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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 211 (April 28-May 4). Stories. Topic: A Packed Suitcase.

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

You have until May 4 to post a story, and May 5-7 we’ll vote for the one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long. PLEASE keep it between these limits or it will NOT be submitted for polls.

Also, if your story has paragraphs, please make it obvious.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: A Packed Suitcase

*Thanks to Nicky for the idea*

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject. I do not care, but it must relate to the story somehow.

Have fun!

message 2: by M (new)

M | 11043 comments Great topic, Leslie! Thank you for putting up the polls and contests.

message 3: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments I posted this synopsis in my own personal folder and now I have a use for it. This story's called "Never Hit a Lady" and it goes like this:


Seth Franklin, Abusive Boyfriend
Emma Williams, Battered Girlfriend
Laurie Bryan, Social Worker
Desmond Andrews, Laurie’s Enforcer

PROMPT CONFORMITY: All of Emma’s belongings are being packed in a suitcase.

SYNOPSIS: Laurie and Desmond are summoned by Emma to help her escape Seth’s house while the abusive bastard is out grocery shopping. During the attempted fleeing, Seth returns home early from shopping and demands that Laurie get out of his house. Desmond won’t allow either of the two women to get hurt if he has to die protecting them.

message 4: by M (new)

M | 11043 comments There it is! A week is just not the same without a Garrison synopsis. And it promises a story that will be exciting to read!

message 5: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments You're awesome, M! :)

message 6: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Never Hit a Lady
GENRE: Modern Drama
RATING: PG-13 for abusive violence and mild swearing

The beaten up mobile home shared by Seth Franklin and Emma Williams was an emotional dynamite shack ready to blow. The multi-racial and extremely beautiful Emma already suffered the full extent of Seth’s rage as evidenced by the large purple and red bruises she hid beneath her long sleeves and baggy pants. One dark and gray morning, she decided enough was enough.

While her disgusting boyfriend Seth was out grocery shopping, Emma was in the bedroom packing clothing and other personal affects into a brown leather suitcase. She took care to pack as quickly as she could since her abuser could be home any minute. When there was a knock on her door, she jumped a little bit in the air and felt her heart beating like a bass drum.

Slowly and methodically, Emma walked toward the front door and opened it to reveal hopefully someone other than Seth Franklin. The door creaked and squealed as she poked her sunglasses-covered face outside to see that her hopes were answered. Instead of her bully boyfriend, she saw a woman in gray business attire along with a short stocky muscle man dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans.

The woman asked if she was at the home of Emma Williams and the latter shook her head and said, “Yes.” in a soft and tender voice. The business woman went on to say, “My name is Laurie Bryan and this is my enforcer Desmond Andrews. I’m here on behalf of Social Services. You called our office earlier today and I can tell you that we have a safe house waiting for you even as we speak. Are you all packed and ready to go?”

Emma nervously nodded and slowly opened the door to invite the two social workers inside. Laurie said, “Before we go any further, we have to get documentation of the abuse Mr. Franklin put you through. You already gave a detailed account over the phone, but we also need to take pictures of the bruises and email them to the office. Desmond, get out your smart phone.”

As Desmond did as he was told, Emma was reluctant to roll up her sleeves and pant legs. Instead she just hugged herself, tucked her chin, and sobbed softly. Laurie’s heart dropped for her. She gently hugged Emma so as not to agitate her bruises and said to her, “You’re a very brave woman for doing this, Miss Williams. You’ve gone this far already and if you want to see Seth go to jail, we need to go all the way. We need those pictures.”

The embrace was broken and with all the tenderness in the world, Emma rolled up her left sleeve. It was worse than Laurie and Desmond thought. Not only were there horrifying bruises, but there were slashes, burns, and even a few needle pricks, probably done with a syringe. These telltale signs of abuse were shown not just on her left arm, but all over her body.

Desmond could only say, “Jesus H. Christ.” as he activated the camera on his smart phone and took pictures that would surely cause the paper pushers at the office to vomit all over their desks. The stocky collegiate wrestler took a total of 25 pictures, which was 25 too many for his and Laurie’s personal tastes. Despite the graphic nature of the photographs, it would be more than enough evidence to lock Seth Franklin in a monkey cage for the rest of his life.

Speak of the devil. A loud and grinding truck engine was heard outside the trailer, which Laurie took as a cue for Emma to, “Hurry up and get your suitcase! Hide in the closet! We’ll hold him off!” The battered girlfriend did as she was told and rushed back to the bedroom with superwoman speed.

The sound of keys fumbling in the lock caused a nervous jolt of energy to surge through Laurie’s stomach while Desmond had his beefy and hairy arms crossed over his chest. Sure enough, it was Seth Franklin in all his redneck glory with a plastic bag of groceries in each hand. He dropped both bags when he saw these “strangers” in his home.

Seth treated his blue overalls and black boots like combat gear as he stared at his houseguests behind fiery eyes and an intimidating unshaven face. He said, “Who the hell are you two? What are you doing in my house with my property!”

Laurie’s nervous energy turned into powerful anger when she heard the word “property” fall out of Seth’s rotten mouth. She said, “That property you’re referring to is a human being. Her name is Emma Williams. Did you forget that?”

The woman puncher balled his fists up and clicked his knuckles only to have Desmond stand in front of him with his own intimidating style. The bouncer-like Desmond said, “You’d better back off, big boy. You may scare a lot of people with your bullshit, but you’re not going to scare me. Go ahead. Throw a punch. See if I don’t beat you as badly as you beat your own girlfriend, maybe even worse.”

Seth smiled at his new opponent and said, “I’m not going to fight you, little man. I’ve got a better idea. What do you say we…” And without missing a beat, Seth pulled a gun from his pocket and blasted Desmond in the thigh, causing him to clutch his leaky wound and drop to the ground screaming.

Laurie screamed as well when the pistol-packing jerk-ass bulrushed her against the wall and pointed his weapon underneath her jaw. Seth said, “Where’s Emma. Where is she?!”

The quick-thinking social worker tried to pull a fast one on her assailant when she said, “She already left. She’s gone. She’ll never come back to you again!”

The abusive alpha male wasn’t buying it and showed his blatant disbelief when he cracked Laurie across the face with the heavy metal pistol. A bruise was already forming on her cheek and one of her back teeth was already loose. Seth yelled, “Don’t you lie to me again, you crazy whore! Where is she?!”

“It’s okay, honey. I’m right here.” That tender voice belonged to a frightened Emma, who was standing in the hallway ready to surrender to her man.

Seth smiled at her and stalked her as he creepily said, “That’s more like it. There you are, my pretty girl. Now, how about you give me some sugar, little lady?” Emma smiled back at him with her arms wide open. The raging couple was getting ready to make sweet music on the floor together.

At least that was the plan. When Emma looked her weakest, it was only a rouse. The minute Seth tried to put his arms around her, she twisted his gun hand and pulled the trigger right in his thigh, which was poetic justice for the recently wounded Desmond Andrews.

“You crazy bitch! I’m the best thing that ever happened to you! How could you do this to me!” yelled Seth as he backpedaled toward the living room, where the rough and tough Desmond was waiting for him.

The hulking wrestler grabbed Seth around the waist and gave him a very poignant piece of advice: “Next time you bring a gun around me, shoot to kill, dumb-ass!” With one pop of his hips, Desmond Andrews threw Seth Franklin all the way across the room and had him crash head first into a lava lamp on the nightstand.

With his bleeding thigh and burning liquid melting over his face, Seth could do nothing but scream like the gender he had abused this whole time. He pleaded for his life when he yelled, “Take me to the hospital! Take me to the hospital! I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!”

When he opened his burning eyes momentarily, he saw the strong alliance of Desmond, Laurie, and Emma standing over him with battered bodies, bruised faces, and terrifying facial expressions. Laurie leaned down and said, “Wow, Seth, you really are pathetic. But you know what? I’m going to do something for you that you don’t deserve. I’m going to do something for you that you never would have done for Emma. I’m getting you medical treatment.”

Seth repeatedly thanked Laurie for her kind ways, but she wasn’t done yet. “After you get treated, you’re not going anywhere near Emma again. Emma is a good woman and she’ll gladly make a life for herself. I’m also a good human being, which is why I’m not having Desmond here break you in half right now. But make no mistake about it, Seth. Once you’re all healed up, you’re going away for a long, long time. Come to think of it, with the place that you’re going, you’re going to need medical attention for a long time. Maybe even rape therapy!”

