Saturday, April 30, 2011

The End of the Search

Write for at least 400 words about an agreement, a shop, a full moon, and a note.*

A tubby man waits in the shadows. His head is cocked to one side, his body in a stiff pose in contrast to his soft nature. He twists a band with a yellow stone around his third finger. The sound of sharp footsteps echo. The man takes a step out of the darkness and is revealed in the glow of the full moon which cast dark lines underneath the remaining hairs slicked to his shiny pate. The footsteps draw closer until their owner stands in front of the man. His eyes widen and his brows draw down. Before him, a slight black girl in dark green cloak looks up at him.

"This is no place for kids."

The girl shakes her head slowly, making her braids fall across her face. She holds up her hand. In between two fingers is a folded note. After a moment, the man takes the paper and begins to open it, but the girl grabs his arm. The man stares at the girl's fingers pushing the fat of his arm between them and jerks his arm away. Her fingers are as small as the rest of her and vibrated with an eerie humming. She felt like a machine.

"What do I do now?" For a minute the man doesn't think she will be able to speak and is surprised at how sweet-sounding and human she sounds.

"Wait. The question will make itself clear. If you know the answer, write it on this paper and come back to this shop at the next full moon. You will be invited inside. The answer you write will determine if you are allowed to leave. Don't open the paper until you realize the answer." The girl turns and and runs through the manicured strip of flowers separating the parking lot from the one of the next business. The man's eyes follow her progress long after he can see her. His eyes go to the closed sign on the door and then he brings them up to the sign on the shop: The White Butterfly.


The days and the weeks pass. The tubby man no longer exists. In his place is a skin-wrapped skeletal figure, with bags under his yellowed and red-veined eyes. He glances at the sign on the shop before placing a foot on the bottom step. The shop's door is curtained against the night. The sign on the door says the shop is open.

Another little girl opens the door a crack as he makes it to the top step. She holds out her hand, palm up. The man pulls a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket. It is dog-eared, stained, and ripped. The girl smoothes out the piece of paper to read it. As her eyes scan what's written there, she smiles. She opens the door more to let the man inside. The man stands, just stands, and sees the moon glaring back down at him. He steps into the shop.

The shop is dark and spartan. The man wraps his trench more tightly around himself against the chill. A couch and a small table with two chairs are on the left. Shelves cover every wall and six rows of them are on the right. On every shelf is a line of pristine white boxes. They are small and are all closed. Girls check the boxes. They go to certain boxes and then consider the plain, unmarked boxes without touching them before noting something on electronic tablets. The small black girl from his first visit is standing behind an empty counter. The girl who opened the door gives her the man's note. She takes it and pockets it without reading it, only sweeping an arm toward the couch and table. The man chooses a seat at the table. The girl joins him, but sits on the blue flowered couch, swinging her legs onto the cushions.

The girl looks at the man, taking in his drooping eyes and shaking hands. She pulls his paper out of the pocket of her blue smock and reads it again. She catches the eye of one of the other girls and nods. That girl, one with skin a darker brown than the first one, nods back and goes into the back of the store. She promptly returns with a large silver platter. She walks  directly to the row of shelves, the third one from the back. She picks up a box with gloved hands and sets it on the platter. She takes the platter with the box and places them on the table in front of the man. Turning on her heel, she goes back to her duties.

The man sits quietly at the table, neither moving toward nor away from the box. He inhales at the sound of the girls voice. It's melodious bell-like tones ring against the walls.

"Do not proceed until I have finished speaking. In this box is the response. You have one minute to give your reaction. This is a binding agreement, your reaction. Once you have reacted, you will either be allowed to leave here to never come back or be sentenced to the death of my choosing. " The girl looks down and then back up at the man to show that she had finished.

The man's hand reaches slowly for the box before stopping short of touching it. He exhales and opens the box. Inside is a gold ring with a small topaz setting. At first, the man does not seem to react at all, but when he raises his head he is crying. He shakes his head over and over. He picks up the box and slides the ring on his hand. It clinks against his own. The man reads the inscription inside the band: My love will always find you. He places the ring into the left pocket of his coat, over his heart. He stands, slowly swaying with his head down. Tears flow into the excess skin of his jaw. The man lifts his head and opens his arms to the girl on the couch. She smiles and gets up to walk into his embrace. She takes his head into her hands and pulls it down to kiss his forehead. She walks to the door and opens it.

"You may leave."

*Writing prompt generated at Writing Exercise Generator

No comments:

Post a Comment