Flash Frenzy Round 64

Posted: April 18, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Happy Saturday, and welcome to Round 64. This weekend, the lovely and talented Voima Oy returns for another round of Flash Frenzy judging.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

photo courtesy Aswin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

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Comments
  1. Sal Page says:

    Like Suzi

    Ken called Claire and her Mum ‘my girls’. This made her feel special. She knew she wasn’t. She was the ugliest, stupidest girl in her class. The others knew everything about everything. Lizzie was the worst; telling Claire obvious things; what team Kevin Keegan played for, what IRA meant and who ‘The Fonz’ was. She was a teenager now. She didn’t feel like one. She’d thought everything would change but it hadn’t.
    Ken was nice to her. He never told her stuff in that surely-it’s-obvious way. He put Mum’s record player in her room. She’d already collected fifty singles. Osmonds. David Cassidy. The Bay City Rollers. But Suzi Quatro was her favourite. Ken took her to the record shop and bought her ‘Devil Gate Drive’. She already had ‘Can the Can’ and had seen Suzi on Top of the Pops twice.
    Each record lasted a few minutes, there was some crackling before the needle lifted with a jerk and settled back where it’d been before. Or you could stack them but you risked disappointment when two accidently dropped together. She loved listening to her records. You didn’t have to think about music. You didn’t have to look for ages like a book or a painting, trying to work out what it was saying. It hung in the air around you. It sank in and worked its magic.
    Claire told Ken she wanted layers next time she went to hairdressers. Like Suzi. That would be allowed but she daren’t mention highlights. Ken said he’d put a word in for her. She’d love a leather jacket too. Even a PVC look-a-like. The nearest she got was the apron she wore for cooking tea. Not the same. She wondered if Ken would buy her a jacket when she turned fourteen. Red with black stitching.
    She still wouldn’t be Suzi. Cool and confident. She didn’t have an American accent. She couldn’t play guitar. She could only be Suzi upstairs with Mum’s old tennis racket, singing along to ‘Devil Gate Drive’. Sideways smiles to the guys in her invisible band, Ken lounging on her bed with her Teddy, watching her and making her feel special.

    @SalnPage
    360 Words
    #FlashDog

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Enjoyed the story – especially for its nostalgia value in terms of music (that was my time, just include The Sweet and T. Rex before I moved on to punk!).
      Am I right to feel somewhat creeped out by that last line with Ken watching, making her feel ‘special’?

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Brilliant storyl. Really captures the popular culture of 1970s Britain and the total experience of vinyl records and portable players: “It hung in the air around you. It sank in and worked its magic.” It seemed like a tale of a lonely misfit schoolgirl finding solace in pop music… until that chilling last sentence; a re-read made plain the grooming that was going on. One to remember, Sal.

      • Sal Page says:

        Thanks, Geoff. And I thought you’d be pointing out the two semi colons in one sentence (first para). Only noticed after I posted. Seems a bit much!

    • stevenstucko says:

      Ah.. the memories. I played a mean tennis racket in my day.

  2. zevonesque says:

    Taking Names
    A.J. Walker

    ‘That was something beautiful.’ said the stranger, as Sam left the stage.

    ‘Err, thanks. Like a bit of Phil Collins do you?’

    ‘Who doesn’t?’ said the man, preening his scarlet jacket. ‘Who you with?’

    ‘Just waiting for a mate.’

    ‘No, I mean who’s representing you? You’re recording, right?’

    Sam laughed. ‘Hardly, working down a takeaway.’

    The man leant forward. ‘You telling me you’re available, that I can sign you up? Because you’ve a talent I can do something with.’

    Sam stepped away. ‘I’ll have what you’ve been drinking. You’re seriously off it! It’s just karaoke.’

    ‘I’ll get you whatever you like. But I’ve got to sign you up. Here’s my card.’ he said, smoothly taking it from behind Sam’s ear.

    ‘Mr Lyle, what’s the B?’

    ‘Brian.’

    ‘I’m Sam Bailey. You don’t look like a Brian, Brian. ’

    ‘Who does? I’ll take you to my record shop, show you who I’ve produced. Got the rights to so many people you’ll know. Honest, I guarantee you a hit like this.’ Brian flicked his fingers, producing a smoking cigar from thin air.

    ‘Hey, we can’t smoke in here!’ Sam said, nervously.

    ‘You can. You’re a star, Sam. You can do what you want. Need to do something about your name though.’

