P for Pick your health before anything else

People tend to get so busy with the day-to-day stress in their lives that they ignore their health. 

Physical as well as mental health often take the backseat, especially the latter one.

Picking everything over one’s own health might temporarily work for the general population, but superheroes cannot afford to ignore it.

Part of your training includes ensuring that you have all enough strength and energy to fight a super enemy and recover quickly after the fights. So, while we train you every night, you must promise to include COASTED in your daily diet from now on,” A Minute explained the importance of the superfoods to the One Minuters.

C – Carrots: For bone health, vision, better immune system, blood pressure management and energy

O – Oats: For better heart health and a healthy gut; especially for Tim who would consume almost everything

A – Almonds: For bone health and brain, and relieving anxiety

S – Spinach: For bone health, vision, energy and anti-inflammatory properties

T – Turmeric: For better memory, pain relief and heart health    

E – Eggs: For strong muscles, vision, heart health, better memory and energy

D – Dates: For energy and anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-bleeding properties; necessary for the superheroes after fighting the evil superpowers.

Planning everything perfectly was A Minute’s forte and, for relieving stress, she suggested some relaxation techniques, getting proper sleep and Saturday fun sessions; she would have been a successful stand-up comedienne if she was a person.

Pay us for our efforts in training you by strictly following the relaxation techniques and a COASTED inclusive diet. Those who skip these will bear the brunt of whatever is approaching you. This is not a movie or a comic book, this is real,” The Voice sounded very serious.

Preparing for The Command’s inevitable approach was getting more real as Dev realised one thing, “True, all those superhero movies just show action, no one shows any superhero eating or resting, ever!”

Perhaps, you would want your kid Keith to eat these superfoods as well Beth. These are all, in any case, good for kids. After all, The Command is waiting to try and use him as a host. Keith must be strong both physically and mentally,” A Minute added.

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with the letter P (I have managed to do the same from the B letter post)! This is my 16th post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.
Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

O for One Minuters

One Minuters – the name for the team of superheroes was agreed upon. 

Owing to the power of A Minute who could magically stretch a minute into hours, days and even months for them, the One Minuters could complete the toughest challenge within a minute. 

Over the next four weeks, they were trained to enhance their individual superpowers and work as a team. 

Of all the One Minuters, Beth had the ability to not only move anything with her gaze with a force and in the direction she desired, but she could also use the powers of the other four while they stayed in a paused mode. 

One month had passed and on July 1, just as they completed training, a strange thing happened. 

Out of nowhere, a stadium-sized bubble-like thing descended over the stadium.

Otherwise soft-spoken and calm, A Minute quickly ordered the One Minuters to hold hands and stand in a circle as it floated over their heads for a while and started rotating with an unimaginable force. 

Oddly enough, all the stadium seats got lifted up and started moving in circular motion, like things trapped in a whirlpool, and fell down together with such force that huge cracks were created on the ground. 

Okay, The Command has arrived and it knows that we are getting ready. Use your powers now,” The Voice ordered. 

Obeying the orders, Dev, who could change the form and size of things, focussed on making the bubble as small as a pea while Beth tried to move it towards Tim who could consume anything. 

One minute later, that actually felt like one hour to them, Tim swallowed a pea shaped bubble and everything was calm again. 

Obviously, the earthquake-resembling vibrations and damage awoke the security guards, but before they could spot the One Minuters, Evelyn used her superpower – she started singing to make them fall asleep. 

Oblivious to the fact that using their powers to this extent could deprive them of their energy, and that it’s not over yet, the One Minuters started cheering. 

Okay, that was brilliant, amazing teamwork! But unlike the movies, superheroes lose a lot of energy especially after their first encounter. Let’s get you all some real nutrition,” A Minute sounded proud and caring! 

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with the letter O (I have managed to do the same from the B letter post)! This is my 135th post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.

Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

N for Newbie in the town

New day, new beginnings, the amateur superheroes were excited as their training was to begin that Saturday night. 

Normally, the Andheri roads were busy even at midnight, but on that night, all the roads leading to the stadium were surprisingly deserted and they all reached much before time. 

