Short Story 90: The Marathon
He had been training for so long for this marathon. For months, he had not missed a day, not cheated a day. He was determined. And surprisingly so because he was usually a lazy person. But for some reason, he had found tremendous determination for this. He was sure that this was not because he wanted to lose weight or have a healthy eating habit. He did not care about those. What did he care about? He did not know at the time.
Now, sitting across this woman, he knew. This was their 10th year in marriage and they were still happy and content. ‘This woman is the greatest gift of my life’, he thought. Then, he said this to her out loud. He also added:
‘But I also worked hard for it’.
The woman had not prepared for the marathon at all. She was a runner but a casual one. She had registered for the event because of peer pressure. On the day of the marathon, she almost overslept. But something in her was telling her to go. She attended the event just because. At least she thought so. Looking at the man across her and listening to what he just said, she replied:
‘Well, I didn’t work for it. But I had actually worked for it all my life. Why else would I start running in the first place?’
In reality, something else had made it work for them.
Short Story 89: Water
The instructor in the mindfulness class had asked the same thing again. It just did not make sense to her to write down things that she already knew about. What use was to write three things to be grateful for every day? She already knew it. She was aware of all the things she had. Why would she write down her feelings when she already felt them herself? They were in her!
She walked home thinking these. She regretted registering for the class and all the time she spent there. She just got useless advice. She decided to drop the class next week.
As she approached her home, she heard some noises from the next-door neighbor. She saw some technicians as she walked by. She entered her apartment, dropped her backpack and walked to the bathroom to wash her hands.
But she could not because there was no water. She checked all the taps in her place and none had water. This had never happened before. She was not sure who to ask about this, so she just walked to the technicians next door.
Apparently, there was some leak in her neighbor’s home, so they had to cut it all off to fix it and to make sure that other apartments are not affected badly. Worse, they did not know how long it would take them to fix it because they had not solved the problem yet.
She came back home, took out a notebook and a pen. She titled the page ‘Gratitude List 1/21/2020’. Then she added the first line: water.
Short Story 88: Writing Cure
Her life was not that interesting. It had never been. But she was a writer and she would make it interesting. She had decided to write her life down and publish it as a book. Today was the second week of her attempt.
Gillian got her coffee in her hand as usual, walked to the window and sat down on the couch there. She opened her laptop and started writing. Today she was going to write about how she had fallen out with her best childhood friend.
Her friend, Kaitlin, was angry that day. She had come to the class. Without talking to anyone, she had sat down and looked blankly at the board. Gillian had asked how she was at the break and had got a pure reprimand. Next break, the same thing. Next, the same. Gillian had given up. She wished things had stayed as it was at that point, but she had heard some girls talking about a secret of hers that only Kaitlin knew. Oh no, Kaitlin. Please don’t tell me you told this.
Next day, it became clear that Kaitlin had told everyone. What a shame. That day, Gillian had decided to never forgive Kaitlin.
As she was writing her life and thinking about this issue from Kaitlin’s perspective, she was now able to see that Kaitlin was mostly reacting to her previous wrong-doings. Gillian had had two really bad years at that point and Kaitlin had stuck with her always. But she had at times told Kaitlin off in public because she had anger issues. Kaitlin had always helped with her homework. And she had never acknowledged her help.
The day of fall-out, Kaitlin had also broken up with her boyfriend, so had heard Gillian. Her resentment towards her and the sadness of the break-up, Kaitlin did not know what she was doing. This, Gillian could see only now.
Gillian wanted to see Kaitlin again, but how? She did some Google search, some Instagram search and she finally got a hold of her. She wrote to tell her what had happened today. Also how a writing practice finally helped Gillian see the value in her.
Short Story 87: Cuddling
How can he sleep now when she needed him? How dare he?! He needs to wake up and they should cuddle. That is how life should be. You cannot use the night as an excuse.
She walked towards the bedroom where he was sleeping. She called him a few times and he did not hear. Then, she got on the bed and started touching him. Still no response. Eventually, she made a higher noise and touched more firmly. This woke him up.
‘Hey, what’s up?’, he asked.
He knew what was up. Why would he ask? Luckily, he was already cuddling her, so she did not have to get angry at that.
When cuddling was over, he said:
‘Ok, honey. We should now go back to sleep. Or I will. You can go and play with your toys.’
Her answer was simple:
Short Story 86: Not Bad at all.
He felt the warmth of someone’s hug and he liked it. Loneliness did not give you hugs, so he realized he missed it. And he wanted it. It would not be bad if he had someone that cared for him right now. It would not be bad at all.
As he woke up from the dream, he thought about the feelings he missed feeling. Showering someone with love, getting love in return, caring for each other, the warmth that come with all of these. He missed these so much that now they were in his dreams. He would often dream of someone just like that.
He thought this person must exist somewhere but just did not walk into his life yet. He wondered when she would knock the door. Today? He wished so.
On his way to work, he felt a bit melancholic. Yet, he tried to focus on his presentation today, repeating his lines in his head. He needed to distract himself.
Yet, it was weird that he would have those dreams, he would desire for warmth, on the days when he was more stressed out. So, he started thinking about his feelings again. It would not be bad if he had someone that cared for him right now. It would not be bad at all.
Short Story 85: Next Phase of Life
She had been thinking about making a big change in her life. She wanted to leave everything and go find herself a new path of life. She had in fact even decided to do that some time ago.
And yet, the habits she had formed made her decision a weak one.
She was still questioning it at times, despite knowing that change would be for the better. Assuming she had 40-50 years more to live based on the average life-span in her country, the change that she was thinking of could make her spend a better rest of her life.
And yet, there was also the fear of the unknown that she would get herself into.
Today, however, something happened that made her feel stronger in her decision. At an event related to her current profession, she felt distanced, overwhelmed and perhaps unattached. These feelings made her contribution less informative as well. She did not do as well as she had hoped for.
And now, she took these as signs that her decision for change was a good one. And she was thankful that she was reading these signs.
Now, onto the next phase of life.
Short Story 84: Airport Fight
She watched people walking around, trying to catch up to their flights, as she sipped her coffee. She was going to be one of those people now, but her flight was delayed. So, she had the time to come to this café, get her favorite coffee and do her favorite activity: watch people being themselves. She always felt very inspired by people when they were themselves.
Everything was going smoothly until she heard some screams from a table on her right. She turned her head to that side to see what was going on. A couple was fighting.
‘How come you don’t tell me they were also going to be there?’, shouted the woman.
‘It is not a big deal. I had already booked everything when they decided to come to the same place for vacation.’, answered the man.
‘God, I hate them! You should have told me.’
‘I am not comfortable either, honey. But we just need to do what we want to do.’
‘This is going to be very uncomfortable.’
‘Trust me, it is going to be ok. I will make sure that we don’t see them.’
The woman hit the table with her coffee cup and got up with anger. The cup was broken; the coffee was all over the table and the ground. The man got up to comfort her, but the woman pushed him away. He gave her a few minutes to calm down. They sat together and ordered new coffee. The woman was calm and the man was happy now. They both knew this would not be the best vacation ever, but they both decided to embrace it.
She noticed she had gotten tense from their fights. She tried to relax by getting another sip from her coffee.
‘I guess watching humans be humans is not always a peaceful experience’, she said to herself. ‘But it is always interesting.’
Short Story 83: But we will Play Together in the Park
She was angry with her mom. How dare she take her not let her play with her phone! As the child, she owns her mom’s phone. How does she not know that?
‘Do you want to go to the park and play?’, asked her mom.
‘No’, she said firmly. ‘I want to play on the phone.’
‘But we will play together in the park.’
‘But I didn’t finish my game on the phone.’
Her mom would always forcefully take her to the park and she would always hate it initially. At the end, she would always be happy to have gone to the park.
Today, when she was forcing her own child to go to the park with her, she finally understood how difficult it was for her mom to take a reluctant child to the park. She was stubborn, so it always took a lot of effort on her mom’s part to convince her. All her mom wanted to do was to keep human interaction going in her child’s life.
She had been successful at that too! Maybe as a result of her efforts at least partially, she was very successful in human relations. She had a lot of friends and a few good ones. She had many friendly colleagues in the workplace. Wherever she went, she made friends right away.
She thought of these when she was trying to convince her daughter to come with her to the park. Her daughter was also very stubborn. History repeated itself. Characteristics were the same, though the characters changed. Sentences were the same, though the speaker’s changed:
‘But we will play together in the park.’
‘But I didn’t finish my game on the phone.’
Short Story 82: Sleep, give me more of you!
As he opened his eyes in the morning, he felt his body drowned back to the bed. He felt so tired that his eyes did not open. Even his fingers resisted any kind of movement. But it was time to get up, so he forced himself to get up.
To no avail. His eyes shut without his permission. His body sank to the bed even more. Just as he was about to get completely into sleep, he opened his eyes with one forced sudden move. He needed to get out. He had rarely slept that much in the morning.
But his eyes stroke back. They got heavier and heavier. His body sank more and more. Finally, he was getting into deep sleep. Whatever he needed to do that day, he decided to screw them all. He let himself into the all-encompassing arms of sleep.
He slept for a few more hours. He checked his phone after he got up. There were 20 calls. What had he missed today? He checked his schedule after he got himself together a bit.
He then faced the sad fact. He had missed the meeting that would promote him in his office. One for which he had been waiting for forever. One for which he had worked until late at night today.
‘Well’, he said. ‘You got me there, sleep. Now, give me more of you.’
Short Story 81: Sound in Silence
She took a deep breath. She listened to the silence. Normally, she would play something from her phone to avoid this silence. But today, she decided not to. She was noticing that she did not like playing something random in the background all the time. It made her brain tired. And tired for no purpose. But she still continued because she did not like silence.
As she went through her daily routine, she could feel her brain relaxing. She also felt happier. She made some coffee for herself, sat at her table on the balcony and just watched and listened. People were rushing around, kids to school, adults to work. Cars were trying to make it through the traffic. Stores were just opening. The bakeries had a long line in front of them.
She watched all of this until the last sip of her coffee. She actually sat there for some time after that too. Then, she went in, got to her bed and sat on it. She closed her eyes. Now, she wanted to listen to her brain. She sat in utter silence. Phone on silent mode. TV off. As her brain eased into this utter silence, it started playing its own movie. She saw herself in beautiful, relaxing places that she had never been to. She went from one place to another. She watched this movie till the end. Then, she opened her eyes, slowly got up and went to the kitchen. It was time for breakfast.
Who knew there was so much sound in silence?
Short Story 80: Later
He sat on his couch, unable to stay still. His mind was over-occupied with the prospect of losing his job. He even rejected his son’s offer to play. It hurt him, but oh well. Today had not been a good day.
His eyes fixated on the wall.
His right leg was moving up and down nervously.
His teeth were grinding.
What would happen now?
His wife walked in after God-knows-how-many-hours. He was still in the same place, doing the same things.
‘What’s wrong?’, she asked.
‘Go away!’, he yelled.
She kneeled before him and said:
‘Something is wrong.’
‘Leave me alone!’, he replied.
Then, he fixated again.
It was a couple of hours later that he got out of the room. He walked into the kitchen and found his wife there. He asked if there was any food or whether he should order some. His wife said there was some. So, he sat down and they ate together. The son was there too.
The man smiled at his wife and son. He did not say anything. Just smiled. It would not help yelling at them and sulking. He had better spend his remaining few paying days happy. He would deal with consequences later.
Short Story 79: Wedding Day and after
She had always dreamed of this day. She was no longer a loner. She was paired.
The wedding day had gone well. Too well, in fact, considering what her friends had told her: on wedding days, everything was expected to go wrong. But they had not. She interpreted as a sign that her unfortunate life was ending. Finally, she was going to be on the good side of life.
But all through her wedding, she was surprisingly feeling detached. It was as if someone else was getting married and her old life would not leave her.
Little did she know that her feelings had never been more correct. Her old life would indeed stay with her.
It would take her a few years to figure this out. It would cost her disappointment, unhappiness, some mental distress and loneliness in the pair.
Then, it would take her another few years to come to some peace with her old life. At this time, she had given in to it and accepting. This would cost her disappointment that her life had not worked out the way she wanted but it would also give her some hope.
Only after all these years would she see the real bliss of marriage.
For now, she was just trying to enjoy her wedding, ignoring the weird feelings she was having. She put a smile on her face. Maybe that would save the day.
Short Story 78: The School
There it was! It had managed to stay the same all these years. Not one change. The colors of the building were the same. The garden looked the same. The children, even they seemed the same. This school had marked his childhood years. This was where his roots were. He had become him in this building and this garden.
As he walked around the garden, he remembered the times when he would run around in the garden aimlessly and joyfully. He had taken a bad fall right there. He remembered how much he had cried. But then, he had continued the play as if nothing had happened. He missed those days.
When he reached the building, everything still looked the same. He imagined himself running to class because he had gotten too engaged in play and forgotten about the class. The teacher had sent someone for him. In his mind, he was running.
He ran now too. Just to imitate those times.
When he reached his class, he went and sat at his own desk. The classroom was empty now but he imagined the teacher and his friends. It was a joy. He was constantly talking to his friends and the teacher was not happy about it. But he was. Finally, he agreed to take out his notebook and take some notes. He could see that this made his teacher happy.
As he started taking notes, he heard someone say:
‘Would you like anything, Sir?’
‘No, thanks’, he said. He just wanted to continue his story. Where were we? Oh yes, he had started taking notes…
Short Story 77: During the Day, too?
She woke up with deep breaths. She had just had a bad dream. This had been her habit now. Her dreams had turned from fun and joy into chase scenes. She was the prey all the time. She did not know what she was being chased by.
Today, the dream had hit closer. Now, the predator was in her room. She had hidden under her bed but he had found her there. She had luckily woken up when the predator reached out to catch her.
She watched the empty ceiling for a while, thinking about what these dreams were about. Having no answer, she went to wash her face.
She would at least be free of the predators during the day. So, she tried to forget about them. But when she opened the door to get out, she saw one of the predators walking away. How was that possible? Would they now visit her during the day as well? Were nights not enough?
Short Story 76: The Beds
‘Oh, so these are the humans that were talking all the time with me’, said the baby when he arrived in this world. But there were others he did not know the voices of. Too much crowd. He didn’t like what he saw. He wanted to just lie down, as he always did back there. He wanted to go back, but he could not. So, he started crying.
Then, he felt soft hands and cheek. He remembered this smell. He paid a bit more attention. Oh, he knew this smell. This was the smell of his bed. So, he stopped crying. Apparently, they had brought his bed with him. That was good.
Just as he had locked eyes with his bed, he felt another soft hand touch him. Was that another bed? Would he sleep even more? Yay! The second bed started talking to him. He knew this voice. ‘Ok, dude! I will take you as my bed too. Don’t worry!’ he said.
Then, the two beds started talking to each other. The second one kissed the first one. Then, it kissed him. It felt good. Then, the first bed kissed him too. This also felt good. ‘How does one kiss?’, he thought to himself. He would have to learn this.
Now, when he looked back at the few moments in his life, he knew that he had learnt a lot. Now, he knew that he had more than just a bed.
Short Story 75: Tree and Water
He grabbed his coffee and sat down to write his story. He had had the idea when he was walking back home. He needed to write it before he forgot it.
“The tree had been on that spot for all his life. He had watched so many people pass by him. Sometimes, they would come and sit with their backs leaned on him. He liked it. Sometimes, kids would play around him. He was always there.
He had a good friend, water. He seemed to be sleeping. He wished he would wake up now. Oh, and he did!
‘Hey, what’s up!’
‘I am good. Missed you tree.’
‘I did too! Hey, I got a question for you. I have been thinking about my stability, how I am in the same place all the time. You always move. I want to be like you for some time. How do you do it?’
‘Really? I always admired your stability. I am all over the place. You are not.’
‘Really? Do you think we can exchange, then? You become me and I become you?’
‘Not really. I think we should stay as we are. When I am too much all over the place, I like the fact that I can come to you and find the stability I want to see. And I am also sometimes stable. Like now, I can stay and talk to you.’
‘And when I see activity, I watch you. And also, it is not that I don’t move at all. My leaves and branches move a lot.’
‘There you go!’
‘There we go!’”
As he wrapped up his story, his wife walked in. She was the tree and he was the water.
