May is national short story month. I don’t know in which nation; but somewhere in the world it is. Short Stories are at least 1000 words but no more than 7500 words. In keeping with the flash fiction part of my blog, I will be writing some flash short stories throughout the month. This is one of them.
An elderly lady was preparing her lunch for the day. It was going to be a simple vegetable style soup. Her son had gone to the grocery store for her to get frozen vegetables the day before and she had plenty to choose from. She got a bouillon from the spice cabinet and put it in water on the stove to warm up. Next she pulled out the safety scissors her son had bought for her after she had cut her hand using regular scissors. He had removed all the sharp knives from the house because she had the shakes all the time now.
She was just cutting open the bag of carrots when she heard a sound at the door. She walked slowly through the kitchen with her walker to go to answer the door. That’s when the door opened itself. She wondered why her son would be visiting her at this time of the day when he should be at work. She worried that something had happened. Maybe he had been fired because he took off last week to take her to the urgent care clinic after her most recent fall. This would be terrible news. He was her main support and her meager pension was barely enough to support her alone, it would be nowhere near to supporting him as well.
When she reached the entry hall, she saw that the man entering her home was not her son at all, but a complete stranger; some youngish 20-something with a scraggly beard and wild looking eyes. He took one look at her and she knew he was major trouble. Her first reflex was to grab her emergency alert necklace and call for help. She knew this would connect her to her son’s cell phone and also call for other help.
The young man thought she was trying to hide a valuable necklace from him, so he wouldn’t realize its worth. He lurched straight towards her with a menacing growl. “Give me the necklace.” he snarled.
She backed away and staggered down the hallway as quickly as she could. She hadn’t grabbed her walker and soon stumbled into a wall. Using it to help her keep her balance she tried to retreat into the kitchen again. It was no use though; the young man was much more mobile than she had been in years. He quickly caught her, spun her around, and backhanded her on her face. This was enough to send her reeling to the floor.
He took the necklace from her and when he realized what it was he knew he had to hurry. “Where do you keep all your money and jewelry?” he barked.
As addled as her thoughts were from the blow to the head, she couldn’t make sense of the question and looked at him fearfully. He repeated the question.
“I dddon’t have much…PPPlease ddon’t hurt me…It’s all upstairs.” She stammered. “In…in the bedroom.”
He turned and grabbed her walker and took a look back at her wielding the walker like a weapon. “You’d better not be lying to me,” He hissed, “or I’ll beat you to death with this.”
He turned back to the steps and stomped upstairs. She tried to drag herself into the kitchen so she could hide in one of the cabinets or under the table. She heard him thumping around upstairs and tossing things here and there with no care for whether they broke or not. At this rate there wouldn’t be one thing left unbroken upstairs.
At this point her phone rang. Her friends knew to let it continue ringing for a long time because it took her a while to get to it. The ringing seemed to go on forever. She couldn’t get off of the ground to grab it from its place hanging on the wall. Panic was starting to set in. There was nothing she could do to call for help, and she could already hear him coming back down the steps to get her. The cabinets and table were too far away for her to reach at her slow painful crawl. This was the end. Time to make her final peace with her maker.
Just as she began her prayers, there was another crashing sound, but this one came from the front door. Did the rogue have an accomplice? “Lord help me, don’t let me die like this.” She prayed. “I’ve led a good life. I don’t want to die this way.”
There was shouting coming from the front door. The burglar was still on the steps, she could hear him stop. The voice sounded somewhat familiar, but she couldn’t place it.
The footsteps on the stairs started again. “Get out of my way!” the burglar roared.
“Not on your life.” came the reply. There was the sound of a scuffle as the two men tried to settle their disagreement. The old lady heard the sound of a body hitting the door frame and falling to the ground. Which one was it that fell? She started crying.
There were no footsteps coming down the hall. Maybe she would live after all. But that meant the person who tried to stop the burglar was hurt. This was terrible. Someone else got hurt trying to defend her.
Another sound. Sirens, and close. What was happening now? The sirens stopped moving. They were so close. She had to find out what was going on. She dragged herself back into the hallway. The pain was almost unbearable, but curiosity was stronger. There was a man lying in her doorway. She knew him. It was the neighbor across the street. “Oh God, please let him be OK.” she fervently prayed.
She dragged herself to his side. He was moaning. “Thank you lord, he’s going to be OK.” she thought.
Outside she could see police cars and a man standing between them. He had his hands on his head and was lowering himself to a kneeling position. One of the policemen had a gun pointed at him and another was holding handcuffs. This ordeal had ended for now. Next would come the healing process and the trial. A long difficult road lies ahead. But at least it is one that can be traveled with help.