Hanan Adi

Germany

Senior Peer Reviewer. Former Write the World young writer, now mentoring other WtW young writers through peer reviews!

Message from Writer

Your voice matters.
Cherish it.
Hone it.
Use it.
------------
Hey, young writers! I am so glad to be back to work on Write the World for a stint! As Senior Peer Reviewer, I hope to be able to use the experience I have had in my craft to help you recognize the full potential of yours.

Thanks to the WtW Team for having me on again. Let's make this a fulfilling year!

Published Work

Dear Beloved Person

Dear beloved Person,
Has no one ever told you
There’s beauty in your eyes, there’s magic in your smile?
Did no one ever mention
How nice it is to hold you,
To sink into your sweetness and forget the world awhile?
 
Has no one ever spoke you
The virtue of your speech,
The wisdom in your words and the clearness of your mind?
Has no one ever woke you
To all that you could reach,
If you would only trust yourself, and leave your fears behind?


 

Package, Delivered to the World

Human heart. Fragile. Handle with care.

Unplugged: Op-Ed Competition

A Frank Confession

The words I have been struggling for all month still have not arrived. Perhaps it is no wonder -- nothing short of a lifetime would be necessary to comprehend fully how growing up without social media has shaped me into the person I am.

I did so badly want to take part in this competition -- the subject is so close to home. And yet, I have found, in revisiting my past, such a wealth of memories have come to me that I have been utterly unable to compress them into a few hundred words. I could state the facts plainly enough -- how this predominantly offline life has turned me into a fiercely independent person, a freethinker, a skeptic, and an optimist, among other things. Yet a mere statement of facts -- which is the best my skill can craft out of a mere handful of words -- fails to capture the true essence of all my formative years.
...

Forsaken

No one speaks to me at all,
Although I speak to everyone;
As though I'm talking to a wall
From day's begin till it is done.

My love-filled parcels none unwrap,
My letters languish in the box,
Passed up for yet another app
That's spread among the youth like pox.

My thoughts, with eagerness I spoke,
Are left to float about in air,
For folk are dormant and unwoke,
Immersed in worlds not really there.

A smile, while waiting for the bus,
Is answered by a puzzled leer;
No one sees this group as “us,”
Though we all sit together here.

Perchance you are forsaken too,
By all the silent, sleeping folk,
Then I shall listen fain to you—
We'll share the wisdom of the woke.


 

Strike

We Are Fighting for Our Future

Friday, the 25th of January.
Here in Berlin, I am not going to school.
Today I have got something more important to do.
It is time to save the world.
 
6:06 A.M.
I drift out of nightmares of being locked up in my house and not being allowed outside. Or of wandering outside and freezing to death. Of snow choking the world in an inescapable white cage.
     I slip out of bed and wash up. Rinse my face, over and over, as if I could wash out those gruesome sights from my eyes, cleanse those grisly thoughts from my head.
     It’ll be okay, I tell myself. This is not the first time. You’ve done this. You can do this.
     Come on. Let’s be brave.
 
6:32 A.M.
Nerves always push me to the verge of vomiting.
 
6:41 A.M.
I finally manage to stomach breakfast. Fruit salad. Heavy breakfasts have never sat...

Strike

We Are Fighting for Our Future

Friday, the 25th of January.
Here in Berlin, I am not going to school.
Today I have got something more important to do.
It is time to save the world.
 
6:06 A.M.
I drift out of nightmares of being locked up in my house and not being allowed outside. Or of wandering outside and freezing to death. Of snow choking the world in an inescapable white cage.
     I slip out of bed and wash up. Rinse my face, over and over, as if I could wash out those gruesome sights from my eyes, cleanse those grisly thoughts from my head.
     It’ll be okay, I tell myself. This is not the first time. You’ve done this. You can do this.
     Come on. Let’s be brave.
 
6:32 A.M.
Nerves always push me to the verge of vomiting.
 
6:41 A.M.
I finally manage to stomach breakfast. Fruit salad. Heavy breakfasts have never sat...