Short Story 74: Tears
She was bothered by an unknown, indescribable feeling recently. It followed her wherever she went. She wanted to escape it when she went for walks, yet it was there. She thought she would get a rest from it when she slept, yet it was there: in her dreams. She met people to cross it out with the fun, yet it crossed out the fun.
She had lost hope.
Today, she had also walked and slept and neither had worked. She woke up and stayed in the silence of the night on her bed. She was desperate and did not know what else to do. She wanted to scream, but there was no one to hear her. She wanted to talk, but there was no one to listen to her.
In this desperate situation, a tear dropped onto her cheeks. Then came another, then another. Then sounds of desperation accompanied the tears. A feeling of relief took reign inside and she slept like a baby.
For all these days, she needed not a walk, nor sleep but tears. Tears to clean inside.
Short Story 73: She Understands Life
‘Do you want some more tea?’
‘Yeah, sure. Thanks!’
Kathie was having some issues at the work place recently and Jill was her main supporter in such times. She had always been. She would always come to her place and make some tea whenever Kathie felt bad. Kathie did the same when Jill felt bad too.
As they drank their tea, Kathie talked about her problems at work and Jill tried to give helping suggestions. Then, the conversation took its natural turn to bigger questions about life. Kathie always asked herself whether she was doing whatever she was supposed to be doing whenever she had problems at work. Jill tried to support the hypothesis that she was because she wanted to do it since her childhood. For both, this part of the conversation about life was more intriguing than talking only about problems and suggestions.
‘Maybe’, thought Kathie to herself, ‘maybe that is why I like Jill. She understands life.’
Short Story 72: Home to Heart
For all his life, he had wanted to find the person that would share his heart’s innermost secrets. Because that was his goal, he had formed the habit of finding people and opening up to them, each time thinking that that person was the person. So far, all that he had opened up had gone in vain. They had been misunderstood and misused. His heart was crying in despair and yet he could not do anything.
This last one. He was sure that this one was really the one. It was so different. The connection was much deeper. His heart felt happy.
But then again, all that he opened up went for nothing.
And then again, his heart was crying in despair.
And then again, he could not do anything.
As he walked down the street, he promised himself one thing. He would no longer look for a person to open up his heart’s deepest sensitivities. This was apparently not helping. Rather than understanding his heart’s feelings, he was adding more sensitivities to it by doing this. This seemed to put a distance between his heart and him. So, from now on, all he would do was to let his heart talk to him. He had not tried that. Maybe this would work. Maybe now, his heart’s deepest secrets would find the right channel. How could it not be right? He was his heart’s home. And home always feels right.
Short Story 71: That was Life
Today was the big day. Julie had not seen her friends for a long time and they had finally managed to arrange a meeting. As she was getting ready, she thought back to the days when she met her friends every day and spent hours with them. Long gone were those days. She was curious to see if she could revive those feelings today.
When the meeting time came, she got even more excited and happy. She was the first to arrive. She wanted to arrive early so she can get used to the scene and could act more normal. Then, her friends started arriving one by one. With each friend that came, Julie felt transported to a different time zone. As they recalled their memories together, she got even a better feeling that she was in a different time zone now.
Then they started talking about their lives now. Then, a sudden feeling of sadness covered Julie’s body. Things had changed. They would never be like before again. They were not in the same place everyday anymore. Their lives had grown apart. How could she not see that before? She knew it, but until today, she had not understood it. Today was the day she had faced the facts.
As she walked home after the meeting, Julie decided to drop by the coffee shop she frequented every day. She sat there in silence. This was her life now. Her friends were not there. Her self was. And it would always be. That was life.
Short Story 70: Locked Room
The last couple of days had not been good for John. Not because he did not accomplish anything. On the contrary, he was having some of his most productive weeks recently. But his emotions were not in their best times. It felt like they were locked in a room and trying to get out. They were shouting behind the door with the hope that someone would hear them out. That John would hear them out. John indeed hear them, but he did not have the key to open the door, so he was helpless, waiting for someone to help him.
On a day when he felt relatively less busy, he decided to go to the beach half an hour away. He hadn’t been there in ages.
When he arrived at the beach, he sat on the sand nearby the waves and watched them. There was something special about the sound of water-he had always found peace in it. But this time, there was something else in addition to the water. Each wave that came took some of his emotions away with them as they went away. With each wave, he emptied the locked room a little. When the room was empty, then he found the peace. Now, the remaining few emotions were having a great time in the empty room, running around, hitting each other and shouting and laughing. Luckily, he had taken his notebook with him. He took it out with the intention of noting down the words shouted in the room. The locksmith had done it again.
Short Story 69: Silence
She had never liked nights, which is why she always went to bed early. What you don’t like, you avoid, right? She had always felt uncomfortable in silence. Noise gave her a sense of safety. Maybe, it signaled that there was life. Sound equaled life. Silence equaled death.
But tonight, she had to face what she did not like. This rarely happened because she slept very easily, but it did at times, including today. She had had a very busy day and was exhausted. She had also recently had major changes in her life. Her job had changed; she had had to move into a new city. Everything was new and she was alone. The physical exhaustion, coupled with mental exhaustion, did not let her sleep. She had to face the silence of the night.
The first few hours were difficult. So difficult that she came to the verge of crying and shouting. But later, her heartbeats became regularized and even slowed down some more. Her breath got deeper and deeper. Her mind started emptying. An involuntary smile touched her lips. The silence was giving her the time to pull herself together. The time she had deprived herself of. This was now giving her a quick recovery, which otherwise would have taken her days.
She had not become friends enough with silence to understand how it would affect her life. But it had entered her life by force. She did not complain. She accepted.
Short Story 68: Another Regular Day
The sun was rising and the day was at the door. She opened her eyes involuntarily and looked out the window. Yet another regular day. But something inside her disagreed. Maybe it was not a regular day. Maybe today would be different. Maybe today was the day when her life would change.
The sudden flow of optimism was interrupted by the same phrase she said everyday: This is just another regular day. Nothing is going to change. Nothing will be different.
Then she set out to do whatever she was supposed to do. Breakfast, commute, work, lunch, work, commute, dinner, Netflix and sleep. Tomorrow, she would wake up to just another regular day.
She was right. Today was just another day. Nothing had changed. Nothing was different. The optimistic flow was just another passing fad.
Short Story 67: Loneliness
Loneliness had defined her life. The feeling she had felt every moment of her every day. It was loneliness that gave her the darkest days. Days when she felt nothing but sadness. Gloominess. Loneliness was also the reason for the many times she wanted to run away from everything and get lost. And possibly never come back.
It had not done all bad, though. If she was not lonely, she would not have started writing at all. Lack of a friend who would listen to her when she had the blues made her make the papers and the pen her friend. They were good friends. They never left her. They were there whenever she wanted.
But they did not talk. They only listened. Sometimes, she wanted to hear them talk. She wanted to feel like she was conversing with them. But they never did.
So, she wanted to end this friendship many times. But she never did. After all, who would end the one last friendship they had?
Short Story 66: Chocolate Bar
‘Would you like some more tea?’, the waiter asked.
‘No, thanks’, he said, wishing that the waiter would not come back. He wanted to be alone. He took out his notebook and started taking some notes. Or so he seemed so as to make people think that he is busy. He did not want anyone to talk to him. He sat there for an hour, pretending to write. But he was still as unhappy as when he had left home. Getting outside of home had not worked.
He then decided to take a walk. He walked randomly for some time. He was still sad. Nothing was working. He sat on a bench on the sidewalk in despair. He put his head in his hands, head down, and sighed deeply. He did not even know why he was unhappy. Just then, he felt a child touch him. He raised his head and looked at the child. The child was offering his chocolate bar to him. He smiled and refused the chocolate, saying that he should eat it. The child insisted, so he took it. The child smiled and he smiled back. He felt happier.
Sometimes, all it took to bring happiness was a chocolate bar and a smile.
Short Story 65: The Cat
She thought she had heard a noise of something dropping in the bathroom and went to check it. No, there was nothing. It was her imagination. Her desire to have her cat around made her hear and see things that did not happen. All of these things were what the cat would have done if he was around. She still felt his presence very strongly, yet she needed to realize that he was not there and would not be. She was starting her decision that the cat needed a better home because her life would destabilize. She did not want the cat to suffer in loneliness as she traveled constantly. She could not have taken him with her all the time either.
And yet, she missed him. She missed him so much that she was still seeing and hearing him around her apartment. How much she would want him to be here right now.
As she was having these thoughts, her bell rang. Who was that? No one came to visit her. Hesitant, she walked toward the door and checked who it was that came. And she was surprised. The cat and the new owner. She opened the door and hugged the cat tight. The cat let her for a few minutes and then pushed her away and went to his favorite spot to sleep and groom.
The new owner told her that the cat just did not want him at all and would bite him and run around the house aimlessly. He was too afraid that the cat would jump out the window with this behavior, so he decided that he would not get along well with him. It had been two weeks and yet nothing had changed. Clearly, it was not working.
She went and hugged the cat again. Then she said: ‘Well, I guess we will be together for life’.
Short Story 64: The friend who is always there
She did not like the apartment today. Everyone had left and she had woken up to emptiness. The noise had left, along with the joy it had brought. She had got so used to waking up to people talking that she had not noticed how much she had liked it and how much it had been a part of her life.
So she stayed in bed. She turned right and left but she was not sleepy at all. So she had no choice but to get up. She walked to the kitchen to make coffee for herself. And again, she was struck by how empty it was. There would be people preparing breakfast if today was just yesterday.
She made her coffee regardless. Then she sat down and started drinking the coffee. As she was doing it, she also started looking through the news and then watched some fun videos. This way, she wanted to distract herself and also maybe cheer her up a bit. After the coffee finished, she decided that it would be best for her to start her work. And so she did. She did not have anything to do today, at least not urgent. So, she would just do some work and rest a bit. This is what she did it the whole day.
When the evening approached, she went out to the balcony to watch the sunset. The sunsets made her reflect on her day. She liked them for this reason. Today, she would do the same.
As she did that, she realized two things. First, it had been a very productive and restful day. It was the opposite of what she had expected it to be. She did not feel sad, devastated or alone. Second, she realized she could not have felt alone anyways. Well, herself would never leave her alone until death break them apart.
Short Story 63: Melancholy
She always thought she felt things more than other people. When she was a kid, she always thought that everyone felt the same. She felt as part of her community. As she grew up, she started realizing that people do not understand her. She started feeling less and less belonging. She was moving away from everyone else. Now there was no one left in her world.
One day, she sat down and started thinking. What was it that she felt every day, every moment? That no one understood? It was not sadness. It was not emptiness. What was it? She could not find an answer and went about her day. But the question did not stop bothering her. Each time it came, she forced it to go. She did not want to think about a question that did not have an answer.
She loved taking walks in the park near her apartment. Today, the sky was cloudy. Cloudy days were the days that triggered these feelings the most. She closed her eyes and sighed. The question was on her mind again. Apparently, she would be stuck with it for a longer while. Oh well.
She walked longer than usual and started walking home. On her way back home, one word came out her mouth. That was it. That was the feeling.
Short Story 62: Anger Out, Anger In
‘I am very angry. Don’t talk to me’, Mary said to Jen.
‘Ok. I will give you some time but I will come back, ok? We need to talk about it.’
Silence. Jen left, only to return after 5 minutes. Mary was already calmed down. They talked about what was bothering Mary. Mary said whatever she wanted to say. She watched the anger flow out of her body as she spoke. At the end, all the anger was outside. Her body was purified of it.
Months later, at a moment of yet another anger, Mary looked for Jen. She was not there. Now she was in another city working for a project. She wanted to say ‘I am very angry. Don’t talk to me’ to someone. Yet, there was no one to hear these words. There was no one to listen to her words. This time, she could not watch the anger flow out of her body because she could not speak. At the end, all the anger was inside. Her body was full of it.
And they say independence is a good thing.
Short Story 61: Peace in Tea
The day could not have gone worse. He had missed the three two alarms, so it had started late. When he was making a toast for himself for breakfast, he had just wanted to go and check up on his mails. As he came back home, he smelled something burning. And there had gone his toast. He did not have much time and he was angry too. So, he grabbed a granola bar and got out.
The train was not cooperating that day either. First, they said it was late. So, he waited. Then, they said it was canceled. He left the station cursing. Now he would have to pay for the cab. He did. He had no choice.
He knew that the workplace would not be kind to him today either because one of his colleagues was absent today. That would leave more work on him. It did. He got tired by the lunch time and he wanted to eat. But he realized he had forgotten his lunch in the rush of the morning. Luckily, a colleague shared his, but he felt bad. He promised to take him out one day in return. They agreed on Wednesday.
When work had finished that day, he felt terribly tired. He knew the train was still not operating. So, he had to take a cab back.
He finally arrived home and put his bag down and just sat down on the floor. He felt his tiredness in his bones. After minutes of sitting, he went to kitchen and made his favorite tea for himself. Nothing went wrong this time. Peace and calmness were in that tea. Not far after all.
Short Story 60: Playground
She let the kids on their own this time. They just wanted to run around like something was chasing them and she was not young enough to catch up. She was always worried about her kids. It was not safe enough after all. The environment was not like in her childhood.
She sat on a bench by the park and watched her kids. They seemed very happy. She smiled because seeing them happy made her happy. Then she tried to remember her own plays as a kid. They did not have such a park in their neighborhood. They played on the streets at the time. Well, obviously there were not that many cars then. So it was ok to play there. And also everyone knew that a kid could appear just anywhere, so drivers were more careful too.
There was a big park in the town center, though. But going there was once in a lifetime event. Well, maybe not literally lifetime but certainly once a year. They would spend a whole year waiting for that day. She always enjoyed those special days a lot. They were a nice scene change from the street.
Now, the only playground she could bring her children was this little park by their house and she could not dare to let them go on their own. She did not think highly of the environment. Her children perhaps never left home without her to go and play. It was sad.
She sighed. She wished someone could do something about it. She wished her children could also go out and enjoy their time however they wanted to. Just like she did.
Short Story 59: Movie
When she looked out the window, she did not see the usual. Instead of the sunny weather that smiled on her face every day, there was greyness. The clouds seemed heavy and ready to pour. She sighed deeply and wanted to get back to her back. She had never liked this kind of weather because it always made her feel down.
Her schedule was not as tight today. She did not have to go out right away. She considered herself lucky because now it was already raining a bit outside. So, she decided to get some how chocolate so she could romanticize this weather like she saw in pictures.
She sat down in front of the window with her hot chocolate in her hand. She sat silently for a while, still resenting the weather. After a while, though, a calm came down to her as some of her memories started passing her mind. It started with yesterday’s memories. The time when she felt sad for her friend, the time when she had lunch with a group of people. Then memories went further back in time and at some point, she found herself thinking about her childhood memories. The time when she rode a bike for the first time, the times when the spring started so she was out on the streets. Her life was passing through her mind like a movie playing backwards.
The movie lasted long enough to make her worry at the end that she would miss her first meeting. When she was finally able to get out of her mind into real life, her hot chocolate was cold. She checked the time and realized that she had half an hour to get ready and go out. So that is what she did, while at the same time thinking that grey weather is not bad after all. It forces you to watch movies.
Short Story 58: Time Machine
Sarah was excited. She had not seen her in years and she wondered what it would be like to see and talk to her after all these years.
Today she was going to meet her college friend. The one she had formed a nice connection back then. They were still in the same city for a few years after college. But then they had separated into different cities. They had tried to keep contact for a while, but that also started phasing out. And now, they had not heard from each other in a long time. Until her friend found her and contacted her because apparently now she had a job that made her travel a lot and she wanted to learn where she lived, in case she visited that city. And today she did. Today, she called her and now they were going to meet soon.
As Sarah took another sip from her coffee as she waited for her friend, she saw her walking towards her. Both smiled at each other. Both had changed, but not in a way that made them unrecognizable. They hugged and sat down. They talked. They laughed. Then, they continued talking. Then they laughed again.
Nothing had changed. They were still college besties. Who said time machine was not invented?
Short Story 57: Receive and Give
The sun was up but that did not mean anything to her. Everything could go as they wanted. She would stay where she was and not participate in life just survival. So she stayed in bed to encourage this mindset she had just got.
