Short Story Sunday 282: Set

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

“Everything needs to be just so.” Stella said. She placed the plates, utensils, and napkins down on the table. She backed away and took a mental picture of the place settings.

“No, they don’t. Trust me, no one is going to care where their fork is along as they have a fork.” Claire replied with an eye roll.

“No, this is our first dinner party as adults. We’re inviting our parents and close friends, I want everything to be perfect.” Stella paused to look at her roommate.

“I don’t think we should have a dinner party in the first place. Neither one of us knows how to cook.” Claire countered.

“We cook dinner for ourselves every night.”

“Yeah, we make noodles because it’s quick and easy and we have no idea how to cook.”

“Well, we need to learn.”

“I agree,” Claire nodded, “but I don’t think cooking a grand meal for all our close friends and family is a great time to start, you know?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Stella dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand. “I’ve picked out a couple of recipes from some cookbooks and we’ll test them out. If none of them go well, I have a backup.”

“What’s your backup?” Claire wondered aloud.

“Homemade mac and cheese.” Stella grinned.

Claire sighed. “Oh, yeah… mac and cheese. People are definitely going to want their forks and spoons to be on the correct side of their plate now.”

Words: 244

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Short Story Sunday 281: Stomp

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

Mary entered her house as loud as can be stomping her feet through the hardwood flooring in the living room.

Her older sister, Audrey, was sitting on the couch reading a book when her sister stormed into the room. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked.

“School was dumb today.” Mary growled. She kicked off her sneakers, tossed them into the closet as well as her backpack.

“Why was it dumb?” Audrey continued.

Mary closed the closet door. “My backpack can stay in there for now. I don’t want to even think about my homework.”

“I say again,” Audrey sighed putting a bookmark into her book and closing it, “why was school dumb today?”

“I have a lot of homework.” Mary pouted. She threw herself onto the armchair slouching her whole body like a slinky.

Audrey scoffed. “Yeah, okay. Been there, done that.”

“No, you don’t get it.” Mary said sitting up. “I have homework in every single subject tonight.”

Audrey nodded. “Yeah, that happens. You’re in high school now.”

“But it’s the first day of school!”

“The teachers don’t care about that. They want to get down to business as soon as possible.”

“I have five tests tomorrow too.” Mary continued.

“Five? Out of seven classes?” Audrey wondered.

“Six classes. I have a study last period.” Mary clarified.

“Then why didn’t you get any of your homework done then? Or why didn’t you get a head start on studying? That’s the whole point of a study period.” Audrey couldn’t help but smirk. Mary was so exited to start high school just that morning. She had no idea what the next four years was going to bring.

“I got some of it done.” Mary replied calmly. “Really, I did.”

“I believe you.” Audrey put her hands up. “What are the tests for though?”

“Summer reading, the summer homework we had to do, and one test is a placement test… whatever that means.” Mary said rolling her eyes.

Audrey frowned sympathetically. “I’m sorry. I know it’s overwhelming. This isn’t what you expected at all.”

“No, it’s not. And I already have two projects assigned! Both are from two of the books I had to read over the summer. One is just an essay that’s due by the end of the week and the other is an essay along with some sort of presentation with visuals and stuff… that’s due in two weeks.” Mary ranted.

Audrey raised her eyebrows. Mary must have had some tough teachers. She didn’t remember the teachers in high school being this brutal when she was there – especially not on the first day.

Mary sighed. “Please tell me your first day of college was just as rough. I’m sure that’s ten times worse than high school.”

Audrey tilted her head to the side. “Why would you want it to be worse? You’re going to have to go through it someday as well.”

“I know, but I don’t care right now. I just need to know I’m not the only one having a tough time.” Mary said.

“You’re not the only one, Mary. College was brutal today.” Audrey stated.

“How are you so calm about it right now?” Mary asked in shock.

Audrey shrugged. “I’m used to it from high school, I guess.”

“Oh. Okay.” Mary nodded. She stood up and headed toward the kitchen. “Maybe high school really does prepare you for college then…”

Audrey watched her sister leave the room. Then she went back to reading her book. She didn’t have the heart to tell her sister that college was great. Her professor is really nice and they didn’t have any homework to do tonight. She also had a feeling Mary forgot that Audrey made her own schedule and she only had to attend school three days a week for four classes. She wasn’t about to tell Mary that just yet though. Audrey decided to let Mary get used to high school and settle in with the new school then.

Then Audrey would brag to Mary about how wonderful college is.

Words: 673

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Short Story Sunday 280: Game

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

Scarlett sat down on her bed and put her laptop in her lap. She had a mug of coffee on her nightstand along with a glass of water. There was a bowl of leftover Halloween candy as well as a bowl of popcorn. Normally she didn’t like having greasy or salty food while she was on her computer or gaming because it was always a pain to wipe her hands after every bite and she didn’t want to get her things slippery, but she knew she was in for a long night.

It was Friday afternoon. School was long and boring but she had nothing to for the rest of the afternoon and absolutely nothing going on for Saturday. Her homework for the weekend was going to have to wait until Sunday.

