Magical Boy Lawrence (part 1)

Date: 12th March, 2019
Edited: 16th March, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: <His massive jowls shook like jelly.>


60 eyes were peeled on the clock- the only one in this massive lecture hall. Its rather standard dinner plate size seemed inadequately small when put upon the towering wall behind the stage. The 60 eyes didn’t need the clock to be massive though. Not when they can follow the long black minute hand just fine.


The relentless racing rhythm of the second hand boomed over the professor’s monotone drawling. His portly round stature and massive jelly-wobbling jowls heaved and shook as he went on and on and on about some literary theory or something along those lines. His rather poor impression of an oversized sad bulldog did not distract the 60 eyes from their vigilant watch on the clock.


The moment the minute hand struck 12, completing its 60 minute circuit, the lecture hall exploded in a flurry of frantic activity. A chorus of 10 sets of arms rustled around to collect stray pens and notebooks. 15 almost simultaneous SNAP-SNAP-SNAPs of closing laptops accompanied that like percussion. 4 voices spoke in some form of chaotic acapella, badgering the professor at the front who looked like a poorly prepared (and dressed) celebrity facing rather rabid tabloid reporters.

And then, there was him. The young man, barely looking a day over 18, was perfectly camouflaged within the chaos of departing freshmen carrying empty Starbucks cups out of the hall. No one seemed to mind that he was still sitting, easily stepping over and around him like a river parting into two because of an errant rock.

And he waited. And waited. Waited until the last of the badgering students have satisfied their hunger on exclusive pointers for the upcoming midterms and promptly exited as well. All there remained was the professor, huffing and puffing as if he’d just run a marathon and back. But nevertheless, he climbed up the stairs like a champ.

But then he stopped at where the young man was still sitting. His stare lingered on him for a moment. And then, longer than what is appropriate for a quick glance, turning the look into an all out stare. The professor’s jiggly jowls shook as he shuddered and broke eye contact. And then, he too left the lecture hall, switching off the lights and plunging the large room into darkness.

“You’d think he had the hots for you, eh Lawrence dawg?”

The young man, Lawrence, signed and his loose relaxed posture crumpled into a cringe, his head sinking into his open palm.

“It’s so fucking creepy to hear you talk like that, old man,” Lawrence groaned through his facepalm.

“Talk like what, homie?” The bust of the Founder of the University of Cauldwell, situated near the entrance of the lecture hall, grinned a shit-eating grin, bronze-cast teeth showing as the scuffed and aged metal softened and gave way for the expression.

“Like that,” Lawrence groaned even louder and curled further into his seat as if the cringing feeling physically stabbed him again.

“Just ‘cuz I’m like a century old don’t mean I can’t speak how I want. Talk about rude,” the bust scoffed haughtily, “Typical millennials.” It seemed to be eating up Lawrence’s pained reactions, the grin mellowing deceptively into a metallic smirk.

“That’s it! I’m definitely not spending another night here,” Lawrence snapped defiantly, finally standing up from the cushy seat. He then turned around and walked through the rows of seats, his solid form clipping through equally solid chairs. It was like watching a bad character bod glitch out in video game from the early 2000s.

“Ya still under house arrest, my dude,” the Founder watched him as he climbed up the incline towards the double door entrance of the lecture hall, his bronze neck stretching as far as the stand allowed without toppling over. “You’ll get into trouble with the Boss Lady.”

“Not if you shut it and don’t snitch on me,”

And with that, Lawrence glitched past the double doors and had definitely left the building.

“I ain’t no snitch,” the Founder scoffed, relaxing back into his default position, his glazed over cast-bronze eyes focusing on the seat Lawrence had been occupying just a minute ago. The dried up red-brown stain on the cloth surface was still there.

6th March, 2016
Writer’s Notes

Last week I was pouring angry, fury and hurt into my writing so this week, I resolved to do the complete opposite and fill my sentences with humor and fun. I was still rather tender and emotionally hurt at the time when I wrote this but actively trying to pull myself out of the hole of depression and despair DID indeed help. Just trying helped. And I have to thank the rest of my friends (online and IRL) and my fellow writers at the Writers’ Cafe for being a force of life and positivity for me. And things kinda still worked out in the end too in my personal life so lesson learned! I think.

