Heart to Beat

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

121 comments

High School Speculative Coming of Age

As soon as her eyes snap open to a dark ceiling and her body registers the sense of unease, she knows the Dream has begun.




She climbs off the mattress and slides the bedroom door open to reveal a short stretch of hallway, dimly-lit; at the end of it is a staircase descending into the light. Any time now, the seconds will start to tick down.




And I’ll only have ten.




It’s a small house, and from her vantage point she takes in the sight of the open kitchen by the front hall, the only light source at this hour—unfinished dishes half-drowning in soapy neglect, the night hanging like icicles outside a window, a fridge pockmarked with once-cherished memories.




And Mother, sitting with her head down as she sheds tears onto the kitchen table.




Focus.




The front door slams shut just as the source of Mother’s sorrow leaves the house. A timer inside her comes alive, one that never did fade away like the rest of her scars. She flies down the stairs, two steps at a time, reaching the front hall in a single second. She could save some time if the door opened outwards; instead, she has to skid to a halt on the welcome mat before wrenching it inwards.




Three seconds gone. 




Clad in her pajamas, she plunges into the night. She’s long since grown numb to the embarrassment, though it’s not like the pedestrians milling about even acknowledge her existence.




Four seconds gone.




A horn punctures the midnight stillness. She cuts a path through the crowd, swerving around as many jostling shoulders as she can.




Five seconds gone. Five seconds left.




She watches the train rumble onto the platform ahead—as out of place in a suburban neighborhood as ever, but dreams don’t have to make sense. Four seconds remain. 




The crowd thins. Three seconds.




Feet scuffed from the asphalt and heart thundering in her chest, she trains her gaze through the ever-shifting masses until she finds her target—a tall figure in a trench coat, briefcase in hand as he places one black heel on a step.




Two seconds.




Dad!” she yells with everything she can muster.




One second.




Don’t go!




He boards.




For the millionth time, the horn blares her defeat and the train rumbles into the distance, fading with the rest of the dream.




She wakes up in bed to sunbeams spearing her eyes.




“Rei-chan,” calls Mother from the kitchen. “You’ll be late for school.”




“Coming.” Rei rubs the tears out of her eyes, replacing them with the courage to sit up.




I’ll get there in time even if it kills me, she vows as she wriggles into a blouse and pulls on a pleated skirt.




You’ll see.







👟







Rei is sixteen years old when a piece of chalk ricochets off her head, snapping her gaze to the front of the class. It’s not the first time she gets humiliated like this, and it won’t be the last.




“Head in the clouds again, Nakajima-san?” scolds Sensei Fujimoto.




Rei releases a frantic apology as she returns the chalk stick to an expectant hand, her forehead throbbing.




“Sticks and stones,” reminds Kano as the two of them abandon the laughter nipping at Rei’s heels in the hallway after class.




“You’re right about the sticks,” mutters Rei as she rubs her head.




(“Want one?” Kano had offered an eternity ago, with the sort of casualness that longtime friends share even though it’s the first time he’d decided to sit next to her during recess.




Rei had stared at the egg sandwich glowing in his hand with surprise and confusion, both of which had melted away like hoarfrost in spring as something beautiful blossomed between the two students.




Kano had chased away Rei’s tormentors, shared notes with her during lazy afternoons in that one coffee shop, buzzed his way onto her phone screen the night before deadlines. 




In other words, the years spent floundering in the wake of her father’s departure could have been unbearable, but weren’t.




And Rei can never repay him for it.)




Kano studies Rei’s face as they walk, and there’s no hiding her demons from the boy that can read her like a textbook.




“Rei-chan, talk to me.”




They reach a landing in the stairwell, and the silence hems them in. Rei hasn’t told a soul about the Dream, even though it’s been visiting her in the dead of night for the past two months. Since the school year started, in fact.




Last night, she was one second too slow; she could feel it, her built-in timer screaming for her to make the final stretch. Each and every failure would eat her up for the rest of the day. One second from grabbing the back of his trench coat. One second from changing everything.




