Let’s go!!!! I’m trying really hard this month to stay on top of my to do list. So far, things are going okay, not great, but better than the last two months.
If you’re here for a prompt, look no further:
“I wanted to believe him. I really did. But I had trusted him before, and it hadn’t worked out that well. So now when he assured me that…”
Complete the Story
I love prompts like this that are super vague. No names and no real details. This can go anywhere…
If you’re new to my page, let me tell you about my yearly writing goal. (Also, if you would like to share what you’ve written using the prompt, I would love to read it. If you want, I will even post it on my blog).
So, this year, my goal is to write 12 short stories, one each month. At some time, usually near the first half of the month, I share the prompt I’m using, and then I try to finish the story by the end of the month. This year, I’m trying to force myself to write longer stories. My word goal is 1500 per story.
At this point in the year, I’m one story behind! Hopefully I will be caught up soon. The last two months have been bananas. I was sick off and on for most of them, and we were house hunting.
House hunting is done! I still have a freakin’ cough, and it drives me crazy. But it’s getting better.
Anyway, happy reading and writing today and every day! Hope you all have a great month!!
It had been more than two weeks since the fire, but the stink of it was still in her hair, on her skin. She took long showers twice a day, but the smell lingered. When she closed her eyes at night, the images came back to her, images of people screaming as their flesh melted and their body quickly went from solid to liquid to ash.
She didn’t tell anyone she’d been there when it happened. No one knew her part in the disaster, and she absolutely couldn’t tell anyone. No one would believe her anyway.
She was sure her mother would lean in to give her a hug one of these days and smell the fire on her. She explained the extra showers by telling her mother that the warm water was comforting to her.
Her mother didn’t question this because her daughter lost her lifelong friend in the fire. It was perfectly understandable that she would be grieving. And grief is different for everyone. A few extra showers weren’t the worst way to handle it.
Going back to work was out of the question. Luckily her boss, unlike most, told her to take all the time she needed.
At first, she was too afraid to do much more than sit in her room, but she would fall asleep in the middle of the day, and this caused two problems. One, she wasn’t tired at night when she should be sleeping, and two, she would dream about that night over and over again.
After the second time she had the dream, she decided to keep herself awake and tire herself out in the hopes that at night she could sleep peacefully.
She left the house without saying anything to her mom. She was less than ten feet outside the door when her mom texted.
“Do you want me to drop you somewhere?”
“No,” she replied. “Just going for a walk.”
She let the sound of her feet stepping on the pavement lull her into a trance. She kept walking, giving no thought to where her feet were taking her.
After nearly forty-five minutes, she stopped. She let out a deep sigh and looked up. Without meaning to, her feet had taken her back to the scene of the fire.
She looked around at the nothing where a house should have been. The air felt strange to her. The longer she stood there, the more she felt like she wanted to step onto the property and wade through the ashes. There was yellow crime tape flapping in the breeze.
She didn’t let her feet decide this time. She stepped back and then took another step away. As she took her third step away from the yard that used to belong to her friend, a gruff voice asked her, “Do you see anything interesting?”
Interesting? Who would ask that about a home destroyed, burnt down to little more than dust? She couldn’t believe someone would phrase it that way.
“I think the word you’re looking for is horrible,” she said turning around to face whoever had spoken to her.
She looked up at a man wearing the most stereotypical government goon get up she’d ever seen. He was wearing a black suit with a crisp white button shirt, a cheap looking black tie, and ever so slightly too shiny black dress shoes. He had dark aviator sunglasses, and there was a noticeable bump in his jacket where his gun was clearly tucked away.
As she faced him, he pulled a black wallet out of his pocket. He flipped it open revealing his FBI credentials.
Surprise. Surprise, she thought rolling her eyes.
“FBI, ma’am. What’s your interest in this place?” He nodded towards the lot where her friend’s house used to be.
She shook her head. “No interest. My friend used to live here.” She fought off tears. She wasn’t faking being upset, but she wasn’t sure if she was crying for the loss of her friend or if she was afraid.
