Searching for My Other Half (1000 Word Challenge)

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The following is a 1000 words story written for a contest (1000 Word Challenge) last month. The theme was “29”, which was definitely a challenge since any topic could fit under it, but after a couple drafts I managed to finish a version I really liked. It also looks like the jury was impressed as well with my originality: they decided to mention my name although I haven’t won anything – which was good enough for me. 🙂 Enjoy reading!

 

Day 29

And then I did something I wasn’t supposed to do: I looked back.

 

Day Zero

New house. New city, new country. New personal mission. Feeling impatient, I wish I could just finish it all soon. But I can’t rush. A trace of doubt crosses my mind. What if he wouldn’t like me?… I quickly reject the thought. He needs to.

 

Day One

He is a nice neighbour, but you can’t believe the first impression. Never believe the first impression, I usually think while looking in the mirror. Blonde hair, blue eyes, angel face. And smiling, always smiling, they like seeing you smile. Although you know inside is nothing like that at all.

We talk about weather – I make sure I laugh occasionally. I know what I have to do: get closer, let him know you, but not all at once, because men find it exciting when you keep a few bits hidden. Who’s the prey though?… Who’s hunting who? I’m sure I know which side I‘m on, but I still blush at his compliments.

 

Day 25

I feel so strange when I’m with him, so… euphoric. I can’t wait to see him, to hug him, to kiss him, to talk to him about everything and nothing at all. I find myself smiling for no reason – which is nice, although today something strange happened. I was smiling at my own reflection in the mirror, when suddenly a thought crossed my mind: This is wrong, it shouldn’t be like this. But before I could grasp the meaning of it, I hear him coming and I forget anything else apart from him, and me, and us…

 

Day 10

We are eating dinner in his favourite restaurant. I know stuff about him already – like his status: single – but I let him speak, while listening carefully in order to get updates on any new information he may say or show. He’s always looking at me. Me, whose story I had to struggle not to say in a mechanical way, after repeating it so many times: Russian, moved to London… single.

Would this be the night he makes the next big move? Or shall I make it? But before I can properly plan my next steps, something happens. We are on our way back to the car, when I feel something. Like electricity through my whole body, starting with my right hand. What’s wrong, what happened? I try not to panic and quickly look down at my fingers, which are now curling naturally between his owns. He’s staring at me while I stare at our hands. Something has changed… Raising my head, I meet his eyes and it’s like the world stopped. I can see him so clear and for the very first time I become aware of his electric blue eyes, and I feel lost again, and then it’s something about the way he bites his lower lip… Anticipation? Nervousness? What is it? I’m quickly looking for the answer but I can’t find it, and it’s too late anyway, he leans forward and presses his lips against mine, and I suddenly feel lost.

 

Day 29

I knew rewinding my memory was forbidden. “It can change you”. “It will make you forget your true purpose.” I could feel hot steams raising inside me; my purpose had been forgotten beforehand anyway. So one more time, I did what I wasn’t supposed to do: I searched through my brain for the memories before day 0.

 

Day Minus 290

This is the day I am born, the day all my components are bounded together, and I am finally switched on. I have everything programmed inside me, starting with my clear purpose: win and bring fame to my master. Everyone has failed before me – they were transferred to another centre afterwards, so I never had the chance to talk to them. But it doesn’t matter, I know what I’m supposed to do: follow the rules and destroy the target. Which target, though? Well, I will find out when the time comes – for now, it’s just an ordinary guy.

The mission was to kill him in 29 days or less: to smash his heart and possibly his mind, no questions asked… but in a complex way that took me a while to understand – and I still wasn’t sure about it when I started. Apparently there is a highly effective way of hurting someone, and what makes it perhaps worse than death is the fact that the victim has to live with marks for the rest of his life. But not skin marks, as I thought at the beginning. Inside scars, where his heart was broken into pieces, where his mind still tries to make sense of what happened, what he did wrong. It’s called non accomplished love. No questions asked.

 

Day 29

The hot steams inside me are getting out now, they’re tears slowly filling my eyes before starting rolling on my checks. What have I done? How did I manage to become so… human? This is my end now, they’ll come get me back, leave him a message in which I say Adieu, and he’ll be left heartbroken… Exactly like they wanted him to. Why? Why do I have to do this? What was the purpose of my training? What did he actually do wrong, to deserve this? I know we’re different species, but we can still co-exist… Suddenly I realise I can’t do it, I can’t hurt him. It took me 29 days to figure it out, but now I know I need to tell him the truth, even if there’s a punishment for that…

I wipe the tears away when my internal system receives a message; nothing about failing and disappointment, but something completely different: Congratulations, V101-eT. You’re the first one to pass. You’re free to go home. Keep in touch. Without even blinking, I start running towards the other half of me – the human completing the machine.

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New Year, just me.

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I know it’s been a while since my last post. Or posts. But I though that now with 2016 here, it can’t be that hard to write something about last year, about me, about what I hope this year will be like, plus, of course, the whole cliché called Resolutions and anything else.