    Sam couldn’t remember leaving the club but found himself in an old fashioned record shop with Brian.

    ‘Take a look while I think about your name. All these records, all these artists, are mine.’

    John Belushi singing “Soul Man” started playing as Sam excitedly flicked through the beautiful vinyl.

    ‘Yazz “The Only Way is Up” – mum’s got this!”

    “Did well, like I told her. She was wrong, of course.”

    ‘Look, I’ll sign. Bit of a laugh. Even a one hit wonder would be amazing,’ said Sam. He was being swept away by the vinyl euphoria, as he signed the contract. ‘Don’t even care if you’re a rip off merchant.’

    ‘You’ve got “One Direction”!?’

    ‘Yep, gave them an extended contract. Nice boys, well some of them. Just started taking them down now one by one. One Direction: indeed.’

    ‘Well, you’ve got me now, Brian.’

    ‘Call me Belial or, if you prefer, Lucifer.’ said Belial.

    (360 words)
    @zevonesque

    #SolsticeDark

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Loved it. Glad to know Lucifer’s in the business!

    • Sal Page says:

      ‘ … taking them down one by one.’ (Yeah what a dumb name for a band. As if …) and ‘You don’t look like a Brian, Brian’ If I was the sort of person who said LOL, I’d be saying it now!

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Nicely structured, AJ. Starts with a smooth talking stranger with an even smoother line in close up magic. The tranistion comes with “Sam couldn’t remember leaving the club but found himself in an old fashioned record shop with Brian.” This is a big step up from simple prestidigitation – hinting that something darker is going on – and the first time that Sam (androgynous name) is revealed to be male; was this deliberate? Then more hints until the final reveal.
      I liked the pun of “B. Lyle” and “Belial”. Is there another one going on with ” Sam Bailey”?
      Sorry, this is turning into a judge’s comment… Need I say that I loved this story?
      [ One minor quibble: it seems redundant to follow the final direct speech beginning ‘Call me Belial…’ with said Belial. 😀 ]

    • stevenstucko says:

      Great job with the dialogue.

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    Earworm

    360 words

    @el_Stevie
    #Flashdogs

    The level of pitch to which the darkness had descended was something beyond the mortal eye. Walking into that room was like walking into the Devil’s own tar pit; inhale and it would coat your lungs, squeezing the life out of you from the inside.

    Simon lit a cigarette, its amber tip emitting a comforting glow. He had no need to worry about either lungs or eyesight, mortality had had no claim on him for a century or more. The cigarette itself was a mere affectation, a semblance of something he had been instead of the husk he now was. Not that he cared much, humanity was as shallow, a trait he exploited on a regular basis, particularly when it came to the auditions.

    As per his instructions, he had already chosen the music for that evening’s entertainment; his Master disliked the Digital Age, preferring some things were best done the old-fashioned way. The pressing had not taken long and the latest hopeful was just dying to perform.

    Simon started the turntable and lowered the needle. His offering began to spin, her voice slightly too high-pitched at first as the needle scratched itself into her. He reduced the speed to 33rpm. Perfect.

    He watched carefully, ready to move should it stick but he needn’t have worried, the diamond blade was state of the art, guaranteed to get anyone into the groove.

    A low hum came from the other side of the room, his Master was singing along. He already knew the words before she had sung them. And why wouldn’t he? They were as old as human history, a score he had written himself when man had first appeared.

    Round and round she went, deeper and deeper cut the stylus until she had sung herself free of human suffering and the turntable slowed.

    “A beautiful melody,” said his Master. “Such emotion, such heartfelt pain. I would like to hear it again.”

    Simon smiled. He had prepared himself for this eventuality and in the next room were many replacements, ready to audition, ready to put heart and soul into their performance, unaware that what they gave they would never get back.

    • zevonesque says:

      The devil is a wee bit darker in your story than mine. One direction? Pain and hellfire. Love it.

    • Sal Page says:

      Very good. I love ‘dying to perform’ and that room of hopefuls at the end …

      • stephellis2013 says:

        Thank you. That phrase popped into my head right at the last minute – it sort of fits, doesn’t it? 🙂

    • Geoff Holme says:

      I’m seeing Simon Cowell with horns, Steph! I noticed you resisted saying “His Master’s voice came from the other side of the room…”; I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to, if I had the skill to come up with something like this. Lots of stand-out lines – loved the ending of the final line. Great job.

