The Snow Globe — New Short Story

Santa-Claus-Snow-Globe-Merry-Christmas-Ho-Ho-Ho-Bring-On-The-Snow-40-Christmas-Snow-Globes-article

 

New flash fiction. 🙂

The Snow Globe

“Oh, no!” I said.

“What’s wrong, Hope?” My sister’s voice floated up to me.

“It’s our old snow globe,” I said. “It doesn’t light up.”

I heard Kristen’s footsteps stomping up the stairs to the attic.

“What are you doing up here anyway?” she said.

I brushed some dust off a box and set the snow globe on top of it.

It was old—probably an antique by now, and it held a little snow-covered house with Santa and his reindeer flying over it. The water inside it had started to evaporate, and Santa, who hung from the top of the globe, was no longer submerged.

“I’m getting out Mom and Dad’s old decorations,” I said.

“I can see that,” Kristen said, surveying the dusty artificial wreath and Christmas ornaments I had unearthed. “What I mean is what are you doing up here right now? You’re supposed to be getting ready for a date.”

“I know,” I said. “I just really wanted to put this snow globe out before I left. I always believed it was magic—it brings Christmas cheer.”

“Why do you need Christmas cheer right this moment?” Kristen said.

“I just need it,” I replied.

“You’re stalling.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

I didn’t reply. I turned my attention back to the snow globe. I turned it over and checked the little box on the bottom. It still had a battery—it just didn’t light up.

“Hope,” Kristen said, “Mark Frye is the most eligible bachelor in the city. You’re super lucky that he likes you. You need to get ready.”

I still didn’t move.

Kristen took the snow globe out of my hands.

“What do you want with this old thing anyway? It was Mom’s, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, it was Mom’s,” I said. “And it was her mom’s before that. It’s an heirloom—and it reminds me of our childhood.”

Kristen set the snow globe down on a dusty shelf.

“Well, Mom and Dad moved to Florida,” she said. “They moved on. You should, too. If you really want a snow globe, I’ll get you a new one.”

She steered me toward the attic stairs. “Now you need to go.”

Kristen sighed as I skirted around her and grabbed the snow globe. Then I let myself get dragged out of the attic.

An hour and a half later, I was as ready as I was ever going to be, and I was just leaving the bathroom when the doorbell rang.

I hurried downstairs.

Kristen was already waiting by the door.

“It’s him,” she said. “You look great by the way.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Did you seriously come down here to watch me as I answered the door?”

“Of course not,” Kristen said. “I just happened to be here.”

I shooed her away as I opened the door.

Tall, dark, and sleek, Mark was waiting for me on the doorstep.

“You look lovely, Hope,” he said as we headed out into the night.

We went to a new, trendy restaurant, and everybody there seemed to know Mark.

We were ushered to a great table, and the food was excellent. We fell into conversation easily, and as the evening progressed, I realized that Mark was fun to talk to.

Eventually the conversation turned to Mark’s political aspirations—he was going to run for city council and maybe even mayor someday.

“Forgive me,” he said as dessert arrived, “but you don’t seem very excited about my upcoming campaign. Most people really light up when I mention that.”

“I’m excited for you,” I said. “I really am. It’s just that I can’t stop thinking about something silly—something small that’s bothering me.”

“What is it?” Mark asked.

“It’s this old snow globe of my Mom’s. It used to light up and now it doesn’t. I feel like the light has gone out on my childhood Christmas memories. That’s not true, of course, but it’s how I feel at the moment.”

Mark nodded. “I understand. You remember how things used to be, and you feel nostalgia. What I’ve learned in my career is that it’s better to let go of the past and keep moving forward. Get yourself a new snow globe. Or better yet, forget about it and move on.”

“My sister said something like that, too,” I murmured.

“She’s right,” Mark said. “Look to the future. That’s what I do.”

The rest of the evening was pleasant, and I returned home in a good frame of mind.

As I walked into my house, my sister pounced.

“How was the date?” Kristen said.

“It was good,” I said. “Nice.”

“Nice?” Kristen said.

“Yes.”

“But?”

“But something’s missing,” I said.

“I knew it!” Kristen said. “You find something wrong with every guy who takes an interest in you.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Mark,” I said. “He’s wonderful. But somehow I don’t feel a spark.”

Kristen shook her head. “Any girl in town would kill for a date with Mark. I would kill for a date with him. At least tell me you’re going to see him again.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It didn’t come up.”

Kristen opened her mouth to answer, and the doorbell rang.

She looked around. “I bet that’s him. He’s come to ask you on a second date. Answer it!”

