“And for the last group… Richard, Yvonne, Hubert and Lisa.” Mrs Gill barked out the last grouping and scanned the class with a gaze that pierced Yvonne’s heart. “If there is no objections, all of you can get up and look for your other group members and begin work now.”

Yvonne did not dare to raise a finger against Mrs Gill but silently, she wished she had objected. The students around her left their seats and grabbed their belongings and scrambled in every direction. However, Yvonne remained seated, hesitant to meet her group members, especially Richard, whom she had an uncomfortable history with.

“Hi, are you Yvonne?” A voice came from behind her. “Your name card says so.”

She turned to face a chubby boy with tousled wavy hair who was gesturing towards the name card on her desk. Every student had one.

“My name is Hubert. And this is…” Hubert gestured towards the pair that stood beside him, “Richard and Lisa.”

For some reason, the sight of Richard made Yvonne’s brain decide to cease all cognitive functions. It was not until Lisa extended her hand that Yvonne regained composure and gave it a shake. Richard followed suit, and Yvonne was surprised to see her own hand stretch out to answer. In a tragic miscommunication between brain and motor functions, Yvonne’s hand dangled in the air after Richard withdrew from the handshake. Taking this as an opportunity, Hubert took the hand and shook it as how an overly eager kid would with an unopened gift.

“Nice to meet you, Yvonne! I heard you’re great at this class, let’s find a seat somewhere and get started, shall we?” Hubert said as he let go.

Throughout the meeting’s duration, Yvonne sat opposite Richard. She secretly kept eyeing him while maintaining sufficient eye contact with whoever was speaking at the time. Oddly, he did not seem to return the interest. In fact, he seemed to be pretending to not know her at all.

Richard was intensely focused on the discussion and was trying his best not to bother with Yvonne or her equally intense gaze that she seemed determined to hold throughout their short meeting. He decided to brush it off with an attempt at forcing her to speak instead.

Hubert and Lisa were deciding between presenting on the topic of mergers and acquisitions or social organizations. Richard cut in.

“I think merger and acquisitions are particularly interesting.” Richard was intrigued about the conflicts that arose whenever two companies merged. “I think there is a lot to explore regarding the possibility of conflict and how companies successfully overcome it. What do you think, Yvonne?”

Hearing her own name from Richard’s mouth only made Yvonne realize how foreign it sounded as it rolled off Richard’s tongue. It lacked all the emotions, expression and longing that had once been the way she was accustomed to. A deep, throbbing pain began somewhere within her chest that numbed her entire esophagus. Her lungs expanded, expecting air, but she could not inhale, and she choked on the void that also seemed to have swallowed her voicebox.

“Yvonne? Are you okay?” Yvonne’s pain was evident to all at the table, albeit the rest only perceived it as a strange peculiar discomfort. Richard’s eyes were blankly staring at her, but as her gaze met his, she saw a flicker of concern, which was met by a flicker of rage.

How dare he utter my name as if all the time we spent together was wasted and for naught!?

“I’ll tell you what I think.” She inhaled deeply for the torrent of words she could feel building up and clambering relentlessly to be let loose.

Hubert began to squeak as his groupmate found her lost voice, “Well, that’s great then! I was getting worried-”

But Yvonne cut him off. “I think the conflict in merger and acquisition is an excellent idea. And you know why? Because there are so many ways to deal with it. Some companies address their differences. They talk it out, and they settle on a compromise. And some companies-“ Yvonne stared pointedly at Richard, “Some companies simply ignore it. They pretend they’re one big company and then they go about doing their own shit ignorantly without giving a single fuck about the employees from the other company. And what happens to those employees’ feelings? They get hurt. They don’t like it there. They feel like killing themselves. They-”

The torrent ended just as quickly as it began and Yvonne was barely holding back her tears.

“I need to go to the toilet.”

She stood up and left. The three remaining students stared at her seat. Hubert afraid, Lisa worried, and Richard a turmoil of emotions. Yvonne’s outburst had caught the attention at some of the students at nearby tables too.

Lisa was the first to move. “I should go check on her.”

