The First Story I Ever Wrote

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.

Octavia E. Butler

I love revisiting stories from my past. The tiny tidbits of scrawled poetry on the corners of wrinkled pages of my school notebooks, ramblings vaguely resembling prose on the back of a napkin from a café  I had once found inspiration in or even the notes on my phone containing pieces of a plot yet to be assembled together but on its way to forming an entertaining story.

It’s nice to look back on the things that made me the writer I am now, even if it means going so far back as to be cringe-inducing.

When people ask me about the first story I ever wrote, my memory conjures up an illustrated short story I made for an ESL (English as a Second Language) class in the first grade. I should have known that I would grow up to be the hopeless lover of romance that I am now. All the signs were there.

Nevertheless, I still have an odd sense of pride whenever I think back to my first efforts as a writer. Even at six years of age, I delighted in bringing form and fruition to the story that played in my head. I didn’t know it then but writing was my calling.

Admittedly, The Prince and the Princess is no masterpiece. Heavily inspired by a favorite fairytale at the time (Jack and the Beanstalk), there are a lot of similarities between the two stories. But that’s how inspiration works, especially in a child’s mind, right? You consume something, start to play with the ideas in your mind before making it your own in some special way.

Of course, my first ‘official’ story was one very hilarious result.

Without further ado, I present to you my first work of art, exactly as it were (with the pictures that I could salvage of it).


The Prince and the Princess

By: Betty Manuel

Once upon a time there was a prince whose name was Eric. He was going to buy some beans.

He saw a man with beans. He went to the man and asked, “Can I have those beans?” The man didn’t answer, but he gave him the beans. The prince paid $3 to the man.

He went to the castle and threw the beans to the floor.

The next day he saw a big beanstalk!

He climbed the beanstalk and saw a castle just like his. He went in the castle and saw a princess.

He asked to the princess, “What’s your name?” The princess answered, “Princess Steffany.” And she asked, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Prince Eric.” So they became friends.

The next day another fairy came and told the king (princess Steffany’s father) to drink the magic potion.

She gave the potion to change the king’s mind. The fairy said, “It will never make you die.” So the king drank it. It changed his mind.

The day came for the marriage to begin. The king came into the castle and opened the door.

The king said, “Stop the marriage!” Princess Steffany was shocked.

But when the king was going to take Steffany to her room, Prince Eric said, “Steffany and I love each other.” When the king heard that, the spell was broken.

After the spell was broken, they married. They also had children and lived happily ever after.

THE END.

(A Six Year Old’s) Author Bio

Betty was born on 1992 1997. She likes to see cartoon, go on trips and play computer.

She likes her friend, her parents and herself.

re.Form

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The last time she bled, she swore to never open her heart again. Never again to the impurities of those that wished to defile her, contaminate the childlike innocence of a young, star-studded soul.

But Adaline’s greatest strength brought on her downfall: her unfailing belief in the goodness of the world, her unbridled faith that every soul was brought into this universe for nothing short of making miracles. She never reconsidered the repercussions of her naiveté, not until she stood at the edge of a cliff, with the pieces of what was left of her in her small, quivering hands.

The very first time they had cut her, she had bled Moonlight. Silver pools of shimmering diamonds oozed out the gaping holes in her chest and pooled at her feet, mixing in with her thick tears. She had never known pain before, a stranger to the ways of the world. That day, Adaline fell. That day, she learned of mortality of the spirit.

The second time, they did not break her, not completely, not yet. But it was enough for her self-sewn stitches to come undone, as did she by the words they stabbed her with. They weaponized the truth, a thing of beauty, and wielded it as a weapon, slashing her across the throat and leering at the voice that gushed out. Her words were no longer hers, her thoughts reduced to whispers no one ever heard or cared to acknowledge.

Viridian seeped out from the tender wounds of her heart; a reflection of the lush green Earth she had learned to love, a mirror of the bright blue skies that had once been Home. The second time, Adaline learned of the immortality of her scars, of pain.