Tiny Love Story

Of a Girl

    As she spoke a kind word to a stranger, as she gathered the fallen leaves and flowers to her breast, as she twirled through the room all by herself, as she cleared the snow and the stones from her path and built castles out of them; in a light summer dress, in winter trappings that turned her into a bear; singing, or not singing; speaking, or not speaking; smiling, or not smiling; as she looked at things far off where neither my sight nor my imagination could reach, and as she looked at me, I thought,

    “How beautiful she is.”

2019

The World Shall Not Forget

For a year to remember:



2000 fireworks, set off at midnight

365 beginnings

1 pair good shoes—for all the steps we’re going to take

11 pep-talks—one per month; this is the first

Snow, to taste

Humour, to taste

120 cold days—to teach us hardihood

1 frozen lake

1 pair of skates

200 warm days—to rejoice in

Rain, sun, flowers, puddles, to taste

23 ice cream-cones

45 sweltering days—to teach us what climate change means

30 days of thirst—ditto

1 submerged island—ditto. *can be substituted with:
- 1 tsunami

2 lost elections—to remind us to speak louder

56 demonstrations,
- 9 of which dispersed with tear-gas—because we refuse to be
    silenced

Pain

14 political prisoners—to expose the face of oppression

1 pair spare shoes—for when the good shoes wear out

Lots of hugs

2 murders—to teach us the value of life

17 kisses—from all the best people

1 won election—the triumph of democracy

5 ceasefires—when 7 billion people realize we are...

Another Sun

The grass rippled in the evening wind, like the crimps in Ithra’s hair.

Ithra’s horse glided through the blades like a fish through water. Luvros followed in its wake, parting the rough fronds before him with his bare hands as he walked.

Ithra halted on a rise and gazed towards the west. Luvros stopped, too, and watched her from the foot of the hill. Her eyelashes, the strands blown free of her long braid, her forearms bared by the billows of the wind, all shimmered in the light of the dying day; and when she blinked her lashes glittered, as did her arms whenever her horse shook its head and she gave it rein.

Then Ithra swung her braid over her shoulder, and dropping her reins unloosed it; but even as her hands had unworked it halfway, her hair was caught up by the wind and thrown into her face, and her hands became entangled.

So Luvros wove his way...

Novel Writing Competition 2018

Chapter 26. The Smoke.

Beyond the ruins of the city stretched open desert.

Visibility was low. The smallest stirring of air disturbed the dust, and it came up in clouds with every footfall. It would have been impossible to tell just how far one could see, if it were not for the hunched skeletons of a few trees, which stood at various distances from the city, and so offered some perspective from which to gauge the lay of the unvaried land ahead.

There was no sound of water, nor reek of anything.

As if it made no difference, without a word, they set off into the desert.

Now and again the snap of a gunshot would fall upon their ears. Over time the shots grew fainter and fainter, until they sounded like nothing more than the murmuring of the wind—if they were anything more at all. The dust-choked air grew dimmer. Still the direction of the sun did not evince itself.

Dexter sucked his...

Novel Writing Competition 2018

Chapter 26. The Smoke.

Beyond the ruins of the city stretched open desert.

Visibility was low. The smallest stirring of air disturbed the dust, and it came up in clouds with every footfall. It would have been impossible to tell just how far one could see, if it were not for the hunched skeletons of a few trees, which stood at various distances from the city, and so offered some perspective from which to gauge the lay of the unvaried land ahead.

There was no sound of water, nor reek of anything.

As if it made no difference, without a word, they set off into the desert.

Now and again the snap of a gunshot would fall upon their ears. Over time the shots grew fainter and fainter, until they sounded like nothing more than the murmuring of the wind—if they were anything more at all. The dust-choked air grew dimmer. Still the direction of the sun did not evince itself.

Dexter sucked his...

Sunday Morning

The city centre on Sunday morning is a portrait of solitude. The grass is cut, the leaves raked; there are buildings and traffic lights and parked automobiles—there is every sign of human civilization, short of a human itself.

Early Sunday morning, I go out without a coat.

It is strange to be out, when it is light, yet the city is asleep. It is as though some great wind swept all the people away, like so many dry leaves. Or as though a great blanket were suddenly dropped over the world, hushing all sound, stilling all movement.

Yet I know the people are there. Behind those lowered blinds, those locked shutters, those shut doors, humans are breathing. They are only asleep.