One second forever out of reach.




The first time Rei was forced to relive the cursed memory, she had done the same thing her eleven-year-old self had done—crouched in the shadows and watched her life splinter into a million hopeless shards.




Days had turned into weeks, and the nightly torments had gradually evolved into something else—something magical and crystalline and very closely resembling a second chance.




Rei sighs as she gazes up at Kano’s face that somehow remains soft under the worry lines, and she considers telling him.




I need to be faster.




“I… I’m going to join the track team,” she decides then and there.




The years have gifted her the key to deciphering his face as well, and it’s plain to see the surprise—is this the same girl he had to wait for outside the locker room to the tune of her echoing sobs? The one that would splinter like rock sugar under the endless jeering, all because news of her father’s disappearance had mutated into a rumor he’s had to deflect too many times?




It’s not like Kano to stop prodding Rei until her problems become his as well.




He nods after mulling it over. “Trainers.”




“What?”




“You’re going to need shoes. Proper ones that don’t wear away easily.”




She can’t help but smile. Please never change, Kano-kun. 







👟







Rei is eleven years old when her father leaves for the first time.




She jolts awake with an inkling that something isn’t right in the house. The haunting melody of Mother sobbing confirms it, and lures her tiny feet out of her room to the edge of the staircase.




She watches Mother’s shoulders shudder in the kitchen below while Dad slams the door on his way out.




She watches, and that is all she does for ten seconds.




Ten seconds that could be spent consoling Mother.




Ten seconds that could be spent running after Dad in one final attempt to turn him around.




Ten seconds that could have saved the five years to come, but instead destroyed them.




All because she stopped moving.







👟







Rei pants her lungs dry at the end of the dirt path, hands clutching bare knees. Each breath mists ahead of her in the encroaching autumn chill.




Kano jogs over to her side, stopwatch in hand. “Rei-chan, you sure you haven’t had any practice before?”




Oh, you have no idea. “Why?”




He glances approvingly at the timer. “Run like that for the qualifiers and you won’t be a laughing stock.”




“How fast was I?”




“You didn’t reach the end of the path in under ten seconds like you wanted, but you came close. You’re 1.44 seconds over.”




The lakeside path at the park seemed a similar distance. Even with running shorts and a Pocari Sweat at her disposal, here her demons are, wrapping chains around her ankles.




“Again. Time me again.”




“Maybe we should take a break.”




“Not yet. I’m not fast enough.”




She runs until her body gives in (even though her spirit doesn’t) and he is there for her until the blue sky wilts into a cozy maroon. She manages to shave off a few milliseconds.




Progress.




“You saw?” asks Kano as they split an egg sandwich on a bench.




Rei nods, too exhausted to string words together. Hana Ishikawa and her cronies had been there. Ishikawa, the star of the girls’ track team, had watched Rei panting like an idiot and didn’t laugh.




Heh. Progress.




“Let’s hope she’s only the beginning,” remarks Kano as he munches away. “How are the shoes?”




Rei might just join the sweat puddling inside them, so all she responds with is a wobbly thumbs-up. Again, she has Kano to thank for her trainers—a hand-me-down from his brother studying in Kyoto, not brand new but leagues better than anything she has.




Or anything Mother would be willing to buy her, anyway. Not with the grades she’s getting. And especially not after her father’s departure, which hasn’t exactly made Mother bitter enough to go over the edge (thank god), but bitter enough for Rei to seek solace at Kano’s house on occasion.




“Ready to go home?”




Rei nods, glad that she‘ll always have a reservation on the back of her best friend’s bicycle.







👟







“Dad, don’t go! DAD!




Night after heart-pounding night, the Dream ends the exact. Same. Way.




With her flailing in the darkness and the horn of a train, low and ominous, splitting her soul in half.




