Unusual Anniversary

A special anniversary is coming up and you’ve decided to go all-out to celebrate. The only thing is, this is an anniversary of something unusual and there’s only one other person who knows what it’s about—and he’s uncomfortable celebrating. Write this scene.

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

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59 thoughts on “Unusual Anniversary

  1. laurentravian

    My coworkers bustled around, chattering noisily. I walked over to him. He was staring at his shoes, a glass of punch in his hand. I slipped my hand into his. He looked up, and then ran his eyes over my tight red dress, carefully styled hair and heels, not to mention the make-up.
    “One year ago.” He said, raising his punch glass.
    I frowned. “Don’t speak of it, please. It was very traumatic.” He shrugged, but dropped his eyes again. I tapped his shoulder. “C’mon. Let’s dance.” I said, pulling his head towards mine, and kissing him deeply. He pressed his lips together. “You’re right. We don’t have anything to celebrate.” he muttered, but he followed me onto the dance floor.
    One Year Before-
    “Johnny! Where are you, it’s time to-!” BAM! I collapsed, then drew in a shaky breath, sure it was my last. “Johnny. You could have just filed for divorce.” I said softly. He ran over, and held me in his arms, crying. “It wasn’t my fault. I still love you. Calvin-” Speak of the devil. Calvin appeared, a gun in his hand. And shot Johnny. He slumped forward. I gasped, feeling my lung collapse. “Calvin. Put me out of my misery.” I said. Calvin shook his head, grinning. “Bitch. You should have dated me instead of Commander Obvious.” I coughed up blood. “Calvin. He’s your twin brother. And you never loved me. You wanted a trophy wife.” Calvin raised the gun again, and ended my life.
    ONE YEAR LATER-
    I kissed Johnny again, and felt his arms encircle me. “I-” “Killed me. Because Calvin told you I was cheating on you. I know. I wasn’t.” Johnny nodded, remorse flooding his face. A puff of smoke appeared in the center of the room, as big as a man. I shook my head. He wasn’t supposed to be allowed to be here. The Shining Power wouldn’t be here for a while. The smoke cleared, and Calvin, in a bright red suit appeared. “Bitch. I’ve come to take you down.” I paled. “That’s impossible.” Calvin smiled cruelly and said, “Is it? The contract I drew up with your shining power means a soul for a soul. I believe Johnny’s been brought prematurely? Ha. You’ve sealed your fate.” I bit my lip, but felt my feet drag me across the floor of the room. Johnny looked away. The last I saw of Heaven was Johnny immediately start trying to chat up a girl. Bastard. Calvin never made him do anything. Calvin never told him any lies about me. And I was the one going to Hell?

  2. autmnmoon

    Scott watched his partner of 15 years pour chocolate into molds and held back the sarcastic comment that was bubbling to the surface at the absurdity of what was happening in the kitchen. 7 years and the trappings of this day kept getting more outrageous every year. He understood it the first year. He would have done anything to make her smile that year, to get them both through it, but wasn’t it time to let it go, move on?
    “Hey Hun, how’s it going?”
    “Great, just have a few more to make and then we can load up for the party.”
    “Are you sure you really want to bring those to the party?”
    “Why? What’s wrong with them?”
    “Nothing, it’s just… Won’t people wonder what they are for?”
    “Maybe, ok probably, but come on who doesn’t love tits.”
    Scoot suddenly began choking on the tea he had been sipping and the force of his cough sent it flying across the room.
    “Uh” He hedged, “Ok, I’ll just go get changed then.”
    Scott went into the bedroom and looked at the dress she had set out to wear for the party. He ran his hands over the silky fabric, his fingers running between the edges of the wrap around top and he smiled. She was so beautiful and brave his amazing girl, and suddenly felt sheepish for his earlier thoughts. He’d take the silliness of this day everyday and for years to come since it meant he still had her in his life. Walking back out of the bedroom Scott grabbed the bottle of champagne and poured two glasses. Coming up behind his girl he handed her one.
    “Happy phantom breast day beautiful.”
    Her eyes bright with unshed tears and sparkling with merriment, Sarah smiled brightly and clinked her glass with his.

  3. Remmy

    Brioni smiled slightly, taking in her silky figure-hugging dress.
    “Shame you won’t go out,” she told her dress. Brioni could get out of the house, the doors were never sealed up anymore. She could just walk out and go back to her parents. Tell them she was safe. But she couldn’t leave him. She couldn’t leave Timeri alone.

    It has been exactly one year since he kidnapped her. She could of been freed two months ago. But she didn’t want to leave. Not yet.

    She walked out to where he was, standing nervously. He didn’t want to celebrate. It was weird. He has murdered hundreds of people, yet celebrating the anniversary of her being kidnapped left him a nervous wreck. It’s funny, isn’t it? He knows exactly how to clean up crime scenes without a hint of fear but celebrating the day he kidnapped Brioni. He might have well have been caught by the police.

    “Come on, Timeri,” Brioni whispered, wrapping her arms around her capturer, “I will always be with you. We might as well should celebrate.”

    Timeri said nothing, he only kissed Brioni.

  4. jenh78

    The day was dark in my dungeon hell. The walls are still black, like the first day I was there. I don’t remember what the light looks like anymore. All I know is that I am not suppose to be here.
    “Good morning Collin. I hope you slept well. I know you love your Thomas the train sheets. That’s why I put them on your bed. “
    “My name is not Collin. It’s Jonathan.”
    “Oh don’t be silly Collin. Jonathan is your best friend in school. Now what would you like for breakfast? It’s a very special day. It is the day you came back to me.”
    Now, in a normal situation, I would have made kind remarks to Mrs. Huston. But this was not a normal situation. I am not Jonathan. I am not suppose to be here.
    “I am not hungry.”
    Oh, Collin you always eat breakfast. I know. I’ll make you your favorite apple cinnamon pancakes with butter and extra maple syrup. I’ll even make some for me. We must rejoice in this day.!”
    “Ms. Huston I am not Collin. I am Jonathan! Collin has died.”
    “No! My Collin lives! He is standing right here in front of me!”
    “No I am Jonathan! Don’t you remember what happened to Collin?
    No!
    “ He was killed in a car crash. There were no survivors, including Collin. Please let me go home to my mother!”
    No! Don’t say that! I am your mother! You are my son! You did not die!!

  5. danasitar

    He always was way too shy, but so many writers are. He isn’t apt to call attention to himself, but I couldn’t help but celebrate this milestone.

    I’m not sure whether he even knows that I know the date, but it is so obvious if you just pay attention. I first noticed it in 2003, when my roommate asked him.

    “So, Toby, how long have you been writing?”

    “About a year and a–” Then he glanced at his watch and grinned. “Two years. I’ve been writing for two years.”

    Honestly, Toby had been writing his whole life – any writer has. But, he didn’t call himself a Writer until that first story was published. October 7, 2001.

    The clip is framed and hung on the wall in our bedroom. He pretends not to notice it anymore, but he practically glows every time he walks by it. It marked a major turning point in his life – his first paid gig, his first published work. His first ounce of validation that he was on the right track.

    He signed his first book deal, with Penguin, last week. I know he’s aware of the proximity of this date, but he hasn’t said a word. We’ve hardly acknowledged this new milestone with the spirit that it deserves. So, tonight, when I take him to my parents for dinner to “break the news”, all of our friends and family will be waiting to congratulate him properly.