Anyways, about this piece. It’s part of a 3/4 part mini series! It’s my first time working on a somewhat longer short story so this is a learning experience for me. I continued to focus on building a 3-D atmosphere with sound but I think I’ll try and incorporate and experiment with other senses as well to see what works. I also applied what I learned with writing fun dialogue (from other writers at the meetups) and I think it shined in this piece.

I hope you guys enjoyed the piece and I’ll see you again next week! (If I recover from this chest infection I’ve been fighting for the past 3 or so days)

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

Steel, Cinnamon and Petrichor

Date: 5th March, 2019
Edited: 6th March, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: N/A <Did not use the prompt>

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The icy sound of water echoed throughout the space. Beneath the metronomic rhythm of the drip-drip-dripping, were two sets of breaths-

One, I knew by heart, regulated by the medulla, in and out, loud yet pathetic, through the mouth and not the nose, in and out, the hot air straining to move past diseased narrowed windpipes.

And the other- quite, slow, methodical, controlled. Deceptively so. The calm and careful excision of emotion speaking greater volumes for him.

In this murky darkness, I could still see.

Past the water, past the surface of clouded glass jar he kept himself in, I could see anger.

And I feared it.

Not because it was directed at me. Because it was directed at himself.

It was anger stemming from helplessness. From being able to do nothing. By having no control of his own life, by being unable to escape the glass prison so unfairly built around him by forces out of his control, he hated himself. He hated his very existence. It was like fire, but not hot, not burning, but cold, exuding no light, and quietly, painfully, privately, consuming him from the inside out.

The logical thing to do was to put the fire out. As human beings, we are masters of fire and nature. It should have been easy.

In this seemingly unending darkness, from outside the glass jar prison, I regaled to him the tale of an overcast gray sky, the blessed rain gently drizzling down to the earth and blessing all living things with respite from the harsh glare of the sun and leaving behind gifts of petrichor and muddy puddles. It is his favorite story, imbued with the soft minty taste of nostalgia and the almost effervescent scent of baking apple pies wafting about in between each and every raindrop.


The man behind the glass had slammed a fist against the prison wall. He hissed at me.

I was taken aback. Shocked.

The fire was then directed at me, a weapon with the purpose to hurt me.

He leapt and grabbed the words streaming from my mouth, his long fingernails ripping the story of the sky and rain into shreds. And then, he threw them at me. The shredded remains of words turned into tiny yet razor sharp shards of steel, giving me a million paper cuts upon contact with my fragile skin. The open wounds silently oozed with pain. The stinging sensation was shallow compared to the silence that followed.

And suddenly, it was just me in that space.

Me, the dripping of water and the heady metallic scent of steel.

But there was something else under that, the now overwhelmingly putrid smell of cinnamon and petrichor.

The cocktail of assaulting odors permeated past my nostrils, past mortal flesh and settled like a wound up poisonous serpent at the pit of my belly. One wrong move, one wrong thought, one wrong word, and that damned creature will strike at my insides. And then, my heart would stop, stilled by the venom created from that man.

And finally, I would be dead.

I looked around. And I looked harder, squinting my eyes into the darkness. Nothing. Nothing past the water. Nothing more. And then, listened. I listened hard, straining my ears into the silence. Just dripping water. My breathing. Nothing more.

I reached out into the gloom, a move of desperation, of wanting to confirm that this was my reality now. And my palm rested on something icy cold. The cloudy surface shone, absolutely brand new.

A glass jar prison just for me.

And that’s that.

It’s just me now.

Just me,

Steel, petrichor and cinnamon flavored tears drip-drip-dripping,

And the mess of what remains of us.

6th March, 2016
Writer’s Notes

It’s been a hard week. It’s been a hard week keeping myself together and trying to be positive and normal. In short, I am a right mess and am not okay. I understand the world doesn’t revolve around me. And I understand people will see this as something…edgy. A cry for attention maybe. Something worse maybe. And I understand that this isn’t a good piece of writing. Far from it really. I’m not happy with it at all.

