Catie's Short Story Archive

Some of these are full-blown short stories, one is the beginning of a novel, and most are scraps of scenes that I happened to write down. Most of them will never be more than a small piece of a story, but some I have big plans for. Enjoy. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

haunted

Sixty-four years later and she still cries herself to sleep every single night. Alone, in her bedroom, she can’t help but be overcome by emotions of decades past; she lets the tears slide silently down her cheeks in the dark, calmly enduring the torture again and again.

It had happened in the spring, when the date and time were not important. Heads were fuzzy and serene, full of thoughts concerning sunshine, green grass, cherry blossoms, and of course, love. They would lie for hours upon the hill overlooking her home, she resting her head on his stomach, he softly stroking her hair. She remembers the feel of the grass between her bare toes, the smell of it that seemed to cling to the fibers of her clothing, the quiet crunching sound as she split the blades with her fingers. Sometimes they would talk without cease while they lay watching the clouds. Other times they were silent, listening to the chatter of the birds and the sound of each other’s movements, breath, and heartbeats, enjoying the beauty of just being together.

After so many years, she still remembers every detail. His eyes, a very light brown, were almost golden under the sun; his thick auburn hair was always parted on the side. He had nice, white teeth, and a smile that she couldn’t help but reciprocate. He was tall, with muscular arms that made her feel perfectly safe when she was wrapped in them. The only flaw to his appearance was a scar that ran from the bridge of his nose to the edge of his left nostril.

She never asked where he’d gotten it. She didn’t need to. He’d gotten home less than a year ago, physically unscathed save for the scar. “I fought” was all he ever said about it. She never asked where, or for how long, or what he’d seen. He didn’t want to talk about it, and she didn’t want to know. But she could tell sometimes, when they lay watching the clouds float overhead, that he wasn’t with her completely, that part of him was still there.

And so they spent their days together, laughing, sunbathing, and enjoying the company. Sometimes he would take her to the movies, or to go dancing, but both of them preferred their days upon the hill. Needless to say she was in love with him to an almost unhealthy degree. He was consistently the subject of both her thoughts and her dreams; she was infatuated, and certain that their romance would never end.

One day, he said the words she’d been longing to hear for months; he’d taken her face in his hands and pulled it gently toward his own. “I love you,” he’d said, “and I hope that you never forget it.” She didn’t. To this day, she can picture the way his brown eyes softened as he whispered the words.

That night he was gone. They found him in his bedroom, holding a note that said he’d seen too much, knew too much, but that he’d be waiting for her. She was broken, traumatized, alone, and had no hope of ever recovering. That night she cried the first of the tears that would never end.

Sixty-four years later and she still cries herself to sleep every single night. Alone, in her bedroom, she can’t help but be overcome by emotions of decades past; she lets the tears slide silently down her cheeks in the dark, waiting for death to claim her and bring them back together.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

bicycle

He pedaled swiftly down the street, enjoying the wind blowing in his hair and appreciating the smooth surface of the pavement. On the back of the bike he had secured a bundle, full of everything he thought he couldn't live without. CD's, a few photos, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and a flashlight were among the random items wrapped up in his blanket.

"I'll show them" he thought to himself, amused. His parents had told him he needed to clean up his attitude, that he couldn't survive without them so he'd better start treating them with respect. So, feeling young and invincible, he'd packed a makeshift rucksack and left home using his only mode of transportation.

At only fourteen, he was on his way to freedom and a hassle-free life. He thought.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

widower

He let out a sigh and a soft "umph" as he sank down onto the couch. Kicking off his shoes and loosening his tie, he reached for the remote, but didn't turn on the television just yet. Slumping, he rested his head against the flowered embroidery of the sofa, closing his eyes.

Coming home was always the toughest part of the day. At the office, he could hide behind his fancy suit, his corner office. He could completely submerge himself in his work, something that has recently earned him the title of "Employee of the Month." People told him is was good, that they were proud of him for moving on in that way, and for being able to focus on other things. But no amount of work he ever did let him forget her when he was home. She was everywhere at home; in the kitchen she had painted a beautiful pale yellow, in the living room she had decorated and arranged herself, and worst of all in the bedroom, where he constantly expected her to just walk through the door. Her side of the bed was always empty and cold, her clothes hung solemnly in the closet next to his, and her smell still emanated from the vanity under the window.