The pain-wracked redneck yelled obscenities at Laurie while she, Emma (with her suitcase), and Desmond vacated the mobile home. Medical attention was definitely on its way for Seth Franklin, but not without a few cop cars trailing behind. It was all over. Emma Williams could finally breathe again and Laurie Bryan along with Desmond Andrews could live to fight another day. Although, anybody who said Laurie wasn’t thinking about taking a permanent sabbatical after this traumatic event would be lying.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmm, I've got a good idea for this one. For some reason, when I think of this one, I think of the song, "I Wanna Get Better" by Bleachers.

message 8: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments Happy writing, Sophie! I'll be ready for when you hit me with a pancake! ^_^

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Garrison, such a riveting and less brutal story (in a way, compared to your previous entries). I like the fact that Laurie and Desmond didn't suffer too much in Seth's hands, and that Emma was freed from the abuse.

message 10: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Leslie. Everybody loves a happy ending! :)

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

My ending for the story is a bit open. Interpret it as you wish. :)

message 12: by Jack (new)

Jack Daniels | 32 comments BROWN LEATHER.

Breathing in soft meditative inhales and exhales Nebesa slowly closed her eyes. Focus. Control. She concentrated on lowering her heart rate and rapidly felt the change take effect. The night air was warm and thick against her skin. Feeling along the jagged brick wall of the alley she crept forward listening intently. Running feet, gasping breaths, and hurried whispers flooded her senses. She waited stock still in the shadows till her pursuers continued further on. There were five, no six of them. All athletically built two tall three medium height and one rather short. Their footfalls receded farther down the street and Nebesa slipped out of the alley and began darting silently in the opposite direction.
She knew she'd arrived when she smelled that unmistakable smell. In the rest of the rundown city her nose caught whiffs of excrement, a dank basement-y scent, and the occasional wet dog. But now she caught a distinct trail of fresh baked goods winding warmly towards the heavens.
Following her nose, Nebesa rapped lightly on the cracked wooden door of the old shack. The sound of the creak as it opened just registered before she was yanked inside.
“where were you?! Are you alright?! What happened?!” jesses soft but calloused fingers touched her face as she worriedly exclaimed in whispers. Nebesa could almost see the creases between the other girls eyebrows she remembered so well. Jesses hair would be in a curly disarray flying in every direction though it had been coerced into a crooked ponytail for the purpose of baking. Her apron and any clothes not covered by the polka dotted fabric would be covered in flour, and there might be a streak or two across her left cheek from when she tucked her hair behind her ear.
“im fine.” Nebesa assured her with a soft smile hearing three other sets of feet approaching. “i was out looking for Christopher but I ran into them.” she heard the unspoken questions dying on four separate tongues and bowed her head slightly towards the ground. she kicked off her worn boots while leaning against the wall.
“i ran. i hid. I came back here. But I didn’t find Chris.” the last part she admitted mournfully. It’d been three days since they’d lost the sixth member to their team and his absence had been draining everyone. Despite numerous search parties no one had turned up a trace of the twelve year old.
“nebbie,” hacks voice came to her from a yard or two away and she heard him shuffle closer. “you shouldn’t go out alone. Chris could be gone already we cant afford to lose you too.” nebesa shook her head.
“no. hes not gone and I WILL find him.” she brushed by the crowd and ducked into the kitchen where she found the source of that delicious smell- a loaf of fresh baked bread. Tearing off a hunk she hurriedly ate.
“we need to devise a new strategy.” she said between mouthfuls. Wishing she could discern their facial expressions from more than past experiences and knowledge of their actions. “we have to go into base E.” though her tone was firm she felt everyone sink.
“ey uh nebs just cuz you gotta death wish don’t mean the rest of us do.” desiderio was fifteen and 'nebs' knew he was flipping his brown hair out of his eyes after he spoke.
“yeah we cant risk losing anyone else.” hack affirmed. Jess and val, the two girls remained silent not wishing to take sides just yet. Though nebesa was kind of their leader by default hack was always ready to usurp her power. And he was one of the few brave enough to argue it to the end and live...
“then we don’t have to.” nebesa was a little pissed by now. She didn’t understand why they could just leave Chris not knowing what happened to him. “you guys don’t have to come. Ill save him myself but im NOT leaving him behind.” though her tone brooked no argument, hack obliviously charged forward.
“you’re not exactly in prime condition to go out and start a war with them,” he pointed out alluding to her lack of eyesight. The girl fixed what she hoped was him with a death glare, but refrained from replying. she hoisted her bag onto her shoulders and strode resolutely towards the door but was cut off by the stubborn hack.
“you’re not leaving now. Wait till first light.” he compromised standing in front of the door. Nebesa didn’t hesitate but a second. She brought her forearm up across his shoulders slamming him back against the door and lifting him an inch or two to stare him down. Every voice was silent so that she heard each ragged heart beat of her team.
“DONT. STOP. ME.” she ordered threateningly before dropping her hold on him. Shoving him out of her way she swung the door open and strode outside. A light misting ran had begun to fall and she hunched her shoulders against the slight chill.
“nebs!” hacks voice called out. “you’re making a mistake!” she adjusted her bag across her shoulders and walked a little faster listening as his voice receded into just another whisper in the now chilly dark night sky. It was going to be a long night.

hours later she came upon the Imposing structure of base E. this was the most heavily guarded base of them all and it just so happened to be about the only place she hadn’t looked. If Chris was on this godforsaken planet it’d be here. It had to be here. Sliding her backpack off her shoulders and secreting it in a hollow crevice in a large oak she slipped closer melting into the silent night. There was only one gate, a tall wrought iron threatening looking structure that stretched upwards to pierce the deep canvas of night sky with its protruding spikes. That entrance was guarded by many of them the surrounding walls were guarded too but in shifts. On the east wall, nebs knew from earlier missions there was a tree that extended a branch over the wall it was strong enough to climb onto and if she was careful she could drop undetected onto the opposite side. So that’s just what she did. She watched as a guard made his methodical rounds passing beneath her and rounding out of sight. Wasting no time she dropped and darted forward towards the fortress itself. It wasn’t hard to scale a wall. Fitting her hands between the gaps in the bricks and finding an unlocked window to an empty room. Now shed have to find Chris. While it had been a piece of cake up until now this might prove to be trickier. A loud scream erupted from a room down the hall just as nebs was about to dart out into the hallway she ducked back in pressing against the wall and listening. She heard thrashing and a strangled scream. Chris’s scream. Well maybe it was going to be easier than she thought. She pulled her gun out and flipped it off safety. Swiftly she darted into the hallway just as a guard came out of the room where Chris screamed she fired swiftly and heard him groan and drop. Darting in she took out another two guards and found the room to be empty except for her and one other human.
“Chris?” she asked daring to hope.
“nebs?” his voice was hoarse from screaming but it was unmistakably the Chris she knew.
“yeah im gonna get you out of here.”
“they tied me down. Im over here.” she slid her weapon into the small of her back and swiftly undid the straps encasing him.
“lets get out of here.” she said hurriedly her ears burning from straining so much.
“wait. I need to show you something.” he padded barefoot across the room and pulled something out from underneath one of the other beds. It sounded leathery as he scraped it across the ground and hoisted it atop the bed. Nebesa reached an outstretched finger and felt the smooth surface of a suitcase. She knew it was packed full. She backed up.
“Chris?! What is this?!” she hissed as her sight slowly returned. Burning through her eyes and revealing the wide smile chris was directing at her.
“don’t call me that.” he hissed eerily smiling while he tugged on the zipper. “nebs this is you. You get to go home now.”
“no!” she yelled. “i don’t want to go home! Give me more time!” but he’d already pulled the first item out- a small suede wallet.
“take a look.” he tossed it to her. Nebesa stepped backwards letting it fall on the ground. Its trifold flipped open and she couldn’t help but look at its contents. Inside was a picture. A mom and two kids, there were cards too. A credit card, an ID, a shopping card, but all nebesa saw was that picture. In fact it was the last thing she saw.

“momma?” a plaintive voice broke into her subconscious arousing her from her slumber.
“Christopher?” her seven year old looked at er with big eyes.
“you okay momma?” she was lying down in a hospital bed. Cords ran up and down her arms and a nurse with a clipboard approached her.
“miss Delano, you were in an accident. Can you tell me if you remember anything?” she asked her, head tilting to one side.
“um, no. I remember driving to work on uh Monday.” she said dazedly struggling to sit up amidst all the cords and tubes.
“its Thursday twelve and a half months later.” the nurse informed her.
“momma why’d you sleep so long?” Chris asked plaintively.
“wheres Jess?” nebesa asked suddenly.
“your daughter was the only other passenger in the car with you... she didn’t make it. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Jess didn’t wake up. She went somewhere better. Somewhere happy momma. She got to go home.” Chris informed her sweetly. Nebesa looked at him then past him to where a brown leather packed suitcase stood against the wall. So familiar... She felt a creeping sensation register at the sight of it but quickly shook it off.
“well we get to go home too sweetheart.”

message 13: by Jack (new)

