Category Archives: short story

I Believe

The first thing we noticed when we walked in was that it looked… old. Maybe old isn’t the right word. Out-dated isn’t right, either, because it was almost certainly done on purpose. It was antique. Antiquated. The carpet was thick, and the chairs had claw feet. Upholstered furniture with the type of golden-threaded patterns you would expect in Buckinham Palace. The artwork and the wall-paper didn’t help much either. That deep crimson laced with flashing gold. Old money. This place had been around. Kept up, too though. It was clean, well-lighted. Outside the window you could hear the indefatiguable sounds of the river rushing relentlessly to it’s massive drop. Niagra. All in all, it was beautiful. And we had finally made it.

The road trip began in Burlington, Vermont. By lunch time I had picked up my travelling companion in Massachusetts, and continued on to Pittsburg. Nightfall would see us cruising into Columbus, Ohio. Onward from our short stop in Ohio, we reached Chicago. Beautiful stay. Beautiful city. Two days later we had cruised back through Cleveland, the mistake by the lake, and were working our way up the lakes towards Canada, and our final stop on our semi-cross country trek.

The inn was well-known enough, by the standards of the town. Not cheap, but also not the most posh place around. There were spider webs in alarming numbers all down the wrought iron front fence, that separated the inn and it’s slightly over-grown landscaping from the promenade of pedestrian tourists.

I made no further thought of the spiders and was content to enjoy the last days of my journey with my sweet companion, in relaxation and good spirits. We made quick work of checking in, and I happened to find an old and battered copy of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary in the small library that doubled as the general waiting area for the inn. I dropped the book in my bag, after reading the first chapter, and walked from the waiting room to our suite.

It wasn’t long before we started to discuss the slightly creepy feelings that the room brought out in us. It definitely had the feeling of a room that has been through a lot. You could tell that it was old, and you could tell that you weren’t the first to have sat on those old divans. But the sound of the rushing water and the road-weariness that dragged on us were pleasant lulls.

As we sat listening to the water go by, we snapped a few pictures in the room. Us sitting bolt upright in the old armchairs, hands folded on our laps, poking fun at the decidedly stiff motif of our room. All we needed was a platoon of fox terriers around our feet, and the picture would have been complete.

After a bit of similar horsing around, we decided to take a short rest before getting ready for dinner. Lounging on the couch we both subtly turned our heads toward the door to the bedroom, and the bathroom inside there. It was clearly nothing. Just a rattling of pipes, or a breeze. But it certainly sounded like the door of the closet coming unlatched and opening into the bedroom. We couldn’t remember having closed it, particularly, but after furrowing our brows and staring into each others’ eyes for a short interlude, I got up to see what might have made the sound.

Well, the closet door was definitely open now. But maybe it was open before. Or maybe it just wasn’t closed all the way, the spring action in the door handle had been pressing the dead-latch against the frame. Eventually it built up enough pressure to push the door all the way open. Right?

In any case, the door should probably be shut. I shut it. Firmly.

By this time, we are pretty much done with the possibility of taking a nap. And I am pretty wary of picking up a Stephen King book when this room is clearly putting myself and my lady friend in such an agitated state. I decided to try some TV.

My companion headed to the bathroom for a shower, and I decided to turn the TV off and try to get a bit more shut-eye. I put the remote on the coffee table– one of the more modern-looking pieces of furniture in the room. It was glass-topped with a wooden frame around the outside edge, about an eighth of an inch tall. I remember being pleased that a pen would never roll off of it.

I remember looking out the window and wishing that I could open it all the way. Instead, I closed the small opening, to muffle the sound of the water. Minutes later, I am finally relaxing on my bed, with a wary eye still cast towards the closet door, to my left.

After a few minutes of listening to the shower run, I feel the same breathless sensation as when I heard the closet door open before. But this time, a noise had come from the other room, where I had just been minutes before. I sit bolt-upright, and think. I closed the window. The door is locked. Nothing should be making any noise. Especially not a sudden sound like that. It sounded like something had fallen or been knocked into something else. Something had fallen onto the carpeted floor.

