Short Story Sunday 265: Card (Part Three)

Short Story Sunday: Card | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Mystery | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah sat behind George’s desk. She leaned back in the chair, propping her feet on the surface of his desk, and swiveled back and forth. She pouted her lips together deep in thought at the meeting they just had with Richard Wiley. His wife, Beth, had been acting strangely for a few weeks before she disappeared without a trace only taking her keys and car with her. What was really strange was that she had called George the week before but never gave any information on what was bothering her.

“What are you doing? Get your feet off my desk.” George said exasperated. He broke Lilah out of her thoughts as he entered the office once more.

Lilah put her feet back to the floor and sat forward propping her elbows on the desk now. “Did Richard have anything else to say?”

George sat down in the client’s chair, much to Lilah’s surprise. She had expected him to kick her out of his seat.

“Well,” he said, “we’ve officially been hired for a case.”

Lilah didn’t smile. “That’s good, I guess.”

George scratched the top of his head. “I’m glad we have work to do, but I feel so uneasy about this particular case. Things aren’t adding up.”

“They’re not supposed to add up. Not right now, anyway.” Lilah stated. She shivered. She was beginning to sound like George. Maybe she shouldn’t have been sitting in his chair after all.

“I know, but usually cases are odd. This one seems more so. I don’t know, I just have a bad feeling.” George answered.

Lilah sighed. “I know what you mean. This is certainly a strange one with both of them calling us… I wonder what Beth wanted from us.”

“She most likely wanted help about whatever is spooking her. Though it was enough for her to run away.” George said.

“Or maybe she took matters into her own hands.” Lilah suggested.

George looked up at her and she shrugged in response. She could tell by the raised eyebrows that George hadn’t thought of that possibility, but he certainly was now.

“Did Richard call the police?” Lilah asked. When George walked their new client to the front door, they stood in the hallway talking for some time. Lilah realized they had forgotten to ask him one of the most important questions – did he call the police already?

George nodded. “I asked him. He called 24 hours after he had no contact from his wife and still had no idea about her whereabouts. He knew the police would give him the run around so he waited until the time was right to call. Also, he was just holding out hoping that Beth would come home. He said he thought she might have just needed some space and went to the spa or something.”

“There are spas around here?” Lilah asked. She wanted one.

“Not that I know of, no.”

“Oh,”

“So, the police are on the case. They’re looking for Beth Wiley and her bright blue Honda.” George rattled off the license plate number he had written down on the sticky note beside her name.

Lilah perked up. “Barney must know then, right? Can we give him a call?”

George scrunched up his face and shook his head. “I don’t want to call my brother about this. Not now, anyway. We’ve barely begun the investigation.”

“Maybe Barney is the beginning of our investigation though. He might know more about Richard than we do. Richard might have given the police more information than he gave us.” Lilah explained.

“I doubt that. Richard wouldn’t have hired us if he didn’t include all the information. I don’t believe so, at least. Besides, Barney isn’t going to share any information with us about it now. Maybe not ever.” George countered.

Lilah sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Lilah watched George carefully as he picked at a loose thread in the upholstery of the chair. Lilah remained deep in thought about the case. She certainly wanted to know more about Beth and also this Richard guy. Even though he was their client, she wondered if they were able to truth him. She glanced back at George again. She also wanted to know what was going on in his mind.

Then the phone rang.

Lilah leaned forward to look at the caller ID. She stood up from her chair and motioned for George to sit in his own seat. “Speak of the devil.”

George stood taking her offer. He switched seats with Lilah picking up the phone as he sat down. “Barney?”

“Speaker,” Lilah whispered. There was no way she was going to be left out of this conversation.

George, for once, obeyed. He pushed the speaker button on the phone and set it down on the receiver.

“George, how are you?” Barney asked.

“I’m fine, how are you?” George replied. He gave Lilah a strange look. She felt just as weirded out as he did. What were the odds of Barney calling them when they were just talking about him?

“I’m on a case, so I’m as fine as I can be.” Barney replied. “Listen,” he continued before George could respond, “I need to talk to you. Are you free to come down to the station sometime today?”

Lilah raised both her eyebrows. Barney’s tone was different. He had his cop voice on that was for sure. Usually he was a little different with George though.

“I guess so, if you really need me to. What’s going on?” George asked.

“I’m at Simmond’s Park in the woods. We got a call from a concerned parent. There’s a car parked in the woods with branches and tarp covering it. The parent who called it in thought someone was sitting in the car watching the kids on the playground. There’s no one in the car though. The owner definitely wanted to hide it, but we’re not sure if it’s been abandoned or if they’ll be back.” Barney explained.

Lilah pressed her lips together. She suddenly felt warm and had a very good feeling as to what was about to happen next. Why Barney needed to talk to them about it, she wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem like they had found Beth, so how did Barney know they were connected somehow?

“Let me guess… blue Honda?” George asked before he mentioned the license plate.

“So, you do know the car.” Barney replied his tone hinting confirmation.

“I have knowledge of the car’s existence. I don’t know it though. Why did you call me about this?” George asked.

“George, your business card was in the front cup holder.” Barney stated.

Lilah’s eyes grew and she looked at George who stared back at her in confusion.

“We ran the plates,” Barney continued, “and this vehicle is registered to a Bethany Wiley. Whether she was the one who drove the car here and hid it, is a mystery, but there’s no report of it being stolen. Do you know Bethany?”

“Not personally,”

“What does that mean?”

George pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve never met the woman, though I spoke to her over the phone once last week. I have no idea how she got my business card.”