Forcing himself to tear his eyes back open, he reached into his pocket and, like every other night, fished out his wedding ring and slipped it onto his finger, where he would always believe it belonged.

sisters

"The sooner you start cooperating, the sooner you get out of here Ardessa."

"For the last time, its Ardy. God, for someone with a medical degree, you sure are a dumbass." Standing in the doorway, the doctor shut her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"It may take fifteen minutes, or it may take fifteen days, but you will not leave this room until you've worked things out for yourselves. And Ruth," she added, "try sticking up for yourself for once." The firl standing in the middle of the room gave no response other than a stifled sob. The doctor grabbed the door and began to close it, but her eyes found Ardy again, and she paused.

"No bullshit Ardessa," she said before slamming the metal door and locking them in.

"This is all your fault fatass!" Ardy screamed. Ruth gave no retort. She simply walked to the nearest bed and cried, her face resting in her hands, until the tears began to leak out between the cracks of her fingers.

Ardy sat down angrily on the bed opposite Ruth's and began to look around the room. Next to the door, a tiny closet was opened, revealing a toilet and a sink. On the far wall was one high window, barred from the inside, a small dresser centered underneath it. The two side walls were bare, with one twin bed pushed up against each.

As Ardessa critically surveyed the room, her green eyes eventually fell upon her sister. The narrowed. She looked at Ruth, sitting there repulsive and crying, and knew she would never dislike anyone more in her life.

"I hate you," she said quietly, glaring. Again Ruth did not respond. Tasting the bile that was suddenly rising in her throat, Ardy had to look away before her disgust manifested itself all over the floor. She lay back on her bed and stared at the ceiling instead, counting the ceiling tiles over, and over, and over, ignoring the hollow feeling in her stomach that she was all too used to.

monster

This is also for my CW class. The assignment was to write a story based on a tabloid headline. It isn't finished, but I wanted the boy to find a real monster (i.e. a rapist, pedophile, murderer, etc.) under his bed, not a fictitious monster with tentacles or fur. It's a dark, creepy concept but I hope you like it!

Little Tony Johnson sat playing with his matchbox cars on the floor of his newly decorated bedroom. Sunlight streamed in through the open window, and you could see little dust particles floating in the rays. Every wall of the room was painted a glorious, royal blue, with red shapes painted in a strip along the top. Tony liked to look at each shape as he fell asleep at night, his eyes following the pattern around the room. In the middle of the room was his brand new big-boy-bed, its red wooden headboard with “TONY” painted across the top in blue capital letters, its yellow comforter that Tony liked to wrap himself up in like a caterpillar before it becomes a butterfly.

“Vvvvoooooom! Vvoom voom voom!” he squealed, crashing his cars into one another, and bursting into a fit of giggles when one of them actually flipped upside-down. Again and again he sat one car a foot or so in front of him, and rolled another toward it with all of his might. He clapped his hands and laughed each time one car successfully smashed into another, brushing the long blonde curls out of his pretty green eyes. Sometimes the cars missed each other completely, and he would say “oh, man!” quietly to himself, like he’d seen a boy on TV once do.

Taking the two biggest cars he had, Tony placed one right at the foot of the bed, and backed up farther than ever, certain that this would be the best crash yet. Overcome with excitement, he rolled the other car with as much strength as he had in his little body, but somehow managed to miss completely, and watched as the shiny, orange car rolled right under the bed, brushing the bedspread as it passed underneath.

“Oh, man!” he said again, pretending to snap his fingers. He crawled forward on all fours toward the bed to retrieve his missing toy. Lifting the cover slightly, he poked his head under the bed, and gave an exaggerated, four-year-old gasp.

“Shhhhh!” said the man, pulling his hand out from underneath him and putting a finger to his lips to signal that the boy should be quiet.

“Shh!” Tony mimicked, putting a finger to his own lips, and nodding to show the man that he understood. The man had big, brown eyes that reminded Tony of his Daddy’s, and so he liked him right away. To add to Tony’s apparent sense of comfort with him, the man smiled the kind of charismatic smile that is warm and reassuring, even to adults. The boy stared at the man, his green eyes large with wonder and excitement.

“What’s yowa name?” asked Tony, eager to make friend with the stranger under his bed.