“And your name is?” asked the agent.
“No one.” She tried to step around him and head home, but he blocked her path.
“That’s not really an answer. And I’m a federal agent. Just answer my question.”
At that moment, she heard the squeal of brakes and then the sound of footsteps quickly closing the distance from a car to her.
“There you are!” her mother shouted. Her mother took one look at the situation and wrapped her arms around her daughter. “We’re going home.” She gave the agent a look that would kill and hauled her daughter into the car.
The agent didn’t object. He didn’t need to. He would find out who the girl was.
As her mother drove away, the agent snapped a quick picture of the license plate and from his phone searched for the information. In less than two minutes, he knew where to find her.
When she got home, she jumped out of the car and ran inside before her mother could say or ask anything. She didn’t know what to say.
Why had she gone there? That was the last place she should have been.
She slammed the door to her room and threw herself across her bed.
She felt like she was losing her mind. As she lay there, images from that night kept flashing through her mind. She saw the flames and could smell the whole house burning around her. She wanted to cover her ears and block out the short-lived screams of her friend’s family. Instead, she sobbed and cried until there was a puddle of snot, spit, and tears on her comforter.
Even then, she didn’t lift her head. She didn’t dare move. She felt her whole body screaming with energy.
She didn’t feel cold. She felt like she was on fire.
She jumped off her bed and looked around frantically. She wasn’t on fire. Her room was the same as it always was. She patted her arms and legs, and then because she didn’t really believe it, she did it again.
She was fine. Nothing was on fire. She scanned around again. The room was fine. She saw the gross wet spot on her bed and let out a sigh. Her mind was playing tricks on her.
That had to be it. She’d snapped. The death of a best friend could so that to someone. That made the most sense.
She slumped against the nearest wall until she was on the floor. She pulled her knees up to her chest.
She couldn’t tell anyone what she thought had happened. But if she didn’t tell someone, she was going to continue like she was now, and she could barely function.
They were sitting in her friend’s room, watching Youtube videos without the sound on. She wasn’t supposed to be staying over, but she hated being home alone. Her mother wouldn’t be home until tomorrow.
Her friend had told her to sleep over anyway; they just wouldn’t tell anyone.
As the video ended, her friend selected another one. It was some crap about unlocking your hidden potential. The guy in the video was sitting on the floor with his legs crossed yammering about mediation and looking within.
Blah, blah, blah. She rolled her eyes.
“You don’t believe this crap, do you?” she asked.
Her friend shrugged. “I don’t know. Let’s give it a try. He even gives you a link for mediation music.” Her friend clicked on the link and subtle ocean sounds spilled from her phone coupled with someone plucking a harp.
“Whatever,” she said. She thought it was ridiculous, but she crossed her legs and drew in a deep breath.
“Right, just like that,” her friend said.
Then everything else faded away. She opened her eyes because she felt something tickle her cheek.
“Hey, stop that,” she said to her friend. As she looked around, she didn’t see her friend. Instead, she saw the room engulfed in flames. As she got to her feet, she turned to search for her friend. She didn’t see her anywhere.
She did see her friend’s family through the ashes and beams as the house turned into nothing. In less than a minute from the time she opened her eyes, they too were ash.
She looked at herself. Why wasn’t she burning too? What was happening? How could everything be destroyed but her? She didn’t understand, but she had to get away from this.
She ran home. As she moved through the neighborhoods towards her house, she heard sirens screaming in the night. She didn’t let it stop her.
She was in the shower before the first fire engine arrived at the scene. She stayed in there, running cold water trying to figure out if what she’d seen could be real. It couldn’t, could it? No one can be in a fire like that and come out unscathed?
In super exciting news, we bought a house! So excited to be moving and living in something that’s ours and not renting again.
In not so super news, I’ve been sick for basically the entire month. At first I had flu like symptoms that lasted like five days, but since that stopped, I’ve had a cough that will not go away. Plus, every third day or so, I feel absolutely exhausted and run a fever.
