MANA HIGHLIGHTS WINNING SHORT STORIES AND POEMS (MANA) is pleased to announce the winning entries of MANA HIGHLIGHTS for June and July. The winners receive a $25 VISA Gift Card. Then, the top winning entry will receive $100.

Go HERE to learn more about MANA HIGHLIGHTS and how to submit your short story or poem.






How did you find the energy,

Mom, to do all the things you did, 

To be a teacher, nurse, and counselor to me when I was a kid?

How did you do it all, Mom,

To be a cook and a friend,

Yet find time to be a playmate?

I just can’t comprehend.

I see now it was love 

That made you come whenever I called.

Your inexhaustible love, Mom,

And I thank you for it all.




As I took the call, my father’s deep baritone voice hit my ears with the same controlling effect it has had for years: “You must have something to fall back upon. What are you going to do if things go wrong?”

Ever since I was a child, I had seen him be like this. He has always tried to use pain as leverage to push me into doing something good in my life, and that has been his modus operandi.

There are two ways you can motivate someone. You can either use pain or you can use pleasure. With the kind of life he had lived, and the experiences that he had had in his life, he thought pain would work better.

If I have a safety net, am I truly going to be able to jump across the abyss onto the other side knowing that if I fall, I’ll be safe? I don’t need that safety net. In fact, that safety net is going to be a disadvantage. I wanted to have so much fear of whatever it is. So much passion, so much aggression, so much frustration; just that drive to be able to make it to the other side because if I don’t, I die. 

There is no second chance. I have to do it, one way or the other. I don’t want a safety net. In fact, if you give me a safety net, I will tear it bloody apart. I want to know if I have it in me. I want to know if I will be able to fly. I will not be able to fly if you are going to weaken me with a safety net.

“Son, you there?” his voice punctuated my chain of thoughts.

“Yes Dad, I am here.”

“What have you decided then?”

“Okay Dad, I will take the job.”

What my father never realized and probably never will is that having a backup option every time was a disadvantage in itself. How was I supposed to give it my all, knowing that even if things did not work out, I would still have something else to fall back upon?

The adrenaline rush that usually makes any endeavor worth the effort is not something I could explain to him. But I knew that it was something mandatory for me to feel satisfied.

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