Write a Story with Me #2
Takes 3 minutes! Read the beginning of the unfinished short story below and answer a few short questions – fill in the blanks in the Comments below. I’ll do the rest.*
When Becky walked into Abe’s corner store, she thought she knew what she wanted. Twizzlers. She wasn’t sure whether she liked the red ones or the black ones best, fake cherry or licorice. Still, the aroma of chocolate in the air got her thinking.
Abe’s was the only classic candy store and soda counter left in East Apple, maybe the last in the state. The rent kept creeping up but Abe, now in his 80s, insisted on keeping the small candies at a nickel and one scoop of ice cream at a dollar so the kids could afford it Most of them had little money and the neighborhood around Spevak Elementary had long since slipped out the middle class without anyone noticing. Except Abe. Abe remembers working here as a kid when his father Saul started the business and named it after his young son.
Saul never assumed the store would last that long or the son, after whom he named it, would one day run it and decades later continue to fight the tides of change.
“What’ll it be?” Abe asked as if he didn’t know her answer.
“Um, ah, I think I’ll try something different,” Becky said. With three fingers in her mouth, she swayed side-to-side. Her white dress with the little pink roses flew up from her sawing motion.
With a broad grin, Abe said, “Let me guess.” He hesitated, as if deep in thought. “Twzzlers!”
“Nooo. I said something different.”
“Vanilla ice cream with sprinkles. I remember you had that one time and liked it.” He could still picture the ice cream mustache on her upper lip.
“No. Not that.” She folded her arms and pursed her lips. She looked up at the etched tin ceiling with the two fans slowly turning. “I want a friend.”
Abe laughed. “But you have friends. I see you come in with the other kids.”
“They’re not my friends. They make fun of me and talk behind my back. I have no friends. Even Ernie, our cat died.”
“I’m your friend, aren’t I?”
Becky blushed. “Yes, you’re my friend, but that’s different. You’re—”
“Old?’ Abe snorted.
“No, I didn’t mean that. You’re a grownup and you’re very nice to all the kids.”
“Especially you, because you’re special.”
“I don’t feel special.”
“But you are. You’re smart and kind. You have a big heart. I can tell these things.’
Becky crossed one leg in front of the other and looked down at the soda and candy-stained cork floor. “I guess,” she said.
The two of stood there in silence, seemingly lost in their own thoughts.
Meet My Friend…
Finally, Becky broke the silence. “Do you have any friends Mr. Goldberg?
“Sure all the kids are my friends. They come in almost every day and leave with smiles.”
“I mean real friends. Like somebody you hang out with when you close the store at night?”
Hang out? I guess Becky’s not a little kid anymore, Abe thought. “I live upstairs. Most nights when I close the store, I go up, make dinner and watch TV.”
“So that means you don’t have any friends either.”
Abe looked around at the dark cherry paneling that he helped his father put up decades ago. It seemed to get darker over the years or was tht his imagination. He peered through the window that overlooked busy Central Avenue. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could afford this place.
He snapped out of his daydream. “Oh yes, sorry. Where were we?”
“We were talking ‘bout friends and how neither of us got none.”
“But I do have a friend. His name is Jerry. Would you like to meet him?”
Becky’s eyes went wide. “Who? What?”
“That’s the perfect question.” Abe reached below the counter, fumbled around for a minute, and placed his friend Jerry on the counter. Jerry looked like a large doll with loose arms and clown-pink cheeks. He wore a blue vest with a matching pointed hat, the rim of which was festooned with stars.
Now Becky laughed. “He’s not real. He’s a doll!”
“He’s real enough. Ask him a question.”
Becky snickered and put her index finger to her lips. “Ok. Jerry, how old is Mr. Goldberg?”
Jerry’s head slowly moved to the right and his blue eyes rolled up to stare directly at Becky. His lips moved. “Why, he’s 86.”
Becky squinted at Abe. He wasn’t touching Jerry, and his lips weren’t moving.
This Can’t Be Real
Becky sucked in a big breath and turned back to Jerry. “Are you Mr. Goldberg’s friend?”
