Drama

Closure

Nick knew she wasn’t coming after 20 minutes, but still waited a full hour. What choice did he have? He endured the hassle of driving into the city. His 2 hour journey took closer to 3 hours. Some simpleton on a cell phone stepped into oncoming traffic just blocks away from his destination. Emergency personnel had to detour traffic around the entire area while they dealt with the carnage. That slight deviation from his printed directions was enough to have him driving aimlessly lost for an hour. He was thankful he had the foresight to leave the house early. Otherwise, he might have kept her waiting.

Funny how things can change in 60 minutes. She made a complete fool of him. It was Emma who had insisted that they meet in person. He was still completely content with their relationship exactly the way it was. It was thrilling to hear the laptop ring out with the sound of a new message. The online conversations that ensued could go on for hours. She had a such a beautiful way with words. She made him laugh too. Why did she have to mess with perfection?

He paid for the coffee he consumed while he pathetically waited, then exited the cafe. The dark clouds that loomed overhead let out a roar and spilled their contents. Mammoth drops of rain soaked him as he sprinted for his car. At least the accident scene was clear. He could get the hell out of there unimpeded.

Soggy and pissed, Nick made his way home. He didn’t even bother to change before he sat in front of his computer and fired off a message to Emma.

“I waited for an hour, then got stuck in the rain, Emma. You could have called.”

He waited, refreshing his screen every few seconds, becoming more despondent each time his effort proved fruitless. Dispirited, Nick logged off and dragged himself upstairs to shower and change. It was morning before he had the nerve to check his messages again. Still nothing.

“Did you drag me to the city just to break it off? What happened? Decide it was easier to just stop talking to me entirely?”

All day Nick tried, in vain, to forget about being so unceremoniously dismissed. However, he required closure. Out of desperation, he attempted one last message.

“I didn’t know you had the capacity to be so cruel, Emma. I love you, truly and deeply. I was going to tell you at the cafe. I honestly believed that you felt the same. If that has changed, please, I’m begging you, just tell me.”

He fell asleep at his keyboard that night, waiting for Emma to admit she’d made a mistake and confess that she loved him too.

During the 2 days that followed, Nick’s heartache became anger. He was convinced that she intended to end their relationship that day in the city but got cold feet and blew him off instead. By the 3rd day, when a message from Emma finally did arrive, he was too furious to acknowledge it.

Nick selected the message, held down the Shift key, and pressed Delete. He had his closure. He got to give sweet Emma a dose of her own medicine.

Nick never did learn what the contents of that unread message explained…

“Dearest Nick, You don’t know me, but I’ve just recently learned that you do know my sister. Unfortunately I have terrible news. I am sorry to tell you this way. Emma was struck by a vehicle last week and was killed in the accident. I am so sorry that you were not contacted sooner, but the police kept her phone for their investigation. According to them, she was drafting the following message to you when the accident occurred,

I am so excited to see you, touch you, hold you, kiss you. I want to look you in the eyes when I tell you how I feel. I’m almost to the cafe already, I think I’m over an hour early. I’m that eager to begin our next chapter, my darling. Hurry and get here Nick, I…’

 

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The 7 Deadly Sins ~ Day 2, Greed

I was not planning a short story for today, but that’s what is happening anyway. When you are jolted out of sleep at 3:28am to the sound of 5 quick gunshots, the brain juices start flowing, even if you’d rather fall back to sleep. We got up and checked our surveillance cameras. While the shots were certainly nearby, they weren’t close enough for us to capture any footage of what happened. For a long period of time after that I just laid there, thinking up scenarios that could result in middle of the night gunfire in a residential neighborhood…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m telling you, there is a fortune in there.”  Jesse whispered from his crouched position in the bushes outside of Mr. Butler’s home. “I saw where he kept it when he paid me to mow the lawn yesterday. Follow me.”

Thomas was skeptical. His older brother was always getting him into trouble. At just 17 years old, Jesse had already been in and out of juvenile detention centers more times than Thomas could count. He did not wish to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but he feared his brother. Jesse was 4 years older and had a temper to compliment his penchant for stealing.

