New Year, New beginnings

Submitted for Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten seconds.... view prompt

73 comments

Jan 01, 2021

Asian American Fiction Holiday

โ€œ10!โ€ We screamed at the top of our lungs, I almost gagged at the noise pollution weโ€™d created.

Sythe winked, smiling as she showed her perfect set of teeth sheโ€™d take care of every day. I was so glad that she decided to join my family for our annual New years party.

I rolled my eyes at her. She was such a show-off.

We met as rivals actually. Sythe had hated my guts since she laid eyes on me, she was the most popular girl at Sunnydale middle school. She practically owned it. On the first day I bumped into her during our only shared class: Art.

She had been working on a masterpiece, swishing paint and glitter. Although I gotta admit, she was a wonderful artist. Her style wasโ€ฆ unique. She always thought outside the box, when someone's thinking ends, herโ€™s begins.

She blamed me for shoving her which caused her to spill a drop of excess paint that she believed ruined her whole painting. I had to apologize a million times until she quit shouting at me.

Our rivalry only went uphill after that encounter. She always picked on meโ€ฆ only me in hundredths of kids. Just for a single mistakeโ€ฆ I wonder how sheโ€™d treat me if I ruined her whole painting by spilling paint over it. Gave me the shivers just to dream about it.

I cried in the bathroom everyday non-stop after school. I felt miserable, blaming my karma. My parents shouldnโ€™t have made me move. I wasnโ€™t used to hot, humid climates and bullies on my heels. I missed Alaska. It had been so fun to sled and go ice skating rather than huddle near the AC in Texas.

I would avoid extracurricular activities, never to see anyone. My parents begged me to be open but I never listened to their jibber jabber.

Crying constantly had made my whole face pale, I began to lose weight until I became nothing more than a pile of bones. My parents were worried about my health deteriorating at such a young age, they feared something might go wrong.

I remained isolated, nothing interested me.ย 

Untilโ€ฆ

He came.

It had been Christmas morning, as usual I didnโ€™t fuss over any gifts. Taking my new sweater from grandma and grandpa, kissing both their wrinkled cheek, pasting a fake smile for their case and trying to get away before mom asked me to help decorate cookies.ย 

โ€œHaripriyaโ€ฆ we have a surprise for you,โ€ My mother singsonged.

I groaned inside but I couldnโ€™t let my folks down on a joyous occasion.ย 

โ€œWhatโ€ฆโ€ย  My eyes traced back to the thing that squirmed in momโ€™s arms. My mouth hung open. Tears lit my eyesโ€ฆ but for once it was for happiness.ย 

โ€œPuppy!โ€ I exclaimed. Hugging the precious thing close to my heart.

โ€œYour welcome,โ€ My parents added, sharing a smile.

My whole life seemed to be turning corners, like the smile that appeared on my face.

Lucky was my sidekick. Always by my side. With his arrival my whole life course changed. Sythe had invited me to her birthday party because our parents were friends. She ignored me the whole time, only talking to her friends but then a rat sort of decided to join in. It was so hilarious but the others shrieked and ran in different directions. Lucky luckily was there, he dashed forward. Sending the little mice outside and he became a hero. He hung his tongue out as kids ran over to pet him.ย 

I grinned as Sythe gave me a look.

That's the first time she gave me a chance to speak. To express myself. We found out that we had more in common than we thought. I always thought she was a spoiled brat but turns out she does good things too.

We hit it off smoothly after that.

Sythe handed me a cupcake decorated in little fireworks as we held hands.

โ€œThanks for supporting me,โ€ I mouthed.

โ€œDonโ€™t mention it.โ€

โ€œ9!โ€ I looked over at Leia, the new girl across the street. She had moved from Hawaii and was very shy during her first days at school. She rarely talked, always kept to herself. People gossiped that she was a โ€˜weirdoโ€™ but I would shake off that kind of talk. I tried to talk to her but she would just nod, biting her nails.ย 

I didnโ€™t understand what the matter was with her so I kept my distance. Not wanting to feel intruding into her personal space.

