Thought I’d post of a few of the things I’ve been working on now and then, and I’d love any feedback you might like to share!
This first piece is a short-short story I wrote for an online competition. It feels a little rushed, but I was limited to 750 words (harder than it sounded!).
Here was the prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following line of dialogue: “If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”
And here’s my story. Hope you enjoy it.
Second Chance by Erika Kehlet
“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”
The voice seemed to originate inside my head. I couldn’t even see a face underneath the hood of the figure before me.
“Who are you?”, I asked. “I don’t know that I want to guess what might be in your pocket.”
“Guess.”, came the voice again.
I looked around. The room we were in was round, and its gray walls were bare save for two doors, one white and one black, which stood opposite each other. I had already tried them both and knew that they were locked. The only light was what emanated from around each door. The floor was hidden beneath a carpet of fog, and there was a small round table in the center of the room. I couldn’t remember how I got here, and I didn’t know how to get out.
“Where are we?”, I asked the figure. “How did I get here? I don’t remember coming in. I remember leaving my office. I was going across the street to meet a friend for coffee. I don’t remember what happened next!” There was no answer. “Who are you? Why the cloak? Why don’t you want me to see your face?”
The figure remained silent and motionless. I wanted to shake him, to make him answer me, but I was afraid to move any closer. I sighed. There didn’t seem to be anything else I could do.
“Ok,” I said, “I’ll play along.”
“Guess what I have in my pocket.”, the voice in my head repeated.
“I don’t know what you have in your pocket,” I said. “Is it a coin?”
“Guess again.”, came the voice.
“Is it a phone?”, I tried hopefully. Mine had no reception here.
“How am I supposed to guess what you have in your pocket?” I shouted at the hooded figure. “I don’t know what you have in there, but I wish it was a key, so I could open a door and get out of here. Is it a key?”
The figure reached one hand inside the cloak and brought out a small rusty key. He laid it on the table in front of me. “Which door does it open?”, I whispered, wanting to reach for the key but afraid he would take it back and leave me trapped here.
I heard the voice speak one last word, and then my companion simply faded away. “Choose.”, it said, and I was alone.
I snatched up the key and hurried to the white door. It fit in the lock. I could open this door, but what would I find on the other side? Would it be better than where I was now? There was bright light coming into this room from the small gap around the door. I tried to see through but the space was too small, so I pressed my ear up to the door. It felt warm against my face. I could hear a faint humming coming from the other side. It was soothing, and familiar. My heartbeat slowed to its normal rate, and I felt calm for the first time since finding myself in this room. I felt fresh air coming in around the door along with the light. It smelled of lavender, roses, and fresh baked bread. I closed my eyes and inhaled, and then I was five again, running into the warm kitchen with a scraped knee, only to have my mother wrap her comforting arms around me and make everything alright. I felt safe, and started to turn the key. Then I hesitated. I had to choose, and might not get a second chance. I had to check the other door. I pulled myself away and crossed the room.
The key fit the lock of the black door as well. This door was cool to the touch. I smelled oil, rubber, and exhaust fumes coming in from the other side, and I didn’t need to press my ear against the door to hear the noise. I heard horns honking, whistles blowing, and a siren in the distance. I heard what sounded like people running. There was shouting, but I couldn’t make out the words. Then there came a woman’s sob, another shout, someone calling my name. I glanced across at the white door one last time, turned the key in the lock, and slipped through the door.