TLOP Weekly Contest

The TLOP Week 1 Contest Winners

17-year-old Cody Chen from China wins the overall short story prize for week 1.

Highlights from last week’s contests includes distinguished poetry and short story submissions that unites with themes in accordance to a bond much worthy of comprehension. As we draw to the end of week 2 contest, we would like our members to meet last week’s winners as we encourage you to read the winning submissions and see what made them stand out.

Not all winners details as been published as not all winners as given us consent for publication.

Rachel Pawling — United States

Overall Poetry Winner for Week 1 of the TLOP Weekly Contest

Time, the catalyst of an unbound reserve.
Infinite for all that lives within the world.
Time the very definition of existence.
Enveloping all within its grasps. A guided vessel,
Impressing towards the inevitable final destination.
Youth flourish towards the unbiased future it offers,
Old wisely reminisce of the past it has so judgingly recorded.
Presiding over all,
Colliding into the ever-existing present.

Time, has lay hold of me.
Constantly running the clock,
Praying for those fleeting moments.
Breathless, life altering,
A cosmic shock of fated love, or utter despair.
Time as it stands is a symphony.
By itself, it seems simple and trite.
Time is precarious, precious, and apparent.
Nonetheless its composition creates the melody of life.

Time, is the author. Offering reflection.
Reminiscing in fortitude.
Attentive to sensibility.
Accounting for the deepening of my soul.
Fires igniting from the depth of desires whispered.
Longing to remember it all,
Gloriousness without error of mistake.
Carrying me through obscurity.
If time has left me any choice, it is in the sentiment of it.

Time, an aspiration. Meeting myself in memories.
Bestowing clarity to the uncertain future.
Choosing not to succumb to fear.
Reflections of past joys,
Evident as perseverance in times of sorrow.
Watching unbiased retribution against the pain caused.
Victorious cries of hope give strength to my destiny.
Limitlessly I press forward,
Leaving in my wake, an impression of my time well spent.
Thus, I live.

Rachel Pawling, is a multiple company owner, wife, and mother. She has her Master’s Degree in Business Management with an Emphasis in Entrepreneurship. Rachel has always had a passion for writing. She started writing poems, short stories, and songs in elementary school. This past year she decided to focus on her writing career. She opened her own publishing company, published her first children’s book “Fever Fairy”, and is now using her skills to help young children by offering publishing and writing classes at the local school. Writing has always been a form of artistic expression for Rachel and she is excited to share this with others.

 Tshering Wangchuk — Bhutan

Poetry Finalist

Let’s extend our hands to help nature,
Why harm, letting Earth suffer fracture?
Let’s not cut the hands that feed us,
Doing so we invite a lot of fuss.

Trees are a part and parcel of it,
Green and pristine they perfectly fit.
They make life possible on earth,
Helping the lives attain joy and mirth.

The modern world seems not to care,
They pollute the land, water and air.
Are we not conscious of climate change?
Mustn’t we take precautions when in range?

I leave the decisions in your worthy hands,
For wise is the man who understands.

Tshering Wangchuk is a high school teacher teaching at Pakshikha Central School in Bhutan. He has a bachelor’s degree in Education (B.Ed) and a Master’s degree in English literature (M.A). Besides teaching he loves reading and writing poetry. He has written more than 400+ poems and some of his poems have been published in various international websites, journals and anthologies. He  has also won many international poetry contests. Till date he has co-authored in around 10 international anthologies. He has become a source of inspiration to his students especially in the field of poetry and it brings him immense joy to see his students take poetry as their passion.

Lorena Ivanković — Croatia

Poetry Finalist

Two Faces Measure, One Stranger

I stifle a crooked grin with a loud cry of forze
To skillfully slip away the target of unwritten words
And with a shuddering roar, I’m hiding an agonizing cry
And I almost turn the key and scream
At least for a while, in a lonely crowd that hums.

Inhuman horrors, an evil fate that beckons
The eye hears, and everyone is colorblind – knocks down cones,
Where crime is passive, and the observer shameless,
A blind man who pulls the trigger on the well-trodden road.

Verbrecher! They shout. There he is lying there curled up,
Squirms and yearns in the “solidus” cohesion, fingers dry, stained
The Hydra wanted to throw him back with nets, but a hollow cry,
With a defeated march he suffers in captivity.