      • stephellis2013 says:

        Mr C. was definitely in my mind as I wrote this and once I had that in my head, the rest wrote itself! Thank you for your comments, really appreciate it. 🙂

    • stevenstucko says:

      Wow, nice job Steph. I kind of felt like I “phoned mine in” this week. Especially compared to pieces like this.

      • stephellis2013 says:

        Thank you so much. I think I wrote several possible story starts before this started to tell itself – kept imagining what everyone else would write and thinking how on earth do I match that? 🙂

  4. Image Ronin says:

    All Creatures Great and Small

    “Your groove, I do deeply dig
    No walls, only the bridge, my supper dish
    My succotash wish”

    Skkrritch!!!!!

    The records grinds to a halt, cutting off Dee-Lite in their prime. No one notices, mainly due to the hulking Minotaur that’s suddenly wandered into the record store.

    I almost quip that the china shop is next door, replete with shelves of elegantly smash able delight. But the words turn to ash on my tongue, as this mythical beast snorts and lowers its head.

    Regrettably this is the moment that Chaz, with his adoration of all things Morrissey, a tendency to paisley prints and a simpering laugh wanders out from the stock room. The resultant collision between hoof propelled horn and mopey quiff was unsurprisingly one-sided, leaving scarlet smeared across the cover, ironically in an Alanis way, of Meat is Murder.

    A hiatus in progression, an ebony hoof grinding the grey matter of what once was foppish Chaz into the stained carpet of our flea pit record store. I know I should be screaming, running like a lunatic into the street, yet:

    (A) That would mean going past the Minotaur

    And,

    (B) There was a Minotaur in my fucking record store.

    No my options re my bullish friend were seemingly limited to residing behind the counter, either prone or begging. I lean over, sliding a thick black circle from its sleeve. Mint, primo edition,

    Blur start pumping out, Modern Life is Rubbish.

    The beast lowers its head, a thick snort, hooves pawing at the remains of Chaz, getting ready to charge.

    Coxon, wonderful magical Coxon lights up a riff, Blur without Coxon is like jam without wasps in my opinion.

    He charges, nostrils flared, head down, a bovine juggernaut.

    That’s when I grabbed the double-gate fold edition of the Labyrinth soundtrack, Bowie, all massive hair and weird eyes staring out. I hold it up like a shield as he barrels towards me.

    He leaps.

    A shudder, I feel the impact of him hitting the gatefold down my spine.

    But it’s gone.

    Now the question is, what the hell gets quiff out of carpet tiles?

    @imageronin
    352 words
    #solsticelight

    • zevonesque says:

      Love the music references. Solstice Light? Blood and mayhem more like. So far the stories have a most suspect ‘Ken’ several devils and dark masters and now a Minotaur smashing up Morrissey fans (I’m with the Minotaur on that one). This Hourglass is gonna get everyone singing the blues!

    • Geoff Holme says:

      ”solsticelite” is more like it – it was a chucklefest from start to end! A Morrissey fan wiped out? Heaven Knows I’m Cheerful Now! “…like jam without wasps” is a brilliant simile. Very clever stuff, IR – especially employing the Labyrinth cover to trap the Minotaur.
      [ As a former classics scholar, however, I feel compelled to point out that the Minotaur was a mythological creature with the head of a bull but the body of a man, so no hooves… But why let “facts” get in the way of a cracking story? 😉 ]

    • Sal Page says:

      A Minotaur in a record store? How splendidly original! I shouldn’t feel sorry for Chaz but I do …

    • stephellis2013 says:

      I have absolutely no problem with a minotaur appearing in a record shop, you’ve made it appear to be such a natural thing to happen. Loved this story and the way you used the songs to build it.

  5. The Library

    The ad is displayed black on white on the door as you enter, behind plated glass and framing:
    RECORD COLLECTIONS. We BUY any record collection. Any style of music. We pay HIGHER prices than anyone else.

    You grin as you move through the shelves of the Library, fingers running over the edges of the sleeves as you go. On top of a stack of 45s is a Kenny and the Cadets single, alongside William Powell and a cover you squint at the black stamp emblazoned across. You think it reads “Traitor to the Cuban Revolution”. Some are signed – handwritten dedications in varying scripts and sizes. You smile as you read the artists’ addresses to Paulo Santos from Ella Fitzgerald and Leonard Bernstein, before you continue.

    What do they say, you ask? No – you will not share fully the secrets of the Library with the uninitiated on demand. One must travel there oneself, alone, to discover what lies hidden amongst the shelves and stacking. You must know where to look, to find the shelves themselves. You learned this, whilst searching. This knowledge, solely, you will impart. Now another’s journey may begin. Another circle.

