Secret of the Metal Tin

secrets in metal tin

Adric quickened his steps when he saw his ex-classmates by a tree, a sudden gush of excitement washing through him. His wife quickly chased after him, annoyed that he had forgotten that she was wearing heels but also anticipated meeting her old friends as much as he did.

It was 2019. Twenty years since Adric, his wife, Chloe, along with their group of friends, buried a metal tin in the ground, beneath a tree next to their secondary school. They had purposely chose not to remind each other of the occasion, hoping that everyone would remember the significant event, and were pleasantly surprised when their close friend, Tiffany, flew from Japan just for the event. Adric vividly remembered it being a Wednesday afternoon after the group of friends had gone back to collect their ‘O’ Level results. They were headed towards different paths, which prompted Adric’s then best friend, Jimmy, to suggest that they bury something near their school to remember their teenage years. Tiffany and Jacob then suggested that they could write secrets and their fondest memories of their secondary school life onto strips of paper before dropping them into the metal tin Chloe had stolen from her aunt’s biscuit shop.

“I can’t wait to open them! It’s been so many years I don’t even remember what I wrote in there!” Jacob’s enthusiasm was also painted across everyone’s face. Everyone was anticipating to read what their younger selves had written as it had been too long for most of them to remember their immature secrets and memories. The men began looking for tools to start digging, but Jacob, being the overly enthusiastic person he was even at 37, began to move piles of loosened soil with his bare hands. The ladies, Chloe and Tiffany, tried to muffle their snorts of laughter but failed terribly when Jimmy who was dressed in his office attire bent down and joined in Jacob’s idiocy. After what felt like an eternity of searching and digging, the metal tin was finally recovered from the ground, now rusty and accompanied with an unknown stench.

“Let’s start! Alright, the first one is from Tiffany!” Jacob announced as he unfolded a piece of paper he had randomly drew from the tin. “I have a crush on Mr Canterlot!”

As if everyone had rehearsed, the group of old friends broke into fits of laughter at the same time, knowing how everyone knew about Tiffany’s crush on the young principal. The ex-head prefect was the only one oblivious to how others gave her teasing looks whenever the principal discussed school events with her. “Moving on, Adric! ‘Chloe is such a bore and extra’. Adric! What is this?”

Silence fell upon the group and everyone slowly whipped their heads towards Adric, expecting an explanation from the man who was now wedded to the one he found ‘a bore’. Adric turned to Jimmy with a dramatic plea, hoping Jimmy could help him work a way around the awkward situation but instead, Jimmy just waited for Adric’s elucidation, curiosity overriding loyalty.

“So, obviously I was immature, okay? I wouldn’t marry Chloe otherwise! It’s been so long I don’t even remember what I wrote and why!” Adric tried to reason but sealed his lips when met with the malicious glare fueled by a fire of volcanic intensity of his wife. For sure, Adric was going to spend a few nights in the living room.

More secrets and fond memories were shared as time slowly ticked pass, allowing them to drown themselves in the days when some of the least significant things were the world to them, causing their peals of laughter to overflow that particular corner of the neighbourhood.

“Last one! From Chloe! ‘I love’? Has the name faded away?” Tiffany ran her finger across the last portion of the strip of paper. There was no sign that anything was ever written on it. “Chloe, did you leave it blank?”

“I don’t remember, guess that’s going to remain a secret?” Chloe exclaimed, despite knowing fully well that she had left it blank on purpose. What she also knew, or rather, recalled, was the name the blank was intended for. How could she possibly forget? That little crush of hers was the highlight of her secondary school life!

“It’s probably me,” Adric proudly commented, running his fingers over his sideburns as he exaggerated how beautiful his features were, “who else would she love?”

Chloe chuckled and jabbed her husband’s waist, the group of ex-classmates exploded in laughter again. What ran through Chloe’s mind, however, greatly contrasted with what Adric had claimed.

