After I finished my last artistic venture, a short black and white, film noir Twice Baked http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN-Hj1e8kYg I was thinking of writing about the creative process of my film because some of you wanted to know about it. But as I was clearing up the clutter on my laptop screen I came upon my short story I wrote for NPR’s special series Three-Minute Fiction. NPR’s special series ‘Three-Minute Fiction’ on weekends on ‘All Things Considered’ is a contest that has a simple premise: Listeners send in original short stories that can be read in three minutes or less. http://www.npr.org/series/105660765/three-minute-fiction. Click on the link you can read about the winner and some of the other runner-ups. For Round 11 the guest judge, Karen Russell, asked that we send original short fiction in which a character finds something he or she has no intention of returning.
I hope you enjoy my short story“Click”
Annette is crouching down on the grimy floor trying to get a better angle on the dead body. She looks through the viewfinder to take another photo. Off in the distance at the dark edge of the room something small is reflecting light back to her. She looks up over her camera to see with both eyes. Squinting. Nothing. She keeps moving around the body, taking photos, making her way over to the area where the shiny reflection came from.
The room is spirited with police and detectives not paying attention to Annette. She moves closer to the shadowy area. She sees the small shiny rectangular box with a lid. She squats down, off to the side of the box, while continuing to click away with her camera.
Annette notices her heart racing and that she is holding in her breath. In shutter speed she picks up the cold box that’s almost the width of her hand and the thickness of a fat cigar and puts it in her jacket pocket. She carefully let out her breath and continues clicking off photos as she moves around the room. She feels her flushed cheeks might give away her crime.
The head investigator, Charlie, calls over to Annette.
Did he notice her guilty “What?”
Charlie wants to know if she is almost done.
As she heads out to her car she keeps turning her car keys and the silver box in her pocket over and over. Blending this new foreign object with her native one. The drive home feels like Christmas Eve with so much mystery and promise.
Annette sets the silver box down on the table by her TV chair. She takes off her work clothes and puts on her flannel pajamas and makes dinner, turns on the TV, eats her dinner.
She turns off the TV, washes her face and brushes her teeth, and brings the box to bed. With her reading glasses on she studies the engraved floral etching on the box. Her finger follows the etching as if she is reading braille. Annette’s fingernail position itself under the clasp. It is a practice run for what is to follow. She puts the box down by her kitty’s photo. Her beloved black cat, Kittykat passed away three months ago. She smiles a sad smile at his photo and turns off the light.
The next morning she puts the silver box back in her pocket with her keys. Annette comes into work feeling lighter. She puts the box right out in the open on her desk, daring her collogues to notice. Charlie comes over, stands in front of the desk, and picks up the box. He fumbles it from hand to hand as he talks to her about yesterday’s case. At one point he is rubbing his thumb over the clasp.
No! He better not dare open it.
Annette can’t breath in or out.
Charlie is looking in the box. He puts his big fat finger down to the bottom moving it back and forth.
“Since when do you collect kitty whiskers?”
Annette reaches out and takes the box. She pinches a couple of the twenty or so black colored whiskers between her fingers. Rolling them, she feels their thickness. Her eyes water and she smiles a happy smile.
Click (Kitty Whiskers) © 2013 by Barbara Ann Stanley