Written in December of 2012. The assignment was to write a 500 word story inspired by a fairy tale.
Not Always a Happy Ending
Once upon a time I was on a bus from San Antonio, Texas to Key West, Florida. I had just been discharged from the Army after serving a year overseas in Afghanistan. I tried to tell them I grew up in Key West, and that they should buy me a plane ticket home for my discharge. Tough luck, they said. You signed up in San Antonio; that’s where we’re leaving you.
Sitting next to me on the bus was a tired looking old woman. We talked a bit while we were riding. When we got to Key West, I offered to carry her bags the three blocks to her home.
“Take these,” she said, and handed me a box of matches.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Those are my lucky matches,” the old woman replied. “They’ve always brought me fortune.”
I took my leave of the aged woman, and headed to the tiny house that my father had left. The power was turned off, so I fumbled around in the dark until I found an old candle. Those matches might just be lucky after all, I thought to myself as I opened up the box and fished one out. I struck the match on the side of the box and lit the candle.
That’s when I heard movement from across the room. I looked up and saw a dog standing there. It stared at me with its huge eyes; eyes the size of teacups.
“What is your wish, master?” the dog asked. What the hell? A talking dog? When did I start dreaming?
I really didn’t know what to do, but seeing as I was a little hungry, I said, “How about a sandwich?” The dog ran out of the room and returned carrying a bag with a sandwich inside. I couldn’t believe it; I had my own wish-granting dog. But as soon as the dog had dropped the bag, it turned around and left. I looked back down into the box and counted the rest of the matches. Three. Only three left.
I lit another match, and asked the dog for money; a million dollars. That should keep me going for a while. I lit another match, and asked the dog to bring me my high-school sweetheart. She had dumped me after I graduated for some guy who went to the University of Miami. A moment later, she was being dragged in, screaming and bloody from the dog’s teeth. I didn’t anticipate that the dog would bite her. She ran from the house and before I knew it, the police were busting down the door and accusing me of kidnapping.
While I was talking with the police, I asked if I could smoke. I struck the last match on the side of the box and the dog returned.
“What is your wish, master?” the dog asked once more.
“I wish I’d never met that old lady.”
Then I was standing in the dark, once again. Tired, hungry, and without even a match to light a candle.