Happy Friday Firefans,
I wrote this piece a couple Octobers ago, in response to a writing prompt Lori gave me. I pulled it out of the dusty archives of my computer and read it again, (forced myself not to edit or think about how much better I could write it now) and had a snicker at my original idea for a surprise ending.- which later I decided I didn’t like and changed. The ending isn’t here, because I thought I would let you tell me how you think it should end! I’m still open for suggestions.
In any case I hope it gets you in a spooky mood just in time for a lovely October weekend.
Till next time,
The Pink Flappers
Rain pelted down in sheets and rolling thunder boomed as I peered out the small, diamond-shaped sections of clear glass framed in the wooden front door. There was no hope of getting Mamie to come and pick me up in her Coup Deville with weather like this going on out there. She was skittish of driving even in sunshine, in daylight wearing her flat soled shoes and her Daddy’s blessing. I sighed sorrowfully. Ella Fitzgerald’s sweet voice rang through the kitchen, across the foyer and down into my soul “I’m growing so tired of living alone, I lie awake all night and cry. Nobody loves me, that’s why. “
“Now what’ve I done with my pink flappers?” I yelled into the sitting room, to no-one in particular. My flappers, my favorite high-heeled pink shoes with wispy, sparkling fur around the toes, I knew would boost my spirits and pull me out of my stormy day gloom. My mother had coined their nickname when she’d said I looked like a cheap flapper when I pulled them out of the bag I’d brought home from the consignment store. In defiance, I wore them every day after that. What they lacked in class they made up for in confidence. I liked them a little more every time I slid the pink tufts of fur over my feet. Besides the heels made my legs look longer, curvier, and somehow, they miraculously made me an amazing dancer. Boys were even starting to fight for me as their partner on Saturday nights at the Metro, the public dance hall on the edge of town. My mother thought my pink fluffy flappers made me look cheap- but when I wore them I felt like a modern-day Cinderella.
I pushed aside a dusty curtain hanging from the arch of the living room window. Not there. I bent down and stretched my neck sideways to peek underneath the oval glass inside the coffee table. Not there. Hadn’t I kicked them off here, last night, in the foyer? It had been dark, it was after 2 a.m. when I crept in like a thief in the night, hoping no-one was up waiting with listening ears. I knew I’d catch hell if Dorie heard me come in and ratted me out. I could have taken them up to my room in a sleepy, party-dazed stupor and forgotten. So I crept up one flight of creaky wooden stairs to have a look. As I rounded the second story corner to my room, I noticed my sister’s door slightly open and I’ll be damned if those pink shoes weren’t lying right there at the end of her bed.
“Dorie!” I screamed. A stoic silence came from her room. So I blasted open the door hoping she’d be there on her bed and I’d startle her, reading her silly teen magazines. But her room was empty, no trace of her except for her pale pink raincoat lying in a sad, dripping heap on the upholstered chair in the corner. The sight of it, for some reason made me glum, and my anger dwindled. I swiped my shoes from the floor and went out quietly, closing the door behind me. I stood in the hallway outside the second-story bedrooms balancing on one foot, then the other as I pulled on my beloved shoes. I continued down the hall to the small bathroom I shared with my sister, my flappers clicking cheerfully on the wood floor. My mood lightened a little. I pulled open the bottom vanity drawer and searched for my new tube of bright red lipstick I’d hidden last week. I dug for what seemed like forever through the drawer, but all I found were discarded plastic eye-shadow containers and lids from lost tubes of lip liner.
“Darn it all,” I said reaching one more time into the furthest reaches of the drawer. What could be more annoying than losing two of my favorite things in less than 10 minutes? But I was determined to force myself into a better mood so I found a tube of rose-colored lipstick instead and leaned in close to the mirror, slowly tracing the outline of my lips. I smacked my lips in satisfaction. Pink lipstick couldn’t hurt. Suddenly, as I stood there studying myself in the mirror, a noiseless shadow passed in the hall. I peeked out, hoping to catch Dorie sneaking into her room and give her a piece of my mind about stealing my shoes. But she wasn’t there. I stretched my neck to see her bedroom doorway, still half open. As I straightened my back and turned to face the mirror, suddenly a figure appeared behind me: A little creep a head shorter than me with her back to the mirror, her long, black hair hanging in damp clumps against her back. I jumped a little and shrieked, still looking at the creepy, faceless reflection of stringy black hair.
