Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer at Grandma's--a short, short story

As promised, here is the story I entered in Devin O'Branagan's monthly Flash Fiction contest, which I said I would post whether I won or lost.  Well, I didn't win.  I came in third place.  No regrets though.  I enjoyed the experience and I appreciate everyone who voted and supported the contest.  I will probably participate again this month, although the visual prompt is quite a challenge (see it HERE).  Anyway, without further ado, here is the story...

Summer at Grandma’s
a story by Michelle Stockard Miller
     Summer vacation.  Two words that bring profound happiness to most kids, but not to me.  While other kids are making plans for the beach or going on trips with their families, I get to spend my summer break the same way I have since I was five years old--cooped up in my Grandma Ruth’s ancient house.  When Mom and Dad told me I was going again this summer, I was really mad.  
    “I’m thirteen.  I’m old enough to stay home alone.  Why do I have to go to Grandma’s again?”, I said.  “I hate it there!”  There’s nothing to do and the house is really creepy.”
    “Now Joe, you know your father and I work so many hours and we just can’t have you home by yourself all day doing God knows what.  We just feel that you’re still too young to stay by yourself, especially when we could end up working late some nights.”
    “Son, your Grandma loves you.  How can you say such things about staying there?” Dad said.
    “Sorry, Dad.  I just wish I could spend my summers having fun like other kids.”
    “Well, we’ll try to take some time off and maybe we can go on a trip somewhere,” Mom said.
    I had heard that story before.  They always said they would try to take time off, but they never did.  I resigned myself to my fate.

    “How was your bus ride?” Grandma asked.  “Did you get anything to eat?”
     I had just arrived from my walk from the bus stop.  I was hot and sweaty from lugging my suitcase and backpack all the way..
    “It was fine,” I replied.  “I ate a big breakfast before I left.”
    “Well, I made some cookies and I’m making a nice pot roast for supper,” she said.
    “Okay.  I’m going to go up to my room and put my stuff away.”
    I trudged up the stairs to my room.  It wasn’t a bad room really.  Just a little old and shabby, like the rest of the house.  I put my clothes in the dresser and my suitcase in the closet.  Flopping down on the bed with one of the books from my backpack, I half read the words.  I knew it was only a matter of time before I started hearing the strange noises.  I was determined this year--no matter what--that I was going to find out what was making the noises.

    Grandma went to bed right after supper.  I waited in my room until I was sure she was asleep.  I grabbed the flashlight that I had taken from the kitchen and crept out.  The door to the attic was at the end of the hall.  I knew the noises were coming from the attic.  I just couldn’t figure out why Grandma had never noticed or mentioned them.  I opened the door and started climbing the attic stairs.  I could hear the noises more clearly now.  They sounded like scraping and knocking at the same time, along with a strange clink of metal.  I could feel a lump of fear rising in my throat.  I swallowed hard and continued into the attic.  I saw movement coming from behind a large trunk.  I approached slowly and my eyes widened in horror.  There before me was a girl about two years older than me, her chained ankles fastened to an iron ring in the floor.  She stared back in obvious astonishment.
    “Who are you?” I asked.  “Why are you chained in my Grandma’s attic?”
    She put a finger to her lips and whispered, “Be quiet or she’ll hear you.”
    “Who will hear me?”
    “Ruth.  She’ll hear you and I’ll be in big trouble” she said, looking terrified.
    “Okay,” I said softly.  “But tell me what you are doing here.  What’s your name?”
    “I’m Sophie, your sister.”  
    I looked at her in disbelief.  I was shocked.  How could I have a sister that I didn’t even know about?
    “I don’t have a sister.  You’re crazy”, I said.
    “Yes, you do.  I am your sister.  They’ve been keeping me locked up here since you were born.  They said they were afraid I would hurt you.  I don’t know why.  I would never hurt anyone.”
    Just then, I heard a sound behind me.  I swung around and there stood Grandma.
    “Joseph, step away from your sister”, she said.
    “Wha...why?” I said.
    Suddenly, Sophie was lunging for me.  Her eyes looked dead and she had huge fangs.  She was going for my throat.  Grandma grabbed me and pulled me out of the way just in time.  Sophie reached the end of her chain and was jerked back to the floor.  She crouched there, whimpering.

    Grandma took me downstairs and told me a frightening story.  One night when Sophie was walking home from the library, she was attacked by a vampire.  Two days later, she became a vampire herself.  She was fifteen.  By the time I was born, she had been fifteen for many years.  My parents couldn’t bring themselves to kill her because they loved her.  They kept her chained up in our house.  When I came along, they were too afraid that she would get loose somehow and attack me so they took her to Grandma’s.
    “But why did they have me stay here every summer if they were afraid she would get me?” I asked.
    “Well, she’s pretty secure here, Joe.  Her chains are made of pure silver so she can’t break them and there is garlic all around the inside of the attic door which forms a barrier of sorts.  That door is usually double bolted from the outside.  I must have forgotten to lock it when I fed her earlier.  I’m so absent minded,” she said ruefully.
    I was too numb to say anything.  What I had thought was another boring stay at Grandma’s had turned out to be much worse.  What was I supposed to do with a vampire sister?

The End


  1. Great story, brings to mind all the summers and weekends I spent at grandmas house.. no creaky house or vampires though!!

    Have a safe holiday!!

  2. I voted for this story because it was great like u r

  3. I am still amazed at what a great writer you are! You make me so proud! Keep up the good work! Don't give up on that book because I want to hold it in my hands before I leave this earth.

  4. Kathleen--Thank you. Glad you didn't have vampires at your Grandma's house.

    Dad--Thanks you!

    Mom--That means a lot, Mom. Don't worry...I'm not going to give up. Love you. <3

  5. Oh, my, I wasn't expecting that! And he wished for an exciting summer? I guess he should be careful what he wishes for!

    Thanks, Michelle, that was a good one.


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