Story-A-Day May: Endings

(I thought it would be amusing to write a story for the end of this challenge about a writer ending a book but I got a little stuck on how to let it play out. Luckily, my very creative friend Kevin James came to the rescue with a cool idea that turned into this story. Enjoy!(I hope))


The words leapt out at her from the bottom of the page. After six years, Cynthia was finally at the end of her novel and she was looking forward to being free of these characters for a while. Sure, she was going to have to do a lot of revision but she had a solid framework and she could stop worrying about what her heroine was going to get up to next. It was going to be weird to not carry them with her all the time but it would be nice to think about something else for a change. She sent the file to the printer and headed to the kitchen for a celebratory glass of wine.

“I suppose you think we’ll just be quiet and go away now, don’t you?” a woman’s voice bit off the words in Cynthia’s ear.

Cynthia whipped her head around but there was no one behind her. The TV wasn’t on and her windows were shut so it wasn’t a neighbour’s voice drifting in.

“I must be imagining things,” She laughed to herself. Usually she invented voices in her head, not outside of it – she gave her characters voices and imagined their conversations but she never actually heard them aloud.

“It’s different this time, hey?” the woman spoke again but Cynthia still didn’t see anyone. “You can actually hear me now, can’t you?”

“Um, yes. I can hear you. Who is this? Where are you?” If this was one of those TV show pranks, Cynthia was going to kill whoever had set her up. Their timing was terrible. She had just wanted to enjoy her glass of wine before binding her manuscript and putting it away for a week or two. Editing always went easier if you let your words sit for a while – they didn’t all seem so precious then.

“It’s Simone. You know, your “Character”?” She could hear the air quotes even though she couldn’t see the fingers making them.

“No, seriously. Simone is someone I invented, she can’t be talking in the real world. Who the hell is this? And where are you?” She threw back her glass of wine. If she was going to miss out on celebrating, she was at least going to get to finish her drink.

“I told you – this is Simone. And you’re right, I am in your head. However, once you bind that manuscript, I’ll be stuck inside on page 347 and I will never get any further than that.”

“You’re a character in a book! You’re supposed to stay in there.”

“Well, I don’t want to. You can’t bind that book, you have to keep writing. I don’t like anything about the ending you made up and I insist that you change it.”

Cynthia rolled her eyes. She didn’t know whether Simone could see her somehow but she was sure that the woman knew her author was annoyed.

“I have been writing about you for six years. I want to stop and there is nothing you can do about that.” She set her wine glass on the counter and took the stairs two at a time to get to the printer.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Cynthia.” Simone’s words were hate-laced and bitter. “I can stop you.”

“You can not. You’re a figment of my imagination. You’re in my head!” Cynthia took her manuscript off the printer and started tapping the pages against the top of her desk to get the edges straight.

“Well, Cynthia, it turns out that you are a VERY good writer and you bring your characters fully to life. So, you’re right that I am in your head but I am no longer just a figment of your imagination. I am very, very real.”

“Yeah? Prove it!” Cynthia was glad no one else was home to witness her talking to her self like this. She put the first stack of papers on the desk. She was reaching for the second so she could line up their edges when she felt a stabbing pain in her head just behind her ear. The sheer power of it drove her to her knees.

“Is that proof enough, Writer? Or shall I do it again?”

The pain ebbed and Cynthia stood up up. Could this really be happening? Was her character literally torturing her?

“Yes, yes, I am, Cynthia. Now, why don’t you turn your laptop back on and get back to work on my story. Let’s start by putting me in a different dress, I have always been partial to purple.”

Cynthia sat down in her chair, propped the pillow into the small of her back and reached for the power button on her computer. This was probably not going to end well for either of them.

Story-A-Day May: Burn

(Today’s writing prompt from is to tell a story with the climax at the beginning and the explanation afterward. This is my shot at it.)

She was halfway up the stairs when she heard the first noises. They were familiar but so very out of place that she couldn’t quite place them. It was when David made that low moan that she put it all together.

There had been flowers on the table when she had come home earlier. She didn’t know much about flowers, aside from the fact that she liked them, so she couldn’t say what the blooms were just that they made her think of happy little faces. She smiled back at them as they sat on the table, and she dropped her briefcase and purse next to the dining room wall.

In the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of water and checked on the spaghetti sauce in the crockpot. She loved when she could get everything set up in advance so her evening would unfold easily. The days she rushed home from work without any idea of what to have for supper, those evenings left her feeling frazzled and unsettled, and she swore they made her next morning at work harder.

The sauce was bubbling away and it was a while before she had to put the noodles on. She decided to take a bath and relax before David got home, she always felt a bit strange relaxing in the tub with her new husband in the house. It seemed like she should be spending time with him instead. She assumed it would change over time, that she would not be as torn about wanting to do her own thing and wanting to be with him. For right now, though, she wanted both equally and it could be very hard to decide. Sinking into the tub before he got home would solve that quandary and they could have a fun evening together, maybe they could watch a movie if she could stay awake long enough.

She walked back downstairs and turned off the spaghetti sauce. In the living room, she picked up their wedding album, and a package of matches and headed out to the firepit in the backyard.

