SHORT STORIES BY THE CROHNIE!
A WORK OF NON-FICTION BY LAURA DEL
Today is the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death…
Am I sad?
No. Not really.
Because she wouldn’t want me to be.
Don’t get me wrong, in life, I wasn’t the best for listening to her… mostly because she nagged sometimes… but with stuff like this, she was always right. I would often tell her that, even though she’d complain very loudly that no one ever listened to her. “You’ll miss my voice when I’m gone,” she’d say.
Well, that’s the fucking truth.
On this day every year, I’ve decided to do something. I’ve decided to tell you a story about Philomena Gledhill. Not a sad one… oh, no! But a happy one.
Let’s begin, shall we?
Grams wasn’t known for her joke telling, but she could pull your leg with the best of them. She found satire funny and vulgarity stupid, but tell her that you’d nail one of her daughters to a cross for being a martyr, and she’d laugh until she cried. Ole’ Philly knew how to be sarcastic, and sometimes, a little naughty (as she’d call it). One summer we went to Canada… actually, we went a lot of times to Canada, but I digress… we’d always get one room for four people. It was cheaper that way. Besides, it really didn’t matter because me and my bro-ham were small enough that we either slept on the floor or slept in the same bed as my grandmother. No one slept in the same bed as my aunt. That woman would kick you off in your sleep, and let’s not even mention the Godforsaken snoring… buzzsaw doesn’t even begin to describe it. Grams, on the other hand, was a very light sleeper. She was always up with the roosters and out with the dawn. If that makes sense. But this isn’t about my aunts’ snoring or how my grandmother never actually got more than four hours of sleep a night. This is about the time my grams actually pulled one of the greatest pranks I’d ever seen.
Up until that point, I’d never known Grams had a sense of humor. I knew she laughed, but I didn’t know she could actually be funny… I was ten, okay?
So we were in one of the small hotel rooms on our way to Niagara Falls when this little gem happened…
My aunt was being particularly salty to Grams the day before. After all, this is the same aunt that when we went to Kentucky the one year, she swore we were starving her on purpose because no one had to pee so she couldn’t stop and get herself a snack. Sometimes… just so you know, I’m rolling my eyes. Grams would approve. Needless to say, the two of them never really got on too well. I mean, they had their moments of calm, but as my grandmother used to point out, “When I say black, Joanne says white.”
Anyway, after this particular level of saltiness that came from her own daughter, I think the woman devised a plan. She always said she had a devious mind and this was the first time I’d seen it in action. The day after their little spat, my aunt was half dressed, when there was a knock on the door. Well, naturally Joanne beings to panic.
“Don’t open the door, Ma!” she shouts at the top of her lungs. “I’m not dressed!”
The knock came again.
“All right,” she screamed frantically, “let me get my pants on! Let me get my pants on! Laura,” Joanne pointed at me, “go tell them to wait. I’m not ready!”
As I rush to the door, I see that my grandmother is standing against the wall… LAUGHING. HER. ASS. OFF.
“What’s so funny?” I whispered, not wanting Aunt Jo to hear.
She couldn’t breathe, tears were streaming down her face, and I was concerned for her sanity. “It was me,” she said in the smallest voice I’d ever heard her use.
My mouth fell open and the two off us began to chortle until neither one of us could put two sentences together. Aunt Jo ran to the door. Seeing that we were laughing, she promptly asked us what was so damn funny, to which my grandmother filled her in.
“You’re not funny, Ma!”
“I’m hilarious,” she retorted while Joanne stomped back into the room to plop down on the bed.
What I remember next, is my grandmother winking at me, and going into the bathroom to get herself ready for the day.
From then on, I knew that Grams couldn’t only laugh, but she was one of the original pranksters. The woman should’ve had her own YouTube channel… she was just that good.
That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.
Until next year, Grams.
Love and miss you,
I am not a hero… I’m not. I don’t even play one on TV.
So why do people tell me that I’m theirs?
It doesn’t make any sense.
Why do people tell me that I’m a warrior?
