Fiction: October 2006 Archives

Gary pulled up to his normal spot in front of the store. He was opening supervisor, so he could have the pick of any spot in the lot, but he always took one some distance from the door. “Because the good spots are for the paying customers,” he would tell any employee who parked closer than he did. Besides, a nice walk never hurt anybody.

As he got out of the car, he noticed he was not alone. Some early birds were stumbling around in front of the store. Strangely enough, none of them appeared to have driven there. Well, too bad for them, Gary thought, because they didn’t open for another hour.

“Hey, you know we open at ten, right?” he asked as he passed one of them. He didn’t see it turn and make a grab for him with a gnarled hand.

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Pauline stared out of the window of the bus, primed for a new experience, but wonderfully bored at the moment. The road was without curves, without pitch, as even a pothole would be a blessed turn of events. At a point in her life where the world was hers, she randomly picked a town and decided to investigate it firsthand. The uncertainty of the situation was uplifting. The hope that one day she would feel as if she belonged somewhere gave her tiresome life meaning. She longed to grow roots but had yet to find suitable soil.

The only thing that caught her eye along the way was an abandoned car. It did not seem particularly interesting to her, as it was unattended, though a bit of smoke still emanated from the interior, slowly creeping out of the driver's open window. Pauline decided to turn her attention to the back of the seat directly in front of her, as anything would be just as entertaining as what is happening outside. She studied the cracks in the portions of the seat that housed old, sun-baked vinyl, making objects come to life in her mind. A frowning face, a crooked star, a guitar and so forth and so on.

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Author's Note: When brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm traveled throughout Germany collecting oral-history folktales during the early 1800s, they actually did their job too well and accumulated many more stories than they could possibly hope to publish. The following is one of the tales the Grimms left on the "cutting room floor," so to speak. This story has been traced to the small German village of Kudgel, which the brothers Grimm visited in 1812. Recently discovered among Wilhelm's private papers in a folder marked "Unpromising Miscellanea," it is published here for the first time.

There once lived a humble woodcutter and his enormous wife in a small cottage in the forest. Their lives were empty and desolate, for they had no children to call their own. As a youth, the near-sighted woodsman had mistaken a witch's leg for an elm and had used it for kindling. Enraged, the witch put a curse upon the woodsman, telling him he would never father a child by natural means and would have "plenty of problems" if he tried to adopt. The woodsman tried to reason with the witch, even offering to pay half the cost of a replacement leg, but the witch would not listen.

And so, all these years later, the witch's curse still held, and the woodsman and his wife were without children. Each night, the wife would kneel at the foot of the bed and pray aloud.

"Oh! How wonderful it would be to have a child! It would give me something to occupy my waking hours until television is invented!"

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This page is an archive of entries in the Fiction category from October 2006.

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