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message 1: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
Share some short stories! I don't know about you, but I love reading other Christian author's work. Be encouraging to each other! Let each other know what you think!


message 2: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
"I Went to Hell" by Willowy Whisper

ELEVEN 'O CLOCK WAS HARDLY THE TIME to broach such a subject. I did it anyways. “Flora?”
She stirred under the thick comforter and made a low grunt. Finally, in a groggy voice, she whispered back, “What?”
“We need to talk.” I laid still, perfect, with one elbow propped up on a pillow and my heart going mad in my chest. I forced strength into my voice, “Now.”
My wife finally flopped towards me, the street lamp light filtering in through the half-open blinds and illuminating her sleep-fogged features. She blinked, lowering her brows. “This better be good.”
Good? Inwardly, I laughed. Outwardly, I scowled. “Flora, you're something else, you know that?”
“Get on with this,” she snapped. “What do you need to say?”
“I'm sick of it.” I let the words roll smoothly off my tongue, much as I had planned them. “I'm sick of you.”
She stared at him dryly. “What are you saying?”
“I know what you do.”
She made no effort to deny it. With a nonchalant sigh, she propped her pillow against the headboard and leaned against it. “If you're not happy, file the papers.”
“That's it?” I choked back the shock and stared at her. “You're not even sorry.”
“Did you really think I would be?” She let those words sting before she went on, “Did you really think I ever loved you? Take a look at yourself, Shane. Take a look in the mirror.”
Bald. Over-weight. And wire-rimmed glasses. I'd seen it all a thousand times—but hearing her say it, acknowledging the fact that I was less than handsome, hurt far more than I could have known. I lowered my eyes. “I want to make this work.” I hated myself for saying that, for feeling it. I'd ignored the nights out for months, ignored the bare wedding finger, the other signs. Finally, I had the nerve to confront her—and now I wanted to make it work? Where was my pride?
“Oh, yeah, Shane. Sure.” She rolled her eyes. “We've been over a long time—it was just a matter of when.” As if suddenly angry, she jerked the covers away from her and slipped out of bed. She reached under the lampshade and twisted the light. Then she looked at me. Long. Hard. Ruthlessly. “You better get out.”
I ran those words through my brain, trying to make sense of them. “Get out?”
“Yeah.” She moved across the carpet in bare feet and jerked open the closet door. She slung my duffel bag at my feet. “Now.”
“Why?” I stepped over the duffel bag and went towards her. “I'm not saying I won't forgive you.” I slipped my arms around her. She stiffened, but I was used to that. “I love you, babe. You know that.” My head dipped down to her neck, lips lingering against her soft skin.
She pushed at my chest. “Get off of me!”
“No—”
“Shane, stop it!” Finally, she pulled away, slightly out of breath. Composing herself, she narrowed her eyes and looked menacing. Almost evil, for the first time in her life. “Shane, you listen to me and you listen good. I've never had anything in this life. Nothing, you hear me? Greg Nilkon is the first good luck I've had, and don't you dare stand in my way.”
“Good luck?” I took a step towards her, but her look kept me from going farther. “What would you call our marriage? What would you call me? Bad luck? Is that what you're saying?” I waited, searching her expression, waiting for her to deny it.
She didn't move. Didn't twitch. Finally, she said evenly, “You said it.”
“Fine.” Now the pride was stepping in. I went for the duffel bag and threw some T-shirts, shorts, and toiletries into it. I paused on the threshold of our bedroom door, and stared back at my disheveled, barefoot wife. I raised a finger and seethed the words, “I hope you go to Hell,” just before I slammed the door.

____________


I WAS TREMBLING BY THE TIME I got in my car. I couldn't grip the wheel. I couldn't see straight. Think straight. Nothing. Nothing made sense, and I didn't want it to. Just like that? My marriage was down the tube. You shouldn't have confronted her. It wasn't the time. You should have waited. But how many nights was I suppose to wait at home, not knowing where she was? How long did she expect me to hold it in?
“I hate you, Flora.” The words came out soft, agonized. My head was pounding. How could I have known she was so selfish? Her words came back to me—her voice, prodding me to examine my own appearance. I could get contacts. Lose weight. Anything. I could be what she wanted me to be, if she'd only give me a chance...
Why had she not let me know how she felt? There was a time she loved me. Wasn't there?
I easily pumped the breaks to a stop, glaring at the red light. Come on. Come on. Why did they take so long? I needed the bar. I need to slip into the smoky building and get lost in the pound of heavy-metal and beer. Come on. Come on...
No one was coming. I ignored the light and hit the gas. Flora, what—
A truck. I saw it in the corner of my eye. Headlights. I swerved, spinning the tires, then the impact of metal against metal filled my ears...
No—! Breaks squealing. Glass shattering. No. I flew forward, more glass, cutting me—then I was tumbling across the hood. My head bashed against the pavement, caving inward, even as my last ounce of consciousness fell away.



