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Her Job was Done

Story ID:7458
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2011
Person:Old Hildie
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I just completed my entry for the 24-Hour Short Story Contest.

They sent me the topic yesterday morning and I had 24 hours to submit my entry.

I didn't know what to write until I woke this morning. I had a vague idea, but a new one came to me as soon as my eyes opened.
The rush was on to write and submit it before the
deadline.

My first draft was 1542 words. The limit was 925.
I managed to cut it to 923 and submit it with only 5 minutes to spare.
What a rush!

Here's the topic and my entry

TODAY'S TOPIC!

~~~~~

She was standing on the porch of a sagging cabin with bright
yellow leaves collecting around her feet. As the cold wind
billowed her skirt, she shivered and wondered if the owner
of the purse really lived here. She knocked timidly and the
door quickly opened, revealing a tiny girl holding a
hideous, bald doll...

~~~~~

WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 925
words. (Your story's title is *not* included in the word
count. We use MSWord's word count function to determine the
final word count for submissions.)

Her Job Was Done


The early freeze had caught the town off guard. Only old Hildie was out. She
pushed her shopping cart, with all her worldly possessions and pulled her tattered black
shawl tighter and searched for a cans and bottles.

She turned into an alley. A dumpster sat near the back entrance to a fancy
restaurant. The cold weather assured her it would be OK to eat this morning’s leftovers.
She remembered the sickness from a scrap of leftover chicken and didn’t want that
agony again.

There was a time when Hildie and her mother lived well, before her mother was
accused of being a witch. She remembered holding her momma’s hand. Her mother’s last
words were, “They know not what I do. You too can do it too, Hildie. I knew it …” She
paused, coughed several times and continued, “I knew it from the day you were born. Use
it wisely and only once.”

Hildie reached the end of the alley and peered into the dumpster. She reached in
and moved a discarded newspaper.
A rat scurried from under the paper. Hildie, didn’t flinch. The rat had only taken a
few bites from a piece of steak. Hildie finished it off.

She turned to leave and saw a dark form in the shadows. It was an extravagant
handbag, a Ralph Lauren according to the label, with textured cobra print. The leather,
even though cold, was the softest thing Hildie had ever felt. Who knew what treasures
such a fine purse might contain?

Her hopes vanished. It was empty. Stitched into the lining was the name “Marie
Copperdale”. Whoever owned this purse, obviously had money. Perhaps she would
get a reward.

Hildie rolled her cart out of the alley. A few people were now out. Someone
would know this Marie. A young man approached, “Excuse me. Do you know Marie Copperdale?”:

The young man looked at her with disgust. “Get away from me, witch!”

Hildie saw Mr. Dawls the postman. “Good morning, Mr. Dawls!”

“Morning, Hildie. You must be frozen.”

“Do you know a Marie Copperdale?”

“Of course.”

“I found something that belongs to her.”

“Mrs. Copperdale lives at 1903 Noah Court. Just go four blocks north, turn right
on Cherry. Noah is two blocks down.”

Hildie stood on the porch of a sagging cabin with bright yellow leaves collecting
around her feet. As the cold wind billowed her skirt, she shivered and wondered if the
owner of the purse really lived here. She knocked timidly and the door quickly opened,
revealing a tiny girl holding a hideous, bald doll.

Hildie said sweetly. “I’m looking for Marie Copperdale?”

The little girl turned. “Momma, there’s a witch at the door for you.”

Marie appeared at the door. She wore a plain blue dress with a tattered hem and
a checkered handkerchief on her head. Her face was pale and thin.

“Ginny! That was not a nice thing to say!” Marie said to her daughter.

Ginny stared at the floor. “I’m sorry, lady.”

“I’m so sorry.” Marie apologized. “May I help you?”

“Ma’am, I think I found something that belongs to you.” She held out the handbag.

Her hand went to her mouth. “How can this be? I lost that bag fifteen years ago.
Where did you find it?”

“In an alley off Main Street.”

Marie continued to stare. She reached for the bag and fondled the leather.
The initial shock wore off. “I’m sorry. You must be frozen. Please come in and have
something warm.”

Marie led Hildie through a barren living room and into a tiny kitchen. There was
only one other door, which Hildie assumed was the bathroom.

Marie pulled out a chair with a tear in the vinyl seat, “Please, sit down.”

Hildie felt uncomfortable in people’s homes, but managed to smile. Marie poured
Hildie a cup of coffee and sat across from her. She picked up the purse. “I can’t believe
you found this. After all these years, it still looks like new. Those were better days ...”

Ginny appeared at Hildie’s side with the ugly doll. “How come your dolly
has no hair?” Hildie asked.

“I cut it off!” Ginny said.

“Now why would you do that?”

“It got cancer like momma. We used to live in a big house, but momma got
the cancer and daddy left us. We ain’t got no ‘surance.”

“Hush up, Ginny!”

“It’s OK. She’s just a child.”

A tear trickled down Marie’s cheek.

“Use it wisely!” Hildie’s mother warned. Hildie understood the reason for finding
a purse lost years ago.

“Marie, I have a gift, passed on by my mother. Do you trust me?”

“I’m …I’m not sure.”

Hildie stood, walked around the table and stood behind Marie. “Trust me.”
she whispered and placed her hands on either side of Marie’s head. She felt the heat
of the growing tumor deep in Marie’s brain.

Marie jumped as a cold tingling radiated from deep in her head and moved
outward toward Hildie’s fingers. It dissipated as fast as it started. Marie turned when
Hildie coughed and saw her sway. “Hildie, are you OK.”

“I’ll be OK and so will you.” Hildie croaked and then quickly turned for the
door. “I must go now.”

Marie jumped up from her chair to follow Hildie. She didn’t realize she moved
faster than she had in years. “What did you do?”

“What I was supposed to.”

They found Hildie’s body in an alley a month later. The autopsy determined she
died from a massive tumor in her brain

Her job was done.

Michael T. Smith
Word count: 923