Story 7 – The Deterioration of Saris

Here’s a piece I wrote a while ago as a creative writing assignment about the novel The Great Gatsby — but as you can see, I put my own spin on it! Enjoy & let me know what you think in the comments.

The Deterioration of Saris: A Rumination of an Indian Wedding Party

Why did an event that I had planned and toiled so hard on turn into dust? Perhaps it was because I did not plan it with vivacity. Alternatively, perchance it was for an external reason. As I sit here in my comfortable blue velvet chair and scribble away (with my pen flying over the page) about the summer of 1989, the cause of the devastation will make itself apparent.

Yellows and blues faded away into the deep oranges and reds of sunset as I violently brushed my hands through my thick, black hair, anxiously studying a list in front of me.

Party To-Do List

  1. Re-count the number of guests.
  2. Make sure that the arrival of the dancers corresponds with the arrival of the sitar and tabla players at 6pm.
  3. Count the number of chairs and tables and be certain that there are enough for two hundred guests.
  4. Arrange the flowers and put the desserts on trays.
  5. Set up the henna booth.
  6. Re-read this list and make sure that you check everything off.

So far, I had not checked off anything off the list and there was only a week remaining until my cousin’s party before her wedding. I had no idea why I signed up for such a painful ordeal. Ruminating on the matter, I realized that my cousin Aisha had persuaded me to be her wedding planner, presumably because there was no one else willing to do the job.

My mother had always told me from a young age that if a person asks you to do a favor for them, you should always do it because you may receive a benefit in the future, unless there are dire circumstances impeding you from doing so. Therefore, when she requested me to bring the keys from the mantelpiece or take the trash out, I unswervingly complied. Although there was not a single occurrence when I gained from my toil throughout my childhood years, I was apathetic to the entire situation because of my unyielding love for my mother.

The matter of the wedding was different.  Aisha, although she is my cousin, is not my mother. I was a sliver away from not agreeing to be Aisha’s wedding planner. The reason of my indifference was the qualities of Aisha’s fiancée and soon-to-be husband, Vikhram. He was born into a middle-class rural family and yet developed the merit to be successful in business, and therefore earned a lot of money. However, instead of using that money wisely, he spent most of it on cars (he owned at least five automobiles, each one in a different gleaming color), food, clothing (he owned one hundred neatly pressed dress shirts), and he lived in a vast, mansion made out of white marble.

“Are you sure that you want to marry him?” I had asked Aisha one day, fingering her lavish wedding ring as we sat in our modest living room.

Aisha scoffed at me. “Of course I’m sure,” she responded immediately. “I love him.” The gleaming lights of San Francisco that were usually bright seemed dull tonight.

A thousand potential replies were rolling through my head, but none of them was satisfactory. So I simply sat on the plush green sofa, fingering her wedding ring some more and pondering until Aisha finally snatched it from my hands and placed it on her ring finger, as if to say, “See? I love him and am going to marry him.”

At the time, I was unsure if she was honest with me, and today I am completely certain that she was insincere on that day in the living room.

Nevertheless, none of that is of any importance. The day of the party had arrived and Aisha and Vikhram were already married, and no matter how much I despised their marriage, I could not depart from reality. Now, I had to show the party guests that they could rely on me to throw the finest party that would rival my grandmother’s own lavish wedding party.

The wedding guests were mingling, and in front of me were a display of expensive suits and glittering saris, probably purchased for this one occasion and they would never bear the same outfit again. The saris would simply sit in closets and fade with each sunset.

By that time, I had not checked off two things off the list. The flower arrangements had not arrived and there were a few chairs missing, which perplexed me because I know that I had ordered the right amount. However, instead of fretting about it I sat back and watched the dancers rhythmically sway to the beat of the music radiating from the sitar and tabla players, their multicolored saris swirling and their golden bangles clanging with the movement of their feet. I wished that I could be so oblivious to the rest of the world and just forget about the world through music and dance. I had a desire to join the dancers just then, and turn the world into a purple, blue, yellow and orange whirl, but a hand tapped me on my back, bringing me back to reality.

It was my mother. “Sonia honey, where are the flowers? And Mrs. Singh does not have a chair to sit on.” Her made-up face wrinkled with disquiet as she appraised me. She had fitted her green and blue sari to perfection, and the beads on it reflected the light coming from the mirrors on the walls.

I sighed. She should just appreciate the lovely music, the vivacity of the party and all of the work that it took me to organize the wedding, instead of agonizing over what is not there.

“Mother, I told the florist what time to bring the flowers, and there should be enough chairs. I have done my best, and this matter does not lie in my hands. Why don’t you call the florist and ask the hotel to send us some extra chairs?” Without waiting for what would certainly be a heated response, I sauntered over to the drinks table and selected a bubbling cup of fruit punch.

I looked at the party from my vantage point at the side of the room, and appraised my marvelous work. It was definitely not perfect, however. Over time, the guests had littered the food table with crumbs and small children were grabbing pieces of cake with their hands, but all of the party guests (except my mother) had smiles on their faces and were having a marvelous time.

For me, smiles are what counts, and that party was all right in the end after all, even though the wearers’ saris will eventually turn into dust.



Story 6 – Evolution

This is a story that I wrote for a contest a while ago (around 5 years or so ago) that I dug out from the depths of my computer. I didn’t win the contest, but I still admire this work to this very day. As you can see, I’m in the mood of posting stories… Please comment!

The night was moonless, pitch-black. I could not even see my own hand in front of my face. But my instinct told me that I should venture off into the cave anyway.

‘The cave’ is a cave with surprisingly magical powers that a person could not tell by the rough, black rock, wet by the rain of the previous day. It could transform a person into anything they would like, anything at all. The hard part is what you have to do in order to become anything you would like. No, there are no ‘magic words’ that you have to recite in order to transform yourself. Instead, you have to have ‘received’ a quantity of liquid in your stomach (without drinking it- you can feel it only if you need it) called elava. Only the people chosen (I don’t know by whom) can do this, and the chosen persons have a special type of cave, that looks exactly like mine: rough, black rock, with slight tinges of gray, with a size of about eight metres tall, and only six metres wide.

