Dec 11 2018

The Red Box with the Black Ribbon #FF #WEPFF #WEP

The Red Box with the Black Ribbon Flash Fiction image


The Red Box with the Black Ribbon

By J Lenni Dorner

The black ribbon sways with each oscillation of the fan Evelyn never turns off. Under it, the candle flickers. It seems like common knowledge that fire should be kept away from ribbons. But what is common knowledge? The theory that humans have their own sort of internal Internet has never been proven. Even if it were to exist, at what age would people gain access to it? A toddler is not expected to know that fire and decorative trim do not mix.

Evelyn is not a toddler though. Her stretchmarks strain as her body extends, her muscles tightening as far as they’ll go. Not nearly as limber as others in this apartment complex. One day, she knows, she’ll likely be carted away from her home. The idea that the place she’d be put is nicknamed “a home” angers her. Final facility, the big box before the pine box, an orphanage for the abandoned old — these are what she calls such places. It’s a hate that runs deep, one she will not discuss. There are only two ways she knows to avoid that fate.

The edge of the ribbon singes. Were her sense of smell not destroyed from too many years at a job that OSHA has since shut down, she might notice. If her loyal beagle were still alive, he would howl at the danger. Her husband hated that dog.

Another rotation of the fan. The flame rises as the ribbon teases it. Chared edges dance with the fire. A relationship that is beautiful for a moment, but ultimately destructive. Not unlike the contents of the red box to which the ribbon is affixed.

The doorbell signals Evelyn. She stops stretching, wipes her hands on a towel with red stains, and goes to her home’s only entrance. A woman walks in, faking pleasantries as she hauls in two gift bags. They cringe with every glance at the other.

“Where is my brother?” The woman looks about the room. Both bags are set near the neatly wrapped, huge box. The big gift bag is sparkling gold, filled to the brim with barely enough space for the tissue paper. The small one is a silver shade so dull it would better to call it gray. An item rolls around in it, despite the crinkle cut filler and multiple layers of tissue paper.

The fan’s breeze has two new obstacles. Airflow changes direction, blowing the ribbon closer to its deadly, dancing flame. Neither of the women takes note as the ribbon swings just out of fire’s reach.

“He is here. I never took him from you. But, as you requested at Thanksgiving last month, I am giving him back.”

“It wasn’t what you think. Not that I’d expect you to understand.”

Evelyn rolls her eyes. “I’ve known since we first met. The same dress to go with our nearly identical faces. You are my living mirror. It’s common knowledge that you and your brother are too close, isn’t it? But last month, when you got the same dentures I have, that was the last straw.”

“The last straw? Are you leaving him? I’ll pay for the divorce lawyers.”

As the fan turns again, the ribbon and candle mate. Evelyn doesn’t notice, she’s too busy laughing.

“No need for that. Just take your gift box and go. This is our final holiday together.”

Evelyn’s sister-in-law looks to the gift box just as the flame moves from the ribbon to the lid. It spreads, enjoying the taste of destruction. The box burns quickly. Evelyn’s husband’s remains peek out.

Before a horror-struck scream can escape, Evelyn strikes. Blood speckles the drops of wax which were once a candle. A stray piece of burning ribbon floats onto the body. “You’re together now.”

Evelyn barricades the door as leaves. She watches from the parking lot as her apartment complex burns. A twinge of guilt hits her. Not all the children living there deserved to have their holiday burned. She hopes they’ll understand when they’re as old as she is now.

Two ways to avoid the nursing home: prison or suicide. Evelyn wasn’t ready to die.

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WEPFF critique badge
688 words FCA


Oscillating Fan –

Nursing home – Also called Geriatric care. A health care facility that becomes a residence, mostly for the elderly, which has around-the-clock nursing care.

OSHA – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Labor.

Crinkle Cut Filler and Tissue Paper –

More ribbons and candles! From Fractions of Existence:

ribbon quote from Fractions of Existence #book by @JLenniDorner #UrbanFantasy

candlelit quote from Fractions of Existence #book by @JLenniDorner #UrbanFantasy

Share the images, if you would be so kind.

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The inspiration behind this twisted tale: A nearby apartment fire.


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  1. Wow. I kind of guessed about the fire but not the rest. Nice twist.

    1. Thanks!
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  2. A bitter, dark twist at the end. Revenge is cold in more ways than one: those poor children. 🙁
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    1. Thanks for reading.
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  3. Oh wow, you really gave me the horrors with this one! Now I really thought Evelyn was going to commit suicide, not choose prison. It is a sad indictment on the aged care system that prison is the more attractive option. I’d prefer a never-ending world cruise. They say that’s cheaper than a ‘home’.
    Cleverly written J Lenni. Two very unlikable characters with a great intermingling of ribbons and candles.

    Thanks for a great entry in December WEP.

