I'm sorry Karra Barron looks sad

So, I’m putting a pause on the 26000 Words project. I know it seems like I’m throwing in the towel, but I swear I’m not. I’ve loved working on this project and I have so many great ideas that I was excited to roll out throughout the year, but I came to the realization that in my quest to produce a 500-word project every week, I was neglecting my blog and the novel that I’ve been trying to finish for over a year now.

My big dream is to be a New York Times Bestselling author and unfortunately, having to do my 26000 Words each week keeps me from achieving this goal that much faster. So, I’ve made the hard decision to take a break from this project until my novel is done and submitted to a million publishers.

I’ll still continue to blog on a regular basis and you may see a short story every once in awhile, but for now, I’ll be concentrating on Carter Gordon and his misadventures. Stay tuned!

More Stories By Karra:


It’s Week 6 and Valentine’s Day (on Thursday, anyway)! Last year, I wrote a short story about a kid named Carter Gordon who got to take his perfect girl out on a Valentine’s date…only to have his deal with the Devil get in the way. Now I’m working on turning this story into a full blown novel. 

This year’s Valentine’s story is a lot less dark and devilish. I was thinking about fate and how our decisions in life not only shape who we are, but help us find the person we’re meant to be with. You may not realize it, but every decision you make can bring you one step closer to that special someone. Whether you believe in this stuff or not, it’s definitely an interesting thing to think about. So, I took this idea and came up with this story. I ran out of time to think of a better way to end it, but I think what I’ve laid down serves the purpose.

As always, let me know what you think with a comment below or on Facebook!

A red bike lock is shaped into a heart and surrounded by other Love Padlocks on the Pont D'Arts bridge in Paris, France

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The Skinny. Green Berry Blast.

The Skinny? Green Berry Blast?

My eyes went back and forth between the two smoothies on the Jam Juicemenu. I usually went for the peach-mango Skinny with an energy booster before my yoga class, but the Blast was packed with blueberries and antioxidants. I’d woken up with a major hangover thanks to a poor decision to check out a new wine bar last night with the girls.

Okay, it wasn’t a poor decision at the time, but some antioxidants were definitely necessary now.

There were only two people ahead of me now and I started to panic. I had to decide fast. Skinny? Blast? Skinny? Blast?

I hated this. Seriously. There were people living just four blocks away from here who have to decide between keeping the lights on or eating, and here I was, having an internal battle over which smoothie would make me feel less like ass.

“I’ll get the Valentine’s Day special,” I heard the guy in front of me say. He had a nice, deep voice. Smooth and rich like a piece of dark chocolate after a swirl of red wine in your mouth.

Wait. What was the Valentine’s Day special? My eyes scanned the menu for their holiday mixes. Ooh. Chocolate and strawberries mixed together? God, that sounds good. But what if it doesn’t give me the same energy boost as the Skinny? Does it have antioxidants? The last thing I needed was to drag my ass through yoga and then, wind up with a cold right before Jules’ party later.

The guy in front of me reached for his drink and turned around. Holy shit. He was cute. We locked eyes for a second and he gave me a polite smile, showing off two perfect dimples resting on either side of his cheeks. He continued towards the door without another glance and next thing I knew, he was gone.

My sexy, dark chocolate-voiced dreamboat that I had no chance in hell of ever seeing again in a city as huge as Manhattan.

The blonde cashier waved at me. “Hi there. What can I get for you?”

“Uh…”

Skinny? Blast? Valentine? The choices spun around in my brain, making me feel dizzy.

“Miss?” the cashier urged.

I stared at her like a lamb being led for slaughter as people behind me started to complain that I was ‘taking too long princess!’

Ugh. I hated making decisions.

Well. That sucked.

It took me way longer than I expected to decide what I wanted at Jam and I ended up missing my bus. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a cab because I’d left my credit card at home so I wouldn’t be tempted to spend on anything more than my smoothie. I’d been having a hard time lately resisting all the cute yoga clothes they sell at my studio.

So, I had to wait for the next bus to come, which meant that I missed my usual class and had to take the one after it instead.

I thought it would be fine, since I figured it would be the same thirty-minute yin-style class. I should’ve checked the website for more details (why else would God invent smartphones?), but I thought it would be safe to trust my memory this time around. My first clue that I was wrong should’ve been how hot the room was when I ran inside, barely just making it on time.

But it wasn’t until the instructor walked into the class and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Thank you for joining me in this ninety-minute hot yoga class. Any couples here today?” that I realized how unreliable my memory was. And as much as I wanted to leave instead of getting tortured in a room so hot I wanted to faint, I made myself stay because it would’ve been way more embarrassing to try to explain to the instructor that I had to leave because I was a pansy.

Somehow I survived the entire thing, but not without sweating out every single drop of water in my body. All I wanted to do was shower, down ten gallons of Perrier and go to bed, especially since I only had twenty minutes to change and get to Jules’ place before it was beyond fashionably late to even show up anymore. Getting dressed in a flash just didn’t seem worth it at that point.

