100-word story: Trick or Treat

A vampire. A monster. Wonder Woman. These were the costumes of the kids I was taking trick-or-treating. As we walked to the next house, a bush near us began to move. It was in a front yard decorated as a cemetery with ghosts and skeletons hanging from the trees. We froze. A figure with green skin jumped out of the bush. “Trick or treat!” My heart skipped a beat. The kids screamed and ran. I crossed my arms and glared at my friend, who was laughing. “Did you really have to do that?” “Bwa-ha-ha. Happy Halloween!”

The Lakehouse

img_0164_zpsxpft50nx

“I want to go back home!”

When they finally arrived at the lakehouse for the first time, the whole family was exhausted. The kids had been arguing the entire ride, and their navigation system sent them down a dead-end road. They were seriously discussing never coming back again.

Once they finally got unpacked and went out to the lake, though, everything changed. The lakehouse was small, but the lake itself was so blue and seemed to stretch on for miles. The kids couldn’t wait to swim, Mike wanted to go fishing, and Angela wanted to sit and relax, just watching the water.

“I need you to promise me something,” Angela said to Mike. “We will never give this place up, no matter what mood we’re in or how crazy our summer is.”

“Done,” Mike said.

Thirty years later, Angela and Mike were sitting together by the lake, watching their grandkids swimming in the water.

“Remember when we were about to give this place up?” Angela said.

“Nah, I think you’re making that up,” Mike said. “This is our home away from home. We never could have given this place up.”

Angela just smiled.

 

The journal

Note: I wrote this story several years ago. I had forgotten that I had written it until recently. I want to make sure I don’t have long gaps between writing stories again.

***

Someone was knocking at the door.

“Who is it?” Audrey Shepherd called. The sun was beating down on yet another scorching August day, and Audrey pulled her wavy, chestnut-colored hair into a ponytail as she walked out of her bedroom. She was getting ready for work, and her air conditioner was on the fritz again.

No one answered. She peeked out of the peephole but didn’t see anyone there. Audrey slowly opened the door and looked around. There was still no one there, but a package was sitting on the step. “What can this be?” Audrey wondered. “I didn’t order anything.”

Audrey scooped up her cat, who was trying to get out the door, as she brought the package in and set it on the table. There was no name or address on it. The cat stared at the package and looked up at Audrey, meowing. Overcome with curiosity, Audrey grabbed a pair of scissors off the desk and began cutting the tape on the plain brown box.

After she finally got through all the tape, she flipped the box open to find a beige journal with lacy pink borders. It looked quite old, but the pages inside were blank.

“Why would somebody send me a journal?” Audrey wondered.

Just then the phone rang, and the cat hopped off the table. As Audrey hung up on the telemarketer, she remembered she had to call about her air conditioner. The journal lay on the table, forgotten.

The next morning another package came. Again there was a knock on the door, and again no one was there when Audrey answered. This time the box was small and narrow. Inside was a black felt pen. “Now I have a pen to go with the journal?” Audrey thought. “Why does someone want me to write in a journal? And what do they want me to write, exactly?”

Then there was another knock on the door. This time it was the repairman, who after a couple of hours declared Audrey’s air conditioner fixed and handed her a bill that made Audrey forget all about the journal and the pen.

The next day yet another package was sitting on the step as Audrey came home from a long day at work. This was the largest package Audrey had received. Inside it was a painting. It was a beautiful meadow with a young woman who looked very much like Audrey, except that she was dressed in a beige, lacy, dress that appeared to be from the 18th or 19th century. Audrey searched for the name of an artist, but couldn’t find one.

“I wonder who would send me a painting?” Audrey thought aloud. The woman in the painting was writing in what appeared to be a journal. Audrey stared at her own journal. Suddenly a strange thought struck her. “Am I supposed to write to her by writing in the journal?” Audrey wondered. It sounded ridiculous.

She shook her head and put the journal back on the table, setting the painting against the wall. She would worry about it later. She had bills to pay right now.

That night, Audrey dreamt that she was walking in a meadow with long green grasses and hundreds of flowers in an assortment of colors. The sun was shining down on a glimmering lake, and pair of swans was swimming through the bright blue water. Audrey could hear birds chirping and a light breeze rustling through the trees. The sweet scents of flowers wafted through the air. The place had a dreamy quality, Audrey thought. It felt very peaceful.

Audrey felt a tap on her shoulder and jumped. Behind her was the woman she had seen in the painting. “Who are you?” Audrey asked.

