop crying and instead begin to throw fistfuls of white during their seasonal temper tantrums. But then she'd take you by surprise. She would correct you and say, “No, from the inside. It isn't the outside world causing frost upon my skin. It's my heart, a glacial virus causing my light to fade out into an eternal darkness.” It's all happening so fast in front of everyone's eyes, and still, no one sees it. She didn't fall as once presumed. She was pushed. No one saw it. You didn't either. Not at first. Not until her heart - which had been freezing since he'd first laid a hand on her - cracked. Not until it made a sound so deafening that no one was able to hear another. It was as if lightening struck the ground directly in front of you, and finally, you stopped to pay attention. You were alert. You were looking around for an answer to the question no one has understood: "Why?" And finally, you had the morality to focus on investigating what lay beneath the silence that had followed the explosion of ice from her heart. You realized that she was alone. No mother. No father. No sibling in sight. When you approached her, feet crunching atop the chunks of ice that had flown from her insides like daggers - warnings to stay away - you saw the dirty tears staining her cheeks. You were left to wonder what had happened. Why was she so cold? Maybe she didn't fall. She didn't just stumble because she was clumsy. She was shoved into the calloused, tainted hands of the world. And now you stand in front of her. She sits still on the bench, staring straight ahead with no life left in her eyes. Your chest is level with her face. She doesn't move. You could tell that whoever this girl was is no longer here. A person once known is now a person someone knew. The tears are taking turns rolling down the flushed, red tinted hills named cheeks, but her face is becalmed. A snowflake fallen from the sky lands on her cheek and turns to ice instead of melting away. In a whisper, you ask her what's wrong. She emotionlessly makes eye contact. Your heart clenches and your stomach drops at the visible vacancy inside of her. “I wandered too far,” she replies. “Mother told me the streets weren't safe. She told me not to cross the bridge...I did. I crossed." She looks away again. "I can't go back.” You ask her why. You offer to walk home with her. She could get cleaned up. All better. She'll be fine tomorrow once she gets a new pair of socks and a warm bath. But she rejects you, pushes you away. She says she knows now that strangers are not to be trusted. She can't cross the bridge. For if she does, she will let the wind push her off. She will beg the breeze to be strong enough to cause the ground to disappear from underneath her. She will hit the ground and fall into a pile of beautiful crushed bones and pain. It sounds beautiful to her, anyway. Don't blame yourself. No one sees it at first. Not even you. Maybe you were distracted or just wished to mind your own business. But if you held the candle a little closer, you could see that what she really yearned for was a hand to hold. She was manhandled. Used. Who she used to be was shattered into a thousand pieces and brushed under the rug for no person to ever see again. If they would just look a little closer, they'd see that she is crying out for help. She is not begging to be looked at. She is not begging for the eyes of those around her. She is begging for someone to pull her up from the top before it's too late. She is screaming for someone to toss the rope down before she's stuck in The Pit forever, all alone as she grows colder and colder from the inside out. All alone until she becomes absolutely nothing.
The internet preaches about girls being there for each other and I could name a thousand quotes I've read on Instagram talking about girls being each other's sisters and mothers. But what happens to this love when a girl steps in a room? bunch of glaring girls with their perfect nails make her forget she's whom. Their lashes on fleek and their pencil high heels make that innocent girl want to crawl inside her body. A boy, I guess never really knows what a girl faces as she enters a door. The self-consciousness she feels and how she hopes and wishes and dreams to just find her best friend inside but all there are, are mean girls it seems. How they whisper amongst each other when another girl's ass is just a little too big. So she curses herself for being born ‘too thick'. How is it her fault, can someone explain if her lips are a little too thin, why should she be in disdain? What happens to these preachers, when that girl shows up to a party with a short dress? She just wants to live the night, she's much more than a hot mess. I wish these girls would just give up their seat for once and make that shy girl in front of the door, feel welcome. I wish they would give up their judging looks and greet that poor girl without crossing a checklist from a book. Because no-one assigned them this seat anyway, they stole the buzzer from the audition's hands and put them on a stage as another act. These girls don't want to be judged, they want to be hugged not shoved, so I ask the internet as my best friend once said “What ever happened to girl love?”
You know when i said my child hood was ass. Well trying to be himalayan beautiful and gifted in a fucking catholic school. First and i will admit i acted strange for my early teens and teen years. That was because i did not know about how to cope with ptsd and the other was that i was so gifted i was an odd duck. The kids snd teachers hated me for it. The fucking 9/11 happened and it was not a good time to be brown and the bullying got a hell of alot worse. People called me ethnic names as well as the r word. Things got worse right after the year of 9/11 when i though i wanted to be an fbi agent and tried to be recruited in to the agency. The principle saw me as a “clear and present danger” called my mom and told her that was on the next plane to guantanamo bay if my behaviour did not improve. Before you say really or yeah right.... just ask my parents who had the fucking call. Boy i got a new bellybutton when i got home and tae keon do lessons to help “straighten up”. This was when my life started going up and down. After a few monthes of tkd i was a skilled artist and commended respect in high school. I had no friends until grade ten up no one dared to bully me. I then realized that my tae kwon do teach had me in the yakuza. With that i removed myself from the martial arts world and connvert to buddhism in 2006 when my big mouth father told me i was uyger and tibetan on my moms side. My mom said the same thing. Soon i got and still interested in ugyer and tibetan and himalayan culture as well as mountaineering. 2006 was also they diagnoised me with CPTSD because repeated trauma that spended from birth to the age of 15. It took me years to figure out how to cope with and eith out buddhism. Thats when i discovered the baoding balls in 2009- a worker gave them to me and i knew what to fo from there. Since then my anger and resentment decreased. I collect baoding ball since abd my eye brows have grown back. The baoding balls where invented in ming dynasty china to help cure ptsd and other meldies. The best fucking invention- the baoding balls Secon best- the book Third -internet.