She and her friends were about to embark on an epic journey and defeat the evil dark lord who was plaguing the land. This new expansion pack for the MMORPG she and her friends played all the time had been out for a couple of months. They had finally all saved their allowances and even did extra chores so that they could each buy a copy of the game – which was about 50-dollars.

A few months might be a long time to some but to others it’s not that long at all. Still, there have been no reports on anyone defeating this dark lord. People have posted on the online forums and discussed items they collected and certain things they’ve done in the game to prepare for the final boss, but so far no one has had any luck. So far, this boss was unbeatable.

Scarlett had been taking notes from these people online and writing down what has worked and what hasn’t. She’s also brainstormed some ideas she and her friends could try out and some items and status updates they could collect. They had been leveling up all their characters in the meantime. They weren’t as high a level as they could have been, but it was now or never. Scarlett was determined to be the first group to defeat this boss.

She had also heard reports that this boss took hours. There was a journey and tons of enemies to get to the castle, then they’d have to go through the castle and defeat a lot of enemies along with mini-bosses, and then it would be time for the dark lord. Or, that’s what people have been assuming. Most people haven’t made it past the third floor of the castle and there were only five floors.

Scarlett took out her notes and put on her headset while she waited for the game to load. She had told her parents that she was going to be busy for the rest of the night. She was expecting to pull an all-nighter with this one. There was no saving in the middle of the journey.

Once the game was booted up, Scarlett noticed that none of her friends were online. She leaned back against her pillow and unwrapped a candy bar waiting patiently. Then her phone beeped with a text message.

One of her friends had texted them all in a group message saying she wasn’t able to log on. Apparently, it was her parents’ anniversary and they wanted to go out to dinner. Scarlett pouted but didn’t respond as she noticed some of her other friends were replying.

One friend was relieved because they had forgotten they agreed to babysit their younger sibling. Scarlett’s third friend, and the final member of their quartet in the game, responded saying they mouthed off their mother and lost their computer privileges. (She lost her phone as well, but snuck it back and her mother hadn’t noticed yet.)

Scarlett sighed. She didn’t reply to any of them. She knew things came up, but she exited out of the game and shut down her laptop. She turned her phone off, shoved another candy bar into her mouth, and then opened her backpack from school.

There wasn’t anything left for her to do that night other than do her homework. Maybe her friends would be able to play Saturday night into Sunday. If her homework was all done by then Scarlett wouldn’t have to worry about it later.

But who was she kidding? She was just bummed because if she couldn’t play her game, she wanted to hang out with her friends on a Friday night. They were apparently all busy now… except for one who was most likely grounded. But what else was new with her?

A knock came at Scarlett’s bedroom door and her mother poked her head in. “Hi, I’m sorry to bother you… are you in your game, yet?”

“No, why?” Scarlett shook her head.

“Well, I was thinking and… wait, why is your homework out?” her mother asked confused.

Scarlett sighed. “They all just texted me. Andy has to go out to dinner with her parents for their anniversary, Cara forgot that she agreed to babysit her little brother and sister tonight, and Tori mouthed off to her mother again so she’s in trouble.”

“Oh,” her mother frowned. “I’m sorry, honey. That’s annoying. I know you were really looking forward to playing this game tonight.”

“I know,” Scarlett said with a shrug. “I guess we’ll just have to plan another time. What is it that you were going to say?”

Her mother hesitated to respond. “I don’t want to make you feel worse than you probably already do, though.”

“What do you mean?”

“I figured, if you’re going to stay up all night anyway, I was going to see if you wanted to invite your friends over for a sleep over? Then you guys could play the game and it might make things easier.” Her mother explained.

Scarlett smiled. “I’ll keep that in might for next time.”

“Maybe letting Tori out of the house would keep her out of trouble with her own mother too.” Scarlett’s mom laughed.

“I appreciate that you understand how important this game is to me. Thanks.” Scarlett said.

Her mother nodded and turned away from her heading toward the door. “I don’t get it, but I know you enjoy it. I want you to have fun even if I think it’s weird.” She winked. “Did you want to hang out with me and dad tonight? We could all watch a movie together.”

Scarlett closed her math textbook. “I thought I’d be proactive on my homework, but that sounds much better.” She grabbed the bowl of popcorn off her nightstand. “I’ve already got the popcorn ready.”

Words: 1,102

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Short Story Sunday 277: Follow (Part Two)

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

If you haven’t read Part One, you can do so here. Last week, you guys chose to have the characters check out the banging by the window. Here is part two.

Another banging at the window came, shaking the wooden boards that held it together. Luna shrank back stepping away from the window while Alex grabbed a poker from the fireplace and pointed it toward the window. Felix watched this with wide eyes before holding a hand up motioning for her to stand down.

He crept to the window and peered above the board that covered most of the glass. He saw nothing. He ducked lower and peered before the plank.

Felix turned back around with a shrug. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried that the banging must have just been the bugs or maybe the wind.

Alex let the poker go lip, her face twisting in frustration. Luna looked as though she were about to pass out.

None of them spoke a word or dared to breathe loudly. There still could have been something out there, but no one was willing to suggest it out loud.

“I know you’re in there.”

Felix looked back over his shoulder at the window. He heard Luna gasp from behind and Alex possibly take out another tool from the fireplace. He crept closer to the window.

