2018 Winners and Honourable Mentions

Day 3: Sea
14 November 2018


Alyssa Yap Xin Yi

They said she came from the sea and sang with the tides.


My mother would always be by the front door of our house, where she wove stories out of silk. At the hours where the sun scraped below the horizon and the moon became more than a shadow, she was at her best. Her tales were as complex as the patterns she created, embroidered with whimsy and embellished with wit. Her fabrications were unmatched by any other, be it spun by hand or tongue. Every evening, the children would gather round her - listening intently as she crafted a pathway to the climax of her story, smiles of satisfaction at a resounding end.


But all of Mom's stories had a common sibling, one she intertwined seamlessly within plot and place: the sea.


“Once there was a boy who lived by the waters…”


“...he rode on the back of whales, where he cruised on tidal waves…”


“...underwater gardens, adorned by corals and fish of every colour and hue…”


People always came to her before going out to sea. Some to seek advice, others for blessings. She always knew which days would be perfect, and which nights bore storms. Whirlpools to avoid, tide pools to admire.


“The waves whisper to me under the moonlight,” she replied when I asked. For when the moon was full and the skies were clear, she would saunter off to the bay and sit by the tides. I followed her once. Dancing across the pearly white sand, her dress twirling with the breeze; she was home.


Mom was silent the day her dress was stained black.


From that day onward, her stories were shorter. Darker.


“...plastic films made the plants grow yellow…”


“...the fish couldn't see through the black ooze that burned…”


“...the turtle choked to death on a plastic ring.”


Smiles seem difficult, laughter a rare delight. She began to come home in tears - the shawl couldn’t hide her puffy eyes in the morning. She spent more hours by the sea, just staring at the luminescent blue instead of prancing like before. Her eyes were sunken; cheeks now sallow. A wraith of what she once was, she still continued with her stories. They may have been the very things that kept her standing - or the agonizing poison that killed her from within.


As the sea turned grey, so did her skin. Nothing healed her, traditional, modern or otherwise. Songs would provide her some degree of comfort, but it was meager at best. Children stopped coming.


My mother did not wake up the day the sea turned black.


She left stories of a place where you could find the finest treasures, a habitat of magnificent creatures, where lights illuminated the darkest depths. Tales of adventure, destiny and exploration; recounts of death, suffering and torture.


Now that's all they were, and all they will ever be - stories.


I know my mother came from the sea, because she died along with it.



Marc Joseph

The breeze rushed through Malinda's thick brown hair as she walked the shores of Rathbone Bay. The sky was tinted orange as the sun set beyond the horizon. Malinda sat on a rock overlooking the shore as she closed her eyes and recalled the last time she set foot on the bay. 

She was just a small child no younger than 7. As she ran through the beach, she found a small turtle. Birds surrounded the topsy-turvy turtle pecking on its shell. She rushed to the turtle's rescue and turned it back on its little flippers. She stood and watched as the turtle made its way towards the sea, disappearing into the distance. 

She opened her eyes. The sky was now a dark purple. Over in the distance, a bonfire lit up by college students was visible from where she's sitting. She stood up and walked along the shores once more, taking in the cold air as her memories took her back to her college years. 

The Faculty of Communication Arts had organised its annual bonfire party and Malinda was more than eager to join. As they arrived at Rathbone Bay, she jumped out of the bus and took her luggage with her, breathing in the refreshing sea breeze. Her face lit up with joy that night as the whole faculty sang and danced and laughed. They needed this as they had just finished their finals for the semester. However her smile did not last long as the beach was soon filled with with trash and empty cans. The leader of the excursion noticed her upset expression and what had caused it, he stood up. "guys, would you be kind to dispose of your trash into the plastic bags i brought" He insisted. Malinda gave him a radiant smile that seems to say 'thank you'.

The waves crashed onto the shoreline, pulling her back to the present. The moon and the stars shine ever so brightly in the dark blue sky. She looked up and took a deep breath. "MAMA!" A boy shouted. Her youngest son rushed towards her as he was being chased by her husband. She grinned ear to ear as she recalled the time when the leader of the bonfire excursion approached her that night. Little did she know, that guy would one day become her husband. 

Ever since she was a child, Malinda had grown up thinking 'if we do good for Mother Nature, she will bless us greatly'. Truly she was blessed. Blessed to have met a decent husband, blessed to have a young little boy who is as radiant as she is, blessed to have a fruitful life. A happy life was what she hoped for and all it takes is helping a poor animal get back on its feet.

She took a final glance towards the glimmering sea, smiling to herself and whispered 'thank you so very much' before turning and walked towards her family waiting for her. She left with a smile.

Fiona Anak Ringkai

The sea was a work of art—a canvas of sparkling shades of blues and emeralds. Dolphins wove in and out of the calm waves, and turtles lazed about the calm shores. Who could blame Pelagos for being drawn to the sea? The unknown intrigued him endlessly, and the sea had depths of mysteries he could never hope to uncover in his lifetime.

He breathed in the salty sea breeze. The ocean had never failed to put his troubled heart at ease. Somewhere, in the distance, the sea frothed oddly. How curious, he mused to himself as he hopped down from the rocky cliffs where he had stood by his lonesome. Though he grew up as a seafarer, he had never encountered anything like what he had witnessed that day.

Before his very eyes, a maiden of otherworldly beauty rose from the white foams of the sea—a woman with rosy cheeks and pearlescent white skin. A crown of pink and orange corals was woven delicately into her glowing golden hair. Beneath her shapely feet, flowers sprung. Her eyes were the colour of pale crystals. Her voice was as gentle as the zephyrs.

“As you have loved the sea so dearly, the sea shall also love you back.” As she spoke, the ocean stirred. “The waters will heed your commands.”

The next day, he was awoken by the loud crowd that gathered at the beach. A man stood proudly at the centre, showing off his net of captured sea turtles and fishes with iridescent scales. A dolphin with a spear through it laid by his feet. The village chief had already warned them to focus on conserving the endangered animals, yet the children kicked the turtles mercilessly; the adults cheered as they held a porpoise over a fire.

Raged coursed through Pelagos. His blood boiled at the sight of creatures being treated so harshly by senseless humans. The sky darkened and the waves swirled. He would not tolerate the disgusting actions of humans towards wildlife any longer. As Pelagos shouted with anger, the waves erupted behind him.

The mortals shrieked in horror as waves as tall as fearsome mountains loomed overhead; dark blue, churning wildly-- hungry for destruction. The villagers lamented their regrets, but it was too late. Pelagos had wished for carnage, and the sea followed his command.

The humans desperately gulped for air, but they were swept by the storm brewing in the sea. Pelagos, though favoured by the sea, was a mere mortal. He too, tasted the salt on his tongue; the stinging pain in his eyes.

Though the water was murky, Pelagos could see the woman who glowed ethereally in the darkness of the ocean.  He murmured in wonder. “What are you?”

“Me?” Her eyes twinkled. “I am the sea.”

As water filled his lungs and Pelagos took his last, mighty breath, the ocean welcomed him as if he were an old friend; and into the dark depths of the sea he had loved so much, he sank.