The cough is driving me crazy. I feel like I shouldn’t leave the house because I don’t want to spread anything plus I feel like every one gives me a dirty look when I cough in public.
All of this adds up to me being behind on everything. I’m behind on my blog, my drafting, my chores, reading, and any other personal project I’m currently working on.
If you came here for a short story prompt, here it is:
“A group of young men strolled down the street as if they were training to be secret agents. It was the kind of town most young people dreamed of escaping, where everyone had their own private fantasy. Some might have ideas about…”
Complete the Story
Whatever is going on for you, I hope you are healthy! And whatever your goals, I wish you good luck and hope you are making progress.
I know most people find the beach relaxing. But when I’m standing there on the shore at high tide, watching the effect the moon has on the great oceans of the world, I find myself wondering what effect it has on my insides, which are more than half water themselves, and I get dizzy. I’m like that, I think too much about things, like how we’re basically made of the same thing as the ocean.
For some, this might make them feel small or even insignificant in the vastness of everything, but for me, it’s the opposite. I feel connected. I’m part of what makes up everything else, and it’s so much like me that on an atomical level, were similar to everything. I find these ideas comforting, some people do not, so I’ve learned to keep them to myself. For me, the beach isn’t a place to relax—it’s a place to reconnect to the greatness of everything.
I push my hands further into the warm sand and breathe deeply in the smell of salt. Sitting there makes me feel dizzy and grounded at the same time. I love the opposition of forces at work in me. I feel off kilter and…
“Dinah! Where are you?” a voice yells, interrupting my train of thought.
I don’t answer and try to remember what I’d just been thinking about before someone shouted my name. I close my eyes and feel the air move across my skin, some of the sand scratches at my face.
It takes a few moments, but I’m able to lose myself again and disconnect and connect to the universe.
The yelling is much closer this time. I’m snapped back to the here and now.
“What?” I shout back at the person now standing a few feet behind me.
“It’s dinner time.” The voice speaks in a more reasonable volume now. “Come on. I’m not coming back out here again.”
I sigh, hoping the noise will reach the person who interrupted my meditation, but I know it’s unlikely. I want her to know she’s annoying me, like always. It’s just the way we’ve always been. We don’t get along and are rarely civil to one another. It’s been worse since our mom died.
I shake my head and clear that thought away. Dwelling on the past won’t change the here and now.
In the kitchen in our shared bungalow, my sister, Alice, is placing dinner on table with enough force that the sandwiches bounce and fall back to the plates, subject to gravity, like the rest of us. The salad bowl suffers the same forces as she practically drops it onto the table.
I know I shouldn’t say anything, but sometimes, I can’t help but be drawn into her drama. “This table belonged to our mother, and her mother before that, and…”
I don’t get to finish my lecture that I know stings her as much as it pains me to speak of our mother out loud.
“Don’t start with me, Dinah.” Alice places a pitcher on the table, splashing water over the lip.
She says my name the same every time—DIE – NAH. I hate the way she says it. She is the only person I know that emphasizes both syllables equally. No one speaks that way; no one except Alice. Alice the menace. Alice the aggravator. Alice the psycho.
I run through my favorite nicknames for her. She hates them. I don’t say them out loud, not this time anyway. I pick up a napkin and dry the table. I know it’s only water, but I love this table. Like the house, it should be treated with respect. Mom always made us take care of everything under this roof.
We eat our dinner without speaking to each other and without looking up at one another. What would we say anyway?
Despite living under the same roof our whole lives, we couldn’t be more different. Our mom always said we’d learn to get along because we were sisters. It hasn’t happened yet though. And I’m too old to believe everything my mom said anyway.
When we were kids, we fought so much our mother threatened to send us each to live with a different family member. She thought some time apart would teach us to miss one another. It didn’t work. After the first week away, our Aunt Carol sent Alice home.
