shadow_diva

United States

Published Work

The Drabble

Storm

The waves crashed against the side of the boat, rocking it from side to side as a thundering rain poured down from the heavens. The deck was no longer safe to stand on; the wooden panels slick with a combination of rain and seawater. The boat jolted towards the left and he found himself slamming into the rails with a loud groan. He felt his foot slip and his hands wildly grasped for something, anything he could hold onto to stabilize himself. There was none. With a loud cry, he tumbled overboard and sank into the murky, churning waters below. 

Cli-Fi

Heatwave

I'm sitting at the kitchen table, doing homework. The TV blares in the background and I tune it out as I attempt to concentrate on the math problems on the page. There's a loud thud and I look up. My little sister, Jane, hops down the staircase, one stair at a time. Both of her shoes are on, though her shoelaces haven't been tied yet. I roll my eyes. She's the least subtle person I know. 

My mother takes a break from watching the television, turning her head to face Jane. "Now, where do you think you're going?" she asks. 

Jane shuffles her feet, now at the bottom of the staircase. "I wanted to go out." 

My mother frowns. She picks up the remote and gestures at the television. "Sorry, kiddo," she says. "It's too hot outside." 

"I don't care." Jane is stubborn, in a very headstrong eight-year-old way. "It's been hot for days." 

I can tell that my mother's...

A Bird with Wings

Words

Words. They hide behind shadows, they carry dark secrets, they bring hope, but also devastating loss. It's funny how a tool with so much potential power and consequence can be wielded by anyone.  

We use words every day. From the moment we wake up, to the moment we fall asleep. Sometimes, the words are incomprehensible, falling out in a jumbled heap from our mouth. Sometimes, the words are quick and angry and passionate, and sometimes they are cold and unforgiving and hard at the edges. We use words to comprehend the world around us, to express ourselves to the world around us. 

Think of every word you've ever uttered in a day. Not in your lifetime, but a day. 

Despite the extraordinary ability that words and communication grant us within society, we throw them around so casually. As if they are worthless. Meaningless. We treat words that way, with little falsehoods and fake promises and white lies, inadvertently cheapening the...

YOU, The Writer

the beauty of writing

An elegant plume of white feathers, a sharp metal tip. The feather quill dips into the pool of black ink, then strokes the sheet of yellowed parchment. Shadows dance around the room as the candlelight flickers in the room and words dance on the page, filling it quickly. The concept of time has all but vanished, the only indication being the small pool of molten wax that has accumulated at the base of the candle, sitting on the wooden desk. 

I pause the YouTube video I'm watching. That's way too much work just for writing, I muse to myself as I open a new Word document on my desktop. The familiar blue border at the top of the screen and the blank, white page fills me with a second of calm that is replaced with anxiety as I contemplate what I'm going to write about. 

My inner dialogue sounds something like this: 

Maybe I should write about...-wait, is there...

Semicolon Soirée

school dance

What if he doesn't like me; oh god, why am I sweating under my armpits; what if I'm not wearing the right dress and he hates it so much that he leaves me; what if he never shows up at all because either he hates me or he's sick; what if it turns out that this was all a cruel prank that he thought of pulling on me for some reason; what if my makeup is smudged from the rain or from whatever else and I look like a raccoon, what if he does show up, but he's with another girl because he forgot about me; what if he forgot about me and the dance and he's still at home; what if we walk into the gym and I get so nervous that I vomit all over the floor and his suit and my dress and he leaves me; why isn't he responding to that text that I sent him...

Collected Wisdom

Advice on Writer's Block

There is nothing more frightening than staring at an empty page at two in the morning, wondering what you are doing with your life and why you can't think of anything to write about.  

Let me play doctor for a moment. Do you match the symptoms above? Then let me diagnose you with a highly common disease-writer's block. 

What? you gasp. I'm not sick! 

Think again, I say. What are you writing about right now? 

That puts an end to your protests. You look worried, your hands are cold and clammy, and thoughts are rolling through your head at a breakneck pace. You're shuddering in disgust and concern that you are suffering from such a terrible disease. 

So... (and here comes the inevitable question) what can I do about it? you ask nervously. Chick-flicks? Sleep? Perhaps some vitamin W (writing)?  