But I reminded myself that this was a party that was going to be filled with tons of eligible bachelors. Jules’ annual Single Valentine’s Party was notorious for being the place to snag a man. Every year, at least three girls ended up married to or in long-term relationships with someone they met at the party.

Even though I haven’t had much luck as a guest in the past three years, I had a feeling that this was my year. It was my turn to find my Prince Charming and have my happily ever after.

So I had to go. No matter what.

And that’s how I ended up racing down my stairs, my heels clutched in my hand, wearing a white dress that I hadn’t intended to wear because I thought I’d have more time to iron my sexier little red dress. But I’d barely had time to put on underwear, let alone work a steaming hot appliance properly.

Luckily, I managed to get a cab as soon as I stepped out and was in front of Jules’ building in record time. Okay, I was an hour and fifteen minutes late, but I was really hoping that didn’t mean all the good guys were already taken.

I had just hopped out of the cab when I heard a familiar voice.

“Taxi!”

My head swiveled to my right. It was the guy from Jam Juice! He was wearing fitted jeans and a blue button down shirt that showed off a very fit-looking body.

My first instinct was to yell out to him, but that would probably make me look like a psycho. I couldn’t figure out if walking seductively by him or pretending that I needed help with something would be more effective in catching his attention.

Unfortunately, before I could think of what to do or say next, a yellow cab came to a halt in front of him and then, for the second time today, he was gone just like that. God, if only I had been here a minute earlier. Maybe I’d have had more time to catch his eye. Or more time to summon the courage to say hi, at the very least.

I sighed, trying not to let my disappointment get the better of me. There was a whole apartment with guys waiting for me upstairs. Chances are at least one of them would have a smooth, dark chocolate voice and dimples, right?

“You think one is enough?”

I looked up at Allan, not even trying to hide my annoyance anymore.

“Well, you did make a huge stain, so I guess I should get more than one,” I said through gritted teeth.

“You’re pretty,” he slurred, giving me a toothy grin.

I rolled my eyes and grabbed two Tide-to-Go pens. I couldn’t believe I had let Allan talk me into coming to a convenience store in Hell’s Kitchen instead of one by Jules’ place in St. Mark’s. Between being flustered that he had accidentally spilled red wine on me and cursing myself for wearing the white dress, his suggestion that no stores nearby would have Tide-to-Go didn’t seem ludicrous at all. Plus, his offer to pay for the pens was too good to pass up considering I was on a spending sabbatical.

So, I agreed to take a cab with him. He hadn’t seemed all that bad, klutziness aside. Three hours ago, he had been a charming, decent-looking graphic designer for a mid-size advertising agency. He was well traveled, liked a bunch of the same bands I did, and he had nice grey-green eyes.

At one point, I even caught myself thinking about what he would look like on our imaginary wedding day in the not-too-distant future.

But when we got into the cab together and away from the excitement of the party, I was finally able to see that Allan was also very drunk. He was slurring his words as he tried to explain the differences between 2-ply and 3-ply toilet paper, a topic that even when explained sober would have made the ten-minute cab ride almost unbearable.

When the cabbie reached the store, I tried to convince Allan to stay in the cab and get himself dropped off at home. I even offered to pay for him. But he insisted that it wasn’t safe for a young lady such as myself to be wandering around at night. It was a cute attempt at chivalry, but I was long past finding anything that he did cute or even tolerable.

After he paid for my bleach pens, Allan followed me out of the store. We stood awkwardly in front as I debated whether to be polite or just hightail it out of there.

“Well, it’s been… yeah. Goodnight,” I said and turned around, eager to get away from him.

“Wait,” he called out.

I spun slowly on my heel and faced him again. “Yes?”

“I live nearby. You should come over. So, you know, you can wash your dress with that stuff,” he suggested, pointing at the Tide-to-Go in my hands. The pervy look in his eyes was unmistakable.

I stared at him, barely able to keep my mouth from hanging open. Now it made sense why we had come all the way over here. And I had fallen for it like an idiot. Seriously. Could this Valentine’s Day get any worse?

“Goodbye, Allan,” I snapped and stomped away from him, ignoring him as he called for me to come back.

A block down, my stomach started to grumble and I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything since the smoothie. I checked to make sure that Allan wasn’t following me, and then slowed down to look around for a place to eat. I hardly ever come to Hell’s Kitchen and was wondering if I should just get a cab home where all I had to eat was a packet of peanuts I had procured from a flight a few months ago. I knew I was going to regret skipping grocery shopping to go to the wine bar last night.

It seemed like everything I’d decided to do today had backfired on me. I didn’t understand how someone could have this much bad luck. I didn’t even need all this Tide-to-Go because my dress was definitely ruined. The wine had soaked in long enough to leave a mark. A permanent reminder that I had managed to have yet another lonely and unsuccessful Valentine’s Day.

A small donair place came into view and I trudged towards it. A lamb donair would be a good way to drown my sorrows.