My parents died, long ago when I was just five. How they died was very odd, really, especially considering the fact that I don’t remember much, since I was only five when the tragedy occurred. I just seem to remember blurs: trees smashing down like they were pulled by an ultimate gravity force, smoke, yes, lots of thick, black smoke, the smoke piercing the air, shouts and screams, the sound of rushing water and millions of people thundering down, down, into the murky depths of the water.

That’s all I remember, really. But, for me it’s enough to tell me that my parents died in a disastrous fire. For years afterwards our community had to work on rebuilding our precious city, the city of Elavanor. No one will ever find out (and they never will, only the chosen people will know forevermore) but the city was renamed after elava, the mysterious liquid.

My name is Sophia, and I am sixteen years old. I have a brother Jerry, who is two years younger than me, at age fourteen. Before, it used to be a giant age difference, but now that we’re (well, at least, I am) in our late teens, it doesn’t matter anymore. We are close friends, very close friends, not just brother and sister.

My parents were rich. Of course, I don’t mean to brag, but they were quite rich and most times they wore expensive clothes from well-known designers. In their will, they left us this house and most of its contents: money, (we rarely use it much) passports, pictures- to put it shortly, basically anything that you can imagine, from rusty bed springs to millions and millions of dollars.

And since they died, Jerry and I have become close friends. We sometimes fight like cats and dogs, but mostly we agree, or at least, try to agree with each other. I never knew that soon, our bond would be closely tightened.

Where was my sister? It was already 1:00 in the afternoon, and the sun was high in the sky, with no clouds in sight, promising a good, warm day.

                  She’s still in that cave, and it’s lunch time, I thought miserably. Sometimes I think that she’s more attached to it than I am.

                  Suddenly, the door burst open with an excruciatingly loud BANG. Two men stood in the doorway, their eyes alert. I quickly pushed back my short locks of golden-brown hair, and stood taller, as if trying to show them that I wasn’t really fourteen, wasn’t really ‘just a child’ anymore. At least, that’s what all the adults say. They always talk about us in their odd way, as if they weren’t a kid once in their painful I-wish-that-I-had-more-time-in-the-day lives.

The men in the doorway were different from any I had seen in my life. Their faces were as black as night, and their eyes were gleaming with unspoken triumph, as if they had just made a giant accomplishment. The one to the left had giant, ugly muscles, and looked like he hadn’t exercised recently, on account that he was quite stocky. The other one to the right, the peculiar one, had thin, crisp lips and an extraordinary smirk, as if he were sneering at me because I was ‘just a child.’ He also had a thin exterior, looking almost like a leg of a chair

“Give.” The man to the left spoke in a low, monotonous voice, almost like a broken record.

“G-give what? And wh-what are y-you doing here? Y-ou have n-n-n-no, no right to trespass into my house!” I tried my best to make my voice sound assertive, but I knew that my voice had more than just a slight quaver in it.
“Oh, yes, we do,” the man to the left said impatiently. “I want to get ’em outta here- run, partner!” Now the man eyed his partner, the feeble man to the left. In one quick jerk, the man, showing outstanding running skills, sprinted upstairs, to where the attic and the key to the box with the money was.

I could not do anything but run, and the other man outwitted me.

A series of shouts that turned to screams of “SOPHIA! HELP!” brought me out of my  long sleep. I had slept all night, and my instinct told me that something was wrong.

Was it Jerry? I wondered impatiently, kicking off a soft wad of dirt on the ground. If he was in trouble, I had no time to waste.

I leaped to my feet, hastily shaking off access excess dirt from my jeans. Who was screaming in that ultimately I’m-in-trouble-and-I-need-help-fast voice? I strained my ears once more, hoping to catch even a murmer of that strangely familiar voice.

One minute passed. Nothing.

Two minutes.

Three minutes. Still nothing.

Ten minutes.

Eleven minutes approached, and I was starting to get quite irritated. When twenty minutes dawned on the clocks, I was so hasty that I almost started to run into the house, no matter who I would meet. Then…there.

“THE CAVE! SOPHIA, THE LIQUID!” a muffled voice, coming from Jerry’s bedroom exclaimed. I recognized it instantly as Jerry’s. He was in trouble, and he wanted me to transform. And so I did.

The elava gushed into my stomach. I was ready to transform, when I wanted to.

I had a plan already worked into my head: I would gather the liquid, and not transform until I had appeared to whoever was in that house (it was obviously someone terrible, resulting in Jerry’s muffled screams) that I was just a meager girl. They would instantly de-size me, obviously thinking that two strong and powerful men against one meager girl would win (common sense.)

I summoned up all my courage and strength, and with that, I ran like never before, racing against the wind and limited time to rescue my brother, towards our manor.

“Alright, partner, we’re going in,” came the muscular man’s voice from the attic.

I tried desperately to free myself from the cuffs they had so hurriedly put on my hands and feet, but it was no use. All I could do now was utterly hope that Sophia had heard my message, and that she was coming with the elava ready in her stomach.

Right then, a very odd thing happened. The thinner man opened a piece of paper, written in curly and messy handwriting and forcefully thrust it in front of my face, saying nothing except, “read.”

So I read, and this is what it announced:

Holy song to be performed by Noir tribe.

         Holy song? Noir tribe? I don’t understand what this is all about! It’s crazy, I decided at last.

Just then, something extremely strange happened. The two terrible men, as if on cue, started to chant an out-of-this-world song:



                  We are the holy people,

                  We do not worship anything,





With the odd chant complete, the men stared at me, as if expecting me to speak. When I didn’t, (I was shocked and overcome by fear at the same time) the bulky one declared, as if he had memorized what he was about to say:

“There are four tribes. The other three always call us ‘bad,’ but we are the good tribe, the excellent tribe. We kill. We unleash our swords and tear and rip flesh until we see blood.”

I froze like a statue, purposely trying to look extremely terrified to the bulky man, who referred to himself as Noiri, and the thinner one Noiro. I was frightened, but inside I was also creating a plan and considering my options: I either had to try and flee or call for help, call for Sophia and the elava.

