author, Short Story, writing

The End: A Short Story

Rachel squinted as she looked up at the sky. It was painfully bright. People bustled around her, panic in the air. She stood still amongst the chaos; she knew she was safe. She knew she wouldn’t be left behind on this dying planet. Her brown hair blew across her face in the hot breeze, and she glanced around the crowd, eyes focusing on what they were all here to see. A spaceship was several meters ahead of her. It looked like something out of the old sci-fi movies. Sleek and clean, but capable of leaving this galaxy behind.

A man stepped up on the podium and the crowd fell silent. He cleared his throat and started to speak, his voice echoing around the entire area. “This galaxy is dying,” he stated. “Soon the sun will die, and humanity will no longer survive on this planet. Space-Tech has spent the last several years perfecting our spaceships and we can now escape this planet and galaxy before the sun dies.”

The crowd murmured around Rachel, fear evident in their hushed tones. She wasn’t afraid though. She already knew what was happening.

The man cleared his throat again. “Unfortunately, we were only able to create one spaceship in the time given. This means that there is a limited amount of space for people.”

The hushed tones grew louder, panic setting in.

“We have devised a system to choose who will accompany us on this trip. A select few have been chosen due to abilities, such as scientific or agricultural knowledge.” Rachel smirked, her hand caressing the token in her pocket. “However, there are still 20 seats left on the ship.”

“Only 20?” yelled a woman in the crowd. “That’s not fair!”

People started screaming and crying. Rachel slowly backed away from the crowd, she could feel that chaos was about to reign. A man shoved several people to the ground as he raced up to the stage. “I’m not dying on this planet!” he yelled as he tried to climb the stage.

A single gunshot rang out and the man dropped to the ground, dead. A solider appeared beside the man, aiming his gun at the crowd. “If anyone tries to force their way up here, they will die long before the sun does.”

The crowd fell silent, too afraid to move. A sly grin appeared on the man’s face as the soldier disappeared behind him again. “As I was saying, we have devised a… competition of sorts. We have the brains to create a life away from this system but… unfortunately there is a large percentage of men on the ship. Thus, all men are disqualified from leaving this system.”

A loud roar echoed through the crowd but before anything could happen soldiers swooped through the crowd, pushing all the men out of the arena. Several wives and children followed as their husbands and fathers were forcibly escorted out of the area. Soon only a handful of women remained behind. More than twenty, but not by much.

The man at the front motioned to the soldiers and the young and elderly were quickly taken away. They only wanted younger women, fertile women. How were we going to populate a new planet without women after all? It felt barbaric. Rachel gently touched the ring on her left hand, immensely grateful that both her and her husband were among the first to be chosen. Both engineers, thank goodness.

Several men appeared on the stage beside the leader. The twenty men chose a woman in the small crowd, and those women were taken to the man and away from the area. Soon, the twenty women had been chosen and no places were left. The remaining women were pushed out of the area and large barricades swiftly appeared, placed well before the selection process took place. Rachel sighed as she glanced out of the clear barricades across the barren land. Those people would be left to die. The choice of who lives and dies left to one power-hungry man. She didn’t know if it was better to stay and die or leave with this lunatic, but she had no choice. She had to go with her husband, no matter the cost.

author, Short Story, writing

The Night: A Poem

The stars shine so bright
And the moon is high in the sky
On this cold winters night.

My room has a nightlight
Coming in from outside
The stars shine so bright.

I hold onto my blanket tight
Trying to stay warm
On this cold winters night.

The sky is a beautiful sight
And even when clouds roll in
The stars shine so bright.

My window looks white
As snow falls to the ground
On this cold winters night.

I can’t sleep tonight
I just stare out the window
The stars shine so bright
On this cold winters night.

author, Short Story, writing

Losing A Piece Of My Heart: A Short Story

“The baby,” I sobbed, gripping my husbands’ arm. Blood was dripping down my leg as he pushed me towards the emergency room. I felt like a brick was sitting on my chest, crushing my heart.

The nurses hurried over to me and helped me into a private room. I could feel their sympathetic stares boring into my skull. The anxiety peaked as a doctor soon arrived, confirming my worst fears. Our baby was gone.