No matter how many seconds she annihilates (her record is 8.16 in the park) and how many litres of sweat she bleeds building her calf muscles in the school gymnasium, she’s always one second too slow.




Every night, she sinks into her pillow eager and expectant, sometimes with her shoes on from after-school practice.




And every night, the Dream finds a way to snuff out that spark.




Sometimes the path leading to the train platform stretches on for longer than usual, and other times the crowd of pedestrians thickens, jostles her too much to keep a lightning-fast pace.




It’s as if the Dream doesn’t want her to win.




She sheds tears every morning, the sun bursting through each droplet before they hit the bedsheets.




What would I even do if I reached him? she wonders one lethargic afternoon as she studies sparrows frolicking outside a window instead of numbers on a chalkboard. Hug him? Make him apologize? Ask him if he ever loved us?




“Nakajima-san,” thunders Sensei Fujimoto. “Solve the equation on the board, and I might spare you the chalk today.”




A stillness descends across the class as everyone holds their breath.




X is equal to... four.”




Sensei Fujimoto’s nod of approval is as surprising as the fact that the class manages to hold in their collective gasp. Rei’s track sessions had unlocked something inside her—a desire to stretch her legs, to no longer be confined to the shell of a girl made of glass and crystallized tears. That, and Kano’s bottomless well of kindness have made her grades… better.




(“You’ve got some status now that you’re on the team, but why stop there? Once we get your grades up, everyone will want to be friends with Rei-chan.”




She had blushed at the thought, but had loved him for saying it.)




In the hallway after class, Jin Sato pushes Rei against a locker. “Everyone knows that was a fluke, Nakajima-san. Why don’t you drop the act like your dad dropped your mom for another woman?”




She waits for Kano to come to her rescue, only to find slender, glossy fingers pulling Sato off her.




“Piss off, Sato-kun,” orders Hana Ishikawa.




Sato does as the star of the track team says.




“Thank you, Ishikawa-san,” breathes Rei.




“You’re one of us now. Please, just call me Hana.”




In the corner of her eye, Rei catches Kano flashing her a thumbs up.







👟







She concludes one day, as she basks in an ocean of smiles shining brighter than the golden trophy in her hand, that it doesn’t matter what she says to her father.




What matters is that she reaches him at all. Because that’s what should’ve happened five years and an eternity ago.







👟







Every tree in town sheds their leaves as Winter rests its weary bones over the world, and Rei sheds her fears alongside them. When Spring sprouts of the snow, bringing with it glowing cherry blossoms and a sky that sings of new beginnings, Rei sings a song of her own.




She thanks Kano as she clambers off the back of his bicycle one star-kissed evening.




“What for?” he wonders, because it’s not unusual for them to fill in each other’s silence on the way home from after-school study sessions.




“For being there,” Rei answers as she wraps skinny arms around him.




Because even with her new life, even with the people she never thought would populate it but do, it’s the warmth of the boy that has never left her side that she cherishes the most.




All is right in Rei’s world except for one thing. And tonight, she will make it right.




She’s ready.







👟







When the Dream dips her into the past, she doesn’t hold back.




I can do this, she tells herself as she slides down the banister—a tactic she’d discovered a few weeks ago to be marginally faster than running down the stairs.




I can do this, she tells herself as she speeds past Mother and bursts into the night.




“I can do this,” she pants as the crowd looms ahead.




She imagines shoes hugging her bare feet, and the track instead of harsh asphalt. She imagines watching Kano and the rest of the spectators in the bleachers go wild as her ponytail flies behind her like a cape.




Every second of every day since the beginning of the school year has been shaped by the Dream. Every heartbeat, fifty-three of them per minute, dipped in the ten seconds she spends here. How can she hope to move forward if those ten seconds have stretched taut across her world and flooded every corner of her life?




That’s why I have to reach him.




The back of his trench coat is there, teasing her through a gap in the crowd. One second left. 




Almost there.




Almost there.




