The past two weeks, I shared the beginning and middle of a short story I wrote ten years ago. Here's the conclusion. Enjoy!
DEVIL'S LAKE cont
DEVIL'S LAKE cont
That night, as soon as I was sure Mrs. Nelson was asleep, I crept down the stairs. I left her a note on the kitchen table, put my jacket on over my pajamas, took a deep breath, and locked the door behind me.
My house was completely dark, almost forbidding. It seemed to know I wasn’t supposed to be there yet. But I had locked myself out of Mrs. Nelson’s house, so there was no other place to go. I hurried across the street and let myself in.
The silence was so complete it pressed against my ears. The only sound was the living room clock ticking. I didn’t even know that clock ticked! It was so loud—how could I have not noticed? I locked the front door and crept up to my room, the stairs creaking under my weight. It was like an amplifier had been placed under the treads. This was too weird. I ran the rest of the way up the stairs, threw down my bag, and dove into my bed. I shivered—only because the bed was cold, not because I was scared. Because I wasn’t.
I pulled the covers to my chin and buried my head in the pillow.
The phone woke me up the next morning. Mrs. Nelson said she found my note and wanted to make sure I was okay. She sounded a little hurt that I would leave in the middle of the night, which made me feel bad. She’s probably the closest thing I have to a grandmother, and I didn’t mean to upset her. I told her everything was fine, and said I was sorry for making her worry.
I got up to get some breakfast, and the house seemed different. Not like last night, though. Cheerier. Bigger. At peace. Well, until Dad got home. He would stop at Mrs. Nelson’s house first, expecting me to be there, and then he would come home knowing full well what I had done. I was toast.
I spent the day straightening up our neat little house, and even started supper. That might soften the blow a little.
Dad glowered at me. “You’re grounded for a month.”
“What’s the difference? You never let me do anything anyway.
“Now, that’s not true. And you are going to call Mrs. Nelson and apologize to her for leaving.”
“I already did. And I’m not staying at her house anymore.”
“So you think you’re making the rules now?”
“No, I just don’t want to stay there anymore. And if you make me, I’ll keep coming home in the middle of the night.”
Dad flinched, like I’d just slapped him in the face. He opened his mouth, closed it, then folded his arms across his chest. “You’re grounded for a month.” He strode out of the room.
A month had come and gone when Dad’s next business trip arrived. I expected to fight over Mrs. Nelson’s house again, but something very different happened.
“Alex, I have a question for you.” Dad he sat down next to me on the couch, turning off the TV. “It might not be all that fun because you’d have to go follow along to some pretty boring places, but would you like to come to Chicago with me?”
My mouth dropped open. “Really? You mean it? I can come with you?”
“Yes. I thought we could stay an extra day and go to the top of the Sears Tower or something.”
“That sounds really great, Dad. Really great.”
“Well then.” Dad nodded toward the stairs. “Go get packed.”
It turns out Chicago felt an awful lot like Devil’s Lake, even though they are nothing alike. Except, when we left, I didn’t feel like I was leaving it behind. I was bringing it home.