I was working on some writing exercises and came across this one which asked the writer to use a gym, knitting needles, a rose, and a book of poetry to write a spooky story. Here is my crack at it.
The air is stale and smells faintly of sweat and popcorn. I wrinkle my nose and check my own pits. Freshness established. I walk into the empty gym. I’m guessing my phone fell somewhere on the bleachers, lost in the final big wave of cheering. What a night. We crushed Spencer County and I met a girl. I should hustle to get back to the dance in the cafeteria. I can’t believe that I’m an idiot who lost his phone. I also can’t believe that Cynthia Stephens said yes to a dance with me. My head spins thinking about holding her in my arms. I promised her that I would be right back. She looked really annoyed that I had to leave, but my mom would kill me if I lost my phone. I can’t believe I never noticed Cynthia at school until tonight. Cynthia! I yell her name into the empty room, and my voice bounces off the walls. I blush and look around. Reputation solid.
The cavernous gym is dark save one glimmer of light coming from the bleachers. Must be some sort of emergency lighting. I try to flip on the overhead lights, but the switch only sputters a few sparks. Woo hoo public school. The dark clings to me and the air feels cooler than it did with a hundred screaming fans. I wish I had my coat. My sneakers squeak as I move towards the only source of light in the room.
My foot scuffs against something soft at half court. I bend down to examine it. It’s a rose. Probably left over from homecoming court, I thought. Cynthia. She looked beautiful in her long red dress as she stood at the edge of the bleachers watching the end of the game. I begin to hum to myself as joy again bubbles up at the thought of being close to her. I clutch the rose as I move closer to the illumination. I hear something now. It’s like a clicking sound. Familiar, yet strange to hear in a gym.
Finally, I can peer under the bleachers. I’m startled by a bent figure sitting in a rocking chair. Her hands move deftly as they add to an ever growing knitted scarf. It coils around her feet like a python. She looks at me, and I feel safe. It’s just someone’s grandma knitting while waiting for the dance to end. It feels good to be in the light.
“You brought me a flower? How nice. Such a nice young man. Place it on the table and come closer.”
I shrug and nod. Her voice is so comforting. It makes me think of working in the kitchen and cooking with my grandma. I place the flower on the little table holding the lamp. There is a faded book of poetry that looks well loved. The pages are yellowed and most are dog eared. I’m compelled to pick it up.
“Oh. Will you read to me? My old eyes would appreciate that very much. Such sweet words. Makes me feel young again. Read from page twelve please.”
I flip to the page and begin to read.
“I promise to love you always. I promise to never leave. I promise that we will be together forever.”
“Such a sweet promise. Boys need to keep their promises. I’ve waited such a long time for you to come back for our dance.”
Confusion marks my brow as I look up to the old woman. She’s left her chair and the tattered rags she’s wearing are scarlet red. The same shade as Cynthia’s gown. I will my feet to move, but she is faster than shadows. I look into the gaping sockets where her eyes should be and feel her bony grip pulling me in for an embrace. My scream is cut off by the constricting scarf that is now wound tightly around my neck. I’m glad my pits were fresh.