Christmas presents are always somewhat of a headache for you.
You hated it when some relatives or friends of yours would cock an eyebrow at your requested gift. It wasn’t anything extravagant, or strange in any sense. You thought it was quite common, asking for books for a gift, but it seemed otherwise, with your aunt saying “Not many people your age ask for books for Christmas anymore.”
That’s normal. Phones do exist, and electronic books exist too, but you preferred the musty smell of the not-so-pristinely-white pages of your novels, and the neat and small printed words on every page. And if people are going to judge you for this, you’ll just head over to a
library and borrow a few to last you for weeks.
Libraries are supposed for you to spent hours to read books. Not for you to find your way in them, but the library at Orchard proves otherwise.
The white wave-like structure of every bookshelf made you dizzy, and it had been a whole hour until you finally found the book you wanted and settled down on a couch nearby. Talk about modernity, you couldn’t believe how much libraries have changed from their usual form in here.
And from there, you immersed yourself completely into the sea of Jane Eyre, a book that you’ve read since long time ago, but never failed to make you feel a bunch of emotions while travelling along with Jane, like you did so the first time. This was the magic of books— they made you feel things that you wouldn’t in real world, and it’s just you, the book, and your bubble of feelings. You liked that.
There’s another thing about you when you read. Time doesn’t exist in the little bubble of yours. That is to say, when a purple haired, panicky and young librarian comes rushing at you and taps at your shoulder a few times, it’s because the library’s about to close.
The librarian is cute, with his large eyes shining with pure worry, his hands clasped together when he speaks to you, apologising about the inconvenience and all, but you wave him aside. It’s not the first time you stayed till the closing time, but it’s the first that a nice librarian’s chasing you out. Nicely. It’s usually more of a “Hey miss we gotta close so please go home”, not a “I’m so sorry to disturb you from your reading but we have to close now!! Maybe come back tomorrow? I can reserve the book for you if you’d like!!”. But then again, Lee Daehwi’s unusual.
You learnt that a few weeks later, when you start visiting the library frequently, and started to be on a ‘friend’ level with him. Daehwi usually goes around sliding returned books back into their original places in the shelves, and you’ve made it a point of look through the pile of books first, gasping in pleasant surprise when you manage to find one that you’ve been looking for, with Daehwi sighing and shaking his head teasingly.
Daehwi, however, was the first and probably only person to understand and could fully relate to you on the subject of books. There was once that he was scolded by the head librarian for slacking by sitting down and chatting avidly with you about the wonders of books and its side effects, a whole trolley of returned books untouched at the end of the day. But that’s okay, friends do screw things up for each other.
It’s Christmas when it happens.
You remembered that it was a rather chilly night, in contrast to the hot weather that Singapore always has. The gushes of wind are almost a saviour, but here you are, in a small bookstore, hands gripped on the new Dan Brown novel. The store’s a quaint one, with warm lights that somehow brings out the festive feelings buried inside you. The collection of both the newest and old books made you almost squeal in happiness, bounding over to each section. You had Daehwi to thank for it, as he had proposed to meet you here due to his day off.
“Y/N, ready to go?” He appears behind you, a small brown paper bag in hand, with a Christmas themed seal stuck on it.
“You bought something?” Daehwi nodded, a small shy smile plastered on his face as the both of you exited the shop, into the streets of the busy city. The pale blue lights that’s hung up between street lamps are in shapes of bells and snowflakes, and thank god that there weren’t as much people as you expected.
“Merry Christmas, Y/N. This’s for you.” Daehwi shoves the paper bag in your palms, the faint glow of the lights exposing the blush that’s painted across his cheekbones. You smile, and gingerly remove the sticker, producing an Agatha Christie book, and a creamy white notepaper stuck on top of it.
Your eyes scan the neat handwriting on it, and glance at Daehwi, who’s looking at you with the twinkle of the pale blue lights reflected in his brown irises. You slip your hand in his larger and warmer one, that brings more comfort than a hot, creamy cup of chocolate, and intertwine your fingers together like tying a ribbon on a present box.
“Dear Santa, please let her stay.” You whisper, giggling ever so slightly between your words. Daehwi didn’t need to worry, because this Christmas, you gained something much more than a book.
These are the 180 prompts I actually use in class. It’s a ninth grade course that combines history and language arts. Please let me know if you notice that I messed up any links; there were quite a few.
1 - deck hand or librarian
2 - huge flood + animals
3 - houseplant is dying
4 - three people + mugs
5 - item in the kitchen
6 - planet for sale
7 - one t-shirt for the rest of your life
8 - someone you know president
9 - evangelical
10 - bucket list
11 - your own business
12 - which painting would you like to step into?
13 - “behind the cloud”
14 - bottled memories
15 - cupid missed
16 - where he disappeared
17 - renting the school for the weekend
18 - all I needed for the good life
19 - Spartan, Viking, Knight, Roman
20 - What happened to all of them?
