Category: 3 Little Words

3 Little Words

The Truth About Rom-Coms

Words to include: orgy, specimen, food.

“Just have an orgy already!”

The whole cinema went dead silent and shifted their attention from the screen to the random person who seemed to quite clearly be in the wrong film, or have very strange expectations for a rom-com.

Sarah, who was sitting right next to the strange man was so shocked she threw almost all of her food into the air, most of it landing on the people next to her. She started to go bright red as though she had done it, all of the people staring seemed to be staring right at her. She shrunk into her seat and ate as much of the stray popcorn as she could without being gross and eating it off the floor or the seat.

Petunia, the dainty old lady in the back was so afronted she tilted her head back with a very loud “humph” and pointed her nose up so high she couldn’t see the screen anymore. Clearly she wanted to prove she was above such disrespectful nonsense, so much so that the rest of the film looked like a blurry Jackson Pollock painting.

Chris, the bulky and buff man wearing a rather large parka and hood in the corner, who thought he was such a brilliant specimen of a man that no one should ever see him in a film like this, was rather confused by the exclamation. A part of him thought he should like the idea of watching an orgy, that was the manly thing after all, right? But the other part of him, the part that was actually how he felt, was quite afronted by the idea as well. After all, Katie only wanted to find true love. What’s so wrong with that?

Jason, the strange man who everyone wouldn’t stop staring at was rather surprised at how confidently he was handling the fact that he’d actually said something like that in public. You see his best friend who was snickering next to him had dared them to go see this film and then dared him to say that right at the beginning. Jason was more than happy to go with his friend, since he clearly just wanted someone to go see a chick flick with, and he could bag him about it for the rest of his life. He thought yelling that one strange sentence would make the whole experience more fun but he realised it just made everything weird.

Worst of all, he actually quite enjoyed the film and felt bad for mocking such a beautiful notion as finding love. In fact, when Katie finally did find love Jason shed many a tear.

3 Little Words

All the Feels

Words to include: hammer, protest, stab.

The look on his face said it all. Danny loved to smash things, but for some reason he was very conflicted about smashing this particular object. It was an ornate box with small mementos and knick knacks inside. He held the hammer over his head ready to swing it down, but something kept stopping him. He was slowly bringing the hammer down when the door right next to him opened. He was so surprised that the hammer went flying out of his hands, the back of it stabbing the drywall without protest. They both stared at the hammer in silence until the young woman muttered, “you’re paying for that,” a pause, “if you pay me too I won’t tell mum and dad?” Danny contemplated for a moment before shaking her hand, slipping her a $20 note in the process. And just like that the intruder left.

With her gone Danny’s attention only had one other place to go, back to the box, always back to the box. He stared for a moment before inching towards it and slowly, very carefully opening it. Inside were photos of her, gifts she’d given him, even gifts she’d made him in art class. It all reminded him too much, and yet also just enough, of her. He closed it gingerly and picked it up, cradling it and the memories in his arms as tears trickled down his face.

“What’s going on?!” In his shock Danny dropped the box, immediately putting his arms up to show that he was in fact unarmed. The box crashed to the floor, making a sickening splintering noise. It had fallen apart almost completely and the insides were strewn everywhere. It was like seeing the death of his relationship all over again. He fell to the floor and cried harder than he ever had, cradling what was left of the box. 

“I thought I heard a bang… Is that a hammer in the wall?” It was Danny’s dad, followed closely by his sister, “I’m sorry! I tried to stop him… are you ok bro?” But Danny just lay there in a ball, crying and cradling the remnants of his relationship. Uncomfortable, his dad and sister left him and his feelings to ‘do their own thing’, and for the first time in a long time Danny let himself feel, really, deeply feel. No matter how hollow and filled with dread he was, he felt as though a huge weight had been lifted. He finally felt something and the depth of his sadness felt, good somehow.

3 Little Words

Gotta Get the Girl, Right?

Words to include: shave, helmet, birthday.

With a huff he blew the chin length hair out of his face. It was clearly going to be one of those days. Gabe had just realised something very important, he loved a girl. Not just any girl, no this girl was the one, he was sure of it! They’d been talking all year in Biology class and over time everything that wasn’t biology class felt less and less important. Suddenly he found himself longing to sit through Mr Barnes’ long and sleep-inducing mitosis lectures just so that he could spend the time whispering and passing notes to Chelsea. 

His favourite thing to do was make stupid drawings of Mr Barnes so that Chelsea would giggle uncontrollably, having to stifle herself mid-laugh so that hopefully Mr Barnes wouldn’t notice. Luckily he was so deaf he barely ever did, but it was enough to build a sense of comradery and danger between the unlikely pair. Plus it gave Gabe a chance to stare at her face while she laughed. 

He always thought she was prettiest when she laughed. Everytime her nose would crinkle bringing her freckles closer together, and her ginger hair would fall ever so slightly around her face. She’d always look down at her feet when she giggled, and then she’d look up at him, see him staring at her, and when she caught him in the act she would always ask, “what are you staring at?” To which he always replied, “ah, nothing,” which made her giggle even more. 

She really did like to giggle, which is one of the reasons Gabe really believes she is the one, and why he’s been waiting in line for 2 hours to buy her a vintage record of her favourite song from the 70’s, Back in the USSR by the Beatles. Gabe had thought it would be a breeze, that he’d be able to just waltz in, find the record and buy it in a matter of minutes, but as per usual that wasn’t the case. He thought maybe it was because it was the only record store in Melbourne that did fire sales like this, or perhaps it was just because it was in Brunswick and Gabe had severely underestimated the sheer number of hipsters in the area, and who would be willing to travel out of their way just for a sale. Gabe clearly thought it was the latter.

