Gobstopper (Fiction)

Short Stories, Writing

by Monica Ng

As I lie in bed and listen to the angry howling voice of the wind and think about yesterday’s news forecast about the winter storm and dramatic change in our weather conditions, I wonder if we will ever have a chance to hold each other again before the world ends. I mean, before the whole planet crumbles beneath into the depths of the ocean or collapses into the nucleus of the Earth. I never forgot about the burning ball-shaped nucleus I learned about in high school geology class. The image of the structure of our planet from my textbook is etched into my brain forever – the crust, mantle and the outer and inner core, which in coloured pictures reminds me of a Gobstopper. If you don’t know what a Gobstopper is, it’s a candy generically known as a jaw breaker. It’s super-hard (as the name suggests) and as you suck it, each layer of colour disappears and reveals a new colour. When you get to the last colour – that’s the end. At that time, the hard candy is nothing but a soft matter that you can crunch with your teeth. And with that final crunching motion, the powder will dissolve and disappear into your mouth. And just like that, it’s gone forever.

Thinking of the Earth being stripped down to the “last colour” like the Gobstopper, is an obsession for me when I picture everything that humans dig out from the earth including precious metals, gems and foundations for endless new buildings and structures. As humans we exploit what’s not ours and rape the earth of things that don’t belong to us. We are greedy and ignore the consequences of our actions – global warming…climate change…world hunger caused by the imbalance of political systems…

The more we dig, the closer we are to collapsing our planet. At that time we will all slide into the fiery core like a thousand puzzle pieces being poured back into into the box after we are done building it. But unlike the puzzle pieces, we will fall into the abyss. From above in the galaxy, we would see planet Earth one second and then poof, it would turn to dust. It’s like how things above disappear into the sinkholes that occur when the earth beneath shifts or weakens – or simply when what humans have built can no longer support the weight that it was designed to hold. I think about plate tectonics – plates that weren’t attached to begin, crashing together at an incredible force – creating new continental divides, mountains that weren’t there before and new political disputes to settle the matter of newly acquired land. I picture the divide between us. Will we meet again in our lifetime? Can I hold you again and lovingly stroke your five o’clock shadow before the world we know is over? Everything in life seems trivial and becomes insignificant when I think about this. A magnetic pull so strong exists between us but we allow the small things to keep us apart. At the end of the day, does it TRULY matter that I typed the word “into” twice in a row in my rantings above? You probably didn’t notice because we are programmed to read like robots, so don’t feel bad that you didn’t notice. It’s something that spell check won’t catch. Maybe grammar check would catch it, but honestly who cares?! But if you happened to notice my intentional typo, thought it was accidental and wanted to tell me – I love you for that because you know that I am a perfectionist and would want to correct my typo before I share my work with the world.

Cherishing and holding onto what and who matters most to us while we are alive, is what really matters.

The untold stories series: River Rose

Short Stories, Writing

River Rose (Fiction) by Monica Ng

Razor Blades by Nathaniel Sutton plays at full blast while tears roll steadily down my face. I’m not surprised to see black streaks all over my face in the reflection of the mirror. If Maybelline’s promise of long-lasting waterproof mascara could be broken, then promises of growing old together could definitely be shattered.

It was a Valentine’s Day I will never forget. The day started out harmless.  I went for a walk along the river. I was minding my own business. Watched the river flowing. Nodded my head at a couple of seniors walking by me briskly. It’s when I approached the bridge that I saw an ambiguous outline of two people facing each other, huddled close. I didn’t think much of the love birds because Gary and I used to be like that. When I got to the center of the bridge and looked down by the riverbank, I saw the woman holding a single rose in her hand. They didn’t see me. From there I could hear their conversation. She told him that she would walk away if he didn’t leave the other woman. I can’t do this anymore. Two years is too long, she said. His response was hesitant. He said that he wanted to be with her and he was trying to leave his woman but it wasn’t that easy. Not satisfied with his reply, she pushed away from him and threw the rose into the river. Goodbye, she said. Wiping away her tears, she walked away. The guy just stood there. What an asshole, I thought to myself. What kind of guy does that? Doesn’t he have any guts? After a few minutes he removed his hood and glanced over in my direction. I found myself looking directly into the eyes of my Gary.


This is part of my series “The Untold Stories” inspired by pictures that I take along my life journey. More to come.

The untold stories series: The Lost Sole

Short Stories, Writing
Story inspired by the lone shoe on the shores of Lake Ontario

The Lost Sole (Fiction) by Monica Ng

I woke up early this morning. My sleep was fitful last night. Maybe I was overheated sleeping next to my growing pile of clothes. Maybe it was the bad dream I was having. I don’t remember much from my dream other than I was running away from someone.

I haven’t shared a bed with someone in a long time. I miss waking up and being in awe looking at her angelic face while she slept. Even her breathing was as gentle as her very being. She was a kind soul who touched everything with love. And she was mine.