Just when I decided to shout at the top of my voice for Sophia, she came bursting into the room at top speed.

Yes, I thought in relief. She’s here, and coming to rescue me!

I dashed into the room at top speed, instantly locating Jerry. There were two strange men in the room, looking at Jerry as though he were a piece of dust.

They hadn’t noticed me yet. Just my luck, I thought happily.

The man that I had seen pop his head out of the attic door vanished again, only to step out of it holding a silver sword, which glistened in the sunlight even though it was 2:00 in the afternoon.

It frightened me out of my wits, but I forced myself to stand still. I was on a mission to rescue Jerry; and I needed to hear every little sentence that either one of the horrible men declared.

The man with the sword held up the blade and thundered, in a voice that seemed to echo amongst the rolling hills, “I will kill you! Money for the Noir tribe! Money coming to me, Noiri!”

With that, Noiri’s blade sliced the air once, twice. Now was my chance to transform. Just as I was about to, Noiri noticed me- terrible luck- and boomed:

“A revolting GIRL is here, kill her at once!” Noiri turned to Noiro, and grinned in triumph.

Noiro sprinted after me, his agile steps bouncing quickly on the wooden floor. But I outran him in one leap, and thought about transforming into a tiger.

One second passed, but that was enough time for me to transform. My body and head came first, giving me an orange head and tail, with black stripes. Next came my legs, and lastly, my tail. I felt odd, but powerful and strong, as if I could climb Mount Everest in one second.

At the sight of me, Noiro fainted instantly, with a loud THUMP. I could tell that Noiri was trying to compose his face to not look frightened, but it wasn’t working.

I traced his steps towards the door, softly so he wouldn’t hear me bunching my muscles, ready to pounce. In one swift movement, I pounced and leapt directly onto Noiri’s lungs, onto his heart.

“AARRGGGGHHH!”  He screamed desperately, but it was no use. My teeth bit into his flesh, tasting blood.

If I were human, my face would have glowed in triumph. Instead, I grinned at Jerry and he glowed, as if for me.

“You did it!” Jerry exclaimed triumphantly, as if I had won a gold medal.

I beamed- he was right. I had saved the day!


Story 5 – The Shell

This is a short story that I wrote a while ago. Enjoy, and please comment!

I opened my eyes. In front of me was a great long stretch of beach with pure white sand. It stretched out endlessly before me, showing me the way but not telling me what lies at the end. Just like when you open a book and get a general idea of the plot but don’t know how it will end.

The sun was slowly sinking into the grasps of the deep blue ocean filled with unknown creatures and plants. Now, the agents of the night were asserting their control over the chirping birds and bright blue sky of the day. Everything was black. I could not see except for the light of the moon. It glowed, showing me the way as I walked along the beach.

I was in Koh Samui, Thailand, a popular tourist destination. So there were still some peddlers wandering aimlessly around the beach, trying to get other people to change their life.

“Box of shells – two dalla!” One called out in broken English.

With nothing better to do, I approached the peddler.

He grinned when he saw me, his brown eyes bulging. “Hello, miss! Box of shells only two dalla!”

My hands reached out to grasp the box. I peered inside. Brown and pink shells filled the box only halfway.

“Where’s the other half?”

The peddler didn’t understand me. As if his other half had disappeared in another lifetime.

I reexamined the shells. None of them were a pure white color, like the color of the sand. All of them had, in one way or another, been touched, tainted, grasped. Somehow the sand was still pure, even after everyone had walked all over it during the day.

At night there was a serene quality blanketing the beach. A glowing white sheet covering up what had been tainted.

“No,” I heard myself say out loud.

The peddler instantly became desperate. “Miss, this very good deal! Whole box only two dalla!”

I smiled and walked away, following my own footsteps down the shoreline.

Suddenly, my toe closed on a small object. I raised it up to the moonlight. It glowed and radiated light across the whole expanse of the beach.

It was a shell.





Story 4 – Glistening Tails

This is an extremely short story that I wrote this summer. Some people have told me that it was incomprehensible to them, and that was partly my intention. Please leave a comment whether you liked it or not (I enjoy constructive criticism and am always looking for ways to improve my writing). Thank you!

A school of fish swam by her, their tails glistening amid the muddy water, not stopping for anything or anyone.

Why am I here? And how did I get here? She thought, idly lifting up a rock next to her that moved under her gentle touch.

The rock began to walk. Slowly at first, and then it picked up its pace with each languid step. She noticed that it had legs, and that it wasn’t the color of a normal rock – it was a shade of deep purple.

Well, that’s strange, the girl thought, gazing at the rock as it disappeared into the distance, digging her feet into the cold sand of the lake.

A small voice at the back of her head told her that the rock had another name, and just a few hours ago, she would have been able to remember it. She would have been able to do more than just remember the common name for the rock – she would have remembered her own name and her life before this moment.

But in one moment of impact, the course of her life changed forever. Perhaps in another universe, her parents were searching endlessly for her, screaming her name with increasing urgency. And even if they were looking for her, she didn’t know who they were, and wouldn’t believe them if they told her. So she simply stared at another school of fish, wondering what her identity was. As the motions of life carried on, hers seemed to freeze like in a stop-motion film.

Something squirmed under her grip. She thought it was the rock at first – the rock that isn’t commonly called a rock – but it had eyes that she thought resembled her own.

How did I end up with a baby? She asked the fish. When she received no reply, she yelled at the fish to respond, and when she had no success with that, she turned her head down and quietly wept into her worn, mangled shirt.

When the baby heard her crying, she suddenly burst out in tears, bursting with what seemed to be the same amount of tears as the water in the lake. Inwardly, she knew that she should try to do something, anything, to calm the baby, but she couldn’t think of being in any other place but right next to the lake, because all she remembered was waking up right in the same spot that she was currently sitting in.

She enjoyed looking at the fish. They were the only beings alive that seemed to have a purpose in life, and they were always on the move.

Maybe that’s what I need to do, she thought to no one in particular. The baby, as if comprehending what she was saying, ceased crying.

