short fiction

Santa Bots: A Short Story

Remember when you used to believe in Santa Claus until you were told at a certain age that he didn’t exist? That it was really your parents who got you your Christmas gifts?

I’d been told only seven years ago, at age eight, that there was no Santa. I’d opened my mouth in horror. I’d also let my energy down, as I had dragged my feet to my room over the shocking revelation.

Of course, now at fifteen, I knew how unrealistic it’d be for a man to deliver presents to every good girl and boy from the North Pole in one night.

But my ten-year-old brother, Tristan, wouldn’t let go of accepting that Santa Claus didn’t exist.

I walked into my living room, where the decorated Christmas tree stood. Tristan watched TV.

A mad scientist made robots and dressed them up as Santa Claus.

            “I’ll make all those children happy, after their parents told them there is no Santa Claus,” the scientist said. “Perhaps, Santa is just not what they imagined.”

            The scientist finished assembling the last robot. He pressed a button on his remote that said, “Activate.”

            The robots’ eyes lit up. They walked toward the man.

            “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” said the first one. “I am Santa Claus.”

            “Father Christmas,” another robot said in an English accent.

            “Babo Natale,” a third robot said in an Italian accent.

            “Perfect,” said the scientist. “Now I will make everyone believe in Santa, and they will also be loyal to him.”

            “Yay,” Tristan said.

“Tristan, that’s just a TV show,” I said.

“Oh, Cassie.” Tristan turned off the television. “What’s Christmas without a jolly old—”

“He’s not real. Aren’t you going to be in middle school next year?”

“What does that have to do with this?”

“Everyone’s going to think you’re crazy, still believing in Santa and falling for a TV show.”

“Maybe Santa was a robot this whole time.”

“You’re joking, aren’t you?”

“Whatever.” Tristan stood up. “Don’t be surprised if you get coal tonight.”

I crossed my arms and glared at Tristan. No way would mom and dad give me coal. I hadn’t misbehaved all year. Even then, it’d only happened occasionally. I’d still received gifts every Christmas, including when I’d believed in Santa.

 

A few hours had passed. My family and I had eaten dinner. I now lay in my bed, only to hear a bang on the roof. Gasping, I bolted up and hopped out of my bed. I opened my window and looked up. There was a sleigh, and hoofs scraping against the roof.

I closed my eyes and shook my head. I gazed again. The same things remained there. And a heavy figure climbed into the chimney.

This can’t be happening, I thought. Santa’s not real.

Despite being taught not to do this when I was little, especially on Christmas Eve, I left my room and walked down to the living room. My heartbeat raced and my palms sweated. I rushed my breathing.

The boots showed themselves. I inhaled and backed away. More of the figure’s red clothes revealed themselves, followed by a white beard. The figure showed his face—only to have it look more metal-like than flesh-textured.

This couldn’t be, though—unless some unknown scientist or genius had super-advanced tech to created a Santa bot like on TV. Still. That couldn’t happen in 2018.

The eyes glowed yellow. The robot turned to me. “Ho, ho, ho,” it said in a robotic tone. “You have to go back to bed, or else you’re getting coal.”

I ran back upstairs and into my room. I leaned against the door and breathed. Who could’ve done this? Should that person be reported to the police?

Perhaps, so. I hurried to my parents’ door and knocked. “Mom, Dad, wake up!”

My mother opened the door. “Cassie, what’s going on?”

“There was a Santa robot downstairs!”

“Now’s not that time for nonsense, Cassie.” My mom closed the door.

“I’m being serious!”

There was no answer. I stomped down the hallway and knocked on Tristan’s door. Tristan opened the door.

“Tristan, there was a Santa bot downstairs, like the one in that show you were watching.”

“No, that was just a TV show.” Tristan closed the door.

“It was like that, seriously!”

He reopened the door. “Have you lost your mind, Cassie?”

“No!”

The roof shook.

“Earthquake!” cried Tristan.

“It’s not an earthquake,” I said.

The vibration came to a halt. I looked around. My bedroom door had remained opened. I turned to the window. The Santa bot and reindeer rode away on the sleigh.

“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” the robot said from outside. “And to all a goodnight.”

“That doesn’t seem right.” Tristan rushed into my room. “Those reindeer look fake.”

I approached him.

“Santa’s voice sounds strange,” Tristan added.

“That’s because he’s not Santa,” I said. “That’s a Santa robot.”

Tristan gasped.

My parents’ door opened. Both my mom and dad entered my room.

“What’s that outside?” my mother asked.

“A robot Santa along with robot reindeer,” said Tristan.