___________



DIMLY, FAINTLY, A WOMAN'S VOICE was in my ear. “...not looking good...ambulance coming...” There was pauses, hands touching me. Flora. My head screamed her name, even as I fought the blackness, processing what was happening.
The woman's voice again. “...he's dying...he's dying...” I heard hysteria in the tone.
Dying? I was dying. I was dying. I was dying. I felt it, knew it, couldn't stop it...
The pain shuttered through me, so sharp. Blackness appeared and disappeared across my vision. No, I can't die. I couldn't move. My head. The blood. No, I can't die...
But I couldn't stop it, couldn't keep my eyes open, couldn't keep on breathing. My lids slid shut, even though I screamed at them, only I didn't see darkness. I saw myself. I saw that bald-headed, over-weight man with broken glasses, sprawled out across the pavement with part of his head caved in, with his eyes closed in the puddle of his own blood. Then there was light, even as the horrifying image fell away. I'm dying...no...
Then the pain was different. It was dark again. I was somewhere else, only I didn't know where, only the pain...
Then I recognized it. Burning. I'm burning. Panic shot through me, even as I flung my arms, pushing away the flames. Only I couldn't see them. It was dark. Black. Too dark to see anything, and I kept on burning...
My skin. My flesh. It curled on my bones, even as I wretched out a scream. I'm trapped in the car. It's on fire. I'm burning. The pain. I couldn't breath, couldn't stand it. “Help—!” Someone outside would come for me, help me. Only even as I thought it, groped for it, I knew it wasn't true. I wasn't trapped in the car. I was lying on the pavement.
And I was dead.
No. I didn't understand this. I didn't deserve this. From within the blackness, from within this horror, I heard hoarse, gut-wrenching screams. I moved my legs, my arms, everything. I couldn't get away from the flames. The heat. Eating my flesh, licking over my eyeballs, peeling away my skin...
It will stop. I couldn't breathe, but it didn't matter. It would be over soon. It would stop. I would die again, and leave where ever I was...
There were worms, crawling over me, slipping into my eye sockets and into my ears. I clawed at them with my hands, scratching them away, screaming...
Then they were in my mouth, slipping down my throat. I couldn't swallow them down. I couldn't. I couldn't. I couldn't swallow those worms away...
I gnashed my teeth, even as flames melted at my gums. Get me out. Get me out. There were demons, screeching from beside me. I couldn't see them—but I knew they were there. I knew cause I felt. I knew cause I felt...
Damned. That's what I was. It was life after death, wasn't it? I was in that place. Hell. I was in Hell. Forever. I'd heard it before, all of it. No. God, no! I needed to die. It had to stop. This anguish, this horror, this pain—why wouldn't it stop? I couldn't go on like this. I couldn't take it. I couldn't do it. “God, get me out of here!” My raw throat bellowed the words, but the other screams devoured it, and no one heard. I should have listened.
If I could just get out, just go come...
Flora. I gritted my teeth, throwing my head backwards, heaving. My words fell over me, my own wretched words, “I hope you go to Hell...”
No.
The worms crawled, always crawling, under my burning skin. Flora, you can't. You can't come here. I had to get out. I had to tell her. I had to warn her. I had to make her understand...
Relief. Just a second of no pain—that's all I needed. Just a second. Just a touch of moisture. Just a silence from those hellish screams.
I'm damned. My own voice ripped from my throat, even as worms sputtered out of my mouth. Don't come, Flora. I hated her. For everything she'd done to me, for all the betrayal, only still my burning soul begged the words, Flora, don't come here. Please don't come to Hell.


message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate Willis | 49 comments I wrote this story awhile ago, so my writing style has probably improved some. ;)

The Red Notebook

The rain pounded against the roof, and a young girl delighted in the way its presence made the attic feel even cozier. It ran down the windows in little streams, and she paused a moment in her work to look outside.

“There’s something so wonderful about the attic,” she sighed happily and sat down next to her mother who was sorting a seemingly endless pile of papers.

“Mmmm,” Mother agreed smiling. The attic was full of an assortment of old furniture, cardboard boxes, and everything else unusual and interesting. “Your Grandmother thought so too, Allyson.”

Allyson smiled involuntarily. She had been sorting a box of old pictures and had run across several of her Grandmother. “She wrote a lot up here, didn’t she? Before it was crammed with old stuff that is,” she said brushing a dust bunny out of her curly brown hair.

Mother laughed. “Well, we’ll soon fix that problem; and maybe we’ll do things up here again. Yes, she did.”

“Could I read some of her stories this winter?” Allyson asked with new excitement in her eyes.

“That would be a fun idea. Maybe after that you could choose a few of your favorite stories for me to read aloud to everyone,” Mother said labeling her box as “burn”.

Allyson smiled and glanced at her watch. It was very close to the ending time Mother had chosen for this session of work. There was still definitely plenty to do, but it would have to wait for another day. “I can’t wait to start reading!” she said moving faster in her excitement.

Soon enough it was time to go downstairs to make dinner, but first Allyson got to choose her book. Several of the notebooks were old and a little loose leaf. She opened the first of these and sniffed deeply. The thick pages were soft to her touch and held a welcoming earthy smell. From the childish handwriting within she knew that this was Grandmother’s first notebook.

Tucking it gently under her arm, she followed her mother towards the kitchen stopping first to put the notebook on her bedside table. She thought about it all the rest of the day as something to look forward to in that special time just before bed.

“What was Grandmother like?” she asked thoughtfully as she and Davey helped prepare dinner.

“Yes, I’m curious too,” Davey added eagerly. He was a little older than she and actually met Grandmother; but he had been too little to remember her.

“Well, she was kind and graceful—like you’d expect of a princess,” Mother began. She had apparently inherited her mother’s way of being descriptive when she wanted to. “But sturdy like a pioneer. She lived through a lot.”

Allyson smiled. Even more she couldn’t wait to read Grandmother’s stories.

That night, she opened the notebook’s first page and sniffed deeply again before decoding the first paragraph. “My name is Melody, and I am twelve years old. I have decided to become a writer, and this is my first notebook. Let the adventure begin.”

And the adventure did begin there. All through that winter, Allyson read the old notebooks rejoicing with Melody when she learned to spell “medieval” or actually completed a few stories. Sometimes she read bits of the stories to her little sisters, always being sure to mark down the best ones for Mother to read later.

There were times when Melody had extreme writer’s block or rewrote the same story again, but Allyson always enjoyed opening the next notebook and delving into it. As Melody got a little older, she added more things like romance and adventure into her stories. Her characters and their situations became more realistic and accurate.

