How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

#BlogBattle – Week 14

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This  week’s prompt is …frog… + up to  1,000 words

No More

Frankie’s nerves were as brittle as her fingernails. She hated the house since the divorce, and everything else afterwards. Thoughts of selling it weighed heavy on her mind. The whole rigmarole involved overwhelmed her, but she had no alternative, had no idea what to do next. Would she survive the wait between selling and moving? Should she have called the priest?

She pretended to read the paper, but watched her five-year-old daughter at play instead. Thick black curls bobbed around the serious little face. Forehead pinched, Suzanne tucked her doll into the toy pram muttering under her breath. “Bad dolly. You go sleep. Now.”

“Dolly’s not bad, Sweetie. Babies are never bad.” Frankie folded the newspaper and tossed it on the coffee table. “Maybe it’s not her bedtime yet.”

“She not listen all day. Baby needs sleep to grow big and strong.” Her mouth in a pout, the little girl yanked the carriage handle and headed for the hallway. Where’d she learn those words?

“Suzanne, Mommy’s running your bath now.”

“Don’t want no bath now.” Leaving the carriage at the bottom of the stairs, she raced upwards as fast as her pudgy legs allowed.

Temperature adjusted and water streaming, Frankie poured in fragrant bubble bath and listened to the busy footsteps overhead. Then silence. “Mommy, what I come here for?” The girl’s call sounded puzzled.

Clamping down a giggle, her mother’s nose crinkled. “I don’t know. You didn’t tell me.” She sing-songed the words back to her daughter. Silence continued. Mandy, skulked out from wherever she’d been catnapping and tore up the stairs after her precious. Susanne soon thumped down the stairs, short arms under the black cat’s belly, whose legs hung limp as a ragdoll almost brushing the floor.

“Bath time, sweetie.”

“Mm-mm. My favorite. Strawberry.” Suzanne dumped the cat and pulled at her clothes. Mandy sauntered into the bathroom and hopped onto the edge of the tub, content to watch the suds froth. Suzanne bolted and climbed in, her mother close behind pulled off her purple Tee, then turned off the faucet. The girl squealed; Mandy curled her tail tight around her and relaxed on all fours for comfortable guard duty.

Crash.

Frankie froze, washcloth in mid-air. The cat recoiled and dashed towards the sound. “Sit tight, Sweetie. Mommy will be right back.” She handed Susanne the cloth. “Don’t move. I’ll only be a sec.” The girl, too involved with her singing, paid no attention. Twinkle, twinkle weetle star…”  One foot over the threshold, Frankie flashed a quick glance towards her daughter and dashed down the hall.  Mandy sniffed at the framed picture leaning upright against the baseboard. She stared at air and bounced about the room. Not again. At least no broken glass this time. Frankie scrutinized the empty spaces in the room, her face pinched, brows drawn. She plunked the picture on the coffee table and rushed back to the bathroom.

“Good girl. You waited for me. Out we come. One. Two. Three.” She plucked up her daughter wrapping a towel around her. “My, oh my. Somebody smells go-od.” The young girl clapped and shrieked. Frankie bit her lip as she clutched her daughter and buried her face in the girl’s damp curls, a frog in her throat.

“Tomorrow, we’ll buy a new pillow for the rocking chair in your room.”

“Can’t. The lady upstairs won’t like it.”

Lips flopping like a guppy, Jackie cast around for words but nothing came out. “W-w-what lady?”

“The lady that lives in my room. Can I have a drink, Mommy?”

“A small one, ‘kay? What does she look like?”

“Like a gamma, and gamma hair.”

Frankie fought to keep her voice light. “Is she a nice lady?” She set the girl on a kitchen chair and poured an ounce of water into a glass. Sounds like the lady I saw when we moved in, but that was seven years ago.

“She sits in the rocking chair and sings to me sometimes.” Frankie handed the girl the glass.

“Mommy. Let go.”

No-one and nothing is messing with my baby. Blinking to suppress determined tears, Frankie released the glass. “How about we have a girl’s night and you sleep in Mommy’s bed tonight.”

Suzanne yelped and clapped. The cat streaked into the kitchen, eyes black, fur standing on end. “Mandy we sleep wiff Mommy tonight.”

* * *

Her daughter asleep, the cat curled beside her pillow, Frankie crept downstairs. While she let the water out of the tub, she peered into the living-room. Strange. The picture wasn’t on the coffee table. It hung on the wall where it belonged.

Pushing fists into her mouth not to cry out, Frankie closed her eyes rooted to the floor. No more ifs or maybes. She’d made up her mind. Enough. Let us make it through this night. No more ghosts at the foot of the bed, nor children in the basement nor white-haired ladies singing to my child. No more falling pictures. 

