fiction

Friends for a Party: A Flash Fiction Piece

I looked forward to my eighteenth birthday party. It would happen in two weeks. We would host a movie night at my house.

            I’d sent out the invitations yesterday via snail mail. Why? Because I didn’t want anyone to see who else had been invited.

            Now that might sound harsh. However, my best friends, Sophie and Danielle, had fought last week. Danielle had done something to Sophie that had led to Sophie blocking Danielle in every form of communication. Sophie had messaged me on Facebook saying that she never wanted to talk to Danielle again.

            I had said nothing. I mean—I was about to come of age. Why should an adult have to put up with that drama?

            I received a phone call from Sophie. Sighing, I answered.

            “Hey, Candace, I got your invitation to your party.”

            “Okay.”

            “You didn’t invite Danielle Josephson, did you?”

            I said nothing. I could not think of any answer that would keep Sophie from getting upset.

            “Candace, are you there?”

            “Yeah, I’m still here.”

            “So aren’t you going to answer my question?”

            “I… I…”

            “You invited her?”

            “Well, I’m friends with her too.”

            “Are you kidding me? She was driving me crazy.”

            “I’m sorry. But that’s not my problem.”

 “Candace, how could you?”

            “Well, I can’t un-invite her.”

            “Whatever. I’m busy that day, anyway.” Sophie hung up.

            I looked down. I should never have to choose between friends. I shared an equal level of friendships with both Sophie and Danielle.

            I received more messages. My other guests responded. Most said that they could come. A few said they were unsure.

            At least I had friends who cared about me as well as each other. Because this was the last time I could celebrate my birthday with them. Then we’d all go off to college.

            I focused on the others and suppressed Sophie and Danielle’s situation in my mind. If neither could come, that didn’t matter. Those who were willing to celebrate with me mattered more.

fiction

Fiona: A Flash Fiction Piece

I didn’t mean to hurt her. I should have known that this other girl had a disability. I realized that some people with disabilities did not respond well to yelling.

            The girl’s name was Fiona. Fiona had interrupted me with some thought going on inside her head while I’d talked to my friend, Juliette. She’d spoken about something that happened at a game she’d seen. She’d done it over and over again until I snapped at her, saying, “Fiona, stop it! You’re being so freaking annoying! Go away!”

            And right that second, Fiona had burst into tears. Another kid had said that Fiona had some disability. I had flushed after.

            I now sat at my desk and did my homework. For health class, we had to research a disability. I was assigned Asperger’s Syndrome.

            As I pulled up the Internet on my computer, I received a text message. It came from Juliette.

            Hey Mandy

            Fiona just told me she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome over the weekend. She was too afraid to tell you.

            I opened my mouth. I had not yet researched the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. But maybe that explained why she had had trouble with understanding my feelings. Why she had been desperate to get her thoughts out. Why she had cried when I’d yelled at her.

            When I did the research, I saw that people with Asperger’s can be eager to let their thoughts out as well as emotionally sensitive.

            After finishing my homework, I texted Juliette back.

            Tell Fiona I am sorry for yelling at her. Thanks.

            I sent the message. Hopefully, Fiona would forgive me.

fiction

Job Opportunities: A Flash Fiction Piece

I sat on our summer home porch. Night fell as I stared at my father’s submarine. He lost his life from a bee sting two days ago.

            My mother came out and removed her diamond ring. She sat with me. “Sarah, we’ve got to give up this house.”

            I opened my mouth. “What?”

            “I don’t think I can afford it anymore.” My mom sniffled. “I don’t even know if I can hold a job much longer.” She burst into tears.

            I petted her back. “I’m already sixteen. I can try and help support our family.”

            “No, you can’t.”

            “Holly recommended a position for me at her orchard last week.” I referred to my best friend. “I can make this work, Mom.”

            My mom breathed. “If you think so.”

            “Thanks.” I stood up and returned inside. I packed my belongings. Tears stung my eyes as I thought about my dad. Who would take his submarine? And would we ever get this summer home back—or any summer house in general?

            After I finished packing, I followed my brother, Timothy, downstairs.

            “Sarah, is it true that Holly is going to give you a job?” Timothy asked.

            “She said she might.”

            “How do you know you’re going to get it?”

            “Well, I have known Holly since kindergarten.”

            “That doesn’t mean anything.”

            “You’re only twelve, and you met your best friend in third grade since he was new then.”

            “Why does that matter to you?”

            “Because I’ve known Holly longer!”

            Timothy stared at me. “Gee, Sarah. You need to relax.”

            “I can’t. Not without Dad.”

            “Please stop.” Timothy’s eyes watered.