She pushed me toward the door.

“All right, all right,” I said. “I’m going.”

I opened the door, expecting to see Mark’s tall, dark silhouette, but instead there was a scruffier figure dressed in jeans.

“Owen!” I said.

Owen had just moved back to town after several years away—he was working for his dad’s construction company.

“Hey, Hope,” he said. “I was just in the neighborhood, and I noticed that you’ve got a string of Christmas lights out. I’d be happy to take a look.”

“Sure,” I said. “Thanks.”

I grabbed my coat and followed Owen outside.

The night was cold and crisp and very dark. But there was plenty of light thanks to the bright Christmas display in my yard. Owen was right—there was a string of lights out in the middle of an evergreen bush. The lights were still on above and below it, so the dark spot was pretty noticeable.

Owen began fiddling with the darkened string of lights.

“I’m pretty good with these,” he said. “I’ll find the broken one in no time. It only takes one bad bulb to put the others out.”

I watched Owen as he worked. I had known him just a little in high school—and lately I had been seeing him around town. There was something intriguing about him.

After a moment, the string of lights in the middle sprang to life.

“Voilà!” Owen said.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“You just find the burnt-out bulb,” Owen replied, “and replace that one. Then the others will be good as new.”

“Where did you find a replacement bulb?” I asked.

He ran a hand over his hair. “I might have had one with me. I noticed yesterday that those lights were out, and I thought I’d stop by some time and see if you were in—see if I could offer some assistance.”

“It looks great,” I said. “Thanks.”

Owen nodded. “Well, I guess I’ll be going. It’s cold out here, and I don’t want to keep you.”

He turned to go.

“Owen,” I said.

He turned back.

“I’ve got an old snow globe,” I said. “It has a battery in it, but it no longer lights up. Maybe it’s silly, but it’s important to me, and I’d like to get it working again. Would you mind taking a look at it for me some time?”

“I don’t think that’s silly at all,” Owen said. “I’d be happy to take a look at it. I can stop by tomorrow if you’ll be in.”

“I’ll be here,” I said.

Owen smiled and ducked his head. “Good night, then.”

“Good night,” I said.

I went inside.

“Okay,” Kristen said as I closed the door behind me. “Two gorgeous guys come looking for you on the same night. How lucky can you get?”

“It’s no big deal,” I said. “Owen was just being nice.”

My phone buzzed then, and I went to pick it up.

“It’s a text from Mark,” I said. “He wants to meet again.”

“You’re going to have to choose,” Kristen said. “Which one is it? Mark or Owen?”

“I don’t even know if Owen likes me,” I replied. “And I barely know either of them.”

“Just humor me. If you had to choose based on first impressions, who would it be?”

I smiled at Kristen and turned for the stairs. “Good night. I’m going to bed.”

“You drive me crazy sometimes,” Kristen said.

Up in my room, I got ready for bed, and as I went to turn off the light, I picked up the broken snow globe that sat on my bureau. It was still dusty, but I gave it a little shake and watched the snow swirl around the house as Santa and his sleigh flew overhead. Kristen’s parting words came back to me, and I smiled to myself. Though I had given her a hard time, I knew whom I would choose—if I had the chance.

“I choose Owen,” I whispered to the snow globe.

And just for fun, I flipped the broken switch to “on.”

The snow globe instantly lit up, illuminating Santa and the house.

“Guess I chose right,” I murmured.

******************

Thanks very much for reading!

The Perfect Boyfriend — New Short Story

Christmas-Presents

 

New piece of flash fiction. 😉

The Perfect Boyfriend

“So what are you looking for exactly?” Abbie asked.

Her friend Michelle continued to stare into the shop window and sighed.

“The perfect boyfriend,” she said.

“There’s no such thing as the perfect boyfriend,” Abbie replied.

“I know,” Michelle said. “But could you just imagine how great that would be? You’d get a big shiny box with a bow, and the love of your life would just jump out.”

She continued to stare at the glitzy display in the window in front of her.

“I’m not sure that’s a healthy way to think,” Abbie said. “Seriously though—I thought you said you wanted to go Christmas shopping. Where’s your list? All we’ve done so far is stare into windows.”

“I know,” Michelle said. “It’s just so hard to go through the holidays without your sweetie.”

“You broke up with Lucas six months ago.”

“I know,” Michelle said again. “But it all comes flooding back to you when the decorations go up.”

“Come on,” Abbie said. “Let’s actually go into a shop for a change.”

Michelle let herself get dragged inside.

Abbie and Michelle did end up getting some Christmas shopping done, and afterward, Abbie dropped her friend off at her apartment.

