Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The pewter cup

Today I'm going to participate in something new. Something I've never tried before.

Willow over at Life at Willow Manor has started a new blog called Magpie Tales. She is helping to inspire people to write short stories and poems. She will be providing a picture as a prompt each week.

I've have never attempted to write a short story before and I will warn you, this story that I wrote is not like anything else on this blog.
I just looked at the picture and wrote and this is what came out. It's a little disturbing and different (maybe I'm reading too much Otin?). I almost didn't post it but I did promise myself to go through with this assignment (and not throw away what I write- which is what I normally do).

So...here's is this weeks picture and my attempt at a short story.

London 1895....Hettie

So 'ere we stand. All lined up in the main 'all. Lord Willard walks down the row of us servants, lookin' into each of our faces. Tryin' to see if there's deceit in our eyes and all the while Lady Willard stands there wringing her hands in worry.

I don't see the big fuss. It was a strange piece of silver that went missing. Never used. Didn't match all the other fine pieces in the mansion. Plain compared to the rest, seemed a bit older too.

Of course, we all know who took it. Maggie's responsible for polishing the silver every Friday. I, meself has seen 'er holding that same piece wit a trance like look on her face. But to take it? Everyone knows a job is 'ard to come by without a letter. She'll never find work again and all over a silver cup?

Lord Willard finishes with his questions and stares and dismisses us to our work. "Maggie, Lady Willard and I would like to speak to you privately in the study" he says when we all break from our line.

Maggie follows the Lord and Lady with the same look on 'er face that she's had for weeks now. We share a room upstairs, me and Maggie do. A couple weeks ago I find 'er sittin' on her bed staring at nothin'. And this is the way I find 'er lots of times since then.

I 'ead up to me room for a clean handkerchief right quick before I head to me duties. And there I find Chadwick, the Lord's butler, on the floor near Maggie's bed. Maggie's bag is already packed. She must know she's getting the sack. Chadwick has gone through 'er things and is now searching for a hiding place, perhaps a loose floor board.

Chadwick didn't expect me but he's not applogizin'. "Have you seen it?" he asks without getting up. "Only time I seen it is when she's holding it and polishin' it" I answer. "Well, she shouldn't be polishin' it. It's not silver, it's pewter and it's never been stored with the other silver. It was kept locked up in the Lord's secret safe. I don't know how she even knew of it's existence let alone stole it."

Just then we 'ear footsteps. Maggie is standing in the doorway. She has that crazy look on 'er face. The silver cup is in 'er one 'and and a big knife in the other. She is covered with blood. I back up into the corner and Chadwick is just startin' to get up when Maggie makes a growling like sound and starts attackin' Chadwick. I see me chance and run from the room.

That's when I see the smoke rising up the servants stairway.

I don't know how or why, but I'm the only one who makes it out alive.

New York 1995....Bill

"Tell me again Margret, how did you hear about this?" I ask my wife as we drive out of the city to an old estate auction. She has been acting strange lately. This auction is all she talks about, but in everything else she seems distracted.

"I stumbled on it online" is all she says.

"But you've never been interested in this kinda stuff before. Why the sudden interest in estate auctions?" All she gives me is a shoulder shrug. I can't figure her out lately. In the 25 years we've been married she has always been s focused, driven. As a modern art dealer in the city, she has decorated our home to match her tastes in her work. Antiques all of the sudden? And so absent-minded and day-dreamy?

She suddenly jumps to life "Oh, there it is! There's the place. Turn at the next street!" We pull into a side yard of an old farm house where cars are parked. Margret is out of her seat and opening her door before I can put the car in park.

She doesn't wait for me but heads straight into the barn where long tables have been set up with items stacked on them. I almost have to jog to catch up to Margret as she walks purposefully to the back corner of the barn. I notice that she doesn't even look at any of the items. She stops in front of a card board box filled with what looks like junk.

"What is wrong with you?" I ask her breathlessly when I reach her side. Margret doesn't seem to hear me. She is standing there staring into the box. "Margret?" She doesn't respond but instead slowly reaches into the box and pulls out a blackened cup by it's handle. She is holding it, staring at it when I say her name again.

She takes the cup and puts it in her purse. "What are you doing?" I struggle to contain my shock to a hissing whisper while looking around to see if anyone has noticed her theft.

"Let's go" is all she says as she turns to walk out. I attempt to keep up with her again as I bump into the people looking at auction items. She is staring out the windshield when I slam my car door. "What is going on? Why would you just take that? I will buy it for you! You don't have to steal it!" It is so out of character of her that I'm still in shock but the anger is starting to come now.