I was only away for a little over twelve hours. I’d been sent to my Aunt Lousie’s house. She didn’t even call my mom. She put me in her car, dropped me on the porch, and drove away without talking to my mom.
When I’d waddled into the house with my bags and started to put my things away, my mom had shaken her head and sighed. She never even asked why they sent me home.
Alice though was furious when she found out. She claimed I was mom’s favorite because she’d let me come home sooner. I never corrected her because I liked making her mad. I still do. I can’t help it.
And here we are, over thirty years into our sisterhood and we still live under the same roof. I stay here because it’s my house, and Alice stays because it’s her house.
In her will, our mother stipulated that we could only keep the house if we lived in it together. If one of us leaves, the other has to go and the house has to be sold.
Our extended family doesn’t want the house to be sold. It’s belonged to one of us for over a century. Traditionally it was inherited by the oldest child, which should have been Alice. Our mom broke with tradition to punish us.
If she were still alive, she would probably say she was teaching us a lesson, but we’re a little old for her tricks now. Despite how much Alice and I fight though, neither one of us has left yet.
I finish eating and clear my dishes. Alice is still sitting at the table though she finished eating before I did.
It’s my turn to clean the kitchen, but I’m not going to do it with her sitting there watching me.
“Can you go do something?” I ask. I clear the serving dishes and even grab her empty plate.
“A lawyer is coming tomorrow,” Alice says gripping her glass of water with both hands and still not making eye contact with me.
“Ok. A lawyer for what?” I ask.
“To discuss the house,” she answers.
“What about the house?” I step back near the table, not understanding what she’s talking about.
She looks nervous and rubs her head between her eyes like she’s trying to force herself to not be frustrated. I’ve seen her do this motion a million times. I just don’t understand what about this moment is frustrating her.
“I’m trying to find out if there is a legal way for one of us to buy the house from the other so that we don’t both have to continue to live here.” She says it flatly.
“You want me to buy you out? Where woould you live?” I ask.
She shakes her head. “No, you misunderstand. I want to buy your half, and I want you to leave.” This time she looks at me.
If looks could kill, I would have been dead on the spot. I open my mouth to speak, but I stop.
“I’ll do the dishes later,” I say.
I remember the day our mom’s lawyer read the will to us. I remember it very clearly. I thought for sure I was going to lose my home that day, but I didn’t.
Alice had protested of course. She’d spouted something about family tradition, and then she’d cursed our mother’s name. She’d stopped listening as the lawyer continued to read the will.
I remember that there was only one exception that would keep the house in one of our’s possession. If one of us died, the other was allowed to stay.
I am running behind with just about everything… I was sick for the last two weeks of February, then family visited, and this week, I’m on day three of a migraine.
I would like to feel okay for a few days in a row to get my act together.
Anywho, if you’re here for an idea, and not me rambling about stuff, here it is:
“It had been more than two weeks since the fire, but the stink of it was still in her hair, on her skin. She took long showers twice a day, but the smell lingered. When she closed her eyes at night, the images came back to her, images of…”
Complete the Story
I hope if you’re reading this, you are having a better week than me.
On a happier note, I recently got the entire run of the Fables comics! I’ve been reading them like mad!
It’s February… you know this, and it’s more than half over all ready. We all know this. However, I am still stuck in the mood where I just can’t seem to get things done. I am blaming the weather. Winter is a time to be less productive, right?
The only thing I’ve managed to achieve is learning new crochet techniques. In fact, I made two really cute jellyfish…
If you’re here for writing, and not my useless ranting about procrastinating, here is the short story prompt for this month:
“I know most people find the beach relaxing. But when I’m standing there on the shore at high tide, watching the effect the moon has on the great oceans of the world, I find myself wondering what effect it has on my insides, which are more than half water themselves, and I get dizzy. I’m like that, I think too much about things, like…”
Complete the Story
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day!
I hope your year is off to a better start than mine.
My family and I had a wonderful winter break. We basically did nothing but chill. It was relaxing.