Finally the door opened and the crowd rushed in. As he went past the door he saw a sign “opening at 11am today. Got stuff to do this morning, soz.” And with a very aggressive huff, clearly trying to get rid of some of that negative energy, Gabe blew the chin length hair out of his face and over the back of his head. It was going to be one of those days.

In the store it was much easier to find what he needed, the Beatles section was huge! But as he started looking for the single he noticed it wasn’t there anymore, someone had already bought it. He found the right record with the song on it, but it was unfortunately way out of his price range. He had the right amount of money, yes, but he hadn’t planned on spending it all. He needed some of that for public transport after all. He mulled and paced up and down the aisle trying to come to a decision and said “screw it, I’ll just have to find another way.” 

And to his credit he did find another way, which unfortunately involved not paying for his train/tram ticket at all. He ran to the tram with his flashy new record in hand and jumped on, happy that he’d made it this far. The tram into the city was fine but once he reached the train station he met a whole new problem, people. Don’t get him wrong, there had been people on the tram earlier, but no one had even noticed he got on let alone that he hadn’t paid. The footy must’ve been on at lunch time because Jolimont station was absolutely packed. He hadn’t really thought this through. He’d thought he’d be safer here because you don’t have to jump over the ticket gates to get in, that would be too obvious. No, you can just walk into the platform here without anyone noticing, except for the fact that there were countless people who definitely would notice right now.

He walked through the gate and made a motion as though he was tapping on his Myki card and surprisingly, nobody noticed. With a sigh of relief he stepped onto the next train heading to Collingwood and sat down, finally relaxing. Until he noticed the public transport officer, aka ticket inspector, walking up the train towards him. Panic started to set in. He stared at the inspector as they slowly made their way down the train. Stop after stop they got closer and closer. They were coming right at him! Oh god, this was it. He’d never be able to pay a fine like that. He got ready to run, but as the officer got close they pivoted and stood in front of the door waiting for the next stop. He relaxed a little. The train stopped and someone tapped him on the shoulder, “why so tense? Everything ok?” He looked up and there was a ticket inspector right next to him. Panic stricken he replied, “yeah, everything’s great! I just remembered this is actually my stop.” And he got up and very inconspicuously ran as fast as he could out of the train, as fast as he could carrying a record at least. 

He kept running and running until he finally realised he didn’t know where he was. He got his phone out and noticed he had gotten off at the wrong station. He slapped his head in exasperation and followed his phone map to her house, taking him half an hour longer than he had hoped. He finally got to her house, a small old workers cottage just outside Collingwood station at twelve o’clock, and started knocking. He kept knocking and knocking but no answer. He was getting very worried. Five minutes then ten minutes, but still no answer from Chelsea or her parents.

“Hello, whatcha doin’?” Gabe almost jumped out of his own skin but it was just Chelsea’s neighbour. “I came to see Chelsea, is she in?” He replied. “Oh, you don’t know?”

“Don’t know what?” Said Gabe. He was getting very frustrated the longer this strange journey got. All he wanted to do was get to the girl he loved, give her a nice gift and tell her how he felt. Was that so much to ask?

“Oh, her whole family just left to go to the airport. They’re moving to America tonight.”

“WHAT?” Shrieked Gabe. Clearly it was too much of an ask then because the world must be conspiring against him.

“What did you want to talk to Chelsea about?”

“When did this happen? When did they decide they were moving?” Pleaded Gabe.

“Oh, they only just found out. The dad got an incredible job offer he just couldn’t refuse that starts on Monday, so they’re taking what they can now and sending for the rest later.” Never had he had such a shit day, least of all on a Saturday! Rage was beginning to build inside him. He was conflicted, should he keep going and get to her no matter how hard it got, or give up on her because no girl could be worth his sanity? Surely it couldn’t get worse in one day? That couldn’t be possible? And didn’t he owe it to her and himself to at least try?

“You look a bit conflicted there buddy. Everything ok?” Said the neighbour.

“Oh, uh. No, not really. I love Chelsea and I was coming here to tell her that. I finally got up the courage to ask her out and she’s moving halfway across the world. Just my luck.”

“Oh really?…. You know what, how about I take you to the airport? You seem like a sweet kid and I’m a sucker for a grand romantic gesture. If we leave now we can catch them.”

“Really?” Maybe his luck was changing after all.

“Sure, but you’ll have to hold onto me and I don’t have a second helmet so, just hold on extra tight I guess.” The neighbour shrugged like it meant nothing but Gabe wasn’t convinced. He started thinking about what would happen if he just went home now. Called it in. 

He’d go home, put the record away somewhere he’d never see it again and go on with life like it had never happened. And then his heart started to ache. It started to throb painfully like it had been beaten and bruised, barely able to stand let alone beat along to the rhythm of life. So he said to the neighbour, “ok, let’s do this,” hoping beyond all else as he hopped on the bike, that he wouldn’t regret doing this and that this girl was worth all the trouble. Oh god, what if she said no?! He tried to tell the neighbour to not worry and let him off now, forgetting this whole thing had ever happened, but he’d already started the engine and before Gabe could panic too much, the bike was off, leaving those anxious thoughts behind him as he started to severely panic about staying on the bike instead.