    You run a thumb across the corner of the one now nearest to you, before taking it to a station around the corner, pulling up your chair and placing the headphones on. You close your eyes as the notes begin to play, before opening them again. Your eyes fill and you brush your fingertips over your lashes to clear them – to flick the flecks of water which have gathered quickly. No dust notes to irritate them. The booth is pristine; the record spotless. The music continues playing – for your ears, today.

    (284 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

  6. stevenstucko says:

    FOR THE RECORD (360 words)

    “One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock!
    Five, six, seven o’clock, eight o’clock rock!
    Nine, ten, eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock rock!
    We’re gonna rock, around, the clock tonight!”

    “What the hell is that?” Bethany asked incredulously as her black eye liner stretched into two large circles above her severely pierced nose. “That’s from the stone age.”

    “That, my dear, is Bill Haley and the Comets. Your mother and I used to dance to it. It was a big hit in our day,” her dad said as he shuffled his feet to the rhythm.

    It was Saturday morning and Richard had decided to take Bethany to breakfast at Denny’s. She slept in, as usual, and now it was essentially a lunch date. Afterwards they stopped at Tower Records. He told Bethany she could pick out a couple of (used) cds.

    “I want these.” Bethany held a handful of cd cases in her hand, her black nail polish making her fingers look like raven claws.

    “What do you got there sweetie?” Richard said as he grabbed the top one and turned to the cd player the store allowed customers to use. He slipped in the disk and pressed play.

    “I WASN’T BORN WITH ENOUGH MIDDLE FINGERS!!” blasted out of the rattling speakers. Guitars, or something, growled and drums banged out a polyrhythm that was as disconcerting as it was loud.

    “What the hell is that?” Richard asked.

    “Um, Marilyn Manson,” Bethany said.

    “Why would you listen to that? It’s so angry and depressing.” He looked at her with concern.

    “Dad, I do feel angry and depressed. This has been like, the worst year of my life. I mean, with mom and all…” She looked like his little girl again. Her eyes wanted a hug though her arms were crossed. “Even though mom like, hated everything I did, said and like, wore, and who I dated…she was like, I guess, my best friend.” Her cheeks reddened under her ghostly white make up.

    Richard hugged his little girl and said, “Yeah, she was my best friend too sweetie.”

    On the way home Richard handed Bethany one more present. Headphones.

    • Sal Page says:

      Great flash with a brilliant ending, especially that last word!

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Sad and lovely. (And as a Manson fan, my kids have actually bought me his cds as presents – no headphones in our house!)

    • Rebekah Postupak says:

      I love this story so much. What a perfect microcosm of the parent/teen relationship. You’ve done a marvelous job with this portrait of a heavily burdened dad who still adores his daughter. Love.

      • stevenstucko says:

        The dad sees through her goth stage and wants to keep building the bond. Now they only have eachother…

  7. FROM BEYOND THE GROOVE

    Brian S Creek
    360 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    I set the needle down and took a step back. I didn’t know what to expect.

    There was a low humming sound as the groves of the record glowed electric blue. Smoke began to trail from the needle, collecting next to my dining room table and forming the shape of a person.

    A person I hadn’t seen in a long time.

    The needle reached the centre of the record and the process was complete. The man coughed a little and rubbed his eyes, looking around and trying to get his bearings.

    Then he looked straight at me.

    “Who the hell are you?”

    I hadn’t really expected this to work so I hadn’t thought about what I should say first. I didn’t want to startle him by just blurting out the facts; he’d been trapped in that record for a long time.

    “Perhaps you should sit down?”

    “Screw that. Only a few people knew about my trick. How did you know to release me?”

    So much for being gentle with him. “It’s me, dad. It’s Anthony.”

    “Anthony? My Anthony? No, that can’t be right. You’re old enough to a pensioner.”

    “It’s me, dad. Little Ant Man.”

    That did it. He stepped a little closer, searching for that something that spoke to him on a much deeper level. His eyes widened when he found it and he rushed forward. It was good to feel his arms around me again. It had been a long time since my dad had hugged me. After a couple of minutes he stepped back, trying to take it all in.

    “What happened? Why are you so old?”

    “It’s been almost fifty years since you sealed yourself in that record.”