“Yes, ever since I was born.”
Becky snapped her head in Abe’s direction.
Abe just smiled and held his hands up as if in resignation.
“I don’t get it. This can’t be real,” Becky said.
“I’m as real as you are.” Jerry said. “Just because I’m smaller and Abe, Mr. Goldberg as you call him, stuck this silly hat on my head doesn’t mean I’m not real.”
Becky folded her arms and looked from Jerry to Abe and back again
“Can I tell you a secret?” Abe asked Becky.
“I’m not sure how much longer this store will be here. Besides, I’m getting older. It hurts my knees to stand on my feet all day and I don’t feel so good at night”
A tear formed in Becky’s eye, broke free, and rolled down her cheek. “But you can’t. You can’t close the store. All the kids count on you.”
“I know. That’s why I’ve stayed here all these years. But I may not have a choice. My health and my finances might put an end to this.”
Becky studied Abe’s face. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s been my great pleasure watching you grow up, all the way from Kindergarten to sixth grade. Next year, you’ll go to a different school. You won’t miss this place.”
“But I would. I will. Don’t give up Mr. G. That’s what all the kids call you.”
“I know. I like that name.”
“And they all like you. I love you, in fact.”
Jerry sniffs and a tear rolls down his cheek.
Both Becky and Abe glance at Jerry. Then Abe turns back. “You have always been my favorite, Becky. Your true goodness shines through like a beacon and makes me happy every time I see you.”
“Hey, what about me?” Jerry giggles.
“You, too.” Abe says “I never had any children. You kids and Jerry here are like my children. Becky, can I ask you a favor?”
“Ah, yes. Sure, what is it?”
“If something happens to me, will you take care of Jerry?”
Jerry’s head pivots to gaze at Becky…. To be continued
How would you finish the story?
Note: the time for comments and suggestions is closed but you might enjoy reading some of the fun and crazy ideas people came up with in the Comments section below. Even Chat GPT chimed in. I chose to use some of the ideas suggested by Diane below and you can read the completed story here. It is now titled The Last Candy Store in East Apple. To pick up where this story left off, you can scroll down the header labeled ‘Part 2.”
*Note: the goal of this post is to spark some creative writing fun and imagination. The stories posted on this blog are FREE for all readers. So contributed ideas in the Comments may have some fun and gratification, but there is no monetary compensation involved or promised.
Catch up on my original fast-paced thriller NOT SO DEAD and the Sam Sunborn Series They are available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com
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Or my new children’s adventure book: Nougo and His Basketball.
And read for FREE some of Charles Levin’s short stories:
Nora Delivers the Package
The Permission Slip
10 Life Lessons I Learned from Playing Poker
Missing the Ghost in the Palace Theater
Moon Landing Memories
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Jerry is actually the spirit of Abe’s father acting as friend and advisor throughout the years. He has always watched over his son. One day, Abe dies of heart failure while Becky is in the store. While the EMT’s are busy, she remembers Abe’s request and grabs Jerry. Jerry, however, is silent and still. The store is closed and the building is sold. Jerry suddenly becomes animated once again – only it is no longer Jerry … it is Abe.
Susan, I love your idea! Brilliant and life-affirming. I will wait to read all the comments as they come in but I’m sure some of what you suggested will make it into the final story. Thanks for joining in the fun.
Jerry is a type of jinn. He grants wishes but with a twist.
Abe passes away shortly after. He leaves the store to Becky. She is not allowed to change anything. Someone runs ot until she is a adult. After this things change for Becky. The kids like her. But they fear Jerry.
The twist is Becky decides having no friends is better than friends who fear you or like you to get things. She wishes it all away.
Emily, wow what a creative and fun idea! Thanks so much for sharing,
what a fun idea!