I felt bad when girls picked on her but I never bothered to intervene.ย 

We were assigned as partners for a school project and I groaned having to work with someone that never replied to my comments.

She stuttered at first, acting as if I didnโ€™t exist. But I didnโ€™t give upโ€ฆ she pronounced her words with caution.ย 

I smiled at her effort to communicate. Turns out she didnโ€™t speak English and had a hard time understanding everything. I tried to help her as much as possible, giving her lessons and training her vocal skills.

She met my eyes, smiling back with dimples.ย 

โ€œHappy New year,โ€ She mouthed.

โ€œYou too.โ€

I saw her glance back to the drawing that hung above the fireplace. A drawing weโ€™d made together.ย 

โ€œ8!โ€ My little sister Maya happily munched on a cupcake, her fingers covered with blue frosting as she let Lucky lick her hands.

I giggled along with my lovable sister. She might not be my blood-related sister but she was definitely part of the family.ย 

My parents wanted another child and decided on adopting. The first time I laid eyes on her, I fell in love. She had only been a year old. Her parents were never found, the locals say they abandoned the baby.ย 

I had gasped when Maya coiled her delicate fingers into mine. She was stronger than she seemed, her eyes would twinkle as she stared at her new family in awe.

Mom had cried in joy, dad had patted my back, winking.

The first time I held Mayaโ€ฆ it was so memorable. She weighed so little as she would crawl over to me like a dog to its owner.

Mayaโ€ฆ sheโ€™d grown up so fast. Itโ€™d been five years since the day she arrived. Her presence had brightened up everyone's days.

โ€œHariโ€ฆ come see,โ€ She called my nickname as I walked forward to hold her unsteady body.

I trotted alongside her, ducking past adults and tables on our way.ย 

โ€œSnow!โ€ She exclaimed, falling backwards into the pile of white and moving her limbs like a dog.

I smiled, patting the snow.ย 

โ€œ7!โ€ I looked up at the sky, it was almost midnightโ€ฆ New years in itโ€™s way.ย 

โ€œHello dear!โ€

โ€œGrandma!โ€ I ran forward to embrace the warmth of gran.

She patted my head as we exchanged greetings. I noticed her scar on the right knee which she held in a cast. I helped her to a seat, offering some hot cocoa.

It had been a month since grandma was out of the hospital, yet I feared something might go wrong. Gran had a nasty fall on the stairs and twisted her ankle. I sobbed when gran had her eyes closed, her breathing uneven, doctors swarming over to check each second, her heartbeat was slower than usual.ย 

Yet, gran smiled whenever I visited, never showing the pain she was in. She happily munched on momโ€™s oatmeal cookies, smelling my flowers that Iโ€™d brought with my own allowance. Offering to play board games to pass time.

โ€œIs your knee ok?โ€

โ€œYes dearie, donโ€™t fretโ€ฆ Itโ€™s a New year,โ€ She reminded, settling back to a resting position.

I cracked a half-smile, glancing back at the stars.

โ€œ6!โ€

โ€œArenโ€™t you sleepy?โ€ Uncle Joseph asked, he handed a plate filled with food to grandma as he greeted her in our custom.

โ€œNo,โ€ I half-lied, the reminder of sleep was tempting but I wanted to be awake during the most important day.

He shrugged, sitting next to me.

It was an awkward silence that loomed around us. I still hadnโ€™t gotten used to having a new uncle. Auntie Mira; my motherโ€™s sister had her wedding last year. I wasnโ€™t sure about her preference but I attended the wedding anyway. I remembered how mom had adorned her in jewels from our custom with a beautiful sari; Indian traditional dress.ย 

The mesmerizing music being played in the background as the newly weds performed their rituals. Tears lit my eyes, taking it all in. It was different seeing it in real life. Mom had hugged her sister as they exchanged gifts. Dad had congratulated the couple, wishing them a prosperous life together.