The third was her last. She saw it coming, all the telltale signs of caution. There could be no greater danger than the deceptive toxicity of a poisoned love – the way it did not transform but attempted to convert her. The way it did not accept but reform her. The way it gave her nothing that love should but broke in her everything that it possibly could.

The Blood was thick and clotted as it flowed like rivers down her body, painting her red with the transgressions of generations passed. She did flinch at the rusty, metallic taste of it on her muted mouth. It tasted of their modern devices. The final time, Adaline did not feel the transience of her being. She simply did not feel.

Her trembling hands held the last of her: her jugular throbbed, less certainly with each passing second; her heart reduced to nothing but scattered remnants of gray, rusted cogs and screws; her soul, dissipating.

With every step she took closer to the edge of Never, the trembling grew still. An unsettling calm washed over her as she peered down, the voids in her eyes consuming the oceanic abyss beneath her.

And when her palms overturned, tipping the individualistic ingredients of her unique creation into the nothingness below, Adaline was no more.

The trail of bloodstained footprints was the last the skies saw of her as they weeped, droplets of a harsh rain washing away the grief of another of their children lost to this world. The red disappeared and with it, so did she, as she ventured into the faceless, plastic masses of the empty vessels that walked the Earth.

Alive, but not living.

/Adaline/: the noble one

until Summer.

Her name was Summer, and oh how she glowed, as if with the brilliance of a thousand suns coating every inch of her skin. Daylight would come and they would wonder if she brought it with her. With the undeniable bloom of the shy pink flourish in her cheeks. With the joyful, almost childlike skip in her steps.

She was Grace, she was Purity – a Goddess, worthy of ascension to a throne that any mortal man would dedicate his life to building if only for the promise of her coy, rose lips curling into that smile they thirsted for.

She noticed them all, each and every one among the crowd of foolish, fawning admirers blinded by her Beauty and Grace. The world ate her up like she was Goodness served on a platter. And why wouldn’t they, she mused, with bitterness on her tongue. Why wouldn’t they fall into the trap, mistake the stardust that started to shed from the roots of her golden hair for a by-product of the halo she was cursed to adorn?

Summer shone bright but it was in the darkness of Night that she found herself, in the specks of dust she crumbled into to be one with the shadows. With sleeves rolled up to her thin, trembling shoulders; her skirt hiked to reveal the pale moonlit whiteness of her thighs. They would see a Goddess bathed in beautiful silver, but only her eyes could discover what no one else’s dared to find.

Not the glow of the sun but the jet black poison of Demons and Sin, whispering to her through the tattoos on her blue-veined skin. They breathed into her life their provocative secrets, drugged her in temptation. They showed her: her life was not hers to live.

Daylight would grace her but the darkness would never leave.
And so, she withered.

Her soul would reach for every last inkling of life that the universe had to spare her in solace, for she knew of the promise of Destruction that awaited. The icy, unmerciful grips of the abyss swallowed her whole till there was nothing left to show of her color in this world.

Nothing, but the fading silhouette of a ghost, carried away by the autumn winds and into the nothingness of the winter that follows.

And all (their misguided Hope) would be forgotten.

Until the next Summer.

The Sound of Murder

It was just another routine morning in my dreary existence.

Working a desk job isn’t the most adventurous vocation in the world; that too for a programmer resigned to the mundane task of sitting in front of a computer screen flowing with endless characters. You would think twelve years of deciphering code might have helped me on the journey of breaking down the meaning of life itself and up until the night before, I would have fervently disagreed with that statement.

There was nothing remotely rejuvenating about my work. Gone were the days of youth where the idea of breaking down complex sequential patterns appealed to me. My life was now defined by a routine and exhausting monotony dictated by the technology that shaped our little world.