“How strange it is,” I cannot help thinking, “that the middle of the capital city should be as silent as the remotest corner of the Arctic. How deeply, how soundly the people sleep.”

A vision comes to my head:...

The Lost Friend

I groped about in twilight…
She caught my flailing hand,
She led me into sunlight—
And there she dropped my hand.
 
My heart sank into shadow,
Though sun was on my face;
I sought her vain in sorrow—
She left without a trace…


 

_Le Pain de Molière_

Back in those days, Midstreet was still blocked up and the foot-traffic for most part diverted down Gateway or Cornerstone. The mornings were long, the afternoons quiet, broken only by the short, warm press of people that came by the café around lunch hour, and then disappeared almost as soon as they had come. Otherwise, throughout the day, the unladen tables shone beneath their striped parasols, the chairs sat still in front of Le Pain de Molière (depuis 1817), and I stood outside with my hands in my pockets, biting an unlit pipe, watching the sun as it rose, watching the sun as it fell.

The folk upstairs were mostly old couples who owned their apartments, but a young visitor did come by one winter. I did not see her arrive—I wiled all cold and wet weather away indoors, pestering the cooks with my senseless chatter—I did not notice her until the spring began, when, with teeth gritted over a...

Your Ideas for WtW

Reflections of a Senior World-Writer

I would like to start with a big handshake and thump on the back to all our lovely organizers, editors, and fellow writers!

As a teenager, I have loved this site. In this day and age, there are far too few platforms out there specifically dedicated to empowering and encouraging teenagers. Or rather, should I say, far too few platforms so organized and so passionate and so dedicated to helping teenagers share their voices and gain confidence in themselves. This is by far the friendliest, most engaging, and closest-knit teen writers' group I have ever had the privilege to know. Kudos to everyone here! and another thump on the back.

Having said that, it is with little cheer that I anticipate my imminent departure from this community. I have been part of Write the World for almost my entire teenagehood, and now I have only two years left. I do not doubt that Good Fate will open to me many...

The Unknown

Humanity

I do not know much about you.
 
I do not know where you come from. I do not know how old you are. I do not know your name, nor what you call yourself, or if they are the same thing.
 
I do not know what gives you the strength to seize each day, nor what terrors trouble your sleep at night. I do not know which road you have taken, nor can map the one you will follow. I cannot descry the heights you strive to reach, nor can measure the depths of the pits into which you have fallen, amid your strife.
 
But I do know this. You are a human being.
 
I know this. You have a heart. However hidden, however broken, however forgotten.
 
I know this. My heart yearns for yours.
 
So take my hand. Let us walk together, for a time. Let us learn to know one another.


 

Solastalgia

For a Little Girl Long-Gone

I
There was once a little girl I knew. She used to play on a plot of sand near our suburban house.
She played alone. No one minded her.
Like a spider she played, clambering over the mounds, creeping through clumps of dry brush here and there, her long skinny limbs browning like bright fruit in the sun. Her eyes, round and open, swallowed the world from behind the fringe of her thick black hair.
Alert as a jackrabbit.
Every bird she noticed, every bur and stone and lonely flower.
No one minded her.
I was the only one who spoke to her.
Often I asked,
“Girl, what are you doing?”
Her answer was not always the same.
One day, it was:
“I am Loving.”
“Loving what?”
“Loving everything!”
Another day:
“I am Living.”
“Living for what?”
“For everything!”
And once she said:
“I’m trying to remember.”
“Remember what?”
“How everything looks.”
“But you see it every day! How can...

The Peace of Wild Things

A Traveller’s Fare

She followed the bubbling sound until she came by the lymph at the foot of a mossy hillock. It was larger and wider than she had expected, and thereof was she glad. After slaking her thirst with many draughts, she laid her garments by the bank and stepped inside. The cold water rushing over her made her gasp, but she stood still while it cleansed her, and by degrees she grew accustomed to the chill and found it refreshing and invigorating. She dipped her face in many times, each time emerging with such renewed energy that she felt as though she were being reborn and reborn again.
    With moss she covered her open scratches and soothed her blisters and sores. There were always new ones. An insect had bitten her along her ankle, but the cool torrent numbed the area.
    Her bath over, Indigo stumbled over the slick pebbles onto the bank. But she was too wet to don her...