So she rose up, off the sandy beach, and walked along the shoreline of the lake. She saw another passerby on the beach and asked, “Where am I?”

If there was a response, she didn’t hear it because she was too busy gazing at her own reflection, which gazed back at her with an otherworldly glimmer.

Suddenly her entire past came flashing back to her, as if it had never left, and she finally felt complete again. She knew what she needed to do, and carrying her baby in her arms, she set off.


Story 3 – The Stained Glass Window

This is a short story that I wrote while sitting next to a stained-glass window a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy, and please comment!

In the darkened space, the brightest light falls onto figures from a stained-glass window. But it is not just any stained glass window – its vibrant shades of orange, red and deep orange, as well as the green leaves and succulent purple grapevine designs create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. It is a haven for those who wish to escape from the bustling world outside the glass, a cave-like, hollowed space. Those who are inside can see out, as we are enclosed in a small bubble, but those outside in the world cannot see inside.


She sits on the ragged carpet on the floor, her hands unconsciously feeling its divets. Among her are many others, all sitting cross-legged on the floor, who have come from across the globe. They come from exotic countries filled with fresh aromas such as India, Tanzania, turkey, France, Thailand.

The room is beginning to fill to capacity with these people, their clothes – some vibrant, others tattered – blended together. It was as if the entire world was mixed together in one place.

She, however, felt utterly alone and wished she could break open the intricate stained-glass windows and re-enter the society that she knew, not this alien, foreign one.

And so she broke out of the haven, the shelter of sorts, and emerged into civilization.


Story 2 – “The Frenzy” (with a quote from Walden)

Hey, everyone. I’ve neglected you all and I apologize. When I woke up this morning it just dawned on me that I have this short story that’s based on the ideals of Walden (yes, the classic book by Thoreau). I hope you like it! Please leave a comment with your opinions – I accept constructive criticism as well.


The bright morning sunlight cast its rays over a worn bed with a faded flower pattern, inching over the form sound asleep inside it. As its light trickled over the figure, her eyes immediately snapped open, glancing at the alarm clock.

My flight to New York departs in two hours, she thought, and I have not even stepped out of bed!

With that reasoning, she hastily threw back the bedcovers, producing even more wrinkles in the fabric. As soon as her feet made contact with the icy wooden floor, she sprinted to her closet and fumbled through the heaps of clothing, searching for her favorite soft grey woolen sweater.

However, she could not locate the sweater among the abundance of clothes, and instead flung shirts and skirts into her suitcase in an agitated frenzy. The suitcase was threatening to burst; corners of fabric protruding out of it could easily be seen by any observer.

She dashed down the stairs towards the kitchen two at a time, her hefty baggage clanking after her, as if it carried all of her load of worries and thoughts for her so that she could keep a clear head. There was no time to sit down and have a real breakfast, for – looking at her watch – she had already squandered ten minutes of her time. Instead, she snatched a packet of instant coffee and poured it into a cup of boiling water, stirring in the beans until the air was filled with a pungent aroma.

As the last drop of coffee slithered down her throat, she thrust her arms into the coat sleeves of her chunky black jacket, pulled her stuffed bag behind her, and opened the door, bracing herself for the cold that penetrated her entire being.

For the entire ride to the airport she fretted about missing her flight, as the load in her bag seemed to increase in proportion to her anxiety. She also thought about the family that she had to leave behind without even saying goodbye, but promptly shoved that horrible thought to the back of her mind. When she finally arrived at the airport, she strained to lift up her suitcase because it was stuffed with troublesome thoughts piled up on top of each other.

The lady working at the airport counter informed her, “You are very lucky, Ms. Jasmine, for had you arrived here five minutes later, you would have missed your flight.”

Jasmine sighed with relief, but involuntarily shuddered at the thought of missing her flight, for she had a vital business meeting to attend that evening.

The feeling of soaring through the air enlivened Jasmine’s spirits, but as the pilot announced that the airplane would begin its decent into New York her mood plummeted as she thought about what lay ahead.

At the meeting, she attempted to concentrate on the deals that were being signed, but she could not prevent her mind from wandering – and so the boat of her thoughts drifted to a secluded island where only her loving husband and two children resided.

“Ms. Jasmine?”

She started in her chair, abruptly snapped back to reality. Her cheeks turned a bright shade of red as she realized that everyone in the room was staring at her.

“Yes?” Jasmine managed to murmur in a hoarse whisper.

One of her colleagues, Andrea, asked, boring her eyes directly into Jasmine’s own, “Is everything quite alright?” Her concern was genuine, and it astonished Jasmine that Andrea could effortlessly discern that Jasmine was troubled.

“No.” The word thrust itself out of Jasmine’s mouth before she could prevent it. All the eyes in the room gaped at her as they waited for an explanation.

But she did not give one to them. Instead, Jasmine walked out of the room as fast as possible, willing herself not to run. As she approached the door, however, she could not refrain from sprinting, and so she did exactly that.

Outside the door, Jasmine could not help but smile knowingly to herself. The moment of bliss did not last for long, for she heard high heels clacking on the wooden floor that were coming in her direction. One of her colleagues was undoubtedly coming after her, so Jasmine raced down the hall in her high heels to avoid a confrontation. Halfway down the hall, she peeled off her heels in frustration, tossing them onto the floor.

“Jasmine! Come back!” Andrea’s voice pierced the silence, just as a knife cuts through fruit.

Jasmine involuntarily stopped running and turned around to face Andrea. She gazed at Jasmine from across the hallway, visibly distressed.

“Everyone at the work can tell that you are not focusing during the meetings. What is going on?” Andrea inquired, walking closer to Jasmine as she spoke.

Jasmine sighed. How much should I tell her? She thought.

Andrea waited patiently for a response. Finally, Jasmine decided to tell her the entire truth, for something about Andrea made Jasmine trust her – perhaps it was the sincere look in her eyes.

“I cannot handle this job anymore, because it is preventing me from spending quality time with my husband and children back home in Albany. Every week or so I must travel here to New York for the job, and so I am constantly rushing everywhere without thinking or enjoying my life,” she burst out.

