This story was inspired by a quote by Malala, “At night, our fear is strong but in the morning, in the light, we find our courage again.”
This short story is very close to my heart . Often women identify themsleves by the important relations in their lives- someone’s daughter/wife/mother . In the overwhelming love they spend their lives, constantly catering and accommodating them, embracing their success and failures. What happens then when these relationships are threatened?
The story was written based on a cue, a quote by Oprah: “So go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.”
Hope, to slightly misquote Emily Dickinson, is the thing with feathers living in every heart. This short story is a piece written in response to a quote cue “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
It was important to me as during the lockdown for Covid 19 , domestic violence was an issue that remained unaddressed .
A short story that won the Muse Of the Month prize for September 2019. The que was this quote from the poem Someone Leans Near, from the book Five Poems by Nobel Prize awardee Toni Morrison
“You wait, longing to hear
Words of reason, love or play
To lash or lull you toward the hollow day”
I wrote a short story for Women’s web as the Muse of the month, based off a writing cue for July 2019 from The Marvelous Women, a true portrayal of sisterhood, by Syrian-American poet Dr Mohja Kahf, which goes:
“All women speak two languages:
the language of men
and the language of silent suffering.
Some women speak a third,
the language of queens.”
Visit the link below to read my story published on and find out about the true language of queens as Leila finally, fed up with her dear friend Rachna ‘s “suffering” stories, lashes out.
I take out the Earth cookies,
And even though I had made sure
To put the correct amount of each ingredient,
The men inside my cookies,
The rising agents,
Have caused it to burn.
The cookies are burnt,
But luckily there’s still time!
If it was any longer,
Then I’d never be able to salvage them at all!
I take out a special kind of butter
It’s made specially from the essence of
People who believe and hope in the Earth
With a hint of the ones who try to help.
I add a dollop of empathy
Hopefully, it’ll help them understand others
And putting yourself where another stands is truly the key
To a better, safer world.
They’re starting to soften,
And that’s good for now
But things need to get better
Or it’ll never get fixed.
Of course, how could I forget,
A large amount of peace is in order.
Everyone must realise that
War is not the answer.
And, it could do with
A boatload of gender equality
It is just about talent, opportunity and personality,
Not he, she, they.
Perhaps I could brush it with
An anti-homophobia agent
It would remove the sour taste
Since there is now more love.
Oh! I forgot to add extra kindness
Since it seems to have gotten burnt
During the first batch
It’ll make this Earth sweeter.
What more, what more?
I don’t think we’re quite done here yet.
After all, it needs to absorb the mixture
Before I can call them done.
The putrid stench of poverty?
Now, that’s not good.
Hopefully, the cookies react with the education I’ve put in
And become stronger, better, sweeter.
Plastic? Thermocol? CFCs? How did that get there?
Did the technology of tomorrow
Forget about today?
I hope recycling will counter that problem
But just to be sure,
I glaze them with the ultimate mix,
Of green thinking, sustainable living
That’ll elongate the cookies lifespan.
I’m almost there, almost perfected it
But there, a small uncertainty
A small mistake, a piece overlooked
Lingers at the back of my mind, bothering me.
Oneness. The feeling of being the same,
The feeling of regarding ourselves as just simple cells of the body,
No one more beneficial than the other
All equal in the eyes of the universe.
The feeling of knowing you don’t need to worry about sending your child to their grave when you let
them go to school,
The feeling of knowing your daughter won’t be caught, kidnapped and forced to submit to the disgusting
will of those who leer at her,
The feeling of knowing that you won’t have to worry about your religion targetted for a terrorist attack
when you step outside,
The feeling of being safe,
of being comfortable,
of just being without any strings attached.
I grab the bowl
And frost my cookies with oneness
And sprinkle them with trust, love
And they’re ready!
My recipe for a better world
A safer world, a happier world
A shared world.
Is nearing completion.
The Earth cookies are almost ready,
Softened and re-sweetened,
The only thing left now to do is to
Hand out the messages.
Who loves these cookies the most?
Maybe me, maybe you.
But one who can maintain these cookies
Are the voices from Tomorrowland.
The dreamers in children who roll in grass and stargaze,
The conscientious children who carry a cloth bag everywhere they go,
The resourceful children who use the leftover vegetable peels as compost,
The children who are aware, who still care, who still believe.
These are the messengers of my work,
Who eat the cookies and remember the taste.
Who knows – the more the people it reaches, the longer its decadence lasts
And so they tell everyone else about it too!
‘Savour, share and change!’
Since this cookie is mine to mould,
Yours to bake
And ours to enjoy.
This common Earth,
A brighter future for all of us,
My precious cookie,
Will no longer crumble,
But begin to rise again.
Darkness was all that surrounded him as he fell, lower and lower. He was sinking, drowning in emotions, a lonely, loathsome mess. His mind swirled, full of unwanted thoughts when strong, firm hands gripped him.
His girlfriend grabbed his shoulders in a vice-like grip, shanking him awake.
She held him close, stroking his hair and whispering calming words into his ears as he sobbed and sobbed. She placed a kiss on the top of his head and lifted him off the ground, bridal style. He vaguely remembered something like this happening in a shoujo manga he’d read.
She carried him to their room and place him on the bed, leaving for a quick second to pick up her guitar. She sat next to him and began to strum the song they’d written together, and the darkness that surrounded him began to dissipate.
Aliah was sleepy, oh so sleepy and it was all the cough syrup’s fault. Caroline was feeding her syrup three times a day — and she still wasn’t getting better! She swallowed another mouthful of hot soup and savoured the feeling of it running down her throat. It was nice until Caroline decided to be a little shit and shove more down her throat without letting her finish the previous spoon.
Aliah coughed, spluttering angrily at her girlfriend. Caroline just giggled and flicked her on the nose, before gently feeding her more soup and telling her about what she’d missed in school. Aliah sighed, she really didn’t like school.
But she loved it when Caroline leaned down and kissed her.
Now, that was how to treat illness, or so she thought — until Caroline landed a cold too.
Alison was a mess. Depressed, lonely — hell, she would have killed herself if she wasn’t such a coward. The familiar hiss of a knife against her wrist, the familiar feeling of pain, the familiar knowing that she deserved it.
Bryan made it better. Bryan made everything better.
Even though he was a little delusional, believing that she didn’t deserve any pain. Even though he wished to bear the pain in her stead. He couldn’t, and he probably wouldn’t want to, even if he could. But for now, it was better than what it was before.
Better than what it was before Bryan.
It was hard, watching her lie on the bed as her life ebbed away. It was harder still, to whisper a soft ‘I love you’ as she kissed him with a sense of finality. It was the hardest to see stone-cold faces at her funeral, like they had never cared for her in the first place.
But truth be told, they never loved her like he did in the first place.
They never wanted to hold her hands and tenderly kiss away her tears under the stars, no, they were the very cause of her sorrow. The sorrow that gentle, sweet, kind Alison didn’t deserve, not one bit. Alison deserved to be loved, loved passionately for every day she wasn’t before and so on forever; but they took that away from her. Took that away from poor, sweet Alison. From gentle, kind Alison.
She didn’t deserve the knife, she didn’t deserve the wait, she didn’t deserve the pain.
He hoped that wherever she was, it was better than down here.