Winterfest Drabble Challenges
~ exactly 100-word stories using 3 given elements ~
Mouse, a Box of Crayons, Father’s Study/Library
“Why did he unwrap every single crayon, Vincent? Now I don’t know what to call the colors,” young Jamie grumped. “And I loved the names.”
“I’m not sure. Have you asked him?”
Jamie glared and tapped her foot and sat down hard in a chair pulled up to the library table in Father’s study. A colorful pile of paper shreds shifted in the breeze of her disgruntlement.
“It was a 64-crayon box too, with copper and silver! And a sharpener!”
“Better names now.” Mouse piped up without raising his head. He tapped his temple and kept on with his work.
Zach, a Halloween Costume, a Classroom Chamber
“I’m not gonna wear that. It’s dumb.”
“Come on, Zach,” Eric pestered. “We’re all picking one.”
The boxes of old Halloween costumes Mouse had found were open and their contents arrayed on the science classroom’s tall experiment tables. Donald Duck, Huckleberry Hound. Vinyl suits that tied in the back and plastic masks with eye holes so small you could barely see.
He watched her from across the room. She was holding a Wonder Woman mask. Nooooo, he almost shouted.
A mask would ruin everything! He wouldn’t wear it, not when he planned, no, hoped to kiss …
Jamie, a Ticket, the Brooklyn Bridge
Where was she? They needed to talk.
He’d seen her in the break room earlier pouring a cup of coffee, but now? He’d popped out of his office a dozen times in the last hour to check, yet her chair was still empty.
He’d just wait for her then, Joe decided, and sat down.
Her desk was cluttered with papers and files and a sandwich half-unwrapped. He couldn’t help himself; he was hungry. He’d buy her another.
What’s this? A note?!
He unfolded it … and shot up out of her chair for the elevator. He knew where she was.
Catherine, Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, a Fountain Pen
A suddenly-warm late-winter day. Catherine lingered in the park, gathering in the blue, blue sky, the sweep of clouds, the joy of birds flying free in the more hospitable air. Could she remember it all?
Vincent avowed she brought the sun below, the scent of all seasons. But did she?
If only she could memorialize …
And there, on the concrete rim of Bethesda Fountain, a fountain pen. Vintage, a barrel of azure, white and gold – the colors of all above. The Angel of the Waters seemed to smile in bronzed gift as if sure the right words would come to her.
Vincent, a Balloon, the Mirror Pool
His meditation was interrupted by a brush across his cheek.
Eyes closed, he fanned it away.
Not a bug. Not a bat.
His reverie was broken by an image of Father wrestling through a rush of Chiroptera (a storm-cloud of winged assassins, so he’d claimed).
Vincent laughed, not even softly.
Another brush. He opened his eyes. A purple balloon bobbed overhead, its tailing ribbon corkscrew-curled.
A marvel finding an opening, another journeying through twisting chimneys and rocky points, intact in defiance of probability.
He drew it down. Usually things drifted up from the Mirror pool. Not today.
Anything was possible.
Jamie, a Ticket, the Brooklyn Bridge
Jamie parked her new bicycle at the corner of Front and Dover, hitching the shining chain around the lamp post. The Brooklyn Bridge almost overhead, the ground rattled. Up top was almost too much, but Isaac said meet here, and she was right on time. Even a little early.
“You like your ride?”
She looked up to see her trainer on the fire escape, one floor up. “I sure do. Thanks again.”
“Once is plenty. Get on up here, let’s do the work.”
Two hours later she emerged on the street, sweaty but energized.
“What the heck? A parking ticket?!”
Samantha, a Homework Assignment, the Whispering Gallery
“Samantha! C’mon. Lunch hour’s almost over.”
“Hush, Geoffrey. I’m doing the homework assignment. Pipe down, will ya?”
“It’s not due til Friday. I don’t even get it. This new music teacher has some funny ideas.” He kicked a post on the Whispering Gallery bridge, which made Samantha huff and scoot farther away from the dust he stirred up. Kinda the opposite of what he really wanted to happen.
“The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind,” he muttered. “We’re supposed to ‘interpret’ that? Geez.”
Samantha pointed. “Either out.” She pointed again. “Or beside me. You pick.”
He sat down.
Mouse, Raspberry Jam, the Great Falls
The boy didn’t have the words for this sensation. He knew to hide the shining thing he’d found, scuttle away, find a place where he could see out, but not be seen. Where he could have it in peace, get it all into his mouth fast before … before the growlers came, the snatchers.
Here was good. Big place, lots of shadows. Crouching spots. Lots of water falling down, big roar. Water to drink too, trickle trickle trickle.
He attacked the lid. Stuck. He could fix. His pockets held his treasures.
He sighed at the taste, felt his face stretch wide.
William, a Book of Poetry, the Mirror Pool
Funny nobody ever thinks to come looking for him. Breakfast over, lunch … folks are satisfied, he guesses. Plenty in the pantry for latecomers. Two o’clock every day, he just … slips away.
The Mirror Pool. He settles down to a chiseled bench, opens his satchel. Pulls out his manuscript. Looks over the pages he’s already written.
