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Friday, March 30, 2012

#FridayFlash: Let It Be

I was at the park with Mason yesterday, and saw a girl sitting on a bench with a sketch box. She looked like she wanted the entire world to keep its distance… and then she became the centerpiece of a story…

Let It Be

“You drawing?”

Mary pulled her pad to her chest and glared at the intrusion. An older guy, leaning over the fence behind her, smile a little too wide. “Yeah.” Eff off, creeper. She pulled one leg up.

“Okay. I just like art. Can’t draw for crap myself.” He shrugged and walked away, stealing one last glance over his shoulder.

She looked up — her nephew Adam was on the highest level of the jungle gym, tearing around with the other first graders. He saw her and waved; she waved back and he dived head-first into the tube slide. He’d burn off a bunch of energy, while she made ten easy bucks and had some time to work on her drawing, and her sister Kim would have a peaceful evening for a change. Everybody wins. She was working on the beast’s outstretched claw… she knew it was holding something, but what? There will be an answer, she thought, and stared across the playground to the pond beyond the fence. She pushed her hair back and thought some more.

The image of the creepy dude wormed back into her mind, and she nearly flung her pencil. “Asshole,” she growled, and flipped to a blank sheet. Without thinking much about it, she sketched the creeper on his back; the front end of an SUV loomed over him. A few more details suggested themselves, and she added them: the jogging track crossing, backstop fence in the background, planter with flowers. She looked it over and did a double-take: under the creeper, the words LET IT BE were repeated several times. She had no memory of writing that.

“Huh,” she grunted — but suddenly she realized the beast was holding an orb. No, a huge eyeball, big as the soccer ball rolling across the playground, with a slit pupil like a cat’s. She checked the time on her phone, and made sure the alarm was set for 6:30, then dived into her drawing.

After strapping Adam into his booster seat, he gave up whining about having to leave the park and picked up his toy F-16. He made whooshing noises as she got in a long line for the exit. The best thing about being sixteen was being able to drive. It got her a long way from her crazy-bitch Mom and the fights she picked with her and Dad. She sort of hoped Dad would divorce the hag so she could move in with him.

“Sh— oh no!” she gasped. Someone was flat on the crosswalk; the cop assigned to the park had his patrol car off to the side, lights flashing like a rave with extra weird drugs. As she drew closer, she realized the guy on the pavement was the creeper. A big white Expedition stood with a crushed grille, and the driver — a woman whose hairdo was wound way too tight — was arguing with the cop: “I was supposed to get my daughter from soccer practice ten minutes ago! Am I liable for every jogger who comes popping out of nowhere?”

Mary gave the scene a goggle-eyed stare — all the details in her sketch were there. “Too weird,” she breathed, and scooted away for her sister’s house.

The slap of thunder, shaking the classroom floor, matched Mary’s mood. That bitch Amber seemed to go out of her way to make life miserable for Mary. Always talking smack, “accidentally” knocking stuff out Mary’s arms, you name it. Thank God it was study hall — maybe she could get her act together before next period. Her U.S. History assignment was done, so she opened her sketchpad. The beast was almost finished, but again she flipped to a blank page and started drawing: the school, torn open by a force unmeasurable. Debris everywhere, cars overturned. A funnel cloud dwindled in the distance. From under one car, a girl’s hand, wearing a big class ring. And that repeated LET IT BE, snaking under the arm and around the hand.

Her stomach turned a flip, and she hustled to Ms. Larson’s desk. “Need a bathroom break,” she whispered.

Ms. Larson nodded. “Hurry, okay?”

Mary returned the nod and ran to the girls’ room. She closed the stall door behind her and stared at the toilet, taking deep breaths —

The alarm went off, three short barks, over and over, nearly drowned out by a constant rumble. Tornado warning, she remembered, and crouched in the corner between the toilet and the wall.

They found Amber under a car in the parking lot. Her friend Heather said she’d cut Sociology to take a smoke break outside.

Mom was on a drunken rampage. Dad hadn’t come home from work, and wasn’t answering his cellphone. Mary had slipped her sketchpad under the dresser, maybe the one safe place for it. Mom would fling her drawers everywhere, but she was too lazy to move something that heavy.

From the sound of it, she was now tearing the kitchen apart. Mary pocketed a flashlight, grabbed her sketchpad, and opened the bedroom window. The roof of the screened-in porch was just below, fortunately; from there she could drop to the deck and get away. She’d done it before.

Dad left her. And me too. What a shit! she thought. Was this the way things would always be? Disappointment punctuated by hours of Hell on Earth? Mom would be so apologetic in the morning, and maybe she’d even mean it, but it would happen again.

The house next door was foreclosed, its empty patio a welcome retreat. Mary opened the sketchpad and shone her flashlight over the beast. It was tearing itself out of the ground, ready to render its sentence on the world. The drawing was almost done. Almost. She picked up her pencil:

LET IT BE, LET IT BE, LET IT BE, LET IT BE. There will be an answer.



