The Festival – Fiction

The Festival

It was a mild sunny morning with kids and their parents out on the beach and swimming around in the lake nearby. Everyone was having a good time splashing each other with water and making sand castles. Suddenly, a loud bell is heard three times in a row and everyone begins to gather together while the kids all gathered sand together. The parents huddled together and within the huddle, someone said, “It can’t already have been a month since the last festival”. The crowd silently agrees. In the distance, two individuals emerge carrying a pitch black box.

“Greetings Director Fox”, everyone harmonically says. Nobody knew why he was called Director Fox and why he was the leader- they only followed his rules.

“Settle down everybody, no need to be on such ceremony”, said Director Fox. Everyone sits down with all their heads facing directly at him. “ You all already know what’s going on today, so let’s finish before lunch,” he says.

“Has it really been a month”, the same man from the beginning asks Director Fox. Director Fox merely pauses for a second, then ignores the question and begins to place some slips of paper somewhat suspiciously, but calmly.

Chatter begins again and the man who was ignored just laughs and talks to the person next to him saying “I think I forgot to leave my dog some food”.

“Alright then, Let’s get started then”, Director Fox says causing everyone to silence. Director Fox quickly goes over the rules saying “One at a time people will come to pick up a paper and keep it folded until I say to unfold them. Remember, it’s lucky number 7”. Then he starts to call out names, “Jim! Sally! John!”.

“I don’t understand why we need to do this”, says John to a man while walking to get a paper.

“Why we need to go one at a time?”, the man John was talking to says.

“No. Why we need to have the festival every month.”, John says. Other people begin to talk about it and people start to think about it, but nobody has an answer. Director Fox continues to call out people’s names and let them pick out a slip of paper. “I say we get rid of the Festival!”, John states. Slowly, people start to yell out their opinions supporting John.

People begin chanting, “No more Festival! No more Festival! No more Festival!”, as a faint bell ringing is heard.

“ENOUGH”, Director Fox screams as another person picks up a slip of paper. “The Festival is necessary and shall always go on.”. Director Fox continues to call out peoples names after giving the crowd a cold stare, “Shelly! Montag!”. As Montag takes a slip, Director Fox allows his assistant, Steve, to go first and pick out a slip and Director Fox confidently picks out the last slip still keeping it folded. Finally, everyone got a slip of paper and then Director Fox announces, “Unfold!”, as the sound of a bell ringing is heard.

Small murmurs of numbers are heard “8! 3! 42! 25!”. Everyone heaves a sigh of relief after seeing their number and start searching for who has the number.

“Who’s got it!”, A man yells trying to find out who has the number. Director Fox just looks on at the crowd holding his number out confidently and smirking.

After a while, nobody finds who has the number so Director Fox walks toward the crowd and says, “Everyone lineup and give me your number. “Somebody’s trying to hide it” Director Fox laughs and says. Everyone hands in their number, but still nobody has the 7. Director Fox looks toward Steve and smiles, but then Steve hands in his slip…22. Director Fox’s palms begin to sweat and turns his paper around…7. Director Fox looks at the paper awestruck, and his hands shaking. He starts shaking his head murmuring, “Impossible. Impossible.”. Then he quickly looks up and notices that nobody is looking at him as everyone is looking for the number. He hurriedly stammers,” Looks like nobody got the number. There must be a mistake.”

Suddenly, Steve – who never talks – says, “What number did you get? , as the sound of the toll of a bell is heard”

Director Fox quickly enters a state of panic, but recovers by saying “ 8.”.

John quickly refutes, “ I have the number 8, look here.”

The people begin to look at Director Fox, who hurriedly states, “Let’s go home and get some lunch, I’ll even pay. My treat to you people.”.

Everyone now looks as if they have realized and John yells, “You have the number 7!”.The people start to walk toward Director Fox and he starts to yell and scream unrecognizable sounds.

Director Fox suddenly runs up toward the black box and kicks it, angrily shrieking, “DAMN IT! A sound of an electric current is heard for a split second, and the inside of the box is exposed. There was a wire on the inside and everyone looked at it wondering what it was. Director Fox looks at it suddenly remembering, and gets nervous looking at the machine inside. Director Fox put that there 30 years ago when the Festival started. Steve looked at it and smiled. Director Fox suddenly realizes something went wrong with the machine. Out of panic, Director Fox tries to run away but trips over a larger pile of sand with a human-like structure. Finally, Director Fox just lays there accepting his fate. From behind him people begin rushing toward him and when they reach him, they start hurling piles and piles of sand on him. While they are hurling sand on him, Director Fox yells “IMP-”, he doesn’t finish his sentence as his mouth is covered in sand and he is sealed off with extra layers of sand. A bell rings.

