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Inside the Old Box

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

You are at the neighborhood garage sale, looking for nothing in particular. Something inside an old, wooden box catches your eye. The old woman who is running the sale comes over to say something about the object. What is it? What did she say and why?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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218 Responses to Inside the Old Box

  1. Icabu says:

    Jim wandered the cluttered block where Mrs. Kazimir gathered everyone’s junk to sell it to anyone who hasn’t had it yet. He put in an appearance every year now. Skipping the first one had brought on a deluge of neighbor nosiness that made the trip through the mess the lesser of the evils. He’d buy something just to quell the inevitable onslaught if he didn’t. He’d never used or kept whatever he’d bought and had no doubts of the same happening this year.

    Nearing the end of the block, Jim began to panic a little as he had not found even one item that he was willing to part with his hard-earned money for. This was definitely the worst year ever for recycled junk. The last tables belonged to the newest members of the block. Jim didn’t remember their names as he didn’t rush over as they moved in like many of his neighbors had. He figured he meet them eventually, like at this silly block yard sale.

    A handsomely carved wooden box caught Jim’s eye. It seemed out of place amid the rest of the block’s garbage. Picking it up, he found it had decent heft. The craftsmanship made it immediately obvious it had considerable age, making Jim wonder why it was still available. He studied the box for a long time before opening it. The design had subtle and bold components that captured the eye and led the viewer along as if it were telling a story.

    Opening the box made Jim smile for the first time all afternoon. The beauty and age continued to hold his interest – intensely. Unlike the rest of the junk on display, this item wore it age with elegance and grace. He ran his fingers over shiny worn areas and complex knurled sections, fascinated with the artist’s marrying the varied toolings and methods into this final masterpiece.

    “I see you’ve found it.”

    Jerked away from his consuming inspection, Jim started at Mrs. Kazi’s voice.

    “Found what?” he asked.

    “What you’ve been looking for, of course,” she said.

    “What do you mean?” Jim asked, confused.

    Mrs. Kazimir nodded at the box still clutched in Jim’s hands. “It wouldn’t still be here if it were for anyone else.”

    “It’s beautiful,” Jim said, turning from her possessively.

    Shrugging, Mrs. Kazimir said, “To you.” She smiled. “My parents brought it with them from the old country when they moved here a few months ago.”

    Ah, Jim thought, the new neighbors were her parents. He didn’t think anyone was older than Mrs. Kazi. Her parents must be ancient. He hadn’t seen anyone like that in the neighborhood at all. Maybe they stayed inside.

    Looking down, he found himself clutching the gorgeous box as if his life depended on it. Glancing at Mrs. Kazi’s oddly grinning face made him wonder if that wasn’t the absolute truth.

  2. thowes4 says:

    I meandered alongside the curb on autopilot, my thoughts heavy with emotions.

    “It’s your decision to make.”

    Somehow, I managed to continue forward, one foot in front of the other.

    “Here are some pamphlets. Think about it.”

    I’d been too scared to say a word; fearful that it would make everything real. It was easier to feel the candy sweet taste of a lie on my tongue, than the bitter taste of reality.

    “We’ve been seeing each other for a while now. Have you made any decisions?”

    One foot in front of the other.

    “The deadline is coming up.”

    A flash of colour caught my eye, and I turned to see a row of tables in a driveway, covered with knick knacks. Abruptly jolted out of my thoughts, I travelled closer to the yard sale

    The woman I assumed was in charge, an elderly woman with greying hair, was perched on the front steps of the house, watching everything with eyes that were simultaneously happy and sad.

    I could relate. In welcoming something new, we always have to let things go.

    As I got closer to one of the tables, my eyes landed on an old wooden box, small enough to be a jewellery chest. However, it had no decorations. I found myself reaching for the lid, fingers gently prying the box open to reveal a small ballerina.

    “It’s a music box.”

    The voice startled me, and I dropped the lid with a harsh thud, turning to see the old lady standing beside me, a soft smile on her face.

    “Here,” she said, her hands-wrinkled with age, but fingers still precise and gentle- opening it once more to reveal the little ballerina. She reached around the back, and all of a sudden music, soft and relaxing, started to blossom from the box. I felt a smile tug at the corners of my lips.

    “My parents used it when we were young. Neither of them could carry a tune to save their life, but we wouldn’t fall asleep without music.”

    I could hear the memories in her voice.

    “It must be hard to part with.” My voice emerged quietly. The music box had finished it’s tune, and the silence seemed sadder without its music.

    The older lady closed it gently.

    “It is. But with something this beautiful, it’s impossible to keep it to yourself.” She looked at me, at the way my fingers continued to trail reverently over the wood.

    “You keep it.”

    “But I don’t have any money,” I said, frowning.

    The old lady smiled at me again, and said, “Your appreciation of it is worth more than I could ever ask.” She walked away, leaving me to cradle the music box to my chest, and begin my journey home.

    Halfway there, I stopped to sit on the curb, the music box in my lap. I pulled my phone out, and dialed with trembling but sure fingers.

    It rang twice.

    “Planned Parenthood. How may I help you?”

  3. Pattypans says:

    Sorry, I meant to put this note at the top of my post, which is immediately below this: This is the first time I’ve posted in response to a writing prompt, and I know I’m a little late, but if anyone cares to give feedback, I’d love it, and won’t be sensitive about constructive criticism. Promise! I wrote this before reading anyone else’s response, by the way; I mention this because I noticed some similarities.

  4. Pattypans says:

    The twinkle in that little woman’s sky-blue eyes made her look like a leprechaun. Loose strands of wispy white hair, the remainder of which was done up in a low bun, framed pale, wrinkled skin. I had been looking at the ornate little cherrywood chest for only a few seconds when she made her way over to me with firm, determined steps.

    “A beauty, ‘tisn’t it? Open it up.” She made me feel like a child on my birthday at Grandma’s house instead of an accidental garage sale customer. It was then that I looked at her more closely, though it was the box she wanted me to look at.

    How can it be that I’ve never seen her before? I’ve lived on the same block for years, and thought I knew all the neighbors! I started thinking what a shame it was I had never seen her, because maybe she needed help sometimes unloading her groceries, and I could have helped her … Her gaze dropped to the ancient trunk in my hands, commanding me wordlessly to open it. But the more I knew she wanted me to open it, the more I wanted to figure out who she was– never mind the trunk, intriguing as it was.

    “Aren’t you curious to see inside it?” The twinkle was still in her eye, but not in her voice, replaced there by a wee bit of impatience.

    “Oh, I am curious, yes,” I answered, wondering if she could tell that she, not the trunk, was the object of my curiosity. She lifted her fuzzy white eyebrows as if to repeat her question.

    The lid made no sound as I lifted it. Its sturdy metal hinges were not rusty, but not shiny either. Plush vermilion velvet lined the entire casket. On that soft cushion lay…but it couldn’t be! Two months before she died in her sleep, my great grandmother Agnes showed me her wedding ring, which had belonged to her own grandmother. I was only 5 years old, but the image of that ring was engraved flawlessly on the eye of my mind. How could it be lying before my eyes now in an inexplicably unknown neighbor’s back yard?

    I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath until I let it out audibly as I picked up the platinum band. Inlaid emeralds alternated with rubies, spaced evenly around the front semi-circle of it. I read the names engraved on the inside: Caoimin agus Aingeal. My maternal great-great-great grandparents’ names. Who brought this heirloom from the old country to a generic Houston suburb, and why did this woman have it instead of my mother?

    An inscrutable smile washed over the face of the ring’s apparent owner. Questions stumbled over each other in my mind. “Who are you?” I whispered.

  5. andrewsgallacher says:

    I strayed from the prompt a bit.

    Mrs. McCarthy’s 1940s Tudor sat underneath the canopy of Modesto ash and camphor trees lining Van Ness Avenue just down the street from my grandparents’ place where I was staying for the weekend. She had a giant American plane tree in her front yard with an old swing dangling from one of its hulking limbs. I could never understand why it was there considering she was elderly and childless; her husband had died before I was born. I always envisioned her sneaking out in the middle of the night and swinging on it while the rest of the neighborhood snoozed the balmy, summer night away – all the while grinning and yelping like a witch on her broomstick during Halloween.

    She was about 5’10” and slim, but not frail. She had piercing blue-grey eyes and her thick hair was cut short and was sprinkled with salt and pepper. The nose God gave her wouldn’t be the one you’d pick, but it suited her just fine. As a boy, I would help her around the house; trim her bougainvilleas, skim her classic kidney shaped pool, and the like. For my time, she’d give me a couple of bucks so I could go down to “Pop” Grigsby’s place on Jefferson Boulevard and get a cone or a cup.

    When I saw her garage sale sign taped to the lamppost it brought me back to my childhood; I wondered if she still had the box. After finishing my morning coffee, I walked over to her house. I waited nervously on the sidewalk at the edge of the driveway as she haggled over every penny of her silver flatware from the old River City Hotel. When she finally argued the poor old woman into submission who wanted to buy the set I had my opportunity.

    “Beautiful morning isn’t Mrs. M,” I said as I sauntered up the sloping driveway.
    “Jack my Boy!” she exclaimed, “It’s been too long.”
    “I saw your sign and had to stop by,” I said.
    “Well, it’s great to see you again; the bougainvilleas could use a trim if you’re interested,” she said with a smirk.
    “Not today,” I chuckled. “Actually, I was wondering if you still had the box,” I said softly.
    She cackled and said, “Oh, Jackie, I’d never depart with that box – I’ll have it forever.”
    “Can we sneak away from these ruffians and take a look, just for ole’ time’s sake?”
    “All you had to is ask my boy – let’s go take a look and see what it’s up to today,” she responded.

    I followed her past the vinyl and vases cluttering the driveway and through the side carport into the main garage; a separate room stood hidden in the back. The box was kept in a large safe collecting dust and cobwebs on the back wall. She clicked the combination lock deliberately and the safe door slowly opened.

    “See,” she said. “Just as we left it.”

  6. theflynns says:

    The color on the box was faded, but clearly it was the old cigar box I was looking for! I knew before opening the box, I would find it full of letters and small mementoes from their relationship. The woman did not know I was the child of her estranged daughter. My mother had talked about sitting in the corner of the attic reading love letters she found in a cigar box. She had not been able to connect the letters with the woman she knew to be her mother. I wanted to read the letters for myself.

    The old woman smiled as I picked up the box. “You must like antiques if that interests you.”

    Smiling I replied, “Yes, I like antiques. The sign says anything within this box is two dollars. Is that correct? I would like this box. I always wonder about stories antiques might tell if they could talk.”

    Should I tell her who I am, or simply make my purchase and return to my hotel to read the letters?

    The sparkle in the old woman’s eyes went out. “The box is two dollars. It is an old box. The only stories it could tell are old and worn out, just like the box.”

    She took my two dollars and turned her back without another word. I took the box back to my car thinking I might come back after reading the letters….

  7. phfed says:

    Barbara looked back just as the boy was grabbed from behind. She jammed on the brakes and in one fluid motion reached out with her left hand, took hold of the scruff of his neck, and twisted the throttle with her right. Turbanhead lost his grip as the boy was dragged away beside the screaming motorcycle. Barbara powershifted and steered one handed straight into the group of surprised men and they dove out of the way, yelling obscenities.
    Once clear of their pursuers, Barbara slowed enough for the boy to clamber into the sidecar, still holding on to the bundle.
    ” Whew, that was a close one. Open that thing up, let’s see what all that fuss was about. ” As they rumbled through the streets, The boy unwrapped the cloth revealing a golden lamp, gleaming in the hot sunlight. Barbara glanced behind them, wary of followers, then to the boy and the golden lamp.
    ” That thing looks expensive. No wonder those guys wanted it so much. ”
    ” Now lady pay way more for it, ” the boy smiled. He fiddled with the lamp and the top came off in his hands. Inside were a couple of objects which the boy held up for Barbara to see. It was the missing piece of cuniform tablet and a map.

    • swatchcat says:

      After finding the other entries in order to follow this, I thought is was exciting and action packed. This could be a good story it starts with action and probably could end just as exciting.

  8. Red Vixen says:

    We drove wandering through town in our minivan. My mother and I often did this to pass time but today, we were rather content with the silence and lack of purpose.
    The windows were down and my hair casually blew around my face. The sweet rusty smell of autumn hummed with delight in my lungs. I couldn’t tell you why, just that it was peaceful.
    Leaves dance with the wind, whipping and turning corners in jagged paths, guiding us in a way. We made a right on Vale Avenue and gaped in awe.
    Each house rose and stood tall, touching the sky, blessing it’s viewers with a classic Victorian structure. They almost looked as if they were refurbished without betraying their origin. They loomed over us, showing off their sharp angles and contrasting colors. What made them so different I think was the fact that at the far end of the street there was a little house.
    A small fragile little burgundy house. Flower beds sat under the two windows filled with burgundy Dahlias. They looked kind of ugly to me for some reason. Five tall white oak trees shaded the tiny house. An unusual sight but absolutely breathtaking with their leaves in perfect harmonious colors of red and orange, brown and yellow.
    The last thing I noticed was a simple garage sale that was taking place on the lawn. Someone sat by the door in a rocking chair tending to something in their lap. My eyes wandered over the scene in front of me before coming across a battered mahogany box. “Mom stop the van,” I insisted.
    We pulled up to the house and the person sitting raises their head. I hop out and walk over to the box. It was beautiful but weathered. I had an internal battle on whether or not to touch it. Finally I hesitantly opened the box and gasped. A little glass bottle was in there.
    An old woman appeared next to me holding a small brown kitten with gleaming blue eyes. The old woman was petite and wiry looking; she had long black hair braided down her back and dark brown eyes. Her skin was leathery and tan and her face was tired and kind. “Are you doing okay?”
    “Oh I’m fine!” I almost yelled, still startled by the woman’s sudden presence, “But do you mind explaining what this is me?”
    Her face took on a very odd expression. I didn’t know what kind of memories this possessed but I wouldn’t push. I proceeded to place the bottle back in the box. “It’s a Roman tear bottle,” she said.
    I guess I looked confused. “The tears within them help us to remember monumental events and special rites of passage.”
    “How much is it?”
    She was quiet for a moment, “You can keep it,” she smiled up at me and cuddled the cat. “I feel as if it will be a great benefit to you.

  9. Kassie says:

    A THIEF AMONG US:

    Shelly and I browsed through the endless tables of baby clothes, nic-nacks and costume jewelry. A small wooden box resembling a treasure chest caught my attention and I immediately headed to the table it sat on.
    “What’cha got there?” Shelly asked peaking over my shoulder.
    “I think this little chest is cute, don’t you?. Could put my jewelry in it. It’s only like five bucks.” I said opening the lid. Deep purple velvet fabric lined the inside of the box and in the center sat a beautiful antique looking diamond ring.
    “Oh that’s beautiful. Looks real too! Wonder how much Mrs. Danes is asking for that baby?” Shelly asked with excitement.
    I looked up to see Mrs. Danes approaching with an expression of uneasiness on her face. “That’s not for sale young lady. Give me that”, she demanded.
    “Is this your wedding band? Its beautiful.”
    Mrs. Dane’s laugh was nervous as I placed the ring in her hand. “It was my mother’s ring dear. I’m unsure how it managed to get inside that box. But if you are looking for jewelry, there’s some over yonder.” She pointed to a small table containing rusted and broken costume jewelry.
    “No I think I’ll just get this box.” I said glancing back at the table.
    Shelly and I paid for the few items we wanted and headed back to the house where Mom was sitting in the recliner watching the five o’clock news.
    “Hey honey, did you hear that Doctor Webb’s house was broken into?” Mom shouted when she heard the front door slam.
    “Isn’t this the fifth one this week?” I shouted back while trying to recall how many the local paper had mentioned.
    “Sixth actually. Mrs. Gladys Rose had her great grandmother’s diamond necklace stolen while she was at church Sunday. Heard my English teacher talking about it at school today.” Shelly chimed in from the kitchen where she was raiding the fridge.
    I sat on the sofa next to Mom just as a few photos flashed across the screen of some of the objects stolen. A drawn image of the ring from earlier made me gasp aloud.
    “What?” Mom asked.
    “That looks like the ring I saw at Mrs. Dane’s garage sale earlier. Don’t it?” I asked Shelly who was just sitting down on the sofa with bowl of ice cream.
    Half an hour later, the police were escorting Mrs. Danes out of her house in handcuffs. They had found most of the stolen items in her garage and she had confessed to everything.
    “What is the world coming to when 63 year-old women are burglarizing their own neighborhoods?” Shelly asked while shaking her head in disappointment.
    “Social Security isn’t much to live on these days darling. Don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have two lovely daughters to live with.” Mom said smiling at Shelly and me.

  10. phfed says:

    Barbara stood rooted on the spot. She wanted to shout, but the warning stuck in her throat when she saw the boy duck away from the two men and run towards her, the package close to his body as he dashed through the busy station, the turbanheads in hot pursuit. Barbara held out her hands for the bundle as the boy ran up.
    ” No lady. More money for this now. ”
    ” What? Why you little…” Barabara looked up past the boy and saw the men were almost upon them. She grabbed the boy by the hand and they raced headlong for the exits. They burst out into bright sunlight and ran up the dusty street. Barbara pulled up short when she saw more turbanned men blocking their escape.
    ” What now lady? ” asked the boy. Barbara glanced back. The two turbanheads were still making their way through the station. She looked around, desperate. She spotted an old sidecar motorcycle parked alongside a wall and she motioned with her head,
    ” Let’s go! ” They leapt on the bike, the boy onto the pillion behind her. Barabara jumped on the kickstarter and the motor reved up, then died. Frantic on the kickstarter again but it wouldn’t start. Barabara was really sweating now and she wiped her brow and ran her hands across the controls. The turbanheads were at the station doors now, swords drawn and coming on fast. The others were making their way slowly down the street, confident their prey would not escape. Barbara was about to abandon the bike when she noticed the fuel cutout cock was closed. She flipped it open then hammered down on the kickstarter. The engine roared to life and she whooped in triumph as the bike shot forward and at the same time one of the turbanheads grabbed the boy and dragged him off the seat.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I’m with you on this. I know what the turban heads are after. It’s the real McCoy; The Maltize Falcon, that Sidney Greenstreet coveted so much, he murdered for it. The pace of your story is right on course. Is there another chapter?

