Ready, Set, Smell
My brother and I used to be collectors, but not just any type of collectors. We were perfume sample collectors. Once a week, my mom would go to Macy’s, and every time, my brother and I would get dragged along. I can’t remember when, but at some point, we started collecting perfume samples as a way to kill time on these monotonous trips. Each perfume sample was different. Perfumes came in bottles of different sizes, shapes, colors, and, of course, smells. Even the sample papers came in various shapes. Perfumes on display were spread throughout the store. It was like a scavenger hunt for who could find the most absurd-looking perfume bottle. We’d compete to see who could bring back the most perfume samples before my mom told us to get back into the car. It always ended with a tie. And when we got into the car with our samples, we’d store them in the car’s back-seat pockets, and on every trip, we went to Macy’s, the samples would pile up. On one occasion, my cousin came into the car and complained about his headaches from the smell, but my brother, mom, and I never seemed to bother. I guess we got used to the scent.
Wow, I’m Really Unathletic
I’ve never been good at sports. P.E. was the only subject at school I never excelled at; I was BELOW AVERAGE. It was personally unacceptable. For a while, I thought badminton was my sport. I was winning a few games against my friends and it seemed so easy, how could I not be at the top? But after moving on from friendly competition and going up against strangers, things began to change. With a game that seemed so easy to me, it would only seem easy to others as well. After only a few games, I was eventually demoted, and I was once again below average in a sport. Time after time I’d lose. The birdies would fly past my racket and be shot dead onto the ground.
Dylan the Dollar King
Dylan the Dollar King walked in, as he did on daily basis, and headed toward the counter where I stood. People gawked as he passed by, as he flaunted the latest golden chain and confidently strided with his hands pumped into fists to showcase his bedazzled diamond rings. With each step he took, a friend of his would come from the side to join his parade toward the counter. Dylan reached the counter, along with four other friends, two on each side. It was an intimidating group that stood before me. On one hand, he fanned his stack of money toward my direction, and said, “I’ll have my usual.”
“Alright Dylan,” I said. I took his money and counted the bills, and exchanged the money for forty quarters. I handed the quarters to Dylan.
“Good doing business with you,” Dylan the Dollar King said. He and his friends dispersed from the counter and ran toward the capsule machines.
Dylan isn’t actually a wealthy Dollar King, unlike what his friends say. In fact, he’s known to most people as the Quarter King. He and his friends always get quarters for those capsule machines in front of the store. He likes to show off his treasured assemblage, even if the plastic gold chains and rubber diamond rings do look gaudy. But because he’s always handing me dollars in exchange for quarters, I’ve come to know him as the Dollar King. He and his gang are especially eager to use their coins this time around ever since the toys for the capsule machines were changed.
Henny the chicken began her daily life. As usual, she woke up at sunrise, along with her other sisters in their home, and comfortably relaxed in her cozy nest which was compact with eggs. Suddenly, a black shadow loomed over her nesting spot. Heaven fell to Earth and holy manna rained from the sky. It was feeding time! Henny eagerly left her nest to peck at the fallen grains. She waged war with her sisters as they ate, all of them lunging their heads back and forth on the ground in a feeding frenzy.
Henny didn’t pay much attention to the huge figure reaching into her house and collecting her eggs. She simply paid attention to her food. In fact, her food was all that she knew. All her life she had remained in a coop surrounded by a fence. Her sole purpose was concentrated on making eggs. Eggs that would later be collected by the farmer and shipped through a truck, into a store, and to be devoured by someone. But Henny didn’t know that. She didn’t even know that laying eggs was why she was around in the first place. She had no sense of purpose, literally, she didn’t even know what a purpose was. It was just in her nature, she just happened to be born lucky to have such a talent, and she took it for granted. All she worried about was waiting for God to perform his daily miracles. What a selfish chicken.
She was oblivious to the outside world. This was a good thing, though. She could wander aimlessly in life, and do nothing but peck at the ground looking for scraps of food. Maybe, constantly smashing her head to the ground was what made her this way, maybe that’s why she doesn’t think.
This Seed Doesn’t Want to Grow
“I guess I’ll stay like this forever,” thought the seed in the ground, not yet bloomed.
The seed was too scared to grow. The seed had heard a lot of things about blooming into a flower. For many plants, it was the best thing that had happened to them.