After all, didn’t he owe it to himself to see this through? Plus running to the airport to catch the one you love before they leave is the most romantic gesture anyone can ever make. Suddenly Gabe actually started to feel confident, like he could do this, like he wasn’t completely insane to keep going. To hell with it, he was gonna give her a chance, because what did he have to lose?

It turns out, he could lose a lot more than he thought.

They were driving full pelt through the airport traffic, weaving in and out of cars and Gabe wasn’t sure he felt safe anymore.

“Uh, are you sure this is safe?” Screamed Gabe.

“Huh? Oh yeah, totally. Don’t worry I’ve been riding for years. Only ever had one very minor accident so no need to worry, I’m an expert.”

“Wait, what?!” Screamed Gabe again, this time a bit more panicked. But his voice seemed to get pulled out of him and left behind as they sped up yet again. It was difficult for him to concentrate on anything other than holding on. His hands were turning white and his fingers were sore from gripping each other around the neighbour’s waist. But then he started to slow down a bit, in fact he was matching the pace of the car next to them. He looked over and sure enough there she was, there was Chelsea. Dressed in one of her dowdiest dresses she looked a bit sad in the backseat and then suddenly very angry? She looked like she was strangling something in her lap. What could ever make someone so kind and positive so angry and sad? She threw her Nintendo 3DS aside, having just lost to one of the biggest bosses, Ganendorf of the Zelda games. 

He was so entranced by her and couldn’t stop staring. She was starting to turn her head towards them when they suddenly sped up again. The traffic had cleared ahead of them and the Neighbour now had a clear shot forward again. They were going to beat them there, they were actually going to do it! Elated, Gabe felt the confidence oozing from him and immediately corrected his posture, reflecting how tall he felt inside, just as the neighbour shouted, “duck!”

“What did you-” replied Gabe as the top of his head was very closely skimmed by a dangerously low hanging sign. 

Shock spread through his body. What on earth just happened? Surely whatever it was had just missed him, right? He felt the top of his head and felt a bit of blood and a whole lot of stubble. He started to shriek at the top of his lungs.

“What, what’s wrong? You did duck didn’t you?”

“What happened to my head?!” Gabe screamed back at him. The neighbour pulled over and turned around to face him, barely able to hold back the laughter. “Nice haircut.” He sniggered. Gabe grabbed his phone from his pocket and turned on selfie mode. He had a massive bold patch in the middle of his head, his shoulder length hair still dangling around the sides. He looked like a very creepy 40 year old man who never grew past puberty. The neighbour was now doubled over with laughter. 

Gabe was truly ready to give in, but for some reason he felt as though he had already sacrificed so much, surely nothing worse could happen than this? Surely he owed it to himself and his possible future wife to keep going and see it all through? So he formulated an action plan.

First they got off the freeway and headed to the nearest hairdresser for a quick shave. Inside the hairdresser asked, “what on earth happened to you?” To which Gabe replied, “too much. Now please shave quickly, we’ve got a plane to catch.” So she did and they were out of there like a flash, heading to the next location, a motorbike shop right next to the freeway entrance, where the neighbour who Gabe had only just found out was actually named Enrique, bought a second helmet for him and any future passengers of the back of his motorcycle. Finally prepared to face whatever came next, Gabe and Enrique sped off, determined to catch Chelsea and her family at the airport.

Gabe Shouldn’t have been surprised at all really, given Enrique’s track record, but they somehow managed to catch up to them at the airport. Gabe was truly shocked to see that they were parking in the short term car park. This job must really be something if they’re willing to pay over $100 for parking.

Enrique and Gabe followed closely behind until Gabe found the perfect moment to strike. She was waiting in line with her parents and their single suitcase. Gabe ran up to her as quickly as he could and said, “Hey.” Chelsea whipped around in shock and couldn’t stop smiling when she saw his face. “Wow, what happened to your hair? It’s not my birthday, so why the nice surprise?” She started giggling at her own cheekiness as Gabe went bright red from the compliment. “Are you going on a holiday somewhere? And what is Enrique doing here?” She asked him. Gabe couldn’t stop smiling, not now that he was in her presence. He barely even paid attention to what she’d just said. He was too busy focussing on her dewy lips and her deep blue-green eyes. He couldn’t keep it in any longer, not after all he’d been through. Like a flood of emotion it all spilled out of him, “Chelsea, I love you please don’t go to America!” Everyone in the line was a bit shocked but seemed to be mostly excited. After all, they might get to see one of those incredibly rare and romantic moments that are usually only reserved for rom-coms. Gabe’s plan was working.

Chelsea stood there gaping at him, trying to process a reaction in real time. Her parents were looking on, very confused at what they were seeing. Chelsea was so frozen she didn’t say anything for a very awkward and long minute. So her mum chimed in for her instead, “she’s not going to America yet. Her dad’s heading over now but we’re going to stay back until Chelsea finishes the year at school.” Quite chuffed with herself and proud of her daughter growing up so quickly, she moved back into position watching over her daughter, effectively handing over the baton to Gabe. And with that last comment Enrique sauntered off towards the corner, blending into the background as inconspicuously as he could.

