Below is the full 2500 words of my June 3words story… but I can’t think of a title I’m happy with. So, if you can, please try me with your suggestion and I’ll consider them all.
And the prize –
Whoever suggests the title I end up choosing will be offered a voucher for a free copy of my up-coming collection of 3words stories with a tentative title of 3words Deluxe Edition, due to be available on Kindle via Amazon next Wednesday.
Plus you will be credited in the book as having title this story, which will be included. Obviously.
So try me. And good luck.
Oh, and there will be more information regarding the up-coming book in my next post. :)
YOUR TITLE HERE
Gran shouted, “I’m taking the recycling bin round so it’s ready for morning.”
In the bathroom, Teeny tensed, thinking it was collected yesterday. “Do you want me to do it?”
“I wouldn’t dream of disturbing you,” she said. Was she laughing? “It’ll just take a minute. My coffee should wait till I’m back.”
Teeny strained over the flush toilet, one hand flat against the wall, the other wrapped around his teenage boytoy. Somehow, both ears were cocked so he would hear his gran’s return.
He’d never tried to rub one out this fast, but thought it could be fun trying.
Teeny lost himself in the moment, and seemed to resurface sometime later. He couldn’t tell how long, but did know he had failed his mission.
He cocked his head to the right, listening for tell-tale signs of his gran downstairs. She had to be back by now. She usually chattered away to Stan, her tabby, while she pottered around the kitchen or garden, but he couldn’t hear either.
He glanced down at himself, shrugged, sighed, tucked himself away and flushed. He looked out the window, expecting his gran to be chatting up a neighbour, but she wasn’t there, either. Odd.
Teeny adjusted himself as he skipped downstairs, calling for his gran. She didn’t answer. He ducked into the lounge, but no. He lollopped toward the kitchen expecting to burst in on her, worried she might spill her coffee. But no.
He touched her cool mug, still full, and opened the back door, stepping into the sun, expecting to see her playing with Stan, but no. The bin was gone, though.
He closed the door and ran down the garden, leaping over the wall rather than opening the gate, and almost landed on top of the bin.
But still no gran.
“Gran?” he shouted. Then mumbled, “Are you hiding?”
But why would she? She enjoyed a laugh, but long ago subscribed to the belief that most people were sad, mad or bad, so why play hide-n-seek when she’d had no idea he was coming.
He had to smirk at that, but then called her again as jogged to the corner, passing her next-door neighbour, then the next and next, rounding the corner, then the second corner to come back down the street to her front door.
He slumped to the ground. What had happened to her while he was messing about?
He shook his head, knowing he had to calm down and think about this rationally. It would only cloud his thinking if he got caught up in the guilt of pleasuring himself while something bad was happening to his gran.
Especially when he could have taken the damned bin round himself.
What was wrong with him? She was an old lady. He wasn’t even sure she could comfortably walk from the back to the front of the house. Plus, there must have been some reason why his mum asked him to watch out for her last night and this morning.
Teeny stood and approached the neighbour’s house, knocking then asking the lady who answered if she’d seen his gran, but she hadn’t. Teeny thanked her and moved to the next house, but again the woman there knew nothing. Losing faith, he knocked on the third door. This time a grumpy man answered, but he had also seen nothing.
Teeny loped back round to the rear gardens, hoping to find someone else to ask, perhaps washing their car or gardening, but the car park area was vacant and quiet.
Teeny dropped to his knees and screamed, “HAS ANYONE SEEN MY GRAN?”
Teeny was sobbing, his face buried in his streaky-wet hands, but he couldn’t stop. He wanted to, could imagine how pitiful he looked, and how ashamed he would be when he eventually stopped. Unless nobody saw him. And there had been nobody around.
Teeny hitched in a breath and snort-coughed it out awkwardly, wiping his eyes with the backs of his hands, thinking he’d heard someone speak.
“I know where she went, kid.”
Teeny quickly gave his eyes one last wipe and looked up, desperate to meet the owner of that voice and learn what they knew.
“Hello?” Teeny said, looking round as he stood, but he was alone. He blinked slowly. Was he losing his mind?
His right trouser leg vibrated and he half-leaped away, snorting a laugh and shaking his head at his foolishness. He searched again for whoever spoke while withdrawing his mobile, then checked the number and heaved out a worried sigh.
“Hi, Chris. How are you doing, sweetheart? How’s your gran?”
Normally he’d recoil at the sweetheart, but Teeny shook his head and slumped onto the side of the knocked-over dustbin.