“It’s Jimmy, but that can remain a secret,” Chloe thought as she looked over at where Jimmy sat, no sign of remorse or guilt on her face when she made eye contact with Adric’s then best friend, sending a wink in that direction when the coast was clear. Chloe could have imagined it, but she was so sure that Jimmy’s lips moved along the lines of ‘I love you’. Whether or not it was her imagination, she would find out on Friday night. No one had to know her weekly night outs with her “girlfriends” was with her “boyfriend”.

That, shall forever stay a secret, along with other secrets which will, and must, follow them to the afterlife.

Ang Yen Chi

4 Unity

It’s Worth it All for You

Its worth it all for you

With every step I take, the grinding gear of churning machinery resonates within my hollow head, bouncing off its metal walls. Of course, this doesn’t faze me in the slightest, it is not in my programme to be disturbed by repetitive loud clangs. I am no different from the rest of them, we all have bunned up hair accompanied by a simple, creaseless maid’s costume. We all had the same face, the same delicate yet robotic smiles. We all walked gracefully in a mechanical pattern and each had over 9000 bedtime stories stored in our memory. We were all designed to be nannies, to take the best care of our wards and maintain the houses of our owners. We were programmed to obey every command, no matter how gross or tedious it is, emotionless to be better servants for our masters.

I was the same, until I saw you.

The stench of alcohol infiltrated my nostrils when I first came face to face with your Father- my Master. “Clean the house, won’t you? I have other matters to handle,” he grunted unpleasantly before turning to face you, a little girl cowering in the corner with a tear stricken face, bruises and cuts scattered all over your skin like a messy piece of art. Your blonde hair was tangled and you trembled in fear as he took a step closer to you, screaming, “It’s all your fault, you little Monster.”

You could only let out a whimper before bursting into a flood of tears again, pleading shakily, “Please don’t hurt me Daddy.” As I went about my chores, your cries never stopped, the loud smacks of tough skin against a delicate one were merciless and in a continuous stream. I stopped to stare but he noticed and growled , “What are you staring at, get back to work,” before raising his arm into the air, preparing to hit you again.

Something clicked in me as I witnessed your abuse. I strode forward and tackled your Father, much to my own surprise. “You will not hurt the child.” I heard my mouth say. He slapped me before retreating into his own room. I, an android, has just disobeyed my master.

He wanted to send me back, to have me repaired so that there would be nobody to stop his tyranny. However, he had spent all his money on me and couldn’t afford to do so. Instead, he continued to take out his anger on you, beating a defenceless lamb into a crumpled ball even when you had committed no wrong. Each time, I intervened against his wishes. Each time, he would hurt me, breaking an arm, breaking a leg. Yet, I would always come back to protect you.

I started to feel human emotions, happy when you were safe, sad when you were sad. I started to feel… pain. Deep rooted anguish as I pieced myself back together every night, beginning to feel the pain of sympathy when I learnt that the Mother whom both of you had loved so dearly had passed away a few months before, understanding why your Father was so cruel, yet angry that he took it out on you.

My tolerance level finally snapped when I saw him chasing you around the house with a kitchen knife, baring his teeth as he attempted to slash you. You screamed in terror as you dodged his attacks. I tried to intervene and he tried to stick the knife into my core. I took the knife from him and returned the favour successfully. He dropped to the ground with a loud thud, eyes rolling to the back of his head as a river of blood flowed out of his wound.

You were horrified, but felt a sick sense of relief at the same time, for your abuser was finally gone. You were safe. He had been your Father once, but once he had lost the love of his life, he had turned into a Monster, relentlessly attacking you, maliciously hitting you. I learnt that love is the most powerful emotion that a human could feel. As I gazed into your clear blue eyes, I realised that I too was beginning to feel love.

Together, hand in hand, we left the house, hoping to seek a better life elsewhere. We went through so much together, and I was the Mother that you needed, the Mother that you deserved. If I had to protect you, I would get broken again and again, just to see you safe.

