Day 10 of 16 – Writer’s Digest Writer’s Prompt Bootcamp
You’re at your favorite department store buying a birthday present for a friend. As the cashier gives you change, you notice a message with specific instructions scribbled on one of the bills. What do the instructions say? Do you carry them out and, if so, how?
Stella needed a gift for a friend. A birthday gift to be exact, for her best friend, Carol. At 54, Stella has perfected the art of gift-giving and she takes pride in every present she purchases or makes for people.
She is now on Day 4 of the hunt for Carol’s gift. “Bloomie’s. Bloomie’s will have what I need. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that from the start,” she mutters to herself as she drives in that direction.
Carol had recently lost a lot of weight and is in the process of creating a new wardrobe for herself. Stella remembers this and heads directly to the Misses Department. She remarks to no one in particular that she thinks it’s clever that they call it the “Misses” department. She sure doesn’t feel like a misses these days, but doesn’t mind shopping like one.
After 4 long days, it takes her approximately 5 minutes to find what she is looking for in Bloomingdale’s. A maxi-dress made of the softest material and is the perfect color for Carol’s skin tone. She knows she’ll love it and will get great joy wearing it this summer.
She brings the item to the register, saying that she “will not be needing a gift receipt because I am THAT confident that my friend will love the dress.” The cashier looks at her with complete indifference and says, “that will be $164.99 please.” Stella hands her $200 in cash. When the cashier gives her the change, Stella notices that there is a message on the ten dollar bill. She reaches into her bag for her reading glasses and sets them on her nose. She reads it and says a bit too loudly, “oh damn, not one of these again?”
Stella is not a fan of these messages. To her, they are like a chain letter and we all know what chain letters mean if you don’t do as they say. She should know because the first time she received a chain letter, it promised a life of doom and bad luck for the recipient if not followed. She remembers laughing at the absurdity of it, ripping it up and tossing it into the trash. The next day she slipped and scraped her knee going out to her car, found out one of her favorite stores had closed its doors, and then proceeded to get into a car accident. It was just a fender bender, but an accident nonetheless. Ever since that incident, she begrudgingly follows through. She has become superstitious. Knock on wood. It drives her husband crazy. He says it was just a coincidence, but she knows better.
The message says she doesn’t have much time to accomplish this task so she starts to think fast. She calls her husband and tells him that she won’t be home for dinner. In fact, she’s not sure how late she’ll be so don’t wait up for her.” She finds her car in the parking lot and takes Rte. 101 toward Hollywood.
Stella’s husband, John, settles on the couch to watch the 11 o’clock news. John never misses the news. He likes to keep up on current events both internationally and locally. And of course, the weather. The man needs to know the weather about as much as he needs his right arm.
Just as he starts to wonder where his wife is, there is a breaking news report. It seems there is some kind of ruckus in Hollywood. “Oh come on, don’t tell me the kids are climbing that damn Hollywood sign again,” John says to himself. “When will they learn? Stupid damn kids.”
“IT WOULD APPEAR THAT A WOMAN WHO LOOKS TO BE IN HER FIFTIES, HAS CLIMBED THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN AND IS STANDING IN THE SECOND “O” SINGING WHAT WOULD SOUND LIKE TO BE THE THEME SONG TO “THE SOUND OF MUSIC.” SHE ALSO APPEARS TO BE IN THE NUDE. WE WILL KEEP YOU ABREAST OF ANY NEW DEVELOPMENTS. BACK TO YOU CHUCK.”
The helicopter hovering overhead is shining its’ light on the subject. The camera hones in on the woman’s face. “Stella??? What the hell? Have you gone and lost your damn mind?” John screams at the television. He grabs his keys, gets into his car and drives the usually 20 minute ride doing close to 80 miles per hour.
When he gets there, he explains that he is the spouse of the crazy lady on the sign. They have rescued her by now and have her covered with a blanket. They are preparing to place her into the back of the police cruiser. John rushes up and demands an explanation.
She is smiling and holds out her left hand to him, which is closed tight around something. She unfolds her hand and gives the object to him. As she gets into the car and the police take off, John looks at what she has handed him. It is a wadded up ten dollar bill with a message.
“FIND A SIGN AND MAKE YOUR NAME KNOWN NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE OR YOU WILL DIE WITH REGRET”
“Yup Stella, you stupid fool, you’ve done it again. This time you’ve completely misunderstood the entire message” John sighs. He gets into his car and heads for the station. He knows it’s going to be a long night with a lot of explanation.