Story

The Secret of Courage

The sound of the door closing brought me out of the world of numbers I had entrenched myself in. Not the sound itself, but the particular tone. When your life slips into a steady rhythm and the harmonies blend perfectly, it is easy to notice a single missed note. Although the door did not have the force of a slam, something about its dull note seemed off.

 

I slid my chair away from my desk and got my head through my office door just in time to see the bottom of my son’s feet disappearing up the stairs.

 

“Austin.”

 

A familiar, “Yeah?” came floating down from somewhere above. Again, something seemed off. A note slightly off key. I couldn’t say which one, only that I heard something that shouldn’t have been.

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The Elevator

I saw you in the elevator.

You wore feather earrings and worn leather boots. You had an apron in hand, so I can only assume you were going to or from work. I wore a blue hoodie and carried a notepad in my messenger bag.

The moment I saw you I smiled because there was something beyond pretty about you. You looked warm and smart and trustworthy. We made brief eye contact. You saw me smiling at you and your face sort of lit up. Then you looked back at your phone and finished your text message.

I intended to get off on the 12th floor but decided to stay on until you left. We rode that elevator all the way up and all the way down. You stayed. I stayed too. We both pretended not to notice that neither of us had moved. (more…)

Stella’s Voice

“You can choose twelve.”

The words hit me like a sucker punch. My hands found my knees as I struggled for air that had come so easily just a moment before.

Thirty-four young girls stood lined up against a bus with black letters that had faded into blurred lines. A few stared at their worn shoes. I was thankful for that because I could not bear one more set of eyes on me. The rest watched me with desperation and guilt, wanting so badly to be chosen, but knowing what that would mean for the ones who were not. My soul seemed to collapse under weight of the choices before me.

I turned to the Mr. Diacov who stared at me in an effort to avoid the silent pleas from the girls. Black buttons struggled to hold his grey suit together around the bulge of his stomach. The dark circles under his green eyes nearly matched his coal-black shaggy hair and the stubble that covered his chin.

“Please.” I begged. “There must be something we can do. The home can hold more than…” (more…)

Vampire Sushi

When you’re in a fight with a vampire, you don’t have a lot of advantages. My vampire had this I’m-invincible-so-I-can-toy-with-you-for-a-bit-before-killing-you thing going. It wasn’t much, but in the end it was enough.

 

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I didn’t want to be stuck at home alone, but had nowhere else to go. So while little monsters and princesses where getting their fill of candy and slutty nurses were throwing back shots, I was still at my desk working on TPS reports.

 

The sound of lips smacking in the silence of the office rang out like a clap of lightning. I looked up to see a man in a slate grey suit sitting on the edge of Harold’s desk. His black silk shirt lay unbuttoned at the top revealing skin as smooth and pale as milk. Wavy black hair fell perfectly in place, nearly to his shoulders. The way his dark eyes stared at me immediately gave me chills.

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The Other Eight

The electronic voice of Paul’s GPS informed him that he had arrived at his destination. He leaned forward to peer through his windshield at the sign that hung above the doors on the red brick building. Large orange letters trimmed in green spelled La Cantina Antelo.

An elderly man in a bright Tommy Bahama shirt began unlocking his car on the far side of the street. Cars covered every meter that Paul could see so he wasted no time pulling around and flipping on his blinker.  It only took about three minutes and what looked like a well-practiced fourteen point turn for the man to get his Buick out of the small space. As he slowly rolled away Paul slid his little Honda into the space easily and threw it in park.

He still wasn’t sure why he was here. The invitation was most likely an elaborate way to get him to sit through a time-share presentation, but it didn’t have the same tone as a marketing ploy. He grabbed it off his passenger seat and twisted it until he could read it again in the streetlight.

Mr. Weeks,

 

Your presence is requested at The Other Eight event. This is a private affair so please, no guests. Dinner, dessert, and drinks will all be provided free of charge. Your participation in this event is of the utmost importance.

 

7:00 p.m.

May 7th, 2013

La Cantina Antelo

756 E. Jefferson

 

Please RSVP

TheOtherEight@GMail.com (more…)

The Tip

Jenna barely heard the rough clicks of Sam’s key in the door over the gentle hiss of the water as she washed the vegetables. A quick sigh escaped from her mouth. As much as she loved her husband, after work he tended to be a bit grumpy. The fresh stack of bills that lay on the counter would only make it worse. She turned off the water and began to wipe her hands when she saw him come into their tiny apartment, turning to close the door and lock it behind him.

Jenna grinned at the sight of him. He had an unassuming cuteness about him. When she had first seen him at their church she never would have pictured them together. He had shaggy brown hair, hazel eyes, and an average frame that could easily be lost in a crowd, but he was smart enough to know that those were not his strength.

The first time Sam had approached her it was simple and quick. He introduced himself and came off as shy. Each time they spoke after that he emerged from of his shell a little more. It did not take long for Jenna to see his heart and know that it was more beautiful than any other she knew. He had a rare combination of a sweet spirit and powerful intellect. Sam could make you feel like the most wonderful person in the world or like you didn’t exist. He knew the power of words and just how to use them.

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Into the Fire

It looked like a normal letter from the middle school Max would be attending in the fall, but as I read a hollow rattle rolled through the page from the shaking of my hands. I dropped it on table, grabbed my keys and fled. This is my default action in the face of tragedy. I first learned this when I was about Max’s age.

We were driving to a cabin on the Lake of the Ozarks. An army of trees with shades of green that Crayola could never hope to box surrounded the road on both sides. Two yellow dotted lines marked the way to a perfect weekend. Just me, my dad, and a lake full of fish. I stared over the high dashboard looking for the sign that would mark our turnoff. This would begin our game of who can spot the water first.

A flash of movement was all I saw before the impact jerked me forward. My dad told me to stay, but I was so drawn to the front of our station wagon that I barely heard his words.

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