    “Fifty years! Fifty years! It was supposed to be for a couple of weeks, just until the bookies gave up chasing what I owed. Why the hell would your darling mother leave me in there for fifty years?”
    “She found out you’d been gambling again.”

    “That bitch. I knew I couldn’t trust her.”

    He walked over to the dining room window and gazed out.

    “So, this is the future?”

    “It’s kinda the present, dad. I’ll fill you in.”

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Oh, I like his wife leaving him in there longer because of his gambling problem.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Love the pun of the title! And I like the fact that you left us to ponder what “searching for that something that spoke to him on a much deeper level” led to.

      This is a really intriguing story, Brian… or is it the opening of a much longer piece? That last line has me hooked. I need to know more, dammit!

  8. stevenstucko says:

    It reminds me of playing Beatle’s records backwards searching for hidden messages. Spooky.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      I could never understand how you could play a record backwards? Care to give us instructions, Steven?

      • stevenstucko says:

        First…roll a joint..then eat some chips..then break your parents’ turntable…repeat until busted

  9. Sal Page says:

    I love the idea of someone sealing themselves in a record. Of course! KInda sad & scary that he thought it was only a couple of weeks. And there’s a whole beyond-the-end-of the-story hovering around the ending as the Dad catches up …

  10. Stella T says:

    @stellakateT
    204 words

    Book Burning

    Gently placing the stylus in the groove, the gramophone comes alive.
    “Do you need anything else Madam?”

    I wanted to say “You’ve been so kind” but it’s difficult now so I shake my head. My words come out muffled and in the wrong order. I’ve given up on speech. I hope my facial expressions still convey my true feelings.

    It’s not like the old days when you sat in booths and listened with headphones on. The sound fills the whole shop. I can see some sniggering and others discreetly tapping their feet. I don’t care. I’ve read a book about the pursuit of happiness and this song makes me happy.

    My husband and I would sing it in duet. His rich baritone charmed the women in abundance. Sometimes I would cry silently but I outlasted all the young women that took his eye and stood stoic as his coffin was lowered into the frozen ground, his oats finally sown. I often wonder if he had children. I have none.

    The book promotes looking for the good in relationships and not harbouring the negativity. So I remember his good points, the fun times we shared and plan to burn the book when I return home.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Such a sad story, those words ‘I wonder if he had children. I have none’. Makes me wonder why she stayed.

  11. Shannon says:

    She Liked Old Things (360 words)
    @fabuloushanny

    She and her boyfriend collected records. He liked to “invest” in new releases of old classics, or limited-run, rare collectables, printed on blue vinyl or the like. Sometimes he didn’t even open them.

    But Caroline liked old things. She loved weird, old antiques, old books, and she especially loved used records, picked up at yard sales and the Goodwill. She liked to hold the big, square sleeves in her hands and try to feel the memories.

    She liked to think about big groups of friends, laughing and smoking cigarettes… Janis Joplin singing “Me and Bobby McGee” in the background. She imagined what it must have been like to hear Paul Simon sing, “I stand alone without beliefs/the only truth I know is you,” for the first time… how that teenage boy must have sat in his room and listened again and again, astounded, like she was, that anyone could so accurately put emotions into lyrics. She especially loved when someone had carefully written their initials somewhere on the sleeve. She studied the handwriting and guessed at their name.

    She was a little miffed by the “new vinyl” movement, actually. She liked to think that there was a limited number of records, floating around, discarded out into the world, and it was her job to scoop them up and love them.

    Once, her grandmother had given her a big box of vinyl from her cleaning lady. As Caroline sifted through the eclectic collection of folk , showtunes, and doo-wop, she felt as though she had met her musical soulmate. When she pulled out Harry Chapin’s “Sequel” her heart literally skipped a beat.

    She pestered her grandmother for weeks to find the owner, only to be disappointed that it was her cleaning lady’s long-deceased sister, Judy, who shared her odd taste in music. Caroline was, embarrassingly, devastated. She couldn’t help but feel as though she had lost someone as well. Caroline grieved for Judy, making up her memories as she listened to “California Dreamin’”. She wondered if someday, someone would grieve for her, and if they would feel her memories, silently weaved into the music, and infused in the shiny, black vinyl.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Great story, Shannon. Reminded me of The Who’s “Pictures of Lily” – a vinyl record about a trans-generational connection through photographs, transmuted back to vinyl! Playing old vinyl tecords can always take me back to old places, old friends, old times. Like it!