I scoff. There is no cure. 

What? comes the indignant shout.What do you mean, there is no...

In Motion

Biscuits

Her hands, white with flour, flipped the bowl onto the cutting board in a single motion. The pile of dough slapped against the surface of the board. She clapped her hands-once-and a cloud of flour suspended itself in the air before dusting the kitchen counter. The bowl, cast off to the side, reflected the sunlight streaming through the window. The static of the radio crackled in the background, like an old man clearing his throat. Then, as if nothing had happened, the music began to blare again from the radio's speakers. 
 

Safe

Three taps.  

Loud, distinctive, harsh. The sound reverberated in the quiet and dark space. 

Lottie let out a sigh of relief. Three taps was the signal. It was finally safe to come out. As she silently and slowly began to stand up from her crouched position on the ground, easing her body up against the wall, she could not remember how long it had been. Minutes? Hours? Weeks? The tiny crawl-hole seemed to defy time. 

Or perhaps she was going insane. 

Another three taps. This time, it was louder, faster. More panicked. Lottie picked up the pace, weaving her way through the tunnels. When she was younger, she had been scared of them. Now, the thought was laughable. She knew the tunnels better than she knew the back of her hand. One had to. Otherwise...she shuddered. 

The door was close, she knew it. And so did the creatures stirring in the murky waters. As she sloshed forward in her...

Zoom Out

Another Sunny Day in the United States of America

"And it, too, shall pass."

My cynicism forbids me from agreeing with that sentiment. This is home, yes, but it is also a prison of sorts. I pace, for the fifteenth time that morning, from the hallway to the kitchen, then back again. 

Just one flimsy piece of wood, I find myself thinking. Just one flimsy piece of wood that bars me from the outside world. I find myself reaching for the doorknob-and then I stop myself. 

Most people like to say that their lives are hectic, as they struggle to balance work, family, friends, and maybe even education. There seems to be no time in the day to stop, reflect, or even catch one's breath. It is almost like we are consumed in, drowned inour duties, responsibilities, and moral obligations as citizens and people. Life is frantic and it never stops. It's a defiant attitude that is reflected in our cities: although we may have to sleep at...

Child Narrator

Christmas Wish

The day Dad disappeared was the day that I realized Santa didn't exist. I was sitting on the floor, cross-legged, peering at my presents. I didn't want to unwrap them. Not yet. Dad always helped me with the wrapping paper.  

Mom came in, wearing her pajamas. She looked at me, sitting on the floor, then looked away, and sat down at the table. Right away, I knew what had happened. 

"Where's Dad?" I asked. She didn't answer me. 

"Where's Dad?" I asked again. I was standing now, right in front of her, in case she didn't hear me the first time. "Mom?" I could feel my eyes begin to water. 

"Who cares? Who knows?" She sounded angry, like Ms. Hoover when I don't put away my toys when she tells me to. Not Mom. She didn't sound like Mom at all. I shrank back onto the floor and started playing with the bow of a present, but all I could...

The Unknown

Blind and Deaf

I can see all around me. The scattered papers on my desk, the chipped coffee mug stained with coffee. The bursts of sunlight streaming in through the slits of my curtains. If I turn my chair slightly, I'll be able to see even more: navy blankets, bunched up in a corner, a white pillow tilted at a precarious angle, and wrinkled white bed sheets. 

I can see perfectly fine. Yet, I am blind. My vision only stretches as far as the items that are visible-and then it tapers off. I am blind to the injustices and cruelties that are all around me; I am blind to the twisted people that wander the streets with their twisted minds; I am blind to the crying children and mourning parents; I am blind to the disasters that are ravaging foreign countries that no one hardly speaks of. I am blind to the lives of the poor and the lives of the rich. I...

Chunyun

Traveling Back

Bright yellow taxicabs blur in front of my eyes. Mingled shouts and the bustle of traffic fill my ears. It's an unfamiliar, harsh song that I've never heard before.

Standing there, my old luggage case resting at my feet, I feel exposed, like a stranger that doesn't quite belong amongst the crowd. Nobody gives me so much as a passing stare, too busy to care about this odd teenage girl, simply standing on the sidewalk, yet my stomach still churns in expectation. 