Rolling out of bed, the clock tells me it’s 7 a.m. Every day seems to blend into one when there’s no sense of purpose. What am I supposed to accomplish today? My family and friends have told me for years that I need to move on. Accept that she’s gone. But I can’t let go. I wronged her too many times and she left me. I realized too late that I was taking her for granted.

Grabbing my backpack, I head out for a walk by the lake. I have to clear my cluttered mind. Watching the waves crash in rhythmic motion, I appreciate that no wave is ever the same. I dig for my morning breakfast bar which has now fallen to the bottom of my pack. Noticing one of my old red runners popping out, I remove it and place it on the sand. Her voice sounds in my head, Why can’t you just be more organized and get your life in order? I’ve had enough. We had many arguments over the years about my mess. I glance over at my single sneaker lying helpless on the beach and feel a pang of guilt because I have no idea where the other one is. She is right. She was always right. I have to get organized. I decide to go home and finally get my life in order.

Starting with my closet, I dig everything out and see a mountain-like spread on my bedroom floor. And in the pile, I spot my other red shoe. I smile. Quickly I go grab my backpack to reunite my shoes – feeling happy that for once I did something right, only to notice that it’s not there.



Walking along the shores of Lake Ontario, I often find items that shouldn’t be there – such as shoes, scrap metal and tires. When I was in British Columbia I saw a lone shoe on the sidewalk, which most likely belonged to a homeless person, but I will never know the story behind it. When I saw a red sneaker this morning, I wondered the same thing and it inspired me to work on a series of writing to tell the untold stories.

The Crack

Short Stories

The Crack – a short play

Written by Monica Ng

Act 1

A woman sits quietly on an armchair staring at a frosted window.  She pulls her sweater on tighter in attempt to fight off the chill in the air.  She sniffles and wipes the tears off her cheek with the back of her hand. Crossing the room, she grabs a box of tissues and returns to her seat. She puts her feet up onto the chair, hugs her legs tightly and tucks her head down between them. She hears a ding from the phone next to her. Glancing at the screen she sees a text message but decides to ignore it. Her attention is drawn to the person lying on the floor across the room with her head in a pool of blood. The woman gets off the floor, casually smooths out her bloodied hair and walks toward the armchair.

Beth: How did you get so weak? Why did you let yourself fall apart?

Glenda: What do you mean? I’m just fine.

Beth: Look at you. You’re so young and in such terrible shape. You can barely walk and can’t even bend down to pick something up off the floor. Plus your vision started to fade years ago. I don’t even know if you can see anymore.

Glenda: My joints are worn out –that’s all. And I can still see you. I’m not young anymore, you know? Seventy-two is old. It’s almost my time to go.

Beth: That’s nonsense. You used to do everything. You ran a business, raised us and took care of the household. Why did you give up?

Glenda: We all have a role in life. I raised the three of you and now you’re all independent.  You all have your university degrees and lives of your own. My job is done.

Beth: You’re so stubborn. Exercise is so important and you always refused. Something simple as walking even. Remember when I asked you to take a walk with me and you yelled at me, telling me never to tell you to walk again? So frustrating! What about quality of life? You’ve fallen apart so much already. What if you live until ninety? Then what?

Glenda: Don’t give me that look.  I hate exercise. You know that. I never liked it since I was small.  I have no health problems.

Beth: You can fool yourself to believe that you have no problems…never mind, there’s no point to talk about it anymore.

Glenda: You don’t understand. I had a rough childhood.  My parents were abusive and ruined my life. Your father and I worked so hard just to survive after we ran away from Vancouver. It was so hard to start from scratch, with little money in our pockets. On top of that, we had to learn how to speak French in Montreal and raise a family while working many jobs. Plus you’ll never know what it’s like to watch over your shoulder every single day, for fear that your father will find you and kill you. He was a violent man. You can’t imagine.

Beth: I know. You said your father was violent and that’s why we never met him. It’s true, I’ll never know what you went through, but you’ve been doing absolutely nothing for so many years.  Isn’t there anything that you’re interested in at all?

Glenda: No. I just like to watch shows.

Beth: Then what? You’ll sit there watching television for the rest of your life?  You haven’t left your condo for years. Do you even know what fresh air and the sun are? They’re good for your body and mind.

Glenda: I open the windows. Fresh air comes in. I’m tired. See how you feel when you’re older.

Beth: Fine. There’s no point to talk about it anymore.

Act 2

Glenda hobbles toward the window. There is no view because of the frost. She holds onto the window frame for support and stares blankly in the general direction of the window, with her mouth hanging open in defeat. From the back of her head, the cracked skull is exposed. Glenda gingerly touches the bone and feels the rough edges with her fingers.

Beth: Watching you die slowly is horrible!

Glenda: What do you mean…watch me die? I’m not dying. Why are you crying?

Beth: I’m sorry that I didn’t take you to renew your health care card that time, but why were you in such a hurry? I would have taken you if you weren’t so anxious to get it done!

Glenda: I know you were busy so didn’t want to bother you.

