Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Ball of Yarn

Happy October, Bloggers! Today's prompt is, “Write in the perspective of a ball of yarn being chased by a cat.” Well. This should be interesting.

It all started when I was plucked from the Bin.

You see, the Bin is where we all end up, one way or another. Well, I suppose some don't make it, since I've witnessed fellow balls of yarn being trashed for no reason whatsoever. It really makes me shudder to think about it, to tell you the truth. What's the point of being created if you're just going to be destroyed?

Well, the vast majority of us yarn (we call ourselves “Rolls”) end up in a Bin. There are thousands upon thousands of Bins all over the world, and each one contains a varying number of Rolls. I was put in a Bin someplace in Kansas, from what I've been told. A green Roll, which happened to tumble next to me when we were being dumped inside the Bin, told me that we were in a store.

“What kind of a store?” I had asked him.

“Something with the word 'fabrics' in it,” he said.

“We're in a fabric store?”

“Well, what do you expect? After all, we are balls of yarn.”

So, living in the Bin wasn't too much of a drag. I had plenty of Rolls to talk to, and I always found it entertaining to watch the humans browse around the store. Once in a while, I was lifted up and scrutinized. And then, when they glanced at the small white tag next to our Bin, I was quickly set back down again. Some of the other Rolls were taken away, but we never really talked about that. We all liked to think that we'd never be kidnapped, so we refused to think about tragedies such as that.

I can't tell you how long I'd been in that Bin, nestled in between my fellow Rolls. All I knew was that it was comfy there, and I didn't want to leave.

Of course, nothing goes the way I want it to.

It happened without warning. Judging by the humans' numerous wrappings, it must have been a chilly time of year. In previous years, Rolls would be snatched from the Bin at a quicker rate around this time, but my kind of yarn wasn't so popular anymore. In my Bin, all the Rolls were simply one color. Most of us were a solid red, green, blue, or yellow. But, a couple months before, a new Bin was added to our shelf. Inside were fancy, multicolored Rolls that flashed their vivid colors arrogantly. At first, we all took it as some form of competition. But, as we realized that they distracted the humans from us, we saw them as a blessing.

Because of this, I had not been expecting to be taken by a human anytime soon. My color was fading, anyway, and I wasn't nearly as vibrant as the new Rolls.

To this day, I still wonder why the small girl with pigtails decided to snatch me from the Bin.
I wasn't even facing her when it happened. I was turned around, looking at the blue Roll next to me. We were talking lightly about things we probably wouldn't remember the next day, simply enjoying ourselves. Suddenly, though, the Roll shouted out, “Hey, behind you!”


“Someone's gonna –”

He didn't have time to finish. As soon as I felt giant, pudgy fingers wrapping around me, I knew that I was being taken away from the place in which I had spent the majority of my life. Too startled to even let out a yelp of surprise, I watched the Bin grow smaller as I was lifted higher into the air.

Facing me was a girl of about six years. She was missing two of her top teeth, making her look like she had fangs when she opened her mouth. Her short, blonde hair was pulled back into two pigtails, and her eyes were a stony gray.

“This one!” she yelled shrilly. I stared back at her, defenseless.

“That's the one you want?” asked a rather plump woman. “But it's so plain.”

“I don't care,” spat the girl. “I want it. Bailey can play with it.”

Bailey? I thought, becoming anxious. What's a “Bailey?”

“Fine, but not for very long. I don't want it to get ruined,” sighed the woman. “Let's just go home already.”

* * *

“Bailey, c'mere! I got something for you at Jo-Ann Fabrics! Mommy, is Bailey outside?”

After what seemed like centuries, I was brought back into the light of day from the depths of a thin, plastic sack. The world surrounding me momentarily caused me to forget my anxiety at being plucked from the Bin.

All around me, vibrant colors pumped through each and every object like blood being pumped through veins. It seemed as though there was no end to the blue ceiling above me; it simply stretched on as far as I could see. Green giants sprouted from the floor at every turn, being as still as statues. Below me was a soft, fluffy bed of green – it was unlike any rug I had ever laid eyes upon. The sounds were odd, as well. Once in a while, a sharp musical note would ring through the gargantuan room, emanating from the lungs of small beings that were perched on the giants. What is this magnificent place? I wondered, marveling at the sights, smells, and sounds that had never graced my senses in the past. I've never seen a store like this before.

The piercing voice of the girl snapped me back to reality. “There you are, Bailey!” Her fingers squeezed me until I thought I was going to burst. In pain, I glanced down to see who this Bailey character was and why it was causing the girl to become so riled up.

The second I laid eyes on it, I could feel fear push and shove its way into my stomach. If I was able to, I would have hopped right out of the girl's grip and kept on hopping until I found the exit to the enormous store we were in.

Directly below me was a beast so terrifyingly ferocious that it was more than my subconscious could ever possibly conjure during my darkest, most vivid nightmares. It almost resembled a human, but a few key things told me that it most definitely was not. For one, it was holding itself up with both its hands and its feet. They didn't look like hands and feet, either; its fingers were rather short, and its nails were rather sharp. The beast was coated in a silky coat of short, black hair, and its nearly glowing eyes shot daggers at me. Its ears almost looked like two giant triangles at the top of its head, turning quickly from left to right as though they were watching some sort of tennis game. As it examined me, I noticed that attached to its rear end was something that looked like a third leg, minus the toes. It was swaying back and forth calmly, not pausing once.