Almost—




The gap fades, plugged by cold grey bodies. She throws her own against them, only to be brought to her knees.




No! NO NO NO NO NO!




She doesn’t have to endure the sound of the horn to know the train has arrived. Nor does she have to watch her father board it to know he’s gone.




Later that day, Rei is late for school.







👟







Rei is seventeen years old when she passes her exams and watches her mother’s face light up at the news; not quite as much as when her father was around, but enough to make golden bubbles tickle at her insides.




She’d decided to stop running for good. Not for the track team; if she tried to cut that part out of her, she’d bleed to death. Nowadays, when the Dream begins, she lies in bed and waits it out.




It hurts. But failing hurts more.




Maybe the Dream will stop coming to her if she stays defiant. 




She and Kano and a handful of other students sneak onto the roof for one last get-together before Summer. A year has passed and, for Rei, nothing has changed.




Nothing?




Rei takes in the earnest grins surrounding her, the text message inviting her to binge-eat every type of street snack in Osaka, the tinkling melody of Hana-chan giggling at one of her corny jokes.




Rei takes it all in and realizes she’s… happy. 




She’s happy, and her father isn’t here.







👟







That night, after she smooths out her skirt and watches Kano pedal away, Rei allows the Dream to take her.




She is calm as still water when the door slams shut downstairs. This time, she doesn’t get butterflies from the pressure of beating ten seconds, even though the timer ticks down somewhere inside her. Like an apparition, she floats down the stairs, one hand on the banister.




Instead of destroying the welcome mat, she turns left and drapes a comforting arm around Mother.




Mother, who glances at her daughter six years too old and too late, eyes brimming with tears.




“It’s going to be okay,” soothes Rei. “The two of us will get through this. I promise.”




Mother fades away like smoke caught in the breeze, leaving Rei alone in the kitchen.




Before she heads out, she glances at the memories strewn across the fridge. She pictures the blank slate of her current fridge, and vows to decorate it with new ones.




Ten seconds have elapsed by the time she steps into the night, and the Dream hasn’t shattered.




Rei strolls onwards, a straight line towards the man that waits. The pedestrians mill about as usual, a perpetual barrier, and she ignores them. She passes through each jostling figure like they’re only a gust of wind.




When she reaches the platform, she glances around to find that the crowd has disappeared, leaving the emptiness of the night to accompany her. That, and the horn heralding the train’s appearance.




Her father should have boarded by now, but hasn’t. One black heel hovers over the step, frozen in time.




Until Rei tugs his arm, making him turn towards his daughter.




His face has never left her thoughts, so she isn’t surprised to see the plainness of someone that has torn a family asunder. He blinks a few times, as if waiting for her to speak.




Look how many friends I’ve made, she wants to say.




Look how good my grades have gotten.




Look how fast I can run.




Without you.




But she’s grown wings since then, and it’s time she sheds the dead weight so she can fly. Instead of opening her mouth, Rei holds her father’s gaze until he fades away like Mother.




Never to board a train again.







👟







There are no tears when she wakes up. Only sunbeams, and a peacefulness that caresses her heart to beat at a gentle pace.




“Rei-chan,” calls Mother from the kitchen. “Breakfast is ready.”




“Coming!”




After pulling on fresh clothes, Rei wriggles into her trainers.




And hits the ground running.




January 02, 2021 03:48

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121 comments

Rayhan Hidayat
04:11 Jan 02, 2021

Not even sure if this fits the prompt, but this story had to be told. 😬

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Zilla Babbitt
16:10 Jan 03, 2021

I think it fits the prompt. The judges better think so too, because if this doesn't get a shortlist at least I'll lose a bit of faith in them :). First, wow. The story fits together perfectly, like a puzzle, and ticks onward gently, not too fast or slow. I only caught on to the "dream is taking her to the past" thing only about halfway through, but I think that's my fault. My brother used to do things like this, run the length of the street and have me time him. He'd breathe for a minute and dash back and do it again. Why? No idea. Maybe...