            My phone rang. I answered to Holly.

            “Hey, Sarah, sorry to hear about your father.”

            “Thanks, Holly.”

            “Anyway, I’ve got some bad news too.”

            “What?”

            “The job I offered you isn’t available anymore.”

            I gasped.

            “My cousin took over it.”

            “Holly, how could you do such a thing?”

            “We needed someone as soon as possible.”

            “B-but—”

            “Sorry, Sarah, but you’ll just have to look for something else.” Holly hung up.

            I looked down and sighed.

            “I told you,” Timothy said.

            “Shut up!” I inhaled and exhaled.

            My mother returned inside. “Kids, are you all packed up and ready to go?”

            “Wait, we’re moving out tonight?” asked Timothy.

            “Yes,” said my mom. “Sarah, did you hear from Holly?”

            I nodded. “But she gave the position to someone else.”

            My mom gasped. “No.”

            Her phone rang. She answered it.

            I tuned out, assuming that it had nothing to do with me. But my mom looked at me. “Sarah, Mrs. Johnson has a job opening for you.”

            I opened my mouth. My mother’s friend offering me a job opportunity?

            “All right then. Thank you, Martha.” My mom hung up. “Sarah, Mrs. Johnson expects you next week.”

            “Why not sooner?” I asked.

            “Because she has to take care of other things,” my mother said. “But we may get this house back.”

            I smiled.

fiction

The Prince Who Loved Boys: A Short Story

Once upon a time, there was a prince who lived in a castle. He was seventeen years old and completing his education soon as well as preparing for engagement. His parents, the king and queen, had arranged princesses and other young ladies to meet him and bless them with marriage.

            Only that—the prince didn’t love girls. He loved guys.

            “Mother, I want to marry another boy,” the prince said.

            “You do?” asked the queen.

            “I’m gay,” said the prince.

            The king hung his jaw down. “Why didn’t you tell us earlier?”

            “I’m sorry, father, I… I wasn’t sure if you’d accept it.”

            “Of course we would, son,” the king said. “It’s just that… we don’t know any other gay guys.”
            “There has to be someone out there.”

            A guy cried for help outside. The prince ran to the window. A boy, around the prince’s age, carried a rose outside the moat.

            “Has anyone seen Casey?” the strange boy asked.

            “Um… may I ask if Casey is a boy or a girl?” the prince asked.

            “He’s a boy!” the guy stared at the prince. “Were you overhearing my—”

            “Sorry,” the prince said.

            “Why do you care?” asked the boy.

            “W-well… b-because—”

            “I’m taken, sorry.” The boy turned around.

            “Wait!” exclaimed the prince.

            The guy stopped.

            “You’re gay too?”

            “Yes.”

            “Oh, isn’t that wonderful?” the queen approached the window. “In fact, I think you should have dinner with us tonight and let my son get to know you.”

            “But I—”

            “We’ll have the guards open up the gates and take it from there,” the queen said.

            Some time later the royal family and the new boy sat at the dinner table. The butlers brought out the food.

            “So what is your name, sire?” the king asked.

            “I’m Kyle,” said the guest. “And there’s something I need to tell you.”

            “Well, our son is due for marriage soon,” the king said. “And he just told us that he’s gay.”

            “So am I and—”

            “You and our son would make a perfect couple, Kyle,” the queen said. “We’ll make you both live happily ever after.”

            “What I’m trying to say is—”

            “And you two will rule the kingdom together,” the king added.

            “I’m in a relationship!” Kyle yelled.

            There was a pause. The whole table went silent.

            “I’m sorry, but I can’t marry the prince,” Kyle said.

            The king sighed. “Fine. Then I guess you guys will just be friends.”

            That night the prince sat in his chamber. Tears stung his eyes. He and Kyle could be friends. But the prince loved him as a partner.

            What if there were no other guys to love? The royal wedding was set to start in six months. The prince only had a few more days to find a suiter.

            But Kyle seemed to sob outside. “Casey, you can’t do this to me.”

            The prince rushed to his window.

            “I don’t love you,” Casey said. “Honestly, I don’t feel ready for a relationship.” He walked away from Kyle.

            The prince hurried to his parents’ chamber. “Mom, Dad, I need your help with something.”

            “If it’s about Kyle, I’m afraid we can’t do anything about it,” the king said.

            “That’s the thing,” said the prince. “His boyfriend doesn’t love him. He broke up with him.”

            The queen gasped. “Oh, that’s terrible.”

            “Can we let him back inside?” asked the prince. “Please?”

            “It’s nine o’clock,” the king said.

            “I don’t want to lose him,” the prince said.

            “Your majesties!” cried Kyle.