“If you want to live, follow me.”

Felix furrowed his brows. He couldn’t make out who was standing outside. The window was tinted with dust and there was only a small crack at the bottom, Felix could barely hear him speak.

“If you want to live,” the voice said louder, “follow me.”

He walked away from the window and Felix turned to the girls. “Did you hear that?” he said quietly.

Alex nodded.

“You’re not going out there, are you?” Luna asked, stepping forward.

Felix shrugged. “This could be someone in the same boat as us. Someone who can help.”

“Or it could be a trap,” Alex suggested.

“He could have sent the bugs,” Luna added.

“I don’t think anyone can really ‘send bugs,'” Alex said, rolling her eyes.

Luna glared at her. “Have you seen the size of those things? They’re not normal. Something altered their DNA or their mechanical. And where did they all come from?”

“Bugs lay eggs and nearly 100,000 of them are born,” Alex stated.

“You know what I mean,”

“Girls,” Felix interjected, putting a hand on his sister’s shoulder. “I’m going to go outside and check what’s going on.”

“Don’t you dare,” Luna snapped.

“Alright,” Alex agreed. Luna shot her another glare, though the new friend just shrugged in response.

“We haven’t heard any buzzing in a bit, so I’m thinking the bugs moved on to a new location. Let me just see what this guy wants. He might be able to help us,” Felix explained in an attempt to convince his sister.

Luna shook her head. “Or he could just be trying to kick us out of our hideout so he can have it to himself.”

“Oh, please. This is the worst possible shelter,” Alex grunted.

Felix, ignoring Alex, looked Luna in the eyes. “I will be right back. I promise.”

Without waiting for a reply, he turned his back and exited the house closing the door behind him. Luna stared at the door as though it would open back up immediately. She looked over at Alex, who sat dwn on the couch.

Alex shrugged. “And now we wait.”

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Short Story Sunday 276: Contain (Part One)

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

Felix propped a couple chairs against the front door and wiped his hands on his pants. Dust flew around the room with any sudden movement they made and the house they ran into was filthy. It was clearly abandoned a long time ago. At least, he hoped it was… the last thing he needed was a stranger popping out.

“How about the couch?” Luna asked. She stood in the middle of the room hugging herself. She shivered with nerves but her face flushed with heat.

“The chairs should be enough for now. We might need the couch for later.” Felix replied. “Besides, this might be an okay play to stay the night. You can sleep on the couch. You’d be most comfortable there.”

Luna glanced down at the couch and gave it a disgusted look. It was leather, but the holster was scratched up as though a monster had come through and destroyed it. She wasn’t even sure what color the couch was supposed to be – brown, maybe? Whatever it was, it was faded. There was a thin layer of dust covering the whole surface of it as well.

“We have to make due, Luna.” Felix said exasperated. He knew exactly what his twin sister was thinking from the look on her face.

“Are we going to die?” Luna blurted.

Felix swallowed a lump in his throat. He didn’t know how to answer that. He wanted to tell her no, they weren’t going to die. However, their house and hometown were destroyed. They were on the move with no where to go. They had no money, no food, and this was the best shelter they could find. They haven’t come across another human in days. At least, Felix thought it was days. He had lost track of time.

There were no more days, only darkness. Whatever caused the bugs to come, it blocked out the sun somehow. It was hard to tell if there were clouds in the sky or if it were the bugs.

“You’re not answering me.” Luna sighed. She sat down on the couch. The cushion sunk pretty low but for some reason she didn’t even care.

“I don’t have an answer for you.” Felix shrugged. “I’d like to say we’re going to be fine, but mom and dad and… I just don’t know. I don’t even know what’s going on.”

Luna buried her face in her hands for a moment. She drew in a deep breath and then looked back up. She cracked a smile. “We’re going to be okay.” She said. She stood and walked over to the window. She pulled her sleeve over her hand and wiped away some dirt on the window. The bugs were swarming all around the house. There weren’t going anywhere for a long time. “Someone needs to contain them.”

“Who?” Felix asked. Now he sat down on the couch. He nearly fell over when the cushion sunk so low and he grabbed hold of the edge to balance.

“I don’t know. There must be some military or police around, right?” Luna asked. She hugged herself watching the bugs, listening to the buzzing getting louder and louder as they flew above the house.

“I hope so.”

“Are they following us? I feel like we haven’t been able to lose them at all.”

“They’re attracted to something.”

Luna jumped at hearing a strange voice. Felix too jumped from the couch and stood beside his sister. A young woman emerged from the other room.

“What they’re attracted to, I have no idea. I’ve been holed up in this house for a long time.”

“We’re sorry, we didn’t know anyone was here.” Felix apologized.

“No need to be sorry,” she shook her head. “We’re all in this together. It’s not like I’m going to toss you out and make you find a different shelter.” She smirked. “I’m Alex.”

“Thank you,” Felix said with a sigh of relief. “I’m Felix and this is my sister Luna.” Luna gave Alex a small wave.

“How far have you guys come? Is it just the two of you?” Alex asked. She walked over to the window and looked out.

“Just us, unfortunately. We’ve been walking for days. We’re not really sure how far we’ve come.” Luna explained.

