Creative Writing, Writing Challenge


Freya noticed the barista right away, just as she strolled up to get in line at the local Starbucks. They locked eyes: he a dark-haired young devil. A little smile from both ends. He was a certified bad boy, no doubt. The quickening of her pulse rose the closer she got to the front and she felt the barista watching her as she gave her order to the cashier. As Freya leaned down to sign the receipt, she stole a quick glance— the barista moved with impressive speed. Freya swallowed and handed the receipt back to the cashier, who smiled at Freya’s trembling hand. Then she stood back and watched the barista make her drink. His arms, decorated with black ink, flexed as he poured Freya’s venti cappuccino. They made eye contact again as she stepped forward to receive her hot beverage. The barista gave her a sparkling grin and she began her slow smile when he turned to resume his work. Perhaps expecting a tad bit more, Freya left with an air of disappointment. It was only when she set her drink on top of her car to fumble with the keys in her bag that she saw it: the barista’s phone number written on the coffee sleeve. She sat down in the driver’s seat and suddenly felt as if all was possible in the world.

If it were up to Freya, she’d either suck the men dry or leave them to bleed out. She only wanted to experience a certain wildness that she expertly brought out in her suitors and then she’d be content to move on with her life.

It came as a second nature to her. Within the first moment of meeting a man Freya would instinctively know whether the soft curl that brushed against her eyebrow, the almond shape of her deep eyes, and the delicate curve of her back were pleasing to his eye. If the verdict was not yet made clear, she would only need to say something— an observation of the evening’s mood, a spontaneous craving for a specific delicacy, or just quite about anything— to provoke a reaction so to decode the message behind his smile. And then she would know whether she held any power in how their night could potentially unfold. She loved the chase, and it loved her right back.

There was a time when hedonism took the highest priority for her. Where the road ended was never of more importance than the present scenery; all that mattered was here and now. With a sting of remorse, she remembered that the time had passed for her. There are always consequences to our actions, she reminded herself.

There was a man Freya had enjoyed for a brief period. She had loved his body, but he had loved all of her. After he—in a post-coitus madness—proposed marriage, she said he was crazy. Wounded, he went crawling back to his on-and-off girlfriend, who later became his wife. Freya always wondered if they were happy. Another man who had resided in Freya’s bedroom for one blissful month continued to send her notes many months afterwards. As they all went unanswered, the notes came further and further apart until a full year had passed without a word. She wondered if he was dead. Two more years later, she received yet another note. One man, the worst of them all, had sparked such an intense chemical reaction in her that the contextual details blurred into the distant background as she flirted with him shamelessly at a party. It wasn’t until after they had come out of the bathroom that the guilt came flooding in; he had just started dating one of her closest friends. That guilt formed into a rock, which still resided at the pit of her stomach, no gastric acid strong enough to dissolve. Were any of these experiences worth the repercussions? She watched as the men of her past floated by.

How can one thing feel utterly wonderful in one moment could turn into shame and despair the next? The words of Father Basil came to her now: Purity and pleasure are mutually exclusive, my child! He had caught her hand inside the pocket of the choir lead in the back pew. She swore on her grandmother’s grave that she would never do that again. A week later, that same hand made contact with flesh in the confessionals box. She had never felt more alive, but afterwards she mentally apologized to her grandmother over and over again, unable to bring herself to ask for forgiveness in a prayer. Eventually, she abandoned religion in lieu of her own personal moral compass. The problem was Society—it didn’t align with Freya’s moral compass.

Anyway, her time had passed, like she said. Society wasn’t ever going to be ready for Freya in her lifetime and if she wanted to be a functioning member of her Society, she had better abide by its glorious rules and such. A rumbling in the sound of “Fuck Society” rose from Freya’s guts and she felt ready to spit it out as if it tasted of bile. But then, she looked at the beautiful specimen at her right and pushed the utterance back down her throat. Here was the most important purpose of Freya’s existence, her small daughter with shiny, little almond eyes looking back at her mother. “Ready to get to school, baby?” Freya asked.

The little girl nodded and went back to her book, which was sprawled open at her lap. Freya turned the key in the ignition and roared the car to life. Glancing at the seven digits as she sipped her cappuccino, Freya thought: Perhaps in another life.

Writing prompt 15 of 30: Develop an intriguing character. 

Creative Writing, Writing Challenge

We only have today

Note: This is a work of Red Rising fan fiction and contains Morning Star spoilers. Be forewarned.

Broken, fragile ankles sway in the gentle breeze. It is her again. Her voice, as tiny as it is to my ears, reverberates my chest. Her head bows, unmoving; her tangled, red mess of hair falls forward, concealing the rope around her neck. I cannot tell where her voice comes from. Looking around her, I see Red people. Their mouths are wide open, as if in a choir, harmonizing the letter “A”.

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Art + Photography, Life, Writing Challenge

Everybody’s looking for something


me : wall

I always wanted to make something that people would find a new thing about every time they looked at it, although it wasn’t the goal when I taped the first piece of magazine paper on this wall.  I don’t know what compelled me to start my wall project, only that I felt a pressing need to see inspiration around me.

I began with fashion and women’s magazines, but I quickly learned that of the 500-something pages, only five or so would actually be useful. Even in those pages, I could sense that the photographs were just trying to sell me something. Funny how that becomes more obvious when you look at it from a distance. I moved away from fashion magazines and looked for something more authentic.

Soon enough, I got my hands on art and photography magazines and what a difference it was. I discovered Juxtapoz, The Great Discontent, Womankind, and a bunch other fantastic magazines that some local, independent bookstores held (I’m looking at you, BookPeople). With these magazines, I’d cut out at least 20 pages from each issue. After going through several issues, I’d have myself a small, but lovely, pile of paper which gave me real playing room. It was then I started to make progress.

