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  • Writer's pictureRiver Valley Student Editorial Club

Live Laugh Love: The entries of our winners

Category: Live Laugh Love Lower Secondary (S1-2)

Submitted by: Keara Kok Yi Xuan (First Place)

Prompt: From the perspective of an inanimate object in a busy city


Humans are noisy and strange. Sometimes, they seem joyful and carefree, sparkle in their eyes, a spring in their step, their posture relaxed. Sometimes, they seem sorrowful or defeated, their shoulders hunched, eyes casted downwards, as if they couldn’t bear to look into the eyes of another. Sometimes, they seem anxious or worried, foreheads crinkling, fidgety and their walk fast-paced. No matter the expression, I have come to realise that they all have emotions. Even those who mask their emotions with a constantly blank face. 


In spite of how varied humankind is coming in all shapes, sizes and colour, a small, unassuming boy always caught my attention. He didn’t wear loud, colourful clothes like the others. Didn’t speak in a deafening, obnoxious voice like many others. Didn’t demand attention like the others. Or perhaps it was only because he came when the ball of fire in the sky had coaxed the bustling city into slumber. A small boy out and about late into the night was sure to catch the attention of someone.


Bringing a small stack of tattered books and a pencil whittled down to almost a stub, he would settle down under the warm glow of my light, legs crossed and hunch over his books. He always wore a threadbare shirt a size too small, so pale a blue it looked as if it had gone on so many trips to the washing machine its colour had long been washed away. A mismatched pair of green shorts, that must have been passed down to him for it was a tad too large, hanging off his skinny hips. He came every night at the same time, just after dusk, and left at the same time, just before dawn, his large slippers slapping against the concrete sidewalk softly.


I never quite understood why he came so promptly every night until one morning, when my curiosity was sufficiently satisfied. “What a coincidence, Charlotte!” A tall willowy girl who had her thick chestnut hair twisted up into a stylish bun, a crisp white blouse paired with a grey plaid pleated skirt that complimented her long legs, exclaimed. The two girls that had happened to encounter each other grinned. The beam of my light illuminated their faces, seemingly sharpening their features. By the time I had finished examining them, their conversation had already shifted to the various schoolmates that were unbelievably smart and hardworking, comments mainly revolving around a boy by the name Asher. “Oh my, Violet! I’ve been meaning to tell you. I caught wind that his family is so poor they can’t even afford electricity, which was why he wanted the scholarship so much,” Charlotte, whose hair in contrast to her friend’s fell in waves over her shoulder, gossiped. With a curvy figure, she pulled off a chic style in a cold shoulder top paired with culottes.


“Truly?” Violet gasped.


“Indeed!” Charlotte exclaimed, triumphant that she had heard the tale before her friend, “Eleanor told me he would come out at night to study under the street lamps.” At this, my attention immediately crackled to life. Startled, the two girls glanced up at me, but quickly turned back to pick up from where they left the gossip exchange. 


“Isn’t it just inspiring how hard he worked for his dreams? Even though his family had to pay for his father’s chemotherapy and couldn’t support him, he still pursued them anyway,” Violet sighed in admiration. Charlotte murmured her agreement as they started drifting down the path, their conversation following.


A thousand more questions of mine followed them, that would probably stay unanswered. Nonetheless, this boy, Asher, seemed to have a certain spark to him. Something that made him stand out from the crowds of fascinating people. A glow in the vast inky darkness, very much like the one that spreads over us during his nightly study sessions. Something that seemed to ignite life in him. A simple word that held so much power. Hope.


Category: Live Laugh Love Lower Secondary (S1-2)

Submitted by: Ma Yixin (Second Place)

Prompt: Beauty and resilience of nature


One of the most enchanting aspects of nature is its ability to paint vibrant

canvases of colour, texture, and form. From the delicate petals of a blooming

flower to the towering majesty of ancient forests, nature's palette is boundless.

Sunsets splash the sky with hues of gold and crimson, while the dance of light on

water mirrors the magic of the cosmos. The intricate patterns of leaves, the

flawless symmetry of a snowflake, and the rhythmic ebb and flow of tides all bear

witness to the delicate yet unique artistry of the natural world. Yet, this form of

art was beautiful as it was strong, endowed with unmatched resilience. It could

weather the worst of storms, could adapt to changing seasons, and slowly but

surely rejuvenate itself after a major disturbance such as fire. Such resilience is

shown in the circle of life. Persisting and pushing through the toughest and most

inhospitable of places, only to flourish and bloom in the most beautiful way. Such

like a flower blossoming from a slit in the rock, or a seed sprouting in a desolate

and dry landscape.