I don’t feel like a warrior and I certainly don’t feel like a hero. I mean, what’s a hero? A person who saves lives and has some sort of superpower. What’s a warrior? A person who fights the good fight and wins that fight.
I don’t have any superpowers, I don’t save lives and I’m definitely not winning the fight that I’m fighting. So why am I an inspiration?
I suffer on a daily basis, I’m in constant pain and I DO NOT HAVE ANY SUPERPOWERS!
If anything I have the power to be tired all the time, and I can make my hair fall out with one wash. In clumps. For no reason.
I am not a warrior. I don’t fight the good fight. I fight a dirty fight. I fight a fight that doesn’t seem to want to end. An aggressive, nonsensical and boring fight that people seem to think is either in my head or that I’m milking it for all it’s worth.
So why am I considered an inspiration?
Why do you think that my life is worth being inspired over?
Is it because I cry sometimes because there is no cure for what I have?
Is it because I can’t stand for too long otherwise I might get a fever?
Is it because I sit at home most days and wonder why the Universe decided I was a good person to crap on?
I think it’s because my life is worse than yours.
I think you think that if I can still smile with what I’m going through, you can smile through what you’re going through.
I think I’m also the worst case scenario. I’m that person that everyone goes, “Well, at least I’m not them.” And that makes them feel better about what life has thrown their way.
Am I okay with that?
Why am I okay with it?
Because I know that if I help one person understand what I have, that we become one step closer to finding a cure.
I also know that everyone needs that one person in their life whose existence is worse than theirs. And I may not be glad it’s me, but I am glad that I’m strong enough to deal with it. I’m glad that through me, people are more aware of what others suffer.
I’m glad… but I am not a hero.
(Monologue By: Laura Del)
(A "Spoonie" is a term coined my Christine Miserandino in her article The Spoon Theory. It's just a term for a chronically ill person.)
Here is another rejected story. I hope you like it better than the magazine I sumitted it to. So without further ado, here is Killing Him Softly:
Once she found him, she was never going to let him go…
He sat across from her in class, his beautiful red hair glistening in the sun from the window behind her. There he was the perfect specimen. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. The bait was set. No one could resist her smile and she knew it. This would lead to a discussion outside of class and then all she would have to do was ask him out. That had always worked before and it would work now. But this time it would be different. Very different.
She sat there thinking as she stared at his broad shoulders. Would her looks help her get away with it? Of course, that was a childish question. She was one of the most beautiful young women she had ever seen. Dark hair and stunning blue-gray eyes, she was long, fit and curvy in all the right places. A statuesque beauty who knew that her beauty could help her in life, because they made people underestimate her. After all, even her name was a thing of beauty…
Guinevere. The name that brought down a prospering empire. This Guinevere also knew that she could bring down any man she wanted. Right then, she wished to capture the red head staring at her as he leaned back in his chair.
Guinevere let her mind wander. After this lecture, she would walk up to him and ask his name. He would tell her without a second thought, and they would get to know one another. At least, as much as she wanted to know about him, she did not want to give too much away as it would ruin the game. Oh, how she loved this sort of game. The prey and the predator, making him think one thing while saying another. It was her favorite part of the hunt.
They would set a date to see each other for the first time, and she would pour on the charm. She loved to make people feel like they were the only person in the world. He would be no different. However, on this night, she would not play hard to get, she would give herself to him. Guinevere thought how fun it would be to take him back to her house on a night that her parents were not home. They always went to parties with friends or they would go out on a date night, leaving her home alone all weekend. Anyway, it was not as if they would be able to stop her from playing once she got started.
With that big empty house to themselves, she’d take him upstairs to her bedroom. Then it would be time for another game. This one Guinevere knew she must be careful doing and it was crucial that she not mess it up. He was just so prefect. Her type in every way. She would love to see him undress before her eyes, making sure that he was vulnerable before telling him to get on the bed.
