Tell the Story Challenge

Story challenge

The incomparable Susan Richardson passed me the baton in this challenge, which asks the writer to create a story around a picture the previous author has selected. I’m always game for these types of assignments, primarily because it is often difficult to get the creative juices flowing every week, and having something like this provides a ready-made subject matter. Plus, I love a challenge!

I also love Susan’s work, and what she produced for this challenge is exceptional. I have passed the baton to her on a number of occasions for different challenges of this nature, so I’m sure this is her way of reciprocating. I actually welcomed it, until I saw her picture, that is. Talk about a WTF moment. My first thought was, “Sue, I thought you were my friend,” but as I stared at it for a few minutes, what I would write became obvious. What follows is a longer piece than what you normally find in this space, but I hope you like it.

My name is Aimee. I was given to Sarah when she was a toddler, and have been with her ever since.

From the beginning, my home was on the nightstand next to where she slept, where I watched over her at night, and made sure she stayed safe. Around the time she turned five, Sarah began to lovingly brush my hair every night before her Mom came in to read her a bedtime story. During these intimate moments, Sarah told me about her day, and over time I knew all of her hopes, dreams and fears. If she had a nightmare the previous night, Sarah would plead with me to keep the monsters away. How cute it that?

We drifted apart a bit once Sarah hit puberty. She’d occasionally brush my hair and confide in me, but for the most part, I stayed on the night table next to her bed, keeping vigil over her and her room.

Her father, who was in the military, moved frequently. I moved with them, and remained a fixture next to her bed in each new location. I went to college with her, in addition to the various apartments she lived in following graduation. While our relationship evolved over the years, we have always been a team.

Sarah began to confide in me more once she began dating. As she became older, I was witness to the moment she lost her virginity, and every occasion she allowed someone to share her bed. I was witness to her transformation from an insecure, awkward teen to an assertive, confident woman.

I knew everything she thought and felt about her intimate acquaintences, and saw her heart get broken a couple of times. I wanted to murder the bastards who hurt her, but Sarah was resilient, had a healthy self-esteem, and always rebounded farily quickly.

So even though our relationship evolved, I was content. I mean, she wasn’t a kid anymore, and most people would have either discarded me a long time ago or packed me away in some anonymous, forgotten box. The fact that she didn’t demonstrated she still cared. So did the fact that she still smiled at me on occasion, always made sure that I wasn’t covered in dust, and that my place on her nightstand was clean and free of debris. She was still my person, and I was happy with the way things were. Until she met Matt, that is.

Matt was the keeper, unfortunately. He was a strikingly handsome guy with a body that looked like it was carved from marble. Sarah fell head over heels for him, and I couldn’t say I blamed her. Besides his looks, he was kind, thoughful, and had a wicked sense of humor that made her laugh. Hell, it even made me want to laugh on occasion. But I thought there was more to Matt than what met the eye.

You see, Matt always had a very high opinion of himself. He also liked to party, and was a different cat when he drank. At least I thought so. While he never laid a hand on Sarah, he could become short and irritable. His humor became more biting and mean-spirited, and I sensed a temper and darkness lurking below his surface. It worried me.

My issues began when he moved in with his dog, a chocolate lab named Belle. For some reason, Belle thought I was her personal play-toy. She’d frequently sneak into the bedroom, and knock me off the nightstand with her nose. Sometimes she would bat me around the room with her paw, sometimes she would grab me by the hair, and toss me around the room, which I hated. I drew the line at becoming her chew toy however. On a few occasions I had to discretely maneuver my way out of her mouth in a way that didn’t attract suspicion when she tried to gnaw on me. I do have some abilities, you see, but until then never had the need or desire to use them.

But Belle remained a problem. What I hated more than anything is when, usually after I extricated myself from her mouth, she would slobber all over me. Sarah didn’t like that either. She’d find me all wet and nasty on the bedroom floor, clean me up, then complain to Matt about keeping Belle out of the bedroom. Matt seemed irritated that Sarah cared more for a “stupid doll” than his dog, and half-heartedly complied. These events didn’t happen as frequently, but they did continue.  I was getting fed up about the entire situation and decided to do something about it the next time Belle bothered me.