  1. How many times have we wished for this ability? [And I mean the ability to draw, of course. ;-)]

  2. suddenly the Beatles classic takes a sinister turn.. I always knew that Mc Cartney had something wrong with him..har har

    Excellent Larry.. glad to be reading you again!!

  3. Tim, I have often wished I could draw! My son sure can.

    Tom, the Beatles song just kind of slithered into the story. I figured I'd just go with it & named her Mary!

  4. Nicely creepy. I wonder if she knows how it's using her?

  5. Creepy! So . . . does she use her magic power or does it use her?

  6. I like how you've written yourself in, Larry, as a creeper no less!

    Nice work. :-)

  7. Hi all!

    Tony, at first I thought she was drawing reality with her own Power, but then I started wondering…

    Sonia, to be honest, I'm not sure!

    Thanks, Jack — but I didn't talk to her. Mason ran behind her, and that was as close as I got. 'Course, I didn't end up getting whacked by a self-important nutter in an SUV, either!

  8. When what she draws becomes a reality - very chilling, it also reminded me of an episode of FRINGE I watch some time ago, where a girl drew events that were about to happen, she didn't cause them, but somehow she knew how they would happen and drew it. Your story is similar only much darker.

    Good stuff.

  9. Oh dear me. Mary's tapped into something quite unholy. Or something quite unholy's tapped into her.

    Either way, it's dangerous for anyone around her.

    This moved with great pace - and I could see the beast. Nicely done.

  10. Ha! Yes, I guessed what happpened later was a figment of your imagination, but it was a nice starting off point.

  11. Good concept Larry. I wonder if drawings depicting nice happenings would work too?

  12. I think the creepiest part about this is she's not afraid to use her power, but that's what makes this good. I can see her becoming some sort of super-villain in a short while.

    Great work!

  13. There is a sixth dimension beyond that which is known to most writers. It is a dimension as vast as a playground and as timeless as an SUV. It is the middle ground between friends and creeps, between superstition and the paranormal and it lies between the creation of one's fears and the sketch of one's knowledge. This is a dimension of a rather dark imagination. It is an area which today we call - the Larry Zone. I think Rod Sterling would have liked your tale.

    Good, but much too creepy for me, unless...Chelinn and his friend Lodrán drop in ;-)

    (Note: repeated word "the" - 8th para. 2nd line . . "patrol car off the the side")

  14. Hi all!

    Helen, I've never seen Fringe, so I can honestly say I didn't get the idea there. ;-) I don't usually go this dark, but it was there…

    Kevin, thanks much — I think she just put herself in as much danger as everyone else around her though!

    Jack, I did give myself a brief cameo (about a dozen words) in White Pickups

    Steve, I think I'm going to write a sequel… so we shall see!

    Michael, is she using her power, or is it using her? I haven't figured that out yet.

    Rachel, thanks for the laugh and the typo catch!

  15. Larry, I wasn't suggesting that you did, I was just saying it reminded me somewhat of it. I think your story very good. ^_^

  16. I understood, Helen! No prob at all…

  17. Being an 'arty' person the first few sentences drew me in (no pun intended) - and the more I read the more I liked - nice work

  18. I don't think you're creepy at all ;).

    Great story. i like how you got into the character's mind. I'm not expert when it comes to girls, but seemed quite realistic.

    Definitely one of my favourites.

  19. Morning!

    Brainhaze, like the creeper, I can't draw too well but wish I could. Glad you liked!

    Thanks, Craig — I have a daughter, and learned a few characterizations through her & some of her friends.

  20. With great power comes great responsibility!

  21. Indeed, Icy… I just hope she survives long enough to internalize that lesson…

  22. Hey Larry, this is pretty cool. Not just the concept of what she draws coming true, there's an old folk tale about a magic paintbrush that brings its creations to life, but the inclusion of the 'beast' and the implication that it has something to do with what is happening. What will happen when she finally finishes that picture..?

    I like the personal touches too, in seeing what she attacks (however unintentionally) we learn about her as a person.

    It skipped a little in the abrupt jumps from scene to scene, but I just think that's because it wants to be a little more fleshed out, bigger, brought to life... ;)

    Really enjoyed this one. =)

  23. Hi Larry. I liked this too. :)

    I agree with John that the jumps felt a little jarring, perhaps this wants to be bigger than a flash.

    Superpowered teens scare the hell out of me! I like the fact she was so judgemental, felt appropriate.

    I struggled with the Beatles thing though.

  24. John, Peter, thanks much! Yeah, I know it jumped around, but as y'all guessed I was trying to put a longer story into a 1000-word bag. I'm continuing it & will rewrite it when I get it rolled out and hear some more feedback.

    Sorry about the Beatles thing, Peter… it just kind of popped in and insisted on staying. The continued story continues the theme, but (I hope) as more humorous lines.

  25. I may be months late to visit this story but I sure am happy that I did Larry!

    The power to bring drawings into life is indeed an old tale, but your piece gives a much darker concept to it. To think that the happenings are beyond Mary's control, and that beast...quite frightening.

    I like it. Moving on to read the second part.


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