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The List

2009 story submission by “The Listmaker” (Amanda Robinson)

CHAPTER ONE

Official List A9: Things To Do This Summer

#1, Make a To Do List.
It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  While psychologists and his friends would call him OCD, he simply considered himself passionate about organization.  Not quite obsessive enough to disrupt his everyday life, and his quirks never seemed to interfere with his relationships.  Quite the opposite in fact, his dark handsome features and quiet intensity made him the brooding if not unwitting subject of many a sensitive conquest.  No, it wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  He just liked making lists.  He liked the feeling of triumph that came with drawing that single meticulous line through that conquered ambition.  He was especially pleased with his Official List A9, with Item the First already close to being crossed off- his first accomplishment achieved so quickly!

#2, Set Realistic Goals.

#3, Discover a Paranormal Power.
Frank thought carefully about this, as he thought carefully before adding any item to any list.  In fact, he went through several drafts of Item the Third on extra bits of scratch paper before inscribing it in all it’s finality onto his Official List A9.  “Magical Power” belonged on the list of some acne-riddled teen, most likely the prestigious wizard of some weekend role-playing society.  “Super Power” just made him sound crazy, and belied the wisdom and sense of his 30-something years.  “Paranormal Power” had just the right touch of the achievable without sacrificing his own sense of dignity.

#4, Save a Life.

#5, Become a Volunteer Firefighter

#6, Meet Sam Freidman.
Frank didn’t know a Sam Freidman.  For all he knew, Sam Freidman was a college drop-out living in his mother’s basement.  Sam Freidman might be a 78-year-old widower at the local nursing home, who spent his days in the sunroom playing bridge with a Ruth, a Mabel, and a Maude.  He didn’t know a Sam Freidman.  But he was going to meet one this summer.

At this point Frank took a moment to review his Official List A9.  He read over Item the Fourth and Item the Fifth several times before adding #7, Don’t Get Caught.  These good deeds he’d chosen were motivated by pure altruism and his own boredom.  He wanted no recognition, no celebration of his actions, in return.  Besides, just being able to strike those exceptional exploits from his Official List A9 would be thrill enough for him.  Perhaps his ability to disappear without detection would prove to be his paranormal power.

Suddenly the shrillness of the school bell sliced through his concentration, and he looked up from his Official List A9 to the stampede of students creating a gridlock at his classroom door.  He himself was tempted to use their little heads as stepping stones to get out of the oppressive room and start his much-anticipated Summer Vacation.  He instead reminded himself (as he’d had occasion to do many times) that he was the teacher, the adult.  As the clump sorted itself out and the last of the gangly youths trickled out the door Frank quickly added the last two items to his Official List A9.  His lists always consisted of nine items, and he always left #9 blank in case he wanted to add something later.  It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  He just liked the number 9.

Every step Frank took echoed off the empty walls of the now-vacant hallway, and his Items One through Nine bounced happily in his mind with a promise of days less monotonous.  The life he led was by no means boring.  He had plenty of adventures, a good job, enough friends to keep things interesting, and a razor-sharp sarcastic wit that kept him amused even when nothing else did.  That didn’t stop him from lying in bed every morning wishing he would open his eyes to a swirling vortex on his ceiling.  From the time Frank swung his first leg out of bed he secretly hoped for some ethereal fog to be waiting to lay siege to his drowsy and unsuspecting foot.  In short, he yearned for the fantastic.  He knew he had a powerful brain that was grossly underutilized.  He knew the universe was capable of providing great, fantastical things.  He just wanted to be a part of it.  And he figured dedicating his Official List A9 to bizarre and extraordinary feats would be a step in the right direction.  All his goals were attainable, he would simply have to put himself in as many random, unpredictable situations as possible and he was guaranteed to have, at the very least, a fulfilling summer.

CHAPTER TWO

It was two weeks into summer and Frank was getting nowhere on his Official List A9, unless you count the short-lived existence of Item the First.  On the first morning of the third week Frank opened his eyes to his empty ceiling and swung his legs out of bed.  Alas, no mysterious fog threatened his toes today.  Sighing heavily and yawning simultaneously he made his way to his closet and pulled open the door.  He smiled with satisfaction at the row of freshly-pressed clothes, all facing the same way, on identical white plastic hangers.  It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  He just liked an organized closet.

