Following this week’s prompts for the Aside from Writing Writing Sprint which were:
The story below is what appeared after sticking to the two-hour time limit.
If you decide to have a go, put your story or a link to it in the comments here or on Aside from Writing.
The Forgotten Child
Dan watches her from the other side of the garage. Stacey looks up, her lips come together to form a mysterious smile.
“Come closer,” she says.
The smile remains. Dan is unsettled by her fixed glare. The light cast by the solitary lamp doesn’t help the appearance of Stacey’s features, it reminds Dan of how children place torches beneath their chins when telling scary stories. He senses Stacey is about to say something unsettling. He wants to go to the toilet. Dan suddenly feels the end of his privates fill with water. He only went twenty minutes ago but he needs to pee again.
He wants to leave this garage.
“I’m not sure,” Dan says. It is typical of Dan to make open and honest and statements. He cannot speak with hidden intent or with a tactical tongue. There is no filter in his mind which processes raw emotion into agendas. He feels, he speaks.
His feet shuffle forward, as if commanded by her voice while fighting the anchor of his own distrust.
“What are you worried about?” she asks. Each word is delivered like a lullaby, but forms a tease, the creases in her smile as she speaks become the conductor of their devious orchestra.
“Mum would be angry if she knew I was here alone.”
“You’re not a child,” she says. “She shouldn’t treat you like one. Your age precludes you the cover of childhood.
Dan frowns at this which makes Stacey smile. Words such as preclude evade his understanding, just as membership to the proper adult world has. Their peer group is morphing fast before his eyes, becoming mentally adept at traversing the new pitfalls life presents. He is the exception that proves the rule. His body became a symbol of manhood first but his mind lags behind.
“Anyway,” she continues, realising her words are having little impact, “it’s nothing that would make your mum unhappy. She’d actually be mad if you didn’t come and help me.”
“Help you?” he says.
“Yes,” she replies. “I can’t carry this box alone.”
“What box?” Dan hears his mother’s voice, telling him he can be trying at times.
His legs take two fast steps forward. This new information creates two reasons – his mum would say excuses – to assist Stacey. He’s been taught that a girl – or in this case, young woman – should never carry things unassisted. The main reason is the appeal of secret treasure, wrapped up in curiosity.
His legs bolt to a stop again. The line on the anchor pulls him taut. Now he has stepped directly into her path, he can see the concealed corner of the garage to her right.
“Thank you, Dan,” she says, her lurid smile breaking into a more conventional beam. Gratitude for a task he’s yet to complete. With deeper breaths, he walks closer to Stacey. Each step reminds Dan how beautiful she is, how he always wants to stroke her sandy coloured hair when they’re alone. How he wants Stacey to touch him back in the ways she has sworn to secrecy.
Up close, he sees she has sprinklings of sweat across her brow. Each little bead is a raindrop. It makes Dan want to gently dab them, knowing her skin will be warm.
“Come closer,” says.
For a minute, he thinks she means closer to her but she walks them to the corner, pulling his hand along. Their bare arms touch. He is now aware of her perfume; the scent is strong and hypnotic.
They stop at a box which has been placed on a trestle, set to the height of Dan’s waist. Perfect for rooting through the treasures within. All that stands between Dan and discovery is a small kitchen towel that has been laid over the box’s opening. It has blue stripes running in both directions on a white background. There is a smidge of dirt or something like liquid in its centre. He wonders if the blemish is caused by what’s below the towel.
“You’ll have to take it off to have a peek,” she whispers. “But hurry, I need you to move it soon.”
Removing the towel to reveal the treasure in the box should be easy but Dan’s trepidation, unfounded as it appears, feels like an instinct he should observe.
“You said you’d do it, Dan,” she says, on the verge of a whine. The whispers have gone, her perfume less potent now.
“Okay,” he replies.
Dan’s hand reaches out to the towel. The blue and white pattern becomes his focus, Stacey drifts into the background. It is just him and what lies beneath. His large fingers grip an edge, the towel feels stale like the air in the garage. He begins to feel trapped.
There are no words for his filterless head. He just acts.
With a swift movement, he swings the towel away from the box.
Dan makes an involuntary sound which has a guttural aspect. It sounds like something only a very large man could produce. The effect of this outburst takes away his ability to stand, he falls to his knees. Dan’s hands also act on autopilot and make manoeuvres to cover his eyes. Before they can accomplish this mission, Dan’s head receives a sickening blow from behind. It propels his face through the incoming open palms and lays him flat on the floor.
As consciousness begins to fade, he recalls Stacey’s mysterious smile on her tightly formed lips. But that was a different day in the open field, and they had all been together back then.