Short Stories


FuriousFiction for November. This story made it to the long listed entries of the month, and I’m very proud! The prompt and specifics are as follows:

  • Each story had to take place at a HOTEL.
  • Each story had to include a PHOTOGRAPH.
  • And finally, each story had to include the following ‘blue’ inspired words: COLLAR, GLOOMY, POLICE, RHYTHM, SAPPHIRE.

It was a grimy little hotel. The type you’d expect in one of those dark, overly saturated superhero movies. Gritty realism. The rooms were small, with stained, peeling wallpaper and stains leaking through the ceiling. The sort of place I could imagine being shot. Or stabbed. Or strangled.

One of those violent ’s’ deaths.

The gloomy darkness outside was shattered by the pulsing lights of a police car. Ruby and sapphire bands dancing over the room in a regular rhythm. Certainly a familiar enough sight here. A drug bust maybe. Or a murder. Maybe just a welfare check, called by the receptionist. Or just a routine cruise by to break up any nefarious activity.

If I hadn’t been unable to sleep, no doubt the flashing lights would have woken me. As it was, I sat on the lumpy mattress and stared at the closed door to the bathroom. There was light leaking from around the frame, a flickering yellow light from an ancient, dirty fluorescent tube.

Lex couldn’t sleep in new places.

And so I couldn’t sleep in new places.

Soon, though, hopefully that would change. 

I checked my watch. Almost six. Soon the sun would start to rise and we could actually achieve what we’d come here to. 

My phone buzzed. Three words. “She can’t sleep.”

I smiled and typed back a response. “Same here.”

A few seconds before the reply came through. “Can I bring her over now?”

I tapped my phone against my chin for a second. Staring at the flickering light from the bathroom. My eventual response was an emoji.

While I waited, I busied myself around the room. Made the bed again, moved the overnight bags we’d packed and then not touched from the floor onto the hotel desk. I checked the photo again, wondering if she would really look that way, then waited by the window and picked at the painted windowsill.

In the end, I heard them before I saw them. The excited skittering was audible when they reached the top of the staircase and headed down the concrete path outside.

I threw the door open and the terrier sprinted inside. Brindle spots, sparkling eyes, lolling tongue and furiously wagging tail. The trainer snapped his fingers and the dog sat obediently. Whole body wiggling with excitement.

“Lex,” I called, resisting the urge to kneel down. “Daisy’s here.”

The bathroom door opened a crack. Huge, dark eyes peeked around. My daughter crept from the bathroom. Pointedly ignoring the gaze of myself or the trainer. Her eyes fixed on the dog we’d travelled across the state to pick up.

Daisy’s tail still wagged excitedly, but she sat calm and still as Lex approached and snapped the collar she’d been holding the whole time around her neck.

“Free,” the trainer said, and Daisy stood and immediately wiggled her way into Lex’s arms, lapping happily at her face. For the first time in too long, my daughter smiled totally unselfconsciously and hugged her new support dog tight.

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