Sometimes you just need to try something different.
So thanks to my close friend and writing partner Eastin (@EastinDeverna), I have a short story I’d like to share with you. I was talking to him about what I want to do after having finished American Rebirth and he recommended just kinda splashing around for a bit to get my mind going before I jump into my next project.
He gave me a very random writing prompt, and I ran with it. I won’t tell you what it was until after, but here are the fruits of that labor…
As always, let me know what you think and direct any inquiries to EvanPickering@EvanPickeringAuthor.com
I hope you enjoy it!
The Address is 282 Whitworth Apt 12A. Look forward to seeing you!
She wiped the screen of her phone with her thumb. The chat bubbles slid to one side before being tugged back to their original position. Brittany took a deep breath of winter air through her nose that bit at her lungs in an oddly refreshing way before exhaling slowly. For a brief moment, she felt relaxed. She wanted to repeat the process to fight off the nerves, but it would draw lingering gazes from anyone who was watching.
She looked up at the crumbling steps leading up to the pale-colored door, with a faded golden-bronze two-eight-two embossed above it. The great apartment building had seen better days, looking sooty and weatherbeaten past the point of being charming. She checked the address again on her phone and the building, looking at the street sign at the nearby intersection. This place couldn’t be right.
She had reception. But the text was unanswered. She looked around, back up the street to where she had parked, then back to the door. No one glanced her way, brushing past her wordlessly, concerned with their own concerns. Her feet moved one step at a time up the stairs, her hand pushing the door open without thought.
A blossom of air buffeted her as she stepped inside, warm and welcoming, smelling of fresh lavender. Her eyebrow twitched and she stopped, as if she had missed something. Regardless of the austere color scheme that conflicted with her naturally Victorian color palette, the lobby was beautiful in an unflinchingly modern way. The kind of fresh-looking Manhattan apartment building that screamed of vast social success. A perfect place for a single woman who had blossomed in her career, who felt uncompelled to settle down with whichever person seemed amicable. Brittany’s thumb rubbed the base of her ring finger, trying to spin something only to find a pale groove. She looked backwards out the door to make sure she walked into the right place.
The place felt even more impressive and exclusive, like the wealth of those inside was meant to be hidden rather than flaunted to any who looked upon the place from the outside. She held her hands together, drawing her shoulders in. Twenty years. Twenty years and she had so little to show for it. And Fiona lived in a place like this?
The doorman at the desk in the lobby was smiling at her. He hadn’t stopped smiling at her since she came in, and his face looked like it was tiring. She hustled forward, her heels clicking on the smoothly polished stone floor.
He said nothing, but kept smiling at her as she approached, his bushy mustache rough-looking and his black skin smooth and unblemished.
“Brittany Heath. Here to see Fiona Valenti?” the words squeaked out, and she grinned too hard to look comfortable or casual.
He nodded, his smile replaced with a calm expression. “You’re expected. Elevators are to the left.”
She clicked at the satisfying rose-gold colored elevator call a few too many times. This place made It hard not to consider the life choices that led her to be where she was—alone, middle-aged, searching for a new start while scared that the opportunity had long passed. Years of working tirelessly at both job and partner only to come up empty. Time was not friendly. Thoughts were not kind to the future, and bitterly disappointed in the past. Devoted to oneself in all the wrong ways.
As she stepped out of the elevator to the top floor, the hallway was curiously dark aside from the glow of sunlight far at the end of the hall. Her feet carried her away from her thoughts, but the beautiful doorway that approached brought another deadly wave. Fear of the unknown. So much time had passed.
Her phone buzzed before she could knock. She looked down at it.
Come in, the door is unlocked! Sorry about the paint.
Brittany looked at the door in the muted light of the hallway. There was nowhere to go now. Face the pain of seeing the glamorous life unchosen. Nothing left to go back to. The curiosity drove her forward. What was Fiona like now? What kind of life did she lead?
She pulled the doorhandle, the door swinging open. Her hand was wet as she pulled it away. Sorry about the paint, she said. Guess it was far from dry.
“Hi!?” Brittany said nervously, stepping inside the grandiose apartment. It looked much like the way she imagined. Spotless, meticulously designed, modern-chic but elegant. Even the doormat looked expensive.
“Fiona? I’m here!” She moved ahead through the living room, slower and slower the further she got. Maybe she was in the bathroom. Bad timing. This was already awkward.
Her feet froze as she entered the dining room. Her heart lurched, her throat trying to swallow something that wasn’t there. No matter what impulse she asked of her body, she only stood and stared. Four men sitting in chairs around the table all lay dead. Handsome, fit, dressed in expensive suits. All dead. One stabbed. One shot in the head. One throat cut. One suffocated.
She closed her hands, only to feel the wetness again. Her eyes wide, she stared down at her hands. It wasn’t paint. She knew before she saw. Sirens started to echo outside the tall wall of windows that faced the outside world. Her phone buzzed. It shook uncontrollably in her hand as she stared down to read it, smudged with blood.
J train. Uptown, 6:13 end of the line. Take the stairs, exit through the staff kitchen. You wanted a new life. Now you don’t have any other choice.
That’s it! I hope you all enjoyed. And if it seems raw, it’s because I wrote it in about 2 hours, so it’s a little rough around the edges. The prompt Eastin gave me was this:
A woman enters a room at the top of a building at the behest of an old and trusted friend she hasn’t seen in years. The building is shiny and new on the inside, but old and decrepit on the outside. When she enters the room she was supposed to meet her at, she finds her friend isn’t there, but there are four men sitting in four chairs, all dead, with different wounds. She looks down and notices blood on her hands from the doorknob…
All in all, it was super fun. It’s nice to have some freedom to derp around now that American Rebirth is done. But I can’t wait to get started on my next project.