Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

The Last Goodbye

You don’t know the impact you have on this world until you are gone and by then, it’s too late.

***

This morning you woke up dead. You made your way, rubbing the sleep from your eyes, heading to the washroom to get ready for your day. Your sister is in the bathroom doing her makeup like she always is when you get there, but today each time she tries the tears make tracks down her cheeks, makeup smearing everywhere.

You finish getting ready and head downstairs for breakfast. Your mother sits there, her hands in her head. Your favourite food sitting there untouched and cold. Your father is there too. The air is strained. You can feel the tension between them. Each blaming the other without saying as much. You wolf down your breakfast and head out the door.

You arrive early for work, as usual and prepare for the coming day. You set out your to do list, check your emails and make sure everything is ready for when your boss comes in. Everything in its place. Everything perfect. Everything that needs to be dealt with, itemized, prioritized.

You head down the hall and make yourself a tea and settle in. Your day always begins before everyone else’s and ends long after everyone is gone home to be with their families. This is all you have. This is all you’ve ever had and you throw yourself into your work. You’re extraordinary. Irreplaceable. But you’ve never seen yourself in that light. All you see are the mistakes. The imperfections. Never good enough. After all, there’s always room for improvement. You believe that, but you’ve always been harder on yourself than anyone ever could be. You’re just a failure in your eyes. Just another assistant. Just a worthless pinprick in a world full of people who are far superior to you in every way. Your time, your opinion, none of it matters. But you still try, try so hard because you can’t stand being anything less than perfect. You’re so afraid to make a mistake. So afraid to admit you’re wrong. You’ve created this idea of how your life should go. A timeline and you haven’t reached a single milestone. What you don’t see is all the things you’ve accomplished, all the things you are.

But you woke up dead. No one can see you. No one knows you’re there. 8 AM rolls around and your coworkers exchange a look. You’re always here. They whisper and wonder. Could you be sick? Your boss arrives, but thinks nothing of your absence. Maybe you just stepped away for a moment. He’s not worried. He trusts you and knows you are responsible. That if anything happened, you would’ve told him, like you had always done. Even when you’re sick, he finds you sitting there, ready to take on work. Even if you’re dying inside, you will never let your facade crack. He will never see your weaknesses. To him and to everyone, you can’t be anything less than a polished professional. To show otherwise would be unthinkable.

By 9 o’clock, there is talk around the office. Surely someone must know where you are. Someone must’ve seen you. They talk to your work best friend, but she hasn’t seen you since she dropped you off at home on Friday night and she hasn’t received a message from you since Saturday afternoon. People are starting to worry about you. She sends you a message and waits, but nothing.

They knew you as the girl with the easy smile and upbeat attitude. You always had a kind word for everyone and you tried your best to make everyone feel welcome. You were shy and quiet, but that didn’t stop you from becoming involved. Your laugh was infectious. You kept to yourself mostly, but you had a reputation. Everyone who knew you knew one thing. You were reliable. They could trust you to keep your word. Always.

But no one knew that deep down inside, you hated yourself. That nothing was going right for you. You didn’t want to go home at night. The fights were getting worse. The screaming, the crying. Doors slamming, plates smashing. You tried to tune it out. Closing the door, plugging in. But no matter how you tried, locking yourself in your room was never the answer. You felt like a prisoner within your own home.

Left to your thoughts, you began contemplating ending it all that after a while, it became the norm to dwell on these thoughts. You would muse to yourself as you entertained the thought. You just couldn’t keep this up anymore. You just weren’t strong enough to keep fighting. You stopped feeling a long time ago. Everything was cold and numb now. Sometimes you would hurt yourself just to make yourself feel something. Everyday was just about going through the motions. Anxiety and paranoia consumed your life. Over and over, you kept telling yourself that no one could ever love someone like you. That you would never amount to anything no matter how hard you tried. This sad existence was all you had.

You were just tired of trying. You’d come home from work feeling tired and you would go to work tired. An exhaustion that wasn’t just physical, but reached into the depths of your soul. Your body had just given up. You couldn’t keep going on like this for much longer. How could you when you couldn’t even make a difference? You were just a drop of water in an endless sea.

Sleep didn’t come easily to you anymore, subsisting on 4-5 hours of sleep each night. Stressing about every little thing. Your to do list was endless. There was always going to be work to be done. You’d never be done, never have the satisfaction of accomplishment. Each time you finished something, there was always something to take its place. You could never just enjoy celebrating the small victories. There was always something to be done. And soon, you found that crying was the only way you could get any sleep at all. You’d just tucker yourself out each night, waking up with reddened eyes. Nothing a little makeup couldn’t fix. And soon, it didn’t matter anymore. You stopped taking care of yourself. What was the point? Who were you dressing up so pretty to impress? No one would care to look your way anyways.

But still, something drove you to keep concealing it. Every morning, you put on a smile and you go out into the world to what you did best. Pretending that everything was okay. You try so hard at your job, but for what? Why did it matter so much to you? Nothing you did ever made a difference.