Chelsea lurched towards Gabe so quickly the look on his face made it seem as though she’d literally jumped out of her own skin in order to launch herself at him. She assaulted his lips so violently the look of surprise turned into a look that screamed, ‘get me out of here!’ and then he started to relax, and she started to relax as the tension seemed to seep out of them both as they melded together, unable to break each other’s grasp. Chelsea’s parents looked on, unsure what to do. After a minute of watching them kiss, they tried their best to drag them apart, but it was like they were super glued together. 

Needless to say after that grand romantic gesture they became boyfriend and girlfriend. They were ridiculously happy and spent most of their time making out and listening to the Beatles. Unfortunately it only lasted a month.

3 Little Words

Curiosity Killed the Pirate

Words to include: speed, piracy, sustain.

Breath, just breath. Try to sustain this life for just a little longer. I keep trying and trying but he won’t respond, no matter how fast I pump my hands against his chest. I didn’t want this, I never did. All I ever wanted was to see the stars and now I’m stuck floating through space trying to stop the collateral damage from growing even further. That’s what happens when you hire a bunch of apes to be your crew. I guess it also comes with the territory. After all, piracy always seemed like fun, like a grand swash-buckling adventure through space. But now I know it’s less about fun and more survival. It’s a player’s game, one where the winner takes all and the losers are left to scrounge for scraps, and those who didn’t know they were on the game board usually die. It’s the way of the game, and I’ve never liked that.

As I try to keep this man alive I can see everyone else searching and looting to their heart’s content. I watch them as they grab gems and rare jewels, paintings and strange gizmos. Through the corner of my eye I see a crack in the wall slowly expand until an eye pokes through. Meeting my own eye it panics and quickly shuts the wall, but not quite. My curiosity starts to build, god I love this feeling. After all, the curiosity, the adventure, those are the reasons I became a pirate, and there’s no way I’m gonna miss out just to try and save someone who’s already dead.

I get up and leave him behind, he’s been gone for a while. And it’s not like I killed him. No I just tried to help him. I’m the good Samaritan here. Surely I deserve a little fun and whatever juicy goodies are behind that door. Surely? 

I reach the door and slowly push on it. The wall opens up revealing a very disgruntled scientist holding a crowbar. Such an amateur.

“Get back! Get off my ship! None of this is yours!”

“You do know how piracy works, right? We take over a ship, claim it as our own and then we own whatever’s inside. Simple, isn’t it?”

“This is my life’s work, you can’t have it!” He yells as he begins to charge at me. So rude. I side step with ease and he falls to the ground in a heap, hitting his head on the crowbar as he goes. Too easy. I get why he was so adamant about it though, this stash is impressive. So many rare minerals, but what for? There’s a strange cylinder in the centre of the room. It seems to be powered by the rare gems and minerals stored throughout the ship. Interesting…

“Hey, Decter! Come help me with these. We need to get them on the ship now. I want to do some tinkering.”

“Yes Captain Cat.”

“Be a good boy and grab the scientist too. He could prove to be a stimulating conversationalist, unlike you lot.”

“Yes Captain.”

“You really should learn to stand up for yourself Decter, that was an insult.”

“Yes Captain.”

“Like talking to a brick wall…”

3 Little Words

Don’t Cry War

Words to include: major, frighten, crowd

The major was nervous. He couldn’t understand why, he’d never been nervous before in fact he wasn’t sure he’d ever really felt any emotion. At least not as intense as this. So why start feeling now after so many great years of being as dull as a brick? It was just a simple speech after all, not even a full one more like relaying a message to a large group of people. But why couldn’t they have picked someone else? Literally anyone else would have been better.

The major paced up and down his tent trying to work through his nervous energy. As he paced he tried to get rid of his sternness but no matter how hard he tried to look happy, the harsh lines on his face wouldn’t give and turned every smile into a deep scowl.

“Sir.” A young soldier had walked into the tent, saluting and coming to attention as he announced himself.

“At ease soldier. What is it?” Said the major in his trademark gravelly, grating voice, that sounded as though he had smoked his whole life, even though he’d never actually been near one let alone put one near his lips. In fact he was so anti-smoking that he had put a camp-wide ban on it. Everyone had just thought he was trying really hard to quit the damn things.

“Sir, everyone is gathered near the flagpole as requested.” Said the soldier.

“Thank you Private, you may go and join them.”

“Sir yes sir!” Replied the private as he saluted and backed out of the tent, never letting his gaze wander from the Major. He really hated it when they did that, too creepy.

The nervousness still there the Major kept pacing until he finally gave it up as a futile act and bit the bullet to join the crowd he had just assembled. He stood directly beneath the flagpole and began to address them, his inner drill sergeant coming to the surface as a coping mechanism for his nervousness.

“TROOPS, I HAVE SOME IMPORTANT NEWS TO SHARE DIRECTLY FROM THE GENERAL. THE WAR IS OVER, PACK YOUR BAGS AND GO HOME!”

The crowd stared at him, surprised at what had just come out of his mouth. Then they all started to click into place, as though understanding something on a group level.

“Very funny Major, very funny.” Said one soldier.

“Yeah, is this some kind of test? You know we’re devoted to the cause or we wouldn’t be here.” Piped up another.

“Yeah!” Shouted the rest of them in acknowledgement. The Major didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t prepared for this eventuality, so he tried his best to get them to believe him.

“NO, I’M BEING SERIOUS.”

“Yes sir, we know. You’re only setting is serious. That’s why it’s so horrible for you to come up with such a joke. What’s wrong with you?” Replied the Private from earlier at the tent.