“My name is Sandra. I love to spend time here in this meadow. Isn’t it lovely?”

“Yes, it is,” Audrey replied. “But how did you get here?”

Sandra smiled. “How did you?”

Audrey thought for a moment. “I think I’m dreaming,” she said. “Yes, this has to be a dream.”

“Well, it doesn’t have to be a dream,” Sandra said in a soft, almost hypnotic voice. “You can spend time here any time you want. All you have to do is write in the journal that you want to visit me in the meadow.”

“Did … did you send the journal?” Audrey asked. It seemed crazy that a woman in the painting could send her packages. Surely she would wake up soon.

“Well, I didn’t send it, exactly. It’s just a way for you to visit this beautiful place. Wouldn’t you like to visit again, Audrey? All you have to do is say so in the journal. Just write. ‘I want to go to the meadow.’ It’s as simple as that.”

“Really?” Audrey said, frowning. “You mean all I have to do is write in some journal and I’ll be transported here?”

“Well, it’s a rather unusual journal. I guess you could call it ‘magical,’” Sandra said with a smile.

It was a beautiful place, Audrey thought. She felt so at peace here — it felt so nice to be away from work, from the noise of the city, her busy life. She felt like she could just lay down in the grass and stay here forever.

“Well, it is nice here.” Audrey said, smiling wistfully. “Wait a second … How did you know my name?”

Audrey suddenly woke up back in her room and found herself staring at her beige walls and tan carpet. Sun was streaming through the slits in the blinds, and the cat was meowing. She could hear the train horn in the distance.

Audrey sighed. “What do you think, Ginger? You think I could suddenly be in a beautiful meadow by writing in a journal?”

Ginger meowed again. Audrey laughed. “Yeah, I know, it’s ridiculous. I guess my life must really be getting dull, huh? It’s probably just some practical joke, and my mind is making things up to make my life more exciting.”

Audrey put took some food off the counter and poured it into the cat’s dish. “I guess I better get ready for work,” she said.

After a rough day at work, Audrey came home exhausted and flopped down on the couch. She grabbed the remote and turned on the TV, flipping through the channels. She was watching a show on koalas on Animal Planet when she heard something fall on the floor.

“Ginger, what are you up to now?” Audrey shouted, sighing. Ginger came out of the kitchen, looking up and Audrey and meowing. “What did you knock down?” Audrey asked the cat, who looked at her and walked over to the couch in response. Audrey sighed and walked over to the table, where she saw the journal on the floor.

“I wonder what would really happen if I wrote in this journal?” Audrey thought. “Probably nothing.” Her curiosity finally getting the better of her, she grabbed the journal off the floor and the pen off the table and sat on the couch beside Ginger. She wrote, “I would like to visit the meadow.”

She looked around. She was still in the living room of house. “Well, just like I thought, nothing happened,” she said to Ginger, who looked up and meowed, but the cat wasn’t looking at Audrey.

Audrey followed the cat’s gaze and saw that the painting looked strange, almost as if the woman inside of it was moving. Audrey walked over to the painting and peered closely at it, still holding the journal.

Suddenly Audrey wasn’t in her living room anymore. Nor was she wearing the black skirt and beige sweater she had worn to work. She was in the old-fashioned dress she had seen in the painting, sitting in the meadow, holding the journal. She looked down at the journal and was astonished to see other writing in there besides her own:

“Dear Audrey,

Now that you have written in the journal, you got your wish and visited the meadow. Unfortunately, this visit is going to be longer than you thought it would be. Probably about 50 years, when another woman comes along who looks a lot like you and receives a journal, a pen and a painting. This happened to me about 50 years ago, when I received the same journal. I don’t know many of the details, only the woman before me wrote me in this journal. Apparently there was a curse hundreds of years ago, and now women are chosen to spend 50 years in this painting until the next woman comes along with the same fate. I’m sorry you now must spend all of this time in the painting, but look at this way: It is a beautiful meadow, isn’t it? And thank you, for taking me away from that painting. You’ll get away one day, too, 50 years from now.

Sincerely,

Sandra”

Audrey stared at the journal, awestruck. She was going to be trapped here for 50 years? But this had to be a dream. She pinched herself. Unfortunately, it hurt. Then as she stood up and looked around, she saw something strange in the distance. It almost looked like some sort of portal. She ran over and looked out of a hole that seemed to be shrinking in size. She could see her living room, her cat, and now herself — no, Sandra, dressed as herself, sitting out on the couch beside Ginger, watching TV. “She’s taken my place?” Audrey wondered aloud.