“Chris? Is everything okay?”
“I’m on my way.”
Teeny remained seated on the bin, holding his mobile, albeit forgotten, until his mum arrived, her car tempted to skid as it pulled up behind him.
“Chris?” she said, scrambling out. “Are you ok?”
He looked up slowly, disbelieving everything. Then he nodded. She dropped to her knees to hug him, something he wouldn’t normally have allowed, especially in public, but wasn’t thinking straight.
“So,” she said, ruffling his hair. “What’s your crazy old gran gone and done now?”
Teeny took a deep breath and spilled it all. Well, almost – leaving out what he’d been doing in the bathroom.
His mum, Laura, held his hands and listened closely, her eyes staying locked on her fidgety son, but her twisting lips suggesting her mind was already elsewhere. When Teeny was almost finished –she knew he was keeping something back, but trusted him enough to believe it wasn’t vital to their being able to find her mum– she stood up straight, pulling her son with her.
“Ok,” she said, cupping his face. “This is not your fault.”
“No,” she stressed. “This is on my mum. Some days she thinks she’s somewhere else. We simply need to find her there.”
“But how?” Teeny whined, hating how easily he slipped back into child-mode. He was a teenager now, and should act grown-up, or why would his parents see him differently? He had to help find his gran, if not solve it himself.
Laura laughed. “We need to think like her.”
Teeny laughed and rolled his eyes. “You know she’s sometimes a little crazy, right?”
Laura nodded and half-turned away. “That’s why I didn’t want her left alone.” She sighed. “She should really be in a home.”
Teeny stood up straight and studied the nearby houses, confident an idea would strike him.
Laura grabbed his hand and squeezed, smiling. Teeny wasn’t sure why, but let her hold it for a moment, then withdrew it, pretending to need it.
He said, “She has a friend who lives in one of these houses that backs onto us, doesn’t she?”
Laura snorted out a laugh. “She did when I was growing up. Used to drive my dad mental.” She shook her head slowly. “He was convinced she was sleeping him. George. That was her friend.” She pointed to one of the gates.
“Well, then,” Teeny nodded. “That’s as good a place to start as any.”
Teeny strode off, wanting to do this for his mum and his gran, knowing he owed them both due to his horny distraction that had led to this whole mess.
Laura took a moment, but quickly gathered herself and caught up. “What’s the plan?”
Teeny smiled, his confidence returning – she was the parent, the adult, but was asking him. “Figured we’d have a sneaky look in their back garden, and maybe its neighbours if she’s not there, then knock on the door.”
“Front or back?”
Laura nodded and took his hand. This time Teeny let her keep hold.
At the wall, Teeny said, “I’ll check.”
He grabbed the top bricks and pulled himself up until he could see the garden. It looked surprisingly like his gran’s, being mostly green grass, a small shed and a raised patio area. And, in another way – there was no gran.
But there was a topless man.
And he was staring at Teeny.
Teeny’s eyes bulged as he smiled and tried to nod, although it wasn’t easy in his position. “Hi,” he said. “Have you seen my gran?”
The topless man simply stared at him. Then said, “Little old lady, right? Purple hair?”
“Yes!” said Teeny, excited, but struggling to keep hold.
Topless man nodded. “Saw her just yesterday.”
Teeny sighed. “Not today?”
Teeny sighed and dropped back to his mum, shaking his head as he looked away, recalling somebody calling to him, saying they knew something about his gran. Who had that been?
Teeny grabbed hold of the wall again and pulled himself up, his feet scrambling for purchase, leaving him thinking he’d fall, but he made it and swung himself round onto his knees, then his feet.
He took a deep breath and shouted, “Who knows where my gran is?”
They both waited what felt like an eternity, but there was absolutely no response. Not even a “shut up”, or “bog off”, and Teeny almost laughed when he turned to his mum, his nervous energy threatening to take control of his body.
“Well,” she said, shaking her head.
Teeny clambered down from the wall and then tilted his head. “Is that gran’s phone?”
“Listen. It’s that silly chicken ringtone.”
Teeny raced back across the car park to his gran’s back garden, then inside to the phone in the hall. “Hello?”
“Gran? Where are you? Are you all right?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart,” she said weakly. “It’s dark.”
Teeny checked the phone display. “You’re on my old mobile.”
“I dunno. I just found it in my pocket,” she said, apparently struggling for breath.