Interesting the way the mind works, Guinevere sat there in that boring lecture class and thought of how he would take her little game. He would most assuredly be excited about taking his clothes off in front of a beautiful woman. And when she brought out the handcuffs and the rope, he would be nervous at first, but as soon as she put on that little black lace negligee she had waiting for this particular occasion, he’d be willing to do just about anything. As she tied him by hands and feet to the four-poster bed, she knew she would be able to feel his excitement. That’s when she could begin…
It would be quite simple, since Guinevere did her research on the matter. First, she would have to relax him, which was easy enough, considering she looked the way she did. But just in case that did not work, she would go on top of him, straddling him carefully. What would he thinking in that moment? Probably that he was going to get laid. On the other hand, maybe he would be thinking exactly the same as she was, but Guinevere doubted it. The prey never thinks what the predator does. He only knows what happens if he gets caught. And would this little lamb know what the big bad wolf would do to him? Oh and the look on his face when he figured it out… that was what she looked forward to the most. The fear in his eyes when she pulled out the scalped she placed underneath the mattress. He might smile at first, thinking that she was joking, but once the sharp end sliced into his flesh, he would know she was as serious as the grave.
Guinevere was prepared for his reaction, she knew he would struggle as all wounded animals do, but she would quiet him. In any case, from what she read, he would pass out from shock before she got to the good part. Since she wanted to enjoy the experience, she would take it nice and slow, making sure the blood ran down his ripped body just right, pooling on the satin sheets. She had tried it on animals first, so she knew how it would work. However, a human being was a different story. He would be a lot bigger than a rat and have much more blood to play with afterward.
Ever since she was a little girl, Guinevere thought about doing this, but she was too young for it. To kill and dispose of a person takes a lot of strength, but she had been practicing for years. It first started with birds. She found a dead one in her back yard when she was five, and her fascination with death blossomed into something that itched in the back of her mind all the time. She would fall asleep thinking about it, and wake with a smile on her face with the prospect of it. Even when her mind wandered, it would always go back to the same spot... murder. And now that she found her perfect victim, she knew her first would be so very special.
After the first cut, it would be just a matter of time before he started to scream, so she would have to keep him quiet. This she had thought about very little. His screams would be too loud for the neighborhood, so she’d have to stuff a cloth in his mouth. She did not want the police to interrupt her first masterpiece. So a cloth or rag would have to do. It was going to be perfect.
Starting with a Y incision, it would take her about ten maybe fifteen minutes to get him open. She knew he would be wiggling around until the time came when he would finally become unconscious. The blood, to her, was gloriously gorgeous. Its crimson color, its rusty smell and the way it felt like silk on her skin… just beautiful. She loved watching it drip down onto the floor or even pour from her hand down to her victim’s body. She could watch it move down his sides to the sheet beneath, and then she could begin to open him up.
The blood may have quenched her sense of beauty, but to Guinevere the thought of the inside of the things she killed was so much fun. She loved the muscle underneath the skin, and once she made her way through that, it excited her to watch the soft organs still fluttering with some life. She loved seeing all of it. The bare ribs of the victim made her heart beat in ways it had never beat before. Just the minds eyes vision of it made her bite her lip until it almost bleed. And noticing the boy watching her face, she winked at him. The red head blushed. If only he knew she was lusting after his insides, he would run away screaming, making it even more fun.
Blood on white satin sheets…
Bare rib cage…
The feel of the smooth crimson life force flowing through her fingers, until finally…
The professor dismissed them early. It was only the first class in the semester.
Guinevere got up making her way over to the tall, broad, red haired boy she had been eyeing. “Hi there,” she said, sounding irresistible.
“Hey,” he answered in his deep voice, smile beautifully white.
She thought of those beautiful blues eyes being devoid of all light, and licked her lips. Her perfect victim. “I’m Guinevere. What’s your name?”
Named after the first man… he was wonderful!
“Well, Adam,” she breathed, as they walked out of class, “I think we should help each other out. You know, you give me your phone number and I’ll give you mine… just in case either one of us misses a class and we need the notes.”
“Sure,” Adam said without hesitation, handing her his cell phone in the process. She did the same, smiling her million-watt smile.