Andrea nodded with understanding. “I didn’t think about it before, but I feel exactly the same way,” she said, surprising Jasmine with her words. “My fiancée lives in Boston, and we hardly get to spend time together.”

“Maybe we should both quit this job and go home,” Jasmine suggested, marveling at how free she felt after she spoke those words. “After all, it is only making our lives worse, and the good pay is not worth this struggle.”

Without hesitation, Andrea smiled in agreement, and the two women gaily sauntered out of the building and into the bright sunlight, embracing the new day. Finally, neither of them had to catch a flight, for “the swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot” (96).


Story 1 – The Missing Amulet

To start off, I thought I should just dig through my old files on the computer. I came across this mystery story that I wrote a few years ago. Please comment and let me know what you think!

Toronto, Ontario
Westin Hotel – Crestview Rd
Room 344
Monday, August 10th, 2006
9:09 pm

Drew sat on the plush mattress of the bed in the Westin hotel. He was a bit overweight, but surprisingly agile and had jet-black hair that grew in a slightly ragged fashion on his head.
He had just come from London, England and was quite tired. He was about to fall asleep when-
He sifted through his olive-green messenger bag until he finally found his Nokia phone. Without checking the caller ID, he answered the phone.
“Hi, is that Drew?” An unfamiliar female voice asked. How does she know my name?
Drew felt like hanging up – it was a stranger, probably selling or advertising some strange product that he would not buy, so he replied politely, “I think you might have the wrong number.”
The person seemed quite certain when she replied, “No, I don’t.”
This is weird. “Uh…what can I do for you?” He said, not knowing what else to say.
“You know what the amulet of Aphrodite is.”
“What? No, I don’t,” Drew replied in shock. Curious, he added, “Who are you anyways?”
She hesitated on the other end of the line, which Drew found slightly surprising. Finally, she said, “…It doesn’t matter who I am.” She had this mysterious kind of voice that made Drew shiver. “And I know that you’re a fan of Ancient Greek things and that you know what the Amulet of Aphrodite is and you would like to have it.”
She’s right. I do like Ancient Greek things, and I would like to see the amulet – maybe even take it out of the glass case just to hold it in my hands.
After getting the information on where the museum was located, Drew hung up.
Toronto, Ontario
Toronto International Airport
Tuesday, August 11th, 2006
2:56 pm

Mr. Jacques Beaufort, who had just come from Paris, arrived in Toronto with his colleague, Mr. Hector Cousteau.
“What do you think of Toronto?” Mr. Cousteau asked his colleague in a heavily accented voice.
“It is fine, I suppose,” replied Mr. Beaufort. In a whisper, he added, “It’s the perfect place for sight-seeing.”

Toronto, Ontario
O’ Connor St
Wednesday August 12th, 2006
1:25 pm

It was the middle of August, and the sun was blazing on my back as I walked to the museum. My friend from the museum, Alicia was at my side. I was glad that it was a hot day, for I was longing to go to my job as a receptionist because of the cool air-conditioning that always cooled me down on a warm summers’ day.
We both worked as receptionists, and somehow we managed to get a shift together at 1:30. However, we were still two blocks away from the museum, so we would have to hurry if we wanted to get there on time.
“Don’t you just want to cool off?” I asked Alicia, swiping the sweat on my face away with my palm.
“Yes,” she replied, taking a long drink from her water bottle, (making my mouth water even more, for I’d forgotten to bring one) “I can’t wait.”
Little did we know that someone else couldn’t wait as well…

Toronto, Ontario
Toronto National Museum – Bradley Pkwy
Entrance Room for Employees
Wednesday, August 12th, 2006
1:33 pm

“What excuse do you two have to defend yourselves this time?” Our boss, Jared barked into our ears. We usually weren’t late to work – this was our fifth time in a year. However, Jared was very picky about everything (as you can see) and couldn’t really tolerate late people and people who didn’t do their job well. Alicia and I knew that those two things were his pet peeves.
“Uh…” I faltered, wishing that I hadn’t even started speaking.
“There was a lot of traffic when I came over to Joanne’s place to get ready to come here, so…”
“…So we were late here to begin with,” I finished, hoping Jared would buy our mangy excuse of a story.
Jared towered over both of us in his 6’1 and slightly bulky frame, with brown hair and mysterious olive green eyes. Me, being only 5’4 and stocky with blonde hair, and Alicia who was quite tall at 5’6 with long black hair and a pretty complexion, (but still not as tall as Jared) gave us the impression that Jared was intimidating (which he could very well be when he wanted to).
“Fine,” he finally said. “Just don’t do it again.”
Before we could say “OK, Jared, we won’t”, Hadley, the main tour guide at the museum, came bursting into the room. She was short at 5’2 with long brown wavy hair that she almost always wore in a bun. Everyone who worked at the museum knew that Hadley was Jared’s pet, probably because she had been working here the longest and almost never questioned him or was ever late to work.
“What is it, Hadley?” Jared asked kindly but with an anxious look on his face.
“I was wondering if Joanne could be a tour guide,” she replied, her eyes shifting from Jared to me and back again.
Me? A tour guide? Does she really think that I could be a tour guide? I can’t believe this. Why does she want me to be a tour guide, anyway? Will Jared say yes? Why can’t Alicia be a tour guide? Why me?
I was shocked at what Hadley thought I’d be up to do, but in truth, I’d rather sit around helping people and directing them to places as well as saying “Welcome to the Toronto National Museum” in a kindly (but fake) voice and feeling the cool breeze of the air-conditioner rather than walking around the whole afternoon. Plus, it meant a lot of talking, and I knew that I wasn’t up for that.
Jared looked bewildered as well – he couldn’t speak for a few moments. Finally, he said:
“Why do you want Joanne –”He gestured at me like I was some wet dog “– to be a tour guide?”
Hadley seemed to have expected this, because I could tell that she had a reply already formulated in her brain.
“Well,” she began, nervously pushing a lock of brown hair that had escaped from her bun aside, “I think that Joanne would make an excellent tour guide. She’s smart, helpful, mostly reliable, and she’s been working here for four years. Alicia, on the other hand, has only been working here for two, so I think that it’s time that she gets a little bit of a change in her career here at the museum. I really do think that she’s up for the task. What do you say, Jared?”
“I don’t know…” He said, eyeing me thoughtfully after Hadley’s speech. It seemed like he was looking at me in a new light. I could thank Hadley for that.
“She’ll show you that she’s up for the job – right, Joanne?” Hadley questioned, turning to me. It irritated me when she used that too-perky voice of hers and I flinched at the sound.
“Yes, I will,” I announced, turning to Jared. Maybe it won’t be bad after all. It means a raise and a higher status here. Why not? “I will,” I stated again for effect.
Sighing, Jared turned from looking at Hadley and Alicia to me. “Meet me in my office at exactly 3:30 pm for an interview,” he said. “If you pass, you can be a tour guide. If you don’t meet the requirements, well…” he paused, obviously to create a dramatic effect. “…Then I guess you’ll stay a receptionist.”
He then turned to Hadley. “You may leave now. Thank you for your suggestion.”
I was surprised. You don’t normally have to get an interview if you want to be a tour guide, I thought. If you already have a job here, you can just become one if you’ve been here for long enough. Then it hit me: he was just trying to give me a hard time. He had something against Alicia and I…I could just feel it. I knew that the owner of the museum, Claire, wouldn’t like it one bit. But what could I do?
I’d meet him at 3:30 and show him what a real tour guide was like.

