Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story using the words candy, whistle, ferry, ring, and kitchen. Today’s story comes to you from Val Muller, author of the young adult novel The Scarred Letter, a modern take on Hawthorne’s original.
The Real Candy Crush Saga
By Val Muller
Melody knew it was a mistake, installing the game. She’d always been obsessed with puzzle games. Growing up, it was Tetris. Sudoku and 2048 had all taken their toll—hours of productivity lost. And a mind-numbing game was just the thing to distract her from her coursework. At this rate, she’d never earn her Masters. She smiled and lovingly cursed her sister for suggesting she install the app.
She put dinner in the over—the rest of the pre-packaged pigs-in-blankets she’d served at Christmas—and then slumped in the kitchen chair, staring at the colorful bits of candy on her screen. As she played the game, they sparkled and then became obliterated as they lined up by color. The music was just as addictive, a slow-paced, whimsical song that belied the looming deadlines: research paper, annotations for her works cited page, and a proposal for her research study.
The game whistled in sorrow. She lost the level for the second time in a row. Where was her mojo? She checked the hotdogs. Two minutes left. Enough time to pass if she was careful.
After losing three lives on the level—those chocolate pieces were the worst—she finally advanced to the next section of the game. But this was a social game, requiring friends to “help” by sending and responding to game requests. To advance to the next level, she needed the help of friends. She frantically flipped through the app’s list of friends who also played the game. Who could she ask? Who wouldn’t think she was crazy for sending a game request through Facebook?
Her sister, of course. After all, Mary had gotten her hooked on the game. She pressed “send.” Ever addicted, Mary responded with the request right away. Melody sighed relief and prepared to play the next round. But no—the game had a message for her. One friend was not enough. She needed to find two more friends to agree to help her get to the next level. As if mocking her, her euphoric character’s avatar hovered over a candy-themed ferry that was ready to set sail on a sugar ocean, taking her to the next level.
She rolled her eyes at her addiction, but she couldn’t break it. Once again, she flipped through the list of players. She selected a few acquaintances from high school, sending them the requests. They were always sending her game requests, after all. Her one and only request wouldn’t bother them, right?
Her phone alarm rang, its ring tone a warning that the hotdogs were ready. The game beeped again. A second person had responded. Rosemary, a girl she remembered from summer camp who had friended her on Facebook last year. Amazing how social media kept her in contact with people who would otherwise have fallen off of her radar.
The hotdogs smelled like they were burning, so she shoved her phone into her pocket to retrieve them from the oven. She set them on a plate to cool and eyed the stack of school books on the counter. They could wait until after dinner. She picked up one of the hotdogs, but it was too hot to eat. She flipped through her phone. Mercifully, a third person had responded. She smiled, promising to allow herself some time to play after dinner.
Who was it? William Thompson. She laughed. He was barely an acquaintance. The two had gone to elementary school together. They hated each other in third grade, and then in sixth grade they dated, briefly, for three days, until he dumped her for a seventh grader. It had scarred her for a week or so, and then she moved on. Silly middle school gossip. Good thing he probably didn’t remember. Come to think of it, had he friended her? She couldn’t imagine she’d have sent him a request.
Her phone beeped with a new message. Apparently, William had sent a personal reply along with his merciful Candy Crush aid.
Here’s some help in the game. I’m addicted too. All the way at Level 81. I know, don’t laugh. It took hours.
She smiled and typed, Thanks.
His reply popped up right away. It was the least I could do after dumping you in sixth grade. What a jerk I was. He punctuated it with a smiley face.
The hotdogs were cool enough to eat, and Melody clicked on William’s name, reading over his profile as she ate. Funny—he still lived in the same county, too. Neither of them had managed to get away. As she finished the last of her meal, she couldn’t help noting his marital status was single. Her eyebrow arched, and a mischievous smile curled across her face. She opened the message window again.
William, she wrote, want to grab dinner sometime? She pushed “send” before she could talk herself out of it. She squealed like a little girl and shoved her phone into the kitchen drawer. She couldn’t bear to read his response. Had she really done that? Even though she was alone, she blushed. Then she grabbed the stack of school books and hurried to her desk. Nothing like nerves to set her mind on studying.
The phone, and her candy crush, could wait until later.
The Spot Writers—Our members:
RC Bonitz: http://www.rcbonitz.com
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/
Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/
Kathy Price: http://www.kathylprice.com