And mutters verses of old gold;
The fathers are ours, and so will the sons lead the sooty wheel
Until the sun goes out or commands the whirlwind,
If it comes sooner, not to touch people’s heads,
At least for a while, in a lonely crowd that hums.

Not Yet, It’s Still Too Early.

Lorena Ivanković was born on May 25, 2003, in Zagreb, Croatia. She graduated from Ksaver Šandor Gjalski Elementary School and XV. gymnasium (MIOC), and is a future student of FER University. She started writing at an early age, and her illustrated story “Fairy Adventures” was published in Silvija Šesto’s book “Pišem ti priču 2” (2012). She recited her poems in the Children’s TV program, and along with many years of participation in LiDraNo and other regional and international competitions, publishes her works on the school’s website. Her science fiction story “Vertical reality” was chosen as the third prize winner in the FEKP competition in 2020.

Mariam Olajide — Nigeria

Short Story Finalist

When you live in this part of the world where nothing works, you try to live right but who survives living as a good guy really? well, maybe in your part of the world. Waking up today took a whole lot of effort, but when you know that you only have yourself to depend on, the thought propels you forward so much so that you do whatever you have to do to survive, good or bad. I choose good still.

Fate! They actually have the guts to call this fate. If this is fate, then the twenty four years of my life have been a joke, a very hilarious one. Sad too, if I am to be honest. But not too worry, mother said the good Lord makes everything right when it’s time, I hang onto her words so earnestly that hope has built a nest in my heart.

Now let me tell you a story.

The opportunities I have had so far required that I spread my thighs and indulge in pleasures that comes with huge consequences. They were opportunities nonetheless because I see other ladies flourishing in it, so why can’t I do it? Relax, I will tell you why. With me, there’s always a ‘why’.

My religious background, I use to be something of an extremist, I took the ‘do not fornicate’ too seriously. Then secondly, it isn’t really my thing, sex. Lastly, I don’t fancy the thoughts of being sexually objectified. So I decided to live like a pauper instead and write and write and write some more until I am recognized in this life. Funny thing about this story is i can’t tell it all, who knows, you might judge me in ways I won’t be able to live with. So, I will keep being zealous, writing my stories in excerpt until hopefully, someday, I would have told it all. Or not.

I hate that someday when my biography would finally be out there for sales and distribution, I would have removed some of the parts that is currently killing me, and the people of this world would never know. I am not usually secretive, if anything, my friends tells me that I am like an open book, but you see those experiences I wouldn’t let you see? trust me, it’s for the best. You wouldn’t be able to look me in the eye after this, heck, I usually avoid my eyes in the mirror when I stare at my reflection so I completely understand I promise.

I am sorry if my story appears vague and uninteresting,but this is about my life, and there is nothing funny about it. Just depressing, intensely depressing.

Mariam Olajide is a versatile content writer who has written high-quality contents for diverse clients around the world. She is a fervent reader of all kinds of books and on every other day, she is a good teacher. Mariam believes that writing is a form of therapy and her very own way of connecting to the world. She is a ghostwriter for, and yet to create her own brand!  Mariam is the second child of a family of five, and hails from Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria. She is currently an undergraduate of the most prestigious Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Her personal interests includes; photography, travelling, Art and Yoga!

Manaly Talukdar — India

“Where is Grandpa?”

