MANILA, Philippines – Summer’s out and for most of us, it’s almost time to go back to school. But before we say goodbye to the fun times, it’s time we look back at the highlights of the season.
Last April, Young STAR in partnership with National Book Store had a short fiction writing contest. Given a 300-word limit, over 700 aspiring young writers sent in their entries. While we at Young STAR are still overwhelmed by the amount of great stories that we received, we could only choose three winners to bring home prizes from National Book Store and a chance to be published in an issue of Young STAR.
Here are the winning entries from the Young STAR x National Book Store Short Fiction Contest. Thank you to everyone who sent in their entries. We hope that this serves as an inspiration to all the aspiring young writers out there and we hope to be able to give more opportunities like this soon.
What’s left of us
By Mone Virma Ginry Gumapac
I hate how people glorify the word almost.
How people bask in the realm of not getting there,
How people seem to be okay of reaching nowhere.
I remember how you chose the 12th of November — my birthday, actually —to promise that you will always be there for me. I remember laughing at you because I can’t seem to wrap around my head at how you could throw words like that to me when I know how many combinations of cuss you could mutter whenever you suffer from negative mbps connection.
I remember mornings spent together because you fancy my breakfast routine and love how my verbal filter isn’t on yet so I say things way too honestly (and probably saying things I shouldn’t be). I remember sharing pancakes and toasts while you prepare my berry-tinged tea despite the fact that you will be late since my home’s in Quezon City and you work at Makati.
I remember crafting the good-night-sweet-dreams playlist that you needed before going to bed (after you coffee-binged at work resulting to insomnia) and yet you still chose to call me because hearing my voice (as you say) is effective to lull you to sleep.
I remember many things and I hate how I remember these things.
Because all of these are just that: things — things that shouldn’t and wouldn’t matter.
Because we never existed.
We were almost there. We almost made it. We almost are.
But just like other almosts, we never really happened.
Almost is a universe that people created to label something beautiful in its time but never really flourished.
Almost is a place where the hapless and hopeless walk with clasp hands toward an uncertain future.
Because in the end, almost is just that, an almost.
And always remember, almost never counts.
By Beatrice de Leon
Bakit nag-iisa ka na naman?”
Muling gumagambala sa akin ang kaibigan ko. Hindi ko alam kung matutuwa o maiinis akong narito siya sa aking pag-iisa.
“Lagi naman akong ganito, alam mo ‘yun,” sagot ko. Pinatay ko ang ilaw sa kwarto at nagtaklob ng kumot. Siguro naman ay hahayaan na niya akong magpahinga. Naramdaman kong mas lumapit pa siya sa akin.
“Hindi ka ba pinapansin ni Victor? O bagsak ka sa pagsusulit? Hindi ka talaga nakikinig sa mga payo ko sa iyo. Sinasa-”
Tinakpan ko na ang tainga ko para hindi ko na siya marinig. Sawang-sawa na ako sa paulit-ulit niyang pangaral sa akin.
“Lubayan mo muna ako, pwede ba?!” sumbat ko. Hindi ko na kaya, imbis na makatulong sya sa pagpapagaan ng loob ko ay ganito pa ginagawa nya.
“Hindi ako aalis hangga’t hindi ka matatauhan,” talagang pursigido sya. “Huwag ka nang bumuntot kay Victor. Ikaw lang ang nagmumukhang kawawa. At hindi ka pa rin nagseseryoso sa pag-aaral mo. Wala ka nang ginawang matino sa buhay mo, Maria!”
Tama na. Hindi ko na kaya.
Hindi ko alam kung paano ako nakatulog pero nagpapasalamat ako dahil nagising wala na ang aking kaibigan sa kwarto ko – wala naman talaga siya sa kwarto ko sapagkat nasa isip ko lamang siya
Sink or Swim
By Francesca Mauricio
This is how your life ends:
You’re staring at your computer screen, eyes clouded with tears that you refuse to shed. You’re staring, and thinking, “why?” because right in front of you is a pixelated version of you without a top on, without…anything on. You’re baring it all, and the only saving grace is the strategically placed blanket.
It’s you, but naked.
And there are tears in your eyes because this picture was never meant to see the light of day. Nor were the sixteen others. They were meant for your boyfriend. Well, ex. They were meant for your petty ex-boyfriend.
You used to think that there was nothing worse than the time you scraped your knees while biking and cried the entire way home, nothing more embarrassing than wetting your brand new skirt on the first day of second grade. They felt like cinder blocks on your chest.
But staring at the pictures — which though were shared in utmost intimacy, were now public domain — makes you realize that the cinder blocks were just that. This was the Empire State building on your weak, fragile ribs.
The tears are falling now because your privacy has been violated. By someone you trusted. In your cloudy state you can’t decide which is worse: having the world (or at least, people you know personally) see your body unclothed or having someone you trusted betray you over a stupid breakup.
The tears are falling and you hate yourself for it. You hate yourself for trusting, for taking those photos, for sending them.
You do, you hate yourself. (But not more than your ex, at least.)
The tears are dripping down your chin like rain in a hurricane, like droplets of water in a tidal wave.
And now you’re drowning in the waves.