Monday, May 4, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-44




WOOHOO!!! It's May and I'm an Aunt again! My amazing baby sister had her second beautiful baby girl on Friday! I do love spring, but now I can't wait for summer and the ability to go see her! I hope you are all enjoying spring as much as I am. Go have fun with the prompt!



If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

Rules:
1. Start with the given first sentence. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST



Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...


Our Judge today is DB Foy. Read her winning tale from last week hereFoy S. Iver is an aspiring author, poet, and flash fictioneer. She enjoys reading the dark and twisted but every vulture needs gliding in sunlight so feel free to express unremitting joy. This very moment (as far as you know) she’s pounding away on the keyboard trying to get 4 stories and a novel to cooperate. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley but in her dreams, she’s climbing the Blue Ridge Mountains. Follow her on Twitter (@fs_iver) and keep up with her journey on the website (http://www.foyiver.com/).






 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-44 is:


[I] didn't know who [he] was, but [he] was definitely not my [husband].





 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:


Pull off a twist ending.





 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!






23 comments:

  1. Conspiracy Theory
    -------------
    499 words, special challenge accepted, parkinkspot@gmail.com
    -------------
    “I didn't know who she was, but she was definitely not my wife.”
    “I can see why you might think about a shrink,” Will said, face carefully blank.
    “Look, I wasn’t serious, okay?” Doug said. “I’m not crazy. I’ve been double-checking my sanity for weeks now, ‘Is this illusion, fantasy, psychosis, are you mental?’ The more I study her, the more firmly convinced I become. Something in her nature has fundamentally changed. I’m just not entirely sure what, or how, or why.”
    “Well, that’s a good starting point.” Will set two glasses on the bar and poured scotch. “What did you notice first?”
    “When you’re married as long as we’ve been, you get a feel. Cecily started listening to different music, more Angry Femme and less Country.”
    “That’s hardly compelling evidence, Doug.”
    Doug rolled his eyes. “Just wait. She’s wearing different clothes, like a different fashion sense entirely. She started wearing make-up. She’s essentially never done that. Humming, she hasn’t ever walked around humming. She’s got manicured nails—Cecily always said nails were bad for typing.”
    “Her eyes are the same ‘bullshit brown’, her hair is the same dishwater blonde, she’s got the same smokin’ little body she’s always had. Nothing at all has changed, except these personality quirks. And they’re small changes that only someone living with her could detect, really.” Doug said.
    Will considered Cecily through the picture window, gardening in the back yard. She was still the same as last week, far as he could tell. She always did have a great ass.
    “You’re running out of options, Doug. This is a delusion, or Cecily’s having an affair. Mid-life crisis, do women get those?”
    Doug scowled. “I’d considered that. But I believe it’s more sinister.”
    “Sinister? Should I look up the number for that shrink?” Will laughed. “Conspiracy theories?”
    “Laugh it up, fuzzball—evidence.” Doug brandished a business card.
    Will turned the card over between his fingers and examined it. “Dwayne Orjado. Senior Service Rep. What the hell is Detroit Robotics?”
    “They’ve got a web site.”
    The website exuded fancy web technology, too. Splash pages featuring “Custom Domestic Robotics,” and sales-brochure marketing. Enough detail and images to sell that “scam” was unlikely.
    “Certainly looks slick,” Will said. “I’ve never heard of these guys, have you? Wouldn’t there be publicity in technology news? The Wall Street Journal?”
    Outside, two black vans squealed to a stop and men in dark suits poured out. They grabbed a screaming Cecily and hustled her through the front door and up the stairs. Will and Doug froze before the monitor as an army of corporate security waved stun guns at them.
    “I am Dwayne Orjado, with Detroit Robotics. We’ll have to confiscate our faulty domestic robot for repairs,” said the army’s leader.
    “What? You can’t have my wife!” Doug exclaimed.
    “There’s some mistake. We’re not here for your wife, sir. We’re here for you.”
    The maintenance boss fired a taser-like pistol that struck Doug high on the chest, and his systems crashed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Who is he?

    @geofflepard 483 words special challenge accepted

    I didn't know who he was, but he was definitely not my husband. I mean, I'd know, right? It's the sort of thing you learn in a relationship, how to recognise your partner.

    Ok, I have always been legally blind without my glasses but there are other clues. Smell for instance. My husband has this - shall we say distinctive - smell. My mother used say it was unique. Dad called it 'Shed' by Stella as in 'something nasty in the woodshed'. Very literary is Dad.