The vast ground surrounding the Even-span structure had patches of dry grass— a few of them with withered tips— and the rest of the bare land canvased the muddy-orange scalp of earth. The greenhouse occupied a mere one-third portion of the allotted land that resembled a mini-golf course; harbouring a variety of herbal floras. The names of the neatly-lined pots on the benches of shelves were a blur. They were all green with a palette of diverse shades and shapes: some had elongated leaves whilst others frolicked their spike-y edges. The air stained with a mixed scent of moss and mint. What stood out amongst these details was the image of an old man still embedded in my mind— the probable owner of that glasshouse. I can’t recall a name, neither his exact age all those years ago. All I do remember is his towering hunched-back posture, the lines of wrinkle on the corner of his eyes and mouth that creased when he gleamed, the frail paper-thin hand that I clung onto when he would crane up my feather-like weight to spring me across puddles. The name I gave him was “Grandpa”, any ageing man that I’d encounter as a kid was a grandpa. He was my playdate who bore a remarkable enthusiasm for “hide-and-seek”, “tag” and “hopscotch” which masked his physical vulnerability. The kind of man who partnered with kids who got left out of peer groups, with an aim to cheer them up so that they never felt unwanted. Our play time would begin around 4-o’ clock in the evening. Although we were two in number, we did have an audience: my mum. She’d scrutinise (and most likely mesmerised by) his beloved herbs whilst we played outdoors, waiting on us for a nearly one and half hour.
As time flipped-forth to the present minute, the greenhouse was gone, in its place a utility building that roofed a warehouse for electrical equipment stood erect, leaving no more spacious land for playdates. Natural land replaced by concrete floorings, a campus lined up with Box Vans. It was an ugly sight. My first thoughts were a spark of ignited curiosity, “Where is Grandpa? Did he move away? Was he around?” A series of questions trailed behind. “Maybe I could ask mum?” I dialled her number which she immediately accepted.
“Do you remember the old man I used to play with when I was a kid?” I asked before she could say anything,
“Old man?” She sounded confused.
“Yeah, I think I used to call him ‘Grandpa’? You were obsessed with his nursery. He collected herbal plants. Do you remember?” I added in details to jog up her memory.
“I have no clue what you’re talking about. I don’t remember any such thing” She answered.

Born and Raised in the North East Indian State of Assam, Manaly Talukdar is new to the world of literature, harbouring a keen interest in storytelling- the reason for which she is pursuing to be a published short fiction writer. She completed her Master’s Degree in Sociology from Cotton University, Guwahati in 2021 as the “Gold Medalist”. In 2018, she scored a “First Class (Fourth Rank)” in her undergraduate course with Sociology Honours from North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. Manaly once bagged a first prize in an inter-college essay competition held by St. Anthony’s College Model United Nations Club (SACMUN), Shillong for the topic: “United Nations’ Future” in 2016. Despite a different educational background, Manaly prefers to dive into the world of fiction, her favourite authors are: Agatha Christie and Stephen King.

Cody Chen — China

Overall Short Story Winner for Week 1

Rakish Bird

Here I stand on a crossroad telegraph pole right beside Etretat Street, France, and this is the last time I would step on a telegraph pole …
I stand erect, letting the faint wind slap against my recumbent forehead. I’m a robin with fluffy sunset glow plume and natural unrestrained embroidered on my eyelids. Staring ahead from the top in the morning is my personal hobby, for it fits my poetic view of the world.
And this morning is no exception, the pastel mountain provides a dramatic backdrop for my penetration into the morning breeze. Cars below go bumping around as the blue horizon uplifts into a halt. Creaks from the branches fumble behind, and the girls are asking me out again. Just gotta relish that my sharp eyes glance far and long the way. Now they all fly towards me, with constant chatters poking out: they envy my ruddy beak and my askew back. Say my fluffy feathers have chaste lustre, say my claws are polished, and admire my arc. Describe the grim is like a drapery veiling my cheeks, say the eyes are so alluring that they quail in shame. One would snuggle up to me just to snatch a scent of my perfumed floating hair that falls about. She exclaims, it’s a cascade of orange water, rippling and shining brightly. She also says I’m perfect.
But I’m not, and nowhere near. I’m not perfect, and would rather shed every label they’ve given me off my skin. Never am I worthy of the name “perfect robin” they all begrudge. I’m petite and I’m wretched. The worst part of all, the reason I always reject to play, is not that I’m noble nor rakish enough to look down upon everyone else. It’s that my right leg is significantly longer than my left leg. This shockwave of a difference would make everyone view me differently. They would laugh at me, make jokes about me, and shout that I’m queer but all I want to be is a normal individual. Having this shameful little secret almost breaks down my life. I can’t hang out with friends, I can’t reunite with family, and I’m basically swept over by solitude. Tears swimming as I say this, accompanied are only a lifetime of aphorisms, pithy sayings that are meant to assuage my fear of one day being found out about my secret. Anyone who takes their time to squint their eyes will easily find that out, so I had to not clip my wings to hide my defect. The way I walk isn’t the handsome walk they talk about, only me trying to retract my right leg as I walk, life hasn’t been so great.
Look, the boys are playing hide and seek, outstretching their wings at will. I can hear the joy radiating from the other side, every chirp nudging me with a sense of quilt. Listen, the girls are singing, every sweet, melodic voice sinking me deeper into the sea of loneliness. I can see the faults of my own ancestors shaking in their eyes. The wails of their utter disappointment flow through the current of my vein. I can’t do this no more. There is no solace in rearranging language to make a different word tell the same lie. I’ve grown weary of telling myself lies that I may one day begin to believe. I’m done hearing false narratives about me and allowing them to fester. From now on, I’m going to be my true self! I’m going to show them who I really am! That’s it, I’m going to do it, this will be the turning point for me! I will no more hide in the shadow! I will no more wear the mask that was put on by others! Confident as I stick out my long right leg and place the claws on the second layer of the electric wire below. Blazing fire burning for me, it is the greatest spark of my life!