“You and me both. I’ve been here for a while but I’m sure I’m a long way from home.” Alex stated. “It was quiet here and I wasn’t sure what to do next or where to go. I waited too long though and then the bugs made it here. They’re on the move, but like I said, I don’t know why. I don’t know what they’re trying to get to.”

“I wish we knew where they came from.” Luna added. “Maybe we could herd them back to where they came from or catch them or something.”

“There’s too many to catch. They’re too big to herd.” Felix countered with a shake of his head.

“We can’t squish them so the only thing I can think of is the light.” Alex said.

“The light?” Luna repeated turning her attention to the stranger.

“Think about it,” Alex began to explain, “the sun was blocked out as soon as the bugs came. I’m not sure if that’s coincidental or not. I’m not sure if it’s the bugs’ fault. But I know there are some bugs that are attracted to light and they bring themselves death by getting zapped. If we brought the sun back, then maybe the bugs would disappear or disintegrate or something.”

Felix hummed to himself. “You know, that’s not a bad idea.”

“But how in the world are we going to bring the sun back?” Luna sighed.

Felix turned to Alex. “Have you thought further on your idea at all?”

Alex shrugged her shoulders. “Well, that’s the problem. I have no idea how to get the sun back. But maybe, now that there’s three of us, we can think of something together.”

A banging came at the window causing the three of them to jump.

Words: 1,005

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Short Story Sunday 275: Coffee

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

Penny walked into her local coffee shop. The café had just opened about five minutes ago and the line was already nearly out the door. Everyone was on their way to work or school so most of the tables were vacant. Penny loved coming at this time of the day because there was a certain buzz around the coffee shop. It was loud, but it was almost like white noise. It wasn’t difficult to concentrate. She loved the aroma of the café between the various flavors of coffees being made along with the freshly baked pastries.

She claimed her usual table by the window across from the main counter where people ordered their drinks. She took her laptop out of her bag as well as a notebook and a couple of pens. She had a lot to get done today. Her boyfriend had taken the day off from work so he was home and still sleeping. Penny wanted to have some peace and quiet to work on her writing without her boyfriend nagging her to hang out with him and go out and do something. She’d get herself a coffee, write a couple thousand words, and then head home with a pastry for him. Then they could spend the rest of the day together.

It was six o’clock in the morning and she knew he wasn’t going to be awake for another two or three hours anyway. They’d have the whole day ahead of themselves and she’d be able to get her writing time in.

Penny sat down opening her laptop and turning it on. She was thinking about getting a scone but decided to settle for just a coffee for the moment. Her stomach was starting to rumble with all the smells around her. Hearing other people say their orders and receive their drinks, Penny was beginning to wonder what kind of drink she wanted to get. Her boyfriend always got the same thing whenever they got coffee. He was pretty easy but Penny enjoyed a wide variety. It always took her a little while to figure out what she wanted to get. She never really ordered the same thing twice in one week. Of course, the holidays were upon her which meant the winter drinks were out. There were so many good flavors that she wasn’t sure what she wanted to get this morning.

An older gentleman moved out of line after ordering and paying for his drink. The cashier behind the counter puffed his cheeks out in a breath. Penny and him locked eyes and she they smiled and waved to each other right before the next customer got in their line of sight and began to order their own drink.

Penny looked to the door and noticed the line was now inside the café. She figured now was a good enough time as any to hop in line. She usually didn’t mind waiting for the line to die down. She was never in a rush to get her coffee and she knew she was going to be there for a while anyway that it didn’t matter if she got her coffee now or an hour into her writing time.

She was never one who needed a coffee to wake up. She was a natural early bird and only made herself a lot of coffee throughout the day because she thoroughly enjoyed the taste – and she loved holding onto a mug of coffee during the colder months because she was always cold.

The line steadily moved forward. Penny waited patiently. The smells were beginning to get to her. She had decided that she didn’t know what she wanted to get so she was going to let the man behind the counter surprise her. He knew her well enough since she was at the café just about every day. It would be interesting to see what flavor he would pick out for her.

By the time she made it to the counter, she greeted him with a smile. Though before she could give him her order – or allow him to make it for her – he dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

“You can move on.” He smirked.

“What?” she asked.

“Your drink has already been ordered and paid for.” He said.

Penny looked around the café and the people in line behind her were starting to look a little grumpy. She didn’t care though. She wasn’t even taking long. “What are you talking about?” she asked again.

She had heard of people paying it forward but she had never imagined that it would happen to her. Usually when someone paid for a drink it was then honored by that person paying for the next one and so on, right? Penny took out the money from her wallet anyway. This was the point of paying it forward, wasn’t it?

“Okay, then here’s a medium for the guy behind me.” She said and noticed a smile go across the gentleman’s face who stood in line behind her.

The cashier chuckled. “Thanks for paying it forward, but I think your boyfriend was just trying to surprise you.” He took the money and put it in the cash register. Then he waved her on again.

Penny looked over her shoulder and sure enough Oliver, her boyfriend, was sitting at her table. He was sipping a coffee and there was a festive cup beside her laptop.

Her jaw dropped and waved a goodbye to the cashier. “Oliver?” she said as she made it back to her table and sat down.