The sleigh landed on the house across the street from mine. The Santa bot hopped out.

“Yes,” the scientist’s voice echoed from outside. “Soon, you will also start being loyal.”

“What was that?” asked Tristan. “He… he sounded like the same mad scientist on TV.”

“Let me be considered the nicest man in the world,” the same voice said.

More sleighs soared outside. The sky also glowed yellow.

“Hey, Cassie, why don’t we go back to sleep?” asked Tristan.

Gasping, I turned to him. His pupils glowed yellow. So did mom and dad’s.

“No, no!” I rushed downstairs. I put on my boots and coat and dashed outside. The same mad scientist as on television walked down the street. All the neighbors stared at him, with yellow eyes.

“I’ve been considered naughty forever by my parents,” the scientist said. “I’ve always wished that Santa existed. But now he is going to take all your prized possessions and give them to me.”

I inhaled and ran back inside. A Santa bot had my electronics, beauty products, Tristan’s action figures, and mom and dad’s photo album.

“Stop!” I cried.

The robot turned to me. “You are not loyal.”

I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed a rolling pin. I wacked the robot. But it grabbed me.

“Hitting is naughty,” it said. “That means you are getting coal… forever and ever.”

I kicked the bot and returned to the kitchen. I filled a glass of water. But the robot grasped my wrist. The water spilled away from it.

“You are on my naughty list permanently.”

“No, no!”

But the liquid spread to the robot’s shoes. The bot let go of me. Streaks of light electrocuted it. Its voice deepened and died out. The robot collapsed onto the ground.

Breathing, I stared. Yup, it made zero moves. I went outside. All the Santa bots lay on the street motionless. The people seemed to have gone off the spells. They gazed at the machines.

“Cassie?” my mom called.

“Yeah?” I turned to her.

“Cassie, darling, are you all right?” my mother asked.

“I’m fine, Mom.” I hugged her.

“You saved Christmas,” said Tristan. “I saw that are stuff is still here.”

“Well, more importantly, we’re all still here,” my dad said. “After all, Christmas is about spending time with loved more than it is about the gifts.”

“That is true,” said Tristan. “Family is more important than Santa.”

I grinned.

short fiction

The Curious Case of Sadie: A Flash Fiction Piece

Back when I was five and starting kindergarten, I had wished upon a star for a guinea pig. My parents had been against the idea of having pets. I recalled them saying, “We are not getting a dog or any kind of pet,” right before that moment. They’d ruined my mood and I had almost wanted to give up my flower girl role at my aunt, Katie’s, wedding back then.

             Fast forward nine years later, and I neared the start of my first year of high school. I looked outside my window, and saw a cat. I didn’t know if it belonged to anyone. It could’ve been a stray. We did live in a rural part of Pennsylvania.

             I turned away and sat on my bed. Ninth grade would start tomorrow.

            “Michelle?” my mom called me.

            “What is it?” I answered.

            “Can you help me get this rat out of the kitchen?”

             I paused. Then I opened the door. “Why do you need me?”

             “Because I’ve got cookie dough on my hands!”

             I sighed, but went downstairs anyway. I entered the kitchen. A white rat stood on the corner. It ran into the hole in the wall.

            “Mom, why don’t we call the exterminator?” I asked.

            “Because it’s Sunday,” my mother said.

            “The rat already escaped.” I looked into the hole, seeing no sign of the critter.

            “Go outside,” my mom said.

            So I went out to the backyard. There was no rat. But I did see the same cat as before. It was black and white.

            The cat stopped at stared at me. I smiled. But it came up to me. I turned around and went back inside.

            “Michelle, did you see the rat?” my mother asked.

            I shook my head.

            “I guess it escaped.” My mom shrugged.

            “Yeah, probably,” I said.

            But there was a squeak inside the kitchen hole. I looked inside. A rodent nose stuck out. But it showed itself. It turned out not to be the rat, but… a guinea pig?

            No. That couldn’t be right. I closed my eyes and shook my head. I gazed at the creature again. Yup. It was a black and white guinea pig. It came running toward me. I gasped and bolted up.

            The guinea pig came out of the hole. My mom saw it and screamed.

            “Mom, it’s just a guinea pig,” I said.

            But the guinea pig spun. It sped up and transformed into a black and white cat. My mom yelped. “What’s going on?”

            The doorbell rang. My mother answered to Mrs. Katz, our next door-neighbor.

            “Have you seen Sadie?” Mrs. Katz asked. “My kitty?”

            “You mean the one that turned into a guinea pig?” my mother asked.

            “What?” asked Mrs. Katz. “I mean… I’ve seen it turn into a rat, but not a guinea pig.”

