These entries from March's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "March Writing Challenge."
Liquid courage. That was my favourite excuse to get drunk and make stupid decisions whilst being with friends who were equally as daft as I was. Whenever my friends and I decided to have one of these infamous nights, we had a set of rules:
- We all had to meet up SOBER at the designated driver’s place.
- We could not invite any outsiders without a unanimous vote. (NO ONE wanted to take care of someone we barely knew)
And the most important and sacred rule of these wild outings that we never broke, no matter what:
- NEVER LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND. If we bar hop or move around, we head count. If we’re too drunk to head count, the most sober person must do a head count.
We usually had valid reasons as to why we needed these nights out — heartbreaks, loss of loved ones, failed finals, etc. — and tonight, it had been my idea to get crazy.
I sat around the table, studying my friends’ faces as we continued the boring game night we went to once a week. I looked at the 4 faces that sat around me and wondered how I got so damn lucky. Sammy was a Biochemical undergraduate who worked two jobs to sustain her younger brother. She’s had it rough since her dad died two years ago and her mum left when she was 8; looking at her shockingly pink hair and her 80’s retro styled clothes, you would’ve never guessed she was top of her class in almost every module she took. Cassandra was usually our most sober friend when we went out since she rarely gets to a low point. Having grown up in one of the most elite parts of the country, she was basically raised by her au pair since her parents were too busy working and never had time for her. As an only child, she found comfort in being rebellious, desperately seeking attention from everyone. Her scar on her right cheek is a constant reminder to her about her unruly teenage years (she got so drunk on her 16th birthday and thought it was a good idea to climb her 3-story house with a ladder that was no more than 15 ft. tall; she fell and was in the hospital for 2 weeks) and why she chooses to remain the “boring” one. Stanley had been in my Journalism undergrad course for a year before he switched to English Lit. He was the most recent member in our group and was clearly liked by everyone due to his 6’4″ stature and his muscular build. He protected us from all the leering eyes and spiked drinks when we went out and acted as our personal chaperone most of the time. Finstock and I were the founding members of our mismatched group since we already knew each other from high school. His soft, cloudy grey eyes and lean figure made up for his short 5’4″ height. More than his Greek god looks, he was practical and ready to fix anything he could get his hands on. Electrical engineering had always been his dream, but his dad had other plans for his future. As he sat beside me, picking onion rings from the basket on the table, I felt a little sorry for him.
The bartender brought us our drinks just in time for the 5-minute break. Feeling depressed about my breakup, I laid my head on the table as I mindlessly stirred my cocktail. It was then that I had the urge to get drunk – stupidly wasted actually – and do something ridiculous. “Let’s go.” It came out more demanding than I meant it, but I didn’t want to waste YET ANOTHER Friday night playing trivia games at the pub down the road from the university. I slammed a £20 note on the table, practically inhaled my drink, and got up. Everyone bewilderedly stared at me as I told them to meet me at Cassandra’s place in half an hour. With that said, I walked out of the door. As I searched around in my purse for my car keys, I winded up hitting straight into the gate that had been placed just before the parking lot. Rubbing my bruised elbow, I unlatched the rusty entryway and headed straight for my flashing blue Mini Cooper.
As I drove home, I could already picture the havoc we were about to wreak tonight, and I smiled at the thought, wondering if Cassandra will finally let loose tonight and have more than her 3-limit drink. The Mini Cooper fit perfectly in the parking space, and I had to stop myself from running to my apartment to get ready; but, as I neared the door, key in hand, it was already open.
A land without darkness
Stella had never felt quite comfortable with the world she lived in: Brightland. She was fourteen years old, her eyes were an electric blue, and her hair was long and dark like the night. But she wouldn’t know that because in Brightland there were no nights. In fact, there was no darkness at all. Every day was a bright day. Some people would think that this was good, but for Stella it felt boring. She wasn’t unhappy, but she wasn’t happy, either.