Before my friend got out of the shower I went to investigate. A couple of deep breaths and glances around the room and I see what’s different. The remote. The same one I had just put down a few minutes before, is no longer on the coffee table, but on the floor a foot away.

At this point, I am down-right agitated. My neck hairs are standing on end, and I am starting to sweat. I’m not exactly a skeptic, I believe that there is a lot out there that we humans haven’t figured out yet. But I also wasn’t ready to brand myself as a “believer.” To this day, I have not been able to come up with a satisfactory explanation as to how a half pound TV remote could move itself a foot, lifting itself over the lip on the edge of the table, and clatter down on the floor, in an empty room.

When my lady friend emerged from the bathroom, she found me looking distraught, sitting on the couch. I told her what had just transpired, and she couldn’t help but believe what I told her.

She walked back into the bedroom, to get ready for dinner. She cleaned up quickly and was cautiously pawing her way around the rooms, waiting for me, when I heard something I didn’t expect from behind me.

“Oh my god!. You aren’t going to believe this. Well. You probably will.”

“What?”

“Did you see that there’s a guest book in the drawer of the beside table?”

I hadn’t.

“Well it’s pretty cool, and I was looking through it to try to get some ideas for restaurants or whatever. Well. Here. Just read this one.”

“Beautiful room. Lovely view. We had a great time. But, this room IS haunted. Not in a bad way though. It’s just a nice old woman, we think.”

“This is too f***ing weird,” I said, taking the book from her. “If one person wrote about it, there has got to be at least one other person in here.”

The majority of the notes left were very run-of-the-mill. Great view, great staff, perfect honeymoon, anniversary, etc. Except for two others.

One of them read something like this:

This room is really creepy. We like it here, but it is definitely haunted. Things moved around when we weren’t in the room. And something woke my husband (a very heavy sleeper) up in the middle of the night.”

And then there was the last one, from a mere three weeks prior:

What a great place! It IS haunted though. My husband woke me up in the middle of the night to point out the old woman in an old fashioned white night gown who was standing just to the left of our bed. She seemed kind. She smiled and looked at us for a moment, like she was just checking on us, and then disappeared towards the closet.”

-dpd

true story

500 Character Story

He slipped soundlessly from the plush hotel room, leaving the door slightly ajar behind him. It was basement-after-dark quiet, despite being four floors up– silent, but for the soft creaks and patters of unknown feet on unfamiliar floors. When he reached the end of the hallway he realized how unsettled the lack of sound had made him. He pondered momentarily before turning on his heel and dashing back to the heavy hotel room door.

“Ah,” he whispered, firmly closing the door before him. “Better.”

 

-dpd

Clocks

The best story to come out of YWP just recently.

by Hazelnut

The last screw in place, He shuts the door. A final twist to the knob on the back brings the gears to life.  Pride on every feature, He gently hands the tiny clock to waiting hands, eager to display it in their home.  Fragile and fresh, the little hands tick, telling the time on its shining face.  The clock strikes one, a sweet note. A little scratch adorns the back, but none can see the fault, hidden behind the golden face.  Life goes on as the clock strikes two, still the pride of its caretaker’s eye.  A smile creases every face while it boldly chimes out three, still young, still strong.  Four ticks by, followed by five. Now, as it sings out six, trembling hands remove it from the mantle, torn by the parting soon to come.  As seven echoes through the halls, it greets a new caretaker. Surviving the bumps and bruises of the transplant, it is soon found comfortable on a new mantle chiming eight.  Nine watches fresh faces join the room. Ten brings trials soon left behind. Eleven seems to run away, while noon drags on.  Now one comes again, an echo of younger days. Chipped paint reminds all that its youth is past. Two creeps by.  Three comes far too soon.  Four brings company to the growing room.  As the wind blows, five sneaks by, unnoticed. Careful eyes note gold now grayed when the hands skip six and rush to seven. Eight reflects memories in the polished face.  By nine, they begin to fade. Now the speeding hand slows. But the steady rhythm beats on, tempered by years. At ten, the merry voice croaks and sputters.  Eleven is shuddered away, purposefully ignored by the caretakers. With a tear in their eyes, they hand the little clock back to Him as the clock utters twelve. The gears cease to grind. The hands cease to move. The notes cease to chime. Care in His face, He gently dusts the dented clock and nestles it onto a broad shelf, amid many other such clocks, worn by time, with room for many more, before turning back to his bench and turning the knob on another little clock, fresh and new.