He chuckles. Folk’s would think he’s writing recipes. And he is, but more than that. Memories of tastes and moments. Who first made him blueberry pancakes, how a bowl of blueberries now brings back *that* kitchen, *that* voice.
For every recipe, he writes a poem.
Father, a Candy Bar, Catherine’s Apartment
Vincent strode through the open balcony doors of Catherine’s apartment. Her smile was beacon enough, but she held something in her hands.
“You found one! And with a photograph of an English garden on it,” he said, not completely surprised. “Where?”
“At the flea market on West 77th. I kicked over a stack of metal pans and there it was on the shelf behind them.”
“Not 1940s chocolates, obviously, but what Cadbury’s calls a Milk Tray now.”
“A rare treat, he said. His favorite, back then.”
“I hope still his favorite.”
The doorbell buzzed.
“Father’s here!” Vincent whispered.
Rebecca, a Letter, Central Park
Rebecca touched the letter in her pocket. Sebastien had brought it down, the only person who knew everything. She couldn’t open it Below. It seemed a Pandora’s Box, like she’d been studying in class before she had to leave. She didn’t want to unleash anything ugly.
She headed into the Central Park Ramble. Vincent and Devin went to Turtle Rock at night, but she’d need the light of day to read whatever was inside the envelope. The path was deserted, all the benches empty. She slit the flap with the little knife she carried now.
A newspaper cutting drifted out.
Edie, a manilla envelope, Catherine’s apartment
Catherine handed her guest a beer. Too late, she saw the manilla envelope stuffed behind the sofa pillow Edie fussed with.
She should’ve shown her to another seat. She’d been sitting right there when the doorbell rang, Vincent’s chin resting on her shoulder. Now …
Edie pulled the envelope free. Of course, it was upside down. Of course, Kristopher’s new drawing slipped out.
“Look at you!” Edie crowed. “And, oh baby, look at him!”
Vincent’s muffled laugh was undeniable. And so he stepped from the bedroom into the light, into the silence …
Edie gulped. “Do you … do you have a brother?”
Devin, Father’s Fedora, the Crystal Cavern
“Believing Narcissa’s tales will lead you into dangerous territory.”
He picked up his pen, applied it where he’d left off. The subject was closed.
“Mind me, now. There’s no crystal cavern. Even if there were, it would be far, far from here. You could get hurt, lost–”
“Or worse,” Devin finished. “O–kay.”
“Off you go. You may believe the rumors of chocolate cake.”
Alone, he opened his armoire, reached deep to the corner of the shelf. Lifted the brim of his old fedora. Still there: the crystal he’d chosen from the glittering cave, lit with hope … for Margaret.
Kristopher, Vincent’s toy carousel, the ice skating rink in Central Park
“What’s in the trunk?” He eased back the domed lid.
A toy carousel, the ice skates worn once one moonless midnight in Central Park, a tin bank still rattling with coins. He pulled the memories from the the chest, arranging them in a collage beside it. Now and then, he’d consider the design. A shift of angle, a quarter-turn. Whatever it took to please his artist’s eye …
Next out, a stack of slim books. He shuffled them like cards.
“Hey, look! Harold and the Purple Crayon. That’s what got me started.”
“Started … what, Kristopher?”
“You know … coloring outside the lines.”
Vincent, the scent of warm chocolate, the Whispering Bridge
“Is he sleepwalking?”
“I think he’s sleep listening.”
“We can’t wake him up. It’s too dangerous.”
Devin stood awfully close to the one rickety board on the Whispering Bridge, his glazed gaze on something far away.
“I’ll get him,” Vincent said. “I’m the littlest. I won’t cause much sway.”
“Well, technically …” Pascal began.
Vincent took a step and steadied. Took another. And another.
Closer, closer …
His voice as wispy, he hoped, as the voices heard in this place, Vincent called his brother’s name.
“Smell that, little brother?”
Surprised, Vincent had to grab the rope rail.
“Warm chocolate. Mary’s making brownies.”
Vincent, a Face Mask, Above
“You’re allowed the hour of dusk Above,” Father said. “A helper will go with you.”
They had their candy bags, brown paper ones they’d smoothed out. For costumes … with a little soot on their faces they could go in their normal clothes, be The Lost Boys, like in Peter Pan.
Vincent though …
His friends called from the corridor. “Come on, Devin! If we don’t hurry, Father won’t let us go!”
And there he was was, pushing through the crowd wearing a plastic Cowardly Lion face mask. Grinning behind it, he could tell.
One ear was broken, but it would do.
Narcissa, a Candle, the Great Hall
The news whispered through the Great Hall. No one expected her.
Jacob frowned. His job was to parcel out the mead. Hard to pour and keep his eye on the woman.
What’s she doing, crouching down in front of Vincent. She has him by the shoulders, filling his head, no doubt.
What’s that in her hand? A blob of white wax. Vincent has it now! They’re leaving!
“Devin! Where?” He called him over, pointed with his chin.
“Dunno. Vincent’s mother’s got something to tell him. The candle’s magic.” Devin kicked the table leg. “I want to go too.”
~~~ ~~~ ~~~