“Good hell, Dorie! That’s just plain not funny!” My sister said nothing, but slowly turned toward the mirror. Black streams of mascara dripped down her pale face, streaking her delicate cheekbones. Her wet clothes clung to her shivering body. She stared stoically into the mirror. I shuddered involuntarily at her wraithlike image.
“What’s wrong love?” I said, gathering my wits, and turned to face her. And for a moment I thought I had lost my mind, or was in the midst of a fervid dream, or had one too many margaritas at the dance hall last night…because she was gone.
A shiver of fear passed through my bones. What on earth? I glanced around the bathroom one more time and out into the hall to make sure no one had been trying to play a trick on me. All I heard were a few notes of jazz drifting up from the kitchen radio. How had she disappeared from my sight so quickly? Or had I imagined it? Maybe this moody October storm was getting to me a little more than I thought.
I looked back into the mirror with some trepidation, and saw that the color had drained from my face. My ashen skin and the bewildered look on my face reminded me of the uncanny appearance of my sister, and it forced me to look away. Suddenly I felt very alone. I decided to go down to the kitchen, where I knew Mama was pressing dough for pot pies or brewing a giant pot of beef stew. The kitchen windows would be all steamed up and dripping with condensation. The warmth and homey aroma of dinner cooking would seep into my cold soul and then I’d feel better. I flipped off the bathroom light and clicked downstairs without looking over my shoulder.
In the kitchen, all the lights were on; the white one hanging over the kitchen table, the small one over the stove, even the lamp in the corner where Dad had spent most evenings reading the newspaper before he died. A pot of cold unboiled, water sat on the stove. A single silver spoon rested on the counter nearby. But there was nothing in the oven, no ingredients had been strewn out over the counter, and my Mother was nowhere to be seen. The only sign of life was the radio, playing a spirited trumpet player’s version of “It had to be you.”
I rubbed at the goosebumps on my arms and decided to make myself a cup of tea. I pulled my stash of Lavender chamomile tea bags from the cupboard over the counter and pulled Mama’s teapot from the cupboard beside the stove. I peered through rows of mismatched drinking glasses to find the delicate, fluted teacup painted with violets that Dorie and I always fought over. I sort of wished she was here now, arguing that she had as much right to my Grandmother’s tea set as I did; that I always assumed I had more rights because I was the older sister. As I thought about her, and the strange state I had seen her in earlier, I glanced again around the kitchen and saw something that took my breath away. All of the cupboard doors were open. Had they been that way when I walked in, and if so why hadn’t I noticed?
Again, I looked around for Dorie- who had been known in her younger days for playing practical jokes. She wasn’t there, the kitchen was completely empty. In fact, as I looked around again, something other than the room’s sheer emptiness that struck me. It was cold and…lifeless. The kitchen seemed completely devoid of human touch- as if no human soul had lingered there for days, weeks even.
I turned on the stove and sunk down into Daddy’s old chair with a sigh. I knew there had to be an explanation for the unusual events of the afternoon, but for some reason my mind just couldn’t conjure up what it might be. In fact, when I tried to remember whether I had even seen Mama that morning, I couldn’t remember. Had I woke up as usual and took the bus to my typing class at the community college? Or was it Saturday? Had my sister, Mama and I eaten our usual wheat-scones and orange-spice tea around the table at breakfast, or maybe I had overslept and crept down in my bathrobe and slippers. I had no recollection of the morning. The last thing I remembered was looking for my shoes in the foyer.’
What was wrong with me? Was I losing my mind? I sat there in my late Daddy’s leather chair for what seemed like an eternity, trying to untangle the murky events in my subconscious.