  11. Kevron617 says:

    I’ve always been a sucker for yard sales. I have many fond memories cruising the New England countryside with my old man in search of other people’s junk. We’d load the truck up with stuff we didn’t even need and do our best to hide from it Ma. You can tell a lot about a family from the things they sell at a yard sale and what type of lifestyle they lead. Old sporting equipment, ski boots and perhaps an old Schwinn bike shouts an active family. While tents, camping gear and watercrafts, usually suggest outdoorsy folks. You can always spot the couch potatoes by two tables full of old VHS movies. I prefer antiques myself anything nostalgic will catch my eye. So when I stopped out on Old Pine Rd. just past Mt. Thurman it didn’t take me long to spot an old wooden box that was just screaming for my attention. Peaches weren’t native to New England which made it even more inviting. Foster’s Peaches, Spagueville, Georgia, Product of USA it hardly read. It was complete with a warped cover. I had to have it, I was already picturing a good spot for it in my diner but as I drew closer, I stirred an old woman.
    “Naugh fo sale!” she said before I reached it. How’d she know what I was going for the box? There was a whole table of things. I gestured to her and pointed to the box.
    “Naugh fo sale!” she said again shaking her head her double chin swinging. But I couldn’t take no for an answer.
    “What’s your price?” I asked with a smile.
    “Well I really wasn’t tending on selling that, it’s got my….”
    The guy next to me shoved his way in and cut her off.
    “I’ll offer seventy five dollars.” He said while glaring at me with an evil smirk. The old woman smiled.
    “Three hundred!” I shouted cutting him off. Her eyes bulged and her mouth dropped revealing the fact that she had no teeth.
    “Three hundred? That’ll be just enough.”
    “Sure it will, you’ll be able to buy a lot of peaches with three hundred dollars.” I said. The guy next to me quickly lost interest.
    “Three hundred bucks for a box no thanks.” He said and walked away.
    The old woman smiled showing her gums.
    “Deal.” She said.
    I suppose I should’ve checked what was inside the box but I waited until I got home. When I lifted the top off I realized why the box wasn’t for sale, inside was an essential extension of the old woman, a pair of yellow dentures. When I returned to her home to give her teeth back, an old man answered the door.
    “Yes he said.”
    “Hi I’m here to return your wife’s teeth.” I said. Suddenly the man’s eyes welled with tears.
    “My wife’s been dead for over a year now.” He retorted.
    My heart sank and I opened the box to reveal I was telling the truth. The old man took the dentures into his hand and wiped away tears with the other.
    “I’ve been looking for them everywhere they were in her drawer next to her bed. How did you…?”
    I explained to the old man what had transpired and then he revealed to me that the yard sale was an attempt to pay the outstanding taxes on his home, that his wife’s burial left him broke. He was short three hundred dollars, until his prayers were answered. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways and I’ll agree.

  12. Nocturnal Mermaid says:

    I was on a bus, just zoning out to the song “Clark Gable” by The Postal Service when I saw a big group of people, surrounding a table. I looked at the yellow cord that signaled a stop.
    I wasn’t an impulsive person. I liked to know what would became of my day. What skirt I was going to wear with what top. Even as far as what color of toothbrush I would use!
    Pulling the cord, I got up and waited until the door opened. “Thanks!” I said to the driver and then ran to the table. The number of people were lowering. They picked up items and then set them down. A little girl wanted a doll but her mother didn’t let her.
    “Here, I’ll pay for it.” I said.
    “No, it’s fine. She’ll just play with it one day and then by the next day, she’ll never touch it.”
    “But, mommy!” the little girl, whined. “I want her! I need another doll to be best friends forever with my other doll!”
    “How much is it?” I persisted, taking out my wallet.
    “A dollar!” the little girl, jumped up and down. “Yay, mommy!”
    I handed the woman a dollar and then gave the doll to the little girl.
    She hugged the doll and then ran to me and hugged me.
    “You must promise me that you’ll cherish her?”
    “I promise, dark stranger.”
    “What’s up with the dark clothes?” the mother asked.
    “I’m Goth.”
    “But you’re not sad.”
    I laughed. “You don’t need to be sad to be Goth. It’s just a lifestyle.” I shrugged and then waved at the little girl.
    At least she didn’t call me a freak like the man earlier today when I picked up my mother’s pills at Walgreens.
    I shook my head and focused on what was left on the table.
    “That’s all that’s left.” the woman said.
    I glanced at the items. There were loose buttons and CDS from singers I’ve never heard of but my mom probably has. But then a wooden box caught my eye. It had a drawing of pirates. It was twenty dollars. I opened the lid and then slowly picked up a small mermaid statue.
    “Oh, that’s been around for generations!” the woman said, eyeing the statue lovingly.
    “So, then why is sold for twenty bucks?”
    “It wasn’t my idea but my husband had the economy in mind.”
    “Why don’t you just sell it on–”
    She put her hand up and ran to the house. The phone was ringing.
    “Amazon.” I finished. I put twenty-two bucks on the table and took the wooden box and the CD that my mom would have probably liked.

  13. firebear369 says:

    What was her name? Hipplehoff, no that wasn’t it. Too late, she was already close enough to touch my arm with her twisted, arthritic fingers. Suppressing the overwhelming urge to cringe, I smile politely and try not to react to the overwhelming stench of her stained dentures. God, why had I stopped in front of this rundown hovel? I didn’t even want anything and certainly had no intention of parting with my hard earned money. But still, that dark stained box captured my attention enough to make me overlook the disgusting crone before me. Something was inside, something frightening and alluring.
    “What a nice day, no?” The woman’s voice was caustic and just as repulsive as her breath. I nodded wordlessly, focusing hard on not letting my disgust show. “The box is…interesting is it not?”
    “Unique,” I managed. To my relief, she freed my appendage to reach for the box.
    “Letting it go will be difficult,” she said in a gentler voice as she opened the worn metal clasp. Though the device was unlatched, the crone made no move to open the lid.
    “I…I don’t really have a lot of money,” I stammered. Christ, why was I acting like a shy toddler around this old, rancid woman? Or was it the incredibly plain wooden box that unnerved me?
    “Money,” she chortled, “A few bills won’t make me part with this treasure, girl. Have you the strength to face what this box holds.”
    I should have walked away, abandoned whatever foolhardy plot was developing in my idiotic brain. She is nothing more than a crooked, scheming gypsy looking to intimidate me into spending my money on garbage.
    “Oh, you can walk away if you like, little one,” she whispered quietly as she moved unbearably close to me. “But, if I wanted I could make you hand over your soul for this treasure.” She stared hard at me with a slightly wicked grin on her face.
    “I…I’m sorry,” I stammered, although I had no idea why I should worry about offending this old woman. She is probably used to people rejecting her, I reasoned. Still, her statement had the tone of one who perhaps wasn’t what she appeared. “How much for the box?”
    “Ten dollars.”
    Wordlessly, I dug a trembling hand into my pocket and fetched a folded bill. I handed it to her sheepishly and accepted the box from her crumpled hands.
    “Wait until you get home,” she ordered when I started to open the box. “And do not attempt to return this treasure.”
    “Thank you,” I offered quietly before realizing that the old woman had cornered a young couple who was considering a worn cabinet. I crossed the street and quickly found my own safe haven, careful to lock the door before I considered the old wooden box. Fingers trembling, I deliberately lifted the lid. The metal hinge groaned in protest, but the grating sound barely registered as I focused on the unnatural light that burst from the dark box.

  14. phfed says:

    Barbara fanned her face with a schedule as she scanned the crowded train station. It was a hot and dusty place bustling with a mix of tourists and locals. The lockers stretched across the back wall and she went across to hers, put the key from the old woman into the slot to confirm that it would fit. According to the numbers on the key, the locker should be closer to the far end of the station. Barbara glanced back. Was someone watching her? Now she was being paranoid but that had kept her out of trouble before. She walked back towards the kiosks and pretended to look at some hats.
    ” Miss want to buy? ” the urchin at the stall asked her.
    ” I tell you what, I’ll buy some hats if you do me a favour. Take this key, find the locker and bring me whatever is inside, ok? ” The boy, not more than ten years old, looked doubtful.
    ” You buy first, ” he said, and held out his hand.
    ” Oh for heavens sake, here. ” Barbara gave him some bills and the key, and he went off through the crowd toward the back wall. Barbara watched as he found the locker and opened it up. Watched as he reached inside and pulled out a bundle wrapped in cloth. Watched as two men in turbans and filthy robes wearing wicked curved swords close in on the boy.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Well, you hooked me now. You’ll need to post a third segment and complete this. It reminds me of Flash Gordon ten minute serials in the old movie houses, continued from one week to the next. Good writing and intriguing. But for Pete sakes, finish it off. Kerry

  15. joecover says:

    Sally wanted to check out garage sales last weekend, so I tagged along. We were over on Riverview Drive wandering along the tables of junk when it caught my eye. I’m not sure how I noticed it. Cosmic justice, maybe. But there in a SAS shoe box, half hidden between boxes of staples and baby food jars filled with paper clips was a Hen and Rooster canoe knife. The red handle was scratched and the bolsters were discolored to a dull copper sheen. I pulled it out of the box and opened the larger blade. There it was. A knick just below the point. The knick that I put there opening a can of beans on a deer hunt. This knife was stolen from my house during a burglary almost twelve years ago.
    “Interested in that knife?” The lady who inquired appeared to be in her mid-seventies, and was overdressed for a garage sale.
    “Yes. Do you know the history behind this?”
    “Not really. It belonged to my son. He passed away recently.”
    “I’m sorry to hear that.” It just seemed like the right thing to say.
    “Yes. I’m having this sale to help offset the cost.” Her eyes gazed towards the distance as if looking for something she had no hope would ever arrive.
    Looking for a way out of the conversation, I commented, “Funerals are expensive.”
    “Oh. The state cremated him. I have legal fees from trying to save his life. He was executed for murdering a fellow inmate. He didn’t do it.”
    A shudder ran up my spine. “Murder?”
    “Johnny, my son, was in prison for burglary. He was innocent. It was that bunch he ran around with. They left some stuff at Johnny’s house, and the police came and arrested him for what those other guys did. He was a good boy. Then somebody got murdered at Rayford, and they blamed Johnny. People were always blaming Johnny for something or other, but he was a good boy.”
    “I see. How much for the knife?”
    “I don’t know. What’s it worth.”
    I calculated in my head, sixty dollars for a new one, in this condition, maybe twenty, at a garage sale, maybe ten or twelve at best.
    “I’ll give you two hundred.” A wave of remorse flooded me. I paid at least ten times the knife’s value. A knife that was stolen from me. Probably stolen by this lady’s worthless son who died by lethal injection and my money was going to help his mother recover her losses from trying to save his life. Sally’s going to kick my butt.
    But, in the end, insurance would cover my losses, but nothing could ever cover hers.
    What else could I do? I pulled my checkbook from my hip pocket and began writing her a check.

  16. Gmawsal says:

    Last Sunday I was bored and decided to hit the “garage sale” trail. It was one of those mid-summer days which sported a clear, almost surreal azure sky. The scent of flowers was overpowering, enhanced by another summer odor which I always attribute to insects, possibly bees or maybe daddy long legs. Fortunately, it happened to be the weekend of my neighborhood’s annual garage sale event so I was able to shop and exercise at the same time. The first two sale locations sported a plethora of kid’s clothes, toys and “man” things The third location, however, was alive with colorful paintings, yard statues, cloth remnants, knick knacks, and paperbacks – right up my alley. I spotted a small, weathered box with an open lid. Tweaking my interest was the fact that whatever was inside was wrapped in a beautiful, purple velvet cloth. Upon noticing my interest, the old lady who was running the sale approached and spewed forth a very convincing sales pitch. She told me that it was a mystery box which would be sold “contents unknown.” She did explain that it was something that had been extremely valuable to her grandmother. After looking at the old lady and learning that it belonged to her grandmother, I knew that whatever was inside had to be very old and valuable. She told me that the price was $20.00 firm and the item was not returnable. Not believing my amazing luck, I handed her ‘twenty’ and quickly hurried home with my prize. I set it in the middle of the dining table and hurried to brew a cup of tea to sip while unveiling my treasure. With my steaming cup of tea, I seated myself in front of the box, closed my eyes, and proceeded to gently pull back the velvet cloth. Trembling, I slowly opened my eyes to view a smiling pair of yellow, cracked, and uneven set of false teeth, complete with dried bits of the owner’s last meal.

    • Scarly says:

      Haha! This one had me laughing. Great ending. At first I thought the word spewed didn’t quite fit but in a figurative way it does invoke foreshadowing of something bad. the ‘twenty’ can be left as twenty no apostrophes needed. But overall your writing flows well and punctuation is fine:) Keep up the good work:>

  17. phfed says:

    Barbara held the contents of the box in her hands. One finger traced the edges of the small cuniform tablet from smooth to rough. It was only a fragment of a larger piece and the other object was a clue to its whereabouts, she was sure of it. The key, she had seen others like it but this one was very old, stamped with an id code similar to the one she posessed for a storage locker at the train station.
    ” How much? ” Barbara looked down at the grizzled old woman, who shrugged and held up two fingers. Two hundred lira. Barbara rumaged through her satchel and handed over a wad of bills. The old woman smiled, one tooth lonely in her mouth, and crooked a finger, wanting Barbara to get closer. She bent down, head cocked to the side and the hag’s stale breath puffed against her ear, sending shivers down Barbara’s spine.
    ” Hiyal ” Danger.

  18. Talitha5 says:

    I touched the edge of the battered wood box and peeked inside. A thick rectangular object lay at the bottom. As I reached into the box, the old woman running the yard sale bustled over. She looked a kindly soul, wearing faded blue slacks and a flowery blouse, her wispy grey hair swept up in a bun. Lines crinkled around her eyes as she spoke to me, pointing at the book I now held in my hands. “That’s been in the family for years, lassie.”
    I smoothed the cracked leather cover, running my fingers over the rubbed corners. The title, which had been written in gilt lettering, was now faded by age and use, and indiscernible. The old lady took a step closer, gazing at me fondly as I flipped the book open to its first page. It was unlined, creamy paper, covered it spidery writing. Names.
    The grey-haired woman traced a finger lovingly over the cursive loops. “My children and their children…” she whispered, her eyes glassy. “Friends…family…it was their favorite book, and I didn’t want to let it go, but…” She shook her head, blinking as if awakening from a trance, and swiftly pulled her hand back.
    She smiled at me. “It’s an old book of fairy tales, very rare—that copy you’ve got there is probably the last one you’ll ever see. I’ll give it to you cheap for $12.”
    I felt the solid weight of the bound paper in my hands, gazing down at the leather cover. A breeze ruffled the frayed cloth bookmark dangling from the pages. “I’ll take it.”
    The old woman smiled again and nodded, biting her lip. I fished my wallet from my back pocket and handed her $15 dollars. She started to reach into the pouch at her waist for change, but I stopped her. “You keep the extra.”
    She hesitated, and then slowly backed away, casting one longing glance at the book I held.
    Right there, an irresistible urge came over me. I opened the book.
    The first story was of a couple, forbidden to ever see each other’s faces—they could only sing. And so they spun melodies from starlight and set them free on the breeze, to be carried to their lover’s ears. A richly painted illustration showed a night breeze, intertwining with colors of music, against the star-studded indigo of the sky. My breath caught in my chest, shocked by the utter beauty of the pages.
    Two pairs of initials had been sketched into an ink heart, just off the corner of the illustration. I stared, recognizing the name of the woman who had lost her husband, her finances, and now soon her house, forced to sell everything she owned. The woman who had, in desperation, put up very pieces of her heart on the market, merely to survive.
    I slipped the bookmark between the pages of that first story.
    The next morning, the book sat in a wooden box on the woman’s porch, along with $100.

  19. frankd1100 says:

    Doctor Whiting excused herself from the young couple haggling with her over the price of a bronze desk lamp. She came to where I was standing, trying to slide back the top of an old, crusted wooden box. “A hundred and thirty-three dollars is the price, my dear,” she said to the wife over her shoulder rolling her eyes at me in mock exasperation. Lowering her voice she told me, “When I say a price is firm, I mean what I say.”

    I smiled and said, “I learned long ago, Doctor, there was no pulling the wool over your eyes.” She had been our family doctor from the time I was five, some 40 years ago. Lately, driving by, I’d noticed that she seemed to be unloading the contents of her home, of her life one might say. “By the way, how are you feeling,” I asked.

    “I’m fine, thanks Stephen. At my age pneumonia is a constant threat, but I managed to beat it. I want to thank you again for visiting me in the hospital.” She smiled and took the Bible size box from my hands as the heavy object within clunked from one side to the other.

    She turned as the young couple, bronze lamp in hand, walked over and handed her a check for one hundred thirty-three dollars. “Thank you,” she said smiling. “I hope it brightens your lives as much as it did mine.” The young woman offered a curt thank you, turned on her heal and headed toward her Range Rover, silent husband in tow.

    Doctor Whiting turned to face me and effortlessly slid back the box cover, reached inside for the mysterious object and tossed it to me unexpectedly. “Whoa!” I exclaimed, frantically juggling, trying not to drop a WWII vintage hand grenade onto the asphalt driveway.