“It’s the most intrepid feeling in the world! There’s so much to see! I’m so alive, literally!” said the already-bloomed flower to the right of to the seed. “You should come out soon.”
For others, it wasn’t so great. Like, the flower to the left of the seed, who said nothing because it had recently been picked and uprooted by a passerby.
If the seed grew, would it be able to live a long and satisfying life? Or, would it encounter some sort of unfortunate circumstance and not be able to live its fullest life? If the seed were to sprout, fate would decide how it would live. The seed would have to take its chances.
OR! The seed could stay in the ground and never sprout! It could stay in the comfort of the soft, compact soil that encased it. Yeah, that sounded better to the seed.
The seed lay dormant in the soil for a long time. It felt safe. The seed had nothing to fear. Or so it thought. The only thing that could harm the seed within its safe haven was its own thoughts. Many seeds had sprouted since the seed had decided to become stationary. Many had died as well, but that didn’t bother the seed too much, because it was only a natural thing. What mattered to it most was living a satisfying life and whether or not it could achieve that. But then the seed thought: maybe, the only reason it didn’t grow was not that it didn’t feel like growing, but because it was incapable of growing. Maybe, it wasn’t born with the ability to sprout and take life’s risks. Maybe, it was just born weak and wasn’t meant to sprout from the very beginning.
“I guess I’ll stay like this forever,” thought the seed in the ground, not yet bloomed.
All of sudden a muffled, “CA CAW!!!” came from the top of the soil. The Earth shook. The seed felt it being lifted from the soil. And it was swallowed by a bird. Never having the opportunity to see the outside world because it never wanted to take its chances.
You Can’t Forget. You’ll Go Crazey.
Cadence had been a fan of Super Duper Candy Craze for a long time. Super Duper Candy Craze was a pink and frilly singing robot idol who had made multiple albums throughout her career. There were pop songs about love, dystopian worlds, longing for acceptance, and happy little vegetables. Super Duper Candy Craze sang it all, and she was just a robot.
Super Duper Candy Craze had a long-standing online community, and Cadence had been a part of this community ever since Super Duper Candy Craze’s first debut video. Cadence was an active part of the community, in fact, she had her own fan page dedicated to everything Super Duper Candy Craze related. Cadence would notify her followers about the release of Candy’s latest songs and newest merchandise.
But one day, Cadence began to think……”this is stupid.”
Although Cadence had found fellow Candy fans online, she had never known any Super Duper Candy Craze fans in real life. Cadence had expressed her love for Candy to her friends in real life, but they didn’t show much interest. She tried to get her friends into Candy’s music, but they didn’t seem to like it. Interacting with people online was nice, but Cadence had wanted someone to talk to in real life, someone to giggle, laugh, and sing with.
Cadence had thought long and hard and came to the conclusion that if no one listened to Candy in real life then maybe she shouldn’t either. And at that moment, she couldn’t deny it, after all those years of being a Candy fan, the community had gradually dwindled and she had lost interest in Candy’s newer songs. Eventually, Candy seemed like nothing more than a stupid pink and frilly robot who sang equally stupid songs. On that day, Cadence deleted her fan page.
Years passed since Cadence had quit her Super Duper Candy Craze phase. Since then, she had made new friends, went to a new school, and had forgotten about her Candy obsession amid all her work. Every day, she would to the library to do her work, and every time she went to the library she would go to the same table and sit in the same chair. Cadence eventually found a study mate, Marissa, who also happened to be a regular at the table and had a few classes as Cadence. Occasionally, they would have conversations instead of studying, and one day, they happened to talk about their childhood obsessions.
“I used to be obsessed with these small fruit-shaped candies all the time,” Marrisa said while she grabbed a bag of candy out of her backpack. “Cherry was my favorite.”
“Oh really?” said Cadence. “I used to like this sour candy so much that I’d make my mom buy it for me every time we went to the store. I think there was also this other candy that I used to really like, but I can’t remember….”
Cadence froze. A core memory that she had tried to bury resurfaced.
“Super Duper Candy Craze,” she whispered, wistfully, after realizing her true candy obsession.
Marissa looked at Cadence, shocked. “Oh, I know what Super Duper Candy Craze is!” Marissa clapped her hands in excitement. “I used to love her music!”
Cadence slowly turned to Marrisa. “No way,” she said in disbelief.
They began to talk about their Super Duper Candy Craze obsessions. They giggled, laughed, and cringed as they reminisced about their past.