The Arcade Awaits

Dorothy cautiously sniffed the air. The vaguest hint of an offensive odor tickled her nostrils, but she couldn’t quite place it. It was the craziest thing, though, for some reason, it reminded her of sugar cookies. She shrugged and retreated back into her bedroom for a reprieve.

She napped fitfully for about an hour and a half before she heard her sister Lyra’s deathtrap of a car rattle into her driveway. She always hounded Lyra to buy a new car and get it over with, but Lyra shrugged it off, preferring, she said, to keep the car she’d owned for eighteen years because even though its behavior is erratic, it’s like family. Dorothy often considered having the rust-bucket towed, but out of love for her sister, never followed through.

Lyra pounded on the door with her closed fist. Cop-knocker, thought Dorothy. The thought felt silvery-blue and wholesome. When Dorothy sat up she remembered the strange smell in the rest of the house, but she blocked her nose to it and went to let Lyra in.

“What’s that amazing smell?” Lyra asked, before even setting foot inside.

Dorothy raised an eyebrow. “It’s not amazing, and I don’t know,” she answered. “What on God’s green earth is wrong with your nose? It’s horrible. I’m thinking about moving.”

“But it smells just like Grandma’s sugar cookies,” Lyra protested. “How can you call that horrible? I mean, her cookies weren’t the best, but her house sure was. Remember that time you hid in the attic and fell asleep and we spent six hours looking for you?”

Dorothy chuckled. “I’d forgotten about that! Mom wanted to call the cops so bad, but Grandma gave her a Valium and sent her to bed. She knew I hadn’t gone far because I wasn’t tall enough to reach the chain locks on the doors.”

“Anyway, smell or no smell, you’re not ready to go. I’ll just sit on the couch while you finish up. Were you sleeping? Those look like pillow marks on your face.” Lyra was talking as she rounded the corner and plopped down on the couch. file000301547401

“No, not sleeping, exactly. I’ll be done in a sec,” Dorothy promised, and returned to her bedroom for mascara and shoes. In precisely seventy-one seconds, Dorothy came back out, slammed her bedroom door to signal Lyra that she was ready to go, and stood by the front door, tapping her foot and waiting for Lyra to come on already.

“Jeez, I’ve never seen you so ready to go win some tickets.” Lyra seemed confused.

“It’s just that smell,” answered Dorothy. “It’s gotten under my skin, and I have to get away from it. Let’s roll.”


Truth Be Told

Margaret burst through the door with that wild look in her eyes again. I had no idea what was going to come crawling out of her mouth this time. 

“Can you lend me your shoes til Monday?” She asked, and that was it. She paused, breathlessly, waiting for my answer. I was so taken aback by the succinctness of her question that I worked my face, fishlike, for a moment before finding my vocal cords. 

“Um, sure, Margie, but what for? And which shoes?” That was enough to send her back to la-la land. I should have just nodded and kept my damn mouth shut. I rolled my eyes at her near-catatonia and pricked my ears at her mumblings. 

“It better not be cats. Or pigeons. Or…” And she trailed out of intelligibility again. What on God’s green earth was she talking about this time? I usually resigned myself to not ever knowing, but this time, my Skechers were at stake. I had to get to the bottom of this. 

“Margie.” No response. 

“Hey, Margie.” Still nothing. 

I took her gently by the shoulders and tried to look into her eyes. It wasn’t long before she actually started to come out of it and met my gaze. 

“Margie. Tell me about the shoes. And the critters. And by all that’s holy, stay with me!”

She nodded, swallowing hard. 

I couldn’t believe my luck. My sister had gone off the deep end when she was seven, and she’d never looked back. I hadn’t seen this much lucidity in her expression in the last eight years combined. Since I hadn’t really expected this to work, I was already at the end of my scripted plan. 

Fortunately, Margaret took over, saving me the trouble of thinking any further ahead. 

“Trust me, Susie. Almost everything I’m going to tell you is true, but I can’t tell you what’s what, because I don’t know. You have to figure that out on your own.” She paused as if to give me a moment to consider this before she took me any deeper down the rabbit hole. 

I let her lead me the four steps to my bed, where we sat and she started talking. Most of it made more sense than anything I’d ever heard in my life. 

I only prayed that those were the parts that were true. 

25 minutes writing by hand; 9 minutes transcribing onto my phone. 

 TBP Online Writers’ Guild


Theresa and Coreen

occult sistersTheresa was the older sister; she hated waking up early, streaks on a windowpane, and brushing her teeth before bed.

Coreen was the younger; she hated the color of lima beans, the sound of a glass cookie jar being opened, and the smell of Theresa’s breath.

Theresa was the taller sister; she wanted to feel intimidating, so she wore heels exclusively, to accentuate her height.

Coreen was the shorter sister; she didn’t understand the importance that Theresa placed on her half-inch advantage.

Theresa was the antisocial sister; she never spoke to anyone when she was in school, she refused to utilize public transportation, and she did not partake in social media.

Coreen was the social butterfly sister; she was invited to every party, she volunteered for everything she could, and she had two Wheatons of followers on Twitter.

Theresa was the healthy eater; she always turned down carbs for veg, she never drank soda, and she shunned ice cream.

Coreen was the fast food junkie; she never met a fried food she didn’t like, she hated the taste of water, and she consumed red meat daily.

Theresa loved fashion to the exclusion of hygiene; she was always up to date on the latest Paris fashions, she designed her own jewelry, and she sewed her own clothes.

Coreen cared more about her skin than her clothing; she bathed fastidiously, she cleansed and moisturized ritually, and she exfoliated twice a week.

In spite of all their differences, the only thing their parents cared about was their unconventional physical appearance, and they forced the girls to suffer much medical misfortune before they were old enough to run away and be themselves. After that, they lived happily ever after.

Picture Prompt #34