It’s 10 AM and the call finally comes. You stand at his door, about to drop off your latest report and you just watch as your boss’ face collapse. He stops, unable to react, to feel.

How?

How could something like this happen?

To you. Someone who felt so replaceable, you don’t understand. There would be others like you. Others who could do your job so much better than you. But there aren’t. There aren’t people out there who can learn on the job as fast as you did. There aren’t people out there who are as committed as you to your job. People out there aren’t as meticulous as you were.

You called yourself crazy. Psycho even. The way you wanted things just so. You were organized beyond organized. Your systems had systems. And you always made things more complicated than they ever had to be. But they worked for you and no one else could see or understand. You found joy in this, even if you didn’t see it. Everything had its place. Everything had a purpose.

You went for a walk and you never came home that night. They found your body floating in the river, miles away from the place you called home. You just wanted the numbness to go away. You wanted to feel something. Anything.

The water looked so beautiful. So calm, reflecting the colours of the sunset. Sunset had always been your favourite time. The way the colours intermingled gave you a sense of calm in a life that you felt none. Nature had a way of making you feel when nothing else could. It made you want to return to it, become a part of it. That’s all you could think of when you plunged into the cold water.

For a moment, you felt alive. Truly alive. Blackness and burning. Peace. Then nothing.

It seemed so long ago you were happy. Truly happy. You had disappeared inside yourself. You didn’t want anything to do with people anymore. Each day came and went and you became more and more alone because inside you were safe. You could continue to live in the utopia you had in your memories. You could go back to a time when you could still feel emotions. You lost touch with the world around you, but that didn’t matter because you found solace in your solitude.

Once in a while the real you would slip out. You would feel, express anger, sadness, disappointment, jealousy, but you would always apologize for it. It wasn’t proper to show people how you truly felt. You always had to pretend. To be courteous, even to those you hated with a burning passion. While there weren’t many of those in your life, the hatred made you feel more alive than anything. So you sought it out. You would put yourself into situations that would hurt you. That would make you feel those toxic emotions because feeling those was better than feeling nothing at all.

At your funeral you see faces you never expected, paying their respects. Tears, real, actual tears being shed for you. You never knew that so many people cared. Or perhaps they didn’t. Perhaps they were only showing up to be seen. To pretend to show the world they cared, when they really (rightfully), didn’t give a shit about you. You find it hard to believe that anyone would’ve gathered here today for you.

The only ones you truly know about are the ones who you call your closest friends and family. You study the faces of your friends and family twisted in anguish and you wish you could stop their pain. These were the people you loved the most. The people you would’ve done anything for. The people you would’ve protected with your dying breath. And yet, they sit here today, doing the only thing they can. To gaze upon your lifeless body and ask themselves why. To ask themselves what they could’ve done to help you. But there’s no answer. The only one who would’ve known is you and they can’t reach you anymore. You never knew that these were truly people you could’ve gone to. To talk to. But it’s too late. Your choice brought you to where you are today.

Seeing their pain, you wish you could take it all back. But it’s too late.

***

*inspired by a (fictional) story I read about someone who committed suicide and saw the impact they actually made on those around them and combined it with a prompt I had written on years ago (prompt: you’re attending your own funeral). If you are experiencing feelings or thoughts of suicide, please reach out. There’s always someone who cares about you. Or please call your local suicide crisis line. There’s always help out there if you need it. And always, I’m here to listen if you need. You are loved. Do not forget that.

Advertisements

Fame

Prompt: Be inspired/Tell the Story behind your favourite song
Song: Hotel California – Eagles

After a long week at work, it was wonderful just to relax by taking a long solo drive.  Living in the desert, late night drives were the most ideal; a welcome relief to the scorching heat.  So right after work, I just took off without dinner or anything; a decision I would regret later.

Some evenings, when I drove out there, I would pull over on a dark desert highway, get out of my car, and standing barefoot, feeling the fading warmth.  Some evenings I would sit along the side of the highway, waiting for the stars to come out.  On the rare evening, I could even feel the cool wind in my hair and the lingering warm smell of colitas rising up through the air.

Driving allowed me to relax in ways that knitting or reading relaxed other people, but this evening I let my mind wander a little more than I should’ve, ending up farther than I usually went at that time.  It was getting pretty late and being as exhausted as I was, driving back was no longer an option.  I was in the middle of nowhere and ready to resign myself to pulling over and sleeping in my car when, up ahead in the distance I saw a shimmering light.  My  head grew heavy and my sight grew dim.  Though I knew I was tired when I got off work, I didn’t realize how destructive combination of lack of sleep and of food was on me.  I had no choice; I had to stop for the night.  I stared again at the light flickering on the horizon, blinking a couple times and rubbing my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.  Nope, the light was still there.

That gave me some hope, but a nagging part of me asked, “What if it’s a psychopath living there waiting to chop you up?”  I quickly shook the thought out of my head.  I was hungry, I was tired and that place was starting to look pretty damn good.  I didn’t care who it was in there.  If I was lucky I was just overreacting, as usual.

