Drama Friendship Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

For long as she can remember, Alice loved to hide. It drove her mother crazy, often literally to the point of panic, and just once to the point of a call to the town sheriff. The thrill of the hunt, the excitement of knowing the moment was focused on her, the game of hide and seek; it all made the blood flow through her veins like nothing she’d ever experienced.

Sometimes she would hide for fun, other times for real. She had books stuffed in the back of her closet, stories of mermaids and fantasy lands when she was little, books of wizards and dragons as she got older. She kept headphones in a pouch taped underneath the basement stairs, and she stowed away her favorite blue fleece blanket in the garage. And no matter how bad the day had become, how spun up she felt, how fast her heart pounded, she always remembered the way to the cabin. It was her ultimate hiding place.

Alice loved to hide. But she never expected to have to hide like this.

The cabin was small, but roomy, and miraculously, standing after all these years. When she and Jenny discovered it just a quarter mile in the woods behind their houses, their 8-year-old imaginations went wild. Jenny was sure it was occupied by a hermit (whom she affectionately named George), who slept at night and roamed the woods during the day, looking for food and treasures. Alice dreamed it was the place where the fairies gathered for their evening pow-wow after dropping pixie dust on the kids in the neighborhood, helping them all to fall into a deep slumber night after night. In reality, it was an abandoned shack, once occupied by a family in the midcentury, and forgotten about once developers purchased the land and the trees and weeds filled in the remote and unfinished area.

Alice stood outside the front door, tilting her head as she noticed how the porch sloped even more to the right than it did when she and Jenny were kids. The brown roof was covered in moss and pine needles, and the front door had strands of cobwebs in the corners and across the top. She smirked as she noticed the large crack and hole in the right front window pane, covered in dust, but still visible. Oh Reid, he never was very accurate with that fast pitch. 

She smiled to herself as the rush of memories overwhelmed her. There were so many afternoons exploring, playing, learning and growing in this very spot where she now stood.

She rubbed her left shoulder, trying to ease the pain. She could feel swelling in her hands, an ache in her chest. 

She looked behind and her, and seeing nothing, took a step forward. The trees around glowed orange as the setting sun kissed the leaves, remnants of this afternoon’s quick rain storm twinkling in the glow as they dripped from the pine needles. It was her favorite time of day.

With a slight push, Alice opened the creaky door, and the smell of a long-abandoned cabin overtook her senses. She noted how crazy it was that after thirty years, nothing inside the cabin had really changed. The floral covered couch, the only piece of furniture left in the cabin all those years ago, still sat against the left wall. The dips from years of kid jumps and play were still visible in the cushions. Dusty glassware littered the countertops. The table with the broken leg still sat crooked in the corner. The only addition was the dirt and mice pelletts.

In fifth grade she and Jenny decided to create a hopscotch game in the living room. They gathered every piece of sidewalk chalk they could find, and carried it in a small red bucket to the cabin in the woods. They spent the afternoon creating a hopscotch game with squares of every color. They even decorated the throwing stone. 

After the third round of their colorful game, Jenny stopped and looked at Alice.

“We should change this up,” she said. 

Alice looked at her inquisitively. 

“Truth or dare. Even number truths, odd numbers dares.”

Truth be told, Alice hated dares. Too vulnerable. Too much loss of control. But she nodded, a sly smile on her face. There were things she needed to know.

Jenny threw first. The stone landed on the two. “Truth,” she said, her disappointment apparent. Jenny always was one for a physical challenge. Dares were her favorite part of the game.

“Ok,” said Alice. “Jackson Parker. Kiss. Marry. Ghost. Go.”

Jenny blushed. Alice knew Jackson Parker was her biggest crush ever. Not that she’d ever told Alice, but best friends know these things, and he must have crossed Jenny’s mind fifteen times just since they got to the cabin. 

She sneered. “Ghost. Ew.” 

Alice laughed. “Okayyyy.”

Alice threw the stone, and it landed on four. Hop, skip, land. “Truth.”