Nature goes in a cycle, so does life. The seasons in nature represent the perpetual

rhythm of birth, growth, decay, and rebirth. This constant cycle sustains

ecosystems in a delicate balance that cannot be disrupted. The interconnected web

of life, where each organism plays a crucial role, highlights the importance of

biodiversity. The ability of ecosystems to adapt and evolve is a testament to

nature's intricate design, fostering stability and harmony amid the ever-changing

conditions of the planet. Even with climate change slowly starting to devour

remaining parts of the Earth, Nature has still persisted. People who start to

realise what they have done to harm the planet are now doing all they can to heal

and renew the Earth. The resilience of nature is truly extraordinary, it should be

treasured and preserved, so all generations may enjoy such a delight.


Category: Live Laugh Love Lower Secondary (S1-2)

Submitted by: Teh Sum Jyu (Third Place)

Prompt: One day left to live


I had one day left to live

Only then did I realize

No more rain or sunshine

And everything else was up to the afterlife


I thought my life was boring

Was always complaining and whining

Why am I not as wealthy?

Why am I not as pretty?


But now all I ask for

Is just a minute more

I should have been grateful

For who and what I had


The moon was my guiding light

When it saw my pitiful plight.

The sun kept me warm

During the heavy storms.


My friends were my fighting sword

When the monsoon rain poured.

My family were my compass

When I got lost in all the ruckus.


Is it too late

To appreciate it all?


I had one day left to live

Only then did I realize

How fast time flies

And it was time to say goodbye


Category: Live Laugh Love Upper Secondary (S3-4)

Submitted by: Aaron Liang Jun Chen (First Place)

Prompt: One day left to live


When I woke up today, I had this inexplicable thought that this is the day I would die. 


I woke up feeling healthier than ever, and a strange calmness that doesn’t quite fit with the hustle and bustle in the hospital. For the first time in years, I felt reawakened, energy coursing through every facet of my body, yet I could still feel my heart weakly pumping within me, like a race car on its last gallon of fuel.


I thought it was a sign from God. 


And thus I left the hospital. The doctors all said I was due to drop dead in a week, and who wants to do so at a hospital of all places? 


Where do you want to die? I chose a scenic mountaintop, surrounded by nature, and untouched by humankind. There’s a certain whimsical feel to it. In society, everyone’s caught up in our busy lives, to earn money, to self-develop, that we often forget to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the little things in life. I’d want to be able to enjoy the simple things, like nature, that I never had the time for.


But before I hike up that mountain, I need food. 


What do you want to eat before you die? On death’s door, you’ll find that money is no longer an issue. Every penny I scrimped and saved in college, the pay checks I

received working a backbreaking office job,  all for naught. Death is so cruel. Couldn’t it have waited until I’m bankrupt or depressed? Then I’ll actually have a reason to die.


Yet it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s all in the past now, what matters is that I’m absolutely starving.


Death row prisoners often request simple but delicious food for their last meals, like pizza, ice cream, burgers, etc. But they’re in a prison and I’m not. Too bad for them. I can spend as much money as I want, I could order extravagant meals from Michelin restaurants, I could by gold plated steaks, sparkling wine, roasted duck, I could eat literally anything I want!


I chose McDonalds. 


McDonalds is simplicity itself, and feels just right for a last meal. I bought 4 different combos, a truckload of drinks and ice cream that I most definitely could not finish. On the bright side, I don’t have to worry about eating junk food anymore. The burger is gonna clog up my veins? Who cares I’m going to drop dead tomorrow anyways so carpe diem!


Hauling all the food in a gigantic takeaway bag, I stepped onto a cab that took me all the way up the mountain. The whole process took a couple of hours because traffic (Hey when I die there will be no more traffic jams). Now on the mountain top, I hiked my way uphill until I found a perfect spot —— A flat spot at the edge of a cliff, surrounded my trees, flowers, and the valley below was simply majestic. I could see huge swaths of forests below me, and the calmness was occasionally interrupted by crickets chirping, birds flapping, the sounds of nature. 


Perfect.


 I sat down and leaned my head against a tree, eating and at the same time, I started to reflect. 


What do you want to be? What do you wish to accomplish? Are you fulfilled with your life right now?


I wanted to be many things, yet I did not. I wish to experience and accomplish many things, yet I did not. But I am fulfilled. Life happens to all of us. It’s a pity that I’m gone so soon, but I tried my best.


I took out my phone, and begin to craft intricate messages to my family and friends. When I say intricate, I meant a couple thousands words for each at the very least. I went through my past, my present, fond memories, and my parting words with everyone.


