Top Ten Things Zetta Grace Excelled At

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story in the form of a top-ten list.... view prompt

240 comments

Fiction Teens & Young Adult Sad


Ten


Singing. 

She had the voice of an angel, gossamer words flowing outwards, rejuvenating the sapping strings of life. When Zet sang, her voice connected everyone listening.

The first time I heard her sing was on a warm summer day in June. We sat on scratchy beach chairs we bought at Walmart, trash littering the sand our chairs were perched on. Broken bottles haunted the scene, my foot already sticky with blood. But I didn’t care. Nothing down here could take from the beauty of the pearl-studded night sky, the perfect unorder to the crashing ocean. It was so sudden when she did. We sat quietly, just the two of us, listening to the rhythmic waves sloshing on the sand. And then her sweet voice broke the silence, taking control of all sound for that moment in time.

One thought crossed my star-struck mind: Woah.

It was like she channeled happiness when she opened her mouth. Singing tales of the stars, the lyrics of smiles, the essence of rainbows. Buttery sunshine on a spring day, the first cool breeze at summer camp when you know everything will be alright. The ocean faded into the distance as I listened. It was like a fresh breath of air, resetting my timeline to oblivion.

I stared at her, I remember. Her dark hair falling in waves around her tan skin, moonlight dancing on her features. Her amber eyes are forever burned into my memory, playful yet serious, touches of humor in the endless shining hues.




Nine


Gymnastics.

Zet was like a willow branch, bending to the wind. She was flexible, curling into insane shapes, yet so strong. She could hold a contortion handstand for half an hour without breaking a sweat.And when she came down, hugging me as we cheered for her new record, I could hear the faint beats of her heart pumping a little faster.

Her red face looked exhilarated after that accomplishment.

On the gymnastics mat, her flurries of cartwheels and backflips rivaled the most professional athletes. I watched her string of movements, Zet mastering a performance then assembling another one.

Every day, she trained.

Every day, she prevailed.

And when she made it into the cancelled 2020 Olympics, I was so proud.




Eight


Patience.

Gosh, she was patient.

Waiting for her watermelon seeds to grow as she watered them every day.

Staying calm when her dog Balto tracked mud into the house again.

Doing those push-ups and sit-ups and weights, watching her muscles swell as she prepared for her gymnastics contests.

Focused.

Calm.

Patience is everything.




Seven


Writing.

Ever since I observed her first learn how to write in first grade, she’s been at it. Poems, songs, novels, Zet can do it all. I’m honestly amazed. Zetta is so many things. Feisty yet reserved, sociable yet introverted, sporty but excelling in literature.

Her poems, all brevities. Short and sweet, painting tales of sunsets and heartbreaks and fields of flowers. Imagery. She poked at your heart, seeing how emotional her words could make you feel, capturing even the simplest concepts beautifully.

Her songs, all enthusiastic. She wrote her own lyrics, drawing inspiration from her poems. Cheerful bops getting stuck in your head, softer sad songs, country music about life and sweat and tears. I think I’ve been in a couple of them.

Her books, tales that you never want to end. Zet always loved fantasy because anything could happen. She talked about unicorns and powers, penning fictional alternate-realities where all her dreams came true.

She feels her words. Pours her emotions and experiences into sentences. Her characters are part her, from the protagonists to villains to that one funny cat called Emerald. Her stories mimic the best writing: you feel like it's real. I ship Sofie and Cataline, I hope Oscar gets the Dragon Gem by the end of the book, and my eyes shedded oceans when Hazelle died.




Six


Desires.

Zet had desires, and she was great at chasing after her dreams.

She didn’t want to lead a normal life. She wanted adventure and exploration. I remember her eyes glinting as she pointed to New York on the map. “This is where we’re going next,” she had said.

Once or twice a month we went somewhere new. The trips sapped at her savings, but Zetta was the queen of YOLO. As she put it, why would she trade clinging to scraps of green paper over exploring other cultures?

I loved this about her.

Fate didn’t, apparently.

Neither did the driver who didn’t see her crossing the street to get to Paris’s top shuttle line…. 




Five


Academics.