Toronto, Ontario
Howe St
Wednesday, August 12th, 2006
2:25 pm

Astrid, a tourist visiting Toronto for the first time, with long brown hair and bright green eyes, was walking along Howe Street when all of a sudden something came out of nowhere and hurled itself at her.
Panting in shock, she gasped for breath. When she could finally speak, she said, “Hey, why did you d-do that?”
The long cloaked figure stood up. “You robbed the museum, didn’t you?” He ignored her questions in a rude manner. Astrid also noticed that he had a heavy French accent.
Surprised, Astrid replied, “No. But -”
“-Oh yes you did,” replied the man with a French accent, interrupting her. “I saw you.”
Astrid stood up, shaking off the dirt and grime from her t-shirt and from her knees. She was Canadian, coming from Calgary, Alberta, and didn’t know what to think of this odd man who had just accused her of robbing a museum. How dare he accuse me!
“You saw me?”
“Yes, darling,” he said. “I saw you do it.”
And, before Astrid could protest or wonder why he had called her ‘darling’, he disappeared into thin air, leaving her alone with her thoughts, doubts and secrets.
Toronto, Ontario
Toronto National Museum – Bradley Pkwy
Jared’s Office
Wednesday, August 12th, 2006
3:32 pm

“Sit down,” Jared motioned for me to sit in one of his comfortable leather-backed chairs in his brown circular office. He was quite neat – only a mug of coffee, a container of writing utensils, and an official-looking notepad lay on his desk.
When I had sat, he asked me the first question. The answer came straightaway. And then the next, and the next, and the next…and so on until:
“What qualities of a tour guide do you think you have?”
“I’m kind, honest, friendly, respectable, and courteous. I greatly enjoy working with people and I love history and working in museums, especially this one,” I finished with a smile. That went well, I thought, because Jared had told me that that was the last question.
“Thank you, Joanne,” Jared replied formally, though I could tell that he was impressed. “I will let you know later today – after consulting with Claire, of course, who is not here at the moment, but will be back soon – if you may become a tour guide.”
When he waved me off, he no longer did so like I was a wet dog, for I was a dry human now.

Toronto, Ontario
Toronto National Museum – Bradley Pkwy
Entrance Hall – Reception Desk
Wednesday, August 12th, 2006
5:46 pm

“Joanne?” Alicia said as we were waiting for some visitors to approach the desk.
“Yeah?” I replied, my heart fluttering in my chest. Was it Jared, coming to let me know if I could be a tour guide?
“It’s Jared.” Alicia stated my thoughts, pointing in the direction of Jared’s office. Jared, however, was not in it, for he was sauntering over to us.
When he arrived, he right away said, “Joanne, you’re a tour guide now.” He didn’t show any emotion, so I could tell that something was wrong.
“Thanks a lot!” I responded, and then added, “What’s wrong?”
Alicia had the same worried look on her face – as well as a mask of sadness, probably because I was becoming a tour guide and she had to stay a receptionist without me.
“Oh, nothing,” Jared said huffily. “It’s just that…THE AMULET OF APHRODITE HAS BEEN STOLEN!” he bellowed, unable to stand it any longer. Visitors to the museum stopped and stared in bewilderment, some hurriedly rushing on past the reception desk, others exiting the museum altogether for fear of a thief.
“When did this happen?” I asked.
“J-just now,” Jared replied in panic. He seemed to be more frightened than I was, as his face was panic-stricken.
Alicia looked aghast and anxious as well. For some reason, I felt calm and perfectly in control.
I asked Jared a bunch more questions, which I would need if I wanted to solve the mystery and get on Jared’s best side, just like how Hadley somehow had. (Even though he did like me more now than he might have liked me four hours ago).
Alicia cleared her throat. “What can I do to help?” She asked in the kindest voice that she could muster.
“You don’t need to do anything,” Jared said in reply. “Just stay at the reception desk and do what you usually do – however, if for some reason a customer wants to know about the thief that has stolen the amulet, tell them that it’s not a worry and that the head of the department is sorting it out, and that the museum is safe to visit.”
Happy that she could help, Alicia sauntered back over to her (not our) desk.
Suddenly, all the lights switched off. It was very eerie as the darkness enveloped us, but it wasn’t that bad since there was light that came through the long glass windows. About a hundred security guards started quietly creeping around in the next room, where the Ancient Greek exhibit was – and in the same room that the amulet had been stolen.
“Can I do anything to help?” I asked Jared just then. He had also noticed the security guards.
As if just realizing something, Jared replied, “You can help solve the case.”
“What?” I yelled in astonishment. Why would he want me to solve the case? I’m not a professional detective.
Jared looked as if he’d been expecting me to react like that. “All the security guards are busy trying to ward the thief off. We don’t want to attract attention by having the cops come. I trust you now, after everything you and Hadley have said. You’re the best person to solve this case at the moment,” he finished, answering my unspoken question.
“Sure, okay,” I said, still grappling with reality. “What do you want me to do, exactly? How am I supposed to solve this?”
Jared suddenly looked exhausted. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just don’t know. I’m sure that you can figure it out.”
What would happen if I really did solve this case? Would I be promoted even higher than a tour guide? There was only one way to find out.