Novel Writing Competition 2016

A Time for Mercy

At last, amid the shaking fists of the crowd, the tumbril rumbled into her view.
    Ketra spotted Sinya’s face among the doomed ones.
    Sinya’s head was not bowed, as the others’ were. Nor was it raised: as the tumbril neared the gallows, Sinya watched with a countenance whereon no human emotion was writ. And in that instant Ketra cursed under her breath the entire institution of justice that had condemned her to this end, and that was blind to or unmoved by this sign of unshakeable courage.
    The tumbril halted at the platform, and the doomed, in their sackcloth robes, were unbound from one another and led onto it. In a single row they stood upon the trapdoor, their nooses hanging behind them. Sinya was the farthest of them from the executioner but for one.
    Still only Sinya looked ahead, and only her shoulders were straight. It seemed to Ketra that she was glancing across the thousand faces before her. ...

1 Photo, 20 Words

Stardust

When we forget, our thoughts go whither?
Wander they alone, into a darksome heaven—
Merge—and so—
Make light?

Today I Am Sixteen

I expected this day to go off with a bang.
    For something spectacular to happen. Something memorable. Something to signal all that I have done and all that I in the following year will do.
    Something worthy of sixteen.
 
 
What is sixteen? Since three years ago I have maintained a glorious image of this number. It was the middle teen, the bridge between the wild and the wise years, the coming-of-age.
    Sixteen was my motivation. When projects wouldn’t get finished, no matter how I slaved over them—don’t worry, I told myself. Just keep slogging and by the time you’re sixteen they’ll be done and over. You’ll be dancing on top of them. Tackling even grander things.
    When I was lonely and sad (as ever I am)—don’t worry, I told myself, by sixteen you will be such a nice girl that no one shall be able to help being friends with you. You won’t ever want for...

10 Second Essays

Certain Things My Mother Told Me Which Somehow I Have Not Forgotten

1.      Sweetheart, would you jot down flour, eggs, luck, and friends on the grocery list? We seem to be all out.
 
2.      Husbands are good for women who like to cook, clean, and argue.
 
3.      They say smashing your mirror brings bad luck, but just try it, I promise, you won’t hate yourself half so much anymore.
 
4.      At least when your father tells you he loves you, you never believe it.
         When he told me that once, seventeen years ago, I did.
 
5.      Whisper your burning secrets to the trees, sweetheart; they thrive on wasted breath.
 
6.      Don’t be sad, dearest life. Daughter is just laughter with an extra lopsided smile.
 
7.      Life isn’t pointless. Just mine is. But you won’t miss me, will you?

7 Cubed

Song of Light

Out of darkness, out of silence, came a song.
    It had no words, no tune. It was high, impulsive—somehow—melodious.
    It thrilled me—my frozen limbs flushed with warmth—it filled me—I forgot thirst and hunger—and such wonder and fear betook me—I fled and cried,
    “O Mother, Mother, what is that strange, beautiful song?”
    She took me in her cold, thin arms, whispered,
    “My love, that is laughter.”



 

Countdown

Between the Captor and His Enemy’s Daughter

“So, thou gree’st to surrender thyself as thy sister’s ransom?”
“Yes.”
“Is it not grave a sacrifice for thy family?”
“No.”
“I think yes—I’d mourn my executed daughter.”
“Maybe.”
“And thy sister shall miss thee grievously.”
“Briefly.”
“A thousand gold would settle this—”
“Unaffordable.”
“Were ye not lately wealthy?”
“Wars.”
“Aye, ’tis sad, death…”
“Yea.”
“I pity thee…”
“Don’t.”
“Thou’rt brave.”
“Nay.”
Yea.”




 

Flash Fiction Competition 2016

The End

I met him at the end of the war and the world.
    Amid dust and smog and fluttering debris. Amid the reek of dry blood and ash and death. Amid silence.
    We must have been the last two survivors on Earth.
    “What have we done?” he murmured, gazing wide-eyed across the moonscape.
    I scuffed a piece of shrapnel. “We got angry, I guess.”
    “Everything’s gone…”
    “Yeah.”
    “What do we do now?”
    “Don’t know… Start over, I guess.”
    We looked at each other.
    “What’s your name?” he asked.
    “Dawn,” I said.
    “I’ll call you Eve.”
 