“Yeah, some sick test sir. What do you want us to do? March out there now and prove ourselves to you, is that it?” Rebuked another.

“WHAT? NO! I’M TELLING THE TRUTH, I PROMISE!” With the panic set into his voice, that was the final straw for the crowd of soldiers. Shaking their heads as they went they picked up their weapons and Marched towards the nearly empty battlefield. Panic turning into Fright, the Major chased after them trying to grab their guns and stop them from leaving, but they only looked more and more angry at him with every aimless attempt.

As they were marching out of camp the General, a big, burly, happy chap who quite resembled Santa Claus drove towards them, quite clearly overflowing with joy. He asked the first soldier, “where are you all going?”

“To war sir. The Major is testing us and we don’t know why.” The soldier replied.

“Well that’s preposterous, especially since I told him to relay to you that the war is over! So drop your guns, grab a beer and lets rejoice that it’s finally over!” Cheered the General. And suddenly it was like the second coming of Christmas. Guns were flying everywhere as soldiers threw them aside to join in the festivities. They ran through beer as though there were more than double the men actually there, and somehow they managed to find a glittering disco ball and some lights. No one knew where they had come from but they strung them up on the tree branches anyway and danced beneath the stars, as they partied like there wouldn’t be a war tomorrow, which for once was actually true.

As the Major tried to join the crowd everyone jeered and scowled at him. When he thought he would be safer next to the General, he said to him while shaking his head, “you know John, that was a really sick joke you played on your men. Next time you really should take it seriously and just tell them the truth.” The Major was about to reply, but the words got lost in his mouth and all he could find was a nod. So he nodded in agreement with the General and joined in the festivities, taking it one small step at a time to show his emotions. Or at least that was the plan until he started very violently dancing the jive in his excitement. For the first time in his life he actually smiled. Shock rippled through the crowd as they never thought he could even do anything other than scowl. But that shock soon turned into ecstatic happiness as the whole crowd gained twice as much energy. After all if a grouch like that could be happy, what was stopping them?

3 Little Words

Playing the Wrong Game

Words to include: clash, screen, knife

You look in the mirror, you’re a beautiful young woman with cascading brown hair that ripples in waves down from your head. You look good and well put together, amazing considering you were just cooking the whole day, but you finally feel ready to surprise her. You pick up the cake you’ve just finished baking and take a big whiff. She’ll surely love this, all that chocolatey goodness. And you’ve really outdone yourself with this cursive. Never has happy birthday looked so delicious in writing. You pick up the large kitchen knife you want to cut the cake with and walk towards the table where a cake sized hole lays in waiting, amidst the rest of the delicious dinner you’ve set out for her. The door opens and you shout “surprise!” Only to be so surprised yourself that you drop the knife and the cake you’ve been slaving over for the past 2 hours. 

“What is he doing here?! He’s your ex Cherie”.

Do you:

a. Steel yourself and fight for the woman you love 

b. Pack your bags and leave 

c. Wait for the woman you love to love you back 

d. Be a good host and greet your new guest.

3 Little Words

The Pianist

Words to include: twitch, guilt, bow.

It’s always the same dream. It’s the end of my performance, I stand up from the piano stool and bow as they cheer for me, but as I raise myself out of the bow, I find myself doing it all over again, making my way to the edge of stage, bowing perfectly, getting the applause. It happens over and over and over, until finally I’m just standing there, bent half over as they all cheer relentlessly at me.

I wake up, startled and twitching. I jump out of my bed, trying to regain the feeling of control, shake away the discomfort, but when I finally feel a sense of relief that I’m in my home and not up there, I feel so guilty. Guilty that I could feel such a way about my performances. After all, my mum sacrificed so much to get me here. Growing up she was the only one there for me, dad was long gone, and she always took care of me no matter what. One day, at an OP shop buying me clothes, I found a keyboard and started to play a short tune. It was the song playing on the radio that I’d never heard before, and suddenly I felt as though I knew every note. I was 4 at the time, but that didn’t stop her from saving up enough money to buy me a keyboard and some lessons as well.

She loved watching me play. It made her proud and it made me happy to make her happy. Every performance was for her, but the older I got, the more I fell in love with science and mathematics. My mum couldn’t understand why I would rather spend my time solving chemical equations, instead of playing the piano and sharing my ‘gift’ with the world. Every birthday it was new sheet music, or a book on how to tune a piano, never a scientific calculator, like I’d asked for. For my 18th birthday she even bought me a baby grand piano. She’d been saving for it since I was 6, when she realised I was gifted, and she’d finally accumulated enough savings to buy it for me on my 18th birthday. After that, I just couldn’t let her down. I had to keep playing, for her, for her sacrifice. So I crossed the globe to attend Julliard and make her proud. Now I work as a concert pianist. I have been for the past 20 years. Every concert was easy, knowing that I was doing it for her, to make her proud. But now, now every concert is like that dream. The monkey doing his tricks over and over again… if only she were still here, then it would be so much easier, then I’d know what to do.

It’s been 6 months, and I got back on the piano stool for the first time today, only because of financial obligations. Thousands of people have already booked tickets, and I couldn’t bring myself to let them down, let alone stomp on my mother’s memory.

Her last words to me were, “I’m so proud of you, my little pianist.” And yet, ever since then I’ve only been thinking about whether or not she was wrong. I’ve been a concert pianist for so long, I can’t remember who I was before that, who I am without it. I gave my whole self over to her, and now I’m lost without her. Go figure.