Jerry is goodness personified! He holds the power of friendship, the kind that helps in creative ways to uphold everything that is good! He helps Becky petition for a grant to keep Abe’s as a relic of their town, keeping local and family history alive! The historical society of the town gets excited about her project and files for a grant that will enable her to provide the financial backing needed to keep the store open! They recruit volunteers from the senior center to work at the store. This not only keeps the store open and Abe’s dream alive, but it becomes like passing on the goodness! The seniors now have an uplifted outlook on life, making friends with all of the children!!! And Abe? He retires and is placed in the nursing home where the volunteers reside! He is even able to enjoy his passion, volunteering a few hours a week! And Jerry? He helps kids at the justice center, helping them find good alternatives after traumatic events, including befriending the seniors at the nursing home! And EVERYONE lived happily ever after! 🙂
Diane, I so love what you wrote. It’s so upbeat and positive. And although I write thrillers that can get pretty dary sometimes, I am basically an upbeat, positive person. So what you wrote resonates with me. I’m sure some part of this will make it into the final story. Thanks so much for sharing and I will keep you posted when the full story is ready.
Who is Jerry and what power does he hold? ____________no doubt Jerry is Abe’s Pinnochio but as Susan pointed out, he has the wisdom of Abe’s father guiding him to serve the community’s children. Aged wisdom is kind and hopeful and full of delight.
What happens to Abe and the store? _______Diane saw the future with the grant providing an opportunity for the elder community to serve the youth and share in life’s daily joy, It also gave Abe the AHA moment that legacy and heritage give. He saw the purpose of his calling, once singular and somewhat lonely but now filled with community passion.
What happens next? ___________Jerry and Becky enjoy a deep friendship which teaches her to pay it forward. She becomes a student leader valued by Spevak Elementary and her new school, East Apple High teachers, faculty, and other students. Becky goes to Abe’s Sweet Shop almost daily to check on Abe, the seniors, and the other kids.
What’s the twist at the end? __________In Becky’s senior year, she is given a scholarship to Apple University where she double majors in community development and social work. The year she graduates, the East Apple city council gives her the keys to the city and establishes a scholarship for five students who also are given business internships in the growing business created by Becky, with the help of Jerry.
Emery, I love how you expanded on Diane’s ideas and painted a more complete picture. I’m going to have to use some of both what you and Diane wrote to finish the story. There just might have to be a difficult obstacle or two in Beck’s way before she becomes so successful. If you or anyone else reading this has suggestions for the challenges Becky or even Abe might face, please add your thoughts below.
Thanks so much for sharing and joining in the fun.
Just for fun I asked ChatGPT to come up with some possible story endings. Let me know what you think:
1. Becky agrees to take care of Jerry and promises to come up with a plan to save the store, perhaps by organizing a community fundraiser or creating a social media campaign to generate more business. She enlists the help of the other kids from Spevak Elementary and together they work to raise awareness about the store’s plight and rally support from the neighborhood.
2. After leaving the store, Becky starts to notice strange things happening around her. She begins to see glimpses of Jerry in unexpected places, like a reflection in a store window or a shadow on the sidewalk. At first, she thinks she’s just imagining things, but as the sightings become more frequent and Jerry starts to communicate with her in her dreams, she realizes that there is something supernatural going on. She sets out to unravel the mystery of Jerry’s true identity and why he chose Abe as his friend.
3. Becky’s parents come to pick her up from the store, and as they are leaving, they notice a group of men in suits lurking outside. Later that night, Becky overhears her parents talking about the men, who turn out to be developers who want to buy the property where Abe’s store is located and turn it into a high-rise apartment complex. Becky decides to investigate the developers and uncovers a web of corruption and greed that threatens to destroy not only Abe’s store but the entire neighborhood. With the help of Jerry and some unlikely allies, Becky sets out to expose the developers and save the store.
4. As Becky is leaving the store, she notices a strange symbol etched into the door frame. It looks like a series of interconnected circles and triangles, with a stylized eye in the center. Later that night, she has a vivid dream in which she is transported to a dark and mysterious realm where she meets a group of supernatural beings who tell her that Abe’s store is a portal to their world. They explain that the symbol on the door frame is a key that unlocks the portal, and that only someone with Becky’s unique abilities can use it. They task her with finding the other half of the key and using it to protect the portal from those who would misuse its power.