He spent the day just how he’d spent the past two weeks; exploring the city, meeting new people, lying in the grass at his favorite park.  So far all he had to show for his efforts were several bee stings and a few girls’ phone numbers.  He was no closer to crossing any items off his list, although he had to admit he was enjoying himself a little.  He was enjoying himself right now, in fact, strolling through Ladd’s Addition, a neighborhood he’d always driven through but never stopped to appreciate.  The warm night breeze blew softly across his face and he stuffed his hands in his pockets.  All of SE Poplar Avenue was lined with charming little houses that oozed character and uniqueness.  There was 1552 with the cozy picture window, 1560 with the Secret Garden front yard, and 1606 with the entire second story engulfed in flames.  Flames!  Frank ran across the lawn to the woman standing outside, holding her child tightly to her chest and staring up at the residential pyre in shock.

“Is there anyone inside?” he shouted.  When she didn’t answer he grabbed her roughly by the shoulder.  “Is there anyone inside?”  She shook her head and turned slowly towards him, the flames reflecting in her glazed and teary eyes.
“Can you call 9-1-1?” she asked in a tiny voice.

He swore quietly to himself as he flipped open his cell phone and made the call.  As he gave the dispatcher the details he raced around the side of the house, hunting for a hose, a koi pond, anything, although he didn’t know what help a little water would be now that the roof was starting to cave.  But his search was rewarded when his hands found the coiled rubber of a garden hose, already hooked up and ready to douse.  He threw it over his shoulder and scrambled up the elm tree in the front yard, pausing only for a second to marvel at his own agility.

“Turn it on, FULL!” he called down to the mother, who had snapped out of her catatonic state and was already halfway to the spigot.  Only when he had a steady spray directed at the window with the Disney Princess curtains did she start her screaming.

“I don’t know what happened!” She cried.  “I was downstairs!”

Frank heard a second voice over the roar of the flames and looked down to see someone standing with a comforting arm around the woman’s shoulders.

“We barely got out in time!” The woman bawled.  “Nikki came downstairs to tell me her room was on fire, and I thought she was kidding!  I THOUGHT SHE WAS KIDDING!”

The thin wail of sirens was now barely audible over the pitiful wails of the woman.  Remembering Item the Seventh of his Official List A9 Frank abandoned his heroic effort and skulked un-heroically into the shadow of the neighbor’s car.  He became engrossed in the glow of the angry, orange flames that licked the sky in contempt, and he found himself unable to turn for home.  After all, he didn’t want to leave without seeing that the professionals were on the scene.  Safely hidden in the shelter of the shadows he indulged in a few minutes of reflection.  He could hardly believe he’d accomplished Item the Fifth already, only three weeks into the summer.  He had assumed he’d have to employ more formal means to become a volunteer firefighter, not simply happen across a burning house.  Nevertheless, he had fought a fire.  He wished he had a pen so he could do away with Item the Fifth right then and there!

He was so occupied with this anticipation that he nearly leapt out of his soot-covered skin at the hand that suddenly grasped his elbow.  When Frank spun around to confront his assailant he met a pair of wide, surprised eyes.  It was the neighbor, the one who had consoled the mother and while he fought back the flames from his perch amongst the elm branches.  This woman was slight yet had a quiet strength, from her willowy but athletic frame to her graceful but strong hand.  Her vice-like grip on his arm relaxed as soon as she saw his face.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said, visibly relieved.  “You helped.”

“I tried,” he admitted, realizing he’d lingered too long and turning to make his escape.  She reached out with her other slender hand and took hold of his shoulder.

“Wait,” she said.  “Marie will want to thank you for what you did.  You’re a hero!”

He cringed at the word and, recoiling at her touch, he again turned to leave.  He thought it best to avoid explaining his Item the Seventh; taken out of context it seemed highly suspect, and he never shared his Official Lists with anyone anyway.

He was a little irritated when he felt the resistance of her grasp, still firm on his shoulder.  She wasn’t letting him walk away.  So he took a deep breath and turned toward her, setting his handsome mouth into what he hoped was an irresistible grin.

“What’s your name?” he inquired, ready to sweet-talk his way to freedom.

But the smile he had for her vanished in an instant when she answered, “Samantha Freidman.  But my friends call me Sam.”  He must have looked as shocked as he felt, because a worried shadow crossed her face.  “What is it?  What’s wrong?” she asked.

The striking smile he lavished upon her was genuine this time.  “Nothing at all wrong, Sam,” he replied.  “I’d been hoping to meet you.”

