Under The Eyepatch

Ok, so my short story based on your comments didn’t get accepted by the magazine I submitted it to.  Wah.

896dfaa2ee62d49ff3d96bd5a91eac5d

But it’s a win for you because now I get to post it here.  I had so much fun writing the story that I’ll probably write some more and keep submitting them for publication and see what happens.  Anyway, without any further ado… Under The Eyepatch:

(The words left in the comments by you are in all caps.)

***

Garret Randall Nehring lived and worked in a small clock repair shop on East Street, the shop being downstairs and the living space, up.  It was evening.  The moon had already risen in the black, cloudless sky and he made his usual rounds on the lower floor, checking the locks on the windows and doors.  Click, click, click.  Three turns each.  He quickly examined every bar over the windows and the long bar across the door frame, front door and back.  He was behind schedule tonight.  He rubbed his wrists nervously, worsening the rash he’d previously made by rubbing.

Why had that woman come in at closing? He walked through the show floor of the shop in a perfect circle, visually inspecting each clock on display as he did.  The moon is already out and I’m not finished.  It’s inexcusable.  Everything appeared to be in perfect order.  He quickly made his way upstairs.  Any moment now The Revelry would begin and he desperately needed to have his ear plugs in before.

In the bathroom, he brushed, brushed, brushed and flossed, flossed, flossed.  Three times each.  Always three.  He carefully inspected the eyepatch covering his left eye.  How often he had wished he had a second patch to cover his right.  Symmetry.  But that line of thinking often led to wondering why so many things came in twos instead of threes.  He was late tonight, however, and could not indulge himself in pointless contemplation.  He quickly wiped down the bathroom surfaces and shuffled off to his bedroom.  The Revelry hadn’t begun yet; he may still have time.

He reached into his bedside table and retrieved a new pair of ear plugs, wrapped tightly in plastic.  Elation.  He would make it.  He let himself feel a modicum of joy as he opened the plastic bag.  Small victories really do give one so much pleasure, he mused.  A tiny smile spread across his face.

Bang, bang, bang.

His smile disappeared.

Bang, bang, bang.

“Hello?”  It was definitely a female voice.  She sounded youngish.

“Hello?  I see your light on.  I need help.”  She was at the back door.

And this is why I should never let customers in at closing time, he thought to himself.

Bang, bang, bang.

“Please, The Revelry is going to start any second.  Please, open the door,” she called out loudly.

“I’m coming,” Nehring said with a sigh.  He threw the ear plugs into a nearby trash receptacle, fastened his robe securely and shuffled back downstairs.

*

Nehring stood a few feet away from the back door, located in his workshop.  Scowling, he attempted to peer through the bars over the window, trying to see who was banging so loudly.

“Hello?” the girl said.  She was young, just as he’d thought.  Fourteen?  Fifteen?  In the darkness her light blue eyes were almost all he could make out of her face.  Something about them…

“Are you going to let me in?”

Sirens.  The Revelry had begun.  The girl began to hyperventilate.

“That’s the siren,” she said between breaths, “Let me in. Let me in.”

“Aren’t you kind of young to be out this late at night?” was all Nehring said.

“I got lost on my way home and then it got dark and I realized The Revelry would be starting soon but I don’t know where I am or how to get home from here and then I saw your light on and I thought you could help me and please,” she said all in one breath.  Nehring tilted his head slightly, still trying to gain a view of the young lady outside the door.  Finally, with a heavy sigh, he gave up and crossed the last few feet to the door.  Click, click, click.  He turned the lock and unbarred the door.

“Come in, I suppose,” he offered weakly, pushing the door open.  And before he’d even realized what was happening, the young girl was swinging a shotgun up from her side, gripping it tightly and pointing it in his face.

“Don’t mind if I do,” she said grinning.

“Wonderful,” Nehring muttered, raising his hands in the air.

“In,” she said gesturing with the gun, the smile disappearing from her face.  With a heavy sigh, Nehring turned around and began walking through his workshop toward the front of the building, more annoyed than frightened.  The girl quickly circled around, keeping the gun aimed directly at him.  She gestured and pointed until they arrived at the small kitchen.  She nodded toward a kitchen chair.

“Sit.”

Nehring sat.  He let out another heavy sigh.  Surely she could sense his annoyance by now.  A moment later, two men appeared in the kitchen doorway, each carrying two empty duffle bags.  One man was tall and heavy set, he looked as though he could have been a boxer in another life.  The other was shorter and small, his clothes were too big for him and he seemed to be full of nervous energy.  The girl nodded to them.