“Have fun wrapping your presents up,” Abbie said as Michelle exited her car. “And no more mooning over Lucas.”

Michelle gave a little wave and disappeared into her building.

Two days later, Michelle hadn’t shown up for a planned brunch with Abbie, and Abbie found herself in front of Michelle’s building again.

She went inside.

Abbie took the elevator to Michelle’s floor and then went down the hall and knocked on her door.

There was no answer.

Abbie noticed then that Michelle’s door was open just a hair, and she pushed on it.

It swung open.

“Hello?” Abbie called. “Michelle? Are you home?”

Swift footsteps approached her, and Abbie stepped back in alarm.

A light in the apartment turned on, and the door opened wider.

Suddenly standing before her was a man who looked familiar. He had black-rimmed glasses, and Abbie was sure she’d seen him somewhere recently.

“Are you—”

“I’m Michelle’s brother, Zach,” he said. “You’re one of Michelle’s friends, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m Abbie,” Abbie said. She remembered now—she’d seen Zach at a party Michelle had thrown last month.

“Do you know where she is?” Zach demanded. “No one in the family’s heard from her in two days.”

“No,” Abbie said. “I dropped her off here after we went shopping on Friday. I haven’t heard from her since.”

“Shopping?” Zach said. “Do you know anything about this big box?”

“Big box?” Abbie echoed.

“Maybe you’d better come in,” Zach replied.

He stood back so Abbie could enter, and then he led her to the living room.

In the middle of the room stood an enormous red-wrapped box with a gold bow. It was long and tall, and it was just the right size to hold a person.

“What is that?” Abbie asked.

“I was hoping you could tell me,” Zach said. “Michelle didn’t buy that when the two of you went shopping?”

“No.”

Abbie went closer. There was a tag on the box that read, “From your sweetie.”

“I didn’t know she was dating anyone,” Zach said.

“As far as I know, she isn’t,” Abbie replied.

She reached out for the lid of the box, which was facing them, and she found that it swung open like a door.

Inside was gloom that stretched a long way—it appeared to be a hallway.

Zach stared at it in surprise. “Do you think she went in there?”

“I think we’d better find out,” Abbie said.

She stepped into the box, and Zach followed her.

Soon a figure came toward them out of the gloom. There was a glow around the figure like candlelight, and Abbie soon found herself standing face to face with a tall, handsome man with thick, dark hair and mesmerizing dark eyes. He was wearing tight jeans and an even tighter black T-shirt that emphasized his well-muscled torso.

“Hello,” the man said in a deep, smoky voice. “My name is Ryan. I don’t believe we’ve met, but I’ve been looking for you all my life.”

He lifted her hand to kiss it.

“I’m Abbie,” she said, temporarily spellbound.

After a moment, she shook off her daze.

“What are you doing here?” Abbie said sharply. “And where is Michelle?”

“I go where I am called,” Ryan replied in a sultry undertone. “It’s a special call from the heart. And I have no idea who Michelle is. I only have eyes for you.”

Zach rushed forward. “Listen, creep. You’re going to tell us where Michelle is right now.”

Ryan stared at Zach, startled. “Whoa. A boyfriend. That’s an unexpected twist.”

“Where is she?” Zach demanded.

He reached out to grab Ryan by his tight shirt collar, and Ryan abruptly disappeared.

He reappeared behind Zach.

“I’m beginning to get the picture,” Ryan said. “You two are here looking for that pretty gal I picked up earlier.”

Zach turned on Ryan once more, and once again Ryan disappeared—only to reappear a few feet away.

“Relax,” Ryan said. “I’ll take you to her.”

“And you’ll let us leave with her?” Abbie asked.

Ryan flashed Abbie a rakish grin. “Sure. If you can convince her to leave me. Gotta warn you, though—it won’t be easy.”

He winked and placed a guiding hand on both Zach and Abbie’s backs.

“Follow me to the garden.”

Ryan led them through the gloom.

Soon a pink glow appeared in the dim light, and Abbie could see a wide cluster of rose bushes—it did indeed look like a garden. And in the middle of the rose bushes sat Michelle.

“Michelle!” Abbie and Zach cried together.

They ran toward her.

Michelle was staring straight ahead with a dreamy look on her face, and she didn’t appear to notice Abbie or Zach when they reached the little garden.

Abbie swiftly waded through the roses and sat down on a stone bench next to Michelle.

Zach sat on the other side of her.

“Michelle,” Abbie said urgently. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Michelle, can you hear me?” Zach said.

She made no reply.