“You can call me Oscar,” replied the man in a hushed whisper, “and who are you?”

“My name is Tony Lee Johnson,” the boy whispered back proudly, accentuating each part of his name with a slight nod of his head. The man nodded in approval, extending a hand to shake Tony’s.

Tony had never shaken a hand before, so he did what he always did when someone put forth an open palm, and gave the man a sideways high-five. Oscar smiled, realizing his mistake and returned his arm and hand to their previous awkward, cramped position. Tony watched him, still on all fours, a single blonde ringlet dangling in the middle of his forehead. The man observed the boy in return, and came up with an idea.]

“So, Tony Lee Johnson, can you keep a secret?” asked Oscar. Tony shook his head fervently, another curl spilling onto his forehead, a wide smile appearing on his face.

“This isn’t just any secret Tony,” whispered the man, “this is a real important big boy secret.”

“Tell me, tell me!” the boy exclaimed, forgetting that he was supposed to be whispering. Oscar put his finger back up to his lips to quiet the boy, and gave him his best this-is-very-serious-business look. Tony covered his mouth and nodded, understanding.

“You see Tony,” said Oscar, after he was certain there would be no more outbursts, “a little birdie told me that you had no one to play with, so they sent me to be your new friend.” Tony practically squirmed with excitement, and tightened the grip on his mouth to stay quiet. His round, green eyes were glowing at the prospect of having someone to play with.

“The thing is…” continued Oscar, “if you tell anyone, even your Mommy or Daddy, they will send me away and I can never come back.” He watched the boy with hesitance, unsure if he had been convincing enough. Tony looked down at the floor for a moment as he contemplated, for the first time in his life, keeping something from his mother. It was impossible for Tony to tell his Daddy, because he was far, far away. Looking back up at the man, he thought about how much fun it would be to have someone to help him crash his matchbox cars into one-another. Then he thought about the brand new big-boy-bed his head was under. He hesitantly removed his hand from his mouth, and the man nodded, indicating that it was okay to speak.

“I has a big-boy-bed,” he said, pointing at the box-spring above their heads, “and I can keep a big-boy-secwet.” Tony smiled blissfully, and Oscar smiled back, feeling victorious over winning the boy’s confidence.

For the rest of the day, Little Tony Johnson played at the edge of his bed, rolling cars, rubber balls, and anything else that was mobile underneath it. Always, they rolled or bounced back out at him, and he beamed at the edge of his yellow comforter. It didn’t take long for him to realize that playing with someone else was much more fun than playing alone.

And Tony kept good on his four-year-old promise. When his Mommy called to him that his lunch was ready, he ate it in the most cooperative of moods, and never once mentioned Oscar. When she tucked him in for a nap, he did not argue; he wanted to be in his room as much as possible. When she woke him from his nap, he did not tell her about his dream, because it involved playing with Oscar, and he was sure that that counted as telling. But when she gave him his two Oreos ® for an afternoon snack, he asked for two extra.

“Sure, why not,” replied his mother warmly, putting two more cookies onto his napkin, “you’ve been an awfully good boy today.” Tony beamed at his mother, and ate half of the cookies. Suddenly, he hopped off his seat, grabbing the two extra Oreos ®.

“Hey bud, where ya going with those?” asked his mother with a teasing smile.

“To give them to Oscaw!” he answered without thinking, and froze in mid-step.

“Oscar?” His mother gave the boy a searching look as he stared at the ground. It took less than three seconds for Tony’s four-year-old resolve to break.

“He’s my fwend that lives undow my bed,” he blurted out solemnly. He was sad. He wanted Oscar to stay forever, and now he would have to leave after only one day. To his surprise, his mother laughed.

“Oh, I see you’ve found yourself an imaginary friend,” she said, “tell him I said to enjoy those cookies.” She winked at Tony, assuming this ‘Oscar’ character was just a ploy for more Oreos ®. Still, he had been well-behaved that day, and she didn’t mind giving him extras cookies just his once.

“Ok Mommy,” replied Tony, sullen. He turned and ran to his room; sure that Oscar would be gone by the time he arrived. He shut the door behind him and practically skidded to a halt just in time to hop down onto all fours and stick his head underneath the hanging yellow comforter.