And next was the notebook that she had dedicated to her children. There were very few stories in this one, and Mother explained that this time in Grandmother’s life was so busy that she usually just told the stories instead of writing them down.

In the next notebook Melody became Grandmother. Allyson was sure by the way she dedicated each story to a child that could usually be recognized as one of the older cousins.

“What are you reading, Allyson?” Davey asked peeking over the top of her book at her.

She didn’t answer for a moment but kept her eyes fastened on the page.

“Allyson.”

She pulled herself out of the story long enough to ask, “Sorry. Did you say something?”

“I asked what you were reading.”

“Oh, it’s called ‘These Singing Stones’, and it sooo fascinating. I’m almost done actually.”

“Which notebook is next?”

“The red one. It think it is the last.” She sighed and smiled. “But I get to enjoy the rest all over again when Mother reads them aloud.”

“I can’t wait. I keep eyeing your list,” Davey replied. “Well, I guess I’ll leave you to your reading.”

“Bye,” she returned with a smile.

She waited a while after finishing that notebook to make the trip up to the attic to retrieve the red one. There were still a few weeks of winter left and didn’t like the idea of being out of reading material so soon.

After a week, she couldn’t stand waiting any longer and climbed the stairs to find it. The attic was as cozy as the day she had first discovered the notebooks but much cleaner. The boxes they were keeping were stacked in one corner, and many others had been carted away. The old furniture had been arranged around the room and after a little dusting it would be a nice place for them all to gather.

Kneeling down beside the trunk that held the old notebooks, she unbuckled its leather straps and carefully lifted the red one out of its place. Stroking the glossy red cover, she noticed that it looked a lot newer than the rest.

She moved to sit down on one of the chairs nearby and opened the book. “My name is Melody, and I am blessed with eleven beautiful grandchildren. Soon I will have another granddaughter, and her name will be Allyson. I have decided to write her a story. Let the adventure begin.”

Allyson smiled through happy tears, and turned the page quickly. A story for her! Melody, or Grandmother as she was now, had written one for her! The beginning of the notebook was full of scribbles and sketches which she read eagerly—all except the plot so she wouldn’t ruin the story before she got to read it.

“Lysanna will be the heroine. Timid and shy, but eager to do what is right as befits a lady of Beone.”

She peered closely at the sketch of Lysanna and smiled again. The girl’s eyes were large with wonder, but her whole face held a gently determined look. Her excitement and hunger for the story grew as she looked at the maps of Beone, read snatches of Sir Eren’s sad tale, and wondered what was so mysterious about Prince Dulaine.

And then the notes ended. Allyson flipped every one of the remaining pages but each was empty. She was sure she knew why, but she jumped up quickly and ran downstairs.

“Mother?” she asked bursting into the kitchen. “Did M—Grandmother have anymore notebooks anywhere?”

“I don’t believe so, why?” Mother asked as she saw her daughter’s face fall.

Allyson held out the red notebook. “Grandmother wrote this for me.” The disappointment showed clearly in her voice as she added these next words, “There are a ton of notes here but no story. She didn’t get to finish it—did she?”

Mother opened the notebook and scanned a few pages then shook her head. “No, she didn’t.” She looked down at the book again. “But there are enough notes here that I think you should write it. It would be a good project, and the story she had started could live on.”

Allyson’s face slowly turned from disappointment to a smile. Yes, she could write it. Lysanna, Beone, Sir Eren, and the mysterious prince’s story could be told. Grandmother’s story idea could be told. She gave her mother a hug and said, “Thank you, Mother. I will start writing it right away. That is—if you don’t have something you would like for me to do right now.”

Mother smiled. “Better wait on the actual writing until later this evening when the chores are done and the house is quiet, but I’m sure you can brainstorm on it all day. Besides, by then your father and I may have a surprise for you.”

“All right,” Allyson looked excited over the prospect of a surprise. “What is there to do?”

“Davey is mowing the lawn. I would like you to take Lauren out and weed the flower beds.”

“Sure!” Allyson agreed. Maybe Davey could help with the story some too.

All through the day she thought about the story. How would Grandmother have written it? What was Prince Dulaine’s mystery?

That night after dinner while she tried to wipe the smashed green beans out of Baby Lauren’s hair, Father and Mother came out of the kitchen to talk to her. They had been having a conference over the dishes and had apparently now to come to a decision.

“Allyson, your mother has been telling me about your interest in Grandmother’s writing and the story notes she left you,” Father said smiling. “We’ve decided to give you this.”

Mother handed her a smallish flat package, and she eagerly began to tear open the wrapping. “I think I know what this is,” she said happily.

Inside was a small, hardback notebook. It was dark red leather with a flower engraved in the front cover. “Thank you,” she said with a smile that reached into her eyes.

“You may go now, I’ll finish up with Lauren,” Mother offered.

“Tell Grandmother’s story and any others God gives you,” Father added.

Allyson flashed a grateful smile and hugged the little book tightly. “I’ll be in the attic.”

Dusting off the desk that stood in one corner of the room, she laid down both notebooks on the desk. Opening her own, she settled down to fill the first page.

“My name is Allyson. I am 12 years old. My Grandmother left me her story notes, and I have decided to become a writer to tell that story. Let the adventure begin.”

Allyson opened the older notebook and flipped through it until she found the plot. Smiling, she thanked God for the day she had found the notebooks and finally got to know her grandmother.

The End


message 4: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
Ah, so sweet, Kate! If I had an amazing attic, I would love to do my writing there. And if I had the patience (and my hand didn't cramp after a while) I would also write out of a notebook.
Beautiful story, though!


message 5: by Kate (new)

Kate Willis | 49 comments Willowy wrote: "Ah, so sweet, Kate! If I had an amazing attic, I would love to do my writing there. And if I had the patience (and my hand didn't cramp after a while) I would also write out of a notebook.
Beautif..."