            The cat meowed and ran up to Mrs. Katz.

            “Sadie, what have you been up to?” Mrs. Katz picked her up. “I’m taking you to the vet to cure this problem.” She closed the door behind her and left.

            I stood by my mom and watched Mrs. Katz carry Sadie back to her house.

            “What kind of vet could cure a cat like that?” I asked my mother.

            She shook her head. “Perhaps, it’s best if we don’t know.”

           

short fiction

Animal Psychic: A Short Story

Isabella woke up. Energy filled her mind as she hopped out of bed and got dressed. She brushed her long, dark brown waves and put on her glasses.

Today was her eleventh birthday. She hurried downstairs where her aunt, Molly, prepared breakfast.

“Happy birthday, Isabella,” said Aunt Molly.

“Thanks.” Isabella sat down. She looked outside and frowned. If only her parents and uncle could see her today.

Three years ago, Isabella’s mom had suffered from depression after the dad had died from a heart attack. Isabella’s mother had lost so much control that social services had sent Isabella to live with Aunt Molly. Uncle Tanner had divorced Aunt Molly a year after and had moved to Vancouver.

“Isabella, after breakfast, I have a surprise birthday present for you.” Aunt Molly tied her ash-blonde hair into a bun.

“Oh, yippee.” Isabella ate her pancakes. She cleaned up, and then Aunt Molly led her downstairs to the basement. Aunt Molly turned on the lights. “Ta da.”

An albino guinea pig ran around in its cage. Isabella opened her mouth.

“You get to name her,” Aunt Molly said.

“All right,” Isabella said. “Her name will be… Peppermint.”

“Nice name,” said Aunt Molly.

“Why peppermint, though?” asked a strange female voice.

Isabella gasped. “Aunt Molly, did you hear something?”

“What? The guinea pig making noises?”

“No, someone asked why I named the guinea pig, Peppermint.”

Aunt Molly tilted her head at Isabella.

“I’m serious.”

“Whatever. Play pretend like you’re five.” Aunt Molly returned upstairs.

“Aunt Molly, stop it!”

But Aunt Molly closed the door.

“You can read animal’s minds,” the same unknown voice said.

Isabella breathed and looked around. “W-who’s there?”

“Its me, the guinea pig you named Peppermint,” said the voice.

Gasping, Isabella turned to the creature. She rushed her breathing.

“Last night, someone gave you the power to read animal’s minds,” the voice said.

“But how am I going to convince my aunt?” asked Isabella.

“There is a note in your closet upstairs stating the name of the person. It appeared last night when you were sleeping.”

Isabella hurried upstairs and to her bedroom. She opened her closet and saw a piece of paper under her shoes. She picked it up and read it.

 

Dear Isabella,

 

            I wanted to let you know something about myself. I was born with the power to read everyone’s minds, including animals. I’ve kept it secret from you for many years. I was worried that I was going to scare you. So I sent some magic into the letter that would make you understand what I’ve gone through. I miss you. I wish I could be here for your birthday.

 

            Love,

            Mom

 

Isabella flushed. Tears stung her eyes. How could her own mother want her to read animals’ minds? The mom couldn’t have gone that insane. It made no sense.

Isabella hurried downstairs. “Aunt Molly?”

“What now, Isabella?” Aunt Molly asked.

“I got this note from my mom.” She held up the paper.

Aunt Molly put her hands on her hips.

“It is, I swear. I even recognize the handwriting.”

“Let me see.”

Isabella handed the note to Aunt Molly. Aunt Molly read it. Her eyes watered. She burst into tears. “I c-can’t believe it.”

Isabella remained mute.

“I don’t want you to be like this, Isabella.”

Isabella shook her head. “Neither do I.”

“There’s got to be a way to undo this.”

Isabella paused. Then she returned to the basement.

“You’re back,” Peppermint’s internal voice said.

“I need to get rid of this curse,” Isabella said.

“The only way to get rid of it is to suppress it yourself.”

            “How?”

“You have to replace thoughts of me with thoughts of other people.”

“B-but I can’t forget you.”

“It’ll only take a few minutes. Then you can spend as much time with me as you’d like.”

            Isabella looked down. “Okay.” She returned upstairs and sat in the living room. She closed her eyes. Thoughts of her friends, teachers, and even her mom, came into her head. She thought about the guinea pig, but replaced it with a memory of her dad going to the hospital.

Peppermint’s internal voice faded away from Isabella’s mind. Isabella pushed herself to remember the voice. But she had forgotten.

She went back to the basement. Peppermint made her usual guinea pig sounds. Isabella gazed at her. The animal climbed her cage bars. There were no unusual voices.