Of course, she would call him later and suggest they meet somewhere for dinner, and judging by his reaction to her, he would say a resounding yes.
Then they could play.
From the first minute she saw him, she knew he was going to be the first boy she had ever killed, and it delighted her.
(Short Story by: Laura Del)
Wretched pain shoots through your body, and you have no idea how to deal with it. The ache becomes your life, your being, your everything. You don’t know what to do, so you go to a professional who tells you that they have no idea what you’re talking about. “Nothing has those symptoms,” they say, as you tell them your story. So you go home feeling that maybe they were right, maybe it’s just something that’ll go away with time.
That’s what gets you. You let your guard down and the pain comes again. This time it’s more debilitating than the last. But you move on, you pretend that everything is all right, until one day you can no longer take it. You wind up hospitalized, and they tell you that you’re near death. Finally, when the tests are done, they give you a diagnosis of “chronic.” It’s so bad that there’s no cure.
The word that means the end of your carefree life.
Something that kills your soul.
The word that rips your heart out and holds it in front of your face while you watch it stop beating.
Then you find yourself in a world where people whisper that you’re faking it or that you’re doing it for attention, and pretending to be chronic because you want people to feel sorry for you. No one realizes that you are dead inside. This thing has taken your passion, your life and your dignity. The friends that once thought you were remarkable, now find you to be a boring and not worth their time. They tell you they still love you, while they’re saying that you are being overly dramatic behind your back.
This is your life now. You pray to anything that’ll listen, and know that no one is. The Universe has abandoned you in your time of need, so you declare war. War on life and war on this chronic thing inside you!
That’s when you become the goddess of pain with a smile, the god of keeping it to yourself, and the deity of “I’m fine. It’s nothing. Don’t worry about me.” Still you struggle with the words as you say them. They stick in your throat, which becomes dry and tastes of the bittersweet lies you tell the people around you.
The life you once treasured becomes a battlefield filled with promises that your body is unable to keep. You are alone. All alone. And no one understands this chronic illness inside you. “No cure,” you hear as the tourniquet gets pulled tighter and tighter, and the needles gets pushed in a vein that explodes inside you. “One little pinch,” they tell you, while the poison, that they consider medicine, injects into your arm and burns you from the inside. You stick yourself with needles at home that make you so tired you can’t move. Your face becomes unknown to you as it blows up and distorts from the side effects of the oral medication. “The miracle drug” that no longer works because your body has become immune to it.
This is what you are used to. People calling you faker…liar. Life becoming more difficult by the minute. Your world spinning out of control. Your body becoming a battleground…
Chronic is a simple, detestable word that makes your life a living hell. Combined it with disease and you have fallen down a rabbit hole that you can’t get out of…no matter how much you climb, you will always wind up with bloodied hands and scrapped knees, only to find that you haven’t even lifted yourself off the quick sand you now stand on.
Two words that cannot be tamed.
Plans made, and then broken.
Everything on hold.
Spiraling out of control…and you just can’t stop it.
(Short Story by: Laura Del)
Here is one of my short stories that lost a Writers Digest competition:
She awoke in the midst of a vast forest. The mist so thick with night and greenery that it actually seemed to glow in the moonlight. She had no idea how she had gotten there or why she was so battered and bruised but she knew she had to run or she would die…
As soon as she stood, she fell back down again and almost sobbed as she did so. This was no time for her legs to give out, she needed them. So she closed her eyes and, leaning against a dilapidated tree, pushed herself up. The pain that rushed through her was almost unbearable, and as she looked down, she finally saw that her ankle was twisted and clearly broken. She winced when she tried to put weight on it, but this was no time to be squeamish or give into the pain because she could hear the rustle of the leaves behind her, and could sense something was out to kill her. Taking a deep breath, she propelled herself forward, limping as fast as she could into the forest.
Dismal thoughts crossed her mind. What if I’m running deeper into the woods? What if I’m going in circles? What if I never find my way out? No. She could not think like that. She just had to move forward and hope for the best. Hope that this thing or things chasing her would never find her in time and that she would lose it.