            The queen walked to the door. “We’ll let him in.”

            After the guards let Kyle in, the prince approached him. “Are you all right?”

            “Casey’s used me this whole time for nothing,” Kyle said.

            “I’m sorry,” said the prince. “But… maybe I can make it up for you.”

            “You really think so?” asked Kyle.

            “Yes,” said the prince. “I promise to love you with all my heart. I’ll never cheat on you or dump you.”

            “You promise?” Kyle asked.

            “I do,” said the prince.

            Kyle smiled.

            The next few months, the two spent several dates together. They married in the late summer as prince and prince. And did they live happily ever after? You decide.

fiction

Spring Explained: A Flash Fiction Piece

Image from Pixabay

Today is March twentieth. You should know what that is. The first day of spring. You’d expect flowers blooming, tree buds expanding, and much more.

            Maybe in parts of the south. However, here in New York, the first day of spring is cold, can snow, and has no blooming of anything whatsoever. It’s practically still winter.

            I’ve always wondered why the dates of spring couldn’t be regional. Why does it have to rely on an equinox related to the Earth and where it is around the sun?

            Because where I live, “spring” isn’t until at least close to mid-April. That’s right. Nothing blooms or fades from winter until about a month after the first day of spring.

            On the bright side, winter weather delays my allergies. When pollen flies and plants bloom, I sneeze a lot. Sometimes I even catch a cold.

            I stare outside my window, and watch flurries fall from the sky. Darn. I didn’t expect that today.

            But someone knocks on my door.

            “Genevieve, it’s time for school,” my mom says.

            I leave my room and go downstairs. I realize that global warming has made some springs come sooner. It wasn’t until three years ago that things bloomed in March. And that’s unusual.

            “I’m surprised it’s snowing,” my mom says.

            “It’s March, Mom,” I say. “It’s always cold at this time of year.”

            “Um… no, sometimes it’s warmer than usual.”

            “Global warming.”

            “You really believe so?”

            “Yes.”

fiction

The Cruise: A Flash Fiction Piece

Image from Pixabay

Ava took out her paper while facing the classroom. “This is a true tale about something that happened over the summer.” She gazed into her sheet and looked at the other students. “The sun was shining over the ocean. I was dancing on a cruise with some friends and my family. But a thunder storm struck lightning nearby. Our ship had to move away from it. The party was over. I was disappointed.”

            “And we’ll stop there,” said Mrs. Sanders, the teacher. “Ava, is this really a true story?”

            “Yes,” she said.

            “You’re crazy,” said a boy.

            “I thought your family didn’t have a lot of money,” said Kelsi.

            “Mind your own business, Kelsi,” Ava said.

            The bell rang. Everyone left the classroom and packed up as his or her locker.

            Ava breathed, thinking about what her classmates had said. She couldn’t be insane. She couldn’t have made the whole thing up.

            After hopping onto the bus, Ava’s phone rang. It was her mom.

            “Ava, what happened in school today?”

            “Nothing, Mom.”

            “I got a call from Mrs. Sanders that you made up a story about us being on a cruise.”

            “We did go on a cruise over the summer. I remember.”

            “We’ve never been on a cruise before. I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to have a chat when we get home.” The mother hung up.

            Ava felt her stomach compress. How could her mom not recall the cruise? Either her mom was starting to forget things or… Ava had some memory issue.

            No. She couldn’t. She’d heard of some condition where people unintentionally lied about things that never happened. But that couldn’t be the case for her.

            Minutes had passed. Ava got off the bus and went inside. Her mom gave her a sharp look. “Ava, I have some bad news for you.”

            “I’m grounded, aren’t I?”

            “No.” The mother sighed. “You have been cursed with a condition that gives you memories of things you’ve never had.”

            Ava lowered her jaw. “What?”

            “I found out that your father was a magician. And that he gave you that jinx.”

            Ava gasped. “No.”

            “It’s been ten years since he died. I waited too long to tell you.”

            Ava looked down. “How am I ever going to get through life like this?”

            “You’re the only one who can control those false memories.”

            “What?”

            “It’s all up to you.”

            “But how do I control them?”

            “You have to consider other circumstances and suppress those that don’t match with them.”

            “Okay.” Ava sat on a couch. She closed her eyes. “We never went on a cruise ship,” she whispered. She repeated herself a few times.

            The thought faded. Ava forgot what happened before the storm. She reminded herself out loud a couple more times. She couldn’t remember anything about a cruise vacation.

            Ava looked down. It would be nice if we went on a cruise one day. Perhaps, before my thirteenth birthday in January.

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.

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.”

           

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.

 

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.