Isabella grinned.

 

short fiction

Meet Kevin: A Short Story

Tamara looked under her bed. She noticed her old book on Ancient Egypt and a coloring book with sea creatures. Gee—so many years. Tamara was fifteen years old. And yet, she had not noticed some of those items. That coloring book must’ve rested under her bed for five years, since she’d lost interest in it at age ten.

But she also found a note. She picked it up. It’d come from her dad. He’d died when Tamara was six years old.

Tamara’s eyes watered as she read the note.

 

Dear Madelyn and Tamara,

 

            I might not make it within a week. The doctors are unsure if I’ll survive. But I love you both with all my heart. I hope you’ll always love me back.

 

            Sincerely,

            Daddy

 

Tamara pushed tears back, forcing herself not to cry. Madelyn, Tamara’s older sister, had gone off to college this year. She studied on the other side of the country in California. And anything could happen, especially in Los Angeles.

There was a knock on the door. It was Tamara’s mom. “Hey, Honey.”

“Hey, Mom,” said Tamara.

“Are you all right?” the mom walked into Tamara’s room.

“I’m fine,” she said. “I found a note from dad before he died.” She handed it to her mom.

“I gave this to you right after. Where was it?”

“Under my bed.”

The mother frowned.

“I was only six years old then.”

“Your father suffered from Pancreatic Cancer so much. I’m surprised you didn’t do something with it earlier.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, I’m going out with a new guy tonight.”

“Wait, when were you going to tell me this?”

“Tamara, this man and I were trying to work out our date for the past couple days.”

“What’s he like?”

“I don’t know. Now may I have the note, please”

Tamara lowered her jaw.

“I don’t want it under your bed anymore.”

“Mom, I can keep it somewhere safe. I’m fifteen years old. I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“Tamara, do as I say.”

Sighing, Tamara gave her mom the note from her dead father. The mother left.

Whoever mom’s dating better be nice, Tamara thought.

She looked out her window. Her mom went into the car and drove away.

 

A few hours had passed. Tamara heard a strange male voice talking to her mother. It had to be the man the mom dated.

There was a knock on Tamara’s door again. The mother and the guy showed themselves.

“Tamara, I would like you to meet my boyfriend, Kevin.”

“Hello, Tamara.” Kevin yawned.

Tamara gazed at him. He had sleeked back gray hair and was a bit overweight.

“Your mom and I going to talk for a bit,” Kevin said.

“Okay.” Tamara closed the door.

Her mom spoke to Kevin. Tamara heard the words date and note. But the mother couldn’t mention the note from Tamara’s dad.

“Oh, sorry to hear about your husband,” said Kevin. “I divorced my old wife years ago.”

Tamara cracked her door open.

“She used to drive me crazy, with all her cats. I’m really allergic to cats.”

“So am I,” the mom said.

“You know what?” Kevin asked. “How about we get a lizard? I like reptiles.”

“No thanks,” the mother said. “I’m happy having no pets.”

“Aw, come on,” Kevin said. “Pets rock.”

“It’s too much work,” the mother said.

“Fine, then I’ll just get a lizard for myself.” Kevin left the mom’s bedroom and went downstairs.

 

****

 

The next day, Tamara went downstairs for breakfast. But she discovered a tank with a lizard in it.

The mom joined.

“Mom, did Kevin actually get us a lizard?” Tamara asked.

“He’s taking it home with him.”

“Then why did he leave it here?”

The doorbell rang. The mom answered the Kevin.

“I wanted you to meet my lizard before I go,” said Kevin.

“Why?” the mom asked.

“Well, I was thinking… maybe we could share the lizard.”

Tamara opened her mouth.

“Kevin,” the mother said. “I… I can’t… I mean…”

“I thought we were preparing to get married,” Kevin said.

There was a pause.

“Kevin, are you kidding me?” asked the mom. “We’ve have one freaking date.”

Kevin remained mute.

“You know what? Take the lizard and get out of my house,” the mother said.

“You’re joking, aren’t you?” Kevin crossed his arms.

“No, I’m serious,” the mother said.

“Fine, have it your way.” Kevin took the lizard tank and supplies. He ran out of the house in tears.

Tamara and her mom stared at Kevin.

“Tamara, I think you should have the note back,” her mom said.

“Really?”

“Yes.”

The two went upstairs. Tamara’s mom returned the note. “You should keep it somewhere safe.”

“Yes, mom.” Tamara kissed her mother. She returned the note to her room and hung it up. She stared at it. I’ll never forget you, Dad.

