Zainab Zaheer in NYC is creating #100daysofstories...

DAY SIXTEEN: "Go ahead," he said, "it's a prayer wheel. Spin it and watch your dreams fly through the universe." "What do I pray for?" "You pray for happiness, girl." Tentative, she stepped up to it. What would she wish for, if this actually worked? That she could stay in this city for the rest of her life. That she could breathe in the skyscrapers and weird art, the trench coats and jazz nights. That she found peace - she didn't even really know what meant yet, but it had to be something like a warm summer morning, with soft pillows and pancakes and sandals. Or maybe it was like watching Sex and the City with her best friend, mixed with a cold winter evening, or sitting by a window looking out at the cityscape, with warm tea and fuzzy pajamas. The definition of happiness eluded her, a light she couldn't quite catch in her palm. Her fingers brushed against the rough edge of the wheel, the pieces of mirror cool to the touch. Light danced across face. The room was a kaleidoscope of her thoughts and dreams and she was here in it, trying to catch a feeling. Why couldn't she think of what her one wish would be? Maybe, she thought, it was because she already was happier than she'd ever been, and contentment was the greatest happiness of all. She gripped the wheel firmly with the pads of her fingers and pushed, sending the room into a tizzy of fluttering lights. "Alhumdolilah." #100daysofstories This photo was taken at an art show in the old #VanityFair @vanityfair offices at #timessquarenyc @timessquarenyc
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Why did you decide to do this project? 
#100daysofstories is a way for me to challenge myself and my audience to talk about things that matter - hate crime, discrimination, mean girls, the troubles couples face, the beauty of love - real issues, in a bite-sized, interesting way. So that’s what I do - write a new short story every day, for 100 days.

I decided to do the project because I wanted a short-form way to reach out and engage with my readers about the feelings that make up each of our lives. I wanted to grow as a writer, and push myself to create new situations, new characters, and make people feel, in short form.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? It’s made me think in a different way for sure. I find myself looking at the most mundane things and finding stories that could come out of them. I’ll see an object and wonder about the last person that used it, see a place and imagine the last person to be there. It’s invigorating.

Read all of Zainab's stories HERE

DAY TEN: Twenty nine minutes to show time. Twenty nine minutes until she would be standing on a red velvet stage, staring out at a crowd of minds and bodies that would form an opinion. An opinion on whether or not she was worth their time, whether or not the stories she told spoke to them, whether or not it mattered that she was singing her life to them, at them, into their hearts. "Have you rehearsed?" She had. Until every chord rang in her mind. Asleep, awake - it didn't matter. The words were laced between her thoughts, burned into the backs of her eyes, pumping through her bloodstream, printed on her skin. They were her words. They told her story. Twenty two minutes to show time. Twenty two minutes to three cameras pointing at her, their red blink-blink making her permanent, making that moment last, making it re-playable, re-judgeable, re-maybe-loveable. Her dress was on. All the right bits were tucked and trussed and trimmed and shaped. Fifteen minutes to when the band played the first chord. Fifteen minutes to the first strum of a guitar. Fifteen minutes and she still couldn't get this freaking eyeliner on. Ten minutes. Everyone was rushing around. She held hands and prayed. She laughed and posed and did some last minute smiling. Two minutes left until she walked through that velvet curtain. Two minutes left until she told these strangers about every haunting she'd turned into song. Every scary night and angry day, every bottle and breath that she had poured into words and notes and chords and love. The lights went on. Showtime. #100daysofstories #showtime Last night I had the pleasure of seeing my dear friend @raeganagram perform her first full length show in #nyc🗽 Make sure you take a look at her work. Photo taken on an iPhone 7, at 15 Central Park West.
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DAY EIGHTEEN: He looked at the face on the floor. Visible only from a few angles, the pile of raggedy hand-me-downs looked a little like his mother. Maybe he was just hallucinating. He'd almost walked by the installation, thinking it was one of those weird modern art abstract things his thick head wouldn't understand anyway, but the artist had caught his eye. He had ushered him to the right spot, told him to stand right there and take a photo. And then there is was. Saved in his phone. A face made out of tattered jeans and washed-too-many-times whites that were now yellow. "All from the donation bin," the artist said. "Just whatever was left behind." What was left behind was exactly what he's grown up wearing. The foster home never had enough money for them to have new clothes, and he'd spent years nicking the cool shirts from Hot Topic, stuffing them under his jacket. Now shirts just like those were tied up and twisted into this. The fabric that made her mouth looked like the patchwork bedspread they'd made for their DIY bedroom redesign that one Christmas. "A family activity" his mum had said, trying to get everyone excited. Her hair was his mothers hair - bad dye jobs and not enough money to go to the salon. She'd always smell strongly of bleach and chemical when she'd try to give herself a new look. Her eyes were his mothers eyes, beautiful but dead inside. Weather-worn and beautiful. He wiped a tear from his cheek quickly. Grown men didn't cry in public. Grown men didn't miss their mum. #100daysofstories #springbreakartfair @springbreakartfair Note: This artwork, titled "Sight Specific" is by artist Noah Scalin #noahscalin @noahscalin and was a piece I really enjoyed seeing at Spring / Break Art Fair in NYC, 2017. Today's story is my own work and does not reflect Noah Scalin's perspective. Thanks to @raegansealy for inviting me. :)
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