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Rayhan Hidayat
20:55 Jan 03, 2021

Aw yay, glad I could get the Zilla Seal of Approval! And this just got approved, thank god I certainly hope your brother is just an athletics enthusiast and not experiencing a traumatic event from his childhood every night 😬 It’s been a while since I did a story in my “usual” style so I’m glad you enjoyed!

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Zilla Babbitt
16:32 Jan 04, 2021

Yeah, maybe I should check in on him... :)

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Orenda .
19:43 Jan 05, 2021

hello! I've a new story out so feel free to check it out whenever you want!

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:37 Jan 07, 2021

Oh yay, I’ll get to it when I can 😙

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Orenda .
02:48 Jan 07, 2021

thank you!

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:51 Jan 07, 2021

That's a great song btw. I've been listening to it for years and the lyrics are just as powerful then as they are now. The music video hammers the point home even more

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Orenda .
02:55 Jan 07, 2021

exactly! They give me goosebumps and Stephen's voice is even powerful, so I'm glad I came across him. Do you listen to Linkin Park? again, every song has a powerful meaning.

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:20 Jan 07, 2021

surprisingly no, I don't :P All my classmates listened to Linkin back in the 00's except for me... There's a song called "Yes All Cops" by Worriers that talks about police brutality... very powerful message as well, but the vocals are a bit hard to make out

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Orenda .
05:17 Jan 02, 2021

Ren-chan loves this story! I'm more than contended to have read this. What I think is that you've given a little twist to the prompt, the story originally is supposed to end in ten seconds but you continue after that. We, as readers, love the twist but things obviously depend on the judges and if they're impressed by the concept, you might, ya know, take home those handsome bucks. the concept is nonpareil and I've enjoyed this even more because ahem... Japanese characters xD. but I fail to comprehend what Dream actually is. Is it like...

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Rayhan Hidayat
19:07 Jan 02, 2021

Yay, glad you did :D I have no idea if this will be approved but I appreciate the vote of confidence! Yep, I knew you'd love it if I did a weeb story haha. Might do more if you think I pull it off well. Oh whoops, might go back and clear things up then. The Dream is just that: a dream of a traumatic event that happened when she was 11, hence why she experiences it over and over again. Oh and check the doc if you're free!

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Orenda .
19:21 Jan 02, 2021

every story gets approved, and I hope the judges consider this. A shortlist is well deserved, really. do more please :) hmm, noice, makes sense. Cool, checking it now.

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Orenda .
03:20 Jan 11, 2021

new story out, feel free to check it out whenever you want :) leave some feedback too! Thanks so much!

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:47 Jan 11, 2021

awesome, i'll get to it soon ;)

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Orenda .
03:50 Jan 11, 2021

awesome! Dang it, you smashed the button again, didn't you? XD

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:47 Jan 11, 2021

awesome, i'll get to it soon ;)

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:47 Jan 11, 2021

awesome, i'll get to it soon ;)

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Orenda .
17:08 Jan 07, 2021

hi, free today/on Friday? I don't know if it's annoying when I keep checking up on you xD.

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:56 Jan 08, 2021

Nah you’re good. I dunno when I’ll be free because of school stuff, but I’ll check Reedsy every now and then

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Orenda .
03:13 Jan 08, 2021

ayy, augh, guess I'll stay bored and stressed for the timing 🌚 nvm, let me know when you're free.

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How do you make so many amazing stories? No doubt, this one is my favorite story by you. I loved it so much! :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
20:44 Jan 02, 2021

Yay thanks Laila ;)

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R. K.
16:24 Jan 02, 2021

"And hits the ground running" Your stories always make me cry, but feel so happy. I love the way the prompt was interpreted, the title, the 10 sec incorporation and the repetitive desires that fueled her no matter what happened. It was nice to see that she didn't win in a substantially easy manner because that's what always happens. You're not so great until you are (with a bit of training). My take was that there was a trick to the dream, almost like a riddle or an escape room. Her approach though noble, was the wrong one at first and near...