“I got you a peppermint, hope that’s okay. I don’t think you’ve gotten that kind this week.” Oliver grinned.

“Nope,” Penny smiled and took a sip. “Oh, this is so good. Thanks for this.”

“Of course,”

“But what are you doing here? You were sleeping when I left.” Penny inquired.

“I pretended to be asleep. I wanted to surprise you. I want to spend the day together, but I know you want to get this done. I brought a book.” Oliver pointed to a book on the table.

Penny nodded. “Okay, fair enough. Well, I’m happy to have you here with me.”

“Me too.”

“How’d you sneak into the café though? I didn’t see you at all. I was watching the line.” Penny said.

“You weren’t watching it close enough,” Oliver laughed. “I was right in front of you a couple of times and you looked right past me. You hopped in line while I waited for the drinks. Then I sat down and waited for you to get through the line.”

Penny pouted. “You made me wait in line all that time even though you had my drink ready and waiting for me?”

Oliver chuckled and took a sip of his own drink without a reply.

Words: 1,136

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Short Story Sunday 274: Wander

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

Ellie headed down the street not really sure where she was going. The day hadn’t started off well for her when she woke up late, thus making her late for working. In fact, she didn’t notice it until her partner at work had called her wondering where she was. So, she went into work late and had decided to stay late, but the case she was working on wrapped up. It didn’t end in the way she had expected, in the way she had hoped. In fact, the case ended in such a depressing way that, despite scolding her for being late earlier, Ellie’s boss had let her go home early.

Ellie was still a fairly new officer. She had seen many things happen and had worked on a good amount of cases. However, she had by far seen everything. People were mean and they were weird. The cases were bizarre and didn’t make sense half of the time. After each case, she always thought they could never get any worse and they always did.

She was a hard worker and she was good at what she did. Ellie and her partner worked well together. They made a good team and always had each other’s backs. It was easy for them to split up their workload and they each had designated things to do whenever they worked a case together. Ellie was the better observer while her partner, Jim, was a better conversationalist. Usually, Ellie would investigate the crime scene and Jim would talk to any witnesses and get victim statements. He was more empathetic than she was anyway so it was easier for him to do rather than for her to talk to people. She enjoyed collecting the evidence and the sight of blood or dead bodies didn’t bother her in the slightest.

This case was different though. It hit close to home for her. The next-door neighbor at Ellie’s parents’ house, the home and neighborhood she grew up in, had died. She was an elderly woman who had watched Ellie and her siblings grow up. They played a lot with her children and Ellie even babysat her grandchildren.

Ellie’s boss didn’t want her on the case because it was personal for her, but Ellie insisted. She knew she would be able to keep her emotions in check and she did. She was mourning the death of her old neighbor, but that wasn’t why her day was so bad. It wasn’t why her boss was sympathetic and had let Ellie go home early. In fact, her boss never let anyone go home early. It was part of the job and Ellie knew that. Normally Ellie wouldn’t have left her shift early, but this really bothered her.

Ellie was always observant and never missed anything. She did this time, however. Her neighbor’s killer – her own daughter – was just proven innocent because of piece of evidence Ellie had missed. Sure, part of it was the detective on the case and the defense attorney was strong and determined to get the woman Ellie grew up with and played with as a child off free.

While she knew it wasn’t completely her fault, the other officers and detectives missed the key piece of evidence as well. Ellie still took the blame. It was bad enough that her childhood friend had murdered her own mother, but what was worse was that now she had to go the rest of her life not knowing why. Of course, she wasn’t going to admit it now that she was proven innocent so there was no way Ellie could figure out the motive. She wanted to keep investigating but part of her knew it would be a waste of time.

Her boss even warned her of that as well. It was part of the reason she let Ellie take the rest of the day off. She didn’t want Ellie to feel tempted to keep investigating even though there was plenty of other work that needed to be done and other cases that needed to be solved.

Ellie made it over to the park and she sat down on the bench in the middle of it. A few families were there with their children. Some were having picnics while others were playing on the playground or simply going for a walk. The air was a bit nippy and Ellie was beginning to get cold, but she didn’t want to move from her spot. She remembered her neighbor taking her to this park a couple of times with her daughters. They had a lot of fun together.

It was weird to think back to those times, especially since at the time, they had no idea things would end up this way. Ellie watched the other families gather together and have a nice time and she wondered what went wrong between her neighbor’s family. What made her daughter snap? Her neighbor was in her 90s. What was the point of murdering her? It broke Ellie’s heart that it was a daughter who killed her own mother. She couldn’t imagine it.

No, none of the cases that Ellie had ever worked had bothered her. They were sad and they were out there sometimes, but Ellie was always able to keep a straight face. She knew this was part of the job and she felt bad for the people involved, but she needed to do her job and that was that. Sure, she knew these people personally, but she wondered how she would have felt if she didn’t know them. She wondered how different things would be right now.

Ellie would still feel bad, but at least she would have been at work right now working on the next case. That’s what she did as a cop. She moved on from one case to the next and always hoped for the best. It was just part of the job.

That’s what she was going to have to do for the next case. She would start that tomorrow though.