I opened the door and was about to step inside when someone said, “Hold the door, please.”

I froze. Even my heart seemed to stop.

I turned my head and coming up behind me was none other than Dark Chocolate Voice. He gave me a dimpled smile when he reached me. “Thanks for – hey, you’re the girl from earlier. At Jam Juice.”

“You-you remember me?” I stammered.

“Yeah,” he laughed. “This might sound creepy, but I’ve been thinking about you all day. I’ve been kicking myself for not talking to you earlier.”

“Really?”

He nodded. “It was such a stupid decision. I mean, what are the chances that you’d ever see someone again in a city this big?”

“I guess they’re pretty good, considering what’s happening right now,” I said, unsure if I was dreaming or not.

“Thank God, I decided to give in to my donair cravings, huh?” he said, giving me a sheepish smile. “Can I buy you one? I mean, if you’re up for having a meal with a perfect stranger, that is.”

I grinned. “You know what? I think saying yes will be the best decision I’ve made all day.”

 

 

 

More Stories By Karra:


Welcome to Week 5 of my 26000 Words project! Can you believe it? I’ve managed to make it through a month! That’s normally how long it would take me to write one short story, and in four weeks I’ve written two! I don’t know about you, but I’m giving myself a pat on the back for this one. It may have only been a month, but I’m finding inspiration is coming a lot easier now. I’m even having an easier time writing my novel – the same one I’ve been struggling with for the past year. It’s all pretty exciting stuff in my world. 

So I’ve written another short story this week. I watch a lot of YouTube videos by Wong Fu Productions. They’re amazing guys who know how to tell a story that can just as much make me cry as make me laugh. After watching their latest short about the perils of trying to return a gift behind a friend’s back (you know you’ve done it!), I was inspired to come up with a story about another everyday situation taken to the extreme. I have a bad habit of being late. I just can’t help it sometimes. But I do try to leave fifteen minutes earlier now just so I have a better chance of being on time. What are some things you do to keep yourself from being late? 

Hope you enjoy the story. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Angry needle gorilla at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England

(This pic is what I imagine Jonah looks like when he…well, read on and you’ll find out!)

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“Hey guys,” said Rick as he jogged towards the group gathered in front of the movie theatre. “Sorry I’m late. I couldn’t find parking anywhere.” He hated that he was meeting these people for the first time with a light sheen of sweat decorating his forehead. So much for a good first impression, he thought bitterly.

A Korean guy with a piercing through his left eyebrow stepped forward. “Hey man,” said Steve, giving Rick’s hand a shake. Steve and Rick went to the same gym and after spotting for each other a few days in a row, Steve invited him to come watch a movie with his friends. Rick was new in town, so he was pretty excited to be meeting some new faces.

Steve introduced him to the group, who didn’t seem to notice that he was sweaty and slightly out of breath. There was even a pretty girl with a pixie cut that seemed to be giving him the eye. Rick made a note to try and sit next to her for the movie. When Steve got to the last person in the group, Rick had to do a double take.

“This is Jonah,” said Steve.

Jonah was tall and skinny and wearing the same pair of Vans that Rick had been eyeing at the mall yesterday. They should’ve gotten along instantly because of that, but Jonah was also wearing a scary-looking frown on his face and his arms were crossed over his chest in a very angry way.

“Uh, hey Jonah,” Rick said tentatively. He stuck his hand out, but Jonah made no move to shake it. His eyes narrowed to slits, making the hair on the back of Rick’s arms stand on end.

Steve coughed to break the tension and put his arm around Jonah. “Why don’t we all get our tickets?” he announced good-naturedly and pulled Jonah around towards the ticket machines. Jonah snuck in one more glare at Rick before stomping away to join the others.

Rick was about to take a step forward, when Steve spun around and held him back. “Sorry about Jonah,” he said.

“Yeah, what was up with that?” asked Rick. “Is he always that…friendly?”

“He’s really…sensitive about people being on time,” explained Steve.

“Seriously? I’m not even five minutes late and he’s mad at me? He just met me!”

Steve shrugged. “I know. He’s really weird. But he can’t help it. It’s like his pet peeve. Just take it from me, you want to be on time whenever Jonah is around. I talked him down this time, but there’s no telling what he’ll do if you’re late again.”

“What do you mean you talked him down? He can’t get that angry at someone for being late.”

Steve glanced nervously over his shoulder and then, motioned for Rick to move in closer. “Look, I didn’t want to scare you,” he whispered. “But Jonah goes crazy when people are late. Like he may be skinny and everything, but the first and last time I was late for something he was at, I ended up having cast on my arm for four months. Seriously, man. Leave ten minutes early if you have to. It’s not worth it.”

Rick stared at Steve. “He broke your arm?” he shouted.

“Shh! Keep it down. You might set him off. Look, you don’t believe me? Here let’s get another eyewitness account.” He turned and called over one of the guys. “Luis, come here a sec.”

Luis jumped out of the ticket line and ran towards them. “What’s up?”