Jack Daniels | 32 comments don’t do it. Don’t do it. DONT. DO. IT. A voice insisted from somewhere in the back of her mind. She stared down the brown leather suitcase wondering why it suddenly felt so cold in here. Shivering she threw her hoodie on just as her cell rang and she went racing to pick it up. It was three days since shed awoken and she been discharged from the hospital this morning.
“hey vegetables and ghosts of my past need shrinks incorporated you’re speaking to nebesa how may I help you?” she asked answering before tobymac began singing the first lines in his song ignition. Ringtones these days.
“nebs! How are you sleeping beauty?” Hacks voice came through on the other end.
“hack!” tucking the phone under her chin nebesa pulled dishes out of a cardboard box. Since shed been sleeping so long her sister had cared for all her stuff. Shed taken temporary custody of Chris too.
“ya miss me?” he asked.
“no not really.” she smiled refusing to fall into his little trap. a stack of her favorite dinner plates went into a cupboard to the left of the sink. “why you miss me?”
“cold hearted as ever. I would return the favor but I actually need your help on a case. How soon can you rejoin the force?” hack usually cut straight to the point and this morning was no exception.
“here I thought you were calling to see how I was doing.” she pouted breaking down the cardboard box to save for another move.
“payback baby.” he chuckled. “we’ve got a very interesting murder on our hands.youd have some real fun with...” he tempted her.
“hack?” her tone changed slightly.
“did I um, did I ever get a tattoo on the back of my neck?”
“beats me. Babe you need a better pick up line than that.”
“no im serious. I don’t remember it and... its there.”
“what is it?”
“its like a cross with a stake driven through it I think. Some kind of writing too. Its not professional I don’t think. Really it looks like a prison tat.”
“huh. Maybe one of the docs gave it to you.”
“you don’t remember it?”
“nope.” she heard the shrug in his voice. “but there’s a lot I don’t know about you nebs.” she barely heard his last ominous phrase because she was so deep in thought.
“so how about rejoining?”
“ill think about it.”she replied absently rubbing the back of her neck where the ink was injected. He released a sigh.
“i guess ive lost you. So maybe ill call you later?”
“cool bye.”
“bye.” she flipped her phone shut staring out the window into the yard beyond. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong she just couldn’t figure out what it was.
“momma?” Chris yawned. Standing there in pj’s two sizes too big.
“hey big boy!” she greeted him picking him up and spinning him round till he giggled.
“what would you like for breakfast?” she asked setting him down on the tiled linoleum.
“pancakes! Pancakes!” he cried excitedly dancing around in what nebesa remembered to be his pancake dance.
“pancakes it is.”

“you have to get back!” hack told her as the dark mist enveloped him. “they need you.”
“i don’t know how to get back!” she screamed.
“the same way you got HERE.”desiderio replied suddenly beside her watching numbly as hack was claimed. She hadn’t seen this punk in years since shed put him behind bars for making meth in his basement.
“i don’t remember how I got here.”
“exactly.” he shoved his hands into his pockets. “pack your suitcase and be ready.”

Nebesa awoke with a jolt his words still echoing in her mind. Pack your suitcase and be ready. Her gaze traveled towards the brown leather suitcase still packed where shed left it. She hopped out of bed risking a glance at the clock. 5:00 AM. Well shed have to drop Chris off at school in a couple hours anyway. She passed the suitcase by on her way out of her room. It was just a stupid dream.

Though she tried to push it from her mind the dream kept surfacing. Desidirios and hacks words echoing in her head. And the suitcase it was always there watching. Waiting.then she was thinking of Jess. Just a little girl. Who was now gone forever. Jess was so full of life. Four years older than Chris she was always in the kitchen. She was a genius with baking. While her mom burned even pancakes Jess would whip out a loaf of yeast bread with the perfect crust by age nine. Cookies were for kids. Shed always tell her mom she wanted a challenge. She was the chef of the Delano family. Nebesa let the tears come. Then it was like a flashback she saw Jess except she was older- like fourteen. She was baking and talking to a younger looking hack. She wrapped her arms around him and nebesa saw hey were both crying. Then the vision faded out and nebesa was left wondering what the hell had just happened.

“i remember.” nebesa whispered urgently, leaning across the table to look her once-partner in the eyes. Her and hack were at the bar shed called him shortly after dropping Chris off at school. And he’d agreed to meet her for coffee. “you were like sixteen. I was seventeen. Jess...” her voice broke slightly. “Jess was like fourteen. Chris was there too. And you remember that guy we caught couple years back? Desidirio? yeah he was there too. He was just a kid. We were all just kids. And Valerie too.”
“chief of police Valerie?” hack raised his eyebrows in shock. “okay you’re right I don’t believe you- and I think you’re crazy.” nebesa released a heavy exhale rubbing her forehead tiredly. “BUT its condonable- you WERE a vegetable for over a year.”
“hack,” nebesa sighed. “i have to go. Whether you’re coming or not im going to find a way back. Desidirio told me to pack my suitcase and be ready. I just want you to know where I went.” she stood up from the booth and finished off her coffee.
“nebs... wait.” he stood up. “cant you just sleep on this?” his eyes pleaded with her.
“no” she replied sadly.

Once homeshe went straight to the suitcase. She flipped it onto its side and swiftly unzipped it. Inside were papers and photographs. She saw older Jess and younger hack, Valerie and desidirio. Then she saw herself. She rifled through the papers looking for one of Chris. But instead found a pistol at the bottom below the papers her fingers curled around it.

Groaning she opened her eyes. Her head pounded threatening to burst out of her skulls restraints. She shakily sat up and looked around. She was in base E. but where had Chris and the suitcase gone and why did her head hurt? She was still holding the gun shed taken out his guards with but now the room was deathly still. She stood up looking around her surroundings. Why could she still see? Shed lost her sight a year ago when shed gotten in an accident with one of them. But now the dim fortress came in as clear as ever. She found a window and peered out at the emptiness. No guards. No sign of life at all. Sliding her gun into her belt she climbed out the window and began the descent. She had to get back to the others.

Slipping in and out of shadowed alleys and darkened street corners she wound her way back to their shack. The closer she got to the rundown structure the further her heart sank. The warped door now hung crookedly by one hing and stood ajar. Inside was covered in an inch of dust, dirt and debris and cobwebs lined the ceiling. The light that filtered in though the cracks in the collapsed ceiling was enough to see around a little. This place looked like it had been untouched for years. A crooked spatula lay amid the debris of what was once their kitchen floor. Stooping down, nebs picked it up and dusted it off. This was jesses. Nebs had carved it for her by hand out of a thick branch of wood. Now it was splintered and moldy looking. She tenderly set it atop the counter top.
“what are you doing here?!” pulling out her gun in one swift motion she spun around to see a young man leveling a gun at her head as well. He stood in the door way of the shack eclipsing the light that flooded in towards her.
“i think the better question is what are YOU doing here? And who are you?”
“nebbie?” he asked hesitantly.
“how do you know my name?” she demanded.
“its me- hack.” she lowered her weapon.
“hack? What happened? The house- our home-” she trailed off looking around the dismal structure.
“since youve been gone,” he headed out of the shack. “a lot has happened. We’ve lost Valerie. Jess and desidirio are still alive and fighting though. Where WERE you?” she shaded her eyes from the rising sunlight glaring at them as it just peaked the horizon.
“where was I? Looking for Chris of course I thought I made that pretty obvious when I stormed out of here.”
“no- I mean for the past THREE YEARS where have you been?” he corrected leading her on a new trail probably towards the teams new base. “we thought you were dead.”
“i wasn’t gone three years.” nebs laughed. Hack looked at her, studied her really as he stopped in his tracks.
“howd you get your sight back?” he asked after a minute
“i dunno. I just did.”
“that night you left everything fell apart. We were attacked by a group of them val didn’t make it. Me, Jess and dez barely made it out ourselves. we regrouped and launched an all out attack on their fortress. We reduced their numbers a lot. In the end, dez had to have his arm amputated by yours truly and Jess... Jess isn’t the same. We couldn't find you.”
“three years?” nebs reiterated in shock.
“where have I been?”
“well figure that out later. right now, Theres a team thatll be really eager to see that you're still alive.” nebs smiled but as they turned the corner an awful smell flooded her nostrils and she saw a heap of trash burning and smoldering. A brown leather suitcase with its contents sat atop. Burnt unidentifiable papers spilled out as the flames licked around its edges.

message 14: by Russell (last edited Apr 30, 2014 07:26AM) (new)

Russell Jones | 23 comments My Florida Vacation
By Russell Jones
2498 words

I hate Anne. I hate her face. Her stupid raccoon eyes. Her rat-teeth poking out over her bloated collagen-injected lips. The sunbaked freckles on her chest. The way the skin on her neck wrinkles when she reaches forward. Her dyed hair, her heels hanging over the edges of her expensive sandals.

Anne picks up the red sundress I just folded and packed and holds it up against me. “Sheila, honey, don’t you think that you’d look thinner if you took the blue one? And the neckline on the blue one looks so much better on you.”

“I just folded that. Give it back.” I grab the dress from her, refold it, and put it back into my suitcase. She sighs, “I’m just trying to make sure you dress your best, honey” she says, with a wounded look on her face. As if she knew what my best was. I hate Anne’s fake solicitude and her pretense at motherhood. As if she really gave a shit.