And yet, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, signs of a way out of these lost woods. It would mean giving up everything I’ve ever known, ever been, letting go of everything she was ever proud of. And yet, the more it stews around in there, the more appealing the idea seems to become. The more the me, without piano, without her, comes into the light. And I like the look of me, without her. I like the person I could become, without her. Surely she knew I’d have to move on at some point in our lives?

She’s not here anymore, she doesn’t have a say. I know that sounds selfish, but how else can I move on, be me, without her?

3 Little Words

The Messenger

Words to include: deliver, gate, reject

“Arm the battlements! Close the gate!”

“Wait, what? Sir, please I need to deliver this letter, it’s urgent!”

“Your problem, not ours.”

“But it’s a direct message to the king, from her royal highness the Duchess of Cornwall! You know, his daughter?”

“Oh well, in that case…” the two guards finally looked him in the eye and simply sniggered and laughed in his face. Today was not a good day for Roger, although lately there hardly ever was a good day. You see, Roger worked as a royal messenger for the Duchess of Cornwall, and she had some very strange ideas of how to use his services. Last week she’d told him to go into the swamp and yell at it for being so disgusting and useless, in the hopes that it would simply collect itself and move away. The week before that she’d told him to go to every man in the kingdom named Steve and tell him that he was an asshole and would regret what he had done to her. And just yesterday, she had told him to go into the woods and find the strange old hag who lived there, to tell her that she should stop bugging the Duchess in her beautiful castle, because she was apparently jealous of her, that she had succeeded where the hag had failed. Whatever that meant. So, of course, the hag said to Roger, “I curse you! I curse you and your message so that you may go back to your mistress and tell her, that she too is now cursed!”

“What kind of curse?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, are we talking about the classic, turn you into a toad curse, or something more specific, or perhaps detrimental to her wellbeing?”

“Ah, well, I guess I never really thought about that. How the curse could be a fitting, meaningful punishment. You’re right, I was just going to go with the classic toad curse, but I think this time I might spice things up a little. Yeah! Let’s try something new for a change!”

“Good on you! That’s the spirit!”

“I curse you and your message to be laughed at for all eternity!”

“Wait, what? You’re cursing me?”

“Well yeah, then you transfer the curse to her, right?”

“I guess so, I mean you’re the witch, you should know these things.”

“Oh, so that’s how it is then! Be off with you, you pig. Oh woops, sorry.” And with the wave of her hand, Roger turned from a pig back into a human again, and he began his journey back up to the Duchess and her castle.

At the castle, Roger was greeted with copious amounts of laughter, so much so that no one would let him in because they were simply laughing too hard. Roger stood there, waiting for them to stop for what seemed like hours, until he heard something from the other side of the gate.

“Has anyone seen the royal messenger? Roger was it? He’s behind the gate? We’ll stop laughing and nodding like idiots and let him in! He’s got an urgent message to deliver to the king.”

So the gates were finally opened for him, and he was greeted by the lady in waiting, Theresa. She was so shockingly beautiful, that Roger couldn’t help but stare. She locked eyes with him, and was doubled over in hysterics within seconds. Never has a bubble of affection, popped so quickly or so hard for poor Roger. He snatched the letter out of her hands and left in a bit of a tizzy, muttering under his breath as he went, “ungrateful ingrates, how would they feel having to do this job? No one seems to care about all the hard work I’ve put in, my dedication. And why won’t they stop laughing?!”

So Roger set out on the road again, to diligently deliver the letter he was so unceremoniously charged with, because, of course, that was his job.

Which brings us back to the gate Roger had just been rejected at, the gate to the Kingdom’s capital, Kartinia, on his way to see the king. The two guards manning the gate, we’re trying so hard to hold back their laughter, but every time he showed them the message or looked them in the eye, they balled over in hysterics. So, of course, Roger came up with a terribly cunning plan to get into the city, past the gate and into the king’s presence so that he could finally deliver his message. He shouted to the guards, “good! I see you enjoy my jokes. You see, I seek employment behind the walls of Kartinia, as a jester. I was the greatest jester in the land of Cornwall, and I seek an audience with the king to prove my worth as a loyal subject.”

The guards, still laughing, turned to each other and in one look, seemed to agree that he was the funniest thing they had ever seen, and immediately let him in. Everyone they walked past, as they led Roger to the royal court, nearly fell over they were laughing so hard. The guards couldn’t believe that they’d found such a gold mine, as they led Roger to the castle. Such a gold mine he was, they began to daydream about the kinds of promotions such a find would get them. The taller guard dreamt of being knighted and sent off to guard a small town on the coast, that seemed to only be inhabited by beautiful, young women. The other guard dreamt of working atop the same gate, in the same guard tower, except this time with a large, very comfortable leather recliner. They both sighed with glee, thinking of how this one, very strange man, would be the ticket to all of their biggest dreams coming true.

In the throne room, the king was meeting with his subjects in most need, passing on his wisdom and making judgements to hopefully solve their problems, when the taller guard burst in, laughing uncontrollably.

“What is the meaning of this?” The king asked.

“Sorry your highness. It is just that we have found a very promising new jester for you. We haven’t been able to stop laughing since we met him!”

“We? Aren’t you from the gate? Are you telling me that both of you buffoons have left your post to show me some jester? Is anyone manning our gates?!”

