Covetous Love

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Dear Reader,

I am seeking representation for my short story, Covetous Love, complete in 2,200 words. I am sending the piece in its entirety and hope that you can connect with the story and characters as I did.

With this piece, I went slightly out of my element. In a creative writing class I am taking, we were challenged to write in a genre that we had never tried before. Prior to this, my stories were usually on happy subjects. I tend to be an upbeat, positive person and that reflected in my writing. So for this assignment, I decided to do just the opposite and ended up surprising myself.

This mystery piece is told in first person by a teenage girl. As the story progresses, she discovers her disturbing family history while solving the town’s murder mystery. It begins with the relatable bonfire, roasting marshmallows and scary stories. The main character’s mind becomes consumed with one story in particular about a haunted bakery. As she goes on, she starts seeing signs that help her piece it together. She reveals with evidence found in her family keepsakes that the story originated in her family. The shocking and raw emotion poured out into the letter she finds is hers to decide what to do with.

I am a high school student and love to write. I have taken two years of creative writing and enjoy seeing how it has transformed and challenged my writing to take it to new heights. Thank you for your consideration of my proposal. I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,
Lauren Zambello

Submitted: November 09, 2010

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Submitted: November 09, 2010

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Covetous Love The grey smoke rose from the center of our lawn chairs circling the fire. We sat our clothes thick with the scent of campfire and our fingers sticky with melted marshmallow. Our laughter and smiles were replaced with an eerie gloom as we went around sharing our scary stories. Chilling goose bumps rolled down my spine contrasting the heat of the fire baking my skin. “The bakery on South Main Street is haunted,” Derek began in a whispering voice as his eyes scanned the circle, reading our frightened faces. “Mrs. Calloway used to be the most loved baker in the town. All of the kids would stop by her bakery after school and she would give them all of the cookies she couldn’t sell; the ones with the crumbled edges or that sat in the oven slightly too long. She would greet them with her warm smile giving them glasses of milk to go with their treats. She and her husband had one baby son. They had a big white wedding that was the town’s social event of the season. Everything in life was going her way, loved by all, so everyone thought...” Gasps seeped from our tight lips as we hung on to Derek’s every word. After giving us time to catch our breaths, he continued. “She often stayed late alone to perfect her cakes and make sure her kitchen was tidy for the next morning. As she left one night, she was not alone in the dark alley that lay behind her store. Someone decided that they didn’t love her as much as everyone else. She was found the next morning with bruises surrounding her neck and a ripped photo that had been placed in her hand. It was a fuzzy picture of Mrs. Calloway in high school, yellowed around the edges. She stood smiling, in a position that looked like she had her arm around someone else wearing her Sunday best. Whoever else was in the picture was ripped off. It left the police with hope that they instilled in the rest of the town, but it was soon dried up as all leads became dead ends. And to this day, that’s all that we know.” The blank stares consumed our youthful faces as we all made up our own stories of what could have happened. This was not like any other ghost story. It struck a chord that rang of truth in all of us, recognizing the mystery of the vacant building that we all knew so well. How many times I had walked by it without even considering what may have happened there? Why did it remain empty? Why it created a hole in the standardization of flowers and kept buildings that lined our streets of downtown? It was fifteen minutes before my curfew when Derek finished telling his story. Noah was in the same situation so we could walk home together. If that wasn’t the case, I think I would have ignored my curfew and just slept over at Derek’s. Even with Noah, we walked at a pace that almost became a run. Our heads jerked towards any sound that echoed down the empty streets of our dimly lit neighborhood. We parted in the center of the street and each sprinted up to our houses. I had gotten home in record time, a full three minutes faster than it usually took to get from Derek’s. My heart slowed, a sigh of relief escaped my lips as I entered to the familiar scent of clean linen and cinnamon sticks of my Mom’s favorite candle. I lay in my bed fully awake, running through the story of the baker. Eventually, I grabbed for the stack of books that collected dust on my bedside table. The first I picked up was my family photo album. I scanned the pages, smiling with memories of our trip to Disneyland, my 4th birthday and our family reunion. I was seven years old at our last family reunion. Thirty of our family members lined up from one end to the other, ranging from newborn to 90’s. I stood front and center with my Grandma’s frail arms wrapped around my small frame. She had passed away one year after the picture was taken. I used to go over to her house and she would make me my favorite cookies: oatmeal chocolate chip. We would sit and eat the entire plate of them, dipping them into a tall glass of milk. She would tell me stories and her thoughts on life. Then we would always finish the day with old movies. Not long after reminiscing did I remember the story of the photo that hung in her living room. It was of her father and his parents. Her father, just a baby, lay safely in the arms of his mother. With the memory of that image, the story came into my head. When I would ask about that picture, she would just say, “That baby is my dad, those were his parents. His dad raised him and then he raised me.” I always wondered why she never said anything about the woman. And then it hit me. It was as if someone wanted me to hear this story tonight, to pick up this photo album and remember this exact detail; some driving force that wanted me to connect the dots. The possibility haunted me. The murder mystery of the city could be in my blood line. It all made sense. All of the women in my family had always been fabulous bakers. My grandma with her