“You got the ROPE?” she asked.  The small one produced a rope from the folds of an oversized coat.  He grinned from ear to ear as he tied Nehring tightly to the chair.

She eyed the large one, “Did you secure the door?”

“Secured.”

“Excuse me,” Nehring broke in, “but who are you and what are you doing?”

“What’s it look like?” the large one sneered.

“Argh, MATEY.  We be PILLAGIN’ and PLUNDERIN’ yer shop,” said the small one, letting out a high pitched peal of laughter not unlike a six-year-old girl.

Nehring furrowed his brow, “You’re what?”

The small one looks something like a lizard, he thought, His face is pointy.  I’ll call him Lizard.

Lizard grinned and pointed at his eye, then at Nehring.

“I see. My eyepatch.  How clever.”

Lizard let out another peal of laughter.

He has as much intelligence as a lizard too.

The large one slapped Lizard on the back of the head to shut him up.  Lizard frowned and rubbed his sore skull but was none-the-less grinning again a moment later.

“You two know what to do,” the girl said, “Get to it.”

“C’mon, Squid,” the large one said and the two of them headed out into the shop.

Squid.  Well, I wasn’t too far off, was I? Nehring smiled at his own thoughts.  He was quite witty, if he did say so himself.

“Why are you smiling? Stop that,” said the girl, breaking into his thoughts.

Nehring frowned.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t know smiling was against the rules.”

Crash.

High pitched laughter.

“Squid! Quit messin’ around.”

The two men could be heard clearly from the kitchen and it seemed they were determined to break everything in the shop.  Nehring felt his heart go into palpitations and he tried to steady his breathing, knowing his perfectly ordered shop was being destroyed.

“Do they have to break everything?” he asked the girl.

Silence.

“Do you plan to tell me what this is all about?”

“Shut up.”

*

The large one and Squid returned a little while later, duffle bags, presumably full of valuables, in each hand.

“We took all the good stuff but I gotta tell you, Norry, there wasn’t much.  I thought you said this place would pay off,” the large one said.  The girl made no answer.  She sat awkwardly on the edge of the kitchen table, staring off into space.

“Norry.”

Silence.

“Norretta!”

The girl snapped back from whatever dream world she had been in.

“Sorry, Tank.  What did you say?”

Tank, Nehring thought, How comically appropriate. He made sure not to smile this time.

“I said this place didn’t pay off like you said it would.  What’s wrong with you anyway,” Tank replied.

“Nothing.  I’m fine,” she said, “I guess I just got bad information.”  She jumped down from the kitchen table and walked over to the window, peering out into the dark night sky.

“It’s too dark to leave.  The Revelers will still be out.  We need to wait until dawn.”

Squid pulled a knife from somewhere inside his vast coat and began cleaning his fingernails enthusiastically.  “What are we going to do with this POPPET?” he said grinning again and gesturing to Nehring.

“Nothing,” the girl said.

“Nothing? He’s seen our faces,” Tank said, “He knows our names.”

“If it helps any, I could care less,” Nehring offered, “I just want my shop cleaned up.”

The girl pointed a finger at Nehring, “You, shut up.”  To Tank she said, “Nothing is happening to him right now because we can’t leave yet and I don’t want to stare at a BLOODY mess for the next few hours.”

Squid pocketed the knife and pulled out a bit of twine he had tucked away.  “It doesn’t have to be bloody, CUPCAKE.  I know how to be clean and quiet.”  For just a moment, Nehring was almost afraid.

“No,” she said, raising the shotgun again, this time aiming it at Squid and then Tank.  “Nothing happens to him until I decide.  It’s my call.  Understand?”  No one moved or made a sound.  “Good.  Now, each of you take a door and stand watch.  When it’s time to end this, I will end it.”  Still, no one moved.  The men eyed the gun and the girl, mulling over what she’d said.  Eventually, Tank picked up the duffle bags he’d carried in and headed out of the room towards the front door.  Squid shrugged, grinned and followed, leaving his duffle bags behind.  A moment later, he returned.

“You got anything to eat?”

“SOUP.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes,” Nehring said.  Squid smiled, raising his eyebrows in anticipation.

“More soup.”  His smile quickly faded.

“BANANAS,” Squid muttered under his breath.

“What was that?”