    I’m giddy with excitement as he drives us across town. If I don’t contain myself, he’ll know something is afoot, so I try to pretend that I’m just anxious to share the good news with my parents. They’ve always thought I sacrificed way too much to allow Toby to pursue his dream, and this – to them – is finally validation that it was all worth it.

    He doesn’t know how truly proud they are of him, because they don’t have the words to express it. It’s easy for them to acknowledge my success, because it has the proper milestones and numbers attached – college graduation, GPA, job, salary, promotions. They don’t understand why Toby dropped out of college and quit a lucrative job to write something no one was reading, but my mother’s eyes shown with pride when I told her this news.

    I hold his hand as he knocks on the front door. He opens it without waiting for an answer, and we step inside.

    “CONGRATULATIONS!” Thirty people shout from behind sofas and around the corners. The banner in the foyer reads “Way to Write, Toby!” That was my sister’s idea.

    He stops short, blushes and smiles at the group. He looks at the floor, then glances to his watch. He meets my gaze, his eyes glistening with tears. Then he scoops me into a tight hug.

    “Ten years, baby,” I whisper in his ear.

    He kisses my forehead. “We did it.”

  6. MDSTRI

    It has been 10 years. A milestone really.  Why shouldn’t I want to celebrate?  I glance up from my books at my brother and my friend.
    “I feel like celebrating! Let’s have a party!”. Sara and James raise their heads from their books. Sara smiles at me, her face lights up.  “Let’s!”
    James glances at me furtively, then looks at Sara, and back at me again.  “We have no money for that,” he says flatly, and stares at me, using his eyes to tell me to drop it.
    I make a face at him  “We have some money saved up, we can manage.  C’mon! It’ll be great! We can play music from our playlists, and we can make the food, and we can have wine.  We’ll invite everyone we know!”
    James is not swayed.  “We are law students.  We need to study, Jennifer.” He punctuates every syllable of my name, to remind me to be cautious.
    As if I needed reminding. “You are right, of course, we do need to study.  But we need to have fun, and I feel like celebrating!”. I punctuate every syllable of my last word right back at him.
    Sara looks from me to my brother.  “You two are weird.”. She can sense the mounting tension in the room, and so packs her books, waves to me, kisses my brother, and leaves.
    When we are sure she has left the building, James turns to me in exasperation, ” You know we can’t celebrate that.”
    I beg to differ.  “No one has to know what we are celebrating.   We can just have fun.”. I pause and look into his eyes.  The fear is back.  I put it there.  For a moment, I consider backing down.  But 10 years is a long time.  We must be safe by now. Look how far we’ve come.  “James, 10 years!” I am almost whining, like the little sister I am.
    He runs his hands through his hair, and begins to pace.  “Yes, and in that time, we have started new lives.  Why draw attention to the day we -” he stops, and comes close to me so he can whisper.  Still afraid someone will hear us.  “- the day we escaped from juvenile hall.”
    I look up at my big brother.  He is still looking out for me.  “We had to leave.  You know we did.  No one would have ever believed us.  No one would have ever believed what that man was doing to us. To our family.” I  clamp my hand over my own mouth.   I can’t believe I said it out loud.  In all this time, we never spoke of it, not since we left juvy. We were in juvy because we killed the Bearded Man.  He was blackmailing our parents.  It was an accident, but my brother was hardly a model 15 year old, and I had been in some minor trouble by then as well.  
    We left the state, faked some documents, and started new lives.  Straight and narrow lives.  Our parents would be proud, except for the fact that they don’t know anything about us.
    James is staring at me intently.  ” Do you really want to celebrate the day we decided we could never see our parents again?”

  7. Cheney

    I put out the crystal stemware for the dinner, and Roger looked on, not approving.

    “Someone could break a glass. You know how much those mean to me. They were my mother’s.”

    “Don’t you think that of all people, your mother would appreciate that we are using her fine china to celebrate this?”

    “Celebrate!” Roger spat. “I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

    I slunk over to Roger, put a hand behind his neck and pulled him in for a long kiss. I knew that he still loved me and that deep down he had appreciated what I’d done, but he drew away from me, a look of disgust on his face.

    A seed of hatred bubbled up inside of me, and I pushed Roger away.

    “I knew you would be ungrateful.”

    “Ungrateful? You killed my father!”

    “I freed us from your father. I freed your mother from your father. It’s not my fault she didn’t make it out of the car in time. She knew the plan.”

    “She was too old,” Roger shook his head. “Why did you have to do it this way?”

    “Because driving the car into the lake was the best way to make it look like an accident. And it did, didn’t it? It’s been a year, and no one has a clue that it was us. So let’s celebrate.”

    “You’re celebrating my parent’s death?”

    “No, sweetie, that would be morbid. I’m celebrating getting away with murder.”

  8. anigurl28

    It’s my night thought Gabby. Tonight is mine.
    I’ve got my new dress, and my new shoes, and I’m feeling good. I’ve just spent the whole day going from salon to salon. Pretty Nailz gave her the best nails in town and Good Looks gave her hair that looked liked it just came out of a magazine. Her eyebrows were plucked and all she had left was her makeup.
    This had definitely been the best year of her life, and gabby could not smiling.
    Gabby had met the love of her life and he had accepted her and all of her flaws. All of her secrets and her past didn’t belong in the closet anymore. the night before, he’d asked her to marry him. Gabby happily accepted.
    But as happy as she was, tonight was just for her, the same as it had been for so many years. It was a tradition after all. nothing big just a dinner with family to celebrate that day that Gabby had gotten what she always wanted. It was six years now, since she’d gotten the operation and stopped being Gavin, and became Gabriella.

  9. Christino23

    I stood on tiptoe in my new leather platform pumps, which were so constricting that my pinched toes were growing icy cold from the lack of circulation, but I was too excited to care. I scoured the shelves of the cupboard that I was peering into for a pair of decent drinking glasses, and finally settled on two identical deep, crystal champagne flutes pushed further towards the back. Seeing the accumulation of dust that had gathered in the bottoms of the glasses, I closed the cupboard and crossed the kitchen to the sink to rinse them, whistling brightly to myself as I did.

    After a moment or two, as I was fervently drying the flutes with a soft cloth from the countertop, I felt the familiar, paranoid sensation of being watched. Whirling around to survey my surroundings, I breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing the tall, shadowed figure standing silently in the doorway. “Mitch, you scared me,” I giggled, setting the glasses back down and striding casually toward the refrigerator. I glanced back over my shoulder briefly, wrinkling my nose in disdain as I took in his appearance. “I thought I told you that I preferred the red tie.”

    Mitch, who had been staring after me wordlessly through a pair of dull, sunken gray eyes, looked down at his outfit nervously and convulsively clutched the awful green striped tie that he had unwittingly chosen to complement his new Armani suit. “I . . . I know, but I just thought–”

    “I don’t care what you ‘just thought’,” I cut him off irritably. I saw his gaze falter as I grabbed the frosty bottle of Dom Perignon from the top shelf and placed it next to the glasses. Without skipping a beat, I marched over to the roast, still simmering from the oven and stewing in its juices that had collected in the bottom of the baking tin. “I hate that thing. Run upstairs and fetch the red one.” When he still didn’t move, I nonchalantly slid a long, two-pronged meat fork from the cutlery drawer and stabbed it into the meaty chunk of dead flesh. He cringed fearfully. “Now, Mitchell.” Without any protest, he spun on his heel and jogged back up the stairs.

