Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Set It Free...

It's writing challenge time, brought to you by Indie Ink. You know the drill: we writers swap challenges and write about them--we have until 11 p.m. on Thursday evening to meet these challenges or NASTY things happen! New contestants are always welcome to join by going to the link and signing up!

Welcome to week 10. As always, feel free to leave comments, suggestions, and other neuronically-fired feedback either in the comments here, or on Twitter or Facebook!

Week 10.
My Challenger: Blackbird
My Challenge: Why does your caged bird sing?
Who I am Challenging: Tara Roberts
What I Challenged Them With: Your oldest son has just become the first American Pope; your daughter has just become first female president of the United States; your youngest son is a well-known gay porn star known for his *ahem* size. And they're all coming home for a holiday dinner. Go!

Set It Free...

His fingers caressed the cherry finish, delicately touched upon where the gold trim met the finely-sanded wood, eyes closed. He opened his eyes as he opened the box and watched as the metal bird popped up on its spring, listened as the haunting melody flowed to his ears...

He grabbed the black leather gloves from the top of the dresser at the side of the antique music box, pulling them on tightly, pleased at the snug fit, the sound they made as they slapped against his wrists.

Another bird to free...


"I'm so nervous!" Margaret hissed into the phone pinched between her neck and shoulder as she held up two very different dresses against her body. She stared into the full length mirror--the red one, the black one. The red one, the black one... "I haven't been out since-- Well, you know..."

She listened intently, then broke out in laughter. "No, no, no. Trust me, if this is another Peter, I am so not even sticking around!" Unconsciously, her fingers dropped the black dress onto the bed and immediately stretched over to her opposite shoulder, fingers tracing the faded scar that led from her ear down to her chest. As if realizing what her fingers were doing, she froze.

"No, sorry, what?" she asked as she eyed her fingers suspiciously, traitors calling forth the past she wanted desperately to forget. "No, um, no. At eight... Uh-huh... Yeah, I'll send a text when I get there..."

She laughed again at whatever the voice on the other end said. "And I'll call you when I get home... Probably about eleven or so if it's a good night... Uh-huh..." She lifted the red dress against her body again, admiring herself in the mirror. "I think the red one--less cleavage, more leg... No!... I swear, Gina, if you even--"


She whirled around. "Wait!... No, no! Shh! I think I heard--"


The other window. "Gina... Listen, I think--"

Suddenly her cat jumped out from behind the curtains, giving her a fright. "Sweet Jesus Mary and Joesph!"

"No!" she laughed, relieved. "No, Gina, it's okay! Just the goddamn cat scaring the bejesus out of me... No, no, everything is fine. Listen, I have to go or I'm going to be late... Yep, yep, much love."

Yet she paused. She closed the phone and walked cautiously over to the window and checked the locks. Her free hand once again trailed up to her ear, tracing the scar...

"Stupid cat."


He watched as she slid the dress down over her body, adjusting the straps as they lay on her shoulders. He watched her walk down the hall, stop in front of the mirror. She picked up two small earrings from a crystal bowl, pushed her hair back to begin placing them on her dainty lobes.

He watched as she froze when her eyes landed on the scars.

"Still frightened, I see."

She gasped, spun, dropped the earrings. "Who--"

"Margie, Margie, Margie..." He tutted her name.


He glanced up into her eyes. "Sorry, what?"

"My. Name. Isn't. Margie." He saw the anger mingled with fear, and was pleased.

"Oh, you'll always be my Margie." He got up from the couch in the corner, clasped his gloved hands before him, and slowly began walking toward her. He grinned as she started backing up the hall, bumping into the table, not wanting to turn around.

"Don't be like that, Margie," he said, slowly closing the distance. "I've missed you, you know."

"Stay. Away." Bump, trip... "Stay back, Peter." The tears were free-flowing, the rage all too evident.

"Now, come, Margie. Don't make this difficult. I can see it in your eyes. You've missed me too."

She fell, tripping over the not-yet-tied straps of her heels. "Stay. Oh my god. Peter, I swear..." She choked on her words, struggled to get back up, to not turn her back on him.