Ryan followed more slowly, and as Abbie was shaking Michelle’s shoulder, Ryan’s candlelit glow caught up with them.

For the first time, Michelle stirred.

“Is that you, my love?” she said.

Ryan smiled—a truly glorious sight. “I’m here, babe. I’m always right here for you.”

“My sweetie,” Michelle sighed.

“What have you done to her?” Zach demanded.

“Nothing,” Ryan replied. “She’s in love.”

“With you?” Zach said scornfully. “I don’t believe it.”

Ryan shrugged his magnificent shoulders, and the glow moved along with him. “You can call it infatuation if you like. Whatever it is it works.”

“We’re leaving here right now,” Abbie said. “And we’re taking Michelle with us.”

Ryan laughed. “Go ahead and try.”

He turned and began to walk away. As he disappeared, his glow grew smaller and smaller.

“Three for the price of one.” His voice floated back to them. “My lucky day.”

Soon his glow was gone, and Abbie and Zach were left with Michelle in the soft pink light of the rose garden.

“Come on, Michelle, we’ve got to move,” Zach said urgently.

Michelle didn’t answer.

Abbie snapped her fingers and then waved her hand in front of her friend’s face.

“Michelle!”

No answer.

Abbie turned to Zach.

“She only seems to respond to that Ryan guy.”

Zach looked around.

“She doesn’t appear to be restrained in any way. Do you want to try to move her out of here?”

Abbie nodded. “Good idea.”

They each grabbed one of Michelle’s arms and pulled.

Michelle didn’t move.

And neither did they.

“I can’t stand up,” Abbie said, startled.

“I can’t either,” Zach replied, equally startled.

“We’re stuck to this bench,” Abbie said. “All three of us.”

“Three for the price of one,” Zach murmured. “He’s got all of us trapped now.”

Abbie looked around. “How do you think this is happening?”

“Maybe it’s some kind of spell,” Zach said grimly. “Nothing about this is normal.”

“But we could move until just a few minutes ago,” Abbie said. “Something changed.”

She drew in her breath sharply. “The flowers!”

She began to grab at the roses, breaking them off by their stems.

But the flowers grew back as quickly as they were picked.

“That’s not a good sign,” Zach said.

“We have to do something!” Abbie cried in frustration.

She continued to pull more flowers—which quickly grew back.

“Wait, Abbie,” Zach said. “There’s something on your back.”

Abbie twisted around, trying to see.

“I’ll get it,” Zach said.

He reached around Michelle and just managed to pull off a label that was stuck to Abbie’s coat.

He held it out, and Abbie could see a white label with red letters that read, “Property of Ryan.”

“The nerve of that guy,” Abbie said. “Turn a bit—let me see if there’s one on your back too.”

Zach turned as much as he could, and Abbie spied a white square on his back.

“Yep, you’ve got one,” she said. “I bet he stuck these on us when he led us over here. Just a moment—I’ll get it.”

Abbie reached around Michelle, as Zach had done, but she couldn’t quite touch the label on Zach’s back. She stood without thinking about it.

“Zach, I’m free!”

“It must be the labels,” he replied. “Help me, and we’ll free Michelle too.”

Abbie quickly pulled the label off Zach, and he stood.

The two of them looked Michelle over—they couldn’t find a label.

“Now that we can stand,” Zach said, “maybe we can just carry her.”

Once again, they pulled on Michelle’s arms. She remained stuck fast to the stone bench.

“There must be something,” Abbie said. “What are we missing?”

“Ryan wasn’t expecting us,” Zach said. “So he had to improvise. Maybe he did something a little more substantial for Michelle.”

“Makes sense,” Abbie said.

She looked her friend over again. Nothing really stood out. Michelle was still wearing the outfit she’d had on when Abbie had last seen her—in fact, she was even still wearing her coat. Ryan must have kidnapped her shortly after she’d walked into her apartment.

Abbie sighed to herself. Something must be different—but what?

And then she spotted a little bit of sparkle on her friend’s wrist—just a little piece of gold peeking out from under the cuff of her coat sleeve.

“Michelle wasn’t wearing a bracelet,” she said.

Abbie quickly pushed Michelle’s sleeve up and examined the bracelet. Sure enough, there was a little gold charm on it engraved with the words, “To my sweetie, love Ryan.”

Abbie fumbled with the clasp and soon had it undone. She pulled the bracelet off Michelle and threw it into the flowers.

Michelle began to stir. She looked up at Zach and Abbie blearily.

“Hey, guys,” she said. “What’s going on?”

“Come on,” Zach said. “We’ve got to get you out of here.”

