Notion Press Malaysia Short Story Contest 2017

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Bora Bora
Published on 09-12-2017 07:36 AM

 

“This is the story of Laura and how she died. So listen close and listen hard cause Laura’s was a fun story that suddenly got caught up in shit storm and what’s even better about the story is how she shoved through it.

Laura blinked. Once. Then her eyelids lost control and started fluttering like she was having...Learn More  “This is the story of Laura and how she died. So listen close and listen hard cause Laura’s was a fun story that suddenly got caught up in shit storm and what’s even better about the story is how she shoved through it. Laura blinked. Once. Then her eyelids lost control and started fluttering like she was having a seizure. She smacked her hand over her eyes only briefly flinching over the mess her makeup is going to end up in. She also chastised herself for thinking of makeup at a crucially shitty moment like this. The man across the table frowned. He cleared his throat. As he opened his mouth to say something, Laura stood up and turned to the door briskly. Her vision blackened with tiny sparks. In the panic of passing out and dying right there, Laura leaped back to the chair she was sitting on and plonked her head onto the table. The man looked calm as though he’s used to it. Maybe this is how people normally react. The man tries again. “Laura, I know that it’s tough to hear but -” “I never knew this would happen to me?” Laura’s statement came out as a high-pitched question. “I’m so sorry.” She claps her hands on her chest. “Cancer! Me? I’m 27!” “I’m afraid so,” Dr Harris had answered. The sympathy in his voice did not come up on his face. Laura was sure she was going to either pass out or throw up right on the table. She did both. She woke up with a wet towel over her forehead and the residual vomit taste still sour in her mouth. A cup of water was thrust in her face and she sat up, accepting it gratefully. Laura’s eyes scanned the room as she drank the water. Everybody’s there. Mom, Gramma, Ed (God, why’s Ed here! We broke up months ago!), Ed’s parents (?!) and Amos. Amos?! They let dogs in here? Unless Gramma smuggled him in, inside her handbag. Laura felt an eye roll coming and she didn’t even try stopping it. The stupid doctor opened his stupid mouth and blabbed, didn’t he? She groaned. “Oh, does doctor-patient confidentiality privacy thing mean nothing to any of you?” Ed rubbed her back. Laura rolled her shoulders in a discreet attempt to brush him off then just sighed loudly when he wouldn’t stop. Gramma stepped up, “Laury, That’s no way to treat your man. Have some manners. People came from all over to see you.” “Not that I asked for any of that,” Laura muttered. No one heard her but Ed (Who’s right next to her). He frowned then flashed his kind eyes at her. Laura knew at that very point that if she were to stick around, there’s gonna be a whole lot of chemo and a whole lot of sympathy and a whole lot of this family. She closed her eyes and just breathes for a minute. Everyone had already moved on from her situation being hers. They’ve already taken over. Ed’s talking about her halfway done Master’s Degree which Laura realizes that she’d de be dead before she graduates. Gramma’s talking about marriage before death redeeming Laura of her sins. (Laura was a respectable student who tried hard to please her parents while fighting off her closeted depression alone. Never did any drugs and ran away from smokers). Her mom is already kneeling on the floor, simultaneously praying and crying. The dog was obviously confused, maybe hungry cause he was chewing on a newspaper. Ed was still puppy-eyeing her. Laura opens her eyes and looks out the window, slight tears in her eyes with the thought of an early and somewhat... definitely, unfair death (she worked out and donated and ate her broccolis. Fucking unfair!). In a brief moment of sudden chaos, as though time had come to a slow-motion, Laura sees her dad. Her very dead, only-friend-in-the-whole-world dad, who had died 4 years ago. Like a cliché ending of a sad movie, her dad glowed, smiled and then whispered, “Go!” at her. Laura gaped at him, her brain not working at all. She frowned at ‘go’, head tilting as she couldn’t gather enough brain cells to even begin to understand. She saw what her dad was saying but between the loud background and the sudden appearance of her father’s ghost and cancer news, things were snailing. Laura’s never stepped off that safe pedestal ever. She was constantly coddled and told what to do with herself, studies and the entirety of life. No matter how much venom she spat at her family, Laura was always afraid