Zetta was so many things, and that included smart. Genius, really. While I’m effortlessly smart (photographic memory perks) but didn’t care for raising my hand much, Zet was the perfect teacher’s pet. She studied and participated and never dipped below an A+. 

Our school grades were different in that way. I had to do almost nothing and she did everything. It’s almost unfair we both got A’s since she did so much and I did so little. But then, she got into Harvard with a full academic scholarship. I was scared to death we’d be separated during college, but Harvard took one look at my perfect CAT and SOL scores and I got the same.

So I definitely didn’t care about the unfairness after that relief.




Four


Empathy.

Knowing what to say at just the right time, who to wrap in a bare hug. She knew everything in a way the gossip-girl of our grade, Avila, never could. Zetta dissected and inferred from history texts in school, then glimpsed into the minds of everyone else still finishing the assignment.

Zetta understood. She felt the glowing pulse of nature, the heartbeat of the Earth. She pieced together clues and knew who to comfort and about what. It was like magic.

Zet and her patience, her mind, and her empathy would’ve made a better therapist than the school guidance counselor ever did.





Three


Her mind.

Zetta was amazing at her mind.

She mastered her thoughts—or at least, she tried, becoming one with her subconsciousness. Zetta would think and think and be lost in concepts and mysteries. Her head was like an endless funnel of ideas.

Sometimes it trapped her.

Weighed her down.

Brain whispering all sorts of things that made Zetta isolate herself from everyone for a full day or two. When she was like this, it broke my heart that she wouldn’t allow me to help. I want to plop her on a sofa with warm blankets and a cheesy romance movie, giving her puppies and rainbows and inserting happiness into her brain.

But she didn’t want any of that. She always said that the only way *she* could help herself was by *her* helping herself.  I kind of understood this. She talked about how any depressing thoughts or something was all in her mind, so she’d lose herself in her thoughts and make herself better.

Zet literally gave herself mental therapy.

And it always worked.

I don’t know what she did by herself, but while all of my other classmates had breakdowns every other day, Zet was controlled and eerily calm. She knew how to control her bad thoughts and let her good ideas and mysteries and midnight occurrences reign free.

Mind over matter.  




Two


Passion.

Zet had so much passion.

Every enchanted movement, every time she opened her mouth to sing, every story and every poem and flurries of moves to create a dance...she meant it.

There are fakers. That’s the sad reality. Gymnasts who are just in it for the money, writers who don’t feel their words, singers who don’t care about the impact of their lyrics.

Then there’s Zetta.

She’s genuine. Only does something by putting her heart into it.

She’s amazing, but sincerely amazing.

And no one can take that away from her. 





One

Most of all, Zetta Celestine Grace excelled at stealing the hearts of everyone she met. 

Every action was a gift, Zet granting the world with her existence. You loved you, you had to. As soon as you saw her gentle features smile, heard her voice like shells caressed to smoothness, witnessed her help somebody up off the ground...you would do anything for her. 

You couldn’t help but adore her.

I adored—adore—her.

I wish she were still here.

But I’ll always remember her pink-lipped smile, her fierce smirk when she roasted a friend. Her fidgeting with her charm bracelet when she was put on the spot or complimented. Her playful personality, modest and fun to be around.

Her voice is burned into my memory, that day at the beach. She sang me a song she wrote herself, a lyrical tale of friendship and heartache. I remember the chorus of the song:


Cuz you don’t see

How much you mean to me

You’re my heart

And my soul

My whole family 


And it’s true.

She was everything.

She still is.

And tonight, taking a step into the new year, Zetta Celestine Grace is taking the step with me. 



December 24, 2020 17:47

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240 comments

Jen Park
10:43 Dec 28, 2020

Wow wow wow. I mean your writing is amazing (high above mine actually) but I see that it's getting even better nowadays. Zetta Celestine Grace. Yes, I can't help but adore her. I loved the part that"she feels her word "and that the thought sometimes get over her and trouble her is relatable. It is painful really. Sad thing is that I have many thoughts but none of them are brilliant😂 Overall amazing story! I always enjoy listening to your writing "voice" although this one is sweeter, calmer, and dreamier. Perfect in other way. I was kind of c...