 

 

short fiction

She Will Survive: A Flash Fiction Piece

Once, up on a mountain, Lucy had lost her sense of direction. She’d come across a lady—only to discover that she’d been a witch in disguise. She’d trapped Lucy inside her home and had made her forget the moments she’d struggled in the wilderness.

            But that had happened two years ago. It was December, and Lucy neared the end of her first semester at college. She sat in her dorm and studied for her finals.

            Her roommate, Claire, burst inside. Her face turned red and she sucked in her breathed.

            “Claire, are you all right?” asked Lucy.

            “My grandma got lost in the dessert.”

            Lucy lowered her jaw. “No way.”

            “I… I could lose her, just like I lost my father in a motorcycle accident,” said Claire. “Can you help me find her?”

            Lucy said nothing. Arizona had a lot of dessert. So Lucy and Claire could get lost.

            “Please, Lucy.”

            “Okay, yes.” Lucy stood up.

            The two walked out of the dorm and away from the campus.

            “Claire, do you know where your grandma is?” Lucy asked.

            “W-well… I suppose…” Claire paused. “Wait a minute, didn’t you get lost in the wilderness two years ago?”

            “Yes, but some witch wiped my memories and told me that she made me forget all that.”

            Claire bent her eyebrows and tilted her head. “We’re eighteen. You sound like you’re five saying that.”

            “Oh, shut up,” Lucy said. “I wouldn’t lie about that.”

            “Lucy, stop it! We don’t have a lot of time!”

            “But why do we have to find your grandma? Isn’t there a—”

            “I can help,” said a woman.

            Lucy and Claire stopped. The woman resembled the witch from two years ago. She had pale-blonde waves falling past her shoulders and wore dark lipstick.

            “You… you’re not that woman I met in the mountains, are you?” asked Lucy.

            “No,” the lady said.

            “You look a lot like her,” said Lucy.

            “Perhaps, I’m just a doppelgänger,” the woman said. “Anyway, my name is Miss. Christie.”

            Claire turned to Lucy and said, “Lucy, I don’t think we should trust her.”

            “I can help save your granny tonight,” Miss. Christie said.

            “Are you sure?” asked Claire.

            “Positive,” said Miss. Christie.

            Miss. Christie texted on her phone.

            “Lucy, we need to go.” Claire grabbed Lucy’s arm.

            Lucy turned to Miss. Christie. Miss. Christie held her palm up. Light glowed inside it. Lucy gasped. “Miss. Christie, you lied to us.”

            Miss. Christie glared at Lucy.

            “You’re not Miss. Christie. You’re Miss. Blackburn, the same person who wiped my memories.”

            “Lucy, how could you!” Miss. Blackburn held her hand up. “I wiped your memories once. I can do it again.”

            Lucy and Claire screamed.

            “Leave them alone!” an old woman grasped Miss. Blackburn’s shoulders and knocked her down.

            “Grandma?” Claire asked.

            “Take that, and that.” The elder lady hit Miss. Blackburn with her purse.

            A bunch of cops nearby grabbed Miss. Blackburn and arrested her.

            “Grandma.” Claire hugged the old lady. “I thought I’d never see you again. Are you okay?”

            “Of course, Claire. What made you think I was—”

            “I got a text saying that you were lost in the dessert.”

            “Oh no, I wasn’t.”

            The two let go of each other.

            “What are you doing here?” asked Claire.

            “I was going to visit you,” the grandma said.

            “Where’s mom?” Claire asked.

            “She’s coming,” the grandmother said.

            Lucy introduced herself to Claire’s grandma. The three went back to the campus.

short fiction

Good Night Gone Wrong: A Flash Fiction Piece

Although there was no judging or awarding of first, second, or third places, I’d received a ton of compliments for my piano-playing and singing-performance of “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen”. People had said to me, “You were really great, Aliana,” despite the pause in the middle of the song. I’d blanked out for a few seconds due to my live-performance anxiety. But everyone experienced them, even the greatest and bravest performers—of anything.

            I sat on my bed and looked at my laptop. People posted pictures of me performing at Spotlight Night. Someone even tagged me.

            I’d thanked my mom for forcing me to practice my piano and voice performance for weeks straight rather than focusing on trying to get my anime comic published. I was only a high school junior after all. My birthday wasn’t for five months. In fact, I’d started attending the public high school in September. Before that, I’d attended private school—the same one since kindergarten.

            A message came up in my Facebook messenger. It was my best friend, Veronica. She said, “Aliana, I just came back from the hospital for a few weeks. I saw that you performed ‘Let it Go’ at Spotlight Night. Well, tell you what? That was my idea. You stole it from me.”

