Thirty in Thirty Day 9
Below is today’s prompt from storyaday.org
Set a story in the opposite setting to what you wrote last time (e.g. Indoor->outdoor, contemporary->non-contemporary, realistic->fantastic
I have recently been working on my middle grade dystopian fantasy, so in the spirit of today’s prompt I wrote a contemporary short fiction piece.
Maggie was finally home. She perched on the plastic bathroom stool in the middle of the musty, dark living room surrounded by boxes and cartons. The only sources of light came from the moonlight squeezing in the tiny kitchen window and the street light beam shining in the screen door. As she placed the half-empty can of Coke on the floor she felt the restless kick, kick, kick of the baby. She rubbed and cradled her belly crooning, “ I know, baby. We did too much today, didn’t we?”
She scanned the pile of dusty boxes, shook her head and sighed. “Where do I start?” She stuck her feet out and looked at her swollen ankles. Her legs ached and her head felt as if it were stuffed with unraveled yarn. She ran her hands through her short, brown curls and sighed again. Reaching for a box that she could reach without standing seemed like the best idea. She grunted as she pulled it toward her. She squinted in the dim light to read the words “Maggie’s stuff” written in her mother’s block letters. “Well, that’s a helpful label,” she muttered.
As she began breaking the masking tape with her ragged thumbnail, she heard the sound of feet scuffling through the leaves on the sidewalk out front. Just as Maggie managed to heave herself into an unsteady stance, Paige breezed in the door carrying two large pizza boxes.
“House-warming time!” Paige looked around. “Maggie darling, where are your lights?’
“They aren’t getting turned on until tomorrow. I forgot to call the power company until this morning. I know, I know. Don’t look at me like that. It’s not that bad, really.”
“But, you can’t keep forgetting things like you’ve been doing lately. It isn’t like you. How can an efficient accountant suddenly become so inept? You’ve got a baby due soon. Are you going to forget to feed and change him?”
Maggie laughed, “I am pretty sure that babies come with built-in alarms so that won’t happen. Besides he’s to blame for my foggy brain. Honestly, you’ve got to admit that I’ve had a lot to think about in the last few weeks. Did you bring anything to drink with those pizzas?”
“Out in the car. Back in a sec.”
As Paige dashed outside, Maggie finished opening the box. She pulled out an old white gift box that collapsed and spilled its contents as she tried to lift it. Photographs, newspaper clippings and wrinkled satin sashes sailed to the floor. Maggie set the ruined box on the stool and walked over to the ribbon of moonlight that illuminated some of the box’s scattered treasures. Fanned out before her were pictures of herself that she scarcely recognized. Had she ever really looked like that?
She heard Paige behind her. “ What’s all this? How did you manage to make such a mess in that little bit of time? Maggie, who is that in those pictures?”
Maggie took the 2 liter soda bottles from Paige and shrugged. “That’s me. They’re from child beauty pageants I was in back in Arkansas. I don’t know why my mother kept them. Hey, why did you bring so much food?”
“Oh! I forgot to tell you. Frank and Julie are coming by to help. They should be here any minute. Don’t look at me like that, They want to help. Now what’s this about beauty pageants?” Paige picked up a handful of photos. “Gosh, look at you in those outfits and makeup. You look like that JonBenet kid that got killed. Look at that blond hair and those eyelashes. I never remember you looking like that.”
Maggie snatched the pictures away. “The hair was dyed, the eyelashes were as fake as those smiles. I didn’t really look like that. It was all phony, just like my life there. I hated those pageants! That was all my mother’s doing, It was her way of coping, I guess. We lived a make-believe life. Nothing was real until we moved here. That’s why I wanted to move back into this house. This was where I actually got to live a normal life. Here with my grandmother.” Her shoulders sagged as tears began to stream down her face.