    That was a bit unfair, given his work. Spending time cooped up, travelling. You're going to pick up an odd scent, aren't you? Stands to reason. And this one had a smell that was more tinny than woody, like someone had sprinkled iron filings on a kebab and grilled it.

    I know what you're thinking. Why not touch him? Well, I did run through a few scenarios along those lines. If he was asleep and I woke him then he might get scared and lash out. The hub is a little fractious first thing - maybe a bloke thing. Not that it was him. I was sure.

    Or he might think it a come on and... Actually that seemed very possible given we were in bed together. I was trying not to think too hard about that. Me naked. In bed. With someone not my husband.

    What I needed to do was bloody obvious really. I needed to bring this person back to life. Gradually. Maybe a discrete cough and 'hallo'. Or get my phone to play some stupid tune, like an alarm. I mean, if he sat up I'd be sure, you know? That it wasn't the bloke. There'd be real evidence.

    It's not like I wasn't warned about this sort of thing. Dad said it would happen eventually. 'Inevitable'. He watched this TV programme and said the bloke was the type. Like it was his fault that this thing would happen. 'He's not your usual husband material,' is what Dad said. I didn't believe him. Still don't.

    And of course, that uncertainty was part of the attraction. The glamour, the man of mystery bit - always gets a girl all hot and bothered.

    Mum was more practical. 'You won't know whether you're coming or going with this one.' Well she was right about that.

    'Morning.'

    Bloody hell. He actually sounds like my old man. He leans over and kisses me. Now there's only one man who kisses like that. Like the planets are all aligned.

    'I'm starving.' His hair is all shaggy and blond. I quite like blond I've decided. 'Where shall we go for breakfast? Cleopatra does mean pancakes.'

    Well, I wasn’t expecting it but when you've married Dr Who, you’ve got to expect the occasional regeneration, haven’t you? And I can console myself that at least he hasn't come back as a woman.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Positive Thinking

    @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 497
    Special Challenge Accepted (I think!)

    Alicia didn't know who he was, but he was definitely not her husband. Not the man she'd married anyway. She followed him into the kitchen where he'd sought refuge. When he heard her rapidly approaching footsteps, he turned to face her, his hand raised.

    “I-It’s no good, Alicia. I can’t do it.”

    “Just tell me why.”

    “You know why!”

    “But... she’s your daughter, Sam! Your only child. This is your one chance to give her away on the biggest day of her life.”

    “Don’t you think I know that? I’d give anything to be there. But she’s in Australia… the other side of the world. And there’s only one way to get there.”

    “You've flown Cessnas for years with no problems at all. Are you still maintaining that you now have a fear of flying?”

    “Yes. Ever since I fell off that…”

    “It was a step-ladder! You were trimming the hedge, for goodness sake!”

    “It may seem trivial to you but that’s part of the problem: I fell just a few feet and broke my arm. Now... I can’t help thinking about the consequences of... plummeting to the ground in an aircraft.”

    Alicia shook her head in disbelief. “That's not rational.”

    “I know! That's what a phobia is: an irrational fear.”

    Sam tried to dissipate the tension. “You know what they say: if God had wanted us to fly, he'd have given us airline tickets!”

    “Whatever humour that quip held when you first made it,” said Alicia, glaring at his sheepish grin, “has long since disappeared.” She folded her arms and turned her back. “I certainly won't be able to forgive you if you don't go. Goodness knows how Vicky will react.”

    ###

    Alicia persisted, urging Sam to seek help. He eventually relented and went to see a phobia therapist.

    “The power of persuasion is a double-edged sword,” the therapist told Sam at his first session. “It can take you into a full-scale anxiety attack, but it can also guide your mind into serenity. Learning to take control of your patterns of thinking is the solution.”

    ###

    They made it through check-in, passport control, the long wait in the departure lounge and finally embarkation. As they carried their on-board luggage along the passenger cabin, Alicia noticed the slight trembling in Sam's free hand. He threw himself into his seat as Alicia squeezed the bags into the overhead locker, retaining the Jane Austen novel she intended to read on the long flight.

    As she went to take her place, she looked across at Sam and saw his ashen complexion, the beads of sweat on his brow, the tremors wracking his body.

    “Sam?”

    “I-I c-can't... I have to... have to... get off!”

    Alicia made a split-second decision.

    After glancing round to ensure that everyone else was occupied, she gripped the hardback novel in both hands and whacked it against Sam's temple. He slumped unconscious against the window in the fuselage.

