A Random 'Sentence' Generator Short Story: Widow Close
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
Not Another Short Story!
We are at it again with another Random Generator Short Story "Sentence" edition. If this is your first time to the blog you can see my other short stories where I had to include two words from the random word generator.
I decided to switch things up by replacing a random word with a sentence this time around. Building an entire story around a sentence makes outlining very difficult.
This is why I love this challenge though!
This challenge brings me outside of my comfort zone and think about topics I might not have written about before.
So let's get to it!
Random Sentence: "He had reached the point where he was paranoid about being paranoid."
Widow in need of help
A strong man to pack and load up house
Call 245-3152 Today!
The static blaring from the radio was overwhelmingly loud ever since the music slowly faded out once hitting the dirt road. His white knuckles steered the unforgiving path. Endless potholes, torrential rain, and a mountainside drop-off wouldn't allow Myles' death grip to waver. The loud static would have to do.
A deep guttural noise left Myles' throat when a clearing opened ahead and the dirt road smoothed. He wondered how long he held his breath fearing any small movement would've sent him off the edge to his demise.
His destination sat at the end of the road peeking out from the surrounding forest. From what he could tell, what once was a beautiful home had taken a toll over the past several years due to severe weather and lack of upkeep. The original wooden frame held strong, but the broken shutters and loose porch boards would have to be fixed before he left. Seeing the state of the house for the first time, and the reckless drive made Myles wish he would've negotiated $1500. From his phone call, with the widow, it seemed she was desperate for help.
Myles, recently out of college, needed money and fast. He was a fool to think he would magically get his dream job after graduation. Instead, companies were hiring applicants with 20 plus years of experience over the college graduates. Big corporate companies no longer needed crazy new ideas from a young spry kid when they were growing at such a rapid pace due to the booming economy. Training a newb would cost the company more in the long run than having an experienced worker.
After walking the stage, Myles' parents cut the cord faster than the graduation caps could hit the floor. He was on his own since they would no longer financially support his lifestyle. The little money Myles had remaining didn't last long with his need to drink and party. Finding himself covered in his own vomit, amidst a stranger's home early one morning and spending his last dime to fund his crazy night left him no choice but to change. Quickly, Myles scoured the newspaper picking up odd jobs here and there to get back on his feet.
After what felt like ages, Myles almost hung up the phone, with the endless buzzing on the other line. Before he could Myles heard a click along with a faint greeting.
"Hello," the widow softly spoke.
"Hi, I'm calling about the job advertised in the newspaper. I'm wondering if it is still available?" Myles stared down at the letter in his hand warning him of eviction if he didn't pay rent by the end of the week.
The widow confirmed the job was, in fact, available. Myles listened closely as her mouse like voice faded in and out of his ear. Myles was to drive to her house located on the top of the mountain to help her pack up her things, fix a few items around the house, load the moving truck, and unload at her daughter's house. Besides the money, she would cook him breakfast, lunch, and dinner for his time. Myles packed his bag for the next week.
Realizing the static was still blaring, Myles turned the ignition off ready to step out into the rain. A blurry figure appeared on the porch. Myles squinted through the rain covered windshield to get a look at who he assumed to be Widow Close.
"Hello dearie," the widow spoke up. The rain hitting the porch overhang would drown out any chance of speaking in a regular tone. Before Myles could reciprocate the greeting the widow used her cane to point towards a barn hidden from the road.
"Use the barn to house your vehicle. The winds like to pick up at night causing branches to go flying about," she fluttered her hands wildly. "Pull as far in as possible you hear. The roof is sturdy towards the back."
Myles nodded, left his bag, and ran back into the chilling rain. He only drove a few yards before getting to the entrance of the barn. Darkness enveloped the car as he slowly drove in. Flicking on his headlights, Myles was surprised to see how far back the barn set. The further Myles inched his way towards the rear the more he realized the rows and rows of cars sitting inside. Finally parking behind a Toyota, Myles turned his vehicle off leaving the keys in the ignition. He wouldn't be needing them for the next week. Myles placed his foot on the driver's side door hoisting himself upwards to get a better advantage to gaze at the surrounding cars. From what he could tell there were a few old Ford trucks, a large tractor, and a bunch of newer models ranging from an early 2000's Jeep to the newer Toyota Camry he parked behind. How some of the models made it up the side of the mountain was beyond him.