Words: 1,005

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Short Story Sunday 273: Plan

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

“So, where do we go from here?” Matt asked. He leaned against the kitchen counter staring at his girlfriend stirring a pot of boiling water. “Also, what are you doing?”

“I don’t know,” Anna replied shaking her head. She was staring deeply into the pot and put the wooden spoon down. Then she opened a package of penne pasta and dumped it all in.

“You don’t know what you’re doing with cooking? Or where we go from here?” Matt wondered aloud.

“Both.” Anna shrugged. She watched the pasta foam and simmer down as she stirred it again.

“Would you like me to cook?” Matt asked with a hint of caution in his tone. He wasn’t sure what was bothering Anna but she was normally a great cook and she certainly seemed to be a bit off tonight.

“Nah, I got it.” Anna said. She put the spoon back down and turned around to face him. “So, you want to talk about it?”

“I think we should. We kind of have to. I’m not really sure what the right thing to do is.” Matt stated. He looked over his shoulder through the archway into the living room, but nothing was there. “Is Phil in the bathroom?”

“I think he’s taking a shower.” Anna replied. “I feel like this is something we need to talk to Phil about as well. It can’t just be us.”

“I know, but we should come up with some sort of plan. I mean, what if we talk to him and he sucks us back in?” Matt countered. “Your brother said he was only going to be here for a week and it’s been three months. He needs to move on. He needs to be an adult. Get a job and get his own place.”

Anna sighed. “I know, I know… I just hate seeing my younger brother go through this, you know?”

“I get that. I love Phil like my own brother, trust me. I’d do anything for him, but it’s getting to the point where I feel like we’re enabling him more so than helping you.” Matt explained.

“I agree,” Anna said nodding her head.

“So, I believe we should come up with some sort of plan – maybe two – and then either give him the options or just tell him like it is.” Matt said firmly.

“Alright. What do you propose?”

“I have no idea.”

“So, then…?”

“I was hoping you’d have some ideas.”

“Ideas for what?” Phil entered the kitchen. He immediately went over to the fridge and took out a carton of milk. Instead of getting a glass, he opened the carton and chugged it.

Anna put a hand on Matt’s shoulder when he noticed him getting tense. He looked as though he was about to blow. She knew it bothered Matt to no end when people drank out of the carton, especially in someone else’s home.

“Phil,” Matt said waving an okay to Anna. She turned her attention back to the stove not wanting to have anything to do with this conversation.

“What?” Phil replied. He took another swig of milk and then put it back into the fridge.

“Anna and I were just discussing your… situation. You know, the job and apartment hunting? How’s that going?” Matt began. He wanted to give Phil a deadline, an ultimatum, or something. Since he didn’t get a chance to talk it over with Anna first though, he needed to improvise.

“How’s it going?” Phil repeated. He glanced at the ceiling and hummed to himself. “It’s not, I guess. I didn’t realize I had to.”

Anna turned around and glared at her brother. “What do you mean you didn’t realize you had to?”

Matt put a hand on her shoulder. Usually it was him who lost his temper. He didn’t want Anna to start yelling at his brother. He wasn’t in the mood to have a rift in his own home between his wife and brother in law. Anna swatted his hand away though.

“Well, I’m here so I don’t need a place to live. You guys own the house so I don’t have any bills to pay. So, why do I need to get a job?” Phil asked.

Anna’s jaw dropped and Matt stepped in front of her.

“Phil, I think you’re missing the point… this house belongs to us, yes, and we’ve been kind to let you stay here, but we agreed it would be temporary. You said you were going to look for a job and then look for an apartment after. We can’t keep paying for your stuff. You need to take care of yourself.” Matt explained as calmly as he could. He wanted to blow his top at Phil but it was clear he needed to keep Anna’s temper in check as well.

“Oh, well you didn’t tell me that part.” Phil said with a shrug.

“Phillip! You’re an adult! You should have already known that especially since you told us you’d only be living with us for a week.” Anna snapped. “I love having you here. Really, I do. But you need to take care of yourself, like Matt said, and honestly, Matt and I need some space.”

Phil looked between his sister and Matt. He grinned and winked at Matt. “Oh, okay. I get what you mean.”

Anna glowered at him. “No, that’s not what I meant at all and you know it.”

Phil held his hands up in surrender. “No worries, Anna. I’ll get out of your hair soon. I just have a quick question…”

“What is it?” Matt asked.

The boiling pot of pasta hissed as the water poured out of the top. Anna turned around and turned the burner off before looking back at her brother.

“How do I go about getting a job? I’ve never really had one before.” Phil stated.

“You’ve gone on plenty of interviews, Phil. You’ve just never stuck around a job long enough to know what it’s all about.” Anna sighed.

“All the jobs I’ve had were boring. I didn’t want to stay there.”

“My job is boring too, but it’s a paycheck that pays for his house and food and clothes and everything else Anna and I need.” Matt explained.

Phil rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh. So, I guess that’s why Ashley broke up with me and took the apartment, huh?”

Anna nodded. “She couldn’t count on you.”

Matt took his laptop off the kitchen table and handed it to Phil. “Use this and search for a job. I want to sit down with you tonight with at least five job options and we’ll work together to submit your resume.”