With no particular deadline in mind, this project took a little over a year to complete. This is a wall of trial and error. This wall is a tiny sampling of what Earthlings created in the year 2015. This wall is what I consumed when I was 25 years old. I never thought this wall would have stuff to teach me, but I learned some lessons along the way.


One: Meaningful connections are always better than random encounters. When I scattered the pages around at random or tried to mix up the visuals and color scheme, my wall ended up looking like a giant collage. When, instead, I tried to find some kind of connection between the pages,  a story was created. This reminded me that when we make deliberate choices, we can control the narratives of our lives.

Two: Find a connection between the pieces, but make the individual stand on its own. Early on, I tried to take shortcuts by taping a row of several pages together before sticking them to the wall, but that turned out to be a disaster. Either the weight would make them fall down together or I’d change my mind about a placement of a page and have to xacto-knife my way through two pieces. Taping each page by itself proved to be the most durable solution. I realized that connections should be fluid, not locked, and that we should always hold our own ground.

Three: When in doubt, stand back and look at the big picture. Whenever I’d spend too much time up close against my wall, I’d inevitably hit a roadblock. I’d feel unsure of what should go where. The only way to get over this obstacle was to take a step back and observe from a new angle. Some things only make sense when you look at them on the grand scale of life. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can get you through the little things.

Above all, this wall taught me that what you create is a mirror of yourself. This used to be a plain white wall. Now it’s a home to a cluster of galaxies and I live in each of them.


Writing prompt 13 of 30: Write about something you made. 

Creative Writing, Writing Challenge


It is pitch black, yet I can see red, blue, and yellow pipes clear as day. They go up, down, left, right. Everything is two-dimensional.

I am standing on a red pipe. I am holding my mom’s hand. I am three years old.

We begin walking, hand in hand, towards an unknown destination. Suddenly, we stop in our tracks. We are standing at the jagged edge of the pipe. There is a disconnect where the pipe had been broken off. 30 feet of nothingness stretched out before us until the pipe on the opposite side picked up again. We glance down where our next steps were supposed to be. It is just endlessly black.

We back up and walk in the opposite direction. We nearly run into a giant, two-dimensional web. Fear explodes in my heart and shoots in every direction. The spider had to be human-sized to make a web this big. Thankfully, it is nowhere to be seen. I drag my mom’s arm and we go a different route. We keep walking on.

I don’t know how long it is before I stop walking. I look around and realize that I am alone. My mom has disappeared. Where has she gone? I don’t know where to go. I don’t even know what I was walking towards in the first place. I panic.

My first worry is that the spider has gotten to my mom. I run and run, looking for the web. I can’t find it. Somehow, I end up back on the edge of the broken pipe. I sit on the edge, feeling a tremendous amount of sadness. The spider got my mom. I know it.

I don’t want to be here anymore. It is dark and the pipes are bright. I am alone. This doesn’t feel real.

I make the decision to jump. I spiral down and down. An impact hits me and it runs through my body. I die and resurrect in the same second. I exit and then enter within the same portal.

I am jolted awake. My mom is clapping the edge of the bed. “Ready to get up?” she says to me. I am motionless as I wait for my heart to stop pounding, my eyes adjusting to the familiar room.

I am in my mom’s bedroom. I have escaped the two-dimensional pipe world. I am awake.

Writing prompt 12 of 30: Write about the first dream you remember having. 

Life, Writing Challenge

Why it’s not OK to fight audism with racism

Two weeks ago, an article from The Limping Chicken— a Deaf news and blog site– got a lot of attention within my Facebook feed. It was about how a Deaf woman ended up sitting with a hearing Asian man on a plane and he encouraged her to get a Cochlear Implant. The woman retorted by making a racist comment. People applauded her for her quick wit and brilliant comeback. This made my stomach churn, but I wasn’t in a place where I could process it thoroughly at the time.

Today, I’m ready to talk about why this exchange was not okay. First, here’s the story, copied and pasted from the article:

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Creative Writing, Writing Challenge

We are not friends

Facebook Messenger 

— October 18, 2015 —

Barry Hiddleston 7:52pm 

Hello, I live in #27. I found your profile through our neighborhood’s group page. Anyway, I would like to address the fact that your dog charges at my cat every time you take him outside. Kindly keep him on your leash. The brown one, not the white one, although his barking does get scarey. Thank you.

Leila Hanaumi 8:04pm

Hi Barky,

Thank you for complimenting Yorick (the white one) on his vocal abilities. When I adopted him 11 months ago (it will be our one-year anniversary in only two weeks), I actually thought he was mute. “What an interesting combination,” I said to myself, me being deaf and Yorick being mute. It reminded me of Stephen King’s book, The Stand, which was ridiculously long. The only thing more ridiculous than the length was the fact that one of the characters, Nick Andros, was deaf AND mute. 99% of deaf people aren’t mute, including myself. Just because we don’t communicate with our voices does not mean that we cannot produce sound. It was really audist of Stephen King, don’t you think? But in this situation with Yorick and myself, it made more sense since I am deaf and un-mute and Yorick is mute and un-deaf. Except, as it turns out, Yorick was never mute, just shy. I am still deaf, though. So, I need my dogs to alert me of any potential dangers lurking outside of my house. Ripley (the brown one) is very good at that. Does your cat have rabies? I recently Googled (that is a slang which means I looked it up on the Internet) rabies and it says that it is deadly when left untreated. Its fatality rate is 100%, in fact. This astounded me. Did you realize how dangerous your feline is? Thank goodness I have my un-mute dogs to protect me. Please tell your cat to stay away from me.

Your friend,

Leila in #6

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