Every once in awhile, I get the chance to write something aside from SEO content. It’s not as often as I’d like but holy crap, getting used to full-time work is exhausting. I’m not complaining, merely stating. Writing content all day leaves me with little desire to write once I get home from work. But, then sometimes a Saturday will roll around where I have a minute. So, here I am. Since I write about ‘real’ stuff all day, every day, I look forward to writing my first love…fiction. Once again, I’m participating in the picture prompt from Our Write Side.
Here are the Rules, because there are always rules:
1. The photo is here to spark your imagination. Use it as the landscape for your story, to remind you of a moment in your past, or the punch line to a joke. Use the photo as inspiration in any way you want.
2. Your submission can be fiction or nonfiction, memoir, poetry, dark or humor – your pick.
3. Please no adult content, no racial or political posts. Also, where applicable, please include a trigger warning introduction.
4. Keep your word count to 1000 or less. (Don’t worry if you go over, we won’t count.)
5. Link to your submission’s post URL in comments. If you don’t have a blog, you can add your entry to the comments below.
6. Link to this page’s URL in your post.
7. Limit one entry per person.
8. Submission deadline is Wednesday, midnight CST (Thursday, 5 a.m. GMT)
The old cottage is tiny, dark, and musty. But, familiar. And, as of today, it is mine. Electricity wouldn’t be turned back on until tomorrow, so I make due with the glow emanating from the small fireplace I miraculously was able to light. I’m curled up on the ancient lump-infested couch, one of the few pieces of furniture left. I’m trying to read my book through the flickering of the light, but the shadows hide the words, so I give up and drop the book onto the threadbare rug.
I stare into the fireplace, hypnotized by the flames undulating a rhythmic dance. The gentle heat barely cuts through the chill of the cottage’s old bones. The only thing absent from the room is my grandmother. Her chair next to the fireplace where she would sit for hours doing her needlework, devastatingly vacant.
A week has passed since she muttered her last words to me, and I still have yet to figure out what she meant. “Nothing is ever as it seems, Gabi,” she rasped barely audibly while holding my hand in a surprisingly undeath-like grip. Then, a long exhale escaped her blue-tinged lips. I would never have known she had died, her hand still firmly held mine. Except, the monitor she was hooked up to started making noises which drew in the night nurses who shooed me out of the hospital room.
Nothing is ever as it seems. Why would those have been my grandmother’s last words? The way she stared at me like I was expected to know exactly what she meant. She died before I could even try to question her. I squeeze my eyes shut and allow the tears to escape across my face. I don’t even wipe them away, why bother when more are sure to follow.
I stay on the couch through the night, floating in a state between awake and asleep. Sometime before morning, the last of the flames died, leaving me a shivering mass underneath a knit blanket that did nothing in the way of warmth. My phone had died so I have no idea of the time, which means I can’t leave to make a coffee run. The electric company was scheduled to arrive sometime between eight and noon, so I needed to be industrious.
Still in my clothes, I throw on my boots and coat to head outside and forage for firewood. The cast iron kettle and sure-to-be stale instant coffee would have to do until my current energy predicament changed. I wander outside toward the shed where the wood was stored. Outside the door, there is a pile of damp wood chips which, in and of itself, isn’t unusual considering. It’s the stone that caught my attention. Robin’s egg blue, with speckles of crimson marring the smooth surface. I pick it up and dust off the accumulated filth. As I hold it, my palm fills with warmth. I think it odd as I place it in my coat pocket and grab a couple of logs for a fire.
After I get a pleasant roar going in the fireplace, I assume my position on the couch again. I take my finding from my pocket to inspect it more thoroughly. Stone by any other name, I think. Except, it’s not quite a stone yet, what else could it possibly be? And, I can’t help but wonder how it’s so warm when it clearly had been outside in the winter’s cold. It should be like an ice cube, being out there all winter. Or maybe I’m just taking my grandmother’s words and transferring them onto this poor, unsuspecting piece of nature. As much as it looks like a stone, something nags inside of me saying otherwise.
“Before I can think straight, I need my caffeine,” I say to the chair that seems so, well, empty. Then I pet the wood armrest because I suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to feel sorry for that piece of furniture, “I miss her too.”
With one last turnover in my palm, I place the strange stone on the mantle and head toward the minuscule kitchen to search for the necessary objects for my coffee. Not so quickly locating the items, yet successful in my endeavor, I turn to head back to the living room.
With a gasp, I drop my treasures. The heavy kettle narrowly misses my foot as it lands with a loud boom. The container of coffee bounces to the ground and rolls across the wood floor.
Standing in the living room, in the area between the fireplace and the lonely chair looms a most shocking sight. A Robin’s Egg blue scaled man with crimson specks marring his perfect surface, his dragon-like pointed teeth peeking out behind wide lips stretched into a grin. And he’s looking directly at me.
He extends his muscular arm in the direction of the goods scattered around my feet, “I’d love some of that coffee, too.” And then, he winks and sits down in my grandmother’s chair.