Annie is missing. “Not in her room,” Mom said. “Can’t find her outdoor shoes,” noted Dad. “Maybe she fell into a humongous puddle,” quipped younger brother. Older brother was silent. Two guinea pigs madly threaded wheels. Crows lined the backyard fence squawking at the house. “Bet she’s at a friend’s,” said Dad. “Maybe a monster snatched her,” younger brother grinned. “That’s enough, young man,” asserted Mom. “We need to think OUTSIDE the box,” Dad stated. “Maybe someone put her INSIDE a box,” giggled younger brother. “Hush!” yelled Mom. Older brother emerged: “Annie’s in my bedroom closet with an imaginary friend.”
Arturo watched his mother in the kitchen. She chopped the onions and put them in the frying pan with the sausages. She moved to the pan where the yellow rice cooked and stirred it.
Her head was beaded with sweat but she didn’t even seem to notice it. She opened the oven door where the scent of a cherry pie drifted to Arturo’s nostrils. His mouth began to water, to which he sat down at the table.
His mother glanced at him with a frown then shooed him out. Arturo made a disappointed face then slowly retreated from the kitchen.
Two men sat atop a hill outside of Well Town.
“Don’t use binoculars,” whispered Vic.
Vic interrupted. “Reflection.”
James raised a hand to his brow, shielding his eyes from the sun. “I see two guards.”
“They’ll double the guard tonight, but I know a secret way.”
“You’ve been here before?”
Vic nodded. “See that burned out church near the fence?”
“You burned a church?”
“I needed a diversion.”
“Yeah, but, it’s holy!”
“It’s a box made of wood,” spat Vic.
“But, what about, you know. Hell?”
Vic pointed into the wasteland. “We’re already in Hell, kid.”
How does the last chapter get torn off a paperback? I mean, exactly the last chapter?
Would the heroine get her guy? Of course she would – that’s how fantasy works.
Would the bad guy get his due? I’m sure he does – there’s no sequel.
But I want to read it. I want to experience the closure. Feel the joy of the characters as their dreams are fulfilled.
I stared at the empty space that should have been the end of the novel for nearly an entire glass of wine.
Then I opened my laptop and wrote that final chapter myself.
Are We Both Broken?
The Teddy Bear collecting dust knew him best from late night hugs.
The T-shirts knew his smell.
The books in the bookshelf knew his thoughts on life and love.
The iPhone could not figure him out.
The coffee-pot saw his addictive tendencies.
The sunglasses felt his need to feel protected.
The phone would ring regretfully, knowing that there were bill collectors on the other end.
The computer saw his creativity.
The couch felt his broken down spirit.
The mirror winced.
The light switch preferred to be dimmed.
He wanted to ask his clock, “Are we both broken?”
“Ow!” David slapped his neck.
“What’s up?” asked James. “It’s February, so hardly midges season.”
“Dunno.” David slapped his cheek. “Let’s get a pint.”
“Hey, Tracy’s really keen on you. Wocher reckon?”
“Naw … damned.” He slapped his shoulder. “Not my type. Know what I mean?”
“C’mon! Wanna spend another Valentine alone? Anyway, she’s coming in with Sharon tonight – there they are!”
David slapped his chest. “Actually … she’s OK.” He smiled but didn’t notice a tiny, winged creature zoom around his chest to take another shot.
“‘Bout time,” muttered the cherub, firing off another arrow. “That’s him sorted for Valentine’s.”
Posted, with picture, to a page on the F.F.F. website.