Exercising the craft–March 3, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

Write a story that includes a ransom note. However the ransom note cannot be for a person or even a beloved pet – the ransom is being demanded for an inanimate object.


Rose searched her room for the tenth time.  Why hadn’t she just worn it when Mabel had called her to help with the Ladies Civic Circle bake sale?  Would it really have been that hard to work the pie dough out of it?

She heard the telephone ringing downstairs, and despite her mounting desperation she still felt a small thrill at hearing that sound.  No one else on their street had a telephone yet.  Aunt Cecilia complained that when the telephone in her home rang her first thought was, “Who do I have to chase down now?”  But Rose didn’t mind trotting next door or across the street when their neighbors received calls.

A moment later Rose’s mother answered the call and Rose returned to her search.

“Where is it?” she murmured.  “I know I left it right here…”

“Rose!  Rose, honey, come down, please!”

Rose huffed in frustration as she smoothed the skirt of her dress and gave her hair a fluff.  She hesitated a moment, wondering whether she should paint her lips one more time before going downstairs, but decided at the last moment to pass.  For once her mother could make all the comments she wanted.

“Yes, Mother?” Rose said, descending the stairs like a lady.

Her mother frowned.  “Darling, you must remember to freshen up before you come down the stairs.  You never know who might pop in.”

Rose inhaled deeply, trying to hide it.  “Yes, Mother.  You called me for something?”

“Oh, yes.  George is on the phone for you.”

This time Rose found her own mouth drawn downward.  Why on earth would George be calling?  We’ve already said goodbye to one another.

“Please don’t spend too long on the telephone, dear,” her mother said before handing her the handset.  “Bill will be coming for dinner tonight, and you want to make sure you have enough time to dress.”

Rose managed to suppress her frustration as she voiced another “Yes, Mother.”  She waited until her mother had left the room, then put the handset to her ear.

“Hello, George.  How are you?”

“Doing great, Rosie,” her former boyfriend said cheerfully.  “I leave in the morning, you know.”

Rose rolled her eyes but didn’t say anything about the nickname.  “I know, George.  We met at the soda shop the other day, remember?”

“I’ve called to ask you to reconsider, Rosie.  You know I’m crazy about you, baby, and I want us to build a life together when I get back.”

She didn’t bother to disguise the sigh.  “George, please.  We had a wonderful time together, but it’s over.”

“Bill doesn’t love you the way I do, Rosie, I guarantee you that.”

“George, you won’t change my mind.  The only thing that will happen is that we’ll have a row, and you’ll leave town and I’ll spend the rest of my life regretting it.  And how do you know Bill doesn’t love me more than you did?”

“I still love you, Rose, and I can prove it.”

“Go right ahead.”

“Have you found your engagement ring yet?”

Rose inhaled sharply, and suddenly the entire situation righted itself in her mind.  George had come over the day before to say goodbye to Frank.  Because Rose had wanted to avoid George, she’d begged her younger brother to keep him occupied while she slipped out the kitchen door to run to Mabel’s.  Imagine the impudence of this young man!

“George, did you take my ring?” she asked in a low voice.

“Only to show you how much I love you, sweetheart.  And all you have to do to get it back is to say that you love me too and want to marry me.  Then you can take the ring and hand it right back to Bill, and you and me’ll march right down to the chaplain’s office and take care of it before I leave.”

She shook her head.  This was why Rose had broken it off with George in the first place.  In the beginning she’d loved it when he’d gone all sweet on her, but he couldn’t seem to leave it at that.  He always needed reassurance that she had meant it when she said she wanted to go steady with him.  But Rose couldn’t reassure him enough, and in the end she had decided that she didn’t want to spend her life trying to make George Roberts feel better.

Bill had offered her a radically different experience in their relationship, and she knew in the deepest part of her heart that they would have a wonderful life together.  It didn’t hurt either that his draft number was so far down the list the war would probably end first.  Although he talked about wanting to fight those Japs, Rose knew Bill’s heart really belonged to her and their small town.


She took in another deep breath, and this time she let it out nice and slow.

“George, I’m just as scared as you are.  We don’t know what’s going to happen after you leave tomorrow.  But us getting married isn’t going to change anything—it’s not going to change where you’re going tomorrow, and it’s not going to change how I feel about you now.”

She expected a witty comeback or some sort of wisecrack, but nothing came.  For a moment she wondered whether George had ended the call, but then she heard him exhale.

“Rosie,” he said, his voice much more subdued.  “I…I just want you to know you’ll always be my girl.  Even when—you’re not.”

Rose felt tears prick her eyes.  “Oh, George…”

“No, I know Bill will take good care of you.  He’s a good guy.”

She swallowed once or twice before speaking.  “So you’ll give me my ring back?”

“I never really took it,” George said softly.  “I saw it sitting on your dresser.  I even thought about it.  But I know how much it—how much it means to you.  It’s in the pocket of your pea coat in your closet.”

Rose smiled, although the tears had crested and begun slipping down her cheeks.  In reality, though, it didn’t matter much; she knew her mother expected her to change her clothes and put on her face again before Bill came that evening.  As long as her mother didn’t choose that moment to walk in and maybe even get the wrong idea about their conversation, Rose knew she would end the call and get back to her room before anyone had any idea about what had happened.

“Thank you, George.  And you will always be special to me.”

“Goodbye, Rosie.”

She heard him choking back tears, but before she could respond George ended the call.  She held onto the handset, squeezing it tight and wishing him strength and courage in the days ahead.  After a few moments, Rose replaced the receiver as quietly as possible and jogged upstairs to look for her ring and prepare for her evening

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