For the Love of Books’ Challenge

This week’s challenge is a little different. This time, I’ve been given an opening line: “Rounding the corner, his heart stopped when he saw…”

“Rounding the corner, his heart stopped when he saw…” said Jimmy, suddenly silencing his reading voice for added suspense.

“Saw what?!” asked Beth.

The little girl sat in her father’s lap, listening intently as Jimmy read the “safe for kids” scary story. Beth was only nine years old, but her dad thought she could handle a spooky tale before going to bed.

His wife, on the other hand, disagreed.

Stella stood in the doorway to Beth’s bedroom with a disapproving look on her face. A look that was directed at her husband.

Beth was growing impatient. “Saw what, Daddy?!”

Noticing the look on Stella’s face, Jimmy improvised. “He saw a field full of daisies!”

“What?” Beth asked. She couldn’t believe her ears. There was no way this story had gone from this kid being chased by a monster to finding himself in a field of flowers. “Why would that make his heart stop?”

“Because of his…” Jimmy paused once more for dramatic effect, “seasonal allergies! DUN-DUN-DUN!”

Jimmy and Stella made eye contact once more before she walked into the room and picked Beth up off his lap. He knew that they would have a long conversation later, but he also knew he had avoided his wife’s wrath for the time being.

Together, the parents said good night to their little girl. Jimmy turned off the bedside lamp an kissed Beth’s forehead. As they walked out of their daughter’s room, Beth whispered, “Leave the door cracked.”

“I’m sorry,” Jimmy said as he followed Stella down the stairs.

“You know she’s too young for those stories,” said Stella, “She’ll have nightmares.”

Jimmy didn’t agree, but he knew better than to say so. “You’re probably right.”

In the kitchen, Stella poured herself a glass of wine. “Do you want me to pull up the next episode of Tiger King?” asked Jimmy, walking through to the living room.

“Yeah,” said Stella, taking a sip. “How did we not watch this months ago when everyone else was going crazy about it?”

“Because we like to buck trends?”

“Sure we do,” she said, joining her husband on the sofa.

Before Jimmy could push play on the remote, he noticed Beth rushing down the stairs.

“Daddy!”

“What is it, sweetie?” he asked as he stood up.

“There’s something in my room!”

“Beth,” he sighed, climbing the stairs to join her, “there are lots of somethings in your room.”

“But this was something scary!” said Beth, fear filling her voice.

Jimmy picked Beth up and carried her back up the stairs. “It wasn’t a field of daisies, was it?” Beth laughed, momentarily forgetting how scared she had been. “Let’s get you back into bed and I’ll explore every nook and cranny and make sure you’re safe and sound.”

Rounding the corner, his heart stopped when he saw a dark figure standing in the corner of Beth’s bedroom. He couldn’t breathe. A chill rushed through his body. Jimmy stared at the person-shaped shadow figure for what felt like an eternity, but it was only a few seconds.

He reached out and flipped on the light switch. His mind had to have been playing tricks on him. As the overhead light brightened the room, whatever he thought he had seen in the corner vanished.

Jimmy willed his breathing to return to normal and walked to the bed, laying Beth back down. “Now, where did you see this scary something?”

Beth pointed to the corner where Jimmy had seen the shadowy figure. Fear paralyzed him for a moment as he stared at the corner, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, but remembering the faceless thing that had been there before the light came on.

Jimmy did his best to hide his fear from his daughter. “Well, there’s nothing there now, is there?”

Beth shook her head, but her body language told Jimmy that she wasn’t sure she could believe her eyes. He knew how she felt.

“Will it help if I check your closet and under the bed?”

Beth nodded, pulling the covers up to her chin.

Jimmy made a show out of checking the closet, then bent down to look under the bed. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, then kissed his daughter good night once more.

She didn’t want him to turn off her light. A part of him didn’t want to turn off her light. He convinced himself that they were both just being paranoid and that nothing weird was going on. He had been reading his daughter a scary story and their minds were playing tricks on them.

But could their separate minds coincidentally play the same tricks?

Leaving Beth’s room, Jimmy flipped off the light switch and decided to leave her door fully open this time.

“Well?” asked Stella when Jimmy reached the bottom of the stairs.

He turned to look back up the stairs before looking at his wife and shrugging his shoulders. Sitting next to her, he said, “I could have sworn I saw something. But it’s not possible. My eyes had to have been playing tricks on me. As soon as I turned on the light, whatever I thought I saw was gone.”

“Scary stories before bedtime,” said Stella, draining her wine glass. “Always a good idea.”

Suddenly, they heard Beth’s voice screaming at the top of her lungs. They both bolted up the stairs with Jimmy in the lead. Rounding the corner, his heart stopped when he saw…

I feel like I’m going to get hate mail for that, but I had to end it the same way it began! Thanks to For the Love of Books for this week’s challenge! Head over to her blog and see what she’s up to! I had one more challenge added last week, so I still have two to go. If you want to add your challenge to my list, just click here and drop it in the comments!

Feature Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “For the Love of Books’ Challenge

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