The widow had retreated back inside by the time he made it to the house. A wave of warmth hit Myles as he entered. The rain pierced through his clothing giving the illusion he entered a wet t-shirt contest. The flames in the fireplace roared, but wouldn't be enough to dry him completely. He searched the room for his bag which seemed to have gone missing from the porch.
A loud clatter rose from the kitchen. Myles went to check on the widow in case she'd taken a quick fall. Instead, he found a plate of roast dinner with potatoes and carrots sitting at the table.
"There you are dearie," the widow smiled pleasantly at Myles showing her yellowing teeth. "I whipped you up some dinner. Go change and wash up before you come and eat." Instead of pointing with her cane, she now waved a knife in her hand which she was using to chop up some apples. Myles peered down the long hallway to which the knife directed.
"The second bedroom on the left!" She called after him.
Flipping the light on Myles took in the room. The dingy gray walls made the room feel small even though there was only a bed and small dresser with a reading lamp. There on the bed was his backpack. If every room was as empty as this one he would have no trouble packing up this place in no time flat. He shivered as the air hit his bare skin as he stripped of his t-shirt. Myles quickly rummaged through his clothes. The smell of the roast was starting to make his stomach growl.
"Thank you for dinner Mrs. Close," Myles shoveled in a heap of potatoes.
"No worries, my dear, and please do call me Widow Close. I just don't feel right being called Mrs. Close now that my Arnold is gone," the widow tisked at the thought of her late husband. "You don't mind if I call you dearie, do you? My memory is going and I'm afraid names just don't stick with me like they used to."
"Not at all Widow Close. Myles... dearie... whatever you like if you keep cooking delicious dinners like this every night!" Myles snickered. Widow Close didn't seem to find the joke funny as she went back to coating apples with cinnamon. According to her apple pie was on the dessert menu.
"Well dearie, for the rest of the week I'll have you help me pack up the house. Over 50 years of memories to load up. I have boxes and tape in the office next to your room which should get us by until the moving truck shows up Friday. I do so hope the rain stops by then so the trip down isn't so bad." She paused to gaze out the window. The rain hadn't let up.
Suddenly, her hands leaped back into action mixing the sugar and cinnamon mix over her sliced apples.
"Any trash can go in the burn pile just out back there." A mixture of apple pie goodness flung towards Myles as she pointed past him. At least she didn't have the knife this time.
"Just be aware! Don't enter the woods over there. A mountain lion has staked claim south of the pile. He's been eating my chickens which I don't appreciate." Myles nodded in agreeance.
"Even though naturally quiet this one has a loudmouth on him." Widow Close continued on, "I've seen the poor fella a few times and he isn't doing well. Starving just like the rest of the poor animals on the mountainside. She shook her head in disapproval. "I would probably sound the same if I didn't spend the last 50 years cooking in this lovely kitchen!"
"So will your daughter be joining us to help pack?" Myles asked. He remembered Widow Close quickly mention her in their conversation over the phone. It would be nice to have someone else around the house. On his way back from washing up, he peered into passing rooms and saw the mounds of stuff the widow and her husband collected over the years. Packing was going to take longer than expected.
"Daughter?" She looked at Myles confused. "Oh, no, Sybil won't be joining us. She has been out of the country for the last year traveling. Something about missing out on her young adult life and needing to live to the fullest. I love my daughter, but sometimes she is something else. She didn't even bother to come home for the funeral when my husband passed. You see, my dear Arnold wasn't always the nicest man, and they both saw things differently. It will be nice to rekindle our relationship once she gets home."
"Oh," is all Myles could say taking a bite of his stewed carrots. Like Sybil he did not get along with his father. Myles' father would often come home drunk knocking him and his mother around. His father outright cheated on his mother bringing mistresses home to sleep with them in their shared bed while Myles' mother would have to sleep on the couch. To the outside world everything seemed fine. Nobody knew what was happening behind closed doors. Even if they did, people loved his father based on his charismatic charm. Being CEO of a multimillion-dollar company also had its perks.
Ding! The timer went off. The apple pie was ready.
Myles' eyes shot open not certain what frightened him awake. He looked around confused at his surroundings. Taking a moment to adjust Myles remembered he was at the widow's house. Peering towards the window he could see it was still dark. The silence meant the rain finally ceased, but his heartbeat was deafening. According to the blinking alarm on the dresser he had a few hours before sunrise. Myles laid still wondering what brought him out of sleep. He was usually as a deep sleeper. Once, Myles slept through a car crash as a young boy. His father wrecked while drunk driving and helpful bystanders thought the little boy limp in the back seat was dead as they pulled him from the car. Instead, Myles had fallen asleep on the ride home, and was so tired, missed all the action.
