Saturday Story Starter

October snuck up on me!  I guess I’d better post a story starter before it completely zips by….

As those of you who have participated before know, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Before we get started, I need to let you know the location of the “magical staircase” which was the inspiration for last month’s story starter. Remember this picture?

Magical Staircase

I LOVED all the stories it prompted!  And yes, it’s a real place. It’s called the Mosaic Steps, or the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project. Next time you’re in San Francisco, head over to 1700 16th Avenue between Noriega Street and Moraga Street. Click here for more information and pictures. And here’s a cool YouTube video as well, which gives you a sense of how completely awesome these stairs are. I want them in my backyard.

Now, on to this month’s story starter. Here’s our inspiration:

Doll under a rug

Yeah, I know.

It’s a little weird.

What can I say?  It’s getting close to Halloween!

Tell us a story. Paint a scene. Make us laugh or give us the shivers. How did this doll get there? Or is it a doll? What is it doing? Who put it there? Or did it get there all by itself….

Ready, set, WRITE!



15 thoughts on “Saturday Story Starter”

  1. I just came home from walking my dog when I stumbled over the rug in the entryway. This struck me as odd, as my mother always made sure the rug was tidy and flat. The rug, which acorrding to my parents had been in the family for generations, was always the first thing I stepped on whenever I got home from school. My mother told me I took my first baby steps on the rug, as did my three other siblings. A magic rug, my parents called it, for all the most cherished memories happened near it.
    I took off my wet boots, placing them on the shoe rack beside me. My older brother, Clive, went to feed the dog while my younger twin sisters started washing the dishes. My parents were so grateful when we could help around the house, because at the moment they were on a business trip. After I finished mopping the wet floor, I went over to see the lump that had tripped me in the rug.
    I gasped. A pair of tiny legs were sticking out from under the family rug. Clive came to investigate what was wrong, and my sisters immediately rushed to my side. We all stared in astonishment at the small figure. Cautiously, Clive rolled the rug to the left, and a doll was staring back at us. We all laughed, because we had all been spooked at a little thing.
    But then the doll blinked at us. We all screamed, backing away quickly from the rug, while the doll sat up straight, looking dazed and confused.
    “Where am I?” She asked, her tiny voice so soft we strained to hear it. My two sisters, who were only ten years old, lunged towards her. For a moment I was scared they were going to hurt the doll, but they merely sat beside it, comforting her. Clive and I exchanged looks, but joined our siblings on the floor, watching them communicate with the doll.
    She told us her story, of how she had watched over us as children. We were all a little surprised by this news, but the doll talked as if this was nothing. She was the Guardian of the Magic Rug. But she never watched from inside the house, but from a secret service that almost nobody knew of.
    “Where do you watch us from?” I asked, surprising myself. I had convinced myself that this was not real, just a dream. Yet the words came from my mouth.
    The doll hesitated, wondering if she could trust us.
    “The Guardian Unit, in the basement of the local toy shop. There are several across the country, but I’m located there.” She said.
    Then, she added, “Help me back.”
    The four of us came up with a plan, and within half an hour we were at the toy shop. My twin sisters distracted the employees, and Clive and I disappeared from the chaos, heading go to the basement.
    “I have it from here.” The doll declared. She looked at us, her eyes overwhelming with gratefulness. “Thank you for everything.”
    We hugged her, thanking her for watching over us over the years.
    “I’ll never stop” she confirmed, and with that we went on our way.
    Back home, the phone rang, and I went to pick it up.
    “Yes mother, everything’s fine. No funny business going on here!” I said with a wink to my siblings. They all grinned.
    As we ate dinner in the living room, we all looked up to see a replica of the doll on the mantel, which we had purchased at the toy store. It was good to know she was watching over us, and that, like my mother said, the rug WAS indeed magic.

    Saturday Story Starters are soo fun!!! Thanks Heather for giving me this opportunity to practise my writing skills, hoped you enjoyed it!