A small part of me got some satisfaction from starting those message with. “If you received this message, this means that I am already dead.” Not many people get this opportunity, so I’m going to milk it for what its worth. I also planned some details of my funeral (I’m so thoughtful right), and sent the messages so they would receive it tomorrow,


While it is indeed sad that I am passing on, I was an awesome person, so MY FRIENDS BETTER BE CRYING REAL HARD AT MY FUNERAL. Cough


Anyways, the sun is finally setting. My car engine of a heart has been sputtering and spewing black smoke climbing all the way up the mountain. Rays of sunshine peaked through the clouds and covered everything in a golden glow. 


It’s time. 


I wanted the last laugh, to stand up and stumble to the edge of the mountain cliff. 


But my heart has already ran out of gas.


Category: Live Laugh Love Upper Secondary (S3-4)

Submitted by: Hsu Latt Wai (Second Place)

Prompt: From the perspective of an inanimate object in a busy city


“Alright, my time is running out. I’ll call you later, bye!” As the countdown reached ‘0’ and the call automatically ended, she dropped the top of the telephone onto my metal ledge, so carelessly that I could bruise. The pain from the hard clank of the cold telephone was soon soothed by a satisfying “click” as it fell into place on my ledge. As I watched the little girl grab her school bag and leave the phone booth, I thanked my lucky stars that she had managed to let the telephone rest snugly on its rightful ledge. I owed her my nights worth of comfort. 


I wasn’t always this lucky. Half of the time, these commuters wouldn’t even take the time to make sure the telephone was put back properly after using it. Sometimes it would be returned slanted on the ledge, one side of the speaker placed higher than the other. It would feel like an itch you couldn’t scratch, the discomfort crawling under your skin taunting you as you’re unable to relieve it. Other times they would just leave the telephone recklessly hanging by its cord. When the head of the telephone rubbed against the concrete floor, it would feel as if you were balancing upside down on your head, your skull painfully pressed against the ground as blood rushed to your brain, making you feel faint. The tension in the telephone cord as it carried the weight of the telephone would feel like a strain in your muscle, a cramp that could only be rid by the mercy of others, in other words, if someone kind were to enter the telephone booth and return my telephone to its original position.


I've gotten used to it though. Well, as much as “someone” who suddenly gained the consciousness of a payphone could get used to their new life. Up until two years ago, I was in a dream-like state. I was under the impression that I was human, living a human life, with human family and friends. The last thing I remember was lying on a couch at a college house party. Next thing I know, I had awakened from my delusion and had come back to reality. I was a payphone, located in a neighbourhood in Chelsea. Despite being in the bustling city of London, nobody used payphones anymore as modern cell phones had dominated us years ago. The only people who would use me were either 11 year-olds whose parents refused to give them a cellphone (but would ironically let them roam around the city alone), or homeless drunkards who would spend their daily earnings on a 2 minute phone call to their distant family trying to convince them to accommodate them.


Nonetheless, being a payphone had its perks. I was located near busy traffic, which gave me a lively view to observe all day and night. Furthermore, I was entertained with interesting conversations daily, conversations so private and raw that the pretentious nature of humans would never let escape the four walls of the telephone kiosk.


I was a wallflower. I saw people come and go everyday. At dawn, my outer shell would bathe in the warmth of morning sunlight, and watch young adults rush after the metro as they ran late for their low-wage jobs. At dusk, I would watch old couples take an evening stroll towards the local bakery shop, their wrinkled fingers intertwined. Occasionally, there would be cases of theft and assault, gang fights and car accidents, though I had become blasé to such incidents. I would watch as the police questioned passers by for hours, scavenging for information on the crimes. Little did they know that I had witnessed it all, but of course, only a madman would go to a payphone for answers.


But then came a night that started like any other. The sun had set, and I felt the night breeze through the broken glass, and worn-down crevices in the walls of the telephone booth. In the distance appeared a group of boys that seemed to be around 19 years old. There were two lanky boys, one of them carrying a larger unconscious boy, who wore large platform shoes and a ripped shirt, on his back. Given that he looked like he was carrying someone twice his weight, he was wobbling every few steps, struggling to keep upright. The other boy who was not carrying anyone was instead, bolting straight at me, leaving the lanky boy with the rowdy man-child on his back to trail behind him. He flung the door of the telephone booth open, which single-handedly caused me a throbbing ache. Before long, the lanky boy had caught up with him and dropped to the ground outside the telephone booth, after throwing the bulky guy off him. He leaned against my booth’s glass door, understandably panting.