One afternoon when Sarah was jogging, Matt absent-mindedly left the bedroom door ajar. I could hear Belle bounding up the stairs, and prepared myself. She pushed the door open with her nose, then looked around before entering, as if she knew she was on the verge of being a “bad dog” if she was caught. The urge to abuse me outweighed any potential repercussion, however, and in she came.

Belle made a bee-line to the nightstand, knocked me onto the floor, and started batting me around. Normally I would stay put like an inanimate object, but this time I rolled across the floor towards the bed, hoping to find sanctuary beneath it. But I’m not very big, and could not move as fast as that beast, who intercepted me before I could reach my destination. My unexpected movement apparently added an element of excitement to the game, and she grabbed me in her mouth with more gusto than usual and threw me high into the air. Fortunately, I had a soft landing on their bed, but Belle jumped onto the bed, grabbed me in her mouth again, and flung me harder. I flew across the room,  hit the wall hard, and bounced against something hard on the way down before hitting the floor again.  It hurt like hell, and I was disoriented.

Belle was feeling it though, and let out one loud bark as she came after me. Grabbing me in her mouth, she started treating me like a chew toy. By now I was mad as hell, and needed to let her know who was boss.  So as Belle was holding me in her paws and gnawing on my head, I quickly hopped into her mouth and forced my way into the back of her throat.

That got her attention. She was stunned, whined loudly, shook her head violently from side to side, and knocked a chair over as she wobbled about the room, making a hell of a racket in the process. I felt her fear, and couldn’t help but smile. Matt must have heard the racket because he raced upstairs to see what was going on. When he arrived at the scene and saw Belle’s dilemma, he stuck his hand in her mouth to retrieve whatever was choking her. I wanted that dog dead, however, and bit one of his fingers as hard as I could, hoping he would let go.

Matt screamed but hung on, and with a forceful yank, was able to dislodge me after prying Belle’s mouth open with his other hand. Belle ran from the room like she was shot out of a cannon and never bothered me again, so I at least accomplished something on that front.

But Matt? His forearm were scraped by Belle’s teeth from when he gave that one final pull, but that isn’t what confused him. Instead, he gaped at the hole on the side of his right index finger, directly below the knuckle.  It was bleeding a lot, but apparently not enough to require stiches, and a chunk of skin was missing. Matt glanced back and forth between the finger and me, with an incredulous look on his face. His eyes told him one thing, but they also told him I don’t have a mouth, so how in the world could I have bitten him? He pondered this for a long time.

Matt never said a word to Sarah that I am aware of,  but I think he understood there was more to me than meets the eye. After cleaning me up, he moved me from the night stand to the top of a bookcase on the opposite side of the bedroom, and turned me so that I was looking out a window. Sarah put me back on my rightful place later that evening. He threw a suspicious glance my way as they were getting ready for bed, but said nothing, and that was the end of it. For a while, anyway.

Much to my dismay, they married, less than a year later, and bought a house before their first anniversary. As they were moving in, Matt conveniently forgot to unpack me, and put the box I was stashed in into the guest bedroom closet.  Sarah, who was pregnant at the time and was more interested in getting the nursery prepared, didn’t notice. I don’t know exactly how long I was imprisoned in that dark tomb, but I missed the duration of Sarah’s pregnancy and the birth of their child.

I was depressed, and felt forgotten and abandoned. My person was gone, but I stayed put because I knew that if I ever made an appearance, Matt would get rid of me.

But something troubling was happening to the marriage. I don’t know what triggered the problem, but they began to argue constantly, and the baby cried a lot more than it used to. Sometimes the arguments got so loud I could hear them downstairs from the my closet prison. I was concerned, to say the least, but what could I do?