Richard reacted. “No. Let me.”

Richard followed the echoes of sobbing that brought him to the emergency stairwell, where Yvonne was found bawling her eyes out until they resembled swollen tennis balls with slits. Instinctively, Richard’s hand acted before his brain did and it stretched out to wrap around Yvonne’s shoulders, but he withdrew it at the last moment. He was not sure if she still appreciated gestures like these.

to be continued


Accept me for who I am

A panicked scream filled the air as Yvon tripped over her own skates for the umpteenth time that afternoon. But the scream was soon replaced with laughter by a boy as he skated to a halt beside Yvon who was tending to the newest addition to her collection of bruises.

“Hey, here.” He offered to help her get back on her feet but she refused.

“I don’t wanna do this anymore.” Yvon was sulking.

Rick sat down beside her. “So what do you wanna do instead?”

“Let’s just sit here and enjoy the view.” She grabbed his arm and pointed at the sunset. “Look how pretty the sunset is when it goes into the ocean.”

“Not as pretty as my sunset when it goes into your ocean.” Rick realized it right after he said it. That was not something appropriate to say on a first date.

The perfect first date should be skating followed by some ice cream then, if he’s lucky, maybe a kiss. But Rick had just given up all hope of that last item on his itinerary.

“What did you just say?”

Rick winced. He was hoping that she may not have heard it. No such luck.

“Yvon, I- I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have said pervy stuff like that. Uh, I didn’t mean it. I’m really sorry…”

He fumbled around for the words to make this awkward situation less awkward. Again, no such luck.

“Rick, if you’re gonna yap away like that, you’re not even gonna get a shot at seeing your sunset entering my ocean.”

“I- what?”

“I like pervy stuff.” Yvon was admiring the sunset with a flawless smile on her face, looking every bit like the perfect girl- except for what she just said.

“You do?”

Yvon nodded and looked at Rick in the eye. “I’m actually glad and relieved that you brought that topic up on our first date. I would never know how to break it to you otherwise. It’s a part of me and I know it’s a part of you too. And I accept you for who you are. I don’t find you weird or anything.”

Rick was grinning from ear to ear. He really struck the jackpot this time. This girl is a keeper.

Accept me for who I am

At the age of 18 you are permitted to redistribute your twenty skill points around into whatever skills you want permanently. You decided to put everything into LUCK and leave the rest at 0 points.

“That’s not a good idea, Zane. For one, we don’t have great data on the actual effects of enhanced Luck…”

“Look, can you do it or not? I need this.”

The gene tech sighed in the quiet office and swiveled his chair back to the computer. He was looking at a fairly standard representation of a human genome, red highlights in the mass of blue to indicate genes with likely altered function from human baseline and green to indicate potential areas for change.

“Let’s see, we have some modifiable options at rs2981205, rs730882133, rs423454-”

“Yeah, man, I get it, lots of fancy words. Bottom line it for me?” Zane shifted impatiently in his chair; flipping his phone from hand to hand.

“Based on population-level studies and retrospective analysis of lottery winners, survivors of freak accidents, etc, there’s about 20 genes we could modify in you to try to make you luckier. I’m obligated to point out that we don’t know for sure that these genes actually cause better luck, and frankly the latest research is casting some doubts on the validity-”

“Yeah, yeah, I signed the waiver already, do what you got to do; I have a lot riding on this.”

“Um, you already made the bet? And you want to get lucky now?”

“Not exactly, I don’t really want to explain.”

“Whatever, they’re your genes. Sign this form here, some more standard stuff. Given the specific genes we need to modify, you are looking at 85% chance for significant loss in strength, 90% chance for loss in fine and gross motor skills, 100% for loss in intelligence, 60% chance for loss in overall body aesthetic and symmetry, and 50% chance for loss in short and long term memory.”

Zane, took the tablet, skimming over most of the form. When he had scrolled to the bottom, he pressed his finger on the fingerprint scanner, acknowledging his agreement. He let his shoulders relax afterwards, like a weight had been lifted off.

“Okay then,” he said to himself in a quieter voice,”that’s settled.”