For a while, she just watched the ceiling. Then, she got bored a bit and tried to sleep. That took a while too, and only for an hour of sleep. She still had the rest of the day to survive. She wanted to do something, but also she did not want to do anything. It was weird.
As she was trying to figure out what to do in this kind of a situation, she happened to watch a video just on that. Then, she followed up on recommendations and watched related videos for another hour. Then somewhat-related videos for another hour. Then unrelated videos for another hour.
When she got out of the bed finally, she was feeling determined to live more and survive less. Two hours of related (or somewhat-related) videos had helped. But that was for today. What would happen tomorrow? She did not know. Would she watch videos for three hours again? Hopefully not. She needed to find a quicker and more consistent motivator in herself. But she did not have it now so videos would do for now.
Hint: She got tired of watching videos and they did not have the same impact on her after a while. So she started applying what was told in the videos. That helped better. Then, she started inventing her own motivation. That helped even better. Now she makes videos.
Short Story 56: The Messages
He had been sitting in front of his laptop for at least four hours by now. He was so involved in this project that he did not notice his back pain. He stretched a bit when he noticed it and touched his back as if it would relieve the pain.
‘Hey, is something wrong?’, asked his co-worker.
‘No, not really. I just have been sitting for a long time.’
This was not true. He had been having this pain much more often now but he just did not have the time to go get it checked. He did not want to fall behind in the project, so he postponed a visit to the doctor.
Since his pain did not get any less, he decided to stand up and walk out of the office and maybe get some coffee. The walk did help a bit but the pain was still there. He checked the time and decided that he needed to go back to the office and continue working. So, he sat for another three hours.
When he was going home after work, he was almost unable to walk because of the pain. He had to call his boss to ask for a sick day, which he had not done in the past few years. Whenever he felt a bit sick, he ignored it and continued working with the sickness. No one noticed it.
He went to the doctor the next day. It was not good news. He had to completely change his schedule for a few months the least because he needed surgery. He thought he would work from home in that time.
But he did not. This surgery had done something to him. He was finally listening to his body’s messages. He was hearing its screams. He was befriending it. So he called his boss and said he would not come back. Why? Because he just did not want to.
Short Story 55: Small Places
As the successful businesswoman she is now, she was traveling constantly. You know, meetings and the like. She had one rule: if the meeting location was within six-hours of drive, she would only drive. No planes or trains. She did this because that was the only way she could spend time on her own. She would just turn on the music and drive peacefully.
Today was a four-hour drive and via a route she had been to in long time. That was not the only thing. She would actually pass by the town she grew up in. After she left that town at the age of 15, she had been back at all. She was excited and curious to do that at least briefly now. How much had the town changed? She hoped not much so she could relive the good old days for a few hours.
She got into her car. This time, she felt something she had not felt in her car. She felt out of breath for a while. She took a forced breath and started the car. Once she got out of the town into the calmer areas, she started thinking about the fact that she felt out of breath most times she was in a small space. She had felt it the first ever time she got into her car but then she had got used to it. So today was weird. But other than that, she felt the same whenever she was in a small room or even a street that was smaller than usual.
She thought and made a list of all places she felt like that. She had not noticed how common that feeling was for her. Why was that?
As she came to the end of her list, she was already entering her childhood town. The first place she wanted to visit was the park she played at, so she drove there. The park was there but it looked different. There were more things for kids. In her time, it was close to empty. She walked in the park and cherished some memories.
Then she went to her school. Something told her to go to a hidden spot she hated. She did not know why she had started hating that spot but she listened to her instincts. The spot was there. She sat and thought of what had happened here. She vaguely remembered some of her classmates bullying her in the open garden. She did not remember what had gotten them angry on that day, but they were certainly not kind. They pushed her around, so she ran and hid here. But someone found her and told the bullies. They came. She remembered not being able to breathe as the bullies bullied her.
She noticed not being able to breathe now. She got out of the spot right away. She walked away. As she was walking, she tried to remember the details of the bullying incident. She could not remember much, so she left that thought. Instead, she was now thinking of how you cannot escape the effect of the little moments in your life, no matter how big you get.
Short Story 54: Big World, Small World
She loved it all. All the things she had seen and experienced and all the things she would see and experience. She was thankful for all. And yet, something felt wrong. It felt as if there could be a better world somewhere. A world where that wrong could be right.
Years ago, she had imagined a big world for herself. The whole world would be hers. She would have a life in which she would go to places and experience all she could. She would interact with all the people she could. And she had achieved that to a certain extent.
And yet there was something missing. What was wrong?
She had noticed this missing thing a few years ago. At first, she did not pay attention to this emerging realization because she was enjoying all so much and all looked perfect. But the emptiness continued to get bigger. Now it had become so big that it was impossible to ignore. It occupied her mind more than ever.
The thought that occupied her mind was that she wanted her world to be smaller now. She wanted it to be as small as it could get. Now she was imagining a world with just a few people around. A world where she would stay put. A world without noise.
What had changed? She did not know. She had an idea, though. As she took another sip from her coffee watching people in a big airport, she mumbled to herself:
‘Maybe I just left myself behind when the world opened to me and that self is catching up.’
Short Story 53: Last Piece of Memory
The town had changed quite a lot. It looked nothing like in his mind. A soulless house stood where they would play everyday. Just that grey, tall and cold type of building. The streets they conquered were now in the hands of cars. That is why the kids were nowhere to be seen. What if they got hit, right?
He headed towards the mini-market they got chips from. Maybe, it was there. Maybe, it stood against this change. Maybe. Now, this curiosity, this expectation made him walk so fast that he was practically running.
There it was. The market did not look the same but there was still some market. That was good. So he walked in. There was some young boy. He walked towards and asked:
‘Is Dan here?’
‘My father? He is at home. He does not come here that often.’
‘Can I visit him?’
‘Who are you?’
‘I used to live here as a kid. I bought a lot of chips from here with my friends.’
‘I will call him and he will come here. You can take a seat there. What was your name?’
He waited for an hour or so and there was Dan. He could not hide his excitement and just ran to him and hugged him. He held the hug for so long that he could feel all the disappointment leaving him. He had one last piece of the memories. At least one.
Short Story 52: Fortunately, the Sun Came Out.
Was there a way to ask the sun not to come out today? She just wanted a little bit more sleep. Just a little bit more rest. She had a really busy week. But she needed to push one more day. Just one more day. So, she got out of the bed.
As she was brushing her teeth, she tried to make plans for the weekend. She tried to come up with something exciting to do. But all her plans ended in sleeping. All she could imagine was a scene when she got as much sleep as she wanted.
‘Another boring, sleepy weekend then, eh’, she said to herself.
She got dressed and approached the door. There were some noises outside. Some kids were shouting. Who were these kids? Maybe the grandchildren of her neighbor. She listened without opening the door. She heard one of the kids laugh his heart out. She envied him. When was the last time she had an actual laugh? She could not remember.
She opened the door. She saw the kids running around in the building having the best of times. She checked the time. She had an extra 10 minutes. So, she decided to do something she had not done in years. She decided to talk and play with the kids. She started chatting with them and she found herself also running around in the building. She was not even aware but later her neighbor told her that she was also laughing her heart out.
Maybe the sun did the right thing by coming out.
Short Story 51: She needed a reason
An annoyingly busy day was waiting for her. She had to cook a lot today. Then she had to prepare a little speech for the kids. She did not know what to cook. She did not know what to say.
She got out of the bed with a lot of anxious feelings and a bit of nervousness. She went to the kitchen to at least make the coffee machine work. Something had to start working already.
She had a relatively calm breakfast, but a quick one. She got up right after her last bite and started cleaning the kitchen up a bit. After she organized the kitchen in a way that would motivate her (she definitely needed the music to flow through her ears), she started cooking. She did the basic stuff first and then moved onto the core food.
As she was preparing the ingredients for that food, she wanted to shout out of stress. She opened her mouth, with her eyes filled with tears, but she stopped. She remembered the day she started cooking with her mom and what her mom had told her then.
Cooking is not a chore. It is a way to connect with and help people. Only if you do it with that intention can you truly enjoy it.
She had said the same thing later as well. This one was years later, when she was a young adult. She was expected to give the introductory speech at an event for the poor people of the neighborhood but she was too lazy to do so. She avoided doing this extra work. Then her mom had said:
Giving a speech like this is not a chore. It is a way to connect with and help people. Only if you do it with that intention can you truly enjoy it.
She also remembered that at this same event, she had cooked with pleasure. Apparently cooking was not a chore anymore. Speaking should not have been either.
That talk with her mom had fueled her and made her task more meaningful.
Now, rather than the music at the background, it was her mom’s words that were motivating her. They kept spinning in her head until the job finished.
Then, she sat down with her afternoon tea in her hand and the music in her ear. She was feeling the joy. Just like her mom had said.
Short Story 50: Anger was Beaten
This is my 50th short story. This is a milestone for me. It is one quarter of my goal. So, it is special.
It was that time of the day. The one she liked the most. She sat down on her bed with a warm cup of chamomile tea in her hand. Her favorite soothing music was playing in the background.
Could things ever be more peaceful than this?
She had made this a habit in the last year. She would prepare everything: the bed, the tea, the music. Then she would sit down and look into the empty space in front of her and just think. She would usually think about her feelings but occasionally she would reflect on the day that was just ending. Today was one such day because she had got angry many times and she did not like it. Today was far from her dream of leading a calm life.
The first time she got angry was when she missed her train to work because of the long line of people. The line would have proceeded faster if it was not for that woman who started arguing with an officer. She took longer and much fewer people were able to get to the train. The woman did, though.
Then, the train was going slower than usual because it was raining heavily. She became so anxious that she would be late that her anxiety turned into anger. But she could not yell on the train, so she bottled it up.
When she arrived at work, she was surprised to find out that her being late was not a big deal. Everybody minded their own business. That is when it hit her that she was being angry in vain. But then she learnt that the printer was broken and she needed to print some documents for the upcoming meeting in an hour. She got really angry but again, she bottled it up. Who could she shout at? The printer?
The printer did not get fixed but she was able to make her presentation in the meeting with the projection in the room. At the end, it did not matter at all whether she had printed the documents. Now, she felt pity for herself for getting angry so easily.
The meeting went well and she spent the rest of the day in her office, doing her work in her own pace. She relaxed. She did not get angry again.
Now that she thought about her day, how would it be different if she had not got angry at things that go unexpected? The next train was in 15 minutes, so it did not matter much if she had missed that one. The train was going slower but was in fact only 10 minutes late. Again, this did not make a lot of difference. She could have spent all that extra time enjoying her thoughts and maybe connecting with people instead of battling with anger. Same for the printer problem. Instead of waiting by the printer for an hour, she could have just gone out for a coffee with her friends or just enjoy the silence of her office.
Well, she had not done that but there was always a next time. Maybe she would do it then. With that hopeful thought in her mind, she put her head in her pillow and fell right asleep. Peace was all around. Anger was beaten.
Short Story 49: Run
The day had finally come. He would meet people from the best years of his life after so many years. They had promised to meet 10 years after and today was the day. The day had come just in time, because otherwise he was feeling very lonely in this whole world. He did not have anyone anyway but for some time, his dreams had accompanied him. Now they were gone too. He had no one in his life nor his dreams.
But he decided to try again today. When he woke up earlier than he planned, he stayed in his bed rather than rushing out and fixed his gaze on the ceiling. He let images to pass through his mind.
He saw himself running with the people he was going to meet. They looked like in the old days. As teenagers, they had taken to a running schedule. He remembered himself running out of breath easily those days. He was not used to this at all. He was in it only because his friends were. They ran and ran, laughing and talking as they did so. Then the fun he had had at those times became clearer to him.
To this day, he was still running on a schedule. The same schedule.
His mind also gave him the image of what used to happen after the run. When everyone was out of breath and was quickly grasping water. They also used to pour the water from their bottles down their heads, every time. He loved those scenes.
That was still what he did after the runs.
When that image was still on his mind, the one where he pours water down his head, the alarm went off. He smiled briefly. He had actually met his friends already in his mind. Apparently, they had left the memories to replace them while they were away. But he was still excited to meet them.
Short Story 48: Pity She did not
The street was very crowded today. People were celebrating this recently made-up festival. She hated crowded streets. She hated people. Especially when there were too many of them in one place at the same time. And now with these new inventions, there were often many people gathered somewhere in the city.
As she was trying to pass through people, her mind was occupied with the job interview she was heading to. How would it go? Would she embarrass herself? Would she get the job? It had been quite a while she got into such an interview and she was nervous. But she was confident.
Her confidence paid off and she got the job. But she did not expect to be positioned to a city that she did not know anything about. Moving out of this familiar place frightened her. Despite this fear, though, she had to move. The position was so prestigious that she would be stupid if she did not. It was promising.
She passed though the same streets, bumping into the same people, as she headed back home. The walk-back felt different. She felt like she was leaving family behind as she looked at these people that she was angry at just a few hours ago. She felt tears in her eyes, just like she would have had if she was leaving her actual family now. She was surprised at how her feelings had changed and why they had changed.
It was not only because she was leaving the city she lived in for years, but also because the only thing she knew about the new city was that it was calm. Too calm for her. She realized she would greatly miss the comfort of feeling part of the city community.
Until she had to leave the crowd, she did not know she liked them or needed them. Pity she did not.
Short Story 47: Play
The adults did not seem to be very active today. They were not playing with him. That could not happen! He had to find a way to get the adults to play with him.
He jumped on his dad’s head when he was sitting on the couch watching something on that moving screen. He had no idea why the adults were watching it instead of playing with him.
His dad did not respond to his enthusiasm. He just removed him from his head. He did not like this, so he jumped again.
His dad now gave a look to him that he knew was not a good sign. Whenever his dad had this look, he started speaking with a louder voice and it made him feel scared.
So he left his dad and started walking towards his mom. He jumped on his mom’s head too. His mom did not push him away but she did not do anything either. He sat on her head for a while and got bored. He decided to leave the head and go sit in his mom’s lap. As soon as he did that, her mom pushed him away, pointing to a cup that he was taught not to touch. He did not know what was in it but her mom did not have him around when she had that in her hand.
He left his mom in despair. He started playing with his toys but it was boring without the adults. He started shouting because he was bored. Her mom finally got him in her lap.
They sat and watched those moving things together.
Short Story 46: Life is Alive
It was just another boring afternoon in the office. Empty and silent. No activity. No one came in, none got out. He leaned back in his chair as he was sighed deeply and started looking towards the window. Why was his life so boring?
He looked out for some time, sitting on his chair without movement. But when he saw a bird coming to take a break in his window, the bird’s moves attracted his attention. So, he leaned forward and watched the bird.
When the bird left, he looked out to the emptiness again. But now he noticed that there was some wind, waving the trees’ leaves back and forth. He watched the moves of the leaves.
He could see a bit of the road ahead from his window. When he looked at it, he saw a cat trying to cross the street. He watched it do that.
Soon, he was distracted by a tingling on his hand. When he looked at it, he saw a ladybug moving slowly on his hand. He watched it too.
Then, his gaze came back to his window again. He continued looking emptily outside. Apparently, life was not boring when you learned how to see it. Life was alive.
Short Story 45: Emptiness
Just like any other morning, I went to the kitchen when I woke up. With all the willingness to see you there as usual.
My mind tricked me because I thought I saw you there. Maybe you had not gone anyways. Maybe I had made myself miserable for nothing for all this time.
But soon it became clear that you had left the places you always loved. Or I thought you loved. Your presence was no longer a part of my life.
I could not accept this. I was used to seeing you every morning. You would always be there at this time, making breakfast for both of us. Now it was just emptiness, where you always stood.
I wanted to go back to bed and start from scratch again, hoping that this time you would appear in front of my eyes. But I did not. I just continued to walk to where you would be now and just stood there. If I fit in your space, then maybe I would fill the emptiness you left in my life with myself. I made the breakfast and sat on your chair too. Again, I filled your spot. I put my clothes in your closet too. So yes, I filled another spot of yours.
Wherever you would be, there I was now. Maybe that would help me fill in for you in my life. Maybe that would help me bring me in my life.
Short Story 44: Flow
She watched her thoughts flow just like the river in front of her. She was amazed at how fast one thought was chasing the other, as if they were rivals in a very fierce competition.
