Guess What

Jessie tugged the laundry bag on to her shoulder again. It wasn’t heavy but after carrying it for two blocks, it tended to throw her off balance and grumpy. Elsa tugged on the sleeve of her shirt, sending her more off balance and more grumpy.

“What is it?” Jessie quipped, switching shoulders. This movement helped her keep her tongue in check with her sister. A lesson she’d learned not long after taking over this duty for her mother.

“Guess!” Elsa smiled, her cheeks round and hard as apples. Her tongue pressed through her missing tooth in front. “Come on. Guess!”

Jessie rolled her eyes as she watched a sluggish white and rust car stall at the stop sign. She switched shoulders again and stepped over a crack in the sidewalk. She couldn’t bring herself to agree. Jessie had promised in the Laundry mat that they could play “guess” on the way home, but her brain had melted from the heat of the dryers and it hadn’t congealed yet. She glanced down to see Elsa twisting a loose tooth while staring down at her untied shoes.

“Okay.” Jessie sat her bag of laundry down. “Just let me tie your shoe first.”

“Yes, yes, yes!” Elsa laughed and wiped her nose on the back of her hand. She was allergic to air and had a continuous runny nose and regardless of how many tissue packets or handkerchiefs she was given she preferred the back of her hand or sleeve depending if it was short or long sleeve weather.

It took Jessie a moment to untie the knot that was left of the neat bow she made earlier in their apartment.

“Jessie! STOP! That man stole our laundry!” Elsa jumped up and down, knocking Jessie over. She reached back and found the bag next to her gone. She looked down the sidewalk and saw a man carrying their laundry back effortlessly on his shoulder. He shoved the old lady with the pink hat against a building and ran.

Jessie sprinted after him. They couldn’t afford to replace anything that was in that bag. It was just their worn and slightly too small clothes. They weren’t worth anything.

“Hey, that’s our clothes! There’s no money or drugs in there!” She screamed. She was unable to ran even half the man’s speed. She waved her hands over her head trying to catch someone’s attention who could stop the idiot man who stole their worthless possessions. A few people watched as she passed by, but no one moved.

Jessie could hear Elsa scramble behind her and scream “My Shoe!” Jessie couldn’t stop now. The man had just rounded the corner.” She stopped screaming, since she needed the oxygen to run. She rounded the corner and saw their laundry bag leaning against a garbage can. She stopped and heaved, unable to catch her breath. She leaned against the building on the corner and called back to Elsa.

“You’ll never guess what I just found!” She closed her eyes and rolled around the other side of the building to put eyes on her sister, but she wasn’t there. Jessie scanned the sidewalk but saw nothing. She had heard Elsa scream about her shoe. She wouldn’t have been able to chase after her without her shoe. She shuffled over to the laundry bag. The knot hadn’t even been untied. She peeked inside. It was their clothes. She pulled it up onto her shoulder and tittered towards where she left Elsa. She felt nervous not seeing her sister. That was her biggest job to take care of Elsa. The old lady in a pink hat sat on a bench looking dazed. Jessie should have seen Elsa by now. She dropped her bag by the old lady and asked if she’d seen a little girl with brown hair.

“Is that her shoe?” The old woman pointed a crooked finger.

Jessie followed the woman’s finger. There next to the road was Elsa’s dingy tennis shoe with dog eared laces. Jessie’s heart stopped beating in her chest. She ran to pick up her sister’s shoe. She peered inside but there was no foot inside it. She spun around checking the other side of the street. Elsa wasn’t allowed to cross the street alone, but Jessie hunted down the sidewalk across the street as well. Her sister was gone.

I used “guess” as my writing prompt today. Pick a word and write. It’s fun. You’ll like it.

About the author

Carley Hibbert

I just finished writing my first novel The Villain's Assistant. I'm preparing to submit it to an interested publisher.

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