    Once I had a firm grip on the sinister looking device, I said, “Doctor Whiting, for a replica, it looks too real to be legal!” She rested her hand on my arm and said, with a laugh, “Who said anything about a replica,” and snatching the grenade from my hand she pulled the pin.

    The five or six browsers stood frozen in shock as the grenade bounced near their feet. I dove over the hood of the closest car landing on the street as the explosion tore through wood, metal, skin and bones. I was saved by the engine block and front tire, though I was severely wounded by shrapnel, eventually losing my left eye. The folks who had been peacefully searching for a bargain, had been torn to shreds. Only a smear of blood on the driveway remained of Dr. Whiting.

    Reminded of her, while undergoing physical therapy, or trying to read with one eye, I see like it was yesterday, the ghoulish apparition as her smile cracked and her face became a macabre reflection of the tortured soul within. And I still hear the harsh whisper say, “Run Stephen!”

    • smallster21 says:

      WTH just happened! Lol! A grenade? Oh boy, how come the husband took cover without even thinking of protecting his wife? The MC had known this doctor for forty years, sounds like he liked her, it seems so unexpected. But, I suppose, if your point was that you never know where your enemies are, or you never truly know the contents of one’s soul, then point made. I stayed with ya, so good story!

  20. Kerry Charlton says:

    Just a small note to all of you. I scanned back through the recent prompts yesterday and found a post by Don Potter in the “If Art Could Talk” ; last story posted. If youhave ever dreamed and swayed to the music, in your life, you’ll like this prompt. Kerry

  21. miboyer says:

    I’m sucker for a garage sale. Not so bad that I scour the local papers to map them out but if I see a good one I almost always stop. I’m always on the look out for some tool or gadget I think I can’t live without but know in my heart I’ll never use. It’s better than buying things full price at a home store so my wife can only complain about all the junk I’ve got piled in the garage, not how much I spend. On this particular Saturday my wife was out shopping and I, as usual, was messing around in the garage. I was trying to sharpen my lawn mower blade. What I needed was an electric grinder, just the kind of thing you hope to find in a garage sale. Having past it on my way home from work I knew there was a sale just down the street.
    I parked behind a string of cars and made my way up the driveway. Mismatched banquet and cardboard tables marked the path on each side. I walked slowly, turning my head from side to side as I went but was dissapointed to see only a collection of women’s clothing, kitchenware and assorted knick-knacks. It must have shown on my face because as I reached the garage the woman sitting at the small table in front of a pencil box filled with cash, coins and colored checks looked at me and said, “Not finding anything you need?”
    “Do you have any tools?”
    “No, sorry hon,” she said in return over the large glasses that clung to the end of her nose before adding, “but I’ve been waiting for you.” Without another word she left her seat and disappeared into the garage.
    What did she mean she’d been waiting for me? I’d never met this woman before in my life. She quickly reappeared standing just inside the garage door holding a large, plastic bin. She motioned me with her head to follow, away from the other shoppers.
    “This is for you,” she said putting the bin down and taking off the lid.
    Seeing the contents I knelt and was immediately elbow deep in the treasure trove. I rifled through, amazed at the extent of the collection. They were all here, and I smiled as I sifted through them. Swank, Hustler, Oui, Beaverhunt; all the magazines I remembered from my teen years when I spent a little to much time in “self exploration.” Then I noticed all the cover photos were of the same model. I looked up at the woman, her gray hair pulled back to reveal the same facial features as the girl on the cover.
    “Momentos of my youth,” she said. “I want you to have them.”
    “I can’t take these,” I said in slight protest as I stood. “You should keep them or give them to someone close to you. Maybe your kids or family would want them.” She looked at me over her glasses again. “No I guess not.”
    “I think they’re some VHS tapes in the bottom. I was just getting out of the business in the late 70s when video was coming in.”
    I remembered what she’d first said to me. “What did you mean when you said you’d been waiting for me?”
    “I couldn’t bring myself to throw out perfectly good porn and you’re about the right age to appreciate the old magazines. Print is dead.”
    I nodded in agreement, said thank you and offered to pay her for the collection, which she refused. She said she just wanted to make sure they went to someone who would appreciate them.
    “How do you know I’m the guy to appreciate them?”
    “You just have that “I was a teenage pervert” look about you.”
    Again I nodded in agreement. After loading the bin in the trunk I drove home wondering what to label the bin that I’d stash in the garage. Probably not, “Old Porn” I thought.

  22. AcCarter says:

    Garage sales were always my past time. Since the moment I found my coffee maker for three dollars, I knew this was definitely one way to pass a summer afternoon. I parked my car across the street, looked both ways, and jogged toward the home.
    Sitting in front of the garage at a rickety plastic table was a rather large man. Both hands rested on his beer belly, and his head was tipped back as a long loud snore erupted from his mouth. Quietly as I could, I tip-toed past him into the garage.
    I seemed to be the only one there so I took my time sifting through knick knacks and old relics. In the corner of the garage sat a old cardboard box. Maybe I would get lucky and find some old records for Mom or something strange for Dad.
    Crouching down, I pulled a rather heavy object out of the box. Wrapped inside an old dusty blanket was a mirror. The golden frame was unharmed and shiny as if it had just come from the store. The mirror itself had at least an inch worth of dust coating it.
    “Nice mirror don’t you think, young lady?” a voice asked from behind me.
    Startled, I nearly drop the mirror. Standing to face the woman I said, “Yes, I could probably hang this in my bathroom.”
    Her silver hair was pulled up into a bun so tight it probably smoothed all the wrinkles on her aged face. I peaked over her shoulder and noticed the man had his head resting on his arms and was still sleeping. The woman smiled.
    “Don’t mind my son. There’s a story about this mirror you know.”
    “Really?”
    “Sure. Long ago my mother used to tell me that this mirror had special powers. She said it would transfer you to a different world.”
    Skeptically raising an eyebrow, I looked down at the dusty mirror. “Is that so? I just think it would be a nice addition to my bathroom.”
    “Clean it off. Take a look. You never know what might happen.” she enticed with a sugary smile.
    Using the blanket, I wiped the dust from the glass of the mirror. As it got cleaner my reflection became clearer. For a moment, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the mirror. The clarity of the glass and the gold of the frame hypnotized me for a moment. I hadn’t even notice that the old woman was chanting strange words at me. Confused, I tried to tear my gaze from my own reflection and focus on the things she was saying.
    The glass of the mirror became foggy, and my reflection disappeared. Fear gripped me with icy fingers, and I looked up at the old woman.
    Giving me a warm smile she said, “Hope you find what you’re looking for.”
    I didn’t have time to ask her was what was going on before I was drawn into the mirror.

  23. handyman43127 says:

    Saturdays are usually saved for cutting grass. This weekend was different. Our neighborhood was holding a garage sale and my wife Anna was not gonna allow me to hide behind the comfort of my John Dear lawn tractor today.

    We had contributed, as we do every year. It gives us the opportunity to clean out the garage while contributing to the cause, the playground at the end of the street, the one with all the bells and whistles that requires this weekend that disrupts my normal weekend routine once a year.

    Anna clutching my hand, dragging me down the street we begin the walk along the first of the many tables that line the four blocks of merchandise for sale.

    Two blocks in a table catches my attention, really it was the ornately carved box placed in the center that has.

    “Something catches your eye?” an old women, who sits behind the table asks.

    “No just browsing,” I reply.

    “What is that?” I ask. “What is inside of the carved cube?”

    Explaining the age of the object she says, “This is for you.”

    “What is it I asked?” again, more interested this time.

    “This was your great, great, great grandfathers,”

    “Mine? I asked.

    “Yes,” she replied with a smile across her face. “I was given this as a child and told that you would come to collect it, being dragged along. Now I understand the meaning, that my grandmother spoke.”

    “Why, Why is it for me?” I asked. “What is it?” “How did you know it was for me?”

    “I knew it was for you because I was told that you would touch and hold it like it already belonged to you.” she said. “This cube holds your past, lived before you were born. Your future where you have not yet been, and your life today, where you have not yet traveled.”

    “You have held it all these years for me?” I asked.

    “Yes,” she said, “Now I can search for my tomorrow’s.”

    • swatchcat says:

      What a mystery. This could definitely be played with some more. I like it but it seems to have some structural issues. First and third paragraphs could possibly read a little smoothers. Just a suggestions.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I ike this because I can hear your voice in your writings. I’m getting so that I can pick out certain writers that post here, stories before I see who’s name is on the piece. I like that because it’s like getting a letter from an old friend. Good job.

      • handyman43127 says:

        Thank you swatchcat and MCKEVIN for your comments. I agree that this story could be worked on some more. I wrote this in a hurry and posted it without spending much time on it. It is a good thought that I am developing a voice through my story’s that others can see.

        • MCKEVIN says:

          If you just wrote this in a hurry then you are more talented than I thought you were. My stuff is disconnected if I don’t let it sit and simmer for day. I have to wait a day and look at it with new eyes. I bet money you write like you talk. I do that too which is why I don’t always catch the things some people point out to me. I chalk it up to author’s voice and I’m glad I’m not alone in doing it. Lol. Have a good day…

    • smallster21 says:

      John Deere*…country girl, picked that up right away :)

      I agree with swatchcat, there are structural issues, i.e. the fourth paragraph seems like an unfinished sentence. And, you could do more with this, it seems vague and can definitely benefit from fleshing it out, but I’d say it’s got very good potential :)

  24. Barouches says:

    He wasn’t much of one for garage sales, that was his girlfriend’s gig; but he had agreed to go along for the ride just to spend time with her. While Tracy spent endless minutes picked through stuff that seemed like nothing more than glorified garbage, Tyler began to wonder if coming along had been a mistake.

    “It’s a beautiful day today.” He hadn’t been prepared for the greeting, and looked up to find the homeowner offering him a pleasant smile. In his quick assessment, she spent far too much time watching Oprah, and not enough time in front of a mirror.

    “Yeah.” He replied in his best attempt to brush off the woman, and began to move away.

    “Not much into the sales, huh?”

    “No; does it show that much?” He said, using a sheepish front to mask his arrogance.

    “It’s not hard to see; your hands haven’t come outta your pockets since you set foot on the property, and you haven’t even checked those electronic over there for prices.”

    “Yeah, I suppose I’m just the tag along.” He said, nodding in the direction of Tracy who was sorting through some clothes piled on a tarp.

    “No worries,” She said, and released him from the conversation by turning away. Midway she stopped, then turned back. “You know something,” she said place a finger on her lips as she contemplated, “I could use a man’s touch with something, would you mind seeing if you could open something for me?”

    Tyler’s contempt began to melt. The proposition of doing something useful appealed to him, and to his sense of ego. This was more like the field he played on.

    “Sure, whatch got?” He said eagerly.

    She motioned for him to follow, and made her way into the garage. He followed her in where the musty odor of rot weighted heavy in the air.

    Pulling a wooden box from the debris she set it upon a table, reached in, and brought out a leather bound journal.

    “I can’t get the lock to open on this journal, and don’t know what’s in it. Can you get it open? There are some tools here.” She said motioning to the work bench.

    “Sure, this shouldn’t take long.” He said, taking the journal, and examined it from different angles.
    Tyler by-passed the locking mechanism, and plied a flat head screw driver to the latch. It yielded immediately. He turned to tell the homeowner that the journal was open, but found the garage empty, and assumed she had left to attend to a buyer. Returning to the journal he flipped through haphazardly, but then a picture captured his attention. It was one of him as a boy.

    “What the…”

    He flipped more and found pictures of himself as a teen, and having lunch with Tracy. The entire journal held entries describing the events of his life, and accompanying pictures. Walking out to the drive with the journal in his hand, only Tracy, and an different homeowner remained .

    • FeliciaLawrence says:

      Awesome! It really captured my breath. I really enjoyed reading your chosen usage of language. The character Tyler seemed to be like local friend kind of guy that says it like it is but not too offensive. He seemed like he was more normal than the woman homeowner even though it seemed she felt very comfortable in her skin. I really like your story.

      • Barouches says:

        Thank you so much for your feedback. I made a point of not reading any of the other posts before I composed this story, then was disappointed afterwards that it had so many elements found in the other stories that were posted that it may not have been taken on it’s own merits. Thank you again, and best regards.

  25. putz9081 says:

    “Hey, look, another sale!”
    My mother’s voice resounded in my ears as I rubbed my eyelids with my thumb and index finger. Letting out an audible sigh of frustration I watched as the crap covered lawn drew closer until she parked at a slightly awkward angle a few feet away.
    “You really need to learn how to park.” I blurted out as she moved quickly to open the car door.
    “Oh, Seth, you and your teenage humor.”
    For some strange reason my mother was not the type to take others seriously. It was as if the saying, ‘take it with a grain of salt’ was her personal motto. No matter what I said or how I tried to push her buttons she just laughed it off. It annoyed me most of the time but part of me wishes I could do the same thing. No worries just live life with a smile on my face. Unfortunately, my hormones won’t allow for any of that. The garage sale seemed to be the same as the last three we scrounged around at: used books, old knick knacks, some small tables and furniture, clothes that were obviously outdated but not enough to be considered vintage.
    “Just what I want to look at, more useless junk.” I huffed.
    A child squealed in delight off to the right as her dad chased her around the yard acting like some monster that was going to eat her. As I stepped forward pain surged up my leg as it ran into a sturdy box, subsequently tipping it over. I drew in a sharp deep breath trying to keep from yelling out.
    Just my freaking luck, I thought as I bent over to gather the strewn object back into their box. As my hand hovered over an old, handmade wooden box I felt a sudden urge to touch it. I hesitated; something I have never told anyone is that when I touch stuff sometimes I have strange visions. This felt like one of those moments, I just knew it. The box was smooth, probably sanded very carefully with a lot of love. On the bottom was a set of initials, S.H. Maybe I was wrong, maybe nothing will happen. I breathed a sigh of relief as I opened the little chest and found a child’s size metal barrette decorated with a flower made from beads. I was surprised how heavy it was as I bounced it in my hand. Suddenly I felt it, a presence watching me. Looking to the left was a little girl, nobody noticed her. A horrible car accident suddenly flashed in my head.
    “Oh, I see you found Sandra’s jewelry box.” An older woman with white streaked hair, probably mid-sixties, walked over.
    “Who was Sandra?”
    “My little sister, she died in a car accident when we were young,” she explained “I’ve held on to it for many years but after a recent accident I feel it’s time to let it go.”
    “What happened?”
    “I got into a horrible car accident a week ago and totaled my car. I was okay except for a few bruises and lacerations but, I know it sounds strange, I swear I could hear Sandra’s voice comforting me and telling me she would keep me safe.” She held herself in a comforting hug as she stared at the wooden box.
    I watched as the little girl smiled brightly as she held onto the woman’s leg. A powerful sisterly bond, even in death.
    “No, it doesn’t sound strange at all.”

    • smallster21 says:

      I think you could spice it up by going right into a vivid vision, explain what the character is feeling before and after, instead of telling us right out ‘I see visions & I’m about to have one. I see a car accident.’ Also, he seems too insightful for a teenage boy, but suppose that could be because of his ability. Lol, I did see myself in your MC at the beginning, I remember that feeling when my mom would drag us around while she shopped :)

      • tourmeline says:

        I think I disagree on the vision. His awareness of what might happen if he opens the box is important. It points up his ambivalence toward the situation.

        I do agree about the insight. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a teenager, of either sex, who felt that their own angst and agony was, in any way, related to hormones – They are obviously caused by the world’s inability to recognize the uniqueness and originality of his suffering.

        • swatchcat says:

          I also sort of agree with tourmaline as well. Sometimes teens are more aware but they’re the last ones to admit it. If possibly you’re writing especially from the kids perspective then it makes sense that he would speak in this manor that as an adult we may find fault in. Aside from a few sentences that could be a little structurally sound this was interesting.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      This could have easily been a part the “6th Sense” series. I like that the narrator saw dead people. I liked this very much and thank you for sharing.

  26. don potter says:

    After buying the box at a garage sale for a ridiculously small amount of money, an old woman shuffled over and stopped me before I could place the purchase into the back of my SUV.
    “Would you consider selling me the contents of that box?” she asked.
    “Haven’t unwrapped it yet,” I protested.
    “I’ll gladly give you twice what you paid,” she said.
    “If I don’t know what’s in the box, how do I know if you’re offering me enough money?” I toyed with her.
    “All right, three times what you paid and not a penny more,” she countered as if she did not hear a word I said.
    “You keep bidding the price higher without any competition.”
    “I must have what you bought. It belongs to me.”
    “Sorry, but it’s mine now.”
    “If it’s the money…”
    “No it’s the principle. You know how garage sales work? Finder’s keepers. Simple, huh?”
    “Please, this trinket won’t matter to you, but it means the world to me.”
    “Well, let’s see what lies inside this crumpled newspaper page. I must say the wrapper doesn’t suggest any hidden treasure.”
    Quickly tearing off the paper I discovered a tarnished medal. Upon closer examination, it was revealed that this was an award from a track meet held at the local high school forty-five years ago.
    “That’s it,” she cried with joy. “It was my Timmy’s last race before he graduated and went off to Viet Nam.”
    “What’s it doing here?” I asked.
    “My son’s high school sweetheart lived here. He gave her this medal before leaving for basic training. Timmy never returned.”
    “Why didn’t you claim this before it was sold off?”
    “It was the only thing the poor girl had that belonged to him. She was distraught after Timmy was killed in action and never married. Stayed in this house with her parents and lived here alone until the cancer took her a few weeks ago.”
    “How did you know what was in the box?”
    “It was the last box. I had rummaged through all the rest but had yet to get to this one.”
    “Please keep it,” I said and handed the tired, old award to the woman.”
    “How much?” she asked.
    “Nothing. Nothing at all. Let’s just say it’s a Mother’s Day gift from Timmy.”