“That’d be right,” Teeny mumbled, half to himself as he turned to nod at his mum who had appeared in the kitchen. “You confiscated it this morning, remember?” he said playfully, hoping to hear his gran smile. She sounded so weak.
“Text fiend,” his gran mumbled.
Teeny laughed as he smiled at his mum, but then had to look away as he felt some tears forming.
“That’s right, Gran,” Teeny laughed, wiping his eyes quickly, hoping his mum wouldn’t see.
“I didn’t mean it nasty, Chris,” she mumbled.
“I know, gran. It’s okay.”
“I was just happy you stayed over,” she continued, sniffing.
“Gran, don’t.” Teeny took a few steps away from his mum. “I was enjoying myself, too. And texts should wait till we were finished.”
“I’m a moody old coot.”
“Gran, shhh. You’re not. You were helping me enjoy our breakfast. I appreciated that.” Teeny struggled to swallow. “But that’s not important right now. Do you know where you are? I’ll come get you.”
“I don’t,” she said. “It’s pitch black. Oh, Chris, I’m sorry – I’ve no idea where I am.”
Teeny heard her suck in a breath, knowing she was about to cry, and his heart went out to her. “It’s all right, gran. I’ll find you.”
She sniffed. “You will?”
“I will,” Teeny said, turning back to his mum, who was now by his side.
She took his hand and squeezed his arm, leaning against him. He started moving the phone toward her, but she closed her eyes and shook her head.
“Tell me, gran,” he said. “What do you remember?”
“Well,” she sighed. “I remember you wanting a personal moment in the bathroom-”
“Gran!” Teeny pulled away from his mum, but shook his head and lifted a hand to confirm nothing was wrong. “I don’t know what-”
“Oh, Chris,” Gran chuckled.
Teeny stopped and laughed. “And then what?”
“I went into the back garden, closed the door, sniffed some flowers, said hello to a couple of stray cats sleeping there-”
“I didn’t see any when I came down.”
“You were probably a chunk of time after me.”
He blushed. “What then?”
“I pulled the bin through the back gate.”
“Well,” she said.
She eased out the slowest, longest breath Teeny had ever heard, to the point where he was starting to worry she might not suck another back in. But then she did.
“I can’t say,” she said.
“Why not?” Teeny asked, turning back to his mum who was now sitting on the stairs, her face in her hands.
“That’s a good question, Chris.”
Teeny rolled his eyes and looked to the ceiling. This was like conversing with Yoda. “Do you have an answer, gran?”
“To what, dear?” She asked. Then chuckled. “Right – to where I am?”
Teeny held the phone away from his mouth and tried not to scream. Instead he jumped up and down while silently shrieking with his eyes closed, his head darting from side to side. Someone grabbed his elbow and he stopped, shocked by the touch, but it was only his mum, who he had somehow forgotten.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, nodding to the phone. “I think she might be losing it.”
“Honey,” Laura smiled. “She lost whatever she had left a while ago. You want me to have a word with her?”
He shrugged, but looked beaten.
Laura reached for the phone.
Teeny let her take it and watched her listen to whatever gran was saying. Then she half turned away, so he stood up and gave her some privacy, slouching down the hall to the kitchen, unsure just what to do or how to help. If his gran had really lost those few remaining marbles and she had no idea where she was, how were they ever going to find her? She could be trapped in a boot or locked in an abandoned warehouse and they might never know. She could die of starvation and it would all be his fault.
He moved to the back door and stared out at the garden, suddenly certain that he’d missed something, a little piece of information that could unravel the mystery. He closed his eyes and held his breath, tilting his head back as he strained his brain for the rogue thought, knowing it was almost within his reach. There was something-
“Chris,” his mum said, making him jump. “Sorry,” she chuckled, shaking her head. “I thought you’d want to know your gran fell asleep.”
“I dunno. She stopped talking and started snoring.”
Teeny’s eyes popped. “It WAS yesterday!” he cheered.
Teeny ran down the hall, scooped up the phone, dialed, waited, dropped it and scampered back to the kitchen and his mum.
She dodged out the way.
“Follow me!” Teeny cried, leaping out into the garden, stopping in the middle of the lawn. “Shh.”
“I didn’t say-”
“Do you hear that?”
Laura cocked her head. “La Cucaracha?”
Teeny laughed and raced to their gate.
On the other side stood an old man, his eyes wide. “Your rubbish bin’s ringing,” he said. “I wasn’t sure whether to answer it.”
Teeny dropped to his knees and flipped open the lid. “Wakey-wakey, gran.”