For the Rest of My Life

Submitted into Contest #149 in response to: Write about two people who form a bond with each other through music.... view prompt

43 comments

American Bedtime Horror

Their high school friends had gone on ahead, laughing and teasing one another, yet the thought of entering the Fall Festival’s “Howl-O-Scream” terrified her. It was the not knowing what lurked in the darkened corners that bothered her the most. She hated being surprised. 

“Are you ready?” her boyfriend asked. 

Boyfriend. What an insubstantial word for what he meant to her. She loved him beyond measure.

“I’m not sure,” she replied, reaching for his hand. 

“You don’t have to go,” he said, nuzzling her forehead with his own. “I’ll stay here with you.”

Gamely, she shook her head and smiled at him. He cradled her chin with one hand and gave her a kiss that still curled her toes. 

“I’ll be all right,” she conceded, looking apprehensively at the towering structure. 

While they walked down the woodland path to the haunted house, she shared with him the last gooey bites of buttery caramel, luxuriously wrapped around a crisp Granny Smith apple. In turn, he fed her large chunks of funnel cake, topped with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. 

Dusk fell swiftly. 

She sensed shadowy figures on the fringes of the fallow field from the corner of her eye; whether they brought her good cheer or meant her harm was indeterminate. She had a fairly good idea what was going to happen in the haunted house, but there was enough uncertainty to slow her step. 

Her boyfriend stopped up short and looked directly into her eyes. "Look. We don’t have to go. We can ride the Ferris wheel or the Tilt-A-Whirl.”

“I want to go,” she said, fooling neither of them. Their friends would mock her mercilessly. 

“Okay, we’ll go” he replied. “And I’ll be right by you. You trust me?”

“I do,” she said. More than life itself. “But what if someone or something pops out of the wall and I pee myself?”

“Is that likely?”

“And what if I get really scared and poop my pants?”

“Is THAT likely? I mean, we can stop at the bathroom if you need to—”

“Ugh! I’m being ridiculous. Let’s just go.” 

Warm and reassuring in the late October chill, his strong arm encircled both of her thin shoulders. 

“Hey. Remember. If you get scared? Keep your eyes on me,” he said. 

She nodded. That would be easy to do. Ever since she first saw him in elementary school, she thought he was the most beautiful boy in the whole world. Little had changed since. 

Now settled on the matter, there was just the path forward. 

There was no turning back.   

🜋 🜋 🜋

As they approached the attraction, he held her hand as they climbed the endless staircase to the top of the old mill, converted each fall into the popular horror show. She could hear screams—immediately followed by loud laughter—from both inside the mill and all around the “Howl-O-Scream” grounds.

A vampire with bleeding eyeballs motioned them to the entrance. A crowd expectantly waited, only a few sent in at a time. 

“Does anyone have any cold medicine? I’m coffin too much,” the vampire joked.

Her boyfriend snickered. She stood stone faced. 

“Maybe some fruit? I just love neck-tarines…”

The crowd chuckled good naturedly as it moved forward. 

“I’m a bad artist,” the vampire continued. “I can only draw—blood.”

This time, she joined her boyfriend in giggling at the bad puns. 

This was fun. It would be all right.

🜋 🜋 🜋

Five minutes later, she had dug her fingernails into her boyfriend’s arm. 

“No! No! NO!” she shrieked, when they walked into the Mad Doctor’s Operating Room. The deranged patient lay supine on the surgical table, hacking off his own leg with a hatchet. Gouts of fake blood spewed everywhere. A ditzy nurse with a knife in her back gleefully mopped the floor. 

“He’s chopping his leg! He’s chopping his leg!” his girlfriend repeated over and over, each time more shrill. 

“Hey, it’s just an animal bone. Not a femur, I promise,” her boyfriend explained. “See? His real leg is tucked underneath the table.”

The next room was worse: the medieval torture chamber. A girl about her age was lashed to a rack, writhing in pain as a masked man ratcheted the wheel. A little farther down, another young girl was displayed, impaled in a solid iron cabinet with a hinged front and spike-covered interior.

“Behold, the maiden in the Iron Maiden!” announced her tormentor. He threw a bucket full of clear liquid that had the word “ACID” emblazoned on the front. 