“Do you know that her husband, Richard Wiley, had reported her missing?” Barney asked.

“Lilah and I have just had the pleasure of meeting Richard.” George answered.

“Where is he?”

“He just left my office about ten minutes before you called.”

Barney sighed. “I’ll have to call him soon…”

Lilah piped up. “This is more about the car, isn’t it? What else is going on?”

“Am I on speaker?” Barney asked.

“Of course,” Lilah grinned.

Barney grunted before explaining further. “There was a body of an adult male in the trunk.”

Words: 1,304

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Short Story Sunday 264: Disappoint (Part Two)

Short Story Sunday: Disappoint | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

Lilah was the one who let Richard into the building. They had their polite greetings – Richard was somber and Lilah attempted to be her usual perky self, but she knew something was terribly wrong. She led him down the hallway to George’s office in silence. She had left the door open and George saw them coming. He stood, buttoning his suit jacket as he walked around to the other side of his desk, and stuck out a hand for Richard. He took it, they dipped their heads as Lilah always saw men do, and then they took their seats. George at his desk, Richard in the client’s chair, and Lilah beside George.

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.” Richard began.

“Of course. I’m glad we had an opening.” George replied cracking a small smile.

Lilah wanted to mention they’ve had plenty of openings lately, but she knew well enough when to bite her tongue.

“So, uh, do I just start explaining?” Richard asked. “I’m sorry, I’ve never had to do this before.”

“No worries. Starting at the beginning is helpful, but tell us what you like and take your time. There’s no rush.” George said soothingly.

“Well,” Richard cleared his throat and shifted his weight in his chair, “I don’t really know where to begin, actually… my wife, Beth, she started acting strange a couple weeks ago.”

“Can you be a little more specific than a couple of weeks, please?” George interrupted. He opened his notepad and began scribbling down what Richard dictated.

Richard turned his chin to the ceiling. “Three weeks? I had gone away on a business trip and the day I came home she was acting strange. I had thought she was having an affair. I honestly thought there was a man inside my closet or something and she was nervous I’d find him. I didn’t think she’d ever do anything like that though. We’re very open and honest with one another so I felt comfortable asking her about it.”

Lilah’s draw dropped. “You mean to say you just asked your wife up front if she was cheating on you?”

“Yes,” Richard said matter-of-factly. “Everyone should feel comfortable talking to their partner about anything and everything.” He sighed. “Which is why I don’t understand why she would keep secrets and then disappear into thin air.”

“Wait a minute,” George held up a finger, “has this talk about anything and everything thing mutual between the two of you? Or would you say you’re more of the talker and feelings one in the relationship?”

“Mutual,”

“So, how did she react when you asked if she was cheating on you?”

“It was weird,” Richard began, “she laughed. It wasn’t the kind of laugh where she thought of question was ridiculous or the kind of laugh that’s nervous as she tries to cover it up. Her laughing was filled with relief. It was almost as though she thought I was going to accuse her of something else.”

“Do you know what that something else could be?” Lilah questioned.

“No idea,” Richard shook his head.

George drew in a sharp breath. “So, what did you mean when you said she disappeared into thin air?”

“She vanished.” Richard said, his solemn gaze at the ground. “I woke up one morning and she wasn’t in bed. I thought she had to go into work early so I drove by her work to bring her a coffee. On my way there, I got a phone call from her boss. Beth never showed up to work and never even called. They had called her cell phone a couple of times but she didn’t answer. I lied to Beth’s boss. I told her Beth was sick.” Richard paused. He closed his eyes. “I didn’t want to lie but I didn’t want them to think something was wrong. I didn’t think anything was wrong at the time.”

“It’s okay, I would have done the same thing.” Lilah said quietly. George glanced at her and she shrugged. She felt awkward and wanted him to feel better. She didn’t want him thinking this was his fault, but what did she know? Maybe it was his fault and he either didn’t see it or he was lying to them as well.

“When did you wake up and Beth was gone?” George asked.

“Three days ago.”

“She had been acting strange for nearly three weeks, you didn’t do or say anything about it other than asking about a possible affair, and then she just got up without a trace?” George rehashed.

Richard nodded. “I went back home and found all her things including her wallet and phone. Her car and keys were gone, that’s it. She didn’t take anything.

“And I did ask her what was wrong occasionally. She wouldn’t tell me. She asked for space and said she’d tell me when she was ready. So, I stopped asking. I wanted to respect her request.”

“That was nice of you.” Lilah piped up.

“But now your wife is missing so maybe not so much?” George said bluntly. Lilah elbowed him, but he didn’t so much as flinch.

“Richard,” George leaned forward, “did you know that Beth made a call here a week ago?”

Richard’s head snapped up and he stared at George with wide eyes.

“No, I didn’t think so.” George sighed leaning back into his seat.

“What are you talking about?”

“We knew who Beth was when you called. As soon as you mentioned her name, we remembered her phone call from a week ago.” Lilah explained. “She didn’t give us any information though. She wanted our help but was unsure if we could help.”

“It was almost as though she was at war with herself. She wasn’t sure if calling us was the right thing to do. I asked if she’d come in, but she refused. I told her when she was ready, she was more than welcome to stop by. She said she would think about it and that was it.” George clarified. “She originally called asking if we were taking on more clients but never stated whether she was the one who had interest in hiring us. I wondered if she was calling for you, but obviously that’s not the case.”

Richard remained silent. He turned his gaze to the floor again.

“Now that I think about it, and after hearing your side, I’m sure now. The tone in her voice.” George said cryptically.

“Share with the class, George. There’s no need for secrets.” Lilah deadpanned.