“Not quite, Zane. Given the severity of potential deficits you are required to provide a sperm sample on the chance that you would prefer to have unaltered children in the future. Furthermore, while we strongly suggest implantable birth control for all men and women that undergo elective alteration, per the 2024 SAFEGene act, prior to sexual intercourse with any potentially fertile partners, you both must be screened for possible gene incompatibility.”

“Yeah, everyone knows the rules.”

“OK, here’s your sample cup; I’ll give you some time to provide the sample and I’ll get the CRISPR transfer virus ready.”

Zane rolled up his sleeve, exposing a slightly faded tattoo; a simple heart motif with the name “Evon” on it.

“Just a slight poke, then you’ll be all set. This is your last chance to change your mind…”

“Get it over with.”


The tech injected Zane’s left deltoid with the modified viral delivery system. Over the next 48 hours, the virus, a modified version of the flu, would infect the vast majority of his cells and re-write all of his DNA.

“It’s done. Now, you’ll probably have some soreness, fatigue, and a fever for the next couple days, similar to flu symptoms. This virus isn’t contagious, but to be safe, you need to avoid the very young and the elderly. Take tylenol if the fever or pain get bad. If you have difficulty breathing, pass out, or anything like that, get to a hospital immediately.”

“Got it. Thanks, doc.”

“Good luck.”

Two months later, Zane’s life, as far as any outsider was concerned, was pretty much unchanged. He’d had to quit his job as a barista; it was a bit too fast paced for him with his new weakness and difficultly remembering simple tasks. He’d found a perfect job, working at one of the few private libraries remaining in Baltimore. He’d only get one or two customers a day and they were usually older; if anything, Ben found himself getting along better with them than people his own age; the elderly clients seemed to talk and move at the pace he was accustomed to these days.

He settled in well to his new life; he was more lonely than he had been, but that suited him well. He had a new companion, in the form of a stray he named Tipsy, that had wandered up to his feet when he was getting back to his apartment one night. She only had three paws and occasionally fell over, but they were fast friends.

All in all, his life was stable, boring; an easy sort of anguish. And every day, as he left the library, sometimes with Tipsy peeking out of his backpack along with a few children’s books; the short ones with the easier words, he would take the 57 bus and transfer to the 23 to get to the long term care facility. There he would take the elevator to the fourth floor, his legs a bit too weak for the stairs, and sit next to Evon, who was perpetually silent except for the occasional hiss and beep of the ventilator, and read to her. Often, he would fall asleep in the chair next to her, dreaming that perhaps tomorrow would be his lucky day, and he would get to talk to her again.

At the age of 18 you are permitted to redistribute your twenty skill points around into whatever skills you want permanently. You decided to put everything into LUCK and leave the rest at 0 points.


It was the way she sat. It was the way she sank into the chair, heavy with burden, yet sustaining an impossible air of grace. She leaned towards the floor, reached for her backpack and began to rummage for unfinished homework.
It was one in the morning, and she was weary, but this is her life now. Textbooks found, she pulled it out of her bag and placed it on the table, squarely in front of her. But instead of opening it, she placed a hand across the book, and sighed at the man at the opposite side of the table, me.
“What are you studying today?”
I half-pouted and told her I needed to study for my upcoming mid terms.
She mirrored my pout and reluctantly removed her hand from the textbook and flipped it open.
It’s been almost a year since I last saw her. But time has blessed her well and she’s now even more beautiful than before. Her hair was now a length that finally allowed for natural curls and it was dyed a fierce and passionate deep red. She was definitely the best view I’ve ever had for months.
Perfume emanated from her and floated in the air. It lingered mischievously in the air, seeming to disappear when I inhale deeply, then teasingly returning when I take an unconscious small sniff.
We studied for a while, before she left the room, saying she needed fresh air. I put my pens down and abandoned my work to follow her. We walked out of the deathly silent room and it was as if we had entered an alternate world altogether. This new world we entered was silent too, but it was the peaceful quiescence of the night, not the oppressive quiet of students cramming for an exam that will not matter at all five years down the road. This silence is blissful, and it calmed our senses down, despite us being one of the few beings awake amongst a slumbering majority.
She answered nature’s call as I waited at the top step of a flight of stairs that faced a small thicket of trees. She joined me shortly afterwards, playfully flicking water towards my face. We laughed heartily together, ignorant of the fact that we were guilty of puncturing the night’s tranquil.
Then we quieten down, as if an invisible guardian of the night robbed us of our childish jubilation. We were forced once more to face our own realities. Hers, of her exams, and mine, a more current problem, how to figure her out? I wanted so badly to hold her hand, which I was strongly aware of, through furtive glances from the corner of my eye.
But I could not. She is not and will never be a lover of mine for reasons complicated beyond explanation; I felt like the male lead in my tragic literature books that were all governed by the rule ‘So near, yet so far.’
She stood up. And so did I. Then she walked back to the room, and so did I, with the undying question on my mind – never wishing more than I did then for the ability to read minds – how does she truly feel about me?