“Remember when Jonah broke my arm because I was late to wings night?” asked Steve.

Luis made a face. “Man, why do you have to bring that up? I was just starting to forget how bad it was! Your girlish screams still haunt my dreams.”

Steve gave Rick an “I told you so” look. “And remember what happened when you were late to Carlie’s birthday two years ago?”

“Luckily, no. I blacked out pretty early into Jonah’s rampage,” said Luis.

“See?” said Steve to Rick. “Make sure you come on time, man.” He enunciated each word as if they would magically ensure Rick was never late again.

“Yeah, you don’t want to see Jonah when he’s angry,” agreed Luis.

Rick stared at both of them, dumbfounded. He opened his mouth to say something, but couldn’t quite find the words.

Steve smiled at him and, as if their whole conversation had never happened, said in a cheerful voice, “Alright, boys. Now let’s go watch some Indian kid try not get eaten by the tiger in his boat for the next two hours!”

Steve’s friends were really cool and Rick even hit it off with Carlie, the pixie hair girl. They’d been texting each other the whole week and he was trying to work up the nerve to ask her out. Even Jonah eventually warmed up to him and by the end of the night they’d had a pleasant exchange about why Vans were still cool and what they considered to be the best food trucks in town.

Rick had a hard time believing that Jonah could actually hurt someone for being late and figured that Steve and Luis were just trying to play some kind of weird joke on him.

He was playing video games on his couch when his phone rang.

“Hello?” he said, putting his game on pause.

It was Steve. “Yo, what are your dinner plans tonight?”

“I have a pretty epic pastrami sandwich waiting for me in my fridge. Why?”

“Forget the sandwich. We’re all going to grab dinner at the new sushi place in Kensington.”

“Steve. I can’t believe you just told me to forget about a pastrami sandwich, especially when I just told you that it’s pretty epic. As a man, I thought you would understand.” He grinned as he could practically see Steve rolling his eyes.

“Carlie’s gonna be there,” said Steve, bringing out his secret weapon.

“Okay, now that’s just playing dirty.”

Steve laughed. “We’re meeting at the restaurant at 6. I’ll text you the address. And Jonah’s coming, so don’t be late.”

It was Rick’s turn to roll his eyes. “Yeah, yeah,” he said and ended the call.

He checked the time. 4:10pm. Plenty of time to play another level or two. Or three.

It was 5:38pm by the time Rick left his house. The restaurant was close by and the summer sun was still out, so he figured he’d just walk over. It was only going to take him about twenty minutes to get there. And if he was a few minutes late, he was pretty sure Jonah wouldn’t care. They had really bonded over those food trucks and he was certain there was no way Jonah could so much as hurt a fly.

He started whistling a Top 40 hit he couldn’t get out of his head and smiled at an old lady walking her shitzu. Suddenly he got a text and he whipped his phone out, hoping to see Carlie’s reaction to a joke he’d sent her. With a frown, he saw that the message was from Steve.

Found this on my phone. Don’t be late!

There was a video attached to the message. Rick pressed the play button.

“I told you not to be late!” Jonah screamed at Luis.

Rick’s eyes went wide and he nearly dropped his phone as the video played out. Jonah was beating the crap out of Luis. And it didn’t look pretty at all. The skinny psycho could actually hit!

“Shit,” Rick said, suddenly breathless, as the video ended. Steve was right all along. He checked the time on his watch. “5:48!” he shouted. “How the hell did that happen?” He glanced around frantically. He was still a good fifteen minutes away from the restaurant. “Shit. Shit. Shit.” He pocketed his phone and bolted down the sidewalk. He had to make it on time no matter what.

Another old lady walking her dog was coming up the path. “Move out of the way!” he shouted, waving his hands at her and running full tilt towards her.

The lady had her headphones on and waved back at him. “Hello, young man!” she called out with a smile.

It was either Rick or the old lady and Rick really liked having the use of both his arms. Without even thinking about it, he shoved the old lady out of the way. She managed to keep her balance and Rick shouted, “Sorry!” over his shoulder.

The little old lady responded with a choice set of curse words as her little dog barked ferociously at his retreating body.

He reached a crosswalk just as the DON’T WALK sign came on. He groaned and paused to check his watch.

5:54pm. Twelve more blocks to go. There was no way he could make it there even if he ran like the wind.

As if the gods were on his side, a little boy on the opposite corner suddenly jumped off his bike to grab an ice cream cone from a parked ice cream truck. Rick saw his chance and ran through traffic, dodging honking cars as deftly as he could. Miraculously, he avoided getting hit and grabbed the kid’s bike, throwing forty dollars at the kid as he blazed past.

“Hey! That’s my bike!” the little kid shouted.

“Keep the change!” he shouted back.

He sped down the sidewalk, yelling at people to move out of his way. Someone didn’t move fast enough and her open bottle of ice water flew at Rick. The water did a great job of cooling down his face, but the force of it hitting him also almost sent him careening into a parked car. He swerved to try and avoid the Mercedes-Benz, but ended up ramming into a pole instead. He fell off the bike, hitting the ground hard.