Myles tried to slow his heart down. The pounding made it impossible for him to listen for whatever woke him from sleep. Through several meditative breathing techniques his eyes were feeling heavy with sleep again.
As Myles was about to slip into unconsciousness he heard the scream. The scream echoed to his core. He shivered in fear; goosebumps instantly rising on his arms. The devilish shrill, filled the air, piercing through the calm silence. Then just as soon as it started the screaming stopped. Myles' heart raced again his mind uncertain.
Instantly theories of monsters poured through Myles' head. But before it could get out of hand he remembered Widow Close mentioning the starving mountain lion.
"Stupid cat," Myles muttered. He turned on his side, grabbing a pillow to place over his ear, in hopes of drowning out any unnecessary sounds.
Myles tossed another book onto the heap destined for the burn pile. Widow Close wanted the library completed by the end of the day. Anything sentimental was to be packed while the rest could burn. No need to bring books down the mountain side when they most likely won't be read again.
So far, Myles had come across a few photos, and a stack of letters Arnold address to the widow from his time at war. He packed those away for safe keeping. The rest of the room was filled with dusty old books whose spines were hanging on by a thread. The ever-growing burn pile was taking up the little space Myles had to work in. Grabbing a box, he threw in as many books as possible. The widow mentioned a wheel barrow just outside the back door. He could use it to carry the old books to the burn pile out back.
Once he packed the wheelbarrow with several boxes, Myles had a running start. The rain from the day before created a mud pit making it almost impossible for the one wheel to push its way through. Eventually, between the strength of the wheel and his determination the mud gave way. His shoes created a popping sound with the surface each time his shoe broke the tension. He didn't need to look down to know his legs were covered in mud.
It felt like ages, but he finally found the burn pile Widow Close spoke about the night before. There were branches, bags of trash, even a few chairs tossed in. The books would add some nice kindling to the fire once they burned everything towards the end of the week.
Myles quickly unloaded the books flinging them every which way. As he reached for the last novel he heard a harsh snap. Birds fluttered from the treetops by the edge of the woods. Remembering the horrific scream from the night before left Myles frozen. The widow told him not to go into the woods, but it didn't mean the big cat couldn't come out. He stood listening. Myles could use one of the pokey branches as a weapon if it came down to an encounter with the cat. The cat would be weak from starvation meaning he could overtake the beast. After several minutes and no movement, Myles gave up on listening. He grabbed the last book and sent it flying.
The book landed in the pile with a loud crunch disturbing the surrounding branches. There, below the pile, Myles saw the bloody shirt. The contrast between the stark white and the deep crimson made the shirt stick out like a sore thumb. He stepped closer to get a better look at the waded-up shirt.
Carefully Myles took a stick to lift the shirt from the pile. Spreading the fabric out, Myles recognized the boy band pictured on the front. Splatters of blood covered the band members faces along with several rips. The band released their first album last year and their popularity spread quickly. Even he liked a few of their songs. How did the bloody shirt end up here of all places? Myles retrieved his phone from his pocket and peered further into the pile. The flashlight barely helping made it nearly impossible to see if there were more articles of clothing. With the hairs rising on his neck Myles decided to head back inside. The dusty books were waiting to be sorted.
After a few hours of sorting, the little library was starting to empty. It was taking Myles longer than he thought as he gazed at the black and white photos he uncovered. Fifty years of Arnold and the widow enjoying their lives together on the mountain side. They seemed so in love.
A leather scrap book sat to the side. Myles saved it for last in hopes the best photos were in there. He wasn't wrong. Several photos showed Arnold in uniform sitting on massive tanks with a cigar hanging from his mouth. Pictures of them on their wedding day were all smiles with the widow looking beautiful in her lace dress. As he turned the pages the black and white photos turned to color. The styles of the 50's changed to the 70' and then the 90's. Eventually the scrap book was caught up to modern day. Arnold was no longer pictured and Widow Close was left smiling alone. Alone...?
Myles flipped back to the beginning of the scrap book and paged through quickly. Sybil was never pictured. Even in the letters he read the daughter was never mentioned by Arnold or Widow Close.
"Dearie!" Widow Close's voice sounded from the kitchen. "Lunch is ready! Come and eat."
