Short Story Samples

This story won second place out of 384 entries in the First Campaigner Challenge organized by Rachael Harrie.

Monster

The door swung open and Magnolia-Rose stared into her dark closet where a purple fuzzy animal sat.

“Aren’t you supposed to be under my bed?” Maggie asked.

“I…uh…”

“You’re supposed to be under my bed.” Maggie stomped her feet. “You’re the monster, I’m the little girl and you’re supposed to scare me.”

Grrump whimpered.

“I know you like the closet. I know it’s roomy and you like sleeping on my dirty clothes, but my closet is not where you’re supposed to spend the night.”

Grrump unrolled. His body lengthened until he stood twice as high as Maggie. A white horn protruded from between two red and black eyes.

“Go,” Maggie poked Grrump in the belly and pointed toward the bed. “Go do your job.”

Grrump moo-ed and wobbled toward the bed. His flat feet crunched over blocks scattered across the ground. Bending down, he began to slide under the bed until his horn stuck against the bed-frame. “Too big,” he said.

“But you have to fit.” Maggie gripped the closet door.

The spikes on Grrump’s back swung as he made his way across the room to huddle on top of Maggie’s dirty clothes.

Maggie screamed and the door swung shut.

 

The following is an excerpt from a short story about an elderly woman, Marge, as she is losing her memory, and the relationship she has with her daughter who has a very sneaky way of manipulating Marge into doubting her already failing memory.

MAYA BLUE

Almost immediately, Judith set to straightening Marge’s living room, sparsely decorated as it was, and picking at Marge’s memories, scattered as they were. “I was thinking, today we could go to the park, the one with the bandstand and the vanilla bean ice cream you love. Vanilla, it’s your favorite flavor, you remember?”

Saliva wet Marge’s tongue. Vanilla. It sounded nice, but wasn’t it rather plain?

Judith continued. “I looked up the park’s schedule this morning and the Blue Birds are playing. We could make a picnic and go listen to the music. You liked them the last time we heard them play. We danced in the park that day.” She laughed. “Don’t you remember, Mama? That was a nice day. Only a month ago.”

Marge picked at her fingernails. “Oh. Right.” Oh and right. Her two most fastidious friends these past months. She combed through her memories, tracking back about thirty days, and finding a deep abyss of nothing where the memory of dancing-in-the-park should have been.

Marge turned away from her spotty memory and back to the view of her red oak tree. Sunshine trickled through the clear windowpane, not with the intensity of school-bus yellow or aureolin yellow, but not pale enough to be beige or straw. Marge pressed her lips together. Ecru, perhaps that was it. Or lion. It did feel like a sort of lion-shaded day.

Judith rummaged through Marge’s closet. “Would you like to wear your blue dress, or your yellow one?”

Marge gazed at the sun. “The yellow, I think.”

“You’re sure? Blue is your favorite color.”

Marge eyed the blue sky beside the canary-yellow sun that dripped lion-yellow drops of light through her window. Her favorite color? Is a favorite color something one forgets?

The following short story is inspired by Faust.

THE DEVIL’S SHOES

The shoes had long since rotted off Bay’s feet. He walked through dusk, bare soles sticking to the long stretch of road, and chased after the sun. He first met the Devil in the valley between day and night and this was where he would find the Devil again. Sweat trailed down the rigid bones of his spine. Each droplet dribbled over his pores, sucking the energy from his limbs and breaking off chunks of his soul.

Or, it would, if he still had one.

The Devil appeared just as the witching hour settled over Bay’s stooped shoulders and bleeding feet.

“I should think you’d be tired by now.” The Devil stood on the side of the road with his hands in his pockets, a fedora tipped to obscure his eyes.

Too tired to jump in surprise, Bay said, “How long have you been there?” He felt the Devil’s eyes upon his skin. Did he seem a bit disappointed, perhaps?

The Devil inclined his head. “It looks as if your shoes—”

“My shoes?”

“—you left them behind a few days—weeks—back.”