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13:12 Dec 28, 2020

Ackkkkkk thanks SO much for the super-long and positive comment!! Means a lot :D Haha, yeah, I guess the reader can decided :) Thankssss for stopping by! 🤩

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Jen Park
10:44 Dec 28, 2020

I forgot to give you this:🍌

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13:12 Dec 28, 2020

Oh shank you 😂

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Alex Carmen
23:09 Dec 27, 2020

I don't really know what to say... This story is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. And: 🍌

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Aw, thanks so much!! Yayyy

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Water Is Deep :D
22:50 Dec 27, 2020

I love how you have a variety of feelings and descriptions here. Makes Zetta maybe the only person to defy "no one is perfect." It contrasts what you usually write (in a good way), making your story box diverse. It seems quite realistic, because of the way you portray the main character and Zetta. Very heartfelt and deep, mostly because of the ending and part 6 where you include a peek of her death. It has been beautifully weaved from words. This is brilliant at the least. Keep writing.

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03:29 Dec 28, 2020

Wow, thank you SO much for the awesome and positive feedback!!!!!

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03:13 Dec 26, 2020

🍌

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03:14 Dec 26, 2020

Yay lol thx

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03:36 Dec 26, 2020

No problem :) Congrats on the leaderboard!!

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Elliot G
20:01 Dec 25, 2020

Wow, amazing job!! I really love what you were able to do with this prompt...It may be different, but it's absolutely beautiful and magnificent:) Your word choices/vocabulary and descriptions are astonishing and I honestly loved how you were able to describe Zetta with such emotion and precision. I can already picture her and she sounds like an amazing character!! Keep up the great work:) Oh, and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

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20:44 Dec 25, 2020

Ack, thank you SO much for the super kind comment!! You too!

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Writer Maniac
14:24 Dec 25, 2020

This story was so beautiful! I loved how the narrator described her, and the imagery is breathtaking! Absolutely adored this story! P.S. I posted two stories for the recent prompts called 'Game Over' and 'Not Worth It', they're pretty depressing, but I would love to know your thoughts on them if you're up for it :)

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16:47 Dec 25, 2020

Thank you so much! P. S. I’ll totally check a story out later!

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Writer Maniac
15:49 Jan 07, 2021

The answer for today's riddle is a stamp, isn't it?

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Yaaars! (And OOP I don’t think I’ve read your story yet 😬 Sorry!! I’ll that to my Reedsy Stories to Read list (aka a list of people I text to myself, lol). I’ll get to it soon, I swear!)

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Writer Maniac
17:17 Jan 07, 2021

That's totally okay! I think you read one of them, I'm not sure which, but I would appreciate some feedback on the other one as well!

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Writer Maniac
17:19 Jan 07, 2021

You've left a comment on 'Not Worth It', so you should read 'Game Over' next :)

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Writer Maniac
08:14 Jan 08, 2021

Today's riddle's answer is an envelope, isn't it?

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Maraika!!! 😎
04:18 Mar 20, 2021

Omg Aerin your SUCH an amazing talented writer and like everytime i read one of your stories i love it so much and your amazing and i'm just rambling now lol. The stroy was SO beautiful and I loved it. It as so heartfelt and a great use of the prompt. I also loved how Zetta is super OP (over powered. My brothers are all gamers so I pick up some slang here and there lol.) or maybe I'm just failing at life and havn't done enough. 🤷‍♀️ I actully really love how you don't know who the narrater is. It makes it suppenseful and its like Zetta is ...

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Lily Kingston
19:38 Feb 04, 2021

Great story! My heart sank when I realized that Zetta was gone and I could feel the narrator's yearning for her to be there. I think it's amazing that you chose to divert from your usual upbeat story types because stepping out of our comfort zones and what we're used to it is what helps us grow as writers. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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Thank you so much, Lily!! And ahhh sorry it took me so long to respond, lol; I’ll often read motors and respond later, but sometimes I forget. Thanks again <3

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02:27 Dec 31, 2020

i saw you had 24998 points and I was very triggered by that so I just rounded it to 25000 :D

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Oh shank you! My points keep going from 25k to 24,990 or something like that lol. I guess the downvoted is tryina spoil our fun with perfect numbers 😂😂😂

