Lunar Trials

When I went to unlock my front door one day, I noticed a glowing key on my key ring that hadn’t been there before. I had to pee and my phone was ringing, so I ignored it at first, then forgot about it.

When I remembered the next day, I checked my key ring, ready to contemplate what it was for. But it wasn’t there.

“Wacky imagination,” I muttered to myself.

But I hadn’t imagined it, because a month later—on the day of the next full moon, to be exact—it was back.

“Hello, key. Nice to see you again.” I held it up and examined it. “What do you go to?”

The key, unsurprisingly, didn’t answer.

My natural inclination was to procrastinate. Why do today what you can put off for tomorrow? And as I wasn’t presented with any unfamiliar doors with magical locks, it seemed easiest to not bother with it.

But knowing it would be gone the next day added an intriguing layer of immediacy. I was curious. I was in possession of a key that would disappear the next day.

So I wandered around with, my hand outstretched, as I made my way through my daily routine.

There were no unusual doors in my apartment, on my walk to the bus stop, and certainly not on the bus. I ended up putting the key back in my pocket after several strange looks and a startled flinch from the bus driver.

The bus arrived at the college campus where I worked and got off on my usual stop. I pulled the key back out and squinted at it. It didn’t appear to be any brighter or pulling me any specific direction.

“Seriously, key. What am I supposed to do with you?” (more…)

Hope Chest

The key hadn’t been on Georgia’s ring yesterday, but she found it there now. She held it up to be sure she recognized it—the antique brass key to her cedar hope chest. Lost for years. But how did it get on her ring?

She narrowed her eyes, suspecting the orderlies. The staff at Pine Acres Independent Living were helpful, tidy, and efficient. They seemed to organize while Georgia wasn’t looking. Like the Brownies of folklore. Though they were sometimes so quick about it that her crossword books got re-shelved before she’d finished all the puzzles.

No matter. Having the key back was a gift, even if an orderly had entered without knocking. She stood, mindfully as the occupational therapist had instructed, to reopen the box of whatever wedding gifts remained unused after 57 years.

She opened the narrow linen closet door and lifted her heirloom quilt from the chest’s lid. She brushed about six years’ worth of dust from it—six years since she and Benjamin had moved in here together. Four years by herself. But they key had been gone long before they’d come to Pine Acres. She fitted it into the lock and turned. The antique mechanism clicked and Georgia lifted the lid. (more…)

October Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Hello, reader. Welcome back to another month of free fiction here at the Confabulator Cafe.

Our prompt for October is: “one day you notice there’s a new key on your key chain.”

Here’s the October schedule:

Friday, October 6: “Hope Chest” by Emily Mosher
Friday, October 13: “Lunar Trials” by Sara Lundberg
Friday, October 20: “The Night Chats” by Dianne Williams
Friday, October 27: “Will of Bequest” by Isabel Nee


Last Rites

The sound of the creaking study door jolted him back to reality.  He looked up to see his wife standing next to him, carrying his dinner on a tray.  A quick glance outside confirmed his fears—the sun had already set.  He’d gotten distracted and missed breakfast.  Again.

“Do you think it will work?” she asked, setting the bottle down onto the desk next to him.  “It’s not that I don’t trust you, of course, but…”

“No, it’s fine, I understand.  It’s hard to believe that something like this would exist, I get it.  I don’t blame you for being skeptical.  But every other spell I’ve found in that manuscript has worked.  So it’s got to work.  It just… it has to, you know?”

She smiled, and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.  “I’m just worried about you.  Ever since… well, you know… you’ve been so depressed.  I can’t blame you.  Lord only knows how I’d do if I were suddenly transformed like that.  But as much as I love seeing you happy like this, I just worry that it’s for the wrong reason, you know?  Two weeks after the attack, and you just happen to find something that will reverse all your troubles?  Dearest, it just sounds too good to be true.  You’ve spent so much time and effort into translating that grimoire, but what if it’s just snake oil?  What happens then?”

He reached up, wrapped his fingers around hers, and smiled.  “Well… I guess if that happened, I’d just… try and figure out what went wrong, and do whatever I can to fix it.  I’m sure it’s possible.  Yeah, okay, no one around here thinks it’s possible, but… that… that doesn’t mean anything!”  He spun around on his work stool, and stared into her eyes.  “This is going to work.  I know it.  If I had stopped working just because I didn’t think something was possible…”

He paused.  “Is that a new blouse?  It looks nice.  I like the collar.”  She clutched her neck, her face growing pale, but he was too distracted to notice. (more…)

Girl in a Mirror

She looked in the mirror. Fifteen years old now, home from school, but needing to view what the others were seeing in her. They all claimed to see things she did not. So she looked.

Mirror mirror?

Sure enough, there was the dog. Cody Stineman told her she looked like a stupid dog almost daily; a dog stared back at her now. Stupid eyes peering out from a pale face, crooked teeth, white, but surely too crooked to be human. A stupid and ugly dog stared at her, its eyes somehow even more hurt than her own.

Her vision clouded for a moment. She felt the wetness on her cheek before she saw them. A small drip of tears on a dog’s face. She clenched her eyes shut, hoping the dog would be gone when she opened them again.

The dog was gone. She was now staring at an eagle. Wings spread wide and sharp eyes glaring in a most majestic way. This is what Coach Ainslow saw at practice just an hour ago. An eagle of a basketball player. She picked off two passes into the post and tipped a few more, resulting in Coach screaming that she was an eagle, sharp-eyed and ready to pounce. “Yeeeeeeahhhhhh,” he screamed in a very un-eaglelike way. “That’s you right there, an eagle. Yeeeaaaaahhhhh.”

“More like a gorilla.” She heard Megan Winters mumble that to some freshman girl, and when she looked over, they were staring at her, laughing and rolling their eyes. (more…)