One Last Time

Daily Prompt – Strut

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/strut/

 

Morgan picked up her cell phone again and checked the time, two more minutes and Sam would be eight minutes late. She turned her phone off and put it back in her bag.

There hadn’t been many unoccupied tables in the busy library when Morgan had arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Their usual place at the back had already been taken, and she hoped Sam wouldn’t mind the only other choice. At least from her vantage point Morgan would be able to see Sam approaching, and he wouldn’t be able to sneak back out without her seeing him.

Morgan tapped her fingers on the book she’d picked out. She’d had it turned over so that no one could see the title on the front cover. Their meeting was bittersweet – the beginning of the end.

The door opened and pulled Morgan’s attention pulled away from the book. Sam stepped inside the library and glanced around the room. His strut toward a table full of girls was one of confidence bordering arrogance. His brilliant smile set off a chain reaction from the group of girls as one by one their faces erupted into toothy grins. Sam’s good looks and charm commanded attention. He leaned against the table, something he said made the girls giggle and flip their hair.

Morgan rolled her eyes and tapped the book as she waited for Sam. If she didn’t know him, she’d think he was full of himself. After a few more minutes of chit-chat, Sam headed toward their table, his strut as confident and sure as ever.

“Sorry.” Sam pulled out a chair and sat down.

“That’s okay.” Morgan pulled the book over and held it in her hands. “Are you ready?” She smiled; her eyebrows rose with her questioning voice.

“Do we have to do this today?” Sam looked around the full room. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed. The confidence he’d shown earlier had disappeared the moment he sat down. He looked more like a little boy than a young man of twenty-four.

Morgan nodded and placed the book in front of Sam. She reached across the table and gave his hands a squeeze. “You have come a long way. You should be proud. Own it. You exuded confidence with those girls back there.” Morgan tilted her head in the direction of the girls.

Sam shrugged. “It’s an act.”

Morgan squeezed Sam’s hands again. “You don’t have to act anymore, though maybe tone it down just a touch. You know – a little less full of yourself.” She smiled.

Sam gave a shy half smile and nodded. “Yeah, okay.” He flipped the book over and stared at the title and then lifted his eyes to meet Morgan’s.

Morgan nodded. “You can read now, Sam. Anything you want. No one will ever know that a year ago you struggled with Dick and Jane.”

“The Old Man and the Sea, by Earnest Hemingway,” Sam whispered the title. “Hemingway?” He looked back at Morgan.

“Yes, Sam, even Hemingway. Now let’s get started, I want you to read to me one last time.”

#SoCS – Shortcut/Cut Short – Take Heed

Harley stopped and stared down the alley. Her mother’s warning whispered in her ear. She shook her head. She had no choice, she would be late if she didn’t.

Harley looked up at the darkening sky. The wind picked up as black clouds swirled overhead, it was going to rain any second.

She stepped into the alley and froze in place. Something inside her told her to turn around but she fought the urge and continued. Her heart kept pace with her echoed steps. Harley swallowed down the fear that slowly rose from the pit of her stomach. Her mother’s voice whispered a little louder.

Pedestrians strolled passed the other side, close enough for her to see but far enough for them not to notice her.

Harley’s pace quickened, the feeling of being watched made the skin bump up on her arms. Almost there, she told herself loud enough to drown out her mother’s voice.

The sound of clanging behind her made her heart jump. Harley whipped around just in time to catch the glint of the blade plunging toward her. Why didn’t I listen, Harley’s mind cried out it’s final thought.

Harley’s body lay crumpled in a crimson pool. She would not make it home in time for dinner. Her life cut-short.

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Nov. 4/17

China Doll – a short story

So, a couple of weeks ago I entered a scary short story contest, and my story won second place. Since it’s Halloween, I thought I’d share it with you tonight.

The rules were simple, the story had to be 666 words in length and had to mention a location in the South Grenville (Ontario) area.

Enjoy!

“Rob!” Maggie pounded on the bedroom door; the light went out. “Rob!” she cried louder.

Maggie turned and pressed her back against the door and allowed herself to slide down to the floor like the tears on her cheeks.

Only a few hours ago they’d been enjoying their travels. They’d arrived at the bed and breakfast weary but happy. Their hostess, an old woman, had been accommodating.