Last week, one of their arguments spilled into the guest bedroom, and after a period of shouting and name calling, I heard a sharp slapping sound, followed by someone crumpling to the floor. I knew it was Sarah because she was sobbing uncontrollably as Matt stormed out of the room. A rage began to well inside me. My person was in trouble and had no one to help her.

Imagine Matt’s surprise the following morning when, as he opened the medicine cabinet to get his shaving cream, he saw me glaring at him. My eyes had literally turned wide and red, like glowing charcoal embers. It looked like  he was going to have a heart attack. It’s a pity he didn’t.

Shaken to his core, Matt marched me downstairs, and I soon found myself mingling with food scraps and other slimy, smelly shit in kitchen garbage container under the sink. I tried my best to bite him during the journey downstairs, but held me by the hair, not letting me get near him. I guess he remembered the incident with Belle. Then he pulled the garbage bag out, tied it up and deposited it in the big green container they keep outside for he next day’s pick-up.

I’m sure he thinks I’m history, but unfortunately for him, I can do a lot more than bite.

I easily escaped from my smelly grave and have been planning and keeping a low profile ever since. Once I made the decision, I found a discreet spot on one of the family room end tables that is tucked in the corner next to a sofa, and hid there.

Sarah is upstairs with the baby now, and won’t be coming downstairs any time soon. She is a sad, broken husk of her former self, and her bruises haven’t faded completely.  But they will heal, and so will her soul, once I get rid of that motherfucker.

Matt, you see, has a habit having a drink or two (sometimes three) during the evening, after which he usually lies down to watch television before passing out. When his drunken eyes close tonight, they won’t reopen. My dilemma is I how it’s going to happen.

It would be better for Sarah if it looks like he died in his sleep. There would be less questions that way, and she doesn’t need any more trauma in her life. But I selfishly want that prick to suffer.

Decisions, decisions.

Now it is my turn to pass this off to three folks you need to discover. Tom, (Tom Marches On) who I am sure is licking his Super Bowl wounds and needs a diversion, Billy (aka Superman) and Jane, (The Natural Calamity version), you’re up. Good luck with this picture. I am looking forward to reading what you can come up with.

Woods

Author: Steve Markesich

I am loving husband, a doting father, a Red Sox fanatic, an aspiring novelist and MS advocate. Feel free to check out my stevemarkesich.com web site.

19 thoughts on “Tell the Story Challenge”

  1. I was teasing about the friend comment because deep down, I like being challenged. My problem is that with a full time job I don’t get the opportunity too do much of this. I wrote every single day when I was working on the novel, but this blog has consumed most of the time I devoted to creative writing. Maybe I need to force myself to do this kind of thing every so often.

    Thanks as always for the feedback B, and if you are interested in the novel, shoot an email to smarkesich@gmail.com and I can email the manuscript to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Steve, you are a master story teller!!!! I Love this whole life and fierce personality that you gave to my strange little doll; it’s perfect! I was away from my computer yesterday and couldn’t read this until this morning, but talk about a great way to start the day! I knew you were going to knock this out of the park!!! I Love your story voice!!!!! And, as ever, thank you for your kind words about me!!! I feel super inspired now!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am game for more if these kinds of writing challenges. I almost forgot what it is like to write creatively. Haven’t done too much of that since I finished the novel. This definitely scratched an itch, so thanks 4 thinking about me

      Liked by 2 people

  3. that was brilliant, my friend. You are a master story teller and your skills really shone through. I will attempt to take your challenge. I’ve been under the weather and uninspired lately but I’ll give it a shot

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, that took a dark turn! Awesome really, Steve, you have a magnificent gift for storytelling. I’ll do my best to come up with something worthy of your challenge. To be perfectly honest, my friend, the very next story I write will be my first one, so bear with me. In a very real sense, when it comes to writing fiction, I’m a little lost in the woods. 😉

    Again, magnificent! And thank you for thinking of me!

    Liked by 1 person

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