Run, Marjorie

Submitted into Contest #212 in response to: Write a story about a pair of pen pals.... view prompt


Fiction Horror Thriller

“Ok, class. Today we are going to participate in a nationwide outreach program. We will be some of the privileged few to join President Nixon’s initiative to help reform those who’ve lost their way.” Mrs. Miller concluded as she stood, straight and proud in front of the class. 

The class stared back, blinking slowly.

Mrs. Miller beamed an undeterred smile. “Today we are all going to write a letter.” She bounced on the tips of her toes, landed sure footed, and raised a hand. “Does anyone know what a pen pal is?”

The class exchanged glances and shakes of their heads and returned another blinking stare.

Mrs. Miller regarded them with a patient nod and clasped her hands. “A pen pal is a friend you write letters to.” She smiled and looked the class over as they appraised her in return with blank faces. Mrs. Miller continued, batting her eyes, “Please just remember, we would like you to share whatever you want, but there are two rules; don’t give out your address or your phone number. Ok?”

They regarded her with tilted heads.

She straightened and smiled. “When I call your name, come up to the front and find out who your new pen pal is.” She referred to her roll-sheet and looked up. “Beth Arkin.”

Marjorie waited, patiently doodling in the margins of her notebook, as Mrs. Miller called one student after another to the front of the class to pick a name. She was used to being called last. There were never many names on the roll call after Yastrzemski. She just hoped all the good pen pals weren’t already taken.  

Dear Mr. James Friesen,

My name is Marjorie Yastrzemski. I’m so sorry you’re in prison. I am a student in Mrs. Miller’s seventh grade class at Elmore Middle School. Our assignment is to be pen pals with someone in prison. How is prison? Do you get your own room? I just got my own room, but I miss getting to hang out with my older sister, Kathy. All she does now is lock her door and listen to music and we never hang out anymore.

Do you still get dessert? Sometimes when I’m bad dad will tell me I can’t have dessert. Do you get to have P.E? P.E. is my favorite part of school. Especially jump rope and four-square.

I hope I never have to go to prison. What did you go to prison for? My mom says not everyone in prison is a bad person. Are you one of the good ones?

I have a dog named Buster. Are you allowed to have pets? How long do you still have to stay?

Sometimes when I misbehave at school, we get a time out. Mom says that time outs are so that we can think about the bad things we did. Do you think about the bad things you did? I hope you get out soon.

Your pen pal,

Marjorie Jean Yastrzemski 

Dear Marjorie,

What an eloquent letter. You are a very smart girl. I have never had a pen pal before, but I think you might be one of the best pen pals ever. Please thank Mrs. Miller for introducing us.

Prison is a lot like having to take a time out when you have done something bad. Although the facility I have been incarcerated in is less like a prison and more like a summer camp for people whose brains don’t work the same as everyone else's. It is really quite nice. It’s less like taking a timeout in the corner of the kitchen and more like taking a timeout in your bedroom, where you can read and write and receive interesting and very well written letters like yours.

I do have my own room. Just like you I too got to share a room, until recently when My cellmate and I had a disagreement and now we are no longer allowed to share our quarters, as he has been transferred to the medical wing of our facility.

I’m sorry to hear that sometimes you don’t get dessert. I too am withheld certain comforts when I misbehave, dessert being one of them. But don’t worry. Once you begin to behave again dessert isn’t that far around the corner. In fact, I have been so well behaved lately that I’ve had too much dessert. 

We do get to have time during the day to go outside to exercise and play. It is very much like P.E. and is also my favorite part of the day. I too like to jump rope. The activity keeps me nimble. Agility is an important quality to have against the rigors of incarceration. As a child I was very fond of athletics. Are you involved with any athletic programs outside of P.E? Do you play any sports?

I also hope, from the bottom of my heart, that you never have to go to prison, as well. I can tell by your wonderful letter that you are a very sweet girl and prison would be no place for such a special girl. As for why I am here; let’s just say that my family and I did not get along. Although I have been convicted to spend the rest of my life behind the walls of this hospital, and I regret many of the choices I have made, I do believe that I am still “one of the good ones”.

Alas, we are not allowed to have pets. Buster is a wonderful name for a dog. I used to have a golden retriever named Buddy. He was one of my best friends. He wasn’t allowed inside. I have many fond memories of sleeping on the haystack in the barn to keep him company at night. What kind of dog is Buster? Do you let him sleep inside?

In conclusion, Marjorie, I would like to thank you for your letter. It has been a pleasant diversion from the humdrum of the white walls of the state hospital. I believe I remember Elmore Elementary. A cousin of mine once attended that very school. Colusa County, right? 

I look forward to hearing back from you, Marjorie. Please don’t hesitate to write to me. Maybe you can send me a drawing. Do you like to draw? I used to love to draw. I remember my mother being very proud of the pictures I would draw of our houses. 