Oscar gave a small jolt, startled at the boy’s sudden appearance. But a grin spread across Tony’s face that made it impossible not to smile back.

“Ay sport, what’s up?” he asked.

“I bwought you Oweos,” said Tony, proud of himself. Oscar, realizing he was famished, took the cookies with graciousness.

“Thanks kiddo,” said Oscar, his mouth full of cookie. Tony looked suddenly worried, and recounted for Oscar what he had told his Mommy.

“What did she say?” asked Oscar, alarmed.

“She said I has an imaginawy fwend,” replied Tony, and Oscar breathed a sigh of relief.

“That’s good kid,” he said, “real good.”

“Awe they gonna make you leave?” Tony asked, still worried his playmate would disappear at any moment.

“Nah,” said the man, “everybody gets one free pass.” Tony was so relieved that he said “phew!” and wiped his head dramatically like he’d seen a girl on TV once do. He lay down on his stomach, folding his hands under his chin, leaving only his head under the bed, and watched Oscar enjoy the second cookie. The man appeared to be in deep thought, staring at the floorboards as he chewed his snack. Suddenly he looked up at Tony, and cleared his throat.

“Oh, actually, I just remembered that they don’t do the free pass thing anymore,” said the man, glad he had only a four-year-old to convince, “so I do have to leave, it turns out. Tonight.”

Tony looked crushed. His beautiful green eyes filled with tears that he did not try to hold back.

“B-b-but Oscaw!” he exclaimed. The man put this finger to his lips to quiet the boy, afraid they would be heard.

“Y-y-you j-just got hewe,” said Tony in a sob-whisper, “I nevow have anyone to p-play wif, only my D-d-daddy sometimes, but he is faw faw away a-and my Mommy says h-he isn’t coming back to p-p-play wif me anymow…” The boy put his head into his arms and shook with silent sobs.

Oscar was shocked. He hadn’t expected such a strong reaction from such a little boy. Awkwardly, hesitantly, he brought his hand out from underneath him and patted the boy’s golden ringlets, in a meek attempt to comfort him.

Even more unexpected was Tony’s response to the head pat. He suddenly swung his feet around and scooted under the bed, ending up under Oscar’s arm, sobbing into his shoulder. Oscar, shocked, stared at Tony for a minute, his resolve wavering. He sighed, and rolling slightly to one side drew the boy up into a hug, patting his head as Tony continued to cry silently into his chest.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the future

I wrote this for my VT creative writing class; the assignment was to write one page that takes place either 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future. Hope you like it. :)

Startled, Lily stood up, dripping wet, and inspected the scrape on her elbow. Her vision was blurry, and for a moment she panicked, but soon realized she was still wearing her goggles; the heat from the warm day had caused the clear plastic to become almost completely opaque. She laughed softly to herself as she pulled them off, but her eyes never made it back to her elbow. Instead, they darted about at her surroundings as she realized with a jolt that somehow she was not at swim practice.

Lily saw many things in that instant and yet somehow nothing at all. There was a faint moment when she absorbed the bright street lamps the size of small cars that seemed to float in midair, the streets that had no lines, the buildings reaching up into the clouds. There was nothing familiar, nothing safe, nothing Lily could use to explain what was happening.

Suddenly she was running. From what, she did not know, for the street was completely empty save for herself. Barefoot, she became aware of a nice, warm sensation on her feet. The sidewalk, if that’s what she was running upon, looked like regular asphalt. But as she ran, it did not scratch or roughen the bottoms of her feet. Instead, it was almost like wearing gel insoles, or using an automatic foot massager. She stopped and looked down at her feet. What the hell, she thought to herself. She appeared to have sunk an inch into the sidewalk, and leapt away from the spot for fear of sinking further. But as she jumped she felt the softness under her feet, and was reminded of her mother’s memory foam mattress.

