52 Weeks – Week 8 – The Community

Digital art Rat by Anna Loscotoff, Geometric Rat in Blue and Orange

8. A wild animal loose in the house

Include: pregnant, community, logo, statistics, democracy, honesty, criminal, ankle, orange, comment

Read my writing partner Bridgette’s story here.

The Community

A rat is neither good nor evil. It does what a rat has to do.

Jo Nesbo

“Please, come quickly,” the man whispered.  “There’s something wrong.”

“I’m going to need you to give me more information, so I know who to send. What specifically is happening?”

“When I woke up this morning, she wasn’t in bed.  I thought she was probably out on the porch, drinking her tea.  But she wasn’t there either.  I called through the house, but there was no answer.”

“Is she just gone?” asked the voice on the phone.

“No, I found her… but it’s not her.”

“What do you mean it’s not her?  Where was she?”

The man’s voice became softer, “I found her, hidden in the corner of the closet.”

There was silence for a moment on the other end. The man waited.

Finally, the voice returned.  

“I’m sending out the midwives.  Before they arrive, I need you to pull all the curtains so that the house is dark.  No TV, no music, no light, until they arrive and they will advise.  I can stay on the phone with you until they arrive, if you want.”

“No, she hasn’t moved from the spot.  I just don’t,… I don’t know what’s happening.”

“Perhaps, while you wait, you could talk to her?” asked the voice.

“I tried, but she growled at me.”

Again the voice was silent.  Finally it said, “The midwives will be there soon.”

The man went to the closet door and cracked it open.  It was a large closet, a walk in, with clothes hanging on three of the four wall.  Above the clothes were shelves stacked with boxes, all labeled for different seasons and sizes.  The lights were out and the man could just make out her shape, crouched in the corner.  Her breathing was heavy and he could see the roundness of her pregnant belly.

“Honey?” he asked quietly.

Her breathing became a bit more labored, but she did not respond.

He started to take a step in, when a low growl rumbled from her.

He froze and then stepped back to the door.

“The midwives are coming, they’ll be here soon.”

Her breathing paused and a low growl started again, deep from inside the woman.

“nnnnNNNOOOO, not here.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know what else to do,” he whispered.

She moved forward a bit so that the ambient light from the open door caught her features.  Her hair was tangled and warlike about her face.  Her face was tight and when she looked up at him, he caught a feral gleam in her eyes.

“On.” Breath. “My.” Breath. “Own.” Breath, … Breath. “Out.”

The man stepped quietly out.

The man sat on the quiet blue sofa.  The curtains had been drawn and only a low lamp glowed in the corner.  Every once in awhile he heard a groan coming from the back part of the house.  It frightened him, the rawness of it.  He wanted to be with her, but she scared him more than the sounds did.  The way she had growled at him.  It made him feel cold and fragile. 

He heard the sounds of wheels in front of the house and peeked out.  A white van with the logo on the side, three orange circles stacked inside each other; the child, the mother, and the Community.  The midwives, three of them, stepped from the van in their crisp white uniforms.  He could see the three orange circles on their shoulders.

He opened the door before they could knock, ushering them into the quiet of their small home.

“Where is she?” asked the oldest, a woman deeply lined with white hair that braided and twisted about her head. 

He led her to the closet, but he refused to go in.

“She’s there, back in the farthest corner.”

The old woman slowly opened the door and saw the woman’s form, now on all fours, stretching her back up and around in circles.

“Aeron, I’m here to help,” said the old woman.

The woman on her hands and knees ignored her until the oldest took a single step into the closet.

The pregnant woman screamed in indignation, guttural and wild. 

The midwife stumbled back against the closet door and then out.  The man stood just beyond the door, his face pale and worried. 

“Let’s go to the other room,” the old woman whispered.  Her hands trembled. 

The two younger midwives were in the kitchen.  The youngest looked barely out of her teen years with her clear freckled skin and red braids arranged in a crown about her head.  The other was older, her skin and hair dark, also braided in the style of the midwives.  

They had water boiling on the stove and pulled glass bottles filled with teas and honey and lined them up on the counter. There were tubes and vials, lubricants and syringes; oxygen sat in the corner.

“What’s all this for?” asked the man.

“Just precaution,” said the youngest. 

“But she’s supposed to have a C-section.  Tomorrow.  You don’t think…”

“That she’s in labor?” asked the dark haired woman.  “Possibly, although statistics would say no.  Women haven’t gone into labor on their own for hundreds of years.”