      • Ginger was barking non-stop downstairs on the main level of our great Victorian. I couldn’t think, as I tried to write. So down the stairs I went, I’ll admit, with some bottled up anger. “Ginger!” I shouted, “Stop that barking!” I followed her voice into the library and discovered what the dog already knew: something or someone had come into the house.

        Two still small legs were sticking out underneath the Turkish rug. No movement. Ginger was still barking maniacally. Her frantic, shrill voice was reverberating in my head. “Come over here, Ginger.” I said softly. I could tell she was in need of comfort. I was starting to feel the same way.

        Stroking the little orange poodle while wondering just what, or who, those legs belonged to felt strangely intriguing. I shook that off quickly and decided to put Ginger in her crate in the basement. She could calm down and I could start thinking clearly. I grabbed a flashlight from the cupboard and checked the basement thoroughly.

        Every dark cavern looked suspicious. At times, I thought I could hear the sound of breathing behind the washing machine. After checking the back of the machine, I gratefully discarded that thought. I was starting to wish Evan, my husband, were home. “Ok, it’s not that bad. You can handle this. You have your cell and you can call 911, if you need to.” I told myself.

        The basement was “clear.” Like S.W.A.T. teams always shout while checking for perpetrators of crime. “Basement – clear!” As I made my way back up to the main level and the library, I shut off the flashlight and slowly approached the library entrance. I scanned the floor. The rug was rumpled. There were no still small legs with black stockings and white shoes anymore! I looked behind all the furniture, in all the cupboard doors of the great bookcases. “Library – clear!” So, where were the legs that belonged to who-knows-what?

        The kitchen is right off the library. So, I began to look around in there and noticed one of our very large knives was missing. I checked the dishwasher. Not there. Then I noticed the large gash running along the low cupboard doors. It started under the kitchen sink and ran around the whole kitchen – even across the refrigerator, making a white line in the stainless steel. As I followed it out of the kitchen, I could see it was going down to the basement.

        Ginger began barking again frantically. I ran down the stairs and forgot to turn on the flashlight. At the bottom I tripped over a paint can and went sprawling head first into a pile of rags. Ginger had stopped barking. I fumbled for my flashlight. Click – I turned it on. Ginger’s crate was open and standing at the opening was what appeared to be a little boy in white pants and a red shirt. His hair was messy and brown. The frown on his face was horrible. He was holding the missing kitchen knife in his right hand. It was dripping with blood.

        “I fell asleep,” he murmured.

        “GINGER!” I screamed.

        “You better wake up!” he said softly.

        “Ginger?” I cried.

        “Honey, wake up.” It was Evan. It was morning and I was in bed. Ginger was licking my face and my husband was staring at me. I’ve really got to stop watching those “Chucky” movies!

        Thank you Heather! This is such a great idea!

  2. “Help! Help! The baby’s gone!” The shriek from my mother ripped me out of bed, where I had been in a deep sleep. “Jenny, Jenny! You’ve gotta come, the baby’s gone!” Mama rushed into my room, her face pale even in the darkness. “Wake Ruth,” I gasp, pulling on a pair of jeans that had been strewn across my desk. Mama barreled towards my big sister’s room fast than I would have thought possible. In a flash the three of us were sitting on the living room floor. “Mother, tell us what happened,” Ruth soothed. “I-I put the baby-Jonny- to bed last night in his crib, just as I always do. Then the three of us ate dinner and went to bed. That was at nine o’clock. This morning, at three am, I woke up and decided to check on him. You know he’s been coughing, I wanted to make sure he was sleeping fine. But…when I got there, there was nothing in the crib except for blankets.” We sit stonily for a moment, all of us thinking of the bad things that may have happened. Finally Ruth leaps up, a determined look on her face. “Operation Find Jonny! Jenny, search the living room and kitchen. For all we know, Jonny could be mere inches away from us right now. Mother, check Jonny’s room again. Me- I’ll cover the halls and bathrooms. We’ll find that little rascal in no time!” We split up to begin the search. I scour the kitchen, even looking in the cabinets up high and dust bunnies cling to my clothes. No Jonny. Ruth gets on her belly (in the bathroom!!) and checks in every possible nook and cranny. Still no Jonny. Mama starts to cry when she discovers a few broken slats on the bottom of the crib. “We’ll never find him!” She sobs. “He could be anywhere!” At first we just tell her she’s being silly, he’s here somewhere, but gradually Mama seems to be right. Jonny’s nowhere to be found. Just when we’re giving up hope and Mama’s got the phone in her hand to call the police, Ruth draws in her breath. She points. I follow her finger to the “welcome” mat by the front door. There, half hidden and curled up, only legs sticking out from under the mat, is Jonny.