I remembered uncle Joseph winking at me, he had on a blue turban with a red sapphire adored in it, mom had hand picked a white shirt that matched his whole outfit. He seemed kind of silly, I couldnโ€™t help but giggle. It lightened up my mood.

My favorite part of the wedding came next; food!

I still tasted the hot gulab-jamuns(a sweet in India) and samosa(A crispy fried snack) that mom had freshly fried.

โ€œNo, no Haripriya, first your aunt and uncle need to eat,โ€ My mom chided when I tried to sneak a few gulab-jamuns.

I rolled my eyes.

โ€œLet the child have them first,โ€ My โ€œnewโ€ uncle stated, smiling.ย 

I decided to give him a chance, he couldnโ€™t be that bad.ย 

โ€œAfter all you do say children are a form of God,โ€ He finished, handing me a platter of sweet, sticky gulab-jamuns.

Mother sighed but let me have my way.

Later, after the wedding was finished uncle Joseph came to talk to me.

โ€œThanks for saving me back there.โ€

โ€œYour my niece, how can I not,โ€ He patted my back, I flushed red.

โ€œIโ€™m sorry for behaving unruly before.โ€

โ€œNow, donโ€™t say that, you're a good girl,โ€ He had pecked my cheek that left me open-mouthed.

โ€œHari?โ€

I snapped back to reality, facing him. Grandma was snoring, her plate of food was half-eaten and placed on her lap.

โ€œOhโ€ฆ sorry,โ€ I mumbled, turning red again.

He chuckled, โ€œIโ€™m gonna go inside, see if Mira needs anything, you good?โ€ He focused his eyes back at gran, then me.

โ€œYeah.โ€

He gave me a thumbs up, ruffling my raven like black hair that Iโ€™d neatly placed in a ponytail.

โ€œ5!โ€ It was down to the last wires. We had half way to go, almost there but not quite there. I could feel the energy of a new beginning about to begin.

โ€œMy, my Haripriya, how tall youโ€™ve grown!โ€ My great-aunt called out. She had on a salwar kameez decorated in small fireworks. Her makeup was overdone as her long black hair was in a tight bun.ย 

โ€œAuntie,โ€ I nodded at her arrival.

She pounced on me, hugging my breath out.

โ€œCanโ€™tโ€ฆ breathe.โ€

โ€œOh sweet sandesh, how is my little Hari!โ€

I pasted a fake smile, falling at the elder women's feet in respect, โ€œIโ€™m good auntie.โ€

โ€œHere, take some sweets, Iโ€™ve had too many and doctor said canโ€™t eat too much salt.โ€

โ€œI think you mean sugar,โ€ I countered, Auntie Mala always mixed up her words, she still hadn't learnt the difference between sugar and salt.

โ€œNow my little sweets, what are you up to?โ€ She asked, totally ignoring my correction.

โ€œNothing much,โ€ I tried to get away from her before she decided to hug me again. She didnโ€™t notice me slip away into the backyard.

Auntie Mala wasโ€ฆ over-loving, if that's a word. Everyone around her was an escape artist, trying to get away before she asked them to taste her homemade sweets. They wereโ€ฆ wellโ€ฆ inedible and unappetizing. But no one criticizes the food auntie made, maybe because it would break her heart. Who knows, no ones ever tried.

โ€œ4!โ€ I glanced back at the newly arrived guests, asking them how they were, taking elders blessings.

I was exhausted over being a host but Iโ€™ll manage, itโ€™s almost New years!

โ€œHey cuz,โ€ I looked behind to see Neel, my cousin.

โ€œHey,โ€ I waved back.

โ€œSoโ€ฆ whatcha doinโ€™?โ€ Neel was never big on parties, he preferred to spend his time on video games and playing basketball, the reason why heโ€™s extremely tall. His dark hair was in a small ponytail, his eyes were almost brown rather than black. He was my tallest cousin and the oldest.