We’re packing for a trip with Anne’s new boyfriend, Jim Barstow. The trip is supposed to be some sort of evaluative-family outing, I guess, all full of “Let’s get to know each other” cheery heartiness. Jim is nothing like my dad, although he’s just as wealthy, which makes me think that Anne doesn’t care who she fucks and is only after money.

She makes us both lay all the things we’re planning to take out on her bed so that “we won’t end up looking alike.” For once, she and I agree on something.

When Dad died, he left us—Anne and me—a small fortune. Well, most of it’s mine, but I won’t see a dime until I’m 21. If Anne hasn’t spent it all by then. Anne is—or rather was—Dad’s second wife. My real mother, Millie, died when I was just ten. She was stopped for a red light and some drunk guy in an ancient Caddy slammed into her rear end, pushing her Accord out into the intersection just as a semi-truck blew through at twenty miles over the speed limit, turning her and her car into a spaghetti pile of twisted metal and smashed human with red sauce.

My mother was a safe driver. Dad used to get all antsy in the front seat on trips. We’d be headed to my grandmother’s house or someplace, and she’d get behind some ancient white-haired oldster in the right lane driving well under the speed limit, barely able to peer over the steering wheel, and just stay there. She’d drive like that for miles.

Reading in the back seat, ignoring my parents’ admonishments to take in the scenery, I’d notice the slowdown, and wait. Not thirty seconds later, Dad would say something like, “I guess they’re not in a hurry.” Mom would ignore him. Another thirty seconds would pass, and he’d hint “It’s clear now.” Mom would ignore him. He’d start fidgeting, and within two minutes, he’d explode, “Jesus, Millie, why don’t you change lanes and get out from behind this asshole!”

But being a safe driver didn’t do her any good in the end. Dad was mad for weeks after she died. But then, he was almost always mad about something. That’s how I remember him best. Yelling at the TV, at restaurants, at car salesmen. And at me.

Not long before he died, he caught me and Tommy LaBreen kissing outside in Tommy’s car after a movie date. He dragged me out of the car, scaring Tommy half to death. He got right up in my face, yelling “Blah, blah, blah, pregnant, blah, blah, blah.” I wanted to tell him that you can’t get pregnant from kissing, but there was no talking to him at that point.

Anyway, his temper was probably why he had a fatal stroke two days later. He was just fifty-three. I hate him for leaving me with Anne. Anne talks incessantly, compulsively, as if silence were age cream. Great clumpy glops of words spill from her mouth. I want to tell her to shut up for just five goddamn minutes. If she’d just give me my inheritance, I’d free her. I’d get an apartment, get myself to school, pay my own bills, have my own life. But nooo. “I have a responsibility to your Dad,” she says, “to raise you till you’re grown.” Grown? Fuck, I’m taller than she is already.

I was twelve when they got married. I’m sixteen now.
She doesn’t like me around when she brings some man over. She’s not ashamed of me; she’s jealous—afraid comparisons, afraid that her man will see me and I’ll somehow lure him away. Like I’d be interested in the fat old farts she dates. She can fuck them, not me. That reminds me. I have a pack of condoms hidden in a pair of rolled-up blue knee socks. I put them in my suitcase.

“Why are you taking those socks?” asks Anne. I have a momentary flash of some fat pig-faced security guy going through my things at the airport, finding the condoms and holding them up.

“I might want them to sleep in,” I lie lamely. “If my feet get cold.”

“Hello!” says Anne, “We’re going to Florida, not Iceland.” She has a slight lisp, so “Iceland” comes out as “Eithland.” Her tone makes me want to puke.

“Don’t pack your loafers,” says Anne. “You’ll want something easy to slip off for the security line at the airport.”

I have another flash. Hundreds of sheep-like people standing obediently in line like kindergarten kids, taking off their shoes and belts, almost bleating in their eagerness to obey authority and “stay safe.” As if you could be made safe by taking off your shoes. There’s no safety in life. Obeying the rules doesn’t make you safe. My mother obeyed the rules, and look where that got her.

“Don’t forget your swimsuit,” says Anne.

“I won’t,” I say. She means the black Lycra one-piece she picked out for me at Kohls a week ago. She doesn’t know about the tiny blue bikini rolled up inside my jeans.

Anne zips up her suitcase, which is twice the size of mine. She has a carry-on bag too. Mine is still only half-full.

She stretches and says, “I’m all packed. I’m going to make a snack. Want anything? It’s a long flight.” It’s not; it’s only two hours, but all I say is “I’m not hungry.”

“Okay, but hurry up,” prompts Anne. “Jim’ll be here at 1:00.”

“Jesus,” I say. “It’s barely noon. I still have an hour. I’ll be ready.”

“Well, finish up. Don’t forget your toothbrush,” she says, and heads downstairs.

When she’s gone, I quickly get Dad’s revolver out of the bedside table drawer, unzip her travel bag and stuff the gun in, toward the bottom, where she won’t find it easily.

I finish my own packing and haul all the bags downstairs to the front door to keep Anne from handling her carry-on until the last possible minute.

“Is that Jim,” calls Anne from the kitchen.

“No, just me. I carried your bags down,” I call back.

“Oh, that’s just so sweet of you!” says Anne delightedly—but I notice she comes to look, probably to make sure I’m not lying. “I was going to get Jim to carry all that down. Are you sure you don’t want a sandwich?”

“No, I’ll get a snack at the airport,” I say.

“I never eat when I fly,” says Anne, “You just never know when the plane might hit some turbulence, and then everything spills in your lap, and there’s just no good way to clean up on the plane. Certainly not in those tiny bathrooms.” She giggles. She has a spot of mustard on her lip.

When Jim arrives, he’s wearing a pale blue Hawaiian print shirt, tan shorts, and running shoes. There are sweat stains under his armpits. Anne either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care; she gives him a big hug, one sandaled foot lifted, like a girl. They kiss, and I look the other way. Anne notices and backs off. “Jim, honey, can you and Sheila load these in the car? I’ll be right back.

Just like her to weasel out of any carrying duties. I grab her carry-on. Jim takes her bag. He starts the car even before he opens the trunk, so that the air-conditioning, set at insta-freeze, will blow any remnants of summer’s warmth out of the car. We pack the bags in the trunk and get in the car, waiting for Anne, who’s locking up the front door. The whole car sags when he gets in. He slams the door and says, “Damn it’s hot.”

Jim reminds me of a money sausage, especially when he's stuffed into his usual sport coats and tan Dockers. He brags about having been a weightlifter in college, and thinks he’s still built, but he just looks stuffed to me. He does something with money, banking or financial planning or fund managing or something. I imagine him eating the money, choking it down dry, and then drinking until it expands inside him like a balloon, stretching his clothes. He probably sweats money. Or maybe he’s just full of shit. A big sweaty shit sausage. I bet he’ll wear one of those man-bikinis at the beach. I don’t want to see.

In silent answer, I pull Tommy’s football letter jacket out of my backpack and put it on, curling my knees up underneath, trying to cover every inch of exposed skin. It’s like a fucking meat locker in here.

Anne runs to the car and taps on the window. “I forgot my sunglasses,” she says. “I’ll be right back.”

Jim nods, and Anne runs off again.

“I’m sure ready for this vacation,” Jim finally says, heartily. Jim says everything heartily, at least when he’s talking to me. I make him uncomfortable. I don’t really give a shit if he fucks her, but I don’t want his meaty presence stinking up the house. I already have a new Mom—I don’t need a new Dad, too. Today should solve that problem.

“It’ll be fun,” I say falsely, matching his heartiness. “I’ll hang by the pool and the beach, and you guys can do whatever you want.”

“I kinda thought we’d do some things all together, too,” he says. “Like a family.”

Fortunately, I don’t have to answer. Anne is back at the car, sunglasses in hand. “Whew,” she says, sliding into the seat. “It sure is hot! Let’s go, baby. Florida, here we come!”

I spend the ride to the airport huddled under the jacket. Jim pulls both her suitcase and his toward the concourse. Up the escalator, into a sea of people. The airport reeks of jet fuel, cigarette smoke, and urine. We get in line. I let Anne and Jim go ahead of me.

They take their shoes off. I step back a small pace. I don’t want to add the smell of Jim’s porky hairy feet to the mix. Also, I want to watch what happens.

Anne puts her shoes and her carry-on bag into a gray plastic tub and the belt takes it away. A security guard motions her into a glass cage. She hold up her hands. The bag disappears into the mouth of the scanner. I’m the one sweating now. Any second, I’m expecting alarms, sirens, a squad of security guards hustling Anne into some back room. I’m fixated on the bored woman behind the scanner, waiting for her expression when she sees the pistol. But her face never changes. Nothing happens. Anne’s carry-on trundles out, untouched, on the other side of the machine.