    Not long after that, I had set the dining room table and was lighting the candles of the polished silver candelabra, which had been a wedding gift from Deborah’s grandmother. Mitch sat stiffly at the head of the table, flinching away from me as I filled his flute with champagne. “That . . . that necklace,” he mumbled, spying the platinum, heart-shaped locket hanging from my neck.

    I grinned. “You like it? I found it on her body that night at the lake but was saving it for a special occasion.”

    He didn’t respond, just stared hollowly at the feast I had prepared for us. “It’s lovely,” he whispered at last, a lone tear bulging from his eye.

    I finally sat and raised my full glass. “To Deborah’s memory.”

  10. egg

    “It’ll be great, Brian! I can make the costumes and you can cook your famous ravioli. Maria could invite some of her lady friends over for you to meet. Know what I mean?” I nudge Brian theatrically. “So, what do you say?” I am grinning so much my gums are dry but Brian seems to be looking at me like I’m a new species of insect that he’s discovered in his garden.

    “Yeah, how about we just let it drop, eh?” says Brian taking a sip of his beer. “It’s not really as big a deal as you’re making it out to be, Larry.”

    I am nothing short of astounded at Brian’s heartlessness. A less dedicated friend might storm out of the pub at this instant and I am left wondering if this, in fact, is a major turning point in our relationship.

    “I mean,” continues Brian, “we’re a little old to be celebrating this sort of stuff, don’t you think?”

    “What are you trying to say, Bri?” I ask without any attempt to hide the incredulity in my voice.

    “I’m saying, Larry, that we’re a little too old to be celebrating this sort of stuff. Don’t you think?” Brian stares at me like I might really be a very tall five-year-old and then casually downs the rest of his schooner.

    “I get the feeling that you’re not taking the occasion seriously, my friend,” I say.

    “Oh duh,” grunts Brian.

    I am truly gutted. I take a sip of my cherry cola and push a coaster around the table.

    “Are you sulking?” asks Brian with a disturbing hint of amusement in his voice.

    “Well, why shouldn’t I be?” I ask. “I’m talking about celebrating one of the greatest literary achievements this century and you’re trying to brush it aside like its inconsequential.”

    “I’m not trying to brush it aside. I’m just suggesting that it might be better if we have a quiet beer together, chink our glasses with a small ‘hurray’ and be done with it.”

    “But we were there, Brian, my boy. We were there!” My enthusiasm is returning as I recall the momentous day eighty-five years earlier. I think, also, that my medication might be starting to kick in. My friend is silent for a long time. “It’ll be fun Bri, I promise.”

    “Ah hell,” he finally says. “I guess there can’t be too many other people in the world who attended the launch of Winnie-the-Pooh. Fine, let’s have a party then, mate. You’d better call that pretty, young nurse of yours to give us a hand. God knows we’re not as young as we used to be.”

    I know Maria will be thrilled to help with the celebrations and I can’t wait to start on the costumes. I grab Brian’s walking cane and help him to his feet even though my own fingers ache with that damn arthritis. “Oh I can’t wait, my old friend. You’re going to look so great as Eeyore!”

  11. Icabu

    Sarah ran alone this morning, allowing her special guy to sleep in. The warm spring morning was a complete contrast to the chilly, rainy night three years ago that changed her life forever. That was when Bruce came into her life. When her life went from the dark depths of despair to the warm highs of caring. A day she planned to celebrate for the rest of her life.

    She’d bought a new slinky dress for this evening. Her new gusto for life allowed her to buy a size smaller this year. She’d also bought Bruce a new bow tie. He looked so handsome dressed up. She had a whole day of celebration planned for the both of them.

    Watching Bruce sit quietly staring out the car window, had doubts gnawing at Sarah. He’d never been to a spa. But, she was sure he’d enjoy it once he got there. Second and third thoughts clouded her as he turned his dark eyes back to her as the massage therapist lead him down the hall. Shaking it off, Sarah returned to her car and drove across town to her favorite spa, certain they would both feel rejuvenated afterward.

    Later, as they strolled in the park, Sarah thought Bruce was more relaxed. Walking the winding trails was one of their favorite pastimes. Smiling, she knew Bruce would put up with things like the spa only on this special occasion. Just for her. He was so thoughtful that way.

    Bruce lounged in the living room while Sarah put the finishing touches on dinner. She lit several candles around the small dining room and on the table. She sat on the couch beside Bruce; he leaned into her. Enjoying the warmth, she nuzzled his neck. Sarah giggled and straightened his tie.

    “Dinner time,” Sarah said. “Our favorites.”

    As they walked into the dining room, Sarah was overcome with emotion. Bruce seemed nervous, the candlelight reflecting in his dark eyes. Shadows danced in the room. She could feel that he was remembering that fateful night, too.

    Sarah remembered leaning against the railing on High Bridge. Her thoughts were dark, dreadful. She wasn’t sure why she was there. Was she capable of doing something completely drastic? Maybe she just wanted to sort things out. Then she felt a presence. She was not alone. Bruce was there.

    Looking at Bruce now filled Sarah’s heart. He had stuck by her side as she got her life back on track. Now he sat fidgeting, waiting to eat. Smiling, Sarah rubbed his head.

    “Go ahead and eat,” she told her hungry guy.

    Sitting at the table, her steak getting cold, Sarah watched as Bruce gobbled his kibble. She had an extra large Milk Bone for his dessert. She was still amazed at how much he’d grown in the three years – from the shivering, lost puppy that stole her heart to this handsome German Shepherd bravely wearing a black satin bow tie.

  12. Onute

    It was a small celebration; Russell, Spitzer and me, on the first anniversary of Spitzer’s adoption. Russell
    wasn’t keen on it. Actually, he wanted no part of it. But Russell never knows what he wants so I have to tell him.
    Russell stood at the kitchen counter while I put together a dessert of honey drizzled bananas and peanuts.
    “That’s disgusting,” Russell said. “Were you a zoo keeper in a previous life?”
    “Maybe.” I smiled up at him. Chloresterol was spackling his arteries as we spoke.
    Russell frowned. “He’s in my seat again. Can’t he sit still?”
    Spitzer’s soulful eyes watched me from Russell’s seat.
    “At least he doesn’t whine,” I said.
    “He chatters constantly. I hate that.”
    “What don’t you hate, Russell?”
    Then the doorbell rang.
    “Now what?” As usual, he didn’t look happy. I told him to get the door.
    He opened it to Mom, in her slippers, and Dad, whose hearing aid dangled from his left ear. Spitzer flew to Dad and Dad swung him up and onto his shoulder. Russell rolled his eyes as Mom brushed past him into the apartment.
    “Smells delicious, Dolly,” Mom said. “Are you doing macrobiotic now, Russell?”
    “No, Portia, I’m doing micro biotic, she’s starving me.”
    Mom raised an eyebrow and mouthed ‘what’s with him?’. I shrugged. Russell hates my parents. Spitzer adores them. He tapped Mom, she reached down and tickled his chin.
    “Such a sweetheart, Spitzer. You could teach somebody some manners.” She indicated Russell with a jerk of her head.
    “What’s up?” Dad shouted.
    I pointed to his left ear. When he wiggled his hearing aid back in, I told him.
    “Then let’s eat, Spitzer.” Dad reached up and patted Spitzer, who was sitting on his head. I should point out that Spitzer is a Capucin monkey. Everyone loves him, everyone except Russell.
    I threw extra plates on the table and we all sat down.
    “You said no company,” Russell hissed.
    “Things change,” I said. Spitzer went still.
    “Bullshit,” Russell shouted. At which point Spitzer vaulted from his seat into Russell’s soup, then proceeded to pelt him with clumps of cooked egg and bok choy. When Russell yelped and snatched a napkin for the hot soup on his face, Spitzer followed with a volley of dessert.
    Dad laughed so hard both hearing aids fell out.
    Russell lunged for Spitzer.
    “Dolly, I’ve had enough! Me or the monkey. Choose.”
    “Let me think about it,” I said.
    That didn’t help. Russell screamed at me and Spitzer jumped onto his head, clamping his little monkey hands over Russell’s eyes. Russell reached up to pull his hands away and Spitzer sank his teeth into Russell’s thumb. When Spitzer bites, he doesn’t let go.
    I offered Spitzer a coconut cookie. He released Russell’s thumb, sat down and chewed his cookie.
    “He’s so precious,” Mom cooed.
    “Dolly, it’s me or the monkey.”
    I guess Russell assumed it was an easy choice. For once, he was right.
    “You lose,” I said.