“Serves him right”, John says.

Steve smiles and says to everyone, “Time for lunch!”.



Citations: (featured image) (image in writing)


The World That Used to Shine

The World That Used to Shine

The world used to shine.

It would glimmer in the sun and rain

Red was prominent only in the fall

when the trees lost their lustrous green.

Birds would fly with other birds

without regard of the feathers

The bond between ocean, land, and sky was unbreakable.

Even the clouds spoke in tones of joy.

I was young then.

The world used to shine.

And I believed it always would,

Past all my years

Hoping to see its beauty whenever I desired.

But, alas, reality is cruel to all, in its own ways.

Giraffes are now endangered.

The planet is dying.

Children are being murdered.

People are afraid of me for my skin.

The dazzling brown that many force into their bodies to be beautiful

Is a threat if it comes naturally.

We shame those who speak out

And we shame those who don’t.

How is the world to shine its animated glow when we have the nuclear power to destroy it

7 times over.

The world no longer shines

It is overcast by shadows and dark-turned clouds.

Red was a color we had become accustomed to,

The survivors didn’t have much choice.

The eagle suppresses the cardinal

Only because it has grown to hate red.

There is a wall between land and ocean, each dying at their own rate.

The sky is already dead.

The world used to shine

I used to love it.

But now I hate those who made the world

One to pity.

In this poem I’ve expressed my distaste for the actions around the world, and the collective negligence held by the people who have the power to change. The birds represent people, who as kids have no distinction of colour until that is what they are taught. I directly tied in issues around the world, the knowledge of which has made me distraught. I genuinely loved the world. And I still do – what’s left to love. But it isn’t the same from my childhood. I expected change when I grew up, but I didn’t expect it to be this drastic in the other direction. All in all, this poem was written about the world and how, in my opinion, it has become worse than before.


Citations: (Featured Image)

May – Free Choice

An individual’s mental fortitude is always tested in the face of threatening situations. These are moments that are potentially harmful to the individual. It is an individual’s uncontrolled fear in such a situation that can hinder their mental strength and cause the individual to mentally breakdown. This process is seen in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” through Tessie’s reactions to the human sacrifice ritual. In the short story, “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson portrays the idea that when an individual experiences a threatening situation, they may enter a state of mental chaos through their various attempts at trying to suppress their fear, which will ultimately devolve into utter denial once their worst fears become a reality.


Tessie attempts to cope with her fear of her name being picked in the lottery through humorous remarks in masking her internal fear. Initially, her fear is shown when she says, “Clean forgot what day it was today”, then followed up with soft laughter (Jackson 18). The gravity of the situation is not lost on Tessie: she knows the outcome of the lottery determines whether she will live, but must cope with it somehow. Forgetting the day is nearly impossible for Tessie, as the outcome of this day has major implications on Tessie’s life. Following this with a laugh proves that the nature of the above comment was to serve as a sort of joke to lighten the mood. Tessie’s state of fear is revealed through her persistent attempt to mask her fear. Humour is not appropriate given the circumstances. Humour also serves another purpose: comfort. Her attempt to seek comfort through humour is demonstrated when she laughs softly with a woman nearby. Ironically, the very people that Tessie is attempting to connect to may just be the ones who will kill her. Individuals will end up having illogical reactions when facing situations that are perceived to be threatening due to the underlying fear that they must cope with. Overall, this is not sustainable, as this method is far too passive in dealing with the situation. Eventually, humour and the associated comfort that come with it are not enough to help cope with fear, and the individual is forced for more explosive methods of dealing with fear.


