My obra maestra will surely be different from everything else. In a world where choices are unlimited and every possible story plot was already provided, it is my ultimate duty as a writer to create something original, something nobody has ever been seen before. Even as a child, I vowed to be diverse, different, and traverse the road not taken. So when I finally grasped the finished manuscript in my tired and trembling hands, I knew this is the moment I've been waiting for all my life.

The name of the protagonist in the novel is Daphne. It was chosen because of her mother's love for Greek mythology. No matter how she struggled, she's still an ordinary girl, with an ordinary life, then she gets sick and she's not so ordinary now. It's as if she contracted that disease to escape from being so ordinary.

I looked around the space where I spent the last two years writing my novel. It was dark, except for the glare of the lamp on her cluttered desk. The bed was permanently unmade, my favorite sweater was resting on top of it, my dusty bookshelf on one wall was crammed with old books and the glass of milk that I was trying to drink two hours before lay ignored beside the lamp. Finally! I wanted to shout and jump but I didn't want to disturb the other occupant in the house.

The antagonist in the novel is her own mother. Not in an evil kind of way, just the overprotective and stifling kind. Whenever Daphne wants to do something new and adventurous, her mother would always contradict her. Always with the harsh words, always with the false accusations. So when Daphne got sick, her mother blamed Daphne for succumbing to the sickness. Then she blamed herself for not paying close attention.

I sighed. It is almost dawn. I survived the night yet I felt the cold fingers of anxiety grip my neck. What if nobody likes my novel? What if nobody reads it? What if someone tells me that the greatest work of my life was worthless?

You'd think that the sickness was the conflict of the novel, or the main character's mother but no-it's the problem of every student who is about to graduate from high school. The conflict is, she can't go to college. Because Daphne only has six more months to live, there's no point in undergoing from the excruciating process of getting accepted to college. Her mom still believed that Daphne will get better, so she dedicated herself to her daughter's treatments and visits to the hospital. The mother really doesn't ever quit, but the daughter already accepted that it was a losing battle.

I always feel dread and anxiety over the littlest thing concerning my work. I wondered if every writer experiences this. It's as if someone is scraping the insides of her stomach. But I still stood beside my desk, savoring the success and satisfaction that comes from getting something done, like crossing a chore off my to-do list.

Daphne counted down the days for those last six months, so when she woke up for another day past the time limit, she didn't know what to do. Her goal for the last six months was death, and even in achieving it-she failed. Now what? She has to have a purpose for one more day; she couldn't take any more of the moping-around-on-the-bed-all-day routine that she religiously kept for the last six months. Some people who knew they were about to die do all the things they want to do before they, uh, have to die or do something that matters like what she read in novels. Maybe she can schedule an advanced funeral like in 'Tuesdays with Morrie', but she doesn't have any friends. Or marry someone (which would be really selfish, not romantic) like in 'A Walk to Remember' but she doesn't have a boyfriend. What did she do in her short life? Did she live to be another name or statistics once she dies? She really hoped not.

I crashed to the floor, clutching my masterpiece. It felt so soon, to be taken away when I finally finished. I've always waited for this moment, even fantasized about it, but now that it's here for sure I don't want to go. I'm supposed to feel pain but all I'm feeling is numbness.

And the one additional day became two, then three, then a week. By the time it became a month, she felt cheated. Daphne wanted to get even then and felt the urge to just jump out of her bedroom window and race death. Her time was supposed to be up, yet she's still here, lingering like a stubborn student in the classroom when the class was already over.

I remember my mother's kisses, the time we ate ice cream on the front porch when I was ten, the warm hugs I always get in the kitchen when I'd come home tear-stained from school... My mom was my only friend.

Then she started writing. All of her fears, hopes, dreams, moments in her short life-she just wrote them down. And every day that she's writing, she wondered if it will be the last word or sentence that she'll ever transfer to paper. Her relationship with her mother would worsen every day. They argued, fought, and ignored each other for days on end. She blamed her mother for her lack of friends, her appearance, and even for her disease.

I heard footsteps, and someone calling my name. I know she's worried about me, I saw it in her eyes when she brought dinner to my bed last night. We never really ate together the past few days, because she's too busy taking care of me that she never really got to eat her food with me. She just brings it downstairs and eats while crying.

The moment just came. She knew it will end today. So Daphne gathered all the papers and placed them inside the envelope. There, mom will find you and she'll know that I never really resent her.

Finally, she'll be rid of me and move on with her life. Get a husband, have new healthy kids, move out from this miserable house and be happy. After all the worry and pain I've put her through, she deserved it more than anyone. As for me, I finished my story. The first and the last one I'll ever write.

Am I dying these past two years? Am I crafting the work of genius only to come at the conclusion of this moment?

"Daphne! Come back to me sweetheart..." I'm lying on the floor, the face of my mother looms on my vision. I closed my eyes.

The thing about your life flashing before your eyes the moment before death takes over?

It's true.

June 18, 2020 09:07

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Crystal Lewis
13:40 Jun 22, 2020

Wow! Wonderfully woven story. Sad tho :/ and yes, every writer feels that thrill of almost terror when their work is ready to be exposed to the world.


Justine Mae D
13:50 Jun 22, 2020

Thank you Crystal! It is actually my first story and I was really down when I wrote this, I'm so glad you appreciate it.


Crystal Lewis
14:35 Jun 22, 2020

No problem. That’s no good you were down but it’s always good to take those emotions and channel them into writing. You can sometimes actually get some good work that way as it’s quite real and raw and has some actual emotion behind it.


Justine Mae D
18:21 Jun 22, 2020

I agree, writing's a great outlet for emotions. You can feel yourself lighten up almost immediately after finishing.


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