Not as consistent in coming up with a story each week as I had hoped, but I managed to find the creative juices to share a #fridayflash this week. I started this story some time ago expecting it to be a much longer story. In rediscovering it, I believe it works better as a flash. Funny--most stories I intend as flashes insist on growing. I appreciate this one for waiting until I figured out its true nature.
Oh yeah, this may be a bit creepy.
Trudi sucked on her index finger as she waited for Jay to answer the phone. The paper cut still stung; she'd opened the gift hours ago. She wished she'd never opened it.
"Hi, it's me."
She heard fumbling through the phone. "Trudi, it's 2am."
"Like you're asleep?"
He didn't respond. She could feel the clove eyes piercing from the kitchen to her spot on the couch.
He sighed. "I'm here. Why are you calling me?"
She heard a tiny flick, his inhale. She visualized him, feet planted on the floor, one elbow leaning on his knee, phone to ear, sucking on a Winston. "You shouldn't smoke."
"You shouldn't drunk-call your ex."
Trudi gently placed her wine glass on the coaster. She missed his scent, faint tobacco mixed with Kenneth Cole Black, spicy and woodsy and nothing like the apple smell that now cloyed her nostrils. Trudi rose from the couch, peeked into the kitchen. The witch-doll dangled from the ceiling hook, right where her aunt had hung it.
"There's a witch in my kitchen."
"You hung a mirror."
Trudi refused to be baited. "It's a doll. It keeps looking at me. Aunt Sarah gave it to me, said it's supposed to stop burnt toast or bad food or something."
"She's had your cooking."
"I'm serious! I know it sounds crazy, but she's scaring me."
"Can you come over?"
She heard Jay clear his throat.
"Trudi. Throw it away."
"Don't you think I've tried? Every time I get near the hook, she... shivers."
Aunt Sarah had beamed when she gave Trudi a huge basket of fresh-picked apples and the shoebox-sized gift, covered in apple tree paper. Trudi tore through the wrapping of the "no-reason-at-all" gift. It was a burlap witch doll sitting on a broom, its face a carved, dried apple.
Trudi heard Jay's heavy exhale, a quick ahem. "Listen, I'm not your go-to guy anymore. You're the one who needed space."
Trudi watched the witch suspended from fishing line continue a lazy turn toward the doorway. Trudi's gaze darted to the windows. Shut and locked. "Please Jay."
"No Trudi. Either I'm a part of your life, or I'm not." She heard a severe exhale. "I can't do this now, no-how, no-way."
"Jay? Jay!" He'd disconnected.
Why had she broken it off? Steady, dependable Jay. Because she'd grown bored. Dependable wasn't exciting. She sucked on her throbbing finger. Right now, she'd give anything for boring. How stupid was it to be terrified by dried fruit?
"What! What do you want?" Trudi shouted.
The witch had dimples. The face looked less...apply. More fleshy.
Trudi hurried back to the couch, refilled her glass. Her hand shook. Red drops beaded on the polished oak coffee table. Beads of wine. Beads of blood. Her blood.
What's this? she'd asked Aunt Sarah. Her aunt laughed, explained how she made one of those when she was a kid. A drop of blood from Trudi's paper cut beaded into a wart on the apple nose. She watched the red wart vibrate for a moment, then seep into the apple face while her aunt mumbled a rhyme about cooking pots and riding a broom and good fortune. The shriveled pointy nose rounded and softened.
Trudi drained her glass, stared at the empty bottle. Another was in the cupboard. In the kitchen.
A thump came from the other room. Trudi didn't want to see the creepy thing. On the other hand, she couldn't see the witch. What was it doing?
The witch faced the doorway. The kitchen seemed normal. The stove clock switched to from 2:13 to 2:14. Less than fifteen minutes since she'd spoken to Jay. She glanced back at the witch, then did a double-take.
The overhead shone on the clove eyes, gave them a life-like twinkle.
Trudi felt wobbly. She returned her gaze to the stove. The digital numbers read 2:48. How long had she been standing in the doorway?
She raised her hand to wipe her face, hit herself with the empty wine glass. The cupboard. That's right.
Trudi side-stepped the apple on the floor. That would have been a nasty trip. She opened her new bottle, took a long pull, then slammed it on the counter. An apple rolled toward the edge of the counter. Trudi caught it before it fell onto the floor. "Gotcha!"
Trudi turned to the suspended witch. The witch's gash of a smile widened. So... malicious. Rhymed with delicious. Was it a Macintosh or Delicious? "I think I'm tiss-py," she told the witch. "Blame Jay. He shoulda come."
The witch's straw-colored hair bounced when the broom stopped, business end pointed at the stove.
"We should cook the apples!"
She could make a mile-high, cinnamon-y and I'm-sorry apple pie. "Th'way to a man's heart iss through his stomach!"
Trudi rummaged for a paring knife. She brought the bowl of apples to the table. Poising the knife, she focused until she saw only one apple, and peeled. The knife slipped.
She dragged a chair to the corner, climbed onto it and yanked the witch down. The body quivered in her grasp. Trudi touched her bloody thumb to the apple face. The cheeks plumped. The red-smear gave the cheeks a rosy blush. Apple of the apple cheeks. Trudi giggled as she laid the witch on the table. She began to peel another apple.
Trudi felt a little dizzy. There were too many apples. Auntie Sarah's rhyme said something about the witch helping the cooking. "Well?" Trudi asked.
The witch sat up. Trudi gave it the knife, wondered how it grasped the handle with such mitten-like hands.
Trudi let her blood drip onto the cloth, impressed with how quickly fingers formed, then even more impressed with how deftly the witch slashed the apple that Trudi held up for it. She yawned as the sun shone through the curtains. The job would be over in no time. The witch cut so smoothly. Trudi's wrists didn't even hurt.