My husband and I pulled each other close, crying into each other’s arms. We knew this happened to people, but never thought it would happen to us. Miscarriage seemed so unlikely, so rare… but more common that we realised.

We were part of the 1 in 10 to lose our child before it even opened its eyes to the world. Before we could name our baby or hold it… it was gone.

I felt like I was coated in a thick fog, unable to see or process anything ahead. How could I go on? How could I get through this pain?

My husband and I barely spoke on the way home from the hospital. I had miscarried, and there was nothing the doctors could do anymore. I was given some pain medication and discharged. Sent to the depths of darkness alone, to face this overwhelming sadness at home.

We liked to have things prepared, and now that organisation hurt me more than anything. I stared into my baby’s nursery, already set up and awaiting its arrival. We were so prepared, so ready… but not ready for this.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel. I curled up in the nursery at 1am, wanting to die instead of my child. My husband found my curled up next to the bassinet in the morning, clutching a little teddy bear to my chest. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I even carry my child safely? Why did I miscarry?

I couldn’t look at my husband for days. His face reminded me of the child that wasn’t here. The child we would never see. It hurt every time I saw him, every time he moved. I wondered if our child would have had his blue eyes or his curly brown hair.

The days turned to weeks and we slowly started to heal. It stung, and I would never forget my child, but we were moving forward together. It took time to communicate again. Time to stop crying every time he turned his eyes in my direction, but we got through the pain. We planted a tree to remember our child, and called it Charlie, after our baby. We didn’t know the gender of our unborn child, so Charlie seemed fitting.

As the weeks turned to months, we grew closer together again. The pain of losing our child still stung, but we learnt to lean on each other. We cried when we needed to and vowed to never forget our angel baby.

Several months later, I felt a pang of fear overcome me as we entered the doctor’s office. I cradled my stomach, desperately hoping that everything would be okay. When the doctor cleared us, relief rushed over me. The fear remained, but things seemed more promising. I knew there was always a chance, I knew we could lose this baby too… but a twinge of hope stayed in my heart.

We left the doctor’s office together, my hand gently resting on my slightly bulging bump.

We got out rainbow baby. A rainbow baby that was now 24 weeks, and able to survive if I went into labour now. A baby girl that would always know of her big sibling in heaven, watching over her every day.

author, Short Story, writing

Entering Short Story Competitions

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

Margaret Atwood

Short stories are so incredibly different than writing novels or poems. It can be hard to incorporate everything into a short amount of words. I am much better at writing novels and creating my characters, world and plot in at least 50,000 words. But, I do enjoy the challenge of short story writing!

I’ve set myself a goal this year to enter 5 short story competitions. It’s incredibly intimidating and hard but I’m determined to get it done. I’m still writing and editing my novel, but I wanted to do something else while getting my novel ready for submission.

I do enjoy the challenge that short stories bring. Pulling together an entire world in a small word count is a hard challenge, but extremely rewarding when you do manage to nail it. I’ve enjoyed expanding my horizons by writing short stories. It’s a good break from my usual novel editing journey and a fun challenge.

It is also, admittingly, a lot easier to write a short story while my son naps. He often only naps an hour at a time (maximum) so I don’t have a huge amount of time to sit down and flesh out my novel. I still want to write though, so smashing out a short story in those nap times works really well for me.

I have a few short story competitions picked out over the course of the year that I am intending on entering. Even if I don’t win anything it’s always a fun challenge to write and test yourself by entering competitions. I am excited to be doing this throughout the year!

First one closes in a few days – I’m almost ready to submit and I can’t wait!

author, Short Story, writing

Hunted: A Short Story

She waited in the shadows, staring at the five people through red eyes. She stood as still as a statue, not wanting to draw any attention to herself. After a few moments, the group separated, three went one way and two went the opposite. Her prey was within the pair.

He had abandoned her, turned her and left her to fend for herself. He used her to get what he wanted, then left. She was forced to turn into a monster, while he managed to control it. She had to abandon her family and friends, while he merely carried on with his pathetic life. Now, it was her turn to repay him, her turn to make him suffer.

She followed him down the streets, making sure to keep to the gloom. She couldn’t be seen now, not when she was so close. She’d only been this close once before, and she was caught. She couldn’t be caught now; she’d practiced so often. She’d been so careful when planning this out.

