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Drama Fantasy Fiction

*I want to preface this by saying, to whoever reads this: I'm very new at writing short stories and only found this website a few days ago. I'm submitting this as a challenge to myself to do more writing because I love it. Okay thanks!!!

I have the worst memory of anyone I’ve ever met. Ever. Like, a goldfish has nothing on me. But for some reason, this year, I could remember all the promises I made to myself back in January. I told myself that I would be a whole new person – financial freedom, in shape, talking to my friends more; spending more time with them and taking tons of ridiculous photos. Drinking less – figuring out why I make the decisions I do and fixing them. I wanted to travel to Norway like I’ve always wanted, or well I guess more realistically, work on having the means to do so. I want to feel more connected to the people around me. I want to feel more connected to myself. Too much to put on one person, I know. This was how I’ve always been.  

For our first event of the night, we rented this old virtual reality party bus – sounds strange, right? I could check off Norway this way though. These goals on our lists are just for us, and we could cross them off in whatever way we wanted.  

We used a chunk of Danny’s savings to put all 12 of us on it. He said he didn't mind. Danny is my best friend that I met when we were 7. We started dating for real when we were 17. It’s been 6 years since. It doesn’t feel like dating really. It just feels like normal life. Like, I wake up and there is my life: there is my person. We all had our lists that we hastily scribbled down for tonight, so we could try to reach all our goals, at least in some shape or form.  

The bus took us down this super bumpy road, and it made it the illusion of driving through Norway’s hills even more real. The air was thick with fog, and it was a little misty. It kind of made our running around more meaningful – we were willing to do it despite the rain. I brought my polaroid camera and took some pictures of the hologram walls. Even if they weren't of the real thing, I thought it would be cool to hang them on my wall to keep me motivated for the real thing.  

The driver had to slam on the brakes due to a cat running across the street not long after we took off and there was some glass and one of the tires got cut. It worked out though – it ended up stopping right by a tattoo place. One of the bases of some of my goals is to be more connected to the things and the people around me. So, Rosalie and I planned to get matching tattoos from our favorite show: New Girl. Little turtles. We are the female versions of two of the characters, and turtles are a part of one of our favorite episodes.  

We pick the templates, making sure they’re small so we have enough time, and get in opposite chairs. The others had already started, picking random things off the menu. It takes us about an hour because we wanted enough detail but not too much, especially since this was my first tattoo. Our initials are hidden in some of the lines that make the shell. We love them and excitedly scratch it off our lists.  

Danny takes his list back out and says he only has one thing left! I have 4...and it’s 10:30! I’m starting to get nervous but the feeling doesn’t spread to the rest of the group. They are these wonderfully magically people, and nothing seems to phase them. It’s cold and gloomy outside on New Year’s eve and they are radiating joy. They make me want to finish this list all the more.  

The last 3 things on my list are 1. Be more active. There is this old rec centre that has like, this beep test simulator. I feel like I barely moved my body this year and I’ve got it in my head that this will make up for it. I mean, have you done a beep test? The worlds worst test, and you can’t even cheat!!! Well I mean, you could probably do drugs beforehand but most beep tests are administered in junior and high school so good luck. I didn’t even know what weed was until like, the night before I turned 17. Anyway, so we head to the rec centre and Danny shakes the security guards hand and slips him a crumpled bill; I don’t see what kind. He remains expressionless and lets us in. We try to stifle our laughter but it doesn’t work. We run down the halls yelling out whatever we can think of and it feels like we’re back in school with no responsibilities.

The gym is FREEZING. It makes me feel nostalgic. That is, until I see the sign, in bright neon green LED lights - “BEEP TEST”. What on earth. Whoever made that sign obviously relishes in other peoples misery. I push my backpack to the floor and dig for my sneakers. They barely have a scratch on them – ugh. I mean it’s good to have nice shoes but a little wear and tear on them would make me feel better. I also packed a little pair of shorts – beep tests are SERIOUS business – and run to the bathroom to get changed. I splash some cold tap water on my face and tie my hair back and rush out the door. Rosalie agrees to do it with me and she’s waiting behind the white line. Our arms are sore from the tattoo – I question what we are doing with our lives in this moment. But I also feel so alive right now, so I keep going. We are breathing hard but somehow manage to finish. It feels like there’s blood in my throat and Danny is pouring water on my stomach, joking that he’s trying to keep me alive.  

We stagger out of the rec centre, with me limping and the others teasing me for it. I probably did something to my ankle but now we only have an hour for the other 3 items so I think I’ll have to power through on pure adrenaline. Except then I remember that I brought an espresso shot, and I pull it out in it’s little mason jar. I’m going to feel like I’m having a heart attack in about 30 seconds but I need to finish this list. Even if all the items I can’t finish perfectly.  

The second last item on my list: quit drinking. I brought a bottle of rye with me and after we leave the rec centre we plan on where to pour it out. We debate pouring it into the harbour, it’s got enough in there already right? But I feel guilty about adding to its mess and suggest an abandoned pool. Everyone agrees, although we lost Jamie and Becca at some point, and we head to a pool across the field at Danny’s old school. He has to carry me on his back because we somehow only have 20 minutes left and it’s a solid 10 minute walk from the rec centre. We all yell and run and I grab Rosalie’s hand as her and Jake catch up to us. We’re grinning from ear to ear and feel on top of the world. I’m hiding how much I’m worried about the reveal of the last item on my list.  