“I. Don’t. Like. Soup.” he said through gritted teeth.  The knife made an unexpected return.  He jabbed it into the wall and dug a jagged trench through it as he walked out.

“Why did you let him do that?!?” Nehring screamed, “Oh, I’m gonna be sick.  I feel like I’m having a heart attack.”

“Would you shut up? It’s just a wall,” the girl said.

“Well, excuse me but I didn’t ask to be tied up and have my home destroyed, did I?  I’m dying.  I think I’m dying.”

“You’re not dying.  It’s just a wall.  Shut up.”

“I am dying.  My heart is racing.  I’m going to throw up.  I’m dying.  I’m dying.  I’m dying.”

And that was when Nehring was gagged.

*

The girl stood by the kitchen window staring out into the darkness for almost two hours before abruptly saying, “Does the name ‘Tibby’ mean anything to you?”

Nehring said nothing.  He couldn’t.

“Oh, right, the gag.  Sorry.”  She crossed the room and removed the gag from his mouth.

A barely audible, “Water,” came from Nehring.  She opened several cabinet doors before finding a glass and filling it will tap water.

“What was the question?” he managed with a raspy voice after taking a drink.

“Does the name ‘Tibby’ mean anything to you?”

“More water, please,” he said, “And, yes, it does.”  After another drink he added, “She used to work for me.”

“That’s it?  She worked for you?  Nothing else?”

“We were close.”

“But she did more than just work for you, right?”

“It was a long time ago.”

“How long?”

“What?”

“How long?  How long ago was it?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “I’d say 16 or 17 years now.  Why do you want to know?”

“I have my reasons.  What’s under your eyepatch?” she asked, changing the subject.

“An eye.  Why are you asking about Tibby?” he countered.

“I said I have my reasons.  Why are you wearing an eyepatch?”  Nehring could see this was going nowhere.

“Why did you choose the night of The Revelry to rob me?  There are much less dangerous nights, you know.”

“I have reasons for that too.”  Nehring sighed.  This had been a very trying night.  He cleared his throat.

“Can I have another drink of water?  I’ll tell you all about Tibby.”  The girl leaned down and gave him a drink, sizing him up.

“Tibby was my apprentice, of sorts,” he said, “But not in clock repair.  I started repairing clocks after…  Anyway, when she was my apprentice we grew very close.  I think that I… well, I know that I… loved her.  I don’t know if she loved me but I like to think she did.  Something happened.  I was injured.  I sustained a head injury, actually, and after that I… changed.  The change was too much for her.  She left and I haven’t seen her since.  And that was 17 years ago, or thereabouts.”

“Hmm.”

“Hmm?  That’s all you have to say?”

She stared out of the window again for a few minutes.

“What’s under your eyepatch?”

“Oh, for crying out –“ Nehring started to say but was interrupted by Tank entering the kitchen.

“There are Revelers out front.  Should I take care of them?” he said.

“No,” said the girl, “Just turn off as many lights as you can.  They’ll get bored and leave.”

Bang, bang, bang.

“That came from the back door,” Nehring said, “You idiots left all the lights on and now we’re surrounded by Revelers.  Did you at least relock and bar the doors?”

“Let us in!” a loud male voice yelled through the back door.  Drunken laughter erupted from the other Revelers.  A moment later Squid appeared in the kitchen doorway, knife in hand, picking his teeth.

“I don’t like this, Norry,” he said, “Stuck in this house all night, nothing to eat, and now Revelers banging down the door.  I don’t like this at all.”  He stuck the knife into the kitchen table, nearly giving Nehring a heart attack.

“I say we unlock the back door and go out the front,” Tank said, “The Revelers will come in here and take care of him for us.  Nice and neat, no mess.”

“I don’t know, Tank.  I was kinda looking forward to that part,” Squid said, pulling the knife out of the table.

The girl looked back and forth between Tank and Squid and then at Nehring.

She stared hard into his good eye, “What’s under your eyepatch?”

“Do you really think this is the best time to be asking that?!?” he yelled.

She searched his face again, “Nehring, we don’t have time for this.  What is under your eyepatch?”

“How do you know my name?  I never told you my name.”

Tank and Squid exchanged looks.  Something was going on.

“Tibby is my mother.  She had me 16 years ago.  I never met my father, until… Tell me what’s under your eyepatch!”

“Tibby’s your mother?”

“Yes!”

“You’re 16?

“Yes!”

