This is a story I wrote for the Commonwealth Essay Competition 2012. Honestly, I didn’t really like the topics this year but my school makes us do it every year so I didn’t really have a choice.
Anyway, for this year’s competition, in honor of the the Queen’s 60th year as the head of the Commonwealth, we have to choose a day from the last 60 years since Her Majesty’s ascend to the throne which is from 6th February 1942 to the present, and write a story from one of the eight topics. The topics are:
1. The day I wore my best clothes.
2. A feast or a festival.
3. An interview with an adult about a significant day in their life.
4. A day’s journey.
5. A birth OR a wedding OR a funeral
6. My response to an even that made the news headlines.
7. A sporting event.
8. The day I met my hero/heroine.
I chose the date 11 September 2001, the day of 9/11 and the topic number 4. I don’t think it is very well-written but it is still acceptable. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
P.S My name is not Stacey. I just didn’t want to use my real name because I thought it would sound weird because I can’t picture myself working in an office.
I darted out of the house in distress, handbag in hand, hair in disarray, dropping my car keys in the process. Slamming the door behind me, I reached into my bag to grab my phone. This meeting would determine whether we might be publicly listed or remain a private entity. I had taken the thumbdrive containing the only copy of the presentation slides the day before, intending to prepare for the presentation. Now, due to my tardiness, it looked as though my team would be unable to present anything.
As I drove on the freeway, the traffic was horrible. Cars were packed closely together, barely moving. I thought to myself, was this America? It looked more like a scene in Jakarta, which I had visited a year before, notorious for their traffic jams. Horns blared furiously and headlights blinked continuously. The rhythm of the horns almost seemed like some sort of twisted symphony. Cars were practically at a standstill, lined up neatly behind one another like a platoon of soldiers. The driver behind me looked as though he was cursing and swearing while the one beside me looked like she was falling asleep. I prayed fervently that the investors were as late as I was.
Just then, I heard shrill ringing coming from the seat beside me. My blood ran cold when I saw the number. It was the office. With trembling hands, I picked it up, all the while keeping one hand on the steering wheel and sighing at the turn of events.
“Hello? This is Stacey speaking.” I answered.
“Where are you? The Chinese investors arrived five minutes ago. They’re leaving after half-an-hour to catch a flight.” Laura, my assistant, whispered urgently.
“Delay them, serve them breakfast, give them all the alcohol we have, anything!” I shouted back. The line went dead, and I realised my phone had run out of battery.
I emptied my bag’s contents onto the seat beside me and connected the charger to the car’s power socket. Out of desperation, I took to driving on the road shoulder, usually reserved for ambulances and emergencies. Unfortunately, I soon spotted a police car behind me signalling me to pull over.
“Is anything the matter, officer?” I put on my sweetest smile and tried to seem ignorant. He rolled his eyes and handed me a ticket, before speeding off in the opposite direction. I grimaced and continued driving on the road shoulder, thankful that I was near my destination at last.
As I reached the vicinity of the office, I suddenly noticed a lot of people running towards my direction, blocking my way and preventing me from moving forward. I realised something must be terribly wrong. Since the phone had gone dead five minutes ago, Laura had not bothered to call back, even though my phone was now switched on. I started dialling her number, just as an ear-piercing scream distracted me.
Looking up at my office building, I saw a fury infernal blazing in the middle of the North Tower of the Twin Towers, or what used to be my office. There was smoke billowing from all sides, and a number of people were jumping out of windows. Bits of the building were falling off and the columns looked like they were about to collapse. Then, a loud rumble resonated and the earth began to shake. Before I knew it, both buildings came crashing down one after another, collapsing into dust right in front of my very eyes. The sight of it made me wonder whether the world was coming to an end.
I turned the car around and drove back home, still reeling from the shock. For the next month, all I did was attend funerals. Half the company survived, but no one ever spoke about being listed publicly ever again, especially since the stock market plunged like never before the very next day. Now that I think back on it, I was saved by my tardiness. What was meant to be a normal day’s journey turned into the most harrowing experience of my life. It is that day’s journey, out of so many other days, which I will always remember.
This is a story I wrote for my homework, and I’m actually really proud of it. The story is based on the topic “A day in a life of” so I decided to write in the perspective of a patient. I actually know a few people suffering from various illnesses, and depression is one of them.
I felt the light patting of a hand on my arm, rousing me from sleep. Oh no, it was that time of day again. I swore mentally that I would not get up. I stubbornly kept my eyes clasped shut and ignored her attempts to wake me.
The patting became more forceful. I felt a slight sting where she hit me repeatedly.
Groggily, I opened my eyes and came face to face with a young woman. Her brown eyes stared back and her lips were taut in a straight line. Her auburn hair was swept up in a neat bun and her head was adorned with a white cap. She rolled her eyes with an indifferent expression.
In front of me was a tray with pills of different shapes and sizes, and a cup of water. I tossed them into my mouth, all at once. She muttered, “crazy,” practically running from the room.
I lay back down and looked up. I was surrounded by four walls and a ceiling, locked in my own prison. The only access to the outside world was my window. Sometimes, I got so claustrophobic I could barely breathe.