Cody Outcast is a 17-year-old senior high school student studying in Guangdong China. His hobbies are reading, writing, playing the piano, basketball and playing chess. Cody Outcast is the author of a novel called Destined, it is live and published on Wattpad. Cody has written a handful of short stories in English, but is still an English learner being a chinese by nationality and being raised in China.

Anthony Dustin McMillan — United States

Poetry Finalist

“Hope’s Walk” A prose poem by Anthony Dustin McMillan.

I am here alone to the dark of a desolate beaten path, often traveled and packed by the weary tread of wayward soles. The path of heartbreak, the path of shame, a path so broken not cared to name. Time a wisp to lapse, pain no stranger to drive me through memories looked upon as wasted endeavors. Memories that do bring joy that fades to strife, and comfort that bleeds into remorse. I’m shut out and shut off from the world around me, portals closed and electric off, I peer through the darkness to shout against a storm of internal anguish. My soul a blackened lit candle suffering a tumultuous gale of doubt and ridicule. I strive to yield not to the hurricane of depression derived from what is and what may be. I struggle to lift myself from the well of the fallen to set my mind free, free from the torment, from the turbulent turmoil that festers within me. Faith, I keep, in me, my spirit, my light within. I will walk this weight weathered path that stretches before me, ever optimistic that my second chance will find me… or I… find my second chance

Anthony Dustin McMillan is a creative, an originator, a dreamer that finds the beauty in all things to behold and those yet to be seen. Born to Elizabeth Waugh and Anthony McMillan in Rockingham County Memorial Hospital, he has lived in and around Harrisonburg Virginia for most of his raising years. Diagnosed with ADHD at around the age of nine, he was a rambunctious handful throughout his younger years, his grandmother telling him his teacher gave her a T-shirt with an explicative upon it to denote his mischievous nature. Cared for, and raised in part, by the same grandmother Kathleen Waugh was a woman of amazing talents in the artistic field. She instilled within Anthony a sense of the whimsical and spiritual wonder with stories. He was always a very playful and imaginative child, finding joy in the most simple of activities, crafting the fantastic from the mundane. Working with modeling clay between the age of 8 to 18, his humble beginnings didn’t allow for him to have much in the way of funds to go beyond a fanciful hobby in his sculpting. Writing poetry during his dating years, with no formal education he further refined his writing skills sometime later developing stories for his friends for role-playing games. After being challenged by a friend in regards to the fabrication of toy ideas, Anthony found he had a talent for writing stories for his toy and board game concepts. He has written a book that is published on Amazon KDP and has quite a few he has written over the years. He has recently submitted short stories and poems for consideration in contests, one of his first being with TLOP.

Saima Qureshi — Pakistan

Poetry Finalists

Saima Qureshi writes poetry in English and Urdu (Her native language) And I write blogs mostly satires. I also do calligraphy ( Arabic). Love to read and write.

Flo Au — China

Flo Au won the Most Creative Award in HK’s Top Story 2015. Her pieces are published in literary journals like Pif Magazine, Star82 Review, Gravel Magazine, Untitled, Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore, Peacock Journal, Global Mentor Anthology for Students and Flash Fiction Magazine. Her work was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2019, Best of the Net 2019 and Pushcart Prize 2019. Her poems were commended in Norman Nicholson Lockdown Poetry Competition 2020 and awarded as the top ten finalists in Voice of Peace: 1st International Poetry And Short Story 2021 Asia Edition. Her monologue was also selected to be one of the top 30 in Lancaster One Minute Monologue 2021.


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