For the exercise portion of the last stream, we wrote an entry to a contest that one of our viewers (Nicole Dark) is holding. The prompt is simple: write a gut-punching story in 1,500 words or less.
After brainstorming a bunch of ideas we chat, we finally settled on one and started writing. I was expecting only to do about 500 words, but I got so into it we ended up about 100 shy of the limit!
I really love how the story came together. It delivers not only one, but several punches straight to the gut. And the last one is a doozy.
You can read it here:
My husband Tom and I were babysitting for our son today, and we couldn’t be happier chasing our granddaughter around the back yard. We were playing hide and go seek, and I was “it.” I counted down from ten and easily caught my handsome, wrinkled husband Tom hiding behind a tree. And then I spotted little Julia inside the dog’s house, giggling. I crept up to the opening, scooped my hands in, and pulled her up into the air. She laughed, I smiled, and she spoke.
“Ew, you’re so gross,” she said, still beaming from ear to ear. “Why would you wear that?”
Confused, I set Julia back down and she ran off to Tom. That was strange. But at the same time, it reminded me of another memory I’d had…
Decades ago, when Tom and I dropped off our son Steve at college, we stood together, teary-eyed outside of his dorm room. It was empty for now, but soon enough Steve’s boxes of anime posters and figurines would be lining the walls. We were happy to see his roommate already had out his Nintendo console, ensuring us that the two of them would get along just fine.
It was time to say goodbye. Steve walked up to us, gave Tom and me a hug, and then stood back. I felt like I should say something, something important and wise, something to sum up the eighteen years we’d had together in one sentence.
But as I was thinking, Steve reeled back his leg and kicked me in the stomach. I fell to the ground, the wind knocked out of me.
Why? I wanted to ask, but at the same time, it felt oddly familiar…
When Steve was eight years old, we took a family vacation to Disney World. Steve only had one goal the entire time he was there: he wanted to meet Peter Pan. So every day we kept an eye out for the green-clad boy.
Three days went by, and we’d visited every inch of every theme park. It was fun, sure, and Steve had met all of the princesses and villains, but his autograph book was still missing the most important one.
We were about to leave the Magic Kingdom, when right by the Main Street Disney shops was the magical lost boy himself. He was with some Disney staff, looking like he was being led backstage to take a break. We pounced on the opportunity. I called out Peter Pan’s name, got his attention, and Steve ran over to him, autograph book out and ready. Tom took out his camera and the staff offered to take a picture for us. Happily, Tom, Steve and I posed with Peter Pan.
“Yeah, you gotta get out of here,” Peter Pan said, turning to me. “We don’t want you weirding up the place.”
I looked at the staff, aghast at what I’d heard, but they had no reaction. They just shuffled their hands, signaling for me to leave the photo.
I didn’t know what to do. And yet, it felt like I’d been through this kind of thing before…
Tom and mine’s wedding day was one of the best days of my life. It was everything we’d dreamed it would be. For years we’d wondered if it would ever be allowed to happen, and here it was. All of our friends and family gathered together at a beautiful, sunny vineyard.
After the ceremony outside, we held the reception indoors in a massive hall, complete with a DJ, dance floor, open bar, and food a plenty. Once everyone was seated, Tom and I at the front table, my father stood and clanged a spoon against his glass, getting everyone’s attention.
“I guess I’m supposed to be the first one to give a speech here,” he said, smiling to the audience all around. “I promise I’ll make it quick so we can get to the good stuff.” He nodded in the direction of the bar and everyone laughed. He raised a glass, turned to me, and smiled.
“Nobody likes you,” he said with a straight face. “And no one ever will. You should just die.”
I was frozen with embarrassment as everyone clapped politely. Tom gripped my hand next to me and said it was a beautiful speech.
I couldn’t speak. All I could do was remember the last time something like this had happened…
I was a junior in high school. All I’d been doing all day was stressing about asking Tom out after the last class bell. It was the only time I knew where he’d be, coming out of the biology classroom next to mine. And today was the last day of school. I’d procrastinated all year long. This was my last chance.
The bell rang, I piled out with the students into the halls, immediately spotting Tom like a moth drawn to a flame. He was tall, had dark wavy hair, and a kind face that matched his gorgeous blue eyes. My heart stopped when I saw him, but then I thought about what it’d be like to spend all summer waiting for another chance, and I forced myself forward.
“Hey, uh, Tom?” I asked. He turned toward me.
I swallowed down the lump in my throat. “Can I, uh, ask you about something?”
“Sure,” he said. We walked over to the side of the hall and leaned against the lockers. He looked at me with curious eyes, and I took a deep breath. It was now or never.
“I was just… I was just wondering if, well, you know, it’s summer vacation and all. So maybe, if you wanted, we could like, hang out sometime. Together. You and me.”
Tom raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“I mean like, catch a movie sometime or–”
“Whoa, wait a minute.” Tom thrust out his hands defensively. “Are you asking me out on a date?”
“Y-yes,” I said, trying to sound confident but my voice cracking. I was suddenly very aware of the others passing us in the hall, wondering if they could hear us. Tom crossed his arms and lowered his gaze at me, suddenly looking very uncomfortable.
“But… you’re a guy,” he said. “Guys don’t date other guys. Right?”
“They can if they want,” I said, suddenly feeling a little braver. “I thought that maybe you’d want to. But if you don’t, that’s fine.”
Tom put a finger to his chin, as if considering my proposal. When he didn’t say anything, I felt the familiar sinking feeling in my stomach. What was I thinking? I was taking a huge risk here. If Tom didn’t return my feelings then–
“Sure,” Tom said with a smile. He looked around, probably checking to see if anyone had overheard us. “But just… don’t tell anyone. Yet.”
I felt as light as a feather. He’d said yes! I wanted to wrap my arms around him and squeeze him tight, but I respected his wishes and just stood there grinning like an idiot.
“Oh, one more thing too,” Tom said. He reeled back with his fist and slammed it into my face.
The fifth grade boy fell to the ground from the top of the jungle gym. His head slammed against a metal bar on the way down, and there was an audible snap from his neck as he hit the mulch below. He lay there unmoving, still wearing the pink skirt he’d had on all day.
From the top of the jungle gym, the boy’s classmate Tom looked to his friends on either side.
“It was an accident!” he said. “You saw. I didn’t mean to. I just shoved him a bit. He fell on his own!”
Blood puddled out from beneath the boy’s head on the ground, spilling with it memories of a future that he would never have.
Did you see it coming? If so, congrats on your ability as a psychic! If not, then I apologize for the gut punch.
After that we moved on to today’s prompt, and chat voted for this one submitted by lito_onion: “Every time you hire a baby sitter for your little sister, the baby sitter is always gone by the time you get back, and never returns your calls. Curious, you set up a camera to see what happens.”
We started this one off thinking we were going to go in an “evil genius” direction, where the little sister is erasing people from existence or something. But then chat came up with a way better, more realistic idea, and I love where it ended up.
If you want to join us and help write a story by trolling in chat, or share your own writing for feedback, then we’d love to have you. We stream on Twitch every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 7:30pm-10:30pm (U.S. Eastern Standard Time).
Hope to see you next time, friend!
Scott Wilson is the author of the novel Metl: The ANGEL Weapon, forthcoming November 2018.
Featured image: GAHAG