If this happens to be Bailey, I'll be dead in a New York minute.

“I've got something for you, Bailey!” chirped the girl. “You can play with it out here for a while.”

And, with that, the girl's grip on me loosened and I found myself trapped in midair. With an unsettling thud, I landed on the bed of green, which proved not to be so soft at all. After rolling for a bit, I was left staring at the vast blue ceiling, unable to do anything for myself. Before I could even register my current predicament, however, a shadow fell upon me. Terrified, I found myself face-to-face with the giant, four-legged beast. It bent down and gave me a quick whiff, coming so close that I was able to smell its putrid breath. After examining me, the creature reached up its hand, revealing five razor-sharp claws. With a swift movement, it swiped at me, causing me to roll a bit further.

What did I do? I asked myself. What did I do to deserve this?

I don't know how long it went on. The beast chased me around for what seemed like hours, never appearing to grow tired. With each blow, I could feel myself slowly coming apart. I began to see unraveled bits of red yarn on the floor, and with a jolt, I realized they were coming from me. So, this is how it's going to end, then, I thought, defenseless against the giant being. After I survived so many years in the Bin, this is how I'm going to die.

After a while, the pain began to subside. The beast continued to jump and scratch at me, but I grew immune to its blows. Weakly, I began to contemplate the meaning of a Roll's life. What was the meaning of this life, anyway? Us rolls of yarn can't do anything; we're completely immobile. For the majority of our dull lives, we're clumped together in a Bin, unable to do anything but halfheartedly converse with our neighbor. Why do Rolls even have the ability to think for themselves?

* * *

I was close to blacking out. The beast was pressed against me, chewing on what was left of my frayed yarn with its piercing teeth. Then, suddenly, I felt its weight being lifted off me. Feebly, I glanced at who had pulled the creature away. Above me was the mother of the small girl, holding the monster as though it were some kind of rag doll. “Bailey, no!” she was shouting. “You've nearly ruined the entire ball of yarn! Monique, I told you Bailey could play with it for a little while.”

Relief settled over me like a heavy blanket. She's saved me, I thought thankfully.

“I'm sorry, Mom,” I heard the girl say. “I forgot about it.”

“Oh, never mind. Just take Bailey inside and feed her, okay?”


I struggled to maintain consciousness as Monique took the writhing creature from her mother's hands. Suddenly, I was off the ground, being lifted by someone. Through my blurred vision, I could see the woman's soft eyes gazing down at me. “Well,” she said, chuckling, “Bailey sure messed you up a bit.”

You got that right, I thought, grateful that she was finally taking me out of my misery.

That is, until she opened her mouth to speak again.

“I hope you'll still look fine as a winter hat for Monique.”

My heart shattered. A winter hat?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Under the Floorboards

Hello! I've returned. Today's story isn't based on a prompt I got off the was just something I wrote during my spare time. Warning: This story isn't recommended for the faint of heart.

