Someone is Hiding in the Linen Closet

I work a lot of hours, and I don’t find the time to write nearly as much as I would like. I finally have a little time off this weekend, but most of it is devoted to baking the coffee cakes and preparing for and cooking Easter dinner, and throwing in a chocolate cake for dessert.

I wanted to give you a story this weekend. Last year I wrote Bear B’s Easter Egg Hunt which turned out awesome. This year I sort of lack direction, so I have decided to rely on my Picadilly Write the Story book to choose for me but with the caveat that I must also incorporate Easter into the story no matter what story I draw.

About Picadilly Write the Story
   Each page features a writing prompt and ten words to include in the story.

Photo by Ron Lach on

Someone is Hiding in the Linen Closet

  • grandfather
  • assignment
  • canoe
  • stampede
  • pear
  • present
  • cakewalk
  • dinner
  • blouse
  • slurp

I smoothed out my dress and secured my hat with a few extra hat pins. It was a windy day and I didn’t want the lovely hat adorned with pretty pink flowers to fly away before I’d made it to the car. I slipped on the pretty pink heels I’d splurged on only because they matched the flowers in my hat so perfectly.

I grabbed my purse from beside my bed. In the hallway, I stopped to admire myself one last time in the full-length mirror that hung on the linen closet door. I noticed the door had popped again and pushed it gently closed.

I stepped out into the garage while I dug around in my purse for my keys. I slapped the button to open the garage door, and I wound my way through the clutter of junk that I had collected over the years, like the canoe I’d bought for that romantic weekend that never happened.

Once I’d settled behind the steering wheel, I made a quick assessment of the mess. I snatched a blouse off the passenger seat and tossed it in the back. I sighed. No time to do better. I threw my car in reverse and backed out of my driveway. I popped it into drive and tapped the garage door opener as I stomped on the gas.

Grandfather was waiting impatiently when I pulled into his driveway.

“You’re late,” he snarled as I helped him down the front steps.

“I’m sorry, Grandfather. I should have planned for traffic a little better. Easter service doesn’t begin for another hour.”

As he settled himself into the passenger seat, I climbed back in behind the wheel. We drove in silence for a while.

“You look pretty, by the way,” he whispered as the church came into view.

“Thank you, Grandfather. You look rather handsome yourself.”

He wore a pale grey suit with a soft blue button-up shirt beneath it. His tie and pocket square were a robin’s egg blue. His black dress shoes shone. He blushed at the compliment.

I found a parking spot that wasn’t too far from the entrance. I slid my hand into the crook of Grandfather’s elbow, and he escorted me into the big anteroom.

A stampede of children ran past us. Their footsteps and giggles echoed off the high ceiling. I couple of exasperated teenage girls chased after them.

I held steadfastly to Grandfather’s elbow as we pushed our way through the throngs of families in search of our own. Somewhere in the middle of the church, a hand popped up waving crazily. The hand went down and up popped my baby nephew, giggling as my brother waved him in the air to catch our attention.

“There they are,” Grandfather announced excitedly.

We settled into our seats. My niece climbed into Grandfather’s lap. Her brother climbed into mine. The baby bubbled and giggled in my brother’s arms. His wife looked beautiful but tired beside him. Our sister and her husband were late, as usual.

The buzz of the crowd began to quiet as people found their seats. Our sister arrived exactly five minutes after service had started. This earned our family disapproving and reproachful looks from everyone around us.

The preacher, an old fella that had been the head of the church for as long as I could remember, stopped and waited for her and her husband to get situated.

“Glad you could join us, Lacy,” he smiled sweetly at her. “Jim,” he added after dropping the smile.

Lacy smiled back and wiggled her fingers. Jim crossed his arms over his chest and sulked. The baby cooed and reached for Lacy’s large hoop earring. She absently swatted at his hands. The preacher returned to Easter service.

When service had ended, we gathered outside to mingle with other parishioners. Hugs and Easter well-wishes were passed around. There was laughter and easy camaraderie. Children chased each other across the lawn, always mindful not to get grass stains on their Easter finery.

“Sarah could really use a little help with the dinner,” Barry admitted.

“Where is she, anyways?” Lacy didn’t try to hide the disdain in her voice.

“She went to find a quiet spot to feed the baby.”

Jim made a strangled noise that sounded a lot like choking.

“Why can’t she just use a bottle like all the normal moms?” Lacy curled her nose in disgust.

“Hey,” Grandfather spoke sternly. “Your mother breastfed all of you, just as her mother did her and her brother, God rest them all…”

Lacy had enough sense to keep her mouth shut.

“Grandfather and I can come back to your place and help out in any way we can,” I smiled as my niece and nephew approached.

“She pushed me first,” B.J. shouted as he took off running towards his dad.

“Nuh, uh,” Kelly sniffled. “N he pushed me in the mud.”

