Only a Sparkler could take the prompts I gave you last week—which required you to include items like a missing tooth, an old enemy, and a "hug that goes too far"—and come up with such GENIUS tales of redemption, horror, betrayal, and twinlyness (twinlyness is a word I just invented. Tell your friends—especially if your friends work at the dictionary factory). All of you deserve a standing ovation for your fantastic works of fiction, but as you know, there can only be TWO winners (or 4ish, if I'm feeling fancy). The authors of today's top picks will each receive a 3 scoops of Half-Baked ice cream with their choice of toppings (options are limited to the 30-month-old container of rainbow sprinkles I have on my desk, Post-it notes, and water).
Sparklers' Choice (with 8 votes): CrepuscularSnidget! Check out her haunting tale below:
He loved her.
We are one and the same, my brother and I. Same shock of raven hair, same penetrating dark eyes, same aquiline nose, same crooked smile. And same sweetheart. Ariella Hawthorne, the fairest of them all. And my twin, he wooed her and won her heart. They stole kisses on the balcony and in shadowy corners of ballrooms. Her beautiful green eyes flashed with joy when she laid eyes on him. Malcolm and Ariella, betrothed.
But we are the same, yes? Malcolm and Maddox, the dark twins of Lennoway Manor. And I will tell you this: on the eve of the twenty-first of December, in the year of Our Lord 1824, my brother planned to make my love his wife. For me, each kiss, each sweet word was a stab in my chest. I longed to be Ariella's beloved, longed to have her dainty hands caress my face, longed to kiss her petal-like lips. I could not allow my twin to succeed.
There is one difference between my brother and I. From the time we were babes in our identical cradles, each embossed with our names, my brother Malcolm has been deathly afraid of spiders. Few know this one difference. Few would suspect Malcolm Lennoway, fierce fencer, gifted scholar, beloved of Ariella Hawthorne, of this most cowardly trait. I, of course, bear no fear for the little vermin. I'll not tell you my fear, though. Not even my other half knows.
The manor bustled with preparations for my brother's wedding. I made my own preparations. With knowledge gleaned from my father's scientific textbooks, I prepared a concoction from secret ingredients. One whiff would send an unlucky soul into a deep slumber.
I strode down the hall to my brother's room. "Malcolm?" I whispered. "I have something for you. A tonic for the nerves."
And my dear, sweet, foolish brother was soon unconscious at my feet. I dragged him--odd, dragging your own body---into the cellar and locked him in. Mayhap a servant would find him. Or not.
And then, I committed a crime that will surely send me into the deepest pits of hell. I stole my brother's ring, the ring he planned to present to his love. To my love.
I dressed as Malcolm, tidied my hair, and strode down to begin the ceremony. The bishop droned on while I stood beside him. And then, Ariella, angelic in white, glided down the aisle, and I slid my stolen ring on her alabaster finger, and she slid a ring on mine, her hands as soft as butterflies. And I kissed her, my rightful bride.
I didn't see him. I know not who he is. An avenging angel sent by God to punish me for my crimes? A demon sent by the Prince of Lies to unravel my own lie? But he tore off his hat, and pointed at me, and then, oh, and then, there were spiders.
Did this stranger call down the spiders. I did not scream, so focused was I on this man. But Ariella did. I thought it was because of the arachnids, but she was pointing at me. And the sound of my name rose and swelled among the crowd. Maddox. Not Malcolm, although we are one and the same. But it is Malcolm, not Maddox, who wins Ariella.
And then, my artful scheme collapsed at the hands of a stranger. And here I am. Judge me, if you will. But if we are the same, my brother and I, surely he must be judged, too. What is his must also be mine.
Dagger's Choice: In the end, I went with Briar_Rose_Unwritten (I loved her surprise twist!), but Fiction_is_Forever and hammncheese94 (his Valentine's Day story) were close seconds!
“Remy’s. 6:00. Be there! -Darling.”
His lips curled up at the sight of the note. The square yellow Post-it, crinkled at the corners and stuck with careful deliberation on his new thermos. It was sitting on his desk. Monica must have brought it, considering that he had forgotten it at home that morning, and had been in a caffeine-withdrawal ever since.
Tenderly, he removed the note, placing it in his coat pocket as he reached for his office phone. He hated his phone. He hated his desk. He hated his job. But he loved Monica, and he had to make money somehow. Otherwise, he could never have afforded a ring. As he dialed, cradling the phone between his neck and shoulder, he pulled out the little blue velvet box. Inside was a diamond on an exquisite silver band.
He could see her face in his mind, her expression when she first saw it. She would gasp, her red lips forming a perfect ‘O’ as she looked at it. “Jake,” she would say, “we’ve only been dating for--”
“I know it’s a short time,” he would reply, “But I always knew, Darling. I always knew. When I first saw you, I thought to myself, ‘There is my future bride.’ And I meant it. I--”
The phone. He had nearly forgotten. “Monica? I saw your note.”
“Did you?? Oh, Jake! This is going to be the perfect Valentine’s Day, I just know it!”
His voice was low, looking at the ring. “So do I.”
“So you can come? I thought it would be perfect to go to Remy’s, since that’s where we met!”
“Of course. It IS perfect.”
“Oh, I love you Honey!”
“I love you too, Darling.”
It was torture to wait. The hours passed like years. Jake nearly left work early, with the thought of Monica waiting for him, unknowing of his plan to propose. But finally, it was 5:30, and he could leave. He rushed out of the office, practically skipping down the steps as he whistled and waved for a taxi. Finally, a cab pulled over, and he slid in. But before he could close the door, another hand caught it. “Do you mind? We could share the car.”
And Jake was looking at none other than Sam Rodrigo.
And then they were both in the car together. “Remy’s,” they said at the same time.
The driver started off, and the silence settled in.
Sam had mad his life hell every day in high school. But Jake wasn’t going to talk about that. “Meeting a date?” he finally asked.
“No. Just getting a drink with a business partner. I’m seeing my wife tonight.”
The drive seemed to last longer than the rest of Jake’s day altogether. When they arrived, Sam jogged in, with Jake following slowly. Both men were seated immediately, as both had reservations. Unfortunately, the tables were right next to each other.
However, when Monica walked in, he forgot about all of that. She was everything to him. She was entire world. He stood. “You’re beautiful.” She smiled. She had the most beautiful smile.
But suddenly, Sam’s voice broke his calm. “How do you know my wife?”
And Jake knew that Sam Rodrigo was about to make his life hell again.
Well done, everyone! And now for the unveiling of this week's prompt:
Write a short story (600 words MAX) about a character who receives a mysterious package in the mail—in it, there are only two items: an unmarked key and a letter that simply says "You know what to do." How does the character react? What events unfold after they open the package?
Get writin', butts!