Squid broke into the conversation, “Why does it matter if she’s 16 or not?”  He looked at the girl, “Norry, how do you know this guy?  What’s going on?”

The girl looked back and forth between Tank and Squid.

“Nehring, what’s under your eyepatch?!” she said, “I need to know. Now.”

“Exactly what you think is there.”

The girl wasted no time, she ducked behind Nehring, grabbing a chunk of his hair and pulling up the eyepatch as she did.  She aimed Nehring’s head first at Tank as a blinding flash of light burst forth from Nehring’s left eye socket, reducing Tank to a smoldering pile of ashes in a moment’s time.  Squid dropped the knife and tried to run but he was stopped by the light and joined his friend Tank on the floor.  She let go of Nehring’s hair and replaced the eyepatch before coming out from behind the chair.

“You’re real,” she said.

“I am,” he said, “I didn’t know about you.”

“I know.”

They stared silently at each other for a moment taking in all they had just learned and experienced.

Bang, bang, bang.

“Yoo-hoo?” the loud male voice called out again from the back door, “Let us in or we’re coming in!”

“Revelers,” she said.

“Yes,” he replied, “What is your name again?”

“Norry.  Well, really Norretta but everyone calls me Norry.”

“Norretta, I’m Garret Randall Nehring.  Pleased to meet you.  Do you think you could untie me?”

“Oh, yes, sorry.”  She grabbed the knife from the place where Squid had dropped it and cut the ropes away from the chair to which Nehring was tied.  He stood slowly, rubbing the places on his arms and torso where the rope had been.

“Right. Revelers.  I’ll take care of them,” he said.  He marched over to the back door in the workshop trying very hard to ignore the mess he saw all around him.  Once there, he placed a hand on either side of the door, closed his good eye, breathed in deeply and said in a loud, low voice, “Go. Away.”  A strange calm fell over the whole place.  Norry looked out the window and gasped as she witnessed all of the Revelers casually walk away from the building.

“That was amazing!” she beamed as they walked back to the kitchen.  They carefully avoided the two piles of ashes in the kitchen doorway and sat down at the table. Nehring positioned his chair so he couldn’t see the mess behind him.

“Yes, well, I probably should have done that when you came to the door, but I’m glad I didn’t.”

“Oh, right.  I’m sorry about all of that.  I didn’t really know anything about you except the few things Mom told me and they always sounded like fairy tales.  I figured I needed some strong back up if I was going to meet you.”

“Uh huh.  I think your planning skills need a little work, my dear.  How did you find those two morons, anyway?”

“Tank and Squid?  Oh, I’ve been working with them for a few months now doing jobs.”

“Jobs?  You mean you’ve done this sort of thing before?”

“Not by choice.  See, Mom went missing about 6 months ago.  It was on a night of Revelry.  She left work late and never came home.  I went to the police but they were no help.  Crimes that happen during Revelry can’t be prosecuted.  I ended up in a shelter and that’s where I met Tank and Squid.  They sort of took me under their wing, you know, protected me, but only in exchange for helping them rob and hurt people.  I didn’t like it.”

“So how did you end up at my doorstep?”

“Well, even without help from the police or really anyone, I kept trying to find out what happened to Mom.  I found out she’d been kidnapped by a group of Revelers who keep her locked up until the night of The Revelry each month.  They discovered her ‘abilities’ and now they bring her out each month to do magic for them like a performing monkey.  I’ve tried and tried to figure out where they keep her locked up but I can’t.  But I know where they make her perform each month.  The catch is, I’m not strong enough to rescue her myself.  And I remembered all the stories Mom had told me about you and…”

“I see.  So you want my help?  Why didn’t you just ask those two to help you?” he said, gesturing behind him.

“They’re terrified of Revelers.  Or, I guess they were, before I incinerated them with your eye.”

“Yes, that’s another thing we need to discuss.”

“Let’s save it for another time.  It’s going to be sunup soon and the Revelers will put Mom back wherever they put her for another month.  I know where she is right now. Will you help me?  Will you help me rescue my mom?”

Nehring looked hard into the face of the daughter he hadn’t known he had.  Her eyes were so much like her mother’s, light blue with a fire behind them.  He suddenly wondered why he hadn’t recognized her as Tibby’s daughter right away, she was practically the spitting image of her mother.

“Of course I’ll help you.  But afterwards you’re going to help me clean up this mess.”

