Everyday inspiration for stories

Grace Michelle
Grace Michelle
Inspiration for Grace Michelle’s colourful short stories sometimes comes from the most mundane of places.

The Tokomairiro High School pupil said she was once inspired to write a story about a meth cartel being run under her school after one of her English teachers left the classroom to have a private conversation with another teacher.

Her latest story, about an unwanted pregnancy, has won the 2019 Otago Daily Times Secondary Scene Award for Excellence in Writing.

The idea came to her at a family dinner.

‘‘I ate way too much and I thought, ‘Oh man, I feel pregnant’.

‘‘And then I thought, ‘Pregnant with food — that’s an interesting concept’. So I went home and wrote about it.’’

She said it described what it was like to be in her shoes for a day.

While she had never been pregnant, she said she did like to eat and described herself as overweight.

‘‘I’m not skinny. I am plump.’’

She said social media could be unkind to bigger people.

‘‘There is a social stigma against overweight people in society, and I do feel judged sometimes.

‘‘I’m not going to lie. There are times when you don’t want to have tight-fitting clothes that reveal all your rolls.

‘‘I do like to say sometimes that I have more rolls than a bakery, and I don’t think everybody wants to see that.’’

She wanted her writing to show society that she is still a person, who is beautiful and has feelings.

‘‘I’m beautiful in my own way — in a way that I look amazing in Evil Dead T-shirts and basketball shorts.

‘‘I’m happy with my life.

‘‘If it doesn’t bother me, why should it bother other people.

‘‘It’s not like I’m sitting on everybody who looks at me, so I don’t understand why judgement should come my way.’’

Grace said she planned to study psychology at university next year, as she wanted to be a criminal psychologist.

But she also wanted to keep writing.

‘‘I’ve been planning on writing a book in the future — maybe something on medieval torture, or a collection of all the crazy stories that I’ve written over the years.’’


An unwanted pregnancy

By Grace Michelle - Year 13, Tokomairiro High School

Experiencing an unwanted pregnancy is one of the most horrendous things that will happen during the span of your life.

There are so many challenges you face during this tortuous time.

Every day is a struggle to get out of bed.

When you wake up from being peacefully adrift from your agonising reality, the first obstacle you face is trying to unstick your eyelids which feel like they have been stuck together with Super Glue.

Then, you become a turtle stuck on its back, as you very ungracefully, try to roll yourself out of bed.

Like a zombie, with stiff slow movements, you stumble to get the clothes on that seem to shrink every day, exposing your shame to the world.

The mocking mirror reflects the monstrous mass that protrudes from your body like a forever growing pimple that you can’t pop, and reminds you of the regretful mistakes you’ve made in the past that have led you to this insanity.

You look at your stomach and immediately death stare the hideous, growing stretch marks that jut out from your skin like varicose veins.

With each passing day that you glance in the cruel glass, your chin rapidly duplicates, making your neck almost non-existent.

New chunks of cellulite cling to your bones, creating a jelly-like effect on your skin every time you move one of your limbs.

One glance over the image of your body makes you feel like scum, so you pull back from the ridiculing reflection, and head towards the door that you dread to open.

Stepping out on the streets is the generator for 90% of the shame you feel during this treacherous time, as a stranger’s gaze becomes a laser beam, scorching hot judgement on to you.

In public, you are the walking definition of shame, regret and humiliation, and the sidewalk becomes a magnet to your head as gravity pulls your face down to watch your swollen feet scrape along the cement that’s trapped under you.

And as you struggle to move under your growing weight, your strained calf muscles begin to pump pain throughout your entire body and all you want to do is return to the safe haven you call home, so you can feel sorry for yourself without having strangers’ judgement trip you up with every movement you struggle to make.

When you get home, you immediately gravitate towards the kitchen, scanning the fridge for food, only to be let down by a scarce selection of mundane scraps.

The guilt hits you like a tidal wave as you realise that there is no food, because you recently embodied a raccoon and shoved it all in your mouth.

So you mope to the living room to let the armchair give you a hug because nobody else will, and once you finally find peace, your stare sadly drifts towards the ceiling after noticing that the remote that acts as the wardrobe to the Narnia of mindless entertainment, is on the other side of the room, taunting you with its big buttons.

Once again, guilt and shame seep into the room like mustard gas, as you realise you are too lazy to move 2m to get it.

So you stay, sunken in an armchair that feels like it’s now straddling your body rather than embracing it, and your mind immediately turns to the number that’s quickly growing on the scales, similar to the number of a rich American’s bank account.

The thought of that tall number strips your body of peace and you are back in your miserable state, and then you drift off to sleep, only to leave a sad sack of human, slowly sinking into a seemingly boneless armchair, in the middle of the dark, lonely living room.

Like most things, every human being experiences unwanted pregnancies differently.

But the thing that makes my unwanted case so unbearable is that even after 9 months of torture, I will still, forever be trapped in this reality, because you can’t give birth to a food baby.

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