  13. Tara

    Making Bread

    Today I am in therapy- making bread. My kitchen isn’t very big but big enough. It’s made up of white cabinets, counters and the hardwood floor is cold on my feet. Normally I love being here but today it just haunts me with longing. I am the last one left behind in the morning at a clammy campsite, abandoned to clean up. But the bread will help.
    I scald the creamy milk on the stovetop then set it to cool. The oven is turned on and the floor starts to warm up. I flip on the task lighting under the counter’s edge. The room is warmer now though my mind can’t help wandering back to last year. It is hard to believe so much time has passed this quickly.
    Someone, somewhere, right this moment is giving birth to a baby or to an idea. Hard, messy and magical; no mother in this world would change a single thing about her birth experience. The miracle of your body, growing, developing and instinctively knowing what to do is like the rising of dough. I mix the messing ingredients and smell the warm yeast. Push, pull, stretch, add more flour push some more. I knead the dough with ferocity. It must rise. It must grow, it must change. Then I cover it with a warm damp towel let it rest and simply wait. Hours go by and I am left to wallow.
    My husband would rather not remember but the car accident wasn’t his fault. Last year on this day, I was excited. I had saved up enough money to quit work and open a bakery- my bakery. Is it fair to exchange one dream for another? I love my husband, there were months of agony hoping he would be ok. Medical bills, lawyers and more medical bills piled up on our kitchen counter. I ached for those invoices. Each one meant he lived and grew stronger. We had the money to pay for his treatments. It was so unfair that a capable man was robbed of his independence while I still had my muffins, my cookies and my bread. He got through- We got through. He looks at me with guilt but he shouldn’t.
    The dough has risen as it promised to and I put it in the oven. I am not filled with sorrow anymore but gratitude. Everything is as is should be and as for my dreams- who said I ever gave them up? Today is new and alive. This is the start of a brand new year.

  14. Tara

    Making Bread
    By Tara Hullah
    Today I am in therapy- making bread. My kitchen isn’t very big but big enough. It’s made up of white cabinets, counters and the hardwood floor is cold on my feet. Normally I love being here but today it just haunts me with longing. I am the last one left behind in the morning at a clammy campsite, abandoned to clean up. But the bread will help.
    I scald the creamy milk on the stovetop then set it to cool. The oven is turned on and the floor starts to warm up. I flip on the task lighting under the counter’s edge. The room is warmer now though my mind can’t help wandering back to last year. It is hard to believe so much time has passed this quickly.
    Someone, somewhere, right this moment is giving birth to a baby or to an idea. Hard, messy and magical; no mother in this world would change a single thing about her birth experience. The miracle of your body, growing, developing and instinctively knowing what to do is like the rising of dough. I mix the messing ingredients and smell the warm yeast. Push, pull, stretch, add more flour push some more. I knead the dough with ferocity. It must rise. It must grow, it must change. Then I cover it with a warm damp towel let it rest and simply wait. Hours go by and I am left to wallow.
    My husband would rather not remember but the car accident wasn’t his fault. Last year on this day, I was excited. I had saved up enough money to quit work and open a bakery- my bakery. Is it fair to exchange one dream for another? I love my husband, there were months of agony hoping he would be ok. Medical bills, lawyers and more medical bills piled up on our kitchen counter. I ached for those invoices. Each one meant he lived and grew stronger. We had the money to pay for his treatments. It was so unfair that a capable man was robbed of his independence while I still had my muffins, my cookies and my bread. He got through- We got through. He looks at me with guilt but he shouldn’t.
    The dough has risen as it promised to and I put it in the oven. I am not filled with sorrow anymore but gratitude. Everything is as is should be and as for my dreams- who said I ever gave them up? Today is new and alive. This is the start of a brand new year.

  15. Osha

    The house was perfect. Tropical flowers in the entry way, champagne on ice at the bar. The music was a slow rhythmic reggae beat. The kind of music you didn’t hear as much as you would feel it through your body. A table was set on the patio. Candles set around the patio danced in the slight breeze. Steve sat in the dark at the edge of the patio, sipping a glass of amber liquid.
    Sandy approached him her face full of love. “Cheer up Steve” she told him, I just want to celebrate the day that changed our lives.”
    Steve swallowed the rest of his drink, and went to the bar to pour more of the amber liquid over the ice in the glass. Sandy stood at the rail, looking out at the sunset. The yellow, red and orange bleeding itself into the blue sea.
    Steve put his glass on the table, and came up behind Sandy. He wrapped his arms around her, and buried his face in her hair, taking in the scent of her. God I love you” he said. Sandy turned and pressed her lips against his. Her mind went back to a year before.
    She lay in bed, her failing lungs struggled to bring in the oxygen the rest of her organs needed to survive. They hadn’t given her long to live. It was then that the call came. They had lungs and she was next on the list.
    A year later Sandy wanted to celebrate this gift of life.
    The doorbell rang, Sandy gave Steve one last quick kiss before hurrying to the door to let in the first of the guests for the evening. Steve picked up his glass and drank as his mind went back to a year before.
    He had watched Sandy get sicker. When it looked like he would lose her, he had started looking for a way to get her lungs. She was on the recipient list, but they didn’t know if she would live long enough. Steve wasn’t willing to take the chance. So he found a way to move her up on the list.. And finally the call came, a pair of perfect lungs for Sandy. He never told her, but he would never forget.
    Every night when he would go to sleep, she would come to him in his dreams. The young girl with yellow hair. “You are mine” she would say, in a hoarse voice. He would try to move, but his body would be stuck to the bed, unable to move, his mouth open to a silent scream. She would climb up on top of him, and press her blue lips to his. Her breath would come out in a wheezy gasp, and a rotted smell would fill his nostrils She would pull back and gasp at him. “You, are mine”. “For as long as the lungs that were for me take a breath, you are mine” she would say.

  16. onaway

    “Another year of this? And how many do I have to look forward to?”