“Hm? Oh, I guess not.” And at that, two guards ran straight out of the room, towards the gate, while another two apprehended the guards originally from said gate, dragging them down to the dungeon for abandoning their post. At this, Roger thought it would be the perfect time to announce himself to the room. He took one step in and immediately, the room was incapacitated by laughter. Even the king could barely move he was laughing so hard. So Roger walked forward, and kept walking until he was face to face with the king. Some of the guards were fighting against their own laughter, crawling along the floor to try and protect their king, but the laughter was too strong. Roger gently placed the letter on the king’s lap and turned around to leave. The King, barely able to speak through the laughter kept trying to say, “stop him!”, “apprehend him!” and “capture him!” but never really managed to string the full sentence together. The guards, attempted to crawl after him, but no one could catch him, because as soon as they knew where he was, they couldn’t stop laughing at him.

Having done his job, Roger left Kartinia in his dust and resolved it would probably be best to live a simple life, on a farm somewhere, where no one would be incapacitated by simply looking at him. And at that, he walked off into the sunset, dumbfounded at how his life could’ve changed so quickly.

Meanwhile in the throne room, all the hullabaloo finally calming down, the king opened the letter that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and found this simple note inside, ‘Dear dad, I hate you, you suck. Love, your daughter Lydia, Duchess of Cornwall.’ Never had the king experienced a stranger day in his life.

3 Little Words

Everest

Words to include: cheque, death, climb

Floating above everything, yet standing still. Clouds, normally voluminous and misshapen, create a flat, welcoming bed to walk on, jump on and bounce. The sun splits the horizon, slowly rising above the clouds to join them. This is what every day on Everest is like. Why would he ever want to leave?

Jay had started the climb only last week, but already he felt at home staring out at the cathedral that is the sky. Everyone he knew had told him he would die if he did it, but he cashed his cheque anyway and joined the group who’d hired him as one of their guides. You see, Jay had never climbed Everest before. Sure, he’d climbed many large mountains his whole life, but never the mammoth that is Everest. He was cocky enough to believe that those small experiences added up to an Everest, but he was wrong. It was so much better up here than anywhere else. The town’s, the cities, himself even, were so much smaller up here, that the world seemed to take over completely, nature rewriting itself.

The climb up was glorious. The higher they went, the harder it was to breath and climb, and yet it somehow became more and more beautiful the further they went. Untouched and wild. Every step Jay took, he felt as though he was walking on hallowed ground, so was always sure to tread lightly. The others couldn’t care less. You see, Jay was only one member of a four person climbing party. He, the translator and experienced climber, and a local guide who only spoke Nepali (clearly not paid well enough for his dangerous work), the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company and a hedge fund founder/manager. The CEO and hedge fund guy had never climbed a real mountain in their lives, but for some reason they thought themselves capable of climbing the largest mountain in the world simply because their personal trainer told them they could, or possibly because everyone had told them they couldn’t. These men seemed like the kind of people who would risk everything to prove a point, especially if that point was that they were better than everyone else.

That night they set up camp on a small plateau. CEO and Hedge Fund, as Jay liked to refer to them, were celebrating inside the large tent at their successes so far, but Jay sat outside the tent, simply staring up at the sky. They were lucky, tonight was a beautiful, clear night. The stars were on brilliant display, and the moon hovered just above the clouds, making them look like a pool of silvery white. Jay heard a clink from inside the tent that seemed to echo throughout the mountainous cathedral of the Himalayas. The guide, shocked ran into the tent and started shout whispering at the men. He was warning them of an avalanche. I rushed to the face of the tent to translate just as they had grabbed the guide a glass of champagne too, and clinked it for him. And that was when the rumbling started.

“What was that?” Said the CEO.

“That, is the sound of an avalanche, which he was trying to warn you about” replied Jay, as the guide bolted out of the tent.

“Come on, we’ve got to get out of its path!” Said Jay. But for the first time on the peak, CEO and Hedge Fund froze. They started grabbing everything they could carry, but Jay grabbed the satellite phone, their ice picks and as much rope as he could carry, before dragging them out of there.

“But my phone! All of my work and ideas are in there!” Screamed the CEO. Jay replied, “Well, you should of thought of that before you brought it with you. Now come on! We’ve got to move.”

They ran across the plateau straight for the cliff at the other side. Their guide was already there, using some ropes to dangle off the side, out of the avalanches path. Jay grabbed the ropes and made a similar rig for Hedge Fund before moving onto the CEO, but when he looked back, the CEO wasn’t there anymore. He’d run back to the tent for his phone. Jay thought of yelling after him, but the sight of the avalanche stopped him, it was almost upon them. In seconds it would claim everything in its path. Hedge Fund started to yell, but Jay quickly shushed him, pointing to the snow above their heads. He waited and waited for the CEO, but the avalanche was almost there and he hadn’t even come out of the tent yet. Jay harnessed himself up and swung off the cliff, Joining the others as they silently watched the tent being claimed by the avalanche.

They dangled there and watched as the snow tumbled down the mountain, claiming more and more as it went. It was so huge, as it had passed them, Jay felt as miniscule as a mouse in a two story house. And yet, he was in complete awe. Something so beautiful, and somehow incredibly devastating was tumbling down the mountain side, rewriting everything that was in its path, reclaiming it and washing it anew, giving the tallest mountain in the world a fresh, clean slate. It made Jay think of possibilities, second chances and a new life for himself. He could forget about everything in his life and simply be reclaimed by nature. The more he looked out at the pristine landscape the more he wanted to discover what those possibilities were.

