Short Story Exercise: Declined Invitation

(from page 143 in this book, set timer for ten minutes and wrote a story beginning with the phrase “After Eric declined the lady wrestler’s invitation…”, lightly edited)

After Eric declined the lady wrestler’s invitation, he raced to his car. The rain poured down so hard he could barely keep his eyes open. Ever grateful for the keyless entry, he slammed the Mercedes door and started the engine. Snapping his seat belt he looked back to the freight door, but she was no longer there. The light had been turned off.

He sped out of the parking lot and hardly looked as he merged into traffic. Ignoring the honking horns, he pulled the phone out of his pocket and worked to make the thing call his wife. He had to hurry.

He didn’t see the red light. He did hear the squealing tires and blaring horns, but without the sound of crunching metal, Eric continued on his way. He rammed the gas pedal and steered onto the highway, still trying to make the stupid phone call Maggie. No signal. He cussed and punched the steering wheel. Finally he threw the thing to the floor and goosed the engine again.

Fortunately traffic on the highway was light, probably due to the rain. The wipers whipped as fast as they could, but the oncoming headlights still blurred across the windshield. Despite the downpour, Eric passed cars and changed lanes like a professional driver.

He managed to take the correct exit, and barely slowed down to make the turn onto Maple Drive. Fast food restaurants crowded the sidewalks, in turn crowding the street with traffic. Eric was forced to slow to a crawl, each lane change only serving to delay him further.

He made a left turn. Then another. He watched his rearview mirror. She couldn’t have beaten him home, he assured himself.

He entered the subdivision and was shocked at the darkness. The street lights were all out and the houses were dark. Sure it was raining, but there hadn’t been any lightning. Eric gunned the engine through the suburban maze and finally skidded to a stop in front of the last house on the right.

The motor still running, Eric flung the car door open and sprinted to the front steps. He pounded on the door.

“Maggie!! Maggie!!”

Silence.

He ran back to the car to get his keys. As he turned back, Eric slipped on the curb and dropped hard onto his hip.

The last thing he saw was a spangled red leather boot rushing towards his face.