Hey guys! I recently wrote a short story, but it’s far too long to put in one post because humans have short attention spans, so I’m going to break it up into a couple parts. As you are reading it, the beginning may tickle your memory because I did post the first page or so when the story was still a fledgling, but now it has been completed and is somewhat different.
I hug my blue teddy bear, Zachy, tightly as my parents prepare to leave. Mother says his name is actually Zachary, but my little two-year-old tongue couldn’t say so many syllables and he became Zachy from then on. I like “Zachary” much better. It sounds more refined, but Zachy will forever be “Zachy.” It’s too late to change it.
My parents are going on a date tonight. I asked them not to. It’s cold and cloudy tonight, and I can tell I’m going to have nightmares. Father said I’m a strong boy and as long as I have Zachy and Emmica I can do anything. I said I’d be brave for him.
Mother hands Emmica, my babysitter, some money. She smiles at them. Her smile is like poisoned candy. I don’t like her, but my parents think she is lovely. Mother says to trust Emmica, that she’ll always do what’s best for me.
Emmica is a pretty girl, like the kind you see on TV. She has straight, white teeth and green eyes and dark brown hair. One streak is pink and blue. I haven’t figured out how she makes her hair colorful. I’ve tried concentrating, but my hair has not turned orange yet. My floppy yellow hair always stays floppy and yellow no matter how much I try to change it.
My parents hug me and then leave. I flinch as the door slams, locking me inside with Emmica. As soon as the front door is shut, Emmica’s pleasant smile morphs into a scowl. I grimace. She doesn’t like to be here, but she also loves to collect money. She says, her voice sweet, “If you need anything, I’ll be at Izzy’s,” and heads out the door. I flinch again as it closes.
I gape at where she used to be. I don’t think Emmica is supposed to leave me alone, as I’m only five—nearly six—and children are always supposed to be with someone older. I’ll tell Mother about her when they get back. Maybe then I’ll get a new babysitter who has a pleasant smile.
Izzy lives close by and Emmica likes her much more than me. I don’t like Izzy. Sometimes, she plays loud music at night and makes it hard to sleep. I can feel it echo in my bones.
Emmica has never left before, and I’m alone for the first time. Usually, she never pays attention to me, but she stays with me. I’m scared, but I’m almost six. I can do things by myself and I’m strong.
I’m hungry. I may be almost-six and I may be able to do things by myself and I may be strong, but I cannot cook. It’s already an hour past my dinner time and the door doesn’t open. Mother gave Emmica a key a few weeks ago, so she shouldn’t need my help to come inside.
I’m at war with myself. I want to find Emmica because I want food, but I’m not supposed to leave by myself. My hunger wins. I grab my sweater and a set of keys from the closet and I head outside. My friend, the moon, is hidden by heavy clouds that hang low in the dark sky. A biting breeze blows litter and dead leaves across my feet. I shiver.
I walk down the porch steps and the driveway until I’m on the sidewalk. I run, unsettled by the night, next door to Izzy’s house and ring the doorbell. Nobody answers. The music is playing today and I can feel the porch shaking under my feet. I count 120 seconds then ring the bell again. There are neon lights in the windows behind the curtains.
This time Emmica answers. The door flies open and she leans against the frame. There’s a fading smirk on her electric-blue lips and her eyes are glittering. She’s wearing a short maroon dress and shoes that make her look like a giraffe. I have to tilt my head back to see her face. Music pounds behind her and I can hear people shouting.
“Well?” she asks. The happiness has drained from her face and has been replaced with her usual expression. It looks like she’s eaten a sour grape.
She smiles that ugly smile and says, “You’re a smart boy, Sammy, right? You can figure it out.” I wince. No one but Mother is allowed to call me Sammy.
She slams the door in my face.
Emmica told me I could figure this out. I look at my kitchen and think it’s improbable. I’m not allowed to touch the knives or the oven or the microwave and I don’t know how to cook.
I open the refrigerator and scan its contents. There’s milk, but I can’t make cereal since the milk jug is too heavy for me to lift. The freezer is too high for me to reach and I’m not supposed to stand on the chairs since I fell one time and broke my arm.
The clock says it’s past my bedtime. I sigh, giving the kitchen one last long look before heading upstairs to brush my teeth and head to bed.
I spit into the sink and when I look up, I see that I’m frowning, so I make a silly face and smile. Smiling is so much more pleasant than frowning unless you smile like Emmica.
I’ve just slid between the freezing covers when the doorbell rings. It must be Emmica. She’d want to return before Mother and Father come back, but she has a key. She shouldn’t need to ring the bell, but maybe she left her key at home.
I slip out of bed and pad down the stairs, but I stop before reaching the door. Usually, Mother or Father answers the door and they always look through the peephole, but I can’t reach it without standing on a chair. But if it’s Emmica and she doesn’t have a key I need to open the door for her because she can’t spend the next three or four hours on the porch and I need her to make me food.
The door bows open and it isn’t Emmica standing on the other side of the threshold. The street lamp on the far side of the road flickers, turning the tall man in front of me into a shadow. He takes up too much space. I have to take a step back to breathe.
The street lamp flickers for a bit longer, caught between light and darkness. It chooses darkness, but the light from inside casts a warm glow on the man’s face.
“Hello,” I say. It comes out meeker than I intended, so I try again, stronger.
The man is strangely dressed in a baby blue suit. Father always wears black or white, or if he’s feeling spontaneous, a color like vanilla pudding. The suit is sharp and creased in all the right places, but it’s old. It’s worn so thoroughly in some places there’s only thread and I can almost see his white shirt beneath. The edges of the sleeves are frayed enough that it looks like he’s decided to tape his dog’s shed fur to the edges of his sleeves. The man doesn’t have a beard, but he doesn’t not have a beard either.
He says, “Quick, come with me, Sam. Your parents are in danger. Only you can save them.”