Until Hedge Fund broke him out of his trance, “he’s dead. I can’t believe he’s dead.” He was shaking uncontrollably and his gaze hadn’t left the spot where their tent had been for almost 5 minutes. Jay took out the satellite phone and called down to the rescue team. It would be much too dangerous to go back the way they had come.

The rescue team got them out safely. They got back to the base camp and Hedge Fund was still shook. The look on the guide’s face told Jay this happened all the time and that he definitely wasn’t paid enough for the kind of toll it was putting on him. So Jay walked straight up to him and asked, “where do I sign up?”.

3 Little Words

Rabbit Hole

Words to include: Compromise, Hardship, Hole

There’s a hole, deep down in the back of his garden. After all, with a garden that’s acres and acres, there’s bound to be a few holes. But to Tommy, this one was different. It was big enough to go somewhere. Tommy was the adventurous member of the family, and spent most of his days staring at that hole, contemplating what could be down there. His mother would always chastise him, saying “surely you know there’s nothing really down there darling, surely?” But still he persisted.

You see, to Tommy, that hole wasn’t just a hole, it was a vessel for possibility. One day, Tommy finally got the chance to have a good look down the hole. Look deep into its soul. But all he could see was dirt and small roots. His mother said she’d told him so, that there could never really be anything interesting at the bottom of a hole. But for Tommy, what his mother called dirt was freshly turned soil, and what she called nothing and nowhere, was something and somewhere to Tommy. It was anywhere. And every time he looked at that hole, he imagined all of the possible places he could be, that weren’t where he was, because to him, his room, his house, his crutches were the real nothing and nowhere, and if there was a hole, that meant someone had to have made it. Something had to have escaped, and he wanted to know how.

You see, Tommy wasn’t a bad egg, he loved his mum and his family, but he was a dreamer. And to Tommy, the idea of being born, living and dying on the same farm, the same tiny dot on the world, was like being imprisoned. And the fact that he was unable to get anywhere without his crutches, made it even worse. Sure, it was a nice prison with people he loved, but every time he looked out the window all he could see were the possibilities of everywhere else but here.

Endless possibilities of different states, countries, world’s even. He dreamt of being abducted by kind aliens who took him back to their world, which looked suspiciously like ours, only brighter, more colourful and with technology so advanced they could make him walk again. Right now he was dreaming about a massive underground city run by, “rabbits” his mum said. ‘No, not rabbits’, thought Tommy, ‘more like’, “rabbits! We’ve got a rabbit infestation Charlie!” His mum was quite adamant that it was in fact rabbits for some reason. Tommy tried to pipe up and tell her, clearly it wasn’t rabbits, when she plopped one down in Tommy’s lap. She’d found a small rabbit, not just young, but seemingly the runt of the litter. The poor thing had sprained its foot and was unable to hop. It was completely immobilised because of a leg injury. Tommy knew how that felt. Tommy decided to care for it, then and there. He’d get it back to strength and then set it free. At least one of them would get out of this place.

The first few days were hard, the rabbit was living in Tommy’s room until his uncle Charlie finished building a hutch behind the house, and it kept trying to run away, knowing it couldn’t and instead injuring itself further. Tommy worked hard to build a rapport with the rabbit, to become it’s friend and trusted by it. It took about a week before the rabbit let Tommy pick it up without trying to bolt. After two weeks, the rabbit started letting Tommy feed it with a bottle directly into its mouth. Until finally, after a month, the rabbit could hop again. It was so happy, it couldn’t stop hopping and jumping around the room, and yet, when Tommy took it outside to the grass, it froze. It felt the grass beneath its feet, saw its own hole to freedom, and froze. The rabbit looked back at him, expectantly. It hopped back over to him and stared at him, waiting to find out what to do next. Tommy loved the rabbit, he’d spent the past month caring for its every need, but now he knew he couldn’t let it be like him, he couldn’t trap it here just to be with him and keep him company in his self-made prison. So he did what he had to. Conjuring the meanest look he could, he stared back at the bunny and stomped as hard as he could right in front of it. The rabbit jumped back, shocked, but it’s still wasn’t enough, so he screamed at it. The rabbit bolted straight down the nearest hole and Tommy felt a wave of relief. The rabbit had made it, they had escaped and started their journey home.

Watching the rabbit disappear like that, Tommy started to think about being abducted by the kind aliens again, until something strange happened. The rabbit was there, big and strong again, showing him the way forward. It was hard following with his crutches, but he soon found it easier, until he barely noticed them. Every other time he’d had this day dream, he’d mysteriously lost his crutches in the space ship, but now he was stronger, and they felt like a part of him, not something worth rejecting any more. He’d finally come to a vital realisation. He turned to go back to the house and tell his mum, but she was already there, watching him with a worried expression, “everything ok love? I know you really cared for Rabbitty.”

“Yeah, everything’s great actually. Mum, don’t take this the wrong way, but I want to go to boarding school, by myself, somewhere amazing and not here. I know it will take a while to get strong enough to do that by myself, but I want to work towards it. After all, if Rabbitty can come back from that injury with care and support, so can I.”

His mum ran towards him and hugged him, crying. He’d finally done it, he’d finally broken her, Tommy thought. But he was wrong, they were tears of joy as she said to him, “took you long enough.”