    • swatchcat says:

      That is a nice gesture to be sure. Nice story. As I read though I began to feel something was off. Correct me if I’m wrong (there are a few missing pieces). The lady is Timmy’s mother who wants the metal, does she live in the house of the sale because it sounded like she was packing things that belonged to the girl that died which implied she did. Then that leaves and interesting question; mom lives in the house with the girl that was with her son’s girlfriend but, the girl lived with her own folks, so, everyone lived together? I’m sure I missed something. The premise was good though.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked this because of the sentiment of the story. You had me at “I must have what you bought. It belongs to me.” I thought it was the old lady holding the garage sale at first but thenI realized she was trying to buy back a piece of her son’s soul, I liked the fact that you made me think. Good job.

      • don potter says:

        To paraphrase an old joke, “How many writers does it take to change a light bulb?” The writer replied, “Why does it have to be a light bulb?” The assignment stated the old woman was running the sale. I switched her role to that of an attendee. However as swatchcat and MCKEVIN pointed out, I neglected to inform the reader about this change. Good catch. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed the story. It was my little tribute to mothers everywhere whose love for their children never dies.

    • Gianni Beau says:

      I found the story moving. Since everyone modifies the prompt now and then, I didn’t get too hung up on the change. Again, very good.

    • Pattypans says:

      That’s a very sweet sentiment, don potter! Thanks for this story. This is the first time I’ve posted in response to a prompt, and the first time I’m commenting on others’ stories, so please forgive me and correct me if I’m amiss to point out a dangling modifier in the first sentence: “After buying the box at a garage sale for a ridiculously small amount of money, an old woman shuffled over and stopped me…”
      Technically, this is implying that it was the old woman who bought the box. :)

      I do like the story, though!

  27. tourmeline says:

    Broken Hearts
    I put the bowl back down, and fingered an elaborate bottle opener. Usually an avid yardsaler, today, I was losing my enthusiasm to the heat. I stared down at the small, stain caused by a drop of sweat from my forehead, and turned to go. A small, battered wooden box, on the corner of the last table, caught my eye and I hesitated. “Just a quick look,” I told myself.

    The dirty, reddish wood boasted a few chips of the bright lacquer that had once graced it, and the lock was rusted. A soft voice, at my elbow, made me jump and I nearly dropped the box. “That was my daughters’,” said the elderly woman. “Missing, nearly forty years, now, with her baby girl. It’s taken me a long time to accept that she’s gone, Letting that box go is really my way of letting them go.” She gently removed the box from my hand and turned it over. “What did I do with the key?” she mumbled, heading toward the garage. Something had rattled, when she turned it over and, hooked, I followed.

    “It’s back here, somewhere,” she called, from the cool depths. I picked my way to a workbench in the back, arriving as she dripped Marvel Mystery Oil onto the catch and hinges. She set the box on the bench and went back to scratching through drawers of odds and ends.

    “Des and her husband, Jamie, were a perfect couple,” she continued, as if there had been no break, “When she got pregnant, the two of them could about light up a room, just by being in it. Then he died.

    “He drove an oil truck, and one night, he was coming back late from delivering emergency oil to a family, and hit a big hunk of scrap metal that had fallen off a truck, on a bridge. His truck went right over and exploded on impact. He never had a chance. There wasn’t much left of him, to bury, but they brought her his half of the necklace they both wore.” She turned to another row of drawers.

    “Des just turned off. She wouldn’t move back home or let me stay with her; just sat, waiting for the baby. When that little girl was born, Des named her Jamie, after her Daddy. I really thought Des was getting better then, but when Jamie was 4 months old, they just disappeared.

    “Here you go!” she said handing me a tiny key.

    Carefully I unlocked the little box and lifted the lid. There, in tattered velvet lay a chain and half a heart. Lifting the heart, I saw JA-LOV-DESI, three broken words. I reached for the charm I always wore, the one the firemen had found in my baby blanket, the one that spelled out MIE-ES-REE. Silently, I laid it with its mate. The perfect fit spelled JAMIE LOVES DESIREE.

    • swatchcat says:

      oooohhh, so what did the lady do? I was never good at figuring out license plates, but after I figured out your necklace, it was like “ding!” of course. But you really could write a little bit more, there is more here, and have an even better finale. Nice.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      This sounds a special segment on a news story and I liked it. Good one. You used 483 words. I wished you used the other 17 to explain the fire. But story stood on it’s own the way you wrote. Good job.

      • tourmeline says:

        Re-reading, I see (along with a flock of punctuation errors), that I wasn’t very clear about whose half of the necklace was in the box. It was the father’s, and the fire was the one he died in when his truck exploded. I suppose the confusion comes from my use of “the fireman”. I had actually thought of him in terms of a rescue worker and maybe I should have called him “the EMT”

    • RWBB says:

      Nice story. Touching.

    • Pattypans says:

      Very special story, tourmeline. I admit I saw it coming, but there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, it seems to me (not that I’m any expert, ha!) My only comment (similar to Mckevin’s), would be it would’ve been nice to just give us a bit more information about the circumstances of the firemen finding your baby blanket…even a few words in the same sentence. Was it a fire, or a different type of rescue, for instance, or did the newspaper article the narrator see years later say it was set by the mother, who died in it, or…what?

      • Pattypans says:

        Oh, and sorry, I also wanted to say that I think it’s very meaningful that in finally deciding to ‘let them go’, Jamie’s mother found her long-lost granddaughter. I like that.

        • Pattypans says:

          Oh, dear, sorry again. I meant Des’s mother.

          • tourmeline says:

            Thank you for your comments. This was my first post here. I didn’t include anything about the missing mother because it didn’t seem necessary. I see now, that I should have explained that the mother jumped into the river, near where her husband died in his truck.The baby was either pushed onto the bank (or perhaps a floating tree branch), or left on the bank by her mother, who changed her mind, at the last moment, about taking the infant with her. That would explain how the neclace came to be in the blanket with the baby. It does seem that the body was never found.

  28. FeliciaLawrence says:

    Feeling upset and lonely after getting off the phone with her grandaunt who lives in Florida about her grandmother’s recent passing, Sheila’s boyfriend Rodney rushes in through the front door where Sheila was standing in the front room. Not wanting him to see her cry she immediately turned away from him, he was now on her left.
    Rodney wanted to ask Sheila what was the matter when he heard her trying to cover up her sobs. He tried to look over her shoulder but stopped himself, he broadened his shoulders and fixed his face determined to say what he came to say without delay. Rodney revealed to Sheila that he was no longer in-love with her and had not been for the last three month’s, he felt it was better to end it and just for them to go their separate ways.
    Sheila turned to her left towards Rodney, looked him straight in the eyes and told him to leave. His face looked confused, in disarray, he turned and walked out the font door not looking back. Sheila heard his car screeching off and then wipes the rest of her tears with the ends of he sleeves.
    Walking out of her front door and down the block to Mrs. McGreggar’s house. Mrs. McGreggar hosts her weekly Saturday barbecue and garage sale. Mrs. McGreggar was not in sight as Sheila sorted through the number of vultures about but her grandson Johnny was there.
    Johnny noticed Sheila at a distance and abruptly dropped his tool. Johnny was fixing one of the neighborhood kid’s bike, he could fix anything he set his eyes on. Sheila was still looking around for Mrs. McGreggar when Johnny approached her. She did not look at Johnny head on as he drew near. He noticed she was upset but didn’t want to bring attention. He told her his grandmother’s left for a few moments to take some barbecue over to Mrs. Stanter. Johnny assured Sheila that she would be back any moment. Johnny extended to Sheila if there is anything she needed, but she just smiled quaintly and took a seat on a nearby picnic table.
    Mrs. McGreggar was now back from visiting Mrs. Stanter and began greeting vultures. A moment later she noticed her grandson talking with Sheila. Mrs. McGreggar went over to the two and interrupted Johnny didn’t mind he knew sometimes he couldn’t fix everything.
    Mrs. McGreggar and Sheila began to stroll but before departing too far away Sheila turned back to Johnny and thanked him, he made a funny face and gestured for her to keep her chin up. Mrs. McGreggar heard listened to the news about Sheila’s grandmother’s death. Mrs McGreggar comforted her and they went inside Mrs. Mcgreggar’s house for a hot cup of tea. After while Sheila could smile a little more.
    The two woman, came back outside. Johnny called to his grandmother for help with a vulture that was debating over pricing of a pair of old stained glass lamps. Sheila told Mrs. McGreggar to go and that she would take a look around and might finally buy something. Sheila noticed and old wooden box with decorative carvings all over. Sheila was unaware, and unknowingly drawn to it. There seemed to be an old mechanical lock on the box, possibly needing some configuration but it didn’t.
    Mrs. McGreggar keyed in on Sheila’s discovery and hurried with the debating vulture. Agreeing to the price suggested then made her way over to Sheila, before she could ask where did you find that? Sheila had already gotten the box opened just by a soft touch with the palm of her hands while it looked like she was more so admiring the decorative carvings. The box popped opened and frightened Sheila just a bit while the approaching Mrs. McGreggar gasped and then quickly drugged Sheila by her arm back into the house.
    Mrs. McGreggar told Sheila to sit down as she began to prepare to serve some tea. Mrs. McGreggar served the tea and seated herself. Sheila sat in awe with the box opened in front of her. She could not take her eyes off the object within the box. Mrs. McGreggar told her you’re one of us. Sheila wondered what? Mrs. McGreggar took the object out of the box and it began to glow a red. The object was a round glass ball but when held by Mrs. McGreggar it glowed red, she put it back in the box and then picked it up with her mind. Sheila froze and thought how freaky. Mrs. McGreggar told Sheila you have the same power’s too because you opened the box. Mrs. McGreggar knew no one else could open the box but her and her mother who had been deceased for over 49 years.
    Mrs McGreggar told Sheila our race is not from this planet and that moving things with our minds and having garage sales is not the only thing we can do.

  29. Meejesness says:

    I didn’t know what I was expecting to find in my late mother’s hometown. I thought I might have some kind of revelation by walking along the uneven sidewalk and looking at the dilapidated houses. Could the atmosphere of the town tell me more about her than what little she said? If I read the graffiti on the old brick buildings, could I understand what about her mentality kept her from telling me who my father was? I had so many questions that she could no longer answer, having slipped out of existence from her hospital bed, and I was drawn to this impoverished place to find something. I didn’t know what.

    I roamed the street of a forsaken neighborhood, looking at the identical houses as I passed by. The dark clouds above signaled oncoming rain. The wooden houses seemed to absorb the dampness in the air, weighing them down and causing them to sag. Up ahead I was surprised to see a driveway occupied by a few people browsing a garage sale. I quickened my pace, curious to see what kind of things were being sold.

    I walked up the driveway quietly, trying to keep my footsteps as soft as possible so as not to be noticed. The strangers noticed me anyway, looking at me suspiciously after noting my long black jacket and neatly tied bun on the back of my head, in contrast to their worn sweat pants and stained T-shirts. I ignored them and looked at the table nearest to me. A random assortment of modest items were displayed, such as old books, children’s toys, and knick-knacks.

    My eyes locked onto a wooden trinket box with a carved floral pattern winding itself all around it. I opened it. Inside, there laid a simple, silver locket with a heart-shaped pendant. I had to use my nails to pry apart the clasp. Clearly it had been a long time since it had been opened.

    I felt like I had been punched in the chest when I saw the picture.

    A ghost looked at me from the tiny photo. But I had to be sure.

    I peeled the picture off of the back, and I turned it around. Eva Moss, 1984. Yes, this was a picture of my mother as a teenager. I turned my head to get the attention of the old lady running the sale, but she was already next to me, staring at me with a furrowed brow.

    “Excuse me, did you know the girl in this picture? Was this your locket?” I said.

    “No. That was my son’s.” She put her hands in her pockets. “His girlfriend gave it to him. The girl in the picture. He never wore it. But he couldn’t throw it away either after they broke up.”

    “Why did they break up?” I said as indifferently as possible.

    “Well, it’s more complicated than that. She got pregnant. He backed out and left her. But when he heard the baby was born, he felt guilty and went to see her. He came home and said Eva was angry and wouldn’t let him see her daughter, not now or ever. Soon after she moved. Hey, hello?” She waved her hand in front of me. I had been looking into the distance, trying to take in what I heard.

    “Oh, sorry,” I said, making eye contact with her again.

    “Do you want that locket?” she said. I looked at the picture of my mother, grinning at the camera. I could have kept the locket as a memento. I could have tracked down my father and asked him more about her. But I had learned enough.

    I came to the realization that the reason I came here was because, deep down, I was trying to cling to her memory.

    “No, thank you. I think I’ll be going now,” I said and walked away.

  30. rapidbutterly says:

    She was a super hero in her own rights, the women at the yard sale had told her that and in a way she was right. Evy had the power of invisibility. A person could trip overhead her before before they would notice her. No one heard no one saw no one knew. She was there and not there all at the same time. Evy had been looking through the tables filled with other peoples treasures when she found a small wooden box, her box.

    Two pendants that adorned a simple gold chain lay hidden inside, a jade heart with a small diamond at the top and a gold E written in cursive. It was perfect for Evy. She walked up to the owner ready to buy the chain but the women just smiled at her.
    “So it found you, I was hoping it would be you”
    Gently the women lifted the chain from its resting place. She motioned for Evy to turn around, draping it around her neck.
    “Its yours, it will give you a new super power, you will be able to turn your skin to steal.”
    Evy waited for her to clasp the chain before she turned around to face her.
    “Why would I want that?” Evy asked
    “Trust me” the women said “you’ll need it, the necklace always knows. It found me just like it found you and when its finished helping you it will find someone else.”
    Evy wasn’t sure what to think of her but she didn’t want to walk away, she wanted the conversation, needed it so Evy stayed and listened.
    “But” she said with a small sad smile ” you have to do one thing, make one promise to bring the charm home with you. You can’t keep it you have to pass it on to the next person it chooses”.
    She sent Evy on her way, ready to face the world and what ever it had to throw her way. Evy had no idea she would need her new found powers so soon.
    She went to meet her husband, see if she was still invisible,maybe one power cancelled out the other, and there he was in his office with his newest in a never ending line of beaus. Like always it was her fault that she was hurt. If she hadn’t gone looking for him she wouldn’t have found out. Evy went home leaving her husband to his business. She felt her powers kick in, her skin started to harden, her tears dried, he courage grew.
    Evy changed the locks and packed his clothes, dragging the boxes out to the hallway. Her husband banged on the door and yelled all night, who would love her, who would care, he yelled. Every harsh word and insult he flung at her bounced off her skin of steal.
    Evy made it through the night and after awhile her powers began to fade. She wasn’t invisible anymore, she was seen, she was heard and she was even love.
    It had been a life time since Evy needed the necklace and its powers. She sat at a table, her till in her lap watching the girl across the yard. She wore long sleeves in 90 degree weather and sunglasses to cover her black eye.
    The girl stopped when she came across the wooden box, opening it she caressed the pendants. Evy smiled the necklace had made its choice, dozens had walked by but only this girl had seen it. ” Its yours you need it more then I do” Evy said walking over to her ” It will give you super powers.”

  31. LizzieC says:

    “House clearance! Saturday. Everything must go”, the advertisement said. As the address was in an “interesting” part of town I decided to pay a visit, who knows what treasures I might unearth. By nature I am not a yard sale type of person but now and again this type of adventure is good for one’s soul.
    Saturday dawned bright and sunny and I set forth. Crossing the tracks the rows of once stately homes had seen better days. Their facades had been chopped and changed; the interiors rearranged into apartments and even rooming houses. It was sad to see how a neighbourhood had deteriorated. The house I sought was in a cul de sac of even more dejected looking houses.
    Parking my car I wandered towards the small throng that had already gathered and was eagerly looking through a large assortment of boxes, bric-a-brac and a forlorn assortment of furniture.
    A young woman in her mid-twenties approached me. She did not seemed the type to live around here; well dressed and the up market car parked in the driveway told me so.
    “There is more to see inside,” she said “and if you want to purchase anything I shall be around.”
    I thanked her and went in. A veritable treasure trove of lamps, china and ornaments met my gaze. As I hunted around, a large cardboard box filled with books and a few odds and ends caught my eye. I decided to purchase it as the books looked interesting
    “Would you take $20 for the whole box?” I enquired as there where quite a few good hard covered books. She accepted.
    At home I started to sort through my mystery purchase. At the very bottom I found a small square wooden box about ten inches overall, inlayed with, what I thought to be, ivory and made from an assortment of different woods. On the front was a small but elaborate key hole but no key. It looked quite exotic and I wondered what part of the world it would have come from. I tried to lift the lid and with a bit of force managed to open it. Inside was a small pale green pot complete with a fancy lid.
    Why would anyone keep a small pot in a fancy box, I wondered? It didn’t make sense. I tried to remove the lid which appeared to be sealed in some way. I twisted it and turned it but it would not budge. I shook it and it sounded like sand. I looked at the bottom for a makers name but nothing. It was a puzzle.
    Then I had an idea, I would warm it in the microwave and then, perhaps, the seal would give and the contents would be revealed.
    Twenty seconds of heat and good firm twist and the top came off. Looking at the contents I came to the realisation that it was somebody’s ashes! I had paid $20 dollars for a loved one’s ashes.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked this. I wonder if you started your story at “Parking my car…… what else would have happened at the end of your story? Sometimes if you start with the action, you will take the reader as well as yourself, on a ride you weren’t headed for. Good job and keep writing.

  32. tasmitty says:

    It was upon my first glance of the wooden box that I gasped for air, struggling to cope with my sudden realization. The box was plain, stained in a shiny finish and resembled a box that I used to own.