Normally, she would tell them to stop but today she did not. She let them be to see where they would end. She watched them not like a director this time, cutting when she did not like them, but like a viewer in a movie theater. She assumed no power on how the movie would flow and end. The movie in her mind was just playing on its own.
It continued just like that for a little bit more while.
She thought the race would get wilder because no one was controlling the thoughts. But no, they were getting milder because no one was controlling them. Her thoughts were becoming friendlier to her this time, whereas whenever she wanted to direct them, they got angrier. That is why she feared her thoughts.
‘Like a child’, she said to herself, remembering her childhood self. A child usually does not do what she is told to do. But if you let her be, she is going to do it sooner or later. That is how she was like.
She returned and looked at her own children: her thoughts.
‘I have become a bad mother’, she muttered. ‘But maybe not this time’, she added.
As she watched her children jump around happily, she smiled and let herself to the sound of the peaceful flow of the river both in front of her and in her mind. Now, everything was flowing just as they should.
Short Story 43: Source of Life
She rushed forward with her coffee cup in her hand. Some people were walking way too slowly, as if they had nothing to do. As if anyone had nothing to do.
Well, even if they really did have nothing to do, why would they prevent other people like her, who wanted to do something for the world? They were getting in the way of progress.
They were not doing huge data analyses like her. They were not saving a company like her. By saving the company, she was contributing to progress in her field. If the field did not progress, a major contribution to humanity’s advancement would be barred.
See, she was saving the world and these lazy people were not.
She felt validated.
With that push she got from her logic, she rushed further. She was close to her office now, so she had to push a bit more.
Ah, yes, there it was. Finally!
Just as she arrived in the front of the gate, she stopped and looked around. Something was telling her to turn the other way and walk away. The voice was so strong that she obeyed it. She turned around and started walking away.
She was still walking when she realized what was really happening. And she was walking very slowly, just like those people she disliked a few minutes ago.
Yet she felt validated.
So, she slowed down even more.
For the first time ever in her life, she felt life energy flowing through within her again.
As if she had just been born.
She had found the source of life in herself. Not in the goals she had been pursuing for years.
Short Story 42: Never Away
It had been a few months since she moved to this strange country. Work reasons. She was initially excited, of course, because she had always liked learning about new things. Or so she thought. Seeing herself struggle to adapt when she moved to this country, she started doubting that perception of herself. She was suffering because she had left her family and friends back in her country. The grocery store she frequented. The park she walked in. The habits she had formed all her life. Now they seemed to have disappeared into distance.
She sighed deeply as she took another sip from her coffee, sitting on the couch in her new home. Now, she would have had her mom around here. Her father would come from work soon. Her brother would run around and make her angry. She saw none of these happening. It was total silence here.
She did not want to feel this lonely at the moment. So she quickly dressed up and walked to the park in the neighborhood. She had made it a habit to walk to and in the park whenever she felt lonely. She liked seeing people just relaxing and having fun. At least, she was able to hear people here.
Since it was almost evening when she got out, she stayed into the dark times of the day. She sat on the grass and just watched. Soon sitting became lying. She watched the sky as she lied down on the ground. She noticed the stars. Shiny and beautiful. There was one that was especially so. She focused on that one.
Her mind had a flashback to a time in her childhood, when she played with her best friend in the park in her country and laid down after getting tired.
‘Look at this star! How shiny!’, she heard her friend saying and saw herself looking at the star her friend was pointing to.
‘Isn’t it beautiful?’, said a voice now. She looked at the direction the voice was coming from.
As unbelievable as it is, it was her childhood friend. She had not contacted her in years and now there she was. In flesh in front of her eyes. In the least expected time, when she felt she was away from everyone.
Maybe we were never away after all. All we needed was to be under the same stars. Then we would always be close.
Short Story 41: Under the Debris
You know what I thought when you left me?
That the world ended. Because I was because of you.
When you told me those last words, I could feel my inside cracking, like a house falling apart in an earthquake. My substance turned into debris as you finished those words.
For a while, all I could do was to shout from under that debris. Nobody heard me. Nobody saw me.
I shouted until I lost voice. At that point, any hopes that I had that somebody, or you, would hear me faded away.
And I went into silence.
I said nothing. I heard nothing. My mouth did not move, nor did my tongue. My ears stopped listening. Everything was still.
Everything other than something in me that gradually started becoming louder. Something that started producing chatter in me, telling me how I was and wanted to be. How I wanted the world to be.
Who was saying all of these things if my mouth did not move? Who was it if it was not me? If it was inside me, how come it was not me?
Or maybe was it?
Maybe I was voicing you my whole life. Now, it was time to voice me.
You know what I think now that you left me?
That the world just started. Life as it should be.
Short Story 40: Leaders, who are they?
Who was that boy that moved to the neighborhood yesterday? As the leader of the children of this area, he needed to find out.
He decided that the best way to get him to join them was by asking him to come to the soccer game tomorrow. The game in which his team would definitely win, as always. He was now thinking that he would make this boy join his team if he turned out to meet his criteria. Otherwise, he would assign him to the other team, just like he did with all the other children in that team.
The next came and he went to invite the boy to the game. His first impression of the boy was that he was not his type. He looked shy and not very athletic. Sad, he had lost one potential addition to his team but whatever. It was better than having a lame child in his team. If you are going to have a bad thing, it is better to have nothing, right? Plus, a bad addition to the other team was good too. It would make them weaker.
The game started and watching the boy now, he was happy with his decision. This guy would really be no good. Phew!
His team won that day. No surprise.
The boy joined game after game and to his surprise, he was getting consistently better. He had never seen anyone improve that fast before. For the first time ever in his life, he questioned a decision he had made. The boy was not only good at the game, he also took care of all his teammates. Like a pro. He did not want to admit this, but this guy was probably a better leader than him. But he would never let him take charge. Ever. No one could challenge him.
Recalling these scenes as he looked at the news article now, he felt uneasy. Seeing the boy’s name in the news, praised as being one of the best soccer coaches, did not make him feel good. He took a deep sad sigh in the office he was stuck in for years, where he did little more than nothing. His leadership days were long gone, weren’t day? Or did they ever exist at all?
Short Story 39: Dance Your Heart Out
He sat there as he watched the kids on the playground suddenly start dancing. It looked like one of the kids was able to get his mom’s phone to the area that day and he started playing some dance music. Kids started shouting in excitement as soon as they saw the phone and asked how the kid had got the phone. He said it was his mom’s. Once the music started, though, shouting stopped and dancing started. Now, all of them were dancing and laughing their heart out.
He sat there and watched them.
One of the kids accidentally looked towards his direction when he was dancing. He didn’t care at first. The kid did not either. He got back to dancing. But for some reason, he looked at him again. And then back to dancing. This went on for a while.
He sat there and watched them.
But he also got a bit curious. Why was the kid still looking at him? Oh no, now he was walking towards him. He didn’t like this so much. He thought he never enjoyed interaction with kids and always got a bit nervous. But if he walked away now, it would be weird. So,
He sat there and still watched the kids dancing, trying to avoid making eye contact with the kid walking towards him.
But the kid arrived and asked the question that he would never prefer to be asked:
‘Hey, do you want to come and dance with us?’
‘Hmm, maybe not.’
But the kid held his hand and forced him out of the bench he was sitting at. He did not show resistance to or shouted at the kid because he thought it would be weird in the midst of so many people. This kid would certainly make a scene if he did that. His teenage spirit could not handle that. So, he was now dancing with the kids.
That was when he was finally able to get rid of the effect of the humiliation he had felt as a kid when he danced in front of everyone. He was dancing funny and weird but that woman still did not have the right to humiliate him in front of everyone. He had felt his world shatter. Why had she done that to him?
Looking back at all these now, he wondered whether he would be as big a dancer as he is now if he had not been humiliated and stopped dancing for some years. If that had not happened, maybe dancing would just be an activity that you do in certain occasions, as it is for many people. Not something that he would develop passion for.
He did not know the answer. What he knew was that dancing was his life now. So he went on and turned on the music and let himself into its flow once again.
Short Story 38: The Teacher
She looked around from where she was lying. She often came here to lie down and watch the sky at night. The vast open field here was always appealing to her. She was sure she would somehow find the teacher she was looking for here. The teacher who would answer all of her questions about life, about her existence. The wise one. But she did not know who that teacher was and how she would find him.
She was just lying as usual today when she felt something move in the sky. She looked up. The shiny star just right up was winking at her and calling her up. She started moving up. She did not know how but she did. She wanted to.
When she reached the star, the star said it knew the answer to all of her questions and where her teacher was. She was obviously excited and asked the star to tell her where he was. The star then asked her to climb on it and she did that. Then the star said:
‘Now look down. What do you see?’
‘The earth’, she replied.
‘Yeah, but what specifically?’, the star added.
‘I don’t know. The clouds, the ocean. And I think some green areas here. The trees.’, she said, confused about the target of the question.
‘Great! Now, when you have these around you, and you do, why are you still looking for a teacher, girl? You don’t look for something that you already have, do you?’
‘I don’t’, she said, understanding what the star was getting at.
She thanked and waved goodbye to the star. When she reached down on earth, she started considering herself to be a disciple of everything around her. Nature was now her teacher.
Short Story 37: Eyes
She closed her eyes. She did that whenever she felt overwhelmed.
Why, she wondered. How did closing the eyes help?
She did not know why or how. She just knew what.
So she was curious.
When she closed her eyes, she could still hear all the noise around.
But the voices would disappear later, not in the reality of the universe but in her reality.
They would disappear into the depths of stillness that she was drawn into.
How was it that they would be muted in her mind, such loud noises, when they were actually not muted at all in real life?
Closing her eyes was muting them. How was it doing it?
By doing that, how was it helping her in times of huge stress?
What was the relation between eyes and ears?
What was the relation between eyes and the mind?
Why were eyes capable of closing, but not ears?
Why were eyes so important and crucial?
Good questions, she thought.
But not everything needs to be answered right now, she added to her thought.
She just kept her eyes closed. All she wanted to do now was to act on what she knew: the what.
Short Story 36: The Robot in me
It has been a long time since I started feeling this weird thing in me. I am becoming more ruthless. I started feeling less and less empathy for people. I am not sure where this is coming from, how it started, why it started. But it sure freaks me out. Not feeling sad for a kid who fell and hurt was not my thing. Now, this has become my usual reaction. Or rather, I have become reactionless. Heartless.
Sometimes, I still feel some pity for people and whenever I feel this, it makes me happy. But then, I remember the other times when I do not feel this and become unhappy again.
I think about this change in me all the time. Maybe I should not. Maybe I can sit down and just watch a movie and relax. Maybe I am overthinking this.
Hmm, what movie should I watch? This one about the robotic people seems interesting. Should I watch this one? Hmm, yeah. I normally don’t like these kinds of movies but this one seems attractive. So, let’s see.
The movie is about people slowly turning into robots. Slowly here means every month, a part of their body turns into a machine, gradually turning them into robots. As they become robots, they become less and less empathetic and lose emotions.
Could this be happening to me now? Am I really becoming a robot? What can I do to prevent it? Should I force a cry? Should I fall in love? I don’t know what I should do. Do you? Have you ever lost your feelings?
Short Story 35: Memory Compass
Had it been two hours since she started walking? Where was she? Where was she going?
She looked around. She did not know this place. She did not know how she had ended up here. She had left her phone at home, thinking that this would be a non-distracted walk.
And it was. But that idea also got her lost. Now she was in a place she had never come before.
The fact that it was early in the morning did not help either. There was no one to ask her way back.
So she started walking back. As she was walking back, memories started flashing in her mind. Her running wildly in the streets, her mom and dad smiling at her. An image of herself smiling back at them appeared in her mind.
She tried to stay in the memory. She wanted to understand why it was there now. To that end, she wanted to examine it more closely. She tried to see what was in her surroundings in the memory.
And she did see them.
Only then did she realize that she had not come to this place for no reason. The memory of her mom and dad had led her here. Like an invisible, internal compass. A compass that leads us all out lives. A compass that hardly ever fails.
Short Stories 34: An Irregular Regular Day
The day had started as usual. Waking up at the same time, same breakfast food and same route to work.
But she felt something would be different today.
She walked to her class that she had to teach. Everything was still the same.
She taught her class and worked on her research. Yet still, everything was the same.
Lunch, the same.
Dinner, meh, the same.
She was preparing to get into bed. Everything still looked the same.
But why did it not feel the same?
She thought on that in bed.
She could not find an answer until right before she fell asleep.
That day had been a resistance-free day. Maybe for the first time ever.
Short Story 33: Brain and Heart
‘I am tired’, said the brain to the heart at their nightly meeting.
‘So am I’, said the heart.
But something was forcing both of them to work harder every night. This was a strange thing that had started a few months ago. They were wondering what their master was up to. They were obeying his instructions but they were also getting very tired.
‘How long do you think we can do this?’, asked the heart.
‘I don’t know. It looks like I have to send these images to the owner. I received the instructions for that.’
‘Yeah, I know. I received the instructions to send the feelings. Oh, I am getting a bit tired of sending stuff all the time.’
‘I know. He has also been asking me to send a lot of images, words, thoughts. I am also very tired. I wonder where this will stop.’
This conversation did not last any longer as both the brain and the heart got to work. They worked very hard that night. Like every other night. They were only able to relax a bit towards the end of the night. But they knew this would not last long. The day was about to start. And the day was not easy either.
This went on for a few more weeks. They did not know how, but their master started to ease up a bit. They got fewer and fewer jobs each day, ultimately reaching their regular job schedule.
Would the master do this to them again? They did not know. But as the hopeful servants they were, they decided to trust the master with all they had. The master would not harm them, right?
Short Story 32: The Flower and the Grass
‘Hey, do you want to grow now?’, said the red flower to the grass next to it.
‘I am already grown. Don’t you see?’, said the flower.
‘I don’t. You don’t have leaves like me and you are colorless.’
‘I am green. Not colorless.’
The grass was offended but did not say anything else. Luckily for that day, the flower stopped talking, but only after he said all the crap and made a facial gesture that the grass did not like. But whatever.
Days went by and the flower still asked the same question at times, getting the same answer from the grass. He just did not understand and he was also annoyed because he did not get the answer he was looking for.
Thinking that the grass would never say something that would help him understand, the flower decided to ask the same question to one of the butterflies that came around once a week. Maybe they would give the answer.
And that day came.
The flower was excited. Once the butterfly sat on him, he went ahead and asked the same question:
‘Why is this grass not growing?’
The grass looked at the flower sideways, annoyed.
‘Oh, it is.’, said the butterfly.
‘But not everything is a flower. You are but he is not.’
‘Oh, he is not a flower?’
‘He is not.’
‘And not everything grows like you do. Everyone’s nature is different.’
‘Oh’, said the flower, surprised to learn that not everything was like him.
Short Story 31: Until Forever
Her eyes opened while her body was stiffly lying on the bed.
She did not look around because she knew everything here and she was sure nothing had changed.
Just like nothing had changed last night.
Or the night before.
She lay, knowing that the bed was her place to be in.
Where she was meant to be in.
The place she was most comfortable at.
She did not want to leave the comfort. She did not have the energy to fight anything that was out of comfort.
She lay and lay.
Secretly, she wanted someone to get her out of the bed.
Why did she have to get out by herself all the time?
Why was there no one to help her?
But again, no one came.
She lay and lay.
Still no one.
She closed her eyes and wanted to go back to sleep. Then, at least, she would not be waiting for someone to come. She would not feel or think of anything.
Her eyes closed but her brain did not.
And she lay and lay like that.
She would lie like that forever if she did not have this smallest, tiniest joy for life hidden somewhere in her being. The little flame of joy that somehow stayed hidden in her all through her life.
That joy helped her get up and do her work today again. Until the next night.
Next night: repeat again. Until forever.
Short Story 30: Waves
Just sitting on the top of the small hill and watching the waves hit the shore. This was what she came to see to escape from all the stress of the world.
Just like today.
With each wave hitting the shore, she felt more drown to the ocean.
She started walking down the hill. She wanted to respond to this call.
She felt the call getting louder as she came closer to the waves.
Now, she was just by the waves. She sat on the beach and watched the waves for a bit of time.
But the call was so loud that it was impossible to resist.
She stood up and walked closer.
Now, she was in the waves.