            I replied back. “Veronica, I am sorry you feel this way. However, I wasn’t able to contact you. I’ve visited you a few times and not once have you said that you had that song in mind first. You should’ve said something.”

            Veronica replied. “Maybe we should part our ways.”

            I lowered my jaw. No. She did not just say that. Or she didn’t mean it—she couldn’t have.

            I responded. “Veronica, you don’t have to do this.”

            But she did nothing. I waited a few minutes and surfed other parts of the web instead.

            I returned to Facebook. Veronica had still not answered me. Okay, maybe she had to get offline for something.

            I looked at my digital clock. It was nearly 11 P.M. Tomorrow was Friday. I turned off the computer and got ready for bed.

            I went on my phone to see if Veronica had gotten back to me. Nope. She couldn’t have unfriended me, right.

            I went to the “Who Deleted Me” app on my phone. And guess who was listed… Veronica Button. What? No. She couldn’t have.

            My energy drained. I looked down. My eyes watered. That girl had been my best friend since the first day. And now she was no more.

            I contacted my old friend, Lorenza from my previous school. But she didn’t answer.

            The tears streamed down my cheeks. I sat on my bed. There had to be some way to reciprocate.

            Wait, tomorrow was a gym day. Perhaps, I could talk to Veronica before or after our activity. She should listen. Maybe she’d had a bad day. So she should understand.

 

short fiction

Plump and Pretty: A Flash Fiction Piece

Senior prom drew nearer. There was a boy in my class named Trevor who loved me. He always told me how beautiful I was and how much he adored me.

            I considered it a compliment as I had more weight than many of my classmates. I wore huge round glasses and curly dark hair. I have had crushes on a boy in middle school, who’d left in ninth grade. He didn’t like me. He’d thought I was too chubby.

            How could he? I loved my body. Girls needed to accept who they are and not compare themselves to the ideal skinny ladies they saw on the media. Not to mentioned how heavily photo-shopped they’d been. Many probably looked like me.

            Anyway, Trevor and I had dated for a few months now. Today was June sixth. Prom would take place tomorrow. I’d already bought my dress. It was navy with thick shear straps.

            I went on Facebook and browsed through my feed. Trevor had announced that he’d entered a relationship. Wait, what? Why hadn’t he done that earlier?

            I scrolled down and saw a picture of him with this thin, redheaded girl, Leila Cronin. I gasped. No—no! He couldn’t have. Leila had bullied me in eighth grade for my looks.

            This couldn’t have happened. Not in a billion years. Unless he’d tricked me to trust him.

            I felt tears in my eyes. I called Trevor and continued to breathed through a narrowed throat.

            Trevor answered.

            “Trevor, what is wrong with you?”

            “I’m sorry, Chloe. But I just take you to prom.”

            “Why? Because I’m not—”

            “I just like Leila more.”

            “She’s a jerk!”

            “Don’t talk about my girlfriend like that!”

            “Girlfriend?”

            Trevor hung up.

            I burst into tears and threw myself onto my bed. I couldn’t go to prom anymore—not even with a group of friends. They all had dates. And who would I go with? No one.

            There was a knock on my door. “Cloe?”

            “What is it, Dad?”

            My dad entered. “Hi, honey. Are you okay?”

            “Trevor dumped me for that Leila girl!”

            “What?”

            “He likes her better!”

            “Oh, that’s not right.” My dad sat on my bed. “You know what? My friend, Horace’s son, Dexter, is also looking for someone.”

            “Is Dexter nice?”

            “Yes. I’ll take you to meet him tomorrow.”

            “But the prom’s tomorrow.”

            “We can meet him during the day. Sound good?”

            I nodded.

 

            The next day, my dad took me to see this boy, Dexter. We parked outside a diner. I figured my dad didn’t want me to go to Dexter’s house since I hadn’t met him before.

            We went inside and got seated. A man and his son joined us. The boy wore glasses, stood tall and broad. He also had some plumpness. “Hi, I’m Dexter.”

            “Chloe.” I shook his head.

            “I can’t wait to be your friend.”

            I tilted my head.

            Dexter’s father whispered, “He has autism.”

            “Oh,” I said.

            “I’m graduating high school like you, Chloe,” said Dexter. “But I don’t have anyone to go with.”

            I considered inviting him, except that I just met him.

            “You should take each other to your proms,” my dad said.

            I stared. Then I smiled. “Okay.”

            “Yay,” said Dexter. “You’re going be date. I can’t wait.”

            “Neither can I.”

            And so Dexter and I talked the whole time. I left the diner grinning. What else could ruin this day?