"And the singing. Oh, how I've missed your singing... Come, now, Margie. Shall we make music once more?" He pulled out a knife from his waist band, and he saw how it reflected the light from the kitchen straight into her eyes--her now wide-open eyes, wet with tears, lit with--excitement?

"Oh, yes," Peter grinned. "I see you have missed me. But as my therapist said, if I love something, I have to let it go.

"I'm here to free you, Margie. For one last time, we shall make music, and then you shall be free."

"Peter... No... Please..."

"Oh, come now, my sweet. I shall miss you as well. But enough of this chit-chat. Shall we go to your room? Begin our final lesson?"

She cried, great weeping bouts, collapsed on the floor. "Peter..."


He closed the lid when he returned, silencing the mechanical bird. Picking it up, he carried it over to the china cabinet at the other end of the room. He opened the beveled glass doors, admiring the craftsmanship, and then adjusted the other music boxes on the shelf, making room for Margie's. Once it was placed just so, he took the lock of her hair and placed it on top. It's brilliant blond color the perfect accent against the cherry wood and gold trim.

Tomorrow he's have hit the antique stores again, to find a new music box.

A new bird.

Previous Challenges I have answered:
[Week 1: All of Me] [Week 2: Child's End]
[Week 3: Seeking Bonds] [Week 4: Just So You Know]
[Week 5: Justice & Mercy] [Week 6: Tale of a Fateful Flick]
[Week 7: Hell or High Water] [Week 8: Streaming Summer]
[Week 9: Piss & Vinegar]


Barb Black said...

Whoa! Creepalicious!!! Well done, very well done.

hahahahaa... my verification word is "outti"...

Tara R. said...

Spine-tingling... had me on the edge of my chair the whole time.

Caroline Gerardo said...

Excellent way to answer the challenge and not be Maya A. great.
The challenge you gave was very complicated

The Onion said...

((hiding under the covers))

Marian said...

jesus, Jason! i have a creep that your creep should meet. yikes!

Tru said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tru said...

You once told me you're facinated by how my mind works....SUDDENLY I'm AFRAID of how yours does!!! Brilliant my friend....Have you talked to anyone at "Criminal Minds" yet????

Nathan Pralle said...

Holy moly -- that took a turn I wasn't expecting! :) Nice job.

Lazidaisical said...

YES!!! Love it!!!

janani said...

Yikes, that was super scary! Well done!

Stefan said...

Good piece.

I liked all the tension you built up over the course of the story.

Random Girl said...

Well this pretty much just summed up my worst nightmare. Had me literally holding my breath. Wow.

Kat said...

I will be sleeping with the lights on tonight, and tomorrow... (shudder)

binaryfootprints said...

Ayegah! I have lost my love for music box in under 2 minutes. Creepy, lovely..read like a Mary Higgins Clark novel. Gosh..I will say more when my heart stops jumping in my throat

Jason Hughes said...

@Barb: "Outti"? LMAO! I sometimes wonder if these word verifications spring from the post itself--as in "GET OUTTI THERE, MARGARET!" :)

@Tara: Thanks for the love!

@Caroline: Yeah, I totally wanted to be separate from Maya's famous quote--I tried to think of the OPPOSITE of what she was trying to convey... :) Thanks!

@Onion: It's okay, you can come out from under the bed--we are, after all, only going to make music together--Bwahaha!!!

@Marian: Don't tell him where *I* live!!!

@Tru: *This* is exactly why I hate watching horror--my mind is creepy enough :) And if you know someone who works for Criminal Minds, hand them my name and number... :)

@Nathan: Thanks!! Glad I could surprise you!

To the rest of you: THANK YOU!! I am honored that so many talented writers took the time to read my little story! You all set the bar SO FREAKIN' HIGH!! (and I know getting the time to read all 50 participants stories are very time consuming!) You stopping by to share your thoughts is truly humbling and appreciated!

Stefan said...

Good piece.

I liked all the tension you built up over the course of the story.

janani said...

Yikes, that was super scary! Well done!

Tara R. said...

Spine-tingling... had me on the edge of my chair the whole time.