She was finally unseen from the outside.
She was in what brought her calmness all her life.
Was that calmness really here, though?
Short Story 29: Lost into Dust
She felt something on her feet. As if someone was tickling her.
She looked down. Was that an insect or something?
She could not believe what she saw.
Her feet were slowly turning into dust.
She panicked. She started shouting, but damn it, there was no one home. No one heard her.
She wanted to reach out to her phone to call 911. But she had left her phone in the other room.
And now she could not walk anymore. Her feet were all dust and it was reaching her legs.
Soon, all of her body had turned into dust and the dust had spread into emptiness in random directions. She was swiped away from the face of the earth. She did not have existence anymore.
All she could feel now was that she was just hovering in some unknown place. Was this the afterworld they were talking about? Or some other earth that she somehow found a way to get to?
She felt emptiness. As if nothing existed. Including herself.
She stayed in this empty place, with empty feelings, for God knows how long.
She did not like it.
One day, she felt she had enough of it. She wanted to exist.
It was only then that the dust started appearing in front of her again. The dust started forming her body again. Soon, her body was put together and alive. Feeling.
As she opened her eyes in her room, she checked her feet to see if they were ok. They were and she felt relieved.
She thought she deserved another piece of the cake she was eating. This had been hard imagination. Maybe because it was so real.
Short Story 28: Had it All Along
She did not remember how she had fallen into this well. All she could remember now was that she was walking in the forest. She remembered walking into a part of the forest with fewer trees. She had seen the well there. She was out of water, so she had thought it would be a good idea to go and see if the well had any water.
Had she leaned too much below? Was that why she had fallen? She did not know.
However she had ended up here did not matter. What mattered was finding a way to get out of here.
She tried to climb up on the walls, but she fell in each attempt. There was not enough to hold onto on the walls. The most she could climb was half way up. The other half was impossible to get through.
Then, she started shouting with the hope that someone would hear her.
Her screams turned into violent cries as she lost hope of getting anyone to hear her. Apparently, this was not a place frequented by anyone.
She sat in the well and cried loudly.
Not only could she not find water here but she was also going to be lost forever.
She had lost everything.
She cried more. And more. And more. Loudly. More loudly.
In the midst of her cry, out of nowhere, she remembered that she had a rope with a hook in her backpack.
She opened her backpack with the hope that she was remembering correctly.
She took the rope out.
The climb with the rope was not too difficult and the walk back home was accompanied by a sense of relief. The tears now were those of joy.
‘How funny’, she said to herself. ‘I got the solution with me all along.’
Short Story 27: The Light
Response to Prompt by Diana Wallace Peach
He had been walking in the empty streets of this strange city without a specific place to go since he had landed on the earth. This was a strange place. It was dark. Too dark. The moon did not seem to do its job of illuminating that well here. His hometown was not like this. There, the moon shined.
He was not used to being in the dark for that long. He continued walking to see if there was any sight of light. But he had failed to see one so far.
‘Poor humans’, he thought. ‘It must be hard to live here.’
He walked around the tall buildings and did not catch a glimpse of the light he was looking for there either. The light was not hiding behind these buildings either.
With that last failure, he thought he should give up on his quest altogether. It was not worth looking for something that apparently did not exist. So, he started walking back to his arrival location. ‘My spaceship should still be there’, he thought.
The moon was finally giving its way to the sun that was coming out from its behind.
Yet, he was boarding on his spaceship to set out for his journey back.
If only he had waited just a little bit more.
He would have liked the earth better with its light.
Short Story 26: Sun and Moon Talk
The sun was bored today. He wanted to stay in and not get out. He was tired of coming out at the same time every day. He wanted to teach all the creatures down on earth to be independent of him to survive.
Yes, this was a good excuse to make.
He reached out to his good old friend, the moon, to tell his decision so he could get his validation. After all, their schedules depended on each other.
‘Hey, can you take over my shift today?’, said the Sun to the Moon.
‘I decided that I need to teach the creatures how to be independent. They should be able to wake up without me. They need to be able to get about their days without relying on my coming up.’
‘Why do they need to know that? Why do you need to teach them that?’
The sun had not thought about that side of his excuse. For him, it was just a good cover-up for his reluctance in that it sounded like it was going to benefit others. So, he hesitated.
‘Well, they would be more successful. They would also understand my value better. And your too.’, he said a few minutes later.
The moon, who was smart enough to realize that his friend Sun was just making excuses, smiled. The sun, realizing that his friend Moon was smiling, made yet another excuse:
‘Well, I actually don’t feel that good today.’
This made the Moon smile brighter. His friend was now just piling up on excuses. Proof that the real reason was none of these? So, he asked:
‘Have you ever skipped your job at all?’
‘Then, what is preventing you today? Humans need you; animals need you; trees need you; everything needs you. And everything loves you. They love you for your consistency. And you love your job; we know that. You know that. You are too kind-hearted to torture them like that.’
The Sun had not thought that his absence would torture his friends down on earth. He shamed himself for trading his friends with laziness. He laughed at his naivety and decided to come up for that day too. And for all the days to come. He needed to keep what he was loved for.
Short Story 25: Home
Sam was tired of carrying the food home. It was always the same. Wake up, get together with all the other ants and get out of home. Carry all day and come home at night. All for the sake of surviving.
Sam felt different. He did not want to be part of this boring ritual. He wanted to be free. Free to do what he wanted. Free to experience life.
With that urge in him, Sam decided to explore the hill just at the back of his home. That day, he started everything as usual. He woke up, got together with other ants and got out of home. In the midst of the carrying time, though, when everyone was a bit tired and took a bit of rest, he slid away. To the hill.
As he was climbing, he enjoyed the nice view of his town from above. But he hated the fact that climbing was hard. His feet were starting to hurt.
Yet he continued. He wanted to sit at the top. That was his dream.
And he accomplished his dream. He reached the top and sat there. He enjoyed the view for a while, until he heard his friend Jim scream from below the hill.
‘Sam, there is a human coming. He will step on the hill and kill you. Come down.’
Sam looked at Jim and then at his back. Indeed, there was a human coming. He started running downhill and reached his friend before the human arrived. And they started running away together.
As they were running away, Sam looked at his friend who was now out of breath. He was happy that he was by his side now.
When they reached the town, people were just waking up from their rest and starting to work. Sam smiled at Jim as they both picked some food up to carry it home. Jim smiled back. That was the first time Sam felt his town becoming his home. This feeling would be the only consistent fact about his life in all the years to come. It would be the definition of his personality. It would be him.
Short Story 24: From the People
As Mary sat on her narrow seat on the plane to her city, she watched her surroundings with empty looks and empty mind. Knowing that travel always inspired her, she wanted to write a story, taking advantage of the situation. To get to the point faster, she took out her notebook and pen and held them in her hand, ready for the inspiration to come her way.
She waited like that for a while, with no sight of inspiration yet. She continued looking around. She thought that maybe she should force her inspiration by annoying it. So, she started thinking:
If inspiration was stubborn, she was even more stubborn. She would wait until she got it. It had to be hers. It could not be walking around, going to other people. It could not be other people’s. It belonged to her. It was not free to choose.
She watched the crew as they served drinks. She did not get anything because she did not want to be disrupted. Drinking something would take her mind off of her focus on inspiration.
A few minutes later, a baby started crying. Poor little thing. He was probably tired of being stuck in her mom’s lap and the bad air in the plane. Too bad he had to travel in these conditions when he was so vulnerable.
Mary watched the baby. She watched his innocent face that did not know how bad the world could be. She hoped that the baby would have a nice life.
She also saw people walking around in the plane, trying to minimize the bad effects of the long trip. It was not easy to be in such bad conditions for so many hours. She watched people’s body language, which all indicated boredom and irritation. Everyone wished for the trip to be over already.
In the meantime, the crew started serving food. She saw people trying not to look at the crew while waiting for them to come to their seats. But she noticed that most people ended up looking at them anyway and they had to force their eyes away so as not to look rude. So as not to look as if they were staring.
‘How human!’, she thought.
Her eyes now went to the notebook that was still sitting on her lap. She had found her inspiration. In fact, she always had it.
People became her words and sentences. They became her muse. And they did so only by being themselves. People being people was her inspiration.
Short Story 23: On the Cloud
I always get inspired while flying (or any kind of travel for that matter). This is one of the products of my recent travel. In fact, I started this blog with a story I wrote on a plane (here), so this made me nostalgic.
The child was happy to be on the cloud. From here, everything down there in the world looked tiny yet beautiful. The way the mountains and forests complemented each other impressed him. The perfect combination of brown and green. High and low. He also noticed the round farms in between. They added to the beauty of the scene. The smooth, round-shaped farms were perfectly complimentary to the pointy mountains.
He remembered that one day when he had been to his grandparents’ farm with his father. It was very muddy and he hated it at first. But his father invited him to work and play with him right away and for the whole day. This made him happy. That was one of those days when he could feel his father’s presence by him to the fullest. One of the days when he felt like a real part of his father’s world. One of the days when he felt really safe.
He could also see in some distance the lake his mom had talked about multiple times and had never visited. His father had promised to take him there, but that also had never happened. It was not that far but oh well. His father was a busy man. He was happy that he could see it a bit now for the first time in his life. It looked very blue and very beautiful. This satisfied some of his curiosity about the lake. But he also wondered if it was shallow enough for him to swim. This, he could not get an answer for from this distance.
‘Maybe one day’, he muttered to himself, ‘I will go there and swim’.
He saw a plane flying just under the cloud he was sitting on. He got excited. He had never been on a plane and he wanted to do this so badly! But he specifically wanted to do it with his mom and dad.
He looked down and closely at the plane. Who was in it? Who was now accomplishing his biggest dream?
Towards the end of the plane body, he saw a boy that looked like him. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief and opened his eyes again. The boy was still there and was waving at him. The plane was not moving now and the boy was still waving. He reflexively waved back and smiled.
He looked a bit more carefully at the kid and noticed that there was a man next to him that looked like just like his father in those old photos. The man waved at him too.
There was also a woman on the other side of the kid in the plane. The woman bore striking similarities to his mom, especially when she was younger. She was also waving at him.
He waved back at all of them. But why were they waving at him? That looked weird. And they did not stop doing it either. His hands were tired, but theirs weren’t.
Eventually, the plane started moving and was now no longer in sight. He did not see the family anymore. Well, he assumed they were a family.
He took a deep breath with his eyes closed on the cloud. As he was in this state, he heard a woman’s voice that said:
‘Hey, Paul, we are going to visit your parents today, right? They must have missed you. It’s been a while.’
‘Yeah, sure.’, Paul agreed to his wife’s statement.
On their way to the nursing home, Paul wondered if he would ever fly on a plane with his mom and dad. Or if he would ever swim in the lake with them. Though he knew the answer, he still wanted to keep his hope intact. Maybe his mom and dad would suddenly be young again. Miraculously.
Short Story 22: When Friends Need Help
Response to Diane Wallace Peach’s February Speculative Prompt
‘The good days are over’, his cousin said loudly.
‘Yes, look at us squeezing in this place like that.’ added his friend from the other side of the house.
Indeed, there were so many fellow mice on one tiny house that Harry felt breathless. He put his head up and out of the mice pile to get some air. But that did not help much. It was too cold outside, so his little nose almost froze instantly. It was not as strong as his body was. His body was still enduring the cold. But his nose. That was weak. So, he had to put his head back into the pile.
To find some comfort, he started cuddling his mom. He looked at his dad while he did that. He looked anxious. So did his mom, actually.
‘Mom, will we die here?’, he asked, curious why his parents were so worried.
‘No dear. Someone is going to rescue us.’, replied his mom.
‘Who, mom? All our friends on the other trees are gone. Their homes are taken. Ours will be too. We will not survive. But I don’t want to die, mom.’
‘Hey, baby. We will not. You will see. If we have survived this far, we will get out of this.’
Just when his mom said this, screams started to rise from his fellow mice. The loudest one was saying:
‘Oh, look, an elephant is coming!’
There was panic among the mice. Harry saw one fall off from the top of the house to the ground. He hoped that the poor mouse did not die.
The oldest mouse told everyone to be silent and the other mice stopped shouting. It was always like that. That old guy had good authority. Harry adored him.
The old mouse said:
‘This elephant is here to rescue us. He did it before; he will do it now. I know he will do that from experience.’
‘What experience?’, asked Harry.
‘Do you think this is the first time I lost my home? How do you think I survived all? Now, you all, pull yourselves together and salute the guy.’
All of the mice looked at the elephant. He was very close now.
Just minutes later, the elephant used his trunk to pick up and hold the house full of mice up on it and started walking back. To a place where his mice friends could be warm and safe. The elephant was happy to have so many friends in a world no one could approach him at all. He had always resented being so big because that is what had made him friendless. He looked frightening to everyone. But today was different. Today, he had friends and he was happy to serve them all.
Short Story 21: Flow
She sat in the café, with her pen in her hand, waiting for inspiration to come her way.
She always felt inspired here. The atmosphere gave her a home feeling.
A home in the nature.
The walls were wooden.
There were no tables or chairs here. Only cushions. This made her feel close to the ground, to nature.
There were also trees in the corners, as well as some flowers around the trunk. Flowers of all colors. Her favorite was the daisies. She had always been fond of them, and here they were part of her inspiration.
The people that came here were also different. They were calmer, slower, less loud. More natural.
What else can a writer ask for, right? All sources of inspiration right here.
But something was wrong today.
She did not feel inspired. Not one word flowed onto her notebook. Not one!
But she waited. The inspiration had never failed her here. It would certainly come, right?
It did not. And she gave up.
She started walking randomly in the streets, searching for the inspiration.
Then she decided to head towards the riverside, with her notebook in her arm, still looking for inspiration.
The river looked at its bluest ever today.
She sat by it and watched the water flow.
It flowed and flowed and flowed, never ending. Never stopping.
Why could her inspiration not flow like that?
Or could it?
It could and it did.
It flowed just like the river.
Water drops became words.
Words became water drops.
Short Story 20: Baby Steps
If only he could open the door.
He was curious about the park that his brothers always went to. He wanted to see why they always came back tired, sweaty but happy from that place. What did it look like?
He was also curious about the place called school. What did that look like? His brothers always seemed tired when they came from that place. He could not understand the words they were saying, but he understood the emotion. They also always rushed to put their backpacks down and run to their rooms as soon as they came in. As if somebody was chasing them.
There was also a place called the restaurant. Sometimes, his mom and dad went there, leaving him alone with his brothers. His brothers took good care of him when mom and dad were gone, because they had a big responsibility now. He liked playing with them. But that did not help with his curiosity. He wanted to know what that place that drew his mom and dad to itself looked like.
Sometimes, he tried to reach out to the door to be able to open it. He tried many times, but to no avail. He was not sure if there was another way of getting rid of this annoying barrier between him and the interesting things that were waiting for him on the other side of it.
He sat in the middle of the living room and watched the door. He carefully inspected everything around the door. Especially the couch that sat just next to the door. He tried to understand how close enough it was to the door and if he could use it as a tool to open the door.
In the meantime, his younger brothers were running in the house and one even slapped him in the back of his head as he was passing him. He got annoyed but did not cry. He was too busy inspecting the door. His oldest brother had gone to his room to find his book. So he would come back soon. He better hurried.
He started crawling to the door. Rather, to the couch next to it. He had never tried to climb on that couch but today he thought he would maybe do it. That could be his way out.
His first seven attempts did not yield any results. He failed miserably. He fell to the ground. It hurt.
On his eighth attempt, though, he managed to do it. Now, there was one more step to be completed.
But before that, he checked to see if any of his brothers were here and could see him.
But everything was clear. So, he went ahead. He stood up as straight as he could and reached out for the handle of the door. His mom would always lock the door but his brothers were not as careful.
He pressed the handle down with all of his strength and the door opened. His brothers had forgotten to lock the door! That was great news! So, he did not complain about that at all. To make the best use of this opportunity, he quickly went down the couch and started crawling to the door.
Finally, he was out. He felt happy. Finally, he would see the park and the school. Maybe he would even visit the restaurant and get the good food that his parents sometimes brought.
So, he started crawling fast to the garden gate. That one had big empty parts, so he knew he could squeeze himself in between somewhere and get out. He was hopeful.