***

New Song and Such

Wrote a song the other day.  Used my high tech phone gadget to record it.  I actually have an awesome computer for recording now, I just have to figure out how to do it.  Anyway, here is the link to the song:

Teach Me Holy Spirit

I’m kinda thinking I need to record more of my songs and post them.  I have almost 50 songs now and only a sprinkling of them are on here.

Also, for those of you who commented your “word” to me for my short story, the short story is finished.  It’s called “Under The Eyepatch” and I liked it so much I submitted it to a sci-fi/fantasy magazine.  They do online submissions so I’ll hear back very quickly whether or not they will accept it.  If they DO accept it, I will find a way to let you read it somehow but I won’t be able to post it on my blog because they will have first publishing rights.  If they reject the story, I will immediately post it on my blog for you to enjoy.  So honestly, it’s a win/win.  Or maybe even a win/win/win. (That obscure reference was for you, Kayla Martin.)

I love you all.  I also love kittens.  Kittens are the best.  I’ll leave you with a picture of my kitty for your viewing pleasure.

fullsizerender

 

Let’s have some fun. 

I want something to write about but I want you to help me. I will write a short story about the first 7 things people write in the comments. 

Rules:

  1. You may only comment once. 
  2. The comment must be one word only. 
  3. The comment must be rated PG. 
  4. You must think the comment in “pirate speak” before typing. 
  5. Pics count as a comment, as long as it’s only one pic, rated PG and you’re thinking about the pic the way a pirate would. 
  6. If you live near me and you comment, could you please high five me next time you see me? Actually, can you high five me even if you don’t comment. I don’t get enough high fives. (Ok, I do but I really like high fives.)

Ok, comment away! First 7! Let’s do this! 

Updates (no reprobates)

Hello, dear blog reading friends. I’ve missed you, as I’m sure you’ve missed me. I want to update you on a few things, ok? If it’s not ok, just stop reading, ok? If that’s also not ok, then you’re prolly outta luck, babe. 

Thing 1: Not so much an update as an apology for letting you all down by not updating my blog at least once a week like I said I would. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. 

IMG_2683
Here’s the part where I say I’ve been really busy and stuff. And then you roll your eyes and I pretend everything’s cool between us now. So… We’re cool now, right? *whispers* (I love you.)

Thing 2: I have some pics to share with you from the disposable camera post! Woot. Check these babies out:

 

My buds Donna and Chuck. They took the pics that follow. I’ve known them for like 20 years. For real. They are collectively “the man”. Their awesomeness is too wonderful to behold. *whispers* (I love them.)

  

This bear and pillow say it all. Bee My Honey. Yes. Yes, I will.

  

This bike pic is rad. I edited it to be black and white. Bc I’m a hipster. Bodacious.

  

The bible plus communion cup. One of the many reasons I love Chuck and Donna. Now I seriously miss you guys.

  

A cat. Bc who doesn’t like cats. Well I guess some people don’t. But I love cats! Meow!

 

Ok! The next three pics were taken by Meghan and Sammee. Enjoy!

 

Sammee! Probably taken by Meggers. Dive right in, baby girl.

  

Meggers! Catching them flutterbys. Run, butterflies, run.

   

Statue in the backyard. Idk which girl took this but it’s pretty.

 

Ok, so that’s all the pics I got for today. They were my faves. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. 

Thing 3: I know I keep saying I’m going to have a giveaway, and I will. I just don’t know what or when or how much. Or why or where. But it’s gonna happen. Be patient. It is a virtue, after all. 

Thing 4: I recently submitted some short stories to an online magazine. They had too many submissions for this quarter and chose not to include mine. It’s cool. *brushes away tear* Anyway, bc of their unique nature I don’t think I’m going to try to submit them anywhere else so I’ll post those here soon so you can read them. (They’re only 100 words long each. They’re called drabbles.)

Thing 5: All joking aside now. My mom saw her oncologist on Friday. Her prognosis is less than 6 months now. He advised her to start hospice care. I’ve known this was coming for a long time but for some reason it’s hitting me really hard. My sisters too.  It’s kind of like this weight sitting on my chest, a little bit.  Like I can’t breathe, a tiny bit.  Anyway, I don’t want to go in to all of that.

But I do want to say this: because of this news, I don’t know how much I’ll be posting. I’m not gonna stop but I might not be able to post “every week”. Then again, maybe I’ll post more often. There’s no telling with me. I’m unpredictable.

I just don’t feel too sparkly right now, as you can imagine, so I might be lacking my usual razor sharp wit or whatever.