Suddenly Audrey could feel herself moving backward until she was sitting in the same position she had found herself in earlier, with the journal on her lap. She realized then that not only was she stuck in this meadow, she was stuck sitting in this exact same position until 50 years from now, when another unfortunate woman was send the same journal, pen and painting she was.

Audrey looked at the journal hopelessly. “Well, at least it’s peaceful.”

Just Having Lunch

Jerry knew that he looked ridiculous. He was wearing sunglasses and fedora, but he didn’t want his wife or her ex-husband to see him.

He was sitting several tables away from Louise and her ex-husband, Jacob, at an outdoor café. The sun was shining, which Jerry was grateful fro, because otherwise he would have looked even more ridiculous in his fedora and sunglasses. The song “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” came into his head. Louise would chuckle at that, if he told her, but of course he couldn’t tell her. He didn’t want her to know how paranoid he was.

It wasn’t that he didn’t trust his wife, he told himself. It was that he didn’t trust her ex-husband. Jacob was a slimy little bastard, from everything he had heard about him. And he was indeed little. Before they saw down, Jerry had stared at them partly because Jacob was at least two inches shorter than Louise. How could she have married someone shorter than her?

They had been ordering earlier, but now they appeared to be deep in conversation. Jacob was leaning across the table as he spoke to Louise, who was still sitting back in her chair, shaking her head. What were they talking about? Jerry had assumed that most of the conversation would be about their kids, who were 8 and 10. Was he trying to get more visitation time?

“Would you like something to drink?” The waitress’s voice made Jerry jump. He didn’t really want anything, but he needed to order something considering he was a customer at this restaurant.

“I’d like a coffee,” Jerry said, “with cream and sugar.” He took a quick glance at the menu to decide what to eat so that the waitress wouldn’t disturb him again. “I’ll also have the turkey and swiss sandwich, no mayo.”

The waitress nodded and scurried away. Jerry refocused his attention on Louise and Jacob. Now they were both leaning forward as they talked. Louise was gesturing quite a bit with her hands, as she always did when she was passionate about something. Jerry was leaning forward, too, but he couldn’t hear anything. Maybe he could just casually walk by and pretend to drop something…

No, that idea was ridiculous. They would both see him for sure, and then his wife would be upset that he didn’t trust her to have lunch with her ex. And he couldn’t blame her for being upset with him. After all, this was really an invasion of her privacy. But, then, she was his wife. And she was having dinner with her sleazy ex-husband. He should be there in case something goes wrong, right?

Apparently the lunch was going very well, though, because Louise had just tipped her head back and laughed. He could even hear her a bit. She had always had a loud, distinctive laugh. What on earth had he said that was so funny?

Then, his wife grabbed the purse from the back of her chair and got up. She was starting to head his direction. He quickly grabbed the wine menu from the center of the table and stared at it to try to hid his face.

It was no use, though. Louise stopped right in front of him.

“Jerry, if you’re going to spy on me, at least don’t wear that stupid fedora.”

Something out there

IMG_0843

Annie Shaw relaxed and enjoyed the feeling of the sun beating down on her. The waves were gently washing onto the beach.

“Aren’t you going to go in the water, Annie?”

Annie stretched and looked at her little sister. Amy was 12 years younger than her, and it was hard for her to understand why someone would just lie there and soak up the sun when they could be splashing around in the waves.

“No, Amy, I’m getting a nice tan.”

“But that’s boring. I want to go swimming.”

Annie looked around, but she didn’t see their parents. Amy wasn’t allowed to go into the ocean by herself. Annie looked out into the water and watched the waves for a few moments.

She blinked. What was she seeing out there? She put her hand up to her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun and try to figure out what was out there? Could it be a shark? They were in Florida after all.

Amy was tugging on Annie’s sarong. “Annie, can I go swimming.”

“No, Amy, there’s something out there.” Annie was still trying to figure out what it was, but all she could see was something moving around. Maybe it was just a swimmer, but whatever it was looked so much bigger than a person.

“What is that?” Annie said to no one in particular as she walked toward the water. Amy was following behind her.

A scream made Annie jump and nearly fall over onto the beach. The scream was coming from the water. Now there were many screams and a great deal of splashing as people attempted to get out of the water.