    A decade ago, I had given an identical box to my father. That was the last gift I gave to him, and it contained a sentimental object. Seeing this box caused me to question, could it be the same one?

    Lifting the cover, I held my breath as I desperately hoped to see the object. To my disappointment, the tiny box was empty, but then I noticed familiar markings on the base. They were etchings that I carved twenty years ago, letters that formed my name.

    This was my box.

    “I see you have a keen interest in that box,” said the lively old woman behind the table.

    “I do,” I said. “I used to own it.”

    “Really? What makes you think it’s the same box?” she asked while maintaining a smile.

    I pointed to my name. “I carved this when I was twelve. The box was given to me by my grandmother. It was a gift, but I didn’t care much for it then.”

    She laughed. “What twelve year old would?”

    I returned a smile. “I haven’t seen it for ten years. I gifted it to my father. The real gift was inside, though. I surprised him with a baseball, my home run ball from the last game he ever saw me play.”

    The old woman’s smile left her wrinkled face, and a concerned look replaced it, a face deep in thought. She then asked, “I assume that your father has since passed away?”

    I nodded while holding back tears. The last thing I wanted to do was make this situation a somber one, much less awkward, but I continued anyway. “My father had cancer. By that the time I played that game, he knew he had few months to live. When he saw that I gave him my homerun ball, I saw a joy in his face that was missing for years.” I paused for a few seconds and wiped a tear from my eye. “He passed away five days later.”

    I lowered my head to hide my weeping face. Meanwhile, the old woman also fought back tears before she stepped away and rummaged through a garage shelf. She returned shortly after, holding the baseball that I gave my father.

    “I had no idea why this was in the box, but I do now.” She placed the ball in the box, closed it and handed it to me. “Now it’s yours again.”

    “I’ll give you however much you are asking for…”

    With wet eyes, she sternly interjected, “No, no. I am reuniting you with a piece of your father, and that is more than enough payment for me.”

    I expressed my appreciation and left the garage sale. Since my father had passed, my spirits had never been brighter.

  33. Amy says:

    The turn onto Nightingale Blvd. came up quick and I almost missed it as I pedaled hard on the pavement. Sophie and I were racing, and as I glanced behind me and saw she hadn’t even made the turn yet, I knew I had won. She must have walked up the colossal hill on Seventh. I looked up and down the street for other customers, eager to check out the goods before they were picked over. There was just one lonely minivan parked across the street and a mother and two children surveying the contents of McCreedy’s annual garage sale. The mother was looking at a seemingly empty wooden box at the jewelry table.

    I left my bike in the grass and trudged up the long driveway. Sophie would join me eventually, and I thought maybe I could score something cool before she arrived. Very few people stopped to peruse, so it was usually the same old junk being recycled year after year. Every now and then, though, someone came across a rare antique that old Mrs. McCreedy had dredged up from the depths of her gloomy Victorian to present to the world.

    I found the table of garish costume jewelry and decided to try some on. I put on a pair of gloves that were yellowed with age and some huge pearl clip-on earrings that made my earlobes sag. While searching for a necklace, my eye came to rest on the wooden box the mother had been looking at. It had an ornate jeweled top that was so intricate I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I barely noticed the family get back into the minivan and drive away, leaving me alone among the dusty remnants of an old woman’s life.

    I opened the box to find a quarter-sized emerald stone embedded in a decorative gold setting. The thick chain was coiled underneath it like a gilded snake. I had never seen anything like it before.

    “See anything you like?” the old woman asked. She had shuffled up next to me silently and watched as I eyed the necklace.

    “The necklace,” I replied, “it’s beautiful. Have you always had it?”

    Mrs. McCreedy leaned in close, her thin lips outlining a grin. Her wrinkled skin hung from her face and she smelled like an odd mixture of pine and decay.

    “Always. I’ve been waiting for someone else to find it and cherish it as I have. Would you like to have it?”

    “Oh I don’t think I have enough to buy that. I only got ten bucks.”

    “How about I let you have it for free? On one condition: you can’t tell anyone about it. It’ll be our little secret,” she hissed in my ear.

    She reached into the box and handed the jewel to me. I took it and watched as the old lady shuffled back up the drive, heaving a heavy sigh as she eased into her rocking chair on the front porch.

    The jewel felt as if it were throbbing in my pocket as I backtracked to find Sophie and headed home.

    That night I pulled the chain over my head and felt comforted by the weight of the heavy emerald.

    I awoke feeling revitalized and threw on some clothes, keeping the emerald talisman close to my chest. On my way out the door, my dad asked where I was going.

    “I want to go back to that garage sale on Nightingale,” I said. I had a few questions about the necklace.

    “Oh, honey, Mrs. McCreedy isn’t running the garage sale anymore. She died in her sleep last night,” my dad said.

    • smallster21 says:

      Nice descriptions. I could feel my earlobes sagging under the weight of those huge pearl clip-on earrings, lol!

    • douglangille says:

      Nice story Amy. Dialog flows well.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Hi Amy. I liked this because each of your paragraphs starts with enough action to present a story all on it’s own.I thought when you used “it’ll be our little secret”, it was foreshadowing but when the lady died I abandoned that theory. Perhaps in your installment You’ll explain the magic powers of the gemn and it’s connection to the old lady. Here’s a thought, what if Mrs. McCreedy’s spirit vibrated through the gem every time the MC encountered one of life’s many problems? The stone could vibrate everytime he/she encounters or is about to encounter trouble. Just thought I throw that out there. Good job. You’re presence was greatly missedand I’m glad you’re back.

    • Pattypans says:

      I love this phrase: “…the dusty remnants of an old woman’s life.”

  34. Heart2Heart says:

    Old and wooden with the price of fifty cents on a red sticker attached, the box has seen better days. My feet stick to the ground. I stand mesmerized and lift the lid to see what is inside. I know what I will find before I open it – startled that this precious item could be sitting on a metal folding table selling for spare change.
    She must have seen the look on my face, must have seen me staring at the contents as I picked the box up and examined every square inch, running fingers over engraving, tracing letters I arranged to have carved fifty years before, longing to feel his fingers aligned with mine tracing letters with me.
    She approaches, leaving others who are milling around looking at other treasures. She has kindness in her eyes, and whispers my name. She smells of lavender.
    “Claire,” – it is a statement not a question.
    I find myself answering “Yes,” not sure where the words are coming from.
    “He’s passed. I found this in the garage where he spent so much time. He would be gone for hours and I wasn’t sure why – he would be just sitting there when I came to check on him or call him for dinner. Please take the box – it’s yours, forget any money. I didn’t know how to reach you and I’m not sure I had the courage to.”
    I hug this woman who has taken my place, the place I gave up after our son died. Mac was watching him the day the accident happened. I became bitter and cold, she warm and understanding. I understand after all these years how he could be attracted to her. I understand how loss can change you into someone you don’t want to be but are. I understand that no matter how happy you become, you can still feel the pain and remember as if it were yesterday.
    I thank Mac’s widow and take the box with me.
    At home in the rocker Mac built for me, I open the box and take out the baseball that our son never got to play with – the baseball held in the memory box I had engraved for Mac when I found out I was pregnant. I sip on wine and let the tears roll down my face for the memories that should have been and I whisper, “It wasn’t your fault – forgive me.”

    • swatchcat says:

      This is a heartening story, interesting, good. Readability was sketchy most of the way through, something about the perspective(sort of first person but outside yourself) it was written with but the overall story was enough to get through to the end.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked this because it made me feel like crying but I’m not sure why. You used 404 words, I have a feeling that using those other 96 words would help me understand why I’m crying. Lol. This was like walking in the middle of sad movie and the whole theatre is crying but they don’t know why. That means you have a good story. It just needs to be tightened up a bit. Good job and I’m going to watch for more of stuff in the future. Thanks for sharing.

    • Pattypans says:

      This story is original and good, in my opinion. I respectfully disagree with the commenter who thought the ‘readability was sketchy.” I feel a genuineness in the voice. Thank you.

  35. JWLaviguer says:

    A “Ribbeting” Tale

    “That’s not supposed to be out here,” she said. “May I have that back?”

    I was hesitant, suddenly very curious. “Why? What’s in it?”

    “None of your business. Just give it back.”

    “I’ll make you a deal,” I said. “I’ll give it back to you, if you let me see what’s inside.”

    Her brow furrowed as she looked at me. “I don’t think you want to do that.”

    “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? I take a quick peek, give it back to you, and I’m on my way.”

    “I wish it were that easy,” she said. “I’m warning you…”

    “Yeah, whatever. Warn all you want. I could just open it up right now and dump the contents out on the table.”

    “No, please don’t,” she begged. “You have no idea what would happen if he…um…it…got out.”

    “What do you mean “he” or “it?”” I asked. “Tell me what’s in here.”

    “Please,” she said again. “Take it. Just go.”

    I was suddenly a little scared. “Um…no.”

    I dropped the box onto the table, but it caught the edge and fell to the lawn. The old lady screamed and I peed myself a little, as a frog came hopping out of the box.

    Everyone at the yard sale busted out laughing, including that bitch of an old lady, who was laughing so hard she was crying.

    So needless to say I don’t stop at yard sales anymore.

    • swatchcat says:

      Nicely played. I sorry but I loved the “peed myself a little” and this was much more uplifting then the last several. I had a kids jewelry box, white single drawer in front with fold out sides and top. A little ballerina spun when you wound it up. I used to put live frogs in it till they died or got away. Yes, a tomboy. Anyway, you made me remember those days. Nice story.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      You know you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince/princess don’t you? Good job.

    • RWBB says:

      Great story. g

  36. Gianni Beau says:

    I was walking my dog, Mandy, when I came upon a garage sale. There were clothes racks and boxes on tables filled with an eclectic mix of items. I’m usually not a garage sale kind of person, but today the sun was bright and warm and I had a feeling of spring fever that usually would leave me prostrate. Instead, I had a feeling of curiosity and adventure. So I began poking around in the boxes.

    I skipped the boxes with colored bottles; perhaps someone was an artist and getting rid of his or her props. There were many boxes of toys. I couldn’t believe that the person running the garage sale had that many children with that many toys. Then I came upon a box filled with photos. I began to go through them. They seemed to be from every generation of the twentieth century. The most interesting to me were old black and white photos with the white edge around the picture. These were so old that they were discolored with a slight brownish tinge.

    “They are interesting aren’t they?” a voice behind said. I turned and saw a short white haired woman who looked like a relative of the Michelin Tire Man.

    I smiled and replied, “Yes they are. Are they yours?”

    “Some,” she replied, “but it is a collection of those taking part in the sale.”

    “Ah,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

    “Please continue looking, I think you will find something that will please you. Because they are old and discolored, they seem to have taken on beauty of their own. If you choose to buy any, come to me and I will tell you about them.”

    “I will,” I said, not knowing what else to say. I spent about fifteen minutes slowly going through the box. I was in no hurry and felt peaceful looking through the pictures while Mandy lay at my feet. Finally, I found three photos that I was drawn to: a woman in a cloche hat, a flapper; a man and the same woman on the steps of a church; and small boy sitting on the man’s lap while holding on to the wheel of an old car.

    “I see you’ve found something that catches your fancy,” the voice of the old woman said. “May I see?” I gave them to her because I couldn’t do otherwise and I felt the need to share them with her. “Yes. I thought you would find them.”

    “What do you mean, find them?” I asked, puzzled.

    “These are photos of your mother and father, you know.”

    “They don’t look like my mother or father.”

    “But, they are. These are your real mother and father. They died when you were too young to remember and then you were adopted.”

    “And who are you? How do you know me?”

    “That is a long story, but I’m your aunt. If you will come back tomorrow, I will explain everything.”

    I did and she did.

    • JustAPerson says:

      Interesting, but I wish the story had more closure.
      I want to know what happened to the main character’s family. Why doesn’t she know that she’s adopted? How does she feel about it? The ending just leaves too many questions, but this is an interesting idea, I would love to see it completed.

      • Gianni Beau says:

        Thank you for commenting. I agree with everything that you say. When I hit the 500 word limit, I just didn’t see how fiddling with the story was going to happen. But that is what I have to work on and be more succinct.

    • smallster21 says:

      Michelin Tire Man, eh, so she looks like a big marshmallow? Lol, cute description :) I agree with JustAPerson that this is a good idea, though it felt like it came out of left field, so maybe a better setup for the ending. Oh, also, your MC said ‘not knowing what else to say’ twice, didn’t know if you noticed that, it’s repetitive.

      • Gianni Beau says:

        I’m glad you liked the M. Tire M. Thank you for telling me about the repetition. I thought that I had weeded them all out. I was surprised how many I had this time.

        I don’t think I let the idea sit there long enough. I’m always afraid that if I wait too long, I wont write it. Also, I’m drawn to some prompts more than others. This wasn’t my favorite but I thought it more important to write something and learn from it.

  37. tmcasler says:

    I had always loved garage sales. Something about finding a simple treasure among a pile of junk is just appealing. My found art project at university is what had really gotten me hooked. Now I was always on the lookout for something I could make into something else; up-cycling some call it. It was drizzling this Saturday morning, but I still flipped through the yellow pages, circling various sales nearby. One looked of particular interest, an estate sale. I decided to go there first. By the time I arrived it was raining pretty hard, but there were some tables huddled under a carport so I decided to soldier on. A woman perhaps in her 60’s walked up to me and asked what I was looking for. I hate when people do that, but striving to be polite I listed a few things of interest. Seemingly delighted that I hadn’t blown her off, she began to tell me her life story. I hate when people do that too. Within a few minutes I learned that her husband had recently died and shortly after the bank foreclosed on her house. She was having this sale before moving in with her grandchildren. As she proceeded to tell me of random other misfortunes which had befallen her over the past year, I began to inch myself away from her. Fortunately, another new comer caught her attention and she went off to pester them. My eyes scanned the dusty items and quickly came to light on an antique wooden suitcase. It was perfect. I knelt down next to it and unlatched the top. Nothing was inside, but I wanted to make sure it was sturdy so I traced the sides with my hand and pushed on the various wood pieces. As I was doing so the older woman came up behind me.
    “Oh, that’s a mighty fine trunk that. No need to go pokin’ it every which way. Want it?”
    All of her words came out in one long breath and the sheer anxiety of it caused me to turn and look up at her curiously. She appeared quite agitated and was shifting her weight from one side to the other as if impatient for my answer.
    “How much?” I asked while turning back to finish my inspection.
    “Just take it. I got no use for it anymore. It’s yours. Why you pokin’? Take it.”
    I didn’t answer her this time because something else had caught my attention. The wooden cross beam at the bottom of the suit case had shifted revealing a second handle. I lightly pulled up on it. A false bottom! What an amazing find. I removed the bottom and began to say something in regards to how nifty such a thing was when I stopped suddenly a let out shocked gasp.
    “Oh dear, that old thing,” the women laughed nervously as she spoke, “I wondered where my dear late husband had stashed it. It’s nothin’, deary. Pay it no mind.”
    My initial shock having warned off, I hunched over the odd thing resting in the bottom: a mummified hand in a yellowed plastic case. It looked as though it had been sawn off and was perfectly preserved. I looked to the woman for answers.
    “Well now don’t you be thinkin’ we some kind of freaks missy. That there is a rare piece indeed. The right hand of a sailor. See it was considered good luck to cut off the right hand of a hanged man.”
    “Hanged? Why?” I was excited, when admittedly I should have been horrified.
    “How should I know? Am I the Captain? Mutiny maybe, who knows. Now that’s completely sanitary and it’s a rare find to be sure. Worth somethin’ to the right buyer, but now I got no use for it so you just take it along with the trunk.”
    At this point the woman once again became agitated and impatient and made to hurry me off. I didn’t mind. The sawed off hand of a sailor? My morbid fascination with such things was simply delighted. If only I had known, but I took it home.
    In the year following this event, I have learned to do my own research on such matters as what constitutes good luck. For within the midst of my agony in that year I found the truth. Not good luck, no, but a curse of the vilest kind. Yet, relief is in sight for this weekend I am having a garage sale.

  38. aikawah says:

    The man in the straw hat had been wandering about the market aimlessly for a while, looking at this and that without seeming to want anything. He changed direction every few minutes, without warning, as if he knew he was being watched. The warrior in the brown cloak who had been following him had been forced to buy a few things just to stay inconspicuous. Towards afternoon, the two men had found themselves in the crafts section of the market. The man in the straw hat inspected other hats, trying each one on and cracking jokes with the craftspeople.

    The warrior had looked away from his prey for a second, paying for a sweetmeat from a vendor perhaps. When he next looked up the man in the straw hat had disappeared.

    Inside one of the nearby cloth tents, the man in the straw hat walked past a row of wooden sculptures; idols to the gods of the Walata and Konadi. He seemed to know what he was looking for and on a shelf two rows down, he found it. A dented old brass box with a heavy lock. He took it off the shelf and set it on the ground.

    “It won’t be much use to you” said an elderly voice behind him.

    “Why?” he asked standing up. The old lady walked forward until she was standing in front of the box and tapped it with her walking staff.

    “It is cursed. Nobody can open it. I don’t know if it is empty or if there are a hundred shekels of gold inside. All I know is that three times I have sold it in twenty years and every time, it has returned with the dents of the tools of men and the blood of those whose gold was spent to buy it.”

    “So why do you still sell it?” he asked.

    The woman looked up at him, her wrinkled eyes clouded with the white of age and held his gaze for a while, as though searching for something his words could not give. Then she said, “I am cursed to hold it until it’s owner comes. He is the one who will open it and let this old woman finally die.”

    The man pushed his straw hat back letting it hang from his neck by a string around his neck. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for so long…” a tear rolled down his cheek, “… grandmother.”

    Then he bent to the box and turned it upside down, chanting an incantation as he did. The bottom of the box shifted and then rose slowly and he reached inside.