 
                                                    THE BEGINNING

One Sentence Story

Why I Worry

Mama does the chores best when she is sad . . . the house is spick-and-span these days.

One Sentence Story

Why I Worry

Mama does the chores best when she is sad—the house is spick-and-span these days . . .

Novel Writing Competition 2015

The Fate of Ikorov

“May I request you leave?” said Ikorov. “Or are prisoners’ wishes never respected?”
     Bergov scowled but turned away, stroking his sister’s hair a final time as if to say, “Good luck.” Ikorov he warned, “I’ll give you ten minutes.” He turned the corner, out of sight, and his footsteps, first echoing clearly, faded into the silence.
     Ikorov reached out his hands, and Ilse ran to catch them. His arms could not fit through the bars, so she slipped hers through and wrapped them around him. He clutched her little palms and kissed them each, and kissed her hair, and whispered, “Ilse, Ilse, how I’ve missed you.”
     “I’ve missed you too. I wish you didn’t have to stay here. I wish Bergov would let you out. I wish…” A lump in her throat blocked her words.
     “Shh,” said Ikorov. “There is much that is that we wish weren’t; but there is no point...

Letter Writing Competition 2016

A True Letter to Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien

Dear Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien,
 
 
I want to thank you for inspiring me to live.
    There was a time when I just could not take it anymore. To strive was merely to drag myself into another day of pain. Death was about as welcoming as life, yet I was not allowed to kill myself, and I was too weary to rebel against what seemed then so callous a law.
    I was a ghost, lingering in the darkest haunts I could find, wailing for a tormented soul and a lost chance—my own soul and my own life.
    But then you took my hands and told me a tale of heroes, of men and women both great and small who trembled before the events unfolding before them—but who pressed on, who pressed on with vigour, who pressed on even knowing that some pain would slay them by the morrow, yet daring to hope all the same for peace.
    Indeed, they pressed on...

Letter Writing Competition 2016

A True Letter to Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien

Dear Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien,
 
 
I want to thank you for inspiring me to live.
    There was a time when I just couldn’t take it anymore, when I was too weary even to lift a knife to my throat. To strive was merely to drag myself into another day of pain. I was a ghost, lingering in the darkest haunts I could find, wailing for a tormented soul and a lost chance—my own soul and my own life.
    But then you took my hands and told me a tale of heroes, of men both great and small who trembled before the events unfolding before them—but who pressed on, who pressed on with vigour, who pressed on even knowing that some pain would slay them by the morrow, but daring to hope all the same for peace.
    And because they pressed on, they won their peace.
    And because they pressed on, I chose to press on.
    And when I emerged...

Historical Fiction Competition 2016

The Débutante

“Yes, she’s certainly a model lady: tall, pretty, slender, exquisitely dressed, and what fine manners! Never a word out of tune, nor a fold out of place; not a look, not a smile, not a laugh undue…”
        “And how she sails through every waltz, like a feather on the breeze…”
        “Ah, yes, how pretty Miss Edith is! The pearls and lilies in her hair, the sylph-like throat, the tiny bodice…”
        “My goodness,” I interposed, gleeful of an opportunity to disrupt this tiresome paean of the recent débutante, “is that Miss Edith flouncing off into the garden just now?”
        “Who, she?” Several copious skirts shuffled about in pathetic disorder as their wearers turned to peer through the ballroom window. “So it is! Great goodness—where is her handmaiden? Where could she be off to? And is she trotting? Why, I never expected such impropriety of her…”
        “And what a glout she wears,” I remarked, “I wonder what is the matter?” and...