I had lots of moments I’ve been proud of in 2015, and I’d like to talk more about a quite recent one: I’ve written a book. Although I’m not sure this is the right term for it – it’s not published and it may not even be in a publishable form. But it’s a novel that I enjoyed writing, and with a clear purpose in mind: to enter it in a ‘Young Writers’ competition that was happening in my home country. Obviously, the desired language wasn’t English, which made things a little harder since I’m used to write on this blog. More obviously, there were a certain deadline and a minimum number of characters involved – not words, for some reason, which means that
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (tell me you know the word)
counted quite a lot, and ‘to be or not to be’ not that much… So I tried my best not to write like Snoopy below, given the fact that I knew my editing time would be really, really short. And I used a really cool Android app called Writeometer to keep track of daily progress.

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Although the time was short and postponing the task made it even shorter, I managed to finish both the storyline, the (minor) editing and to reach the threshold number of words about an hour before the deadline. The whole process could have fit into the NaNoWriMo challenge, but somehow it went a little over it. If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, it basically stands for National Novel Writing Month, and you’re supposed to write a little bit – or more than a little bit – each day of November, so that your draft / novel is finished by the beginning of winter. Did I write each and every day of November? Nope. Did I finish before the 1st of December? Nope, but I finished 11 days later, which was the deadline that interested me. Over 200.000 words, based on a much shorter story that I had written in high school, in my mother tongue – I wouldn’t have time for another proper draft anyway. Did I enjoy it? Of course I did. Or else I would have stopped… (If only this could be valid for everything else in life.)

I know I said at some point in an older article that writing a book is nowhere close to writing on a blog. But to be honest I realised there are more similarities than I would have expected – the question is, would people read it? Which is the same question for blog articles, in fairness. The only thing is perseverance and passion – plus a good plot and characters. I ended up typing most of the book on my phone: writing on the tube – just like I do now, paying attention from time to time not to miss my stop – writing before going to job in the morning, writing while having dinner, writing in the lunch break at the office. Because even if the actual typing doesn’t necessarily make a good book, there’s definitely no book without it. So I cared less about editing and more about letting the words flow – that’s how I write on the blog in the end, right? Sometimes that’s how I speak as well. Just my pure thoughts.

But anyway, for me meeting that deadline was the prize itself. I feel like I won my own, personal, intimate competition which was represented by the challenge of finishing the novel. Will it get short-listed? I don’t know, I’ll find out soon – but if not, it means I’ll still get the chance of improving it in the future, without thinking about publishing it until it’s ready.

About my other fulfilled goals from 2015… Well, they’re mostly usual ones, like starting a great, long-distance relationship (I know I said in an earlier post the “great” and “long-distance” can’t be used together, but maybe I’ll explain at some point how I ended up changing my mind), starting a job, finishing university and starting life in a new place. But the question is, how I’d like this year to be – comparing it with the past one, since it’s better to learn from our mistakes and past experiences in general.

Of course I have cliché resolutions like going to the gym and eating healthier. But I also wish for things that people don’t usually say – like feeling good about myself, being more confident (I’m also trying to stop using foundation on my face on a day to day basis, ’cause after all I shouldn’t really care that much about my imperfections), crying less, managing to find out the reason I’m crying when there’s no apparent one, feeling less lonely, making new friends, smiling, having more time for my hobbies which – unfortunately – are not work related so they have to be done outside work times: like reading, writing, drawing. I was thinking I could try read 26 books this year. Or at least 12. And write not only on this blog, but also for some creative writing contests. Maybe finish that website that i started half a year ago, which was supposed to be a better version of this blog… and understand that I can’t create a perfect website, but it should be as close to perfect for fitting its purpose.

I guess the whole idea of a New Year resolution is to get out of your comfort zone – which is never easy. But if you stretch out far enough, you’ll eventually exit it, right?

The Book, the Bucket and the Challenge.

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If you are a social media addict (unlike me, of course!), I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about a new type of challenge, which followed the hype of the ice bucket one (which I haven’t done and I have no intention of doing it). The book bucket challenge, however, is not about throwing a bucket full of books in your head and then nominate some others to do the same. Well, the second part is true, and you can also try to throw some books at yourself if you think that makes you smart. But the book bucket challenge is about simply telling the world (or your Facebook ‘friends’) a list consisting of 10 books / authors that either changed the way you see life, or have a special place in your heart. I myself have been nominated to do this challenge – a few times actually – but I simply ignored it.

First of all, I doubt anyone is really interested in these lists. I mean yeah, X likes that, Y likes this, but in terms of raising the awareness for reading good books, I’m not sure it really works as intended. Well, perhaps some people will indeed read a book just because they’ve seen it in one of those tops, but let’s be honest, most of us just read the list and keep scrolling. Plus there are some who haven’t read those books they have in their list, but they just want to make an impression (on who, I don’t know). I detest that, pretending to have read a book just for showing off.