I pressed on ahead towards the property.  As I got closer, it dawned on me that it was not a house, but a beautiful limestone building that had been converted into a hotel.  I was a sucker for beautiful historical buildings and pulled into the first available parking stall, noting a shadowy figure standing in the doorway.  Exiting my vehicle, I approached the entrance and there she stood in the doorway.  From somewhere within, I heard the mission bell and I was thinking to myself, “this could be heaven or this could be Hell.”

Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way down a long, well lit hallway to the reception.  There were voices in the corridor.  I thought I heard them say, “Welcome to the Hotel California, such a lovely place, such a lovely face.  Plenty of room at the Hotel California. Any time of year,  you can find it here.”  I passed off what I heard as a hallucination from exhaustion and hunger, but as I walked into the reception area, the desk clerk greeted me with the words I thought I had heard earlier, “Welcome to the Hotel California.  We have plenty of room at the Hotel California.  Any time of year, you can find it here.”

I was handed a room key and escorted to my room by another staff member.  I looked around for the woman who brought me to the reception, but she appeared to have vanished.  Her face, so beautiful, forever burned into my memory.

I slept quite well that night, but each time I woke I could hear the murmurs of life around me.  It was as though this was the hotel that never slept.  Even on the fifth floor, I could hear the desk clerk welcome people to the Hotel, regardless of time.

The next morning I went down to the main dining room for breakfast and saw the woman from the evening before already in her bathing suit, splashing in the pool.

“She’s pretty cute, ain’t she?”
“Oh-”
“Relax.  You’re not the first to think that.”
“Oh?”
“Yeah, but you couldn’t afford her.  Not for long anyways.”
“What do you mean?”
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends.
“I’m sorry?”
The stranger smiled, “And ever notice she got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, she calls friends?”
“What she does is her business.”
“I agree, but when it happens at Hotel California, it’s everyone’s business.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look how they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat…” said the stranger, changing the subject, “Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.
Before I could ask he what he meant, he got up and disappeared.

It was the weekend so I thought I’d stick around for a little bit longer.  Besides, I never took vacations, this was my chance.  A weekend became a week and a week became a month and before I knew it, I had been so immersed in Hotel California’s culture I didn’t want to leave.  Why would I?  I had everything I wanted here.  It was always warm and beautiful.  And there were so many interesting people around.

I was timid at the start, but that quickly changed.  Days spent by the pool left me hungering for a drink,  so I called up the Captain.

“Can I help you, sir?”
Please bring me my wine.
He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.”
“Oh…well…what do you have?”
“I meant-we do have wine.  What would you like?”
“But you said-”
“Never mind that.  How about the 2011 Screaming Eagle, Second Flight?”
“A Merlot…?”
“Yes, sir.”
“A glass would be fine.”
“Excellent choice, sir.”

Those months just came and went.  A total blur.  One day I was wondering what day it was and soon I forgot to wonder at all.  The days never got colder, the sun never stop shining. Everything began to blend together.  And still those voices are calling from far away. It would wake you up in the middle of the night just to hear them say “Welcome to the Hotel California.  Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.  They livin’ it up at the Hotel California, what a nice surprise bring your alibis.”

My reality had become lies.  Everything I did was layers upon layers of hiding who I was.  Soon I learned that a tragic past and a beautiful face were all I ever needed here.  There would always be someone ready to listen to your story, but not for the reasons you might think.  Fake sympathy, fake friends.  A masquerade.  All of us, building up the ammunition, hoarding it, just to bring you down.  I had to protect myself.  So I became like everybody else because you never knew what and when it would come in handy.

Sometimes, late at night, when I thought no one was listen, when I was truly alone.  I’d stare up at the ceiling, at the mirrors on the ceiling and think to myself, “Who am I?  What have I become?”

I used to think those mirrors were for admiring myself, but as time went on, I realized it showed me who I really was underneath all those lies.  And with each lie I told, a very real part me died.  That mirror became a record of the ugliness I had become.  That mirror was my portrait of Dorian Gray.

When the night is still with the faint call of the desk clerk in the distance like crickets and I am unable to fall asleep, I remember that day I was with her, sipping pink champagne on ice, staring off into the distance as we talked about our lives and she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”  Just the words and the way she said it struck me very oddly.

She was right, of course.  We were all here for a reason.  We were here of our own will and we could leave if we wanted.  Or at least that’s what we kept telling ourselves.  Many had tried.

There were whispers of a room for those trying to escape.  They would go upstairs and in the master’s chambers.  They gathered for the feast, and they stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.

They could not kill the beast for it was a part of them.  They had fed their devils lies and stifled their angel.  The beast grew stronger as the hero grew weaker until the hero was no more than a mere memory.

It was then I knew I had to leave.  To go, while I still could.  With the adrenaline pumping, I went for it. The last thing I remember, I was running for the door. I had to find the passage back to the place I was before.