  12. Foy S. Iver says:

    Foy S. Iver
    @fs_iver

    WC: 359

    Falk Soul-Transcript No. 616468

    Click.

    Detective Rydell: In your own words, Mr. Falk, describe what happened the night of the 21st.

    Falk: If (inaudible) back up. In December of 2014, I was asked to investigate an alleged theft of a vintage phonograph from The Perpetual Turntable, owned by Ms. Patricia Baxter. She reported three phonographs stolen in as many months, along with some 300 records.

    Detective Carter: Answer the question, Falk. April 23rd you killed a man in that record store, correct?
    Falk: I didn’t kill a man–

    Detective Carter: Then you wanna explain why you were found with a bread knife in one hand and the victim’s severed head in the other?

    Falk: It wasn’t a man.

    Detective Carter: Really? Cuz he damn sure bled like one.

    Detective Rydell: How did you investigate?

    Falk: I hide a tracker on her latest phonograph and waited. It sat two nights on display, then was stolen as well. I followed the perpetrator–again, I won’t call it a man–back to an apartment on Fifth and Main, and set up a stake out.

    Detective Carter: Why not report to the Police?

    Falk: It was my case.

    Detective Rydell: Mr. Falk, did you notice any suspicious activity?

    Falk: It kept a steady stream of prostitutes over the week and they all left looking…vacant. Eventually I was able to slip in and tape the room.

    Detective Carter: Sick (unclear).

    Falk: It wasn’t like that.

    Detective Rydell: What did the tapes show?

    Falk: It was posing as a psychiatrist. It’d ask things about their past–trauma, abuse, rapes–and they’d answer. I think it slipped something in their drinks.

    Detective Rydell: You said they looked “vacant.” Why?

    Falk: They just…stared, like it had taken something from them.

    Detective Rydell: Which was?

    (Long pause)

    Falk: I believe it was taking their souls.

    Detective Carter: You’ve gotta be (inaudible).

    Falk: It recorded them into the disks.

    Detective Rydell: And that seemed rational to you?

    Falk: (Inaudible)

    Detective Rydell: So you killed him?

    Falk: I had to. My client was its next target.

    (Unclear)

    Detective Rydell: Okay, that should do it. We appreciate your openness, Mr. Falk. Makes things easier.

    Click.

  13. Rebekah Postupak says:

    Steps

    Figures they’d hold the meeting in a basement. She grumbled as she lumbered down the stairs, ten, eleven, twelve, each step shooting like snakebites up her legs. Forty-one, forty-two. How far down was this place? Just how desperate was she, how big a loser, that her feet kept moving?

    She lost count long before reaching the bottom, where a door lingered open. Purple?? Idiots. Turn around! It’s not too late! Why did her treacherous feet insist on walking in? Stop. STOP!

    Twelve perfectly coiffed heads swung round.

    “Welcome,” one of them said pleasantly. “Have a seat. –Please continue with what you were saying, dear.”

    She sat down hard in the only empty chair, and listened.

    “For a long time it was magical,” said a woman on the furthest side of the circle. (Is she CRYING??) “He bought us the cutest cottage, all on one level. And he didn’t even get mad when I chopped up his ladder.”

    Murmurs of support bubbled across the room. Wimps.

    “It was like that for me too, at first,” said another. “My first birthday after we were married, he hired a cobbler to make me eighteen pairs of shoes. EIGHTEEN! –Well, fifteen, with a few extra just in case. You know.”

    The women laughed, gently.

    “Then what happened?” said the first woman.

    “He started going on trips,” said the shoe girl. “Until one day he forgot to come home.”

    “Mine started shouting.”

    “I wish mine had only shouted. Words don’t send you to the hospital with a broken spine.”

    Tragedies tumbled from their lips, darker and darker, until she could hardly breathe. And then—

    “Tell us your story,” said the first woman. Her voice was compassionate: the hideous compassion that makes people yield deepest secrets.

    Shut up. You know what they think of you.

    “Well,” she said, her voice as rebellious as her legs had been, “I’m so alone I want to die.”

    In her heart something cracked, and tears joined the mutiny of her old, desperate, curse-casting body.

    “Forgive me,” she wept.

    The arms of a dozen abandoned princesses surrounded the old witch.

    They smelled like spinning wheels.

    Like mines.

    Like apples.

    Like peace.

    360 words
    @postupak

    • Rebekah Postupak says:

      PS. Vinyl records were once cherished and admired. They are now largely forgotten by modern society: hence my inspiration.

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