    “Don’t touch that!” the warrior said from the door. He was holding a drawn bow, the arrow pointing at the man with the straw hat.

    “I am glad you’ve grown into such a fine young man Akokhan” the old woman said, “and I am glad I was able to see you before my end. The eye of Kofi Larteh will be safe. It is as it should be.” So saying, she stepped into the path of the advancing warrior and threw her staff at his head. At the same moment, the warrior shouted, ducked and loosed his arrow, piercing her in the heart. As she fell back, the staff she had thrown twisted, turned, and from its crook a pair of fangs sprouted. It fell upon the warrior, not a staff anymore but a slithering serpent that sunk its fangs in his neck.

    The man with the straw hat drew out the thing in the box, an amulet with a red glowing crystal at the centre and wore it around his neck. Then he picked up the old woman, the light still bright in her dying eyes and as the shouts of advancing warriors and market people grew louder, he spoke his incantation once again; “Hezkumi Kubla, where the grass has grown, the grass will always grow.”

  39. JustAPerson says:

    My watch ticked away. I looked at the time, seconds and minutes being eaten in the blink of an eye. Most people would be at home if they were in my position. Crying and spending their last moments with their loved ones.
    I knew she was going to die, but I didn’t feel depressed. I just felt… detached.
    I began rummaging through the pile of trinkets and toys. My hand brushed something smooth. I moved all the other junk to the other side and discovered a little wooden box. There was nothing special about it in particular, I just liked the smooth,wooden feel of it. I opened it and heard a soft little melody. It was so sweet that I just stood there for a while with the little box held near my ear.
    I saw an old woman walking over, so I shut the box and then proceeded to put it back, but the old lady put her hand on mine.
    “I noticed your interest in this little knickknack,” she said with a smile.
    “Oh, yes it’s very nice,” I said.
    She placed the box back in my hands.
    “You know my husband and I used to dance to that song,” she told me.
    “Is that so?” I say to be polite.
    She sadly smiled, “He would sway with me and always hum the tune, I would tell him that he was tone deaf and laugh, he would smile and just hold me closer.”
    “I’m sorry, I have to go.” I turned to leave, but the old woman called out, “Wait.”
    I sighed and turned to face her.
    She whispered in my ear, “When my husband and I danced, we didn’t words to say anything. Just being close to each other said enough.”
    She stepped away and told me that I could keep the box free of charge. I thanked her and walked away.
    After I got home, I looked at my watch. I didn’t know why I kept glancing at my watch. It wouldn’t tell me when she would pass away. I still had the box tucked under my arm. I climbed the stairs and walked toward her bedroom. I knocked and opened the door slowly, she was awake resting. She stared at a vase of flowers.
    I walked over to the chair next to her bed and placed the box on the nightstand. We waited for the other to speak in silence.
    “Where did you go?” she asked me without looking at me.
    “A yard sale.” I replied without looking back.
    ‘Did you get anything?”
    “A wooden box.”
    “May I see it?”
    I gave her the box on the nightstand. She inspected it and opened the box. The mellow sound floated out of the box. She put the box near her ear.
    “How beautiful,” she said.
    I nodded and looked at my watch.
    “Did you ever love me?”
    I soon realized that I was the one who unintentionally asked the question. She seemed as unfazed as ever, “Yes.”
    I looked up at her. She still kept the box near her ear, her gaze unfocused.
    “Did you ever love me?” she asked.
    “Of course,” I say.
    I checked my watch. I knew that she was going to die soon, but I still felt detached. Detached from my own wife.
    I stood up walked towards the bedroom door.
    “Wait,” she said.
    I took a glance over my shoulder.
    “Promise me you won’t forget about me.”
    “I promise,” I said.
    I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I lingered a bit in the kitchen because I knew what was coming next and this time I didn’t even need to consult my watch. I walked slowly to her bedroom.
    She lied there with her eyes closed and her arms hugged the music box like a teddy bear. I lied in the bed with her and wrapped my arms around her. Even though she was dead and gone, I could still feel her holding on to me too. I didn’t need words.
    I let the little box sing to me for a while. The melody didn’t have lyrics, but it didn’t matter. Like the old lady said.
    We don’t need words to communicate.

    • smallster21 says:

      Another touching story, full of emotions. Makes me sad. Reminds me of my great-grandparents. I was visiting them the summer great-grandpa died, he passed at home, in his bed, but before he died he looked into my great-grandmother’s eyes and said “One last kiss”…I’m about to cry. Your story made me remember them just now and that moment, thank you.

    • theafbaker says:

      What a wonderful and touching story. Beautifully written and I love the last line.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked this a lot but I don’t know about getting in bed with dead people. Lol. Strike that, I have slept with a few people who sexually dead. Lol. Good job.

    • RWBB says:

      Very touching story. Nicely done.

  40. theafbaker says:

    I slammed the front door behind me. Finally, I worked up the nerve to say the “d” word. It stunned James, but he should have seen it coming. I mean, how many years in an unhappy marriage could I be expected to endure?

    Relief set in as I drove away. This was the right decision. I felt it in my gut.

    My mother offered to let me stay with her until this blew over so I headed to her place. When I pulled into her neighborhood, I noticed a yard sale. James hates yard sales. Whenever I brought home a treasure from such a sale, he’d always criticize and ask why I’d want someone’s junk. Well, now I could buy all the “junk” I wanted.

    I parked the car and savored my new freedom by digging through boxes of clothes. Then I noticed a wooden box on the table. When I opened the lid, I saw a stack of black and white photos, all wedding pictures capturing a beautiful moment between a handsome groom and captivating bride.

    They radiated happiness, just as I did on my wedding day.

    I frowned. “Take a picture of them in five years, after they’re overwhelmed with debt and each working two jobs. Then we’ll see if they’re still smiling.”

    I threw the pictures down.

    “Sorry about that,” said a voice. I turned and saw a young woman, about my age, standing with her arms folded. “I didn’t realize my grandmother’s photos were still in the box. Do you mind?” she reached over me, taking the pictures.

    She gestured toward the old woman sitting in a rocking chair on the porch. “She’ll want these back.”

    “Of course,” I replied. “She was a beautiful bride.”

    “Oh yes and they were in love. After my grandfather died, she moved in with us. But now that my husband and I are separating, I’ll be moving into an apartment. She’ll be with me but we need to downsize. Hence the yard sale,” she said with a forced smile.

    The woman took the photos to her grandmother who smiled brightly.

    I suddenly felt ill. Quickly, I got back into my car. Tears filled my eyes and I began to weep. Just then I heard my phone ringing. I fished in my purse and saw James’ face on my phone’s screen.

    He didn’t want the divorce. He had begged me not to leave, saying he loved me and would do anything to make it work. Yes, times were hard, but they had made a promise, didn’t they? For better or worse?

    My hands trembled as I answered the call.

    “Lily?” James’ voice sounded weak. “Lily? Are you there? Please don’t do this.”

    I wiped the tears and took a deep breath. I looked at the old woman on the porch, smiling at a memory. Then I looked at her granddaughter, making her way around the sale, downsizing.

    “James,” I said with a smile. “I’m coming home.”

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I really like this. Nice ending too. (wink) One day gay people will have the legal right to marry and good stories such this will have a different twist to it. Good job.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Let me try that again…
        I really like this. Nice ending too. (wink) One day gay people will have the legal right to marry and good stories such as this will have a unique twist to it. Good job

    • smallster21 says:

      Believable characters and a touching ending. Nice story :)

  41. JRSimmang says:

    I lost my wife in amongst the human detritus about a half hour ago, and I found myself standing awkwardly in front of an old table spread with old things. I’m ambivalent about garage sales. Sometimes you find something good, something that has history, and it will collect dust and history at your place until you have a garage sale and the cycle starts all over again for someone else.

    I just hated going to them.

    I decided it was time to go, so I lurched forward out of my daydream and stumbled over an old wooden box. In the process, the lid came loose and skittered across the driveway.
    ” Oh dear,” I heard Ms Franklin say as she scuttled up to me. “Are you alright, Mr Wilcox?”
    “I am,” I said bending over to pick up the lid. “Terribly sorry about that.”
    “No, no. That old thing has been in the attic for the past 50 years. I thought that lid was sealed on forever.”
    “Well, it just takes a clumsy old oaf to open it, I take it.” I picked up the box and peered inside. “And it looks like there’s something else you can sell inside.”
    But, she already knew that.
    She reached her hands in delicately and grabbed the old perfume bottle.
    “This was hers.” Her eyes, much older than mine, brightened and seemed to lose some of her hard earned wisdom as they lingered on the bottle.
    I knew I was about to get sucked into a long story. I figured it might help pass the time. “Hers?”
    “Mother’s.”
    “Ah.”
    Her hands trembled a touch. “Mother. Mother, mother, mother.”
    “Ms Franklin?”
    “Keep your damn demons elsewhere.” She lifted the perfume bottle high above her head and jerked it straight to the ground. It shattered into a thousand tiny shards, releasing an otherworldly aroma, like burnt coffee and petunias, of fresh-cut lawns and cigarettes.
    She met my gaze, smiled, squeezed my arm, and left back inside.
    My wife came out the front door, nothing in her arms.
    “Ooh, nice mid-century tchotsky box. Want it?”
    I looked into the empty box, furrowed my brows together, and glanced off in the direction of Ms Franklin. “No. Let’s get out of here.”
    “I agree,” she said as she looped her arm in mine. She stepped on the glass pieces of the perfume bottle. “Gary, did you break-”
    And before she could finish the question, I left the box where it was and pushed her into the car.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Good one. I would love to see the next chapter. I bet the wife wants to go back and get something she saw inside. An argument ensues and she goes against her husband wishes and buys the trinket. She brings it home, the house smells like coffee and petunias and strange things start happening. Good job.

      • tourmeline says:

        Or maybe… They get home and the box is already there – with the, intact, perfume bottle inside.

        ooo-weEEee-oooo.

        • MCKEVIN says:

          What she slept with the homeowner while her husband was outside looking around? How else would a writer explain how the box got in her house? I bet that bottle smelled like dead fish perfume! Lol. Oh she is one dead fish alright! Lol!

  42. Marco Kenen says:

    Faster you old hag, so at least one of us can get this deal done while he is still young. David watched impatiently as the old woman made her way in his direction. Even with the aid of her walker she was barely able to stay upright.

    “So, you like the pocket-watch, don’t you?”

    David gave her his best impression of a warm and hearty smile he was able to display on his face. Kindness wasn’t really build into his character. Luckily, he had been blessed with an above average talent for theatrics.

    “Yes, I adore it! It’s absolutely magnificent.”

    A genuine and broad smile graced the woman’s face. Obviously pleased about the fact that somebody showed sincere interest in the item.

    “It has been a family heirloom for several generations…”

    Blah blah blah… Shut your pie hole already you walking relic. If I wanted a history lesson then I’d go and watch the Discovery channel.

    “Wow! I simply love the story behind it.”

    Truth be told, he did love the story behind it. Five or so minutes ago, before the old woman had spotted him. A young man had been looking at the very same item he was about to buy. David had never seen him before but the bloke had told him that he worked in an antique store. When restored, the watch was worth a whopping 10.000 Euro or maybe even more.

    Luckily for David, the young man received a call from his mother that his father had been in a life threatening car accident. Before dashing off he handed David a business card. Please give this to her and tell her… At this point David had stopped listening.

    “So, for how much would you part with this beauty?”

    “I’d rather not, but I don’t really have a choice as I need the money in order to pay for a hip replacement. I know it has some value to it, so, how about 2000 Euro?”

    A measly 2000 Euro was still a steal, considering its real value. Nonetheless, David faked a shocked expression. The cheaper he got it the more profit he’d make.

    “I’m sorry, I really can’t pay you that much for it. How about …”

    They haggled for a little bit longer before agreeing on a price of 650 Euro. The woman looked really sad because she had to let go of it. David had exploited the fact that she really needed the money to his advantage. He paid the old woman the agreed upon price and hurriedly left before she changed her mind.

    Back home, David sat himself down on the kitchen table for a closer inspection of the priceless pocket watch he’d just bought for only a fraction of its value.

    “Made in China!”

    In a fit rage, David smashed the utterly worthless pocket watch into pieces.

    That witch of an old woman and her bastard grandson or whoever he was had conned him…

  43. randi100 says:

    Thank you! Wow…I like your ideas. A little darker than mine but I like them. :)

  44. Slevin Kelevra says:

    “This is an older piece,” the woman said, the wrinkles lining her lips and cheeks were amplified by the sun breaking into the garage; falling into the crevices of her pale face.
    “Well, what is it?” he looked in the box, seeing only a a wood carving of some sort of figure
    “It’s whatever you want it to be, a manifestation of your desires; holding the wood carving will show you what it is you truly want in life.” she reached into the box and pulled out the carving with her frail, twig-like fingers and held the carving out so that he could see it. as he looked closer to see what the ominous carving was, it began to change shape entirely. After a moment, the carving fell still into the shape of a large coin, a penny.
    “Now you try, see what it is you want.” she held the large penny carving to him, and he took it in his left hand, holding it so that he was ready for the shape of it to change. it began to morph again; only this time it became long and sharp, taking on the shape of a knife. The woman saw this and knew what it meant for her.

    • Amy says:

      I like your concept here, but it needs more detail to be clear.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I think I know where you were trying to go with this. There was an editor that used to post here (Ishmael) and he reccommended that a writer should write a complete story. Let it sit and simmer for a day without the author looking or touching it. Pick it up the next day and look at it with new eyes. He/she will be surprised at what they might find or miss. Good job and keep writing.

  45. MCKEVIN says:

    Wrinkled face Phoebe snatched the Indian cigar box from my hands as I’d marveled at the thing-a-ma-gig inside that sparkled like a red diamond.
    “That’s not for sale!”
    “But I paid your assistant my last $20.00 for it.”
    “In that case, congratulations! (giving it back.) Do you know what you’re holding?”
    “A cigar box with a fake ruby inside?”(laughing.)
    “Cute! No it’s the devil’s eye!”
    “What, she didn’t need it?” (laughing.)
    “It’s cursed and to break the curse-“
    “Nonsense!” (laughing.)
    I’d turned to leave when Phoebe said…
    “Mark my words, you’ll be back!”
    “Whatever!”(laughing.)
    I got in my car, pulled out and accidently rear ended the black Jeep in front of me. A little man jumped out screaming.
    “YOU’RE GONNA PAY TO FIX MY CAR!”
    He had road rage, so I called 911 and they said “If both cars can move; go to the nearest police station.” I told the little Jeep man and he agreed. But when I tried to start my car up, it wouldn’t. I tried several times before calling for a tow. The tow truck arrived and the driver hoisted my car after trying to jumpstart it. He called the tow in but my insurance said I didn’t have towing coverage. The driver wanted cash so I needed to go to my bank because I don’t believe in credit cards. We drove with my car swinging from the back of the tow truck looking for a branch of my bank. My cell phone rang. It was the little Jeep man, upset because I hadn’t made it to the station. I didn’t like his tone, so I hung up. We got to my bank and it was closed because it was after one on a Saturday. The driver became verbally abusive and some good Samaritans called the police. They thought he was attacking me. The police arrived, ran his license and plates and discovered outstanding warrants and a stolen tow truck. They arrested him, impounded the truck and my car. I explained to the police about my earlier accident and that I needed to get to the station as well as I needed my car. The police were assigned to a different district and couldn’t help me. They apologized and gave me the forms to complete. I walked to nearest bus stop, took a seat and placed the cursed cigar box beside me. It started to rain. Eventually, a bus arrived, but it splashed me with muddy water. I stood on the crowded bus because there weren’t any seats. While in route home, I’d decided to call the little Jeep man to explain what happened. I got off the bus and someone picked pocket my phone. Damn! At this point, I just want to return the cursed cigar box.

    Finally, back at the garage sale…

    “Here Phoebe. Now how do I break the curse?”
    I handed her the box.
    “I knew you’d be back.
    “Just remove the curse!”
    “Curse? I just said that to make the sale.”

  46. douglangille says:

    A BARGAIN
    =========

    Saturday mornings were never complete without the obligatory yard sale run. We’d hop in the family beater and dash from trailer to trailer all over the park to look at other people’s cast-offs. We rarely found anything truly of value. More often, we’d just take someone else’s junk to live on our lot for a while. Then we’d have our own sale. It was a somewhat closed system with the cycle continuing as if there was some kind of perpetual motion machine behind the curtain.

    The people who went to these sales about The Estates were also a closed and insular community. All the usual faces, all the competitive bartering, and, inevitably, all the usual arguments. From time to time there, things would devolve into fisticuffs, but mostly Saturdays were civilized. We kept whatever passed for decorum in a park peopled by blue-haired old folks and rednecks.

    The old battle-axe Mavis O’Brien was out this one week in her battered housecoat and filthy bunny slippers, her hair unwashed and unkempt. She was smoking a homemade cigarette as she tended to her rickety card table full of chipped ceramics, broken appliances and ancient Barbie dolls whose hair resembled her own. Dust, ash and the remains of many dead carpet beetles peppered her wares.

    I was taking the tour on bicycle in an attempt to distance myself from my folks who were arguing with Jimmy Timmins a few lots back over a broken vacuum cleaner. I don’t know why. We didn’t own a lick of carpet bigger than a mat.

    My pocket was bulging and heavy with coin burning a hole in my pocket since I scored at the bottle exchange, returning dad’s empties. He took most of the coin as a rule, but I always managed to skim enough to make it worth my while.

    Reveling in my freedom and wealth, I was giving the O’Brien’s ramshackle trailer a wide berth. I glanced over, compelled to bear witness to the train wreck. I noticed a small brown box that would be perfect for my hockey cards. The wooden box had no design or ornamentation. It had no hardware aside from a plain brass plate with an old-school keyhole. The box looked old and well-maintained. Made of maple and well-oiled, it was beautiful in its simplicity. Even as a kid, I appreciated craftsmanship.

