Tapping on the keys, typing the last sentence of the story, she clasped and unclasped her fingers, leaning back into her seat, and staring at the opened laptop before her.

“Wow! I really wrote this,” she asked herself, fazed by her written words.

Smiling, her eyes scanned through the story once again, and she nodded in approval.

 “Perfect ending,” she muttered. 

She hadn’t noticed when the door squeaked open with her elder brother- Pablo peeking into her room.

“Aquila, mum’s calling you,” Pablo informed her.

Turning in her seat to him, “Pabby, you should come check this out. It’s my entry for the contest.”

“Quily, you write the best and thrilling stories. It’s always perfect. You will win this, this time,” he assured her, giving a sincere smile.

“Thanks,” she said, her face also beaming with a smile. 

He had always been the one from onset. Ever since she had been writing, he had always been the one rooting for her. He had been her greatest fan and biggest critic. She could remember how difficult she found showing people her work. Then, she had been scared that they weren’t good enough, compared to other writings she had been seeing. So, she kept her works to herself.

It happened one afternoon when she left her phone in her room - as she was busy in the restroom, that Pablo found her phone on her bed. He picked it up, copied one of her works titled ‘The Lost One’, and posted it both on her WhatsApp and Facebook page, with pseudonym ‘Quilly Ink’ beneath it.

Unaware of what her brother had done, she innocently picked up her phone to chat her friends. It was then she saw the tons of messages flooding her page. Confused, she tapped on the first one sent by a girl she barely spoke to – Katie.

“Thank you so much. The write-up was timely. It almost felt like I was reading my story,” it read. 

More perplexed, she opened the second.

“Aquila! God! I’m literally shedding tears right now. This is so touching.”

Frowning, a little bit surprised, she tapped on her tagged status. Lo and behold! There it was – her story; The Lost One, the one she never wanted anyone to see, now posted and viewed by almost hundreds of people.

Knowing only someone was up to this feat, she screamed his name, “Pablo! What have you done?”

“Something you should have done a long time ago. By the way, you should check your Facebook page, you have loads of comment waiting for you,” he replied her from outside. 

Since then, her confidence grew bit by bit till they found wings to soar. She began to share her works, and got inspiring feedbacks of how touching and captivating her writings were. Some even said it had made a huge turn around in their lives, her words had given them hope when they least expected, and added value to their lives.

Through writing, she had met people, people who now meant a lot to her – Laila, her best friends and writing partner, whom she met a year back when she dropped that mind blowing comment on her work. Since then, they bonded, wrote together, talked about life issues she would never have shared with anyone in the first place. 

Her gaze shifted from her laptop to her Samsung phone which she connected with a USB cord to her PC. Lifting it to her face level, she removed it from the airplane mode she had previously placed it because she wanted to write and she wanted no distractions. It was what she had taught herself to do each time she wanted to write, it gave her full concentration. 

Her WhatsApp messages kept loading, and it was just three hours she had spent away. The first chat was from Laila. 

“Quilly, guess what? I just got a mail that my entry was the best in that JK flash fiction contest we submitted entries for. Who could have thought…I’m so emotional right now,” it read.

A panging hurt was what struck her heart as her fingers lingered on her keyboard, having no idea of what to reply with. No, she was supposed to be happy for Laila, not the ill-feelings she had towards her good news. It wasn’t Laila’s fault that hers wasn’t selected, so she had to be happy for her.

“Smiles,” she typed at first. Feeling awkward, she deleted it and typed again, “I’m happy for you girl! Congratulations,” she replied.

“Thanks. Going off to submit my entry for Phoenix Quill,” Laila sent.

Anger was the least of the emotions Aquila felt. She was infuriated because that was another opportunity that would be taken from her again. Now, she had lost her confidence of winning. She could only hope that her story came out best. But really, she just wanted to win something and be celebrated for it. Laila had always been the lucky one, and it made her feel she wasn’t trying enough. 

Leaving Laila’s message read, she scrolled through her chats. Choosing randomly, she tapped on Mikun’s message. 

“Yo Quilly! How’s writing? Submitted for the Phoenix Quill yet? Heard submission closes tomorrow.”

“Nope, will do later,” Aquila replied.

“Okay. Wish you the best.”

“Thanks. I really need to win this.” She could read the desperation in her words.

“You will…but, it sounds serious,” Mikun commented.

“I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t…probably lash out on myself for not doing well enough, quit applying for contests. I mean, this is like the 15th one, and I’ve never even be shortlisted or even longlisted. Am I that bad? I keep asking myself this. I just want to win, I’m not asking for much. I want to be celebrated also, and experience that feeling.”

“Hey, these contests don’t determine how good your writings are. Even if you don’t win now, a better prize is coming. And when you win, we’ll all be here to scream your name.”

“Lol. Thanks a lot.”

A month passed. Life went hard on her – school’s stress, inner battles and struggles, that she couldn’t write as she could. Even the comments she was getting weren’t enough to keep her going anymore. 

Staring at her phone vibrate on the table before her – it was Laila calling.

“Hey girlfriend!” Laila called with a cheery tone from the other side.

“Fish,” she answered coldly.

“Why aren’t you online?”

“Busy…thinking about my life.”

“Hey…are you okay?” Laila asked, her voice filled with concern.

“I’m fine, it no big deal,” she told Laila.

“Anyways, I have good news that might uplift your spirit. Just guess what?”

“What Laila? You know I don’t do well with guesses. Just tell me what it is exactly.”

“Phoenix Quill winner is out!” Laila screamed, causing Aquila to move the phone away from her ears.

“O-okaay,” she drawled, her heart slamming faster against her chest.

“Come online, I need to show you something.”

Dropping the call, she argued inwardly with herself whether or not to go online. She really wasn’t in the mood for any good-like bad news.

 Curiosity crept in and stole her peace. It gnawed on her mind so much that she was left with no choice but to turn on her data, and load her WhatsApp messages. Scared, she opened Laila’s message. Laila had sent her a picture of something. Loading it, it was a screenshot of the list of the top ten books who won the Phoenix Quill. Scrolling from bottom-up, she hoped to at least find her name somewhere, but she didn’t. Yet, she was closer to the top. Panic overwhelmed her as she could virtually hear her heart beating in her chest.

 Moving her fingers up, from the fourth book to the third and to the second, she finally found the winner. Her heart dropped as she shut her eyes. Again. She had lost.

But, wait, she snapped her eyes open and stared at the book's title – My Gray Days. 

It looked familiar. Of course it was. It was her book, the one she submitted for the contest, and in front of it was her name – Quilly Phillips.

Stunned, she dropped her phone on table, placing her palm over her mouth as she was shocked. She had really won. She won. Overwhelmed by a feeling inexplicable, teardrops escaped her eyes. This what she wanted all along – to win, the win, and there it was right in front of her. Yet, she couldn’t believe it.

August 22, 2019 08:13

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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