    “Many more!”

    Fine another year has passed. I swear not to make it through this next one. And definitely not the one after that or any other long term goals they said I should think about. I can never plan anything. I plan on not planning anymore.

    “There will be no more birthdays,” I announced. I hush fell over the room of the family. My brother Karl whispered some crack I’m sure. “I renounce all holidays. This calendar we use is just a necessary evil. Who are they to tell us when we should show our appreciation of people, of history, of religion? I don’t need to anticipate those days. I’m tired of shopping, of receiving gifts and being obligated to express recognition in these traditions.”

    “You piece of….” Karl was the only one with the guts to call me an a**hole. But the punch in his insults was drowned out by the laughter from the room. My challenges to these people were constantly deflected with cynical comedy and crass criticism. I couldn’t help but smile myself, and look at the floor.

    “Just blow out the candles already, dirtbag!” someone shouted.

    I sighed and gave in, again.

  17. mara.aio

    Yes, we were throwing a wedding anniversary party. The truth is we prefered celebrating the day we first met, my husband and I. It was exciting, especially because we didn’t have invitations. Who needs official invitations when they’re happy enough?
    Every year, the two of us and his sister, Kim, got drunk with a bottle of Jack, maybe two.
    Kim was the one who introduced me to him, on September 27. We were in the car last year, when it happened. I was driving. We were out of town, heading to the highway, when we noticed him. We both saw the man fall on the pavement. On the pavement, not in our way. He fell straight and flat. Like a chopped chunk of wood. We heard his skull cracking against the cold cement. The way a watermelon would shatter on marble. A watermelon. So why did we keep driving? Why didn’t we stop, call 911? I looked at her. She looked at me. I accelerated and we went out on the highway. Until then, we had considered ourselves honest. Since then…yes…so much about us being human… Two rights do not make a wrong… That’s what they say. It was my personal road to Hell. It was her personal road to Hell.
    This year, the three of us celebrated again. I wasn’t looking at her. She wasn’t looking at me. It wasn’t going to happen again. There wasn’t going to be another September 27.

  18. fullaniz

    It was that time of year and I was sitting at our regular table in Maison du Lyon, a fancy yet accessible French restaurant -it was his favourite. I had been waiting for him for about half an hour and he still hadn’t shown up.

    “Peter, darling, where are you? I’m waiting for you at the restaurant.” I called his mobile to put some pressure on him. He answered at the fourth ring.

    “Mum, I’m on my way.” He growled. He was always reluctant to celebrate this day, but how could we not? It was the day my little baby became a man, and I made sure to tell this story to anyone who would listen.

    To the shop boy this morning:
    “Oi, what day is it again?” I asked.
    “The 27th. September 27th, ma’am.” he had said.
    “Oh, it seems like only yesterday my baby Petey got his first chest hair!”

    Then the lollipop man:
    “Alas, it’s been 30 years since! We haven’t missed one anniversary, every year I take him out to dinner and celebrate his manhood.” The man only stared with a quizzical yet amused expression. He must have been considering celebrating his, too!

    And finally the old lady sitting at the park:
    “I keep it in a locket, you know.” I took it out and showed it to her. The hair was tiny, but dark and thick, predicting the strong man Peter would become. After seeing her worried expression I assured her. ‘Oh, don’t worry he’s got plenty of them now!”

    Peter then walked in, tall and serious as ever. I quickly stood up and wrapped him in a bear hug. My little thing!
    “Mum, don’t!” He said embarrassed, cheeks flushing, not meeting my eyes.
    “Sweetheart, happy hairy chest day!” I cheered with all my energy, letting the world know about our special occasion.

  19. skdunning

    “Sticky, no one is going to know what this is all for,” Sellamina protested calmly.

    I shrugged her off and placed a flowered swag over our knot in the tree. I had placed flowers everywhere I could think of. They draped off of every branch and toadstool. They were stuffed into every crevice. Petals lined the forest floor, weighing down the pine needles. “Are we having cold-wings already?” I asked her.

    “No, I said I’d be here, and I am, but no one will understand any of it,” she pouted.

    “Do you think we need more?” I asked her.

    She shot me the look that withers butterflies, “We’ve pulled up every daisy in the whole acre. What will we need with more?”

    Pocker and Lily-fathri arrived then, their scaly, moss like wings fluttering noiselessly as they descended to perch on the northern-most toadstool. “Sticky-tagger,” Pocker announced excitedly. “Lily and I brought our thimbles!”

    Lily was almost as excited, “We even polished them with acorn oil so they’d gleam.”

    Sellamina shook her head and groaned. “Do you know why?” she asked them sharply.

    They both looked confused. “Sticky asked us to?” Lily replied. “Ooh, you made a flower fort!”

    “He made more than one flower fort,” Topple croaked. He was clutching fearfully to an overhead branch and having a difficult time establishing the appropriate chameleon pattern to his surroundings. “I have to point out that flower forts won’t protect us from the balinogs.”

    I shrugged him off as well. No doom and gloom pixies were going to rain on my flower parade. I was going to make this work. “Balinogs are hibernating. We shouldn’t have any issues from them.”

    Topple, unconvinced, attempted a new hue of brown. “We’ll see.”

    “I forgot the cake!” I shouted. Rushing for the knot, I ran up the bark and darted inside. I had to wait another minute for the gooey to be less gooey, but I was told by a reliable source that this is what humans made to celebrate the day. It smelled like warmed almond honey paste cake was supposed to, so I carefully pulled it from the sun oven and flew carefully out and placed it on a stone in the center of the flower forts.

    More pixies had arrived during my absence, donning their thimbles like hats. They stared hopefully at me while Sellamina hid behind her wings from embarrassment. “Stupid human rituals,” she muttered.

    “We gather here today to celebrate a briftay,” I announced happily, once I was sure the cake was settled.

    Sellamina corrected my pronunciation, “Birfday.”

    “Yea!” responded a chorus of pixies.

    “Oh, what’s a birfday?” Pocker asked quizzically.

    Lily replied excitedly, “Who cares? There’s cake!”

    Topple, now white against a mushroom, groaned, “I’ll bet that’s what balinogs think when they see pixies.”

    Lily asked, “What happens next?”

    I answered with confidence, “We set the cake on fire and take turns blowing it out!”

  20. dzgrl2000

    “Why do we need to do this every year? Please…let’s just not go this time.”

    I can hear the anger in my husband’s voice, the frustration. He’s hurting. I don’t think he’ll ever understand, but I hope one day he’ll try to at least accept this… anniversary, of sorts. He’s been quiet, introverted this past week leading up to today. His silence makes this harder.

    As I dress, I think back over the last five years. My husband’s objections remain the same, the emotions evident in his eyes if not in his words. He tries to forget what we lost, until this day comes and he remembers all over again. I remember every day, not just today.

    He thinks I’m crazy, what I’m doing is crazy, obsessive. He can’t understand why I won’t just try to let it go and move on. Sometimes I wonder if he isn’t right. Am I crazy? Obsessed? Who really can tell anymore? All I know is that this is something I must do.

    In the car, my husband is very quiet, as he always is on this drive and the entire time we will sit and wait once we arrive. By now he knows the argument is futile, but he stews. When this day is over, we’ll go back to our lives and pretend it didn’t happen. He’ll be the loving, understanding man I married…at least until next year.