    “How much for the box?” I asked sheepishly, a little bit afraid of her.

    She coughed and swallowed, clearing her throat of mucus and spittle. “Fifty-cents” she said.

    “What’s inside?”

    “Don’t know. I don’t have the key. Never did.”

    I kept thinking about how perfect the box would be for my cards and figured I’d be able to break the lock and pry it open. I didn’t care if the lock ever worked again. The keyhole itself was cool. As I gave her a couple quarters, she grabbed my wrist with her wrinkled bony hand. Her breath smelt awful, like an ashtray mingled with the rotting food of neglected dentures.

    “The box belonged to my little brother. Take care of it.”

    In the back of my mind, I remembered dad and his buddies yakking about Bad Tommy O’Brien hanging himself in prison last year. Dorchester was not a nice place back then. It took the worst in men and fed it back to them. I looked at the box with a grim respect and then met the old bat’s gaze.

    “I will. Thanks.”

    Now, that was many years ago and I’ve since moved back to the park after my folks passed on. I was cleaning up their belongings, contemplating the yard sale to beat all yard sales. I came across a collection of my old things in the tin shed behind the porch. Most of the stuff was mildewed and ruined, but the wooden maple box was still there, unbothered by time and weather. I never could steel myself to open it. It just lay forgotten for all these years.

    I wonder what’s inside?

    • Winfilda says:

      Not fair, I am also wondering what’s inside? Great story, I enjoyed it.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      What inside? The suicide note of course! Good story. I was right there with the writer and was pissed at the end with all the other readers who wanted to know what was in the box. Kurt Vonnegut stated ” A writer should make the reader work for problem resolution by presenting a story worthy of his or her time.” You did that. Thanks.

      • swatchcat says:

        I’ll have to make note of that Vonnegut quote, thanks. I was going to say good cliffhanger but this doesn’t quite fit as that. McKevin’s use of words is very suitable. I liked it very much especially, ” Her breath smelt awful, like an ashtray mingled with the rotting food of neglected dentures.” I could almost smell it and you made me sneer when I read the description of Mrs. O’Brien. Thanks.

    • Marco Kenen says:

      Nice one, you managed to cram a lot of storyline into such a short piece. What I like the most is the vibe of it though.

      But seriously, mate, what’s in the box? “Just kidding!”

    • douglangille says:

      Thanks all for the comments. I have no idea what’s in the box either

    • smallster21 says:

      Excellent descriptions! Painted a very clear picture. I think you should come up with something for what’s inside the box. It’d be cool if after all these years he finally figured out how to open it and see what’s inside.

    • theafbaker says:

      Great story. I would be interesting to see what is inside the box, but I like the suspense of not knowing. Well done!

    • Amy says:

      Your descriptions are beautifully concise. My only criticism is it felt like a lot of setup in a short story, even if the setup was landscaped beautifully.

  47. Kerry Charlton says:

    MISS CALLAGHAN

    Driving through the old section of Coconut Grove, south of Miami, time had abandoned it. Small lots with smaller houses overrun by palms,weeds and Banyan trees, depressed my spirits. Outside this small section, wealthy lived. In here,abject poverty existed. I stopped at a twisted driveway, meanandering through underbrush grown through neglect. A garage sale sign pointed toward a tiny house ravaged by time.

    No one had entered the yard but me. ‘Strange’, I thought. Thursday mornings were prime time for garage sales. On rickety tables baking in a hot morning sun, lay mis-matched dishes, worn pots and pans and faded linens and clothes from the forties, tattered and worn. A woman bent from too many years of toil and torment, tottered from her porch stoop.

    Her face reflected how time had devestated her life.

    “Do you see anything that is of interest to you?” she said.

    Her voice reflected gravelly and weak from lack of care. I had noticed an ancient oil lamp that appeared authentic from the seventeen hundreds, stuffed in an old, wooden box.

    “I saw your face light up when you noticed my lamp,” she said. Please pick it up and examine it. The lamp belonged to my great, great, great grandmother from Salem.”

    “Why would you sell anything so precious to you?”

    “Truth lies in the holder’s vision,” she said.

    I rethought her persona. “How much are you asking for the lamp?”

    “You can pay whatever the value is, in your eyes.”

    I studied her expression; wisdom far beyond her appearance.

    “I need to go to my bank,” I said. “It’a a short trip and I’ll return quickly.”

    “Take your time,” she answered. “The lamp is yours for the asking.”

    My ATM printed my account balance of $4,725.00. I withdrew $4,000.00 and hurried back. She was a proud woman and I didn’t want to offend her. I counted the money in front of her. Her expression did not waiver. She asked for my card, made out a sales slip and handed the lamp to me.

    “Is the lamp mine now?”

    “Yes,” she said. ” You can do with it, what you want.”

    “Please tell me your name,” I asked.

    “Miss Denise Harrison Callaghan,” she said.

    I handed the lamp to her. “Miss Callaghan, It’s mine to give to you and that’s why I valued it as I did.”

    “You will know someday, how happy you have made me,” she said.

    I left her, reflecting on the meaning of her statement. The sun sparked through the Banyans on Old Cutler Road as I headed to my office downtown.and that afternoon, my heart sang to me on the drive home.

    Three months later I received a registed letter at my law office. The first sentence was all I read before I called Smathers and Thompson, the most prestigeous law firm in South Florida. The receptionist put me through to the mansging partner, John Campbell.

    “I’m very sorry to hear of Miss Callaghan’s passing,” I said “Can I help with expenses?”

    “Mr, Beauchamp,” he said. “Thank you for offering; everything has been taken care of. Miss Callaghan left a box for you. Can you pick it up this afternoon?”

    Later that afternoon, I reached across Mr. Campbell’s desk, retrieving the box. Her lamp had been tied in bright paper with a yellow ribbon. I thanked Mr. Campbell and rose to leave.

    “Please wait,” he said, “There’s more.”

    I saw a thick file before me. The first page, a directive listing me as sole beneficiary, stunned me. Page two listed a brief report on assets; Twenty three million in cash, seventy three million in stocks and bonds and eighty seven million in real property.

    “But how?” I asked? “Why me? Are there no relatives?”

    “Miss Callaghan never married,” Campbell said. There are 27 living descendents. I’ll answer your first question, using her very words,

    “Anyone with a heart like Mr. Beauchamp, will know what to do with this.”

    • douglangille says:

      Nice story. Sweet, sad but ultimately uplifting. Well done.

    • smallster21 says:

      Great opening, I loved the setting description. I found the tone of the beginning to be somewhat eerie, meaning the ambiance you created made me think something wasn’t right, because he was the only one at the garage sale, not sure if that was your intention or not. But, I loved it. It was very touching. I think it could be strengthened if you slipped in a reason for the MC giving the old lady the lamp back. Just a suggestion. Enjoyed reading it! :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you for you’re wonderful comments, Smallster. You read the ambiance as I wanted you to. My thought on the garage sale, was it didn’t exist except for the MC. I slipped a sentence in his thoughts while he was at the bank, ‘She was a proud woman and I didn’t want to offend her.’ This was intended to guide the reader that the MC considered her to be a charity case. The clue wasn’t strong enough. His intention all along was to help her financially without hurting her.
        I love your comments to all the stories posted.

  48. smallster21 says:

    “Well would you look at this Donna.”

    “My, that is a fine one, look at that craftsmanship.”

    “Forget the craftsmanship. This is my lucky day. To come across one at a yard sale.” Donna threw her arms out wide as if to hug the box.

    “Shhhhh,” Rita urged peering across the lawn, “look who it is.”

    Donna followed Rita’s eyesight which rested upon a bleached doe eyed, million dollar breasted ‘look at me, look at me’ bimbo.

    “That bitch.”

    “Shush, she’s waving….Hi Hannah,” Rita shouted and elbowed her friend. Donna obliged, contorting the muscles around her mouth in a painful exaggeration of neighborly affection.

    As Donna remained fixated on Trampy Barbie, muttering a string of words that would have Father Carl shoving the bible down her throat, Rita held her arms out measuring the box. “Might have a problem. I don’t think it’s big enough.”

    “What do you mean? I think it’ll do.” Donna patted the top of the box, then leaned upon it drumming her fingers along the grains of wood, her mood brightening once again. “Even if it’s not big enough, that can be easily fixed.”

    “It definitely can, my dear,” Ms. Orlando, the yard sale hostess, draped in imported silk and gold bangles said as she pulled something out of a nearby chest of tools. “Here, if you have troubles, this will do just fine.”

    “Oh yes indeed,” Donna said as she took the hand saw, her eyes shining like the Devil dancing under the All Hallows’ Eve moon.

    “Used it just last week. Still sharp,” Ms. Orlando gloated, “and I benefited quite nicely.” The grey haired dowager presented the air with a dancing exposition of her diamond rings. “So, what might be the reason you are in the market?”

    “Well helloooo, my lovely friends,” Hannah sang as she interrupted. “There are some wonderful treasures here, that is if you like secondhand shopping. It’s so quaint to see a yard sale in the neighborhood. Needing a little extra cash?”

    Ms. Orlando did not appear phased by the passive aggressive insult, she simply smiled sweetly and patted Hannah on the arm. “Just clearing out the trash.”

    Hannah raised an eyebrow as her befuddled mind registered the response. “Okay, well, you all have a wonderful day,” she sparkled as she sashayed her hips away, calling over her shoulder, “Oh, and Donna dear, tell Richard I made a batch of those cinnamon buns he just can’t seem to get enough of.”

    Ms. Orlando sighed apologetically as she glanced at Donna, “Sorry dear, this here is the only one I have. But, I do have something else.” Ms. Orlando came back a moment later. “Here, Mr. Kitty’s old litter box.”

    Donna contemplated for a moment, and then paid the woman for both items before backing her son’s truck up the driveway.

    “Oh, I’ll help you dear,” Ms. Orlando said as she reached down to grab one end, “these coffins can be pretty heavy.”

  49. swatchcat says:

    Sorry guys but I have an idea and I’m running with it. What so you think so far?

    Lexicon Lofts
    Annual White Elephant Sale
    Saturday Noon-5pm
    *One contribution per seller
    *all sales final
    *questions ring loft #12 Broome

    That’s what the flyer by the mailboxes read. Sounds cool but what’s this thing about contributions, and where is it going to be exactly? Tibby loved rummaging through old used things. Her friends could never understand it.

    “There’s always a story you can find, some amazing trinket with a yarn spun so tight, you’d never have imagined it,” she would say with a mystical voice.

    Ever since she found this amazing loft for rock bottom she knew something unique was meant to happen. The problem was she never saw a solitary tenant in the building, never. Oh, there were noises from all around. Night and day the lofts were alive with life but not once did a living soul appear from their humble abode; strange, really strange.

    She pushed the #12 button on the intercom and waited. She pushed again, BUZZZZZ. “Yah, what’d you want,” asked a raspy possibly old lady’s voice?

    “Um, yah, hi,” Tibby cleared her throat.

    “Yah, go on, what,” the voice asked?

    “I’m in 8 and I was wondering about the sale on Saturday?”

    “One table outside your door, you’re responsible for your stuff. No outsiders, just tenants. There’s a table in the lobby, everyone puts something on it,” the lady paused. “You take something you replace it with something. No question’s, no take backs. The lobby table is free, no prices just your table has prices, you can’t sell the thing you took from the lobby table.” The intercom clicked, the voice was gone.

    Tibby stood with her ear inches from the speaker stunned. She stood there for a while thinking. Oh the possibilities, she thought. You could almost see the sparks fly as her mind went wild with ideas. She eventually made it back to her space and immediately pillaged every box to put together a worthy table.

    When Saturday rolled around, Tibby had her table decorated like a vintage thrift store. A mix of Victorian, Goth, a 70’s peace paraphernalia centered on a 3 foot tall Lava Lamp, the extension cord invisibly leading under the door. Sadly, after two hours, no one came. She picked this time to head down to the lobby table and put in her so called entry. As her heals echoed down the stairwell she rounded on the lobby and a huge mahogany, ornate table. She couldn’t help but notice the claw feet. “Gargoyles,” she caught herself whispering.

    From the little hall by the mailboxes came a raspy voice. “You touch it, it’s yours. Choose wisely.”

    Tibby turned to see an elderly woman. She couldn’t have been more then 3’9” and off all thing’s, smoked through a cigarette holder. She walked toward the other end of the table and slid a puffy finger along the edge inspecting for dust. “See anything honey?”

    Tibby ran inventory in her mind: cigar box (contents questionable), London Fog coat, an ancient Sunbeam Mixer, a few oddities of non-interest, Tiffany style lamp, her Flapper heals, a Sphinx sculpture and some wire spectacles. “Not sure yet, but I think I’m getting an idea about the people, I’m living with.”

    Tippy’s fingers itched with curiosity. Their eyes met as Tippy’s hand slide along the perimeter of the table. She was wondering if anything was in the cigar box, or if the
    pockets of the coat were empty? The old lady’s hawk eyes kept a watch and followed Tippy’s gaze as it made contact with a cylindrical cryptex. The gravitational pull to the object was irresistible. The old lady puffed heavily, the room seemed to focus on Tibby’s hand reaching for the cryptex and Tibby was bound the second the tips of her fingers contacted the puzzle.

    “Ahhh, yours for a year honey, good luck with that,” and she walked away.

    Tibby felt as if she had just made the biggest mistake ever. She walked back to her floor and past her table into her apartment. She set the puzzle in front of her on the coffee table and stared at it. BUZZZZ! Her intercom broke the heavy fog.

    “Hello?”

    One Year Later

    The table was set and the same objects set on the table again. Tibby circled the objects, which one would she pick this time. The cryptex said to take the cigar box but she still wondered if she wanted to play this game. She reached out for the ratty old box and a man’s voice came from the lift.

    “No! Not that one.”

    She turn suddenly, “But it said to.”

    He looked around, checking. “The coat, take the coat. I’ve got the boxes note.”

    “Is this a joke? I’ve waited a year. It’s been eating me alive. I’m at my wits end.” She was panicky.

    “The coat, then come to #4.” He was gone.

    • smallster21 says:

      The more I read, the more I became enthralled by your story. Very nice flow, setup, descriptions, great character personalities. I was a little confused about what happened at the end though. Could you clarify, please? I’m sorry, I might have missed something, but I really want to know what exactly happened. Very good story :)

    • douglangille says:

      Clearly, you have more to tell with this tale. I think you have a really page turner on your hands. I’m hooked at least.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Gone where and what could possibly be in #4? I loved your descriptive writing but not sure where you were leading me.

    • swatchcat says:

      (revised continuation)

      “Ahhh, yours for a year honey, good luck with that,” said the old lady as she walked away.

      Tibby felt as if she had just made the biggest mistake ever. Getting to know people didn’t seem like a good thing anymore. She walked back to her floor and past her table into her apartment. She set the puzzle in front of her on the coffee table and stared at it. What was she going to do? What did the lady mean, ‘yours for a year’? BUZZZZ! Her intercom broke the heavy fog.
      “Hello?” She instinctively answered the intercom but didn’t care.
      A voice from the other side said she had one year to either ignore and return the object to the table or figure out the puzzle. No one had figured it out. But, whatever she did, don’t break the cycle. Once someone picked something from the table, they were forever tied to the mystery asked by the objects on the table. Then the voice was gone. It was all so surreal. Something you read in a book. She had to think about it. She loved mysteries and she hated unanswered questions. She decided to get to work.
      A year later, to her surprise, the announcement was back up again by the mailboxes. The Lexicon Elephant Sale was on. That Saturday she was downstairs, it was like déjà vu
      the table was set and the same objects set on the table again. Tibby circled the table, the old lady wasn’t there. The cryptex said to take the cigar box but she still wondered if she wanted to play this game. She reached out for the ratty old box and a man’s voice came from the lift.

      “No! Not that one.”

      She turned suddenly, “But it said to.”

      He looked around, checking. “The coat, take the coat. I’ve got the boxes note.”

      “Is this a joke? I’ve waited a year. It’s been eating me alive. I’m at my wits end.” She was panicky.

      “The coat, then come to my apartment, #4. I’ll try to explain.” He was gone.

      She couldn’t believe what was happening; again she had let herself get pulled into this thing. She reasoned that it’s different this time. There’s someone else, someone in the building. She knocked on the door.

      “Come in,” he said, stepping aside.

      “You’re the voice that spoke to me last year. You made me follow this. Why?”

      She stopped and stared at her surroundings. She was actually inside one of the unknown lofts and meeting someone. Maybe it was worth it. He broke into her thoughts, explaining what a cryptex was and she stopped him.

      “I know what that thing is I spend my time at the MOMA Library, it’s my job.”

      “Okay, okay, don’t get testy.” He headed for the kitchen. “Care for some espresso?”

      She nodded, “get to the point, oh, not too hot.”

      The machine hissed and growled to life. He explained he had arrived a year before her and gotten a step further in the puzzle, a treasure hunt of sorts. Like her he loved history and a good mystery, but he was already getting impatient. When he saw the White Elephant Sale was an annual thing, he chose to spy on the next victim, if any. Finally today he saw her.

      He had gone to the city archives and researched the buildings history and then gone as far as checking the auditor’s office for blue prints and ownership. She told him of the recruitment of her friend in the artifacts and conservations departments. Through electromagnetic dating, her friend Tom was able to verify the thing was real and very old.
      It took a lot a bribing to keep his mouth shut but he was a lot of help.

      Resembling a Da Vinci style cryptex, Tibby was able to break the code within the year. Ironic, she thought not.

      Now she sat in a stranger’s living room drinking homemade espresso and learning of a curse the building has and that the tenants are not what they seem. Especially, sense Tibby had yet to see but two in the last year and the building seemed filled with much more.