CHAPTER THREE

Smooth, lean legs twisted through Egyptian cotton sheets and entwined themselves with his own languid limbs.  Frank opened his eyes to his boring ceiling and looked down at his chest, where a lovely hand lay quietly reposed.  He watched it rise and fall, following the rhythm of his breath, until it slowly moved and its owner let out a sleepy sigh.
“It’s not every day that a girl ends up in bed with an honest-to-goodness hero,” she murmured.

He groaned inwardly at the word.  It had been easy enough to convince her over drinks last night that he didn’t want recognition for his services, however philanthropic.  And it had been easier still to convince her to spend the night with him.  But despite his vehemence on the subject he couldn’t stop her calling him a hero.  Nevertheless, things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly for his Official List A9.  He might even continue to see Sam through the summer.  But first he had a few items that required his attention.

He swung his legs out of bed and was already halfway to his dresser before he realized there was no wispy and ominous fog lying in wait for him.  He turned his head casually and saw that Sam still lay dozing with her long naked back to him, almost fully encased in a cocoon of sheets.  He took his Official List A9 from its place in his top dresser drawer and drew a thick line through Items the Fifth and Sixth.  With renewed exhilaration he headed toward the kitchen to start the coffee.

The story of 1606 SE Poplar was in the morning paper.  The police had found evidence that the fire had been intentional, and already had the suspected arsonist in custody, though he pleaded innocence just as they all do.  Justice was expected to be served swiftly.  Frank was relieved to find no mention of his name in the concise blurb of journalism and was satisfied that his good deed would go unnoticed.  He finished reading the paper and hummed quietly as he layered the crisp sections back together in their original order.  He placed it on the table, adjusting it slightly so the corners lined up with the right angle of the table’s edge.  It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  He just liked right angles.

The summer stretched lazily on, like the fruit fly deciding whether to land in your glass and ruin your pint of beer.  Frank had been spending time with Sam when he could spare it, but was still determined to devote as many hours of the day as possible to his Official List A9.  It was during this pursuit that he found himself outside Sweet Cream Café, a little unassuming place he’d discovered last week during one of his indiscriminate wanderings.  He’d planned a quick stop for a cup of coffee before his next outing.  As he rounded the corner he was stopped by a man, most likely a transient, judging by the look and the smell of him.  Frank was accustomed to being asked for money and had his polite but apologetic response ready on his tongue.  But when this man of lesser fortune simply asked for a light for his cigarette Frank found himself stopping a moment to dig into his pocket.

He looked down at his hand and saw the lighter.  It was his favorite, the one his buddy had given him during their trip to Vegas last year.  He didn’t smoke, but he carried it around anyway mostly because of the sentimental value.  Also because of the scantily clad lady who winked up at him from her two-dimensional Bic prison.  She always had a smile for him.
When he dragged his thumb across the flint wheel he heard a scream in the distance.  He looked up to see the tiny flame from his favorite lighter completely swallow the homeless man who, stranger still, now appeared to be made out of Disney Princess curtains.  Frank blinked several times and looked around him, noticing with mild surprise that he was now in a small bedroom.  A pink bed dressed with a pink quilt stood in the corner, and a pigtailed girl in pink pajamas was standing in the doorway.  He put a finger to his lips and strode quickly to the other window, dropping lightly from elm branch to damp grass.  He straightened up to find the transient waiting for him, unharmed and holding his hand-rolled cigarette expectantly.

“Hey man, you ok?  You gonna light me, or what?”

CHAPTER FOUR

It was clear that the fire had more of an effect on Frank than he’d realized.  It was indeed a heinous crime, and he found himself hoping that the despicable man who had torched Marie and her little girl out of their home was having a few nightmares of his own from his jail cell bunk.

By the end of the week Frank was determined to let go of this hatred for his fellow man, and had thrown himself with new resolve into his Official List A9.  He’d spent the last few hours at Biddy’s Tavern carousing with a new group of friends he’d met next door at Sweet Cream Café and now was taking his first tentative steps down the sidewalk.  He always parked a few blocks away from his car when indulging in debauchery.  The extra effort was always a good indication of just how drunk he was, since he could never really gauge these things until he try to walk.  And judging by his performance crossing the street tonight was going to have to be a Rose City Taxi kind of night.  As he past the alley he let out a quiet groan.  A second, different sort of groan answered back, followed by what sounded like a muffled sob.  Even in his drunken stupor Frank could identify the stench of vomit and human waste and immediately knew he wanted no part in the drama currently unfolding.  But some unknown inclination made him turn his stumbling steps into that dank, dark alley.