“Are you okay kid?” said a man in a suit, rushing to his side.

“The time,” Rick gasped. “What’s the time?”

The man gave him a strange look as Rick tried to get up. “Easy son. You might have a concussion!”

Rick ignored him and looked at his watch. 5:58pm. He stood up and looked around. The restaurant was within sight! Only a block away. He staggered forward, pushing the man aside and fighting through the pain in his shoulder.

“You’re crazy!” he heard the man shout, but all Rick could hear was the sound of his own thoughts.

Almost there. Almost there. He chanted as he hobbled down the street. One minute to go.

The crosswalk was due to turn green at any second. Then, all he had to do was run across and he’d be fine. He’d be safe from the wrath of Jonah.

Rick waited impatiently, his body sprung tight like a coil, his heart beating rapidly against his rib cage. Almost there.

The light changed and, with a speed he never knew he was capable of reaching, he bolted across the street and down the block to the restaurant in record time.

“Made it!” he gasped, doubling over to catch his breath.

“Woah, Rick, what happened to you?” Steve asked, coming over to his side.

“Rick, are you okay?” he heard Carlie ask.

“Yeah. Fine. Just. Ran. Over,” he gasped, standing up straight to face them. Jonah was staring right at him. Two words escaped his lips.

“You’re late.”

A chill ran through Rick. “No! I-I got here right at 6!” He looked down at his watch. 6:02pm. He felt the blood drain from his face. “What? That can’t be. But I was just…I…I tried!”

Jonah pushed past everyone and started towards Rick. The look on his face was murderous.

“Jonah, calm down man,” said Steve, jumping in front of him.

“He was late,” Jonah said, his voice quiet and dangerous. Steve whimpered and moved out of his way without another word.

“J-Jonah. Can’t we t-talk about this?” Rick begged, staggering backwards. He didn’t know if he had any energy left to run, but if it came down to it, he would. He just prayed that he could outrun Jonah. “It’s just two minutes, dude. You saw me! I was just on that corner over there! I tried so hard not to be late.”

“Too little. Too late,” said Jonah and he punched his fist into his hand.

Rick had never been so scared of a skinny Asian kid in all his life. “I’m sorry Jonah!” he shouted, taking another step backwards.

“Rick, watch out!” Carlie shouted.

And then, everything went dark.

“Look, we’re really sorry we took it too far,” said Jonah.

“Yeah man. I was going to tell you the video was fake at dinner,” said Steve. “I’m really sorry.”

“It was a stupid joke. Luis is sorry, too,” Jonah added.

Rick smiled at them. “It was kind of funny,” he admitted.

“Not really because you ended up in the hospital. I mean, you broke both your legs,” Jonah pointed out.

Rick tried to shrug but he’d also broken his right clavicle, which made it impossible to move.

Steve scratched his head. “That was so random that there was an open door in the ground behind you.”

“The butcher already apologized for leaving his delivery door open. No one could’ve known I’d walk backwards, fall through it and roll down the stairs before landing on a sack of pig parts,” said Rick.

“I gotta say, man. You’re taking this whole thing really well,” Jonah said. “Are you on pain meds or something?”

“Only a few. I mean, if I had to get hurt, at least I ended up at this hospital.”

“What’s the big deal about this hospital?” Steve asked, looking around in confusion

“The big deal is that I just got transferred here.”

Everyone turned towards the door where Carlie was standing in her nurse’s scrubs. “Are you boys aggravating my patient?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at Jonah and Steve.

“Oh, hey Carlie,” said Steve. He looked back down at Rick with wide eyes.

Jonah looked down at him too and mouthed, Nice.

“Sorry I’m a little late, Rick,” Carlie apologized as she came up to his bedside. “The doctor had to talk to me about another patient.”

If Rick could have shrugged, he would’ve. He settled on a big, toothy smile instead. “Don’t worry about it. I think you’re right on time.”

More Stories By Karra:


Welcome to Week 4 of my 26000 Words project. I decided to finish last week’s short story. I didn’t really know how I was going to end Cold Revelations when I started it, but that’s the thing I love about writing creative fiction. You never really need to map the whole thing out. You just have to have an idea and some great characters, and you’ll somehow know how to take care of the rest. Enjoy and don’t forget to let me know what you think in the comments!

Karra and her friend sitting on Grouse Mountain admiring the view

Photo credit: Jeremy Lim

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The tips of my fingers were starting to grow numb, making it harder to distinguish the cold from my skin. She’s worth it, I chanted over and over again in my mind. Sarah was like an asteroid that had unexpectedly barreled into my world. She had collided with me and now she was lodged in my Earth, a part of me that I may never quite figure out how to let go.

I regretted running away from her that day. It could have been the last time I would ever see her and I never even knew her name. But fate wasn’t that cruel.

Two agonizing days later, I saw her again. We were both in line for poutine. I didn’t even know she was there. Sarah just kind of snuck up on me.