Naturally, they started getting to know each other better as they had come to terms with the fact that they will be fighting evil powers together. 

Name, we got to have a name for our team, you know like the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Justice League… Do you have any ideas?” Tim was most excited as his childhood dream of becoming a superhero was coming true. 

Not now Tim, let’s first see if we can trust The Voice. I mean, we can’t even see it, what if it’s just trying to manipulate us? What if The Voice is the force that’s actually evil?” Holly was being practical as always. 

Not generally the one to go off topic, Beth shared something that had been bothering her – how would they manage to train every single night and then go to work all day, and in her case, even take care of a kid; she couldn’t disappear every single night leaving her daughter alone! 

Now, we will just need one minute of your time to train daily and you won’t have to travel anymore. It’s 11.59 pm, let’s go inside,” The Voice was heard again as the stadium gates opened and the security guard in the cabin suddenly fell asleep. 

Nothing could surprise them anymore, or so they thought, until the five superheroes were introduced to a close friend of The Voice – A Minute. 

Neon dots, very tiny and hundreds of them, started emitting from each of their watches, the dots came together to form a one foot long glowing arrow, like the minute hand of a watch. 

Not to worry friends, I’ll just take a minute of your time, actually time is me, so um…my time… oh this is always so tough to explain. So basically, I am A Minute and I can stretch a minute of your time to many minutes, hours and days, and when you are done it will look like only a minute has passed. Confused? Well sometimes even I get confused,” A Minute spoke in a sweet voice of a woman. 

Next time when I say 59 seconds, don’t make fun of me. A Minute is the one who likes being funny, not me. The 60th second is used to make a minute, the 60th minute makes an hour, she can’t come until 59 numbers have passed, whether it is seconds or minutes.” The Voice was very clear this time. 

Now, let us tell you the name we picked for your team, I am sure you will love it,” A Minute had a very peppy voice and thankfully, she was visible! 

Newbie in the town really put everyone at ease and they couldn’t wait to hear their superhero team name!

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with the letter M (I have managed to do the same from the letter B post)! This is my 14th post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.
Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

M for Memories make the mom strong

Milliseconds after telling Beth that The Command was waiting to have Keith under its control, The Voice suddenly disappeared or was rather inaudible.

Morning was just a few hours away, so Tim, Holly and Dev decided to leave while Daphne and Evelyn stayed back at Beth’s place to comfort her.

Much to Daphne’s surprise, Beth did not wish to talk and headed to her room after ensuring that they were comfortable in the guest bedroom.

Memories are mysterious things –  one never manages to forget the bad times that keep haunting forever, but when a life is at risk, the good memories gently arrive making one feel that life isn’t that bad.

Much of Beth’s night was spent reminiscing about the happy moments with Grace, Keith and Rohit.

Meeting Rohit, her ex-husband, five years ago was one of her fondest memories as they couldn’t take eyes off each other at a common friend’s wedding.

My God Cassie, he is the most amazing single dad! You should have seen how he takes care of his one-year-old baby Keith. You will see, I will marry him someday,” Beth had told her best friend the day she met Rohit; they married only after a few months.

Maternal instincts had kicked in the moment Beth had held Keith in her arms for the first time and they had bonded instantly.

Mom, I love you,” Keith used to tell her daily until Grace was born.

Mom, I love my baby sister the most. I love you and dad also… a little bit,” he was the most loving and caring brother to Grace. 

Maybe if she and Rohit had not separated she could have spent more time with Keith, Beth thought as she regretted managing to meet him only on weekends.

Married or not, we will always try to spend weekends with both the kids and be the best parents ever,” it was Rohit’s idea who still was her 2 a.m. friend.

Misfortune always seemed to find Beth, but this time it was about the safety of her kids and she decided to do everything possible and even impossible to keep them safe.

Might as well put our superpowers to good use, let’s give our hundred percent when The Voice trains us. I don’t know what exactly my superpower is but I will definitely not let that Command hurt my kid or anyone else’s. Daphne, don’t worry about Evelyn, I will take care of her,” Beth surprisingly sounded positive during the breakfast, much to Daphne and Evelyn’s relief.