But, it’s something. I’m trying. And that’s something. I’m not going to go into details about my sob story but part of my low patch in life is due to me feeling absolutely worthless, helpless and useless. It’s hard to fight against the voices that put you down in your head. I understand all of us struggle with that. But it’s so much more difficult when people you care about confirm that. And so, so difficult to know whatever you do, isn’t helping anyone.

So I write. It’s something I can do at least. Something that the voices in my head, as hard as they try, can’t take away from me fully.

I’m sorry about this piece. And I’m sorry for being weak and breaking down. Hopefully, this horrible darkness will pass soon and blue skies might be on the horizon.

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

PS: A lot of this was inspired by a friend telling me about Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and stuff I’ve written before (but I don’t think I’ll be putting here because that’s still processing and being edited).


Date: 26th February, 2019
Edited: 28th February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: Pauline

Ants. Tiny six-legged creatures with brains the size of a grain of salt. And yet, somehow, they manage to build up empires with sprawling underground tunnel networks with multiple queens commanding billions of individuals.


But they are no match for the soles of a size 7 Reeboks AIR.

Gravel coated with the gore of squished ants was sent flying in the wake of a pair of stumbling, giggling teenagers. They laughed as they clumsily made their way across the gravel clearing, high on the sweet stinging taste of forbidden vodka.

“No one would find us there,” one of the girls said to the other in a whisper.

“Then why are you whispering, stupid?”

Laughter erupted from the pair. The pretense of caution and stealth was thrown away to the wind like a rather noisy and crinkly fluorescent colored trash bag.

Tipsy steps found better footing as gravel gave way to the packed earth of the forest. Their shoes crunched as they walked over the carpet of dead leaves blanketing the forest floor. The trees seemed to grow in size the deeper they went, blocking the nighttime sky as their trunks lengthened and branches clawed upwards toward the moon in vain.

“You can’t even see the camp lights from here,”

“That’s the point,”

“It’s really dark in here,”

“That’s…also the point. Stupid.”

“Oh.” Then, brief pause. “Right!”

A girlish giggle warbled out in the darkness.

“So, where is it?”

The crunching of leaves from two pairs of feet… The background soundtrack of various forest noises…

No answer.

Another beat of background sounds.

Still no reply from the other girl.

“Hey… Where is it?”

“Hey… Where is it?”

A drunken laugh, a bark really. The brief burst of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?”

A drunken LaUgh, a BArK really. The brief BuRST of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?

“That’s not funny,”

“That’s NoT FUnNy,”

“Cut it out!”

There was a quick swishing sound- the movement of a person in loosely fitting pajamas. No impact. Just empty air.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her.

One beat.
Two beats.

And then, a quiet whimper. “P…Pauline?”

CUT it oUt!”

Another quick SWiSHinG noise- the movement of SOMETHING much, MUCH larger and heavier than a person step step STEPPING on the dry dEAd leaves lurching forward and- a HARD, WET, MEATY IMPACT. The sound of GUSHinG liquid. G u r GL i ng. A dull, heavy THUNK. The cRINkLinG of leaves.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her and…it.

Not quite.

Incoming- a new collection of sounds. The collective skittering of thousands, no billions, of tiny little legs, marching towards their new destination.

Pauline stepped out of the woods. She emerged from within the dense copse of trees, brushing off dead leaves and debris from her hair and clothes. Her Reeboks AIR hit the gore-covered gravel, the tiny sharp pebbles rattling underfoot with each step, overshadowing the sound of billions of tiny legs.

The ants were marching in a neat and orderly line, marching into the woods with a purpose. Pauline was going in the opposite direction. She easily ignored the ants.

But she could hear something else very, very clearly- above the ants’ skittering, above the rattle of the gravel underfoot, above the thunderous rhythm of her heart.

And there it is, a quiet WHimPer, “P…PAuLine?”

Pauline kept walking and did not look back.