Gratefully yours,

your best pen pal,


Hello, Jimmy

I liked your letter. Prison doesn’t sound all that bad. I’m glad you get to have P.E. and dessert. My dog, Buster, is also a Golden Retriever. He’s a real good boy and we let him sleep inside every night, even when he misbehaves. We like to snuggle on the couch and watch tv. He eats all the rest of the popcorn when I’ve had too much. 

I’m sorry to hear that you don’t have a roommate anymore. Do you miss him? I still miss sharing a room with my sister a lot. Sometimes I like not having to share a room with her anymore, but I wish she would let me come into hers sometimes, but she always locks her door. She never comes into mine. 

I think it’s cool that you like to jump rope too. I’m running for track this year. The four hundred. My coach, Ms. Haltford, says that I could be a really good runner if I would just open up my stride. She says it means that I have to take wider steps. I try but it’s just confusing and slows me down when I pay attention to my feet. Do you ever get confused when someone asks you to pay attention to something you never thought about before? 

I’m glad that you’re a good guy. I had a feeling. You sound very nice. Maybe you can explain to someone that it was all a misunderstanding, and they could let you out. 

Humdrum is a pretty cool word. What does it mean? That’s so cool that your cousin went to our school. What is his name? Maybe my parents know him. No, we’re not in Colusa County, we live in Tulare County in a town called Plainview. It’s a small town but I really like it. All my friends are here. My sister hates it. She always tells me she can’t wait to move to LA when she grows up. I sure hope she doesn’t. I would really miss her.

Anyway, I hope you’re still doing good and get a new roommate soon, and I hope you like the picture I sent you of our house. 

Your pen pal,

Marjorie jean 

Hello, Marjorie Jean

Thank you for another wonderful letter. How nice to hear that your dog, Buster, gets to sleep inside, even when he is a bad boy. I bet you love him a lot. Is he a nice boy or is he a rambunctious fella? When my dog, Rex, got older he just slept a lot. How old is Buster?

I do miss my roommate. I hope that wherever he is he’s thinking of me. I don’t think they’ll be giving me a new roommate anytime soon. I still have my own room and the warden says that maybe I shouldn't get to have a roommate anymore. I sure do miss the company, but your letters really help fill the time.

I loved the picture of your house. You are such an amazing artist. It really captures the craftsman quality of the architecture. Is the big window on the right your room? I used to have a big window in my room that looked out onto the yard before my parents made me move down to the basement, although I liked the basement too. Do you have a basement? Maybe you can draw me some more pictures. How about one of your family?

Oh yes, that’s what I meant, Tulare County. How could I forget? I know the town of Plainview well. My cousin used to live on the south end of town. Is that where you live as well? What a small world it is. 

I hope you’ve been a good girl lately and are getting all your deserts. Our warden has been especially hard on me lately. I haven't had dessert in a few months. He even took my shoelaces, belt, and bandanas. I know it might sound funny for a boy, but I have really long hair and my bandana helped keep my hair out of my face. Do you have long hair too? I bet you do. How do you keep it out of your face? Do you use elastic bands or hairpins? I bet you use hairpins. I sure would like a hairpin or two just to keep my hair out of my face. It’s annoying, right?

That’s so cool that you run track. I never ran track, but I played a lot of football. I also become confused when I think of things I’ve never thought of before. I would suggest that you just pretend to listen to your coach and when you run don’t think about your feet and just run as fast as you can. That would be my advice, Marjorie. Run as fast as you can.

Thank you, Marjorie, for your letters. Please write soon.

Your friend,


Hi Jimmy,

Thank you so much for the pictures of your prison. It does look a lot like summer camp, except for all the fences. Our summer camp was usually out at Lake Kaweah. 

Thanks for the advice on running. Now I just tell Ms. Haltford that I’m going to listen to her and instead I just run as fast as I can, and I’ve been winning all my races. You're pretty smart when it comes to sports. I bet you were good at football. Did you play any other sports besides football? What was the name of your team?

I thought your dog's name was buddy. Did you have a bunch of dogs? I want another dog, but dad says we can’t have one until we learn to take care of Buster better. I take really good care of him, but my sister always argues with our parents when it’s her turn to walk him. And now my parents are going away for the weekend, and I know she’s going to make me walk him every time. I don’t mind, though. I like walking him. I just don’t like it when Kathy’s in charge of me.

I’m sorry your warden won’t let you have another roommate. I bet it gets lonely having to hang out in your room all alone. I get lonely without my big sister too. Are you getting out soon? Maybe you can get a roommate when they let you out.

I hope you like the new pictures I drew. The first one is a picture of Buster and the second one is a picture of my family. The guy with the tie is my dad and the lady with the big smile is my mom and the girl in the blue dress is my sister, Kathy. Maybe you can send me a picture of your best friend in prison, or of your warden, if they won’t let you have a best friend yet. It sounds like the warden is kind of like your dad, right? I bet he’s strict. My dad sure is.

