Why am I doing this?

I only have one reason for joining Jeff Goins’ My 500 Words Challenge: I simply want to get into the habit of writing. I barely wrote anything last year. I intend to change that this year.

I consider myself mainly as a fiction writer, but in this challenge I will be writing both fiction and non-fiction stuff.

Sam Altman is right when he said that it’s better to set monthly goals instead of annual ones. He said the former have 12x the satisfaction than the latter. So I will do that in this challenge. I will only set my sights on one month. Once I’m successful with one month, I’ll do another month, and so on and so forth.

So there. Ooopppsss, that’s only 127 words, including this one.

What else should I talk about? Oh yes, from time to time, I’ll probably be relying on writing prompts in lieu of Jeff Goins’ prompts. His prompts won’t be “relatable” or interesting for everyone all of the time, so I will use other prompts.

Writers Write is a good page to follow if you’re in Twitter. They have daily writing prompts. For example, here’s one of their prompts for December:

“Write about a strange cure for a hangover.”

I’m going to write a flash fiction about it, but I’ll modify it a little:

“Write about a strange cure for depression.”

“Don’t hesitate to call me, whenever you’re feeling down, okay?” Quintia said.

“Okay,” he said.

That was exactly one month ago, but he hasn’t called her yet. He’s been depressed for weeks now, but he’s too shy to call her. What would she think of me, he asked himself. She’d probably think I’m too weak. She probably didn’t really mean what she said.

He met at her at the psychiatrist’s clinic one afternoon. He was waiting for his turn, so he whiled away his time by reading a book.

“What you readin’?” this girl beside him asked. It was Quintia. She struck him with a deep kind of fear for she was very beautiful. Her face beamed with such happiness that he wondered what on earth she was doing in a place like that.

“Uh,” he stammered, “Nothing. Just a book.”

“I can see that,” she laughed. “But what is it about?”

His brain couldn’t function well.

“It’s a work of fiction, about a girl who’s deep into depression.”

“Not the best thing to read in a place like this.”

“No,” he said, a little bit embarrassed.

“Quintia,” she said, extending her hand.

“Dan,” he said, giving his hand in return.

“Pleased to meet you.”

“Pleased to meet you, too.”

After some moments, he said, “What are you in here for?” and regretted it right away.

“Sounds like a question someone might ask in a prison,” she laughed again.

“Yeah,” he said.

She showed him the medicine bottle she was holding. “I’m here to get my gandma’s prescription meds. You?”

“I’m here because I need help,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Oh.”

And they got to talking about his condition. He talked about his loneliness, his emptiness, his hollowness. He told her everything, about his childhood, about the things and people he lost growing up, about the unrequited loves, unfulfilled hopes, deep regrets, and countless other “might-have-beens”. He talked about his loftiest hopes and deepest fears. This was the craziest thing he has ever done — open up without reserve to an absolute stranger — but there was something about Quintia that told him it’s okay to trust; that it’s okay to let it all out, to divulge everything, and hold back nothing.

It took him a full hour to tell his life story, just enough time before Quintia was called into the psychiatrist’s office. She listened to him the whole time. A surge of joy flowed out of him as he emptied himself of all of his feelings.

“It’s my turn now,” she said. “Please wait for me while I get the prescription meds.” She placed her hand on his and smiled at him.

She was back a few minutes later. “Please follow me,” she said.

“But I’m next,” he said.

“I know. Please, come with me,” she insisted, and he did.

They walked down the hospital corridor quietly. Most of the clinics were now closed. They were still silent as they took the escalator to the lobby and walked towards the exit.

“Where are we going?” he said.

“To my car,” she said.

Her car was a white SUV. They climbed up and closed the doors.

“See these?” She showed him the medicine bottle again. “These are just placebos. My gandma doesn’t know that they’re basically just sugar pills. She thinks they’re prescription meds, but they’re not. And yet every single time she complains she’s depressed and she takes these meds, she tells me she feels better. Her attitude and demeanor totally changes after taking these pills. She’s happier, more communicative, more open, more productive, more alive. But they’re just placebos. Now, something tells me you’re just going to get these after talking to your psychiatrist. More often than not, psychological issues like depression are not caused by chemical imbalances in the brain requiring pharmacological intervention or whatnot. Sometimes they are, but often they’re not. Some people just need someone to listen, to really listen, to them. I found your story fascinating,” she said, and she extended her hand again to reach his, “thank you for sharing it.”

His mouth was open and his throat was dry. He almost choked.

“How do you feel?” she said.

He smiled. “Better,” he said.

“There’s something else,” she said. “Come closer.”

“Here, it’s okay, come closer,” she said after he didn’t move. She held his shoulders and pulled her closer towards her. He could catch a faint whiff of her perfume.

“Close your eyes.” He did as he was told.

What she did next took him by surprise, but he didn’t open his eyes. She started massaging his ears. She pressed his ear lobes tightly with her fingers, starting from the top and going down. She then slowly massaged the back of his ears.

After this, she pressed her hand on the side of his neck and slowly kneaded his nape. She did this for some time, working her way down the base of his neck, to his throat, and down the base of his neck again.

“Please understand that I’ve never done this to any stranger before,” she said with a little giggle. “Don’t think that I routinely strike a conversation with people I don’t know at clinics, bring them to my car, and massage them. This is just what I do to my grandma when she’s tired. It always helps. I’ve read before that babies constantly need the touch of their mommies in order to grow up healthily. Babies who were seldom “stroked” by their parents end up emotionally distant, needy, or just plain messed up. Sometimes, we forget that we need to be stroked too even as adults; that our need to be touched does not diminish as we grow old. I just thought that maybe you needed this. Do you mind me doing this?”

“Not at all,” he said, his eyes still closed.

“Good,” she said.

Soundlessly, her hands climbed up to his head and massaged his scalp. She took her time, rubbing the crown of his head with her soft hands. Then, she massaged his temples and forehead. Then, she massaged his eyebrows, ran her thumbs along the path where tears flowed down when one cries, and began massaging his cheeks and even his chin.

“Give me your hand, please,” she said. And he did. She pressed his palm with her fingers firmly, methodically, until both his hands became pliant and soft.

She placed her hands on his shoulders again and focused her strength on a single point at the center of his deltoid muscles. He has never felt pleasure like this before. It doesn’t classify as sensual or sexual. It belongs in its own category altogether.

Lastly, she massaged his biceps, upper arms, and wrists.

When he opened his eyes, he felt like a new man.

“Do you have a car?” she said.

“Yes,” he said, “Over there.”

“Good. I have to be going now.”

“Thank you so much,” he said. “For everything.”

“You’re welcome.”

He asked her for her number.

“Here,” she said. “Don’t hesitate to call me, whenever you’re feeling down, okay?”

It was eleven in the evening now, too late to make calls without appearing like a creep or pervert. But he wasn’t sure whether he could make it through the night. He hasn’t slept for three days, and he’s not sure whether he can survive a fourth day.

He picked up his phone and dialed her number.

She picked it up on the first ring. “Hi. What took you so long?” she said.

Whew. So there. I’m glad I did it. I haven’t written a story in months!

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