A voice drifted over to them from somewhere far away.

“Is that you, babe?” It was Ryan. “Having trouble sleeping, sweetie?”

“We have to go now,” Zach said.

Zach and Abbie helped Michelle to stand. The three of them soon made their way out of the rose garden, but beyond it, all they could see was gloom.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Ryan’s voice came to them again. “Why aren’t you feeding my flowers?”

“Just keep moving,” Abbie said.

The three of them stumbled through the dim light, leaving the rosy glow of the garden far behind them.

“There!” Zach shouted after a moment. “That looks like normal lamp light over there.”

Abbie looked where Zach was pointing. Far in the distance she could see a yellow rectangle—it looked like light pouring out through a door.

“Come on, Michelle,” Abbie urged.

The three of them ran on, and Ryan soon called out again.

“Where are you going, babe?”

Abbie turned to look back. A candlelit glow had appeared behind them, and it was gaining on them.

“He’s following us,” Abbie cried. “Hurry!”

Zach and Abbie ran as fast as they could, carrying Michelle between them.

“Were almost there!” Zach shouted. “Come on, Michelle!”

They hurried up to the yellow rectangle of light, and the two of them quickly pushed Michelle through the open door into her apartment. As they did so, Ryan caught up with them.

He caught both Abbie and Zach by the collar and lifted them into the air.

“I may have lost my lady love,” Ryan said, “but you two are mine.”

He stared at them with his big brown eyes. “Are you sure that you don’t want to stay with me?”

Abbie found that she couldn’t look away from the mesmerizing dark eyes. She was aware dimly that Zach had also ceased to struggle.

“That’s it,” Ryan said softly. “Come with me. I need you. And no one else will love you like I do.”

Abbie felt herself being carried away.

“No one else will love you like I do,” Ryan said again.

Ryan loved her, Abbie thought. He needed her.

She was happy to be going with him.

But something tugged at the back of her mind. She had come here for a different reason.

Someone else needed her.

Abbie turned her head and looked at Ryan’s handsome profile.

“Ryan,” she said softly.

He looked at her and smiled.

“Yes, babe?”

“I think we need to see other people,” Abbie said.

Ryan looked startled, and Abbie quickly aimed a kick at his middle.

He disappeared.

Both Abbie and Zach dropped to the ground.

“Run, Zach!” Abbie shouted.

The two of them ran for the yellow rectangle of light as Ryan reappeared behind them and chased after them.

Just as Ryan was reaching out a hand for Abbie’s collar again, she and Zach reached the door and jumped through it.

The two of them sprawled on the floor of Michelle’s apartment and looked back to see the tall wrapped present with the lid hanging open. The lid abruptly snapped shut, and the wrapped box with the gold bow promptly disappeared.

Michelle was sitting on the floor not too far from Abbie and Zach.

“Seriously, guys,” she said. “What’s going on?”

An hour later, Michelle, Abbie, and Zach were all seated in Michelle’s living room drinking coffee.

“So that’s what happened,” Abbie said. “And in conclusion, allow me to say that there’s no such thing as the perfect boyfriend.”

Michelle was staring at her steadily. She seemed skeptical.

“Well, thanks very much for saving me,” Michelle said. “But you’re wrong.”

“I know it’s hard to believe,” Abbie said.

“That’s not what I meant,” Michelle replied. “I totally believe the story.”

“Then—”

“You’re wrong that there’s no such thing as the perfect boyfriend,” Michelle said.

“Michelle,” Abbie said, “that kind of talk is how you got into this in the first place.”

“Not for me,” Michelle said. “For you.”

She raised her eyebrows and nodded pointedly in her brother’s direction.

“You and Zach,” she whispered.

Abbie glanced at Zach, and he looked back at her.

Zach’s eyes were also big and brown behind his black-rimmed glasses, but other than that, he was a world away from Ryan.

Zach looked a little sheepish. “I think I’m worth a shot,” he said.

Abbie smiled. “Why not?”

******************

Thanks very much for reading! 🙂

You can check out my books on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, Google Play, and Apple.

Harvest Moon — New Short Short Story

harvest-moon

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a new piece of flash fiction. 🦃

Harvest Moon

When the leaves turned gold, I decided it was time.

“If you look in the mirror, Megan,” my brother, Tom, said, “all you’re going to see is a werewolf!”

“Get out of here,” I said, pushing him out of my room and shutting the door.

Then I turned to my window and opened it.

A beautiful, amber-colored full moon shone in the sky overhead. Local legend said that if you looked into a mirror in the light of the harvest moon that you would see the face of your true love.