Anne and Jim are waiting when I get my things at the other side of the security gate. Jim has our tickets out. “Gate A27,” he says. “Down this way.” I imagine myself screaming, “That woman’s got a gun!” and the scene that would cause. That would end this stupid trip. But instead I just grab a turkey wrap on the way to the gate.

(continued in next post)

message 15: by Russell (last edited Apr 30, 2014 07:30AM) (new)

Russell Jones | 23 comments My Florida Vacation (continued from previous post)

I get the window seat. Anne is squashed up against me, her middle seat made even smaller by Jim’s bulk. She has one hand on his thigh. I’m trying to concentrate on what to do now. I hadn’t expected to make it to the plane.

If she goes to the bathroom, maybe I can dig it out and ditch it somewhere. But if she leaves, then Jim is sitting there, watching me, nothing between us. I’m going to have to sneak it out somehow on the way up to our hotel rooms. Fuck. I wish now I hadn’t even brought it.

“What’s wrong, Sheila?” asks Anne. She has a talent for uncovering secrets, I’ve found.

“Nothing, it’s just that this plane smells. Like baby vomit,” I add, to distract her.

“Oh! That’s gross,” said Anne. “Maybe someone had a baby on the last flight. I hope it’s not on my seat.” She unsnaps her seat belt, squirming and wriggling until she’s satisfied that her clothes are intact.

To keep her uncomfortable, I unwrap my sandwich and order a Coke from the stewardess, which I balance on the very edge of my tray next to Anne. I’m hoping for turbulence. But it’s a smooth and uneventful ride.

At the hotel, I snatch Anne’s carry-on from the taxi driver. Inside, Jim gives me a plastic key. I rush ahead as if I can’t wait to see my room. From behind me, in the hall, Anne calls, “I need my bag,” and I yell back, “I’ll bring it over in a second.” I close the door.

I dig the pistol out of the bag and hide it in my own bag under the condom-sock. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but I’m damn sure not carrying it back, and there's no point in putting it back into Anne’s now.

Late that night, well after dark, I close the door of my room softly, and go outside, walking barefoot over worn boards to the beach, carrying the pistol wrapped in a towel. It’s windy, and a bit chilly. I wish I’d worn Tommy’s jacket, but I won’t be here long enough for that to really matter.

There’s an intermittent nearly full moon, hiding and appearing. The beach is mostly empty: a few people are down toward the jetty, a long way off. I walk out into the water. It’s warm, and the sand squishes up between my toes. The gun is heavy. I take it out and look at it. So easy, I think. I could be with Mom and Dad. The water would clean up the mess.

Then I heave it as far out to sea as I can throw it. It lands with a faint splash. I feel empty, as if I’d just thrown my Dad into the water along with the gun.

message 16: by Isabel (last edited Apr 29, 2014 04:19PM) (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments MY LIFE IN A SUITCASE
By Isabel Belisle

I packed my suitcase and headed out. Steven was waiting for me at the end of the driveway. The entire house was quiet. I imaged my mother dreamt of Father coming back to what he used to be. My mind came to Hunter. He would have been dreaming of setting the world on fire, because that’s what he wanted to do- one little bit at a time.

I reached Steven, who took my suitcase. His eyes only hovered for a minute on my face. We were silent until the car was steadily rolling down the road.

“You’re sure you want to do this?” He asked me again, just as he had every day for the past week.

I nodded, not willing my mouth to open. I was afraid I would give way to tears, and he would turn around and take me home. That was the last thing I wanted. He studied me, keeping his peripheral on the road ahead. Gradually the car slowed to a stop. I looked up concerned, only to realized we were just at a stop sign.

“It’s three-o-clock in the morning, I don’t think anyone’s coming,” I said when he didn’t continue driving. He turned in his seat, and placed a hand on my shoulder, forcing me to make eye contact.

“Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? You’re parents love you, Gracie- I know they do. Maybe they just need another chance?”

“It’s not a matter of them not loving me, Steven. It’s a matter of me loving them. They have enough to worry about without me. I’m nothing but a burden.” I turned my face away, hoping he hadn’t seen the tears in the corner of my eyes.

“What about Hunter? Who’s going to keep him in check?”

“You will. You’ll see him at school every day, and you can maybe even start hanging out with him after school. You can keep an eye on all of them.”

He lifted up on the break, and pressed hard on the accelerator, without saying another word.

He drove me all the way to Illinois. My best friend, Song, had moved to Chicago a year ago. She had offered to let me stay with them. Her parents didn’t know anything except that I needed a place to stay. We were hoping to keep it that way.

It was late morning when we arrived. Steven hadn’t spoken a word to me, except to ask if I needed to stop and stretch my legs or use the restroom, or if I needed food or drink- nothing personal. He was only this quiet when he was angry. The closer we came to Song’s the more the tension increased. Finally I turned to him.

“Look, I know you’re angry with me, but I have to do this. I have to find out who I am.”

It was a minute or two before he responded. “I know. I’ll just miss you.”

I sighed, frustrated. “Is that what the problem is? You’ll miss me? Gosh, Steven, it’s not like we can’t call and email and text.”

He shook his head, causing his shaggy dark hair to cover his eyes. “It’s just not the same,” he mumbled.

I unpacked my suitcase and opened the door of the guest bedroom. Last night seemed like nothing but an odd dream at that point. It was 3-o-clock in the afternoon now, and I decided to eat a granola bar I had left over from yesterday. Song said she’d be home around 3:45, and we could have a long talk. Steven must be almost back to Clarksville by now. I felt bad suddenly for how I’d treated him. He’d driven me all the way here. Now he had to face everyone wondering where I’d gone, and why. Only he had the answers. I hadn’t even thanked him. I pulled out my cell phone and called him. He answered on the fourth ring.

“Are you back in Tennessee yet?” I asked quickly.

“Just crossed the border five minutes ago, why? Are you having second thoughts?”

“No, I just didn’t get a chance to thank you.” I struggled to find words to express just what I wanted to convey. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

I heard his deep exhale. “What is that smog-filled air doing to your brain? You’ve never been this grateful.” He sounded like he was running on Redbull and potato chips.

“Well, it’s about time I start then, isn’t it?” I said, a little too sarcastically. He was quiet.

“Was that all you called for?”

I sighed. “No, I wanted to tell you that I’ll miss you too. We’ve been friends so long...it’s like losing a brother.”

“Nothing you’re not used to then.” I wanted to argue the point, but knew he was right.

“Look, just don’t tell my parents anything. If they somehow find out where I am, try to shake them. I don’t want to be found.”

“Maybe someday that’ll change.”

“Right, you keep praying for that. For now, I don’t see that happening. I’ll call you as often as I can, and you can call anytime.”

“Got it.” He didn’t sound happy, but I couldn’t do anything about it.


“Yep, bye.” There was a sound like he hung up, and I sighed into the phone.

“Talk to you soon,” I whispered as I pulled the phone away and hung up my end. Song was to return soon. I had a lot to discuss.

I sat on the bed in the guest bedroom, starring at the wall. My mind raced over every memory since the beginning of my life. It all seemed to be packed in my suitcase, which lay half-unpacked on the bed beside me. My fingers perpetually ran across the fringe of the scarf my mother had given me for my 5th birthday. I had kept it through all the years. Miracle of miracles, I hadn’t lost it in all the mayhem. Tears filled my eyes, as I remembered that day, and everyone in between. My life was packed in my suitcase.

I forced myself to keep unpacking, and pulled out the next item. It was a small familiar pouch. What I couldn’t understand was how it had followed me. It was one of the only material things I left behind with Steven. Shaking, I slowly opened the pouch and slid the one thing inside into the palm of my hand. Clenching my fist around it, I fell to my side, pulling my knees to my chest. I cried harder than I ever had. The longer I cried, the more helpless I felt; the more I realized what a mistake I had made. I forced myself to trace over ever detail...

“Gracie, what’s wrong?” Steven asks, as I pull away from his embrace.

I sigh. “Hunter’s at it again. I can see it in his eyes.”

“Maybe you’re wrong.”

I shook my head, vehemently. “I know him.” I meet his gaze, and realize he also has something nagging him. “What’s wrong with you?” My head tilts to the side, and I feel my lips quirk up in a slight smile.

“Nothing.” He kisses me again. “Absolutely nothing.” As our kiss ends, he begins to speak softly. “Do you love me?”

I nearly choke, but stop myself, and search his eyes. “Yes.” I can’t help but smile as I say it.

He nods his shaggy-haired head. “I know we’re young, and everyone says we can’t possibly know, but I love you too. That can’t be wrong.” I am silent as he drops to one knee.

“As soon as we graduate high school, Gracie, will you marry me?” He holds a ring up to me, and I let him slide it on my finger. I take his hand.

“I would marry you yesterday, if I could.”

I opened my eyes, and felt my tears drying. Song stood in the doorway, eyeing me concerned.

“Okay?” She asked. I nodded, sniffling and wiping my face. Then, I took a deep breath.

“Just thinking.”