“She was afraid. She was worried about something. Whether she was afraid for herself or for someone else, I’m not sure. It seems as though she ran away, so she must be afraid for herself. She’s scared of something. She disappeared with the intention of not being found.” George explained.

Lilah elbowed him again. She noticed he was staring off into space as he spoke and realized he was getting carried away with his thoughts. Meanwhile, Richard looked like he was about to explode in a waterfall of tears at any second. She was blunt, she knew that much, but George sometimes had no emotional tact.

Her nudge nabbed his attention. George looked up at Lilah in wonderment and she nodded her head to their potential client. When George noticed Richard trying to keep his emotions in check, he sighed.

“Richard, do you need a minute?” he asked. “You can tell us what you’re thinking.”

“I’m…” Richard mumbled something, but Lilah didn’t make out what he said. She leaned forward.

“I’m sorry?” George said leaning forward as well.

Richard lifted his head, his face filled with sorrow. “I’m disappointed.”

“Disappointed?” Lilah repeated in a snarky tone. Now George elbowed her and she waved him away. Disappointed was not the exact emotion she thought Richard would be feeling.

“I’m disappointed because,” Richard sniffled, “Beth felt the need to come to you. Why didn’t she come to me?”

Words: 1,327

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Short Story Sunday 263: Find Me (Part One)

Short Story Sunday: Find Me | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah kicked her foot lightly against the bottom of George’s desk making a low thud sound. She slouched all the way back in her chair swinging her leg aimlessly and mindlessly. George peered over his book with every thud, his eyes getting narrower each time.

She let out a huge sigh – she made it bigger and louder than it needed to be. Since George wasn’t paying any attention to her, she needed to emphasize and be a little dramatic in order to get his attention. Her sigh turned into a yawn and she groaned as she did so.

George lowered his book and let out a small sigh of his own. He placed his paper bookmark in his reading spot, closed the book, and gently lay it flat on his desk. He leaned forward with his hands folded on top of the book. “Lilah, did you need my attention for something?”

“I’m bored.”

“Then go read a book or play your video games or clean or something. I’m trying to read here.”

“What are you reading?” Lilah asked.

“Nothing,” George replied sternly. “Lilah, I want peace and quiet.”

She rolled her eyes. “There’s nothing to do though! We’re usually out and about trying to solves cases at this time. I don’t know what to do with myself.”

“You have plenty of things to do.” George said leaning back in his seat. He picked up his book again but didn’t open it. Instead, he stared at Lilah.

She knew exactly what he wanted. “Are you kicking me out of your office?”

George nodded. “I said I want peace and quiet.”

“I’m quit,” Lilah defended herself.

“Sighing over-dramatically and kicking my desk is far from quiet.”

“I’m peace,” Lilah shrugged turning her gaze away.

George deadpanned. “Get out.” He waved his hands shooing her.

Lilah stood up from her chair. She turned her back and headed for the door. When she stood in the middle of the room, she turned back around to face him. “Are you should you don’t want to do anything?”

“I’m sure,”

“Do you want to go out to eat or something?”

“No, thank you,”

“Wanna play a game?”

“Lilah…”

Lilah went boneless and fell to the floor.

“Oh, dear Lord…” George muttered burying his face in his hands.

The room fell silent. Lilah remained on the ground lying on her back, spread-eagle, staring up at the ceiling. She didn’t dare look up at George, though she wondered if he was taking this chance for his peace and quiet since she was silently protesting.

“Lilah, get up.” She heard him say.

“I want a case.” She replied. “I’m bored. We haven’t had a case in a while.”

“I can’t make a case appear out of thin air. Trust me, if I could, I would.” George said with a grunt. “You think I don’t want to have another case? It allows me to pay rent and it makes you less annoying.”

Lilah sat up on the floor. “Didn’t a lady call us about a week ago? What about her?”

George shrugged. “She called, but I don’t know. What about her?” he repeated.

“How come we didn’t take her case?” Lilah asked pushing herself up from the ground. She found her chair on the other side of George’s desk and sat down there.

“I’m not sure. She told me that she might need our services. I asked her to come in and we could discuss the possibility together, but she didn’t want to.” George answered.

“Why not?” Lilah asked.

“Maybe money is tight for her? Maybe she wasn’t sure if she even had a case for us?”

“Then why would she call at all?”

George sighed. “Lilah, I don’t know. I can’t read minds.”

“You should work on that.” She grinned. He glared at her.

“Listen,” George began, “This woman called about a week ago and asked about our services. I told her what we did and she said she might be able to use us. I asked her to come in and we could decide if that’d be the right decision but she hastily refused.”

“Hastily refused? Why do you put it like that?” Lilah asked.

George hesitated to reply. “Because she hastily refused?”

Lilah waved her hand. “Okay, never mind.”

“She seemed troubled, that was for sure. But I can’t help her unless she wants my help.” George explained. “If she hasn’t called back then I’m left to assume she figured out what she needed to on her own or maybe with the help of a friend.”

“For free… without us.” Lilah said dully.

George cracked a smile. “Not everyone needs us to solve their problems.”

“Well, they should.” Lilah pouted.

George pointed to the door and Lilah rolled her eyes. She got the hint. She had lost this battle. She was going to have to find something else to do to entertain herself. She got up and headed for the door. The moment her hand wrapped around the door handle, the phone rang.

She twisted back around and dashed over to George’s desk. “Yay!” she shouted.

“Shush!” George glared at her. He already had the phone in his hand. “George Florence-”

“And Williams,” Lilah quickly added in a whisper.