Meanwhile, their friend who was in the booth, had grabbed spare pennies out of his pocket and threw them into my coin slot. I felt as the ridges of the coins pierce through me and my gears started to turn. He ruthlessly pulled the handset off the ledge and started punching in the numbers on my dial, so hard that it would feel like he was brutally assaulting your ribcage. He then held the speaker up to his ear and shot a worried glanced back at his two friends lying on the floor. As soon as the call went through, he jerked up and started talking.


”Hey! Noah! Would you come pick us up? Everyone’s phone is dead, we can’t call an Uber or anything. I’m actually calling from a payphone right now, and I’m running out of time. We had to leave the party because Liam’s acting up, I think he smoked something? Alex could only carry him up till here, no one can take his weight Noah, we need your car, fast.”


”Woah, woah, slow down. I’m coming, don’t worry. What is it exactly that Liam smoked though?” A deep voice from the other line was transmitted. 


”I’m not sure, I think it was.. s… sa— I can’t remember! But he legitimately thinks he’s a payphone or something. He’s talking about the gears in his organs? He’s tripping really bad, dude.”

”Wait, what? Salvia? That stuff really messes with your head, man!” 


”Yes! Salvia—“


Just then, it was like everything was in slow motion. I wasn’t aware of anything after that, their conversation was nothing but muffled mumbles, and before long, my vision consisted of nothing but the boy in the ripped t-shirt and chunky platform shoes outside the booth. He was mumbling something to himself, a glass door separating us, yet it was like I could hear him, like he was the narrator of my thoughts. Something was awry before a huge wave of apprehension washed over me, and soon I was in an interminable, psychedelic 2-dimensional abyss. Then everything went black.


My eyes jerked open as I gasped, my body jolting forward. Faint memories came rushing back as I felt every inch of skin on my bones and the throbbing beats of my heart.


“Liam!” Alex shot up and caught me before I fell forward from pure shock. A glass door swung behind me and from the booth rushed out Ben, who hadn’t even hung up the telephone and had just left it hanging by its cord.


It soon became apparent that I had experienced a salvia trip, where I hallucinated being a payphone, even believing that the snippets of human memories I possessed then were just dreams. It took me a while to accept that while I had been living as a payphone in my jaded head for two years, only 20 minutes had actually passed. It also took a lot of reassurance from Ben and Alex that I wasn’t just experiencing another hallucination, and that I was actually a 19-year-old impulsive college student that had just done something reckless. Well, safe to say that I would not be doing it again.


Soon, we were greeted by the blaring headlights of a black Honda and a very concerned Noah, who jumped out of the car and rushed over to me. As I slowly got up and the three boys guided me to the passenger seat, I paused and turned around to look at the telephone kiosk. I just could not bear to leave the strained telephone chord dangling the telephone above the ground. I walked into the booth and gently opened the door. I carefully picked up the handset, and meticulously placed it to rest snugly onto the metal ledge, only letting go after I heard that “click”. Deja vu.


Category: Live Laugh Love Upper Secondary (S3-4)

Submitted by: Chan Yu Xuan (Third Place)

Prompt: From the perspective of an inanimate object in a busy city


The city hustles and bustles, but yet I stay here.

Amidst the crowds of people scrambling about frantically,

I bask in the early morning sun.

How fleeting, to spend your meagre lifespans rushing about,

Trying to squeeze time out of overpacked schedules

Like water out of a brick.


It is almost midday now, and the smell of food is everywhere. Presumably.

The street is quiet, save for some people running errands. They’re running.

The weather is great, sunny yet not too hot to be sweltering, but hot enough to be able to properly enjoy an ice cream.

Too bad the humans don’t have time for that.


A small tourist group passes by me. I hear them remark about how peaceful the city is. I’d say it’s manic.


Sunset, and the crowds increase once again. Coworkers bidding each other farewell, dashing off to run more errands or do more work.

Rushing, rushing, rushing,

Everyone with places to be and no time to lose.


Night time. There’s a few people out again.

Running again.

I wonder where they’re going, this late at night.


A lone elderly man comes strolling by, and decides to rest on me.

He’s retired, I can tell.

He lets out a long sigh,

he’s got not much to do now.

He looks to the sky, and the stars wink at him.

The few visible ones, anyway.

He has a look of awe on his face, as though it’s the first time he’s seen a starry night sky.

Probably the first time in a while he’s seen a sky, I mused.

But he can’t spend too long here, there’s still things he needs to do.

He gets up and leaves, I pity him.

I get to stare at the sky as long as I want.


A new day, an old routine.

The city hustles and bustles, but yet I stay here.


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