      “I have been hiding downstairs since the night before trying to catch anyone.” He banged his fist down on the counter. “I can’t even get that stupid old lady.”

      “I know, I hear them,” she paused and cautiously asked. “You hear them too, right?” He nodded his head.

      Tibby couldn’t help but notice a sort of human element about this guy. Ruff around the edges, hadn’t shaved for a few days, and physically not too bad. She turned away for a moment as to not seem obvious that she was checking him out.

      She was slim; she thought no figure at all, wafer like. Her hair was pixie short, red, and her eyes were an unusual violet. She stood an easy 5’6” to his towering 6’. She was smart, she smiled to herself, and guys don’t go for smart.

      She sat on his sectional scanning the layout, not bad, alright taste. His style was kind of mid-century modern with an eclectic feel, no personal photos. He came into view in front of her, startling her back to the moment at hand.

      “The coat, did you check it out yet?” He took a sip.

      “No, I just grabbed it and ran like a little kid with my hand in the cookie jar.” She smirked at the analogy. The coat lay on the floor by the door. He set his cup down and went to get it.

      “No, don’t, not yet, please,” she pleaded. “I don’t want to start this race again, not just yet. Tell me what happen to you.” She grabbed one of his pillows and hugged it for security.
      He knew she was scarred and sat across from her.

      “Don’t worry; I’m not going to hurt you. Did you know that you’re the first person I’ve ever seen that has anything to do with this building besides that stupid old witch?” It was not a rhetorical question.

      “Shhh, she might hear you.” She laughed a little.

      “Hey you do smile, that’s good.” He quickly took another sip. “Is the coffee alright?”

      “Oh yah, it’s fine.” She starred at it on the table, steam swirling upwards. She turned and looked at the coat. “Okay, what did you figure out so far? I’m Tibby by the way.”

      “I’m Max, nice to meet you.” They both made awkward smiles. He got up and went for the coat. They spent the next couple of hours scouring the thing for any kind of hint.

      • douglangille says:

        I’m definitely hooked now…

      • smallster21 says:

        Damnit! Lol, what happens next! I was waiting and waiting and waiting, then oh…it ended, your evil. J/k :) Well, if this were a book, I’d want to turn the page and see what happens next.

      • theafbaker says:

        I’m totally hooked! This would make a great page turner of a novel!

        • swatchcat says:

          Thank so much all of you, there is more, I stayed up, brain is flooding me to the point I actually made a little outline because so much is spilling from this one, it feels totally weird. But where would I post it for you to see/critique(if you would please). I’m sure I can’t just keep pouring out my soul here. Suggestions?

          • smallster21 says:

            That is awesome you are feeling so creative! And, I am not sure about your question. I’m sure there are writing community’s online where this would be possible, but I am not sure about where to go to do this. Mmmm, think, think, think (Pooh bear).

      • RWBB says:

        Enthralling. Your story is definitely worth developing. I’m hooked.

  50. FeliciaLawrence says:

    Feeling upset and lonely after getting off the phone with her grandaunt that lives in Florida about her grandmother’s recent passing, Sheila’s boyfriend Rodney rushes in through the front door where Sheila was standing in the front room. Not wanting him to see her cry she immediatly turned away from him as he was now to the left of her.
    Rodney wanted to ask Sheila what was the matter when he heard her trying to cover up her sobbs. He treid to look over her shoulder but stopped himself, he broadened his shoulders and fixed his face determined to say what he came to say without any delay. Rodney revealed to Sheila that he was no longer in-love with her and haven’t been for the last three month’s, he felt it was better to end it and just for them to go thier seperate ways.
    Sheila turned to her left towards Rodney, looked him straight in the eyes and just told him to leave. His face looked confused and in disaray, he turned and walked out the font door and didn’t look back. Sheila heard his car screetching off and then wipes the rest of her tears with the ends of he sleeves.
    Walking out of her front door and down the block to Mrs. McGreggar’s house where Mrs. McGreggar hosts her weekly Saturday barbeque and garage sale. Mrs. McGreggar was not in sight as Sheila sorted through the number of scopers about but her grandson Johnny was there.
    Johnny noticed Sheila from the distance and abruptly dropped his tool, he was fixing one of the neighorhood kid’s bike. Johnny could fix anything he set his eyes on. Sheila was still looking around for Mrs. McGreggar when Johnny approached her. She did not look at Johnny head on as he noticed she was upset. He told her his grandmother’s left for a few moments to take a plate of food over to Mrs. Stanter but he assured her that she would be back any moment. Johnny extended to Sheila was there anything she needed, but she just smiled quaintly and took a seat on a nearby picknic table.
    Mrs. McGreggar was now back from visiting Mrs. Stanter and began greeting scopers. A moment later she noticed her grandson talking with Sheila. Mrs. McGreggar went over to the two and interrupted Johnny didn’t mind he knew sometimes he knew he couldn’t fix everything.
    Mrs. McGreggar and Sheila began to stroll but before departing too far away Sheila turned back to Johnny and thanked him, he gave a funny face and gestured for her to keep her chin up. Mrs. McGreggar heard then heard the news about Sheila’s grandmother’s death. Mrs. McGreggar comforted her and they went inside Mrs. Mcgreggar’s house for a nice cup of tea. Afterwhile Sheila could smile a real smile.
    The two woman, came back outside. Johnny called to his grandmother for help with a scoper that was debating over a pricing for a pair of old stained glass lamps. Sheila told Mrs. McGreggar to go and that she would take a look around and might finally buy something. Sheila noticed and old wooden box with decorative carvings all over it. It stood out to Sheila as though she were drawn to it. There seemed to be an old mechanical lock on the old wooden box that needed to be figured but it wasn’t.
    Mrs. McGreggar keyed in on Sheila’s dicovery and hurried with the debating scoper agreeing to the price suggested and made her way on over to Sheila, before she could say where did you find that, Sheila had already opened the box just by a soft touch with the palm of her hands while it looked like she was moreso admiring the decorative carvings. The box popped opened and if frightened Sheila just a bit while the approaching Mrs. McGreggar gasped and then quickly drugged Sheila by her arm back inside the house.
    Mrs. McGreggar told Sheila to sit down as she began to prepare to serve hot tea. Mrs. McGreggar served the tea and seated herself. Sheila sat in awe with the box opened infornt of her she could not take her eyes off the object within the box. Mrs. McGreggar told her you are one of us. Sheila wondered what. Mrs. McGreggar took the object out of the box and it began to glow a red glow. It was a round glass ball but when held by Mrs. McGreggar it glowed red, she out it back in the box and then picked it up with her mind. Sheila froze and thougt how freaky. Mrs. McGreggar told Sheila you have the same power’s too because you opened the box and no one else Mrs. McGreggar knew could open the box but her and her mother who had been decease for over 49 years.
    Mrs McGreggar told Sheila our race is not from this planet and that moving things with our minds and having garage sales is not the only thing we can do.

  51. writinglife says:

    This yard sale looks like it’s going to be a bust just like the others. Some days you find treasure while other days you spend slogging through junk. One last box to go through then I’m heading home.

    My practiced method of going through a box at a yard sale is to start on the left side and work my way right as I move from top to bottom through every item in the box. A stack of well read books greats me when I remove the lid placing it on the ground beside me. I carefully place each book on the pile I’m making on the lid. This way I can replace them in order when I’ve finished my search. As I remove the last book I notice a black object this stack of books has been resting on.

    As I lift it into the sunlight the head of the creature tilts back revealing a black cavity on the inside. I carefully put the head back in place and admire the creature from every angle. There on the back of one wing are the markings I’ve been looking for. So it is what I think it is. The winged creature resembles a penguin if penguins were clothed only in black.

    “That was always on my father’s desk when I was growing up.” an aged but commanding voice tells me. “Dad collected penguins and that is his inkwell.”

    “How do you know it was an inkwell?” I ask turning with the penguin still in my hands.

    “Well just look at that dirty thing. I’ve tried everything I could think of to get it clean and nothing works. It must be all the ink that splattered on it when it was being used as an inkwell.”

    “I think I’ll buy this. I’m rather partial to penguins myself.”

    “Oh dear, it will be a pleasure to have that dirty thing out of the house. I’ll let you have it for five dollars.”

    “That sounds reasonable.”

    “Lad, you should learn to bargain at yard sales. Never accept the first offer.”

    “That’s very sound advice.” My teacher nods her approval. “You know, my wife collects spoons especially ones that are a little odd like with a handle that looks like a fish or a mouse or something like that.”

    “I know I tossed an odd little sppon with a fish for a handle into that box. If you want to spend the time looking for it I’ll toss it in for free.

    I quickly hand over the agreed upon price and search for the spoon. Once I get this home and polish it with silver polish this mustard jar will take its place in my silver collection.

  52. Craig says:

    I was just finishing my morning run on a gorgeous spring morning, when I noticed the eccentric Mrs. Brennan was setting up for a garage sale. Garage sales weren’t really my thing, but Mrs. Brennan was a very unique person and I felt strangely drawn to go. After a quick shower, I hurried over as people were just beginning to show up. I never realized so many people would show up early. I later learned it is common and highly competitive to get to the choice sales early.

    I noticed several ordinary items, common to any kind of yard sale. Other items were of a strange nature. Seems Mrs. Brennan was into mysticism, which explains some of the strange behavior over the years. Especially around the spring and autumn equinoxes with muted lights and muffled chants. Generally, she was referred to as the old cat lady, but she has always been friendly and very talkative.

    Inside an old wood box, I found an ancient looking dagger with runes all along the blade. As I lifted it out of the box I could feel a stirring in the air and something calling to me from the edges of my perception.

    “That is a Celtic design, dating back to the first century BC” Mrs. Brennan surprised me.

    “It is a beautiful design and looks to be in great shape for being so old” I replied while trying to shake the beguiling images that appeared to float in the shadows.

    “It was used during the druidic rites symbolizing the changes of influence among the deities. A sacrifice is required to appease the Gods and keep good fortune for the clans. It has been passed down for centuries to the one whom it claims and who must continue the path. It appears to have selected you.” smiled Mrs. Brennan.

    “I’m not sure I understand.” I answered. I was strangely light-headed and the blade felt hot in my grip.

    “You will see completely tonight when you come back. Tonight is the vernal equinox and the time for a new druid to carry the tradition.” whispered Mrs. Brennan.

    I left with the dagger, unable to let go. The mists of twilight gathered in my vision and I dreamt until after dark. Visions of druids performing horrendous ceremonies to willing victims and strange rituals that seemed to make sense. When I awoke, I found a hooded robe at the end of my bed. I pulled it on and proceeded across the street.

    Upon arriving, there were 30 or so people all dressed in robes with the cowls of their hoods pulled low. I didn’t see any faces. There were torches lit in a circular pattern around the yard. A familiar chant started as I approached towards where Mrs. Brennan was dressed in white lace. The shadows raced around the yard and I instinctively knew my place and what was required. Mrs. Brennan smiled and closed her eyes as I raised the dagger.

    • smallster21 says:

      You mentioned how Mrs. Brennan is so eccentric, the yard sale contained strange items for sale, but stating this does not make me believe this woman is eccentric, because I have no idea what is in her yard. I think the story could benefit by actually showing this, maybe give a few examples so I can see her eccentricity for myself. Along the same lines, your MC struggles to ‘shake the beguiling images that appeared to float in the shadows’. What is it that the MC is seeing?

      That said, I enjoyed your story and liked the mysterious atmosphere you were creating. I liked how you used Mrs. Brennan to describe the druid ritual in her conversation with the MC. Left me wanting to know what these freaky shadows were in this ritual! And, I’m definitely wondering if the MC is a sacrifice or a new inductee into this circle. Intriguing story, enjoyed reading it :)

      • Craig says:

        Thank you for the advice. A little more showing rather than telling would make it better. I will work on it. I’m glad you still enjoyed it.

    • douglangille says:

      I like this story although I kept picturing the “Stonecutters Brotherhood” from The Simpson’s. That’s probably just the mood I’m in today.

      • Craig says:

        Thank you. I haven’t watched the Simpson’s in 10 years so I’m not familiar with the reference, but the shows I saw were entertaining.

  53. rubystambaugh says:

    “Goodness! You weren’t supposed to see this!” the silver-haired old woman said as I stood in front of her, holding open the lid to her garage sale wooden box.
    “See what?” I said. “What is this? Ashes?”
    She put her hand over her heart. “Yes. It’s the ashes of my beloved husband Earl. How did they get mixed up with all this other stuff?” She started crying. I escorted her over to a lawn chair and put the box on her lap and sat down beside her.

    “So do you want to talk about it, Mrs.…?”
    “Preston. Deb Preston. Call me Deb.” She turned the box over in her hands. “Goodness! You weren’t supposed to see this!”
    “But I did – and it’s okay. Do you want to talk about it, Deb? It may help.”
    She leaned back in the chair and took a deep breath and stared at the horizon.

    “About a month ago we went ice fishing out on the lake and took our two dogs. The ice broke. The dogs fell in. Earl ran over and jumped in and hauled them out. He was shivering more than they were. When we got home he said he was okay, didn’t need to go to a doctor. But he got worse. And shortly after that he died.

    “About a week ago I had him cremated as per his request. But for the interment the mausoleum caretaker wanted another $100. I didn’t have it. That’s why Earl’s still here with me and I’m having this garage sale. Oh I’m so ashamed!” She started crying again.

    “Please don’t, Deb,” I said, and put my arm around her. “You seem like a nice sweet lady. Here – let me help you. Here’s $100.”
    “I can’t take this.”
    “Please. Now did you mean the Willow Run Mausoleum?”
    “Yes.”
    “Okay. I’m going by there on my way home. I’ll stop by the caretaker’s office and tell him you’ll be contacting him later so you can give Earl a proper interment service.”
    She wiped her eyes.
    “Thank you with all my heart,” she said. “I’ll never forget your kindness. Well, this has been too much excitement for me. I think I’ll go in and lie down a bit. Thank you again.” She went inside her house.

    I started my car and pulled out of her driveway – then back in her driveway. I walked up to the house and knocked. No answer. I heard voices. I opened the door.

    “Deb, I forgot to ask you the caretaker’s name–”

    At the kitchen table sat Deb with a group of silver haired Golden Girls. “Only seven more to go!” one shouted, and they all laughed. Each was sucking down a vacuum cleaner toke off their own Cheech and Chong sized joint and flipping the ashes into the top box of a familiar-looking stack of wooden boxes. They saw me. They froze. Deb looked over.

    “Goodness! You weren’t supposed to see this!”

    • smilingdawn says:

      hahaha….This story took the cake – so to speak! An emotional rollecoaster of feeling bad for this seemingly sweet old lady, feeling such ingratiating hope in regard to the human spirit of kindness, to nothing but laughter and shaking my head at the idea of “the old girls” getting one over on such a sweet (who’s the sweet one now?) trusting spirit. Bravo! Ruby for such a well scripted story with a truly surprising ending. :D

    • randi100 says:

      Fantastic! I love the twist, very original.

    • Craig says:

      I love the last line! You got watch out for those sweet old ladies.

    • smallster21 says:

      I agree with everyone else, nice twist at the end! Wonder how the MC reacts. Getting pissy with a group of old ladies, no matter how much they ripped you off, still seems offensive. I’ve been taught to respect my elders, so I don’t know what I would do, lol! Great conflict and good story :)

    • douglangille says:

      Nice twist. What happens next?

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked it. When Deb looked over she shot him dead didn’t she?

  54. randi100 says:

    It was another beautiful Saturday. I love this weather.Perfection! I threw on my favorite jeans, flip -flops and a tank top. I grabbed my wallet and keys and I was on my way. I love hitting those garage sales early. I drove to a neighborhood that is about ten minutes away from my house. I pulled into the Smithfield neighborhood and drove down about 5 or 6 houses, found a parking spot and got out. I saw lots of treasures already. Then I saw an old wooden box. It was intricately carved, I had never seen anything like it. I opened it up and I was stunned to find it empty!
    “How disappointing.” I thought
    Just then an old lady came up to me. I assumed that this was her garage sale.
    “Why such a sour face honey?” She asked.
    “Oh, I thought that there would be some amazing treasure inside.” I explained.
    “Ah, I see.” She said. “Well, maybe if you buy it then one day you will have your own amazing treasure to put inside.”
    “You are right, I will take it.” “How much?” I asked
    “I will sell it to you for $15.” The old lady replied.
    “Sold!” I shouted
    I took my treasure, got back in my car, and went home right away.
    I put it on my nightstand. It was perfect.
    A few hours later my boyfriend , Jackson, came over. He saw the box on my nightstand. I told him the whole story of how I found it. He didn’t seem that interested but I kept babbling on and on. When I finally took a breath he suggested that we go out to dinner that night. He told me to get ready and to put on my best dress. He was going home to get ready and he would be back at 6 to take me out.
    I took a hot bubble bath and started to wonder why he was taking me out somewhere fancy. It wasn’t my birthday or our anniversary. Jackson wasn’t exactly known for his grand romantic gestures.
    I finished up the bath and put on my very sexy red dress and gold stiletto heels. He rang the doorbell right at 6. He looked amazing in his suit and tie.
    “Where are we going?” I asked inquisitively
    “It’s a surprise.” He answered “Come on lets go”
    We went downstairs and I saw a limo!
    “What is going on?” I asked
    He opened the door and I got in. He would not give any details. We pulled up to one of the most well known restaurants in the city, the Capitol Tavern. My jaw hit the floor. I know that he can’t afford this place.
    We walked in and I immediately realized how quiet it was. I looked around and I noticed that it was empty, we were the only ones there. I turned to look at Jackson. That’s when I heard the lone violinist and I saw Jackson on one knee.
    My beautiful treasure box won’t be empty for long after all…….

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