Besides, Mr. Butler certainly did not life a lavish life. His home was old and dilapidated. He didn’t own a car. Jesse & Thomas’ mother often drove Mr. Butler to the store and to his appointments. Even if there was an actual treasure in there, he couldn’t imagine it was enough to justify what they were about to do. “Jesse, c’mon, lets just go home. I have a bad feeling about this.”

“He’s an old man, Thomas. Nothing is going to happen you little chicken.” Jesse teased. With that he crept around the corner of the home, still concealed by the thick shrubbery surrounding the house on 3 sides. Jesse sighed and reluctantly followed.

The rustling of leaves, the snapping of twigs beneath his feet, and his own heartbeat were the only things Thomas could hear as he followed his brother closely. It felt like a bad dream. Thomas was convinced that he would wake up, warm and snug in his own bed, at any moment.

“There! An open window.” Jesse reported. “Come here. I’ll give you a lift.”

“I’m not going in first!” Thomas objected.

“God you baby, you have to go in first. You can’t reach that window without help.”

Reluctantly Thomas conceded to his brother’s reasoning. He put his right shoe into his brother’s cupped hands and allowed himself to be hoisted up to the window. He quietly opened it wider and shimmied his way through. Once inside he turned and whispered nervously to Jesse, “Ok, your turn.”

“Relax, I’m coming. Is the coast clear?”

“I don’t know. I’m in the bathroom. The door is shut.” Thomas replied.

“Well open the door and check, idiot.” Jesse insisted.

Thomas felt like he could cry. He didn’t want to be there. His eyes began to well with tears.

“Thomas! IS THE COAST CLEAR?” By this time Jesse was almost through the window. Thomas knew better than to ignore his brother’s orders. He also knew not to let his brother see him cry. He inhaled deeply, closed his eyes and pushed the bathroom door open…

Eugene Butler was born during The Great Depression. A blue-collar man, he never learned to trust financial institutions with his hard-earned income. He did things the way his father did things. He kept his cash where he could see it; at home, locked in a vault. After witnessing a number of times what the desperate were willing to do for cash, he obtained a Glock .9mm to defend his keep.

Eugene lamented his decision to allow that hoodlum, Jesse, to see his hidden stash. It frustrated him that he suffered such a lapse in judgment. That kid was a neighborhood plague. His mother was a kind woman, but worked long hours outside the home. She could not keep tabs on the boy. Eugene thought by paying the kid to do odd jobs he could deter Jesse from finding further trouble. Unfortunately, the effect had been the opposite. The more money Jesse made, the greater his desire for material possessions became.

Eugene’s dissatisfaction with himself kept him awake most of the night. It was almost 3:30am when he got up to warm himself a glass of milk. He was in the kitchen when he heard the sounds of whispers in the adjacent bathroom. He moved swiftly and quietly. Without flipping on a light or making a sound, Eugene retrieved his Glock and returned to the kitchen. He stood in the darkness and waited.

Eugene lingered in the shadows holding his breath as the bathroom door slowly opened. He already regretted what he had to do. Jesse was dangerous. Not only that but he had at least 1 accomplice with him. Eugene was old. He could no longer defend himself with his bare hands. The gun shook in his trembling hands. Damn it, kid. Why did you have to prove me right this time? Eugene thought.

The door opened completely. Eugene aimed in the direction of the activity and squeezed the trigger.

POP-POP-POP-POP-POP

As soon as Eugene heard the thud of a body hitting the floor, he turned on a light. He was mortified by what he saw. He immediately fled to call 9-1-1. Jesse began to wail.

“Thomas! Thomas!! No, no, no, no, Thomas, no,” Jesse pled as he cradled his brother’s head in his lap.

The 13-year-old began to cry. “Jesse, please can we go home now?” Thomas asked through gasped breaths. His little body then seized and began to shake. A few long seconds later, he was gone.

Jesse sat there, covered in blood, clutching his little brother’s body until police arrived. He readily offered his wrists to the officers without making eye contact. He continued to stare at his only sibling, lying there motionless. His desire to undo what he had put into motion consumed him. He longed to bring his brother back. As they placed handcuffs on him, Jesse finally fully understood what his mother had always told him, “He who is greedy is always in want.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Remember, if you have a Greed post to share, comment on this post with a link so we can check it out.