 

short fiction

Down with Design: A Flash Fiction Piece

Someone needs to design a better hotel. I just came back home from Greece. Yes, I am aware that European luxury hotel designs may differ from those in America. I also know that Europeans often pack less than Americans due to space in their homes.

However, the decorations made it seem more like a Victorian Era mansion. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Marble statues stood on the floor. Gold and red dominated the whole hotel.

Hello? Someone could accidentally knock something down. Or, someone like me, may prefer more modern décor. That’s when you eliminate unnecessary decorations. You have simple shapes and minimal color—at least based on what I’ve seen.

Now I’m not saying my trip to Greece stank. I had a good time, from seeing the Parthenon to boating around Crete. However, this was my first trip to Europe. I’ve never left the United States, except when we went to Canada for my cousin’s wedding two years ago. Even there, the hotel we stayed in had a more modern design.

I am now in my room in New York City, overlooking Times Square. There is a parade happening, but it is about Mexican Culture. Right—it’s Cinco de Mayo. The Mexican Hat dance is playing. People are wearing Sombreros. I, myself, am Mexican-American.

I look out my window, thinking about my culture as a observe the parade from the fifteenth floor. I just turned fifteen a few months ago. I had huge quinceanera at a hotel in midtown. The banquet room had chandeliers, gold and red color scheme, and a lot of old-fashioned décor.

And yet, I disliked our hotel in Greece. Who am I to blame? Old-fashioned interior design will exist forever. I have to get used to it. It might be 2018, but still. How could I forget that my own party had been held in a room like that? And not only did the room have old-fashioned décor, but so did the entire hotel.

Friends and family from all over have come to watch me turn fifteen and celebrate it. My parents still have the balloons that spelled out my name, Angela. You know what? I should know better. Design may matter, depending on the building and who it targets to, but I need to accept all types of décor, whether it’s old fashioned or modern.

short fiction

It’s a Wonderful Week: A Flash Fiction Piece

I wish an alarm would notify me whenever I had to complete a task from my to-do list. I get overwhelmed by all the things I have to do, especially when it’s a lot.

            In about a week, I am moving out to college. It’ll be about three hours north. I’ve already met my roommate. Her name is Sienna. She comes from California.

            I have to buy my supplies, for both my dorm and classes. I also have to pack. My mom suggests two weeks’ worth of clothes. Then she would send me warmer clothing as the weather cooled down.

            I am sitting in my room right now, looking at my high school graduation pictures as well as my eighteenth birthday photos from March. I am going to miss my high school friends and their nickname for me in stage crew “Glitters” rather than my real name, Amanda.

            Freshman orientation will happen for the first three days. Then classes will begin. I’ve heard rumors about college and how scary it might seem, especially for first-years.

            My older brother, Winston, had commuted. He graduated last year, when I completed the eleventh grade. Despite his time living at home and attending college, he wouldn’t talk to me a lot about the experience.

            I close Facebook and turn off my computer. My friend, Lola, also living at home for college, is going to hang out with me in about an hour. I will enjoy the last week here in Connecticut until I bid goodbye to my house.

short fiction

The “Haunted” Dude Ranch: A Short Story

Cassandra and her ten-year-old sister, Michaela, settled into their assigned cabin of The Kullen Ranch. The parents took their room across the hall. Cassandra and Michaela shared a room with two different beds.

Cassandra picked up the guide on the nightstand. She opened it—only to spot handwriting that said, “Beware of the cowboy ghost and the vampire weasel.”

Cassandra ignored that. She still remembered being told that Santa Claus didn’t exist four years ago, at age eight. She was twelve and would begin seventh grade next month. That writing had to have been a prank or some fool messing around.

Michaela had a guidebook on her nightstand too. She picked it up and read it. She looked up at Cassandra. “Cassandra, there’s this weird message about a cowboy ghost and a vampire weasel.”

“Ignore it.” Cassandra flicked her long, braided locks behind her shoulders.

But there was a whish coming from outside. The wind blew the yellow grass. The sound increased to the inside of this room.

“Cassandra, what’s going on?” Michaela looked around.

“I… I have no idea,” she said.

“Beware of the vampire weasel,” said a man’s voice. “It’s real, all right. And it’s on this property.”

“Who was that?” Michaela bolted up from her bed.

“I don’t know,” said Cassandra.

There was a knock on the door. Their mom opened it. “Girls, is everything all right?”

“Mom, we heard a voice,” said Michaela.

“And we both got a message about a cowboy ghost and a vampire weasel,” Cassandra added.

But the mother tilted her head. “You’re ten and twelve years old and you believe in that stuff?”