Meet me at the Andheri stadium at 11.59 pm tonight, you will have no trouble entering,” both Beth and Evelyn heard The Voice speak into their ears.

Man, what is with The Voice and number 59? He always makes me count till 59!” Evelyn said.

Me too,” Beth replied and continued to narrate the turbulent plane incident; it was about time the superheroes knew more about each other.

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with the letter M (I have managed to do the same from B to L posts)! This is my 13th post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.
Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ JKLM ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

L for Less words, more work

Literally, each of the five people with superpowers in the room felt a tingling sensation in their right arm, but this time it wasn’t painful. 

Lights in Beth’s house suddenly dimmed except the one at the dining table where they all gathered. 

Leading the group was The Voice that reminded Dev of his favourite childhood movie Mr. India in which the protagonist could decide to become invisible and only his voice could be heard. 

Let us know everything about you first, who or what exactly are you and why do you keep disappearing?,” Dev had had enough instructions from The Voice over the past few years and he thought with his new team’s support he could finally persuade it to tell them everything. 

Less words and more work would get us somewhere child. I will tell you about myself when the time is right,” there was no way The Voice took instructions from the youngsters. 

Lurking around was The Command, the evil force that everyone had just sensed, so listening to The Voice made more sense. 

Luckily for Beth, The Voice began with clarifying certain things: Some hereditary traits can skip a generation and neither of the two powers could affect a child below seven years of age. 

Little Grace was just four years old but Keith was going to turn seven in three months; Beth looked worried as The Voice had mentioned him. 

Let me help you explore the full potential of your powers, especially Beth, since I haven’t trained her yet. Tomorrow, I will tell you where to come and we shall train every night. We have until September 1 to prepare,” The Voice was very clear with its instructions. 

Letting a voice train her for superpowers which she wasn’t completely aware of yet – Beth wondered if all this was really happening and then something occurred to her. 

Last day of their training was to coincide with Keith’s seventh birthday so she asked The Voice if he too was to get some superpowers, since he was mentioned earlier. 

Long pause ensued after which they heard The Voice say, “The Command intends to have Keith under its control, it is waiting for him to turn seven!”

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with L (I have managed to do the same from B to K posts)! This is my 12th post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge).
Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ JKLM ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

K for Knock of The Voice

Keen to understand what that transparent elongated bubble like thing was, Beth looked at others and noticed that Evelyn was sweating profusely, Holly and Dev were holding hands and Tim was having an anxiety attack.

Kids their age should be busy partying or studying, but instead, they had to defeat an unknown force that they were clearly not prepared to fight against; Beth realised why she, almost double their age, was part of this – they needed guidance, direction and motivation.

Keep faith, we will figure out something together. I know I am new to all this and I still don’t know what I am capable of, but I am with you all through,” Beth, a mother herself, couldn’t let those youngsters feel helpless and alone.

Kindness was Beth’s best quality, something that people often took advantage of, but she realised that she should help out these youngsters and keep her fears about her daughter’s safety to herself.

Kia, Beth’s new car parked just outside her house suddenly moved, as if someone very strong pushed it, and since everyone was still keeping an eye on the window, they all noticed it.

Know this Beth, The Voice has arrived and it can talk to us all at the same time,” Dev informed her.

Knocking the door, The Voice was finally heard two minutes later which felt like eternity to everyone in the room.

Knocking, well, that’s new,” Beth taunted The Voice, “So I understand that sound travels much slower than light, but six years to arrive, doesn’t that sound too slow?”

Keith is not exactly your son, right Beth?” everyone suddenly looked shocked as The Voice spoke at once, right into each person’s ears.

Keith is my ex-husband’s son, he’s like my son, why do you mention him?” Beth trembled, she had been thinking about Grace all this while but how did Keith fit the scene?

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with K (I have managed to do the same from B to J posts)! This is my 11th post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

J for June had begun, the clock struck midnight

Just sprinkle some water on her face,” Daphne suggested as everyone tried to help Beth regain consciousness.

Just like that, Beth’s world had turned topsy turvy.