Tessie turns to explosive rage when panic fills her since she is no longer able to suppress and mask her feelings of fear. This is demonstrated when all of a sudden Tessie shouts at Mr. Summers,“ You didn’t give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair.”. Tessie begins to make excuses in order to change the situation in her favour since she knows her life has now become even more at risk now that the odds of her being picked increases. Humour no longer comforts her, and thus her paranoia over the lottery being fixed spikes. Evidence for this is that the amount of time taken to pick a paper should not matter since it is done at random; thus, her reasoning is invalid and illogical. She allows herself to be illogical since the ignorance of logic has become a way for her to keep her fear at bay. Notably, Tessie has sparked up by exploding at Mr. Summers after finding out her family was picked indicating that she is no longer able to control the panic bottled within her because the situation increased in intensity. Her paranoia extends to a level where she embarrasses her family and Bill, her husband, tells her to “Shut up”(Jackson 19). Bill is in the same situation as Tessie, but even he does not give consideration to Tessie’s claims. It’s Tessie’s overriding fear of being picked in the lottery that motivates her to actively try to avoid her greatest fear: being picked, which would signify death. This indicates that when individuals continue to get closer to the threatening situation their response changes and they take more of an active role in their situation. From this, Tessie’s state continues to develop and worsen causing a psychological meltdown, culminating in a complete loss of logic when her greatest fear becomes a certainty.

When an individual’s greatest fears of a threatening situation prove true, they lose their sense of reality and will go into a phase of continual denial. Tessie is in this situation at the end of the story when she is picked by the lottery system and is standing arms wide and says “ It isn’t fair. It isn’t right.” (Jackson 20). Tessie challenges the entire lottery system and attempts to convince the crowd to stop doing this because it is unethical. Based on the crowd’s attitude towards the lottery, this is a custom that has been practiced for quite a while.  Her statement is very illogical because for many years she had been participating in the lottery and not until she is picked does she voice the issue of fairness and ethics involved in the system. This is a demonstration of sheer denial of her fate, which was brought about after the very thing she feared most came true. At this point, her fear cannot be subdued. Tessie takes on a position of desperation when she is standing arms wide because it shows that she is pleading for them to listen to her as her last chance at survival. This act is characterized by its futility – there is nothing Tessie can do to avoid the fate that was chosen for her.  The people who are tasked with killing Tessie are the same people Tessie sought comfort from through the formation of connections when she first arrived. An individual will often feel powerless against the very thing that feeds their fear, much like how Tessie only thinks to beg the townsfolk to not kill her.

A fearful individual’s reaction to a threatening situation will be to deal with the situation in a passive manner, which will progressively become more active; when the individual’s worst fear becomes a reality, they will be overcome by a feeling of powerlessness. This progression can be seen in Tessie’s character as she first attempts to use humor to keep her fear in check, and then gives in to her paranoia when her family is picked. Ultimately, Tessie is left begging for her life after her name is picked. The shift in Tessie’s reaction to the possibility of being picked in the lottery can be generally seen in individuals, as an individual will become more and more active in trying to change the outcome of a threatening situation the more likely it is that their fear comes true. As such, it can be seen that coping with fear by preventing it from becoming a reality is not entirely plausible in the event that it does occur. Instead, an individual must deal with their fear directly – in Tessie’s case, this means challenging a system that has become enshrined in her town’s culture.

The Widow – April 2019 Free Choice

The Widow

I woke up one day and he was gone.


All my work. All the extra time I spent to make up for the lack of a father figure. All those days I went to sleep hungry so he could eat… all for naught. My son was gone without a trace. My throat begins to close, my breathing slows, my mind is in shambles. Just like when his father died.


Where did I go wrong?


Reminiscing about memories with Fahad; I remember some with explicit detail.


Fahad wanted to learn how to bake, so I prepared all the ingredients and materials necessary. When he got back from his fifth-grade class he explained how his school went and his proficiency in mathematics. I told him that we would bake cookies today, and he yelped in excitement. After we finished baking, I put the cookies in the oven and he said, “I did it… I made something”. The pride in his eyes were a sight to see: like gold medals that he earned and was showing off to his parents. Later that night, the cookies were finally done so I stretched out my palm to grab the cookies forgetting to put on gloves. Sssss!



“AHHH!” I shrieked while pulling my hand out instinctively to see a red swollen wound. Fahad burst out of his room and came over and held my arm is his hand and then put it against his face. He quickly called a taxi and brought me to the doctor to make sure it was fine. Now tears began to fall out of my eyes. The doctor prescribed medicated cream, but I already knew I was fine and the tears were tears of joy that he cared.


Another memory that came to me was when we got the flu simultaneously, we both had to lay in bed all day, but someone needed to do the daily chores and make food. Just as I struggled and hobbled my way to the kitchen to make food, Fahad was already there and in his hand were cookies, so he coughed, “This is all I know how to make, I hope it’s good enough”. Right then and there I embraced him forgetting all about how sick I was before or even that I was hungry.