If we werenโ€™t related Iโ€™d be dazzled by his looks. I could already feel Sythe glancing over at him, her eyes wide in surprise.

He brushed his hair back, almost like they did in those Bollywood movies. I rolled my eyes sarcastically.

โ€œCut it out Neel,โ€ I mouthed.

โ€œWhatever little sis.โ€

I fumed red, Neel was always treating me like a baby. 12 year olds arenโ€™t babies.ย 

Just because heโ€™s 15, sheesh, what's the rush to grow up.

โ€œArenโ€™t you gonna take a little nap?โ€ He mocked.

โ€œNo.โ€

โ€œHah, Iโ€™m surprised you managed to stay awake.โ€

โ€œNeel!โ€ I spat out, he always got on my nerves.

He laughed but his expression changed when grandpa approached us. He quickly rushed off to inside, giving me a โ€˜Iโ€™m not done yetโ€™ look.

โ€œ3!โ€ Mayaโ€™s voice was the loudest, I giggled over her jibber jabber.

โ€œGrandpa!โ€

He waved back since he wasnโ€™t very fluent in English.

โ€œTum kaisee ho priye?,โ€ โ€˜How are you dear?โ€™ he asked.

โ€œMain bahut santusht hoon,โ€ I replied, โ€˜Iโ€™m very content.โ€™

He smiled. Leaving me alone to meet his other children and grandchildren.

โ€œ2!โ€ I could feel the current in the air, almost taste the new feeling.

Iโ€™d have to go through everything again, grow up, celebrate, see new things. Yet, thereโ€™s always something different every year. Something Iโ€™d never imagined in a million years would happen.

Just a second left of this year. Weโ€™d all start over.

My adrenaline piped up, this was it.

โ€œ1!โ€ I saw the fireworks go out, so beautiful how they illuminated the sky.

The grown-ups hugged and congratulated one another, the little kids were dazed by the fireworks, dropping everything they were doing to glaze back at the sky.ย 

I felt awed by the sight. I looked back to see everyone had come outside, everyone was so happy together.ย 

โ€œOh dear!โ€ I saw grandma shout, grabbing everyone including my attention.

โ€œWhat's wrong?โ€

โ€œAnayaโ€™s fainted.โ€

โ€œMom?โ€ I rushed over to her side, wrapping my arms around her. She had been sweating really bad.

โ€œMom?โ€ I screamed louder as the family closed in, I couldnโ€™t breath.

We called a doctor that lived close to our house. She immediately agreed to check and arrived before I could say gulab jamun five times.

โ€œOh,โ€ Was all she said, and she smiled?

โ€œIs she ok?โ€ Dad asked.

โ€œYes, more than ok.โ€

We were dumbfounded.

โ€œCongratulationsโ€ฆ new babyโ€™s on the way,โ€ She shouted so all the relatives could hear.

Dad almost fell in shock, grandma was in tears and Iโ€ฆ I smiled.

I knew something was going to happen. And it did!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

This is my last story for 2020 so I hoped you all enjoyed it!

This story is dedicated to...

Haripriya Anand for being so supportive/sweet and one of my first friends on Reedsy!

https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/dbb433/

Sythe Crimsonstar for being an amazing writer and a great friend!

https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/2a6b72/

and...

Maya W. for giving me lots of tips and helping me be a better author!

https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/maya-w-33cd77/

Don't feel bad if I didn't include you. I'm just saving you for later:)

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73 comments

Varsha...I want to be honest with you, you are one of the first people who have ever dedicated a story to me and I feel so loved and appreciated for that. You have no clue how much I jumped on my bed when I saw my name on your story. My face was flushed with red, and I really couldn't stop blushing. I really felt so happy that someone thought of me when writing their stories! ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฉโค๏ธโค๏ธ I liked how detailed you explained each "second". It almost felt like you were time-traveling between each of the second, and I liked how at the end, it is lik...