His footsteps hadn’t taken him far before they met with a sticky sinister substance.  He peered down to the ground, aided by just enough light from the gas station across the street to make out the body of the same homeless man he’d encountered a few days past.  Only he didn’t recall the hobo’s head having been a bloody mess when last they met.  He’d been attacked tonight, brutally, and left for dead.  Frank’s agile mind fought quickly to sober against the waves of alcohol and nausea.  He was still too drunk to drive, even if he could manage to remember where he’d parked, and this man needed help right away.  He was unconscious, and Frank didn’t need eight years of medical school to know a lot of blood had already been lost to the depths of the alley.  He reached desperately into the dark until he found a filthy discarded shirt and wrapped it tightly around the bashed-in skull.  He lifted the man gently in a fireman’s carry and headed towards the hospital which, due to some divine providence, was only a few blocks away.

The next morning found Frank sitting on his couch with his cup of coffee, watching the red-haired, red-lipped anchorwoman read him the news.  She gave him traffic updates and a few quips about the price of gas before diving into the sordid details of the attack.  The victim, one of society’s less-noticed members, was found on the sidewalk outside the ER, his head wrapped in a dirty shirt.  Authorities concluded that he’d managed to drag himself there before collapsing.  He was listed in stable condition despite the blunt-force head trauma.  Investigation was pending but not promising.  In her expert journalistic opinion the crime was most likely a random act of violence (a la Alex DeLarge) or simply a quarrel with a fellow transient over territory.  Case closed.

Frank set down his coffee cup with a shudder and turned off the TV.  He’d been pleased to cross Item the Fourth off his Official List A9 this morning.  But he was beginning to wonder how he’d managed to prevent a tragedy yet again, especially considering the intentional unpredictability with which he’d structured his whole summer.  He pulled his Official List A9 out of his pocket and perused it once more, despite having committed it to memory weeks ago.  The answer suddenly leapt off the page as though the handwriting itself was shouting to him.  Item the Third!  Of course!  His paranormal power!  He thought back on the night of the fire and the night prior and distinctly remembered feeling unaccountably drawn to each place.  Though he couldn’t explain it at the time, he now knew that he had been destined to play a part in these dramatic events.  Even more thrilling was the realization that he’d been innately aware of the universe’s plan and was there precisely when he was needed.

Frank pulled a pen from his coffee table drawer and congratulated himself as he prepared to strike Item the Third from his Official List A9.  He decided to cross Item the Seventh off as well, seeing as he’d managed to get the homeless man to the hospital without being discovered. This would leave Items the Eighth and Ninth lonely at the bottom, with only each other to await the inevitable inky line of accomplishment.

But the doorbell rang before he could put pen to paper.  He’d forgotten that Sam was coming over.  The termination of Items the Third and Seventh would have to wait.  Frank stopped to arrange his TV remote on his coffee table parallel to his DVD remote, which was already lined up parallel to his TV Guide.  It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  He just liked parallels.

CHAPTER FIVE

“You think you’re a psychic?” Sam exploded into laughter.  “Oh wow, we’re all in trouble!”

Frank bristled at her teasing.  Why hadn’t he just kept this to himself?  He’d been so elated at his recent discovery that he hadn’t been able to contain the news.  The moment she walked through the door it burst out of him, and she’d immediately belittled him.  His fingers closed around his Official List A9, still safe in his pocket, and his eyes narrowed defensively.

She must have sensed his hostility because she quickly laid a delicate hand on his shoulder.

“Oh, I’m sorry for laughing,” she said, the corners of her mouth still quirking upward, “I’m sure everyone on this planet wishes they were psychic.”

He shrugged off her offending hand.  “I don’t wish, Sam, I know.”  He told her about the incident with the hobo from the night before, and how he’d felt the same inexplicable pull towards that alley that he’d felt on Poplar Avenue the night of the fire.  He could tell she still doubted him, and before he could stop himself he revealed what he’d never planned to share with anyone: “I made a list.”

Now it was Sam’s eyes that narrowed.  Not in hostility, but in accusation.  “What do you mean, you made a list?”

Realizing there was no turning back, he told her everything.  Well, almost everything.  He left out the part about Item the Sixth, not wanting to frighten her unnecessarily.  And he figured Items the Eighth and Ninth lacked relevance to his argument since he had yet to conquer them.  He said enough to allay any suspicion, and the softening of her features as he told his story seemed to indicate that she believed him.