Jakob slumped his shoulders as he sat during supper that night, saying nothing. Absentmindedly, he pushed his potatoes around his plate with his spoon. His mother and father stared at their feet, silent as well.
Hours seemed to have gone by before Jakob broke the silence. “What’s going to happen?” he asked, addressing no one in particular. “You know, now that the Nazis are here?”
His father clenched his jaw before responding. “Only God knows,” he growled.
“We’re supposed to be ‘unbelievers,’” said Jakob. “What does that mean? Why can’t we believe what we want to? I don’t see what will happen.”
“You mustn’t say things like that,” snapped Anna. “We simply have to follow the laws. Eat your potatoes now, boy.”
“Why is it that everyone hates us, Mutter?” blurted out Jakob, beginning to mash together his supper. Anna and Mathei glanced at each other for a split second, but said nothing, continuing to mechanically chew their potatoes. Although he wasn’t sure what, Jakob could sense that something had connected between his parents as they looked at each other. An unspoken conversation.
Suddenly, before Jakob could protest further, Frau Endelberg burst through the door. Her face was wet with tears and perspiration, and her trembling fingers were caked in blood. Jakob simply watched as his mother immediately rushed to her side, putting an arm around her and shushing her soothingly. The two of them sat on the couch as Mathei and Jakob warily approached them. It was a very long time before Frau Endelberg could utter a word.
“Tell me, Hella, what has happened to you?” inquired Anna. Frau Endelberg didn’t immediately answer; she took some time to calm herself down. Jakob noticed that her eyes looked rather unfocused, staring at something no one else could see.
Through choked sobs, Frau Endelberg eventually began to respond. “We were at the supermarket,” she whispered. “Henry and me. We had permission. We were wearing our stars. We had our identification cards…” She paused for a moment as fresh tears trickled down her cheeks in a miniature stream. After taking a deep breath, she continued. “Then…for no reason at all, a Gestapo officer took little Henry away from me and said, ‘Do not resist, or he will die right now.’ I began to sob and plead hysterically; I couldn’t help myself. It was my son they had. But then, he…he pointed his gun at Henry’s head and said something to another Gestapo officer.” Frau Endelberg closed her eyes and took a few more breaths. Jakob listened numbly, dreading the news she was about to break to them. “He grabbed me from behind, the other officer,” she continued. “It didn’t matter to them…I tried to wrench myself out of his grip, but it was too late…the first officer had aimed his gun and pulled the trigger, and…oh, I shall just die without my Henry with me!” Her sobs started up again stronger than ever, and Anna took her into her arms, wearing a blank expression.
All the color had drained from Jakob’s face. He could hardly feel his father’s hand in his own. Henry is dead? he thought hollowly. Henry, the one who had gone with me when I was banished from school? Henry, who had stood up for me when the grocer thought I had stolen from him? Henry, my friend, has been killed?
               Before Jakob could process much more, Frau Endelberg lifted her head and said to Anna and Mathei urgently, “You must hurry. There isn’t much time. My child has already been taken from me, but that doesn’t mean that Jakob’s life should end the same way. The Gestapo are going door-to-door, kidnapping children and bringing them to concentration camps. They should be here soon.” Suddenly, Jakob was brought back to his senses. Those words—“concentration camps”—brought back a memory from long ago. What did they even mean, anyway?
Frau Endelberg glanced at Jakob, and then continued. “Hide the boy, and hide him well. Give him food and drink. Hurry, please. I wish you all the best of luck.” And, with that, she was out the door.
Anna disappeared into the kitchen and took a small bottle of water from the pantry. Mathei knelt down in front of Jakob so their eyes matched. “Jakob,” said Mathei in a hushed voice, “you must follow my directions carefully.” He waited for Jakob to interject, but when he remained silent, his father continued. “You remember the hiding place under the floorboards, don’t you? The place where you and your friends used to hide during hide and seek games?” Jakob nodded silently. “You need to go in there and stay there until your mother and I come to get you. Okay? We’re not even sure that the Gestapo will come to our house at all, but we can’t afford to take any chances. We just can’t. We’ll give you food and water, but do not say a word. Not a peep. If anything happens, remove your star and go to this address. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Do you understand me?” Jakob nodded a second time and took the piece of paper his father was offering him. When he read the address, he realized that if anything did happen (which he liked to think that it wouldn’t), he would have to walk nearly ten blocks.
Vater, I’m afraid,” whispered Jakob, his voice wavering. Mathei pursed his lips and ran a hand through his graying hair. Just at that moment, he looked as though he had aged ten years. Jakob noticed that the folds and wrinkles on his father’s face had become more pronounced over the past few months, and his lips were cracked and dry. Mathei gave his son a stony glare, and then pulled him into a tight hug.
“I love you, Jakob. You know that,” he said, his voice muffled in Jakob’s collar. “We’ll be back for you shortly. Don’t you worry.”
By then, as they pulled apart, Jakob could feel tears stinging in his eyes. Anna approached them, carrying the bottle of water and a small paper bag. She wrapped her arms around Jakob silently, and then handed him the food. “We love you,” she told him. “We’ll return when the Gestapo are gone. We promise.” She bent down and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Without saying a word, Jakob wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. What was he crying for, anyway? He just had to spend a little while under the floorboards, just until the Gestapo were gone. He had to be strong.
The three of them headed up the stairs to Anna and Mathei’s bedroom. Trying to hide his reluctance, Jakob squeezed into the hiding place while his parents stripped the walls of any evidence that they had a child. Photographs, drawings, posters—all were torn down and placed gently into a paper bag. Mathei folded the bag and handed it to Jakob, who was peering up from under the floorboards, waiting for his parents to trap him inside. “Here,” said Mathei. “Take these pictures and keep them safe for now. They are prized possessions.” Jakob wrapped his small fingers around the bag and set it down next to him.
“Are you ready, love?” asked Anna, her eyes glistening. Jakob nodded, shrinking into the hole. His parents glanced at each other, and then lowered the floorboard, encasing Jakob in darkness.
Through the wooden floor, Jakob heard his father say, “Son, put your hands out and try to find a string.” Jakob raised his arms like a blind man and felt around in the darkness. After a couple of seconds, his hand brushed by a rather thick piece of string, and he grasped it.
“I’ve got it,” said Jakob in a small voice.
“All right, Jakob, now pull,” he heard his father say. So, with all his might, Jakob pulled on the string, hearing an odd sliding noise above him. Once he pulled the string out as far as it would go, he said quietly, “What was that for, Vater?”
“We attached a rug to that string a couple months ago, lest something like this ever happened,” answered Mathei. “Now the rug is covering the floorboards. We have to go now, Jakob, but remember—don’t make a peep. Be strong. I know you’re a brave boy. It won’t be long. See you soon, son.”
“Goodbye,” whispered Jakob, even though he had already heard his parents’ footsteps recede. All of a sudden, he felt extremely alone—more alone than he ever had before. He crouched down and hugged his knees to his chest, shivering despite the warm, stuffy air. What shall I do down here, all alone? he asked himself. I haven’t any toys to play with. There’s nobody to talk to. I can’t even read in this wretched darkness!
His thoughts began to circle around what Frau Endelberg had said. Still, he wasn’t able to believe that one of his good friends, one of his companions, had been killed. It just didn’t seem to sink in. Jakob looked back on the years during which he knew Henry, stretching his memory all the way back to 1938—when they were both five. Fondly, he remembered that day during school, the first day of kindergarten. I wonder what I would have done if Henry hadn’t been there, thought Jakob. He began feeling guilty. Henry had always stood up for me. I can’t seem to remember a time when I had done the same for him. Oh, it should have been me that died, not Henry! Why must such horrid things happen to good people? With that, Jakob began to cry, burying his head in his arms so no one would hear him. There he sat, crying silently, for what seemed like hours.
Finally, once he had drained himself of tears, Jakob rested his head on his knees and closed his eyes, trying to push all of the thoughts from his head. Before long, he was fast asleep, folded up under the floorboards of his own house.