Writing Prompt: 7 Deadly Sins

Day 1 ~ Sloth

Outstanding photo “Seven_Deadly_Sins__Greed” by the very talented stay_young on DeviantArt.com.

 

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The Apple

Ben Turner burst through the door, kicked off his shoes, dropped his backpack and ran into the kitchen. As expected, a shiny red apple awaited him on the counter. Without word, he snatched the apple and climbed into a bar stool to enjoy it.

“Hungry today Benny?” Asked Grandma, as she took inventory of the contents of the kitchen.  Ben smiled through his mouth full of apple and nodded excitedly.

He loved everything about having Grandma live at his house. Even getting her moved in last summer was a great adventure. Ben got to ride with Daddy in a big truck all the way to Grandma’s. He felt so grown-up as he helped carry boxes and possessions from her house to the truck. All the way back home he and Grandma sang and laughed.

On his first day of third grade, Ben came home to find the largest, most succulent red delicious apple sitting upon the counter. Grandma smiled and handed it to him. That day, and every day since, they would sit together as Ben finished his apple, happily discussing the events of the day. Mom and Dad were at work, so Grandma even helped Ben with his homework. He would never tell them, but Grandma was a much better teacher than his parents. She was warm and patient where they were usually hurried and flustered. Even when he struggled, Grandma would smile, pat his head, and slowly start over.

Homework wasn’t the only thing Grandma was the best at. Grandma always cooked the most divine meals. He appreciated Dad’s morning Eggo waffles. Mom’s packed lunches were certainly edible. Oh but dinner… Ben looked forward to devouring Grandma’s dinner time creation every single day.

“No homework today, Grandma!” Ben exclaimed as he wiped the sticky apple remnants from his face with the back of his hand. She grinned and shook her head. She motioned him toward the sink and turned the faucets to just the right temperature. He put his hands under the running water and allowed Grandma to gently wipe his face.

“Good”, Grandma replied, “I am making a special dinner tonight. I could use your help. Wash those hands up like I taught you.”

Getting to help Grandma in the kitchen was always a treat. She called him “the official kitchen taste tester” and let him sample all of the food before it was served. He scrubbed his hands as clean as a surgeon in preparation.

As they got to work, Ben wondered what was so special about meatloaf. Sure, Grandma’s was the best as far as meatloaf is concerned, but this certainly didn’t constitute a “special dinner”. His disappointment was quickly replaced with elation when he realized that they would also be baking a chocolate cake for dessert. Not only would he get to taste test the batter, but he’d also get to apply the frosting and lick the spatula. His Grandma was the best grandma.

Mom and Dad gushed over the luscious food that Ben and Grandma had made them. The cake was delectable and moist. The homemade frosting was a perfect balance of light, sweet, and chocolaty. Everyone ate until they were stuffed to capacity.

After dinner, while the adults cleaned up, Ben headed upstairs for his nightly bath. He wanted to hurry to allow Grandma enough time for a bedtime story. She was even better at storytelling than she was at cooking. Grandma didn’t even need a book. She made up plots that twisted and turned. Characters that became as real as life. Stories that would make them laugh and some that would make them cry. The more time she had, the better the story would get.

Grandma peeked into Ben’s room just as he had finished donning his pajamas. He climbed into bed and Grandma sat down to regal him with the story of “Super Bird”. Ben giggled at the title. Of course Grandma knew exactly how to give that bird life and suck Ben into her world of make-believe.

She told him of a little bird, smaller than all of the rest, who longed to be special. The other birds teased him relentlessly because of his minuscule stature. When he just couldn’t stand the bullying anymore, the little bird ran away from home. She painted a vivid picture of the bird’s travels and especially his destination, the circus. Ben’s eyes widened in wonderment as Grandma’s words portrayed a magical place, full of color and laughter, where the little bird was accepted and loved as the “World’s Smallest Bird”. Ben’s expression turned to concern as the little bird began to grow until he was no longer the smallest or unique. His concern turned to relief when the bird didn’t stop growing until he was the circus’ newest attraction, “Super Bird”.