Aw, thank you, Willowy! I don't write much in a notebook myself, but the idea of having really messy notes and sketches has always fascinated me. ;)


message 6: by Jesseca (new)

Jesseca Wheaton | 83 comments Wow, your story was so interesting, Willowy! It reminds me of a movie we watched a while ago called "Escape from Hell." You described hell the same way the video did.

I loved your story, Kate! It makes me wish we had an attic I could write in, although I'd probably bring up a laptop instead of the notebooks. :)


message 7: by Kate (new)

Kate Willis | 49 comments Jesseca wrote: "Wow, your story was so interesting, Willowy! It reminds me of a movie we watched a while ago called "Escape from Hell." You described hell the same way the video did.

I loved your story, Kate! It..."


Thanks, Jesseca!


message 8: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
Jesseca wrote: "Wow, your story was so interesting, Willowy! It reminds me of a movie we watched a while ago called "Escape from Hell." You described hell the same way the video did.

I loved your story, Kate! It..."


Thank you, Jesseca! :) I haven't seen that movie, but that's how I've always heard preachers describing it. I'm so glad I'm saved by Jesus' blood! Praise God, I'm not going to Hell!!!


message 9: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
This is the beginning to one of my short stories. Although it isn't what I'd call a pleasant read, it carries a strong message. Also, it was a little too long to squeeze into one post, so you'll find it in two parts.



BECAUSE SHE WAS MAMA
by Willowy Whisper



She didn't deserve this.
Ben's muscles tensed when he finally opened the door. This is the last time. The thought ran through him—but then again, it always did. Who was he fooling? She'd come again—and again he'd open the door, and again the cycle would start over.
“You're high.” He shut the door, disgusted at the smell of smoke and drugs that washed over her.
She looked up at him, looking much thinner than the last time he'd seen her. Her greasy hair was parted in the middle, with an inch of dark brown roots clashing with the bleached blond hair. Sagging her shoulders, she dropped her duffel bag to the ground. “You're always judging me.”
He breathed a laugh. Right. He was always judging her. “What happened, Mama?” He didn't bother hiding the barbed note to his voice. “Your last boyfriend dump you? Or did your landlord kick you out?”
She ignored his stab. “Can I stay here or not?”
Why did it have to be like this? Why was he such a softie? Only he knew why. He knew why she smelled like drugs, and maybe he understood. That's why his door was always open for her—tired of it or not.
He cleared his throat. “Yeah, take your stuff upstairs.” He paused and looked up and down her. Sadness welled through him, melting away the bitterness for one second. She was wasting away. Killing herself. Eating away her very heart and soul.
But what could he say?
After all, it was all his fault.


<><><><><>


He found her up early the next morning, sitting at the table with a cup of coffee. She looked better, he thought, with her hair brushed and clean. For a second he could almost see her the way she used to be—smiling, bright, happy.
His stomach churned. Flashes jumped before his eyes—blood, screams, her anguished face. In that one moment, she'd lost every ounce of beauty, every twinkle of happiness.
Ben took another step into the kitchen, pushing away the guilt. Why did she always do this to him? Every time he was learning to forget? She was always there, showing up again, blaming him.
He poured himself some coffee and sat down in front of her. He met her eyes. “Good morning.”
She dropped her gaze. “Don't be nice to me.”
“Because you don't deserve it?”
Her head snapped up. “No.” She had that hateful tone again. “Because you don't deserve it.”
“I don't want to argue with you—”
“Then stop disrespecting me.” She pulled her blanket closer around her shoulders, looking more like a witch from Scooby-Doo than a mother. She narrowed her gaze. “You always do this.”
She was right. He did always do this. He always provoked her—maybe because it helped when she was mad. It was easier to bear when she yelled at him, the same way it had been easier as a child when she'd given him the scars on his back. It had eased the guilt, just a little. Letting her beat him had somehow made him feel as if he were paying for what he'd done, as if he were recompensing for the hurt he'd caused her.
But his debt was never paid—not with her. He wasn't sure if she'd ever quit hurting him.
Ben downed his coffee, then cleared his throat. “How long do you plan on staying?”
She tilted her head to one side, and for a moment closed her eyes.
“Mama?”
“Shut up, Ben.”
His heart slammed in his chest. Anger shot through him, but he quenched it and made his voice softer, “I said how long are you staying?”
“And I said to shut up.”
He sighed. What was the use? Her mind was a mottled mess, and he knew as well as she did that there was no where else for her to go.
He slid out of his chair and was leaving the room when her voice stopped him in his steps...
“Ben?”
Sweet. That was how her voice was. For the slightest moment, without a trace of pain, her voice was soft. Just like it had been before the—
“Where is that brother of yours?” She breathed a laugh, eyes still closed, frail body still wrapped within the blanket. “Tell Cody to come and get his breakfast, will you?”
“Sure, Mama,” he whispered back. If she believed, even for that one moment, that Cody was alive, then he would let her. He couldn't rob her of that.
He couldn't ever rob her of that.