Myles snapped the scrap book closed bringing it with him.
"What's on the menu today?" He was still full from the homemade waffles he ate at breakfast.
"Chicken fried steak and scrambled eggs," Widow Close placed a large plate in front of him, the smell wafting in the air.
"Smells delicious! Say, I was sorting through the library, and I came across this scrap book of yours. It looks like you and Arnold loved each other very much," He set the book beside his plate.
The widow nodded in agreeance, "He was my soulmate. That poor soul." She chuckled at her sarcasm.
"I didn't see your daughter anywhere in the scrapbook or in any photos I came across. Are those somewhere else in the house? I can't pack them with these if you would like?" Myles gestured to the photobook.
"Daughter? Oh no, no, no, no, no" the widow shook her head. "I don't have pictures of her."
Myles could tell the widow seemed confused. She did warn him her memory was going.
"Is there a reason why you don't have any of your daughter?" Myles questioned. Even his messed-up family had pictures together. They were all lies, but they were together.
Widow Close's started rubbing her fingers together. She slumped in her chair thinking of what to say. "I just can't remember. You should eat your food it's getting cold!" She stood to do dishes.
It was quiet for a minute as Myles munched on his food. "Oh hey, did you hear the mountain lion last night? He scared me to death! Speaking of, I'm pretty sure he was hanging out on the outskirts of the woods today. I heard a loud snap."
"You didn't go into the woods like I told you though, right!" The widow whirled around once again pointing a knife in his direction.
"No! After hearing the scream last night I'm definitely staying away from there." Myles could still feel the chills run up his spine from the night before.
"Good. We don't need you getting eaten up by that poor creature, now, do we?" She turned back around.
"But I did find something interesting in the burn pile," Myles mentioned. "There was this bloody shirt all waded-up at the bottom of the pile. I didn't see anything else, but do you know how that got there?"
The widow stayed quiet. The squishing of the sponge and running of the faucet were the only sounds. Myles chewed on a bit of chicken fried steak waiting for the widow to answer.
"Umm.. It.. It was Arnold's. After his accident I just couldn't let it go. I've been hanging onto it to remember his last day here on earth. With the move, I decided to leave Arnold in the mountains as I start a new life with my daughter," Widow Close eyes welled up as she looked into the distance.
"I don't want to be rude, but how long ago did Mr. Close die?" The scrambled eggs tasted fresh. Most likely pulled from the hens this morning.
"Oh dearie, it isn't rude at all. I really don't mind talking about it. The accident happened about three years ago now when my Arnold lost his life. He was working on one of his cars. You see, it was his favorite past time. During the war, he became a mechanic while often tinkering with the tanks. He said it was the only thing that kept him sane. So, once he came home he bought a beat-up old truck and spent his time in the barn fixing it up. If he could've, that barn would've been filled with hundreds of cars if it wasn't for me complaining all the time. Quality time is important, you hear," she wiped her hands on the towel hanging from her waist. "Sadly, his love of tinkering is what killed the poor soul. You see, his truck was propped up because he was fixing somethin' underneath when suddenly it came crashing down. He wasn't under it at the time but instead behind it. When the truck crashed it rolled back crushing him between it and another car. He was out there for hours before I went to check on him. By the time I found him he was already in heaven speaking with our lord savior. According to the paramedics he went quickly, but I think they just said that so I didn't blame myself for not finding him sooner.
Myles thought of all the cars in the barn. He could imagine Mr. Close fixing up the old truck and tractor, but the newer vehicles didn't make any sense. The Toyota he had parked behind was almost brand new. "Three years ago, you said?"
"Yes, dearie. Almost three years ago now," she served him some leftover apple pie from the night before. She watched him take a bite before she waddled into the living room with her cane.
That night Myles couldn't sleep. The absence of Sybil from the scrapbook and the bloody band shirt were bothering Myles to no end. Why wouldn't they have pictures of their only daughter? Myles thought of his mother. If they were on the outskirts with each other she would still keep photos of her son. Moms were like that though. Always wanting to look back at the past.
Then there was the band shirt. From how Widow Close described Arnold and seeing him in the old photos gave Myles the impression Mr. Close did not rock boy band t-shirts. Even if he did, the band only become popular last year meaning Arnold couldn't have owned the shirt. Myles tossed and turned. He couldn't wait until the end of the week to grab his money, and never see this place again.
