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Kids Fiction Sad

This story is dedicated to my amazing husband - stubbornness may not always be a bad trait

Alex only noticed the car seconds before he was hit. He left his mom’s side following a black cat that had crossed his path before it wandered into the street. He was curious because he thought he saw different coloured eyes. After that, there was only darkness.

He found himself standing in that void, alone. “Hello?” He called out into the void. “Mom? Dad?” Alex was normally scared of the dark- and of the creatures that lurk within. But he felt oddly calm, the dark embracing him like his thick bed sheets on a cool night. 

He began walking blindly, stepping with surety that the ground would not waver. After some time, he could see a dim light ahead. As the soft light grew brighter he noticed he was surrounded by a thin mist, which he expected to be cool but was rather warm. Suddenly a small black form raced between his legs and towards the light. Alex held in his scream and regained his balanced, trying to find the vanished creature. As he neared the hazy light, it grew too bright for Alex to react before he had to cover his eyes from the blinding light.

When Alex opened his eyes again, the world around him was cast in a soft grey hue. He was back on the cobblestone streets where his family was shopping. He looked around for them, but the entire street was dead silent. Where there used to be bustling people ambling around, those sidewalks were now deserted. The chirping of birds and insects were gone, replaced by a silence so deep Alex could feel it in his tiny bones. The air itself felt dead and heavy, with no sun or source of light, Alex looked around at the empty world, lost.

He began ambling down the street, his unease lifting despite the bizare shifts in the land. “Mom!” He yelled periodically. “Dad!” The only time he was slightly frightened was when he saw movement down an alleyway, but he only caught sight of a black tail as it disapeared behind a dumpster. His shouts for his parents became less frequent and urgent as Alex felt more at ease- almost in a trance. He began to explore the grey world, feeling confident his parents would find him eventually. The little boy skipped over cracks in the sidewalk and spun around a lampost humming a catchy theme song. He was so distracted he didn’t notice the dark figure growing behind him until he heard, “Hey!” 

He spun around and saw a cloaked woman, the dark fabric hugging her figure, the hood so deep it completely shrouded her face. A scythe was at her side, ominous, almost vibrating with power. In a single blink she was gone, replaced by a cranky-looking teenage girl. She wore black everything: short sleeve shirt with sleeves of intricate tattoos, black pants with little chains, big black boots, even her hair was black and spiky. Her mismatched coloured eyes were shadowed with heavy make up and piercings littered her face and ears. Alex stared at the girl as she stared back, looking rather bored.

“You’re just a kid,” she said matter of factly.

“Well... you’re just a teenager,” he shot back. He knew instantly he wasn’t going to like her. 

“Right. Well, let’s get this started then,” she said with a sigh.

“Get what started?” He asked. 

“Just… follow me,” she walked past him and up the cobbled street. After several steps, before she could disappear into the white haze, she turned back to him. “C’mon kid! I don’t have all century.”

Alex didn’t know what else to do, so he ran after her then half walked, half jogged beside her. His curiosity was building like a dam. After five steps he couldn’t hold it in any more: “Who are you? Where are we? What’s your name? I’m Alex. I’m six, but almost seven. Have you seen a black cat? I think it’s following me.” He kept glancing at her face as he bombarded her with questions but she merely kept walking. “What’s your name?” He asked again.

The teen rolled her eyes and murmured, “It won’t matter anyways. Alight we’re here.” She stopped at a random storefront which had wisps of the mist floating all around, it’s colour seemed drained.

Alex tried to figure out what the store was selling, but couldn’t see past the fog. “Why are we at a store? Do you need to buy something? It looks closed.” He turned to the teen but saw that she was facing the street, not the store.

“We aren’t here for shopping,” she said before taking a deep breath and turning to Alex. “Alright kid, what do you remember before all this?” She gestured to the entire street of stores, most clouded in fog. 