The night man saw me and greeted me with a smile, but in my panic to get away, I couldn’t return that smile.
“Relax,” said the night man,  “We are programmed to receive.  You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
I looked at him in horror, “What do you mean?”
“Well, I’d say give it a try, but you’ll be right back here tomorrow.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“You say you hate all this.  That you want to go back to the life you had before.  To be the man, the woman you were before you came to paradise, but it just doesn’t work that way.  Once you’ve tasted freedom, you can’t go back.”
“How can you possibly believe this is freedom?”
“You’re free to come and go as you please, but I’ve been the night man here for over 65 years and I can tell you, everyone who has tried to defeat the beast has failed.  Even those who think they are better than the rest have failed, so what makes you think that you can succeed?”
I was stunned by his words.  I had no answer to his question.  If he had seen people as confident as I was that I was going to get away, fail and come back, he was right.  How was I ever going to succeed?

***

I look over the best years of my life and I still regret those stupid decisions I made in my youth.  They say that you will regret 100% of the things you don’t do, but as true as they may be, I look back and regret the decisions I did make.  At the time they were, what I thought to be great choices.  How wrong I had been.  I had destroyed my own life with so much luxury.  Partied way too hard.  Indulged myself one too many times.  Experimented with God knows how many combinations of drugs and sampled practically every alcoholic beverage known.

So many times I tried to stop, but somehow that lifestyle just kept dragging me back in.  I basked in all the attention I got because of the people I got to know, the secrets I had learned.  But how fulfilling were those relationships?  It is nothing to brag about now.  I was a fool then.  To think that this was all life amounted to.

If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be to never have experimented with the limelight.  All the attention, all the drugs, alcohol, men, women, and money.  I wanted it all, but could and would never get it.  It was a vicious cycle that would repeat indefinitely, that defied all rules of nature.  It was unnatural, yet it had once been my ideal, my paradise.  I understand now…too late.

 

Guilt Indebted

Prompt: “I got the last ticket.”

She carefully wrapped it in gold and silver paper.  All her savings had gone into it.  It was the very last one.

The next day, she went to school as usual, waiting until the end of the day to approach her best friend, Edna.

“I got you something as an early present.”

“Really?  What’d you get me?!”

Edna was the type of girl who had everything.  It was hard to surprise her with anything, so Lily really hoped that this would do it.

“Why don’t you open it, silly!”

Edna laughed, “Alright then.”

As Edna peeled back the gold and silver wrapping, her eyes grew wide, the smile vanishing, replaced with shock.

“How?” breathed Edna.

“I got the last ticket.”

Edna threw her arms around her friend, “Oh Lily!  This is the best thing in the world!  You’re amazing!  Did you know my family tried to buy tickets, but there were only three left from the place they were buying from?  I’m so glad I get to go with them!”

April 10, 1912

Lily went to the pier with hundreds of other spectators to see their friends and family off.  She waved and screamed with thousands of other even though she knew that Edna couldn’t see her.  She was so happy that she had been able to afford the chance to give her best friend such a momentous opportunity.

Inside, she was envious of Edna, but she knew she would never fit in with the rich folk.  That’s why she had been so surprised when Edna wanted to be her friend.  But their friendship blossomed over the years and they became inseparable.

Edna had a kind heart and gentle soul.  She never wanted Lily to go without nor did she want Lily to miss out on all the fun that her fellow classmates could afford.  You see, Lily was from the poorest of the poor.  Her parents could barely feed and clothe her, let alone send her to school.  Lily had met Edna in first grade and by third grade, they were up to all kinds of mischief.  That’s when the money ran out.  Lily’s parents wanted to pull her out of school, force her to get a job to support the family, but Edna stepped in.  Edna told Lily’s parents that she could not stand by and watch as their family suffered.  Edna promised that from that day on they would never have to worry about food on the table, or whether they could afford to purchase new clothes to survive the coming winter, or to send Lily to school.  Edna vowed that she would take care of them, not out of pity, but out of the belief that everyone deserved this basic kindness.

All this time, Lily had saved up, hoping one day she could repay her friend with a gift worthy of everything she had done for her.

Lily smiled.  This had been Edna’s dream ever since it had been announced to the public and Lily was happy she had been able to give something back to the best friend who had given her everything.

Then came the news.  April 15, 1912.  The whole neighbourhood was abuzz.  How could the unsinkable sink?

And all Lily could think was that she sent her only friend to her death.  How could fate be so cruel?

So Lily lived on, never knowing whether her friend had lived or died at sea.  Only in Heaven did she finally learn the truth.

 

Meet the Family

Prompt: Since you’ve been going out for quite some time, your boyfriend/girlfriend arranges for you to meet his/her parents. When you get to his/her house and enter the front door, you hear him/her say “I’m sorry” as the door closes behind you.