    “Now that,” Alicia whispered to herself, “is the power of 'Persuasion'!”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha ha ha ha! Love the last line :-)

      Delete
  4. The Stranger

    I didn’t know who he was, but he was definitely not my husband. Hadn’t the book warned me this could happen? Regardless, everything you’ve read goes out the window when he’s standing there right in front of you.

    “You’re staring,” the man said, handing me orange juice with a grin. “No pulp, right?”

    I nodded, dumbly, and took the glass.

    “I’m making pancakes. I hope that’s ok.” Cool as a cucumber he was, like him and me and pancakes were any kind of normal.

    And he wasn’t finished. “Thought I’d fix the towel rack today. Stupid, I know, but at least it’s a start, right?”

    Enough.

    “You’re not my husband,” I said.

    He reached out to touch my shoulder, and I flinched. “No,” he said. Was he crying??

    His hand dropped to his side, even as faint tendrils of pancake smoke giggled up the wall behind him. “You’re right; I haven’t been, not for a long time.”

    No book could have prepared me for this, no matter how blue its cover.

    Even his voice sounded different.

    Gentle.

    Tender.

    His eyes met mine. “But I’d like to be,” he said.

    Sober.

    190 words
    @postupak
    Challenge: yes

    ReplyDelete
  5. Quick Question.....Can we submit more than one story for these prompts? I didn't see anything in the rules that specified either way. I didn't want to break any rule and be disqualified.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sorry! I don't have anything in the rules about it. No one has done it before, but I guess if you have a second in you...

      Delete
    2. Thank you. I submitted two for this one only because I was really inspired...

      Delete
  6. Skin Changer
    @agardana09
    346 words

    I didn't know who he was, but he was definitely not my husband. For one thing, he had the face of a woman. Words were coming out of his (or her?) mouth but they didn’t penetrate my cloud of confusion.

    No, instead of listening, I was trying to figure out how my husband’s button down bowling shirt made its way around this woman’s breasts.

    The word “skin-changer” made it through, though, and my feet backed away on instinct. The woman claiming to be my husband was insane, obviously, and insanity should be dealt with from a safe distance.

    I looked over this woman, she had green eyes not blue but they crinkled in a familiar way. It was the same crinkle of concern, fear, anxiety, I had seen many times before.

    “What did you do to my husband?” I blindly found the doorknob behind me, holding onto it as a means of escape.

    “That’s what I’m trying to tell you; I am your husband.” The woman spoke like I was a spooked horse. It made my blood boil.

    “Liar. You’re some tramp. Some woman he’s been fooling around with and now you’re both trying to trick me.” My eyes watered. I wanted to turn the doorknob but I needed answers.

    The woman flinched. Her hands reached out to soothe me but I slapped them away. She was wearing my husband’s wedding ring.

    “Look,” she said calmly. “I can show you.”

    The woman closed her eyes, took a deep breath and started humming. The sound grew louder; I had to clamp my hands against my ears. After a moment, I realized the noise was not coming from the woman’s mouth but from her skin, her veins. She was building up energy and just when I thought she would burst from it all, she morphed again.

    There was a man in front of me now, wearing a face I knew by heart. I wanted to reach out to him but my hands stayed on the doorknob. I didn't know who he was, even if he was my husband.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Presence in the Night
    Word Count: 499
    realmommaramblings@live.com
    Special Challenge Accepted

    I didn’t know who he was, but he was definitely not my husband. As I stared, not sure if I was seeing correctly, my vision blurred from heavy slumber, the dark shape moved towards me. I reached over to the right side of the bed only to find it vacant, cold. My heart kept time violently within my tightened chest.

    “Who are you?” I managed to cough out.

    The dark shape said nothing as it moved closer to me, a mere fleshy statue frozen in fear. My children were in the next room. My racing thoughts flashed pictures of their lifeless bodies on the floor, helpless babes against such a large person. 'I have to get to them.' My eyes veered past the giant-like figure. There was no escaping.

    As he drew closer the street lamp outside my window, the only thing lending light to the room, began to dim. A chill ran across my skin causing my hair to rise and pull at their follicles, almost like they were trying to escape my body, to save themselves from was about to happen. There was not a sound to be heard, not even his footsteps. I tried to scream but to no avail. My vocal chords went limp like the loosened strings of a violin, allowing no shrill sound to alert the neighbors. I forced myself to look the intruder straight in the face as he stood at my bedside. The sheer darkness settled in the room masking him from my view. All that was left was a strong presence. The only words I can use to describe it, PURE EVIL. It was as though I was feeling every horrible thing all at once. Deep sadness, hot anger, hopelessness, dread, fear. The sheer hopelessness alone was enough to beg for death. The fear began to suffocate me. As I struggled to breath, throat tightening all on its own, I prayed. 'Please God, save my children.'

