Posted in Uncategorized

Murder: An Apology Letter

To My Latest Victim,

Listen, I’m sorry I did this to you. Honestly though, I didn’t ask for you to come into my life. It just happened. And I promised myself that it would be different this time. At first, it was. But then one day I looked at you and realized I was slowly torturing you to death.

Remorse set in.

I tried to make it up to you, I really did. It was too late. Deep down, I already knew I’d killed you, but I hoped for a miracle. Maybe this time I would wake up to see that you’d perked up overnight. When you were even more ragged than the day before, I started digging your grave.

Please understand that your death wasn’t personal. I’ve murdered at least a dozen before you. Didn’t I warn you that I was serial killer when you came into my house for the first time?

Your unmarked grave sits in the midst of many just like you. And for that, be grateful. Some end up in a plastic bag, thrown away like common garbage. I have more respect for you than that.

I can’t explain why I’m a killer. It’s definitely not hereditary. My grandmother was great with your kind. She played music for them and doted on them as if they were her own children. Sadly, it’s all I can do to remember you exist… until its too late. So now I’ll bury you and send you back to the ground from which you came.

Maybe the next time someone gives me a house plant, I’ll actually remember to water it.

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Posted in Uncategorized, young adult

The Librarian

I promised you a short story, and now I’m going to deliver. I wrote this for a YA short story competition onΒ Scribophile.Β  Β The prompt was 500 words or less ending with “we didn’t talk after that.” Oops… guess that’s a spoiler alert.Β  πŸ˜‰ I hope you enjoy the story anyway.

Librarian

My sister yanked on a strand of my hair with a tiny fist. β€œMama.”

Β β€œNo. Lulu. Call me Lulu, Sissy.” I gently unfurled each finger and shoved a teething ring in her hand.

A woman coming down the aisle stopped at my seat and clucked her tongue. I slid over to make room. She looked from Rose back to me. β€œHow old are you, child?”

I sighed.Β Here we go again.Β β€œFourteen.” 

β€œFourteen and having babies. Lord, what has the world come to!” She shook her head and glanced around the bus, but I knew this was the last seat available.

β€œShe’s my sister. My mom works late. I pick her up from daycare.”

β€œMm- huh.”

β€œExcuse me, Ma’am. You can have my seat.” An elderly woman with a flower covered hat placed a gloved hand on the woman’s arm. β€œI was just giving my granddaughters some space, but I’ll sit with them.”

The woman eyed her. I knew she didn’t buy it. We looked nothing alike. β€œOh, all right.” 

The small wrinkled woman plopped down on the seat and smiled. β€œName’s Grace. Pleased to meet you.”

I shook her hand. She smelled of lilacs and looked like she’d worn the same Jackie Kennedy knock off since 1962. β€œI’m Lucy … and this really is my sister, Rose.” 

Grace perched her handbag on her lap and laughed. β€œI know she is. I see you reading to her every day. And you don’t read to her like you’re her mama.”

β€œWhat’s that supposed to mean?” I clutched Rose a little tighter and glanced at my book, tucked between the seat and the wall of the bus.

β€œI mean that she’s a baby, and babies don’t care to listen to stories about wizards and vampires, or the latest teen couple in love.”

β€œHow do you know what Rose likes? And I though reading to babies was good for them.” I narrowed my eyes at her. Maybe the woman who thought Rose was mine would have been better. She would have at least been silent in her unfounded judgment of me, instead of vocally criticizing my reading selection.

Β β€œI am – was – a librarian. I know what everyone likes, or doesn’t like, to read. And your sister needs small books with colorful pages. She’ll love them.” For a moment, she looked wistful and her gray eyes gleamed with a tear.Β 

β€œOh. Um, thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind the next time I make it to the library.” I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I just wanted to ride home in peace.

β€œDon’t you have a Mother Goose book from when you were a baby? Surly your mother read to you, you’re such an avid reader now.” 

β€œMother Goose?” I figured playing dumb was better than explaining to a complete stranger that we had moved five times in the last five years and any item I had as a baby was long gone.Β 

β€œYes. Cat and the Fiddle? Humpty Dumpty? You’ve heard those stories?” She opened her rather large purse and dug through its contents.

β€œI don’t know, maybe?” I shrugged and glanced out the window.

β€œHere.” She held out a book with a picture of three pigs standing near a brick house. Grace scrawled her address on an old receipt and pressed it in the pages of the book. β€œReturn it to me at this address and I’ll give you Mother Goose, okay?”

Rose squealed and plucked the book from Grace’s hand. β€œI guess that’s a yes.” I muttered.Β 

***

I clutched the book in one hand and rang the bell with the other. When a tall man with broad shoulders opened the door, I pulled the slip with Grace’s address out of my pocket and glanced at the numbers over the bell.

“Sorry. I’m looking for Grace.”

β€œShe said you’d come. The girl with the book.” His eyes locked on the title in my hand, and I realized that they were red and rimmed with tears. β€œKeep it.”

β€œWhat? I usually give them back to her on the bus, but I haven’t seen her in a week, so I thought I’d deliver this one.” I didn’t mention that every time I traded her books on the bus, she told me to stop at her house the next time.

β€œMom’s gone-” His voice cracked and he cleared his throat. β€œShe said you could keep the book. In fact-” He stepped back and motioned to a row of boxes. β€œShe has an entire box of books for you.” I spotted a box with β€œLucy from the bus” scrawled on it in black marker.

β€œOh.” I walked to the box and ran my hand over the words. I felt a pang of guilt for not coming here sooner. β€œI can’t take your mom’s books. Besides, I can’t carry this box home. It’s too heavy.”

Β β€œWhere do you live? I’ll carry it for you.” He reached for a jacket hanging behind him.

β€œYou don’t have to do that. I live three blocks away.” 

β€œMom said you were her last random act of kindness. You made her feel like a librarian again.” He strode across the room and knelt in front of me. β€œCan I hug you?”

β€œI guess.” I glanced at the door, still ajar. He wrapped his warm, muscular arms around me and squeezed slightly. I supposed that this must be what it felt like to be hugged by a brother, or maybe a father.

β€œThank you,” he whispered as he let me go.

He motioned to the door and picked up the box. We didn’t talk after that.