“In all my years, I have seen only three,” said the oldest.  “And only one of the mothers lived.”

“And the children?” asked the man.

“The children all survived,” said the old woman.  “Raised in the Community, as we all were.”

Suddenly the red haired girl gave out a squawk, dropping a glass bottle full of amber liquid.  It shattered on the tile floor.

“Vesta!  You must be more careful!” admonished the old one.  But the girl stood frozen, looking into the corner of the kitchen.

“What is it then?” asked the dark haired woman.

“I thought… something moved… it looked like a…”

At that moment, a cry of agony rose through the house, filling every corner with its anguished sobs.

The old woman turned and ran to the back of the house, to the closet.  The man was close behind.  When they arrived at the closet, tearing the door open, they were met by the woman, squat in the center of the closet, bearing down.

In front of her, a white rat, staring at the door. It was the size of a small cat, it’s teeth bared at the intruders. 

“Shoo! Get out of here beast” cried the old woman, waving her hands.

The rat, however, had no intention of moving.  It stood its ground.  Behind the rat was the woman, wailing in the agony of transition, her powerful legs keeping her in the squat position, her hands reaching between her legs.

“You have to help her!” cried the man, and tried to step past the old woman.  He immediately stepped back as another great rat emerged from the darkness; it’s eye’s glimmering as it paced in front of the woman.

“I don’t understand,” said a shaking voice behind them.  The dark haired woman watched over their shoulders as yet another white rat came around from behind the birthing woman. In the dark of the clothes of the closet, tiny eyes began to open and reflect back.  

More rats moved into the closet, circling the woman like impenetrable walls of a castle.  

The woman howled again as she bore down, the head of the infant moving into her hands.

“You are almost there,” whispered the old woman.

With a final cry, the baby slipped into its mother’s hands and she raised it up to her chest, pressing it against her naked breast, the umbilical cord still tying them together. Cries of exhaustion echoed through the room, turned to tears as the mother looked upon her child.  

“No one will take you from me,” she said to her infant as the midwives stood at the door in silence.  She pushed back into the corner of the closet, into a nest of clothes she had made.

The rats continued to pace between her and the others. She held the baby in her arms.  Her child.  She rocked it back and forth, all the while keeping the midwives in her stare. The rats twisted around her ankles, and she reached out to pet them with delicacy and love.

“We’ll need to take you to the hospital, to be sure you and the child are all right,” said the old woman.

“When did women first lie to each other,” the woman growled low in her chest.  “When did we we lose our honesty? You will take her from me.  She will be raised by the Community and I will never know my daughter.”

“This is not a democracy, child,” said the dark haired woman.  “You have birthed in the old ways and you need to be checked.”

“You will not take me like a criminal and the child is mine.”

“Stop this nonsense!” came a high voice from behind them all, surprising them.  Vesta with her red braids spoke brazenly.  “All children belong to the Community and you are being selfish and cruel!”

At this, the woman, now a mother, once again began to growl. In response, the rats began to growl with her.  They stopped pacing and turned to face the small crowd at the door.  

“Keep you comment to yourself, Vesta,” said the old woman, but it was too late.  The rats dove at them, moving much faster than anyone thought possible. 

The old woman helped the mother and the child to the van with the three orange circles.  She didn’t know why the rats had chosen to spare her, but they had.  The creatures road with them, nesting in a pile of clothes thrown into the back.  The child was secured in a basket and the mother went to sleep.  

“I wish you could tell me where you want to go,” said the old woman.  A rat, this one a bit round, climbed onto her shoulder and curled into her neck.

“Hello my friend,” she said.  “Will you guide me?”

The rat let out a squeak.

She started the engine and began to drive.

“I’ve heard, long ago, when I was a child, about the wild lands far beyond the Community. Do you think they are real?”

Again the rat squeaked and she felt its whiskers tickle her cheek.  

“Well then, we should start driving, before they know we are gone.”

Digital art of a pregnant woman, sitting at the back of a closet.
Her breathing was heavy…, Anna Loscotoff, 2022


Many years ago, when my daughter was still little, I had a terrible dream. I dreamt that I was in my grandmother’s home and I was pregnant with my daughter. I was all alone and in labor. I went through the full labor, birthing my daughter, and feeling so full of love for her. As I held her in my arms and brought her to my breast, she turned into a rat and ran away. I was terrified. Not that she became a rat, but because I had lost her and I had no idea on how to find her again. Beyond that, I was terrified that someone would set out rat poison or traps and my sweet baby would be killed; confused with the other rodents in the walls.