    My head began to buzz at the lack of oxygen. The end was surely near now. The buzzing became louder, deafening. I closed my eyes. I could feel a heaviness hovering right above my face.

    “Wake up,” a deep voice rasped.

    My fear was overwhelming.

    “WAKE UP!” This time it was the familiar voice of my husband.

    My eyes shot open to see his concerned face just above mine, his hands griping my arms so tight they ached. An agonized groan escaped my lips turning into uncontrollable sobs as he wrapped me in his warm embrace.

    “It’s OK. It was just a dream.” But it hadn’t felt like it. Lingering, heavy dread saturated the room. The being’s presence was still there. I continued to sob, choking on my tears and gasping for breath.

    “Shhhh. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound….I once was lost but now I’m found…” my husband sang softly. My body began to calm as the lyrics blanketed me in ever-growing peace.

    “It was just a dream,” I breathed, “just a dream.”

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ideal Self

    I didn't know who he was, but he was definitely not my husband. The breathing was wrong. I tucked my hair behind my ear and moved into the bedroom, hoping I hadn't hesitated long enough to arouse his suspicion.

    The form on the bed turned, a perfect replica smile on that perfect replica face. "Hi sweetie," he said, putting the paper down. "You look stunning."

    I smiled, and let my bangs fall free, hoping they would hide the shine of proto-tears I felt forming in my eyes.

    That voice was his voice, the one that resonated to the very core of my being. And as much as I this felt wrong – that easy breath where there had always been a slight hitch before, a subtle difference in how he folded the paper - my body responded to that voice as if it was so very right.

    "Thanks Tiger," I said. His left eyebrow quirked in that way my husband's did when he was especially turned on – the same reaction I'd expect from that nickname, given the other nights I'd used it.

    He reached one hand out, and I met it with mine as he shoved the paper off the bed with the other hand. I let myself be pulled, and spun so my back pressed against his chest.

    His breath was hitching now in excitement, yet somehow still too smooth. I'd feared this day would come, when they'd take my Andre away at work, and send me one of those duplihumans. Indistinguishable from authentic, the propaganda said.

    Painless transfer of self from a flawed human body to a perfected copy, guaranteed to never succumb to the horrors that awaited the aging. As a military contractor, Andre's firm would be on the short list when the mandate came down.

    And all the science said it was safe.

    That it created a better version of us.

    But this wasn't Andre. And no matter how familiar the soft caress of his hands on my legs, I couldn't stop the tears from falling. Inside I reeled at the loss, but Andre wouldn't even realize the change.

    Shouldn't.

    I couldn't make things worse than they were. If a duplihuman found out they weren't the original – those stories made old war videos look benign.

    But Andre always knew when something was wrong, and his breathing slowed, became damnedly perfect, and he held me, shushing and singing the song my mom used to sing when I was little and sick, the one I taught him on our honeymoon.

    He fell asleep holding me, and I drowsed in his arms, reassured, but unable to sleep, when his phone buzzed.

    I reached across to Andre's nightstand – if it was an emergency call-in I'd wake him, otherwise I'd let him sleep. It had been a long day for us both.

    Checking how Patrice's first day went – if there were any problems with her transfer let us know, and we'll resolve them tomorrow.

    ____
    @weylyn42
    special challenge attempted
    497 words

    ReplyDelete
  9. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    Special Challenge Accepted
    448 words


    The Eyes on the Shelf


    I didn't know who he was, but he was not my teddy bear, Mr. Mittens.

    That's right. Mr. Mittens. You're laughing now, but just you wait.

    I SEE YOU.

    Does a teddy bear laugh maniacally?

    Does a teddy bear scamper across the plush carpet each night wielding a tiny sword?

    I FEEL YOU.

    Does a teddy bear slice off the ends of your hair and then hide the evidence behind your book collection?

    He favours Corduroy Bear books. Last night I even heard him whisper, "Bring me a Teddy Ruxpin book, or else."

    I HEAR YOU.

    Mr. Mittens was soft and cozy. He would nestle in my arms, his thick woolen mitts and toque tickling my nose. How did his toy makers think he'd stay warm without clothes? Poor little nude bear. I fashioned him a quaint blue jacket to match, and he was much happier.