    “Mrs. Daniels?”

    I feel my husband stiffen beside me. I look to him with my heart in my throat. He doesn’t look at me as I withdraw my hand from his iron grip and stand to follow the woman out of the waiting room. There are tears shining in his eyes and it’s all I can do to control my own.

    I hold my breath as I follow the woman to a tiny green. I feel stifled and slightly claustrophobic, as always. I despise the green of the walls that seem to close in on me. I sit down at the table and stare into the two-way mirror on the wall in front of me, trying to forget that there are no windows in the room. My skin is crawling, a small voice in my head screams at me to flee.

    It feels like an eternity has passed before the door opens and I look up. The chair scrapes against the linoleum as he sits, the handcuffs shiny under the fluorescent lights. I take a deep breath and let my mind wander for a moment. It occurs to me that the orange jumpsuit gives his complexion a pallid, jaundiced look. He looks old, his face drawn and lined in places it wasn’t…before the accident. This thought draws me out of my daydream before I begin feeling sympathy for this man. Maybe in time I will, but for now all I feel is anger. His eyes burn into mine and the pain in my heart is unbearable. I want to scream. This is the nightmare that I have endured for the last five years and there are five left to go. This man killed my child.

    I swallow past a lump in my throat. If I start crying now I’ll never be able to get through this. “Hello, Daddy.”

  21. Rachel

    He pulled up in front of the old church as the whispering winds swirled the leaves up around the tall steeples on either side of the building. Martin walked in through the large oak doors and waited in the vestibule for Henry. He could see him standing there with the others holding a chip. They were patting him on the back and everyone was smiling. As the crowd made their way to the refreshment tables for coffee and desserts. Henry looked up and finally saw him then walked over and looked Martin carefully in the eye and said what he said every year.

    “I thought you wouldn’t make it this year.”

    “I told you I would come as long as you needed me even though I don’t agree with it”

    “Ya Ya, I know. Look eight year chip.”

    “Nine year anniversary, are you ready?”

    They walked out of the church together and down the steps to Martin’s car and they began the drive they made every year to Tahoe and back. As the familiar drive took them through the freeways, tree lined and mountainous roads they talked about Martin’s new baby and his job. Henry wanted to know everything that was happening to him. Oh the joy of a good life! Something that Henry knew deep down that he would never have but wouldn’t admit it.

    Martin finally pulled into the familiar parking lot at Henry’s old watering hole, McP’s pub. They entered and sat at the bar. Martin ordered an ice tea and water for them as they sat in silence and remembered that night so many years ago. The drinks, the women, dancing and getting in the car for the long drive home, then the crash, the fire, the blood, the sirens, the chaos, the hospital, the regret and the enduring sadness that will forever linger.

    “Are you ready for the drive back?” Martin said with an understanding look as Henry nodded.

    Back in Martin’s car they drove in silence until they came upon the site where it all happened. Martin grabbed the flowers in the backseat and got out to lay them against the scarred tree as Henry stood with his hands folded in front of him. They stood in silent comradeship. Martin then walked back to the car and got in while Henry took a minute more then followed him for the long ride home.

    “Just drop me back at the church man,” Henry said as they drove into town. “I’m going to need another meeting.”

    “Are you sure?” Martin asked with a heartbroken break in his voice. “You need to forgive yourself, it’s not your fault she died.”

    “That’s what they keep saying but I was driving. I am just glad you were ok.” Henry was out of the car now and walking up the church steps towards the oak doors. As Martin drove away, he looked in the rearview mirror at the old abandoned church to see his friend vanish into thin air.

  22. bakermissy91@yahoo.com

    “Rissa!” Grandpa’s tone pulled my attention from the small, rectangular flower bed I’d planted in his front yard exactly three years ago today. “Can you take a minute, please?” His question pushed me to my knees, while forcing the gloves from my hands to the ground. I poked a brown, sweat-drenched curl under the blue and white handkerchief I’d borrowed from him to use as a scarf. Grandpa pursed his cracked lips and shook his grey head. “Come inside please.” He turned. His stooped shoulders sliced with care through the air as he shuffled up his stoop.
    My brown eyes met Chris’s green ones. The ends of his blonde hair disappeared in his collar with his shrug. Both of us rushed to our feet to follow Grandpa. Once we were through the door, Grandpa coughed, spitting blood into his white hankie.
    “Let’s get your oxygen back on …” I started towards his mask when he waved it off. Bracing himself, he sat at the kitchen table, indicating we do the same. Chris and I again exchanged nervous glances then sat as instructed.
    In a gravelly, aged voice, Grandpa confirmed my fears.
    “I know what happened.” The old man must be out of his mind! I tried to convey to Chris with my eyes. “One day we were having his birthday party, the next he’s gone.”
    “We told you, Grandpa, that wasn’t real.” Chris tried. Grandpa’s fist came down hard on the table with such force both Chris and I jumped. “STOP IT! He would have been five years old yesterday!” I held Grandpa’s attention with my stare. Chris slowly edged from his seat.
    Grandpa reached to the inside pocket of his blue sweater, producing a 3×5 photograph of him with a blonde headed child of two. The child’s smile was like Chris’s, his eyes like mine. Every year Chris and I dress in our best then sit by the flower garden out front sipping wine in a morbid celebration. It was the only time Chris allowed acknowledgement of him. I trembled.
    “I can’t fabricate an image Rissss …” Grandpa’s hands clasped his neck. Ready to grab his oxygen mask, I nearly quit breathing myself as Chris whispered through gritted teeth.
    “You’re right old man, it’s time you join him.” Chris’s grip tightened. Grandpa’s lips turned blue. Chris let go when Grandpa quit struggling, he even smoothed the sweater over Grandpa’s shoulders. “Now, we’ll have your social security checks as well as Bobby’s disability checks.” A bewildered look froze on the face of the man who had for years held me and Grandpa prisoner. He ripped Grandpa’s sweater back, revealing a wire.
    They were too late! “If we can’t revive him, Chris, you go to jail for double homicide.” Paramedics pushed Chris away while police put him in handcuffs. I could now speak of my baby’s murder and final resting location in the garden. My grandfather and child gave their lives for my freedom.

  23. linfady

    May 17. One week until the big day. The one year anniversary. We would invite our friends to the grand opening party we planned a year ago.

    I called Donna and reminded her to keep the date open.

    She tends to be on the nervous side sometimes. “Carla! You can’t be serious! The Jar?! I was drunk!”

    I tried to reassure her. “Relax. I kept it stored in a cool dry closet. It is well preserved. I sealed it carefully to be sure there were no leaks.”

    “Carla. I just can’t!”

    I encouraged her to help me plan the party but soon realized that she was becoming to emotional about it. “Just be here next Friday evening. I will take care of everything.”

    I emailed invitations to several of her coworkers, her family, her new boyfriend, and some of our closest mutual friends, telling them only that there would be a surprise opening.

    About 15 people responsed, saying they would attend.

    In keeping with the occasion I planned a meal of a cucumber salad, pinto beans with cornbread, and a big pot of cabbage.

    Thursday, I called Donna to remind her to be there. She was quiet so long that I thought we had been disconnected.

    Finally she groaned, “Several people have told me they are looking forward to attending. I have no choice but to be there. I think I will have to do damage control.”

    I laughed. She has a marvelous sense of humor.