“I dunno. What do you mean?” He looked around. “I remember the cat. It was watching me. Do cats watch people? Do they understand what’s going on?” He tilted his head as his little mind went off into the world of cats. 

The teen slapped her palm to her forehead and looked at Alex like he was the cause of all her misery. “Alright, kid. Here’s the deal.” She looked him in the eyes. “You’re dead. You died here, on this street, and you need to come to terms with that, so you can move on to a better place.”

Alex didn’t seem phased about the news at all. “What better place? Better than home? Is there ice cream? Mom promised ice cream. Can we get some ice cream? Can cats have ice cream?” He kept going but the teen looked at him in disbelief. 

“Alex.” It was the first time she used his name. He stopped questioning the digestion of cats and looked at her. “You are dead. You died. Hit by a car on the street.”

Alex looked at her unperturbed . “Pshaw, no I’m not. I feel fine.” He smiled at her. “Have you seen my parents? I should probably get back to them.” 

The teen tensed up and almost growled. “Look, you little…. kid,“ her hands made fists by her side. “You are dead. A car,” she said slowly, “hit you. Like really hard. You feel fine now because you’re not in your body.” 

“Mmm, nope. I’m fine. Maybe you have the wrong Alex” He began to turn away. “I’m going to go find my parents. Or some ice cream.” He began to walk down the bumby street. “Oh,” he turned back to her. “Thank you for your concern.” He sounded like he was copying an adult. 

The teen watched him walk away, at a loss at what to do. She shook her head and ran after him. “Look kid,” she said walking next to him. “I don’t-”

“Don’t call me that.” Alex interrupted her.

“Call you what?” She asked.

“Kid,” he replied. “I’m almost seven you know.”

She watched him for a second. “I do know,” she said sadly, knowing he won’t make it to his next birthday. “Alex. It’s really important that you listen to me.”

“Can we get some ice cream first? My mom had promised me some if I was good, and I was good. I didn’t even complain when we-”

“Alex,” the teen said before he could go on. “We are running out of time, you need to listen to me.”

“Sure, but after ice cream,” he walked away trying to make out the stores through the fog.

The teen shook her head. “Alright! If I get you some ice cream will you listen to what I have to say?” 

He narrowed his eyes and tilted his head in suspicion. Then deciding it was worth any treachery, he nodded.  “Ok” she told him. “Close your eyes.” He opened his mouth to argue but she quickly said, “Just.. trust me, ok? Close your eyes and hold out your hand like you’re holding an ice cream cone.” He did as he was told. “Now, imagine the best flavour ice cream you can. Whatever you want, in whatever cone you want.”

“Oh! I want this amazing chocolate one we had -”

“I don’t care!” She interrupted. “Just imagine it. Feel the cone in your hand, the cold from the ice cream seeping into your skin. A few drips of the melting ice cream running down into your fingers.” Alex’s face was scrunched up in concentration. She waited a few more moments. “Ok, open your eyes.” Alex’s eyes flew open and there in his hand was a waffle cone piled high with three scoops of the most delicious looking ice cream.

“Wow! You’re a witch!” He exclaimed.

“What? No, no I’m not,” she quickly said. “Will you listen to me now?” Alex had tried to shove the entire top scoop into his mouth so he only nodded as his face became smothered in sticky brown ice cream.

“Alex,” she started. “You are dead. I need you to understand that.”

“Why,” he asked with a full mouth.

“Because if you don’t, you’ll fade away. Disappear.”

“Why?” He asked again. The teen’s face fell once again into frustration.

“Because that’s the way it is,” she tried again. “You are dead. Gone.”

“Why?” 

“Because a car hit you!” She kept trying.

“Why?” He said again with a smirk.

“Because I said so! I know these things!” She flung her arms up and turned away from him. 