“Didn’t you hear it?” asked Michaela.

“Grow up, both of you.” The mom closed the door.

Cassandra hung her jaw down and turned to Michaela.

“What’s wrong with mom?” asked Michaela.

“You don’t think we’re the only ones, do you?” Cassandra asked.

There was another knock on the door. The mother opened it. “Girls, it’s time to have dinner.”

Cassandra and Michaela left. They followed their mom and dad downstairs and outside.

Michaela adjusted her bun and caught up to the father. “Dad, did you hear a voice about a vampire cowboy and—”

“Let’s not discuss that,” he said.

Cassandra said nothing and followed everyone to the patio.

A waiter sat them down. He directed them to the barbecue buffet. They went up and helped themselves to their food.

Cassandra stirred her baked beans. But air swished again—yet without any wind.

“Once again, beware of the weasel,” the same mysterious voice as before said.

“Cassandra, aren’t you going to eat?” asked the mom.

“Yeah, but I heard that voice again,” Cassandra said.

The mom sighed.

“What did I tell your sister about that?” the father asked.

“Since when was I dragged into this?” asked Michaela.

“You girls are to stop making up stories this instant,” said the dad.

“It’s not a story, though,” said Cassandra.

“Enough,” said the dad. “Now there is to be no more talking until your plates are cleaned.”

Cassandra sighed and ate. She considered if anyone else on this ranch had heard the voice? Had it been set that only kids could hear it? Just her and Michaela?

Of course, it wasn’t like she and Michaela had been jinxed with this. But how would they prove to their parents that they did hear the voice and didn’t make up stories?

 

A few hours had passed. Cassandra had changed and did her evening routine. Michaela had already fallen asleep.

Cassandra crawled under her bed covers and turned off the lights. But as she lay her head on her pillow, the swishing sound occurred again. Cassandra lifted herself up.

Rays of light shined from the ceiling. Cassandra covered her eyes. Michaela woke up. “Cassandra, what’s going on?”

A gaseous boot showed itself, followed by jeans, a torso, and a man’s head. Cassandra and Michaela screamed.

“Relax, girls,” said the translucent figure. “You don’t want to wake your parents up.”

“W-who are you?” asked Cassandra.

“The cowboy ghost.”

“Oh my God.” Michaela hopped out of her bed. “I’m telling my parents.”

“No, you’re not.” The cowboy ghost flew and blocked Michaela’s path. “I’m only visible to you guys.”

“What?” asked Cassandra. “Why won’t you make yourself visible to our parents? Or anyone else here?”

“I don’t know,” the cowboy ghost said. “But I tried to make myself visible to everyone. For some reason, I only got you guys.”

“So what are you doing here?” asked Cassandra.

“I’m here to tell you that at nine a.m. tomorrow, the vampire weasel will come here,” said the cowboy ghost.

“In the day?” asked Cassandra.

“Well, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow,” said the cowboy ghost. “So you need to find some garlic and throw it at the weasel.”

“But where are we going to find some garlic?” asked Michaela.

“You’ll need to figure that out yourselves.” The cowboy ghost flew back up into the ceiling.

“Wait.” Cassandra held her hand out.

But the ghost had left.

Cassandra thought about where to find garlic. There was no garden. Guests would not be allowed in the kitchens. Did people put garlic in their eggs?

Although Cassandra and Michaela came from New York, they couldn’t imagine that having garlic at breakfast happened a lot here in Wyoming.

 

After last night Cassandra had not told her parents about the ghost. Neither had Michaela. The mom and dad had not even asked who they’d talked to.

The family walked to breakfast. They held it out on the patio, despite what the cowboy ghost had said.

The clouds had darkened. But no rain fell from the sky. People served themselves breakfast. No signs of the vampire weasel came up.

Cassandra and Michaela stood in line for the buffet. Cassandra eyed the food for any signs of garlic.

But a paw climbed the patio. Cassandra and Michaela gasped. The creature showed its face. It looked like a weasel. It hissed, revealing its sharp fangs. It spread its wings and flew into the area.

The people screamed and ran. Cassandra and Michaela stayed, though, still searching for garlic.

“What are you girls doing?” the father ran to them. “Get away from here!” He grabbed both girls and ran with them off the patio.

“We were looking for garlic,” said Michaela.

“Now’s not the time!” exclaimed the dad.

But the clouds cleared, letting the sunlight in. The weasel shrieked and flew away.

The crowd watched it. It soared far away.

“Guys, you can come back now,” said a waitress.

The crowd returned to the patio.

“I think the sunlight was enough,” Cassandra told Michaela.

Michaela giggled.