As he was still crawling in excitement, he heard some noise:
‘Oh, there he is!’, his oldest brother was saying.
He was disappointed. Disappointed not to have made it to the park. But he thought he also liked the warmth of his brother’s arms as he was going back home with him. That is why he was not bothered too much.
Short Story 19: He Taught Me, but I Learnt Late
‘Dad, what is this human nature that you keep talking about with your friends?’, asked the 7-year old, curiously waiting for an answer.
Instead of giving an answer to his question,
‘I will take you to a place you will enjoy a lot today.’, said the dad.
The kid forgot about his original question. Rather, he started asking about the place. Was it a playground? Was it similar to Disneyland? Did it have ice-cream?
From what the kid gathered from his dad’s words. it did not look like a playground nor like Disneyland. He was not even sure if this place was for kids like him.
They would first climb a hill. After they reached the top, they would run down and dive into a lake. They would go to the bottom of this lake and stay there for a while. They might see some fish, though his dad did not assure they would. Then, they would get out of the lake and start walking in the park. Then, they would run a bit when they saw another hill, until they reached the bottom of that hill. They would do this cycle again until they got so exhausted that they could not move at all.
The kid did not like the idea much, but he agreed to go because he wanted to spend time with his dad.
And they did all that day. Just once.
_ _ _
Sitting on his chair and drinking his coffee, the man looked back on that day now.
He recalled the good feelings he had had when they had reached the top of the hill. It had felt so good. So freeing. Relaxing. Having the feeling of being above the world. Being above the world.
But the run-down afterwards, that was really scary. He could not control himself. He just kept falling. He wanted to hold onto his dad, but his dad was also falling. He was on his own here, and he felt unprotected. Insecure. He wanted this to be done already.
So, when they jumped into the lake, he felt relieved. The fall was over. What else could he ask for?
Only that the bottom of the lake turned out to be the worst part of the whole day. He could not breathe well. He felt suffocated. He could also not see properly because he was too afraid to open his eyes. But even when he did, there was not even one single fish around. It was bare. He wanted to get out as soon as possible. It was not worth the effort for this plain place.
Seeing him struggle, his dad helped him get out of the lake. Then, they started walking. The walk was nice and calm. It felt really good after the horrible time in the lake.
The run to the hill felt good too, both because he wanted to feel like he did on the top of the previous hill and because he was curious about what was beyond that hill. He wanted to discover. He wanted to learn.
But he was so exhausted from all of this that he could not reach the bottom of the hill. He fell on the ground half way to the hill, not being able to stand up again. He just laid on the ground until his dad came to rescue him.
‘Dad, that was hard’, he said, as his dad lifted him in his arms.
‘I know.’, answered the dad.
Then, he went back home in his dad’s arms. It felt nice. It felt like peace.
_ _ _
The man realized the wisdom of his dad once more. He had actually given the answer to his question that day.
He just was not receptive to it, until today.
Short Story 18: The Unicorn in the Other World
Why did the sun have to come up again? Could it not just rest for one day? Why was it forcing him to get back to life? To the things he had to do. Things he was forced to do. To all the rush. Why did it not let him sleep forever?
He lied in his bed, lingering. Turning from side to side. Finding excuses to not get up. Getting up meant exerting energy, of which he had none. Not even enough to get up and sit on the bed, let alone getting out of the bed and do things.
He imagined a life where the concept of energy did not exist. Or maybe a world where energy did not run out. A world in which no one said ‘You look tired’ to anyone. He was tired of hearing this. He was tired of feeling this. He was tired of being tired.
That world also needed to be one in which he could do whatever he wants without being forced. Things that he was doing only because he had to tired him even more.
That was his perfect world. He wanted to be in that world. He wanted to be transmitted to it right here, right now.
He waited in silence. Who knows, maybe something miraculous would happen.
He waited more. That b****** sun was still coming up, yet nothing was happening. No entry to a new world. Not even a change of state of his mind.
He closed his eyes in despair. Desperately wanting to hear an affirmative answer, he kept asking himself: ‘Is there a way to get to this perfect world?’
‘Yes!’, said someone with a loud but weird voice.
Who was it? There was not supposed to be anyone in this house. Was it a thief?
He opened his eyes.
It was not a thief. It was a unicorn standing there right in front of his eyes in his room.
‘Now, we will go to a place where no one ever feels tired.’, it said.
He was suspicious but immediately agreed nevertheless. He was too willing and curious to hold himself back.
‘Hey, that is awesome. What should I do?’, he asked in curiosity.
‘Nothing. I will do it for you. I will take you to a place where you will see what you want to see. That is what I am here for.’
The man obeyed.
The place they arrived at looked no different from his town.
As he was looking around, surprised, the unicorn told the man to do whatever he wanted and promised that he would not get tired.
‘Whatever?’, asked the man.
‘Yes, whatever. You can also go wherever you want.’
The man did not understand but started walking anyways.
He was shy at first. He did not know this world at all. He stopped by a park nearby and walked around it a bit.
Then, he saw a lake and went to sit by it. He ended up swimming in it because the water looked so beautiful.
Then, he saw a mountain and climbed it. He did not even think whether he could. He just did. He did not know how that had happened. How had he not questioned his ability and energy to climb all the way up?! It had just happened. He did not even feel one bit of tiredness either. He wanted to do more now, convinced that he could indeed do anything. Convinced that the unicorn was right after all.
From the top of the mountain, he started flying. He flew to nearby towns first. Then, he remembered that unicorn had told him that he could go anywhere, so he continued further.
After a while, he could not see land below anymore because he was flying over the ocean. He got scared. But he continued.
Then, he reached other countries. He was on the other side of the world and he was enjoying everything he was experiencing. Everything he had always dreamed of; now they were coming true.
But after a while, he ran out of places to fly to. So, he decided to go back to the unicorn.
As he got closer to the town, around the lake, he heard a ringing sound. Very loud. He did not know where the sound was coming from. But he extended his arm at the direction he thought the source of the sound was. The sound was gone. He did not know how he had turned the sound off just by extending his arm, but it had happened. That was what mattered now.
But there was one problem: once the sound was gone, he had started feeling dizzy. He was not able to keep his balance anymore. In fact, he was falling now. What was happening?
As he was fast falling on his back, he saw the unicorn on the clouds. He was ringing a bell, making the same sound as the one before. He was also shouting:
‘Time to get back to the real world!’
He opened his eyes and silenced his alarm. His second alarm today. Now he had to definitely get up and go to work.
He was still feeling tired, but at least now he knew that there was one world where he did not get tired and did everything he could: his dreams.
Short Story 17: In the Dark
The meeting had lasted longer than she thought. She would now have to walk back home. There were no buses at this time of the night. Even if there were, they would not be safe. She did not have enough money for a cab either. So, she had no choice but walk. In those streets. At that time. She would have to walk in the streets that she, and no one, thought were safe. What if someone just appeared in front of her? Someone with a gun? What would she do? Where would she run? Would she survive?
She was afraid. Very. Extremely.
She started walking. She had to. But she was constantly looking around. Constantly stopping to see if she had heard anything.
The streets were empty. She wished there were some people. But then, she would be suspicious of those people. So, she also liked the streets the way they were. She was not sure what she wanted. So, she continued walking.
She freaked out when she saw a dog suddenly appearing in front of her, barking. She yelled at the dog for frightening her like that. The dog did not care. It looked at her and continued its way.
She started walking again, cursing at the dog. She had walked for only a few minutes when she heard some men talking. She looked back. They were there. They were big. They were following her! Though she could not see a gun, she deduced from their manners that they had guns. They were talking loudly and cursing all the time. Although she could not understand what they were talking about because they were still a bit far, she was sure that they were talking about killing her. What else could they be talking about after all?
Trying to look as natural as possible, she started walking faster. The men were still walking slowly. She felt a bit relieved. She would probably reach home before they caught her, if they did not change their speed.
Finally, she saw the door to her house. She now sped up so much that she ended up running to the door. The men were still visible. She reached out for her keys and unlocked the door as quickly as she could. She got in her home and took a relieved, deep breath.
Now she was breathing with her eyes closed, trying to calm down. After a few minutes, she opened her eyes and guess what! She saw the men in front of her, with the dog in their arms. They were in her house! How had they got in here?! What were they doing with the dog? Poor animal!
But wait, they were not doing anything. No movement at all. No talk. Nothing. Why? Were they not here to kill her? Were they not just talking about this a few minutes ago?
She waited for a while. Nothing happened. Then, she went to touch them to see if they were alive. They seemed alive and real. Including the dog. She just slid past them to her room afterwards to save her life and they still did not move.
As she prepared to get into her bed, still in fear, she saw the men and the dog again. They were in her room this time. But again they were not moving at all.
Now she did not care if they were here anymore. She was seeing them now as she had seen them for years before and for years to come. The men were not in the streets, nor in her house, nor in her room. They were right in her; in her mind. They had always been and would always be.
Short Story 16: Those were the days
There were so many of them. She had written so many journals in her early years, up to adulthood and kept all of them. Today, she thought that it would be nice to check in what condition they were. They had been in the same box for so long that she doubted any survived in proper condition.
Some did. She found one from age 9. She opened one page and started reading. She had written about how much she had jumped that day at home with her siblings. She was talking about how much fun they had had that day.
As she was reading the journal, she started hearing noises from downstairs. Kids were shouting. They were jumping and making all these random noises. She also heard them shouting to their dads to come and play with them. Those kids were always making these noises. But she could not tell them to go away. She actually liked them. If only they were a bit more silent. That was the only thing she wanted.
She moved onto another journal from her teenage years. She guessed maybe age 17. There was no age mark on this one. This time, she had written about how difficult it was to not be considered a child nor an adult. She was talking about her confusion and anger.
She stopped reading because she had noticed that the children downstairs were not making noises anymore. Were they tired already? She listened carefully. Yes, she could not hear the children at all. Maybe they were gone. But she heard something else. She heard women talking. No, actually young girls. One was talking and crying loudly. As they were talking, she heard a boy’s voice as well. ‘Don’t worry. You will grow out of this soon’, he was saying. ‘You will grow older and everyone will accept you.’, he added.
The old woman was confused. But she thought maybe her daughter-in-law had invited some people, although she could not hear her either. Leaving her confusion aside, she decided to continue reading.
She pulled out another journal from age 30, the last year she had kept a journal as far as she could remember. She blew away the dust and opened the journal. She found a random page. This time, she found a page on which she was talking about a celebration party she had organized after she got a job. She was talking about a family party. She was talking about the games they had played that night and the talks they had had.
This time, she could not finish reading the page, though. There was such big noise coming from downstairs. Loud music. Maybe those girls had decided to have an impromptu party or something. She could also hear two women shouting. A man’s noise was also audible at times. She also heard an old man and woman talking once or twice.
These people could have all the fun they wanted but she could not bear with it. So, she decided to go down and tell them to be more silent. She got up slowly and started going down the stairs.
There was no one there. Had they heard her and left already? But there were no signs of any party, or anyone having sat or jumped on the couches. No children, teenagers or adults in sight.
As she went up, she remembered her sister and her brother. The times when they used to jump on their couches. The time when she was complaining about her being perceived as a child although she thought she was an adult already. She was a grown woman. She had talked to her sister in her home and her brother had also consoled her. There was also this one day she had got a job in a university and they had had a small family party.
‘Ah, those were the days’, she said to herself as she climbed the stairs again. ‘I wish those children would come back’, she added. As she said that, she started hearing children jumping downstairs. She smiled.
Short Story 15: Motionless
She picked her mug up from the table she was working on. As she was walking to her kitchen to get another cup of tea, she looked at her cup. Her cup had been a friend of hers for two years now. They were together every day.
She poured the tea in the cup and walked back to her room. She still had some work to do. She sat in front of her laptop and started looking at the screen. But she just looked. Motionless. Blanked out. She stayed just liked that for some time. She did not know how long.
When she was out of this state, she reached out for her cup. It was cold. ‘How long have I been out?’, she asked herself. She did not know when she had sat down here after she came back from the kitchen, so she could not calculate the time. It was 11 pm already now, and she decided to give up on work for today. It did not make sense to start a whole work session now, as she had to wake up early tomorrow.
She went to her bed and lied there for a while. Just lying. She was staring at the ceiling. She kept staring for God knows how long. She did not blank out this time, but her body was motionless, her mind thoughtless. Complete stillness. She thought she maybe did not even blink. She could not feel her breath. She got scared. She took in a forceful breath and blinked hard to make herself feel alive. She felt alive.
She fell asleep at 1 am.
When she woke up next morning, she forced herself out of bed and got ready. She wanted to stay motionless. But she now did not have time for that. Maybe when she comes back in the evening.
Short Story 14: Under the Tree
‘Will you listen to me today?’, asked the girl to the tree.
One of the leaves of the tree moved smoothly as a peaceful breeze went through it. The girl took this as a sign that the tree would listen to her. Just like the way people node.
‘You know what happened today?’, the girl asked. After a brief silence, she added:
‘Of course you don’t. You can’t think. You know what, haha there goes another question for you. Just kidding. It is not a question. I just want to say that I admire you. I think the ability to think is the biggest nuisance for us humans. It is because we think that we get into many problems. If we had not thought through stuff, we would be much happier. I also think that it is because we think too much that we cannot let things go. When I look at you, I see the opposite. You just yield in to whatever comes by. When a breeze touches you, you let it touch you. You do not escape. I think you also stay put because of that. It is our calculation of so many things that keeps us unstable. We just move around, sometimes not even noticing why the hell we are doing it. I genuinely wish I was like you!’
The girl leaned her back towards the tree and closed her eyes. She tried to feel the breeze on her face. It felt nice. She wanted to stay in that position forever.
After fifteen minutes of this silence, she heard some men approaching. She wanted to see who they were and where they were going. Also why they were so loud. But no, they were not going; they were actually coming. They had saws in their hands. The girl got scared. She wanted to run away but then decided that this was not a good move. It would make her look very vulnerable. She decided to stay.
‘We gotta get this one down’, said one of the men pointing to the tree the girl was sitting under.
Then, one of the men started talking to her.
‘Hey! What are you doing here?’, he said.
‘Hmm, I am just sitting.’
‘Ok, go sit somewhere else.’
‘Why? I am good here.’
‘Yeah, go be good somewhere else.’
‘Why are you cutting this tree?’
‘We need wood.’
‘But this tree has been here for years. I always come here. I always sit here. Please don’t.’
‘We need wood today.’
‘You can’t damage this tree. It is my tree.’
She was shouting now. In fact, she started shouting so loudly that some people in the distance heard her and came to see what was happening. The girl explained to them what was happening. People got angry too. The men could do nothing but leave. The girl was crying out of anger and fear. People tried to console her. ‘We saved the tree’, they said. They then left to mind their own businessess.
The girl sat there in silence for a little more while. Then she got up to go. She looked at the tree again and said:
‘I guess there is at least one reason why it is a good thing that we humans can think. This way, we can talk and save you. You can’t even defend yourself.’
Short Story 13: The Fall
He had been falling for quite a long time. He did not remember how he had slipped. He had watched all his steps. But still, one moment. Just one moment had brought about what he had been avoiding. He was falling now. His head down, his mind in the air.
He thought this would be his end. End to all of his experiences here. He was happy that he would not have bad experiences anymore. But good ones. The thought that he would not be able to experience anything fun and good made him shiver as he was falling. It was over.
He thought of the day when his father and him were playing in the entertainment park. There was a really big one in the city he spent his childhood in. Bigger than other parks. They were able to go there only once for his whole life because his father was a busy man. But the day when they went there was beautiful.
Then, there were those moments when he took walks with his mom when he was a kid. In reality, his mom walked but he ran to be able to catch up with her.
There was also his best childhood friend. How many times they had got themselves into trouble while playing. They enjoyed getting into trouble. That made their games more fun.
Then, there was the time when he had met his first girlfriend. He had loved her a lot, at least as far as one can understand love at that age.
Now, the sad thing was that he had not seen his father, mother, friend or first girlfriend in years. He had had a fight with his dad and did not talk to him afterwards. He was stubborn. He never gave up. Now he wished he wasn’t that stubborn. He would have talked to his father if he wasn’t.
His mom had died five years ago. Luckily, he talked to his mom frequently before she was gone. He felt good about this.