Later that day, I told him to go back to bed and I started to make some soup knowing that it would help him and it was his favorite. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of what had happened that morning when he made cookies so I wouldn’t have to cook something. When he woke up and saw the soup, he just smiled at me and says, “My favorite”. Just those words were enough for me to know how grateful he was and how much love he had.

The last memory I have is the day before he left. We got into an argument about Islam because Fahad no longer found any reason to believe in Islam. Furthermore, he believed that it was his decision because he was now 18 and was considered an adult. He said, “I can do what I want, I don’t need to listen to you”. For the first time in my life, I felt that he was slipping out of my hands, so I had to reprimand him. I raised my hand to give him a tight slap, but I found that arm was being bound by another arm. “Enough, It’s my decision”, Fahad commanded. Me not knowing any better, I said: “ If you don’t follow Islam, you aren’t my son”.

He ruthlessly replied with “Then so be it!” as he stormed out of the room. I just sat there on the ground and started crying. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, so I thought it would be best to leave him for the night and it would all be better in the morning. Come morning, however, he was gone.


As the last memory finished, I just sat there to realize that it had gone from early morning to mid-afternoon. I already missed two eating times, but I wasn’t hungry. As I continue to sit on the ground in Fahad’s room I feel a deep sinking feeling as if I was drowning. I had already gone through it once with his father, but Fahad was the one that helped me get out of the hole. Now I have nobody.




My life is completely ruined and I have no purpose anymore. I continue to wander the house looking for Fahad; no use. Finally, after many hours of crying and even thoughts of death, I pick myself up to begin cleaning the house. Even while cleaning, thoughts about Fahad kept swirling through my mind. By the time I stop to take a break from cleaning, I realize that it’s pitch black outside and that I clearly remember sweeping Fahad’s room. I stopped cleaning the house because it occurred to me that I had remembered cleaning the house multiple times. Without eating, I prepare to go to sleep. Instinctively, I end up checking Fahad’s room like I did every day when he was here. Laying my hands on his bed and made sure to clean up the mess in his room. There was no mess. After I remember that Fahad is gone I get to my room and climb into my bed. I cried myself to sleep that night.


The next day, the hunger became unbearable because I had skipped all of my meals yesterday. I made the usual food that I eat in the morning: eggs. The eggs burned a little, but I wasn’t concerned. I place down two plates – one in front of me and the other one next to me. Fahad and I used to eat like this. At the thought of him leaving, I put the other plate away and tried to eat my food. Slowly taking small nibbles, the food wasn’t getting any smaller. After too long, I quit eating and try to sustain my daily routines. I continue to follow my routine, but I keep doing the things I used to do for Fahad. I can’t control it. Nothing gets done for me because I lose focus and start wandering off into my memories with Fahad. The constant pain that I endure is eating me alive, so thoughts of just ending it quickly come to me. Thinking about death, I realize it may not be so bad compared to my situation now. Coming back to my senses all those thoughts leave my head and again, I try to focus on my work. Remembering that I need to eat I start cooking food. Suddenly, while I’m pouring the sizzling oil I think back about when Fahad baked cookies, which led to me spilling the oil on my hand. Ssssss!

“AHHHH!” I shriek. As the memory plays in my head, I look up to check if Fahad is there. Nobody. Even though he doesn’t show up, she still stays hopeful that he will come back and maybe he didn’t hear her. She continues to scream to indicate that she’s in pain while waiting at the door. Her voice becomes quieter and quieter until she crumbles on the doorstep.



Featured image:


Basketball Playoffs

It was a mildly warm morning and today was the day of the playoffs for my basketball team. I could feel my heart palpitating and palms getting sweaty. As I combed my hair and brushed my teeth, I mentally consoled myself that everything would go perfect and our team would come home with a gold medal. I got so caught up in thinking about the game that only after some time did I realize that there was no toothpaste on the toothbrush. I was too nervous and my mind couldn’t think about anything else. I told myself that it was all going to be fine and to stop worrying about it as I poured the milk into the bowl of cereal. While eating breakfast, I watched a random TV – show which had helped to drift my mind away from basketball.

Just then my mom called my name and said: “Are you ready for the game Zain?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be!” I announced.

“You need to keep up that spirit throughout the game”, interrupted my dad.

Now I can feel the pressure of the games because I felt a sense of expectation from my dad. I see my brother walk down the stairs and I greet him as I usually do.