You turn to face him, but he seems to have vanished.  Before you, you see an old living room with furniture dating back to the Victorian era or earlier.  There are an assortment of people sitting on the sofas and armchairs, as if frozen in time.  It was as if you have stepped into Madame Tussaud’s , to a moment forever preserved, like page from a Jane Austen novel.  You swallow, the blood slowing in your veins, turning cold as your heart beats faster.  Your breathing has become so shallow, you’re not even sure how your cells are getting enough oxygen.
“What is this?” you wonder to yourself.
Then the room springs to life.
“So you’re the new girl.”
“Pretty young thing, isn’t she?”
“Almost too young for our Thomas.”
“But he chose her.”
“Did he now?”
“She looks just like-”
“Don’t.”
“But doesn’t she?”
“Don’t say that.  Thomas won’t like it.”
“Oh, we mustn’t be rude.  Come in, come in child, welcome to our home.  Please, sit!”
You are immediately swarmed by six or seven women, ushering you towards the sofa.  As you sit, Thomas reappears with a tray of tea.
“Sorry about that…” he said sheepishly.
“Don’t ever do that to me again!”
“I didn’t mean to…well, when I mentioned that we had been dating and…well they all wanted to meet you.  I din’t know what to do but to bring you by…so this is my family…all of them.”
“You really scared me, you know, vanishing like that.”
“I’m sorry…”
You sigh, taking the final cup of tea from Thomas, as he joins you on the sofa.  One by one, he introduces you to each of his family members.  There are aunts and great aunts, cousins and second cousins, his mother, his sisters, and grandmother, but something is odd.  There are no men, no fathers, brother, uncles…
“This is your whole family?”
He nods.
You bite your tongue.  It might be rude to ask.  Whenever he had talked about his family, he had only mentioned his female relatives, but only now did it really sink in how strange that really was.  Maybe a few would make sense, but could all of them be unmarried, divorced, or widowed?  That seemed too much of a coincidence.
“Something troubling you, my dear?”
“No…I’m sorry.  I can be a little spacey at times.”
His mother smiled and the rest smiled in sync.
“Are you hungry, dear?  Thomas, why don’t you fetch the cakes?”
“Yes, mother.”
“Let me come with you,” you say, quickly following him to the kitchen.
“You didn’t have to.”
“I know, but I wanted to ask…”
“Why there are no men?”
You look away awkwardly, giving him the answer he needed.
“I’m the first male born in this family  in over four centuries…my family is…special.”
“But how…?”
“It cannot be explained by science or any manner of natural law.”
“Yes, but-”
“How are we making out in here?”
“Excellently, mother. ”
“Everything’s alright?”
“Yes, Elsie’s just a curious soul, that’s all.”
His mother smiles at you again, “Dear, what is it you want to know?  We have no secrets between us here.”
“I…just didn’t want to be rude.”
“Nonsense.”
“Why-How can there be no males in the family, with the exception of Thomas?”
Each of his mother’s smiles grew more and more unsettling.
“Come, sit, and enjoy Thomas’ cakes.  We’ll tell you the story of our family.”
Reluctantly, you follow his mother back to the living room, with Thomas bringing up the rear.
“Elsie, do you love Thomas?”
“Yes.”
“Enough to be with him forever?”
“Well…I-I would, if he’d have me.”
“I think he would.  Isn’t that so, Thomas?”
“Yes, Aunt Beryl.”
“Shall we tell her?  What you think, Grandma Edith?”
“Do you think she’ll react as badly as the last one?”
“What do you mean the last one?”
“Thomas’ previous girlfriend.”
“What happened?”
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“Yes.”
“Alright then, but we must warn you, once you go forward, you cannot go back.”
“Logically, yes, that would be true…”
“Very well.  But before we proceed, we must know, how important it is for you to have a man in your life.”
You stare at them blankly, trying to understand what this has to do with anything.  On the one hand, this is a family consisting of only women…could that have something to do with everything?
“I…It’s not absolutely necessary, I suppose.  It’d be nice to be in a relationship with one before I have his child, but…there are other ways to have children.”
“True.  And what do you think about the roles men and women play in society, generally?”
“Well, I believe that a man and woman can be equal in skill and ability, if afforded the same opportunities.  There are, of course, physiological adaptations that have made men stronger than women, so in that instance, they would be better suited for the task.  So roles should be assigned based on what each individual can do best rather than by gender.”
“Well, I like you more than I liked his ex already.”
You laugh nervously, unsure what to expect next.
“We are the women of all time.  From past, present, and future.”
“What does that even mean?”
“We are not born, but created.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“It means, out of all the women in history, we were chosen, melded together into one family through interweaving our DNA with one another.”
“And Thomas?”
“An anomaly.”
“You see, Thomas didn’t fit into his role in life as a “man” in his time.  The first of many.  Thomas could have been any one of them, but the choosing is always random.”
“So…were each of you…conceived?”
“We were once and we are in the sense that we are born from a womb again into this life, but we are, as Grandma Edith said, created, not born.”
“So…your purpose is?”
“To show the world that these gender norms are outdated and need to change…but we’ve never been able to change the outside world…we are confined here.”
“Why?”
“Because we cannot step foot into a world that isn’t ours…we must be invited to.”
“Is that why I’m here?”
“Well…sort of.”
“What do you mean sort of?  Am I or am I not?”
“You’re here because Thomas loves you and wanted to introduce you to us.  He said you were strong and opinionated.  A breath of fresh air out in the stifled world.  That you would, if you could, bring about change.  And he thought maybe we could help each other.”
“What do you mean?
“You’re young and there are consequences to your actions.  How it will reflect on you, your family, and anyone affiliated with you, is something you constantly worry about.  Well, we thought, perhaps, together, we could come up with a safe platform and location to initiate change.  You are not the only one in the world who believes what they believe.  We want to help.”
You look at them hopefully.  For the first time, you see your dreams coming true.  Everything you worked so hard for coming to life.  You nod and smile.
Today is the beginning of everything.