21 - Write one sentence (but I change it so it becomes “write as many sentences…”)
22 - “I bet you have something to say about this”
23 - first person drop of water
24 - fight to the death with a friend
25 - list things you’ll never do again
26 - style
27 - creativity challenge
28 - first person piñata
29 - caffeine free diet pepsi
30 - facebook breakups
31 - everyone is an alien
32 - Pixar storytelling formula
33 - modern colosseum
34 - horse, cow, chickens
35 - old, weird America
36 - first person leaf (forthcoming, will link soon)
37 - unlimited plane ticket
38 - what would you say to a million people?
39 - muggle raised by wizards (this one is from John Spencer)
40 - perfect playground
41 - what comforts you?
42 - two characters on a blind date
43 - luke skywalker vs. harry potter (this one is from John Spencer)
44 - idealist, realist, surrealist
45 - sharks swim in the forest
46 - memento
47 - imaginary restaurant menu
48 - zombie child
49 - gamemaker
50 - undercover deputies
51 - magical smartphone
52 - reinvent golf as an extreme sport (this one is from John Spencer)
53 - book review cliches
54 - unicorn head mask
55 - future Facebook
56 - first person dollar bill
57 - personal assistant for a week
58 - choose your own writing prompt: iPhonus
59 - hipster disney princess
60 - canned unicorn meat (this one is from John Spencer)
61 - 15 things
62 - different place and culture
63 - alien zoo
64 - million dollars and no parents
65 - school uniforms
66 - two famous parents
67 - best of times, worst of times
68 - animal that represents people
69 - island escape
70 - predicting life in 3000
71 - earth loses gravity
72 - the islands in the sky are real
73 - pick any three abilities for fighting crime
74 - dragon raised by turkeys (this one is from John Spencer)
75 - kiln people
76 - incomplete list of small pleasures
77 - Asker / Guesser
78 - tell this story: axe + dress
79 - extrovert or introvert
80 - some poor alien’s high school science fair project
81 - official ten-step guide to becoming the next…
82 - strange magical items
83 - alphabetical advice
84 - one book required reading
85 - a day in class from the teacher’s POV
86 - tell this story: aged super hero
87 - what is it that you are absolutely sure you will never forget?
88 - doorbell rings
89 - perfect family
90 - zombie packing list
91 - flight vs. invisibility
92 - personal concert
93 - describe each day of the week as if it was a person
94 - you fly but you lose a minute every time (this one is from John Spencer)
95 - design and describe the perfect bedroom
96 - library, museum, zoo
97 - which friend will become the most famous?
98 - two animals into one hybrid
99 - complain about kids these days
100 - glow in the dark tattoo
101 - magical mailbox
102 - I deserve a day off school
103 - average of five people
104 - celebrity, famous person, character as sibling
105 - describe daily life in 3265
106 - first person shoe
107 - honesty room
108 - I wish I was six again so I could
109 - adventure
110 - what would be the perfect set of classes
111 - relationship expiration dates
112 - polyjuice
113 - tattoo today
114 - turn any building into your house
115 - shark vs. polar bear
116 - fictional character best friend
117 - what makes a good city
118 - very, very tiny for a day
119 - conjoined twins
120 - just add monsters
121 - fridge blind date
122 - what are you into?
123 - $20 million / ten years
124 - no monsters under the bed (forthcoming)
125 - first person cat on a trampoline (forthcoming)
126 - yesterday over again (forthcoming)
127 - gender switch (forthcoming)
128 - old men sitting on park benches (forthcoming)
129 - history of dragons (forthcoming)
130 - imaginary eden
131 - best fruit
132 - rules for being ____
133 - not a muggle
134 - flying fish migration
135 - we headed to the mountains
136 - to the skies
137 - fictional evil species
138 - fortune favors the bold
139 - sea horses
140 - smart vs. swag
141 - 10 things students should never post on facebook
142 - what scares you
143 - British Lord/Lady or now
144 - ideal fictional world
145 - every city has a sex and an age
146 - mary celeste
147 - sad sea monster
148 - 65 years old - middle school letter
149 - aeroshot
150 - high school
151 - floating status updates
152 - assemble your dream team
153 - howling fantods
154 - the teacher machine
155 - academic achievement = popularity
156 - fanny packs
157 - underwater lightsaber nurses
158 - hospital or cell phone
159 - neighborhood map
160 - pain
161 - story plots
162 - morning routine (I add the option of simply describing their morning routine)
163 - personal mission statement
164 - about to jump
165 - if you could ask this class any question?
166 - better than any argument
167 - draw a monster
168 - surprise and delight
169 - what do you do to stay sane?
170 - dairy queen blizzard
171 - The Watcher at the Gates
172 - inside a teenager’s brain
173 - brain as operating system
174 - draw your head
175 - any meal by anyone
176 - future history students (forthcoming)
177 - if people had youtube in 1912
178 - new continent
179 - board game in real life
180 - immortal for a day (forthcoming)
And then I always like to end with summer vacation, so I’ll have to cut one somewhere else. And, honestly, it never works out to do one a day anyway, so I’ll probably have to cut quite a few.