Ok, lastly, thing 6: I want to leave you with a few things. 

One: This song says it all. I’ll be singing along while you’re listening.

Two: One of my drabbles.  Keep 2 things in mind while reading – it’s only 100 words so it is really, really short AND the magazine I was submitting to only publishes speculative fiction, so sci-fi, fantasy, etc., so be prepared.

Title: Been There, Seen That

“What did you do?!”

“I pressed that button.”

“Why?!”

“I don’t know! Stop yelling at me!”

“Mom is gonna kill us! First, she’ll kill us for playing hide and seek in the escape pods again and then she’ll double kill us for activating one.”

“That is, if she ever finds us.”

“Don’t cry! She’ll find us.”

“How? We jettisoned during Burst Travel.”

“Because, I activated the distress beacon already. Now, help me look for stuff we can use… like food.”

“I found some movies.”

“Ok, not food but good. So why are you crying?”

“I’ve already seen all of these.”

Ok, my lovelies, that’s it.  I love you and I love this blog.  And, as we all know, all you need is love.

The Dancing Girl Café

 

The chalkboard was the first thing Lydia Pepper noticed when she arrived at the café. Something was… off. All of the words were still there, every menu item she’d written the day before was still on the board in clean, white chalk letters. It was the little dancing girl, it was missing. Someone had erased the little dancing girl and only the little dancing girl from the corner of the chalkboard. Strange, she thought. I guess I’ll just have to draw it again.

Chalk dust was the second thing Lydia noticed. There was a light dusting of it everywhere. Down the side of the chalkboard, all over the floor, on the table tops, on top of the counter, it even made its way into the kitchen. It finally stopped at the broom closet. It looked as if someone had run through the café with a loaded eraser, slapping every surface in reach. I guess I’ll have to clean that up too.

Lydia always arrived at The Dancing Girl Café earlier than her employees. She liked to be the one to switch on the lights and warm the ovens. She felt she was waking the café up, bringing it to life. She actually loved the electric hum of the machines as she switched them on. In a way, it reminded her of waking her daughter for school, something she deeply missed.

And then there were the muffins. A secret, family recipe that only Lydia knew how to make. She had to get there before anyone else in order to mix the batter alone. They had been her daughter’s favorite and were the first item Lydia put on the menu when she’d opened the café a few years ago. They were a big hit with the breakfast crowd so she had to be sure to mix a large amount of batter before anyone else arrived. Cleaning up chalk dust was going to set her back but she had no choice. It covered almost every surface in the kitchen.

She set to work, cleaning and mixing. She had just finished adding the last ingredient to the batter and turned on the mixer when Alejandro arrived.

“Morning, boss,” Alejandro, tying on his apron.

“Good morning, Alejandro. Hey, do you know anything about some chalk dust I found all over the café this morning?” Lydia, spooning batter into muffin tins.

“Chalk dust?” joining his boss at the muffin tins.

“Yeah, when I came in this morning there was chalk dust on everything. I didn’t even know what it was at first. I had to clean it all up before I could start on the muffins.” The first muffin tin slid into the oven and the door slammed shut.

“Sorry, I don’t know anything about it. Jenna was the one who closed up last night. She might know.”

Jenna did not know. None of the employees seemed to know anything about the mysterious chalk dust or who had erased the little dancing girl. Lydia drew the little dancing girl back into the corner of the board. She couldn’t understand why someone would erase the little girl but decided it wasn’t worth any more investigation. It had probably been a customer.

***

Lydia hummed as she unlocked the door to The Dancing Girl Café the next morning. She switched on the light and her purse hit the floor. Everything was covered in chalk dust again but even more so this time. And the little dancing girl had been erased from the corner of the menu board again.

She wasted no time wondering who or what had done this and went straight for her phone. Alejandro was the first to arrive but soon all of Lydia’s employees were there helping her clean before the breakfast crowd arrived. They cleaned the kitchen together first, then everyone was ushered out to give Lydia privacy to make her muffins.

Lydia breathed a sigh of relief when the muffins made it into the oven but soon her thoughts turned back to the chalk dust. She had to find out who was doing this. Now she was sure it was one of her employees. As she drew the little dancing girl back into the corner of the board, she decided she wouldn’t leave at 4pm like she did most days. She would stay until closing to see if she could find out who was doing this.

