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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 475 (January 7-January 20) Stories Topic: Every Other Weekend

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message 1: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 655 comments You have until the 20th of January to post a story and from the 21st to around the 27th of January, we’ll vote for which 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. Only one submission per person is allowed.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

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

This week’s topic is: Every Other Weekend

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Most of all have fun!

message 2: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Jan 07, 2020 11:05AM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments C. P. on her posting-new-contest game as usual; just saying but you've been doing awesome as a mod of WSS! :)

message 3: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 655 comments Thank you, CJ!

message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments This one was fun to write! Feedback, as always, is very welcome.

message 5: by Ruth (last edited Jan 07, 2020 06:13PM) (new)

Ruth | 90 comments All Things Stay the Same
By Ruth Erskine
2,158 Words

I didn’t allow myself many pleasures, especially when they dealt with people. I’d lived long enough to know that being around them just caused trouble.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the company sometimes. It was a lonely existence. But a lonely existence in one place, stable, was better than a social one constantly on the run.
I didn’t allow myself many pleasures besides one. That one pleasure happened to be a white chocolate latte and a raspberry cream cheese Danish from a small coffee shop that had opened up three years ago in the building where a thrift store used to stand, and before that, a clothing boutique, and before that, a dentist office.
I went there every other weekend, on Saturday, at 1pm exactly. I always blended in easily, and the barista knew me by sight. One of the things I liked about this place though, was that no one was chatty. I could order in peace, go to my normal table over by the window, eat, and leave. As long as I kept my hood up, the glimmer did a good enough job of covering the rest of my features. Features that would cause me to be chased out of town. I didn’t want to go into hiding again. The loneliness killed me.
That day though, I could tell something was different as I approached. Just a feeling, but my feelings were rarely wrong. It had been so long since I’d felt on edge, though, that foolishly, I pushed it to the back of my mind and went inside anyway.
That tiny bell they hung over the door tinkled as I entered. I ordered, got my coffee and pastry, and walked to my table.
And there she sat, by the window of the coffee shop, by MY window. A girl, fourteen or fifteen, maybe? Maybe eight? Humans age so strangely I can never tell anymore. I could smell from here that what she sipped out of a large coffee cup was black coffee, with two shots of espresso. A bit much for someone her size. She swung her legs back and forth and looked out the window, like she was waiting for someone.
A surge of anger rose from me at first, and I nearly crushed my coffee cup in my hand. That was my spot. I’d claimed it. How dare she?
I knew I shouldn’t cause a scene. But if I tried to leave the shop to eat, my Danish would be stale before I reached home, and my latte would be cold.
I didn’t like my routines being disrupted.
As I stood there, deliberating what to do, she checked her watch, then looked my way. She saw me, and a large grin spread across her face.
“Right on time, Mr. Pan!” she exclaimed.
Before I could react, she was up and over by me, shaking my hand furiously. At least she had the decency to grab me by the wrist so as not to crush my Danish.
“It’s been forever, I’ve missed you! Come on, we’ve got so much to catch up on.”
Her smell was odd, different from anything I’d smelled in years. I couldn’t put a finger on it.
“Do I know you?” I asked. “And how do you know my name?”
She’d already slipped back in her seat as I asked the question. Her face fell. “Wow.”
Reason told me to leave, but curiosity pushed me to stay. As silly as it was, I wanted to hold a conversation. It had been years since I had. I couldn’t help myself, and I sat down in the seat across from her. That seemed to please her very much.
I didn’t like eating and drinking in front of people either, but my white chocolate latte called to me, and I gingerly put the cup to my lips and drank.
“You look exactly like I remember, Mr. Pan,” she gave me a look that unsettled me a bit. It seemed to look straight through my disguise. “I guess I don’t, or you would have recognized me.”
“If you told me who you were, I’d have a much easier time,” I countered warily.
“What would be the fun in that?” she took a long gulp of her drink, which surprised me now, because I could smell how hot it was.
“Will you tell me why you’re here, then, so I can be on my way?”
“You could be on your way right now. I’m not stopping you.” The girl grinned broadly, enjoying toying with me.
This was frustrating.
“I’m here because I’ve been looking for you,” she finally revealed. “Well, I’ve been looking for all of them, but your name is next on my list.”
“Them?” there were so many ‘thems’ she could be talking about. I didn’t particularly like the concept of any of them.
“The rest of the ones like you. The fauns. Then, next I’m moving on to the merfolk. Though there’s a lot less of those around anymore.”
I panicked. “How do you know… what’s a faun? I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
She laughed heartily now. “You’re all the same, you know? It’s not just me who can see. Everyone here knows what you are.”
“That’s impossible. They would panic. They would chase me out of town. What about the glimmer?”
“The glimmer wore off years ago,” she explained. “I suppose that’s when you were in Canada. Everyone in this coffee shop can see your horns and your hooves. And nobody cares.” She motioned to my pastry. “Eat, please. They’re best fresh.”