“Excuse me,” said this voice behind me.

I turned and I’m pretty sure my eyes went wide with surprise. It was her. She was even more gorgeous close up. Snow white skin, eyes that weren’t quite green and not quite hazel, and perfect pink lips. If Cupid existed, this would have been the moment he’d have shot me right through the heart.

“Do you know what’s good here?” she asked.

I willed myself to form a sentence. Even just a word. Something.

“No,” is what came tumbling out of my frozen mouth.

“Oh, okay,” she said, sounding slightly deflated. I was about to turn around, cursing myself for failing so hard, when she added, “Well, what are you getting?”

“Uh, poutine,” I replied before I could stop myself.

She giggled. “Well that explains why you’re in the line for a poutine place.”

I laughed and scratched my head. “Yeah. Yeah I guess it does.”

“So, you don’t know what you’re getting?” she asked, quirking one eyebrow upwards.

“No, not really. I was just going to figure it out when I got up there, I guess.”

“How about we do this instead?” she proposed. “Let’s get them all.”

“What? All? As in all?”

She nodded. “Yep. Try them all. I mean, there’s only like seven different kinds. No big deal.”

“That’s a lot of fries and gravy,” I pointed out. “Do you think you could handle that?”

“I can if you can,” she said, her smile growing wide.

I smiled as well, both excited and bewildered by this strange, beautiful girl. “I can if you can,” I replied, consenting to a meal that would later make us feel sick to our stomachs. But it didn’t matter. We laughed through the whole experience, which ended up making us inseparable for the next four days.

Sarah was on a ski trip with her family as well. They lived in Toronto, which was all the way on the other side of the country. She hated rain, but adored the snow. She had been skiing since she was a little girl and loved the taste of black coffee just as much as I did. She was a Biology nut and was hoping to become a veterinarian someday. I normally found Science to be one of the most boring subjects ever, but Sarah had a way of making it sound so interesting. Everything she said interested me. Everything she did made me smile. The first time I kissed her, it was snowing and her lips warmed me from the inside out.

Inevitably, the day came when one of us had to leave. We tried to put off talking about what would happen after that day, but now it was here.

I was waiting in the cold for her, scared out of my mind of what was about to happen. Sarah was amazing and being with her felt so right, but I was also a seventeen-year-old guy. There were only six months of high school left and then, college was on the horizon. I couldn’t have a future with someone when so much change was coming my way.

Then again, what if we did try this? Tried to do long distance. What if we tried and it was all for nothing? I didn’t want to open myself up to this girl only to have my heart ripped out in the end. My ex-girlfriend and I were together for a year before we finally figured out that we weren’t right for each other. And it sucked. The pain was something that I never wanted to feel again.

At last, I heard Sarah approaching. She padded over the snow like a leopard, her footsteps almost too light and too quiet to be heard, but I knew the sound of her body anywhere. I could picture the careful way she walked, her eyes concentrated on the ground, watching out for patches of black ice. I could see her hands stuck out on either side of her, balancing her body as if she were a tightrope walker raised three hundred feet above the ground.

In the short time that we were together, I grew to know Sarah as well as a favourite book, with its dog-eared corners and worn pages.

She emerged through the darkness, bundled up in the same bright blue jacket she wore the first time I ever saw her. She smiled when she saw me, but I could also see puffiness around her eyes. Sarah had been crying.

Crying about me, no doubt. About whatever we were going to talk about tonight. It felt like a rock had suddenly sunk down into my stomach.

“Hey,” I said, reaching for her hand.

“Hey Adam,” she said, grasping my hand.

I pulled her to me and hugged her tight. She smelled like mangoes, sweet and ripe.

She stepped back and looked up at me. “So, here we are.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“So, what do we do now?” Sarah, the girl with so much confidence, who was always so sure of what she wanted, sounded unsure for the first time since I met her.

I sighed, looking down at the snow. “I don’t know. I wish I knew what to do, but I…I really don’t.”

“I’m really happy I met you,” she said, making my heart squeeze uncomfortably.

“I feel the same way about you,” I admitted.

“So, we should keep in touch, at least?” she offered.

I nodded, drawing my head up to meet her gaze. “Of course. As much as possible, please.” My voice shook as I said the last word.

“Yes. I’d…I’d really like that.” She wiped tears from her face with shaky fingers and sniffed. “Adam.” Sarah paused, taking a deep breath that she let out slowly, momentarily obscuring her beautiful face with the cold smoke that slipped out of her mouth. I wanted to fan away the white clouds, wanted to see the sun in her smile, but I hesitated, unsure what was about to happen next. I didn’t want to stop her from saying what she needed to say, so I waited. My heart thudded like a bass drum against my ribs, nerves and my natural desire to flee were trying to get the best of me, but I didn’t move.

When the smoke cleared, Sarah’s green-hazel eyes were staring right at me, the edges curved ever so slightly, matching the small smile on her lips. “Adam,” she said. “I love you.”