<><><><><>


He was in the shower when he heard the noises. Sirens? Surely not...
Grabbing his towel, he dried off and got dressed. As soon as he opened the door, his mother fell into his arms.
“Ben! Help me! You've got to help me!” she screeched, making a fist around his shirt.
Instinctively, his arms went around her. “Police?”
“Yes!” she gulped. “Ben, my son, don't let them take me...”
“Take you?” He stared down at her. There were knocks at the doors. Sirens blaring in his ears. He waited...
Her weary head bobbed up and down. “I didn't do anything. I promise. On Cody's grave, I promise.”
She did it again. Cutting him. Making him bleed. Making him help her...
He pulled her to a closet and shoved her inside. “Stay quiet. I'll make them leave.” He was tired of covering up for her, but he didn't have a choice. They didn't understand why she'd turned to drugs—they hadn't seen her before the accident. He had.
Ben opened the door, running a hand through his wet hair. He tried to look shocked. “Officer?”
Two men stood rigid. “We've got a warrant for the arrest of Amy Costner.”
“Yeah—that's my mom.” He paused for a mere second. “But you've come to the wrong place. She's not here.”
The officers glanced at one another, then one of them spoke more firmly, “We know she's here. Her car is in your driveway.”
“Yeah.” He breathed a laugh. “It's a long story. You see, she actually just sold me that car and I was—”
“I'm sorry, sir. We'll have to search your house.”
“No.” Ben braced himself in the doorway. “I told you she's not here.”
“Then we'd like to see for ourselves.”
Maybe they wouldn't look in the closets, but surely they'd see her things...
Ben didn't have time to reason it out. Next thing he knew, he was swinging his fist, throwing an officer back.
The other man charged him, wrestling him into the house, but Ben punched him to the ground, ducking the blows...
Something hard hit over his head, sending him to the floor. Then there were colors in his eyes—an officer pulling him to his feet—dizziness sweeping over him.
The policeman was breathing hard. “You shouldn't have done that, kid.”
Ben backed up, keeping his hand on his head. He stared at the two of them, both facing him—then sighed. “I'm sorry.”
“Uh huh.” The police stepped forward, hand cuffs ready.
“No, please.” Ben held up his hands in surrender. “I won't give you anymore trouble. I promise.”
He looked skeptical...
“Look, you can arrest me, whatever. But...” the words faltered on his lips. “But let's finish this business about my mama.”
The police finally nodded. “You'll spend jail time for those punches, kid.”
“Yeah, I know—but what's she done?”
“Drug dealer. She's got a load of cocaine somewhere with her. She's looking at thirty-some years in prison.”
No. She used drugs because it made the death easier, it blurred away the pain of that day. He understood that. After what he'd done, he could forgive her for drugs. But she wasn't a drug dealer. Surely she wouldn't do that. Surely not...
“She's got it with her somewhere in this house.”
“Not my house.” Ben sucked in a breath. How could she do this to him? How could she use him like this?
He swallowed. “Her car. It might be in her car.”
“We checked that.”
Thirty years...in prison...
“She's here, son. We know she's here.”
Ben met their gaze. Something stirred within the cage of his chest, but he wasn't sure what it was, and for the first time in years, he wanted to cry, so keen was his disappointment. What kind of woman had she become? Had her grief really taken her that far?
“She's here.” The words were out before he could stop himself.
The police moved forward, but Ben stopped him.
“Please. Let me have a word with her. Just let me speak to her.”
The man hesitated...
“Please.”
Finally, he consented.
Without a word, Ben made a beeline for the closet and threw open the door. He swallowed, staring down.
She was gone.


message 10: by Hannah (last edited Aug 04, 2016 05:17PM) (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
PART II


<><><><><>

He took the steps two at a time, throwing open her door, stepping inside.
She jumped and stared at him wildly with mascara-muddled eyes.
“Mama, where is it?” He stepped forward, towering over her. “You never told me.”
“Didn't I?” She sat weakly onto her bed, holding her thin arms. “Maybe you didn't ask.”
“But, Mama, the drugs—”
“So what?” She was on her feet, coming towards him. He'd seen her like this before, so many times. Ever since that day, she'd get like this with him. So...angry. So cruel. When he was a child, he used to be afraid of her. Now he only pitied her. Or something like that.
“You know why I do drugs.” She took another step closer to him. “But some people are worse, you know. Some people kill.”
He'd heard it a thousand times, but the words never lost their sting. His eyes teared up. “Mama.” He couldn't get the words out, couldn't dislodge them from his throat. “Mama, you know it was an accident.”
“But you pulled the trigger. You killed your own brother. You killed him!” She stepped closer still, until her thin frame trembled against his and her worn face peered up at him, blood-shot eyes fierce with rage. “I told you not to play with guns. Didn't I tell you? But you didn't care. You were a wicked child—and you're wicked now. You're the reason I do drugs, Ben. You killed Cody. It's all your fault.”
He flinched as if she'd hit him. Her words had hit true—but then again, they always did. She knew how to make his pain worse, but she didn't care. What kind of mother was she?
“Cody is dead.” A quick sob shuttered through her. “You killed my baby boy and I hate you.”
“Mama, don't—”
“I hate you!” She tore away from him, backing into a corner, balling herself into a hunched position.
He followed her. “Mama, I was nine years old. I'm sorry.”
She shut her eyes, tilting her head. Then she started rocking herself, back and forth as if the motion comforted her. “Cody, baby. Cody, my baby...” was her whisper.
Ben stood rigid, pain raking through him. He stood for a long time, just listening, just watching, just wondering what in the world had ever possessed him to play cowboys-and-indians with his father's loaded pistol. It was a question he asked every day of his life, but he never came up with an answer and it only made the pain worse...
“Ben?” Her shrill voice penetrated the room.
He swallowed, bracing himself. “What?”
“Those men—are you going to let them take me?”
Thirty years. Thirty years in prison. She didn't deserve that. She wasn't like this—she wasn't meant to be like this. But he had made her like this, and he couldn't let her pay for what he'd caused.
“No, Mama,” came his whisper. “Where's the drugs?”
“In the duffel bag.” Her eyes were still closed, voice still soft. “All of it's there and I need it.”
“Sorry.” He reached for the bag and let the weight of it rest in his arms, knowing what it was costing him. “You can't have this anymore, Mama, alright?”
She just kept humming, eyes tightly shut, rocking herself...
On an impulse, Ben went to her and pressed a kiss to her forehead.
She didn't stir, didn't even pause her song. But she smiled, and Ben was certain she imagined the kiss was from Cody.
He left the room and found the police waiting for him. He tossed them the bag. “This is what you're looking for.”
The man unzipped it, then glanced back at him skeptically. “Yeah, it is. Where's your mom?”
Ben inhaled a breath. “She—she's upstairs. But it's not her you want.” So what if he was a liar? It was better than sending her to jail. “It's me.”
The policemen stared at him, unconvinced.
“I'm telling you the truth. She had nothing to do with it. She might have taken some drugs, but the cocaine in that bag is mine. I'm the man you've been looking for.”
“Why are you telling us this?” The policeman's eyebrows made a V. “You're trying to say that this Amy woman had nothing to do with it? With this bag?” He lifted it up just slightly.
“I had her bring it to me. She didn't know what was in it. She's taken some drugs, but she'd never do anything like this.” Ben held out his wrist. “That's why I fought you, but I can't let you arrest her for what I've done.”
The cold metal cuffed around his wrist. The policeman stared at him, still in wonderment, half believing. “Guess there's no more evidence than a confession.” He paused. “But why'd you spill it? You could have gotten away with looking innocent.”
Ben breathed a laugh—a bitter, sickening laugh. Why? That was a funny question with but one answer. “Because she's my mama, that's all.”
“Right.” The police led him out the door, into the car—and then he was on the road, body being jostled with each bump in the road. He stared out the windows, at the trees zipping by him, the houses, the people.
Thirty years. Pain thumped through his chest, but it was pain that he was forced to bear. Maybe he'd lied to those policemen, but in the end it didn't matter. He was paying for his own crime—not hers. No matter what the police said or thought, no matter what the records showed, he was paying for a nine-year-old's bloody folly.
Ben squeezed his hands in his lap, the police car taking him closer to a thirty year punishment for a bag of dope that wasn't even his. He swallowed down the irony of it and remembered one thing:
He wasn't doing it for Mama.
He was doing it for himself.