1st March, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

It’s been a week since I’ve written prose so I’m a little rusty. This goes to show that I need the weekly habit to keep writing stories feeling natural. This week I wanted to dip my toes back into the horror genre and try a different spin on the whole “drunk dumb teens going into the woods at a campsite” trope. In this case, I tried to tell the story through descriptions of sound and with lots of ambiguity. I was inspired with the recent trend in horror movies like BIRD BOX and A QUIET PLACE where senses are handicapped and the antagonists are a really up to the viewers’ imagination. I find it refreshing and a lot more frightening. I can’t really say how well I executed this in written form but I will continue trying to refine this technique. And from others’ advice, will work on consistent POVs and better characterization of characters.

Tell me what you guys think?

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

Afternoon Tea with Time and Death

Date: 5th February, 2019
Edited: 6th February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: Purpose

Time met Death one starry afternoon. Just two old friends coming together to chat over tea and biscuits.

“You made the biscuits too dry again,” Death complained, the crumbs falling from his long spidery dead fingers. “Did you put sand in them again?”

“The recipe called for it,” Time groused, “They’re sablé cookies.”

Sand cookies,” Death countered, throwing away the crummy cookie into the void below them, “ I don’t want your sand in my insides. Disgusting.”

“I’ll tell your mother,” Time lifted his teacup and with his pinky outstretched he jabbed it in Death’s direction threateningly.

“Mother Nature isn’t my mother. I was adopted and you know it,” Death scowled at Time, or at least if he had a face, he would be scowling.

“Semantics. We’re still your parents,” Father Time waved Death off dismissively, more sand falling from his skin and onto the mountain of cookies on the table.

No chance Death would be eating anymore of those cookies.

“Colleagues,” Death deadpanned, sipping his tea aggressively.

“Nonsense, we’re family.”

“We’re unfortunately gifted individuals stuck in the same space.”

“Now you’re just saying things,” Time picked up another biscuit delicately between two sandy fingers and held it out for Death to take. “We’ve known each other for ah… a few hundred millennia?”

Death pushed away the hand that offered the unappetising cookie, his blackened fingertips hissing upon contact and sputtering out steam up into the aether and past the stars. “We’ve known each other for forever, Time.”

“Well, there you have it!” Time was unrelenting, pushing the cookie forward into Death’s angrily hissing hand.

“No, Time.” More crumbs joined their previously fallen brethren into the unending dark abyss below.

“Just take the damned cookie, Greg.” It was Time’s turn to hiss, the sound of pissed-off snakes rising from underneath his sandy flesh.

“We don’t use that name anymore, Time!”

And there was a resounding smack! The sound echoed throughout space and beyond, reaching past the cosmos into somewhere unknown where someone somewhere out there might hear it. And as for the cookie- it fell. It fell from Time’s hand like a falling star, warm, bright and yellow, falling starkly into the darkness… becoming a smaller speck each passing nanosecond…smaller…and smaller…until it was gone.

Time withdrew.

The hissing stopped on both sides.

Death sat up straighter, assumed a more poised position, and very delicately picked up his porcelain teacup. “I have no idea why I still come to these meetings.” Death tipped back the teacup and the tea was icy cold. Just like him.

“Love needs no purpose, Greg.”

Death groaned, a pitiful exasperated sound. “Death.”


Death.” His teacup hit the saucer forcefully, the sound like ice breaking under the blade of a chisel.

“De…Death,” Time continued, “We come together because of love.”

“Bull,” Death gritted out, “I’d love to set his cherubic arse on fire if I ever see him again.” Death turned away.

“No I will not allow you to do that to Love, Gre- Death,” Time sternly wagged his finger at Death.

“The humans have softened you,” Death suddenly said, still refusing to face Time, “Time has no meaning to them anymore.”

“Until you come in, Death. I have meaning as long as we’re together.”

“Moocher,” Death said accusingly, huffing cold air into the aether.

“A friend,” Time persisted, sipping the last of his cold-as-Death tea.

Death grunted and then, there was a pause. Silence between them. It didn’t last for very long.



“Same time next week?” Death dusted the biscuit crumbs off his robe.

“Of course,” Time replied, “No more dry biscuits.”

“You say that every time.”