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Aww anytime Hari;) You flatten me too much, made my day(or night;)) I see you changed your name chause I was confused at first;) Also I really wanted to dedicate it to you chause you've been there for me since the beginning and I really wanted to show how grateful I am for being friends with you:) And wow, maybe I read your mind or something;) Its a very cute nickname! Thank you so much Haripriya for everything and I hope you and your family have a wonderful new years!

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Wow, thank you so much Varsha!! Again, I am so glad you even thought of writing a story for me! It was really sweet of you and I appreciate you fro doing that! I hope you too had an awesome New Year! :)

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Megan Sutherland
02:24 Jan 04, 2021

Hey, Varsha!!! You asked me to read, so here I am. So. I really loved the plot to this; it was such a sweet story. I loved how connected the main character is to her family, and how at the end you made it seem like something bad was going to happen, but it all turned out okay. I was totally expecting a bad cliffhanger XD, and it was relieving to find out everything was okay. I liked how detailed each second was, but I personally feel that each second was a little too long-detailed, if that makes any sense. Like, I don't see her arguing wit...

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Thank you Megan so much for reading! Yea I kinda rushed because I wanted to finish it before new year but great advice:) And of course! Anytime, I really thought ur stories were very unique because u used wolves which I really admired! I'm currently working on a novel that involves wolves so ur stories really helped!

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Megan Sutherland
02:40 Jan 04, 2021

Aw, thanks, Varsha!! That means a lot <3

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<3 aww, np, I would also love for u to check out my novel when I'm done with the first draft!

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19:08 Jan 15, 2021

I loved the introduction of Lucky! I used to have a dog named Chloe (RIP๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ) and she was kind of like my sidekick so I really liked that interpretation. Constructive Feedback: This is something I would do but you don't have to - Change "She always picked on meโ€ฆ only me in hundredths of kids." to "She always picked on me out of the hundreds of kids she could've."

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Thank you so much! I'm glad u do!. Aww, I'm so sorry. I pray for her too :( Yeah, that sounds better. Thx for correcting!

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20:32 Jan 15, 2021

Thank you๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡

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Roland Aucoin
20:31 Jan 08, 2021

Wonderful story, well-written. I enjoyed the commentary between seconds and the 'happy' beginning of the new year. Nicely done.

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Scar Katelyn
03:29 Jan 08, 2021

The end was so sweet you're so good at getting the feelings in your story. Keep writing!

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Aww, thank you Scar!!! Welcome to Reedsy! Will u be writing stories soon?

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Scar Katelyn
04:39 Jan 08, 2021

hopefully! Cant wait!!

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Lillian Brooks
19:01 Jan 05, 2021

Hey, Varsha! This is a very long and very wild story. But I'm not sure I understand how this story takes place over ten seconds. Other than that I really liked the ending and the storyline in general. It was interesting and easy to stay with. Great job! -Lillian

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Thank you Lillian! Ya, it was supposed to be like 10 seconds for new year countdown but ya I feel like the time didn't really make sense;) Thank you for reading!

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Kate Reynolds
21:14 Jan 02, 2021

Hello Varsha! This story was soooooooooooooooo sweet!!!!!!!!! I loved the surprise at the end when her mom was pregnant!!!!!!!! Great job! :D

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Kate Reynolds
23:57 Jan 02, 2021

Np! Also could you help upvote me please? I just lost almost 1000 QwQ

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Oh no:( I hope that crook gets caught. Your such a talented writer. I def upvote u for sure:)

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Kate Reynolds
16:58 Jan 03, 2021

Thanksssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Akshaya Sutrave
08:51 Jan 02, 2021

Hi Varsha! I really enjoyed reading this story! You developed the characters so well, and I liked that you dedicated it to Haripriya, Sythe, and Maya, who are fantastic authors! :) I liked the ending very much! Great job, keep it up!! :D

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Sorry for jumping on a comment thread that isn't mine! But I just want to thank you Akshaya and Varsha for being so kind!! :)

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Hi Akshaya! Thank you so much!!! Yea, I wanted to dedicate it to people who helped me a lot(I'd have to include you soon:)) Thank you again!