Her mind wondered back to earlier that night when she had met a man that her friend set her up with. She remembered him being sweet and kind, and knew that he was something special. Something she had never seen before…a true gentleman. He even held the door open for her when she left the restaurant with him. “You wanna do something else?” she remembered him asking, and that she replied that she would.
They walked for while, talking of their pasts and even their futures. He bought them ice cream, and as they sat on a bench in the park, she realized she was beginning to like him. A lot more than she ever thought she would. But as they sat there on the bench, things began to get heavy.
He started asking her all of these very serious questions, his dark brown eyes becoming even darker when he finally asked if she wanted to go back to his place. When she told him that she hardly knew him, and that it was too soon and she wished to take it slow, he pushed himself off the bench violently, his eyes blazing in the street lamp. “Fine,” he almost screamed at her. “Be that way!” And with that, he left her alone in the park.
She did not understand the changefulness of his nature. One minute they were having a normal conversation, and the next he was leaving her alone in the park to fend for herself. This is just great! she thought. Now what am I supposed to do? She got up off the bench and began walking back to her car, which was almost all the way on the other side of town. It was funny to her that when she was with him, she did not notice how far they had come, but now…now she just could not believe she had to walk almost ten blocks in the dark.
As she began to move toward the street, she heard something behind her. At first, she thought it may have been a squirrel moving its way up a tree, but as she turned around to look, she saw that everything was still. In fact, it was quiet. Too quiet.
She moved more quickly, trying to make her way out of the park as fast as her legs would carry her. That is when she heard it again. Without hesitation, she started to run, almost tripping over herself a few times. The footfall—for she could tell that was what it was—came faster and faster behind her. It sounded almost animal, and yet still human. The scraps and scratches against the pavement were moving in time with the frantic beating of her heart.
Her downfall was looking over her shoulder to see what was chasing her. That one look sent her tumbling onto the ground where she hit her head. The last thing she remembered before passing out was a pair of dark red lips curled up over sharp pointed teeth in a snarl.
Frightened, she limped through the woods, adrenaline rushing through her veins making the pain from her ankle almost tolerable. The bright, full moonlight that was guiding her way, faded behind a cloud and suddenly she was plunged into sheer darkness. Her eyes never had time to adjust, and before she knew it, she was flat on her face. The sound of something large bounding through the woods was getting closer. Scrabbling to her feet again, she ran through the woods blind.
Then, as if by some kind of miracle, she saw a small light ahead of her. She began to scream for help as she heard the large thing behind her pick up its pace, until it seemed as if it was right on top of her. “Help,” she screamed again, but as she got nearer to the light, she realized she had made her way into a small clearing. The illumination that she saw was from a car. Someone had left it there with the doors open, the interior overhead light the glow she had seen.
Sprinting up to the car, she prayed that the keys were inside, but no such luck. It was empty. A low rustle came from the tree line, and she did the only thing she could do…shut and lock the doors. She sat breathless in the darkness, until she saw what looked like a large animal move swiftly through the clearing. And, even though she did not get a good look at it, she knew that if it caught her, she would be dead.
Suddenly, the beast slammed itself against the hood, breaking the windshield in the process. The woman screamed as she was dragged from the wreckage, the broken glass scrapping her skin and making her bleed.
The beast turned her around in its arms, crushing her so she could no longer catch her breath. He placed his snout next to her ear, and she could feel his hot breath on her neck, the smell of rotted flesh lingering as he snarled at her. And when he placed his claw around her throat, she looked at his beastly face, seeing his lipless mouth open. “It’s been really fun,” his voice was low and vibrated through her body. “I had a great time. You know, first dates can be awkward, but I definitely think we connected, don’t you?”
When she opened her mouth to scream again, his razor sharp nails dug into her neck, slicing it open. Blood spattered all around them, and as he watched the life go out of her eyes, he placed her lifeless body on the grass and devoured her.
He always enjoyed the hunt, especially the death of the hunted.
(Short story by: Laura Del)