***

Closing time came and went. Nothing happened, though Lydia wasn’t sure what she had expected to happen. Maybe just being here has put an end to this stupid prank, she told herself. She went home, more tired than she’d been in a while and hoped that this really was the end of the chalk dust and the missing drawing. As always she kissed the tips of her fingers and lightly pressed them against the door to her daughter’s bedroom as she passed by. And then she wondered what Fletcher was doing and if he was happy with Stacy. And then she was asleep before she could feel sad and alone, which was nice.

***

The next morning Lydia slid the key into the lock and unconsciously held her breath as she opened the door. She peered into the dark café trying to see if chalk dust had once again invaded. But it was too dark for her to tell. She switched on the light.

“Errrrgghh!” sinking down into the nearest chair. The tables, chairs and counters were almost completely white. And the little dancing girl was gone.

Lydia erased the top part of the menu board and wrote “No muffins today”. It almost hurt her to do it but even after everyone had come in to help clean up the chalk dust they had not had time to bake any before it was time to open.

After the last of the morning crowd drifted out, Lydia flipped the “Open” sign to the “Closed” side and sat the employees down.

“I don’t know what to say. I thought this chalk thing was just a prank and that it would be over by now. And I know all of you say you don’t know who is doing this but this has to end now. I don’t want to fire anyone. You all are like family to me. But if this does not end, someone will lose their job,” trying to sound tougher than she felt. It didn’t last. She slid into a nearby chair and hung her head, a quiet sob shook her tired shoulders.

Alejandro stood and wrapped his arms around her in comfort. One by one, they all stood and put their arms around their boss. She stood awkwardly and leaned into the embrace, the first one she’d had in months.

***

Closing time came. Lydia said goodnight to her employees, locked up and headed for her car. She drove a few streets over to a place where she could watch the employees leaving for the night. She watched as the last car turned at the end of the block then quietly crept back into the darkened café. One way or another she was going to find out who was behind all of this.

She decided to set up camp in the little vestibule that led to the restrooms. From there she could see the dining area pretty well and remain hidden from view. She would wait all night if she had to.

It was much quieter in the empty café than she had expected. Boredom quickly set in followed by head nodding and before she’d realized what was happening she was waking up to the sound of giggling little girls.

She leaned out of the vestibule enough to get a good view of the front counter where the chalkboard sat propped up by an easel. Moonlight streamed in from the window, illuminating the chalkboard and the little dancing girl, who was freeing her tiny chalk body from the board and climbing down the leg of the easel. Too bewildered to speak or even make a noise, she sat frozen on the floor. But the sound of little girls laughing and singing caused her to turn her gaze toward the counter top. Three more girls with chalk bodies danced in a circle on the counter and called out for the new arrival to join them.

“Sister! Come, sister! Come dance with us!” they sang. The newest little girl climbed up the edge of the counter and the three chalk girls helped her pull herself up over the edge. They held hands and gleefully danced around the counter top leaving chalk dust everywhere as they played.

Lydia slowly pulled herself up to standing and cautiously walked across the café trying to stay out of sight so she wouldn’t scare the girls away. But they saw her coming and the dancing stopped. Lydia stopped in her tracks and held her breath. She hoped they would stay.

“Mother!” one of them shouted joyfully.

“Mother!” the rest shouted together in unison.

“Hello,” Lydia said, walking toward them slowly.

“Mother, it is so wonderful to finally meet you,” the leader said.

“It’s nice to meet you too,” unsure how to respond, “How?”

“How are we here?”

“Yes. How are you here?” Lydia, laughing to herself.

“You drew us and the moonlight made us.”

“But how?”

“We don’t know,” all four girls said in unison, giggling.

“But when?”

“When did this all happen?”

“Yes. When did this happen to you?”

“Four nights ago, the day you brought the chalkboard here,” the leader said.

“That was the day I bought it. I found it at a flea market a few blocks from here,” Lydia, trying to understand, “So whatever is drawn on the chalkboard comes to life?”

“Not words or numbers or shapes, only people or animals,” the leader explained.

“Which one of you was first?” Lydia asked.

“I was,” the leader said.

“Then me,” the one to her right said.

“Then me,” said the one to her left.

“I was born tonight,” the newest arrival said.

“So every night, another girl is… born… and you play in the café all night?”

“There’s nothing else for us to do, Mother,” the first-born said.

“What do you do during the day? I’ve never seen you.”

“We hide.”

“Yes. We hide in the broom closet,” number 2 said.