Kaleidoscopic Vision

(C) pricelessjoy.co . Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) August 09, 2015. This photo brings you to the challenge page. Hosted by pricelessjoy.
(C) pricelessjoy.co . Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) August 09, 2015. This photo brings you to the challenge page. Hosted by pricelessjoy.

Things seemed like they were the same. The world seemed as bright as it always was, with the leaves as brown as they were in the autumn, and the kids sounded as joyful as they always were. I could see the trees in the distance, at the opposite side of the park, and I can even see the gray skies in the distance which meant that it was raining somewhere far away.

The thunder boomed, and it sounded the same as it got closer and closer. But when the rain began to pelt on me, the world started to look different with every drop. My vision was clouded by splashes, and it dissolved into a blur of colors.

Kaleidoscopic Vision

The Thrill

It just did not seem to want to give way! But then again, neither did he. He fiddled a bit more, chewed a bit more, and twisted a bit more. Finally, the chain gave way. It broke loose and he let his hand drop with the weigh of the chain-cutter, landing on the floor with a resonating, but victorious thud. He straightened his back, which ached from being bent over the bicycle for an agonizingly long period, and his spine made popping sounds as he twisted it.

Triumphantly, he grabbed the handlebars and eased it out of its parking. The rubber felt firm and fit nicely into his palm, just as if it was designed specifically for him. He smiled and hopped onto the bike. Glancing around once, checking for any signs of human life and not noticing any, he cycled off.

(C) bikocity.com
(C) bikocity.com

The exhiliration of the wind through his hair was a feeling he had missed and welcomed. His left hand let go of the handlebar and dug his pockets for his earphones and music player and he deftly put them on with a single hand, while controlling the bike with his right hand. With music in his ears, and his goal accomplished, he rode off into the night. There was no turning back now.

The Thrill

The Song Dedication

Copyright: tristalerit.com
Copyright: tristalerit.com

Sweat coated Bradley’s palms like the natural moisture that a toad excretes. He rubbed them furiously on his pants but the sweat just kept coming back. Nervousness only began to describe how he was feeling. It was lucky that he was usually quiet, because his friends did not notice any change in his behavior at all.

Then the lights dimmed, and a man whose body shape resembled a hazelnut stepped onto stage. He was wearing a black dress shirt that was stretched so tightly over his protruding belly that the stretched fabric made the buttons seem like they each had their own pair of wings. Of course, his peculiar outfit was complete with the skinniest red tie that Bradley had ever seen.

“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen,” Mr hazelnut boomed, “Please settle down shortly, the shows are about to begin.”

Then he waddled off stage.

A young man stepped onto stage, followed by two other men, one of which was carrying a violin. Bradley recognised them immediately. They were Gentle Bones! The sweating was now worriedly prominent. The beads of sweat glistened on Bradley’s forehead as if he had just drank a litre of tom yum, sparkling in the midst of the throng of other smooth foreheads.

But Bradley did not notice. The band was beginning to play. They played out their first ever single that made it to the charts. How apt – to pick to play their first famous hit as the first song of the concert.