“Oh my god!” she howled, when they entered the Inferno, devils dancing in a demonic disco, all decorated in Day-Glo paint, illuminated by the black lights. 

Her boyfriend just put his arm more tightly around her. 

After a few more terrifying rooms, they finally exited the mill into an empty clearing. After the hay bale maze, all they had to do was to walk to the end of the lane where their friends awaited, no doubt drinking hot chocolate around a bonfire.

But the lane was lined with large oak trees, the perfect jump-scare alley. 

“We’re almost through, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, blinking back hot tears. 

They walked arm in arm. 

In a flash, a werewolf loped over to them, long white fake fangs bared. 

“GAH!” she screeched, dissolving into a gibbering mess, faced pressed into his shoulder. 

“Look, Wolfman. Fuck off, okay?”

“Mwahahaha…” the wolf man laughed menacingly, returning to the woods. 

“And you,” he said to his girlfriend. Girlfriend. What an inadequate word to call the love of his life. He would take her to prom. He would marry her. “Keep your eyes on me, okay?”

“But what if—”

He looked sternly at her. 

“But what if—” she repeated.

“But what if—you give me this dance?” he said, fumbling with his iPhone, queuing up their favorite song. The first twangy chords of her parents’ wedding dance soothed her immediately. By the time Anne Murray crooned her country ballad, her boyfriend had taken her into his arms, faux-waltzing her through one horror after another. 

A mummy staggered over, muttering ancient curses, but she was lost in her boyfriend’s eyes. 

Frankenstein and his bride attempted to stop their progress, but he tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. 

While Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees stood with dripping knives high overhead, even they paused to see the lovely young couple, enraptured, slow dancing down a lane of mayhem. 

By the end of their dance, all the creatures and monsters and villains had come from the edges, applauding as a couple finished their dance, turning a night of tricks and treats into a veritable Valentine’s Day. 


June 10, 2022 00:32

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43 comments

Michał Przywara
20:51 Jun 10, 2022

A lovely story, Deidra! I was excited when I saw the tags, since I tried to do a romance + horror myself recently. It turned out just horror, but so it goes. On the surface, the story is sweet. These two seem to be a perfect match, and this will probably be one of those life events they remember fondly, years down the line. I like the paired boyfriend/girlfriend musings. It gives us a lot of insight into the characters and makes them come alive. "gave her a kiss that still curled her toes" is a fantastic line, very evocative. Literal...

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01:10 Jun 12, 2022

Geez Michal -- I'm gonna just award you 🏆and send you $250 for best commenter. "Yes, the monsters pause" is going to be the TITLE of my story for next week. What a great line... :) You make a good point about fear and being paralyzed by things we know are "fake." Doesn't make a difference either way. Looking forward to the podcast on July 30. So much to talk to you in depth about :)

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Michał Przywara
21:52 Jun 13, 2022

Looking forward to it too :) And if you do end up writing "Yes, the monsters pause", I hope to read it! Of course I'll read other stuff too, so I guess that's moot.

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K. Antonio
00:52 Jun 11, 2022

Oooo the ending was cute. I knew that the prompt would end up being introduced in an interesting way (after all, this story was taking place inside a haunted house attraction). I actually really liked how the prompt was just snaked in there towards the end and how the story was written in small, bite-sized snippets, which actually made it feel very reminiscent of a "horror" story pulling you in. The restraint worked well in the piece/setting you chose. The way this story starts, very innocently with a caramel apple (which gave me nostalg...

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01:16 Jun 12, 2022

Caramel apples are the best. Worth the dental work :)

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Crows_ Garden
02:47 Jun 10, 2022

I took notice of the prompt before reading, as authors on here have a habit of subtly slipping them in. And that was no different with yours, Deidra. I really like how you did it. It was so seamless and natural. Speaking of the story itself.. It's adorable. I love the bond between the two of them. The belief that they wouldn't spilt, that'd they'd love one another til the end of time. I found that very inspirational and a reminder of the *kindness* us humans can do or are capable of.

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13:32 Jun 10, 2022

Mr. Prince, you are incredibly supportive. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I hadn't planned on writing a summer romance, but the muses bring what they bring.

