Starts Saturday, October 19, 2013.
Ends Saturday, November 2, 2013.
Flash fiction, must be not less than 300 words, not more than 1000 words.
All subjects are open but no bad language, gory violence or descriptive erotica. (My contest, my rules. Family friendly can be a lot of things but these three things are out.)
At end of time, all people who participated are entitled to vote for best story.
The girl stood, tall and lanky, and jangled the keys. She said nothing, just stood there and jangled the keys. Her hair fell in her face, she stared at the keys as if thinking something, which she was.
The man did not know what she was thinking, or why she was jangling the keys. He only knew that the computer was making his chest tight. Over and over he tried to solve the problem, make it work out right, but it didn’t happen. He had started by staring at the screen, trying to make it work. But that didn’t solve the problem. Then he got angry, pounding keys with his fingers and sweating profusely.
The girl stood, tall and cool, jangling the keys. She didn’t seem interested in anything else but jangling the keys.
The man sat in the dark, staring into the screen. In the back of his head he still thought of these as CRT screens, throwing radiation out at him or any other fool who would sit in front of the screen. But he knew it wasn’t emitting radiation. The sweat on his head and the droopiness of his eyes told of the hours he had spent in the chair, trying desperately to make the problem work out and go away.
He had yelled, cursed, banged, pleaded, begged and cajoled but nothing happened. He tried different ways to make the problem work out, but it almost seemed like a living thing. Every time he thought he had the problem worked out, it seemed to laugh at him and dance just out of reach.
Outside his window it was dark. The moon was full and bright, he could see it. Earlier in the evening he had driven to get the girl. Driving back in the van, she had sat silently, staring out the window. He knew what was coming, he knew what would happen, but he had no choice. The moon had been bright, but the stars had been hidden by clouds as he drove along, listening to music on his mp3 player.
He sat, typing furiously on his computer. His chest was tight, his stomach was in knots and he was sweating. He swore at the computer, bashing keys with the points of his fingers.
The girl stood, tall and lean, and jangled the keys.
There was a light rain falling over the back of Manoa Valley the evening in 1970 that John Murakawa answered the persistent call of his dog to go for its usual night-time stroll.
Since his house is located near the Chinese cemetery in the back of the valley, he usually took Kipo down past the old graveyard before circling home. Clutching his umbrella in one hand and the tugging leash in the other, John was pulled by his dog into the unpleasant, damp darkness of the Manoa night.
At the corner near the west side of the graveyard, Kipo stopped to "do his business" along the curb. On the other side of the cemetery wall was an area of graves known as the "baby" section. These graves were reserved for infants about six years of age and younger. In Chinese tradition, it is believed that these young spirits need each other's companionship in the other world. A stroll through the "baby" section of the Chinese cemetery is a sad and poignant experience at any time of day. In the late evening, when the rain is falling to the light cry of the wind, this area can be downright chilling.
At first John thought that the cries he heard coming from the graveyard was the valley wind blowing through the trees. But the persistent sobbing became more human as he realized that these sounds came from a child - a child who was in the cemetery. Peering over the wall, he was somewhat relieved to see that indeed a little girl, only six or seven years of age was inside the cemetery, huddled under a tree behind one of the tombs seeking shelter. She was getting soaking wet in the rains that blow down the valley.
"What are you doing in there?" he asked her. In the faint light from the street lamp, he could see that she was a small Asian girl with long black hair. Her simple aloha-print school dress was soaking wet as was her light blue sweater.
"Where do you live?" he called to her. She didn't answer but continued crying. She was obviously frightened and apparently lost. John assured her that he wasn't going to hurt her. He only wanted to help her. When he walked over toward her, Kipo suddenly started barking and pulling away on the leash. John lost his grip on the wet leather as the terrified animal ran off, making a bee-line for home.
"What are you doing out here at night, little girl?" he asked kindly as he leaned down, putting his jacket over her wet body. She was trembling in the cold, damp night. "Won't you tell me your name?"
"Eily," she said between sobs, "Eily Kang. I live at 3578 Gulick Ave. I'm five years old." John thought how cutely she had recited her name, address and age as if she had practiced it for adults.