“What this?” Song’s accent was thick, and she gestured toward the ring, that lay in my open palm.

“Steven gave it to me. He wanted me to marry him.” I felt the tears choking out my voice.

“But he bring you, no? He let you go. Why?” I blinked, hard trying to clear my eyes.

“I gave it back to him. I told him I couldn’t, because my- my dad-“ Salty tears touched my tongue.

“Start at beginning. I listen.” Song sat down on the bed next to me, and I forced myself to think of the worst day in my life...

My father fell from a great height. He is lucky to be alive; unlucky to have me as a daughter. While he lies in a coma at the hospital, I am consumed with my own desires, because I don’t know how to deal with anything. I distance myself from everything I know. Hunter begins setting fire to empty buildings. He is hoping Mother will stop worrying about Father; that she will start worrying about him. I can’t tell if it worked.

I look down at my ring, and realized I can’t take it anymore. This is the end. I meet Steven at our usual spot at the usual time. When he tries to wrap his arms around me, I back away.


“I can’t. I just can’t.” I hand him the pouch. Inside it I placed my promise ring.

“What? Why?” He refuses to take the pouch from me. Tears fill my eyes.

“Please, Steven, just take it. I have to leave. I can’t marry you, I can’t even live anymore. It’s not worth it.”

“Yes, it is.” He takes the pouch, but doesn’t look inside. I know he is aware of what it holds. “You are an amazing person, Gracie. It’s not the end of the world.”

My tears begin to pour. I start blubbering about how it is the end of the world; the end of my world. He wraps his arms around me in a hug, and forces my head to rest on his chest. He keeps telling me it’s all going to be okay.

“You can’t kill yourself, Gracie. You know how hard that is on the people you leave behind.” His voice is low, comforting.

“I have to get out of here though. I can’t keep living like this. I need to go somewhere else.”

“We’ll think of something. I just need to know you’re safe. Promise me, that you won’t leave me yet.” He pulls me back and looks me in the eye.

“I promise. I just-“ I turn my eyes away.

“You just nothing, we’ll think of something.”

“Why you here?”

I was still crying wishing for the familiarity of Steven’s arms around me. “I had to get away, Song. We found a way.”

“No, he want way to stay together. You let him leave.” She bent down and picked up the ring that had fallen to the floor in the course of my story. Firmly, she placed it back in my hand.

“Go home.” Her jaw was set firmly, and I knew she wouldn’t argue the point. I picked up my phone, and dialed Steven’s number, while Song left the room.

“I’m at school.” He must have been in the hallway between classes, or else he wouldn’t have answered. Unlike me, he liked school.

Tears still filled my voice. “Why did you give it back?”

His voice softened from its former harshness. “I wanted to make sure you had every part of your life in that suitcase.”

“I want to come home. I can do it now. My family, they need me.”

“Gracie,” He paused for a second. “You need to make up your mind. Call me back later, when you’ve had more time to think about it. I have to get to class.”

He hung up before I could argue. For a moment, I sat in stunned silence, before realizing what he really wanted me to do. I slid the ring on my finger, and shaking, dialed the next number. The phone barely even rang once.

“Gracie, it’s your father,” Mother’s voice came through as though she’d been expecting my call. “He’s out searching for you.”


“He’s awake, Gracie.”

For a minute I said a prayer, the first prayer I’d said in the past few weeks. Since my father fell, I felt God couldn’t hear me. In that moment, I knew He had heard every word.

“Tell him, I’m coming home. Packed suitcase and all.”

“Oh, baby,” I heard mother’s tears of joy. “I’m so sorry. It’s been hard on all of us. I never meant to push you kids away.”

“I know Mom, but it’s my fault too. I should have helped out more, instead of...” I took a deep breath. “Instead of closing in on myself.”

“I love you, baby.”

“I know, Mom, I love you too. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

message 17: by Isabel (last edited Apr 29, 2014 04:14PM) (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments MY LIFE IN A SUITCASE continued....

I told Song’s parents the whole story, and asked if they would drive me back home. While they would probably not trust Song as much in the future, they were proud of both of us for coming out with it. They drove me home, and the first thing I did was wrap my arms around my Father’s neck. I hadn’t realized how much a few months in the hospital could make me miss him. I guess I’d just tried not to think about it.

Steven taught me many things, most of them, by the things he didn’t say. We had a way of understanding what the other wasn’t saying. Whenever he thinks I’m being rash and rushing into things, he just reminds me to pack my suitcase carefully, and not to leave anything behind. It’s his way of saying that he’ll be with me always, even if he’s just a ring in a pouch, buried inside a packed suitcase.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Russell wrote: "My Florida Vacation (continued from previous post)

I get the window seat. Anne is squashed up against me, her middle seat made even smaller by Jim’s bulk. She has one hand on his thigh. I’m trying..."

This is so good! I love how you made me hate Anne from the start- I like it when someone makes a really horrible character. Really enjoyable, and even though the ending wasn't exactly happy, it was still a good one.

message 19: by Russell (new)

Russell Jones | 23 comments I appreciate that, and glad you liked it. Thanks for reading.

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Not a problem. :)

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Jack, such an intriguing story with vivid descriptions, I somehow felt that I was there. Though I must admit that I had time following the story, and it has something to do with my lack of sleep (mostly the reason, my brain's functioning a little less today) and the structure. I want to ask a few questions but will post it later once I get my thoughts together.

message 22: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments Sleep well, Leslie! Rock-a-bye Leslie on the treetop! ^_^

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Lol, Garrison, as much as I want to sleep, I don't think my boss will be happy with it. It's only past two in the afternoon here. While you, I think, should head off to bed :P

message 24: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments It's 11:23 here in Port Orchard, Washington. Point taken.

message 25: by Jack (new)

Jack Daniels | 32 comments yeah it was kinda confusing sorry leslie. i had more in there explaining stuff but i maxed out my word limit and had to cut back. ill accept any input! harsher the better. :)

message 26: by Jack (last edited May 01, 2014 05:52AM) (new)

Jack Daniels | 32 comments isabel! i loved your story! it was so sweet. gracie and steven make the perfect couple! like platos soulmates. :)

message 27: by Saira (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments I kind of don't want to write this story, yet, but it's the only one that came to mind...

message 28: by Isabel (last edited Apr 30, 2014 08:08PM) (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments Jack wrote: "isabel! i loved your story! it was so sweet. gracie and steven make the perfect couple! like platos soulmates. :)"

Thanks Jack! :)

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmm, don't know if I'll be able to finish my story in time...too much going on. Oh well :(

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

This is my short story submission for the topic: A Packed Suitcase. Feedback ALWAYS welcome!

SOMEBODY by Melissa Andres
Word count: 955

"Ms. Lola? Wouldn't you like to unpack that suitcase?" a young heavy-set black woman asked.

Ms. Lola looked into her shaky arthritis-crippled hands with watery blue eyes. "My daughter's comin' back to get me," she whispered, almost inaudibly. She looked up into the woman's chestnut-colored eyes. "She promised."

"Well, until then," the woman suggested, "why don't we take a little nap?" She rounded the twin-sized hospital bed and tugged at the muted yellow cotton blanket with one hand and grasped the suitcase handle with the other.

Pointing a crooked finger at the woman's name tag, Ms. Lola spat hoarsely. "Get your dirty stinkin' hands off my suitcase, Barb!" Wrenching the handle from Barb's grasp she clutched it to her slight chest. "And 'we' will not be taking a nap! Whatta you think, you're gonna crawl in the damn bed with me?"

Letting out a long sigh, Barb continued to smooth the coarse blanket. Another belligerent newcomer to Meadow Pines Nursing Home. They were always feisty when they first arrived. They always thought their families were coming back for them. Time quickly changed things. They became more docile thanks to medication, routine and sheer boredom. Sure made her job a lot easier.

"So, what do you have packed up in that suitcase that's so all fired important?" Barb feigned interest.

Ms. Lola hugged the scratched navy blue suitcase tighter. "Nothing you would know or care about," she scowled, "but my entire life is in this here case."

"Try me," Barb challenged. "I have a life too, ya know."

"Oh, really? Treating your elders with disrespect as you wipe their chins, noses and asses is a life? Everyone in this place is a human being. We have all raised families, worked hard all our lives, maybe gone to school, accomplished things you never will! We, well, I, was a somebody. Now I just feel like a damned ol' fool." Ms. Lola fiddled nervously with a tendril of gray hair that had escaped from the bun high atop her head.

At first, Barb was shocked and angry. Disgust crawled up her neck and flushed her face. How dare this old woman tell her she had no life? How dare she tell her how to do her job? Frowning deeply, Ms. Lola's words stung her. She did see these people as just a job. A way to feed her children since their Daddy had run off. She never thought of them as having had lives before they came to Meadow Pines. How had they ended up here? What were their stories?

Sitting gently on the foot of the bed next to Ms. Lola, Barb studied her new charge warily. "I'm sorry," she said truthfully. "Tell me, tell me about your life, please."