By the time Grandma finished her story, Ben’s mind was full and his eyes were heavy. Before he drifted off to sleep, he told Grandma, “I am going to sleep now. I want to dream about Super Bird.” Grandma tucked him in tight, kissed his forehead, turned on the nightlight, and softly closed the door behind her.

The next day began like any other. Mom was up early to prepare lunches and leave for work. Dad made toaster waffles for breakfast. Grandma zipped Ben’s coat and helped him with his backpack before hurrying him out the door for his short walk to school.

During lunch that day, Ben began feeling ill. He wasn’t sure what was making him sick. He didn’t have a stuffy nose or a tummy ache. His body didn’t hurt and his head felt ok. He just didn’t feel right. That sensation would linger for the rest of his school day. At the final bell, Ben gathered his things and prepared for his walk home.

He exited through the front door and spotted Mommy in the parking lot near the sidewalk. She hadn’t picked him up from school since second grade. Why was she here now? As he got closer he realized that Mommy had been crying. Those around her rubbed her arm, placed a hand upon her back, and some hugged her. Ben didn’t know why, but his eyes began to well with tears. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally reached his mother. He looked up at her inquisitively and she responded with a tight hug. Mommy kneeled until she looked Ben directly in the eyes. Then she said something so impossible, so infuriating, so cruel… She said, “Ben, Grandma is gone. She left this world and moved on to the next. Baby, Grandma died today.”

“NO!” Ben howled as he shoved his way out of his mother’s embrace. “You’re lying!” She had to be! They just ate dinner together the night prior. Grandma’s bedtime story last night was one of the best yet. She was fine, she was better than fine! She just helped him get ready for school this morning. She wouldn’t leave Ben without saying goodbye. She couldn’t!

Once he escaped his mother’s grasp, he started to run. Each step landed quicker than the one before it. He heard his mother call for him, but this only gave him cause to run even faster. He wanted to be too far away to hear her lies. Warm tears streamed down his cheeks to his quivering chin as he ran toward home on a mission to end this heartless joke. Today when he burst through the door, he didn’t bother to kick off his shoes and he didn’t shed his backpack. He continued his uninterrupted sprint through the house until he reached the kitchen.

There the harsh truth became his reality. Ben gasped for breath as he stared in anguish at the empty spot upon the counter.

 

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‘Til Death Do Us Part

The lights of an oncoming truck slammed against the windshield with blinding force. Todd Gibson was instantly robbed of his vision. Being unable to see the winding road ahead of him, Todd fought to keep the tires on the pavement. The unfamiliar turns and rocky terrain were too much. In a moment of panic he grasped his sleeping bride by her arm, “Jen!” Jennifer woke with a start as their car plummeted down a steep, rocky ravine. In an instant, it was over.

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Despairingly, Jennifer turned toward her new husband. She knew immediately that his life had fled him. “No!” she choked, “No Todd, it’s not fair…” she heard her own voice fade into merely a whisper. It had only been a few hours since Jennifer and Todd’s honeymoon began. Struggling to remain conscious, her mind wandered to the beautiful day prior. The day Jennifer and Todd had taken their vows and become man and wife. Now, “until death do us part”, had in reality, been only a matter of moments. She thought back just a few hours earlier as they were to begin their trip to the mountains. Todd opened the door to their SUV for her and lightheartedly said, “Mrs. Gibson, your chariot awaits”.

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With all of the energy she could gather, Jennifer reached out and feebly grasped Todd’s hand. She tried to find some sense in what had just happened, but her mind was becoming unclear, and an eerie darkness closed in around her…

Jennifer found herself alone in a strange, ominous world. Ahead of her was only more of the same cold blackness, but from behind her, Jennifer felt a comforting warmth. She turned toward the source of the heat to see a brilliant blue light. Inside of this majestic glow was the hazy shadow of a man. She was sure it was God. Knowing she would find comfort and safety with Him, Jennifer started toward the silhouette. The shadow became clearer as she drew closer. The figure offered his hand as if to beckon her, guide her to him. However, from deep within the darkness, Jennifer began to hear voices…