George glared at her. “Private Detective, how may I help you?”

Lilah stiffened in her seat as George listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. She brought her hand up and began to bite lightly on her nails. She knew it was bad habit, but the last phone call they got – other than that woman – was a telemarketer. She hoped this was an actual case and not a false alarm. Though she wondered if George would have stayed on the phone this long if it was anything else.

“Well, I’m open for another two hours and my afternoon is wide open. You can come in now, if you’d like?” George replied. Then he smiled and a grin grew on Lilah’s face. “That would be great, we’ll see you soon. My pleasure, good bye.” George hung up the phone.

Lilah jumped up from her seat and fist-pumped the air. “We have a case, don’t we?!”

“A potential case, yes, but we haven’t talked to him in person and don’t know all the details. Who knows if he’ll hire us?” George replied.

“It’s a start.” Lilah said sitting back down. “Besides, it at least gives us something to do this afternoon.”

“Yes,”

“Is he on his way over now?”

“Uh-huh,”

Lilah frowned. “You don’t seem enthusiastic about this. What’s wrong? What’d the man say?”

George opened the top right drawer of his desk and rummaged through some papers. “The man, Richard Wiley, called about his wife. She’s missing. She’s been missing for almost a week.”

“And… that bothers you?” Lilah wondered aloud.

“It’s bothers me because,” George pulled out a sticky note and placed it on his desk, the words facing Lilah.

“Beth Wiley?” Lilah read. “Who’s she?”

“Richard’s wife.” George answered.

“How did you…?”

“She’s also the woman who called us last week.”

“Oh,” Lilah said quietly. “Does he know she called us?”

George shook his head. “He didn’t mention it.”

Lilah slouched down in her chair as George leaned back in his own. Both were deep in thought as they awaited the arrival of the missing person’s husband.

Words: 1,224

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Short Story Sunday 262: Wound

Short Story Sunday: Wound | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

“Is he going to be alright?” Joe asked. He hovered over his brother in the middle of their driveway.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning. The two of them had decided to take their dog for a walk when their pup had noticed something in the corner of the driveway.

“I don’t know,” Lucas replied shaking his head. He squatted down beside the wounded creature. “The bird looks like he’s just a baby. It was really windy last night, I wonder if he fell out of his nest.”

Joe straightened his back and looked up at the sky. “We don’t really have any trees around here though. I mean, we have some in the back yard, but I can’t imagine a baby bird would have been carried by the wind all the way over here.”

Lucas stood up. He put his hands in his jean pockets still staring at the small, helpless creature. “He’s probably pretty light. Depending on how strong the wind was last night, then yeah. The bird could totally have been carried such a long way.”

Joe reached down and pat his dog on the head. “You’re being a good boy.” He said quietly. He was surprised their dog wasn’t trying to get at the bird at all. Joe was also surprised at how patient he was being. They told him they were going for a walk and here they were, standing in the middle of their driveway, for the past half hour.

“So, what do we do about this?” Joe asked.

Lucas shrugged. “I have no idea. I don’t know if maybe his mother will come looking for him?”

“We should look for the nest!” Joe exclaimed.

“And do what?”

“I don’t know…”

“We can’t put the bird back in the nest. We shouldn’t touch it.”

“I doubt he’s diseased. He’s just a baby.” Joe countered.

“I know some animals don’t go near their babies anymore if they have human scent on them. I’m not sure if birds are the same way.” Lucas explained.

“Oh,” Joe took a couple steps back. “I still think we should find the nest.”

Lucas sighed. “If that would make you feel better? I guess we could?”

“Come on, Frank!” Joe tugged on the dog’s leash and the two of them ran into the back yard. Lucas followed slowly behind still watching the baby bird. He had hoped nothing would get to it.

When Lucas made it to the back yard, Frank was running around loose and Joe was staring up at all the trees holding on the leash.

“I see a ton of nests.” Joe observed. “Which one do you think Eric belongs to?”

“Eric?” Lucas couldn’t help but chuckle.

“He needs a name.”

“He does not need a name.”

“Everyone needs a name.”

“What if it’s a girl?” Lucas asked.

Joe pondered that for a moment. “Erica.”

Lucas laughed. “Alright, then…”

“Wait!” Joe pointed up high. “I can see little beaks coming from that nest. Maybe it’s that one. Where’s the mom?”

“Maybe she’s getting food for them?” Lucas guessed.

Joe turned back around ran toward the front yard again with Frank close behind him. Lucas followed slowly once again. When he caught up, Joe and Frank stood to the side.

“The mom is with the baby.” Joe whispered.

Lucas started at the two birds in surprise.

“Do you think she’ll be able to get him back to the nest?” Joe asked.

Lucas sighed. He had seen a mother squirrel carry her baby back to the nest. He wasn’t sure how a bird would do it. “Uh, yeah. I think so.”

Joe let out a sigh of relief. “Good! Time for a walk?”

“Sure,” Lucas agreed.

Frank, as soon as he was attached to his leash again, led the way.

Words: 631

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Short Story Sunday 261: Cooperate

Short Story Sunday: Cooperate | Short Story | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

Tania sat down in a chair in the corner. She watched everyone else in the group laugh, chit-chat, and generally have a good time. She wanted nothing to do with whatever they were doing though. She crossed her arms and legs and tried to look the other way whenever Saul, their youth group leader, turned in her direction.

The youth group was a new thing at her church this year. The education leaders were trying to find ways to bring the kids together more than just two hours each week. They said they wanted the kids to be friends, make memories with once another. All the while having fun and doing good for the world.