Jenny thought for a moment and then looked Alice straight in the eye. “Best place you’ve ever hidden.”

The list ran through Alice’s brain, like a movie on fast forward. She was too honest to say she didn’t have one. But there were things she had never told Jenny before. “This cabin,” she responded. Jenny looked at her quizzically. 

“But, you aren’t hiding here. I know where this is. We come here all the time.”

“I’m not hiding from you,” Alice muttered. She felt the lump grow in her throat. Her face started to burn, eyes began to well up. Damn game. Damn truth. 

Jenny looked to the new bruise on Alice’s left wrist. Alice had said it was from getting caught in the ropes course at camp. Jenny had thought it strange since the week before Alice also fell at camp, giving her another bruise on her right arm, but Jenny had decided not to think much about it. But now, her heart began thumping, and she began to piece together moments from the past few years. How she had missed it, she didn’t know.

“Let’s play something else,” Jenny said quietly. Alice caught her best friend’s eye, nodded, and they walked out the door, hand in hand, without another word.

Alice shuttered, thinking of that moment so many years ago. The moment her friend figured it out. The moment she realized she wasn’t alone. And yet, here she was, in that same room, with remnants of a child’s game twenty years ago at her feet, and the reality of the moment bringing her back to the present. She froze in place, standing with all of her senses online, listening for footsteps or any indication that someone was looking for her. In some messed up way, the thrill of the chase still lived inside of her, but this time it was different.

As the sun went down and the cabin became dark, Alice began to relax, and her senses took in the comfort of her surroundings. She laid on the floor, the smell of pine and musk bringing her to afternoons and evenings full of laughter and play, secrets told, and bonds created. This was her safe haven of friendship and four walls, tucked far and away from the monster in her home, and the dark secrets of a family whose smiles charmed so many, before fading the second the front door closed behind them.

Tears fell from her face as she thought about Jenny, now a mom with her own 10-year old girl, so full of life and love for Auntie Alice. She thought about Reid, who couldn’t throw a fast pitch to save his life, but went well out of his way to secure her heart; they married just a year ago. She thought about her mom, who she finally brought to the cabin not long after her stepfather went to prison for fraud, where together they cried, and laughed, told stories and healed wounds. She thought about him, angry and scared, dangerous, now free.

Her eyes closed and she began to slip. The smell and comfort of the cabin faded as she heard voices and sobs in the distance. She opened her eyes, and was snatched from her dream as she felt the concrete below her body. There were red and blue lights, and the smell of blood, not pine. Her confusion mixed with resignation. To her right she saw her stepfather in a similar position, laying on the pavement, but with eyes closed and chest still.  

The gun lay just out of his reach. The wails of her mother pierced the air. A wail of desperation and sadness, but a wail signaling life. Her mother was alive.

Alice felt a tear fall over the bridge of her nose and onto the pavement. She closed her eyes and said goodbye; her ultimate hiding spot finally setting her free.

January 18, 2023 20:45

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Wendy Kaminski
04:23 Jan 26, 2023

This was a very touching story, Mazie. The walk to freedom for the main character, with the slow reveal, was particularly effective, especially with the flashbacks of her time with her friend. I loved this visual: "The trees around glowed orange as the setting sun kissed the leaves,...". That is such an excellent turn-of-phrase in a story that was good to begin with! Good luck this week, and welcome to Reedsy!


Mazie Maris
23:58 Jan 26, 2023

Thank you so much, Wendy! Your comments made my day - this is my first short story and the positive feedback is so good for the soul. I appreciate it!


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Tamarin Butcher
19:24 Jan 26, 2023

I enjoyed this! It's interesting how so many of us who picked this prompt went in a horror/thriller direction. The pacing in this story is very good with information arriving just as we needed it. Thank you for writing!


Mazie Maris
23:59 Jan 26, 2023

Thank you Tarmarin! I appreciate your comment, and yes, it is so funny how a cabin in the woods just screams thriller to so many of us haha! It would be fun to re-write the story at some point with a different and more positive angle. Good luck this week!


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