He had lost contact with his best childhood friend. He did not know why.
He had broken up with his first girlfriend after a year of dating because they had finished school and went to different places. He never thought of calling her again. He felt ashamed. They had shared so much in that year. Why had he not been more considerate towards her?
Maybe, he was just not happy to keep contact with people he could not see in person. Weird, but maybe. He could not use this explanation to justify his behavior, though.
As he was thinking of these, he was still falling. He could feel he was close to the ground now. He was about to hit it. When he felt that, he tried to reposition himself by instinct. Maybe he would be able to land soft and neat. Long shot, but who knows.
He used all the strength he had left to achieve that. He could not do it initially. He tried several times and eventually he did it. He landed soft and nice. He felt proud.
He looked at where he had fallen from. It was high, very high. He did not know how to go back up. He did not even remember how he had got up there. There were no elevators nor stairs. Old building.
Then he saw something right in front of him. A ladder that climbed all the way up. He did not know how he had not seen this before. Maybe he would hold onto it while he was falling. He would try, at least.
He started climbing up the ladder. When he reached the top, he looked down. He wanted to make sure he remembered where the ladder was, in case he fell again. But he did not see any. The ladder was gone. The ladder was there only to help him to climb back up.
He thought the ladder would probably be there if he fell again. At least, he now knew that and that made him feel safer. He had the ladder to take him back on track.
Short Story 12: Swing
The woman felt some breeze on her face in the middle of the night. Had she left the window open? She opened her eyes and looked at the window. No, it was not open.
Then, she felt some breeze on her face again. She looked around. She did not see anything. It was weird.
When the breeze came for the third time, she saw something passing her very fast. She could not see what it was but it went out the window. At least she knew where to look at now.
To be able to see better, she walked closer to the window. She looked out. There was nothing there. She looked up. She saw something up there. Something that was approaching her. She watched it come by. It did come much closer, but it passed by her so fast that she still could not see what it was.
She continued watching nevertheless. This time, she was determined to see who or what that thing was or what it was doing.
After a ten-minutes wait, she saw the thing coming closer again. She watched very closely this time. Now, she could see that it looked like a human. A young girl, it seemed. As it got closer, she could also see that the girl had brown hair, a white top and jeans. She could also see that the girl was swinging. How was that possible? How could she swing in the air?
She looked up and saw that the swing was actually tied to something in the sky. Was it tied to the stars or the moon? She laughed at this idea that popped up in her mind. How was that ever possible?
When the girl came close to her, the girl stopped. In the woman’s room. The girl smiled. The woman was scared.
‘Don’t worry’, the girl said. ‘I am here to take you to the skies, just like you used to imagine when you were a kid. I am the child in you. I am the young you.’
The woman could now see the similarity between her and the girl. She got on the swing and they started swinging up to the sky.
Short Story 11: She biked all the way and then …
The girl was biking to the coffee shop that everyone was praising so much. She had heard so much of it that she finally decided to give it a try. She could not resist her friends’ pressure anymore.
She pictured so many things about the café in her mind. A nice patio with some trees and fancy, antique table. Most importantly, good coffee. In fact, very good coffee.
She had set out on her way with these thoughts in mind. The first twenty minutes of biking was not that fun. Just a bunch of houses. That is it. And she knew this area. Boring part of the trip.
After the twentieth minute, though, she got into an area which she had never been to before. Both sides of the road were full with trees. It was a scene to watch. She wanted to just stay and watch this beauty. But she had to continue. She had a café to get at.
Soon came an area full of cafés. She was surprised. She was still half-way through her way. What was this area? How had she not heard about it? Those cafés were nothing like she had seen before. These were more beautiful than any she had seen before. Those patios were a delight for the eye. With the trees, the flowers, the tables and the people. The smell of coffee indicated that the coffee was good too. She thought to herself: ‘Can there be any coffee shops more beautiful than these?’ She checked the address of the café she was heading to. Maybe the café was here and she had misread the address.
But no. It was right. The café was further ahead. She had to continue. She wanted to stay here. Get into one of the coffee shops and sit there and talk to people. Play with children. But she had to continue. She had a café to get at.
She biked forward. Now she was almost at her destination. Ten minutes before her arrival, she saw another very nice place. This time, it was a university campus. She was sure there were nice cafés here.
Ah, there was one. She liked the vibe, with students coming in and out. There were nice sitting places outside too, with some greenery accompanying them. She wanted to just go there and hang out with university students and be part of the vibe. But she had to continue. She had a café to get at.
Finally, there it was! The café looked very beautiful. But she found it weird that there was no one there. How can anyone miss this coffee shop! Everywhere else was full. Why not this one?
With these thoughts, she parked her bike. She walked towards the café.
Oh, there was a sign on the door. She got closer. It said: “Closed for good”.
She was devastated. She asked someone around what had happened. The person said:
“They could not handle the number of customers anymore. Everyone was coming here. They suddenly closed it today.”
“Ah”, the girl said to herself, “What a bummer! I should have enjoyed the places that I passed.”
Short Story 10: The child and the man
The child was laughing heartily. He had been doing that for several hours now. He laughed non-stop as he continued playing games with his toys. Weird enough, though, he did not stop laughing even when he took a break from the games and the toys. He laughed just because.
The man just watched him. Lately, he had been questioning the sincerity of his actions. He had realized that he was not enjoying anything he was doing. He went to work for money. He met people only if that would not mean a waste of time or a stain on his social status. He could not find one thing that he did only because he wanted to. His only daily fun activity was to do exercise, but even that had become a competition. He was no longer enjoying it.
That is why he envied the child. Only if there was a way of enjoying everything in life just as naturally as he did.
He felt beaten by the child. The child was winning in the game of life.
It was cold outside. So, he decided to go to the kitchen and make himself some tea.
As he was making the tea, he listened to the child still laughing. The innocent laugh of the child made him smile.
The water for tea had just boiled when he heard a loud scream from the living room where the child was. He ran there quickly.
The child was loudly screaming and crying. He did not understand what had happened. He asked the child. The child said he had touched the heater and it was too hot. He had burnt himself a bit.
The man helped the child and eventually the child calmed down.
The man and the child sat there hugging each other for a while. Then, the man decided to go back to the kitchen and get his tea.
As he walked back into the kitchen, he knew the child was not winning anymore. Yes, he had the innocence. But the man had the experience. That is how he knew he would not touch the heater.
Now, they were equal.
Short Story 9: Bench, People, Moon and the Bus
She was sitting on a bench, waiting for her bus. The bus was late, as usual. She had been waiting for twenty minutes, with no signs of the bus’s arrival yet. At least, she had finished her work, so she did not have to rush. She was just watching people pass by.
While she was just looking around, somebody accidentally stepped on her foot. The person apologized. But she got frustrated and immediately said to the person loudly:
‘Watch where you go!’
The person was surprised, because it was a small accident and it did not hurt anyone. He had also apologized. So, there was no reason for this lady to give this reaction. But he decided to just walk away because he did not want to deal with someone like that.
Later, she heard a baby crying loudly. The mother was trying to silence the baby, but to no avail. She wanted to shout at the woman:
‘Shut your baby up!’
But thinking that this would be rude, she did not say anything.
She was getting angry at the fact that it was crowded here. Last week was nice. There were not many people around. It was calm. Now all this chaos here was making her feel bad, even angry. Why had those people come back? For some time now, this area had been her territory. Now they were occupying it.
She really wished to be away from all these people. She wished that with all of her heart. She closed her eyes so she would not see all these people that bothered her. She thought how nice it would be if she could now get away from them.
When she opened her eyes, she was on the Moon. She was on the side of the Moon that looked to the Earth. So, she sat and started watching her old home. She could not see much from this distance. She could only see some of the beautiful colors of nature on Earth. The oceans, for example. She did not see trees and mountains. This made her a bit sad. She loved those. But at least she did not have the chaotic environment that frustrated her. So she decided that this was better.
What she especially liked about this place was that it was all calm here. Silence. Total silence. She could finally calm down instead of getting angry at people for disturbing her personal space. She in fact did. She was very calm.
She continued watching the Earth for a longer while. She was indeed liking this place.
But she also started getting a bit sad for an unknown reason. It was all calm here and she had a beautiful scene. She did not have to deal with chaos. What was wrong?
She did not know the answer for some more time. Honestly, she tried not to think about it.
A bit later, she noticed she started getting bored. Maybe it was too calm here. Maybe this was what was bothering her. She started longing for people that would just walk around her.
She sat there for longer and the boredom started getting denser. Now, she wanted to go back. She wanted some people around her. That guy who stepped on her foot, she wanted to see him again. That baby cry, she wanted to hear it again.
She closed her eyes in despair and tried to imagine people around her. She kept them closed for a while, maybe to escape from the fact that she was all alone here. She would at least not see that fact when she closed her eyes.
Then she heard an engine stopping in front of her. She opened her eyes. It was her bus. It was finally here. So, she got up to get on the bus. Like all these people that were waiting for it. They would all get on the same bus. Her and other people.
Short Story 8: The balloon she did not like
The girl woke up towards the end of the night. She noticed a balloon in her. In her chest. Who had put it there? How had they put it there? Who had accomplished this task, which looked like an impossible one?
The balloon was inflated. It was very big. So big that she could not breathe properly. Anytime she tried to breathe, she failed. First, she tried breathing deeply. When that did not work, she also tried regular breathing. That did not work either. Her breaths were very short. But that was all she could do. It tired her.
She was lying on her back. She thought maybe that was the problem. So, she tried turning to her left side to see if that was going to help with the balloon. It was better for a few seconds. But just that. She started having the problem again.
Despite that, though, she tried to stay on that position, hoping that her body and brain would adapt to the position and her breathing would improve. That did not work. She was in that position for half an hour and no improvement happened.
Then she tried turning to her right side. Maybe that would help a bit. This one lasted a bit longer. Maybe twenty seconds of good breathing and relaxation. But that was it. Again, she tried to keep her position stable for as long as she could. This time she stayed longer, around forty minutes or so, but the bad feeling due to short breaths was still there.
Just as she was trying to think of something as her next solution to the problem, her alarm went off. It was morning already and she needed to get up. But the balloon. What was she going to do with it? It was still there and she could not have gone to work in this situation. She could not even breathe properly. She sounded like she was drowning.
She tried to make some noise to see if her voice was there. Luckily, it was. That made her feel slightly better. So, she decided to get up.
But initially, she sat on her bed a bit. Interestingly, the balloon started deflating when she did that. She was surprised. Taking advantage of this situation, she started taking deep breaths because she needed some good ones.
‘If sitting up helps with this, maybe standing up will do even better’, she thought. So, she got out of the bed.
She started walking slowly towards the door of her room. She noticed the balloon deflating even more as she walked. She felt happy. She felt as if she was coming back to life.
To prove that she was indeed coming back to life, she went to the kitchen to make herself some coffee, as the balloon disappeared entirely. For the day.
Short Story 7: Fish in the Ocean
The fish were beautiful. That one over there, the blue-ish one, for example. That one was the prettiest one. It was also the friendliest. It had always helped the creature find its way around in this vast place whenever it was lost. The creature was not mature enough to help itself yet. It felt that it would definitely have been lost had it not been for that fish.
There was also the grey one on its left. That fish did not come around all the time. They said that that fish had some issues with its family, so it tended to lock itself up at the back of a rock. ‘That is why it is not always here’, they said.
The creature asked if there was anything they could do to help that poor fish. They said there was not. That fish was hopeless.
The creature sighed deeply. It felt sad. It thought of going and asking the fish how it was. Just as the creature leaned toward the grey fish, the blue one told it not to do so with a gesture. The creature stopped.
The creature then just sat down and thought. It was not sure if it was born or brought here. There was no one like it. Everyone looked like fish here whereas the creature looked like, well, nothing. But this place was its home, so it felt. This home was so big that it had everything it wanted. This home satisfied it to the fullest.
Years went by and now the creature was more mature. In the meantime, it had strangely started developing some kind of emptiness in itself as well. It did not know how to describe it. But it did not bother the creature that much for now. So, it ignored that feeling. The feeling would reveal itself every now and then but would go away right after because the creature would start chatting with someone. It was very talkative and liked having fun. It used that habit to avoid thinking about this feeling of emptiness.
One day, a new fish joined their group. That fish was crazy. It liked having fun. The creature liked the fish. They started hanging out together very often. One day, when they were having fun, the fish said that it wanted to see what was beyond this place. The fish asked what it meant. Was there any place beyond this beautiful home? The fish said it did not know but just wanted to explore. The creature ignored this conversation. That day continued as if that conversation had never happened.
That night, though, that emptiness became bigger for no apparent reason and really bothered the creature this time. It did not have anyone to talk to. So, it could not resist it and went to visit that new fish to get some help. The fish said it also had the same feeling. They decided that they would go explore a bit to forget about this feeling. They went out and it was dark outside. They swam and swam. Without realizing it, they had come to a point further than even before. The creature asked for a break. They rested a bit. After a bit of rest, they started swimming again. Now it was getting brighter, because the night was going away. They had never been out at dawn before and they did not know that this was how the day started. There was something up there that was rising. They decided to swim up to see better. They continued for a while. They were both very scared when they looked down. They were so high up! What if they fell? But luckily they also felt excited. This helped them to continue swimming up a bit more. They reached the end. They put their heads out of the water just a bit and saw a whole new world out there. There was some yellow-orange bright thing on a blue surface. They thought that thing probably brought the day in. They also saw some green high places across the ocean. They also saw loud, huge machines sliding on the water. They watched this scene as much they could.
When they were swimming back, they both felt that the emptiness was filling up. The creature was also thinking of telling all of this to the grey fish. It thought maybe this would help the fish to relax from its family issues. The creature imagined the smile that would appear on the fish’s face. That made it smile too.
Short Story 6: In and out of a cage
This is not a new story. It is a story I wrote at the very beginning of my re-started writing practice about 2.5 years ago, almost untouched. It is when I decided to get into mindfulness/meditation practices for good to get me out of some loopholes I felt I was in and this story is about how I imagined the process to be like. Well, it does not go as expected, but at least I am in better loopholes.
Image from: http://margaretblaine.com/you-are-a-buddha/
There is something in me. That wants to be free. That needs to be free. For such a long time now, it has recognized its cage as its home. Satisfied with the world it has set up in there. Once, though, it dared to put his head out of the cage just a little bit. And it saw what it was missing. It was missing the whole world. The world it was created for.
That thing looked inside. It saw the world it had formed for itself. Full of its past and present. It thought its future would be there too. But then it saw this new big world out there. There was something in this big world that felt familiar. It looked like it was this big world that thing was craving for for years.
Then, that thing remembered how it felt in its cage. Its craving for freedom. As if this was not its home already. Why was it feeling trapped in its own home? Was it ever possible to feel that your home was not your home? Should it try a new home? The big world, maybe?
Then, it put its head out again. Yet again, it felt that this, that is the outside world, was its real home. This was its future.
In a daring act, it put its little foot out too but dared not put its second foot out. It went back right inside. To the world that it had always been in.
But still, something felt wrong. Something daunting. Facing this feeling yet again, it wanted to dare more. Again, it put its head and foot out. Then, the second foot came out. Trembling. It looked around, afraid to start flying. On its back, there was the home that it knew from bottom to top, or it thought so, as well as the feeling of being trapped. On its front, there was the unknown but somehow familiar world, with its vastness. And somehow it knew that once it decided to get into the new world, it would never want to come back. So, it raised its wings and started clipping them. Then, it set its feet apart from the ground.
It was flying now. It looked around. It looked down. It looked around. It looked down. It looked around. It looked down. This place was freedom. This place was not trapped. This place felt right. This new world gave that thing a new feeling. Now that it was free from the bonds of the past and the present and the future. It was close to itself, not to times.
Then that thing looked down and saw its old familiar home. It wondered whether it should go back. It knew that it did not want to. But everything was vague here. As much as there was freedom, there was the unknown. It was high up, free from the boundaries. But it did not know where to go. And it was actually not even totally free. It had the longing for the old home, because that was familiar. It still had connections to it, drawing it near.
Hovering high up. Hovering and no direction. Was the worst decision better than no decision? Should it just go back to avoid uncertainty? What were all this daring steps for? All to go back to the old ways? To the trapping feeling it used to feel?