6th February, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

I wanted to try writing something fun this week. Fun and somewhat nonsensical. When I got the rather serious prompt of “purpose” I was a little bit discouraged at first but I decided to stick with it. My mind during brainstorming went up and beyond past reality and into the metaphysical and abstract and I somehow had the idea to have Time and Death’s personifications chat over tea and biscuits. Because why not? I also viewed this as an exercise of writing mostly dialogue and developing different characters on the fly. It was difficult but still, rather fun.

Sergei’s People

Date: 28th January, 2019
Edited: 1st February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe
Prompt: Take a news article and spin a story from it. I chose this.

A cozy living room. Warm yellow lights. Old, worn, yet comfortable armchairs. This was the scene that greeted me when Sergei welcomed me into his humble 1-bedroom apartment. To be honest, I was expecting his choice of home decor to be a lot more…eccentric given his art.

I initially emailed Sergei back in March when i first saw his works. I thought getting his er…unique…thoughts would make a good story to cover on my blog. He hasn’t replied until a week ago. It was then I found out that he had just moved into the city where I currently live in. He not only agreed to answer my questions, but he also agreed to be interviewed. In person.

“So, Mr Sergei-”

“Bah. Just Sergei.” His accent was strong. European. Not French. Not Spanish. Something vaguely Eastern. “You make me sound old with…ah…mister.”

“Sergei then,” I relented easily with my best people-pleaser smile, “ What brings you to XXXXX?”

“The mannequins,” the certainly old and balding man replied.

Of course. It had to be the mannequins. His entire Facebook gallery could be summarized and labeled with the word “MANNEQUINS”- filled with thousands of pictures of pale plastic skinned people with lifeless expressions in various states of dress and undress. They weren’t even crappy photos. They were taken methodically, from different angles, using different lenses and filters and settings to bring out different effects in the images. Everything around the mannequins looked fantastic, sharpened to extreme detail or brushed over with the blur or gaussian tool to create washes of color that resembled that of watercolor paintings.

But then, there were the mannequins in the photos.

Cold. Frozen. Lifeless.

Greyed out like statues fading from existence but somehow, commanding the attention of the onlooker. To notice them. To look at them. Look them straight in the eye…or where they’re supposed to have eyes and finally acknowledge their existence.

I found the entire thing unnerving. And I wasn’t the only one with these feelings online.

“Why the mannequins, Sergei?” I asked the old artist, my smile unchanging.

“Because they are lonely,” he answered, lacing old spotty sinewy fingers together.

I was not expecting the sentimental angle from him.

“Why do you say so?”

“Because…I…I was lonely,” he smiled back at me, “I understand mannequins. They speak to Sergei. I help them be noticed. They help me. No more lonely.”

It was then I looked around the living room again. The walls were devoid of picture frames. There were no shelves bearing knickknacks collected over the years. Just these two comfy armchairs, some cushions and a coffee table. And on that coffee table, was a single photo in a beat up wooden frame. A colored photograph with a slightly younger looking Sergei posing for the picture with an old woman wearing a striking purple dress.


“Come,” he suddenly said, standing up, “I help you understand. Then, you let people understand. Yes?”

I stood up and followed in his tottering footsteps into a side room. Sergei turned on the lights. All the mannequins, in various states of dress and undress, and one wearing a striking purple dress, stared back.

6th February, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

Writing this piece was both incredibly fun for me but also very conflicting. The news article (linked above in the prompt) put me through a sequence of feelings. First I was creeped out, then I became even more unnerved, and then, it suddenly made me feel bad about being creeped out. The artist in the article was really passionate and earnest about the message he’s trying to send to whoever looks at his art pieces. I can totally relate to that. I write a bunch of weird things and have a lot of weird ideas and I’m scared about people judging them (even though I really shouldn’t be!). So yes, I felt bad.

I respect the artist and his passion but the bottom line is- I still am creeped out by mannequins. I can’t help it!

So this is what this story became, the twists and turns of my feelings translated into fiction and personified in the journalist character. As for that ending… I still love meself some supernatural horror. 🙂

I might continue this in the future so look out for more from this Journalist fellow!

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

Born Thrice, Died Twice

Date: 22nd January, 2019
Edited: 1st February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: I am a zombie but I can still think.

