Meet Cute Puppy

A panicky voice yelled out “Grab him!” just as Julia saw a blur of black and white fur dash past her legs. Without thinking, she lunged for the escaping dog and missed, tripping instead on a rise in the pavement and falling heavily to the ground with an “Ooof” and a thud. She was lying sprawled inelegantly across the concrete, half frozen with embarrassment, half too scared to move in case she was hurt, when something warm slurped her cheek. Gingerly rolling over, Julia saw a ridiculously fluffy puppy and reached out, drawing it onto her chest.

“Are you okay?” a man’s voice called. She saw a pair of bare feet come to a stop beside her and heard puffing like someone was trying to catch their breath.

Julia pushed a strand of her auburn hair out of her eyes and gaze upwards following the direction of the voice. She squinted into the glare of the clear blue sky until a handsome man’s face came into view and blocked out the sun.

“I am so sorry,” he said, “Are you okay? Can you move?”

Julia wasn’t exactly sure, but she nodded anyway.

“I opened the door and whoosh, he was gone,” he continued as he bent down and helped her to her feet. “Thank you so much for grabbing him.”

She nodded again; feeling slightly dazed and still clinging to the pup.

“Ooo, ouch,” the man said, wincing as he pointed to her leg. “Can I sort that out for you? I’m just around the corner.”

She followed his eyes to an angry, bloodied graze on her knee. Until that moment, she hadn’t even noticed that she was injured, but now that she had seen the wound, her knee began to sting and throb.

“You can trust me,” he added. “I’m a nurse.”

And as he smiled, she saw an adorable set of dimples appear in his cheeks.

Julia wasn’t sure if it was the shock of the fall or his dimples, but she suddenly felt woozy and rocked back on her heels.

“Whoa,” he said, reaching out with a steadying hand. “Let’s get you sat down and patched up.” He slipped his arm around her waist. “I’m Luke.”

She leaned into the security of his body. “Julia,” she said.

“Nice to meet you Julia. That troublemaker you’re holding is Wilbur.”

“Hi Wilbur,” she said, and she nuzzled his soft fur.

 

Julia was sitting on a chair in Luke’s kitchen with Wilbur on her lap looking up at her like he knew it was all his fault. She watched as a trickle of blood dribbled down her shin towards her sock. She was thankful she didn’t put on the skirt she was thinking about wearing that day, instead choosing a pair of shorts. At least as she lay spreadeagle on the footpath, she thought, she hadn’t been accidentally flashing anyone.

“Okay, let’s take a look at that knee,” Luke said as he walked into the room, squatted in front of her and opened-up his first aid kit.

While Luke checked out Julia’s wound, Julia checked out Luke. He was a bit of a knockout. Tall and pretty, with sparkling blue eyes and lashes Julia would kill for. His brown hair was short and spiky, and he was wearing a chest hugging, white t-shirt and what Julia suddenly realised was his underwear; tight, black boxer-briefs that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. She blushed and looked away, but not before Luke noticed and glanced down.

“Oh my god. I’m sorry. I didn’t even…”

Julia shook her head.  “No. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

“I ran out the door without…”

“No, really. I shouldn’t have…”

They stared at each other in silence for a moment, then started to laugh.

 

Luke stuck the final strip of tape to the gauze on Julia’s knee. “I think you’ll live,” he said, as he stood and smoothed out the front of his jeans. “So… Wilbur was thinking he’d like to make it up to you, and… um…buy you a coffee.”

“I would love that, Wilbur,” Julia said, looking at Luke.

“Wilbur also hopes you don’t think he’s an idiot.” Luke said, looking a Julia.

“No. Not at all. In fact, I think we could become…good friends,” she said, as she ruffled Wilbur’s fur.

“Man, I sure hope so,” Luke said, and flashed her another dimply smile.

Julia felt woozy again, but this time, she knew exactly why.

© Amy Hutton 2020

Baby, We Were Born to Run

Music boomed out of the speakers causing the wrapper from his lunchtime burger to bounce up and down on the dash where he’d tossed it. He hummed along, happily drumming out the beat on the steering wheel. The driver’s side window was down and the breeze was ruffling his light brown hair. It had grown so much over the last two weeks that it was starting to curl over his ears. He knew his old man would tell him it needed cutting, but Dean kind of liked it. A little longer. A little less military. More him. A little wild.

He hollered out the words of the song he knew so well; the song he must have listened to a thousand times…

“Sprung from cages on Highway 9
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin’ out over the line
Ohhhhh
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
‘Cause tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.”

That’s how he felt. Like he was born to run. Run from everything. Everything he knew. Everything he was. Everything he was expected to be.

Just run. Him and Baby.

He let his fingers caress the leather of the seat beside him. “You hear that, Baby? You and me, we’re born to run, right?”

 

Dean Winchester loved the feeling he got when he drove his dad’s car. His car now. His Baby. She always made him feel special. Like she was created just for him. Crafted out of steel and leather just for Dean. To guide him down the rambling back highways of America. They took care of each other. Kept each other safe.