She swiped at tears that smeared in dirty smudges across her cheeks.

“Nuh, huh,” he swore with huge eyes and a serious look on his face.

Sarah joined them. The baby slept peacefully on her shoulder, content with a full belly.

“I wanna ride with Aunty S’Mantha,” Kelly announced, slipping her hand into mine.

“No! I wanna ride with her,” B.J. squeezed in between Kelly and me and latched onto my arm.

“I’ve got three seatbelts in my backseat, and there’s only two of you.”

“Yay!” they shouted in unison.

“BUT!” I said and waited until they turned doe eyes on me. “I can’t drive if there’s any fighting back there. Understand?”

“Yes, Aunty S’Mantha,” Kelly agreed.

“We understand,” B.J. added.

“Who’s gonna hold my hand?” Grandfather put on his saddest pouty face.

Kelly ran over to take his hand. B.J. continued to cling tightly to my arm.

“You sure you don’t mind?” Barry asked.

“They can be quite a handful,” Sarah admitted.

“We’ll be just fine,” I promised.

I blew them all a kiss as I walked away with my entourage in tow.

Grandfather settled back into the passenger seat. I opened the rear passenger door. Kelly and B.J. stood patiently beside the car. I patiently waited for them to climb in.

We stood there for what felt like an eternity. No one spoke. No one moved.

“Where’s the booster seats, Aunt Samantha?” B.J. asked.

“What booster seats?”

“Fer us to sit on,” Kelly supplied.

Barry came running up, out of breath.

“…get,” he sucked in a deep breath, “their…seats…”

He trailed off as he ran off across the parking lot. Moments later he returned with a booster seat hanging from each hand. He helped get the kids settled in. He stood awkwardly in front of the driver’s door. I lifted an eyebrow as awkward had never been my brother’s way.

“I’ll understand if you say no,” he stared at his feet, shuffling them back and forth.

“That’s a strange way to ask a favor,” I teased.

“Sarah wanted me to ask you,” his eyes never leaving his shuffling feet.

“Spit it out already.”

“Sarah’s embarrassed how messy the house is right now. She thought that if you could just take the kids to the park over by our house and let them run and play for a bit,” he looked up at me hopefully, “maybe we can clean up a bit, and they can burn off some energy.”

“Take the kids to the park? That’s it? No problem.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“It’ll be a cakewalk,” I assured him.

He still looked uncertain as he opened my door for me and watched me climb in. He acted like he’d given me an assignment instead of a chance to spend some time with my niece and nephew.

I wove my way through the streets of suburbia where my brother lived with his ever-growing family. The park was within walking distance of his house. I found a place to park in the street.

“Aunty S’Mantha,” worry clouded her voice, “this isn’t our house.”

I chuckled and got out of the car. Kelly chewed her bottom lip. I opened the back door.

“Daddy and Mommy said you were so well-behaved at church that they thought you might enjoy a trip to the park on the way home.”

“Really?” they asked in unison, hands poised over seatbelt buttons.

“Really,” I cracked an ear-to-ear smile.

“Grandfather, are you coming, too?” B.J. asked.

With three pairs of eyes looking hopefully at him, how could he say no? He climbed out of the car and joined us as we crossed the street to the park.

Laughter traveled on the breeze as we swung the gate open. The kids looked back one more time as if it were all a dream and I was going to shake them awake in front of their own house any moment now before taking off full speed to play with the handful of kids that chased each other over and through the castlelike structure.

Grandfather and I found an empty bench where we could sit and watch the kids play. I slipped my feet out of my heels and buried my toes in the cool grass. We remenisced about Easter’s past. All the loud and boisterous Easter dinners of my childhood came rushing to mind. My heart swelled at the memories.

B.J. and Kelly chased a red-headed, freckle-faced boy who clung to the string of his kite as he ran. The diamond-shaped kite would skitter across the ground before fluttering up to waist level where it would hover for a second or two before floating back to the ground again.

“What’s that boy’s name?” Grandfather asked.

“I think I heard them call him Johnny. Why?”

“Johnny,” Grandfather shouted.

The freckle-faced boy turned and looked. So did an equally red-haired and freckle-faced father. Grandfather waved the younger Johnny over.

“Come on,” B.J. encouraged him.

“What’s Grandfather want with you?” Kelly asked.

The three of them arrived, eyes shimmering with curiosity. They stood like little sentinels in front of him and stared at him expectantly.

“Now I can’t run and play like I used to, so you’re gonna have to listen to me and listen good. You got that?”

The young boy was enthralled. His father hung nearby, watching and listening.

“Lemme see that kite of yours,” Grandfather pointed.

Johnny hesitated. It had been a present from the Easter Bunny.

“It’s alright, I ain’t gonna hurt it. And I won’t steal it neither.”