I’d had enough of waiting, and I decided tonight was the night—I’d find out who it was, even if I had to use an unorthodox method.

I sat on my windowsill and gazed into the handheld mirror from my dresser. I looked expectantly at first, but I didn’t see any face in the glass other than my own.

The cold autumn air swirled around me, but I continued to look.

I was resolved not to give up.

I must have dozed off, and for a moment I thought I saw a face—green eyes flecked with brown, a determined chin, eyebrows that were black and just a little too thick.

I started awake abruptly.

“No,” I said to myself. “Just no. There’s no way my true love is Edgar Beck.”

I looked into my mirror and saw with relief that it was still blank.

“Just a dream,” I murmured.

I quickly shut the window and put the mirror back.

The next morning I was in school wading through the crowded halls to my locker. I said hi to my friends and told no one of my experiment the previous evening—it was just too embarrassing.

As I headed to my first class, I spied a familiar face. It was Edgar, and he was headed straight for me.

Soon Edgar was standing right in front of me, blocking my way. Edgar—class clown, prankster, and someone I didn’t know very well at all.

He was looking at me expectantly.

“Hey, Megan,” he said.

I made no reply. There was no way Edgar could know I’d had a dream about him—I’d told no one. He continued to stare at me, and I felt my face flaming.

It was all just too awkward.

“So,” he said. “It’s me.”

“It is you,” I said.

As he continued to look at me, his gaze faltered. I saw uncertainty, nervousness in his eyes. A faint blush began to creep up his face.

“I’m sorry,” Edgar said. “But I just have to tell you this. It’s not a joke—I promise.”

Something in his tone caught my attention, and I waited.

“It’s just that I heard this old tale,” he said. “About looking into a mirror under the harvest moon. I heard you could see your true—”

He lowered his voice. “Your true love.”

I was startled to hear him say that, and he looked at me earnestly.

“It’s just that I did it last night,” he said. “And I saw you.”

I looked up into his eyes—saw the green flecked with brown—and I realized that there were greater depths in them than I had ever imagined.

“It’s no joke,” Edgar said. “I saw you, and I wanted you to know that.”

I took in his eyes, his determined chin, his black eyebrows that were just a little too thick, and I felt as if I were seeing him for the very first time.

“I saw you, too,” I said.

**********************

Thanks very much for reading!

A Light in the Hall

halloween-hero-1

Here’s a Halloween story inspired by R.B. McConnell’s Snowflake’s Challenge #1, and also inspired by Drew at House Valerius. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story about a picture that R.B. McConnell took. You can find R.B.’s picture at the bottom of the story. 🙂

A Light in the Hall

“Hello?”

I looked out into the hall. The light that filtered in was slightly green, and something about the stillness made me feel uneasy.

I left my dark bedroom behind and ventured farther into the hall.

The green light seemed to pull me in, and I thought I heard someone whisper my name.

“Victoria.”

I frowned. No one had called me Victoria in a long time. To most people, I was simply “Vic.”

The whisper came again. “Victoria.”

I looked around. I couldn’t tell where the green light was coming from—it seemed to be all around me without any one section of the hall being brighter than any other.

I walked down the hall to the living room and found it bathed in the same green light.

I saw a figure walking toward me, and soon before me, there was a familiar face.

“Victoria.”

“Is it really you?” I said. I was surprised at how quickly tears had sprung into my eyes.

“Victoria, come with me,” he said.

“I—I can’t,” I said. “I don’t understand. How can you be here?”

“Come with me.”

“No,” I said. I backed away. “How are you here?”

“Come with me,” he repeated, and he stretched out his hand.

In the next moment, we both were gone.

****************************************

RB’s original photo:

sketch-1538834174948

Thank you to R.B. McConnell and Drew for the fun challenge!

Starlight, Part 3 — New Short Story

bed-celestial-cool-girl-stars-Favim.com-143605

Here is part three of Starlight. If you haven’t read part two, you can find it here.

Starlight, Part 3

Angie spent the day with her parents. She hadn’t seen them in ages, and it felt good to spend time with them.

While she was with them, she felt something—a little bit of warmth in her heart. She remembered how nice it was to spend time with family.

When it was time for her to go, Angie had a little trouble explaining her travel arrangements. She hadn’t brought her car, and she lived twenty miles from her parents’ house—she clearly hadn’t walked.

Angie just told her parents that a friend had brought her over—and that that friend would pick her up. As she stepped out of the house, she certainly hoped that was true.

She stood on the porch and watched the sun set. Soon, the first star of the evening appeared. After that, more stars studded the sky.