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    1. Yeah, I’ve heard about the cruise ships. Crazy when that’s the cheaper option, eh?
      Glad you enjoyed my take on “I’ll just write all villains for the named characters and see what happens.” It was fun!
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  4. Now that’s one proactive elder. AARP would be interested in her story. Nicely done horror. I really liked the description of the ribbon enticing the flame and the reveal of the “closeness” between brother and sister.
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    1. Ha ha ha. Glad you liked it.
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  5. Such a sad, bitter story. I really dislike Evelyn. No matter how much she doesn’t wish to end up in a nursing home, burning an entire apartment complex and killing people seems a bit extreme.

    1. I figured a villain main character would be fun to do. Thanks for reading.
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  6. Wow, quite a twist. Like Denise unending cruise idea.
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    1. Thanks.
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  7. EEK! I was racing through following the flame and the ribbon – and you certainly delivered a punch with the ending!!! Well done! 🙂
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    1. Thanks for reading.
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  8. Yes I expected a disastrous fire. No, I didn’t expect that ending.
    And wonder whether Evelyn go to prison. Her sister-in-law looks like her, and even has the same dentures. Will they do a DNA test? Perhaps not.
    Thinking, thinking, thinking. Which is always a gift.

    1. DNA tests take time and money. Not a question of can it be solved but will it be solved.
      Glad I was able to give you the gift of provoking thought.
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  9. Wow. I didn’t see a happy ending coming, but that was, well horrible. It was great for the story, though. It really sticks with you afterward too. I just don’t know what else to say. Killing all those people… does she actually go to prison or pass for the other?
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    1. A fun question to make you wonder, eh?
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  10. Who knew ribbons and candles could end on such a murderous note. Well done!

    Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday and a bright New Year!
    Yolanda Renee has this post to share WEP – Ribbons & CandlesMy Profile
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    1. Thank you so very much!
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    • Lisa on December 13, 2018 at 7:39 PM

    You led us perfectly “down the garden path” only to surprise at the end! Well done. Gruesome, but well done!
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    1. Thanks so much.
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  11. Wow, dark and bitter. And thought provoking. What kind of care systems for the elderly would drive someone this desperate? Kudos on this very unique take on the prompt,

    1. I’ll take your question to mean that America isn’t one of the five countries you lived in. This is one of the freaky things that the “civilized” don’t discuss, except when reporters do big stories. Growing old in this society is a bad idea for anyone who isn’t extremely wealthy or doesn’t have younger relatives who are willing to spend a lot of income.
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  12. I thought about all the children in the apartment complex. No, I don’t think anyone would understand. Caring for doesn’t mean just for yourself but for others also.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G
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    1. I went for all villains in these named characters. Seemed fun. Thanks for reading.
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  13. Oh, I loved this so much! It’s dark, and I enjoyed Evelyn’s bitter thoughts. And that ending, especially the last paragraph! Great work!
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    1. Thanks!
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    • Pat Hatt on December 15, 2018 at 8:55 AM

    I thought she was going to burn herself. Nice twist indeed. She sure wasn’t to be messed with.

    1. Thank you.
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  14. A great twist at the end which caught me by surprise.
    The following saying came to mind: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’ but replace the word ‘cold’ to suit this context: ‘Revenge is a dish best served HOT’ 🤣🤣🤣
    Michelle Wallace has this post to share Write…Edit…Publish: Ribbons and Candles – December 2018 #WEPFFMy Profile
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    1. LOL! Nice one.
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  15. Scary…

    I hope prison keeps her away from trouble.
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  16. Wow. The depth of bitterness is definitely served up well in this tightly written piece. I expected the fire, but not the murder at the end. And, I really felt for the children in that apartment building. I hope everyone else got out safely … I guess that disturbed me more than the cold-blooded ruthlessness of the killer’s previous murders of her husband and sister-in-law and the insinuation of incest.
    Great job getting into the mindset of the MC!
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    1. Thank you! That was exactly what I was going for.
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    • Kalpanaa on December 19, 2018 at 9:35 PM

    Goodness, what a twist. I knew something was brewing from the hints you gave, but i could never have guessed. Powerful.
    Kalpanaa has this post to share Ribbons and Candles #WEPMy Profile
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    1. Thank you!
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  17. That clever surprise ending left me wondering what sort of justice caught up with Evelyn. A prison or a psychiatric ward in the hospital she wants to avoid.
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  18. Well now. lol Quite the Christmas story.
    herding cats has this post to share Merry Christmas, Yall! + a little sparkleMy Profile

    1. Yes. My stories might be a bit darker than your usual book selections. Still, when I’m looking for romance books, your blog is my go-to recommendation spot.
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  19. very nice post you have written. keep writing, I also like to read more and more books. Please refer to more books to me.

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