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Rayhan Hidayat
19:19 Jan 02, 2021

Thanks, you made my day! Your take isn't far off, it's really just a story about letting go and not letting your past define you. Honestly I think my new year's resolution should be to stop submitting in the last 2 hours and start being more organized :P

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I. F.
06:27 Jan 02, 2021

The backstory! At this point, I'm not even surprised you managed to include such a rich one in a story that's only supposed to last ten seconds, the world-building and character development is on another level with your stories. You gotta break a couple eggs to make an omelet, that doesn't exactly apply here but I'm glad you broke the rules of the prompt a bit (just like I broke the rules of that saying...haha. No? ok). I think this story can go far, we'll have to wait and see what the judges think.

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Rayhan Hidayat
19:13 Jan 02, 2021

Lol yeah, but I might've left some eggshells in the yolk this time (does that work as an extension of the analogy? lol) We'll see what the judges say (Laura if that judge is you and you read this, don't hesitate to be as nonbiased as possible, I can take it!) Thanks for the comment as always!! :D

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I. F.
21:17 Jan 02, 2021

Sure it works, no need to walk on eggshells here 😉 No problem, I have a feeling this could be your next short-lister.

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Orenda .
02:32 Jan 14, 2021

augh, I'm getting worried now. I know you're doing that damned thing, but I've never seen you gone for so long or you have but I've never seen XD. I hope it's just the lab part because you got me overthinking :(

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:49 Jan 16, 2021

I'm here! Hey, just bcuz I have a life outside of reedsy doesn't mean I'm dead ;) Don't worry, I can't afford to die when I haven't won a contest yet, remember?

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Orenda .
05:07 Jan 16, 2021

I KNOW. I said I overthink and think of all the possiblities, didn't I?

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:50 Jan 16, 2021

Yes you did haha. Gave your story a read, it was really fun!

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:49 Jan 16, 2021

I'm here! Hey, just bcuz I have a life outside of reedsy doesn't mean I'm dead ;) Don't worry, I can't afford to die when I haven't won a contest yet, remember?

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:49 Jan 16, 2021

I'm here! Hey, just bcuz I have a life outside of reedsy doesn't mean I'm dead ;) Don't worry, I can't afford to die when I haven't won a contest yet, remember?

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Scout Tahoe
16:18 Jan 08, 2021

This is heartbreaking. And sad. And beautiful. I can't really offer critique but Ray, it's amazing. Okay. To be honest, the real reason I came here was to ask you about something in your bio but I needed to read the story first and it's lovely. You said you live in Bright Moon, and while I may be getting this wrong, that's the main rebel fortress in She-Ra. I watch She-Ra. And I love it. But just making sure this is the same Bright Moon...?

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:38 Jan 08, 2021

HEYYY ADORA Also, you won, what the heck!!! I'm off to be blown away by your story...

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Scout Tahoe
01:23 Jan 09, 2021

"I need to blow something up!" Aha!

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:01 Jan 09, 2021

So glad to find a kindred soul. That show is one of the reasons I exclusively write lesbian romances. The other is Killing Eve.

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Scout Tahoe
02:09 Jan 09, 2021

Yes, lesbian romances are the best. I'll have to check out Killing Eve. She-Ra is amazing. The ending...oh my gosh.

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Rayhan Hidayat
22:30 Jan 09, 2021

Killing Eve has Catradora written all over it “Adora, please stay.” Yep, that ending got me good. Confessions of a straight guy haha

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Maya W.
00:42 Jan 04, 2021

Hello Ray! I really, really loved this story. Amazing work. Actually, I was thinking about naming one of my most recent characters Rei or Reiko, but I decided to set the story in a fictional city vaguely inspired by Northern Catalunya instead of Japan (please don't ask about my thought process, it's all over the place). That being said, I think you did a much better job than me. I love how everything comes together in the end here, and how much of Rei's thoughts we get to see. Just beautifully written. Would you mind reading some of my sto...