*              *              *
Jakob wasn’t sure how long he had been asleep when he heard a door slam. Aching all over, he lifted his head and blinked in the darkness. He was able to make out some scuffling downstairs, but he didn’t really know what was going on until he heard the shouts.
“Give us your children!” spat an unfamiliar voice. Jakob’s eyes grew large, and he quieted his breathing.
“There are no children here!” cried his father, but a crack in his voice gave him away.
“He’s lying!” yelled another man, his voice so loud that it rattled the windows. “Search the house!” Jakob shrunk down lower as he heard heavy footsteps pounding up the stairs. Slower, lighter footsteps followed, and suddenly his father said from right above him, “You won’t find any children in this house.”
“Halten Sie den Mund, Jew!” hissed one of the men. “Keep your mouth shut!”
Silence followed. Jakob sat quietly, trembling. His heart was pounding so hard in his chest that he was afraid someone would hear it.
The heavy footsteps continued slowly around the room. There was a short silence, and then Mathei began, “Officers, I’ve already—”
Suddenly, his father’s sentence was cut off with a loud bang, causing Jakob to start. He heard his mother begin to scream, a loud, searing noise that made his ears ring. Fear clutched his heart, and he wondered, What’s happening? What’s going on?
Before Jakob could think much else, another bang tore through the room, and Anna’s screaming immediately ceased. Jakob flinched, tears beginning to spill from his eyes. He covered his mouth so the men wouldn’t be able to hear his shaky breathing. Without another word, the heavy footsteps crossed over Jakob’s head and descended the steps. A few seconds later, he heard the slam of a door, and then there was silence.
Jakob didn’t move for what seemed like years. Tears were streaked down his cheeks, and his head ached painfully. But, as his father told him, he didn’t climb out from under the floorboards. He remained hidden, quivering and quiet, waiting for his parents to release him…even though he knew in his heart that they never would.

*              *              *

Jakob had lost track of time. For all he knew, he could’ve been under the floorboards for weeks. Even though he had only eaten one of the crackers his mother had given him a day, he had run out long ago. The water, to his dismay, was running out as well. But, even though he was aching and starving, Jakob refused to emerge from his hiding place.

*              *              *

As time dragged on, Jakob’s water bottle ran dry, and he began to feel lightheaded. He had become extremely weak, sitting alone in that hole, and he began to fear that he would die there.
Because he had no other choice, Jakob finally decided to go against his father’s orders. He staggered to his feet, clutching the little slip of paper and the bag of photographs that his father had given him so many days before.
Struggling to stay on his feet, Jakob tentatively raised his bony arms and pushed upwards on the loose floorboard. It took a good amount of effort—enough to leave him short of breath—but soon, with a groan, Jakob was able to lift it.
He could smell them before he saw them. Stricken with terror and repulsion at what was lying in wait for him, Jakob raised his head above the floorboards and blinked in the excruciatingly bright light pouring in through the window. As soon as his eyes adjusted, he searched for the source of the vile smell, even though he knew already what that source was.
What he saw that day, back in 1941, would forever and always be engraved in his memory.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Bathroom Break

I'm back, everyone! Sorry for the sudden absence; I've been extremely busy. But, better late than never, right?

Today's writing prompt is, "What could go wrong on Valentine's Day?"

Everything was going exactly as planned.

This was the day I've been waiting for. Valentine's Day. For the first time ever in my life, I was going to say "I love you" to someone other than my mother on this day. No more "I love you, too, son." Finally, I had someone else to kiss. I had someone else to hug. And, on this very day, that girl would be mine to kiss and hug for eternity.

I gazed dreamily at the diamond ring in my hand. The thing had cost me a fortune, but it was worth it. I simply couldn't wait to see the look on Laina's face. We've been seeing each other for at least seven months now, and I think we're both ready to move on to the next step in our relationship. She's the one—I'm sure of it. I can feel it pulsating like blood through my veins. There's no doubt about it. She is the one.