Angie began to feel anxious. She knew her mother would come to check on her soon, and she wouldn’t have a good explanation for why she was still standing on the porch.

The night continued to darken, and suddenly a bright light appeared by her side.

Maia had materialized next to her.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” Angie said. “I wasn’t sure if—”

“There’s no time to talk,” Maia said. “You’ve found the letter ‘J.’ Now you have one-and-a-half more tasks to complete.”

Suddenly, they were floating in the air, and in the next moment, they were flying through the night.

“But I have work in the morning,” Angie protested. “I can’t go on a task tonight.”

“Then you’ll have to work quickly,” Maia replied. “Task Two. Combine fire and water.”

“What?” Angie said. “What does that mean?”

“That’s what you have to find out,” Maia said.

They flew on, and before long, they were floating into a building and settling on the ground.

Angie looked around. They were in a supermarket.

“What are we—”

Angie turned around. Maia was gone.

Angie looked around the supermarket in some trepidation. She wondered if she would be trapped in the store like she had been trapped in her old room.

She didn’t relish the idea of spending the night in a supermarket.

Angie glanced around again. She was standing in the produce department near a display of cantaloupes. She thought idly that she really liked cantaloupe, but she couldn’t eat a whole one—not by herself.

“It’s a shame, isn’t it?” said a voice by her side.

Angie looked up.

A young man with red hair was standing next to her.

“When you’re single,” he said, “you’re really better off with half a cantaloupe.”

Angie stared at him.

The young man colored. “Not that I’m saying you’re single. I am. But that doesn’t mean you are. I’m just looking for half a cantaloupe—that’s all I’m really saying. But I don’t see any, do you?”

Angie looked around. “No, I don’t. But I do know what you mean.”

The young man brightened. “You do? I live around here. Do you live around here?”

Angie frowned. “I’m not actually sure.”

She stopped and looked down at her clothes. She was still wearing the clothes she’d worn to bed on Saturday night—she must look as if she had just run out of the house to grab a few things from the store.

The young man nodded. “That’s cool. I understand if you don’t want to tell me where you live. I’m Brian, by the way. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“Nice to meet you, Brian,” Angie said. She looked at him. He seemed like a nice person—and under ordinary circumstances she might have liked to stop and chat with him a little.

But right now she had something she had to do.

“I’ve got to go,” Angie said. “Have a good night.”

She moved off quickly.

Angie walked up and down the aisles without really finding anything. How was she supposed to combine fire and water—put tabasco sauce with cereal and milk? Nothing in the store seemed like it could be any help.

Angie continued to wander and eventually she found herself near the cashiers and the automatic doors that led out of the store.

She stopped and watched people entering and exiting with shopping carts and baskets. Getting out looked so easy—surely the automatic doors wouldn’t refuse her.

She waited until a family was heading out together, and then Angie hurried forward and walked out along with them.

She sighed in relief as the doors opened with a soft shush to allow them all out and then closed behind them with an equally soft sound.

Angie stood out in the night air and looked around gratefully. She hadn’t fulfilled the second task, but she wasn’t trapped. As she continued to look around, she realized that the front of the store looked familiar—she was actually in her own neighborhood.

Angie felt another surge of relief—she wouldn’t have to spend the night in the store, and she could now go home and get ready for work as if this were a normal Sunday night.

Angie began to walk the few blocks to her house.

The night passed as many Sunday nights had, and as Angie climbed into bed at the end of it, she began to wonder if she would receive a visit from Maia. But no starlit visitor showed up to scold her for not fulfilling her task, and eventually, Angie fell asleep.

She went to work as usual on Monday and then came home. Once again, Maia did not appear, and Angie slept peacefully that night without any interruption.

Tuesday passed the same way, and Angie began to wonder if she had imagined the whole thing. But she had mysteriously shown up in her parents’ house on Saturday night in her nightclothes without a car—something her mother had remarked on quite a few times. So something had happened that night, and Angie was unable to explain it all away.

As the week wore on, Angie found herself going back to the supermarket where she had magically appeared on Sunday night. She would wander the aisles, looking for something to jump out at her, but she saw nothing that could reasonably be construed as the combination of fire and water. But Maia—if she did exist—had wanted her to find something in this particular place.

What could it be?

Angie didn’t know.

She kept going back to the supermarket, and she began to remember how much she used to love to cook. Angie remembered how she used to have all her friends over, and she would cook something simple—like a big pot of pasta. And then they would all talk and laugh and have a great time. And then sometimes, when a friend was going through a difficult time, she would make her special soup, and they would talk it out.