And about lists, indeed I have one. I’ve always enjoyed reading, and when the literature teacher asked us at the beginning of high school what books we read, I was surprised I hadn’t thought about such a list before; I’m into numbers and lists and keeping everything safe, so I realised I needed to keep a list of all those books. So I spent quite a lot of time searching for all the books I had read, in order to create that list and ‘impress’ the teacher. Then years passed and I continued the list without trying to impress anyone else except myself, cause after all reading for pleasure is more important than reading for quantity. But I do have lots of books on that list, and I still haven’t found anyone with more books read per the same amount of time (I haven’t actually searched for such a person, although to be honest I’d like to meet someone like me).

You may think I could easily create a top 10 and post it. But how could I…? How could I choose 10, out of so many? That’s the challenge, you may say. To try and reduce the number. I could for instance talk about 10 books just by Agatha Christie, starting with And Then There Were None, Endless Night, After The Funeral, The Murder of Roger Akroyd, Murder on the Orient Express, and then continuing with Five Little Pigs, A Murder is Announced, Appointment with Death, Cat Among the Pigeons, Evil Under the Sun, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas… and much, much more, in no particular order (actually there are 11 instead of 10, but oh well).

See? It’s hard. I like them all, but indeed some remained in my memories more than others. I’ve always said that some of them will always have a special place in my heart. Then why can’t I just post that top?! Well, to be honest I’m a little concerned about what people would say. I know I shouldn’t care about their opinion, I mean it’s my personal top 10, right?… But when I see so many posts which include such well known books, like, I don’t know, by Tolstoi, Dostoievski, etc etc, I kind of feel a little bit, just a tiny little bit ashamed with not having them among in my list – cause yeah, I’ve read lots, lots of books, but none of those… The thing with reading is that I’ve always read for pleasure. And I avoided difficult books, cause I read in order to escape from the ordinary life (cliché, I know), and I don’t really care if most of my list consists of fantasy books for teenagers. Yes, I did enjoy them. I enjoyed reading about assassins, detectives, dragons, Jules Verne’s adventures, kitesnannies, sorcerers/spooks, star-crossed lovers, Terry Pratchett’s world, tunnels, Ursula K. Le Guin’s fantasies, wardrobes, wizards, writing (and something else by Guillaume Musso), young women with specific problems… (this time, alphabetically sorted; and yes, you can hover them to see the specific titles – except the last category, which includes way too many, i.e. Jane Eyre). How could I choose, when all these and much, much more, are simply tangling inside my mind and represent the whole essence of what I enjoy about reading? They tangle until they all get lost, and I suddenly wonder what was that book about a magic forest, or what happened in The 35th of May anyway?

However I know that you really, really love some books when you decide you want more people to read them. But you’re just a middle school girl, you’ve started reading that series of books in your mother language, then, frustration, you have to order the rest of them in English, cause apparently they’ve decided to stop translating it after only 4 books. So, after finishing the series, what other better thing to do than starting translating it by yourself? And that’s what I did. I’ve managed to translate only two other books – obviously not for selling them. So another unfortunate event was added to A Series of Unfortunate Events: not all the 13 books are in my mother language… If, instead of Top 10, the challenge was about 13 books, I would immediately add Lemony Snicket’s series without thinking twice. What other better proof is needed than the choice for my profile picture? I’m not sure I can say those books changed my life, though. But they played with my imagination, and for me that’s the most important thing when reading. To open your mind for new worlds, new ideas, new perspectives, new types of people / characters (who didn’t find themselves really liking some character, as if it was a real person?), new adventures, even new words… They’ve all changed me, as a whole.

…and now about nominating. Should I use a cliché and say “I nominate YOU, whoever’s reading this right now”? Should I use kind of a paradox, and say “You’re nominated if and only if you haven’t read this”? Should I nominate the only person I know who could easily add some of our childhood favourites which I missed in this article? Or should I perhaps nominate myself, to try and create a proper top 10 for a proper participation to #thebookbucketchallenge?..

Writing101 Challenge – The Letter

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Should I open this envelope with no name on it? Cause my address is here… Maybe I can find a clue inside about who it is addressed to. Let’s see.

Hopefully it’s the right time now… I’m glad you’re fine and everything is settled now in your life cause, as you know, things aren’t too good here… Congrats for everything that you’ve done – see, it wasn’t as hard as I’ve imagined, right?!! It was good that you kept going without looking back. I’m as proud of you as you are of me.

And I remember… The point of the pen touching the paper, the intense feeling of wanting to believe in those words when the second exclamation mark was brutally added… A sigh of sadness but, above all, hope.

I skip the rest of the message. I know it’s not for me, I know who it is for. I know the last line says

You from the past

and I remember my voice… “Could you send this at this address, on this date please?”

I seal the envelope back and put it somewhere safe. I know it will stay there until the rightful owner is ready for it. Cause it’s not for me. It’s for a future me. I can’t read the dialogue between me from the past and me from the future. Because I’m living in another dimension, in the wrong moment, in the present. I’ll just wait here…

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