This week I decided to do something different and challenge myself. So, I searched pictures on Canva using the word scary. This image intrigued me. Then, I wrote a short story to go along with it. My goal was to keep it under 1000 words. I only went over by a couple of words 🙂
When I first wrote this, I didn’t like it and wasn’t going to use it. The next day I went back and started reworking it and got this version.
Bella snapped the picture right before the boy disappeared. Although she’d been the only one to see him, now there was proof.
For the last two weeks, she’d seen the boy in the same place, right after the school bus dropped her off by their private road. He wore jeans, a grey hoody, carried a black backpack, and never looked back or spoke. Then he would vanish into a heavy mist of fog.
She couldn’t wait to show her mother the photo.
Mother was sitting on the porch in the old wooden rocking chair, sipping her iced tea. The hair went up on Bella’s arms when Mother’s bloodshot eyes fixed on her. “Why do you have my camera?” Her words slurred together like they were in a wind tunnel, but the leaves on the trees were still.
“I borrowed it to get a picture of the boy. I got it. Look, Mother!” She held the camera up, hoping she was wrong about Mother’s condition. The last three years had been peaceful ones since Mother remained sober and took her meds.
Mother slammed the drink down hard, shattering the glass. “Liar! There’s no boy out there, and stop calling me Mother. You know I hate that word.”
Bella sighed when blood dripped from her mother’s hand. That scary woman had returned. “Sorry, Stella. You’re hurt. Where’s Dad?” She scanned the area, hoping he had come home early.
“Gone. He got tired of raising another man’s brat. I wish I’d never had you thirteen years ago.” Stella sank into her chair and started weeping. Tears mixed with her blood into a tie-dye swirl of insanity.
“He is my dad, and he wouldn’t leave without me!” Bella’s jaw clenched in a painful spasm that she gingerly rubbed.
Stella’s sorrow turned into a cruel smirk. “I had plenty of boyfriends in my day. I was very popular. When I got pregnant, your love-crazy dad offered to marry me. For a while, I thought I loved him back, but I was wrong. He left both of us. Good riddance, I say. Now, go do your homework or whatever it is you do and leave me alone.”
Bella wrapped her coat tightly around her slim body. The red trees brought the colder days and the hope of the holidays. There was none of that at this moment as she tucked the camera into her backpack while Stella stumbled into the house.
The last time Stella was here, she tried to run over Bella in their driveway. Dad had given her an ultimatum; get help, or they were leaving. After a year of full-time treatment, Stella was gone, and Mother came home. Although Mother lacked warmth, things had been okay until now.
The high-pitched vibration of more breaking glass came from inside the old gray house, which hurt Bella’s soul. She turned away from the place where second chances had seemed possible and walked back down the tree-lined driveway.
When she got to the road, the boy was there again. Instead of going to town, she raced toward him. There was an overpowering, musky smell, like the cologne her father wore.
“Please talk to me. My mother is sick and needs help.”
For the first time, he stopped but didn’t turn around. “She killed me, you know.”
“What?” Bella reached out to him, but he stayed out of her grasp.
“Run!” the boy screamed and disappeared.
She heard their van start. Its wheels squealed down the driveway. Bella did what the boy told her—she ran.
“Time to join Daddy!” Stella screamed.
Bella veered off the road, hoping to make it to the forest and away from her crazed mother, when an excruciating pain shot through her body. Then nothing.
When she opened her heavy eyes, her father was kneeling next to her. “You’re safe now, my little Bella. I’m sorry, I wasn’t there to protect you.”
Bella sat up, feeling no pain. “She’s drinking again.”
“I know, and it’s obvious she stopped the meds and therapy. I can’t believe I missed Stella’s return.” He buried his face in his hands.
“It’s okay, Dad.” Bella patted her dad’s arm.
The boy stood behind her father. His hood was down, and he appeared to be about ten years old, with the most beautiful green eyes, messy brown hair, and a huge grin. She smiled and waved. He returned her gesture.
“Can you see the boy, Dad?”
He gathered Bella into his arms and held her like he used to do when she was a child. “Yes. His name is Jake.”
“Jake? You told me to run. Thank you.”
Jake’s smile faded, and a shadow crossed his face. “I failed you.”
“How?” Bella frowned and met her father’s brown eyes. He nodded toward the old cedar tree and flashing red lights. Their van had plowed into the tree, and her mother was being loaded onto a gurney. “Is she alive?”
“Yes. Her body will recover, but I’m not sure about her mind. I’m going to set you down now if that’s okay?”
“Sure, Dad. I feel fine.”
Tears ran down Jake’s face, and he put his hood back up. After a loud sniffle, he said. “Bella deserved to live, not that woman.”
“I…” Bella stopped when her father pointed to the wreck. There was a familiar person between the car and the tree. “I’m dead?”
“Yes, sweetheart. We both are, but I think you’ll like it where we are going. Right, Jake?”
Jake wiped his tears away. “Yes. It looks amazing, but I stayed here hoping to stop her from doing this again. It wasn’t a deer your mom hit two weeks ago, and she buried me over there.” He pointed to a grove of trees next to the accident. “I was running away from one drunk mom and got killed by another. I hope they find my body someday. Even my mom deserves to know what happened.”
Dad grabbed Bella’s hand. “Time for all of us to go.”
Jake scooped up her other hand, and they started walking. Soon, the world they left behind was forgotten as peace and love filled their souls. They entered a golden light where three beautiful angels waited for them. Their journey had just begun.
I will be doing this again next week. My daughter provided the word, bonsai for the picture.
The Newsletter will be coming out at the end of this week. Watch for it if you are subscribed!
Embrace your inner child by reading a good book! D. L. Finn