Then, they took me away from you. I had been careless and the police finally caught up to me. I felt my heart tear into pieces as they restrained you, you screamed my name and I screamed yours back, holding out my arms trying to hold yours. However, you had become a small speck in the distance, fading away until you were nowhere to be seen.

Thank you, for teaching me to love, to feel, to become somewhat human. Initially, I simply existed, a machine with no dreams, no mind of its own. After meeting you, I became truly alive, feeling the wonders and pains of living on this Earth. I am going to be punished for my crimes but do not worry for me. I sincerely hope that they will find you better parents, especially a Mother who will love you more than I ever did.

If they don’t, however, I will come back. I will save you, be your vanguard, which is how things have always been, how things will always be. I do not care if I have to be deactivated and awakened a million times just so I can reach you. I do not care if they break me all over again.

The pain that I suffer, it’s worth it all for you.


Rachel Goh

S4 Wisdom


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Tiny glass spheres

Each with a small burst

Of vivid colour

I see my whole life

Reflected in these miniature globes

As a child

Flicking them across the hot sand

Claiming them from other children

With raucous laughter and shouts of ‘I’m the winner!’

As a teen

Coming across them when I cleaned out my room

Rolling them absentmindedly in my palm

And thinking of simpler times

As an adult

Older, but not any wiser

Watching my children play with them

As I once did

And now, as an old man

Staring at them on the wooden table

Each one seems like an insurmountable task

Slowly I raise my trembling fingers

Fumble, and drop them to the floor

Where they clatter with a mournful sound

This poem is about someone who suffered a stroke and has to pick up marbles as part of his physical therapy. He ends up musing about the different roles marbles have played in his life

Ashley Sia

1 Purity



                                         My friends and classmates, they tell me,

                                         I am fine, I am doing well,

                                        Thinking, without being aware of the big picture,

                                        How on earth can a girl so young have demons?

                                        Not those ghastly devils six-year-olds are afraid of,

                                        But rather, the gruesome demons inside us,

                                        That can actually have the potential to attack.

                                         However, what they have all failed to know,

                                         Is that Anorexia and insecurities,

                                         They are embraced by my demons.

                                         My demons are desperate for them.

                                         The more my demons accept them,

                                         The more my spirit gets devoured.

                                          For my daily ritual, which I have adopted since age ten,

                                          I stretch my small, beady eyes wide open,

                                          So wide, the frustration and anger in me,

                                          Are able to flow like a stream,

                                          Down my chubby cheeks, as called by my demons.

                                          I attempt to squeeze in the “ layer” as tight as I can,

                                          Against my pathetic ribs, crying out to my demons to stop.

                                          However, they will not.

                                          I flinch every time someone offers me food,

                                          I starve until I can bear no more,

                                          Only because I am afraid I might die.

                                          Die, with the demons still celebrating inside my head.

                                          no salt, no carbs and definitely no sugar.



                                          Away from the demons?


                                          Run, for three miles every day.

                                          Exhausting? I do not care.

                                          I deserve it anyway.

                                         Sooner than you think, my friends,

                                         The pitiful, ugly and FATigued girl you see,

                                         Will turn into a pile of ash

                                         Of mere dread and anger.

                                          Htoo Myat Noe







Gone were the days of old

where we laughed, cried and told

to love the winds of growth

to hear the chimes of gold.

It took you far away

and led you astray

and yet I simply wonder

if you had made a blunder.

Shrieks of pain outlawed

the clouds of change foresaw.

Dictated was your freedom

Forgone was your wisdom.

You became a husk

empty, mindless, weak.

The glimmer that was seen

Flickered, faltered and faded.




All descriptions of the heart

But what is worse, mon amie-

Not knowing, or not acting?

Reflection: This poem was written to reflect close friends who have drifted apart due to circumstances surrounding their family and how one sees the other have her spirit broken from life’s trials and turbulences. It places an emphasis on how a relationship can drift apart easily but at the same time provide a clarity to the situation each other is placed in.