of leaving that safe, suffocating cocoon. She sat there for a few seconds, stunned, as though her brain wheels were slowly starting up again and then her eye widen. On any day, that would’ve been a crazy thought, an unachievable fantasy. But that day, it was a fucking epiphany. Laura’s dad vanishes into the wind and Laura gags loudly, shoving Ed out of the way while jumping out the bed, towards the bathroom. Everyone watched her move, their mouths never stopping. Then all looks dropped the moment she closed the bathroom door behind her. Then she swiftly opened it back, slowly getting out. She watched all of them, almost 12 of them, cramped up in a room, discussing Laura. Hissing and yelling and crying at each other for Laura. She leaned against the room door. It was Laura’s pie and everybody else got a piece of it but Laura. Laura twisted the doorknob and it squealed but no one paid any attention. She leaves, closing the door as quietly possible and walked out. Maybe it was the third stage cancer getting to her or maybe she just snapped but that day, Laura kept walking. She kept on walking into every ‘EXIT’ sign and then she kept walking. In three hours, she had hitchhiked and landed 2 states away. The cloud in her head slowly cleared and that was when Laura started to look around and draw a plan. She put her hands in the pocket, the right one caressing the purse she had sneaked into her pocket before running away with the vomit farce. She sat at a laundry place and called the bank and got all that shit settled. Then she called her mother who apologized about the cancer to which Laura answered with a laugh (“You didn’t put it in my head, mom!”). Then Laura set out. Out there, the first night she stayed over in an old friend’s house that was luckily half hour away. The old friend was very confused but accommodating and nice. The next morning, Laura got some money out, got a plane ticket that was the cheapest to any destination out the country and landed in Vietnam. She walked and hitchhiked and Couchsurfed. Basically she travelled, never taking pictures. She knew she’d be dead before there’s time to reminisce. Travelling did something to Laura. It wasn’t all happy fun times and eye-opening sceneries. She had been cold, hungry, got through the five stages of grief over her own impending death over and over again, ate some bizarrely weird stuff, had explosive diarrhea, thought she was definitely dead more than a few times, called her mom and cried, shaved her head in the spur of the moment before reading up on cancer at all and was almost convinced that the doctor misdiagnosed her when no symptoms came up at all (Then a travelling doctor explained something about how certain types of cancers have no symptoms). Laura didn’t travel for the sake of adventure per se. she travelled for the sake of her remaining sanity and identity. Her journeys were taken so that she could live and breathe as a single individual with only her voice in her head with no one’s ideas and hopes tainting them. And when she was writing this, Laura was content. She could be dead and gone and decomposing by now but she definitely made that decision on her own. Her boat sailed in her own direction and she definitely died happy.” The girl, Louise, sniffles and looks at her friend. They had been travelers who had met this girl who was writing in her book by the beach. They both share a little teary-eyed moment then they turn to Laura. “So you’re basically gonna die?” Louise asks, handing the book back and putting her phone down (She used it as a torchlight to read the book in the dark). Laura smiles, repositions her backpack to accommodate her neck better. The sun was slowly rising, giving all of them a soft orange glow. Laura stretches her limbs, then turns to the direction of the girls, “Yeah, but wouldn’t Bora Bora be like the best place to die? This beach, the sand, would be an amazing place to end the whole journey.” She drops the handful of sand she had picked up to emphasize her point. The other girl, Adina, wipes the tears in her eyes. With a sudden, steely gaze, she grabs hold of Louise’s hand then reaches to clutch Laura’s with her other hand. “We’ll live it up and soak it all up. As much as we can.” Louise nods, rather enthusiastically, “As much as we can”. Laura squeezes Alina’s hand back. “You should,” she smiles again, serene. “Now watch the sunrise. Soak it all in.” Alina and Louise look ahead, towards the sun that’s slowly rising. They’re both thinking about the piece that Louise read, Laura’s little story. As all three of them huddle there, watching the sunrise, Alina doesn’t notice, Laura’s hand slowly easing the grip.   She’s gone, with the Bora Bora wind.... Read more