"You wouldn't be able to afford it." She spoke without breaking her gaze. "There is someone here that would have paid more than we would have be able to bid. I had to take it. Now let's go."

"No! We are not going anywhere until you tell me what's going on!" I am starting to yell now but she seems in a deep trance. "Margret!!! Look at me!!" Instead, her head snaps in the opposite direction towards two men who have just exited the barn. They are scanning the parked cars and immediately focus on ours. One raises his arm and points at our car as they both begin to run towards us.

"Go NOW!" are the words that come from Margret but not in her normal voice. It is an animal-like sound and I am so frightened by it that I don't think. Stomping on the accelerator so heavily my tires tear up the grass as the two men run after us.

Margret is turned around in her seat, trying to see if the men are following us. I have made multiple turns on back roads hoping to loose them. Twenty minutes later I pull the car off to the side of a dirt road. Attempting to gain control of myself, I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. "I don't think they are following us. Will you tell me what's going on now?" She has turned back around and her eyes are fixed again out the windshield but not seeming to focus on anything.

She suddenly turns her head towards me and there is a look on her face I don't recognize. It all happens so fast. A black car pulling up beside us. Margret pulling a gun from her coat. She leans across the seat in front of me firing her pistol. The glass breaking my driver's side window. The horn from the other car blaring as the two men slump forward, dead from her bullets.

Out of instinct and the terror of what I just saw, I throw the car in gear and take off, only traveling a few hundred yards before I slam on the brakes and open my door and vomit on the ground. I don't say anything. What is the use? She now looks catatonic.

After a few minutes she commands "Drive me to the ocean."

I'm the one that's now staring out the windshield, trying to clear my head. "No. I'm done." I have no idea what to do next but I'm not letting her decide. Margret slowly raises the gun to my temple and restates her command. I will not argue now. I don't know who this is. Who has possessed my wife or what has happened to her but this is not Margret.

The drive takes a few hours and the only time she speaks is to direct me. The wind that blows through my broken driver's side window add to my minds haziness. I can't focus. I'm not sure I even want to think. Margret has also begun to act agitated. She is moving restlessly in her seat and I see from the corner of my eye that her hands are shaking violently.

As we get nearer to the ocean I see that Margret has lead me to a boat rental business. She must have made arrangements ahead of time which only adds to my astonishment. Now I am beginning to understand why she brought me along. Before exiting the car she grabs a bag from the trunk that I didn't realize she had placed in there.

On the boat she continues to direct me. She is now pacing nervously from one side of the boat to the other. Her movements are twitchy and jolted. I can hear her talking to herself and making strange noises now and then. We have traveled a few miles out on the ocean when she tells me to cut the engine.

With shaky hands she opens her suit case and I see that it is filled with bricks. Margret is now sweating and she seems to be struggling to breathe. The argument she is having with herself is still in hushed tones but she winces and snarls with whatever she is fighting. The cup is still in her left hand that spasms as she tries to force it into the suitcase. She seems to be using all her strength to get her hand to release it there when suddenly her right hand grabs the gun from her pocket.

A look of shock and fright cross her face as she holds the gun to her own temple. That is the first sign I see of Margret, my Margret. I take a step toward her to help her and the look on her face changes instantly. "Get back!" it growls at me and swings the gun around to point at me and then it continues "I can see I'm better off keeping it pointed at her." The gun is repositioned at her temple as Margret's face distorts into an evil sneer and a cackle erupts from her.

Stepping back, I see Margret's features come over her face again and a determined look emerges. In her voice she screams a long drawn out "Noooo!" and hurls the gun into the water. After it is released from her hand the sound of the "no" changes back into the growl-like voice and she launches her body at me. Her hands grab my neck with such strength that I realize I can't pry them loose. I look into her eyes and see only evil.

I am loosing consciousness when I see her features change again and she releases her grip. Struggling to get up to help her, I see her closing the suitcase with the cup inside. I make it to her side in time to heave the bag over the side of the boat. It sinks immediately. Margret falls backwards with a thud onto the floor of the boat. She has passed out.