Historical Fiction Competition 2016

The Débutante

Girls there were plenty in the ballroom who had handmaidens to fan their perspiring necks, but myself not among them, I slipped unobtrusively into the garden.
        Not a soul was in sight. The only suggestion of human life drifted in ripples of laughter and strains of song from the ballroom. Silence, coolness, and deep shadow reigned under the many-hued stars and the virgin-white thread of a moon.
        Hoping to bathe my neck and face, I stepped down the path toward the fountain in the centre of the garden. A second scrutiny reassured that there was no one about to observe me, and I permitted myself the indignity of trotting.
        Soon the pinching of my slippers and the constraint of whalebone about my heaving breast checked my liberty.
        “And that débutante dancing earlier—Miss Edith, she was?—how does she manage all this so effortlessly? I reckon her shoe could fit within the palm of my one hand. And so tight her lacing,...

All Talk

The Fourth Death

 
“Laura… what are you doing here?”
        “Shh… Your mother said you had a really bad spell today. I want to see you. You feeling better now?”
        “Better than earlier… What time is it?”
        “Almost eleven.”
        “You should be asleep…”
        “Look who’s talking.”
        “You know I can’t sleep…”
        “Neither can I, not when I think of you. You thirsty? cold?”
        “No… don’t worry so much…”
        “Can’t help it, sweetness. It’s not worrying, exactly—more like trying to make your convalescence as quick and comfortable as possible.—What you sighing for?”
        “I’m not convalescing…”
        “Silly girl. Look, I’ve brought you fresh flowers. Even pinker than the last batch, these. Rare to find such pink ones so early in the year. I found them on that hill behind the house—you remember? the one we used to roll down, as kids?”
        “You should have left them there… let them live…”
        “They’re not dead when you pluck them, you know. They can live in a vase.” ...

All Talk

The Fourth Death

 
“Laura… what are you doing here?”
        “Shh… Your mother said you had a really bad spell today. I want to see you. You feeling better now?”
        “Better than earlier… What time is it?”
        “Almost eleven.”
        “You should be asleep…”
        “Look who’s talking.”
        “You know I can’t sleep…”
        “Neither can I, not when I think of you. You thirsty? cold?”
        “No… don’t worry so much…”
        “Can’t help it, sweetness. It’s not worrying, exactly—more like trying to make your convalescence as quick and comfortable as possible.—What you sighing for?”
        “I’m not convalescing…”
        “Silly girl. Look, I’ve brought you fresh flowers. Even pinker than the last batch, these. Rare to find such pink ones so early in the year. I found them on that hill behind the house—you remember? the one we used to roll down, as kids?”
        “You should have left them there… let them live…”
        “They’re not dead when you pluck them, you know. They can live in a vase.” ...

A Query

So brightly shone the moon at dawn,
It hailed a day ere day was come.
So dimly blinked the sun at dawn,
Though day was due no day did come.
 
I worried at this manner strange
And called upon the moon and sun,
And asked, “What means this wanton change?”
The two then asked of me as one:
 
 
“And life grows never dull to you?”

A Query

So brightly shone the moon at dawn,
It hailed a day ere day was come.
So dimly blinked the sun at dawn,
Though day was due no day did come.
 
I worried at this manner strange
And called upon the moon and sun,
And asked, “What means this wanton change?”
The two then asked of me as one:
 
 
“And you grow never bored of life?”

Time Traveler

Farewell, Fair Land

Yea eighty-one before this latest dawning year,
My land, it was as no one now will ever know;
A hillocked sea of golden dust stretched boundless here—
But that was long, a long time ago.
 
Our camels staid and firm and tall as palms did stand,
Our slender steeds sped swifter than the wind could blow;
And we, we hardy folk were praised in every land—
But that was long, a long time ago.
 
As freedom calls unfettered feet so wide to roam,
So wide our anthems rang and trails of steps did flow;
The tent of every host inviting us was home—
But that was long, a long time ago.
 
The sun was white and never dimmed by smog or smoke,
The moonlit night gave sand the hue and coolth of snow;
From eve till morn the white stars danced just like our folk—
But that was long, a long time ago.
 
And we were...

After... After... After

After We Do

 
After we wake up—

     After we cease to persecute our forests, after we allow wildlife and tamelife together to breathe pure air, after we halt the invasion of our refuse on marine habitats, after we renounce the exploitation of every beast rare and rife, after we gather beneath a starlit sky to rediscover the fragility and the power and the beauty of the world—

     After we establish Palestine as its own state, after we liberate Ukraine and Egypt, after we uncage the women of Afghanistan, after we mend Syria and cleanse Lebanon, after Trump recants, after Putin resigns, after we reform the UN, after we vanquish ISIS, after we bare the lie and let the Truth blaze forth—

     After we find and free the slave and feed the poor, after we heal the soldier and the civilian, after we end the war of our arms and the war of our hearts, after we...