Angie began to wonder—should she try to contact her old friends? Maybe make her special soup? She had friends now, of course, but they were mostly friends she’d met through work. She liked her new friends, but she missed her old ones—the ones she’d had before Jason.

Maybe she could try to invite them over—maybe see if they might come back into her life.

The more Angie thought about it, the more she liked the idea.

Another week went by, and then Angie decided she would do it. She found old email addresses for three of her best friends and sent them an invite—she didn’t even know if the addresses were still good. Then she went to the supermarket and bought ingredients for her special soup. Angie decided she would make it even if no one wanted to come.

A few days went by, and then an answer came in. Her friend Nina said she would be happy to come. Angie was overjoyed. Then another day went by, and two more replies came in. Both Joy and Eva said they would come too.

Angie spent Friday night cleaning her house. Then Saturday morning she got up early and began to prepare her soup—it needed time for the flavors to meld properly. She began chopping herbs and vegetables. Then Angie turned the dial on her gas stove and got one of the burners clicking. A moment later, a flame sprang to life. Angie placed a pot full of water on the flame and waited for it to boil. Then she began adding ingredients and let the whole thing simmer.

That night, the doorbell rang, and Angie jumped up to answer it. Nina, Joy, and Eva had all arrived together, and when they saw Angie, the three of them wrapped her in a big hug.

Angie found that there were tears in her eyes.

Angie and her friends sat around her kitchen table and ate her special soup just like they had in the old days. They laughed a lot and cried a little, and Angie found that it seemed like no time at all had passed—they were all still friends. At the end of the night, Nina made them promise that they would all come to her house next Friday for a movie night.

Angie watched her friends depart with a warmth in her heart that she hadn’t felt in a long time. The night was dark but studded with stars, and Angie watched her friends’ car until the red taillights disappeared.

Then she went back inside.

As Angie closed the door, she found a woman in a dress made of stars with starlight hair standing right in front of her—it was Maia.

Maia stepped forward and hugged Angie.

“You did it!” she said. “You completed Task Two!”

“I—” Angie said.

“You combined fire and water,” Maia said. “You made your special soup!”

“I guess I did,” Angie said. “I didn’t even think of it that way.”

Maia beamed. “My job here is done. You’ve completed both your tasks, and now your unspoken wish is fulfilled. You’ve gotten yourself back.”

Angie frowned. “Both my tasks? You said I had two and a half.”

Maia winked. “You really only had two to fulfill your wish. The half is just for you—if you want it.”

Maia began to float toward the ceiling. “Goodbye, dear Angie. I don’t believe I will see you again, but it was lovely to meet you.”

“Wait!” Angie said. “What do you mean, the half is just for me?”

But Maia was already gone.

Angie went back to the kitchen to put away her soup.

In the morning, Angie got up early to take some photos with her phone—she didn’t have a new camera yet. As she returned to the house, she realized she’d neglected to buy anything for breakfast.

She hurried to the supermarket.

Angie picked up some cereal and milk, considered eggs briefly, and then drifted over to the produce aisle—she figured she could use some fruit.

The strawberries and blueberries looked good, but then Angie spied it—a half cantaloupe wrapped in plastic.

She hurried over to it.

Just as she reached it, she saw another shopper heading toward the cantaloupe.

Angie stopped and looked up at him—the tall, red-haired figure looked familiar.

After a moment, the name came to her—it was Brian.

Brian smiled when he saw her. “I was hoping I’d see you again.”

“Hi, Brian,” Angie said.

He gestured to the plastic-wrapped fruit. “I see we’re both after the same thing—the legendary half cantaloupe.”

Angie glanced at the fruit. A half cantaloupe. The half is just for you, Maia had said.

She glanced up at Brian. He seemed like a nice person—it couldn’t hurt to get to know him a little better.

Angie held out her hand. “My name’s Angie, by the way.”

Brian took it. “Nice to meet you, Angie.”

He looked over at the cantaloupe. “I’d be happy to relinquish my claim on this particular piece of fruit. It’s all for you.”

Angie smiled. “Thanks. The next one we see will be for you.”

Brian glanced at her basket. “Looks like you’ve got a few perishable items in there, so you probably want to get home. But would you like to meet for coffee some time?”

Angie looked at Brian. His smile seemed genuine, and she felt stirrings in her heart that she hadn’t felt in a long time.

“I’d like that,” she said.

******************

Thanks very much for reading!

You can check out my books on AmazonBarnes&NobleKobo, and Apple.

And stop by some time and hi on Facebook. 🙂