Yeo Hui Min Mandy

3 Wisdom

Only 30

only 30

It’s a pain to be an adult

So many responsibilities

Too many taxes and bills

Folks depending on you

Crushes your young soul

Shatters your fragile hope

Bullies are now colleagues

Parents are now memories

Games- now just a dream

And the world is now sour

Appearance is everything

Rest is now just a fantasy

A lover is now just a boss

And enjoyment long gone

Unicorns are stupid myths

Pixie dust just doesn’t exist

Wonderland’s no longer real

Cookies, hugs and lullabies

Replaced by crucial contracts

No more rolling ‘round in mud

No longer happily prancing

It’s time to stop and grow up…

Valerie Tan

1 Grace



What if we were not different,

what if you had stayed the same?

What if we never met,

would you still have been so blue?

What if i had meant something to you,

instead of the usual nothing.

Would we still be friends?

Maybe something more than that?

Or would everything remain unchanged?

Unlike our numbers, rearranged.

Angelica Chiw

1 Wisdom

In Another Universe

in another universe

I push the door open with the strength of the frustration welling inside me combined. With thundering footsteps, I storm to my room and slam my bag down to the floor. Their words, spoken to me just half an hour before, echo in my mind, not wanting to leave me alone. I wonder, what is it with me? Why do I have to be so different from the others? Why can’t I be a normal girl who leads a normal life? The thoughts burst out in my head like raindrops on a particularly rainy day. However, soon, the jazz music oozing from my aunt’s bedroom upstairs soothes and distracts me a little at the same time.

In another universe, happiness would have rained down on me instead.

 Pulling out my hair tie, I then proceed to position myself in front of the mirror and mark out all the things that make me different, a daily ritual I seem to have adopted once I arrived in this town. The thin scars that spot my skin; the too-dark skin; the wounds which never seem to heal. All part of me, and not once did anybody accept that. I gaze into the hazel-brown orbs looking back at me.

In another universe, I would be the most beautiful. I would be the most welcomed.

 My aunt’s voice calls out from somewhere above, like the whispers of the trees in midnight. Or like when you are underwater, sinking in the deep ocean, and everything seems so far away and dream-like. I continue staying rooted to the spot. The harsh words uttered to me still linger in my mind, refusing to let go.

In another universe…

 As I stand in front of the mirror, staring at my reflection, I look into that other universe.


Chloe Tan

1 Unity



Mother’s embrace

Mother's embrace

A warm hand covers the forehead,

Bare and pale.

A warm smile

Lightens up the room

And speaks more than words can express,

The love for a helpless lamb .


The kid learns to walk,

Held afloat by the invisible strings of patience

And the helping hands of anticipation.

But as life takes its turn,

The teenager walks away from the hand that

Fed it.


The Mother still awaits,

Anticipating his return though the signs point to

“Maybe not”,

Like his replies every reunion invitation.

“I’ve got my own kids now,”

He said as an excuse (with hope of understanding).


And the Mother does understand,

Without a shred of complaint,

She lets her son carry on on his

Journey of life.

For she realised that you don’t learn to walk

Just to stay in the same place.


And when the son realised he needed

To feel his Mother’s warm embrace

Once again,

His mother’s arms were already open




Jaime Ng (3 Truth)

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Short Stories/ Poetry: If time could stop

Germaine Poetry


it will be

with the strange softness

that we set off with 4:27 pm on

our minds, an ever lingering

sensation of your racing car heart

and the tension on my mind.



i dream a dream of a dream,

of people floating into a void

of memories, and

of the quiet, where we venture

into the open space of a world

where worry is a word that

lacks a meaning



but reality is a flash of a photograph

sweeping us off our feet.

and we float (yes, we float)

on storm clouds like water droplets

to rain into the universe of the

hopefully serene reality.



these days we sit in hallways,

legs crossed and heads bent,

craned in the search of sound.

but only the quiet returns.


Germaine Ong (3 Purity)