This was the fifth meeting. So far, they’ve already went out and volunteered at an animal shelter (Tania had to admit that was fun. Who didn’t want to spend the afternoon playing with dogs and cats?), they hosted a get-together for their church, they’ve gone on a field trip to their local bowling alley, and the rest of times they’ve stayed in their classroom – or “meeting room” as Saul liked to call it (it was the classroom they had Sunday school in each Sunday for church). Whenever they stayed in the classroom, they sometimes played games or they sat in a circle and talked.

Tania couldn’t complain too much. They were little work involved unless they were volunteering, but she didn’t mind that at all. She just didn’t want to be there. She already had to spend two hours every Sunday morning with these people and then sit in the church service with them for an extra hour. She didn’t want to be here for an hour on Saturday. She was in her church far too many times during the week and she was surrounded by these people too often.

She was only grateful that Saul didn’t constantly talk about God and Jesus. He mentioned them a couple of times, but ultimately, he said, “This youth group is a safe space for us to get to know each other, hang out, and have fun.”

Um, isn’t that what she had friends for? Friends who were seeing the latest superhero movie right now that she wasn’t able to go to because she had this youth group thing. Friends who didn’t understand the youth group either and kind of made fun of her for going to do it. It’s not like she had a choice though, but her friends didn’t really care about that.

Tania resented her mother for making her go to this. It was bad enough that her mother made her go to Sunday school but now her mother thought the youth group was the best idea in the world. Her mother thought she’d make friends with some of her Sunday school classmates (again, she already had friends. Why did she need to hang out with her Sunday school classmates?) and her mother also thought she’d learn a lot. Tania was in school Monday through Friday and then Sunday school on Sunday. Now youth group on Saturdays. Why was it that she needed to be in a learning environment for every day of the week? It wasn’t fair.

Tania cast a glance back over to what the group was doing. They were awfully loud. They were split into two teams stacking cups or something. She didn’t pay attention to the directions when Saul explained them because she knew she wouldn’t be participating. As soon as Saul split them up, explained the game, and shouted, “Go!” all the kids began to play and Tania turned away to sit in her chair in the corner. She was pleased Saul left it there for her from last week instead of putting it away at the end of each meeting like he used to.

Since she looked over at the group playing the game, Saul caught her staring. The moment they locked eyes, Tania snapped her gaze away. She knew it was too late though. She had a feeling Saul was walking over toward her right at that moment. She heard a chair sit beside her and she rolled her eyes. Great, he brought a chair to sit beside her. This wasn’t going to be a quick chat, he was most likely going to lecture her.

He didn’t say anything though.

Tania peered over her shoulder just a little. She didn’t want Saul to notice and assume she wanted to talk. When she looked at him, he was casually sitting back in his own seat watching the other kids with a dopey smile on his face.

Out of all the places in the classroom, he had to watch them from right beside her? And he wasn’t even going to talk to her? Why? What was the point?

Tania ignored him for a little longer but finally she snapped. “Are you just going to sit there and do nothing?” she turned to him.

Saul twisted his neck to look at her. He seemed surprised she had spoken. “Are you?” he countered calmly.

Tania narrowed her eyes. That wasn’t fair. He couldn’t throw that back in her face like that. This was her spot. His spot was over with everyone else.

Saul didn’t speak again after that. That bothered Tania. For some reason, this was worse than a lecture.

“You’re annoying me.” Tania said bluntly. She didn’t mean for it to come out that way, but… well, she guessed she had this building up inside her for a long time.

“Am I?” Saul replied.

“Yes,”

“Okay,”

Tania scoffed. “Aren’t you going to do anything about it?”

Saul shrugged. “To me it sounded like you were just stating a fact. You didn’t ask anything of me.”

Tania narrowed her eyes and glared at him again. Oh, this man was good, she had to admit. “Do you have to sit right here?”

“No, I suppose not.” He replied.

Tania groaned. Apparently, she needed to be specific with him. “Then can you please move?”

“I appreciate the politeness and I’d love to oblige, but may I ask why?” Saul replied. He was still so calm. That was bothering Tania even more.

“No,” Tania said sternly.

“Because you don’t want to explain or because you don’t have a reason?”

Tania opened her mouth but only a small squeak came out. She didn’t have a good response to that one. She just wanted him out of her way. But she was starting to think that wasn’t going to happen.

“I’ll leave you alone if do one thing for me.” Saul said.

Tania threw her head back with a thunk against the wall. “Oh, so you’re bribing me now?”

Saul raised an eyebrow. “No, think of this more as a negotiation.”

“Is the hour over, yet…?”

“I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the hour – hey, maybe I’ll talk to you mother and let her know how unhappy you are here.” Saul stated his terms.

That got Tania’s attention. She looked at him. “You’d really talk to my mom and me not coming anymore?”

“I don’t want you to be unhappy. That’s not what this group is about. This group is here for you to make new friends, try new things, and feel comfortable. If you’re not getting that, then you shouldn’t feel trapped here.”

Tania’s eyes grew wide. He had just expressed everything she was feeling. She wasn’t sure how he knew (okay, maybe it was because she always sat in a corner), but she was impressed that he was spot on. She was surprised, in fact, that he had paid so much attention to her even though she never participated and never spoke or engaged with him or the her classmates.

“Three weeks,” Saul held up three fingers, “I want you to try. I want you to engage with your peers and participate in the games. I want you to share how your week was or share a story during our discussion time. I want you to try to get to know at least one other person here.”

Tania scrunched up her face in disgust. “That seems like a lot of terms…”

“You have three weeks and if you’re still unhappy, I’ll have a talk with your mother. All I’m asking is for you to try.” He explained.