My breath caught in my throat. I knew that Sarah didn’t expect me to say those words back to her. She knew that I wasn’t ready.

She had said them more as her way of saying goodbye, in case this really was it for us. Unlike me, Sarah didn’t let an opportunity to say what she needed to say go by.

I wasn’t sure if I loved Sarah and I didn’t know what I wanted to happen between us, but I knew for certain that I couldn’t just let this girl slip out of my life like cold smoke from my lips. She meant too much to me to let go. It was time for me to stop running away.

I removed my gloves. My fingers found the curve of her cheek and she sank her warm skin into my palm. She closed her eyes and tears fell, a few getting caught in her lashes, making them glitter in the moonlight.

“Sarah,” I said softly, willing her eyes to open and look at me.

She obliged and with a sniff, opened her eyes.

I smiled at this beautiful girl, who I had once seen as an asteroid and now realized was a comet. A wondrous thing that only appeared once in a lifetime. “Sarah. I can if you can,” I declared.

Her bottom lip trembled and tears slid from her eyes again. I was worried for a second that I was only making things worse, but then she smiled and laughed in that happy way of hers.

“I can if you can,” she whispered.

I bent my head down to kiss her, letting her warm me from the inside out.

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Here’s Week 3 of the 26000 Words project. Unlike last week’s creative, this one is less weird. More romantic. Or would be if I had managed to finish it. This short story was inspired by my trip to Whistler, BC this past weekend. The narrator is a guy I’ve named Adam (although you don’t see his name anywhere in the story). I’ll most likely be adding on to this, since it clearly doesn’t have a satisfying ending yet. Watch out for it in future 26000 Words posts. 

Whistler mountain view

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I blew out a long line of air, trying to ease my frustrations and distract myself at the same time. I watched as my breath fogged around me, the subzero temperatures solidifying it into smoky tendrils that danced before my face. It was so mesmerizing that I almost forgot that I was freezing despite wearing my down feather jacket and long johns.

The jet-black sky was clear for the first time in days, revealing a big, white moon, round and full. It was almost midnight and part of me wanted to run. Run back to my cabin and sit beside the fireplace with a hot mug of coffee between my frosty fingers. I craved warmth, but instead stood my ground. I couldn’t leave. Not just yet.

Growing up in Los Angeles, the only time I ever really knew what it felt like to be cold was when the air conditioning was cranked up too high in the mall. I lived for the sun, sandy beaches, and the blue-green ocean. Spending the holidays in Whistler, some mountain town in Canada, was the last thing that I wanted to do. But Aunt Janice married a Canadian last year and, as luck would have it, it was our family’s turn to visit for Christmas. Whoop-tee-do.

I’ll admit that learning to snowboard was pretty cool, but give me a surfboard and the lick of warm waves against my body any day. In fact, the only thing about winter that was even remotely alright was the fact that it gave me a good reason to stay caffeinated. Thank god for hot lattes and espressos.

So, despite all my warm inclinations, why the hell was I waiting out in the cold like an idiot?

There was only one reason good enough to risk frostbite.

A girl.

Sarah Lee-Carvey.

The first time I saw her, she walked right past me while I was exploring the village. She was bundled up in a bright blue snow jacket and white ski pants. A tear marred the spot above her right knee, and a few drops of blood ruined them even further. Despite all that, she had a big, satisfied smile on her face, which was pink from the cold. Her almond-shaped eyes lit up as she talked animatedly to her companion, a girl who looked like her older sister.

I think she was telling the story of what happened to her pants and it was the way that she looked as she spoke that first made me desperate to talk to her. To hear her tell me the same story with that exact same smile on her face.

She laughed as she passed me by and it was one of the happiest sounds I’d ever heard.

I saw her the next day at Starbucks, where I had gone for my requisite 3pm latte. She had a book open on the table before her, but her eyes were trained out the window. Fluffy snowflakes the size of quarters fell steadily outside, slowly covering the pedestrian streets in fresh powder.

Her small, slender hand was tucked under her chin and her brow was furrowed, as if she was concentrating on counting every snowflake and didn’t want to miss a single one. Her long dark hair cascaded around her shoulders like a blanket and a part of me wanted to tangle my fingers in those black threads and feel the warmth of each one.

The barista called my name, waking me up from my daydream, and I left before I could give myself the chance to be brave.

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Here’s Week 2 of the 26000 Words project. This story is really…weird and dark. I’m not really sure why my last few short stories have been kind of twisted like this. If you ask anyone, I’m pretty much a ball of sunshine and rainbows 99% of the time.

I had a hard time coming up with a topic for this week. But a few days ago, the words “The Dinner Party” popped into my mind, followed by the name Siegfried Zassou. This is a result of these two things and the 1% of macabre craziness that I’m starting to think lurks around in my head. Apologies for any grammar or spelling mistakes – I got to the editing process pretty late in the game. tLet me know what you think in the comments below. 