Just like that, her little daughter who had just started developing interest in superheroes was probably one herself.
Just like that, her separation from her husband, her break ups, her troubled childhood… everything felt so much better than the situation she was currently in.

Just four years old, Grace is just four years old! What does she understand? How can she face all this superpower stuff. She is a little child, how do I protect her?” Beth could not stop crying and worrying as she regained consciousness.

Juggling with all possible solutions, Beth got an idea, “Holly, you had said that you can travel into people’s memories and change a decision they made in the past, right? Please travel back in my head to the time I decided to take that solo trip to Europe and make me not do that. That way everything will change – I won’t go to that restaurant, I won’t hear The Voice, I won’t take that turbulent plane… I would be out of all this and Grace would be safe!”

Jittering until a few moments ago, Beth looked at Holly with hope until she was explained that changing everything in the past also meant that she never met her ex-husband, never married him and never gave birth to a child – it meant that Grace never existed.

Jesus knows that I would do anything to reverse all this, I can’t imagine a child in this terrible situation. But since your child was born after you got the superpowers, I don’t know what to do,” Holly felt bad that she could not be of help.

Just then, a devastated Beth sensed something move outside her window, like a transparent elongated bubble that made everything behind it look blurry.

Joining her shocked stance were all the others, except Daphne, who kept staring at the window.

June had begun as the clock struck midnight.

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with J, it was my toughest post until now(I have managed to do the same from B to I posts)! This is my tenth post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

I for I Spy – A fun game for kids, a challenge for superheroes

Instead of having an argument with her, Beth was now teaming up with Daphne and the four young superheroes, not knowing exactly what each one was capable of.

Iron Man was her favourite and she would never miss any Marvel or DC movie but little did she know that she might be a superhero herself; she wondered if the filmmakers actually encountered some real-life superheroes, and if these movies were actually based on true stories.

I want to know everything – What are your superpowers? Is The Command around and has any of you ‘heard’ it, and what about The Voice? Why doesn’t it contact me now? Do I really have a superpower? How do I know how to use it?” Beth obviously had too many questions.

It was a lot to discuss over a few cups of coffee, so Beth invited them over to her place.

Ideally, she would not have invited a set of complete strangers to her house, but nothing was ideal in this case and since her daughter Grace was at her ex-husband Rohit’s farmhouse for three days, she was ready to take a chance.

Impressed was an understatement, Beth could not believe how these twenty-somethings were absolutely fearless, brave and willing to risk their lives to save the world.

Imagine playing I Spy – be completely aware of your surroundings and you can sense when The Command is around you. It cannot take form as such, but you can feel something move!” Dev roughly explained how she could ‘spot’ the evil power.

I Spy was the game Beth and Grace played together almost daily and almost everywhere:
I spy with my little eyes something round and green,” Beth would say and Grace would spy all around the room to finally spot a green bead in the centre of the dreamcatcher.
I spy with my little eyes something red with wheels,” Grace would always point at vehicles and trees while looking out of the window whenever Beth drove and she would always pretend as if she couldn’t spot it as she was driving!

It had only laughter and fun associated with it until that moment.

I don’t want to spy with my eyes something that I can’t see, something that I can’t hear yet, something powerful that would command me to do what I don’t want to do, damn but I will have to fight it – Beth was scared.

Imagination is a power we all underestimate and it was somehow the source of all the amazing things each of these four superheroes could do.

I can get into people’s head, travel into their memories and change a decision they made in the past. It could be as small as skipping a meal to as big as a career choice. It changes a lot in their lives and everything that’s connected, but it can get really messy at so many levels,” Holly explained her power.

If I really focus on my imagination, I can eat anything, any size – from a bullet to a lightning bolt,” Tim sounded excited until everyone joked how he could fart after that!

I can change the form and size of things and animals, but I haven’t been able to change the complete form of anything yet,” Dev was very unsure about using his powers as it could be really damaging if not done correctly.

I can sing to make anyone go into deep sleep,” Evelyn sounded a little embarrassed about her superpower as she continued, “That probably explains why the kids in my singing class yawned when I sang!”