"Come on," my mom says, yanking me into a taxicab. The doors slam shut, and I press my nose against the window pane as we drive off, into a colorful scene of street vendors, bargaining with customers, an elderly tai-chi class on the lawn of a park, and an imposing looking shopping mall, where people seem to endlessly stream out and into. 

This is home. Not mine, but my mothers', and my aunts', and my uncles', and my...

Dialogue Dexterity

Fractured

"I'm alright." Her voice was flat. She looked like a bird ready to spring into flight-body poised at the edge of her chair, eyes staring keenly at some point beyond the windows. The look of desperation on her face was one that I would never forget. She looked hungry to escape, looked as if she had stayed any longer, she would have lashed out, or crumbled into pieces, or both. 

I took a deep breath, and hid my tear-stained cheeks behind my coffee mug.

"Are you sure?" I asked her, my voice soft and pleading, hoping that she would take the olive branch that I had extended to her. 

She knocked the olive branch to the floor, where it shattered into so many pieces, just like my hopes and dreams had died out over the years. There they lay, embedded in the floors of the dining room, disintegrating into nothing more than dust laying in the crevices.  

"I'm fine. I...

Returning

Swingsets

The wind whistles through the snow-covered trees. I feel almost as if I am violating some unspoken law as I step into the small courtyard. My mind expects to hear the shrill voices of small children, coupled with a few loud crashes and screams, but I hear nothing, nothing but the wind whistling through the trees. 

I know there is lush, green grass underneath this thick blanket of snow. I bend down to examine the ground. I can no longer see the holes that my friends and I dug as small children. More than likely, they have been filled with fresh dirt. We used to also scrawl our names in the dirt, our stubby fingernails tracing against the ground.

The snow layered on top of the dirt is white and pure, the opposite of our beloved dirt. Dusting off my knees, I stand up from my crouched position and observe the rest of the playground. Over there, near the slides,...

Third Person Limited

Slipping Away

She smiled at him. It was a thin, tight-lipped smile, however, that revealed no conflicted feelings (if there were any). His navy jacket was damp with raindrops, but his soul was even more dampened, if that was possible. He stewed in his own misery as her cab pulled away from the side of the street, the black tires sloshing a puddle of rain water over his jeans.

Part of him felt an urge to dash back over to her cab and to plead her to stay, to tell her that he knew he had made a mistake, and that he was the world's greatest fool, and that all he wanted, really, was for things to go back to how they originally were...

But the other part of him chastised him. It told him to be sensible, and to stay here, under the dreary, drizzling rain, smiling through his pain and confusion the very same tight-lipped smile back at her. It...

Op-Ed Competition 2017

The Melting Pot

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" These words, boldly inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, shine a ray of light in the lives of thousands of impoverished immigrants, yearning, hoping, and dreaming. They sit, huddled in groups, on airplanes and on boats. Escaped from lives of misery and loss, they eagerly await the future that sits for them in America, the melting pot. 

But where is this future?

A young woman sits quietly by herself. Her hand travels to her cheek to wipe away her tears. She looks back out the window, craning her neck furtively, almost longingly, as if hoping to see the faces of her loved ones back in the comfort of home, surrounded by the culture and traditions that she has immersed herself in...

Nightmares


Clowns.

​They'd always bothered me, even when I grew older. I never knew how. I didn't even know when. I just knew. 
​And know, I finally knew why as I stared into the bulbous, protruding eyes and the maniac smile on the clown as it approached me.  

​"Balloon?" it leered at me, like a shark circling a helpless victim. It brought forward a white gloved hand, its slim fingers reaching out to just slightly brush my chin...

​I shrieked and lurched backwards, stumbling into the colorful striped fabric of the tent. 

​The clown only smiled wider, larger. It raised its eyebrows at me, expectantly. "Hmm," it growled. "Are you sure?"

​I could only stare, horrified, as the clown drew out a bloodied butcher knife. And as it moved closer and closer, it's teeth growing larger and sharper; tears streamed down my face as I cried silently. 