THE END


message 11: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
Bethany wrote: "I've written two short stories about my private detective, Julia Warrick. If anyone wants to read them I can send them a PDF copy :)
The tiles are
"Into the Valley of Death" and
"The Girl with Sev..."


Catching titles, for sure. :)


message 12: by Jesseca (new)

Jesseca Wheaton | 83 comments Freedom's Price
In two parts, because it's too long for one. :)

The sounds of the approaching music turned Abbi’s head. “Oh, look!” she squealed, bouncing on her toes as she strained to see the parade that was still several blocks away.
Josh grinned, his blue eyes twinkling. “Settle down, Abbi. They’ll be here soon enough. Be patient and relax. That's what the 4th is for.” As if to prove his point, he settled back in his chair, crossed his arms over his chest, and closed his eyes.
Abbi frowned. She was already scorching hot in just jeans and a t-shirt. How on earth he could relax in his uniform was beyond her. Of course, maybe he was hot and not showing it. There was one way to cool him off. . .
Taking advantage of his closed eyes, she swiped a half-full cup of water from the table beside her and tiptoed up behind him.
With a quick glance behind her to be sure her path of escape was clear, she tipped the cup over, splashing water all over Josh’s face.
“Why, you!” He sputtered as he shot up in his seat, and almost before she could start to run, he was on his feet coming after her.
Abbi giggled as she ran, darting around trees, picnic tables, and the play equipment. She turned a corner and darted behind a large tree.
Josh barreled around the corner, nearly trampling a little girl who was bending down on the sidewalk. He stopped so fast he fell over backwards.
“Sir, use the eyes the good Lord gave you!” The mother of the toddler gave him a withering glare.
“Sorry, ma’am.” Josh shot to his feet. “Wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“Well, I’ll say!” The woman huffed as she pulled her child away. Josh looked mortified, and Abbi couldn’t help but laugh. His gaze shot up, and she grinned impishly at him.
He narrowed his eyes and ran at her.
She shrieked as she left the tree and ran toward the center of the park, tripping over a cooler that had been left unattended. The slight fumble was all Josh needed, and in seconds Abbi felt his hands around her waist as he slung her over his shoulder and started jogging toward the fountain.
He was going to do it. He was really going to dunk her. She pounded on his back, but he didn’t seem to care. She could feel rather than hear him laugh over her screams, and before she knew it, he had dropped her into the ice cold water.
The air whooshed from her lungs, and she clutched the concrete sides, gasping for breath.
Josh stood in front of her, hands on his hip, his eyes smiling. “Well, you were hot, were you not?” He chuckled and stretched out a hand. “Come on, get out of there before you’re arrested for desecration of public property.”
“Before I get arrested?” She took his hand and he pulled her up. She stepped out of the fountain, dripping ripples of water onto the burning sidewalk. “You put me in there, and you should have thought about that. You’re the one in the military. You should know better then to dump me in the city fountain, of all places.”
The sounds of approaching music made her look past Josh and toward the street. With a gasp she exclaimed, “Josh, now you're going to make me miss the parade!”
Without waiting for him, she dashed across the park, ignoring the water dripping from her jeans. She just made it back to their picnic site as the parade started down the street.
“Why, Abigail Cartwright! What on earth happened to you?”
Abbi turned to her mom, the parade nearly forgotten. She looked down at her clothes and swallowed hard. She must look a mess. “I—”
“It was my fault, mom.” Josh jogged up behind her and interrupted before she could finish. “She, uhh, dumped water on me when I decided to close my eyes for a sec, so I assumed she was hot and I wanted to help.” He glanced at her. “You’re cool now, right sis?”
Abbi didn’t answer, only punched him in the shoulder.
Mrs. Cartwright shook her head. “You children. Whatever will I do with you?” Though she sounded grave, and smile played across her eyes. “Josh, you’re barely home for a week and I see things are already back to normal.”
Josh grinned and dropped into his chair, picking up Abbi’s phone that lay on the cooler.
Abbi frowned. One day Josh would go too far and mom wouldn’t over look it so easily. She had yet to see that day. “You’d better be happy that phone wasn’t in my pocket when you dumped me. Otherwise you’d be paying for it.”
“Oh, really?” He twirled her phone around, winking at her when she gasped. “What makes you think I would have dunked you if it was in your pocket?”
Before she could reply, Abbi felt a towel around her shoulders, and she turned to see her dad standing there. She smiled. “Thanks.”
He squeezed her shoulder. “It’s good to have Josh back, isn’t it?”
She let out deep breath. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“You guess?” He raised an eyebrow, clearly doubting her.
“Alright, yes, it is!” She shrugged her shoulders into the towel. “But I do have moments when I wish some of his other military buddies were here. He actually acts like a gentleman around them.” She gave Josh a pointed look.
He only winked at her. “Good to know I was missed.”
She huffed and shook her head. “Dad, how in the world did Josh make it past training?”
Mr. Cartwright gave her shoulder a slight squeeze. “I expect that’s somethin’ we’ll be puzzlin’ till our dying day.”
“Oh, come on, dad!” Josh tossed his cap up in the air and caught it just before it hit the grass. “Surely I’ve changed some!”
Everyone laughed, and dad said, “Josh, you haven’t changed a bit.”
Josh gave an exaggerated sigh. “Well, I’ll leave you here to discuss me. I am going to go and fire up the grill.” He stood and grabbed a bag of hot dogs from the cooler.
Abbi sighed. “Better go with him, dad. He likes them black.”