    The current Mr. Mittens is not Mr. Mittens. An imposter. An evil troll. A fire-breathing dragon waiting to lure me to my doom. He isn't soft or cozy. His thick woolen mitts cut my nose. He's prickly, edgy. A shard of glass. I've also found his jacket on the floor. Does he like to run in the nude?

    I SMELL YOU.

    His nose is larger. His eyes are bluer. He almost looks like . . . Nah. Couldn't be.

    ---

    The sword is back. I hid it behind my glass figurines. As I return, so does the sword.

    Mr. Mittens sits on his shelf, smiling his angelic smile. This time, it is sickening sweet. It oozes candied slime. In his hand, the instrument of destruction. My hand slips as I snatch, fresh cherry droplets splashing across the rug. I hear him laugh. An ominous shiver-causing chuckle.

    I slip into bed, heart racing. I clutch the sword in my hand, my only defense from a maniacal teddy bear. My cozy bed comforts me. Tricks me. My eyes droop. Stay awake. Stay awake. Stay--

    My dreams are lucid, disturbing. I feel tickles, jabs. Rough grit on my cheek. I hear whispers, shrieks. Swooping swishes.

    "I TASTE YOU."

    I wake up, heavy shadows around my face. I scream, fling the mass across the room.

    "Ohhhhhhh," a familiar voice moans. "Look what you've done."

    Jackie. My ex-husband.

    He's dead.

    I scramble out of bed, reaching for my baseball bat beside the dresser.

    Bright light floods my room. My teddy bear sprawls on the carpet, the sword stuck in his belly. Dark red pools are leaking all around.

    I inch closer.

    Mr. Mittens - Jackie - looks up at me and smiles sadly. "I guess this is what happens when you make a trade with the devil."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fallen Apple
    Word Count: 405
    realmommaramblings@live.com
    Special Challenge Accepted



    I didn’t know who she was, but she definitely wasn’t my mother. Not anymore.

    “Stop it mom! You’re hurting me.”

    “I’ll stop when you give me your money!”

    “I told you I don’t have any.” I was lying through my teeth, but it was for her own good.

    “Don’t lie to me Ally, I know you worked today! Ray saw you!”

    “Ray is as strung out as you mom. He thought he saw a clown in his cereal yesterday!”

    “Then where were you, HUH?!”

    “At Laney’s… Swimming,” I winced as my mom slapped me across the face, causing me to stumble backward. Everything went black for a minute after a loud THWACK. The sound of my skull hitting the concrete wall of the garage made me want to vomit.

    “Look at me!” I looked in the direction of her voice, seeing nothing but purple spots around a thin frail figure. I slumped to the ground, holding back tears. She couldn’t see me cry. I won’t give her the satisfaction.

    “If you don’t give me that money I swear you’ll be homeless!”

    “If I give you that money we’ll all be homeless! Who do you think has been paying our rent?”

    “You’ve been hording money from me? You little witch!”

    “I keep us in this crap hole! I work my butt off for you!” I could see her now, the spots almost gone. My sick mother stood in front of me, a mere shell of who she used to be. Her dry cracked lips spread in an evil grin and with a dark look in her sunken-in, blood shot eyes; she reached down and grabbed me by the collar, the look of attack displayed on her pale face. She looked like she hadn’t eaten in days. She’ll probably be binging soon.
    _____________

    “MOM!”

    I shook my head, dazed and confused. I looked into the face of my daughter Marissa. What just happened? I took in my surroundings. We were in a bathroom, my hands clutched around Marissa’s collar, fear in her eyes. The memory of my childhood had been so strong, trance like.

    “Mom, let me go!”

    I glanced past her at the mirror on the wall, catching a glimpse of a battered woman. Her were eyes sunken in, her skin was puce in color. The face staring back at me was not my own. It was then that I realized, I had become my mother.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I was not sure if I was allowed to post more than one story. If that is against the rules than please disregard this story and only consider my first one. Thank You.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Magical muffins
    By Audrey Gran Weinberg
    @studyleaks
    word count: 500
    Special challenge accepted

    I didn’t know who he was, but he certainly wasn’t my husband. The sounds that he made from under the covers were manly and exciting. His lips nuzzled my thighs. I parted my legs slightly in anticipation.

    I kept my eyes closed, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as the electricity had gone off earlier that night, and the news I had read on my mobile phone had said it would be off for hours. This was the third time this month and I was getting used to it by now.