“You look tired,” Alex said calmly to her back. Her fingers pinched the bridge of her nose. Just as Alex thought she wasn’t going to answer, she took a deep breath and said, “I’ve been doing this for far too long. Okay here’s- ” She spun around but before she could continue they both stared at the ice cream cone that had splattered onto the pavement. Alex, with his mouth covered in sticky goo, held out his hand, which was becoming more and more transparent. 

“Oh no,” whispered the teen. “We’re running out of time.” She rushed at the boy and shook his shoulders lightly. “Alex, you need to remember what happened. Face your death or you’ll disappear.”

Alex stared into her eyes and noticed something. She had mismatched eyes. One gold and one nearly black. “You’re the cat!” He exclaimed.

“Alex!” The teen seemed almost in tears. “Please. For me.”

“Fine,” Alex said exasperated. He closed his eyes and scrunched his face trying to picture where he came from. He thought of his parents. Wouldn’t they be missing him now? I should go find them, he thought to himself- too afraid to voice his thoughts anymore. He thought of how his mom smelled when she carried him and he would bury his face in her shoulder. The scent of her shampoo and clothing. He thought of his dad’s deep booming voice, his laugh at his son’s jokes. He thought about how safe he felt when he was with them, that nothing could hurt him. He thought of them picking him up from school, hearing their voices in the crowd of parents and being able to spot them easily.

“Alex. Alex can you hear me?”

Wow, thought Alex, my memories are amazing. He thought about his parents all dressed up for a night out away from him. How he would stay up late and hear them coming home.

“Alex, honey. If you can hear me, come back to us.”

 Alex could feel his face scrunch up as he thought of mornings with his parents drinking coffee, his dad reading the newspaper and mom flipping through her paperwork. 

“We love you, Alex. Come back to us. Please”  

The Sundays spent ...BEEP... out in the yard ...BEEP… Alex’s head started to hurt. BEEP… He thought of the time he got lost… BEEP… in that big store...BEEP… and how great it felt to find his parents again…. BEEP…. Giving his parents a big hug...

Alex slowly cracked open his eyes, but it was too bright. There was an incessant beeping going on around him. He tried to open his eyes again and lift his head, but a splitting pain burst behind his forehead. He gave out a loud moan of anguish.

“Alex?” He heard his mom’s voice. “Alex can you hear me?” Suddenly there was a hand pressed to the side of his face, which he suddenly realized hurt like nothing he’s ever felt before. He wanted to go back to the place of mist and ice cream. He relaxed and noticed the beeping slowed. “No! No, no Alex stay with me, baby.” He tried to focus his thoughts on his mom’s voice.

“Hang in there, champ,” he heard his dad’s deep voice from further away, but it helped pull him awake. He forced his eyes open and he saw his parents looking down on him with tears and smiles.

***

Hours later, after many, many tests with doctors and questions and answers, Alex was left alone. Well, at least with his parents asleep on the small couch and chair next to his hospital bed. He was thinking about the teen with piercings and tattoos and wondering if she ever made it out of that strange place. Just as he thought of her, a black cat leapt onto the bed, silent as death. 

Alex stared at the black cat with one golden eye and one black eye and gave her a huge grin. “See?” He told her matter-of-factly. “I told you I wasn’t dead.” 

The cat narrowed her eyes at Alex who was grinning ear to ear and gave an annoyed yowl. The cat shook her head and rolled her unique eyes before leaping off the bed to find some less stubborn prey. 

May 22, 2021 00:11

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3 comments

Jose Alberto
21:59 Apr 24, 2022

Beautiful!! Inspirational, you don't disappoint:)

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Claire Lindsey
16:51 May 25, 2021

Hi Alyson, What a creative story! I loved the eerie setting at the beginning, the reaper-like character, and Alex’s plucky and innocent stubbornness.

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Alyson Ackman
15:53 May 28, 2021

Thanks Claire! I've been super busy so my past few stories haven't gotten the attention they deserve (or need!). I'm really glad you liked it though :) Congrats on your win btw! It was an amazing story! Your writing is so captivating no matter the scenario. Amazing job!

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