Read it on YWP

Hoax

Very realistic fiction… new from YoungWritersProject.org

by tangerinesunset

She’ll have to clean the thick-framed glasses when she gets home. There’s a peculiar blurriness on one lens. How nice it would feel to take them off; her head’s too wide for their slenderness and she doesn’t even have vision problems. Oh well.

She googled local coffee shops to get the name of the place she’s heading to. Sure, its discovery wasn’t spontaneous or street-side. It wasn’t so desperately needed because she’s not a travelling accordionist who hasn’t eaten in three days. She’s not the vagabond musician who uses such tactics to stay skinny and anemic and poor. [Skinny frappuccinos are pricey. And inadequate sources of dietary iron.] Sigh. But she wants to be. Screw that. She loves her bed. She just wants to appear as. Which is as good as being, right? [Close enough.]

So she cheated finding the coffee shop. Okay. But no one has to know. She just has to make it look nonchalant. She can do that. Maybe it can be her favorite spot, that she’s been to dozens of times and can greet the barista by his first name and talk about politics and the new Himalayan restaurant down the street. [I recommend the aloo matar dish. Whatever that is.] Oh. The employees wear nametags here. Knowing his first name is nothing special. Could they try to be more authentic? It is an urban coffee shop. They should try. Even just in honor of their clientele, who is trying. Really hard.

She wants something indulgent, creamy. But that would mean animal products. She looks around. Better not risk it. She orders a type of tea that she already knows is bitter, unappetizing. Just to be able to say its name out loud.

She brought her laptop. But it hasn’t been taken out yet. She has nothing to type, she hates doing important papers in busy places. Wouldn’t it compromise the quality? Oh, wait. That’s part of it. You’re not supposed to care. She looks around. It might look odd if she doesn’t pull it out. People may think she’s too poor to own a laptop. But she remembers she’s trying to look poor. Wasn’t that the whole idea? Or something like that? Better take it out. Someone might think she’s concerned about the grade she’s getting on the paper. That wouldn’t be good; she’d look stuck-up.

Lackadaisical. Be it, drink it, embody it. She can do that. Until her lower patella aches from the tightness of her skinny cords. Seventy-effing-three-dollars, too. They’re distressed, patterned. It’s some combination of Central Asian traditional prints. [Or maybe Navajo. Obviously not Asian, if so. Who cares.] Well, she naturally cares because they put a dent in her wallet. Sadistically overpriced. But they don’t look that way, right? That’s what is important. So, good. It was a good buy. She looks around once quick time. Inhaling, she reaches to scrunch up her cords, the darn things. Her tea, in its rust-colored mug, spills as she bumps the little table.

She passes Old Navy on her way home and laughs internally at the regular people. The regular people scrambling in for the jeans sale. The regular poorer families, the slightly overweight regular mother wearing a cheap bright orange coat because it was on the sale rack. And old ma couldn’t care less what she looks like. Ha.

And then she realizes that’s all she’s trying to be.

http://youngwritersproject.org/node/76016

Nick of Time

Me, getting into the season… Enjoy

There was no sneaky way into this house, being as it was only a small cabin of a home. He let himself in through the front door, letting it close very quitely behind him. It was dark, but for festive electric candles glowing in the two front windows. There was soft music playing, but it could have been coming from outside. He hadn’t noticed until he descended into the silence of the sleepy house. Immediately after hearing the music he turned his head to the left, and realized something else. The two bedroom doors were open; he was in the house alone. No one was there for him to worry about waking. It seemed strange at this time of night, but then again, he wasn’t entirely sure of the time. With so little moon in the sky, the darkness fell quicker than usual. He mused over this for a second, deciding he must be earlier than he’d planned. Must have made good time getting there.