“Left?” Bay shook his head. “You say that as if I took a break, sat on the side of the road to stretch my toes, and forgot to put my boots back upon my feet when I started walking again.”

“But you didn’t?”

“No.”
“No?”

Just as in their first meeting, Bay felt trapped. “One does not forget a thing like shoes when one is walking.”

The Devil lifted his chin then and Bay got a look of his eyes. Bay curled his fingers to contain the shiver that worked its way up his spine.

“A person does not forget shoes,” Bay muttered. He took a breath, a shallow one at first, then one which touched the depths of his lungs, for Bay needed the resolve, and badly. “I’ve been looking for you. I want it back.”

“Your shoes?”

“No! My—”

“I might have an extra pair around you could borrow, if you’d like.”

“No.”

“Though I doubt we wear the same size.”

“Please.”

“It can’t hurt to try, I suppose.”

“Stop!” Silence spread around Bay. The sound of his voice soaked into the darkness. Something slithered across the Devil’s otherwise somber expression. He seemed…pleased. “I’ve been looking for you,” Bay said, again.

“I know.”

“And you’ve just let me look?” Bay rubbed his mouth with one dirt-speckled hand. A whisper, so soft the Devil took three steps closer to hear. “My soul. Please. I want it back.” Bay had long since given himself over to begging and wasn’t ashamed to say the word again, “Please.”

“I’m afraid I’ve done away with it.” The Devil turned out his pockets. “It wasn’t worth nearly as much as I’d hoped.”

“You can’t have.”

“I can.”

“You can’t!”

“My dear, what on earth do you think I do with them? Wear them about my neck or sew them into the lining of my coat?”

Bay sat then. His arms curved toward his chest. “I meant to get it back from you.”

The Devil only watched Bay, watched as he sunk into the ground. “That isn’t how this works.”

“I was going to give you something else, make another trade.”

“You have nothing left to give, nothing of value, at least.”

“You really don’t have it then?”

The Devil hitched up his pant legs and crouched. Neither moonlight nor darkness quite touched his hat or shoulders.

“This isn’t how it was supposed to go,” Bay said, “not at all.”

“Perhaps I wasn’t the one you should have sold yourself to.”

“Who else was there?”

“God,” the Devil said, voice lilting up at the end as if he wasn’t quite sure of the answer himself.

“God would never meet me upon this road.”

“No, likely not,” the Devil agreed. “It is a bit too dingy for him, I should think.”

Bay lay back, unconcerned by the gravel pressing into the back of his skull.

“What shall you do now?” The Devil asked, almost as if he were interested.

“Did you show up just to torment me?”

“I couldn’t very well have let you walk forever.”

“Yes, yes you could have.” Bay turned his head to the side in time to see a grin stretch across the Devil’s lips, showing each bright tooth in turn.

“If it helps, I’m sorry.”

“No, you aren’t.”

The Devil shrugged. “Is that all then?” He dusted off his knees and stood. “If it is, I’ll be off. I have places to be, deals to make.”

“I meant to get it back.”

“Getting it back was never part of the deal.”

“I had hoped…hoped you would find mercy.”

“If it’s mercy you were looking for, then I am most definitely not the one you should have dealt with in the beginning.” The Devil paused with his fingers straightening the lapels of his coat. Bay thought he might speak, but then, in the space where the Devil had just stood, was darkness pure and complete. The witching hour had past.

Bay struggled to his feet, wishing he had at least asked to borrow the Devil’s shoes when he’d had the chance, though he felt certain the Devil would have asked for something in return. But as the Devil had said, he had nothing left to trade. He trudged down the road in the opposite direction from whence he came. He had walked for so long upon his bloody, bare feet, he knew not else what to do.

Before Bay—far down road, far enough that it took many steps to reach her—a disheveled woman approached.

“Have you seen him? The Devil,” the woman said. She tugged at knots in her hair. “I need him…I need to—need to see him.”

“It’s no use,” Bay said. “He won’t have it anyway.”

“Have what?”

“Your soul.” And Bay trudged on, despite the woman who wailed behind him.