1ManinVision

They were mere whispers at first, but gradually they grew stronger. She recognized these voices. They were those of family, friends, her loved ones. Again she turned toward the inviting light; the shadowy figure grew closer still. As she turned back once more to the haunting darkness, the voices of her loved ones were unmistakable. Jennifer longed desperately to run to them, to mourn her loss with them, to let them comfort her. Still something in the light held her there. Finally, as she stared once more into the welcoming illumination, she knew what it was. The shadowy figure wasn’t God; it was her husband. It was Todd. Jennifer realized now that there was life in the darkness and death in the light.

Instantaneously the light dimmed, and the voices faded. It was time for Jennifer to make a choice or risk being trapped in this dark abyss for an eternity. She wanted so terribly to be with her loved ones, but losing Todd forever was more than she could bear.

Jennifer Gibson died at 11:37 p.m., on the evening of June 22, 2013.

1Gibson

 

 

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A Christmas Wish

Six year old Olivia sat alone on the frozen ground just outside of an empty church. Across the street, families lined up outside of “The Mobile North Pole”. She enviously watched several boys and girls about her age climb the snow covered stairs and make their way inside to sit on Santa’s lap.

She noticed how warmly they were dressed; thickly lined coats to protect them from the blowing wind, fuzzy boots to cover their little feet, and thick, clumsy mittens to keep their tiny fingers from the sting of the cold. Olivia looked down at her own shabby attire; before she had stolen a coat out of the donation box just inside the church foyer, she wore only an over-sized hooded sweatshirt. At that moment she wished she hadn’t been so concerned about getting caught and took a few extra seconds to steal a pair of boots too. She wore just tennis shoes so small that her big toe was starting to bore a hole through the tip. The ache in her glove-less fingers was beginning to give way to numbness. She tucked her hands up into her sleeves.

She focused on a family of 3 in line across the street. The little boy was smaller than Olivia. He was enthralled by the lights and the bustle of the holidays.  His eyes darted from scene to scene with awe. He wasn’t even aware that his mother and father had positioned themselves to use their bodies as shield for him against the bitter wind. Tears began to well as she thought of her own parents. Before her father left, she had warm clothes, a soft bed to sleep in, and a roof over her head. “We never had much, but it was so much more than we have now”, she thought. Olivia’s mother could not find a job suitable enough to support herself, much less her daughter. Without her husband, she wasn’t able to keep up on rent. They were forced to stay in shelters when beds were available, and in the car when they weren’t. Olivia missed her Daddy very much but knew he was never coming back.

She remembered the last time she saw him very well. It was a Sunday morning right after spring break from school. Daddy was unusually quiet that day. Mommy seemed upset. Olivia heard them argue the night before but that wasn’t unusual. The silence, however, was very strange. After pushing food around his plate for a period of time but not really eating it, Daddy stood abruptly from the breakfast table. Before he turned to walk away, he pushed Olivia’s hair from her face and gently placed a kiss on her forehead. He said nothing as he left the room and walked out the front door. Neither of them had seen nor heard from him since.

“Tomorrow is Christmas,” Olivia thought, “and Daddy won’t even be here to celebrate with us.” However, it occurred to her that she didn’t have a gift for him anyway. Why hadn’t she made him a gift, just wrapped something? Maybe then he would want to come home to open it.

“Livi, honey?” Olivia’s mother, Lisa, finally emerged from the store where she had returned the cans and bottles the two had collected from the street earlier. “Where did you get that coat? You know what, never mind. It’s going to start snowing soon, sounds like it’s going to be a white Christmas!” Lisa tried to sound upbeat for her daughter’s sake, but the holiday coupled with the upcoming storm also meant that space in shelters would be scarce tonight. She really didn’t care how that coat came to be in her daughter’s possession. Tonight Livi would probably need it. “Livi, did you hear me? Livi? What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing”, the somber little girl mumbled. “May I go see Papa Claus before we go, please?”

Lisa glanced at the line across the street. It had dwindled but the thought of not getting a bed at a shelter tonight dismayed her. “I don’t know, honey. Santa is probably very busy, it IS Christmas Eve… OLIVIA!”