He crept silently around the house, out of respect for the silence that had been there before him. (It seemed like the right thing to do.) No pets, no living things that he could see. Furniture, even appliances and decorations, although sparse. Pictures, photos, artwork. A family. Kids. Not much, but he could tell that it was a loving home. Then he finally found what he had been looking for, tucked neatly into the far corner of the living room. Very simple but clean and respectable; he could tell they took pride in it. They’d been here not too long ago. He could still smell something that had been cooked with a good amount of garlic.

Well, he thought, I can still do what I came for. He made his was across the length of the small abode in a few ranging steps. He set his bag down on the floor and began searching through it in the semi-darkness. He was being meticulous; he didn’t want to leave any signs of his presence. As he began to place his items on the floor, he heard a noise. Before he knew what he was doing he had dumped out all of the contents of his bag onto the floor in a messy pile. He grabbed the empty bag and scrambled to the back door, just as the front door was opening.

As he made his way around the house, the sounds of his movements muffled by the fresh blanket of heavy snow, he realized what he had been hearing when he got to the house. The family was back inside the house discussing how nice it had been to sing carols together. They had been out singing. He paused to listen to the sounds of the family for a moment. They had spent the later part of their evening at the shelter, spending time with the less fortunate, making sure they had a warm meal, place to stay, and that all of the kids got a present. They knew the children by name. Suddenly he realized that he was meant to drop that bag, and sneak out before he could do anything about it.

Finally, they turned on the lights in the family room to enjoy a glass of egg nog before bed. That’s when they heard the screams.

The children were used to getting the same toys or games that they gave to their neighbors at the shelter each year. Never much, but always enough. They had never seen so many presents before. They were beside themselves with glee, they didn’t even know how they would play with them all. Santa knew, as he got back in his sleigh, that he’d given them the perfect number of toys this year. The perfect number for them to share. Like he knew they would.

dpd

There’s No Way Around It

One of my favorite pieces form youngwritersproject.org recently–also a selection for our anthology.

* * * *

This is about my five year old neighbor.

It’s simple but it’s not.

The way her curls bounce in her wake, and she lets out carefree shrills of girlish excitement, gives me the most twisted emotions. The way her parents are tucked away all day, getting caught up on sleep or absorbed in to the monitor of their computer, leaves her needing attention. Needing love. I want to wash her face with warm water, and give her a princess tiara, but that won’t fill her empty void, that’s only going to get larger as she matures.

It’s simple but it’s not.

The way that she has low expectations. She expects to be happy, to let her own laughter nourish her soul, to let the sun that beats down through the pine trees in her backyard allow a smile to come across her face. She expects a hug a day, and turns to me. I pick her up and spin her around, feeling full to the brim with love, by the animated excitement in her eyes.

It’s simple but it’s not.

The way that it’s only going to get worse over time. As she ages more, she’s going to need more complex things. She’s going to need a mom to teach her about her body, about boys, and about how everything can be so dangerous. She’s going to need a father to scoop her up in his arms at the end of a long school day, and when the man in her life leaves her hanging.

I can see myself in her eyes. And all I can do is love her to pieces, and play airplanes with her.

by imperfect

http://youngwritersproject.org/node/69699

Great Short Story from a fellow blogger/poet

FLASHLIGHT CITY BLUES

They say it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, but he saw her anyways. She tried on her dress for him, and he told her she looked beautiful.
She was nervous. He could tell.
“Hey,” he said to her, lying in bed beside her, “You’re gonna be fine. It’s just a day like any other, and you look gorgeous,”
“It’s just…”
“Haven’t you heard of cold feet?” he placed his hand on the outside of her thigh, his thumb playing with her white garter belt, “You’re gonna be fine,”
“I’m just glad I can be with you tonight. I don’t care about tradition, any of that. This feels right,”
“This feels right?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t be going through all of this if it didn’t…”
The bed squeaked. Its metal frame was painted white and wasn’t the sturdiest of things.
“What happens tomorrow though? Do you and…

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