Of the Small Things

Prompt: How did you end up with that much?

She looked over at him.  Just a glance at first, but something made her do a double take.
“Wait a minute!”
“Hmm?”
He looked up, his mouth full of ramen noodles.
“How did you end up with that much?!”
“Of what?” he said, continuing to shove noodles in his mouth.
“That,” she said pointed to the noodles.
He looked at his bowl and then at hers and back at his and shrugged.  Her pouted and started inching closer to his bowl with her chopsticks.  A smiled tugged at the edges of him lips as he tried to conceal what he was about to do next.  Slowly, he began to inch his bowl away from her.
“Stop it!”
“Stop what?”
“Moving away from me!”
“I’m not!”
“You so are!”
With a swift motion, she drove her chopsticks into his bowl.  With his, he clamped down on hers, effectively preventing any movement.
She let out the most irritating whining screech that annoyed the hell out of everyone except for him; he found it endearing.  He laughed as she pouted again.
“Oh, come on babe.  I’m kidding, you can absolutely have some.”
“YAY!” she squealed at a pitch that was only audible to dogs.
He smiled again wrapping his arm around her waist.
And he thought he was the luckiest guy in the world.

Fated One

Prompt:  write a red string soulmate story.  (Every pair or group of soulmates are connected by a red string.)

She looked down at the red string tied to her pinky and imagined all of the exciting places it might lead to. It had appeared yesterday, her 18th birthday, as a sort of happy birthday adventure.  That day had been filled with so much joy.  Her friends had all found their soulmates long before then and she was the last one, but she knew that whoever it was on the other end, it was worth the wait.  Today, she would follow it to where it would end.
Maybe it was a prince from a far off land or a celebrity from Hollywood that she had been dreaming about for so long.  She hoped that her adventure would take her through countries she had never been and allow her to meet new people.  She wanted to appear cultured when she met her soulmate.  The truth was, she had grown up poor.  Her parents had never been able to afford anything more than the basic necessities for their family, sometimes not even that.  But her parents had always loved her.  That was more than she could say for some of her classmates.
She finished packing the last of her belongings, everything she owned fit into a backpack.  She shared one last meal with her family before departing, promising to bring whoever it was she met to her parents before introducing them to her friends and classmates.  One final hug from each of her parents.  With a tear in her eye, she set off to find the one at the end of her string.
Each night, she stopped when she was tired. She would cook her dinner over an open flame and stare at the stars, dreaming of the one, until she fell asleep.  Day after day, the string grew shorter and shorter as she approached her soulmate.  Day after day, that was her routine, until the string led to the edge of the ocean.
“Excuse me.”
“Yes?”
“Are you able to take me across the ocean?”
“Not in my boat, I’m sorry.  It’s too small for the violent storms farther out there.  Try the docks.  Maybe someone can take you out from there.”
“Thank you.”
She continued along, her string growing longer as she headed towards the docks.  When she arrived, she found it alive with the hustle and bustle of fishermen.  None of them paid her any attention, everyone was trying to get their fish to the market first so that they could boast that they had the freshest fish.  She stayed by until someone finally noticed her.
“Whatcha doing here, little lady?”
“I was hoping someone could take me across the ocean,” she said holding up her pinky.
The fisherman smiled knowingly and nodded, “Sure, hope on board, I’ll take you across.”
Her days at sea were by far the most exciting she had ever experienced.  She had never been this far out on the water.  The danger and uncertainty was exhilarating.
Sometime during the night of her third day at sea, she felt someone shake her awake.
“What is it?  Have we run into some trouble?”
The fisherman shook his head and pointed to her string.  It went straight down.
“It’s underwater?”
“That’s what appears to be happening.”
“How?  How do I get to my soulmate now?”
“The fisherman shrugged, “I have some diving gear.  We can try tomorrow if you’d like.”
She nodded and he left her cabin so that she could get a few more hours of sleep.
The next morning they suited up and dived as far as they could, but even so, her string continued to extend downwards.  She wanted to keep going, but the fisherman shook his head, pulling her up towards the surface.  Reluctantly, she followed.
“I’m sorry girl,” said the fisherman when they returned to the boat, “We can’t go that far down.  The pressure would kill us.”
She nodded in agreement.
The fisherman turned the boat around, returning her back the way she had come.  From there she ventured home to her waiting parents and broke the news to them.
As sad as she was, she was glad to be back home with her family, her parents whom she knew loved her not some elusive soulmate she had never met and never knew if he could love her.