I sent you some hairpins. I didn’t want them to fall out of the envelope, so I folded them into the pictures I drew. 

Anyway, I hope you have a good summer in summer camp prison.

Your friend,

Marjorie Jean

Me and Bobby McGee blared from a stereo in the distance just audible above the rumble of the car. Marjorie shot up from the couch, cranked the tv knob a few channels and shot back into her seat just before her sister came trouncing through the door with her girlfriend. 


“I think he’s cute.”

“Gag me.”

“You’re just jealous.”

They giggled, wrinkling their noses and tossing their hair. 

“Hey,” Marjorie greeted them with a small wave. 

The girls ignored her. Marjorie’s sister tossed her bag onto one of the chairs at the dining room table before they took the stairs to head up to her room.

“Did you pick up my homework?”

“In my bag,” her sister called back.

Marjorie sighed and rolled her eyes, talking to herself as she got up to fish through her sister’s bag. “Oh, hello Jean. How are you feeling? Oh, much better, Kathy. Thanks for asking.” She flipped the top of the bag open and grabbed the familiar black folder that held her missed assignments. She rifled through it as she tromped back into the living room, the evening news rambling in the background. 

leaving three dead. We’re asking all residents in the outlying areas to please lock your doors and do not, we repeat, do not approach the suspect if you believe…”

Marjorie scowled at the tv, set the folder down and marched across the living room. She cranked the tv knob back to the monster movie she had been watching just in time to see the aquatic creature raise his hands and loom over the camera. The shrill scream of his victim made Marjorie glance over her shoulder, before turning back to the tv and lowering the volume just enough to take the edge off. Marjorie plopped back into her seat and uncovered the bag of pretzels she had hidden under the afghan. She munched as she took note of her more important assignments.

Another shrill scream caught her attention. She glanced up curiously at the tv. Two characters were standing next to an old automobile murmuring in discussion, neither of them seeming distressed. Marjorie shrugged and returned to her schoolwork. 

She paused with a smile as she came to the folder labeled, Eng, 4th p. She slipped the folder free. Before she could open it the small off-white envelope, her name written in the neat penmanship of Jimmy, fell onto her lap. She tossed the folder aside and slipped her thumb under the unsealed flap. She slipped the letter from the envelope and tilted her head as she blinked at the eight cryptic words.

Run, Marjorie. Run as fast as you can.

As she struggled to glean the meaning of Jimmy’s unusual letter, she heard a thump from upstairs. She balled the letter tightly in her hand as she got up and walked slowly across the foyer and stopped at the foot of the stairs. She listened. Nothing. Not even the muffled sound of Kathy’s record player. 

“Kathy?” No response. Then louder, “Kat?” Still nothing. 

Then the sound of a door closing quietly and the heavy creak of a floorboard. 

“Kat?” Marjorie squinted as she peered into the gloom of the darkened landing. Another heavy creak. She froze with a sharp inhale as she watched the enormous silhouette emerge from around the corner and stand, heaving lightly in the shadow. She tried to speak and found she couldn’t.

They stood there for a moment of eternity before the looming figure spoke with a deep and smiling timbre. “Hello, Marjorie Jean.”

“Who are you?” she heard her distant voice ask.

The stair groaned as the figure stepped onto the first. “It’s me.”

Marjorie tried to breath, found she couldn’t and instead took a shaking step back as she said his name as a question. “Jimmy?”

Jimmy huffed a small note of satisfaction and slid his hand along the banister. The next step groaned as well as he took it. Both of them froze for another long moment before Jimmy hunched, and hissed, his eyes glinting in the dark light “Run, Marjorie.”

Marjorie’s face contorted impossibly into a blood curdling scream as she turned to run.

Jimmy chuckled and called after her. “Run as fast as you can.”

August 25, 2023 19:26

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06:47 Sep 04, 2023

This is brilliantly written.


Levi Michael
20:55 Sep 04, 2023

Wow!! Thank you, Almira. That may be the highest praise there is. I take it very seriously and only turn in work that I believe in. I have written more stories and ditched them than stories I've actually submitted. I was happy with this one. I went to your page to see if I could return the favor and saw that you're brand new to Reedsy. I look forward to being able to read one of your future submissions and be able to offer some kind of critique. Good luck with your writing and thanks again for such kind words.


15:45 Sep 05, 2023

Thanks, Levi. I really enjoyed reading this. By the way, I just posted my first story on Reedsy. Perhaps you could check that one out.


Levi Michael
18:27 Sep 05, 2023

Almira It would be my pleasure. Levi


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Tasmi Wicky
04:55 Aug 30, 2023

Hi Levi.... 👋 I really enjoyed reading your story.


Levi Michael
20:56 Sep 04, 2023

Hi Bluni, Thank you for reading it. I look forward to reading something by you.


Tasmi Wicky
15:48 Sep 10, 2023

Ah thank u too 🥺


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