Then the first week of January rolled around and one of our pets died. Obviously, not a great start to the year. In fact, since we have lived in our current location (3 years) we have lost one pet a year. That’s three deaths in three years.
My heart is so full of grief right now. The pets we’ve lost led long happy lives, but it still hurts.
The biggest change since losing our bird is that my house is unbearably quiet. It’s kind of making me feel crazy. Our bird, Jingles, chirped all morning, and even more so when it rains, which it does a fair amount here (we live near Seattle). I miss every little squawk and cheep.
Like I said, I hope your year is off to a better start than mine. I have started to work on my goals for this year, but I’m taking things slow right now. The weather and other things is leaving me with very little motivation right now.
If you want to, I encourage you to join me in my short story challenge for this year. Like usual, I’m going to share one prompt a month and then write a story with that by the end of the month, for a grand total of 12 stories by the end of the year. This year I’m challenging myself to write a little bit more each month. My goal for each story will be 1500 words minimum.
Without further ado, here is the first prompt for 2023:
“He had trouble walking, trouble standing up, trouble buttering his toast. But his mind was as sharp as ever. He had this amazing way with trivia. He could tell you…”
Complete the Story
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day! If you decide to write a story, I would love to read it!
“They’re out there,” he told me. “Fields and fields of them. As far as the eye can see.”
I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. He pointed to the horizon, and I looked, but all I could see was crops and open sky. What the hell was he talking about? I should have been listening, but when you have to sit, watching a field for twelve hours at a time, your mind tends to wander.
Howard and I were the newest members of the security team. Our days consisted of sitting in a tower, watching the crops. Not much ever happened, but in the past, wild creatures had wreaked havoc in this area of the planet Z.
Planet Z was almost entirely crops and farms. There was one small port city connected to the closest space port where the farmers shipped their goods to the planets that people actually lived on. The other planets in this system were so overpopulated that they’d elected to deem one planet set aside for growing food. Over time, the entire planet had been doled out and cut into properties. There were no wild creatures anymore, but on occasion, farmers had a bad year and were known to steal from each other.
Either way, wild creature or farmer-turned-thief, our job was boring.
“What are you talking about?” I asked Howard, though a voice in my head said not to ask. Howard tended to talk about wild conspiracy theories and far-fetched fairy tales.
“Fairies. You know, the fey folk, magical creatures.” There wasn’t a hint of humor in his voice.
“Are you messing with me?” I stared at him without blinking. I shouldn’t have asked.
He shook his head. “No, I’m completely serious. This planet was covered with fey before the farms arrived.” He stared out the window towards the fields.
I couldn’t look away from him. My brow furrowed. I gave up trying to figure out what was wrong with Howard and went back to staring at the fields with him.
The day dragged on and like usual, nothing was happening. Howard had been quiet since earlier, and I don’t know why I decided to engage him. Probably sheer boredom.
“Howard, why do you say there ARE fields and fields of them? I’m looking at the fields. All I see are fields. They aren’t any fairies out there.” I pointed out the window waiting for him to respond.
“They’re still there. They’ve just learned to hide themselves.”
“You’re kidding. You think there is a whole planet of creatures just hiding in plain sight?” I couldn’t hide the disbelief from my voice.
“They had to survive somehow, so they learned to blend. They’re there—if you know how to look.”
I would almost swear I saw a twinkle in his eye. “Okay. I see. Very funny. You’re messing with me. I guess it’s something that passes the time.”
The rest of our shift was uneventful, like always. As we were switching shifts with the next set of guards, Howard kept grinning at me.
I ignored him and made my way to the elevator. As the door was closing, his hand shot in between. He stepped onto the lift with a huge smile on his face.
“Why are you grinning?” I asked.
“Because you’re thinking about it. Aren’t you?” Howard was practically bouncing on his feet with excitement.
“Howard, I am not thinking about fairies. I’m thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner.” I leaned against the elevator trying to will the machine to move faster.
