Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Opened Box

This was from another writing prompt I did with Leslee. We switched genres -- I had to write a romance, and she had to write a horror story. Since this was just a prompt, we both ended up with snippets, and mine still leaned towards the horror side (the dolls are the people, at least in my head).

The Opened Box

Muriel and James lay flat on the bottom of the mahogany box. They were covered in plastic popcorn.

Amanda shuffled her fingers through the packing material. She wondered what the box contained. The contents were her inheritance from her grandmother. The note had stated that she was bequeathed the greatest romance of all time. Amanda had never known her grandmother personally but had heard stories of her eccentricities from other family members, so the note had been no particular surprise.

Her fingers touched the top of Muriel's head, Amanda grabbed the doll's hair and pulled it out of the box. the doll was small, dressed in a gingham dress and white apron. It looked like it had belonged to a dollhouse at one time. Amanda set the doll aside and reached back into the box. She rustled in the plastic then felt James. She pulled him out. He was dressed in denim overalls and looked to have a somewhat dour expression.

Amanda wondered if these two were the great romance. Surely her grandmother had meant more than a pair of toys. Amanda reached into the box a third time, pushed her hand deeper, then she felt it, the corner of a leather bound book. She picked up the corner, but it was heavy. She eagerly plunged her other hand in and withdrew "The Greatest Romance of All Time", the words written in a graceful script in faded ink on a piece of paper glued to the front cover. It was her grandmother's hand writing.

Amanda tipped the book up to examine the script in better light and a photograph fell from within the pages. She set the book down beside the dolls and picked up the photo. She dropped it almost immediately in shock, then bent down to the floor to look at it again. She looked over at the dolls then back at the photo. Amanda shivered. In the photo were a man and a woman, holding hands and smiling at the camera - they were the exact likeness of the two dolls in human form.

Amanda turned the photo over to see if there was anything on the back. It read "Wedding Day: June Fourth 1932, James and Muriel".

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spider Girl

This was from another writing prompt, but I can't remember the prompt!


Spider Girl

"I gotta get out of here guys, I need some air!" Mark slid open the door to his lanai, letting out a thick cloud of pot smoke. Why did the parties always turn into this? And who brought the hookah? Mark's brain was fuzzy. It took him a moment to realize there was a figure huddled in the corner.

"Hi." said the figure. It was a woman, crouched by the potted plant Mark could never remember the name of (and it didn't matter because it had died tragically a long time ago).

"Who are you?"

"None of your business."

"You're on my lanai. That's kind of my business. Why are you on my lanai by the way? What are you, like a cat burglar?"


"Really? Like you'd admit that?"


"But-" there was a pause.

"I'm not a cat burglar."

"Oh." The woman stood up, a bit unsteady.

"I live below you. I climbed up here to get away from my boyfriend. He's on a rampage."

"Really? Isn't that what rhinos do? And rabid baboons?" Mark could feel her staring at her. "Sorry, that was in bad taste."

"Yeah, really. I hope it's okay I'm up here."

"Yeah, that's fine. Are you okay? Did he hurt you?"

The woman took a step forward, out of the shadow of the corner. Her face was bruised, her left eye swollen shut. "I'm fine, really."

"No your not!" Mark moved forward, she stepped back. "I won't hurt you-" He stepped back again, sensing that she felt threatened. There was an awkward moment. He moved to the railing and looked down. "I can't believe you climbed up. I'm on the ninth floor. We're really high up."

"S'all right. I'm athletic. I dance on a pole all day."

Mark looked back, sizing up her svelte body. "Cool." He broke his gaze again, slightly embarrassed. "Well, maybe you should call the police on your boyfriend dude - get a restraining order or something."

"I think I'd rather just stay here for a bit. If that's okay."

"Yeah, that's cool I guess. Whatever you want. Just don't cat burglarize me, yeah?"

"No problem."

Monday, January 14, 2008


I wrote this about 2 years ago now, and I've been wanting to dust it off. It was locked away in a file format I can't access on my Mac (Microsoft Works), and I finally bothered to find a file converter -- the fantastic Zamzar.

A pat on the back goes to the first reader who figures out what the "hospital" actually is.



"I dreamed that my name was Valerie and that I worked at a department store." I said. My doctor looked back at me in silence, his dark eyes held no expression. I continued. "I was sorting out old clothes that didn't belong -- they were vintage, from the 50s and 60s. I had to climb on a huge shaky ladder and get them down from the very top displays. For some reason I was wearing a lot of brown lipstick. Doctor, could it be that I really did work at a department store? I seem to know an awful lot about displaying clothes."

"Most likely not." My doctor thought out loud. "The sorting and extraction of old clothes merely represents your desire to find your memories. The lipstick says that you are hiding something."

I thought for a moment. "But maybe my name is Valerie. It would be a start. It would be worth looking into wouldn't it?"

"No. Dreams are seldom that expository." It was the first name I had come up with in the week since I was found, shivering and naked, with a thick layer of dirt caked under my fingernails. I somehow just showed up at the hospital. That was the first of what I could remember. It was one week of therapy and recuperation and I knew nothing about who I was. But my name was Valerie, I felt certain.

An hour later, after another unsuccessful attempt at hypnosis, I found myself padding down the corridor back to my room. The floor was cold -- I wish they had given me a pair of shoes to wear but the doctors thought they were unnecessary. The only garment they gave me was a thin gown. As I walked I ran my fingers against the smooth wall. At about the height of my hip there were words embossed in the surface that ran the length of the corridor. I knew I could read -- but my amnesia was so complete that they just looked like garbled symbols.

When I got to my room my door was open as usual. There were fresh linens on the bed, and a meal waiting for me. Out my window, a sloped skylight in the ceiling, it was night-time. There was a sea of stars in a perfect moonless night, just like every night. The doctors never woke me during the day and I hadn't seen daylight since I arrived at the hospital. A fragment of memory surfaced. The Sun - I remember the Sun. I remember a brilliant light shining down on me -- I felt joyful, vindication? It made me feel as if I could fly, weightless. I don't know. I just wish I could see the day again.

I ate my meal alone on my bed. Whatever I was eating was bland, rubbery, and cold. When I was finished I curled up in the sheets. There was a faint smell of damp and mildew, the cloth was harsh and stiff. A few minutes later the sleep doctor showed up with another needle. I held out my arm as was required by the routine. I watched my reflection in his large eyes as he slowly pressed amber fluid into the crook of my elbow. It was required that I dream some more.

"Doctor, I'd like to go outside. I feel cramped in here."

"You can't go outside." We were in the therapy room.

"Why not?"

"It's not safe." I stared at him suspiciously. "Tell me about your dreams."

"I don't want to talk about them anymore."

"We need to find out who you are."

"My name is Valerie."

"No, it's not. I told you that wasn't your name."

"Why not? If it isn't. it might as well be."

"Tell me about the dream you just had."

"I didn't have a dream."

"You're lying."

"I refuse to dream."

"You can't, you will always dream."

"Maybe the answer isn't in a dream. Maybe it's outside."

"Forget about the outside. Your identity resides within you. I am going to place you in regression."

When I got back to my room there was no meal waiting for me, just two doctors, a needle, and a rectangular swath of stars. The next day I retold a dream about gardening, had another unsuccessful session of hypnosis and when I returned to my room a bland meal was waiting. Clearly I was being rewarded for my cooperation.