Op-ed Competition 2016

Words to the Walking Dead

I am a lonely child.
     Not that you notice that, do you? You don’t notice me at all.
     You whisk by me, your ears plugged with two minute, throbbing buds of plastic.
 
 
Yet there is something in you that creates a desire in me to speak to you—to know you—to love you. And that something is simply your humanity: that you and I are brethren, born equal, with minds and hearts that think and feel in such different, but oh! such comfortingly similar ways.
     I am a lonely child. Why do you tell me to go away? Have I wronged you? Do you dislike me before you know me? What about me repels you? You cannot even tell me in the special way given only humans, of all life in the world, “I would rather you leave me be”; but you leave me to observe your body, like a shameless animal. I...

Friendship Narrative Competition 2016

Blessed, the Befriended One

Loneliness never dies.
     You live in a foreign land. You cannot speak the native tongue and there’s no chance you’ll learn it, either, because the public institution designed to teach it is itself run by a foreigner who cannot care less for the promotion of the native culture. When you meet anyone, chances are, you won’t be able to tell him or her anything between greeting and goodbye.
     This land is what demographers call a developing country: the government is yet to provide the public with adequate and affordable education. Therefore, you are forced to study at home, all on your own.
     Of course you have siblings and loving parents—but being the black sheep of the family has always been isolating.
     And now—you’ve grown up.
     Adolescence has taken your body and your soul by storm. And there’s no one to turn to.
     You know that suicide lands you...

Friendship Narrative Competition 2016

Blessed, the Befriended One

Loneliness doesn’t die. Never fades. Can’t be gotten used to.
     You live in a foreign land. You cannot speak the native tongue and there’s no chance you’ll learn it, either, because the public institution designed to teach it is itself run by a foreigner who cannot care less for the promotion of the native culture. When you meet anyone, chances are, you won’t be able to tell him or her anything between greeting and goodbye.
     This land is what demographers call a developing country: the government is yet to provide the public with adequate and affordable education. Therefore, you are forced to study at home, all on your own.
     Of course you have siblings and loving parents—but being the black sheep of the family has always been sort of isolating.
     And now—you’ve grown up.
     Adolescence has taken your body and your soul by storm. And there’s no one to turn...

Friendship Tweet

One Way to Say "Friendship"

Mutual acknowledgement that life is better with one another than without.

Open Prompt

Count the Stars

That coldest of nights when we lay out-of-door
You told me each star was the mark that a soul
Had lived out its lot and was with us no more.
I wept like the rain; you could not me console.

Yet ever outside did you lay us again
To mark all the marks of the Folk of Before;
I always ceased count at a dozen and ten
Though calmly as stone would you count hundred-score.

Thus do I wonder: you weep like the rain
To see the meek gleam of a single star more;
Like all you have seen do I glitter the same
So count me in too, then count on as before.

Improbable Flavor

Drinking Midnight

The night sky is like an icicle to taste: it eludes the sense of the tongue but seizes the mind—claws it—compresses it—permeates it—sears it—thrills it—raises it—stills it, stills it… And when one blinks to recover his senses, all he sees is stars.

Setting as Mood

Night Descends

Brigitta raised her feverish lids and turned her dry eyes about the room. The hale breeze of the late afternoon had subsided to a gentle swelling and falling of the curtain and the shivering of the dim wicks on their stunted boles. A moonbeam peered through the drapery and spread in a lucid shaft upon the cold bare floor, turning it into a shimmering lake of untrod ice. From the shadows the great learned shelves maintained their staid vigil of the little room and the little bed inside it; and it seemed in the soft light that stole back and forth from behind the wavering curtain, that their great heads nodded amongst themselves, knowing, knowing. And in the darkness Brigitta smiled, wondering how she ever could have been afraid, feeling this the perfect time for her last word, her last thought, her last silent breath.