That made me not want to eat it, but I did after staring at it for a few seconds. It still tasted delicious, but the situation I was in dampened the mood.
She seemed pleased when I took a bite. I remained on edge. Her face showed the truth, but there was no way.
“But how—”
She cut me off. “How did it happen? Yes, I never grow tired of telling this story. Remember when you were in Canada, there was that year where all Winter it was bright, sunny, and hot? Do you remember how long ago that was?”
I shook my head. “Thirty years, maybe?”
She laughed again, downed the last of her coffee, and looked at me curiously again. “You have forgotten so much,” she said. “That was three hundred and seventy-four years ago. I remember it like yesterday. Strange how it affected some of you.”
“Time doesn’t matter,” I shrugged. “I don’t age, and I stay the same. Humans do age, they die, they birth new humans who die, and they always stay the same, too.”
She reached across the table and patted my hand. I almost pulled it away, but she had the foresight to know I didn’t like being touched and removed it almost immediately. “In the world you used to know, nothing changed. That Winter, do you know what happened?” I shook my head and she continued. “The Defenders of Humanity, the ones who chased you to Canada, who chased the merfolk back into the depths of the sea, who burned the dryads in their forests and drove dwarves from the mountains, developed a formula. A gas they would spread into the air, to weaken all the immortal beings and destroy them. They succeeded partly. The gas released, caused the strange Winter, and slowly, very slowly, erased the glimmer from all of the immortals. The first hundred years, it was chaos. Just what they wanted. The only ones who were safe were in hiding, like you.”
“This is absurd. I wasn’t alone for that long.” I shook my head, ready to stand up and leave.
“Were you, though? Think about it. All that time alone, especially for your kind, can do strange things to the mind.”
I didn’t want to think about that. “Finish your silly story so I can go home,” I told her.
“Eventually, the plan completely backfired. The Defeders of Humanity died out, as most humans grew to respect the immortals. The Merfolk saved King Caridin, the infant Princess Lenabeth, and their entire ship from sinking into the depths of the sea in a storm. The dryads replanted crops and nearly singlehandedly saved the humans from famine during the eight-year drought. Humans found that they could live together, in peace. And more immortals returned, slowly at first. Then in abundance. Think for a moment, what made you come out of hiding?”
I didn’t want to tell her, it made me seem weak and foolish. But she expected an answer. “I was lonely,” I said, finally. “So lonely. I would have risked being stoned just to see the face of something living and intelligent, be it an immortal or a human.”
“You came because you sensed it was safe. For years you hid away from even your own kind because of what the humans did to you. Think about the day you came back. You know you felt something. Something calling you, telling you all was ok.”
“All will never be ok. I still don’t believe these humans can see me for who I am. I think you’re lying, though I don’t know your motives.” I sniffed the air again, still not able to trace her scent.
“What part do you want me to prove?” She asked.
The barista who always served me behind the counter brushed past at that moment, taking trash from the table across from us.
“You there, Miss,” the girl hailed her. The barista paused. “My friend here has been talking about trying one of those cheese bread knots. Could you bring us one?”
The barista turned to me with a look of concern on her face. “There’s garlic in it,” she said plainly.
I said nothing.
The girl shrugged. “And?”
“I’d suggest trying something else, Sir.” The barista directed that to me, then turned to the girl. “Don’t you know anything about immortals? Garlic will make him sick for weeks!”
“Oh, right, I forgot,” the girl smiled brightly. “Thanks!”
The barista shook her head, then walked back to the counter.
“See, she knows.”
I felt myself growing dizzy. This wasn’t right, it couldn’t be. I’d lived here for years… how long? Long enough to see this building switch owners four times. But what even was time? Everything stayed the same. Everything was always the same. I’d lived here so long, if they could see me, they would have killed me. I thought I just looked like a man. A normal human.
“Hey,” the girl spoke softly now. “This is normal, especially for the ones like you. Don’t panic.”
“You told her to say that,” I shook. “Who are you, why are you doing this to me, why are you lying to me?”
“You know, Mr. Pan, my job has been easy the past twenty years, finding all the lost fauns, showing them the world as it is now, and seeing them realize that it’s safe to come out and be themselves. But it’s sad when I come talk to you, and you still don’t know who I am, after all this time.”
She brushed her hair out of her eyes and looked directly at me, piercing into my head, into my soul. I stared back, despite how hard it was to hold the gaze.
She was ancient. Older than me. Despite the child’s body, clothes, and mannerisms. She smiled as I stared, and I knew, then. I knew those eyes better than I knew my own.
“It’s really you,” I whispered.
“Took you long enough. Do you still think I’m lying? Why would I lie? This is what I’ve fought toward for centuries. Pan, it’s time. Go, be yourself, don’t be afraid. There are some in the world who are still wary, but now is the time for you to be alive.”
The thought terrified me, but I knew she told the truth now. There was no denying it. “How did I not notice before? How did I not see that they know who I am?”
“You simply weren’t paying attention.”
“Thank you,” I whispered.
She nodded. “Now I have to go. It’s been fun. Enjoy the rest of your life, Pan. Maybe someday I’ll see you again.”
She stood, threw her cup in the trash, and walked out the door. The little bell jingled as the door swung behind her.