My brother smiles at me and says, “You’re dropping 30 points today right?”.


I laugh, but then give a serious expression and say,  “Definitely”.


Even though the pressures of the game make me feel a little uneasy, I feel gratified that I get so much support from my family. I walk around my house shooting my invisible basketball to get as much practice as I can. My day passes by as I keep pacing around my house and thinking about different strategies and tactics I could use in the game. Soon enough, there is only an hour left until my game. I like to get ready before I get to the game so I get my basketball uniform and get changed. I walk out to the car with my mom since I need to be at the school that is hosting the playoffs 20 minutes prior to my first game. The light from the sun shines off my bright red jersey highlighting the number 2.


I sit in the car mostly in silence just focusing on breathing normally and staying calm and my mom understands, so she just plays music on low volume. Finally, the car parks and as the car stops, I feel my breathing stop. I step out of the car and take a massive breath out and sigh, “ Here we go”. My mom reassures me and tells me that I’m going to do amazing. While walking through the hallways in the school, I mumble a prayer and repeat it until I see my team sitting on the other side of the gym on the bench. I take one last deep breath in and out and my mom kisses me goodbye as she sets herself up in the stands while I go toward my team. I greet each of my teammates individually with a high-five and a fist bump. We are all jumping with excitement, but our coach tells us to settle down and start stretching and preparing for the first game. After stretching I pick up a basketball and spin it 

around in my hands a few times before I dribble it and practice a few moves. I dribble up to the basket on my team’s side and start taking shots from different areas on the court. Most of my shots are going in with a few being slightly off and bouncing off the rim. The referees signal that it was time for the game to start. The coach quickly pulls all of us to the side and told us to just do as we always do and we will win. He picks me and four other people to start the game. Everyone is in position and the referees set up.

The ball is thrown up. Just at that moment, everything went by slower and I could feel my heart beating and all my senses were acute. Our team won the jump ball and quickly we begin to play. I am too nervous at the beginning, but slowly I find the confidence to shoot more which leads to me making more shots. The time runs fast and the quarter finishes; our team is up by two points. I walk back to my team’s bench and take a seat. My heart is pounding and 
my mind is running through each play I made looking to find any improvements I can make for the next quarter. My coach is ecstatic with our performance, but still has some aspects we can do better in to guarantee the win. The second quarter comes and goes with me making multiple shots and making great plays leading to our team increasing the lead to 12 points. I thought to myself, “Everything is going perfect”. I look up to my mom standing in the stands and she gives me a thumbs up and smiles. 

The third quarter comes rolling in and our team is now feeling more relaxed due to our confidence in winning the game. I’m running down the court with the ball at a full sprint to try to get an easy basket and suddenly, one of my feet tilt sideways and I am on the ground with the ball rolling away. I give a loud grunt of pain but try to save the ball from going out of bounds. The ball rolls out of bounds.


I smack the ground angry at myself still not realizing the severity of my fall. I try to stand up, but as soon as I put any weight on the foot I landed sideways on I shrieked and face planted on the ground. From the corner of my eye, I see my mom and she rushes over to me. My coach quickly realizes the situation and tells me to stay down. The referees stop the play and my teammates rush over to help me up. As soon as I fell after trying to get up, I knew I was done. No more basketball for at least a month or two for me. Worst of all, I wouldn’t get to play in the playoffs. My mind is in chaos as negative thoughts flood in and my face dripping in sweat. I get picked up by two of my teammates and carried over to the bench. The coach and my mom tried to calm me down, but all I could think about was the game. I wanted to get back in. My coach denied and incessantly told me to rest because the injury could worsen. Finally, I gave up the thought of trying to play and shortly after, we won the game. Although we won, I felt horrible knowing I wouldn’t get to play the rest of the games today.

I stayed to watch all of the games and cheer on my team, but the dejected feeling inside never left me. Quarter after quarter, game after game, we won all the way until semi-finals. Our team barely fell short, but in the end, we still ended up winning bronze. All of my team was sad because we all felt that we could’ve won the gold medal, but still, the coach told all of us how proud he was. He patted me on the back consoling me by telling me that injuries happen in basketball.  I ended up losing basketball for about 2 months after learning that my injury was a fractured ankle. Looking back at the time now, I have realized that I have become more patient and it inspired me to read more since reading is all I did when I couldn’t play basketball.

Citations:  (Featured Image) (Image)