​The clown smiled. Its job was almost done. "Just a moment, now," it wheedled in the...

History Alive

The Wordsmith

The son of a leather merchant
​Never expected 
​To rise to any heights
​So his talent neglected 

​The world's most famous wordsmith
​Started out like you and me
​Gathered up his wits
and his thoughts  
And the rest is history

Started out from the bottom
​But he got to the top
​With nothing but his pen, paper, and all of his thoughts

The son of a leather merchant
​Distraught, in the act he was caught  
Not just a simple boy
But an artist in the making

In his mind, he was baking
Up stories and plays
Things we never saw
Never imagined
Engraved in ink

William Shakespeare

​Not a buccaneer
A musketeer
​A puppeteer
​Or even a seer
But all sing in his praises
​And they all remember his name... 

William Shakespeare!











 

7 Cubed

Sudden Death

"That can't possibly be right."  
The inspector shifted impatiently. "I'm telling you, there's no way that he could have survived the-"  
She cut him off with a fierce glare. "And I'm telling you that you better go back and investigate."  
He opened his mouth again, a frown etched on his face. When he spoke again, his voice was laced with barely-concealed frustration. "Ma'am-"  
"What kind of officer are you if you can't even... can't even....can't..." her voice trailed off and she trembled, leaning on the counter for support.
The officer reached into his thick wool coat for a hanker chief, but the woman suddenly righted herself, as if some invisible force had pulled her upwards.  
She yanked the inspector forward by his collar, a maniacal gleam in her eyes. "I told you to go back and investigate."  
The inspector stood there, frozen in shock. "What-"  
"Go!" She shoved him backwards. "Get out! Get out...

Inventory

Within

Lilah Hans
13  

Inside her heart, she carries: 

Hopes, of different sizes and lengths...
Dreams, far-fetched or nearby...
Sadness, ripping her apart...
Anger, clouding her judgement...
Happiness, taking the weight off her shoulders...
Love, allowing her to forget her troubles...
Regret, when it goes too far...
And memories...
of everything far, near, and inbetween.



 

One Sentence Story

Heartbreak

No doctor can cure a broken heart. 

Flash Fiction Competition 2016

Every Tear I Shed

She lay on the white hospital bed, silent.

She felt the fear and anger, she smelled the disappointments that lingered in the air, she heard the crying, hoping, and praying that things would get better, she saw herself-a girl with hopes and dreams that would never come true. 

Every sensation and every feeling melded into silent tears that stained her cheeks, the pillow, the wall; for a time where her memory would be long forgotten.  

Her eyelids grew heavier.

She rested her head across the soft pillow, gave a small smile and let the weariness dissipate into nothing.
 

Flash Fiction Competition 2016

Every Tear I Shed

She lay on the white hospital bed, silent.

She felt the fear and anger, she smelled the disappointments that lingered in the air, she heard the crying, hoping, and praying that things would get better, she saw herself-a girl with hopes and dreams that would never come true. 

Every sensation and every feeling melded into silent tears that stained her cheeks, the pillow, the wall; for a time where her memory would be long forgotten.  

Her eyelids grew heavier.

She rested her head across the soft pillow, gave a small smile and let the weariness dissipate into nothing.
 

Collected Wisdom

Advice on Writer's Block

There is nothing more frightening than staring at an empty, blank page at two in the morning, wondering what you are doing with your life and why you can't think of anything to write about.  

Let me play doctor for a moment. Do you match the symptoms above? Then let me diagnose you with a highly common disease-writer's block. 

What? you gasp. I'm not sick! 

Think again, I say. What are you writing about right now? 

That puts an end to your protests. Your look worried, your hands are cold and clammy, and thoughts are rolling through your head at a break neck pace. You're shuddering in disgust and concern that you are suffering from such a terrible disease. 

So... (and here comes the inevitable question) what can I do about it? you ask nervously. Chick-flicks? Sleep? Perhaps some vitamin W (writing)?  

I make a scolding sound. There is no cure. 

What? comes the indignant shout.What do...

The Things They Carried

The Runaway

As the people slept, Marian was awake. 