Deep in my brain is a disease. One that can only be seen through emotions, life choices, words, or a brain scan. The symptoms of this disease are physical pain, emotional turmoil, and psychological wounds that may never heal, even if the disease is healed. This disease has brought pain to me in forms of, parents calling me lazy, friends disappointing me, and siblings who force me to put myself through mental hell. This disease has a name, that many people throw around willy-nilly, Anxiety. Anxiety is a common emotion that people have throughout their lives, but the ones who have the constant thrum of it in their body, in their bones, know that anxiety is a lot more than it seems. With anxiety, you have anxiety attacks, panic attacks, stomach pain, trouble breathing, and so much more. The worst part of anxiety isn't the symptoms, it's society. Society has a misconstrued opinion of anxiety. They no longer see it as a serious mental illness, they see it as an emotion you have to get over. I have had friends and family alike say to me that anxiety is a part of life and that I'm using it as an excuse. They have belittled my pain and disorder and made it out to be nothing. They make me feel weak and confused. But I want to tell others that having anxiety is like having a sprained ankle but no crutch to lean against. All throughout life, you will be baffled by people's ability to do things with confidence and no underlying apprehension, you will be torn down and built back up. The world is tough the way it is, but with anxiety, it's misery. But it doesn't have to be. Life is truly what you make it. If people tell you to get over your mental illness, you scream back for them to get over their ignorance. Fight the ones who put you down and rebel against those who poison society with their ignorance.
Independence—everybody wants it. When the British taxed the colonists, they got upset and decided to declare their independence. When a teenager FINALLY makes it to their 18th birthday, they celebrate their newly-found freedom from their parents. I don't know too many people who would eagerly serve another man as a slave. All of these things are so because everyone wants to be independent; everyone wants to do what they want when they want; no one wants to be held back by anything. People want to be free. But what if I told you that there is more freedom found in dependency than in independency? It appears to be a contradictory statement, so let me explain. It was a warm August day, and I stood on the grass watching two girls walk out into the lake. They were being baptized that day, and my family had come to the picnic to celebrate. I wanted to be happy for them--I really did--but my stomach was twisted in too many knots to offer anything more than a half-hearted smile. If I had been brave, there would have been three girls in the water that day. Unfortunately for me, I was too scared to be baptized because I hated crowds, attention, and giving testimonial speeches. I just could not bring myself to do it. August soon came to a close and my disobedience was pushed to the furthest possible corner of my mind where I hoped it would be forgotten. September and October passed with only a few reminders of my shortcoming, and the holiday season came and went in a blur of turkey, wrapping paper, and a giant falling ball. By January, I was ready to forget about it for good and start over. But despite my best efforts, God wasn't ready to let it go just yet, and I found myself drowning—not in the lake, but in conviction. The God of the universe asked me to do something so simple, yet I couldn't do it. I wanted to follow Him, I wanted to depend on Him for strength, but I didn't know how; instead, I found myself at rock bottom crying in despair. I wasn't strong enough, I wasn't good enough, I'd never be free from the shame that shackled me each and every day, I told myself. But I had one last resort, and that was prayer. So I sat at my desk and looked out the window, silently asking God for a second chance and the strength to follow through. I let go of my problem and gave it to God. It didn't seem to do much, but behind the scenes, those few words that didn't even come out of my mouth audibly were going to change the course of my life. I walked into church three days later--January 6th--with that prayer being the last thing on my mind as the pastor started the service. He went over an announcement, then another one, and another. But the last one caught my attention more than the rest. I sat up in my seat. Did he really just say 'baptism service'? I asked myself. It couldn't be true, could it? As he talked on about the details, I realized that his words were more than just my imagination—they were really real. My fear melted that instant. I was astonished; I was thankful; I was amazed. I was baptized on February 10, 2019. If I had continued to depend on myself—my own strength—I would never have gotten anywhere. I would still be frozen to the grass by the lake, staring at the water wishing I had the faith to step forward. But I am free from my shackles of fear and it's all because I decided that independency wasn't the answer. Self-reliance doesn't always get you anywhere but surrender and dependency on God will always get you exactly where you need to be. If I've learned one thing these past few months, it's that surrender to God results in freedom. I've never been closer to God--never been happier--never been so hopeful and trusting that He is faithful. I recently found an out-of-state college that is offering a writing workshop camp, and as an aspiring author I desperately want to go. Unfortunately, with all of the expenses necessary to make that trip happen, it would take a miracle to get me there. Fortunately, however, I serve a God who knows no bounds. I immediately got online and started searching for contests, and it just so happened that I stumbled upon Biopage. Maybe I'm meant to go to writing camp, maybe I'm not. But I have written this essay in an attempt to win, and now I prayerfully give it to God because I can't rely on my own self. Dependence on Him is always the answer, because dependence means freedom.