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Crows_ Garden
14:56 Jun 10, 2022

Thank you, and of course! Your stories are really enjoyable. It's always nice how stories have a will of their own.

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Zelda C. Thorne
13:03 Jun 17, 2022

Awww so sweet. Loved the vampire puns. Good mix of her trepidation and their romance. Lovely story.

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17:49 Jun 17, 2022

RACHEL SMITH IS A GODDESS.

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Zelda C. Thorne
18:08 Jun 17, 2022

Haha alright, if you say so 🤣 😎

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T D Crasier
10:22 Jun 16, 2022

There was so much content and description in this story. I hate these horror mazes too. Scare the bejesus out of me.

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10:59 Jun 16, 2022

Same And I hate jump scares in movies 🎥 especially…

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Mike Panasitti
00:32 Jun 14, 2022

Wonderful way to morph a holiday commemorating ghouls, goblins and gore into one honoring cupid and the slow dancing of an amorous couple.

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00:40 Jun 14, 2022

Wish fulfillment. June has been exhausting. I needed to fall in love again. So nice to be able to conjure it up.

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Mike Panasitti
02:11 Jun 15, 2022

Nice to hear that reexperiencing love is possible through storytelling...another way writing can be a salve for the spirit.

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Mike Panasitti
00:24 Jun 14, 2022

Deidre, haven't finished reading yet, but if there's still time to edit, I have a suggestion. At the first paragraph following the first break in the story, "As they approached the attraction, he held her hand. They then climbed the endless staircase..."

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00:39 Jun 14, 2022

HAH. It's TOO late. NOW you tell me. Cheese and crackers, Mike. Burn this mother to the ground... It's ruined. I hope you know you've just murdered this innocent couple. I hope you can live with yourself in your grammatically correct world... HARUMPH (love you)

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Mike Panasitti
01:56 Jun 15, 2022

All is not lost. It's still a great story where timeless romance has the last word. (love you, too).

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Carolyn Brown
19:30 Jun 13, 2022

My mouth is hanging open and my eyes are leaking. What just happened? This was a couple of silly kids thinking they were so in love and doing crazy things to impress their friends... then suddenly the story becomes a love story for the ages? I don't even know what to say. What an image, waltzing unafraid together through all the random, horrible, tragic/comic craziness that can happen to two people. They are so ordinary (being concerned about peeing her pants) and then they become something so extraordinary, dancing through all the sca...

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00:36 Jun 14, 2022

This is probably my favorite non-Michal Przywara comment. (Michal is a whole next level commenter. Highly recommend you beg him to read your stuff.) Thank you so much, Carolyn! I was wondering if anyone was in the mood for a soft, sweet, one-of-a-kind kind of love story. I know I wanted one and I spun these two into existence. I hope they live happily ever after :)

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Carolyn Brown
04:27 Jun 14, 2022

Yes, please! You're the writer, you can make it happen :)

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Seán McNicholl
23:05 Jun 10, 2022

Beautiful Deidra! That story waltzed me along with it, such a lovely read. Really enjoyed a romance story being set within a horror context, but without the horror infiltrating the narrative! Just lovely! And the word boyfriend/girlfriend being an inadequate word for both of them was a brilliant continuity at both ends of the story! Loved it!

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01:06 Jun 12, 2022

Thanks, Sean. Let's hope these two can navigate their way through the Boss Level of Horrors: Marriage & Children -- (cue shrieks)

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Seán McNicholl
22:42 Jun 13, 2022

Now that’s a scary story! 😂

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00:37 Jun 14, 2022

F--'n tell me about it

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Unknown User
01:04 Jun 10, 2022

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12:40 Jun 10, 2022

You could teach classes on craft, A.G. (C'mon, Rockstar.) June seems to be a gentle month. Lots of weddings and pledging of troths. A month where good things seem possible. I would add to your wonderful comments that when we reach out in the dark, there is generally one hand we particularly want. Other hands commiserate; very few comfort. Any chance we get you on the podcast? https://www.readlotswritelots.com/previous/

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Unknown User
20:29 Jun 10, 2022

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Shirley Brand
18:05 Jun 16, 2022

Good twist, enjoyed that! Well done and unexpected ending.