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:52 Jan 04, 2021

Hey, thanks for stopping by! Yeah, go for it, Rei is a super cool and unique name, so I just had to use it Sure, I’ll see if I can spare the time to check your stuff out! 😙

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Maya W.
15:56 Jan 04, 2021

Awesome!

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Bianka Nova
15:42 Jan 02, 2021

Happy New Year, Ray! 🥳 You might want to spice up your tactics again because by now we all know that the new story gets uploaded last minute 😉 And this one was full on anime sequence. Am I right, or am I right? I think I might be getting better recognizing those. I honestly imagined her tears floating through air, after being shed from those gigantic eyes with dots in them. 😄 And of course hands down, it should be up there for this week's judges' consideration. Letting go and making it on your own (with "a little help from my friends") ar...

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Rayhan Hidayat
19:33 Jan 02, 2021

You too, let's hope 2021 is a vast improvement for the both of us! :D Lol, maybe I'll try to submit on Day 1 for a change, try to bamboozle you haha ;) Yep, you got me, when i was writing I pretty much imagined this as an anime music video, or maybe a short film. You can say what you want about the medium but one thing it nails is the emotional impact Eek, don't get my hopes up, Idk if this'll even be approved! Oh dreams are always a fun thing to explore in fiction. Inception definitely did that thing about how time slows down in dreams....

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Bianka Nova
20:27 Jan 02, 2021

Haha, it's baby steps for me. Although I don't think I'd ever be into animes, my friends are trying to teach me to read comics now. XD And, of course it will get approved! They are pretty loose on here, and besides your story does fit the prompt. It "contains" a story that takes place across 10 seconds. No one said it has to be the "whole" story. ;) As far as dreams are concerned, I think that's one major thing that got me into writing. I dream so much and such crazy shit, that I'm usually like "this has to be told" :))))

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Rayhan Hidayat
20:43 Jan 02, 2021

Hey never say never ;) Haha but it's true, bug-eyed girls with extremely high-pitched voices isn't for everyone. That was the loophole I was thinking of! Let's hope we're onto something I almost always forget my dreams when I wake up so I can't draw upon that for inspiration :( Well, now I know where all that funky stuff you write about comes from. I always knew a potty-mouthed hitman trying to take care of an Italian mobster's parrot during lockdown was too good an idea to be based on real life

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Bianka Nova
20:49 Jan 02, 2021

Haha, well, I've seen some Sailor Moon and whatnot back in the day, but that's it for me. XD Actually the parrot story is mostly inspired by conversations I had IRL (except for the parrot part). But I do have a story about a squirrel stealing my socks which is completely dream-based. 🤣🤣🤣

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:07 Jan 02, 2021

Oh yeah, for sure, I think everyone and their pet goldfish knows Sailor Moon Dang, I really need to get around to the rest of your stories. So far I’ve read parrot, elevator, graveyard and geoguessr off the top of my head. Well, I know what I’ll be doing the next time I’m procrastinating instead of doing my lab report haha

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:07 Jan 02, 2021

Oh and the couple that go to the weid restaurant

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Megara Jackson
02:43 Jan 08, 2021

Wow... this is a great story. I loved it so much!!! I hope the judges love it too! (Also, I just wanna know. Do you intend Rei-chan and Kano-kun to be a couple or just friends? I'm fine either way :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:01 Jan 08, 2021

Thanks Mikaela! I'll check out your story too when I can :) Rei and Kano have a platonic relationship, but I suppose the endless support they have for one another does look romantic. Honestly, if you want them to be a couple, that's fine by me ;)

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Megara Jackson
01:44 Jan 09, 2021

Oh thank goodness. I have a tendency to be a crazy shipper, so I'm glad you don't mind. And hey! Thanks for checking out my story! I really appreciated it.