By Shya in
Reader Points: 20
Editor Points: 0
Rank: 251
Views: 103
The Journey of Self-Discovery
Published on 08-29-2017 10:03 PM

“We’re done,” his text said. I looked at my phone in disbelief. We’ve always had a rocky relationship since the beginning. I knew we wouldn’t last but when the time actually came, it still hurts. I’ve always been the one chasing him. For more than a year. It lasted only for two months. “You sulk too much. You don’t trust me. You ...Learn More“We’re done,” his text said. I looked at my phone in disbelief. We’ve always had a rocky relationship since the beginning. I knew we wouldn’t last but when the time actually came, it still hurts. I’ve always been the one chasing him. For more than a year. It lasted only for two months. “You sulk too much. You don’t trust me. You overthink. You get mad easily. I don’t want this anymore,” he continued. I tried talking sense into him but he was adamant. I’ve always hated fighting over texts, I wanted to hear his voice to make sure he meant it. I called him, but he rejected it. “Sean, please pick up,” I begged him. “No, we’re done, for good,” he replied. And he blocked me. I tried calling him, it went straight to voicemail. Texts couldn’t get through. And at that moment, I knew, we’re really over. I sat on my bed and thought about what had happened. I couldn’t cry. I was paralyzed. My mind was numb. After about 20 minutes, I got up, took a shower and started cooking. After lunch, I went back to bed. I was still in disbelief and did not do much that day. The next morning, I got up early and head to my parents’ house, two hours away from my house. I sang my heart out the whole way without a care. That was the only way I knew that could distract me from overthinking. Being home helped me to not think about him. I spent time with my parents and my niece. We played, we laughed. But when the night fell, when alone in bed, I would miss him. We were always talking on the phone every night, even for just five minutes. And now, I couldn’t even see his profile picture. I missed him terribly, but weirdly enough, I couldn’t cry. “I bought a plane ticket to Japan,” I told my parents a few days after being at their place. My mom looked at me questioningly. “When? Who are you going with? Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” my dad asked. “Next month, for two weeks. I’m going alone,” I answered him. My mom didn’t say anything. I told her about Sean when we were seeing each other. I told her about us breaking up. She knew the reason I was going. I wasn’t the type to tell my mom about men I was seeing, and there were a lot but for some reason, I told her about him. Maybe I was desperately hoped that he was the one. I wanted it to be him. I really wanted it to be him. For the next few weeks, I focused on work, making sure everything was completed before my trip. People asked me why I chose Japan, since it was expensive with the currency and all. I’ve been to Japan. I felt safe. People wouldn’t bother you and I needed time on my own. That’s why I decided to go there. Not many people knew about our break up. It wasn’t because I was ashamed. I just thought people need not to know. I only told my mom and close friends. About a week before my flight, I received a text from Ned, a guy I was seeing casually two years ago. It had always been his style, popping in and out of my life randomly when I’m getting over someone. We made small talks and asked about each other. I told him I was leaving for Japan. “You had always like travelling, but this is your first time going alone right?” he asked. Thinking back, it wasn’t. My first trip was three months ago, when I was still with Sean. He texted me on a daily basis to check up on me when I was there. We’ve always talked about travelling together but I guess that’ll never happen now. “No, I went to Hong Kong before on my own,” I answered Ned. “Then I guess you’ll be fine,” he answered. I imagined his sweet and cute smile behind the phone. I shook my head, and reminded myself that I was taking a break from dating for awhile. “Take care of yourself there,” Ned texted me before my flight. Smiling, I looked at my phone and thanked him. He had always been sweet and caring before. His issue was that he didn’t want a commitment just yet. That’s why we never got into a serious relationship before. I was seating next to window and I loved it. I liked seating at the window seat because people wouldn’t bother you. I took out my book and read. The 5-hour flight was smooth and we landed safely in Kansai International Airport. After getting through immigration, I took the airport bus to my first hotel in Kyoto. While waiting for the bus, I texted my mom and Ned to let them know I’ve arrived. The bus progressed through the highway towards the city with a clear view of the sea. I enjoyed looking out and not thinking about anything. It was almost dark when we reached the hotel. As I got myself settled in, I wondered what I could do there on my first night. My room faced a cemetery but it was beautifully decorated. It didn’t seem out of place although it was surrounded by apartment buildings to its left and right. I decided to go out for groceries as I would be staying there for four nights. Although it was dark, I felt safe and secured. The view of the Kyoto Tower was mesmerising. I could see it from a distance as it was brightly lit up. Walking through the back alleys of some of the buildings, I found traditionally designed houses and gates. It amazed me to see most of the houses still maintained the traditional designs in this modern times. I brought back a pack of convenience store’s sushi as I couldn’t find a fresh one nearby. I was too tired from the flight to explore more of the surroundings. I sat down at one of the tables in the hotel’s shared dining area. The TV was on but no one else was there. I took a book from the shelf provided by the hotel and sat down. I ate while reading. After dinner, I went up to my room to get ready for bed. Ned had texted me while I was having dinner, but I left my phone charging in the room. “Everything okay there?” he asked. I told him about I’ve seen today and what I was planning on doing tomorrow. “Sounds like a lot of fun. I wish I’m there with you,” he texted. He did that sometimes. Although deep inside, I knew it was just words. He wouldn’t make a commitment like that, at least not at this moment. “I’m going to bed now. It was a tiring day,” I told him. “Go get some rest. Goodnight and take care,” he said before leaving me to relax. I lied down in bed, trying to sleep. For some reason, I wished I could hear Sean’s voice at that moment. I forced myself to sleep