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Andy Abbott
18:01 Jun 14, 2022

Only just beginning on Reedsy I have read some grim stories thus far... I was fully expecting a dark turn and was pleasantly surprised by the sweet and creative ending. Wonderful read!

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Andrea Doig
15:18 Jun 14, 2022

Too sweet. What a lovely little story. I loved how they both loved each other so much. I was expecting some sort of a twist - and it never happened ... it just moved to a happy and sweet conclusion. How refreshing! Funny how your story is around Halloween and mine is around Christmas! And neither of those holidays are anywhere close haha. Great minds lols. Thank you for sharing. Lovely story. And I DO love Halloween :)

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20:27 Jun 13, 2022

Deirdra, I loved this 😆 I HATE jump scares, so I have never entered a haunted house of any kind. But I loved the relationship you built between the couple, and how they took control of their situation and made the evening a special memory. You get five stars from me 😊 ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 🌟

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00:34 Jun 14, 2022

I'll take any stars from the amazing Hannah P Simmons. Thanks for the read and the wonderful comment. It was time to write a story with some serious wish fulfillment. And who doesn't want a good dance partner?

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Nandini Panchal.
03:46 Jun 12, 2022

Such a sweet story! I liked their love on each other and how they support each other through difficulties. The way you mixed horror and romance is amazing!

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Katy B
23:48 Jun 11, 2022

Hi Deidra! I thought this was an interesting take on the prompt. If I were to offer a suggestion, it would be that since the couple is already so close at the beginning, the ending doesn't feel much like character development. It is very sweet, though! -katy b

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01:12 Jun 12, 2022

You make a good point. I was going to go in a different, darker direction -- but these two wanted to tell a different story. A light, quiet, hopeful one. The muses bring what they bring, and these two just strengthened their already-strong relationship just a bit more -- even amongst the "terrors" around them. Good for these two. :)

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Katy B
01:29 Jun 12, 2022

An ending we can all hope for :) the puns were my favorite part! And "fallow fields" sounds so good. -katy b

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Shea West
20:11 Jun 11, 2022

Deidra- Loved this display of alliteration:devils dancing in a demonic disco, all decorated in Day-Glo I re-read it a few times because I liked how it felt so much! I could see it all in my mind's eye. So, fun fact about me: I HATE HAUNTED HOUSES. I grew up in Southern California, not far from Magic Mountain or Knott's Berry Farm. Both parks do what's called Fright Night and Knott's Scary Farm. My dumbass went to both, knowing full well I was terrified and had no business going. With my boyfriend each time (now husband). Now I'm wonderin...

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01:15 Jun 12, 2022

Same on the Haunted Houses. In Orlando, my students kept saying how Universal's Halloween Horror Nights was A M A Z I N G -- and I was like "Nope." I don't need some 19 year old Floridian making minimum wage jumping out from behind a food cart and screaming at me while waving a fake ax. Hard pass. Love your gush. You are badass :)

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Ace Quinnton
18:12 Jun 10, 2022

Wholesome and sweet story. As a hopeless romantic, this was just adorable. You can't help but WISH that this could be real for today's youth. Only some of them are like this...the other half isn't. I should know, I see it in my everyday life. I don't know what went through my head, but I might as well say it: What if, Valentine's Day merged with Halloween? Kind of like the Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm so glad you put the Tilt-a-whirl ride in there because for years I have been wondering what that was called until I finally looked it up ...

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01:18 Jun 12, 2022

I think we're all hopeless (and hopeful?) romantics. Romance is not dead -- but either are zombies. Both are quite fun, yet easy to kill. As for the merger, don't give Disney any more ideas for spin offs... We'll have the Nightmare Before Easter, the Nightmare Before Labor Day, the Nightmare Before Columbus Day (when they bring out all the blankets with Small Pox...)

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Ace Quinnton
01:26 Jun 12, 2022

You can either love or get loved. It's really that simple. And depends on what zombies we're talking about because there are various versions of them. Same thing with different forms of love. I promise I won't tell a single Disney employee about this. If I do, in advance, I apologize. I'll get the traumatized people some bleach.

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