That thing happened to put his head high up in the midst of all this confusion. It looked up. And it saw a direction. There was light there. There were all the fellow things, soaring in the air peacefully. But that place was very high up. Should it dare? Can it make it up there? How did those things manage to do that?
It felt like one more daring was needed. That thing lifted its head up, stretched its legs and started clipping its wings harder and faster. It was going up now. To where other fellow things were flying. Even the road felt like peace. That thing started imagining how it would feel when it arrived up there. And it smiled.
Short Story 5: Get lost to find it.
This was the first time she came to this forest on her own. She wanted was some alone time in a place that she knew and that would give some sense of calmness. She had had some troubled days dealing with issues with people in her life, and with herself.
She thought she knew this forest well because she had been here many times with friends. They had come here just to walk around for a few hours. It helped them relax.
Today, she had arrived here at around ten in the morning. It was about an hour drive from her home. She started walking. It was very relaxing. The tall and green trees made her happy. Not only that, she also liked watching animals in nature.
She continued walking. She liked the walk even more this time because there was no one around her now. No one to be distracted by. Her plan was working perfectly.
After walking for two hours, she sat down to get some snacks. She had another hour to go. So, she wanted to get a bit more energized.
As she ate, she watched the tree leaves being moved gently by the wind. The wind was very soft. She liked it whenever it touched her cheek.
After she rested, she started walking again. Since she was now closer to the end of her walk than to the beginning, she started wondering where the exit location was. She had always followed others and had never paid attention to the directions. But she was still confident that she would find it, because she had been here many times after all.
She was wrong. All she remembered was that at some point where trails diverged, she needed to go left. But there were so many of them. There was some divergence point every ten minutes or so. She had not even noticed these before.
She decided to go left at each of these points to make sure that she did not miss the real exit. How much time could it take anyway? She would easily notice a wrong trail one she entered it, right?
But she did not. Each time she took a wrong route, it took her about an hour to come back to the diverging point. This happened four times and she was now very exhausted, very thirsty and very angry. She wanted to shout as loudly as she could. She wanted to cry as loudly as she could. Why on earth had she not paid attention to the route before?
She sat there in despair. All she wanted now was to have someone rescue her. Just be taken by the arm and be walked. Guided towards the end. But that did not happen.
So, she had to stand up and continue walking. She walked for around 15 minutes and came across another diverging point. She noticed a sign there. She had not noticed any sign before. What did it say? She wondered and wanted to check. She came closer.
It said ‘Exit to the left’.
That was what she needed since after the break. But how had she not seen this sign before? Apparently, she had relied on her friends’ expert knowledge too much.
She also wished there were signs at other points too. Signs that said something like ‘Wrong. Continue walking to the right. Exit later.’
With some relief but also frustration, she continued to the left. At least, she now knew she was on the right path.
Just as she was feeling that, she heard her alarm clock go off. It was morning already. She opened her eyes and immediately went to write her dream in her dreambook. As she was writing, she was also thinking what her dream could mean. Initially, she did not have an idea. Later, it occurred to her that maybe her dream was a reflection of her recent personal struggles, which she had tried many different things to solve with the help of her friends and wanted to escape from now. If so, was there a sign she was missing in life too? What and where was it? She did not know.
Instead of thinking about that, she just went to the kitchen to get her morning coffee. That was, after all, easier than thinking.
Short Story 4: You don’t have friends? I do. At night.
His parents did not know his friend. The child wanted to introduce him to them, but he was waiting for a suitable time.
His friend was awesome. They met every day. But not during the day. For some reason, his friend insisted on meeting in the evening. He would come to his room and they would talk about many things. His friend especially liked talking about distant places. He said he had seen a lot of different parts of the world. The child was already in shock when he heard that. He himself had never traveled to any other place than his hometown. But a bigger shock came when his friend said he had even traveled to space. He found this awkward. How could he travel to space? When he asked his friend this question, his friend simply said that this was very natural to him and that he always did that. Then he started describing the space.
Apparently, the space is a very active place and you can never get bored. There are many friends you can meet there, first of all. But he warned that space people also get angry very easily. When they do, they throw huge stones at each other. There are a lot of places you can sit on as well. He said these places are a bit like places where people rest for a bit when they travel. He also added that these places are usually situated in parks. Like the parks in this world. Just as lively. Maybe even livelier.
At first, he did not want to believe all this. But his friend said he would take him to the space to convince him and he agreed. His friend held his hand and they started moving up. Kind of like the space shuttles that he had seen on TV. They were going straight up. They went up and up and his friend led him to a place like the resting places he had mentioned. It looked just like the park in their neighborhood. He said this place had the best view. One could see a lot of activity down there and it also had a broader view. It was in the middle of a big park where the child saw a lot of interesting beings having fun. It looked beautiful but the child was worried. He wanted to see his world. It was not visible. His friend told him not to worry. He said he would take him back safe and sound. He had no choice but to trust him.
The child saw a stone flying in the space. More like falling rather than flying. He asked what that was. His friend showed him two beings fighting down there. He said the one in yellow had thrown the stone to the one in white because they were fighting. But he had missed his target, so now the stone was just falling. He asked how long and where the stone would fall. His friend said he did not know.
His friend held his hand again and they went to another park this time. This one was even bigger and looked fancier but did not look over a nice view like the one before. This one looked over a huge darkness. The child was scared. His friend told him to calm down and then said that there was a lot of darkness in space too. So, this was normal for space.
After they sat there for a while, the friend said it was time to go home. The child agreed. He had enjoyed it a lot, though he was also a bit scared. They went to his room again. His friend left and the child slept.
When the child woke up the next morning, he decided that he would tell his parents about his friend because his friend was awesome. He had realized this even better last night. He went to the living room and his parents were there. He told them about his friend and his travels (but he did not say he had gone to space with him. His parents would get angry at him because he had not asked their permission). He also added that he only came in the evening. His parents were puzzled but said they would want to meet him in the evening that day.
The child waited eagerly for the evening to come that day and finally, it did. He led his parents to his room. He looked at the spot where his friend appeared first every evening. He could not see him this time. He looked and looked but to no avail. He was very sad and his parents were trying to console him. With one last hope, he looked at the spot again. This time, he noticed that his friend was covered by clouds and that is why he could not see him.
‘Maybe he will come later’, he said to his parents.
His parents agreed and left the room for that evening. The child continued looking at the spot.
Short Story 3: Damn you, rain! Or maybe not.
The woman felt something on her nose. A drop of rain. She looked up to the sky and it was indeed starting to rain. The weather forecast had not predicted rain today, at least when she left her home in the morning. Therefore, she was not prepared for this unpleasant surprise. That was why she had decided to walk to her destination rather than taking a cab. It would be a nice, pleasant walk under this warm weather, she had thought. But now, the rain was messing up with her expectations.
She started walking faster with the hope that she would reach her destination before it started raining harder.
However, there was one problem: the faster she tried to walk, the harder it started to rain. She thought of getting a cab. But she would get soaked in the rain while waiting for the cab anyway. There was none around. So, it did not make sense. Walking or taking a cab, neither was a better option under this condition. She finally gave up her hope of reaching her destination and found a bus stop to wait at until the rain was over. At least she would be protected from more rain.
She told her friend that she would have to miss the meeting today. She sat on the bench at the stop for a while, still angry at her situation. Not only had she missed the meeting she was waiting for eagerly, she had also got wet all over. Moreover, she was starting to feel cold. She started cursing. A lot. Luckily, no one heard her because there was no one around. This was an isolated place.
At that point, a bird flying through the sky caught her attention. She watched the bird’s harmonious moves for a while and later noticed other birds that were coming to join that one bird. All of them were in harmony. That was beautiful but what really caught her attention was that they were not angry at the rain. They were not supposed to, but that still made her think: Was SHE supposed to get angry like that?
After all, the rain did not have conscious. So, she could not be angry at the rain. Who or what was she angry at? No one. Her anger did not have a target. Also, why was she angry? Yes, she had missed the meeting. But that was recoverable. She could invite those people over later. Yes, she was soaked in the rain. But she could get dry in a short time once she went home. Yes, she was cold but it was almost time for cold season. So, she was supposed to be cold anyway. If not today, tomorrow.
With these thoughts in mind, she stood up, walked out of the bust stop and reached her hand out in the rain. She watched rain drops fall on her hand. She had a pleasant feeling when raindrops touched her hand. She liked it. Her hand stayed there for a while. In fact, a long while. Her hand was tired but she did not care.
Later, she started walking back home. But very slowly. So slowly that she was taking one step in the time she could take three. She did not want to go fast anymore. In fact, she did not have the will to go home after all. All she wanted was to watch the raindrops drop on her nose one after the other while also enjoying walking under the rain. She did that. It was enjoyable. Very.
When she got home after a long time, it was still raining. She was sad to leave the rain outside. But she was also happy that she had made the best decision she could have made that day. That had made today different from the others.
Short Story 2: Alien or Not? That is the Question.
It had been about two years since the alien started living among humans. The humans did not know that he was an alien. They just thought he was a weird person.
The alien had started attending college with other fellow human students. He did not speak to a lot of them. What he rather wanted to do was to observe how humans interacted with each other. Where he was from, the only way to communicate was through silence. Somehow, they were able to interact without noise. Here, there was too much noise. Humans seemed to like making noises when they interacted. They called this ‘speaking’. Even if they did not speak, though, humans reacted to things with noise. They shouted, cried or sang.
This situation made him think that there was a sharp contrast between humans and his own people on his planet and he wanted to see why humans were so different from them. This had motivated him to come to the human world.
When he first came here, he was lost in the crowd, not knowing what to do. The only way he knew how to communicate was through silent signals and that did not work here. He had learnt a bunch of words to get by but nothing that would enable real conversation. He was desperate. So, he decided to learn the language of humans better and eventually he started talking a bit more. That started to help him in his quest.
He somehow had always thought that humans were not so different. He did not know why he had this thought. But once he started talking to humans, this thought was strengthened even more. He was convinced that there was some silence, some silent communication, in all of this noise. But where was it? What was it? Why could he not detect it? He had mastered silent communication on his planet after all. He must be equipped with right material. But his ability failed here.
This curiosity led him to enroll in college. He thought that he would have closer and continuous contacts with people, which would help him understand the issue better. However, although it had been about eight months since he started the school, he had not yet uncovered a single trace of the silence he thought existed in humans. Until today.
He had made one good friend several months ago. They had started with simple greetings. Later, they started hanging out outside of school as well. This made them better friends. Now, they even ate together all the time. So, they were even better friends.
This closeness made the alien brave enough to ask the question that was bothering him to his friend. He was looking forward to their lunch today for that reason. That is why he was very uneasy in classes today. He was unable to sit still. His pencil was his friend during this wait time: he kept playing with it the whole time.
Finally, the time came. His friend had noticed his uneasiness and asked as they were eating:
‘Hey, what’s up? Is something wrong? You seemed very uneasy today in classes.’
‘What’s wrong? Tell me.’
‘I actually want to ask you something.’
‘How should I start?’
‘I don’t know. Just say the problem. Don’t be indirect.’
‘Ok. You know I am weird, right?’
‘I want to learn why you chose me as your friend while you could have chosen any other cooler students. There are many cooler people, you know. What made you choose me, the weirdest in the class?’
‘What? What kind of a question is this?’
His friend laughed loudly.
‘No, I am serious. I want to learn.’
‘Because I want to learn a bit more about what friendship means.’
‘Well, this is a big question. Why do you make friends with someone at all?’
The friend thought for a while and then said:
‘I honestly don’t know. You just feel close to your friends. I just felt closer to you than anyone else in the class. And because I felt closer, I got the sense that we would get along well. I don’t have any explanation other than that.’
‘Yeah, feel. Meaning, there is no thought behind it. Again, I don’t know why I felt closer to you. I never thought about why. Isn’t this what a feeling is?’
The alien did not know what a feeling was but he agreed:
‘So, tell me, why did YOU choose me as your friend?’
‘I don’t know. I just thought that you were more approachable than others.’
‘See! You were the same. But you are phrasing it wrong. You didn’t think; you felt. That is how you knew you would relate to me better than others. Emotions are secretly so powerful. They form most human relations, good or bad, and they keep them going or break them. Sometimes in irrational ways, because emotions do not always come packed with thoughts and analysis.’
‘Yeah, I guess.’
There was some silence after this. The friend was examining the alien’s reaction. The alien was thinking that he was starting to understand what his friend was referring to, vaguely. That is, feelings. Things you don’t analyze but are powerful enough to guide you in life. But he still wasn’t sure he knew exactly what his friend was talking about. That is, he could not detect an exact target that he could call an emotion. So, he added:
‘I think I should understand feelings more.’
‘We all should.’
There was some silence again. A brief one. Then, the friend asked:
‘Is that really what bothered you this whole time?’
‘Ah, you ARE weird.’
They laughed together and then continued eating. The heavy talk was over.
The alien was finally relieved. He had found his answer: In addition to their noises, humans communicated with emotions as well. And they did so very often. That was their silent language. He had also discovered that he himself also had that language, which was how he had connected to humans in the first place and known that humans were somehow similar to him (or him to humans). He was not an alien after all. But he did not really have a full grasp of what feelings were yet or how much of them he himself had. He decided to work on that in the remainder of his stay in this world.
As the alien walked back to his place after school, he was finally smiling at humans on the way. He now had a better understanding of these creatures and he even felt like one of them. He was actually one of them.
Story 1: The Girl and the Bird
There was a fly flying over her head. Again. This fly kept coming here and flying over her head. It always bothered her. But this time it was very close, too close. She tried to keep it away. But the fly was consistent. It kept flying over her and it kept coming closer. She got annoyed. She decided to send the fly into eternal silence once and for all. For that, she waited until the fly got even closer. Once she thought the fly was close enough, she raised her hand with the aim of hardly knocking it down. Now, her hand was going down on the fly. But the fly flew again, very quickly, and sat on her nose.
She looked at where the fly was. She could not see a fly but a ladybug. The ladybug was also flying over her head. She watched the ladybug fly around for a while. She was surprised at what had just happened. Where had the fly gone or how had it turned into a ladybug? But her feeling of anger was still there: she still wanted to get rid of the ladybug. Though still captured by her surprise, she tried to raise her hand. But her hand just wouldn’t move. The ladybug then flew towards the ceiling. It flew and flew and once it touched the ceiling, the ceiling cracked open.
The ladybug started flying through the opening towards the now-directly-visible sky. But it stopped after a while. She could still see it. It stood just at the corner of the roof that was split in half. She noticed the wings of the ladybug getting a bit bigger. And its wings started flapping harder and faster. This caused a strong wind and she could feel it. Now, there was so much dust because of the wind that she barely saw anything. She thought she lost the ladybug. A few minutes later, though, the wind started dying down and she started seeing what was up there a bit better. There was no ladybug this time. There was just one giant white bird. A beautiful giant white bird. This was yet another transformation. What was going on?
Then, she heard someone calling her name. Who was talking to her? She could not see anyone. She followed the voice and realized that the voice came from somewhere in the sky. She still could not see anyone. Then, the bird flapped its wings harder and faster to make her notice it. It was also calling her name as it did that. Now she knew: the bird was calling her. Now she heard it saying: ‘Hey, do you want to come up here?’
She stayed silent. Was it really the bird that was talking? What was really going on?
But her curiosity eventually took over and she said ‘Yes’. The bird then came down and grabbed her. She sat on its back and they flew together high into the sky. They traveled to many places. To places which she had learnt about in her geography class. Mountain ranges, deep oceans, poles. She saw forests and rivers. She saw flies and ladybugs and birds.
The bird then stopped. It said it was time to go back. She was initially reluctant but she still agreed. After all, who was she to decide on the routes in this journey? She had not done anything anyway. She was just being carried around on the back of a bird.
Then, she started hearing another voice. It said: ‘Hey, are you ok?’ She could not reply. Then the voice started talking to others: ‘Sir, she kept waiving her hand and talking about mountains and oceans and what not. She seems to be sleeping but I got worried.’ The other voice replied: ‘If she is not waking up, let her sleep for now. We better start with our class. We are going to continue learning the landscape of Europe.’
Note: I wrote this on the plane from Los Angeles to New Jersey. My final destination is Brussels, so I believe there is more to come.