The room was empty and bare. The white walls made it even colder. Prolonged lack of exposure to sun usually did the same thing to residents, who often turned pale and lifeless after a few weeks. Grey curtains accentuated the dreary atmosphere. I cocked my head to the side, towards the sofa, which looked as old as the building itself, normally used for visitors. It remained empty since my arrival.
Ever since I had been diagnosed with depression, everyone began distancing themselves, even my parents. They worried my depression was contagious. However, they never realised that doing so made my condition worse.
Engulfed in my own sea of loneliness, with no emotional support, drove me to a greater depression. Crying to sleep every night, I prayed for death on a regular basis. Why bother living, if there was nothing to live for? As usual, no one was ever there to prove me wrong.
I pulled the heavy blanket off my body as I scrambled off the bed, and trudged out of the room. I headed for the staircase leading to the rooftop. The railings were cold and hard beneath my palms, slick with sweat, as I walked up the steep steps. I opened the door, and a gush of wind blew towards me. I took a deep breath.
I walked around the spacious rooftop, feeling as free as a bird. It felt great to be out in the open after being cooped up for so long. I walked towards the edge, and looked up at the horizon, waiting for me to run towards it.
My heart pounded madly in my chest. My palms were sweaty as I stretched out my arms in front of me, ready to embrace my newfound freedom. The wind blew stronger, and I hesitated, taking a few steps back unsteadily. The world started spinning, and for a moment, I forgot where I was. I felt my head hit the concrete. Then everything turned black.
Meanwhile downstairs, the nurse was frantically looking for the missing patient, Amy, whose parents had finally decided to visit.
This is a story I wrote for the Commonwealth Essay last year. This was the question I chose:
JUBILEE QUESTION: A day in the life of… Pick a day from the last sixty years and tell us what happened in your family, in your community or your country.
I was inspired to write this because my father once said “Wait till I die then you’ll regret it” when we had an argument. That made me realize that some children don’t treasure their parents until they die and then they realize how precious they are.
Everyone came immaculately dressed. Ivory flowers hung ubiquitously—peonies, roses, chrysanthemums, irises… adorning random pillars all around. The guests marvelled at the grandeur and magnificence of the setting as they entered. “How exquisite!” They exclaimed, before heading off to the corner with the guestbook and hors d’oeuvres. It was a noticeably different scene at the front the room, where guests were completely oblivious to their surroundings. They had been here ever since they heard the news. They had eyes only for the guest of honour, lying on a bed of crimson silk, scarlet teak inlaid with mother-of-pearl framing her delicate features. I thought the mortician had done a good job. He made Mother’s pale face flush with colour, but not too garish—as though she was alive and healthy. Some relatives sobbed quietly. I heard others saying, “Luckily she had such a filial daughter when she was alive.” I did not protest. It would be too shameful, too humiliating, to admit the truth. Better to allow them to think my mother’s lies were true.
As a child, communicating with my parents was something I detested. They never understood me, or what I wanted. All they cared about was what they considered best. My passion for music grew as the days went by, but they did not care, seeking to stifle it by enrolling me in more tuition. I abhorred the lessons, but what could I do? They were my parents. I was obliged to obey their every word. If not, they threatened to leave me stranded on the streets, homeless and penniless.
When I became an adult, I felt I was finally free from them. I was now a successful doctor. But was I truly happy? I was good at my job, but hated my lifestyle. What kind of life was one where all you did was sleep and work, nothing else? Also, I had never been allowed to touch the piano ever again—my parents had stopped my music education at Grade Four, opting to put me in Biology enrichment instead. My loneliness engulfed me in a sea of misery.
Living under the same roof as them felt like torture. Once I had made enough money, I decided to move out. I ignored their shocked faces as I walked out the door. Little did I know that it was that very day when Mother would be diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer.
It was time to deliver the eulogy. I went up to the podium and began my speech, stating how my mother had been active in community work all her life, how she cared for others above herself. I delivered the speech succinctly, as though speaking about a research breakthrough I had just made. Father sat in the front row, shaking his head sadly throughout. When it was his turn to go on stage, he crumpled to the ground and lay motionless.
Everyone was rendered speechless. The many doctors rushed forward to help, only to realise he had no pulse. One of them tried performing CPR. I stood rooted to the spot, my gaze transfixed on Father’s unconscious state.
A heart attack, those at the hospital later said. Too overwhelming for him, they said, seeing his wife’s dead body and hearing his daughter’s moving eulogy. I headed home and began making arrangements for Father’s funeral. There was nothing left to do.
As I called the funeral home once again, a myriad of emotions suddenly came over me. Among them, something I had never before felt—emptiness. In that instant, I realised my parents had cared for me all along. Though they never understood what I wanted, they did only what they thought was best. Now they were gone, there was no one there to care for me anymore.
The emptiness did not go away. Deep down, I knew it could only be filled with my parents’ love and care, but this was now impossible.
It had been a very long day indeed. Filled with sorrow, remorse, and regret. But I also knew that it would just be a day in the life of a contrite, guilt-ridden doctor—who no one would ever understand.
Now, I was truly alone.