***

She was nearing her 30th birthday when her parents passed away.  They had spent the last years of their lives in misery as the idea of passing their own debt onto their daughter gnawed at them.  Even as she reassured them that she was thankful for the life they had provided her, they both felt like they hadn’t been good enough parents.  On their deaths, the bank foreclosed on their home, taking it for payment of their years of debt, leaving her homeless.
Living on the streets, she decided that she would try one last time to find her soulmate.  She followed the string again, leading her to the edge of the ocean, but this time, she was able to make it to the other side.  She continued her adventure until it led her into a cemetery.  Her heart skipped a beat.  What if she had waited too long and her soulmate was dead?  Why hadn’t her soulmate tried to find her all these years?
She stopped outside of a mausoleum, debating whether she should go inside or not.  A part of her felt scared, more so now because the sun had begun to set, but she ventured inside and continued to follow the string up to a stone coffin.
“This is way too creepy,” she thought backing away.
She headed back up, but heard the sound of stones scraping against one another and ran as fast as she could out of there.  She didn’t stop to look behind her, just kept running, but the footsteps behind her grew louder and louder.
“For God’s sake, stop running!”
She froze at the sound of his voice.  Turning around very slowly.  She was afraid who or what she might see behind her.
“Hello.”
“Uh…hi?”
He was a young man with striking blue eyes and the darkest brown hair you had ever seen.  He smiled at her and held up his pinky with a red string attached, “Looks like we’re soulmates.  What took you so long to find me?”
“Uh…well…the first time my string vanished into the ocean and uh…well just now, into a-a-somebody’s tomb.”
“And?”
“It’s a little creepy?”
“Oh…really?  I thought it would be cool.”
“What?”
“Yeah, you know?  Like we’ve been waiting for each other for like 12 years and there like the sense of uncertainty?  And you know, when you walk into a mausoleum you’re uncertain what to expect?  No?  Is that just me?”
“I think so…”
“Oh…”
“So, why didn’t you ever try to come find me?”
“I did.”
“When?”
“Well…I couldn’t exactly fly for a while.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Fly like a bat out of Hell?  You know what that’s like right?”
“Hell?  You’re from Hell?!”
“Yeah.”
“Are you dead?”
“That’s not a very nice question to ask.”
“Aren’t people in Hell because they’ve been damned for eternity?”
“Um…not that I’m aware of.  I was born down there with my mom and my dad and five annoying brothers and an overbearing sister.”
“Wow…”
“What?”
“That’s not what I expected.”
“What did you expect?”
“I dunno, fire?”
He laughed, “That’s ridiculous.  Everyone knows that Hell isn’t on fire.”
“I don’t know that.”
“You don’t.”
“No.”
“What other funny stories do you humans have about us?”
“Something about the Devil and demons.”
“Well we do have those, but I’m not cool enough to be one.”
“Cool enough?”
“How about I tell you over dinner?”

Asylum

Prompt: Setting: some establishment that serves your chosen drink. use the following scene as a starting point for your piece today (either directly or as a jumping point, it completely up to you):
She stared at her venti, extra hot, coconut mocha macchiato with two ristretto shots, caramel and mocha sauces and 12 pumps of vanilla syrup set down beside her and frowned.
“Hey, I didn’t order this!” she shouted at the waiter walking away.
“True, but I did.”
The chillingly familiar voice reached her ears before he sat down in front of her.
“Hello again.”
She froze.
It was impossible.  How could he be here?
She watched them take him away in the back of that police cruiser.
He brought his own cup to his lips, taking a sip and setting it down.
“Did you think you could get away from me that easily?”
She felt her throat tightening, the air refusing to reach her lungs.  This was a sensation she never thought she’d feel again.  But here she was.  Sitting in front of the only person who had made her feel that way.
“You-you-I saw.”
He smiled at her and chills ran down the length of her spine.
“You saw what you wanted to see, what you wanted to believe.”
“What-?”
“I was merely detained.  Never formally charged.”
“But-”
“Oh, darling.  You think they’d take your word over mine?”
“You-”
“Oh yes, but they’ll never believe you.  They didn’t the first time.  What makes you think they will this time?”
Her eyes darted away from him.  It was nearly imperceptible, but he noticed.
“There’s nowhere to run.  I own you now.  So why don’t you drink your coffee like a good girl and come quietly.”
“What did you do to it?”
“Nothing.  Drink it.”
“No.”
“I said, drink it.”
“NO!”
“Don’t be stubborn now.  You know what happened last time when you disobeyed.”
She shook her head, trying not to remember, but the human mind has a way of remembering things you try so hard to avoid.
“How did you find me?” she whispered.
He smiled again, “Easy.”
HOW?!” she demanded.
“You left me a trail.”
“No, I didn’t!”
“No?”
She shook her head violently.
He pulled out his phone and she flinched involuntarily.
“Don’t worry.  I’m not going to hurt you.”
He pulled up the call log and showed her.
“See, you called me.”
She stared at it in disbelief.  It was her number; she couldn’t deny that.  But he was the Devil.  There was no way she would have ever called him.  Maybe someone had borrowed her phone?  But how would they know his number?
“No, that’s not me.”
“Show me your phone.”
She was confident now.  She reassured herself that there was no way she had called him and confirmed that no one had borrowed her phone.  She pulled it out and pulled up the call log.  Her eyes widened in surprise.
Each call on her phone corresponded with one on his phone.
“This can’t be.  No, this must be some…some sick joke.”
“Oh darling, it’s really not.  You called me.  Told me you would be here.  Told me to go ahead and buy you a coffee when I got here so I wouldn’t startle you.”
“YOU’RE LYING!”
“I’m not.  You see, I didn’t pick up my phone at the time.  You left me a voicemail.”
He recalled the message and played it for her; it was her voice.
“That’s impossible,” she said faltering.
“That’s your voice.  See you told me to do all those things.  You asked to see me.”
“I…I don’t remember.”
“No?”
“I couldn’t have…I didn’t make that call…”
“But you did.  Who else could it have been?”
She stood suddenly, violently knocking the cup to the ground and making a run for it.  He sighed, standing calmly, smoothing out the creases in his suit.  Casually, he lifted a communication device and spoke into it, “Neutralize her, will you?”
She ran, looking behind her wildly.  He didn’t appear to be in pursuit, but she couldn’t slow down now.  It wouldn’t take long for him to catch up.  He was fast and sneaky like that.
Then it hit her like a brick wall.
She collapsed to the ground, looking around her stunned.  Slowly, the cafe and street began to disappear.  She could see beige padded walls and floors coming into view.
“No.  No!  NO! NOOOOOOOOOO!” she screamed.
And then just like that.  Silence.

