Saturday, November 19, 2011
Here is a picture of our whole family in July at Aimee and Luke's wedding.
I recently entered the "HIS Writers Flash Fiction Online Contest,"(www.hiswriters.afcwcolorado.com/flashfiction.php). And was so suprised to win first place. Basically, all who entered used the same first sentence, middle sentence and last sentence to write a short story of 1000 words. Here is my little story.
There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father. I sprinted toward them intent on executing a perfectly aimed splash. “Cannonball!”
When I came up for air, Amy was breathless—and dripping. She sputtered. “Why you little. . . ”
Come on, say it. If she’d actually admit I was a brat, my father would drop her like a weight and their relationship would sink into oblivion.
Amy managed a coy smile. “You little—future Olympian.” Then she slipped gracefully out of her shoes and into the water.
“Amy?” My father sounded as astonished as I felt. “What are you doing?”
She laughed. “Swimming. Join me.”
“But, I’m not wearing a swimsuit.”
“Me neither.” She glided effortlessly through the water and up the steps. “But I think this dress worked fine.”
My father looked like he agreed as he scrutinized her. Brother! I dove. You’re a sly one, Amy Gerstein, but not smart enough to get my father’s money. In honor of my mother’s memory, I’ll see to that.
I enlisted help from my best friend, Maggie. We sat on the porch. “I can’t get rid of her. She even ate the Spam and horseradish sandwich and then pretended to adore snakes when I released Slinky.”
Maggie spit a watermelon seed. “Maybe she’s not like the others, but just a nice lady.”
“My thoughts exactly. But, yesterday, on my bike and nearly ran over Lupe as she climbed out of Amy’s car.”
I leaned close. “Lupe found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car!”
I nodded. “Yes, and it’s supposed to be locked in the safe.”
“Did you tell your father?”
“No. He’s crazy about Amy.” I stood, took careful aim and spit my seed halfway across the lawn. “But I have a plan that’ll prove she’s a thief.” I faced Maggie. “Will you help?”
Three nights later, I smeared a glob of face paint across Maggie’s forehead.
“That’s enough, Ashley. No one will see us anyway.”
I zipped my black sweatshirt. “Remember, no talking when we’re in the study.”
“Right. We just wait for Amy to open the safe.” Maggie paused. “Why’s she doing that, again?”
“To put in the fake bracelet so no one will know she stole the real one.”
Maggie looked confused. “How do you know she’ll do it tonight?”
Sighing, I explained. “Tomorrow’s the first Saturday of the month when my father always checks the contents of the safe. Tonight’s perfect since he’s busy with all the dinner guests. Got it?”
I touched Maggie’s shoulder. “You scared?”
“Me neither but I have this just in case.” I held up the letter opener.
“Looks really sharp.”
“I’ll be careful,” I said, slipping it into my pocket. “Hurry, I hear someone coming up the stairs.”
We raced down the hall, into the dark study and crouched under my father’s massive desk. A moment later, the door opened and someone entered. They held a penlight and located the hidden button. The large painting that hung in front of the safe slid to the side.
My heart pounded crazily, more in pride than in fear. Tonight I would expose Amy as a fake. My father would be so grateful that he’d probably never want another girlfriend.
The thief opened the safe and I elbowed Maggie. We yelled and jumped up from our hiding place. That same moment the door opened and the lights came on. I lunged toward the thief who turned to face me. She held a gun.
“Lupe!” I shouted. She grabbed me, holding the gun to my temple.
Maggie screamed. My father and Amy rushed into the room, stopping when they spotted Lupe, the gun and me.
My father looked pale.
Amy stepped in front of him. She spoke calmly. “Lupe, you don’t want to hurt Ashley. Put the gun down. I understand that things are difficult for your family right now.”
Lupe began to tremble. “Yes.”
I slowly started to remove my weapon.
Amy’s voice was soothing. “Your husband is very sick . . .”
“It’s cancer—” Lupe’s voice sounded strained. “Treatments costs so much and my son . . . ”
“Manuel?” Amy asked gently. “He’s in trouble and so he took all your savings, didn’t he?”
Lupe looked sad. “How did you know?”
“We’ll help you. Please put down the gun.”
I clutched the letter opener and glanced at Lupe. She raised me. I can’t stab her.
Lupe’s eyes darted to my father. “Mr. Stone, I’m not stealing from you. I just need to borrow some things to take to the pawnshop, to help my husband. When Manuel pays me, I’ll return everything.”
My father stepped forward. “Why didn’t you ask me for help?”
“I felt ashamed about Manuel.” A sob rose from deep inside her.
My father continued. “When items began to disappear, I hired Amy. I never imagined it was you, Lupe. You’ve been our trusted friend for years.”
Lupe dropped the gun. “I’m sorry.” She covered her face and sunk to the floor.
When I lunged toward my father’s open arms I tripped. The letter opener in my hand slid through the blue fabric of Amy’s evening gown.
My father caught me. “Ashley! Thank heaven you’re safe.”
I smiled at him.
“What ever do you have on your face?”
“Camouflage.” I looked into his eyes. “You hired Amy?”
He nodded. “She’s a private investigator, posing as my girlfriend.”
“So, she was a fake?”
“Yes.” His eyes rested on Amy. “But it seems that in the midst of all our pretending, we’ve grown to love each other.” He smiled. I realized how long it’d been since I’d seen him that happy.
My father lifted my chin. “In fact, I’ve decided I never want another girlfriend. It’s time you had a new mother.”
Amy blushed at his words. I smiled at her. She’s smart, pretty and fun. And she didn’t even get mad about the tear in her dress.