Thursday, February 16, 2017
Not Tonight, Honey - Short Story
Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am having tons of fun with the weekly flash fiction challenges from Chuck Wendig who publishes his blog at www.terribleminds.com. Last week there was no story prompt, but he had us submit a three word story title. Then he randomly chose ten and asked us to pick one to write a short story about. I thought about it and decided I would go with "Long Way Home" but somehow I ended up with "Not Tonight, Honey." Stories sometimes have a mind of their own. I hope you like it. (Constructive feedback is welcomed, if you're so inclined.)
Not Tonight, Honey
by Michelle Baillargeon
“Nana, let me stay. I want to stay.” Eva’s granddaughter pleaded with her once more as she pulled the car into the driveway.
“No, honey, it’s going to be fine. I’m going to be fine. There’s no need.” Eva gave her well meaning granddaughter her best reassuring smile, climbed out of the car and turned to face the her. “Thank you for the ride. Go along home now, Sarah, I love you.”
“There’s some kind of crazy person robbing and beating up up old ladies living alone; I’m afraid that you could be in danger.”
Sarah reached out her hand to her grandmother and when it was received, gave it a gentle squeeze. Eva squeezed back then let go. “Honey, I’m going to be perfectly fine. I will check the locks on all my doors and windows and I’ll keep my phone near by, just in case. Besides, I have a feeling he’s going to break into the wrong house one of these nights. Go along, now. I’ve got to check on Bessie.” Eva blew Sarah a kiss and stood back for a moment.
Sara realized Nana was using her “don’t argue with me voice” and that any further discussion would be a waste of time. She caught Nana’s kiss and sent one back completing the goodbye ritual. She shook her head at Nana’s stubbornness and lack of fear. Sara still worried for her grandmother, but there was no changing her mind once it was made up. As she drove away, she imagined one scary image after another of her grandmother getting conked on the head or worse. Those images were pushed aside as a different thought occurred to her. Who’s Bessie?
“That was close.” Eva hurried to her house, wanting to get inside before Sarah changed her mind.
True to her word, once inside Eva set about making the rounds. She started in the kitchen and worked her way around the cottage in a clockwise manner. She checked both the front and back doors, as well as the one to the cellar, and made sure the deadbolt was in place each time. She went to each window in the kitchen, living room, guest room and bathroom. All of the locks were already fastened.
Lastly, she checked the three windows in her bedroom, which was in the back of the house. Two windows had rose bushes below them and she thought anyone in their right mind would avoid them as an entry point, but she locked them anyway. The person breaking in to houses and smashing old ladies like her on the head obviously wasn’t in their right mind. The third window faced the dark, fenced in back yard and was free of rose bushes. Eva reached up to the lock and disengaged it; she gave the whole thing a small push and opened the window a crack. Just a crack. She patted the window sill and smiled.
Eva turned to get the time from the alarm clock on her bedside table. Eight p.m. It was still early. The local newspaper reports said that the break-ins and attacks had happened close to midnight.
Three attacks in three weeks; and three friends in the hospital. She knew the victims well, they couldn’t have put up much of a fight agains the burglar. The level of violence that the victims suffered was completely unnecessary. The burglar must have known they were home, yet he broke in anyway. All she could think was he got a kick out of it. Sick son of a biscuit.
The people in town were scared and everyone wondered who would be next. This guy wasn’t stopping, there would be a next victim. Some of her friends had moved back in with their children temporarily, giving up some of their independence but gaining some sense of safety. It was a necessary compromise. Eva felt a twinge in the knuckles of one hand and realized she’d been making a tight fist. She opened it and lightly shook off the pins and needles; it wouldn’t do to have an arthritic flare up tonight.
Eva forced her thoughts back on track, there were a few things to do before she could settle in for the night. She took a second to glance back at the window and frowned. What was she thinking? She stepped back over to the window and lowered the shade so that it was even with the bottom of the the window. She made sure the other two window shades were pulled down completely. Satisfied, she headed to the kitchen.
A cup of soup and few crackers would do to keep her stomach from rumbling, so she busied herself for a few minutes preparing her snack. Eva was a bit of a night owl, but she didn’t want to chance falling asleep too early; a pot of coffee would do the trick. Nervous energy did not diminish her appetite, and her snack was gone before she realized it. She put the dishes in the sink, turned off all the lights, grabbed a cup of coffee and returned to the bedroom.
Finally able to settle down, she took a few minutes to prepare for bed, hurrying through her bedtime rituals. She crossed the room to sit in her favorite, overstuffed reading chair. It was positioned directly opposite of the window that looked out into the back yard; it had a lot of light during the day (perfect for reading) and a great view of her flower beds (perfect for bird and butterfly watching). Tonight, it would serve another purpose.
Eva took a sip of coffee and checked the time again. It was still early, but she was patient. There was an unfinished book on the nearby table, but she didn’t know that she could concentrate on it tonight. She reached over and opened the table’s drawer, “Bessie,” she said out loud, “come to Mama.”
She pulled out an old gift from her late husband Bill; an anniversary present to be exact, their tenth. One of her favorites. Smiling, she held her treasured Smith and Wesson 38 Special Revolver and remembered the times, long past, target shooting with her husband. Bill had given her lessons until Eva could hold her own, eventually she’d been able to out shoot him.
Eva kept the gun loaded with personal protection rounds, what her son-in-law called “people killers”, but checked again just to be sure. There were additional bullets in the drawer; but, if she happened to need all six already chambered, it would be too late anyway.
Reminiscing about the old days with Bill had helped the hours pass and and her nerves to calm. Soon it was time. She put out the light and sat in her chair like she’d done each night for the previous week. He had to think she was asleep.
She’d begun each night thinking that would be the night, but each night she had held out until one a.m. and then given up. Her heart leaped as she heard a small noise at the window, she could feel her pulse quicken. Tonight would be the night! She sat quietly in her chair, taking a deep breath, holding Bessie at the ready.
Her eyes had adjusted to the dim light and she watched as the window was gently pushed upwards and the shade pushed aside. She saw a black clad arm, then two, appear; the rest of the body soon followed as the burglar worked his way into the room. Eva watched him pause to get his bearings. Now!
She pulled back Bessie’s hammer and the sound filled her quiet bedroom. Now that she had his attention, she turned the lamp back on. “Not tonight, Honey.”