    The big day arrived and I started early preparing the food. I didn’t do any special decorating, choosing to let The Jar stand alone in all its splendor.

    Donna came straight from work. “Are you sure you want to do this? Maybe we should save the jar until next year?”

    I knew she would be OK once the party got underway so I left her to watch TV while I set up the buffet and put The Jar in a place of honor. I had covered it with faux gold leaf and genuine diamondettes. If I say so myself, it was a work of art.

    Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and commented on the unique menu as they eyed The Jar.

    The big moment arrived and everyong gathered in a circle around Donna to see her open The Jar. Her new boyfriend, Mike, was at her side.

    I handed it to her.

    Again, she asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

    The guests joined me in chanting, “Open the jar! Open the jar!”

    She turned at the lid but it didn’t budge. “It’s stuck tight. Maybe we should just forget it.”

    Mike, seeing her distress, pried The Jar from her hands and, with a quick twist, had it open.

    The effect was instanteous. His face distorted as he heaved. Several guest began to gag.

    The experiment was a success. The fart she had blown into the jar had survived!

  24. Tracidine

    “I don’t know if I can do this anymore,” Marissa said as she watched me throw my sneakers across the room.

    “I’m not going to put you on a guilt trip but I’m not backing down either,” I said as I struggled with my jeans. “I’m doing it.” I preferred not to be alone in this. We did make a pact but I’d do it alone. I hadn’t missed a year yet and I wasn’t going to as long as my thighs made cottage cheese look sleek, my stomach rivaled that of a woman carrying quintuplets and my boobs made taking off my shirt a small project. “Another year. Another roll,” I sighed as I stood in front of the mirror totally naked. “Yep, and I’m going to celebrate it with you or without you, Marissa.” I understood her fear, but last year we took pictures of the fattest part of our bodies and sent them to the two cutest boys in school. Although that was anonymous, it still took guts. Much more guts than conquering some silly diet over the last year would have. It’ll take a whole lot to top that.

    I take one last look at my saddle bags and turned toward the front door to find Marissa sharing in my birthday- suit moment. I was so happy I started to hug her but thought better of it. After all, we were both butt naked. Without our support bras, a hug could be dangerous. We might put each other’s eye out or something. I had decided on a pat on the shoulder when I noticed that Marissa was blocking the front door. I gently tried to move her but she wouldn’t budge. I tried to bypass her to open the door but she started to pry my fingers off the door knob. We started to tussle. “Eew, your boobs are in my face,” I screeched. Marissa jumped back and let me go and I dashed out the door..….with Marissa in tow.

  25. linfady

    May 17. One week until the big day. The one year anniversary. We would invite our friends to the grand opening party we planned a year ago.
    I called Donna and reminded her to keep the date open. She tends to be on the nervous side sometimes.
    “Carla! You can’t be serious! The Jar?! I was drunk!”
    I tried to reassure her. “Relax. I kept it stored in a cool dry closet. It is well preserved. I sealed it carefully to be sure there were no leaks.”
    “Carla. I just can’t!”
    I encouraged her to help me plan the party but soon realized that she was becoming to emotional about it. “Just be here next Friday evening. I will take care of everything.”
    I emailed invitations to several of her coworkers, her family, her new boyfriend, and some of our closest mutual friends, telling them only that there would be a surprise opening.
    About 15 people responsed, saying they would attend.
    In keeping with the occasion I planned a meal of a cucumber salad, pinto beans with cornbread, and a big pot of cabbage.
    I called Donna Thursday to remind her to be there. She was quiet so long that I thought we had been disconnected.
    Finally she moaned, “Several people have told me they are looking forward to attending. I have no choice but to be there. I think I will have to do damage control.”
    I laughed. She has a marvelous sense of humor.
    The big day arrived and I started early preparing the food. I didn’t do any special decorating, choosing to let The Jar stand alone in all its splendor.
    Donna came straight from work. “Are you sure you want to do this? Maybe we should save the jar until next year?”
    I knew she would be OK once the party got underway so I left her to watch TV while I set up the buffet and put The Jar in a place of honor. I had covered it with faux gold leaf and genuine diamondettes. If I say so myself, it was a work of art.
    Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and commented on the unique menu as they eyed The Jar.
    The big moment arrived and everyong gathered in a circle around Donna to see her open The Jar. Her boyfriend, Mike, was at her side.
    I handed it to her.
    Again, she asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
    The guests joined me in chanting, “Open the jar! Open the jar!”
    She turned at the lid but it didn’t budge. “It’s stuck tight. Maybe we
    should just forget it.”
    Mike, seeing her distress, pried The Jar from her hands and, with a quick twist, had it open. The effect was instanteous. His face distorted as he heaved. Several guest began to gag.
    The experiment was a success. The fart she had blown into the jar a year ago had survived!

  26. echonomy

    He’d been promoted, just as I knew he would be. My golden boy and his eyes I remember how eager… It was the energy that made him. I suppose I made him, too. Twenty-nine and already head of his department, not a real writer but published, and he still had skin that peeped out and winked at you.
    The marriage didn’t concern me. I’ve had other pupils and there are always more to come. Having him once was enough, but what a struggle it was. Beers every Thursday for six months before I got him home and made my promises. Each one of them is grateful. What I obtain is a moment and they receive years of success in exchange. However, I am such a bully as to require that one extra detail: the annual remembrance and toast to us both. My boys need to be reminded at times that they didn’t accomplish all of this, this or that, whatever they’ve done, whatever they cared for, on their own.
    I’ll be meeting him at my restaurant and I may even bring flowers. Six years later and he still makes me feel it, that urge to push in behind him and hear his whimpers and whines. He could say he isn’t like me, but I saw the sheets. He liked it enough.
    A hole in the sidewalk makes me notice a bouquet of pink tulips. Pink and I almost slid by them. Well, it isn’t cruel exactly, just an invitation. His wife is pregnant again already. There can’t be that much excitement waiting at home.
    When I see him at the table he stands clumsily and I want to slip my fingers through his hair and tell him he’s my favorite, that I never had another like him. But instead I shake his hand like a gentleman and lay his flowers down. He tells me he’s looking forward to dinner but even I, enamored and lost in his scent, know a lie.
    When he asks if I want wine I pour water.