It was amazing how the youngsters retained their sense of humour given the challenges they were about to face.

Introductions to their powers were thus done and Beth was told that The Voice planned to take her through her capabilities the next day.

Innocent youngsters in their early twenties are overloaded with so much responsibility and risk, Beth thought as she expressed concern about their safety and the fear their parents might be facing.

It was at this moment that Daphne somehow gathered the courage to share something that no one could manage to speak about – Beth was the only one to have a child after getting the powers so there was a chance that her four-year-old daughter might have genetically inherited some superpower and perhaps even attracted the interest of The Voice and The Command.

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with I, the letter of the day (I have managed to do the same from B to H posts)! This is my ninth post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

H for Heroes of The Voice and Halwa Recipe

Hugging Grace goodbye, Beth thanked Rohit for agreeing to spend the long weekend with their daughter.

He always looked forward to take Grace to his farmhouse where his parents stayed as he barely got to spend time with her on weekdays; the father daughter duo loved playing catch, petting animals and gardening together.

Hi, Daphne here, please check my mails and call me, please,” Beth received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number as soon as Rohit and Grace left, and immediately regretted reading it.

How could Daphne have her new number, Beth wondered and finally checked her mails that kept saying the same thing: The Voice needs you, we all need you, please get in touch, we have arrived in Mumbai!

Her life was just getting normal and she now felt that everything was going to change soon as suddenly, after six years, she felt that weird pain in her right arm again.

HELP! She screamed and cried as this time the pain was unbearable and for much longer than the previous episodes.

Her entire body felt like it was on fire and at the same time on an ice slab; she knew she had to meet Daphne even though she had disappeared when she needed her the most.

High Time Cafe, Andheri Link Road, 5 pm today, Beth replied, though until ten minutes ago she had absolutely no intention of meeting her.

Hoping that she would meet just Daphne and her daughter Evelyn at the cafe and get some answers, Beth was surprised to see three more youngsters along with them.

Heading towards them, Beth felt strange; she was all set to be rude with Daphne, but that wasn’t possible in the presence of these youngsters.

Half-an-hour later, Beth was overwhelmed with the overload of information and in complete disbelief as she learnt that she might, well, still have superpowers.

Holly, Dev, Tim and Evelyn, all in their early twenties, had experienced the same pain in the past, had heard The Voice and were instrumental in making that turbulent plane steady – something that until that moment Beth felt she had done singlehandedly.

Heroes, we all are superheroes Beth, believe it or not! The Voice will speak to you soon but if The Command tries to make you do anything, just don’t do it… it is the dark power, very dark, very evil and it is coming for you,” Dev spoke with such conviction that Beth got goosebumps.

Halwa recipe, quick please… Keith wants to eat it now and he is throwing tantrums,” Beth read the message from Rohit; she had completely forgotten that his six-year-old son from his previous girlfriend wanted to eat the halwa she always sent for him.

Heat half a cup of ghee, add a pinch of green cardamom powder, add one cup fine semolina and roast on low flame. When almost pinkish brown, add some raisins, 1.5 cups of water, half cup jagggery powder, keep stirring until it all comes together. Add a tablespoon of ghee, mix well and you’ll know when it’s done.

Having sent the halwa recipe, Beth looked at all those hopeful youngsters, complete strangers, who had travelled all the way to Mumbai from different parts of the world to help her with ‘something big that was about to happen’.

Hide, run, escape – her mind said to her but then she saw tears in Daphne’s eyes.

Hell yes, I am in, tell me what to do!” Beth couldn’t let these youngsters fight alone.

The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this chapter of the story with H, the letter of the day (I have managed to do the same from B to G posts)! This is my sixth post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:

A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ FGH ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

G for Ghosts of the past

Before I proceed with the story, I would like to thank Aparna Nayak for helping me weave the gluten part in the story. This point onwards, the story has some parenting / motherhood angles so will also cater to the main theme of this blog – Mom and Ideas. I hope you enjoy reading.

Go to sleep now Grace, we can finish the painting tomorrow,” Beth told her four-year-old daughter again.