Her chest was constricted with the fear and exhilaration of her stunt. Her footsteps were silent as she slowly eased the door open, heart pounding in fear. The shadows covered her in a cape of darkness, and she let the silent night embrace her like a second skin. Her foot had barely touched the floor outside, her toes skimming the cold stone, when she heard a high pitched yap.  She waited, holding her breath, for the anticipated shout of fury and the voracious beating, or perhaps, even worse, that she would step outside, fooled by the moonlight, and look straight into the hateful eyes of Mrs. Morrow. 

With trembling fingers, she pulled herself out from behind the door, and stepped onto the floor outside. The world was still, calm, and peaceful. She let out a small sigh of relief when the building seemed to be cleared and Mrs. Morrow nor her vicious pit...

Monologue

My Dying Words

WOMAN:
It all started with none other than myself. My curiosity, my thirst for knowledge. The sense that all of us have within ourselves, the ache for things that never will be. It's a sense that often brings us to our deaths. And it has brought me to mine. Your first note was a fleeting invitation that left me thirsting for more. It was like a drop of water on the tongue of a parched man. With your first words, I felt as if something had been stirred within me. You never addressed me, and I never wrote back, but hearing of your adventures and your witty tales of surviving in far off lands, of summer flings and of thieves, I could not help but be sucked into the mysterious affair that was this whole circumstance. My first mistake, my first sin, in this whole business, was wondering about you. Were you short? Were you tall? Were you curious and...

Monologue

My Dying Words

WOMAN
It all started with none other than myself. My curiosity, my thirst for knowledge. The sense that all of us have within ourselves, the ache for things that never will be. It's a sense that often brings us to our deaths. And it has brought me to mine. Your first note was a fleeting invitation that left me thirsting for more. It was like a drop of water on the tongue of a parched man. With your first words, I felt as if something had been stirred within me. You never addressed me, and I never wrote back, but hearing of your adventures and your witty tales of surviving in far off lands, of summer flings and of thieves, I could not help but be sucked into the mysterious affair that was this whole circumstance. My first mistake, my first sin, in this whole business, was wondering about you. Were you short? Were you tall? Were you curious and...

Open Prompt

j

Her breath hitched as she ran across the ballroom. 
This was not a battle between her and the king, nor her and the prince, but between her and time.
And time would not stop for anything-not enchantments nor sorcery, and not even the greatest riches.  
 She struggled to keep her slippers on her feet, but as she continued to stumble and trip, she heard the hurried footsteps of the prince, his desperate calling, and his demands for the guards to lower the gate. Her breathing grew more ragged. She had many things to do, yet little time to do them. At last, with a snarl of frustration, she flung the slippers off her feet, then bent down to pick them up, tripped and fell at the base of the stairs, clutching one slipper tightly in her hand.  
The other slipper was somewhere in the vast crowd of people. She stared long and hard, silently debating whether she should...

Letter Writing Competition 2016

To My Younger Self

To my younger self, 
I only wish you could see this letter and that we could both look back at all of the mistakes we made, and change them. But how can we change history when it's set in stone? 
I'm not here to reassure you that the future will be better, because that would be an empty promise. The reality is that our future will only get harder as we grow, and only time will tell what sort of catastrophes we will face later on life. 
Ah, younger self. You did many stupid, ridiculous things. I wish that I could say that now, I can just flip my hair back and laugh about everything, but I still can't. 
Remember in fifth grade, when you got called up to read your speech, but instead, you just bawled into the microphone? It's been a couple of years now since then, but you are still going to get much grief about that...

Letter Writing Competition 2016

To My Younger Self

To my younger self, 
I only wish you could see this letter and that we could both look back at all of the mistakes we made, and change them. But how can you change history when it's set in stone? 
I'm not here to reassure you that the future will be better, because that would be an empty promise. The reality is that our future will only get harder as we grow, and only time will tell what sort of catastrophes we will face later on life. 
Ah, younger self. You did many stupid, ridiculous things. I wish that I could say that now, I can just flip my hair back and laugh about everything, but I still can't. 
Remember in fifth grade, when you got called up to read your speech, but instead, you just bawled into the microphone? It's been a couple of years now since then, but you are still going to get much grief about that...