I don’t allow myself many pleasures in life still. I like my routines. But it’s nice to know I can leave this town, leave my house, talk to people, humans, or even my own people, without fear.
At times I see wary looks, just as she warned. But it’s worth it. The times have changed. I never age, time never affects me, and I have changed.
Humans grow old, die, are reborn, make the same stupid mistakes, but they change, too.

message 6: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Ruth, the ending to your story was quite satisfying. I know a thing or two about loneliness, but not to the degree that Mr. Pan experienced. Bigotry is always an oppressive force and it makes society do some ugly things. To know that Mr. Pan does indeed have a lifeline to this world is what made me love the story so much. That, and the creativity that fantasy stories always come with. You did an excellent job this week, my friend! My only critique for your stories going forward would be to space out your paragraphs since internet forums don't allow indentations like word processors do.

message 7: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Thanks Garrison! It was a little close to home as I was writing it too. I’m glad you were able to relate in a good way.
And thanks for the note about the paragraphs, I always forget it doesn’t save the indentations on this site.

message 8: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 655 comments This one was quick and is probably messy, but I wanted to get something written for this week's prompt. Any feedback is always welcome.

Snow Exchange
Length: ~500 words

The sky wept frozen tears. Snow drifted in lazy circles, melted as it hit the window, sadness streaking down the glass and disappearing into the metal side of the car. Windshield wipers slashed through the flakes, wiped them away before they had a chance to trail their sadness and obstruct the driver’s view. The radio played an upbeat, happy song, at odds with the melancholy over the world.

Or perhaps the world was not feeling melancholy at all, but only the passenger in the backseat, her face turned into the window, eyes tracking the teary trails of melting snowflakes. Her own eyes and face were dry, but inside a storm raged, leaving destruction in its wake. She imagined her sadness as a furious blizzard, burying the world in drifts of white snow too deep to dig free. Or a tornado, tearing angrily over the globe, hurling everything and everyone out of its way. Maybe even a tsunami that covered every speck of dry ground, washing away the people who dared stain the earth.

The type of storm did not matter, all of her imaginings ended the same — complete destruction. Her own world had imploded, why should others not suffer her turmoil? The sky agreed, raining out sadness in icy white flakes, hiding chaos in beauty. The girl closed her eyes, took a deep breath. We can only guess at the exact scene that played through her head, but whatever it was it brought a smile to her lips.

And then the car was slowing down, the rhythmic tick-tick-tick of the turn signal calling the girl from her reverie. The car bumped and jostled its way into a pothole filled parking lot, the radio still playing a happy song. The ground here, away from the oft-traveled asphalt of the road, was covered in fluffy white flakes.

The car jerked to a stop, the driver flipping the gear shift into park. Another car waited two spaces over, already running, exhaust pluming from the tailpipe and into the frigid afternoon. The girl opened her door mechanically, smile long since extinguished, tugging her backpack along behind her. The driver and front passenger followed her lead, shoulders bunching up by their ears as they left the warmth of the car behind.

The girl wasn’t sure what was said between her companions, what she may have said in reply, her lips moving of their own accord, mind and body falling into a practiced routine. What she did know was that the driver of the waiting car did not move, the door staying firmly closed. The hug she had once craved and hoped for never came.

The girl and her sister, the front passenger from the car, moved to the new vehicle, stowed their bags in the open and waiting trunk. And then they were in the warm interior of the car and the girl watched through the snowy tears of the sky as her father drove away.

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