Story-A-Day May: Lesson Learned

If I fully admit that this is my own fault, will you help me get back out?

I know that Mom tells me all the time to stay out of her flower garden, and I really, honestly meant to, but I don’t know, I just kind of got pulled in there. The flowers were so bright and so pretty and the colours just jumped out at me. I wanted to touch them, I needed to smell them, I wanted to know if they looked as good up close.

And they really did. In fact, they looked even better up close and the wind in that section of the garden smelled terrific and it was really exciting to be somewhere in the garden that I usually wasn’t allowed to be. And I admit, I got a bit carried away.

I climbed over the little fence around the flowers. I didn’t want to just see the flowers I wanted to be in among them and I knew that mom gets in there lots of times so I didn’t think it was really going to be that big a deal and I thought I would get right back out again right away. That was my plan. Honest.

Really. I planned to just hop right back out after a few seconds and then I was going to lean back in and sweep the dirt back over my footprints. I figured Mom would never know.

She’s going to know now though, that’s for sure.

I wasn’t even standing in the dirt for 10 seconds when I felt the first tug at my ankle. It was a green tendril from the side of a sunflower. The leaves of some sort of bush reached out to wrap around my other leg as I tried to free myself from the sunflower and then, as I tried to free myself from the bush, something else, something vine-y wrapped itself around my arms. Soon, I was covered in green from neck to feet, with only my head peeking out the top. I’m sure I look ridiculous standing here and I’ve been shouting for at least half an hour but no one has come to help me.

I guess Mom will come looking for me eventually, once it’s time for supper or something. You know what? Next time she tells me not to do something, I will totally listen. I swear.

Story-A-Day May: The Dance

(This is another story that’s bigger than I have time to write right now. So this is a placeholder)

She found that the magic worked better if she started the dance slowly. She could speed up once things got established but the beginning? That had to be super slow. Painfully slow. So slow that she felt like she was barely moving.

She could go pretty fast for the set-up, that didn’t seem to matter. Her ring of salt, the anchors at the edges, the chalk symbols. Those had to be done fresh every time of course, and she had to do them while holding the intention strong in her mind, but the speed was irrelevant. She didn’t have to slow down until after she had started the music.

For her first invocations, she had been very fussy about the music, but it turned out that music didn’t matter all that much either. It all came down to the speed of that first part. If she started slow enough she could be ready when the demon rose into the circle. If she was ready when it arose, then she could lead the dance and bend the creature to her will. If she moved too quickly, then she was at the mercy of the creature instead.

That was how those people died- she had been at the will of the demon. When she led the dance, she simply shaped the lives of those around her. She brought some to her bed, she had others bring her riches, and she chose chaos for the anyone she could bend toward it.

With every dance, she could feel her power growing. It would soon be time to put her true plan in motion.
When the whole village was hers she would march them on the castle and the prince would then become the subject.

Story-A-Day May – Laundry

She poured the laundry out of the basket onto the bed. She hadn’t folded the last load so she had twice as much to do as usual. She knew that she should probably be folding on a higher surface, to be more ergonomic, or whatever that word was, but it just seemed like too much trouble.

When she was a girl, she would sit on her mother’s bed and crawl around in the clean laundry pulling out the socks to match up. Her mother’s laundry always seemed to include both socks, but that didn’t often happen for Sheila, she always seemed to have odd socks lying around for ages before their partners would wander back into the clean clothes so they could reunite.

She folded everything the way her mother did. Once you learn these household routines, it’s hard to change them without a lot of work. She put the tin can lids inside the can before recycling them, she rinsed her kettle before boiling it and she dusted her tables with an old sock, the way her mother did. Her mother’s clean laundry always had a sort of precision to it, almost the way things were folded in a store. Her mother didn’t use a piece of plastic to keep the clothes folded the same size but they were remarkably uniform all the same. The shirts would sit in a tidy pile, the pants stacked nicely, the socks formed the same size lumps.

Sheila had resented it as a teenager, when she was too old old to do the sock crawl and instead had to stand beside her mother and fold. She only wanted it finished, she only saw the end result, she didn’t care about the evenness of the piles. She couldn’t see her mother’s pleasure in the tidiness of the clean laundry.

She could feel it now though, there was a pleasure in creating order in the things that you could control, in tidying things up, in making things even. It had taken her until her thirties to start to understand. Now she had some of her own ways of making things right but mostly she feel back on what she had been taught.

Her internal chaos was no longer reflected in her lack of housekeeping, instead, she created calm by tidying up. Her bubbling mind could be soothed by folding laundry, by doing dishes, by putting things away. It was meditative in its way, focusing on the details and letting the big things fade away while you worked.

She smoothed the wrinkles out of her mother’s sweater and moved that pile into the drawer. The nighties and her mother’s new housecoat – washed and dried to take that new stiffness out of it- went into the small suitcase on the chair. Once she threw in a tooth brush and some hand cream it would be all packed and then she could go. Her mother would be getting out of surgery soon and Sheila wanted to be there when she woke up.