He handed the kite over. Grandfather showed him how to hold it just so in his hand to ready it for flight. Johnny, B.J., and Kelly paid close attention.

“Then, you take the string like this,” he held the string with his gnarled hand. “And, while you’re running, you wanna hold it up like this, and don’t let go until you feel the wind start to tug at the kite. As the wind steals the kite from your hand, you keep running for just a moment longer, then turn around and run backwards so you can watch it climb higher and higher as you feed it just a little string at a time,” he demonstrated how to feed the string through his hands. “When it’s up there in the sky and the wind is having her fun with it, that’s when you just stand still and watch her play.”

He handed Johnny back his kite and sent him off with a pat on the bottom. Kelly and B.J. followed close behind. It wasn’t long before the kite was flying high and the three of them stood mesmerized below. Johnny, Sr nodded at Grandfather before taking a seat on the bench nearest the children.

When the kite came landing back down for the third time his father called the boy over and spoke quietly to him. When he rejoined his friends, he gave Kelly a chance to fly the kite. When she handed it back over after it crashed to the ground, he passed it on to her brother for his chance.

They laughed and ran and took turns flying the kite. They tumbled and somersaulted through the grass. They were having so much fun, and Grandfather and I were enjoying watching them. We lost track of the time, and were surprised to realize the sun had begun to set.

“Kelly, B.J.” I shouted. “I better get you home before Mommy and Daddy think I’ve kidnapped you!”

“Aww, do we have to?” B.J. did his best not to whine.

“Johnny,” his dad spoke up. “Mom’s gonna be wondering what’s become of us, too.”

The kids said their goodbyes at the gate. We all held hands as we crossed the street in the darkening light. The streetlamp I’d parked near came on as I was buckling Kelly into the car.

Two blocks up and one block over, I parked in front of my brother’s house. Jim’s car was in the driveway.

“Remember the baby might be sleeping, so be very quiet when we go inside, okay?”

“Okay Aunty S’Mantha.”

“I will Aunt Samantha.”

I helped them out of their seats and we went inside. They were as quiet as they’d promised they would be. The house was clean. The smell of dinner cooking permeated the air.

Sarah sent the kids to change their clothes and wash up. She threw her arms around me neck and thanked me what felt like a hundred times over. I assured her it was nothing and that a great time had been had by all.

Grandfather found himself and easy chair to settle into. Soon he was snoring softly. The kids settled in front of the TV to watch some Easter cartoon special or another. I stepped into the kitchen to help Sarah.

“You’re amazing, really,” Sarah gushed. “We finished cleaning, and little Christopher was sleeping in his swing, so you’re brother, equally amazing to you, sent me on in there to lay down and take a nap, too.”

She was slicing pears into thin slices as she talked. She looked rested and revived. I promised to take the kids to the park after church as often as I could if it would help her out that much.

She started crying, and I didn’t know what to do. She sliced another pear.

“Oh, don’t mind me,” she laughed through the tears. “I think my baby hormones are still a little crazy.”

She stepped off to blow her nose. She washed her hands and returned to her pears.

“What can I do to help?” I asked, looking around the kitchen for inspiration.

“You’ve done so much already,” Sarah assured me.

“There’s got to be something,” I’m no good at being useless.

Sarah looked around for inspiration. A faint smile touched her lips.

“How about a couple of glasses of wine?”

“Can you drink wine when you’re nursing?” I asked, genuinely curious.

That smile again.

“Doctor says I can have a glass a day. I don’t most days. But I’d love to have a glass with you today.”

I found a bottle of white chilling in the fridge. I opened it and set it on the counter. I located wine glasses in the same cabinet they were always in. Lacy joined us.

I poured us each a glass. I barely sipped mine. Sarah drank hers a little fast. Lacy slurped hers down and refilled it twice before taking her glass and the bottle out of the kitchen.

We enjoyed a savory dinner of sliced ham, roasted potatoes, green beans, and fresh baked bread. Those thinly sliced pears became a delicious dessert pastry that Sarah served with a dollop of whipped cream. I ate too much.

After the kids had been tucked into bed and the last of the dishes were loaded into the dishwasher, I took Grandfather home. I arrived at my own house just before midnight. I was exhausted.

I took my shoes off and dropped my purse just inside the door. I stopped to look myself over in the mirror on the linen closet. I looked ready to drop.

The door to the linen closet was slightly ajar, again. I pulled it open.

“Are you in here?” I asked the dark space.

“Me-ow,” I heard softly from behind the towels.

“Come on.”

Kitty dug her claws into my arm as I pulled her from the shelf. I brought her to my chest. She nuzzled against my throat and began to purr.

I carried her to the bedroom with me. I put on a pair of comfy pajamas and crawled into bed. I fell asleep to the sound of her gently purring on the pillow beside my head.

Someone is hiding under the bed in Monster Beneath my Bed

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