She sat on the edge of the bed trying to catch her breath.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better…”
“Is she still in your head?”
“She’s crying in the corner over there…just rocking.”
“Don’t focus on her.”
“Is she going to be okay?”
“Yes.  She’s strong.  She will recover once she accepts her reality.”
“Are you sure?  She looks like she’s really hurt.”
“Don’t worry about her, okay?  We’ll take care of her.”
“Do you promise?”
“Yes.”
Two orderlies entered and he held his hand up, “Not now.”
“But sir…”
“No.”
“We were instructed to assist.”
“You want to assist?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Very well.  Help that young lady in the corner of the room out.  Make sure she gets the proper medical attention.”
The orderlies looked at one another in confusion.
“Um…sir…there’s nobody there.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“We said there’s nobody there.”
“You can’t see her?  There’s a little girl in the corner crying.”
“No, sir, there’s no one.”
He sighed, turning to the woman on the bed, “This will only take a moment.  Will you excuse me?  You should never rely on a fool to do your job for you.”
He walked to the girl in the corner, kneeling next to her, “Will you let me help you?”
She looked up at him with terrified eyes.
“I promise, I will take care of you and make sure no harm comes to you.”
The little girl looked over at the woman on the bed who nodded encouragingly.
He held out a hand to her and she grasped it.
“I will only be a moment.  I will return shortly,” he said to the woman in the bed.
“Thank you.”
He exited the room with the two orderlies into a hallway crowded with his peers.
“Dr. Moretti, you don’t truly believe there was a girl in the corner did you?” asked his colleagues.
“No.  But she did.  That world, that little girl was all real to her and to help her I had to see it too.”
“I see…that’s a very different approach.”
“Indeed, but it makes the patient much more receptive to treatment when you acknowledge their thoughts, their feelings as real.  They just want someone to be on their side, to tell them they aren’t crazy.  And they aren’t.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I promised her I would return.”
He re-entered the room and she looked at him hopefully.
“Does she have her own room?”
“Yes, with lots of toys.”
“You spoil her every time.  Thank you.”
“Now, how are you feeling?”
“A little more myself now.”
“Can I offer you a drink?”
“Oh, yes please.  What do you have today?”
“Well, let’s see.  Grape, pear or peach.”
“Hmm…well I had apple yesterday and I usually have orange tomorrow, so grape.”
“Okay, grape it is.”
“Are you going to have one too doctor?”
“Yes, I think I’ll have peach.”
“Come sit next to me and enjoy your drink.”
“Well thank you,” he said, sitting on the bed, handing her a plastic cup with juice.
“Cheers!”
She quickly downed hers and handed the cup back to the doctor.
“Thank you again, darling.  You take such good care of me…you’re more than I deserve.”
“Nonsense.  You have opened my eyes to another world, so thank you.”
She placed an arm around him and rested her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes.
“I’m sorry for all I’ve put you through.  Thank you for standing by me for all these years.”
“Of course, darling, but I have to go soon.”
She nodded, “I understand.  This has been nice.  Say hello to the children for me, won’t you?”
“I will.  I love you.”
“Forever and always.”

Tag Cloud