When he’d said all he could say she lowered herself onto his couch, head in hand, obviously a little stunned.

“So everything on that list has come true?”

He nodded.

“Can I see the list?”  Frank thought about her name under Item the Sixth and shook his head.

“I heard that story about the bum on the radio this morning,” she said.  “They arrested some drunken vagrant who’d turned himself in but now he swears he didn’t do it.”  She shivered and looked up at him with wide eyes. “You know, a lot of people are in the right place at the right time.  That doesn’t make them psychic.”

Suddenly he caught another emotion in those eyes, something besides suspicion, something he’d been expecting and dreading.  It was fear.  She was starting to piece things together, things that seemed incriminating but had logical explanations.  Things that only he knew he didn’t do.   Still, it was only the look in her eyes that betrayed her true reaction.  The rest of her countenance seemed calm and accepting, as were her words when she finally spoke.
“I’m sorry.  I believe you.” She reached out her long graceful arms to him.  But as he accepted her embrace he knew in his head and in his heart that things would never be the same.

CHAPTER SIX

Summer cooled between August and September, and the season cooled similarly between Frank and Sam.  They still spent time together, and Sam gave every appearance of normalcy, but Frank knew what distrusting thoughts swirled behind those intelligent eyes.  She still suspected him.  She never said it, and they never spoke of that afternoon again, but he felt her doubt and her disloyalty plainly, if not tangibly.  But the summer was almost over, and as long as she was pretending everything was normal he would do the same.  He saw no reason to spoil a perfectly fulfilling summer with false accusations.

They’d packed a picnic and were headed for the coast, taking one last chance to play the odds of the cool valley, warm coast meteorological lottery.  Frank felt at ease with Sam, for the first time in a long time he was beginning to see the sparkle back in her eyes when she smiled.  She turned that grin on him now, or rather on his lap, where he held a white wicker picnic basket, two giant white blankets, and four fluffy pillows.

“I really think you could have packed more,” she joked.  “I’m glad I’m driving.”

He welcomed the opportunity to tease her back, grateful at the thaw in her demeanor.  “If we’d taken my car we could have put this stuff in the back seat.  Not my fault you drive this little tin can.  I’ll be shocked if we make it to the coast in one piece!”

She punched his arm playfully and turned onto the winding country road that would lead them to the ocean.  Frank leaned back and watched the cooling summer breeze play through Sam’s hair as the little car swooped through the tree-lined turns.  The wind whipped through the windows and the car picked up speed.  She was driving a little too fast for his taste, but when he turned his head to tell her so he saw the look of terror in her eyes, and he knew it was too late.
After the crash Frank sat in the hospital waiting room.  A nurse had checked him over, treated some minor bumps and lacerations, and pronounced him incredibly lucky.  All those pillows and blankets had saved his life when he’d flown through the windshield.  He’d even managed to miss the tree that Sam didn’t.

Sam.  No one would tell him anything, only that it could be a while.  So as he sat in dread anticipation he pulled out his Official List A9.  With a shaking hand and a sense of hideous foreboding he struck a line through #8, Survive a Car Accident.

He looked up to see a white coat towering over him.

“I’m sorry,” the coat said.  “We couldn’t save her.”

Frank wasn’t standing, but his legs buckled anyway.  He felt the blood drain from his face and into his heart, which pounded ferociously in his chest and coursed agony through his veins.

“I know this is a difficult time,” the coat continued, and gestured to the two officers standing with him, “but these men need to ask you a few questions.”

A short time later, Frank was back at home with his Official List A9 unfolded in front of him.  The words of comfort he’d received from the policemen did little to console.

“Nothing you could have done, son.  The brakes went out.  You’re lucky to be alive.”

Not lucky, he thought as he crossed off Item the Third.  It wasn’t luck at all.  At least he could be sure of his paranormal power now.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Frank laid the white lilies on the grave of Samantha Freidman.  For the past month he’d been haunted by dreams of naughty Vegas lighters and Disney Princess curtains, a jarring juxtaposition that often woke him in the dark hours of the morning.  Her accusing eyes still burned in his memory, although he’d accepted her apology he’d never really forgiven her.  His anger at her distrust was forever mingled with his rage at her death, so that he didn’t know how to stop either from eating away at him.