The girl was born on Christmas Eve. It was decidedly not a “Very Merry Christmas” for her parents that year. Her mother spent 8 agonizing hours in labor while her father, late as always, spent 2 of those hours having the bones in his left hand ground to dust doing his job holding the mama-to-be’s hand.

People say the girl is a Christmas miracle but really, the real miracle was being able to pay the rent and bills on top of the expenses that come with having a newborn baby.

Faith’s life has always been defined by the mighty dollar. Mama and Papa made sure of that, dressing her in modest and neat skirts and blouses to always look presentable and putting books into her hands instead of toys.

“Be presentable and study hard. You’ll be a doctor one day and earn lots of money.”

The clothes, the books and the schooling seemed to be only luxuries this small family could afford. Everything else was minimal, cramped and frugal- fitting three generations of this family into a tiny apartment. Faith could see that and had been told so over and over again. She was an investment. It was clear and she understood. This was why as a child, Faith had no choice but to bury her hopes, her dreams, herself…and she died an obedient premature death.

Middle school.

A time for changes to happen.

The grave Faith had dug and so neatly covered up years ago had been disturbed by the unquestionable and inevitable force that was “puberty”.

She rose from that grave- awake for the first time in years.

Her rising wasn’t pretty.
She didn’t feel pretty.
And it hurt.
Being alive hurt.
Being awake hurt.
Knowing hurt.

She was something grotesque, inside and out. Spending multiple years in a grave would do that to a person. The rot had spread everywhere. It was inescapable. Not one inch of her skin was spared. It had spread past her skin, seeped into her innards, coating tendons and muscles and nerves and her brain in this sickness only she could see and feel. (Or was it even a secret? Who else knew?)

She was in a manner of speaking, a social zombie- this outsider, outlier, this mistake of a human being, staggering through life at a snail’s pace in pursuit of the mighty dollar because that’s all she can do.

But this zombie could still think- “Please, please, end me.”

Faith was spending the night alone in her college dorm like she always does. She didn’t have much of a reason to go out and party. Much less, spend time with friends. She was here to fulfil her role after all. Even as a social zombie, she had successfully fooled the system, pretending to be the right kind of human, the human she was born to be- a put together elegant woman, quiet, reserved, but not so much to not be a doormat and to be pleasing to others on a surface level. She had years of practice after all with nothing else to take her attention.

But Faith had peeked past the veil during her travels to adulthood. She had seen what lies on the other side- or at least, a possibility of it. So Faith, very quietly, so as not to disturb or alert anyone- not her parents, not her siblings, not her acquaintances- and walked willingly back into the empty grave once more. And this time, Faith knew it would be the last time- she had faith in what comes after.

Today, he has a garden.

A magnificent one. In the middle of April, tulips of every color from the spectrum of the rainbow would bloom and spill out from behind the white picket fence and into his neighbors’ yards (they certainly don’t mind). The garden is the envy of the neighborhood. He deserves it. They deserve it. He never worked alone on his beloved plants. He was always with a friend, his partner, his children.

And together, they are happy.

6th February, 2019
Writer’s notes:

Honestly, writing stories like this makes me nervous. I just have no confidence writing using the voices of other people- especially those from minority groups that I definitely do not belong to. Mainly because I don’t feel like I’m giving these voices justice. But I think, stories like this, especially those with happy endings, need to be told. I decided to write this piece because I personally have friends who are trans and from the LGBT community in general and quite a few of them can’t see themselves having happy futures.

In terms of writing… I’m not particularly happy with this piece. I think I can add more to it and describe the journey Faith has to being his true self in more detail but I ran out of time. Actually taking that leap of faith (ha, see what I did there) to making a change in your identity and in turn, your life, is a HUGE undertaking. It’s rife with perils and pitfalls and people WILL go against you, even people that you care about and have cared about you. It is the unfortunate truth. I wish to write more of this topic in the future AND give hope for a happy ending… but that would mean more confidence from me and a loooot more research and talking with people. Perhaps I’ll try again once I’ve done so.

Cheers to all you guys at the Writers’ Cafe that week. It had been a while since I last attended but I felt at ease and slid right back into the routine. Thank you all of you and it was really educational and amazing to hear your stories as well.

Until next time,
The Writing Borb