Glaring at Barb, Ms. Lola loosened her grip on the suitcase. "This is all I have left after eight-four years of livin'." She sniffed loudly and placed her fingers beneath the latch, opening the past.

She removed a well-worn, tattered Bible and handed it to Barb. "Written inside that front cover is a lot of my family history," she explained. "Birth dates, baptismal dates, dates of death and the like. My husband Bob, God rest his soul, gave me that as a wedding gift."

Pulling out a rusty silver frame, she looked into the gray eyes of a handsome young man in an Army uniform. "Bob was kilt in a factory accident 'bout three years after he come back from overseas. We had three young 'uns. Daniel, Jim and Sally. Jim got 'imself kilt by a rattler out back in the barn when he was only four years old." Ms. Lola stared off at the faded, flowered wallpaper for several moments. "I had to go off to work as a cleanin' lady for the auto plant to keep the kids fed and all. It was tough, by Jesus, only havin' a sixth grade education and all but I guess you don't need no education to clean." She stopped and took a ragged breath. "Now my family don't care beans about me. I knowed it 'cause they dropped me off here." Lola looked at more pictures as she extracted them, one by one, from the depths of her case.

"Oh, it's not so bad here," Barb lied. Really, it was but at least the place was clean.

"We both know different now, don't we?" Lola asked, a small smile playing across her chapped lips. "And I've only been here a few hours. How long you worked here?"

Barb explained that she had worked at Meadow Pines Nursing Home for almost four years. She had had to get a job when her live-in boyfriend Rick had taken off one day. He had simply vanished. "I didn't want my children on food stamps or welfare. It was time to make something of myself; my family. We're not rich by any means but my boy and girl have clothes on their backs, food in their tummies and a roof over their heads."

Ms. Lola patted her caregiver's fleshy hand. "As long as you can say that, you are rich. Thank you for the chat, Barb. I believe I'll take that nap now."

The next morning, Barb called Ms. Lola's daughter to give her the bad news.

"No, throw it out. Keep it. Do whatever you want. I don't want any of that cantankerous old woman's things."

A solitary tear crawled down Barb's cheek as she cradled the phone. Looking up, she noticed Mr. Harner struggling past the reception desk, dragging his walker awkwardly. Pocketing the well-worn, tattered family Bible, she rushed to his side. "Mr. Harner," she said loudly, "Let's sit and have a chat."

message 31: by Isabel (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments What a lovely story Melissa!

message 32: by Isabel (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments Sophie (That Book Addict) wrote: "Hmm, don't know if I'll be able to finish my story in time...too much going on. Oh well :("

Oh...that's sad. I'll miss your story, Sofia. You always bring a good one.

message 33: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9056 comments Despite not posting an entry this week, Sophie, you can still hit me in the head with a blueberry pancake! ^_^

message 34: by Rachel (last edited May 06, 2014 10:51AM) (new)

Rachel Heinen | 134 comments Title: Silence
Word Count: 3293

My friends say that I’m crazy, because I don’t talk. They laugh when they see that their insults hurt me. They say that if I want them to stop I should say something. I never say anything back though. I just run and hide away from everybody and everything that hurts me. Just like a true coward would.

My family is worse. They tell me if I would just tell them my problems they could fix them. They could make my problems go away if I would just talk. They say if I talked my problems would just cease to exist. I think I’m their problem and they want me to talk so that I would cease to exist.

Psychologists tell me the official name for my disease. They tell me why I don’t talk and what I should say when I start talking. I don’t see how they could know this, seeing as how, they just sit there and stare at me for a hour. The best ones are the psychologists that ask me questions. I mean they’ve read my file and they know I don’t talk. Asking me questions is pretty pointless.

For some reason, my muteness is hard for everyone to understand. I don’t talk. What’s so hard about that?

I remember the day I stopped talking. It was the day my parents died. It wasn’t a sudden muteness. It was slow. I just left things I used to say out. First I stopped saying hi when I saw my friends. Next to go was the telling people about my day. I kept everything to myself. My problems were my problems. Finally, I just stopped talking completely. I said nothing all day long and at the beginning nobody noticed. When they did notice, they panicked. They demanded I talk. They asked pointless, countless questions, but I didn’t answer any of them.

Now all I get to do is see countless professionals. They do the same thing my family did. They ask questions that I don’t answer. Apparently they read my body language, but I think that’s bull shit.

It’s four o’clock. Or as I call it, therapy time. Everyday at this time I go see one of my therapists. I don’t really go see him though. I haven’t been to an appointment since Aunt Jenna started dropping me off and not staying for my appointments. Right now, I’m sitting in the car on my way to therapy. Aunt Jenna is talking to me, but I’m not listening. Aunt Jenna notices.

“Alitzi, are you evening listening to me?” Aunt Jenna asks.

I give her a reassuring look. She buys it. She’s so easy to fool.

She pulls into the parking lot of the psychologists clinic.

“I’m going to leave you here. I’ll be back in a hour.” she says as I open the car door and head for the clinic’s door. Right as I’m about to go I turn and wave. She leaves and I walk away from the clinic’s door.

I walk down the street towards the small, catholic church. Before I stopped talking I played piano at the church. The priest liked me so much he gave me a key to the church and he told me to come play the piano anytime. I’ve been playing here since I started skipping my appointments and ripping up the checks Aunt Jenna gives me to pay for therapy. After all Aunt Jenna doesn’t have a piano.

I unlock the church doors and walk up to the front of the church where the piano is. I sit down on the piano bench. The piano is so beautiful and pristine I’m almost scared to touch it. My fingers feel the coldness of the white keys and then they start playing.

I’ve been playing piano since I was three. In that time I’ve memorized countless songs. I don’t even use music to play anymore. I play songs that I’ve memorized and then I just play. The notes just fly right out of my fingers. I don’t even think about it. Usually I create the song based on an image. The one I’m playing right now is the image of a funeral. It’s a sad and beautiful song. When I’m done I’m smiling for the first time in what feels like for ever.

I’m jolted out of my trance by a clapping behind me. I’m so startled I almost fall off the piano bench. I flip around to see the most handsome boy I’ve seen in years. he has short, brown hair that falls right in front of his eyebrows. His eyes are a molten gold that seems to be able to melt me. He has a muscular build and tan skin. He’s wearing a Baxter High School t-shirt and a pair of jeans. A realization hits me. Baxter is where I go to school.

“Hi I’m Austyn. I heard the music and I couldn’t help but come see who was making it.” he speaks with a deep voice that makes my heart flutter with nerves.

He stares at me waiting for me to say something. Then recognition crosses his eyes.

“You’re Alitzi, right? You don’t talk.” he says.

I nod and start for the door before he can make fun of me.

“Hey, wait. I’m not going to hurt you. I think it’s rude that they make fun of you. If you want to be silent you should have the right to be. You don’t have to leave. I won’t make you talk. If you would like you could play me your favorite song.”

For some reason, I can’t resist him. His sincerity comes straight out of his eyes and melts my defenses. I nod and go sit back on the piano bench. My fingers shake. I haven’t played for in audience since I played at this church back when my parents were alive. As soon as I start playing the fear melts away. It’s just me and the piano. Austyn may as well not even be there. The song I’m playing doesn’t have a name, but I’ve played it many time.

The picture with this song is a spring rain. My parents and I were out for a walk when it started. The rain came down and there was no shelter. At first we were sad that our peaceful walk was ruined. Then my mom started to dance. Then I started. Finally my dad joined us. We probably looked crazy, but we didn’t care. It was perfect and peaceful. Just what we wanted. It was sad when the rain stopped and we had to go back to our lives. We always carried the memory with us though. At least, I did.

When I’m done my eyes are closed and I’m lost in the beautiful memory.

I’m snapped out of the daze when Austyn kisses me. He must have gotten up somewhere in the middle of the my piece and came to stand next to the piano. He kisses me and I’m so surprised that I almost fall off the bench for the second time that day. Austyn catches me before I fall. My heart is beating so loud, that I’m sure he can hear it.

“Sorry. You’re are just so beautiful. I couldn’t stop myself.” he explains.

I find myself nodding and smiling. I glance at the clock. It’s 4:50. I have to go. I point at the clock and then at the door.

“Go. I’ll see you tomorrow. What’s your locker number?”

One-three-five. I use my hands to say and then I run out the church door before he say another word. I narrowly make it back to the clinic on time. Aunt Jenna pulls up only seconds after I plop onto the bench outside the clinic.

“Hey, sweety. How was therapy?” she asks even though she knows there will be no answer.

When we get home I go up to my room and put my headphones in. I lay on my bed wondering when my life became so complicated. Then I remember it’s my own fault. If I didn’t ask my parents to take me to the ice cream parlor all the way across town then, they wouldn’t have died. That’s just me though. I’m selfish and conceited. In my eyes, I got what I deserved. Now, I don’t talk. Not as a punishment to myself, but as a way to insure that no one else will die because of me.

