Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Meet at the Gate

Day 22 of StoryADay September
The Prompt:
Write a short story about a family gathering where things don’t quite work out as expected. It can be a social event at work or a family holiday that goes spectacularly wrong, you choose.

“We made it!” Kendra grabs Megan’s hand, pulling her close for a hug. Megan squeals, lifting Kendra into the air and spinning them both around.

The squeal fades into silence. “Wait. Where is everybody else?” Megan turns again, this time looking for the rest of their family. There is no one else here. The two stand alone, facing a giant golden gate splitting a fence that appears to stretch into infinity. The other side of the fence is shrouded is mist, the sights and sounds of the inside muffled. A sign hangs to one side of the gate “Gate open 4:00 - 4:30 pm daily.”

“It’s almost four, right?” Kendra asks, turning Megan’s hand to look at the watch on her wrist.

“We only have a minute. Why isn’t everyone else here?” Megan is still turning her head, waiting for her mom and sister to appear.

“Did everybody drink it?”

“I think so. We each had a glass. Your dad told everyone to drink the whole thing.”

“Maybe it takes longer to work for some people? That happens with alcohol, I heard. Some people are drunk after one beer, others can drink like, twelve, before they’re drunk.”

“Maybe,” Megan squiggles her lips into a frown. “What if they don’t show up?”

“Where else would they go?”

“This isn’t the only option, you know.”

“But it’s our family. We’re all good people.”

The conversation comes to a stop as the gate starts to swing open. Kendra and Megan watch the movement, stepping back to avoid being hit. The gate comes to a stop, exposing a tunnel through the misty clouds. Like the fence itself, the tunnel seems to stretch into infinity. They still can’t see what they are about to enter.

They lock hands, walking together into the unknown.

The walk is long. Eventually they hear the clang of the gate closing behind them. They turn to look, but cannot see the gate. “Maybe they’ll get here later. The gate will open again tomorrow,” Megan tries to comfort her cousin.

When they turn to continue, they are surprised to see something other than mist. A small hamlet is spread out before them. It looks warm and inviting, if you overlook the absence of people.

“You know, maybe you have to be REALLY good to get here. Mom liked to play slot machines,” Megan gives Kendra a worried look.

“Your sister totally cheated on her math test. I saw her copy off of Brent. She didn’t deserve to be here,” Kendra takes a few steps toward the nearest house.

“Really? Your dad kissed my mom. When your mom was still alive. He cheated, too.”

“Take it back.” Kendra takes a running leap at Megan, intending to punch her. She disappears in mid-air.

“Whoa,” Megan looks at the space formerly occupied by Kendra.

Megan moves to a bench near the path, sinking to a seat. She takes a deep breath, then pulls a deck of cards from her pocket, dealing out a game of solitaire. “Someone good will come along eventually. Right?” she says to no one at all.

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