  27. Azalea0248

    Disregard my previous comment. If I knew how to delete it, I would. Here is my story:

    I walked down into my freezing basement. The air was chilled with cold and ice crystals hung from the corners of the walls. This was where the man lived. I approached him slowly. He was exceptionally pale, with dark hair and flat, blue eyes. He stared coldly at me.
    “Hi,” I gulped as I cautiously approached him.
    “My name is Nick. Nicholas. You always forget to use my name.” He sounded almost angry. He continued with his harsh, stoic stare.
    I sheepishly bowed my head. “I’m sorry, Nick.” I glanced up at him. “You know what today is, don’t you?” I was hopeful.
    “I do,” Nick said. “Do you have a plan?”
    “Oh, I’m not sure. It’s a year exactly today. That needs some sort of recognition, doesn’t it?” I thought I saw him nod. “What do you think we should do?”
    “I was hoping that you’d spend the night with me tonight.”
    “I do that every night. Tonight should be special, don’t you think?” I rubbed my arms and sat down, huddled, to keep warm. Nick didn’t seem to care about the cold. He never did.
    He might have sighed, but I wasn’t looking at him, so I couldn’t tell. “What did you have planned?”
    “It’s your birthday. I think that I should make you a friend.”
    “No, Mikey, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You know that you shouldn’t be doing things like that. It’s no good.”
    “But, Nick, don’t you ever get lonely? You must want a friend. Don’t you?”
    “No, Mikey, I don’t like this idea at all. I’m fine. Please just stay with me tonight. I don’t want you to bring me a friend. I don’t need one. I have you.”
    “No,” I shook my head over exuberantly, facing the frozen ground. I looked back up at Nick’s eyes. They seemed to have morphed from their original appearance into a more frightened one. “I really think that we should celebrate this anniversary. A first anniversary only happens once.”
    “Every anniversary only happens once. Just, please, don’t do it.”
    “No, you need a friend.” I stood up. I was firm on this point. Sometimes you have to do something for somebody that they don’t want you to do, because it’s for their own good. I was determined to bring him a friend. I left my basement and closed the door on his frustrated protests. I took a taxi to the city and walked around for a bit. I looked at my watch. I would have to find somebody soon. It was almost midnight. Tomorrow, Nicholas would again transform back into a dead, inanimate body, and whomever I found tonight would join him.

      1. Ayibobo

        I liked the first ending better as well. Its to the point, harsh, frightening and even evokes anger. I read it three times…Great story. gave me the chills !! 🙂

  28. Azalea0248

    I walked down into my freezing basement. The air was chilled with cold and ice crystals hung from the corners of the walls. This was where the man lived. I approached him slowly. He was exceptionally pale, with dark hair and flat, blue eyes. He stared coldly at me.
    “Hi,” I gulped as I cautiously approached him.
    “My name is Nick. Nicholas. You always forget to use my name.” He sounded almost angry. He continued with his harsh, stoic stare.
    I sheepishly bowed my head. “I’m sorry, Nick.” I glanced up at him. “You know what today is, don’t you?” I was hopeful.
    “I do,” Nick said. “Do you have a plan?”
    “Oh, I’m not sure. It’s a year exactly today. That needs some sort of recognition, doesn’t it?” I thought I saw him nod. “What do you think we should do?”
    “I was hoping that you’d spend the night with me tonight.”
    “I do that every night. Tonight should be special, don’t you think?” I rubbed my arms and sat down, huddled, to keep warm. Nick didn’t seem to care about the cold. He never did.
    He might have sighed, but I wasn’t looking at him, so I couldn’t tell. “What did you have planned?”
    “It’s your birthday. I think that I should make you a friend.”
    “No, Mikey, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You know that you shouldn’t’ be doing things like that. It’s no good.”
    “But, Nick, don’t you ever get lonely? You must want a friend. Don’t you?”
    “No, Mikey, I don’t like this idea at all. I’m fine. Please just stay with me tonight. I don’t want you to bring me a friend. I don’t need one. I have you.”
    “No,” I shook my head over exuberantly, facing the frozen ground. I looked back up at Nick’s eyes. They seemed to have morphed from their original appearance into a more frightened one. “I really think that we should celebrate this anniversary. A first anniversary only happens once.”
    “Every anniversary only happens once. Just, please, don’t do it.”
    “No, you need a friend.” I stood up. I was firm on this point. Sometimes you have to do something for somebody that they don’t want you to do, because it’s for their own good. I was determined to bring him a friend. I left my basement and closed the door on his protests. I took a taxi to the city and walked around for a bit. I looked at my watch. I would have to find somebody soon. It was almost midnight. Tomorrow, Nicholas and whomever I found tonight would again become just two more dead bodies in my freezer.

  29. cre8ivewriter

    While the iron was heating, I applied my kohl eye liner with a steady hand and finished my look with two coats of noir mascara. I only wore dramatic eye make up on special occasions, because it wasn’t my usual makeup routine. Once the iron was hot enough, I wrapped small sections of hair around the barrel and gave myself some soft spiral curls. I could hear him shuffling down the hallway. “I hope you’re going to the bedroom to get dressed,” I called out to him from the bathroom.

    He mumbled, “Yeah, yeah. I’m workin on it.”

    I wished he would take this more seriously. It was time we celebrate this day appropriately. I mean, it’s been two years now, and if things wouldn’t have gone the way they did, we would both be living completely separate lives right now. I can’t imagine—I don’t even want to imagine—what or where I would be right now if it weren’t for our experience on this day. Two years ago, our worst day together became our best day together.

    My shift ended early, so I came home an hour before he ever expected me, only to walk through the door and see taupe high heels, a black skirt, and a silky white scarf scattered across the floor. I caught him, and I had suspected as much. We weren’t connecting for the past several months, and I wondered if he had found somebody else. It was almost a relief. I was ready to get out of the marriage, since it hadn’t seemed like a marriage anymore.

    I slammed the door closed, and they slowly emerged from the bedroom. I stood there, silent.

    He spoke first while she scurried to pick up her belongings, like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. “Honey, I’m so sorry. I never meant for this to happen….”

    “Are you speaking to me or to this slut whom you allowed in our bed?” I said. I crossed my arms and shook my head in disgust. She brushed past me and mumbled, “I’m so sorry,” and dashed out the door behind me. I let her go; I had nothing to say to her anyway.

    “I’m talking to you. I don’t really know what to say….” His voice trailed off and he sunk into the wooden kitchen chair.

    “Well, I know what to say. I say we get a divorce. Simple as that.” My voice cracked, but I swallowed to choke back the tears that wanted to spill forth.

    “No,” he said, “let’s make this the first day of the rest of our lives. Let’s start over.”

    And so I was making him relive his shameful moment of being caught two years ago on this day and pledging once again to be my faithful husband. Two years and going strong. I just wish he would take it as seriously as I was.

  30. Leaf Leaf

    I began rolling the joints and then dressing them in the newspaper. I had cut up a lot of the newspaper, slicing it like confetti and streaming the shreds throughout the apartment. To my surprise, (maybe, not really) he didn’t want any part of it, but I refused to hear any of that. He was just as culpable as I was. I couldn’t believe he could have a conscious now. What about three years ago? Where was conscious then? People kill me with their delayed streams of morality. I don’t really care. Well, I do care but what can you really do after the fact? He wanted it as much as I did. The dark before dawn could not cover the seething excitement in his eyes. His lips parted like a slice of moon, and his teeth glowed like the haunting, mysterious orb itself. I guess he was haunted by what we did, but Vaughn had it coming. Somebody should’ve killed that piece of shit a long time ago. His mama even. Paul wanted to kill him…had even suggested it to me! I had just had enough of the madness. My sleep was wakened daily by Vaughn’s clamor of wall banging and door slams. I’ll never forget Paul holding the flashlight as I dug up earth. He was so patient and never complained about his arm growing tired. My back and arms were exhausted but I’m stronger than him so most of the labor was left to me. It was Paul who killed Vaughn, though. Yup. Meek, delicate Paul was the one who hit him in the head. We had discussed it before, but I really didn’t think Paul had it in him. Guess he showed me. He felt strong after beating Vaughn in his head with the bat. His chest heaved proudly, and the grin on his face said it all. Now, three years later, the pride had dissipated, supplanted with shame, turmoil and fear. No one is looking for Vaughn. And why should they? Whose really looking for the newspaper man?

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