Moreover, he was increasingly troubled by the discovery of his paranormal power.  He’d only recently and very tentatively begun to explore the boundaries of his abilities.  He’d had success with several lists so far, but he couldn’t be sure what to attribute to his paranormal power and what was simply the mark of an ambitious and motivated man.   How was he to preserve the unpredictability of life if he already knew what was going to happen?  And how could he keep making lists if everything on them came true?  Was he really meant to give up his love of list-making for the sake of maintaining the random design?  It was almost too ironic.  His passion for organization was being pitted again the haphazard dice game of human existence.  This thought, more so than the images of pink beds and pretty pink pajamas, kept him from sleeping at night.

He hardly slept at all anymore.  But when his troubled mind did finally allow him a moment of respite he didn’t just dream about 1606 SE Poplar.  One night during the last week of summer he dreamt about his encounter with the homeless man.  It was a little unnerving to see himself in his dream from a bystander’s perspective.  It was almost as if he was a spectator to his own actions, like he was just an observer watching some stranger swing that sledgehammer high into the air.  Through a disembodied point of view he watched himself crack that skull like a melon, then kneel down next to the bum’s broken body and be quietly but thoroughly sick.  He tried to shout to the attacker, but he paid no attention to himself, and simply wiped the bludgeoner clean before tossing it in the dumpster and ducking into Biddy’s Tavern.

Frank woke with a start.  It was morning.  He swung his legs out of bed and headed straight for the kitchen, not bothering to check for ceiling anomalies or threatening floor-fog.  He had far more disturbing thoughts to occupy his mind these days.  In fact, he’d been so lost in his anxious musings that he’d forgotten to retrieve his Official List A9 from his top dresser drawer.  He still carried it around with him, folding it neatly three times into perfectly uniform squares before placing it in his pocket.  It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  He just liked perfect squares.

But when he pulled open his top dresser drawer his Official List A9 was missing.  Odd, he thought, but not alarming, seeing as he’d given up some of his more fastidious tendencies of late.  But his Official List A9 wasn’t in his coffee table drawer either.  Or in his desk drawer.  Or in any of his kitchen drawers.  By the time he got back to his dresser he’d begun to panic, yanking drawer after drawer open impatiently and slamming them shut in frustration.  Only when he pulled open his bottom dresser drawer did confusion overtake annoyance and stay his frenzied hand.

It wasn’t his Official List A9 in the drawer, it was something else, something folded neatly three times into perfect squares.  He plucked it from the drawer and unfolded it, not sure what to expect.  He examined it, perplexed.  One edge of the paper was roughly torn, and it weighed less than the leaflet paper he used for list-making.  It was a page torn from his phone book.  He followed the list of names down the page to the bottom, which was highlighted: Sam & Mary Freidman 609 NE Prescott St…Sam Freidman 5626 SW Corbett Ave… S & J Freidman 10214 SE 134th Ave…S Freidman 1616 SE Poplar Ave…

His finger ran off the page and his eyes followed.  His gaze fell into the bottom dresser drawer, where a pair of wire cutters lay covered in what he could only assume was brake fluid.  And then he knew.

Of course Frank had suspected himself all along.  After all, he was far too rational to really believe in paranormal powers.  He placed the evidence back in his bottom dresser drawer and checked his top drawer again, finding his Official List A9 hidden under one of his socks.  He took it into the living room, unfolding it as he lowered himself onto the couch.  He smiled down at Item the Seventh and drew a heavy through the words, which now held much more meaning than simply avoiding praise for his “good deeds.”

He chuckled to himself and to his Official List A9.  At least he could start making lists again.  Which reminded him, he had yet to fill in Item the Ninth.  He hated to leave it blank and besides, he did have one last thing to accomplish this summer.  He filled in #9 and grabbed his car keys.  Only when he was on the road did he draw that single meticulous line through his last conquered goal.  Then he crumpled his Official List A9 into an Official Little Ball and tossed it out the open window.  It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  Not anymore.

Official List A9: Things To Do This Summer

#1, Make a To Do List
#2, Set Realistic Goals
#3, Discover a Paranormal Power
#4, Save a Life
#5, Become a Volunteer Firefighter
#6, Meet Sam Freidman
#7, Don’t Get Caught
#8, Survive a Car Accident
#9…

Well, what would you have done?

THE END

© 2009 Amanda Robinson

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One Response

  1. Well done, Amanda. This is one of the top three I voted for at the reading.

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