Tonight, was the night; she knew it in her blood. Her hate filled eyes glared at the black-haired boy as he kissed the blonde girl on the cheek. That blonde was his next prey; she knew the way he thought. She knew the way his mind worked. But he wouldn’t torment any more girls like he tormented her. She wouldn’t allow it. She would stop him no matter what. Now he was her prey. He was going to suffer like she did.

The duo separated. The blonde walked down the street and then veered into a magnificent white house while he turned and strolled down the dark, empty path. Perfect. He was alone and in the dark. She didn’t think he sensed her, at least not yet. That was good, very good. Maybe she’d succeed tonight. Maybe, just maybe.

She slowly followed him down the street, her padded feet suffocating any sound that might appear. She breathed softly; forcing herself not to pant like her entire body was telling her to do. She forced herself not to pounce, like her heart was demanding she do. She forced herself to continue following and to not be seen. She needed the right moment, the perfect moment, and then she would pounce. Then he would pay.

He stopped in the middle of the path, the moonlight shining on top of his head, giving him the essence of a halo; a malicious antithesis in her opinion. He was the devil to her, and the moon tormented her by giving him a halo. Once again, she forced herself to not pounce. Now was not the right time, he was in the light. He needed to move just a few centimetres forward, then she could attack.

Not a thing could be seen within the darkness, and if he moved forward, he would be hidden as well. An evil smirk graced her dog-like face as he moved those few centimetres forward, and she lunged.

author, Short Story, Writing

Gone: A Short Story

He wasn’t coming back. I knew he wasn’t, but I wanted him too. I was desperate for him to
come back, back to my arms, back to me…

My love was gone, pulled away from me. He had been conscripted to go fight in the war;
there was no way out of it. He was yanked out of my arms and sent off to battle; I knew he
wasn’t coming back. I had a feeling in my heart. Of course, no one believed me. They all
thought that I was crazy; they all thought that he would be back.

“The war will be over in no time honey.” That was what they all said, or something along
those lines. Mothers, wives, daughters… we were all worried for their safety, but it seemed
like I was the only one that truly believed the war was not going to end quickly. It seemed
like I was the only one who believed that the war would take many lives and ruin many
others.

I carried on doing my chores for the day, I had to clean the house up a little. It was all I could
do to distract myself from the loneliness. I heard a knock at the door, distracting me from my current task. I hurried to the door and opened it; eyes wide as I realized an army officer was standing in front of me.

He took his hat off and nodded at me. “Mrs Mathers?” he asked.

I nodded. “That’s me. Who are you?”

“I am Colonel Elliot, and this is Lieutenant Colonel Fredricks.”

The other man nodded his head as he was introduced. I could see he looked uncomfortable and my heart sank. “You’re both from the army?”

The Colonel nodded and cleared his throat. “When I met Lieutenant Jarred Mathers, I knew he was a fine soldier. He was strong, capable, and always looked out for his teammates. It’s with great regret that I must inform you that he has died in the line of duty.”

My eyes clouded over with unshed tears. My love was dead. I would never be able to hold
him in my arms, kiss him and keep him near. The one thing I feared more than anything in
the world had come true. He was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.

The Colonel clasped my shoulder and I gripped his hand, not fully believing what he had just said. My husband was gone. The love of my life was gone.

They stayed for quite a while longer, leaving when I was able to fully comprehend the news. The Colonel passed me a letter before he left – it had fallen into his hands rather than going through traditional post.

I made sure they both left safely and quietly closed the door behind them before slowly
moving to the living room. I picked up the envelope and stared at it, my lip quivering. It was the last letter he had sent me.

I finally worked up the courage to open it. I peeled off the white envelope and stared at the
paper now in my hands. I took a deep breath and started reading, tears splashing onto the
paper as I held it. He was being medically discharged soon. He was going to be home with me. He was excited to be with me while we had children and lived our lives together, outside of the fear of war.

I dropped the letter on the ground and let out a pained sob. My heart felt like it had just been
ripped out. He was so excited to come home. He was meant to be home in a few weeks, but
he is gone instead. I clutched the letter with one hand and my stomach with the other as my tears continued flowing.