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Megara Jackson
01:45 Jan 09, 2021

Oh thank goodness. I have a tendency to be a crazy shipper, so I'm glad you don't mind. And hey! Thanks for checking out my story! I really appreciated it.

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Megara Jackson
01:45 Jan 09, 2021

Oh thank goodness. I have a tendency to be a crazy shipper, so I'm glad you don't mind. And hey! Thanks for checking out my story! I really appreciated it.

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Lily Kingston
16:15 Feb 06, 2021

Nice story. I like how the countdown of the seconds adds so much tension and desperation that you can see fuel Rei’s actions throughout the story. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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Rayhan Hidayat
13:18 Feb 07, 2021

Thanks, I’m quite proud of this one! 😙

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14:14 Jan 17, 2021

Interesting and powerful. I loved the line "Rei is sixteen years old when a piece of chalk ricochets off her head, snapping her gaze to the front of the class". I feel like it's an amazing transition line, and very hard to pull off. Of course, you pulled it off anyway!

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Rayhan Hidayat
13:30 Jan 18, 2021

Hey thank you! I’m proud of this one so I’m glad you found something to enjoy 😙

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Ben Franklin
00:24 Jan 15, 2021

What an amazing story! It's such a cool concept, breaking out of a time loop, but in a dream. Glad Rei learned how to outrun her inner demon in the end :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:59 Jan 16, 2021

Thanks! Yep, I'm glad she could too :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:59 Jan 16, 2021

Thanks! Yep, I'm glad she could too :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:59 Jan 16, 2021

Thanks! Yep, I'm glad she could too :)

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Waverley Stark
16:41 Jan 10, 2021

This story was really full-circle and beautifully done. I like the movement of it, the analogies to demons and shoes and running throughout (can I just say, I loved your shoe emojis in there? those made me laugh once I realized what they were. 😂) The Dream, as you called it, was incredible because it was so vivid and so similar to the way you relive trauma over and over in your deep consciousness and in your sleep. My uncle has PTSD and I could almost see some of his symptoms in your character, and the way he moved past it in the way she fin...

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Rayhan Hidayat
22:06 Jan 10, 2021

Hey thank you! Sorry to hear about your Uncle, I’m glad this story could connect to you personally. I’ve never been to a Japanese high school, but I like to think I watch enough anime to know how to portray it haha

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Waverley Stark
18:10 Jan 12, 2021

Hehe nicely done. Yeeeees 😬 anime can suck you in real bad 😅. Brutal, really, the way those dramatically drawn faces and frickin enormous eyes can take over your life, till you're browsing the internet at four in the morning desperately searching for some sign that your favorite characters end up together, even though he's kind of a jerk and she's just so broken... What! I don't have a problem!

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:01 Jan 19, 2021

Whoopsies on the criminally late response 😬 Ha! Yes, anime will do that to you. Especially when there are seven whole seasons with twenty episodes each and you end up binging the whole thing until you memorize the lyrics to the opening theme even though it’s in Japanese. Ah, right, now I see the problem.

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Yolanda Wu
00:58 Jan 08, 2021

Sorry I got to this story kinda late, it looks like a lot of others have already given their thoughts on the story, so I'm here to give you mine. I thought it was an incredible story! Right from the beginning you sucked me in with the Dream, your descriptions really added to the urgency of the scene, which fitting to the prompt, took place over ten seconds. The story all fitted together so nicely, how each segment added so much more to the story. I also love how it's non-linear, in your case, that made the story so intriguing as each detail...

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:58 Jan 08, 2021

Thanks as always! I did try to develop her as a character as much as possible within 3000 words so I’m glad that came through alright. And yep, I’ll head on over when I’ve got time!

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Wow! This is such an interesting story in the best way possible. Intriguing plot, interesting names, and of course that Rayhan touch...what more could I ask for? XD Awesoke job!

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:45 Jan 04, 2021

Thanks Aerin! 😙

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