Phil took the laptop and nodded. He left the room without another word.

“I’m sorry.” Anna muttered.

“Why are you sorry?” Matt asked.

“I didn’t realize he was dumb and actually thought we were going to let him freeload from us for the rest of his life.” Anna explained.

Matt put his hands in his pockets and raised his shoulders. “Well, all we can do now is help steer him in the right direction. He’ll be fine and so will we.” He kissed Anna on the cheek.

Anna smiled at him. She strained the pasta over the sink and dumped it back into the pot. “Can you get the milk, please?”

“You mean the one that has your brother’s germs all over it?” Matt grunted. He opened the fridge and picked up the carton. He let out a sigh.

“What’s wrong?” Anna asked.

Matt tossed the milk into the trash. “It’s empty.” He grabbed his car keys. “I’ll be back… do we need anything else other than milk?”

“Pop-Tarts?” Anna said sheepishly.

Matt shook his head. “No, I hid those from him.”

“Yeah… he found them.”

Matt sighed. “I’ll be back…”

Words: 1,304

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Short Story Sunday 272: Part

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

Violet sat down at the kitchen table and opened her laptop. She typed in, “part one” in a Word document and then stared at the blinking cursor. She glanced at the digital clock in the bottom right corner of her computer screen before looking back at the project she was just about to work on. Ben was supposed to arrive at her house any minute now. He was actually supposed to be there about a half hour ago. She hoped he remembered they were supposed to work on the project together today.

They had to write a three-act play for their English class. Their teacher wanted the plays to be in various voices but she also wanted the kids to work together and co-author a piece together so that they could incorporate their own ideas and own voices and yet try to compromise and make it seem like the play was written by one person.

None of it made any sense to Violet and she knew well enough that Ben didn’t care too much for the project – or the class in general – so she knew this was going to be pulling teeth.

They were only allowed to work in groups of two because their teacher wanted them to write the first act of the play together – their shared voices – and then one needed to write the second act of the play. Once that was done, the other partner needed to write the third act, the ending, of the play. They had three weeks to do this which meant they had a week to do each part. Violet knew Ben was going to do his last minute, so she had decided to work on the first act of the play together right after school (the project was just assigned today) and then she would write the second act as quickly as possible. That would give Ben about two weeks or so to get the third act written. It would be out of Violet’s hands and she wouldn’t have to wait for him to do his part in case she needed to write the ending.

Violet didn’t even want to work with Ben in the first place. Their English teacher was nice this time around and actually let them pick their partners for the project. Unfortunately for Violet, she only had two other friends in her English class and they had decided to work together leaving Violet to fend for herself and pick a different partner. Ben was in the same boat. He had four good friends in the class but they had paired off with one another. Ben sat behind Violet in class and their teacher noticed neither of them were sitting with a partner, she assumed the two of them had partnered up.

“Violet?”

She looked up from her computer hearing Ben’s piercing voice come from the other room. She hoped this wasn’t going to take them long. “I’m in the kitchen.” She realized Ben had never been over her house before but she hoped he’d be able to find his way around. The house wasn’t that big.

Ben entered the kitchen. He didn’t have anything with him. He sat down at the kitchen table and smirked at her. “Hi.”

“Hi.”

“So, what are we doing?” he asked.

“Did you bring anything?” she replied.

“Nope,”

Violet sighed.

“Well, you said you were going to use your laptop and do the typing. All I need to do is help you come up with ideas. So, here I am.” Ben responded with a snort. “You’re lucky I came at all.”

“I wouldn’t have minded doing this whole project myself.” Violet snapped.

Ben sighed. “I know you think I’m annoying, but I also know that grades are important to you. I’ll be nice and do my best to help out. Just don’t yell at me before we’ve even started.”

“You’re 40 minutes late.” Violet said narrowing her eyes.

Ben nodded. “Yes. Yes, I am. I apologize.”

Violet sighed. “Alright, let’s write the first act of the play together. I figured I could do act two and you could do the ending? I can do mine fast and then you can have a lot of time to come up with an ending.”

Ben scoffed. “You don’t think I can hit the deadline?”

Violet hesitated. No, she didn’t think he could, but she didn’t want to tell him that. She didn’t care too much for Ben, but she didn’t want to be rude to him. “I personally think the ending is hardest to come up with. Especially since you won’t know my thoughts for the second act. I just thought it might be easier for you to have a little extra time. Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Nah, it’s fine.” Ben said shifting his weight in his seat. “You’re probably right anyway. I’m late with my homework a lot because I want to do a good job. I just get stuck. Then I put it off and it’s late. Then it doesn’t matter if I do a good job or not. It’s late, so the teacher takes points off or gives me a zero anyway.”

“Really?” Violet asked. “I always thought you just didn’t care and that you hated school.”

He chuckled. “Well, I do hate school. But I still want to get into a good college and stuff. I don’t know how well I’ll do in college, but…”

“But you’ll try.” Violet finished with a smile.

“Yeah,” Ben shrugged.

“Do you have any ideas for what our play could be about?” Violet asked slightly changing the subject.

Ben shook his head. “I haven’t the foggiest… is there a special topic we’re supposed to write about?”

