Fiction Friday: [Coffee & Consequences]

My mind spun and I tried to grasp at any thought, any memory to give me the sense of feeling grounded. Feeling solid. Instead, years of worry and pain bore down on my chest, smothering my urge to scream. My urge to flee. The stranger’s eyes were unyielding as they locked onto my own. His words continued to bounce around my confused mind.

I had noticed him earlier, watching me. My morning paper and the rich, smooth aroma of roasting coffee beans were all that separated the space between us. I took comfort in the tip tapping of fingers on laptop keys as fellow coffee shop patrons worked on future bestsellers or, more likely, checked the latest tweets. Potential witnesses if this man proved to be crazy.

The jingly notes of the Christmas music faded under the crashing waves pulsing in my ears. Blood surged at the insistence of my pounding heart as he walked toward me. By the time he reached my table, the low murmur of coffee shop chatter drowned under the sound of my own heartbeat.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” he had said. “But I have a message. She’s…she’s quite, um, insistent.”

I felt a pinch between my brows as I opened my mouth to speak. After a moment he must have realized that nothing was going to come from my parted lips and he continued.

“Anya wants me to tell you that she hopes you and Darren are happy.”

His eyes swam with kindness and a hint of pride. My mouth eased open further as if to catch the tears swelling too quickly to the surface. A smile spread across his face and I realized he believed he had delivered comforting news from beyond.

Pressing my lips together, I swallow down the bark of fear throbbing in my throat. With great effort, I was only able to curl up the right side of my mouth, but the lie of it was too much and it fell back into a grim, straight line.

“Thank you,” I finally managed to say and he walked away.

His steps were light. Those of a man who had done some good. I knew my steps would never be that free again as the weight of fear now pumped through my veins like concrete.

…she hopes you and Darren are happy.

Heat prickled my skin, but I shivered as I recalled the stranger’s words. Words meant to ease the suffering of loss, but I knew all too well Anya’s true intention. What she had implied.

If she knew that I was now involved with her husband—her widow—then she surely knew that I was the one who killed her, too.

Fiction Friday: [Sterling Farms]

A couple of weeks ago I posted a story about a writer's creepy visit to a graveyard. It was based on a prompt by Scene Stealers, but I'd exceeded the word count and never submitted it. Boo! Well, I decided to take another stab at it and this piece of flash comes in at 350 words on the dot.

[This week's Fiction Friday is my submission for Scene Stealers #21. Scene Stealers is a fun writing prompt from Write to Done where they provide the first two--or in this case three--sentences and limit your word count to 350. Enjoy!]


She looked up from her writing. Was that a creak? But she'd oiled the hinges just yesterday.  

Another creak. She felt her muscles tighten. Her ears perked, straining for a clue.

This is why a city girl shouldn't visit the country, she thought.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Goosebumps stood her hairs on end and her breathing grew shallow. She looked down at her fingers, frozen over the keyboard, and realized they were shaking.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Closing her eyes, she tried to fold into herself, but knew she had to get in control of the situation. She slowly made her way toward the vicinity of the tapping. Her ear touched the wall and she was startled by its iciness. Regardless, she pressed it tighter and listened. She didn't have to wait long.

The sound of clawing screamed in her ear from the other side. Long, deliberate strokes escalating to desperate scrapes. She couldn't breathe as the fear sat heavily on her chest.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

The sound echoed and amplified in her ear. She shot from the wall. Grabbing her laptop, she shoved it into its case. As she was about to gather the rest of her things:

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Racing out of the house and into the car, she drove blindly until she came across a hotel. Although it was thirty minutes away, it still didn't feel far enough. Settled in, she opened her laptop, launching the search engine.

"Sterling Farms, Middleburg VA"

She read article after article about how, in 1992, during renovations, a body had been found buried within a bedroom wall of the farmhouse. They'd determined the body to be that of Margaret Sterling, who had gone missing in 1832. Forensic evidence proved she'd been buried alive. Evidence such as scratch marks and divots dug out with her finger.

An hour later, she was still in front of the computer, knees pulled up to her chin as she hugged herself tightly. Wide, unblinking eyes sat over her tear stained cheeks. She would never return to that house again. Not when she knew that Margaret was still there.