We get to the pool and I run up to the diving board – it feels unsteady and that makes sense in my head. Danny reaches up and hands me the bottle and it’s warm. The seal is still on it so I slowly start to peel that off and look around the pool. The tiles are all chipped and are wasting away. I wonder why this pool was abandoned, why this place shut down. It reminds me of the pools you’d see in all of the romantic comedies growing up, when the families go to the fancy resort they can hardly afford and the kids never want to be there. I wish I could say that I wasn’t like that as a kid but I think I might’ve been. It scares me how much things have changed. I wish I remembered more of it. Of everything.  

I shake off the memories starting to float around in my head and unscrew the cap from the bottle. Danny tells everyone to shush and I bring the bottle up in a dramatic fashion, but a serious face. I tell them, that I know in a matter of minutes it will be tomorrow and it will be a new year but at least for today I am done. Then I grab the bottle and watch as the amber color fills the cracks in the tiles. I take comfort in this and pack the bottle back in my backpack.  

A piece of the glass from the bottle bounces up and nicks me in the shin - I pass out from the combination of adrenaline and blood and the rush of trying to get everything checked off my list.  

I wake up with Danny screaming in my ear yelling that we only have a minute left before it’s midnight. I’ve never gotten up so fast. I make my way back up to the diving board and take a deep breath, and prepare myself for the last thing on my list – I have to tell them the thing that’s been haunting me for the entire year. I close my eyes and take a deep breathe. I pause and take another one, wishing that I could just stay here and breathe and that everything can stay the same. But I can’t do this to them anymore... 

My watch beeps and it’s down to 30 seconds. Danny looks at me with a strange look on his face. I didn’t tell anyone what the last item on my list was. I think they just assumed it would be a small thing that I could do anywhere. I didn’t want to tell them anything, so I just kept the fact that I was going to tell them a secret, a secret. I’m probably too good at it.  

My lips feel like they’re on fire, and my throat is burning. I clutch my jacket with my hands and wish that I could jump off this the diving board and wake up in another universe. One where I didn’t have to tell them this.  

I look up the moon, because I don’t think I can say the words out loud if I look at any one of them. Especially not Danny or Rosalie. It’s the last 10 seconds and I feel like I can’t breathe anymore. My body has forgotten, and it’s trying to run away. But I push through, and my lips part... 

“My name isn’t Madeline. It’s Milo. You have all been part of my life under witness protection. And when the clock strikes midnight, everything is going to change.”  

January 06, 2023 23:51

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12 comments

Dan Coglianese
17:57 Jan 18, 2023

Pretty good for someone who is just starting out writing. You really kept me reading, especially at the end. That's the goal! As you continue writing, you will get better at editing and really submit some polished work. Don't stop writing and reading, you're going to be great at this!

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Madison Drew
19:07 Jan 18, 2023

Thanks Dan, appreciate it!

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Zack Powell
06:09 Jan 14, 2023

This would be such an interesting idea for a novel or novella, or maybe still a short story, just with a few thousand more words. Not that this is bad or anything (it's not), but that ending definitely left me wanting more. Which is great - your readers should want to keep reading your writing. That twist was very unexpected, especially considering how long Madeline/Milo has known these people, Danny in particular. Still trying to process how I feel about that. I really like the setup to the story, and the stray observations throughout. (Go...

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Madison Drew
22:29 Jan 14, 2023

Holy moly. Zack, this comment!!! Thank you so much. I swear I got teary eyed when I read this. I agree about the novella/longer short story comment - I think I could definitely write more of the story/do a spin-off about why she's in witness protection, how she kept this secret from Danny for so long, etc. I will take your advice for sure and come back to this, maybe in a few months! I've already started writing another short story for the next contest. Also, for this story, I wrote it in a couple days and then the deadline was approaching...

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Hope Linter
16:34 Jan 12, 2023

I liked the story and the idea of the protagonist revealing herself through the events of the evening. I'm not sure about the reveal at the very end. Good work.

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Madison Drew
18:53 Jan 12, 2023

Thank you Hope! I'll be honest, I hadn't even thought of that ending while writing the rest of the story. But I didn't want to leave the story without some sort of explanation/piece to be able to pick up the story again and keep writing. So, I'm thinking I might be able to continue and maybe blend that ending into the rest of the story about the resolutions. Really appreciate your feedback :)

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Simsim Rose
03:21 Jan 11, 2023

Such a fun story!

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Madison Drew
14:15 Jan 11, 2023

Thank you Sima! Glad you liked it.

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Tommy Goround
06:41 Jan 09, 2023

Good ending.

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Madison Drew
19:05 Jan 09, 2023

Thank you, Tommy!

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Mary Lehnert
21:02 Jan 07, 2023

Where do I start, Madison. First I recognise and love your protagonist. The spontaneity is gripping. Don’t change that. Now edit edit edit. Plenty more will fill in the rest. Be prepared. Otherwise you have found your core and can express it. Wonderful. Keep writing. Mary

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Madison Drew
19:05 Jan 09, 2023

This comment means so much to me Mary! Thank you.

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