I'm sitting on the floor of the boat holding her in my arms when she comes to."It was the cup." she whispers in her weakness. "I can't explain it but some how it was calling to me. Over time it only got worse. At first I couldn't stop thinking about it, then it seemed to be directing me. That is when I started to fight it. I found I was strong enough but I also found that there was something evil about it, incredibly evil. I knew it had to be destroyed. If I took control of myself completely then it would just find someone else. I had to be the one, I had to allow myself to be lead to it, to possess it. And then it was so strong, it took over when I killed those men. Men who were there to destroy it too. At that point I thought that I was lost, that it had complete control over me. But I fought. I knew needed you with me to handle all the details so that I could focus, focus on staying in control. It's over now. I'm so glad it's over now!"

Margret collapsed in my arms and I gently laid her on the floor of the boat so that I could take us home.

Cape Cod 2025....Kim

My husband has been acting strange lately. This obsession with deep sea diving....


Pauline said...

I'm covered in goose bumps! And you say you throw your writings away? Better to toss them toward a publisher somewhere! Gosh,that was good!

Brian Miller said...

snap! that was good...great job on your first (of hopefully many) short stories. nicely done.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Holy Moly that was AWESOME!! You need to write short stories!! Seriously!!

rxBambi said...

pauline said it best - well they all did! I DO have goosebumps! Really! and you are a major good story teller. I am VERY impressed.


Gimme some more lady!!

willow said...

Maggie/Margaret...very clever. I'd say this was a Otinesque Gosford Park piece!

The Muse said...

well done. glad i was able to stop sculpting and come visit.

Ronda Laveen said...

Great pace in the telling. Had me on the edge of my seat. I'm not going deep sea diving though.

rel said...

Here's to the Margarets of the world and to those who tell their stories. BTW, you my dear are a superb story teller! Don't you dare to throw away your writings.

Jennifer said...

Well done Tori - you should be pleased with yourself! Never throw away. If you did this in a few days since the prompt was released, imagine what you could accomplish over time!

Vicki Lane said...

Ooooh! Are you channeling Stephen King? Great piece!

Elizabeth said...

You have one wicked imagination! I loved reading your riveting story. And thanks for visiting my blog!

Anonymous said...

Wow girl you did it. A great one. I am not a writer either but I love to write. This is a great idea Willow had. Thanks for stopping by. I wish I had had a chance to speak to my Nana about things before she died. I am an old lady now and thank God things are clean between us. Blessings Tori

Daffy said...

Okay....I'm in...you got me....MORE PLEASE! Turn this into something longer....I.MUST.HAVE.MORE

Geetly said...

Absolutely gripping story! Well done.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

What a great approach to the story of the pewter cup.

amy Iverson said...

Hey Tori! Well done! Keep it up girl! You truly have a gift!

PattyF said...

Tori, I have goosebumps! I'm so glad you chose to post this. You literally had me on the edge of my seat through the whole story. Brilliant!

Lucky Girl said...

Wow. Scary! Good job Tori!!

♥ Braja said...

Unbelievable...I was reading and thinking I was going to write "Amazing :)" and I get down to the comments and it says "Amazing opinions from my amazing readers." I've never been here before so I didn't know it would say that :) Amazing!

Berowne said...

A helluva story told by a helluva story-teller.

Anonymous said...

OY! I found meself reading along at first in the Eastie London narrative then I couldn't stop! Maybe just a bit of the ol' Otin influence but wotta story!

joanny said...


Loved your story-- I like the style of going back in the past and bringing it forward... interesting read.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful story!
I think Willow has started something here!
I look forward to more stories in future.
Your little dog might enjoy Buster's blog

otin said...

Holy Crap! That was good! I love time period twists and turns. You should jump in on theme Thursdays!

Sewn With Grace said...

Thanks a lot Tori! It's 11:16pm, husband working night shift, daughter asleep and I'm all alone in THE BASEMENT looking to your blog for light, funny reading. Now I can go upstairs and drag my daughter from her bed to mine and pray I go to sleep. Geez, get yourself published already you are really, really good.

Mrs Montoya said...

Amazing - good for you. You are way talented beyond a blog. Not that there's anything wrong with a blog, of course :)

The Hausfrau said...

Startlingly impressive--wow!

blueviolet said...

You gotta keep writing! This was great!!! I can't believe it's your first effort!

I Love Pretty Little Things said...


Jennifer said...

Hiya Tori,
Since you took a creative risk and went for it with this story - I'm passing on a Beautiful Blogger award.

Check out my latest post for my reasons why and the picture of the award for you to lift. And a great big WAY TO GO from me.

Corrie Howe said...

I really enjoyed that story, couldn't stop reading.

Beth Kramer said...