Sunrays were seeping through the curtains when the scream filled the morning silence. Myles unprepared shot up in fright. The screech continued but unlike the night before it morphed into a deeper tone. The change in frequency made it seem as if the lion was trying to communicate. Finally getting enough courage Myles bound to the window to see if he could spot the creature.
Instead, he watched as Widow Close scooped up one of her chickens from the roost, snapped its neck with a twist of her wrist, and walked into the woods. The awful screaming ceased by the time the widow emerged from the forest's edge no longer carrying her chicken. Myles continued to stare as she gathered small sticks from the outskirts of the woods.
Over the course of thirty minutes Myles witnessed Widow Close create miniature crosses from the twigs while whispering words under her breath. Occasionally she would raise her hand to touch her head and shoulders in the sign of prayer.
After making a handful of crosses she ventured back into the woods. She wasn't gone long. Myles heard the thump of her cane across the floorboards once she was inside. The smell of sausage and sounds of pots banging meant breakfast would be ready soon.
What had Myles just witness?
He had reached the point where he was paranoid about being paranoid. Between the bloody shirt, the absent daughter, the death screeches in the night, and now the widow killing her chickens with her bare hands while crafting crosses was just too much for Myles.
After breakfast, Myles snuck to the edge of the woods to see if he could tell where the widow had gone. The early morning light revealed a small path winding its way through the trees. The further the path wandered the darker the surrounding forest became. If what the widow said was true, the mountain lion would be secretly watching him ready to strike at any moment. Myles kept his head down focusing on his footing. The further into the woods he travelled the denser the brush became. If he weren't careful a toe snag could lead to a pretty big injury if he fell into one of the prickly bushes.
The air was fresh but chilled. Myles could now see his breath forming amidst the shadows.
He saw the bones first, then the blood and feathers spread out amongst the foliage.
"What... the... hell? Myles whispered under his breath. In front of him laid a slaughtering of chicken bones, skull heads, and shredded fabric covered in blood. Before he could wrap his mind around what he was seeing he heard a snap above his head. Instinctively, he threw his arms in front of his face blocking his neck in case of an attack from the mountain lion.
Instead of the beast, thousands of crosses stared down at him as they hung from the branches. Attached were small bones with hair draped over the protruding sticks. Myles mouth dropped and his heart started to race. The moment of shock didn't last long as the fear slowly creeped in. He needed to leave now.
"Oh, dearie," Myles jumped in fright at the sound of Widow Close's voice behind him. He turned, scared to look at the widow who stood only inches from him.
"I told you not to come in the woods my dear. It's dangerous out here," she pointed her finger at him. "Nobody ever listens to me though. The poor souls."
"The poor souls?" is all Myles could ask his mouth dry. The hairs began to stand up on his neck as a chill washed over him.
"Yes, like you dearie. Men, like you, are always so curious which gets them into trouble. Arnold was like you, you see. Always curious. Arnold had only seen the creature once, from a distance, oh so many years ago. Standing on two feet it was black as night it's red eyes vibrant against its crackled skin. At first, it left us alone, and we kept our distance, but eventually its hunger turned into screams. Often it would try to entice us from the forest speaking in evil tongue, but our prays kept us safe. But Arnold, my poor dear, gave in. He wandered into the woods in search of answers, and now he roams these woods screaming for young souls as the creature before him." She paused. Sadness filled her eyes.
"I have also given into the evil. I, dearie, have lied to you and many others about so many things. It's to late to turn back now. God will not forgive me, and I know this because the creature, you see, has told me. So now I lie to keep the creature happy because he is all I have." Widow Close bowed her head.
Suddenly, the high-pitched scream Myles had been hearing the last few days surrounded them.
"Oh dearie, I want you to meet Arnold!" The widow shouted her yellowing teeth shinning bright. In one fluid motion, she raised her cane to Myles' chest and heaved. His screams blended in with the creature's has its dark arms folded over him. The silhouette of Widow Close was the last thing he saw before darkness overtook him.
Widow Close walked back to the house. Once in the library, she unboxed the packed books and old photos to their rightful place. She would have to call the newspaper tomorrow.
Widow in need of help
A strong man to pack and load up house
Call 245-3152 Today!
Fitting the random sentence into the story was much harder than I imagined. Building up to someone being paranoid about being paranoid takes some time and effort. Overall, I think I did a decent job.
If you're wondering how I came up with the story I was inspired by one of my favorite movies, Skeleton Key. I took little hints here and there and made them my own. If you enjoyed the story, please leave a comment down below.