Boarding the tube to work that day, I figured it would be just like any other. I had consumed my mug of bitter black coffee, a bite of burnt toast and walked the daily fifteen-minute stretch to the nearest underground terminal. The skies were overcast with the same gloom and doom that had followed it for the past decade and I didn’t expect anything to change there. But something was certainly different; marginally so but different nonetheless.

For the first time, I was able to hear things around me in a way I hadn’t before. Things I’d always been surrounded by but never cared to really acknowledge. Like the voices of pedestrians float away as I descended the stairs to the underground. The sounds of hurried, impatient commuters that bumped their shoulders aggressively against mine took over that of the life above. My ears twitched upon hearing the dry, emotionless delivery of the automated dispensing machine. I realized I hadn’t heard the compassionate greeting of a ticket-seller wishing me a good day in years, or felt the warmth of a hand as I am given my ticket for the journey.

My observations grew with every second that passed and with it, a cold dread that started to seep into my core from the pits of my stomach. The people around me were walking stopwatches, too rushed by the throes of life to see what exactly it was they were missing.

Standing before the yellow line in wait of the underground carrier, my eyes uneasily cast glances to my left and right. On both sides, I was surrounded by people with their heads bowed, eyes glued to the surface of a lifeless screen, their sunken eyes absorbing valueless content. I waited for someone to break formation, even desperately hoped a single soul would put down their phone and simply turn to the person next to them and say the word ‘hi’. But no one thought to do that and my grip on my briefcase grew tighter as the truth dawned on me.

We were all living in a self-created, destructive bubble.

From that moment on, everything seemed to fall apart. The clickity-clack of smartphones being typed into magnified in my ears. At the office, the sounds of computer keyboards took over that of human contact. The silence enveloping the vast area of cubicles was deafening. I longed to hear someone break out of the technologically induced trance and have a real conversation. I wished to have a cup of coffee with a colleague and not spend our ten-minute break sitting next to each other, wordlessly skimming through our phones.

At what point of our fall into social obsession had we trapped ourselves in a pit of social exclusion? The thought was suffocating and as the day progressed, I waited for the moment I could return to the comfort of my home and disconnect myself from the world we had created. That day, I faced a truth I had been avoiding for far too long.

With the sound of every character being typed, every swipe down the screen or every selfie being clicked, humanity fades away as we collectively murder what little is left of it.

The Smoke

A short piece I wrote as part of a creative writing assignment.


Spencer’s hooded brown eyes skirted uneasily along the lengths of the crowded living room as beads of sweat begun to form on his balding forehead. He wanted to pretend he hadn’t noticed the sign at the entrance to the premises that had explicitly forbidden the one thing he lived for at this very moment: a good old smoke.

Spencer was in a hell of his own making, one he could have easily avoided had he not set step aboard the bus and shown up to the memorial. He loathed himself for the unhealthy obsession he had to please people, a habit he could not escape even when the subject in question was not there to demand it.

The sound of a carrot stick snapping, of kitchen appliances whirring from another part of the house, of the voices of emotionally troubled guests speaking in hushed, sad tones made his head want to explode. Why was he even here, at the memorial of a woman who had made him feel imprisoned in a cage for all of his professional life? The one release he sought lay in his back pocket, the tobacco practically singing out his name, begging to be in his blood stream.

But even in death, Clarissa Gonzalez owned his ass. His boss had chided him on his smoking habits before, having caught him the first time in the office and never again.

“That’s filthy, Spencer. You’re filthy. I catch you smoking on these premises again and I’ll smoke you, got it?”

Clarissa’s voice rung in Spencer’s memory as he snapped back to reality, his back hitting the wall as another posse of Clarissa’s mourners passed by him. That old crow was the one who got him smoking to begin with. All those late hours, early morning coffee runs, verbal assaults and humiliating taunts had done him over.

But now Clarissa was dead. He guessed he could say she was being smoked in a little place down south. Spencer chuckled and with a triumphant grin, snuck a hand into his back pocket only to catch air.

The cigarette was missing.

“Damn it Clarissa.”