I should’ve packed an extra set of clothes. We were headed to the remote village of Ta Phin, Vietnam, so I saw it fit to cram my day pack with water and bread. Oh, they had tons of that over at my homestay. They even had enough beer and rice wine to kill a couple of cows. What they didn’t have were spare clothes, a fact I had to learn while drenched from the rain in fifteen-degrees Celsius weather. I sought refuge next to the fire pit under the pretense of helping out in the kitchen, all the while thinking, I definitely should’ve packed that extra set of clothes.
I can’t polish a blank page, which is why I actually started writing this piece — I wanted to prove to myself that I couldn’t polish crap either. I haven’t been able to write as freely as I’d like lately, and it’s probably because I’m clinging to perfection.
Much of my workflow involves tinkering the first sentence over and over until I realise I’ve veered so far off what I actually wanted to say that I end up abandoning the piece completely.
Writing prompt: One morning humanity wakes up to a message in the sky. “Sorry was AFK for a bit there” -God
“How do you think it got there?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “Probably some skywriters with a good idea of a prank.”
“Skywriting? But it’s been there since this morning!”
I leave the stranger behind, because I don’t need more questions that I can understand myself. Why don’t you come up with your own explanations then? If I’d stayed there for another minute, I might’ve snapped at him. Thank God, heh, I had the presence of mind to leave. Who knows what else I’d have done. I’m just on edge, is all. But deep down, I know I’m fuckin’ terrified.
There’s a weird relationship between happy tunes and horror movies; the twinkling of a baby mobile, or tunes from a theme park. You don’t get the same chill from, say, dubstep or emo rock.
The advertisement jingles in supermarkets are right up the horror-movie aisle (heh). How could anybody be happy about a ten percent discount off a two-dollar item? My heart goes out to the staff every time I shop in a supermarket that repeats music and the month’s current offers.
Today, I find myself at the hypermarket deciding on a door gift for a new year’s party. Should I go for the wine, or the snacks? I visualise a wine snob at the party—and it’s a real possibility because I don’t know anyone there—frowning at my ten-dollar bottle of wine. But ten-dollar wine is classier than twenty-dollar bags of Lays, surely?
Prompt: You are in your twenties. You wake up to find yourself in your eight-year-old body. You are in the time and at the place you were when you were 8, but with all the memories and mannerisms of your twenty-something self.
The smell of bacon roused Jess. It’s a smell that took her back to her eighth birthday; the most memorable one of her life. Dad had said that she’d become a big girl, and Jess had to agree.
She was certain that it was that exact day, because underneath the salty tang of the bacon was a hint of whiskey, a combination that’s involuntarily etched in her mind like a badly-drawn tattoo.
Barbie dolls and My Little Pony colouring books were strewn about her room, remnants of love from her late mother.
Wait, mom’s still alive, isn’t she? Am I dreaming?
Prompt: You’ve accidentally killed the Devil. God makes you the new Devil to replace the one you killed.
Amos had few regrets for taking to the bottle. He literally pissed my life away, but the haunting memories still remained. Sara and Janey. How I yearn for them. How old would Janey have been? How long has it been since I the accident?
Long enough, he concluded. He’d had enough of the cold, the hunger, the panhandling so that he could score another bottle to keep away the shakes. Tonight, he’d end it all—he was hopping back on the wagon. Going cold turkey. Committing suicide.
I don’t know about you, but every time I return from a trip, I come home with an extra olfactory association as well—another stamp to the collection, so to speak. Singapore’s underground MRT stations smell like stale grass, the streets of Mandalay like boiled pork, and the back alleys of Saigon carry a hint of ham choy.