Tania sighed. Alright, she knew she wasn’t able to argue with that one. He brought up good points and she had never really given the place a chance. She still hoped she could get out of it, but trying for three weeks wasn’t so bad. It was only an hour, after all.

“Okay, fine. Deal.” Tania said with a nod. “Does this start next week?”

“How about today?”

Tania grinned. She had found a loop-hole. “How much time is left?”

“Oh, about…” Saul checked his wrist watch, “45 minutes.”

Tania’s jaw dropped. “I’ve only been sitting here for 15 minutes?!”

Sault stood up and motioned to her classmates. “Time does fly when you’re having fun. I promise.”

Words: 1,501

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Short Story Sunday 260: Attic

Short Story Sunday: Attic | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Gloria stood in the middle of the dark and dusty attic. She scanned the room with the low ceilings and musty smell. She didn’t want to be up there but she knew someone had to clean it out eventually. There was a lot of junk up in that attic. A lot was from her childhood – old toys and mementos. There was even more from her now deceased parents. There were outdated holiday decorations, mementos from their own childhood, old but important paperwork that was most likely overdue for a good shredding, and much more.

Gloria didn’t even need to go through the old boxes to remember what was in the attic. She just knew it was all stuff that hadn’t been touched in years. All of it, despite being packed away in boxes and storage bins, was most likely gross at this point. They might have been damaged or smelled of the old wooden beams and floorboards.

There were so many boxes and other items lying around. There were even old pieces of furniture left out. Though they were covered by white sheets, Gloria knew there was a thick layer of dust sitting underneath.

It was no wonder no one ever wanted to come up here and clean it out. They’d be in for quite the shower afterwards.

Gloria didn’t have any siblings and she had moved back into her childhood home to be with her elderly father when her mother passed away. She had loved living back home even though her husband had wanted a place of their own. However, now her father was gone and Gloria wondered if she and her husband should fix up and sell the place or if they should just stay put. Going through her parent’s thing though, she didn’t have any room to put them. The attic was the only logical place, but that too was full.

Her husband had offered to help her go through all the items. Gloria declined. She knew this was something she had to do on her own. Besides, she didn’t feel like telling her husband constantly what to do. Every item he picked up he would have asked what to do with it and Gloria would have to decide on the spot to keep it, sell it, or trash it. It would be easier for her to go through everything herself and in her own time.

Gloria finally stepped forward and took a look at the box closest to her. It was labeled, “MaryAnn.” Her mother. Gloria remembered her father had made a few boxes of her things not too long after she had passed away. Gloria opened the box and took a peek inside. A flood of memories poured out and quickly closed it.

Maybe she would start with a different box.

There were a few labeled “Gloria” and she had a feeling she knew what those were. Old school papers and drawing from when she was a little kid that her mother wasn’t able to let go of. Gloria knew all that could have gotten thrown out. She didn’t care too much for her own hand-print turkeys or high school persuasive essays.

When Gloria opened the box, however, old stuffed animals and photographs were inside. A wave of nostalgia came over her and she quickly closed the box.

Gloria looked around the room. There had to have been something she was able to go through and get rid of. The furniture! Maybe she could get rid of some old chairs. They were most likely rotted anyway.

She lifted the sheet off the first chair she was able to reach. It was the rocking chair her father had bought her mother when she was pregnant. Gloria got a whiff of her mother’s perfume and could have sworn she heard the creaking of the rocking chair as if her mother was sitting it right then.

Gloria put the sheet back over and hurried out of the attic. It was no wonder no one ever went up there anymore.

Words: 671

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Short Story Sunday 259: Look

Short Story Sunday: Look | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

“What do you see?”

Cory narrowed his eyes. He thought about what he saw. He thought real hard. Nothing was coming to mind though. He didn’t want her to think he was stupid, but there wasn’t anything that was popping into his head on what it could possibly look like.

“Hello?” Lucy piped up again.

“I’m thinking.” Cory hissed.

Lucy smirked. “You’re not supposed to think about it. That’s the whole point of ink blots. There’s no right or wrong answer.”

“I know, you’ve told me that plenty of times already. But just let me think.” Cory repeated.

Lucy rolled her eyes and put the card face-down on her lap. “No, I’m going to move onto the next one. Do not think about it at all. I’m going to show you and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes into your mind. I’ll give you five seconds.”

“But–”

“Are you ready?”

Cory sighed. “Fine.”

Lucy held up the next card. “5… 4… 3… 2… 1 and done.” She laid the card face down in her lap on top of the previous one. “Alright, so what did it look like to you?”

“A butt.” Cory replied without any hesitation.

“A butt?!” Lucy exclaimed. She picked up the card and turned it over so she could see. “You can’t be serious.”

“Hey, you told me to say the first thing that came to my mind when I saw it and it looks like a butt to me.” Cory defended himself.

Lucy stared at him with a horrific expression.

“Alright, fine, you tell me what it looks like to you then.” Cory challenged her.

“I believe it looks like a fountain with the water cascading down.” Lucy explained.

Cory shook his head. “No, see, that’s ridiculous. It’s clearly a butt.”

“I have no idea how you see a butt.”

“I have no idea how you see a water fountain.”

“There’s no right or wrong answer. It can be a water fountain if I believe it is.” Lucy stated.

“Ah-ha!” Cory exclaimed. “If there are no right or wrong answers, then it can be a butt if I believe it is!”

Lucy sighed. “Yeah, but…”

“Yes, butt.”

Lucy shot him a glare. Then she looked back at the ink blot. “I see something beautiful. How can you not?”