The ding of the elevator felt like the sound of freedom as I made my way towards the path that led to the employee quarters.
“I’ll tell you what,” Howard was keeping pace with me. “I’ll show you some fairies, but only if you don’t tell anyone that I showed you.”
“You’re not funny.” I didn’t break stride and kept trying to out pace him. It wasn’t working.
He ran ahead of me a bit blocking my path. “I’m fully serious. If you want to see something amazing I’ll show you how to find them.”
I stared him up and down trying to figure out if he was messing with me. He didn’t look like he was kidding. In fact, his smile had faded. He looked eager, but not like he was pranking me.
“Fine. Let’s say I agree. What do I need to do?”
“Meet me at the back of the dorm after dinner. As the sun starts to set.” He turned to finish the trek back. He spun around again, “Oh and bring a mirror and some crumbs.”
“Crumbs? Of what?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter. Bread. Pastry. Whatever you got.”
As I ate, I pocketed a package of crackers with peanut butter. Hopefully they would be good enough for whatever I’d gotten myself into.
As the sun was setting, I followed Howard away from the dorms. We walked for nearly an hour. The sun was barely still above the horizon.
“Quickly now,” he said as he reached in his pocket and spread crumbs in a circle.
I crushed the package of crackers in my hands. “In a circle around me?”
Howard nodded and stepped away from the circle he’d made. He pulled me towards him once my own circle was complete.
“Hurry, sit down over here with me. Turn your back to the circles. Did you bring the mirror?” He was talking so quickly and softly I barely understood him.
“Yeah, right here. I pulled a compact mirror out of my pocket.” I sat next to him on the ground wondering if any second now more of the security team was going to pop out and make fun of me.
“Hold it up so that you can see your circle.”
I held the mirror up until I could see the crumb and peanut butter circle reflected back at me.
Nothing was happening. The sun was still dipping lower and lower. As the sun passed below the horizon, I glanced at my mirror.
Reflected back at me were three sets of purple eyes.
It was just ridiculous enough to be true. Then again, she could be making the whole thing up. It was just so hard to imagine Diane’s father, the respectable banker who never left the house without a suit and tie, actually spending time at “the colony.” Everyone in town called it that.
The colony sprung up a few years ago, and since then, the town had seen more than a few of its respectable members seek the excitement within the extra tall privacy fences.
Cynthia listened as Sammy kept talking, but she found it hard to concentrate after the big reveal that the newest person to go to the dark side was Diane’s dad. It just seemed so unlikely. He was super boring, like worse than her own parents.
She tried to imagine him at the colony and instantly she regretted it. She didn’t actually want to picture that. She shook her head. Without saying anything to her friends, she took her tray and got rid of the rest of her lunch. Suddenly she wasn’t that hungry.
The rest of the day, everyone was talking about it off and on. It was like the only thing that had happened in the last week. Honestly, Cynthia was tired of hearing about it by the time she got home.
As she dropped her book bag right inside the doorway, her mother called, “Snack on the counter. I’m in the middle of laundry. Homework first.” Her mother didn’t even peak out to see who had walked in. Cynthia went to see what her mother had made for a snack. As she stepped past the door to the garage, she spotted her mom folding laundry. She didn’t wave or stop.
Her mother looked up and asked, “Did you hear about Diane’s dad?” She chuckled. She kept talking but Cynthia moved further away, and her mother’s words turned into a murmur.
She grabbed her snack of pb and celery. She walked quickly and snatched her bag off the floor taking the stairs two at a time to escape the gossip.
The next morning, she avoided her family in the morning. She didn’t want to talk or hear about the colony. It grossed her out. The only people who lived there were over forty, no kids allowed. That was probably a good policy.
Cynthia hated the place for one reason—she hadn’t been able to see her grandmother since she’d moved into the colony last year. She missed her. To Cynthia, the colony was synonymous with “homewrecker.”