Of course, it was five o'clock in the morning, so I was going to have to wait to give the ring to Laina. I had it all planned out in my head; once she and I went to the restaurant and ordered food, I'd ask for a bite of whatever she's eating. She'll obviously say yes, so I'll stick my fork (unused, of course) into the air above her plate. Then, carefully, I'd let the ring slide off my fork and onto her napkin. "Laina," I'd say, "will you marry me?"
I sunk deeper into my bed, twiddling the ring between my fingers, fantasizing about what would happen. And, before I knew it, the image of the ring began to dissipate, and I slipped into oblivion.
I didn't move. My body felt numb, and I knew that it'd take more effort to move it than I had left.
"Micah? Wake up."
My eyelids, heavy as boulders, slowly parted. Everything was blurry and extremely bright. I held up an arm to sheild my eyes, and then croaked, "Whaddayawant?"
"Micah, it's me, Laina."
Suddenly, my eyelids shot open like window shades. Laina's here? I thought, my heart beginning to race. But she wasn't supposed to come until eleven! Confused, I glanced at the digital clock on the night table next to me. To my horror, the green numbers blinked, "11:17 AM." I sat up quickly, blood rushing to my head. Had I really been out for that long?
"Laina!" I exclaimed, nearly falling out of my bed and rushing to pull on some jeans and a t-shirt. "I'm so sorry! I completely lost track of time. Forgive me, Laina."
Laina smiled at me, her murky green eyes glistening. To me, her eyes are one of her best features. When she smiles, they smile. "It's okay, Micah," she whispered, bending down swiftly and giving me a peck on the cheek. "I'm not mad. Just get ready, and I'll be out by the car, okay?"
I smiled at her thankfully. "All right. I'll be right down."
In less than five minutes, I had showered, shaved, and nearly drenched myself in cologne. Hurriedly, I scrambled down the stairs and out the door, heading towards my sparkling gray Honda. Laina was standing next to it, her long, auburn hair spilling down her shoulders like a waterfall. I opened her door, and then slipped into the driver's seat. My hands were already clammy. What if nothing went as planned? What if Laina didn't want to be my wife? Quickly, I shook my head, trying to rid myself of those harrowing thoughts. Everything's going to be fine if you just have faith that it will, I told myself, sticking my key in the ignition.

*  *  *
"This is a really nice place, Micah. Thank you so much for taking me," said Laina. I smiled, but it probably looked more like a grimace. We'd ordered our lunch at least fifteen minutes ago, and the waiter was due any second. Then, I'd have to ask her for a bite of her meal, and...well, you know.
Suddenly, I felt the irresistible urge to use the bathroom. Not wanting to have any "accidents" later on, I said, "You're so welcome, Laina. I have to use the bathroom really quickly, okay? I'll be right back."
"All right," Laina said, smiling at me. I stood up and strolled in the direction of the men's restroom, knocking to see if it was occupied first. When I figured out that no one was using the bathroom, I opened the door and stepped inside.
Once had taken care of my business, I turned and looked at myself in the mirror. A tall, lanky man stared back at me, his wavy brown hair combed carefully to the side, his dark eyes glistening with worry. "It'll all be fine," I said aloud to myself. "There's nothing to worry about. If Laina says no, then I'll just wait for her to be ready. And if she's never going to be ready..." My stomach gave a lurch. "I'll let her get ready for someone else."
In my pocket, protected by a small black case, was the ring. I opened the case to make sure it was still there, and when I saw that it hadn't moved since I had checked five minutes ago, I let out a sigh of relief. "Here we go," I whispered, turning to the door. "It's now or never."
With a sudden surge of confidence, I gripped the handle and turned.
To my surprise, the handle refused to turn. Confused, I tried again. But it was no useit was locked. What? I thought, trying not to become frantic. How did this happen? How could someone have locked the door from the outside? I don't remember there being a lock!
After five minutes of gripping the handle and nearly tearing it off the door (that, in my case, would've actually been helpful), I sighed in defeat. "What's Laina gonna think?" I asked myself out loud. "Why did this have to happen to me?"
My last resort was shouting. I pressed up against the door and began to scream at the top of my lungs. "Hello?!" No answer. "Is there anyone there that can open this door? I'm locked inside! Please help me!"
No matter how much I tried, no one answered to my calls. I sunk to the floor, anger and frustration boiling inside of me. After one last rap on the door, I gave up. "Laina's probably looking for me," I told myself. "She's probably told someone that I haven't come back. It's been fifteen minutes...she has to know that something's gone wrong."
The minutes dripped by. I waited for someone—anyone—to free me, but no one came. No one knocked on the door. Hasn't anyone got to use the bathroom? I thought incredulously. It's been at least half an hour!