He was never going to be able to meet his son.

author, Short Story, writing

A Powerful Cause: A Short Story

Courage. It’s hard to have it sometimes. I’m the first to admit I’m a rather cowardly person. I prefer agreeing with others to avoid confrontation, staying at home to avoid people, and remaining quiet to avoid awkward conversations.

I’ve always been known as the quiet girl, the shy girl. I prefer it that way – I can avoid conversations without being seen as rude and I can happily sit by myself at lunch time. I immerse myself in my books and love the strength and boldness in the characters I read.

I let out a sigh as the bell rang, grateful as the other students piled out of the classroom first. It was finally home time. I hated school – the crowds annoyed me, and the constant chatter was a distraction from my fantasy worlds. The end of the day was always the best part.

I darted up to the pickup zone, eagerly keeping an eye out for mum’s car. She was always there before pickup time; she knew how shy I was and how much I loved leaving school. She was always early for my sake. Except today.

My slight smile disappeared as I scanned the carpark. Her car was nowhere to be seen. I awkwardly shuffled over to the seats and curled into the far end – it wasn’t like my mum to be late. It made me nervous.

An hour passed by slowly, with no sign of her car. I could feel panic rising within me as I continued to watch the driveway, praying that she would arrive at any second. After another few minutes, a car finally rolled down the driveway. It wasn’t mum’s car; it was dad’s car. He worked late so he was never picking me up.

He pulled up in front of me and I quickly jumped into the car. Before I could say a word, I caught a glimpse of my father’s face. His eyebrows were drawn together, and a deep frown settled on his face. His eyes were slightly red, and he looked exhausted.

“Dad?” I muttered nervously. “Why are you picking me up?”

He cleared his throat and gently clasped my hand. “Your mother is with Eliza. She was admitted to the hospital today.”

Eliza is my older sister. Older by 3 years but I always thought I was more mature than her. “Why?” I questioned.

“She collapsed today. She was rushed to the hospital and after numerous tests they discovered why…” he trailed off and took a deep breath, making eye contact with me. “You sister has leukemia.”

My world crashed. I felt pressure on my chest and breathing suddenly became a chore. “She has cancer?”

Dad nodded. “We’re going to go see her now. The doctors have been taking treatment with your mother.” He squeezed my hand. “She’ll be okay, sweetie. The doctors will figure it out.”

I was silent the entire trip to the hospital. I didn’t want to believe it. My sister was immature sometimes and a little bit of a bully to me, but I looked up to her so much. She was my big sister. She was always there for me when I needed her. I couldn’t imagine a world without her.

When we reached the hospital, we quickly made our way to the room my sister was in. She was asleep but looked so ill. I’d never seen her looking so pale or fragile.

Mum pulled me into her arms, holding me tightly. “I’m so sorry you had to wait so long,” she sobbed into my shoulder. “I couldn’t get away, so I had to get your father to get you. I’m so sorry.”

I shook my head and squeezed her back. “I understand mum,” I replied quietly.

I sat by Eliza’s bed and squeezed her hand, she stirred slightly but return to her deep slumber. A doctor soon came in, his eyebrows furrowed as he glanced between us.

“I’ve tested both of you and I’m afraid you’re not a match,” he said quietly.

Mum’s expression darkened and I saw tears slipping out of her eyes again. “Is there no way?”

The doctor shook his head. “We will start looking for a donor, but family is usually the best place to find a match.”

My father gripped my shoulder. “Your sister needs a bone marrow transplant,” he said. “We were hoping that your mother or I would be a match.”

“A sibling does have a higher chance of being a match,” said the Doctor, staring straight at me. “If you would be willing to test, we could see if we can do the transplant.”

I took a deep breath. I knew that would entail surgery and tests for myself. That was terrifying. I gripped my dad’s hand while it rested on my shoulder and nodded. “I’ll get checked,” I said, trying to hide my fear.

It was an uncomfortable test, but not painful. I was grateful that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. And, when the results came back, I was grateful that I was brave enough to get the test. I was a match. It was rare, and the odds were against us. But I was a match.

Courage. It’s hard to have it sometimes. I’m the first to admit I’m a rather cowardly person. But, when it comes to my family, my sister… I would do anything. My bone marrow was a match, I can save her life. For my sister, I can have surgery. I can endure the pain. I can be courageous for her.