Gone were the days of being insanely adventurous, going on a solo trips, trying some super powers… all Beth needed now was a peaceful nap.

Grace’s gluten intolerance was not making things any easier and Beth spent any free time researching about it so that Grace could enjoy food like all other kids.

Gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye, finds its way in the junk food that kids love – pizzas, breads, cakes, etc.  wherein extra gluten is added in form of powder to increase the strength, rise, shelf life, and texture of the baked goods, which are not good for their health.

Google would tell her everything except where she could find a treasure of gluten-free foods for kids.

Getting your little ones to eat is like climbing the Everest, but when Gluten sensitivity comes into picture, it’s a whole new challenge!

Grace finally fell asleep as Beth added some gluten-free items to her online shopping cart and decided to check her mail before calling it a day.

Gmail showed her 20 notifications of which three emails were from Daphne – someone who had disappeared when Beth needed her the most.

Getting no replies from her and The Voice despite several desperate attempts had left Beth disturbed for many months after the flight incident six years ago.

Gradually, she had stopped thinking about it and a year later she fell in love with Rohit, an Indian entrepreneur, married him and moved to India.

Grace was born a year later and the couple separated after her second birthday; there was no drama, they realised that they were just not compatible and decided to raise their daughter together in Mumbai.

Going forward, her focus would just be her daughter, Beth had decided unaware that six years after the incident the ghosts of her past would come knocking at her door.

God knows why she is contacting me after so many years, should I read the mails or just delete them, Beth was confused.

———-
Thanking Aparna for the inputs on gluten! She is also participating in the A to Z challenge with wonderful posts that you can read here.

This story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this part of the story with G, the letter of the day (I have managed to do the same from B to F posts)! This is my sixth post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:
A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ FG ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

F for Fifty Nine Seconds

Frightened to the core, Beth slowly removed her hands from her ears; the turbulence didn’t shake her but the unknown voice that only she could hear made her panic.

Focus Beth and listen to me, this is not the time to panic, you can save this plane in exactly fifty nine seconds,” the commanding voice instructed her.

Fine, tell me what to do,” Beth had no idea how these words came out of her mouth as her co-passengers glanced at her and then ignored her as they were panicking too.

Focus on the tip of the airplane wings that you can see from the window, just start counting till fifty nine as you try to lift the tilted wings with your gaze, blink if you want but don’t look elsewhere or you’ll have to start again. Focus on making the plane parallel to the ground,” there was a strange convincing power in that voice.

Fear gripped her as she could hear that invisible person or thing speaking right into her ears, but she thought that there was no harm in trying as all she had to do was gaze, and so she did.

Figuring out what that voice was and what was happening to her was crucial, but then she had to be alive for that and so she decided to pay attention to the voice; she could get the answers later.

Fifty nine seconds later, suddenly, the plane was stable with no turbulence whatsoever and people were relaxed, all but one person.

Fabulous, so maybe I did it, now tell me what I want to know,” Beth didn’t care that she probably saved all the passengers and the crew, all she wanted was answers.

Fasten your seatbelts dear passengers, we will land shortly, and we apologize for the turbulence,” the pilot announced after a few minutes.

Flight attendants, fellow passengers, cranky kids… Beth could hear all voices but the one she wanted to.

Frustrated, she headed home and tried finding that voice but in vain until she finally dozed off muttering, “Please talk to me, I am going crazy.”

———-
The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of this part of the story with F, the letter of the day (I have managed to do the same from B to D posts)! This is my sixth post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts to read the entire story.

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:


A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

E for End it now!

Eager to get answers, Beth agreed to give her hair sample for DNA analysis to a complete stranger.

Email IDs were exchanged, Daphne promised to stay in touch and soon the final boarding announcement was made.

Even though Beth loved window seats, she had a lot to think about and for the first time ever, instead of gazing at the clouds, she closed her eyes and thought about her conversation with Daphne.

Evelyn, Daphne’s eighteen-year-old daughter, had experienced the same pain in the arm for the first time almost two years ago, incidentally at the same restaurant where Beth had experienced the sting.

Easy girl,” Chef Jean had said to her, “there’s no scorpion here, it’s all in your mind!”

