Today’s task for the 2015 October Platform Challenge is to write. So, while I go do that, I would like to give you all a Halloween treat. I am going to ask a wonderful writer and storyteller, Eliza Winkler, to entertain you today. I know you will enjoy her tale:
(Every week, Writer’s Digest puts a creative writing prompt up on their website. Here is my story based on this week’s prompt, Halloween Candy Thief Revenge)
At the sound of the doorbell my son Jake comes running from down the hall, hollow plastic jack-o-lantern in one hand as his cloak flutters behind him. He’s already six, and he looks more like his father every day. “Mommymommymommy! Is it time for trick treating?”
I can’t help but smile at my little Dracula’s enthusiasm. He grins at me, his plastic fangs in place as I answer the door. His friend Kenny waits on the other side, along with his teenage cousin. She smiles reassuringly at me. “I’ll keep a close eye on them, Mrs. Crane. I’ll have him back by eight and make sure he doesn’t eat any of his candy before you can look it over.”
My son gives my legs a hug before running out the door, focused on his quest for sugar. I watch from the door until they turn the corner and disappear from sight, my stomach doing acrobatics at his first year out without me. Needing distraction, I pick up a book then set it down and instead settle for my favorite old show on Netflix. I’ve seen it probably hundreds of times, so it doesn’t matter if I pay attention or not. I know it by heart.
The second episode is just beginning when I get the feeling that something is terribly wrong. I’m just reaching for the phone when there’s a knock at the door. My son bursts in as soon as I open the door, tears streaming down his face. His hands are empty, and his cloak is torn and dirty, splattered with what looks like paint.
I scoop him up and he cries into my shoulder. Kenny’s cousin appears at the doorway, looking equally distraught. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Crane.”
“There were three high school boys that were shooting kids with paintball guns and stealing their candy. There wasn’t anything I could do. I couldn’t stop them.” Her words are rushed, and I squeeze her shoulder.
“It’s okay. Get Kenny home. I’ll take care of this.” I close the door behind her and set my son down. I wipe his tears away and kiss his forehead. “It’s okay, baby, I’ll take care of it. Why don’t you go clean up? We’ll watch a movie and eat popcorn when I’m done.”
He nods and scurries upstairs to change as I dial the nonemergency police line….and get put on hold. I’m still waiting when my son skips down the stairs and hops up onto my lap where I’m sitting on the couch. He’s no longer sad, instead smiling and as happy as he was when he put on his costume.
“Who are you talking to?”
“The police,” I reply. Or I would be if they’d take me off hold.
“You don’t need to,” he says, reaching for the TV remote. “Daddy said he’d take care of it.”
I still, feeling like I’ve been punched in the stomach. “Jake, Daddy died when you were a baby.”
He smiles up at me. “He said you’d say that. It’s okay, Mommy. He visits me a lot.”
“Can….can you tell me what this man looks like?”
Jake rolls his eyes, hops down and runs over to the photo of my wedding day that sits on the sideboard and points to Scott. “Him! It’s Daddy.”
”I’m sorry about the delay, ma’am,” a voice says in my ear. ”How can I help you?”
I reply slowly, struggling to remember why I called. “Yes, my son and his friend had their candy stolen by a group of teenage boys who were shooting the little kids with paintball guns.”
”Was this in the Sandy Heights area?”
”It’s been taken care of, ma’am. A gentleman just escorted three teens into the station who confessed to the theft and assaults.”
“Can you tell me what he looked like? The gentleman who brought them in?”
He rattles off a clinical description that’s typical of police reports or news articles, but with each word I feel my nerves wind a little tighter. He could easily be describing the very picture of my husband that I’m staring at. “Is…is he still there?”
”No, ma’am, I’m sorry. He disappeared when they took the kids back for processing.”
“Thank you,” I reply, ending the call. There’s no way…It couldn’t be him….That’s impossible.
“Can we watch Hotel Transylvania?” Jake asks once he sees that I’m off the phone.
I ruffle his hair. “Sure.” At the sound of the doorbell, I get up. “Put it on and I’ll make popcorn,” I tell him as I reach for the doorknob. When I open the door there’s no one there, just Jake’s plastic jack-o-lantern filled to overflowing with candy. As I pick it up I pluck the small sticky note off the handle. I feel as though my world has been turned on its head as I read the words in the bold, familiar handwriting. Scott may have been gone for six years now, but his handwriting is something I’ll never forget.
I told him I’d handle it.
Eliza Winkler has been crafting worlds and creating characters since high school and has written several short stories and poems, which can be found on her blog sheepcarrot.wordpress.com, along with tales of gardening, family, and life in general. She lives in the small town of Shippensburg, PA with her fiancé and two drooly four-legged kids. You can connect with Eliza on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.