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03:02 Dec 31, 2020

yas i know also am i the only one the loves the voice inside my head saying 'shank you' ? XD

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Ha! Yessss I LOVE saying ‘Shank you’

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Arham Ishraq
00:59 Dec 31, 2020

🍌❤️

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01:37 Dec 31, 2020

Yay lol thx :)

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Arham Ishraq
17:25 Dec 31, 2020

:) I couldn't resist--banana emojis are my weakness lol

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
19:53 Dec 30, 2020

To answer the question in your bio. My favorite part of 2020 was Hamilton on Disney+

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20:48 Dec 30, 2020

Cool!

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This is such a touching story. You deserve first place on the leaderboard!

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Ackkkk tysm!

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You do. I almost cried :) :.).. (happy cry emoji because mine don't work on this device)

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Eep! As a person who lives on light humor and rainbows, it’s kind hard to write a somewhat emotions story that DOESN’T turn into cringe drama (has happened before. Yikes). So that means a lot lol. Shank youu

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Eep! As a person who lives on light humor and rainbows, it’s kind hard to write a somewhat emotions story that DOESN’T turn into cringe drama (has happened before. Yikes). So that means a lot lol. Shank youu

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Yeah, emotional stuff is hard.

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Orenda .
18:11 Dec 29, 2020

hey, hey, I've a new story out. Feel free to check it out and share your views on it. thanks!

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Oooooh awesome! Will do soon!

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Kate Reynolds
16:28 Dec 29, 2020

🍌

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WaNnA bE iN mA wRiAtE sToRy?

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03:39 Dec 31, 2020

EeP yEs lOl DaT wOuLd Be SuPeR fUn

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05:48 Dec 29, 2020

Hi Aerin! Oh my goodness, what a heartfelt story! No, we love it. You should totally write more sentimental stuff, it's great! Are you basing her top-10's off of your talents? I think Zetta was a great person, and you described her many talents perfectly. There's only two things I noticed - perhaps in one of the last talents you should have written more about Zetta's death and your narrator's feelings about it. It would have added some more EQ to the already high EQ of your story, but this is just a suggestion. And second, do all of you...

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Heyo! Aw thank youuuuuuu!! Haha, yea, shanks. Actually, I just wrote and published a part 2 with a little more about Zet and *unnamednarratorwhoactuallhasanameinthesequel* so yea :D OMG. YES. I swear, how has nobody commented about this so far?? This description seems to WORK ITS DANG WAY INTO EVERY STORY. Eep! Lol. Anyways, yes, lol, thx. I changed up her description a bit. Thank youuu! Right back at ya sis :D Lots of cupcakes (basically the same thing), Aerin :D

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05:02 Dec 31, 2020

Hello again, Aerin :) If you don't mind, could you please check out my latest story? I think you might like the ending (mwahaha ;) ) ...

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05:02 Dec 31, 2020

Hello again, Aerin :) If you don't mind, could you please check out my latest story? I think you might like the ending (mwahaha ;) ) ...

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05:19 Dec 29, 2020

Read your bio, Aerin ;)

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Shank you ;)

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Daniel Brown
03:48 Dec 29, 2020

This... the end made me so emotional. What a powerfully affecting piece of art. Zetta is compelling and the descriptions, the interactions, the impact she had. I'm floored. Fantastic.

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Daniel Brown
03:48 Dec 29, 2020

This... the end made me so emotional. What a powerfully affecting piece of art. Zetta is compelling and the descriptions, the interactions, the impact she had. I'm floored. Fantastic.

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Eeep, thank you so much!!!! I’m honestly surprised people are reacting so positively to this (I actually just released a part 2 cuz this was fun to write) but thank youuu :D

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Daniel Brown
15:30 Jan 01, 2021

You released a part 2?! I'm excited to read it!

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Yup! Shank youuu!

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Yup! Shank youuu!

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Daniel Brown
15:30 Jan 01, 2021

You released a part 2?! I'm excited to read it!

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Daniel Brown
15:30 Jan 01, 2021

You released a part 2?! I'm excited to read it!

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Amaya .
19:14 Dec 28, 2020

🍌

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😄

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