The crowd was cheering now and hands waved frantically in the air, remarkably similiar to how they behaved when trying to flag a cab during rush hour. Bradley tend to make the weirdest comparisons at the oddest times.

“How are you tonight?”

The crowd went wild.

“Okay, for my next song, I’m going to sing Settle Down. Sing along if you know the lyrics.”

Then he began to strum.

Bradley’s impatience was now killing him. But the lead singer then added, “Oh and this song is a dedication to a certain girl in the crowd.”

Bradley perked up.

“Can I see where Beverly is sitting? Beverly Lui,” he asked.

A huge concoction of excited screams and shrieks erupted from a corner of the small ballroom. Bradley’s ears made out the voice of a girl screaming, “SHE’S HERE! SHE’S HERE!”

He turned, as did the hundred other foreheads in the throng. A spotlight shone down on the excited shrieking group, and finally a girl was pulled to her feet by her friends. She gave her friends a friendly look of annoyance before adjusting her hair and smiling sheepishly to the hundred foreheads that were now pointed directly at her.

Bradley’s heart stopped. She looked more gorgeous than she had looked in the past three days of this camp they were currently attending together. She had on a cute, white lacey crop top and a sleek black pencil skirt. Basics, simple yet elegant, and she furnished her look with golden colored accessories.

“Beverly, this message is for you,” the lead singer spoke, in his unbelievably melodic voice, while gently strumming the guitar, “Beverly, I wish that you and me could Settle Down.”

The crowd went crazy again with whoops and wolf whistles.

Then all of a sudden, Bradley stood up, joining her as the only other person in the throng that was standing up. It took the lighting directors a while to notice, but eventually they shined another spotlight on him. The dazzling white light reflected off the sweat that now coated his forehead like a second skin, making him look like he had on very sparkly make up.

The crowd quietened down. His friends that sat around him were glancing at each other quizzically. The nearest one asked him in a hushed whisper, “Bradley! What are you doing?! Sit down!”

Then from somewhere else, someone else whispered, “I think he dedicated the song to Beverly!”

But Bradley’s attention was now wholly focused on Beverly, and her stunning beauty. He slowly waded his way through the throng, stepping on toes and fingers and phones and wallets and causing some annoyance, but he did not stop until he was within arm’s reach of Beverly.

Beverly was a head shorter than Bradley was and she looked up to him with eyes that were wide in anticipation and a lip that was pursed in a shy but cute manner.

Then Bradley spoke. A nervous person by nature, being placed in this position did nothing to boost his confidence and his voice was beyond inaudible to anyone but Beverly. The crowd went dead silent and craned their heads and ears as one towards the couple, a fruitless attempt. After a while, someone from the other end of the room yelled, “JUST KISS HER ALREADY.”

The throng took this as a cue and began to chant KISS! KISS! KISS!

Beverly had never expected something like this to happen. Bradley seemed to her like a genuinely nice guy but she never took him for the romantic type that was capable of a gesture of such a scale. But she felt very attracted to him for some reason. The truth is, they were very suitable for each other and their minds worked exactly the same way, and Bradley was also wondering where he had gotten the guts to carry out an actual song dedication.

Since I already made it here, might as well go all the way, he thought and he leaned in for the kiss.

Oh my god, he’s actually going for the kiss, thought Beverly, as well as several other drama-loving girls in the throng.

Beverly closed her eyes, and loosened her jaw muscles, opening her mouth slightly, and waited for the kiss.

She tried to recall all her ‘training’ with her ex boyfriend. Was it to use tongue from the start or no tongue at all?

Senseless questions began to bombard her one after another but eventually she got rid of them, which was when she realized the kiss still has not reached her.

She opened her eyes slowly, afraid to ruin the moment, but then suddenly she felt Bradley’s weight crash into her. Her eyes flew wide open as her knees buckled under his weight and the two came crashing down.

An excited whisper began to wash over the throng. The lead singer was watching awkwardly, completely unfamiliar with being onstage yet not being the center of attention. He desperately wanted the spotlight back and he signaled to his band to start playing.

“Um okay, thanks Beverly and Bradley. I hope you enjoy the song, Settle Down.”

The Song Dedication