Embarrassed about her screaming as the entire restaurant noticed and her friends mocked her, she told about the sting to her mom.

Either she is being dramatic or she just wants my attention, Daphne had thought earlier; however, her world shook later as she witnessed a few weird incidents.

Everything what Daphne told Beth felt like a fantasy movie script to her, she sensed exaggeration but somewhere deep inside she believed her.

Exactly half an hour after taking off, Beth’s plane ran into severe turbulance – a significant rattling noise was heard in the fuselage and the passengers were told to fasten their seat belts.

Even after ten minutes, the plane was shaking terribly and people started panicking and praying while the kids started crying.

End it Beth, you can end it now!” a voice commanded her like a loud sound from headphones, but she wasn’t wearing any.

———-
The story continues tomorrow in the next post. Did you notice that I managed to start each sentence of the story with E, the letter of the day (I have managed to do the same from B to D posts)! This is my fifth post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts that start with the letters A & B (B is when this story begins), C and D (list below).

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:

A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

D for Discover a secret or live with the suspense

Darling, maybe you are just overthinking. Jean might be busy. He will call you back, don’t worry,” Cassie tried to convince Beth over the phone.

Do you think that I should visit him and explain that I didn’t overreact, that I really felt the worst sting ever? Cassie, trust me it was something else, my entire body felt like it was on fire and at the same time on an ice slab. It was the strangest sting, most painful… ever! I am telling you, something doesn’t seem right. Maybe I am becoming a spider-woman or something!” Beth had not lost her sense of humour though she was extremely stressed and scared.

Days passed, Beth never saw or heard from Jean again but she did complete her solo Europe trip while ensuring that she didn’t develop a liking for anyone.

Did she enjoy her trip? She sure did as she soaked in the romantic aura of France, the beauty of the Swiss Alps and the scenic Eurail journeys to Milan and Venice.

During her stay in all those lovely cities, she never felt that weird pain again, until the very last day when she was at the security check of the airport.

Damn, damn, damn… it’s killing me… help, help me” she screamed holding her right arm and cried in pain just as she collected her handbag after the security screening; poor choice of words at the airport.

Daphne, the security manager, rushed to Beth but something made her tell the staff that everything was fine.

Dear, that was just a cramp, right? My cousin gets it all the time with the heavy luggage and all. Let me help you reach the boarding gate,” Daphne said holding Beth’s arm and whispered to her to agree and move ahead.

Don’t worry, I have seen this happen before, with others as well. I saw you at Chef Jean’s restaurant the other day. It was you, wasn’t it?,” Daphne said as she got Beth seated at a cafe near the boarding gate.

Dealing with that torturous pain was one thing, it disappeared in a couple of minutes, but what this seemingly kind stranger told Beth scared her.

Discovering that someone acknowledged her weird pain, however, did put Beth at ease and she wondered if she could get some answers.

Dressed in the security uniform, brown-eyed Daphne did appear trustworthy and Beth decided to use the thirty minutes before boarding to understand what was happening to her.

Daphne laid a condition that she would share what she knew only if Beth agreed to give her hair sample for a DNA analysis; the clock was ticking and Beth had to decide immediately.

Discover the secret or live with the suspense? Beth chose the obvious.

———-
The story continues tomorrow in the next post. This is my fourth post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous posts that start with the letters A & B (B is when this story begins) and C.

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:

A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

C for Challenges, all sorts of them!

Challenge, you say? Of course, I’ll take it up.”

Carefree as she had become, Beth started loving the idea of taking up challenges; both that she took up willingly and the ones that life threw at her.

Challenges, after all, are part of our life cycle. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we grow and learn with them right from the moment we are born. It’s a challenge at every stage, small or big, but it sure is. Just look at each of these moments in our life cycle, that was a challenge, especially when we did it for the first time:

  • Planning to conceive a child or becoming a parent (either you are a parent or your parents are, right?)
  • Giving birth or adopting or choosing not to have a child. And all the situations around each of these scenarios.
  • The first steps, the first ride, the first time going to school, making friends, losing some.
  • Education and sports, winning some, losing some, but moving ahead.
  • The stressful and sometimes traumatic situations of our lives, going through them, rising above them, sooner or later.
  • Career, career changes, business – profits and losses.
  • Losing our loved ones or losing out on love, and taking up the challenge to get over with it as life has so much more to offer.
  • Ageing, illnesses and fighting to live till the very end.