*  *  *
"Hello? Anybody in there?"
I awoke with the nasty thrill of disorientation. What's going on? Where am I?
"I don't think anyone's in here, Cal," said a voice. It sounded oddly far away...
Suddenly, like a punch in the stomach, I remembered everything. I was locked in a restaurant bathroom, sprawled on the floor. Had I been asleep? I thought, picking myself up. My hair was flattened, and my clothes—which had been so nicely ironed the night before—were wrinkled and filthy. Turning to the door, I called, "Yes, there's someone in here! Please unlock the door!"
"Told ya there was someone in here, Martin," a second voice said from behind the door. "Neil must've locked him in by mistake. You know, we really should have the more experienced custodians fix the locks."
And then, to my delight, the door swung open at last. I nearly fell on top of my two saviors as I scrambled out of the dreaded bathroom. "Thank you so much!" I breathed, flattening my shirt and trying to fix my hair as best as I could. Then, glancing at my watch, my blood suddenly ran cold—it was 1:03 PM.
I had been trapped in the bathroom for over an hour.
Not giving the two men another glance, I scurried back to the booth in which Laina and I had been sitting. She's got to be here, I thought. She'll understand.
When I finally arrived to our booth, I caught sight of Laina, still in the same place that she had been when I left. I let out a sigh of relief, glad to know that she hadn't ditched me. But the relief didn't last long; with a sudden pang of horror, I noticed that sitting in my spot was a young man about my age. He wasn't anyone that I knew, and that bothered me even more. Here he was, sitting in my spot, talking and laughing with my girlfriend. Who did he think he was?
Quickly, I approaced the booth and looked at Laina. "Laina," I whispered, "what's going on?"
Startled, Laina whipped around and looked at me. "Micah!" she exclaimed, her eyes wide. "I thought you left."
"Why would I ever leave you?" I asked softly.
Laina paused for a moment. "Where did you go?"
"I was locked in the bathroom," I told her immediately. "I think one of the younger janitors locked me in by accident. I tried to yell for help, but no one listened."
Laina looked at me uncertainly. "Oh...well, it's already past one. Oliver"—she gestured to the guy in my seat—"asked me to go to the movies, so I guess I'd better be on my way. Bye, Micah."
Then, while I was still standing there, speechless, my girlfriend (or so I thought) got up, let Oliver's arm circle around her waist, and walked out the door without another word.
I was left alone, standing by a booth in a restaurant, twiddling a diamond ring between my fingers.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

When a Plate Breaks

Wow, two posts in under twenty-four hours? I'm on a roll!

Today's writing prompt is, "Write in the perspective of a broken plate."

I guess you could say that I've lived a pretty good life. I mean, I can't exactly complain. I've done everything a plate dreams to do. I've carried some of the finest meals under the sun, ranging from a steaming steak to a mountain of sushi. Forks have scraped against my face, but I don't think there's a better feeling than that. Knives, on the other hand, can hurt a little more. But, thankfully, nobody really used knives on me unless they had company over.

I can't exactly say how long I had been in the cupboard. The people had been using me less and less, preferring to use the more expensive, better-looking china platters. Sure, I felt neglected, but what can a plate do? I can't scream to be used. I can't open the cupboard and hop right out, seeking new adventures. I can't do any of that. So, I just sat there, gathering dust, waiting to be plucked from my misery.

After a while, I began to forget the feeling of food. All I could remember was that it was a wonderful feeling to have fresh, warm food on my face, being slowly picked away by the person that was eating it. I felt important. If I wasn't here, I had always thought, the people won't have anything to keep their meals safe. They'd have to eat on the table. Oh, how they'd hate that.

In my time trapped in the cupboard, I began to hear new noises in the house. Laughter. Squeals. This was all new to me; I wasn't used to this kind of noise. What could it be? I thought, longing for someone to open the cupboard so I could get a glimpse.

Days passed, but all I saw was the dusty inside of the cabinet. I just sat there, alone, pondering life. What else would I do? All I had control of was my brain, and I wasn't about to let that go to waste. You see, humans think that inanimate objects like plates and spoons can't think at all. They believe that we're not alive. Now, that's not a problem for us inanimate objects. We don't really want to be discovered. We just go about with our business, living among the humans. No human would ever suspect a thing of us. If someone claimed that inanimate objects were alive and thinking, everyone would think he was crazy. "That's impossible," they'd say. "It simply doesn't make any sense. That man is a nut!" Well, here's the thing that humans around the world can't seem to accept: Not everything makes sense. No one knows how things like plates and cups acquired the power to think; we just can. And we don't argue against that. We're aware that we can think, and we don't question it. Humans, on the other hand, have to have an explanation for everything. They're even trying to explain how the earth first came to be. My question is, How do they know? They weren't alive back then. No one was. They've just got to love that they're living, and forget about questioning it.

Just when I was beginning to think that I'd never see the light of day again, the cabinet creaked open. I could feel my heart racing; it was the first time the cupboard had opened in what seemed like years! A small, pudgy hand reached up, clutching a saltshaker. I tried to see who it was, but I couldn't. The person was so small and short that I couldn't even see the top of his head.

The hand placed the saltshaker in the cupboard, and then it was dark again.

"Hello?" I asked. That's another thing—inanimate objects can talk to each other. It's just something that we've always been able to do. Another thing without an explanation. We can't see each other speaking; we can only hear it. But that's better than nothing, I suppose.

"There's someone in here?" I heard the saltshaker say.

"Yes, there is," I said. "I'm a plate."

"I'm a saltshaker. Nice to meet you, Plate."

"Nice to meet you, too. Say, Saltshaker, what's it like?"

"What's what like?"