I should have paid attention to my intuition, Maggie thought. But after her earlier experience at Fort Wellington, Maggie had believed her heightened sensitivity was more residual. After all, having the ability to sense spirits or other worldly entities needed to be tempered with logic. If she jumped at every slight temperature change or goosebump on her skin she’d be locked away.  And that mask, Maggie conjured up the memory of the strange horned mask hanging in the parlour as she continued to reconstruct the night’s events.

The old woman had told them she’d picked it up on her travels to Africa. She’d said it was used to ward off evil spirits. Finding the story interesting, Maggie had researched it herself. The old woman had been mistaken, the mask welcomed evil spirits.

Maggie opened her eyes and stared at the window at the other end of the room. The moonlight backlit a rocking-horse with a rag doll perched on top. Its hands tangled in the yarn mane. The sloped ceilings of the room drew Maggie’s eyes down to the twin beds on either side. Piled on each bed were numerous dolls. Maggie looked up at the dresser beside the door and into the glass eyes of a china doll.

A loud click brought Maggie to her feet. Her trembling hand tested the door knob. It turned in her grasp. Her heart raced as she tugged the door open to a darkened hallway.

“Rob?” she whispered.

The eerie ticking of the grandfather clock downstairs filled the black void, the only sound in Maggie’s ears apart from her thumping heart.

She tiptoed across the hall; her skin prickled. The door to the room she’d last seen Rob lay wide open and drew her forward. Maggie stopped outside the room and strained her ears. “Rob,” she managed a strangled whisper and stepped inside.

Maggie’s breath turned to vapour and billowed from between her lips. She shivered. The double bed they’d shared looked as though no one had slept in it. The chair where their suitcase had laid was empty.

Maggie’s throat ached as panic began to take hold. Had Rob left? She pushed the thought aside and left the room.

Maggie placed her hand on the ice cold railing and took a step. The stair creaked beneath her weight. As she took another, the grandfather clock struck three. Maggie jumped and grabbed the hand rail tighter.

Once at the bottom, Maggie entered the parlour; her gaze fixed on the empty space where the mask had hung.

A whisper of laughter caught her attention. “Rob?” Maggie called. She spied him sitting at a table; the old woman served him breakfast.

Maggie ran but stopped as her hands pressed against cold glass. Maggie banged on the window. The old woman stared at her. Suddenly, the whole room moved. Maggie watched as the old woman moved closer to Rob, Maggie called his name, but he did not hear her. The view of the room changed through the glass and Maggie saw the old woman once again standing in front of a mirror. Her face morphed into the mask and back again. Maggie gasped then she looked at the doll the old woman held in her hands. The woman raised the doll up and Maggie saw her reflection in the dolls eyes. She screamed. The old woman laughed and turned away from the mirror.

“This is Maggie.” The old woman placed the doll in Rob’s hands.

Maggie stared into Rob’s face. He could not see her, and Maggie would remain forever trapped inside a china doll.

 

 

Sticks and Stones

For the Daily Prompt – the word Superficial

 

Austin stared at the small wound on the back of his hand; a trickle of blood oozed from the broken skin. It was superficial, no need for stitches, even a bandage was unnecessary. He opened and closed his hand, testing out his knuckles. They were sore but nothing a little ice and time wouldn’t fix.

What happens now, Austin thought as he sat on the ground and leaned back against the brick building; his knees drawn up toward his chest. He closed his eyes and waited.

The groan came seconds later, but Austin didn’t open his eyes. When the sensation of another body beside him unnerved him for second Austin sat still and exhaled.

“Feel better?” Luke said.

Austin opened his eyes and looked at the guy beside him. Luke’s right eye had already swollen shut; a bluish tinge had begun to replace the reddened area. It wouldn’t be long before it was black as night. A trickle of coagulated blood ran down from Luke’s lip and stopped mid-chin.

“You should get some ice on that.” Austin closed his eyes.

“Where’d you learn to fight like that? I didn’t think you had it in you.” Luke chuckled.

“My brother.” Austin didn’t move.

“Should’ve thought. So do you?”

Austin looked at Luke again. “Do I what?”

“Feel better?”

Austin thought about it for a second. It did feel good for the time it lasted, now he felt remorse, at least for the moment; he was sure he’d get over it. Austin shrugged. “A little, I guess.”

Luke attempted a smile. The temporarily healed skin of his lip split again and fresh red blood dripped from the wound. He pressed a couple of fingers to his lips. “Well, you should.” Luke held out his hand.