Too late.  Olivia wasn’t interested in her mother’s reply. She was on a mission to see Santa and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. Thankfully the streetwise child knew to check for cars and stopped to look both ways before just darting into traffic. Upon arrival at Santa’s door, a fatigued looking elf stopped her.

“Sorry little girl, Santa needs to get going.  He has to get back to the North Pole and get the reindeer ready.” Olivia had ignored her own mother, this ornery elf wasn’t getting in her way. “Aren’t you a little tall to be an elf?”, she asked as she attempted to slip past him.  He had to admire the little ragamuffin’s spirit.  Besides, he was too tired to try to reason with a kindergartner so he let her by.

Bolstered by her success in slipping her Mother and dodging that elf, she burst into Santa’s tiny cottage more determined than ever to make sure Santa heard her wishlist.  ”Please, Papa Claus, don’t leave yet!  My list isn’t long, I promise!”  Without hesitation she continued, “All I want for Christmas is a warm place to sleep”, she said confidently, then with her voice trailing off, “… and I want my Daddy to come home.”

Initially this stranger in the red Santa suit was irritated that the tall elf had allowed another kid in after quitting time. “This Santa gig doesn’t pay overtime”, he thought. Immediately upon hearing Olivia’s wish list, however, he was stabbed by a deep pang of guilt. Clearly this child was homeless and truly believed him to be THE Santa Claus. In reality, there was very little he could do for her. Briefly he stood staring at her in stunned silence, but quickly mustered a hearty “HO, HO, HO”.

He then instructed Olivia to take him to her mother. He couldn’t even remember now why he had been in such a hurry to leave just a few minutes prior. Olivia complied and led him across the street to where Lisa was waiting for her. Santa and Olivia’s mother spoke briefly before he took them both back up the stairs into that church. Lisa caught the uncomfortable look on Olivia’s face as they passed by the donation box. There would need to be a long conversation about stealing, but how could she not marvel at the little girl’s resourcefulness.

Olivia was brought to a room that contained toys and books where a pre-school aged boy sat on his mother’s lap listening to her recite “Twas the Night Before Christmas” while his beaming father looked on.  Olivia recognized them as the little boy and his parents from the line earlier that evening. The boy’s cheeks were still pink from the cold wind. The woman smiled warmly and motioned to Olivia to sit down and join them. The gentleman excused himself and followed Santa & Lisa out of the room and down the hall.

After the story ended, the little boy’s mother dug through the donation box until Olivia was decked out in winter clothes and boots that actually fit her well. As they returned the other items back to the bin, Livi found a pair of men’s gloves. This time she asked the woman if she could take them.  ”I think they would make a nice gift for my Daddy,” Olivia told her. The woman nodded and handed Olivia a hat.  ”Take this too.  It’s cold out there,” she said. Olivia was ecstatic. Now she had not one, but two presents to give Daddy. Surely he would want to come home!

Soon after, Santa and Lisa returned to collect Olivia and her new things. Santa then drove Olivia and her mother (much to Olivia’s dismay, in a car and not a sleigh!) a short distance to a nearby shelter. They had only one bed available that night, but would allow Livi and her mother to share it.

Soon Olivia was crawling into an old but cozy bed. Santa kissed her forehead, just like her Daddy had before he left. “Good night little angel”, he whispered. ”Thank you Papa Claus…” was all Livi managed before sleep overcame her. Before he left, Lisa hugged the kind stranger and thanked him profusely for sacrificing his own Christmas Eve just to give them the gift of warmth.

Later that night Olivia woke with a start  Somewhere in the distance she could swear she heard the sounds of jingling bells. She shook her mother vigorously. “Mommy! Mommy! Papa Claus, he came back!” Olivia exclaimed as she crawled from the bed pulling her mother’s arm.

“Oh love, Santa is busy tonight.  It was just a dream,” her mother replied tiredly, “please come back, try to…” she stopped as Livi spun toward the entrance…

…for at that very moment, the door of the shelter flew open, and there stood Olivia’s father.

 

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