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Akshaya Sutrave
15:17 Jan 02, 2021

Of course! It was a fantastic idea to do that, and thank you! :) I enjoy all your stories very much!! :D

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Ana Govindasamy
08:43 Jan 01, 2021

This was so amazing! I love the fact you dedicated it to Haripriya (she deserves it; sheโ€™s so supportive and kind to everyone ๐Ÿ’•)! It was really sweet and I love the way you built the character relationships with each second. Also now I want some gulab-jamun...and our only nearby Indian sweet shop is closed because of COVID.

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Hi Ana! Thank you so much! Yes I totally agree, Haripriya was so happy when she saw her name! Yup! I really want some too! Hopefully COVID ends soon. Have a wonderful new year!

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Ana Govindasamy
17:35 Jan 01, 2021

Thanks Varsha! You too โค๏ธ

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Like I did in the above thread, sorry for jumping in on a conversation that isn't mine, but thank you so much Ana and Varsha!! It really means so much coming from you two! :)

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Ana Govindasamy
08:24 Jan 04, 2021

I donโ€™t mind! No problem, you deserve it haha! ๐Ÿ’•

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06:43 Jan 15, 2021

Hey Varsha! Wonderful story, I loved the plot and I think it was awesome that there were a lot of connections throughout the story. There are a few grammatical errors here and there, e.g: [Sunnydale middle school.] Since it's a name middle school needs to be in capitals (Sunnydale Middle School). [โ€œYour my niece, how can I not,โ€] This should be "you're" [โ€œYes dearie, donโ€™t fretโ€ฆ Itโ€™s a New year,โ€] If you want it to be it's New Year, then you need a capital Y, otherwise it's (a new year,"). Awesome job! :D

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Hi Jasey! Thank you so much for reading! And pointing out my silly mistakes :) I'll try to fix that in my end because the story was already approved.

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22:02 Jan 15, 2021

Awesome, glad I could help! :)

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23:12 Jan 15, 2021

Yes and no, I m getting new glasses, but other than that, I havenโ€™t done much! (Except for reading and writing)

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Maya W.
23:13 Jan 06, 2021

Aww, thanks so much for dedicating this to me! At first I thought this was for the other Maya, and I was like "oh, that's sweet," and then I saw it was for me and I started smiling so wide, you have no idea. Very sweet. :) This was a very well written story, too. I loved how you let all of our personalities shine while still developing your own characters. It's a great mix, and I really enjoyed it. And lastly, I have a couple new stories out, if you could check them out!

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Hi Maya! Hah, I couldn't leave you out:) Plus, I think you're the only Maya I know:) Thank you so much, I'm glad you like it! And I will def check them out!

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Maya W.
23:17 Jan 06, 2021

Thank you! And thanks again for including me :)

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Hey Varsha! Aww, thank you so much for dedicating this story to us! You're so kind, and I'm sure I speak for myself, Haripriya and Maya when I saw I'm flattered. I was tingling with excitement to read this, and when I saw my name there, I was in the seventh heaven ;) Even if you haven't met in real life you captured my personality perfectly! I loved how you gave a background to each second, and every character had a backstory. You stayed within the word limit, but I feel I've read a novel because of how jam-packed your story is with detail...

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Maya Emerson
02:14 Jan 05, 2021

I might do a story with friends on Reedsy, and I would like to put you in it, so what would you want your character's personality/ physical description/ special skills/ spirit animal to be? :)

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Aww, thank you! I'd be more into reading, very responsible but adore animals! I can have maybe dark hair(brown or black) and have dark eyes and maybe play a musical instrument(prefer the piano) and my spirit animal... maybe a wolf?

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Maya Emerson
16:04 Jan 05, 2021

Thanks so much! :)

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