Upon waking, I felt horribly that my brain had turned my child into a rat. I was embarrassed to even say it, it was too terrible. The reality of my dream was less about her being a rodent, and more about my fear of losing this child who was so precious to me; of her leaving in a way that was completely out of my control and that she was now in danger. It was a dream of anxiety and fear and confusion.

But, still, the idea that I had turned her into a rat bothered me. Rats are often considered dirty. They are the plague bringers. However, in many cultures, rats are also creatures of intuition. The are brilliantly smart, wild, and are known to warn sailors of a sinking ship. They can be considered the spirits of our ancestors, wise judgement, and total destruction.

For clarification, I have absolutely nothing against midwives. I believe they are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met; they provide a service that is so vital to women at one of the hardest moment’s in their lives. It is a true calling. One of the greatest honors of my life was attending the home birth of my friend. I did not know that people birthed at home when I had my daughter (you can read her birth story part 1 and part 2 here), but planned to birth our second child at home. Our second baby, a boy, didn’t make it to his birth. The day that I knew his heart had stopped beating was the day my friend’s child was born. Watching her son be born into this world, in the quiet of their home, with the midwives looking on, took a huge step in healing my own loss.

I wanted to use the term “midwife” here, in this story, despite the idea that the women don’t have natural births anymore. What is a midwife to do in this world? I saw her as one who helped a woman in “The Community”, most likely in preparing a woman before induction and after. Probably caring for the newborns before they are taken to be cared for in a communal setting; one who would care for the mother after their children are taken from them.

If you liked this story, I hope you will share it with someone who will appreciate it. If you are curious about my other stories, you can sign up for my newsletter here. I sent out one email a week with links to any new posts. Thank you, dear reading, for sticking with me to the end.

Logo for the Community, Loscotoff 2022
Logo for the Community, Anna Loscotoff, 2022


Rat Symbolism and Meaning

Tender Beginnings – Equipment for Midwives

My daughter’s birth story

My 52 Weeks

What is the 52 week short story challenge?

Week 1 – Avalon

Week 2 – The Rifle

Week 3 – The Cardboard Prince

Week 4 – Rapture in Reverse

Week 5 – Drink the Kool-Aid

Week 6 – The Hitchhiker

Week 7 – The Flame

Next Week’s Prompt

9. A midlife career change

Include: chef, upgrade, monkey, turkey, fashion, team, harden, noon, elevator, baste

52 Weeks – Week 7 – The Flame

Digital drawing of a match flame in the style of oil pastels, Anna Loscotoff 2022

7. Selling a childhood home

Include: dreamscape, convince, pioneer, genesis, cumulous, jump, mash, condition, erase, gold

Read Bridgette’s week 7 here

The Flame – The Duality of Fire

The First Flame
i remember my lover

i remember my lover
and the way he made me feel
in the field of our youth
lying in the weeds
as they blew in the breeze

i remember my lover
and the caress of my face
at my childhood home
a stolen kiss
on the front porch
as the lightning crackles on the horizon

i remember my lover
as we watch the cumulous
dance through the sky
as the sun sets to gold

i remember my lover
in the dreamscape of our fantasy
the genesis of my heart
the pioneer of my soul

i cannot erase
the love that I felt
in my childhood home
wrapped in the dust 
that sparkled in the light

i cannot convince my heart
to let this place go
and yet
the condition of my life
can no longer feel
the stroke of his finger
can no longer taste
the honeysuckle on my lips

i remember my lover
who is buried beneath my memories
who is buried in the soil at my feet
i mash my toes
into the life giving earth
and say goodbye
to my lover

the lover must rest
the heart must beat
to jump
feet first
into hope
into life
Wrapped in the dust that sparkled in the light/ Loscotoff 2020
The Last Flame

“I don’t want to let you go.”  

I mean what I say, but I also know I don’t really have a choice.

I am met with silence.

“I shouldn’t have to convince you,” I say, trailing my finger along the broken banister.  The dirt piles beneath my fingertip.

The room is empty and light flickers off the dust in the air. Two old rockers sit on each side of a picture window.  If I look past them and into the green beyond the glass, I can just make out their movement. Back and forth. Grooves worn into the floor from years of repetition.