    I love Saturday Story Starters! This one was especially fun to write. 😀

    • Ha! I love the idea of the baby crawling under the rug and hiding (or maybe asleep?). Good job, Olivia! 😀

  3. Ooh I love Saturday Story Starter! I haven’t done one in a while, so hopefully I’ll back into the habit of doing them 😀

    The dog slid across the wooden floor as he rounded the corner, his eyes keen and determined. The pitter patter of the young boy’s shoes was getting louder as the dog pushed himself to run faster. Oh, where is that wretched moving object? he thought warily. Just then the kitchen door opened, and laughter and chatter halted the dog’s intense chase. He knew the number one domain rule: when your master comes home, you greet them. It was rude, crude, and socially unacceptable to do anything otherwise. He scampered to the kitchen, wagging his tail as fast he could to show excitement for the adult and children placing groceries on the table.
    Back in the living room, the doll was suddenly at a strong advantage. He gasped for breath, doubling over to regain his energy. He couldn’t run from this dog forever! Looking around the room, he noted a chair, sofa, coffee table and chest. Then he saw a quite interesting rug on the threshold of the living room and the dining room that demanded his attention. He scrambled over to it, throwing risky glances over his shoulder every few seconds. The design of the rug was speckled brown, hilariously matching his chaser, that crazy dog. The thick border of the rug was a lighter brown.
    “Oh my gosh,” he heard a female voice say. Turning around and fearing the worst, he saw no one there. The exclamation must have come from the kitchen, he thought. Then he heard the clicking of heels approaching the living room, and he had to think fast. Stupid as he was, he chose to hide under the rug! Wriggling as best he could to get under the entire rug, he struggled to reach the center of it in order to cover himself. Sadly, he failed to do so as a hole in his pants caught a nail that was sticking up from a wooden beam.
    He had no idea he wasn’t covered up all the way, unfortunately. Staying as still as possible, he heard the heels come closer to the rug.
    “What in the world is this?” he heard the female voice mutter. “I’ve got to take a picture!” Hearing the snap of a photo, the doll wondered what the picture would be of. What was so interesting in that living room that someone living there all of a sudden found something photograph worthy?
    “Kids, come in here! Mommy found a doll trying to hide under Aunt Jenny’s rug. Which one of you put that there?”
    Uh oh, the doll thought. This would not end well.

  4. Wow these are so fun! But I wish there were more than one a month, maybe you could come up with one and have another one with a picture contest or drawing.

