First, a disclaimer: If you haven’t read the other stories in this series, click here to read them before getting into this week’s flash fiction. (Start at the bottom and read them in the order they were posted.)
The prompt this week (from the 500 Club) is a perfect example of how unpredictable the development of this series can be, even for me. This prompt was, I assure you, the easiest one to weave into the fabric of this series available this week, and it was no easy thing to fit it in. (Feel free to let me know in the comments if it feels forced or if it works for you.) And yet, I loved writing it…because I had to be creative and work to make it fit. (It helped that Vye was definitely by my side today. She’s a helpful girl when she wants to be.)
While I’m talking about the series, another thing I’ve enjoyed about writing it is that the point of view changes with each installment. That makes each piece feel totally different to me, and allows me to capitalize on the knowledge, experience and ignorance of different characters. (Also, since it’s what Stoker did when writing Dracula, it makes me feel just a little bit–a teeny, tiny bit–like I’m following in the footsteps of one of the greats.)
Okay, the prompt was:
Luck Would Have It: Pick a common lucky item, good (horse shoe, penny on heads, rabbit’s foot) or bad (black cat, monkey’s paw, cracked mirror) , and give it an uncommon story. In 500 words, turn luck on its ear.
the wishing stone
It’s a little thing–something I’ve never even told anyone about for fear of embarrassment. A couple of years ago I was out on a walk, thinking about life and some big decisions I had coming up. I was worried and anxious. I knew what I wanted to have happen, but I felt like it was a long shot. All the stars would have to align, that kind of thing. While I was walking, I found this small, round stone on the street near the curb. It looked like the kind of stone that should be on a beach somewhere, having been worn smooth by the constant churning of water. And yet, it was on my street, less than half a mile from my house, nowhere near a beach of any kind.
I picked it up and, without realizing I was doing it, began to rub my thumb against it as I walked and thought. I thought about what I wanted to have happen, how I wanted the turbulence in my life to settle, and made those quiet, secret wishes we all make but pretend we don’t. When I got home, I set the stone on my dresser.
Within days I knew the outcome of the issues I’d been fretting over. Everything came out just as I’d hoped it would. The superstitious side of me attributed my good fortune to the stone, which I decided must have granted my wishes that day on my walk. Since then, more days than not, I carry the stone in my pocket. It’s small–only about the size of a silver dollar–and I remain convinced it somehow helps. Call it my rabbit’s foot. My lucky pair of socks.
It’s my personal talisman.
As I came to, the first thing I felt was that stone in my pocket. I should have felt my hands, still bound to the chair, or the ball gag, still stuffed securely in my mouth. I should have felt the drool running off my chin or even the tears I’d cried earlier, now dried on my face and leaving crusty reside around my useless eyes. But no. I felt the stone, it’s meager weight reminding me that it was still in my pocket.
I hear steps and sobbing. There were more people in the basement now. I heard a child’s whimper and Mr. Kinter announce that he intended to teach someone how to remove a human ear with a pair of scissors. Then I heard sounds. Horrible sounds. No screams, but cutting sounds mixed with sploshes, splats and hacks.
I closed my mind to the sounds and focused on the stone. Maybe it was just a stone. Maybe it had no power at all, no magic to it. Maybe it was silly or stupid or desperate of me, but I started wishing. I called on it to hear me again. I wished to be out of that basement and somewhere safe.
And as crazy as it sounds, the stone heard my wish.