Annie took Amy’s hand. “Amy, I think we better go.”

“What is it, Annie? Why are people screaming?”

Now Annie was swiftly walking away from the water and tugging her little sister along with her. “I don’t know, Amy, but I don’t’ think we should wait around to find out.”

Annie was trying to keep moving, but curiosity made her turn around to see if whatever it was was still behind them.

What she saw made her heart jump into her throat. People were continuing to run out of the water and up the beach, but it the creature that was lumbering through the water that made Annie’s jaw drop. Amy shrieked and grabbed onto her.

“Annie, what is that? Is that a monster?”

Annie didn’t believe in monsters, but she didn’t know what else to call it. It was at least 7 feet tall and gray with scales covering it from head to foot. It was looking around, and Annie found herself frozen for the moment with Amy beside her. The creature turned and stared right at her. It had bright yellow eyes. Annie wanted to run, but her legs felt like lead. There were screams and cries and people running all around here, but somehow they all sounded very distant.

Then the creature turned away from her and roared. It was like nothing Annie had ever heard before. It didn’t sound like a lion or a bear. It sounded almost unearthly.

Then, just like that, the creature turned and stomped back into the water, slowly disappearing under the waves. The water was now calm, as if some unheard-of creature hadn’t just emerged from it and terrorized a beach full of people.

“What was that, Annie? Is it really gone?” Amy asked, looking up at Annie with wide blue eyes.

Annie gave her sister a hug. The legs that had felt like lead moments ago were now able to move again. “I think it’s gone, Amy. Still, why don’t we find Mom and Dad and go home?”

Amy nodded. “Okay. I don’t want to swim anymore now.”

Bad Haircut

Bridget stared at her reflection in horror. “This…this is not what I asked for.”

The stylist looked sheepish. “Sorry. Didn’t you say you wanted your hair short in front and long in back?”

“It’s a mullet! I definitely didn’t say I wanted a mullet!”

“Well, I just got out of beauty school two weeks ago. I guess I thought that was what you wanted.”

“No…no, it most definitely is not,” Bridget said. She couldn’t seem to turn away from her reflection, as much as her new haircut was scaring her.

“Well, maybe I can fix it…”

Bridget jumped out of the chair. “No…No, I think you’ve done enough.”

Bridget knew the stylist hadn’t meant to ruin her hair, but she certainly didn’t trust her to fix it. As she was fleeing the salon, though, her worst nightmare came true. She nearly ran right into Jake Simpson, the boy she had had a crush on since the sixth grade. And he was seeing her with this horrible haircut. Bridget had never wanted the earth to just open up and swallow her up so much.

Jake put his hand on his mouth, and Bridget felt herself turning bright red. It was clear that Jake was trying to keep himself from laughing. It took several moments, and then he finally took his hand away.

“Did…did you just get a new haircut?” he asked, and he couldn’t seem to stop himself from snickering a bit. Bridget turned even redder, if that was possible, as two of Jake’s friends walked up. They didn’t even bother trying to keep themselves from laughing.

Bridget just turned and ran, hoping this nightmare would be over soon. What on earth possessed her to think it was a good idea to try a new salon? She could only hope that Marjory, who had been her stylist for years, would be willing to forgive her. Bridget had started feeling like she wanted something new, but clearly a new stylist was not the answer. She could only hope that Marjory would be able to take her in to fix her hair on short notice.

Marjory’s salon was located in her house. Bridget ran up and pounded on the door, hoping and praying that Marjory could fix this mess that she had gotten herself into.

Bridget felt like she had been pounding on the door for several minutes when Marjory finally opened the door. Marjory’s jaw dropped at the sight of Bridget’s haircut.

“Oh, good Lord! What did you do?”

Bridget almost cried. “I’m so sorry, Marjory. I decided to try different stylist. Clearly it didn’t go very well.”

Marjory continued to stare at Bridget. “To put it mildly. Here, come in.”

“Can you fix it?” Bridget asked, desperation creeping into her voice.

“Well, I think so, but we’ll need to make it really short,” Marjory said.

Bridget sighed. She was worried that would be the case. “That’s okay. I trust you.”

So, Bridget sat down in the chair and let Marjory get to work. Finally, Marjory whirled Bridget’s chair around. She now had a cute pixie cut. Bridget knew it would take some getting used to, but she was thankful to Marjory for managing to fix her horrible haircut.

“You fixed it! Thank you! I promise that I will never go to another salon again.”