Eyeball punch

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Mr. Siegfried Zassou stared at his plate in bewilderment, unable to identify what was being served on it. The entire thing was covered in a thick, bluish sauce that wasn’t unlike the colour of a corpse’s lips. Beneath it lay something that looked vaguely like meat, but it was pulsating ever so slightly, as if it were still alive and struggling for its last breath. The whole thing gave Zassou the chills and he longed to push his plate away, but his hands felt numb. He was so afraid of accidentally insulting his dinner hosts, he could barely feel his fingers.

He looked up at the Von Schwartz’s, who were watching him closely with smiles on their faces. Mrs. Annabelle Von Schwartz kept her lips pressed firmly together as if she held a dark secret between her teeth that she wanted no one to see. Alfred Von Schwartz’s smile was the opposite of his wife’s. His grin took up more than half his face, laying bare large, white teeth that could probably crush a man’s bones with one chomp.

But the strange smiles of his hosts weren’t what made Zassou so nervous. He was slowly going numb because of the ridiculous game they were playing, which revolved around the ghastly dish set before him.

“Well, Siegfried, any guesses?” asked Von Schwartz, stroking the end of his beard, which was as wild and dark as a lion’s mane.

Von Schwartz had travelled extensively as a young man, discovering both the well known and hardly spoken of cultures in all corners of the world. His favourite game was born from the thousands of dishes he had sampled over the years. Before his dinner guests could take a bite of whatever was on their plate, they were to make one guess as to what it was first. The dishes were always foreign and always nearly impossible to identify, so that his dinner guests would be hard pressed to figure them out with their one and only guess.

No one in the village would tell Zassou what was the price of guessing wrong. It seemed like the villagers were all in on Von Schwartz’s game, sworn not to give the surprise at the end away.

It also seems that one of them had told Von Schwartz that Zassou was also a well-travelled man. It was part of his job to go to big cities and remote villages, but now the stamps in his passport would be his downfall. Von Schwartz had made tonight’s dish especially hard in his honour.

Zassou eyed his plate once again, completely dumbfounded. “I’m afraid our dinner will get cold should I continue to think on this,” he declared, hoping to end the game at a standstill. “It seems a shame to let this good meal go past the point where it will be the most delightful to eat. Shall we commence dinner instead and pick up this game again at our next party?”

Von Schwartz roared with laughter. “Ho Siegfried! You are wily, my friend. Ordinarily, it would be a shame to continue the game while our dinner slowly rots. But lucky for us, this is a dish that is most excellent hot or cold. Time only makes it better and better!” He pointed his finger and jabbed it through the air to emphasize each better, ensuring that everyone at the table understood this game would not end until Zassou had made his guess. “So, Siegfried. Please give us your guess when you are ready. Anabelle and I have all night. Delaying the meal will only make it that much sweeter once we consume it.”

Sweat began to bead around Zassou’s brow. He didn’t want to stay here all night no more than he wanted to eat whatever was on his plate – no matter how damn delicious it may be hours from now. The Von Schwartz’s were bizarre and he couldn’t decide which one made him more uncomfortable: the wife or the husband. He heartily regretted seeking out this dinner invitation. The Von Schwartz’s may be the most influential family in town, but even the prospect of a raise and promotion couldn’t make him endure another minute in this house.

Zassou had spent the entire day wondering what the punishment would be for guessing wrong. As a man who didn’t like to lose, he had vowed to himself that he would guess correctly. Now, he no longer cared. He wanted out. And the only way it seemed Von Schwartz would let him go is if he made a guess – right or wrong.

“Black bear stuffed with juniper berries and topped with a currant mustard gravy,” he blurted out before he could stop himself.

If it was possible, Von Schwartz’s smile grew even bigger. Zassou wasn’t even sure how there was space left for such a smile, but it made the hairs on the back of his arm stand on end. It was as if Von Schwartz had the ability to make his mouth wide enough to fit a whole body in it.

The Von Schwartz’s looked at each other and then back at Zassou. Panic started to blossom in his belly at the sight of Annabelle Von Schwartz’s face. She was smiling as widely as her husband now, revealing the nightmarish secret she hid behind her blood-red lips.

Where Von Schwartz had teeth for gnashing, Annabelle had dagger-like teeth that looked strong and sharp enough to tear the leathery skin off of a crocodile.

“I’m afraid you’ve guessed wrong, Siegfried,” said Von Schwartz, rising from the table.

Zassou gripped the tablecloth, unable to get his body to cooperate and run like hell out of the room. “I-I didn’t mean to,” he said, weakly. “Please. Give me another guess. I beg you.”

Von Schwartz ignored him. To his wife, he said, “My dear, tell Mr. Zassou what the price is for guessing incorrectly.”

Annabelle’s teeth gnashed together like knife blades as she spoke. “I’m afraid, Mr. Zassou, that instead of this dish, tonight what we’ll be having for dinner is…you.”

Even as he opened his mouth to let out a piercing scream, Zassou knew that it would be the last sound he made. No one would ever hear from Siegfried Zassou again.

 

 

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