"What's it like outside this cupboard?"

The saltshaker was silent for a moment. "You mean you don't know?"

"I do know, but I haven't been out of here in ages. I've got a dust coat on me about a mile thick."

"Well, Plate, it's wonderful! The children are the best. Boy, do they love their salt. Little Addie—the one that just put me in here—is becoming interested in clearing out the cabinets."

"There are children here? How many?"

"Three, I think. The oldest one is called Burton, but I don't see much of him. He's really skinny, that one. The middle one is Mary, who's as beautiful as anything you've ever seen. And the youngest one, as I've already told you, is Addie."

"I've missed out on a lot, then. Last I knew, there were only two people here. Do you know of a Henry and Jackie Becker?"

"Of course! They're the parents of the children! You mean to tell me that you've been stuck in here since before they had children?!"

"I suppose so!"

"It's a wonder that Burton or Mary didn't find you! They loved searching in the cabinets, those two. But I think Addie loves it the most. She's a quick one, I tell you. Her parents hate it when she comes near this cupboard—it's their special cupboard, they say—but she doesn't care one bit. That's why she hid me in here. I'm usually out on the table, but she's taken to hiding things, now. I don't know what'll happen once dinner comes; they're having chicken and peas, and Henry can't go a day without his salt."

I sighed. The outside life seemed wonderful, and I've been missing out all these years.

Suddenly, the cupboard opened for the second time in almost a decade. A strip of light fell on the saltshaker and me, and then it became dark again as a face peered inside.

"Here's the saltshaker," said the face in a manly voice. "Addie, I don't want you hiding this anymore!"

Then, suddenly, the man glanced at me. His eyes bulged out of his sockets, and he turned around, yelling, "Jackie, c'mere! You've got to see this!"

My heart—if I've got one, that is—leapt in my chest. They were finally going to use me! They remembered me from the good old day, and now they were finally going to use me!

I heard footsteps. "Henry, what is it?" asked a woman. Jackie! I thought happily. She hasn't changed a bit!

Tentatively, Henry brought me out of the cupboard. Then, in a swift moment, he handed me to Jackie. "Look at this old thing!"

Jackie gasped in disgust, and then—by accident—let go of me. I could see dust floating around in the air, and for the first time in years, I wondered about what I looked like. To be honest, I probably didn't look too clean. But, at that moment, I suddenly didn't care about how I looked. All I could think was that I was falling, faster and faster, to the cold, hard floor.

No one saved me. One of my best friends had once told me that a plate is only able to scream one time in its life—when hitting the floor after being dropped. Humans call it a "crash," but it's not a crash at all. It's the sound of a plate's scream.

I had never believed that until I hit the ground.

It wasn't painful. In fact, it was quite pleasant. But, because I had been expecting the worst, I still let out the loudest scream I could. I saw Jackie and Henry wince at the sound, and a baby began to cry in another room. But, suddenly, I couldn't hear anymore. I began to rise, higher and higher towards the sky. Looking down, I saw the married couple bending over my dead body, shattered on the ground. But I felt no pain. I just kept on rising, the image of my two former owners fading. Finally, I thought. Finally I'm free. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Would We Do Without Sugar?

I've returned! Please keep in mind that I won't be writing here daily, but I'll try to be as consistent as possible.

Today's writing prompt is, "Write a story about a town that ran out of a sugar supply."

Our story takes place in a small town nestled in Michigan. Now, never mind the name of the town, because that's not important. All we need to know is that it was a small town, deep in the state of Michigan.

Boy, did that town thrive. It was probably the biggest of all the small towns in the state. People there loved to build things, create things, and make things easier for themselves. Their frequently repeated motto was, "Life is never easy unless you do somethin' about it!" Now, one could say that they were lazy, but that's just a different way of looking at it. The people of this small town in Michigan weren't lazy; they were smart. All the other towns were jealous of how successful they were.

But there was one thing that kept the whole town runningsomething that none of the villagers could go without.


One might wonder why sugar was so important in that small little town. But, without sugar, the town simply wouldn't have existed. Everybody used the sugar. They grew it, sold it, collected it, bought it, and ate itboy, did they eat it. Sugar was everywhere on the menu. It was in pies, drinks, cakes, cookiesjust about anything you can think of. Heck, they even put some sugar in the meat!

Everything was going simply fine and dandy. Sure, the villagers were a little chubby, but that didn't matter to anybody. In a town where everyone's chubby, nobody really is chubby, once you think about it.

But everything seemed to shatter to pieces on one fine, sunny summer day.

Johnny Piper was at the sink early in the morning, cleaning up the dishes after breakfast. The Piper family had just wolfed down a satisfying breakfast of blueberry pancakes and syrupthe usual. Then, Mr. Piper headed off to work at the bakery two blocks away, and Mrs. Piper went along to go shopping with her girlfriends. Johnny, the oldest of the seven Piper children, was left to do the dishes while the other kids bathed.

