Life Updates · writing challenge

March Writing Challenge Day 1: “The Heist”

☼ Happy March! ☼

So as I mentioned before, me and the marvelous Taylor are undergoing a 30-day writing challenge for the month of March! We’re starting a little late (college is busy) but I am super excited to share what I write with y’all. Basically, every day/evening we will write a short story or poem (after homework and practicing, of course) based off a different prompt among a collection imagined by me and Taylor in the past month. These prompts range from three objects which must be included, to opening/closing lines, to even famous paintings or songs. Our writing projects are only lightly edited and hastily written, but I think this adds to the beauty of such a challenge; how creative or impactful can you make a short, quick story or poem based off a random prompt every day? The goal is to have 30 pieces of original work for this whole month, and to keep our creative and innovative minds flowing through the stress of college. I think you will enjoy seeing the different or similar takes Taylor and I will have on the same prompt!

I hope you enjoy my first entry for our March Writing Challenge!

Click here to read Taylor’s entry for the Day 1 prompt, entitled “It Started With A Fish Tank.”

 

(Side note: Since we are both busy, you might expect to see a few instances where our daily entries are delayed by a few days and posted on the same day instead. For instance, this entry is for Day 1, written on Thursday, March 2nd, although I am quite aware that it is 11 am on March 3. I wrote this late last night. Don’t judge me.)

Prompt for March 2, 2017: Write something with a broken refrigerator, a fish tank, and a “guard” golden retriever.

“The Heist” by Rachel Cernosek

He was dressed in black from head to toe. Once he slid the black ski mask over his head, the only visible aspect of his body was his eyes, which darted down both ends of the street as he stepped out of his car. In his bodily possessions were a crowbar, a black sack, and a pistol. It made sense to park here, where the streetlights ended and shadows hid its intentions. He took off down the street, clinging to these shadows. Aside from the distant bark of a dog and the faint whirring of cars along the highway, all was quiet, as it should be at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night.

The house with the broken refrigerator by the curb. He kept his brisk pace down the sidewalk until he spotted it — the old appliance, lying on its side by the curb of a brilliant red brick house. This was it.

Hours spent scoping the house and its inhabitants prior to this night gave him every bit of information he needed to know for his heist. There was a couple and two kids. They were well-to-do and had many things of value; musical instruments, jewelry, appliances, and so on. He had watched them depart, the family; earlier in the afternoon, they had packed their belongings in an overstuffed minivan and left for what appeared to be a long vacation. They wouldn’t be back for days. And they didn’t have an alarm system — that he was certain. While other families dialed up the alarm on a keypad by the front door before they left, all this family did was lock up and leave. Perhaps they felt no need to take extreme security measures such as setting up home alarm systems, because no crimes were committed around here. He swallowed the pang of guilt knowing he would be the one to change that.

But he had to. He had three maxed-out credit cards. He had a stack of unpaid bills for the electricity that no longer came through his house. He had a measly income that could only be used for immediate taxes. He had not his own mouth to feed, but his daughter’s, but no leftover money with which to buy her dinner at night. He was determined to change that.

The side window was his source of entry. He took one last reassuring glance around his surroundings before prying the window open with the crowbar. Sure enough, there was no alarm, although he couldn’t help but wonder what he would have done had there been one. Would he still take the risk and grab what valuables he could before running? Probably. It was in that moment he realized what sheer desperation fueled his intents.

But it would be easy. Simple in, simple out. They may not even notice what was missing for days, if they even noticed a sign of forcible entry. He could do this. He hoisted himself up onto the rim of the open window, pulling up his legs, and hopping down inside…

…Only to knock over a glass fish tank against the wall with his feet.

The tank went down in slow motion, it seemed, spilling its contents out the tipping sides before the glass shattered into a thousand pieces. A half-dozen goldfish flopped to and fro on the tile floor. He tugged at his ski mask, cursing to himself. So much for no sign of entry.

But there was no alarm yet. He was in the house, in the clear to grab whatever he could get his hands on. He could complete his mission. Only… Those fish. Should he leave them be to die on the cold hard tile? Cursing his own goodheartedness, he groaned as he scrambled to find a bowl large enough to hold the fish. The house was dark and unfamiliar, but he managed, finding a large wrought iron pot and filling it with water before transferring the fish. What kind of damn criminal am I? he wondered begrudgingly. Willing to sacrifice time to save a bunch of stupid fish, who would probably die anyway without proper aeration. But at least he could say he tried.

Before long, he had found a source of value; encased in a delicate jewelry box were a string of authentic pearls, a pair of diamond earrings, and a fine Rolex watch. Eyes wide, he began to round them up in his hands to dump in his black sack when all of the sudden, a loud noise behind him made him jump.

The sound was a bark. Distinct, low, and guttural. A sheen layer of sweat permeated the fabric on his forehead as he slowly turned toward the noise. Down a hallway, in the darkness of the house, he could just barely make out the glimmer of two malicious eyes.

It was no wonder they didn’t have a security system; they had a guard dog.

He reached for his gun, cocking and aiming, and searched desperately for an exit. The window through which he entered the house was beyond the dog, who barked at him yet again from the end of the dark hallway. Looking frantically for a better way out, his heart sank as the dog advanced from the shadows and materialized in the light, a flash of fur and teeth as it bounded toward him. He froze, and it was too late to act; the dog leapt and knocked him to the ground with its front paws, his gun tumbling out of his shaking hands.

He was attacked by a violent pink tongue.

As he began to understand what was happening, his fear dissipated. The dog was wagging its tail, leaving happy trails of slobber on his mask and the exposed skin around his eyes and nose. It wasn’t a guard dog at all, but a dopey golden retriever, ecstatic that someone had come home to give it attention.

He chuckled and ran his hands through the dog’s dense cream fur. Memories flooded his thoughts; many years ago, he spent his childhood running in the woods and playing fetch with his beloved dog, Molly, who bared an uncanny resemblance to the dog before him now. He’d adored that dog, given to him as a birthday gift by his father. Molly was his best childhood friend; he was there at her side as she died at an old age. He realized it had been eons since he’d pet a dog. He realized how much he’d missed dogs’ company. He realized he would never give his daughter the same happiness as he’d had as a child.

His gaze caught the gun, which had fallen a few feet from where he sat. A lump filled his throat. He’d been so close to pulling the trigger…to killing this dog, who was sitting on his lap grinning up at him. A dog who brought nothing but happiness to a loving family, to the world. He felt like a monster.

Who had he become?

Before he was aware of what he was doing, he was on his feet, giving the dog a final pat before walking to the jewelry box. He turned his sack upside down, spilling its valuable contents back into the box before closing it and walking to the window he had originally come through. The fish swam lazily in their new home, and he felt good, knowing he had hopefully saved their lives today and spared another. With a final gander at the house, and a smile at the curious dog who sat and watched him leave from the pane of the door, he closed the window and walked away from the brilliant red brick house.

~ ~ ~

Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to check out my friend Taylor’s writing entry for this same prompt at her blog! If you would like emailed updates from my blog, please scroll to the top of this page (or go to my homepage) and press the “+Follow” button at the bottom right of your screen to enter your email address. Don’t forget about my bullet journal and hobbies Instagram account, also called turbulentrhapsodies, to see all of my creative and academic endeavors!

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