"Well, Eily Kang," John said cheerfully, "why don't we get you to some place that is dry! You are going to catch your death of cold out here."
The rain had let up as the two of them walked out of the graveyard, hand in hand for the stroll back to his home. Along the way he asked her what she had been doing out there in the graveyard at night. Eily explained that earlier that afternoon she had been visiting her cousin in Manoa. The cousin had invited Eily to join her friends in a game of hide-and-go-seek. Eily had run into the cemetery to hide, but nobody had come to find her. Even after sunset, she stayed in her hiding place until finally it started to rain. Then she got frightened, but she couldn't remember where her cousin lived. So she hid near the tomb under the protection of the tree.
When John got back to his home, he gave Eily a towel to dry off with as he had his wife look up the Kang family listing in the telephone book. Her parents must be frantic, he thought, looking for their daughter. There were over 100 Kangs in the directory, but none of them on Gulick. The simple solution, of course, was simply to drive her home. Meantime Kipo, the dog, was hiding under the bed.
Eily Kang finished her glass of milk and then got into the back seat of John's car where she curled up under a warm blanket. In a short time, John was slowly cruising down Bulick Ave. looking for the address which the little girl had so proudly given him back in the cemetery. As he pulled into the driveway of the home, he remarked to himself how quiet and dark the house seemed. He had expected police cars and a set of very anxious parents frantically looking for their missing daughter. Maybe Eily Kang had given him the wrong address.
Leaving her behind sleeping soundly in the back seat, John went to the front door of the modest Kalihi home. It was after 11:00 pm when he knocked loudly on the door. A light in the back of the house turned on and a few moments later a man's voice spoke from behind the door.
"Who is it?"
"I'm sorry to bother you," John said, "but does Eily Kang live here?"
"What?" asked the voice behind the door. "What are you talking about?" The porch light turned on suddenly as the door creaked open a few inches and an elderly man peered out at John.
"Hi. My name is John Murakawa. I live in Manoa Valley, and tonight I found a lost little girl in our neighborhood. She gave us this address. Her name is Eily Kang."
"Is this a joke?" the man asked. He was joined by his wife who was talking excitedly in the background.
"No, not at all. Do you know her? Do you know Eily Kang?"
"Yes, She's our daughter. But you couldn't have found her in Manoa."
"Well, I did," insisted John. "She's in the back seat of my car right now."
"Our daughter died thirty years ago," the wife now blurted out. "I don't think this is funny at all."
"What?" John asked, puzzled. "Died thirty years ago? Then who's in my car?"
When John brought the parents out to the car to meet the little girl named Eily Kang whom he had found in the Chinese cemetery of Manoa, the mysterious child had vanished from the back seat as had the blanket in which she had been wrapped. It took some serious explaining to the angry couple to convince them that he was not playing some malicious trick. He told them in detail how he had found the wet and frightened child in the cemetery.
"Our Eily is buried in the Manoa graveyard," the mother said quietly. Tears started flowing down her cheeks.
It was after midnight when John and the Kang family gathered at the site in the Chinese cemetery where he had met the little lost girl. The tomb she had been hiding behind was about thirty feet from the place where a child named Eily Kang had been buried on April 3, 1939. The air was now crisp as a half-moon peeked out behind a few passing clouds. The elderly couple were praying and placing an offering of candy on their long departed child's grave and weeping in remembrance of a life that had been cut far too short. How empty their lives had been without Eily, their only child who did not grow up into adolescence, who did not attend college and marry that handsome young man and given them grandchildren to comfort them in the twilight of their lives.
Could it have really been the child from the grave who had been in his car? She had been so real? John felt more puzzled and skeptical than disturbed by the events of the evening. He felt uncomfortable in the presence of the grieving parents so he stepped away to be alone with his own thoughts. The Manoa wind now picked up as he pulled his jacket closer around him to fight the chill. It was then that it caught his eye, an unusual object laying on the grass not three feet behind the tomb of "Eily Kang". His neatly folded blanket was resting there among the graves of the dead.
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