The floor is scarred, scratches dug deep. The boards, once stable, now groan in protest; the mycelium of my home. I lay down, the light shining across my face and stare at the ceiling.  The fairy dust dancing before my eyes, glinting and twisting and turning.

Like my sister and I did.  When we were children.  When we ran naked down the stairs from our bath.  When time meant nothing.

There is a patter from upstairs, like feet above my head.

“There you are!” I whisper, sitting up.

 “Ready or not!  Here I come!”

I dance up the stairs to the empty room. An old metal bed frame sits in the corner, the bed sunken in the center.  The yellow wallpaper peeling. Like eyes, the pattern stares at me.  Watching me, blaming me.

“It’s really not my fault,” I say. 

The shadows on the paper twist, waiting to be released when the sun lowers from the sky.  When the moon rises from the horizon.  Then the women will crawl out from behind their bars and begin to play.

I will be gone by then.

The house creaks around me.

“I dream of you, you know.”

I sit at the edge of the broken bed and watch the women in the wallpaper.  

“But I can’t let you pull me back in.”

In my periphery, I see the shadows move.

“I am told that someone will give me money for you, for this place, but really, that doesn’t seem fair.”

  I listen for an answer and hear a low moan from the shingles above.  From the broken holes in the roof.  From the ancient, battered cover.

“No, not fair at all.”

The light has begun to change.

I walk down the stairs and find the containers. 

Filled with a pungent odor. 

As I begin to splash them, about the floors, into the corners.  It runs like blood into the cracks and about my feet.

Again, I dance as I danced with my sister in the rain puddles.

When we were little.

And then I light the match.

In the dreamscape of our youth/ Loscotoff 2020


I called this week “The Flame” for the duality of love and fire. The first lines of the prose ran through my mind as I drifted in a dreamlike state. The thought of selling a childhood home kept returning to my own childhood home, but also an image of a childhood home in disrepair and forgotten. The images from the movie “mother!” kept echoing through my vision; a house that is more than a house, a woman that is more than a woman. I kept returning to the story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charolette Perkins Stetson and how she captured feminist issues of mental and physical health first published in 1892.

All of these came together in fleeting images and lines of prose that mixed and matched and left me a bit unsettled.

Original ideas were that it is often sad to sell childhood home… but what if that house is haunted or full of haunted memories. I often dream of houses in disrepair, and I am always working on them. Yes, I know this is about me, working to improve myself. The houses we dream of are ourselves. These houses I work on in my dreams are often, terrifyingly, haunted.

Another idea, my daughter’s, was what if the childhood home is the earth being sold to corporations and the highest bidders. Perhaps the buyers are extra terrestrials. That could go so many ways… maybe they are here to help us, or maybe they will treat us the way we treat farm animals.

I thought about rewriting the The Lorax, the ecological tale of selling our earth, our childhood home, and how to make that story new. How to twist and turn it.

But ultimately, I made my way here, dear reader.

If you liked this story, this poem, bits of lines here and there, I hope you will share it with someone you care about.

And if my stories interest you, please subscribe here. I send out an email every Friday with new stories.


The Yellow Wallpaper – original with illustrations

The Yellow Wallpaper – Gutenberg Project e-book

IMDB – mother! – If you start searching this movie without watching it first, there WILL be spoilers. It is a very powerful movie, a very misunderstood movie, a hated movie, and one of my favorite movies of all time.

“mother!” explained by director Darren Aronofsky – spoilers

More of my 52 weeks

What is the 52 week short story challenge?

Week 1 – Avalon

Week 2 – The Rifle

Week 3 – The Cardboard Prince

Week 4 – Rapture in Reverse

Week 5 – Drink the Kool-Aid

Week 6 – The Hitchhiker

Next Week’s Prompt

8. A wild animal loose in the house

Include: pregnant, community, logo, statistics, democracy, honesty, criminal, ankle, orange, comment

52 Weeks – Week 6 – The Hitchhiker

Watercolor city in the distance. Painting by Anna Loscotoff, 2022

6. Picking up a hitchhiker

Include: hospital, defer, interface, experiment, beaker, visualize, mattress, skyline, interpret, zap

You can read Bridgette’s week 6 tale here.

The Hitchhiker

I see a woman standing at the crossroads of the country road, her thumb sticking out.  Her hair is long and dark and straight; like mine.  Her back is turned.  Even though I am young and alone and female, I instinctively pull over to the edge of the road.  