***


message 13: by Jesseca (new)

Jesseca Wheaton | 83 comments Part Two

“Now, you have got to admit that was the best hot dog you have ever tasted.”
“I’ll admit no such thing, Joshua Cartwright!” Abbi made a face and slid her plate under her chair. “It was burnt. So burnt I couldn’t even taste the meat. Did you take a class on the finer points of burned food?”
“Haha, very funny.” He tossed his empty cup at her, and she batted it away.
“Would you two settle down?” Dad shook his head. “Come on, let’s get all the food picked up before the fireworks start.”
“Fireworks?”
Three heads turned toward Josh, and Abbi nodded. “It’s the 4th of July. You know, cookout, parades, fireworks. It’s all part of the day.”
Josh’s eyes widened, and he took a deep breath as if to calm himself, all the while gripping the arm of the chair till his knuckles shone white.
Mom stepped forward and laid a hand on his arm. “Josh? Is everything alright?”
Abbi watched as if in a trance. What could have happened to him? One minute he was laughing, the next he looked as if someone was trying to kill him.
Josh nodded and relaxed a little. “I’m fine, mom. I just, uhh, didn’t quite think of the fireworks.” He smiled, but it was strained. “Well, come on. Let’s get this food put away like you said, dad.”
Dad frowned. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. When you mentioned the fireworks it just---reminded me of something.” He smiled again, and this time it was genuine. “I promise, I’ll be fine.”
Abbi wasn’t sure her parents were convinced, but they let the matter drop, and in no time at all the food was all packed away.
“Hey, Abbi.”
She turned just in time to catch the keys Josh tossed her way. He bent down and picked up the cooler. “Let’s take this to the trunk of the car and grab the blanket.”
They walked in silence. As they neared the car, Abbi punched the button on the key-ring to open the trunk.
Josh set the cooler inside, took out the folded blanket that had been pushed toward the spare tire, and then closed the door.
As they turned to start back toward the picnic area, Abbi paused. “Uh, Josh?”
He turned. “Yes?”
She twirled the key ring around her finger. She had his attention, and she had no idea how to put words together into a tactful sentence. “What’s wrong?” Well, that was great. Nothing ever worked quite like simply blurting out the question.
“Abbi, I’m fine.” He ran a hand through his short-cropped hair. “Seriously. I’ll be okay. Now come on. Let’s get back to mom and dad.” He turned and walked away, not giving her a chance to ask anything else.
Abbi sighed and trudged after him. If Josh was determined not to tell her, she’d stop asking. But somehow she’d find out what was wrong.
She took her time on the walk back. The sun was setting behind the trees, and the park was quieting down as everyone prepared for the fireworks.
By the time she made it back to the picnic area, Josh had spread the blanket down. Dad sat on the edge, mom was next to him, and Josh was on the far side of the blanket. His eyebrows were knit together in concentration, though Abbi couldn’t figure out what in the world he was trying to concentrate on.
She went at sat down on the blanket next to him, and flipped on her phone. The fireworks were always amazing, and she was going to be ready to get some pictures.
“How many years you been doing that?”
Abbi started as Josh leaned over her shoulder. “Josh!”
He grinned. “Sorry. How many years have you been taking pictures?”
“Umm…” Abbi thought back. She had started taking them on the old digital camera when she was ten. “About eight years, I think.”
“Oh, that’s right. I remember that year when I was helping with the fireworks, you were twelve, and I was what... sixteen? You got a picture of me just as I burnt myself."
“Well,” Abbi smirked, “What can I say? You’ve always had a talent for burning things.”
“Oh yeah?" Josh raised his eyebrows. "Well, remember the time you—” His voice was drowned out as the first round of fireworks exploded in the darkness, bathing the area around them in a colorful array of lights.
“Oh, Josh, look. They’re…” Abbi’s voice trailed off as she turned to Josh. Both hands were clenched and balled into fists. His arms were shaking and he crossed them, as though he was trying hard to stop.
“Josh?” Abbi touched his shoulder and he flinched. She quickly took her hand off. What was wrong? Why was he like this?
“I’m sorry, I just…” Josh’s voice was taut and clipped, and his breath was coming in shallow gasps. “I need to go.”
Without another word he stood and nearly ran from the park.
“Abbi?”
She turned as her dad touched her shoulder, a worried look on his face. “What happened?”
“I—I don’t know.” She shook her head. “He was fine one minute, and the next he just…ran.”
Dad started to stand. “I’m going to go see what happened.”
“No, dad, can I go? Please?”
Dad paused as though he was thinking, and Abbi bit her lip. She had no idea where Josh had gone to, and every second she waited he got further away.
At last dad nodded. “Okay, but if you can’t find him, don’t go too far from the park, and keep your cell phone on.”
Abbi nodded, tucked her phone in her pocket, and took off at a run the way she’d seen Josh go. At the other edge of the 15-acre city property, the park administration building sat at the end of the grassy lawn, and she leaned against it to catch her breath.
As the sound of the fireworks dimmed behind her, she caught the sound of heavy breathing and muffled sobs.
Cautiously she walked around to the back. She stopped at the corner, stunned by what she saw.
Josh sat there, his back to the wall, knees pulled up to his chest. “Josh?” Her voice hardly seemed to break the through the stillness that surrounded them.