Johnny Piper hated doing the dishes after breakfast. Almost every day, the five-year-old twins, Halley and Dolly, ate nearly every single morsel of food on their plates, leaving Johnny nothing. See, people in this town didn't do the dishes the way we do. Rather than washing them off and wasting a bunch of water, the oldest child in the family was to take everyone's plate and literally lick it clean. That way, the eldest child would grow up to be big and strong, and the town's water wouldn't be wasted. Johnny liked licking the syrupy plates of his family members, but sometimes they barely left anything for him to lick. The smaller kids were getting older now, and with age came hunger. Doing the dishes became a lot less enjoyable for Johnny Piper when the younger children were becoming less picky.

Once Johnny had finished licking the final plate, he put them all back in the cupboard and headed for the bathroom to wash. The other six childrenBobby, Mary-Jane, Peter, Hayden, Halley, and Dollyhad already finished washing off, and now they were up in their rooms, watching their shows. Johnny grabbed a new bar of soap from the cupboard above the mirror and, chomping off a bite of it, began to prepare his bath. I don't like this flavor of soap! Johnny thought, running the water. I told Papa that I like the chocolate kind, not the peppermint!

Bits and pieces of sugar floated around in the water as it began to rise in the tub. On the floor, in a bucket, were candied pretzelsthe best money could buy. Johnny grabbed a few from the bucket and dipped them in the sugary bath water, making sure they were nice and coated. Then, he crunched on them, watching the water rise higher and higher.

Suddenly, the phone began to ring. Johnny nearly fell face-first into the water in surprise. He set down his candied pretzels and hurried to the porch, where the phone was ringing obnoxiously.

"Hello?" he said into the receiver, still picking pretzel from his teeth.

"Johnny? Is that you?" a voice whispered, worried.

"Papa? Yeah, it's Johnny. What's the matter?"

"Johnny...don't panic. Do you hear me? Do not panic."

Johnny was beginning to feel worried. "Why, Papa? What's the matter?"

"I need you to lock all the doors, gather your brothers and sisters, and then hide. Take food with you. Just hide somewhere in the house."

"Why? What's going on?"

"I'll be home as soon as I can. I'll explain then."

"But, Papa"

"Go. Now!" The line went dead.

Trying his best not to panic, Johnny rounded up his siblings and locked all the doors. We never lock doors here, he thought. There's no need to.

The seven children hid in their parents' closet, packed together like sardines in a can. "What's going on, Johnny?" asked the youngest child, Peter.

"Don't worry, Peter," Johnny said. "Everything'll be all right. Mama and Papa will be here soon. Just hold tight."

Before long, the kids heard a vigorous rapping at the door. Johnny sprung to his feet. "That must be them," he said, running to let them in.

But, as soon as he turned the latch, five or six men burst through the door, knocking Johnny to the ground. "I'll look in the cabinets! You check the bathrooms!" one of them said, flinging open the cupboards violently.

Johnny was so frightened he couldn't speak. The men raided the house, dumping nearly everything into giant black garbage bags. They paid no attention to the children.

After about five minutes, Johnny gathered up all the courage he could muster and yelled, "What's going on, here?!"

One of the men turned to glare at him, his eyes glistening with greed. "You haven't heard, yet?" he said in a raspy voice that made Johnny's skin crawl.

"Heard what?" he asked.

"Sugar ain't all yours, anymore."

"What do you mean? I didn't do anything!"

"Stupid boy! This town's been hoggin' the whole world's sugar for centuries, and we've finally got you." The man looked Johnny up and down. "We're doin' you some good, anyway. Don't need the extra pounds, chap."

Then, as quickly as they had come, the men left. Johnny immediately hopped to his feet and searched the whole house for even a sprinkle of sugar, but there was nothing. Even his bath water was gone.

"We have nothing to eat!" Johnny shouted, feeling as hopeless as ever. "Now how are we going to survive?"

At that moment, Mr. and Mrs. Piper burst through the door. "Have they come yet?" boomed Mr. Piper, searching the cabinets.

"You're too late," replied Johnny, ashamed. "All the sugar's gone."

"Don't worry, son," said Mr. Piper. "We'll survive without sugar."

"How?" exclaimed Johnny. "That's all we eat! That's all we grow, buy, and sell! It's what we take baths in, for Christ's sake! What are we going to do without sugar?!"

"Now, you listen, Johnny," Mrs. Piper said. "There's no need to get all worked up. See, they're planning to put these new things in stores called vegetables. They may not be as delicious as pies or cakes, but they're edible."

So, from then on, all the villagers in that small town in Michigan ate vegetables rather than sugar. They even started to have vegetable carnivals, contests, and fairsyou name it. They invented things to dip their carrots and cucumbers in. They even renamed their town. Until this day, the small townnow called Hidden Valley exists in Michigan, thriving on veggies. Everyone knows it's there, but no one can find it. Hidden Valley's trade with the rest of the world was something the villagers will never regretnow that everyone else in the U. S. was rolling around with sugar pumping through their veins, the people in Hidden Valley were living for up to four hundred years, munching on vegetables three times a day. Hidden Valley did want to thank the rest of the world for depriving them of their sugar supply, though. They wanted to share their good fortune with everyone else. So, they gave the world a giftsomething that they used nearly every day.

Where do you think Hidden Valley Ranch came from?