School was the same as the day before. The hottest gossip was still about Diane’s dad. Apparently, he’d moved in. Cynthia hadn’t listened to that part. She’d thought maybe he was one of those people who just visited the colony for fun. But, he was like her grandma—he’d decided to move in and live there.
The idea made Cynthia shudder—gross. Poor Diane. She would try to find time to talk to her during lunch.
She didn’t get a chance to though. Diane was absent. Sitting her tray down, Cynthia sat next to Sammy.
“Sammy,” she whispered, hoping no one was listening. “Where is Diane?”
Sammy didn’t lower her voice. It wasn’t in her nature to talk at a reasonable level. She was a gossip and didn’t care when other people overheard what she was talking about. “Didn’t you hear?” She gawked at Cynthia like she was out of touch.
Cynthia shook her head and took a bite of her rectangle slice of pizza.
“Well, she won’t be coming back to school. At least, not for a while.” She beamed as she spoke looking around, trying to get others to listen in. “Her mother threw her and her brother into the car the day her dad moved out. They’re staying at her aunt’s. I think my mom said Diane’s aunt lives in the city.”
“Why would her mother just leave like that?” Cynthia asked.
Sammy looked at her like she was crazy. “Because of her dad, duh.”
“Oh, right,” Cynthia responded, blushing. “It just seems like an extreme reaction. I mean, Diane and her brother already go to school here. It seems like adding more problems to what’s happening.” Cynthia was trying to explain herself, but she felt embarrassed. She was sure Diane’s mother felt the same way. Having a family member leave and join the colony was embarrassing. She didn’t like what the colony was doing to families. She wanted to stop it, but she was only a kid. What could she do?
After school, she dropped her bag in the hall like always. She went in search of her mother.
“Mom. Mom!” she shouted.
“Upstairs.” Her mother answered.
She found her mother cleaning in one of the bathrooms.
“I want to call Grandma,” Cynthia said.
Her mother stopped scrubbing the counter and stared at their reflections in the mirror. She didn’t speak.
“Please, Mom. It’s important.” Cynthia whined.
“Why?” Her mother hadn’t spoken to Grandma, her own mother, since she’d moved into the colony either.
“Trust me. I just need to talk to her. I know you’re angry with her, but I miss her. I want to just say hi.” Cynthia begged, hoping her mother would give in.
Her mother let out a loud sigh. “Fine. I’ll get you the number. But just because you call, it doesn’t mean she’ll talk. You know what they do there.”
“I know, but I really need to talk to her.”
Cynthia waited until she could hear her mother cleaning again upstairs before she took a deep breath and dialed the number.
Someone picked up on the third ring.
“Hello, you’ve reached The Colony.” A friendly voice spoke.
“I would like to speak to my grandma, err, Mrs. Hudson,” said Cynthia.
“I’ll see if she wants to speak. Can I have your name so that I can tell her who’s calling?” the voice continued being friendly.
“It’s Cynthia, her grandkid.”
“Just a sec,” the voice said.
Cynthia heard a click and the phone was put on hold. While she waited, she listened to the sound of bees humming.
As she listened to the bees, she grew angrier and angrier. She couldn’t take it and hung up the phone.
(October 2022’s short story of the month. SOOOOOOOO LATE!)
The doctors had never seen anything like it. She was a perfectly healthy little girl who just happened to have two hearts. The only explanation they could offer was that at some point the embryo had started to transition to a twin, but then reverted back.
After all, having extra body parts wasn’t completely unheard of. Polydactyls had extra parts. But the medical and biological complication of having an extra heart wasn’t as problematic as the emotional aspect of being known as the girl with two hearts.
Her mother became an internet sensation. She enlisted her daughter to become the face of several major charitable foundations. The first foundation was called “Twice as Much Heart.” They funneled money into many other charities, including research for cardiac diseases.
Amara hated that her whole life was one long blip of content making for various social media sites. She couldn’t even go to the mall and hang with her friends because it would turn into a frenzy of people trying to take selfies with her.