I hit the electric unlock button, the click of welcoming this young woman into my car, into my life.  

She opens the door and slides smoothly into the seat next to me, her hair cascading over her shoulder and concealing her face.  There are freckles on her hands.  Her long patchwork skirt pulls at her thigh.  Her feet are bare and travel worn.

My hands are on the steering wheel and I look forward at the skyline; a city silhouetted in the distance.  We are in the middle of nowhere, the country road extending out before us.

“Where are you going?” I ask her.

“The same place you are,” she responds quietly.

I turn to look at her, still hidden by her veil of hair.  She is staring out the front window, towards the city.  

I press my foot on the gas and begin to drive.

We drive in silence.

“It is time to remember,” she finally says and I am startled from my hypnosis.

I glance at her, sitting at my right.  She puts her hand on my arm and I begin to feel vibration in my spine. 

The Hitchhiker, digital drawing by @blu.s_drawing.s. A girl sits in profile, hidden by her hair.
The Hitchhiker sits in the car, her face hidden. Digital drawing by @blu.s_drawing.s

Electricity, racing up the middle of my back, up my neck. A series of zaps that transcend themselves along my spine.  My brain filled with the noise of vibration, my head rocking with each wave of energy. My eyes are forced to close.  Her hand wraps around my upper arm.

I am lying down.  There is something tight around my right arm.  Her hand?  It is squeezing. Releasing.  Squeezing.  There is the steady rhythm of a machine, beeping in the background. Air is blowing into my nose, cold and pure.  

My eyelids are heavy and don’t want to open.  I try to speak and hear a voice.

“You’re almost done.  You’re doing great.”

The voice is gentle and sweet.  A hand pats mine.

I am driving my car and see that it is the woman patting my hand.  The woman with the long dark hair.  I look back up to the city, still sitting on the horizon.  

“You’re back,” she says.

“I’ve been here all along,” I say.

A house appears in the distance on the left side of the road.  

We drive closer and it appears out of place; a city house in the country. I can visualize a little girl in the yard, climbing a tree, playing in the sand, digging ditches and allowing water to flow as she turns sticks into boats and watches them race.  I can see the look of fear on her face when a voice calls from the house.  She hides behind the tree. 

The house comes closer and I put weight on the gas peddle, going faster, refusing to look.  Pretending it doesn’t exist.

“Don’t you want to stop?” asks the woman to my right.

“Why would we?” I ask.

“The little girl might need our help,” she responds.

I step on the peddle harder as we speed by the city house sitting alone in the country. I see the girl on the front porch and refuse to look.  She watches me as I drive by, ignoring her; pretending to miss all the things I know she’s seen. 

Again, the woman on my right touches my arm.  I glance at her, and she is small in the seat.  The child from the house.  Her hair is long and dark and still her face is hidden from me.  I jerk my arm away, as if her touch was fire.  

“Why are you ignoring me?” the girl asks.

Again I feel the sensation, a movement of electricity up my spine and into my head. I can hear it’s vibration as it pulses inside me.  Again and again, I am filled with waves of electricity.

I am able to crack open my eyes, only a tiny bit, as the sensation slows. 

A white room.  Machines.  A hospital bed; the mattress hard beneath me. A beaker of what looks like urine sits on the countertop.  The world is blurry and I wonder if I am ready to be taken apart to see how I tick. How will they interpret what they find?

The beeping of the machine bounces a green line with the beat of my heart.

The woman at my side pats my hand.

“You’re all done.  Just close your eyes and rest. You won’t remember any of this tomorrow.”

I try to speak but my voice is foreign and jumbled. 

The woman lets go and stands.  Behind her is a window.  The girl with the long black hair stands silhouetted.

She turns to look at me and my stomach drops; that feeling deep in the pit of your soul when you’ve been caught.  When you’ve done something wrong and you suddenly realize your guilt.  The face looking back at me is a mirror.

She turns to look at me in the car; my eyes, my nose, my mouth.  She pulls my hand from the wheel and I try to protest, but she is stronger than me.  She puts my hand on her heart and I can feel the scars, the torn flesh beneath her thin top.  My broken heart made real.

The mirror shatters, a long crack starting at her eyes and stretching out. The pieces of glass fall to the seat.  The car slams into something and I feel my body propelled forward, the glass of the windshield, the glass of the mirror, showering me with its sharp points.