When he didn't reply, she walked over and lowered herself down beside him. “Josh.” Her words were hardly a whisper. “What’s wrong? Please, tell me what’s wrong?”
Josh looked up, and his eyes met hers. “I thought I could handle it, that I was strong enough. But I’m not.”
The look in his eyes sent a chill through her. She put a hand on his arm, and this time he didn’t pull away. “What happened, Josh? You thought you would be strong enough for what?”
Josh swallowed hard, and for a moment Abbi was afraid he wouldn’t tell her. But he took a deep breath and looked up toward the sky.
“I was overseas,” he started, “our mission was supposed to be a simple one. There had been reports of Palestinians smuggling large amounts of weapons into the area. We were to investigate. But something went wrong.” He paused and clenched his jaw, trying to gain control of his emotions. “Chad was with me. I was just inside, he was covering me outside. I went about to lift a trapdoor when Chad yelled at me to get out. I turned to look at him, and his eyes are wide. Something wasn’t right. I started back toward the door, but I wasn’t fast enough. Chad ran in and shoved me out onto the street as the building behind us exploded into flames.”
As Abbi watched Josh, a faraway expression came over his face. Almost as if he was back, relieving those moments.
“I stayed down till it was quiet, then reached for the weapon that had fallen from my grip when I hit the ground. I stood slowly, and turned around to look for Chad.” Josh bit his lip and put a hand on his head before continuing. “He was gone. Part of him was there, the other part...he must have still been in the house when the explosion came. He saved me, but he died.”
He dropped his head in his hands, as though the story had been too much to tell, his shoulders shaking.
Tears were running down Abbi’s face and she tightened her grip on his arm. What could she say that would soothe pain and anguish he was feeling?”
After a long moment he looked up again. “The fireworks. I thought I could handle it. I thought I could get through them for one night. But I can’t. Every time I hear them, I’m back at that house, being pushed to the ground. And every time It gets worse.”
“Oh, Josh.” Abbi wrapped her arms around him. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Because I didn’t want to have changed.” He shook his head. “I wanted to come back home, I wanted everything to be the same. I’m sorry, Abbi.”
At that, Abbi sat back and drew in a sharp breath. “No you’re not, Joshua!” Her eyes flashed as she spoke. “You were brave, you were doing what you had been ordered to. Of course something like that would change someone! But don’t you dare apologize for it.” She took a deep breath and the fire left her. “I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through. But, Josh, it’s okay. We'll get through this together. With mom and dad, as a family. Don't shut us out, Josh.” She took his hand and squeezed it. “We don’t understand everything you went through, but we want to help. Don’t try to be strong.”
She paused to wipe her eyes, and Josh did the same. When was the last time they had cried together? Had it ever happened before? Abbi couldn’t remember.
“It hurts.” Josh said as he idly rubbed a finger over her knuckles. “It’s hurts to have to depend on other, to not even to be able to get through a fireworks show.”
Abbi didn’t reply right away. After a moment of silence, she said, “Just trust Jesus, Josh. I don’t know why He allowed you to go through what you did, or why he allowed Chad to die. I know that trusting won’t fix all the pain and hurt you're feeling, but if you call on Him, He’ll be with you as you go through it. He’ll be strong for you, Josh.”
Just as she finished her sentence, the phone in her pocket vibrated. She took it out and looked at the screen. One new text message from dad. Abbi, are you and Josh okay?
Abbi set the phone in her lap and looked at Josh. “Come on, why don't you go and get the car? I’ll get mom and dad and explain everything to them, okay?”
Josh nodded, but hesitated. “I don’t want to ruin the 4th for you, I know we’ve watched the fireworks show here since we were kids.”
Abbi smiled and shook her head. “Don’t you understand, Josh? Fireworks are just… fireworks. There’s nothing too special about them. We’d rather spend the night with you.”
She rubbed his shoulder and stood, sliding her phone back into her pocket. “Come on, let's go home.”


message 14: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
Jesseca wrote: " Part Two

“Now, you have got to admit that was the best hot dog you have ever tasted.”
“I’ll admit no such thing, Joshua Cartwright!” Abbi made a face and slid her plate under her chair. “It was..."


That was so beautiful and heart-wrenching. It's awful to think of soldiers going through things like that.


message 15: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
NOTICE to all short story writers . . .

A Place Called Lonesome - Short Story Contest will be closed for entries this Monday. If you want to participate, hurry and sign up! You can find the information @ www.willowywhisper.com, or at my events, via Goodreads.



message 16: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Linder (hannahlinder) | 113 comments Mod
Sean wrote: "Important little place to gather up thoughts and inspirations. Will someday write here for group, busy now. Thanks for invite Willowy. When I have time I'll read your short stories here."

Great, Sean! Welcome to the group!


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