Time to leave. Morning wouldn’t come fast enough. She shut off the lights and rushed upstairs to her sleeping, daughter. Not even the cat twitched when she slipped into bed. The rain outside picked up, the crimson maple thrashed the windows. Sleep didn’t come. The house creaked and sighed. Frankie tossed.

No more. Time to say goodbye.

Something or someone knocked on the bedroom door. The cat sprang up and glared at the sound. Frankie squirreled closer to her baby.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

58 thoughts on “#BlogBattle – Week 14

  1. Wow Tess! Uber-creepy ending! Well done. You had me right there with them. Hugs.

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  2. I’m intrigued. I love spooky stories and you built the tension well. Great post, as always. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oh no! Did they make it until morning? HUH?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So much suspense!!! There’s more right??

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  5. Oh! Tess I was enjoying that so much how could you leave us in limbo. Love it loved it!!

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  6. Who’s at that door!? You really brought in the scary feeling and by the time I got to “morning couldn’t come fast enough” I was hoping for relief for them. Oh no, you kept us hanging once again. Good job! 🙂

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  7. Yikes, that’s a spine-tingler. I hope there’s a part two later. I’m hoping for a happy ending. 🙂

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  8. OMG… I have to know more. Stephen King move over!!!

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  9. Ooh, loved that. Veerry spooky 🙂

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  10. Tension builder for sure, Tess. I want to know what happens. 🙂 When’s the next installment?

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  11. Pingback: #BlogBattle Week 14 “Frog” Entries & Voting | Writing Rachael Ritchey

  12. Oh Tess how could you leave us in the lurch like that???

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  13. Leaving the outcome a secret, huh?
    Good start on a (hopefully) longer tale. Or, maybe an old-fashioned cliff-hanger, “dime store novel” kind of thing.
    #WriteOn!
    — John

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    • Thanks for your comment, John. I have a number of challengers on the go, but only expand them when there’s a hole in my schedule or if a prompt hasn’t been posted. I like these because of parameters and when I can carve out extra time I like to go back and expand the story. I do wish I blogged less and wrote more. Hope to this summer.

      Someone asked what happens next and I said, “Ask the cat.” I didn’t have a clue when I posted. It leaves me room to continue when I get around to it. I do not purposely leave cliffhangers, at least not consciously. 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. That was pretty spooky…great build-up to the very scary ending!

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  15. Oh you did it again. I’m hanging. I was first worried when she left her daughter in the tub, but realized that was a red herring. Now this. Yikes!

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  16. Love it , Tess! I like creepy things like that, keeps one guessing! Blessings & Hugs!

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  17. GET OUT! Don’t wait for morning woman!!!!

    Tess…..I need to not read this before bed. 😉

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  18. Perhaps it was a mistake to read this post before bedtime ….. and I’m supposed to sleep tonight after this? {gulp}

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  19. Had my hair on end. I was worried about the bath then the cat then the picture. I need a drink. Nice job.

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  20. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you are an incredibly brilliant writer!

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  21. ❤ ❤ YOU are an incredibly kind blogging friend. Thank you, Candice. I feel the same way about your fascinating writing. ❤ ❤ ❤

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  22. Very creeeeepy! I hope you carry on. Very vivid writing. You’re fabulous at capturing atmosphere and threats in a few words. 🙂

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  23. Scary!! I wanted to shout, “GET OUT!”

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  24. One of the things I teach my writing students (and remind myself) is to use good action verbs. YOU DO THAT SO WELL! Just reading “Frankie squirreled closer to her baby” showed me/told me so much. Wonderful.

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  25. As always I can’t read fast enough to get to the end, but then I don’t want to read too fast and miss something. This was a good one!! Love the word rigmarole by the way!! 🙂

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  26. Oh Tess, you built tension throughout the story good job. Scary but not ugly scary, just tense. Loved it!

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  27. Oh, the eerie and spooky are in this story! And a cliffhanger to make me wonder if they make it out alive in the morning! I love how you described the little girl, her bouncy curls and chubby legs. Well done! 🙂

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  28. Many, many thanks, E. I’m still learning and am tickled when what I hope I’ve painted is obvious to the reader. ❤ ❤ ❤

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  29. A haunted house…creepy. Ghosts are intriguing. I never know what t =o think of them. You’ve done a god job of portraying the fear of being haunted and the need to get out and leave. Good story. 😉

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  30. You’re trying to scare me out of my skin, Tess! Yikes! Ghosts, haunted houses, cute kids, rocking gammas, kids in the basement, oh my! 🙂 Nicely written. 😀

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