The moment of our interface.  The moment where my heart and my soul meet.  The moment where I am forced to become one.  The moment where I can no longer divide myself to get by.  

It was too much.  It is too much. My mind wobbles and breaks.  My heart twists, its shape morphing and squeezing, unsure if it wants to beat again. 

My whole life, I have refused.  I have chosen to defer this moment, knowing it was too much to remember.  This experiment called life. The things that have separated me into my two selves, where memories are buried and dead.  For my mind and my heart to meet, is to dig it up again.  To become whole, a state of being I don’t understand; refuse to understand.  

The beeping of the machine stops. 

I am in my car. The windshield has only a crack to remind me.  The city is closer now.  The woman sits to my right and holds my hand.  The child is in the back seat, singing the song of my childhood. 


The truth is, I can’t say exactly where this story comes from.

Well, not exactly true. The initial idea of the hitchhiker being a woman in a mental hospital came from my daughter as we chatted about the story this week.  I did not do her version justice.  My original idea was more of a fun quip on homeschooling, which I will perhaps try to write as well.  This one just poured out first.  Therapy through writing.

My version is about Electroconvulsive Therapy and how it has been used through history to help with psychiatric illness.  My version is about buried trauma and the things we often refuse to see, especially when we don’t know exactly what there is to see.  My version is about the forgotten inner child and how sometimes we refuse to bring them along.

I had a dream last week—one of those dreams that aren’t dreams, wisdom from the subconscious—about how I have blocked my intuition.  In my dream, the blocks also protected me and kept me alive. I still use intuition in my life and I am careful to listen, however, perhaps I would have greater intuition without these blinders, or perhaps without the blinders I would see too much and not be able to cope. (Check back if you’re curious, I’m working on a blog about this dream and will link it here when it’s ready.)

I believe that my dream was being brought forth because of the writing I’m doing here. Writing is about diving into the subconscious and seeing what you find.   Even when my writing isn’t ABOUT me, it’s still always about my life and experiences.  Writers are only influenced by our life experiences, whether it is something we go through, something we watch, something we read. Even when we think we are good at separating ourselves from our own story, elements of our subconscIous slip out.

Yesterday I read about Broken Heart Syndrome—it’s a real thing and it’s been on the rise since the pandemic began.  I found the concept sneaking onto the pages. I often wake up thinking that I am having a heart attack or a seizure.  Nights-on-end of panic attacks. This article around Broken Heart Syndrome tells us that it is not just caused by heartbreak but also by shock and fear.  It makes me think of my heart at night and what repeated panic attacks are doing to it.  Is there a part of it that is twisting and squeezing and malforming in shock?

 If you’ve read any of my blogs on sleep or dreams, you know that I have nocturnal hallucination which began when I was in first grade.  While I know that I am hallucinating, these dream now often manifest as panic attacks through the night.  If you’re curious about more, here is my blog about Complex Nocturnal Hallucinations as well as the blog about the first one I remember.

My description of the electricity up the spine is true from my experiences as well. A medication I took many years would wake me from my sleep with this sensation of electricity. It felt like waves of electric shock.  To this day, I need a heating pad to fall asleep because of the sensation of ice in my spine. 

If you liked this story, please share it with someone who will appreciate it.

If my stories interest you, please sign up for my Newsletter here.

Photo used courtesy of my amazing daughter, on Instagram @blu.s_photo.s

About me – My most important blog, My Creative Muse and the Afterlife

The Skeleton on the Shelf

Complex Nocturnal Visual Hallucinations





More of my 52 weeks

What is the 52 week short story challenge?

Week 1 – Avalon

Week 2 – The Rifle

Week 3 – The Cardboard Prince

Week 4 – Rapture in Reverse

Week 5 – Drink the Kool-Aid

Next Week’s Story Prompt

7. Selling a childhood home

Include: dreamscape, convince, pioneer, genesis, cumulous, jump, mash, condition, erase, gold

52 Weeks – Week 5 – Drink the Kool-Aid

Week 5 – A teenager whose parents have unwelcome news.

Include: comic book, battery, crumbly, apartment, angelic, breach, shooter, soda, engineer, substantiate

Read Bridgette’s Week 5 here

Drink the Kool-Aid

“They’re coming. Drink the Kool-Aid,” says dad.

I refuse to put down my comic book; the crumbly broken apartment falling down around me.

