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.
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