A Signature Capability

The Business of Robin Hunter

He flourished on a signature capability: no beast, however silent, however light of foot or neat of meal, could escape his observance.
     There was no telling how a single twig awry on the twig-studded vastness of an evergreen bole could guarantee an ill-fated game-beast within the day, but nevertheless such was the guarantee in the woods by which—or rather, by the wild inhabitants of which—Robin “Hunter” sustained himself and his steadily waxing family.
     If it had been the trend of the time to brag of hunting stag, then Robin would have hunted stag; but it so happened that the fashion remained to vaunt of chase after an animal whose meat was no better than dog's fare and whose hide was of no other use than attestation of the chase. Fraudulent attestation, at that: most hides that hung on the walls and doors of the well-to-do were less prizes of theirs from a courageous hunt than from...

O’Clock

11th November 1918, 10:59 A.M.

Just wait another minute more,
The guns will cease their ceaseless drum;
A peace we’ve never seen before
Will to us weary soldiers come.
 
The guns will cease their ceaseless drum,
The shells will halt their endless shower;
Will to us weary soldiers come
Ever again so glad an hour?
 
The shells will halt their endless shower
The dirt-choked air will fill with light
Ever again. So glad an hour!
So glad our men to stop the fight!
 
The dirt-choked air will fill with light
A peace we’ve never seen before—
So glad our men to stop the fight!—
Just wait another minute more.









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Novel Writing Competition 2015

The Fate of Ikorov

“May I request you leave?” said Ikorov. “Or are prisoners’ wishes never respected?”
     Bergov scowled but turned away, stroking his sister’s hair a final time as if to say, “Good luck.” Ikorov he warned, “I’ll give you ten minutes.” He turned the corner, out of sight, and his footsteps, first echoing clearly, faded into the silence.
     Ikorov reached out his hands, and Ilse ran to catch them. His arms could not fit through the bars, so she slipped hers through and wrapped them around him. He clutched her little palms and kissed them each, and kissed her hair, and whispered, “Ilse, Ilse, how I’ve missed you.”
     “I’ve missed you too. I wish you didn’t have to stay here. I wish Bergov would let you out. I wish…” A lump in her throat blocked her words.
     “Shh,” said Ikorov. “There is much that is that we wish weren’t; but there is no point...

Environmental Writing Competition 2015

Killing Stars

Once upon a time, there were stars.
     Fields of stars. Realms of them. Galaxies. Worlds—and we could see them.
     Once upon a time the stars we saw were not merely the delight of the eye, the wonder to the heart, or the proof of the existence of God. When the day’s compass retired below the hazy horizon, and all was cold and dark, the stars marked the ways. The stars were the hope.
     There are no stars now. The fumes have enshrouded them. The fumes from those belching fossil-fuel power plants that have been belching decades now, and, as long as it’s profitable for the government, that will obligingly belch for the decades to come.
     As we zoom past those smokestacks, belching assiduously, incessantly, I am repulsed. Then I wonder.
     Do they not realize, those businessmen in their palaces and mansions, what it means to lose the stars? The bejeweled...

Five Novel Titles

Five Gateways---or Their Keys

Beneath the Shadow of the Light

Mountains Only Rise

And Now---For All of Us.

The Storm Breaker

The Land of Purple Sorrow

Ten Words to You

Panorama of My Homesand

Sand, sunbaked bungalows, shawarma incense. 
Mimosa cooing, minaret calling. 
Cerulean-domed. 

That Sort of Person

Five Natives of the Other Realm


1. Nheel has got a voice that most call a violin.
2. He's the lad who coated the town in 'Lost' posters for a butterfly.
3. She's the sort who writes "the kids" on her packing checklist.
4. She seeks company in her shadow, and counsel in herself.
5. Neither fire nor foe, neither dungeon nor despair, neither lesion nor lameness can claim or quell his soul--so fierce is his faith in the justice of fate.

Six-Word Story

The Boys' Epitaph

The boys' epitaph: "Beware land mines."

Lunar Phrases

Eternal Hope

Ever mended--ever remade:

A rent in inpenetrable night

Forever the beacon of hope:

Beyond the dark--there's light.