He wished they could keep driving. Him and Baby. Just go and keep on going. Stopping wherever they wanted. Dean could pick up work, make a few bucks, and then they’d move on. Since his brother, Sam had left to go to college, the thought of taking off and never looking back had crossed Dean’s mind more than once. No roots. No responsibilities. Just time. Freedom and time. He put his foot down and heard Baby’s engine growl as if that’s what she wanted as well.

“1, 2, 3, 4
The highway’s jammed with broken heroes
On a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight
But there’s no place left to hide.”

This was Dean’s last chance power drive. At least for now. The job was done. He had no excuse to stay on the road. “Maybe I can drag it out one more night,” he thought. “Stop in the next town. Have a few beers. Shoot some pool. Maybe meet a pretty girl. Knock boots…” A grin spread wide across his face. The pull of the highway lay before him. Beckoning him and Baby. Yeah. He could make the job last one more night.

“Tramps like us. Baby, we were born to run”

When he felt his phone ringing in his pocket, his heart sank.

 

Dean turned the radio down, wound up the window and pulled out his cell. He subconsciously sat up a little straighter as he flipped it open and said, “Dad?”

“Where are you?” he heard his father say on the other end.

“On the road, somewhere near…” he peered out the window. “I don’t know. A couple of hours out from you I guess.”

“Is the job done?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Well get your ass back here. We head out in the morning.”

“Yes, sir.” Dean said. “See you…” But his father hung up before Dean could finish.

 

Dean snapped his phone closed and tossed it onto the seat. Looking in the rear-view mirror, he ran his fingers through his hair and thought he better stop for a trim before he saw the old man.

As his good mood drained away, he watched the world going by. The one he never really felt a part of. There was no escaping the life. No place to hide. Not even for a night. He was stupid to think there could be.

He turned the music up.

Someday, girl, I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go and we’ll walk in the sun
But ’til then, tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run

“Someday, Baby,” Dean said. “Someday.”

 

   © Amy Hutton 2020
   Story by Amy Hutton based on characters created by Eric Kripke.
   Lyrics: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
   You can read more of Amy's Supernatural fanfiction here

Turning The Page

The door opened with its usual creak. The bell chimed cheerily from above, as it had for fifty years. Sarah reached down and gathered up the letters strewn across the floor, flinching at the envelope with overdue emblazoned across it. She side stepped the untouched boxes on her way to the counter. She meant to sort them yesterday. But she could no longer see the point.

Heading to the backroom she put on the kettle and sniffed the milk from the mini fridge to make sure it hadn’t curdled. She poured herself a tea and blew on it as she walked back to the store counter. Dropping into the well-worn chair, she sipped her tea, and wistfully glanced around.

 

She knew every inch of the bookstore. Every nook. Every cranny. She grew up there. Had adventures there. She visited Narnia from the grubby old seat by the window. Fought the pirates of Neverland on the floor in the history section. Went on a journey with Bilbo on the sofa by the magazine rack.

She had her first kiss in the same back room where she had just made tea. Sarah was twelve, he was thirteen. He held her face and pressed his lips tenderly to hers. She still remembers the tingling sensation that rippled along her entire body. She touched a finger to her mouth at the memory of it.

 

She wandered through the shelves, running her hands along the rows of bindings. Opening a copy of Misery, she breathed in the pages. How she loved the way books smelt. The feel of the paper between her fingers. The promise of what was to come. Nothing could ever replace a good book, she thought. Except it had.

When Sarah’s father passed away, he left the store to her. With all its memories, and all its debts. She tried to turn the business around. Tried to make it work. She put in a few computers. Added a coffee bar. Ran some book signings with upcoming authors and hosted a series of poetry readings. Anything she could do to get people across her threshold. But who was she kidding, no one wanted books anymore. They had their Kindles, their podcasts, their quick hit of entertainment on their phones. Books were obsolete, and now, Sarah was too.

Tomorrow she would meet the men who would buy her stock, and Monday, she would hand the keys to the new owners. They were going to open a cafe, with organic beans, and vegan muffins. Or something like that.

 

Sarah sighed deeply. She took the copy of Misery and tucked it into her bag. A keepsake to hold onto. She flicked off the lights and turned the open sign around to closed for one last time. Then steeling herself, she stepped onto the street and shut the door behind her.

The bell chimed cheerily from above, as it had for fifty years.

© Amy Hutton 2020

Happy Endings

The sound of horses whinnying jolted Max awake. Groaning, he swung his long legs out of bed. There had been coyotes in the area, which was why his horses were stabled instead of grazing in the fields. He shimmied into his well-worn Levi’s, picked a t-shirt up off the floor and pulled it down over his broad shoulders. Padding sleepily to the door in his socked feet, he slid into his boots, grabbed his rifle and a torch, and stepped into the night.