At only thirteen, she didn’t really have any friends, not true friends anyway. There were people that her mom would let hang out with her, but they were all kids who’s parents were friends with her mom. She wouldn’t have hung out with a single one of them if her mother hadn’t made her.
Her teenage years were going to be lonely and annoying, so Amara made a wish. She couldn’t sleep one night and was sitting alone in her room listening to music via headphones.
She squeezed her eyes shut as hard as she could and wished and hoped and prayed to any one or being that was listening.
She wanted a friend. Someone who couldn’t be corrupted by the influence of her mother and who wouldn’t care about the drama of her life. She wanted a true friend. Someone to share her secrets with. Someone who didn’t want to be around her for status. Just someone to be real with.
She wished so hard that every thought she had over the next few weeks was about finding a friend. She couldn’t stop wishing.
On a night, much like every night of her life, she was alone in her room. She was laying on her bed, facing the wall. She sighed.
“Have you ever tried telling your mother you don’t want to do it anymore?” a voice asked from behind Amara.
She was alone in her room, or at least she thought she was. She was too scared to move.
“Are you going to talk to me, or am I just going to sit her all night waiting for you?” the voice asked.
Amara still couldn’t move. Then someone, probably the person connected to the voice, spun in her squeaky computer chair. Amara huddled into the fetal position.
“Are you scared of me?” the voice asked. “Of course you are, we’ve never met. Turn around and look at me. I won’t hurt you, Amara.”
Amara still couldn’t move. Maybe she was dreaming. She didn’t hear the door open. Besides, her mother wouldn’t let a complete stranger into her room.
Amara rolled over slowly but didn’t open her eyes right away. She took a deep breath and then swallowed. She slowly opened one eye just so she could peek out.
She saw a girl—a girl that looked just like her but was see-through. She was looking at a ghost. But how could that be? The ghost looked like her. She wasn’t dead. Maybe she was dreaming.
She closed her eyes again and pinched her upper arm as hard as she could stand.
“Ouch,” she whispered. She opened her eyes slowly again.
The girl was waving at her. “You going to sit up and talk to me, or what?” the girl asked.
Amara couldn’t believe what she was seeing. This girl looked like her, but she didn’t sound like her. Her voice was louder, more confident. She didn’t seem shy and withdrawn.
Amara sat up without looking away. She couldn’t take her eyes off what was before her. She was afraid if she blinked or looked away, she would disappear.
“Wha… what? What are you?” Amara finally managed to stutter out.
“A friend,” the girl and/or ghost version of herself said. “You can call me Cara.” She stuck her hand towards Amara. “Put ‘er there.” She smiled, grinning from ear to ear.
“Cara?” Amara paused because she didn’t want to offend the apparition. “What are you?”
“Like I said, I’m a friend. Do you want me to go?” Cara leaned back in the chair.
From where Amara was sitting, she could see the outline of the chair through Cara’s form. There was a faint green glow surrounding Cara. “A friend? Do you mean the friend I wished for?”
Cara nodded and then spun in the chair. “Yeppers,” she said.
Amara shook her head. She had to be imagining this. “Then how?” she started to ask. “But why?” She stopped again. She couldn’t seem to form a coherent question. “What are you exactly? Like a ghost or something?”
“Not a ghost.”
“But are you real?” asked Amara. “I mean, are you alive?”
“Yes, and no.” Cara kept spinning in the chair, faster and faster.
“So, what are you?” Amara asked.
“I’m a friend, that’s what matters most.” She stopped abruptly. “Let’s talk about why you’re sitting up here alone when you could be outside or downstairs, or anywhere but here staring at a wall.” Cara crossed her arms over her chest and started tapping her foot.
They talked for hours. Amara told Cara things she’d never told anyone else. They discussed her mother, the constant chaos of her life, and how lonely it was being her.
At some point as they were talking and giggling, Amara lay back down and closed her eyes, but they still talked for many more minutes.
Amara woke up the next morning, but there was no sign of Cara. As she splashed water on her face, she couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe she’d imagined the whole thing.