  5. Emma had a lot of talents to be proud of and a lot of activities she really enjoyed. No one would guess that what she was most proud of, was a beautiful doll she had bought herself a few years back. Emma was very careful with her doll and took her out only on special occasions. Although she was happy with her doll and loved her dearly, she was also embarrassed by her. Clarissa, which was the doll’s name, was not a gift she talked about with her friends. She was afraid that her friends would make fun of her. Most of friends had stopped playing with their childhood toys. Even Megan Wong, who loved sewing clothes for their barbies back in middle school, had conceded and gave her dolls away or at least that was what Emma thought.
    One day, Megan came to Emma’s house for a sleep over. It was very hard for Emma to hide her doll and a part of her didn’t want to hide Clarissa at all, but at last she did.
    “Emma, what should we do first?” Megan asked.
    “Did you bring your fashion design notebook?” Emma asked.
    “Yes, of course,” Megan replied. “I read this awesome blog last night called CocoPPA Fab and saw these awesome sketches by a young girl named Andrea Holly,” Megan explained showing Emma the site on her new iphone.
    “It looks so cool,” Emma said.
    “Yeah, the blog inspired me so much I started drawing animal sketches look,” Megan stated pointing to a page in her sketchbook.
    “The swirls of the owl make my heart jump for joy!” Emma exclaimed.
    “Wow thanks,” Megan replied. “I was at an art gallery show last night with my grandma, Gigi, and I started sketching dresses but then I realized that basically the only thing I draw for fun is clothes or purses,” Megan continued. “I know that fashion is my passion but art is a beautiful art form too,” Megan said. “So now I am obsessed with drawing owls and other wild animals now,” Megan stated.
    “Wow, so no household pets?” Emma teased.
    “Maybe,” Megan replied giggling.
    “Guess what?” Emma said.
    “What is it?” Megan asked sensing the enthusiasm in Emma’s voice.
    For a moment Emma was tempted to tell Megan all about Clarissa and how she came into her life. But then she imagined Megan laughing at her or talking about her behind her back. As much as it pained her to realize, Emma didn’t completely trust Megan. When they were in middle school, Megan’s dad made an invention that made him rich and Megan became conceited. She ditched Emma and started hanging out with Becca, the former queen bee of Walden Middle School. Emma was afraid that Megan would start teasing her again. Megan had apologized to her for ditching her and making fun of her a million times and they were back to being really good friends now, but she still didn’t know if she could trust her. She hadn’t told her best friend Jessica Delaney and Jess had never done anything as bad as what Megan had done.
    “I received a beautiful silver sequined dress with satin ribbon straps and glittery shoes,” Emma replied.
    “Oh, that is so nice, but wait does it have spaghetti straps?” Megan asked.
    “Yes but my mom made me promise that I would wear a wrap if she bought me the dress,” Emma said.
    “Oh, whatever,” Megan said.
    “Oh my goodness, it is so late already,” Emma announced glancing at the clock.
    “I know it’s almost eleven o’clock,” Megan confirmed.
    “Okay let’s go to bed,” Emma decided. They brushed their teeth quickly and got into their pajamas. They had a lot of plans for the next day. When Megan fell asleep, Emma took Clarissa from a pink box she had in her closet. Then, she snuck downstairs quietly. She hugged her doll for several long minutes. Then she took out a pencil and began writing. “Dear diary, I don’t know how much longer I can keep the secret of my doll. I love Clarissa so dearly. I got her from The World Day Store which sells a lot of books, stationary, and toys. It was back in fourth grade. She has been with me through my hard times and she has shared my happy experiences too. She looks like a princess. She has pink cheeks, light pink lips, and a sweet round face. She reminds me of Clara from the Nutcracker Ballet my parents take me every year for Christmas. She is so little and cute I can hardly stand it! She has a cute little Nutcracker rested on her hand. I want to tell my friends about her but I am scared that they will laugh at me since most children my age gave up their childhood toys. “Well, I am feeling tired so I will go to bed now.” So, Emma grabbed her pencil and diary and slowly walked into her bedroom. Megan was sound asleep so Emma got into her own bed and fell asleep.
    The next morning, she woke up to the smell of yummy chocolate chip pancakes and hot cocoa. Megan was already dressed and at the table.
    “Good morning sleepy head,” mom greeted.
    “Morning,” Emma replied.
    “Hey Emma, can you walk Pip this morning?” dad asked.
    “Sure,”Emma said and got out the leash.
    “I would love to help but I have to go home and get started on my math homework,” Megan said.
    “Ugh math, okay thanks for coming over,” Emma said.
    “See you later on at the mall,” Megan called.
    “Bye,” Emma called back. “Mom, have you seen Pip?” Emma asked.
    “I saw him earlier ago when dad was making breakfast,” mom said.
    “Okay thanks, do you know where he might be?” Emma asked.
    “I saw him caring something little but I couldn’t tell what it was,” mom continued.
    “Oh okay,” Emma said. Just then, she realized what that little thing might be. It was her doll! “Oh no!” Emma yelled. She searched and searched until she finally saw her doll under the red and brown rug in the living room. The doll had a few teeth marks but the nutcracker was gone. “Pip probably ate it,” Emma thought. “ At least my doll is safe, she may not look as beautiful as she did before but with a little work I can make her look better,” Emma thought. Just then, the phone rang. It was Jess.
    “Hey Emma!” Jess greeted.
    “Hey!” Emma replied. “I was wondering if you wanted to come over,” Jess asked.
    “Sure,” Emma replied. Emma grabbed Clarissa and a purse and ran out the house. When she got to Jess’ house she stopped. “How will I tell Jess?” Emma thought. “I have waited all these years and…
    “Hey Emma, how are you?” Jess asked.
    “I am good, I have been wanting to tell you this before but I was afraid you’d laugh at me,” Emma said.
    “What is it?” Jess asked.
    Emma sighed and slowly she took Clarissa out of her bag.
    “Oh my, she is beautiful!” Jess gasped.
    “I wanted to tell you but I was afraid you and our friends would laugh at me,” Emma continued.
    “I may have given up most of my childhood toys before but have I ever been the kind of person to make fun of others?” Jess asked.
    “No,” Emma admitted.
    “Remember the ornament we gave each other years ago?” Jess asked.
    “Friends are the sisters you choose yourself,” Emma said reciting the words she already knew by heart.
    “Exactly, I am your best friend and I will never make fun of you, and I am pretty sure our other friends wouldn’t either,” Jess said.
    “Thanks!” Emma replied. That day as she hung out with her best friend, Jess and her other friends later she realized two things: She didn’t need to be ashamed of a childhood gift so wonderful as Clarissa and she didn’t need to worry about seeming childish or silly, her friends loved her no matter what she liked. Yes, the person who chose the quote in the ornament was right. “Friends are the sisters you choose yourself.”