“You see something beautiful?” Cory repeated in disbelief. “How can you see something beautiful in a big black blob in the shape of a butt?”

“Okay,” Lucy sighed. “I think we’re done here for today.” She stacked the used cards and remaining ones neatly on her lap and then stood up heading for her desk.

“Done? We only wen through four cards. You have plenty more, I can see that much.” Cory said. He stood up and followed Lucy to her desk.

“Yes, but maybe we can pick this up next time. I think I’ve had all I can take.” Lucy replied. She smiled at him but Cory knew what that smile meant.

“I’m looking at your smile and do you know what I see?” Cory asked wagging a finger in her face.

“What do you see?” she asked still smirking.

“I see your mind and it’s thinking I’m pretty stupid.”

“Not stupid, Cory. Ridiculous, maybe, but certainly not stupid.”

Words: 549

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Short Story Sunday 258: Ex

Short Story Sunday: Ex | Creative Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

“What do you mean I’m crossed out?” Amy asked as calmly as she could bare. She tried not to grit her teeth but if she didn’t release some sort of pressure, she knew she’d punch someone.

Emily shrugged. “I don’t know, your name it just crossed out on the list. So, I was told not to let you in.”

Amy narrowed her eyes. “You do realize we’re here to work on a school project, right? This isn’t some rave party or dance club.”

“Listen,” Emily let out an annoyed sigh, “I don’t know what my sister does, okay? And honestly, I don’t care. All I know is that she paid me 20-dollars to wait by the door. She told me some people were allowed in and others weren’t.”

Amy rolled her eyes. Leave it to Morgan to pay her younger sister to be the bouncer of her house. “You said others weren’t allowed in? Who are the others?”

Emily looked down at her clipboard. Her gaze scanned the list of names – all five of them. She looked back up at Amy and bluntly replied, “Just you.”

Amy’s jaw nearly dropped. What a slap in the face. “Are the other girls in there now?”

Emily nodded. “You’re the last one to arrive. Well, I guess Sam was the last one to arrive since she was actually allowed in.”

“Emily, this is stupid.” Amy growled pinching the bridge of her nose.

“I don’t make the rules.”

“There are no rules!” Amy raised her voice. “We’re supposed to be working on a project together for school. How am I supposed to help them if they won’t let me in?”

The young girl shrugged.

Amy sighed. She suddenly felt more upset than she did angry. “Do you know why they don’t want me in their group?” Her teacher did allow them to choose groups. Amy had no close friends in science though and was the odd one out as there had to be groups of four and there were 17 kids in the class. She got assigned to be with them.

“Hey, you want my advice?” Emily said in a hushed tone.

“Sure, why not?” Amy replied. What else was there to do?

Emily held out her hand. Amy rolled her eyes and handed the devious little brat a five-dollar bill.

“When you go to school on Monday, tell your teacher everything that happened. Do the project yourself this weekend and hand it in. I know all my sister’s friends. If you worked with them, you wouldn’t have gotten a good grade anyway.”

Amy smirked. She was most likely going to do that anyway, but hearing it from Emily in such a way made her smile. It made her feel a little better anyway.

She nodded her thanks to Emily and turned around and headed for home to work on the project herself. Good thing it was her job to get all the research done. She’d be finished before she knew it.

Words: 498

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Short Story Sunday 257: Shelf

Short Story Sunday: Shelf | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

“What are you doing?” Angie asked as she stood in the doorway to the basement. She had assumed her brother was watching TV and went to join him, but she could barely get into the room for fear she’d step on a rogue nail.

Shawn looked over his shoulder. He sat on the floor in the middle of the room surrounding by pieces of finished wood, nails, screws, and the like. His toolbox sat upon the couch where he could barely reach.

“I’m building a shelf.” He replied with a confident smile.

“Like… a flat shelf?” Angie asked moving her hands side to side horizontally. “Is this going to hang up on the wall?”

Shawn shook his head. “It’s a bookshelf. It’ll stand tall in the corner and hold stuff.”

“You mean like, books?” Angie couldn’t help but smirk.

“Or movies.”

“Right,”

“It has four shelves.” Shawn continued. He reached over a couple pieces of wood and grabbed the instructions on how to build it. He stretched his arm out to hand it to Angie who took it without saying a word. The front showed the shelf completely built.

“Wow,” Angie said impressed. “This looks like a good shelf. It’s going to be pretty tall.”

“I know,” Shawn chuckled.

“Do you really think you’ll be able to build it all by yourself?” she asked.

Shawn shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”

“Why were the instructions so far away from you, then?”

“I was just getting all the pieces out and in order, that’s all.” Shawn replied.

Angie couldn’t help but laugh. “You realize building a shelf isn’t like Legos, right?”

“I know.” Shawn scoffed.

“Okay, well have fun.” Angie tossed the instructions booklet back to him. She turned back around and headed up the stairs.

“Where are you going? Do you want to help? You know, brother and sister bonding?” Shawn asked with a grin.

Angie chuckled. She knew why Shawn hadn’t started yet. She knew why he had laid the pieces out and that was it. He was afraid to get started because, even with the instructions, he had no idea what he was doing.

“No, thanks.” She answered. “I’m going to go get Dad.”

“Why Dad?” Shawn asked.

“Because I see a drill sitting on the couch and I get the feeling that won’t end well for anyone.”

Shawn sighed. “Yeah… you’re probably right.”