“NO WAY,” she said aloud, reaching her right foot in front of her and pressing her toe into the ground. She felt the warm sensation on the bottom of it and withdrew her foot from the pavement, watching as the imprint she had left disappeared, leaving the sidewalk looking as solid as ever. She continued forward, much more slowly now, enjoying the foot massage, and took a look at where she’d somehow arrived.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

feminism

This was written as extra credit for my AP lit class. It's a little.... dark and upsetting. But don't let that stop you, read on. :)

She stood and admired herself for a while in the mirror, turning her head left and right, observing her beautifully defined jawbone and long, graceful neck. The woman had long since removed her stiff white apron and plain housedress. She stood now in her favorite evening gown; a soft pink article with a low neckline and a well-defined wasp waist. A white silk sash was tied in a bow at the small of her back, and its long extremities trailed elegantly behind her as she walked in a tight circle, watching herself in the mirror. She was undeniably beautiful, flawless, and she knew it well.

The divine woman unlocked her jewelry box with precise, steady fingers. It was presently decided that she would wear the jewelry her husband had bought her during their stay in France. Large, dangling, diamond earrings she pinned to her lobes, pausing after each to enjoy its cheerful refractions upon the walls. A bracelet clustered with similar icy gems was slipped upon her delicate wrist. She walked to the desk against the adjacent wall and stood on a chair, feeling around on the top shelf for her last accessory. Finding it, among various decorations and items lovingly given to her by her children, she fashioned the twisted strand delicately around her neck, adjusting it until it lay just right. Catching her reflection once more in the mirror, she smiled understandingly at herself and stepped lightly off the chair.

A toddler in a white ruffled play dress runs around her nursery, doll in hand. She stops at the window and yanks on the pulley to the curtain. Sunlight streams in and blinds her; she shrieks and releases the cord, caught up in a fit of giggles.

“Genevieve!” Her father lightheartedly scolds her, “Genevieve, you mustn’t dart about like this, a lady must learn to sit still! Someday, when you’re older, I shall find you a husband who knows how to control such a wild creature!” The man laughs, but there is a strange seriousness about his eyes. The little girl continues to race around, disrupting everything in her wake; her peals of laughter seem to echo in the cavernous room. As the man watches her, his brow begins to furrow. In only a moment his gentle seriousness turns to outright exasperation.

A young girl lies under a blooming cherry tree. Her hair is down and disheveled, her dress wrinkled, her hat left out in the sun. She braids a necklace of the greenest grass, selecting only the tallest and strongest blades for her masterpiece. A thick, intricate lanyard forms as she sits staring absentmindedly at her work. Suddenly the girl sits up. With a panicky air she begins to smooth her hair, flatten her dress, and re-don her hat. A maid is seen scurrying across the lawn. As she draws nearer she begins to reprimand the girl, and her chagrin is apparent.

“Miss Genevieve, have you been out here all this time?” asks the woman, frustrated. Beads of sweat have formed on her face and she dabs them away with her apron. She breathes as though she has been hurrying about for quite some time.

“Yes ma’am,” replies the girl, shamefaced. Her face flushes crimson at her own admission, and she clutches at her lengthy braid with nervous hands.

“Oh Miss, your mother is quite upset. She wants to know why you have abandoned your sewing again, and demands that you go to her at once.” Seeing the girl’s reaction to her scolding, she partakes of a lighter tone. “Really Miss, how can you ever be a good wife or mother if you never learn to sew? It’s for your own good, Miss.”

A young woman and a young man are walking together through a zoo. They are quite apparently in love, and oblivious to anything but themselves. They are dressed as young lovers usually are; nicely, but not too fancily. The man holds an umbrella over the woman’s head for shade. The woman leans too far over the large hemp barrier as she attempts to look closer at a sitting duck, losing her balance. The young man pulls her back quickly by the waist and they begin to laugh.

Three women are sitting in a room sewing quilts for the wintertime. There is a profound silence. One of the women’s quilts is significantly smaller than the others. This woman stares out a nearby window; the needle and thick thread sit unmoving in her lap.

A woman sits down tiredly into a cushioned chair, her thin scarf limp and without starch around her neck. Presently three small children enter in their Sunday best. At first the woman smiles, is happy to see them. As they draw nearer, the light fades from her eyes.

A woman is sound asleep in her bed. It is dark. A man enters and wakes the woman. He is drunken and angry. She begins to cry and points to a nearby bureau. The man becomes more furious, and goes to the dresser to take out a new corset, tag still dangling from the bottom. He removes the drawstring and begins to cut it to pieces.

A woman sits alone in a room. She is wearing a plain housedress and a stiff white apron. She stands and looks into a mirror. She smiles.

And then it grows quite dark.