“No, it can be about anything we want.” Violet said.

“Then I got nothing.”

“Well, I have the perfect idea.” She grinned and began to write.

“What is it?” Ben stood up and looked over her shoulder. Violet continued to type away and Ben grunted.

“You’re seriously writing a play about high school students… that’s so cliché.”

“I don’t care, it’s going to be great.” Violet chuckled. “And we’re going to give you a happy ending.”

Words: 1,029

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Short Story Sunday 271: Expect

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

“What do you expect from me?” Tanya asked. She placed her books on the surface of her desk but didn’t sit down in her seat. Tanya had agreed with her parents she’d go to a community college and get her two-year degree. After that, it would be her choice to continue school or not. That was good enough for her parents as long as she had a degree to show for it. The thing was, she already had a good job. Tanya had been working there for two years, since she was sixteen. She didn’t have a degree and she was doing just fine there.

“I expect you to be on time,” Her professor replied. She stood in the front do the class with her hands on her hips. She sighed in disgust and pointed to Tanya’s seat. “I’d like to speak to you after class. You can sit for now and join us.”

Tanya shrugged and took her seat. She knew exactly what Professor White was going to say to her after class. Tanya would say the same thing to her and then the next time she had class, it was going to happen all over again.

Tanya didn’t want to mess up her work schedule because of school, so she had to decided to take online classes. This particular class, however, wasn’t offered online. So, she took the night class. However, by the time she got out of work there was a lot of traffic and the school was 45 minutes away from her job. So, she was usually about ten minutes late to class.

The first time she was late, she apologized to her professor and said she couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. She always rushed out of work and tried her best to be on time, but she couldn’t clear the traffic out of her way. Her professor shouldn’t have even cared anyway. She was still getting paid, Tanya was still forking over thousands of dollars to the school. She had an A in the class, so she didn’t understand what the big deal was.

Tanya’s desk was the first one by the door and she always discretely entered and sat down quietly and did her best to catch up with whatever the rest of the class was doing. Professor White always made a scene and complained about how Tanya was disrupting the class thus taking away some learning moments from her classmates when it was, in fact, Professor White who always had to make a big stink out of Tanya quietly entering the room.

The rest of the class went on smoothly. Tanya kept her mouth shut and only answered questions when her professor called on her. Professor White was always impressed with her answers and never treated her differently throughout the class. It was as though nothing as ever happened at the beginning of class. Tanya knew, though, come the end, as soon as her classmates had all left, Professor White would put on her stern face.

Tanya beat her to the punch this time though.

“Listen,” she began to explain as soon as the last kid exited the room, “The class is an hour and a half long. I don’t think being late by ten minutes is such an issue. I’m close to the door so that when I enter, I’m not walking in front or around my classmates and I’m always quiet when I come in. I never ask where we are or what we’re doing I just listen and catch up on my own. I personally don’t think I disrupt the class, but you always have to say something which breaks the class up.”

Tanya drew in a breath. She had meant to keep that last part to herself. Now she was really in for it.

Professor White folded her arms over her chest and nodded. “Go on, I have a feeling you’re not finished yet.”

“Well,” Tanya swallowed, “I have work before class started and it’s 45 minutes away. This class starts at seven and there’s a lot of traffic. I’m not trying to come up with excuses, but it’s true. I can’t control the traffic and I’ve tried to leave work a little early, but it’s not possible sometimes. I’m sure you know that feeling. Unless it’s for something really important, you can’t leave class early, right?”

Professor White nodded her head again. “You’re not wrong. But you don’t think this class is something truly important for you?”

“No, sorry,” Tanya shook her head. “I didn’t even want to go to school but my parents wanted me to get a degree. The truth is, I already have a really good job and I love what I do. But I respect my parents and their wishes and compromised with them to come here. Even though I don’t care about it, I still do my best. I have an A in this class. I do all my homework and do well on the tests. So being ten minutes late feels like it shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Tanya breathed in and held it. She had psyched herself up all class to explain all this to her professor. This time she was brutally honest. However, she wasn’t sure how this was going to work in her favor though.

Finally, Professor White closed her eyes and lifted her shoulders. “I only want my students to work to the best of their ability. I feel like you could do a lot more with the extra ten minutes, but you bring up good points. You are doing really well in the class and, if I’m allowed to say so, you’re actually ahead of everyone else.”

Tanya smiled. That might not have been the right move to make, but hey, she was proud of herself.

“College is meant to prepare you for the real world and for work. It sounds to me as though you already have that figured out. I just hope you realize there’s room to change your mind and if you do, there’s nothing wrong with that.” Professor White explained.

Tanya nodded. “Yes, I know that. I’ve got a good thing going on right now though so I’m gonna take it and hold onto it for as long as I can.”

Professor White smiled but she didn’t say anything else.

“So… are we good?” Tanya asked.

“Yes, I think we are. I’m glad we got this sorted out.”

“Thank you.” Tanya picked up her books and left the room. This was the nicest conversation she had with her professor and she was glad Professor White seemed understanding this time around. However, they had this conversation so often that she wasn’t sure if her professor would forget all about this come their next class in two days.

Tanya was just going to have to wait and see what happens.

Words: 1,198

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