  6. “Minnie?” I hear a voice coming from the other side of the room.

    “Yes, Winnie?” I reply, wondering why my twin sister would be talking to me. She, like, NEVER talks to me. Unless it’s a text.

    “Do you want to play a prank?”

    “Um, what?” My little-miss-perfect sister also NEVER plays pranks.

    “On Jezabel. She’s coming for a sleepover tomorrow – a Halloween sleepover,” Winnie clarifies.

    For some reason this strikes me as a fun thing to do. I don’t like to get in trouble, like Winnie, but Jezebel (Winnie’s BFFAE) isn’t the principal of our private school. Mrs. Martin is SUPER strict. She probably wouldn’t find a prank very funny.

    “Sure,” I say. “Why not?”

    Pranks = Fun!

    The next day, we set the trap. Well, not really a trap exactly, more like a fake “crime scene.” Winnie takes her old doll, Simone, and shoves her under the entryway rug so that her feet stick out. We hide in the coat closet five minutes before Jez arrives.

    We don’t have to wait long! As soon as Jezebel opens the door . . .

    “Omigod! Omigod! Omigod! What is THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!” Jezebel shrieks.

    Pranks = Hilarious!

    Winnie and I stumble out of the closet, giggling like we’re insane.

    “OMG, it worked,” Winnie doubles over in laughter. I slump against the wall, laughing so hard I’m crying.

    “MINNIE! WINNIE!” Jezebel exclaims, her voice rising even higher.

    “Sorry,” Winnie and I do our droopy-hangdog look. We have it mastered.

    “That was pretty funny, guys. Nice prank,” Jezebel says.

    Pranks = REALLY fun!

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