I’ve never been a huge fan of short stories. Not sure why. But hello? If I’m a writer, I think I should give it another try. My friend Chris gave me a prompt – “When my grandmother taught me to crochet, I don’t think she realised she was endangering my life.”
Here is what I came up with. Tell me what you think!
Granny didn’t see me hand him my number. If she had, she would have thought I was giving a customer change. I managed the cash register at our flea market stand since Granny’s eyesight was worsening. She didn’t like fumbling with the coins. I glanced over my shoulder and saw her rearranging the lamp shades.
“Have a nice day.” Jay settled his sunglasses back in place. “And I’ll be seeing you.” My heart fluttered at his smile while he flipped the collar of his gray tweed coat up. I let our fingers touch when I passed him the plastic bag with his purchase, and he left.
“Have you seen the old radio?” said Granny.
I knelt and rummaged it from under the table for her. When I checked the direction Jay had left, he was nowhere to be seen. A moment later, Granny and I both jumped at the sound of screeching wheels and a blaring horn. Some people in the distance yelled. A dog barked.
“I sold the drapes,” I said after the commotion had settled. “Got a good price too.”
“I never believed you would sell them,” said Granny. “You took months for it.”
“I’m going to make another one,” I said, “when I have time again.”
“I have time, but these old hands can’t handle the needle the way they used to. Now I’m good for nothing.” She smiled at me, squinting in the sun. “You take care of that customer. I need to run to the bathrooms again.”
She left and I asked the man browsing our table if I could help him.
“I’m looking for a… large piece of crocheted matter – a oversized doily or carpet. I’ve heard you may have some.”
“We have smaller doilies and a few tablecloths.” I showed him samples.
“What about curtains? Bigger than this.”
“I’m afraid I just sold my only drapes a few minutes ago.”
The man looked to the street and frowned. He mumbled something like thanks and walked off – slower at first, then he broke into a run. I watched him meet another man at the curb. After talking briefly, the first man ran across the street, getting out his phone, while the other started my direction.
I wished Granny would come back.
“I’m interested in ordering a crocheted drape,” said the dark-skinned man when he stood in front of me. “Like the one you sold earlier. Exactly like the one you sold earlier.”
His eyes and words were so harsh I stuttered at first. “I – I don’t take orders. This is just a-”
The man took his wallet from his pocket. “I am willing to pay anything. How soon can it be finished?”
“Sir, I -“ I watched him finger several bills. Along with a card, he handed them to me. Without thinking, I reached for it.
“Call me in the morning and tell me your decision.” He paused and didn’t let go of the money right away. When our eyes met, I shivered. His voice was grave. “I can only suggest you agree.” Finally he let go and stepped back. “Have a nice day, Stacie.”
Huddled in bed that night, I used the light of my phone to stare at the business card. Darium Wilkes. And then his number. That was it. The hundred dollar bills lay on my nightstand. I finally groaned and set my phone and the card away. Pulling the blanket over my head, I shut my eyes to try to sleep.
I lurched up when my phone started buzzing. It was an unidentified caller so I hesitated before answering.
“Stacie?” The voice was out of breath. “Stacie, it’s Jay. Where are you?”
I couldn’t answer.
“Stacie? Look, you can’t give anyone your nets, all right?” It sounded like he was running.
“My nets? What is going on?”
“Look, I’m coming to get you. Just stay where you are, okay? It’s going to be all right.”
“No. Tell me what’s happening.”
“They’re nets. You can’t cast a spell without them. Don’t let anyone-“
The doorbell rang. I kicked my sheets away and crept to the front door. I could see the shadows of at least two figures. Clutching my phone, I stood at the shut door.
“Who’s there?” I called. There was no time to even scream when someone came from behind me, clapping a hand over my mouth and dragging me back down the hall. My elbows hit the kitchen floor when I was flung down.
“Stay here and out of sight,” said the figure standing over me. I crawled under the counter and held my arm across my mouth. The silhouette in the kitchen doorway peered down the hall to the front door. He was breathing hard. In his right hand, he gripped the folds of heavy lace – the drape I had sold him that afternoon.
The door crashed.