“Drink the Kool-Aid,” says mom.

I hear the sirens headed our way.

“They have no way to substantiate it was us,” I say.

“Please drink the Kool-Aid,” says dad.

I pick up my phone, the battery at 1%. A metaphor for my life.

“You should have engineered this better, dad. We could have been in Mexico by now.”

I hear the thumping of a helicopter and a voice echo from above.

“Come out with your hands up!”

“I bet this would have tasted better in soda,” I say, holding the glass to the light.

“Drink the damn Kool-Aid,” says mom.

I smile my angelic smile and slowly move the glass to my lips.

The cops breach the front door; the shooter in the lead.

I drink the Kool-Aid.

I drink the Kool-Aid/ Anna Loscotoff, 2022


I wrestled with this story for a few days before sitting down to write. My daughter and I talked about it, laughed about it, and came up with a multitude of story ideas. No matter where I tried to go with the idea, a single line kept running through my mind; drink the Kool-Aid.

It was a joke at first, me playing out the scenario in my mind, creating a conversation where the parents just continue to repeat the same line over and over. The unwelcome news is implied, specifically through what the phrase means. Drink the Kool-Aid.

I began to question, if the parents say nothing else, is it possible to write a complete story? Could I actually fit all of the required words into such a short story? Could it still tell us everything we need to know?

Drink the Kool-Aide.

Spilled the Kool-Aid/Anna Loscotoff, 2022

Next Week

6. Picking up a hitchhiker

Include: hospital, defer, interface, experiment, beaker, visualize, mattress, skyline, interpret, zap

My 52 Week Challenge Journey

What is the 52 week short story challenge?

Week 1 – Avalon

Week 2 – The Rifle

Week 3 – The Cardboard Prince

Week 4 – Rapture in Reverse

Kool-Aid reflection/Anna Loscotoff, 2022

Notes Continued

If you’ve made it down this far, thank you for being such a devoted reader! The story felt so short, I didn’t want to distract from it by writing every thought I had through the process, but there were some ideas I wanted to share.

When we hear of a teen receiving unwelcome news, my mind goes directly to mom being pregnant with a surprise sibling, divorce, or being told you’re moving. Because my mind went directly there, I didn’t want to use any of those. My daughter and I brainstorm ideas together (she’s a writer too) and these were some of the ideas we played with, they just never came alive for me.

What if the unwelcome news was that your parents had decided to quit their jobs to become bank robbers? They believe that robbing a bank is the best role for their future lives and they have decided to make you the getaway driver. You’re only 16, new behind the wheel. What if the story starts out with you sitting in the driver’s seat, wondering how you got into this mess. You’re parents are in the bank actively robbing it. I imagined a few different endings; your parents escaping and leaving you to take the blame, your parents waving for the last time as they run into the distance, you being left with the money with the plan to rendezvous but instead deciding to take the money and run, you ratting them out as you sit behind the wheel.

Another idea, and I credit my daughter for this one, is dad and mom sitting down for a serious conversation now that you are of a certain age. They seem very reluctant to tell you, finally expressing that they’ve given it all this time, hoping you would show signs of development. It turns out that your parents were angels and have been waiting to see if you’ll sprout wings and start glowing a halo. They’ve finally come to the realization that you are just a human after all. Of course you don’t believe them until they extend their wings and a heavenly chorus begins the play. They’re disappointed in who you’ve become… or rather, who you’re not.

The last idea, and I think possibly the most difficult to write, also came from my daughter. The whole story revolved around the parents trying to communicate with their teen and the teen not comprehending what they are trying to say. The parent’s are frustrated and at the ends of their ropes with this child. The story ends with the teen wagging it’s tail and rolling over like the good dog it is, absolutely certain that it is human in every way. Their legitimate child.

Another final note… whatever I decided the parents were announcing to the teen, I loved the idea of the teen being terribly embarrassed because they assume their parents are trying to talk to them about the “facts of life”. There is a lot of hmming and hawing and the embarrassment grows with the teen ready to craw out of their skin. Finally, we get to whatever the pronouncement is and it is definitely not sex.

Untimely, I couldn’t get the idea of the Kool-Aid out of my head.

Thank you, constant readers, for making it this far. If you liked this story, please share it with someone you think would appreciate it.

Kool-Aid Heart/ Anna Loscotoff, 2022

What does it mean to “Drink the Kool-Aid”