love for cookies, my mother’s cakes, my love for pastry-making. It was a gift that we were all blessed with. All of the connections were there. All I needed were the facts to prove it. My night was sleepless, tossing and turning. In the few minutes I slept, I had a dream that I was one of the kids coming to Mrs. Calloway’s bakery after school, welcomed with her warm smile and aroma of freshly baked cookies. Then suddenly, it flashed forward to her funeral. The whole town gathered in black, people of all ages were weeping. A somber blanket of sadness was descended upon the town as the smiles were wiped away. I awoke after with black tear stains below my eyes. My head was consumed with this story; I knew that I had to figure it out. I waited at home until my mom left for work and began the hunt for information. As soon as the door shut, I ran downstairs into our storage room; the stairs creaked with my every hesitant step. The dark room contained everything from antiques from past generations to my art projects from kindergarten. I scanned each cardboard box on our shelves until I found one that read “Grandma’s stuff” scribbled in black marker. I brushed the dust that had collected on the top and opened the box. There were stacks of papers and little trinkets that I recognized from her house. Propped against the left corner of the box was the picture that used to hang in her living room. I lifted the picture, looking at all of the details to refresh my memory after the years. The bright smiles from the man and woman carried through their eyes. This type of happiness was not common for portraits during their time, just looking at it made you want to smile too. I turned over the frame to remove the picture so I could see it more clearly past the aged glass. I turned the knobs on the back to free the picture and out it came, but it was not alone. Two other things fell onto the floor in front of me – one page ripped out of a journal, the other was a face down ripped photo. My hands shook as I slowly reached to retrieve them from the floor. My heart stopped as I flipped over the photo to reveal the woman that looked like a younger version of the one in my Grandma’s photo. It fit Derek’s description completely. It was just a photo of a girl in high school, well dressed with the same genuine smile she had years later holding her baby. I was so frightened, I didn’t even know if I wanted to pick up the other paper. Eventually my curiosity overcame my fear as I reached out for the worn white paper. In cursive black ink it read, “To: Daniel Calloway”. My eyes furiously scanned the rest of the page. It read… You know who I am, and you know what I did. Now I feel that we are finally even, if not, I’d say that you are still in my debt. You murdered me but left me breathing. You stripped me of everything that mattered to me, leaving my chest an open wound. It all began at that family reunion. I came there with Betsy, holding her hand for the first time. She had that gleam in her eye when she looked at me, the one you grew to know so well. We had spent the day baking together and I had never felt happier in my life. From the time we became friends back in middle school, I knew that she was the one for me. Her carefree and creative spirit could not be appreciated by anyone but me. As the years went on, I became progressively surer that she was the one that I would spend my life with. I would bring her flowers that I’d pick on my way home from school. She would smile and put them right in center of her kitchen, the place where she poured her heart into her baking. It began the time you asked her to dance on that twilight evening in August. The way she lit up and gently fell into your arms. I sat alone, every cell of my body wanted to go and rip her away from you. Oh, how much easier it would have been if I had done it then and there. Instead, that first dance turned into a first date, then a second, third and eventually the wedding. The way she glowed after she would spend time with you made me want to kill myself. As time passed, she took my heart and slowly ripped it into pieces, leaving it in a pile to rot. The heart that was made to love her was destroyed forever at your fault. You sat in front of me in church one day, Betsy at your side, your baby in her arms. I know she saw me as she sat down for Sunday’s service. All she gave me was a nod and half-hearted smile. After all of the heart I devoted for her, all that it got me was a glance. This was the day that confirmed my decision. Betsy was the love of my life. You stole her from me and for that I will never forgive you. The only punishment that I saw fit was doing to you, what you did to me. Now you can be left to grieve and feel the pain that you made for me. If I could not have Betsy, no one could. They used to say that your loved ones were the only ones you could trust when the world deceived you. So cousin, now we know, a more true statement is that you can’t trust the ones that taken your loved ones.

Sincerely, Betsy’s Destined Love I read through the page time after time, not comprehending what was being said for the first three. My body was numb. My vision was blurred as my eyes filled with tears. I felt a conviction and heartache as the truth hit me harder than two cars in a high speed crash. The untapped emotion that was poured onto the paper overwhelmed me. I knew that I was the only one living on this entire earth that knew the real story. The rawness and pain was so evident that I understood why Daniel Calloway had not shared this truth with the world. It was much easier on everyone to make up their own stories and speculate. The pure hatred and brokenness that came with this love triangle could not be handled by the public. To this day, I do not think they are ready for it. So I will do just as Daniel Calloway did, keep this ugly truth locked up inside of me to save the hearts of others. I carefully placed the photo and letter behind the photo and secured them back in the frame. I put everything else exactly the way it was and filled the empty space on the shelf with the old box. One would think that knowing all of this would scar them, wounding the soul with the knowledge of the devilish acts that took place. But for me, I can honestly say that was not the case. My answered questions led to easy breathing. The thoughts swarming in my head slowed. In my family there was a murderer, a victim and a widower. And I was at peace with this truth, knowing that if this was not the case, I would not be here to discover it.


© Copyright 2019 laurenzambello. All rights reserved.

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