One day, while she wandered through the woods, she found a very big gate. It was made of metal, and she couldn’t see through it. She then found a ladder and tried to use it to climb, but the further she climbed, the taller it seemed. She gave up and went home.
Once she was there, she asked her parents about the gate. But all they said was, “Stella, you shouldn’t get into matters that don’t concern you,” and evaded further questions. She got angry because they were clearly hiding something from her, but her grandmother told her to go and find her after dinner.
Stella did, and her grandmother told her to sit down and to listen to a story.
“When I was young,” she began, “there was something called darkness. It could be scary sometimes, but for others it could be fascinating. When darkness came, something else came with it: the stars. But one day, the king locked it up so that we could only have bright days. He said that it would be better that way… that we would be happier. But sometimes I still miss it.”
“How can I bring it back?” Stella asked, determined.
“I have something,” she said. “A basket. It’s attracted to the darkness, but someone needs to control it. It could be dangerous, are you sure?”
“Yes,” she replied. She didn’t know why, but she felt that darkness should be freed by someone. And she was going to be that someone.
The next day she took the basket to the woods. She climbed the closest tree to the gate. She could already feel the pull of the basket towards the gate. Stella sat inside the basket. It had only one button, and the instant she pressed it, the basket would bump into the gate. She felt like she was being pulled backwards with very strong arms, and the next second she had crashed with the gate. Her head hurt like she had hit it with a rock, and she was very dizzy. But it looked like nothing had happened, and she had to do it again. So she climbed the tree, pushed, and crashed.
Climb, push, crash.
Climb, push, crash.
After the fourth time, she felt like she was going to pass out and did her best to keep herself conscious. The next time she totally blacked out, but when she opened her eyes, she didn’t see the always shining sun. The sky was a deep blue color, almost black, and tiny dots were floating on the sky like fish in the sea. She knew that this was the darkness; she had done it.
From then on she liked Brightland better, because she understood that to appreciate the bright days, you also needed the dark days.
I feel that way sometimes, you know? This razbliuto, this nostalgia, when I think back to those days of hope and love. Before you had to go. But I knew that you had to. You had to. You had to leave and be free. Not tied down. You needed to be wisping like the wind. A free flowing, unstoppable being of wanderlust. And because I loved you, I let you go. Cliche, I know. But it’s true. It was what was right. It still is. I knew you would stay here for me though. Tied down to the earth, anchored to this town. But, gradually like the flowers you’d pick for me, you would fade and wither. Until eventually, there would be nothing left of you but the memory of what once was. I knew this when I started loving you, and I know this still. So when you left, and I packed you your things in the same basket you used to pack our picnics for our dates in our field of heather, and my heart broke, I was happy too. For I knew from the start this is who you are, who you’ll always be, and I knew you were finally free. It was a bittersweet notion, knowing you’d no longer unlock my white fence in my backyard at seven in the morning and climb up the ladder in my room to wake me up for school. So we would have time to drive among the fields and forests and feel the wind in our faces before we were trapped in the never moving prison we call school. I knew then. That you would leave me one day, that I would let you. That you needed to explore the unknown and its countless fields of wildflowers and endless acres of woods around the world. That I couldn’t follow you. For you were not meant for this life and society’s restricted ways of living. You needed to be free, not staying in one place, to see the beauty in ordinary things, and move on. I knew. I didn’t want to. I always hoped that you were like a bird, soaring across the sky. Flying whenever and wherever you wanted. But always finding your way back home. Back to me. But as I keep saying, I suppose I’ve always known. Way deep down, that this wanderlust was no temporary thing. You were not a person to have a fixed address. You’ve always been meant for more. I know this, and so I thank you for the time we had. For our seemingly countless sunsets and sunrises, our laughter and joy, our shared secrets. For although I’ve moved on, and I now love another, I’ll never forget you, the boy with the wind in his hair, calling out for me from his car window, begging me to go on another adventure. And I feel, razbliuto.