before I start overthinking and crying. The next few days were spent at a lot of temples, parks and castles. The most memorable part of Kyoto was sitting by Kamo River, a long river that flowed through the town with multiple bridges to cross it. The sound of the river flowing felt like music to my ears while reading a book and watching people walking and cycling by. Although it was next to a busy street, the noise of the vehicles did not disturb the peacefulness of the riverside. I spent every evening there, watching people and breathing in the calmness of nature. I did think of Sean for the first few days, then after awhile he somehow got pushed to the back of my mind and didn’t think of him that much. After four nights in Kyoto, I moved to Osaka, taking the train. I mistakenly rode the local train instead of the express one which took me half an hour longer than it should have. But it was a nice experience as I get to see locals, students and working adults getting on and off the train. Good thing I did not have to change tracks to get to Osaka. Unfortunately for me, I knowingly have motion sickness so I couldn’t do much reading on the train, so I just enjoyed the view. I didn’t realize the motion sickness was really bad until I fell asleep immediately once I arrived the hotel. The next day was spent at Universal Studios Japan. At first I was scared to go on any rides, as I was alone and there were a lot of people but just walking around didn’t felt fun. I’ve always avoided going on rides at any theme parks because of my motion sickness but I was in a foreign place, by myself and I thought, “Why not?”. Although the queue was long, I waited and took the best ride of my life. I got on a few more rides and had a lot of fun. I didn’t think about Sean, Ned or any other problems I was having. I spent a few hours there before deciding to go back as it was getting late. I had a lot of fun that I didn’t check my phone until I was resting in bed . A text from Ned was waiting for me and I opened it up. “Hey, what are you doing?” It was sent a few hours ago. “Just got back,” I replied. “Wow! That took a long time for a reply,” he answered me immediately, “What were you doing today?”. I told him about all the things I did for the first time and had a lot of fun. He was proud and supportive. I slept tired and happy after a few more text exchanges. A few more days were spent in Osaka, going to parks and castles. Osaka was a little more hectic compared to Kyoto. I realized that I knew more about myself as I went on this journey alone. One other memorable experience I had in Osaka was going to one of the hot bath houses that were only available in Japan, called onsen. Surprisingly, I was a lot more brave when I was alone. I was nervous, sure, but I went through it anyway. I just thought to myself that I might not have another chance and courage like this again so I just went for it. I felt out of place at first, but the people there, staff and fellow visitors were friendly and did not bother me so I felt comfortable. The final destination I would be heading to was Tokyo. I would be going home after that. It was my first time taking the bullet train and it was an amazing experience. It was expensive, but worth it. I did not manage to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji as it was cloudy but the view along the way was incredible. I got to see the countryside as well as cities. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It took about two and a half hours, instead of an 8-hours bus ride. I had been to Tokyo three years ago so I had covered most of the sites so I spent most time shopping. Since it was my last destination, I did not worry about lugging my heavy luggage as I would head to the airport on my last day. The first time I went to Tokyo was with my best friend and since we had different interests, we compromised on some of the places we wanted to go. Thus, since I was alone now, I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. DisneySea was one of the places I wanted to go as I only went to Disneyland before. DisneySea Japan was the only DisneySea in the world, so naturally I would want to visit there. This was my chance as my friend did not enjoy theme parks very much. There were a lot of people there, although it was on a weekday. The same as Universal Studios I visited earlier, I went on a couple of rides as I was already there. But since there were too many people, and the weather was hot since it was summer time, I left quite early. I still enjoyed my time there, and did not regret going. I would probably stay off theme parks for awhile though. Age was catching up on me and I got tired quickly. The next few days were spent sightseeing the city and shopping. On my last day, after checking out, I went to the airport to drop my luggage. My flight was at midnight so I had half a day more to spent and I chose to visit one last place before I go back home. I had read about a man-made island and it was not far from the airport so I decided to go see. I had always loved beaches, so it would be the perfect place to spend my time while waiting for my midnight flight. The place was called Odaiba and it was beautiful. Although people were not allowed to swim in it, but there were people playing with the sand. One thing I noticed was that there were a lot of people taking their dogs there for a walk, and they would have some sort of photoshoots with their furry friends. The dogs were in clothes and they were very cute. It was fun to sit there and watch people doing their things. After a few hours, I decided to go back to the airport for dinner and get ready for my flight. It had been a very memorable adventure for me. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed and I felt extremely tired. While waiting to board, I texted my parents and Ned. I told him but the flight being delayed and asked him to keep me company. He happily agreed and we chatted for awhile. Before take off, I texted him, “Do you want to be my boyfriend?”. I turned off my phone as I did not want to think about it at that moment. I would read his reply when I get back. On the flight home, I thought about all the adventures I have had and realized I might need some time on my own. I managed to survive in a place where language differences was a problem and was now on my way home. I had always been boy-crazy and at this moment, the only love I needed was love from myself.  I discovered more about myself for the past two weeks and I did not want to ruin the good place I was in. It was time to love myself.... Read more

By Noor Aidelina in
Reader Points: 10
Editor Points: 0
Rank: 291
Views: 84