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Junk

This week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings is "junk". Here is my story...

Todd found Elisabeth sitting on the floor of the spare bedroom they used for storage. Next to her was an old battered suitcase he'd seen her looking thru at least a dozen times before. Contents of the suitcase scattered around her on the floor, Todd could tell that Elisabeth was somewhere far away, lost in her memories.

She didn't notice him standing in the doorway watching her as she picked up items one by one - an old postcard, an empty perfume bottle, a faded man's handkerchief, a tarnished locket, a battered pocket-size New Testament, a ragged piece of fabric that looked like might have been a baby blanket at one time, a small teddy bear with a missing eye, and at least a dozen other things that looked more like trash than treasures to him.

Elisabeth touched them gently, caressing them and holding them close to her heart as if they held some magical power. It seemed like every time they'd had an argument, and there had been a lot of them lately, Todd would find her here going thru this stuff. He'd asked her about it once, when they were moving and trying to pare down the stack of belongings going with them. But she'd cut him off short with a glare, "Drop it... it goes."

Elisabeth wasn't one to open up about her past, but Todd was growing impatient with this suitcase ritual. "Good grief" he exclaimed, startling her as she became aware of his presence. "It's just a bunch of crap, a pile of junk. Why don't you get over it and get rid of it?"

She looked up at him with more coldness in her eyes than he'd ever seen before. It scared him and he backed off. "Fine, just sit here with your suitcase full of garbage and stare off into space" he snapped, "I'm going out", and with that he stomped down the hallway, grabbed his keys from the hook, and slammed the door.

A tear rolled down Elisabeth's face, and then another and another. If only he could understand that this beat-up old suitcase held all that remained of what once was her life - before the fire that took her Mom and her baby brother, before her Dad became a raging alcoholic and hung himself one night... and now Elisabeth feared that she was losing Todd too.

(Now head over to Sunday Scribblings for more stories from some great writers!)

Bump In the Night

This week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings is "bump in the night." Here is my story... and it's true!

Julie's husband played in a rock n' roll band so she was used to him being out late for gigs. She didn't mind being home alone at night, she enjoyed the quiet time to read and write and watch the kind of movies that he wouldn't watch with her when he was home. They lived ten miles out in the country on a lonely stretch of highway that didn't see much traffic. A single yard light cast shadows in the darkness, providing only enough visibility to see a few feet near the driveway and backdoor. It's pale glow gave the trees and outbuildings an eerie feel.

On this particular night in late October, Julie had just finished cleaning the house and mopping floors. She settled comfortably on the sofa, a glass of cold milk and a plate of warm brownies close at hand, and opened the book she was currently reading. Her cats curled up around her, purring contentedly. Down the hallway she could hear the clothes dryer softly rumbling as it tumbled a load of laundry. She didn't have the tv on tonight, she didn't need it for noise in the room as some people did. Julie loved the quiet. The house was dark except for the table lamp she read by and a small nightlight in the kitchen. She was frugal about things like utilities and didn't light the house up just because she was alone. She'd never had cause to be afraid there even if the nearest neighbor was over a mile away.

Julie was deep into the story, reading chapter after chapter - always telling herself "just one more before I head off to bed". It didn't matter how late she stayed up reading, her husband would come home later still and tomorrow was Sunday, a good day for sleeping in. She was starting to get drowzy, and her eyelids were getting heavy. She nearly nodded off, but was brought abruptly to attention by the sound of a dull heavy THUMP against the side of the house... and then another even closer to where she sat! Startled, adrenalin begin rushing thru her veins. The cats' ears and tails stood straight up as they rapidly abandoned her and headed for safety under the bed.

A sliding patio door was centered on the west wall of the living room, and although it was locked Julie knew that it would take little effort for someone to shatter the glass. No one ever used that entrance for visiting; there was no sidewalk leading up to it, just a yard full of prickly weeds. If someone was lurking out there it couldn't be for any good reason.

The thumping against the wall grew louder as it came closer and closer to the door. Julie's heart was pounding in her ears as she set her book down and arose slowly from the sofa. Who was out there beating on the wall... and why? Did whoever it was know she was home alone?

There were no weapons in the house. A product of the 60's, Julie hated guns. But now, rapidly becoming terrified and realizing that she was defenseless against intruders, Julie was questioning the wisdom of that stance. Quietly she slipped across the room and put her back against the wall, fully expecting the glass door to implode at any moment.

When she couldn't bear the suspense one moment longer, she inched along the wall until she was standing next to the door. Reaching up, she flipped the porch light switch with one hand and grasped a corner of of the curtain with the other. Wild-eyed and shaking with fear, she jerked back the curtain, preparing to confront whoever was lurking there. And there he stood, staring straight back at her with a head twice the size of of any normal man... a hairy beast with massive shoulders, piercing eyes, and and saliva dripping from his mouth.

As Julie and the beast came face to face she collapsed on the floor, overcome with laughter and relief. There before her stood her father-in-law's massive bull, El Diablo, thumping the house as he rubbed his hairy head against it. Once again he had managed to escape the confines of his pen and had wandered over to pay a visit, scaring the hell out of Julie in the process.

She called her father-in-law. Roaring with laughter, he apologized and said he'd round up a couple helpers and come down to get the bull. Julie assured him that any future nocturnal visits from El Diablo would most definitely result in his conversion to prime grade Black Angus steaks for her freezer.

Upon further inspection the next morning, Julie and her husband discovered that El Diablo had not only roughed up the siding on the house and trampled their rural mailbox, he had also decided to take a large bite out of their big post-mounted satellite receiver dish, rendering it inoperable. You can imagine how much fun Julie had explaining that to the service rep when she called to obtain another! :-)

(Note: Head over to Sunday Scribblings for more scary stories.)