Words: 396

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Short Story Sunday 256: Mystery

Short Story Sunday: Mystery | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

When Jamie entered the room there was already a blanket covering the body. She stared at the lumpy white sheet and swallowed a hard lump deep in the back of her throat. This was her first case. Her first case was a potential homicide.

She knew this would happen eventually. She always knew she would have to deal with something like this. She just didn’t think it would happen so soon. Jamie wondered if it would have been better if she had stayed at the desk job for a little while longer.

Was she ready to have such a hardcore case?

Well, at least the body was already covered up. Maybe she would haven’t to see it in person and solve the case through the evidence pictures. You know, she can ease herself into homicide cases.

“There you are.” Brock said heading straight toward her. “Where have you been?”

“Outside.” Jamie replied nonchalantly. She found herself standing a little taller when the head detective of her department singled her out from all the other officers.

Then again, looking around the room, all the other officers were busy doing something. She was just standing in the door way.

“There’s no dilly-dalling when it comes to homicides.” Brock spat.

“Yes, sir,” Jamie said meekly. Detective Hal Brock was head detective for a reason. His personality was hard as stone but he certainly knew his stuff. He solved cases faster than anyone else and he knew how to be a leader. He never had any trouble taking charge. Jamie thought he was a nice guy. She had talked to him at the department Christmas party and he was a normal person. When it’s time for work though, he put on a difference face. It was almost like she had never met him.

She respected him though. Real respect, not respect out of fear or intimidation. Everyone worshipped him.

“Where’s Gibson?” Brock demanded.

“Outside.” Jamie replied again. There wasn’t much for her to say. Her partner, Detective Seth Gibson, had told her to go on in without him.

Brock sighed. “Why is he outside? Did you two not get enough fresh air this morning?”

“He’s taking statements from a few of the neighbors.” Jaime explained. She made a mental note to kick herself for that later. She probably should have mentioned that in her original answer instead of giving the head detective one-word answers.

Brock narrowed his eyes. Jamie pressed her lips together. She didn’t know what was going on in his mind right now. He had a thinking face on. His narrowed eyes were from annoyance or confusion. He was simply thinking.

“This is your first real case, right?” he asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Stop calling me sir. We’re colleagues.”

Jaime nodded.

“So why isn’t Gibson in here and letting you handle the statements?” Brock asked.

Jamie felt her face flush. In other words, Brock didn’t think she’d be good enough to be in the crime scene. Taking statements was something newbies did or was something when experienced detectives did when they were benched but had to tag along anyway.

Brock continued talking when Jamie didn’t answer. “Gibson wants you to get experience, is that it?” then he smirked. “He’s throwing you to the wolves?”

Jaime opened her mouth to reply, but she remained silent. Maybe her partner really was throwing her to the wolves? Although she was hoping he believed in her enough to just send her straight in and get the experience she needed. No two cases were the same but she needed to learn the ropes first hand.

“You’ve never seen a dead body before, have you?” Brock asked breaking Jaime out of her thoughts.

Jaime’s eyes grew wide. She knew she needed to work on her poker face, but she wasn’t expecting him to ask such a question. Then again, she had a feeling he was able to look right through her. Good poker face or not, she was still a newbie, which meant she was an open book.

Brock nodded his head to the side. “Come here.” He said turning. Jaime followed slowly as she came to realization that he was headed for the stiff on the ground.

The head detective shooed an officer away and then he squatted next to the body. He waved her forward with two fingers and Jaime took the cue to squat on the other side of the body.

She felt herself begin to sweat. Her palms were clammy and the room suddenly grew hot. Jaime didn’t know what Brock was planning but she wondered if she would be ready for whatever it was.

Brock pointed to the body while eyeing the rookie. Then he gave her her first task.

“Lift the sheet.”

Jaime chewed the inside of her cheek. Did Brock notice she was sweating? She felt dizzy and hoped he couldn’t tell that her eyes might roll to the back of her head at any moment.

She was just about to make her move when she shifted her gaze from the blank sheet to Brock. He had a neutral expression yet raised one eyebrow. He was wondering what she’d do. Then Jaime realized this wasn’t him assigning her something to do or trying to conquer her newbie jitters. This was a test.

Jaime reached into her pocket and pulled out a latex glove. She snapped it on her right hand before reaching over the body and gripping the edge of the sheet by the body’s head – at least, she thought it was the head.

After counting to three in her head, Jaime lifted the sheet and took a peek.

Everyone else around her seemed to freeze. The room suddenly went silent. A shiver ran down her spine, but she didn’t feel anxiety staring at the body. Instead, she felt remorse. She didn’t know the deceased, but she wasn’t expecting such a feeling.

“She’s beautiful.” Jaime whispered. The young woman’s eyes were shut. She looked peaceful as though she had merely fallen asleep on the hardwood floor and would wake with a start upon having a sheet over her head. Her skin was pale resembling a vampire and her hair shone like silk. It was almost as though she had just brushed and laid down gently before she died.

“She was.” Brock said briskly. “Tell me more about her.”

Jaime didn’t take her eyes off the body. “It looks staged almost. She looks too perfect. Maybe this wasn’t where she originally died?”

“Are you saying the body might have been moved after she had passed?”

“Maybe?”

“Are you guessing?” Brock smirked.

Jaime shrugged. “Isn’t all of this just a bunch of guesswork until we gather enough evidence?”

Brock grinned a genuine smile. “Fair enough. Nice job, Detective.”

Jaime couldn’t help but smile.

“Now let’s get back to work.” Brock said, his expression becoming neutral again. He stood up and turned his attention to someone else.

Jaime looked back down at the young women. She sighed, said a silent prayer, and put the sheet back over her head.

Words: 1,174

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