    He’d usually come home about 10:00 pm from his evening shift and, ruffling my hair, would plant a chaste kiss on my forehead and head upstairs to fall unconscious almost right away.

    I didn’t really mind. It was that time of my life when our kids had left home and I had discovered other pursuits. I had recently discovered a group of women who met each Tuesday. We called each other the ‘Wolverines.’ Earlier that night we’d talked about a recipe and we’d each promised to try it out.

    I heard him come home around 11:00 pm. I’d been in the kitchen baking these new muffins, grateful my oven ran on gas. He’d gone upstairs right away, and after my initial disappointment that he hadn’t even tasted a muffin, I nibbled on one myself, with a cup on warm cocoa, while taking a long fragrant bath.
    I slipped into a negligee and under the sheets without turning on the lights.

    He turned to me slowly, planting a warm kiss directly on my lips. He smelled good, and tasted minty and fresh. I gasped, however, as I realized he had no moustache or beard. My husband had both. I ran my hands over his arms, which were sculpted and smooth and through his hair – curly and soft.

    I sat up in the darkness and he lay still, breathing slowly. I could have jumped out of bed, called the police, or run to my new neighbor Cindy who lived right next door. Instead, I slid slowly back under the covers and lifted my face towards him. His flickering tongue entered my willing lips, my heart thumping loudly in my chest.

    He wasn’t my husband, but he must have been someone’s – from the ring on his finger, which I felt as he traced his way up and down my body, teasingly. I didn’t want this night to end, nor to know to whom he really belonged, as orgasms racked me again and again.

    Awakening much later from a short but satiated sleep, I started to wonder what had happened to my husband. Soon afterwards, an urgent knocking resounded loudly from downstairs. Dawn was breaking, but it was still too dark to see him, as I tiptoed downstairs.

    I opened the door to Cindy’s husband. His hair was tousled, his face flushed with beard burn.
    “You wanna keep her, or should we trade back?”

    ReplyDelete
  12. 486 words
    @MattLashley_

    Mrs. Washington Itches for a Fight

    Eighty-eight year old Mabelle Washington didn’t know who he was, but he was definitely not her postman. The four o’clock summer rays beat down mercilessly and the glare bouncing from the cracked white sidewalk in front of her faded pink house made her squint. Even still, Mabelle was certain, the man coming up her walkway was not her mailman. And she ought to know.

    For the last fifteen years, come rain or shine, except for the Lord's Day, she'd spent every afternoon on her front porch in the wicker rocker Joe’d made her for her sixtieth birthday. Since retiring from her job as a teacher at the county middle school in the summer of fifty-eight and Joe up and leaving this world two years after, she had nothing better to do most days than to sit in her rocker and watch the night sky squeeze the light from the sun.

    She inched forward in her rocker to size up the imposter. He was strange looking, like he'd jumped right off the front cover of that idiotic MAD magazine, all ears and freckles donning that hormone-induced, sex-crazed, half boy, half man, imbecilic grin she'd watched every seventh grade male child wear for the three months after his balls dropped. Damn little perverts.

    She'd heard about this type of thing on the nightly news. Sexual deviants buying fake badges and knocking on doors pretending to look for lost neighborhood children so they could get inside a house and prey on naive housewives and widows. The world was fast becoming a terrible place and she was glad Joe didn’t stick around to see it.

    As the charlatan climbed the first step, moving ever closer, she was certain. This fellow didn’t look at all like her postman. HIs gait was too long, his shoulders too slouched and he carried an air of trouble about him that she could smell just like she could smell those dope smoking hippies in the park. She tightened her grip on her heavy wooden cane and shifted her weight forward preparing for the fight. By god, if he wanted trouble she knew she was just the one to pack it, wrap it and deliver it to him with a bells on it …

    "Afternoon, Mabelle. How’re you this fine day?"

    He knew her name. She fell back into her chair and opened her mouth to speak. But her tongue was as dry as if someone had just shoved the world's thickest saltine cracker down her gullet and chased it with a fistful of sawdust. The most she could muster was a weak "Harrumph." that sounded more like she was conjuring a wad of phlegm than delivering a stern rebuke.

    “Mrs. Mabelle, this package came for you from Dr. Waterman’s. Just need you to sign for it. You told me last week to be on the lookout for it and rush it over if I could.”

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    1. Holy geez. Just realized I started and finished an entire day late. And there I was, rushing like Rufus the dufus. :)

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    2. Hey Matt! I too was too late! Too bad, eh?

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