Beth: That’s better than you falling! Now you’re too scared to walk. You’re losing muscle mass every day and getting weaker and weaker. Soon you’ll need a wheelchair and someone will have to push you around.  Is that what you want? What kind of life is that?

Glenda: I don’t blame you for my fall, but I am scared of falling. Remember when you were young? I held onto the back of your bicycle afraid to let go because I thought you might fall. But I knew that I couldn’t hold on forever because then you wouldn’t be able to pedal and keep going. I let go because that was the only way to set you free – not that I wanted to let you go. So, you see? You can’t control everything in life. There’s no point to think back to the past and what may or may not have happened.

Beth: I know. I know.

Act 3

The room is dead silent. Glenda gently touches Beth’s shoulder, gives her a smile and turns her back away from Beth. She struggles to walk with her body hunched over, toward the spot where she was lying down. Careful not to slip in the fresh blood, she slowly lowers herself to the floor.

Beth: Where are you going?

Glenda: I’m just going to lie down now. Not going anywhere. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. 

Beth: Be careful not to fall.

Glenda: Is that the doorbell? I’m too tired to get up. Can you see who’s there?

Beth: Yes, don’t worry, I’ll get it.

Glenda: Who is it?

Beth: The paramedics.  They’re here to close your eyes.


Author’s commentary:

I’ve always wanted to write a short play, but never got around to trying until now. This is my first play ever. It’s quite different from novel writing because the focus is on dialogue. It took me some time to wrap my head around the format.

This play was inspired by a nightmare that I had about my mother. In my nightmare, my mom started to walk and crashed to the floor – cracking open her skull. I could hear the sound of the cracking. I called 9-1-1 but the lady on the phone wasn’t listening to anything I was saying. I watched the blood spreading on the floor, knowing that it was just a matter of time before she died.

Over the years, I’ve watched my mom go from being mobile, to less mobile, to becoming wheelchair bound. There’s no going back after you reach a certain point. I wrote this play with tears in my eyes. It’s so hard for me to watch a loved one be physically present, but in my view, dying slowly in front of my eyes. My take-home message, do everything in your power to stay healthy both physically and mentally. No one else can do this for you.


Mental Health, Short Stories

A short story (fiction)

Written by Monica Ng

Zap. Zap. Zap. Nothing but the sound of static. An incessant buzzing replaces the thoughts in my mind. Looking around my room – it looks different. The colour has vanished from it. The walls have eyes and ears – watching and listening. Nowhere is safe. I fumble for the glass of water on my bedside table. The glass shakes in my trembling hand as I bring it close to my mouth. Water splashes all over my shirt and pants but barely touches my parched lips. Drinking, I realize, is futile. Instead, I dip my fingers into the glass and use some water to splash my face. Wake up. Get a hold of yourself, I tell myself.

Blinding. The lights in my room are too bright. It’s making me see things that weren’t there before. A woman materializes from a shadow in the corner of my room. She’s smiling and holding something in her hands. Her presence makes me uncomfortable. Her smile is malicious, not warm. The lady edges closer to me. Her smile not fading. I sit helplessly on my bed as she binds my wrists with whatever she was holding. It’s something shiny. Struggling with all my might, I can’t move my hands. All control is lost. Bending over me, she lays me down on the bed. I can see the woman’s sharp pointy yellow-tinged teeth. Her eyeballs are black with no white space. Don’t move. You’ll only make things worse, she says in a mechanical and hollow voice. I plea to her with my eyes, I don’t deserve this. None of it. Don’t take away my freedom. But the woman doesn’t care. Instead she stares at me blankly, tugging at my restraints. When she’s satisfied that I can’t move nor escape, she turns around and walks toward the balcony door. She opens the door and her black outline stands on the balcony for a moment. A second later she disappears underneath it.

The light flickers off by itself now. I can feel myself fade into the darkness.


Author’s Commentary: This story is inspired by my dad’s health scare back in 2020. As background, my dad had a life-changing stroke about seven years ago. He always had issues with my mom (mainly my mom’s control over him), but the impact of their problems was magnified post-stroke because of the changes in my dad’s brain and partial physical paralysis.

One night, my mother called me and told me that my dad went “crazy”. When I saw him for myself, he was ranting and raving in his mother tongue (which I don’t really understand) about not deserving the treatment that he got from “the lady”. His behaviour was erratic and odd, and he was confused about many things. He definitely wasn’t himself, so I took him to the hospital to get checked out. The doctor found that his sodium levels were dangerously low, which he explained could cause confusion.

For my dad, he was restrained in the hospital for his own safety. During his slow recovery, he told me about the torment caused by the evil lady who restrained him frequently back at his condo. She left him without an ounce of freedom and human dignity. To make matters worse, she lived for free under their balcony (a balcony that doesn’t exist).

I know that my mom was likely yelling at him again and he had a traumatic breakdown when he reached his breaking point. Mental health is so important. Something like this can happen to anyone at any time. No one is immune. Talk to someone you trust before you reach your breaking point.