Toronto, Ontario
Toronto National Museum – Bradley Pkwy
Ancient Greek Exhibit
Wednesday, August 12th, 2006
6:18 pm

The security guards in the room with their flashlights were starting to give the room a strange, eerie feeling. I was scared out of my wits. The thief might be here, I was thinking every couple of seconds.
However, I did want to do my job and show Jared that I was reliable, trustworthy, and loving my new job as a detective. So, using the fingerprint detector, I started looking for fingerprints around the exhibit.


About two hours later, well after I was supposed to leave, I finally found some fingerprints around the glass case that had held the amulet.
Excited, I waited until the computer had identified what DNA the person who owned the fingerprint had.
A few moments later, the screen read:

Fingerprint data cannot be found. DNA cannot be detected.

What does that mean? I wondered. I pondered over it for a moment – considering why the fingerprint data couldn’t be found.
After about a quarter of an hour, I decided to ask Gertrude, the head of the department of investigation and the head detective as well. I found her in a nearby room, as I had expected, looking for fingerprints.
“Gertrude,” I burst out. “I found something.”
A smile burst out of the corners of her face. “Well, Joanne, why don’t you show me,” she responded happily, obvious excitement pouring out of her like water from a leaking faucet.
“There’s a problem,” I added, not really wanting to disrupt her mood but knowing that I’d have to. “I found fingerprints but when the computer was searching for DNA, it said this.”
I showed her the screen. She looked taken aback, as if that had never happened before.
“Well…I’m not really sure what it means, but maybe the thief put something over their hands so that the fingerprints wouldn’t be recorded,” she guessed in vain.
That didn’t make any sense. “Why would the fingerprint detector find fingerprints and then the computer say that fingerprint data couldn’t be found?”
Gertrude thought about my question for a long time. She too seemed puzzled.
Suddenly, she gasped, “I know why!” Not waiting for a reply, she continued with a bit less excitement. “The case is in serious jeopardy. The thief has muddled with the computer so that it doesn’t show any data,” she finished.
That’s the only logical explanation, I thought as we made our way to the computer in the side room. How would the thief know how to work the computer?

Toronto, Ontario
The Hilton Grand Hotel – Silver Crescent Rd
Suite 3455
Thursday, August 13th, 2006
8:15 am

“That went well,” Drew said to no one in particular as he woke up the next morning at a different hotel. I got to feel the amulet in my hands yesterday.

Toronto, Ontario
Toronto National Museum – Bradley Pkwy
Computer Monitor Room
Thursday, August 13th, 2006
9:34 am

I woke to find that Gertrude and I had slept on our chairs next to the computer.
“Gertrude?” I whispered. She looked like she was fast asleep.
“Yep,” she responded, startling me. She’s already awake! Wow, looks can really be deceiving.
She had stayed up really late last night, until about midnight, a lot later than the time I dozed off.
“Did you find anything?” I asked, my excitement building up inside me as I waited for her to answer.
“I found the DNA of the person who did it, and matched it up with a name – Drew Sawyer,” Gertrude replied, obviously proud of herself.
“Cool!” I said. “How do we track this person down?”
“Oh, that’s easy. I have a special tracking device that tells the location of a person. You have to enter DNA, a picture of their fingerprints, and enter their name, all of which we have. It will then tell you the exact location of the person at this moment.”
Gertrude handed me the tracking device. I typed in all of the information, and then pressed SEE LOCATION.
In a few moments, the screen read:

Drew Sawyer
Location: Silver Crescent Rd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“Isn’t that where the Hilton hotel is?” I asked.
“Yes, it is,” said Gertrude in reply.
“Well, what are we waiting for?”
Gertrude and I exited the computer monitor room, passed the Ancient Greek exhibit, and walked outside into the bright sunlight.

Toronto, Ontario
The Hilton Grand Hotel – Silver Crescent Rd
Lobby – Concierge Desk
Thursday, August 13th, 2006
10:37 am

The concierge smiled as Gertrude and I approached. “How can I help you?” She inquired, a fake smile spreading across her lips.
“Could you please ask Drew Sawyer to come down to the lobby for a moment?” Gertrude asked, knowing that the lady wouldn’t let her go up to the rooms unless they had a key. “Say that his aunt is waiting for him,” she added a kindly smile.
“Certainly,” the woman replied as she picked up the phone.


Drew Sawyer entered the lobby and looked around to find his ‘aunt’. Gertrude beckoned to him, and he walked over to her.
“Are you my aunt?” He asked, ruffling his black hair.
“Uh…” Gertrude hesitated, and then motioned for him to follow her (and me) out of the lobby.
“Are you?”
“No, I’m not,” she replied tentatively. “But I know something about you that only an aunt would know.”
“What?” Drew questioned. I could see that he was very curious about what Gertrude knew.
Gertrude paused, then said, “I know that you stole the amulet, and I have a picture of your fingerprints on the case, and I have your DNA.”
Bingo! I thought. We’ve caught the thief!
“What? N-no, I didn’t really…look, you have to listen, no, no, no…” Drew babbled, and then stopped suddenly when he noticed that Gertrude was taking out a pair of handcuffs.
“No, you can’t!” He wailed. “Someone else told me to do this, it wasn’t me! I only took it out, someone else did it, and her name is Astrid!”
We were both intrigued now. “Astrid?” I repeated. “What is her last name?”
“Morton,” Drew replied, looking slightly relieved. “Astrid Morton.”
I quickly punched the name in on the portable DNA and fingerprint device. When they showed up, I entered the information into the tracking device. The screen read:

DNA and fingerprints matches Hector Greenfield, not Astrid Morton.
The system has found that Hector has other names:
Astrid Morton
Claire Block
Gregory Thomas
Location: Bradley Pkwy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“What?” Gertrude and I both yelled. Claire Block? But she’s the owner of the museum? Why would she want to steal the amulet? And why is she really a he?
“That can’t be,” Gertrude mumbled, shaking her head. “It can’t be Claire. Well, she’s at the museum now, so it has to be. It has to be her. It can’t be anyone else.” She seemed like she was trying to convince herself.
“He told me that he would tell me his secret if I got the amulet out of the case,” Drew explained. “My fingerprints were there because I got the amulet out. Hector didn’t want to get caught.”
“So, Claire/Hector’s secret is that he/she can change forms?” I guessed.
“…Yeah,” Drew burst out. He probably thought that Gertrude and I would imprison him if he didn’t tell us his/her secret.
“And I’m guessing that Hector muddled with the computer. Only he would know how to do it, since he’s the owner of the museum,” Gertrude said.
“That’s it,” Drew stated, impressed that we had figured it out. Then again, he didn’t know who he was dealing with.
“But that’s not all,” he said when no one responded. “She knows these guys from Paris, Mr. Beaufort and Mr. Cousteau, and they knew about the amulet and about how much she wanted to rob the museum. They’ve both been trying to steal the amulet for some time now,” he finished.
When Gertrude had comprehended this, she said, “If your story is true, then I will release you. If it is not, then…” She paused, scanning Drew’s face. “If not, then I’ll have no other choice but to show you to the police.” She clicked the handcuffs, as if warning him.
“I know.” Drew sighed. “But it’s true, I’m telling you.”

Toronto, Ontario
Toronto National Museum – Bradley Pkwy
Claire Block’s Office
Thursday, August 13th, 2006
12:53 pm

Hector was sitting in his office over a mug of coffee when he had this overwhelming boyish instinct to go to the gym and get muscular.
Sighing, he closed his womanly eyes (since he was impersonating Claire at the moment) and imagined Gregory Thomas, one of the male characters that he’d made up. He was a wealthy bachelor who lived in Toronto. Although he was good looking, he wasn’t really the kind of guy who would go to the gym, so Hector stayed himself, although he knew it was risky. The cops were always after him.
Hector looked through the round hole at his office door to make sure that no one was there, and –
“Ha!” A voice shouted, opening the door on his face. He fell backwards and onto the plush red carpet on the floor.
“H-how…” He spluttered. When he could think clearly, he looked at the figures in front of him: Drew was the only person he recognized. There were two women standing over him that he didn’t recognize. Did Drew tell them my secret?
“We know that you stole the amulet, Astrid.” The younger girl with blonde hair stated matter-of-factly. “Or should I call you Hector? What about Claire? Hmm…maybe I should call you Gregory. Which name do you prefer?” She said sarcastically.
Oh no – Drew told them my secret! I should never have trusted him.
“Look, I can explain, it’s not what you think-” He started, but was cut off.
“Not what we think?” The older woman said. “We saw you transform from the woman that is the owner of the museum, to some handsome-looking guy to yourself. We know you’re the thief, Hector.”
“D-do you know that I changed the computer memory around so that Drew’s fingerprints wouldn’t show up?” Hector asked.
“Yeah – we unlocked the code, and then it showed the fingerprints. Well – Gertrude here did, not me,” she said modestly, pointing to the older woman. “I’m Joanne, by the way.”
“…And we know,” Gertrude continued, “That you know those two Parisian guys. Could you tell us more about them, please?” She asked as if she was an innocent little child.
“Fine.” Hector gave in. “I originally used to live in Paris, and I met them once in a café and they found out with their DNA and fingerprint device that I had stolen other things, and they asked me if I knew about the amulet. I said no, because I didn’t know about it then, but after they told me about it, I wanted to steal it. But so did they. We were racing around the globe, trying to locate the amulet and get it before each other so that one of us could sell it and make a fortune. That is, until I came here a year ago and…became Claire to hide from the cops that were following us. While we were travelling, they got magical gifts – one man had the gift of magically appearing and then disappearing, for example,” he finished.
Gertrude, for some reason, didn’t look shocked when Hector finished – however, that blonde Joanne did.
“Tell us about your shape-shifting gift while we walk to the police station,” Gertrude said, unclipping the handcuffs from Drew and clipping them onto Hector.
Hector knew from experience not to try and get out of the handcuffs – it was too much trouble. Not fighting Gertrude, he told them how he got his gift from his mother, who passed it onto him. He could only use the gift when he was in some sort of danger or if he had an impulse to do something and if he wanted to do it badly.
As the three people set off down the street, the Frenchmen were watching. They saw the look on Hector’s face and knew that he wouldn’t be in jail for long.

Toronto, Ontario
Police Station – Yarrow Rd
Thursday, August 13th, 2006
1:31 pm

“Hand over the amulet,” the chief officer at the police station said to Hector.
“Hand it over…” He said warningly. “Or I will take it from you.”
Knowing better than to fight, Hector meekly handed the gleaming red amulet over to the officer, who in turn handed it to Jared, who had received a call from me (Joanne) telling him to come. Alicia was there as well, after begging Jared to let her come. She must’ve been worried about me.
“I guess I’m in charge of the museum, then,” Jared said, eyeing Hector. He looked bewildered that the owner of the museum was really a man.
“Well, that crime puts you in jail for a lifetime,” the chief officer stated.
Phew! Hopefully there won’t be any more crimes at the museum – at least, not by Hector.


As we walked back to the museum, Jared congratulated me and made me co-head of the detective/investigation department, along with Gertrude. Even Alicia became a tour guide, to her immense happiness.
Everything was back where it was supposed to be – the amulet safely in its glass case and Hector safely in jail. Even the two dejected Frenchmen had been handcuffed and taken to jail for committing crimes that Hector had been forced to speak about.
All was well.