“Story Starters” is my creative exercise: 500 words max, 1-2 drafts, inspired by a found image
She watched them sometimes. Standing outside the dining room window. She watched them the way a hungry child watches a bakery. And she was hungry, the constant gnawing always present in the hollow of her belly. The constant gnawing that, despite the dark lady’s words, never seemed to fade.
She watched them. And watched them. Wishing to enter the warmth of their house. To crawl into her mama’s lap once more, the way she had when she was a real little girl.
“Read me a story,” she’d say. And her mama would laugh in that full throated way of hers.
“Which one shall it be tonight Rosalie?” Kissing the top of her head.
“I don’t know. Any story.”
Yes, any story would do. So long as she could sit there in the protective warmth of her momma’s arms. Feeling the steady beat of her mama’s heart thrum against her ear. Back and forth, back and forth in the old creaky rocking chair.
“Read me a story,” she whispered in the cold dark of the night. So quiet that even the ravens could not hear.
They were getting up from the table now, papa rubbing his belly the way he always did when he’d had a good meal. “I’m as a full as a goat,” he’d say, making mama shake her head. She could see baby Timmy now too, no longer a baby, nearly reaching mama’s shoulder he’d grown so tall. He was grabbing his plate, saying something that made mama laugh. How long did it take someone to grow that tall? Ten years maybe? Twelve? Is twelve years how long it had been?
Twelve years and still the ache had not left her. The dark lady had said that would fade too. But Rosalie knew now that the dark lady lied. Some things could never fade. Just the way some things could never die.
And now mama was standing at the table alone, carefully gathering the tablecloth, folding it so as to catch all the crumbs and not send them scattering across the floor. And Rosalie wanted more than anything to reach out to her, an urge so powerful that for a moment she could not help but carefully touch the window’s frosted glass.
Her mama froze, a pale look crossing over her face as her head turned toward the window. Rosalie instinctively took a step back, protecting herself in the darkness of the shadows. Had her mama actually seen? A useless hope filled her empty, quiet chest, and she held it there. One second. Two. As her mama stared at the dark glass. Stared right at Rosalie, who stood waiting just outside the house.
“See me,” Rosalie whispered. Wishing it with all her tiny might. “See me and let me in.”
Her momma stared. And stared. Till Rosalie was sure tonight would be the tonight. And then her momma turned her head and walked away.
Top image source: Calesas en borgo pass