Tears start to fall down my face. I don’t stop crying all night. I cry myself to sleep. When I wake up in the morning I have a pounding headache. My eyes are so red and puffy that I can barely open them. I stumble into the shower. When I get out I throw on some random clothes.

I ride the bus to school. I hate the bus. Today it smells like a mixture of old lunch meat and body odor. I gag at the revolting smell. I put my headphones in and fall asleep for the ride. I wake up, at my stop, in a worse mood than I started.

When I get to school I walk towards my locker. When I get there Austyn is waiting for me. I look down at myself. I am immediately embarrassed by my red puffy eyes and sweatpants covered in holes. I also remember what Austyn will be giving up by talking to me. He will be committing social suicide. I can’t let him do this to himself. But before I can turn away, Austyn sees me. He smiles at me. My heart involuntarily flutters.

“Hey.” he says, “Have you been crying?”

I smile at him and divert my eyes away from him. I hope he won’t notice the puffiness of his eyes.

“No, no, no. You do not get to play the ‘I’m fine’ card. Especially, when you’re not fine. I understand you can’t tell me, but my you could write it down or something.”

I frown. It makes sense, but it kind of defeats the purpose of not talking. Something compels me to try, though. I look at Austyn and nod at him.

“Great. Can I see your schedule?”

I hand it to him. He scans the list of classes.

“We have first hour study hall, fourth hour Algebra II, seventh hour english, and eighth hour history together. We also have the same lunch hour. Do you have everything you need to go to first hour?”

I nod

“Let’s go, then.”

We walk down the hall. Austyn grabs my hand. I look around the hall to notice people staring right at Austyn and me. When we get to study hall I grab a piece of paper and start to write.

-You’re committing social suicide by hanging out with me. Maybe it would be better if you didn’t talk to me.

I slide the paper across the table over to Austyn. He reads it. His eyebrows furrow in dislike at what I have to say. He writes something and passes the paper back.

-You think I care what everyone thinks. I don’t care if they shun me or stare at me. You are worth it.

-I’m not worth it. There are plenty of other girls you could talk to. They would even talk back.

-Stop that! I like you! You’re real! I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

-There are still others that would be better for you. I don’t want anybody hurting you, because of me.

-Don’t you get it, Alitzi? I like you, not them. I want you to like me, too.

-I do like you.

-Good, because I’m not letting you go.


From that point on I tell Austyn everything there is to know about me. I tell him how my parents died. I tell him why I don’t talk. He tells me it’s not my fault that my parents are dead. He comforts me. The periods are split into Austyn periods and non-Austyn periods. Today was almost as good as playing the piano.

“Are you coming to the church again today?” Austyn asks as I walk him to his car.

I nod.

“Can I come?”

I nod again. He smiles.

“How are you getting home?”

I point at the bus.

Noticing my distaste he says, “Let me give you a ride.”

I immediately shake my head.

“Well I’m not letting my girlfriend ride the bus. Besides they just left.”

I turn around and sure enough the bus is bouncing away. I turn back to Austyn and nod. He smiles and opens the passenger side door. I climb in.

“Where do you live?” he asks me.

I pull out a piece of paper and write my address on it. I hand it to him.

“I know where that is.”

We ride in silence. He finds my house easily and pulls into the driveway.

“Bye, Alitzi.” he says and leans over. He kisses me softly on my lips.

I pull away from the kiss and wave at Ausyn as I climb out of the car. I walk in the house to the house to fink Aunt Jenna waiting for me.

“Who was that?” she asks.

I write ‘Austyn’ on a piece of paper.

“Austyn.” she says with a suspicious gleam in her eye.

I blush and then I smile.

“Therapy in ten.” she says

I nod smiling. I can’t wait to go play piano for Austyn again.

Weeks pass just like this. Days pass with Austyn in all of them. I even contemplated talking to him. The days are perfect though. Even without talking. All good things must come to an end though.

message 35: by Rachel (last edited May 06, 2014 11:00AM) (new)

Rachel Heinen | 134 comments Silence (Continued)

Weeks pass just like this. Days pass with Austyn in all of them. I even contemplated talking to him. The days are perfect though. Even without talking. All good things must come to an end though.

The day starts normally. I go to school and I pass notes with Austyn. He drives me home. I go to the church and I play the piano for Austyn. He has started to request his favorite songs. It’s unbelievably fun to play for someone again. I leave to go back to the clinic at the same time as I always do. I almost skip all the way back to the clinic I’m so happy.

When I get back to the clinic, I immediately know things are horribly wrong. Aunt Jenna’s car is sitting in the parking lot. I glance into the clinic to see Aunt Jenna talking angrily to the poor lady at the front desk. All I can think is shit. Aunt Jenna sees me. She walks right out of the clinic.

“Get in the car.” she says eerily calm.

I get in the car.

“You do not understand how utterly disgusted I am. I took you in. I paid for your therapy. How do you repay? You skip out on your appointments. You run off to God knows where to do God knows what. You probably use the money for drugs or something.”

I shake my at that accusation and grab a piece of paper. I rip it up to show her what I really do with her checks.

“Like it matters. You still lied to me you useless piece of crap. I’m done with you. I’m calling child services. Have fun in foster care. Thank God we are home. I can’t stand to spend another minute this close to me” she says and jumps out of the car.

I go up to my room and close my door. I lay on my bed and wonder what the hell I’m going to do. Before I can think of way to explain this to Aunt Jenna, she walks in.

“I called them. They will be here in the morning to pick you up. Be ready. Anything you leave is mine. Here’s a suitcase.” she says throwing a suitcase at me.

I pack everything up. I don’t really have much considering I just moved here a month ago. Most of my stuff is in a storage unit. Everything in my room fits easily in the small suitcase and my school backpack.

I sit on my bed and wonder how I’m going to get out of going to foster care. After a while of laying there thinking I realize there is only one solution. I’m going to have to run. I write a quick note to Aunt Jenna apologizing for what I did. Then I call Austyn. I get his voicemail.

“Austyn, Aunt Jenna found out that I don’t go to therapy. She called child services. I have to run. You need to get over me okay. Don’t call again, because I won’t answer. I’m sorry, but you have to move on. Move on for me, okay. I love you, Austyn. Goodbye.” I talk for the first time in months.

After I hang up I grab my bags and head down the stairs. When I get to the door I turn around and whisper goodbye to the house. I walk for hours with no end. I don’t think as I walk I just walk. Some how I end up at the church. I walk up to the front of the church and play the piano. I play until I’m so tired that I can barely hold my eyes open. I walk to a pew and fall asleep on it. I’m jolted awake by someone talking to me.

“Excuse me, miss.” someone says snapping me out of my sleep. It talkes a minute to remember where I am. The priest is standing over me.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I tell him.

“Well, I know you. You’re the pianist that play here. Alitzi Monroe, right?”

“That would be me. I was playing the piano late last night. I must’ve fell asleep. I’m so sorry.”

“What about the bags?”

“They were here when I got here.” I lie.

“Lying is a sin, Miss Monroe.”

“Fine they are mine. My aunt called child services on me. I don’t want to go into foster care. I decided to run. I left last night. I only stopped here to play the piano. I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I’m sorry.”

“Well, my pianist is sick today. So you can play for mass and then we will call your aunt. I’ll help you talk some sense in her. I think she’ll be happy to know you’re talking again.”

“Okay.” I say not in the mood for an argument.

I put on some nice clothes and play for the mass. All the people at the church love me. After church the priest calls Aunt Jenna. The priest talked her out of sending me to foster care. She’s going to come pick me up. When Aunt Jenna gets there the first thing she did was run and hug me.

“I’m sorry, Alitzi, so sorry.” she sobs into my shoulder.

“It’s okay, Aunt Jenna. I’m the one who should be sorry.” I tell her.

“You talked.” she says amazed by me.

“He didn’t tell you?”


“Well now you know.”

“Yup. So, tell me about Austyn.”

And I do. I tell her all about him. And when I get home, I call Austyn. He tells me he’s going to come over. I ask Aunt Jenna. She says it’s fine. I put my room back together while I wait for Austyn. I hear him get here. I wait for him to come up. He knocks on my bedreoom door. I open the door.

“Him.” I say.

He grabs me up in a big hug.

“Promise me you’re never going to leave me with a phone message again.” he says.

“I promise.” I say.

He kisses e, but he is interrupted by Aunt Jenna.

“I don’t trust you two to be alone, so get your teenage butts down here.” she says laughing.

Austyn and I laugh as we walk down the stairs.

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you, Isabel! :-)

message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sbrock36) | 110 comments Melissa you really have a talent with words. Such a beautiful touching story.

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, thank you so much, Sarah! You are so sweet! :-)

message 39: by M (new)

M | 11043 comments The Week 211 polls are up. Swagger over to the ship’s tavern, ye pirates, and vote!

Weekly Short Story Contest:


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