“Why?”

“We’re afraid,” said number 3.

“Not of you, Mother. We could never be afraid of you. Just the others.”

“I understand,” Lydia said, thinking, “Well, you can’t live in the broom closet. And we can’t have the chalkboard making anything else come to life. Give me a minute to think.”

Lydia stared at the chalkboard trying to decide what to do. Should she destroy it? But how could she destroy the thing that had given her these four beautiful little girls? Then she saw it. A spot near the front counter that remained completely in shadow, no moonlight fell there. She quickly picked up the chalkboard and easel and moved them into the shadows.

“Okay, that takes care of that. Now…”

***

Lydia kissed the tips of her fingers as she passed by the door to her daughter’s room and pressed them against the wood before turning the knob and walking in.

“Mother!” the four girls cried out gleefully.

“Hello, my darlings. How was your day?”

“It was wonderful but we missed you so much!” daughter number 2, Maddie, as she was now called, exclaimed.

“I missed you too, my dears. I missed you too.”

A year ago.

A year ago I vowed to write short stories and post them on this blog.  Well, I wrote one.  

I had this thought process that I’d do some writing exercises and post some short stories and then write some short stories for kids.  You what I’ve discovered in that year?  I’m not that interested in writing for kids.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love making up stories for Meg and Sam.  Whenever we are on a long car ride, inevitably I will end up telling them stories about the Tie Dye Teddy Bears or Booger the Goat, their two current favorites.  And they have literally begged me to write the stories down.  

I might do.  I might.  

But for now I’m gonna switch it up and instead write short stories that appeal to me, myself and I.  Woot.  

That is all, earthlings.

The Funny, Little Elf and The Ghost

It’s story cube time again in school, my friends. If you enjoy a good tale made up of random ideas drawn from 9 picture die and told by an 11 year old and an 8 year old (with the help of their clever mother), then this is the story for you.

I now present to you: The Funny, Little Elf and The Ghost

Once upon a time, there was a mysterious lock… on a door… in a house. No one knew what the lock went to.  It was magical.  Now, there was a funny little elf.  This elf would take his funny little elf bike and ride around the neighborhood until one day he saw a new house.  It was mysterious and weird to him because he knew all the houses in the neighborhood, he knew everyone in the neighborhood and he knew everything about the neighborhood.  He went up to this mysterious, new house and knocked on the door.  When no one answered right away, he tapped his foot loudly and huffed then knocked impatiently, even louder.  Suddenly, a ghost answered the door and went “Bbblllllbblblblbllll!!!”  The elf jumped practically out of his skin!  He was confused by all this and annoyed but mostly confused.

He went home to ponder the meaning of it all.  He pulled out this lucky abacus.  It always gave him the correct answers to the most difficult math questions so he was sure it could help him solve the mystery of the new house with the magical lock.  He stared at the abacus for days.  Finally, he knew what to do.  The abacus told him to fly a rocket up into space and look down on the earth and say, “What’s wrong with you world?”  He had to do this because the abacus told him to.

When he came back down to earth from space, he landed on his house (with a mouse in it) and crushed both the house and the mouse.  (It was a sad day for the mouse’s family.)  He was extremely mad about all this so he found a tree with a large tree trunk, big enough carve an entirely new house out of the trunk.  He decided to live in the tree from then on.

However, while all this was fun, it still hadn’t helped him solve the mystery of the house with the magical lock.  He knew he needed to look for clues.  So he dressed in his very best Sherlock Holmes costume and began to search the neighborhood for clues that would tell him the secret of the house.

First, he talked with a tree that had a face.  The tree said, “Bblbllblblblblblbl!”  The elf replied, “Oogie, oogie, oogie.”  To which the tree said, “Well, sir, I don’t know anything about the house other than that there is an old man living in the house that died yesterday!”  At this the tree used his mighty branches to push the elf down into a mud puddle.  Now, the elf’s feet were ever so dirty, as well as the rest of him, but mostly his feet.  He went to go wash off his dirty feet and happened to find some footprints… covered in gold!  He picked up the golden footprints and made millions of dollars.

With his newfound wealth, he hired the world’s best living detective, Batman.  Batman called the Justice League and they all went over to the mysterious house to solve the mystery.  What they found has astounded everyone who has heard this tale. They found a….

And then the funny little elf, grew to be an old man.  He never told anyone what they found.  But he did move into the house and had lots of girly tea parties with the ghost.

The End.