Austin stared at the proffered hand. Dried blood streaked across the back of his knuckles. He narrowed his eyes. An area of on his left cheek bone stung a little; he hadn’t noticed it before.

The good side of Luke’s lip pulled into a partial half-smile. “Ya, I got at least one in.”

Austin patted the area with this fingertips. It was a bit tender but nothing more. If it hadn’t already discoloured it probably would. “Hmph! I guess you did.” Austin let his hand drop. He flexed and curled his fingers again.

“Well I better take-off.” Lucas rose to his feet. “Catch ya later.” He walked a few steps before he turned around again and looked down at Austin. “I guess I pretty much deserve this after all that time. Sorry about that.” Luke turned and walked away.

Austin remained seated. He leaned his head back against the hard brick and closed his eyes. He still felt bad for the fight and would never engage in something like that again, violence wasn’t the answer, he knew that for sure.

He inhaled and let his whole body relax with the exhale. He was glad he was older; he’d developed a thicker skin, though sometimes words still hurt, he shrugged it off. With Luke though, it had been a different story. Luke had tormented him when they were much younger and those words had cut deep into his psyche.

Sticks and stones, his mother’s voice whispered in his ear. Austin shook his head, a barely noticeable movement. They were always her attempt to soothe a teary eyed little boy who’d spent his day teased at school.

Superficial, Austin thought and looked at his hand again. Cuts and bruises hurt, but they didn’t leave behind painful reminders, not like the words – they were never superficial. The words shaped Austin. The words made him believe he was not good enough, made him question his choices, made him worry. No, the name calling wasn’t superficial, but Austin was determined they weren’t going to define him anymore. He was a work in progress, and while the words would forever remain, Austin would bury them as deep as he could under his successes.

Writerly Wednesday – Prisoner of Memories

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My skin prickled. Every hair stood on end, tugging my skin into bumps. I rubbed my arms as though to smooth away the tiny mounds and ease the memories.

“It looks rather sad, doesn’t it?” Griffin asked.

I sensed his gaze but I didn’t look at him. My eyes were glued to the old house. I nodded and swallowed down the sob that threatened to escape from my lips.

“We can go, if this is too much for you,” he whispered. His warm hand rested against my lower back. The pressure was comforting.

I faced him and forced a smile. “No,” I cleared my throat. “I’m okay.” I inhaled deeply and stepped closer. If I was ever going to be truly free I had to face my fears. It was bad enough that I had been imprisoned in that house; I wasn’t going to let my memories do the same.

Join the fun and create your own 150 word flash fiction story.

Flash fiction prompt provided by http://www.writerlycorner.com/writerly-prompts/writerly-wednesday-3162016

Please let me know what you think!

Writerly Wednesday – Flash Fiction – The Best Laid Plans

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Gwen scrunched her face and slowly squeezed the handbrakes. The piercing squeal of worn brake pads rubbing against rusted tire rims drowned out any other sound that may have entered her ears. Her blue bicycle slowly came to a noisy halt. Gwen slid from the seat and planted her feet firmly on the ground. Her cheeks were flush and her bangs clung to her forehead, damp with sweat.

She held tightly to the handlebars as she steadied the bike between her bare legs. She looked down at her hands, watching as her knuckles turned white. Gwen closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. As she slowly allowed the air to escape through her pursed lips, her heart rate slowed and her lids fluttered open.  She briefly curled her toes, the orange nail polish contrasted with the dark blue of her sandals. She stepped over the cross bar and laid her bicycle down on the side of the street. The bike’s stand had been broken off two weeks earlier.

Gwen stepped cautiously forward a few steps before stopping. She stared down at the orange striped cone standing guard on the street beside the sidewalk. Bright yellow police tape was still wrapped loosely around it. The street had been cleared the day before, the cone the only reminder of what had transpired.

It was supposed to be the best summer ever. Everything had been planned. Every day was going to be different. All winter long, Gwen and Jessie had planned their summer outings. They had a calendar, a day planner, they even had contingency plans. However, nothing could have prepared them for yesterday.

Gwen kicked the orange striped cone. It wobbled but remained tall. She wiped away the single tear that had rolled down her cheek. She had to get to the hospital; Jessie would be waiting for her, they had new plans to make.

Gwen picked up her bike and pointed it toward home. She scrunched up her face as she began to pedal away. What was it mom always said about the best laid plans?

Flash fiction prompt provided by http://www.writerlycorner.com/writerly-prompts/writerly-wednesday-2172016.