Cassie, her best friend from school, once gave her the idea of going on a solo Europe trip!

Can I actually do it, solo travel is so challenging!” said Beth but Cassie knew that she would definitely go!

Cautiously, Beth gave in her papers after working in the same organization for four years, and decided to take a 2-month-break from her career for her dream Europe vacation followed by some more relaxed rime for herself.

Career break was never her plan, but then it was such a bold thing to do, so she did.

Calculations were done, bank accounts were cleared (except leaving some 200 dollars in savings), bookings were made, bags were packed, dreams were hugged and Beth took the flight to Paris… a solo trip sounded so exciting!

Croissants, baguettes, macarons, chocolates, ratatouille, crepes and coffee… Paris is a paradise for foodies and Beth sure did not mind putting on some weight while relishing the delicious treats!

Clearly, she was happy, genuinely happy within a week of her trip.

Chef Jean, who she had started liking, was thanking her for appreciating his cooking skills, when she suddenly felt that terrible sting on her right arm.

Confused after screaming a lot, she could not believe that nothing bit or hit her, even when the chef and many others in the restaurant tried to assure her that nothing happened.

Can’t you see I am in pain, look at my arm, it’s like the worst sting ever,” she cried and looked at her arm that appeared just fine – no mark, no redness, no swelling, and suddenly no pain.

What happens next? Just wait for the next post, that will start with the letter D. Did you notice that I started each sentence of this post with the letter C! Glad I could do that after the previous post of the letter B.

———-
This is my third post for this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous post thats start with the letter A & B (B is when the story begins; A is not a part of this story but I guess most of you will relate).

I’ll be posting daily except Sundays all through the month. Stay tuned. Read all my posts for the challenge in the A to Z links below:

A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

B for Bite-sized fun

Beth, long before being a mother, was an ordinary girl, an introvert in the first half of her life.
Brilliant and curious just about everything, she was quite talkative around the people she was most comfortable with.
But because of the childhood she had, she was never confident around everyone, like all her classmates, neighbours and relatives.
By the time she was a teenager, she knew one thing for sure – if she shared her problems with anyone, sooner or later, that person wasn’t in her life anymore; either the person happened to change cities, find new friends or well, just didn’t meet her again.
Bottling up all her feelings gradually became the way of her life.
Being funny and appearing happy is what she slowly realized was how people would like her.
Boy she loved to be liked!
By the time she was in her twenties, she had many friends, more than you can imagine.
But obviously, who doesn’t want to be friends with the happiness factor in your college and office!
Being liked made her temporarily happy and she mastered the art of masking her sorrow with jokes and smiles; so much so that when she was in the outside world, she didn’t even think about the sadness that popped up the moment she was alone.
Bougainvillea flowers, butterflies, bright moon and stars, brushes and paints, books, burgers… She started finding bite-sized fun in little things around her when she was not with her friends and when she started feeling low.
But does makeshift happiness last for long?

What happens next? Well, even I don’t know as I am writing as it comes to me. The next post, that will start with the letter C, might be the continuation of this B letter post. Did you notice that I started each sentence of this story with the letter B. The idea just occurred to me while writing and I am patting my back for being able to do it just fine. Did I manage to do it just fine? Please tell me.

This post is part of my participation in this year’s A to Z Challenge (#atozchallenge). Head to my previous post that starts with the letter A (it is not a part of this story but I guess most of you will relate).

A ➡ B ➡ C ➡ D ➡ E ➡ F ➡ G ➡ H ➡ I ➡ J ➡ K ➡ L ➡ M ➡ N ➡ O ➡ P ➡ Q ➡ R ➡ S ➡ T ➡ U ➡ V ➡ W ➡ X ➡ Y ➡ Z

FROM ONE PARENT TO ANOTHER

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