With his torchlight bouncing across the ground, Max quickly made his way to the stables. Cocking his rifle, he gripped the iron handle of the heavy door and slowly yanked it open. Taking a breath to ready himself, he slipped inside and flicked on the lights.

“Oh!” came a voice to his left.

Max swung around; rifle raised. Standing before him, in a gown of blue satin and clouds of tulle, was a woman. She was startlingly beautiful, with brilliant eyes, and golden ringlets around her face. In her hand was an ivy wrapped twig with a large sunflower on the end, and though he knew it couldn’t be true, Max swore the woman was twinkling.

“Ma’am?” Max said, as calmly as possible, “Is there a reason you’re in my stables at two in the morning?”

The woman blinked.

“Ma’am?”

“I don’t suppose you were going to a ball?”

“Excuse me?”

“A ball?”

“Ma’am, the only kind of ball I know anything about, is a football.”

“Oh dear. I think I made a wrong turn,” she said, as she waved her twig above her head. A shower of stars burst from the sunflower and a map appeared in the air.

Max lurched backwards, tumbling over a bale of hay and landing with a thud.

“I see what happened,” the woman muttered to herself, “I zigged when I should have zagged.” She waved the sunflower again, causing the map to vanish with a ‘pop.’

“Who are you?” Max stammered, as he hoisted himself off the ground.

The woman glanced around the room, “Is this your kingdom?”

“My what?”

“Your kingdom. Your realm.”

“No Ma’am, this is Iowa.”

“So, you’re not a Prince?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Well you’re handsome enough to be a Prince,” she said, casting an appraising eye up and down Max’s tall form.

“Are you flirting with me, Ma’am?” Max said, a grin stretching across his face.

The woman threw her head back, laughing with a sound like wind chimes in a soft breeze. “Well, you are cute and very polite, so if you ever need a fairy godmother…” She handed Max a card.

Max looked at the card in his hand. “Ma’am. You may want to rethink this card.”

“Why?”

“Someone could…um…misunderstand.”

“Could they?”

“Yeah. ‘For a happy ending call 555-FAIRYGM?’” Max said, eyebrows raised. “Happy ending…?”

“But, doesn’t everyone love, a happy ending?” and with a wink the woman vanished in a spray of glitter.

Max looked down at the card again, “Well, I can’t argue with that,” he said, and shrugging, he slid the card into his pocket, and headed back to bed.

 

© Amy Hutton 2020

 

Heaven

Music filled Lily’s ears. A bright, familiar tune that always made a smile stretch wide across her face. She walked with the crowd along the pristine street. The sun was shining and sounds of joy floated on the warm, summer air. Pink and purple blossoms dripped from baskets, and the brass on the lampposts they hung from, positively gleamed.

Lily gazed up at the sky. It was the most perfect shade of blue she had ever seen. “Of course, it is,” she thought. “Could the sky here, be any other way?”

It was still early, so she joined the waiting throng of humanity, soaking up the buzz of their anticipation. Their excitement. Their hope. Their dreams. This place was always awash with dreams. She looked at the little girl beside her, bouncing up and down in a pink, princess gown, her hair piled on top of her head behind a diamond encrusted tiara. She was beaming. Everyone was beaming. It was the only place Lily knew for sure, where everyone was always happy.

Lily closed her eyes and enjoyed the hum of the people around her. She imagined the taste of deep-fried dough and the feeling of its sticky, crystals of sugar that would inevitably wind up coating her lips. The sweetness as she licked them clean. A rush of pleasure whizzed through her at the memory.

Then suddenly, the crowd began to cheer. It was rope drop time and Lily opened her eyes just as the Cast Members cried out, “Five, Four, Three, Two, One! Have a magical day!” A sea of bodies surged forward, and an army of prams barrelled past as they raced towards their favourite land.

But no one saw Lily. Because technically, Lily wasn’t there. Not in the living sense, anyway. Lily died just over a week ago. But a little dying wasn’t going to keep her away from Disneyland.

She drifted through the park, silent and invisible, remembering the irresistible scent of the churros, and the cold tang of Dole Whip ice-cream on her tongue. She remembered how the wind had felt in her hair, as she sat unseen beside a single rider, and raced around the Thunder Mountain Railroad track, screaming unheard screams. She jumped the queue at the Haunted Mansion, and floated amongst the spirits in the ballroom, and laughed as she stood thumb out beside the famous hitchhiking ghosts. She skipped down Main Street at the front of the parade and giggled like crazy as she danced with an oblivious Mickey Mouse. She stood on the castle bridge, and watched in awe, as the fireworks exploded above her in deafening bursts of spectacular colour.

Lily had always said she didn’t believe in Heaven, but the truth was, she always did. And as she sat on a bench with the statue of Walt and Mickey behind her, and her ashes secretly scattered in the flower bed below, she now knew she was right. This was it. This was her very own Heaven. And it was the Happiest Place on Earth.

© Amy Hutton 2020