Friday, October 16, 2009

Hike, by Melanie Avila

Sheila stepped gingerly over her daughter's outstretched legs and marveled at how big she was getting. It seemed like just yesterday Stacy needed to be carried everywhere, and now her legs were nearly as long as her father's. "Stacy, we're leaving in five minutes. Do you have everything you need?"

Stacy grumbled a non-response and rolled over.

"Come on. Your father's been looking forward to this all week and the weather's perfect for a hike." The gray clouds overhead promised a cool day, and if they were lucky, rain.

Steve ambled to them and nudged Stacy's foot. "Let's go! I found a spectacular view the last time I was out and I want you to see it."

Stacy rolled her eyes. "Is it as exciting as the mound of dirt you dragged me to last weekend?"

"No, this is like nothing I've ever seen before." He shook his head. "Trust me, you've got to see it to believe it." He peeked up at the sky and smiled at Sheila. "Perfect."

Fifteen minutes later they were finally out the door on their way. Raindrops pelted them as they crossed the field near their home. Dry riverbeds sprang to life, carving new paths through the lush field and carrying branches and discarded junk from those who'd passed there before them.

Steve kicked at a piece of plastic drifting in the current. "I hate to see this. Don't they know how long this stays in the environment?"

The brush grew dense and Stacy slowed to a crawl.

"Don't stop now, we're almost there," Steve called over his shoulder.

"Where's there? All I see is this field and that huge dark cloud."

But that wasn't sky up ahead. What looked like darkening clouds was actually a dark gray wall.

They stopped at the base and waited for Steve to give instructions, but he just smiled.

Sheila gasped. "We're not…?"

"Dad, are you serious? You just made me hike for miles and now you're telling me we have to climb a wall?"

"I'm telling you, the view is worth it." He placed one foot on the wall and pulled himself up. "It's not so bad. Just take your time."

Up, up, up they climbed, until Steve pulled himself over a ledge and looked down at them. "This is it," he whispered.

Sheila and Stacy scrambled to join him, and their mouths dropped open. From their spot on the ledge, they overlooked a vast open space, wider than anything they'd ever seen before. Sheila moved closer to Steve. "What is it?"

Acres of blue grass spread across the horizon, dotted with lush black mountains and strange wooden monuments that stretched the length of the field. A low rumbling in the distance made Sheila take a step back.

Steve sighed. "I had to ask around, but one of the guys had seen something like this before." He looked between them, his eyes shining. "It's a living room."


Jude Hardin said...

I had to think about this for a minute, and then I finally realized that Steve and Sheila and Stacy are...spiders!

Very cool. Maybe you could think of a title that would give a clue. I'm not sure a reader who didn't know you were working from a prompt would have figured it out.

Anonymous said...

Melanie - very cool. I enjoyed this story tremendously. Keep on writing.


Melanie Avila said...

Thanks guys.

Jude, I was just telling someone the other day that I'm HORRIBLE when it comes to photo prompts. I can't seem to get around the idea that the reader can see the picture. I know I shouldn't do it, but I do. Maybe it's my tendency to be overly subtle...

Jude Hardin said...

Well, with this you want the last line to remain a surprise, so I think a different title would do the trick. You could call it "The Spiders," and when readers get to the last line they'll realize the title is actually this family's name. :)

Melanie Avila said...

That's a good idea.

LurkerMonkey said...


You're too funny ... I finished this with a giant smile on my face. You took my picture of huge, black spiders and made them CUTE!

I especially liked the detail about the legs in the beginning--that's actually when I first started to suspect they were spiders.

Melanie Avila said...


I was careful to only include actions that spiders can do like kicking, walking, climbing. I'm glad it came off as cute -- I can't do icky scary.

E. Flanigan said...

Melanie, I am the biggest idiot on the planet; I was completely dumbfounded for a minute or so! My husband finally took pity on me and explained .... :)

This is really clever. It was like THE SIXTH SENSE, where I kept going back over the story to make sense of it once I knew the twist. But it all works. As you said, the actions, the length of her legs and getting carried around and all that, it all makes sense for spiders and people both.

I would agree with Jude that for your denser readers (like myself!!) making the title "The Spiders" would clue them in. Overall, a creative take on the prompt! Nice job.

Natasha Fondren said...

You know, I would hate for it to be so obvious that the title says it all. :-) I think you can solve the problem by just posting the photo with it. It's a multi-media story! :-)

I loved this! I skimmed after I finished to enjoy all the clues I missed the first time, and then I just outright re-read the whole thing, and found more.

Way fun and way cool, Melanie! :-)

Erica Orloff said...

Well . . . I was dense, but then when it was EXPLAINED to me, of course I got it. LOL!

I don't think you need to call it The Spiders, but a double entendre title, or even having the parents have some sort of cute spidery nickname for each other or something . . . would have done it for me.

Cute concept.

Jude Hardin said...

I was thinking if it was titled "The Spiders" that readers still wouldn't expect the characters to be spiders. It's not obvious at all until the last line. But a double entendre title would be cool too.

Erica said...

Mel- That was so good. I too had to look back to see that they were spiders. Very unique way of telling the story.

So should I feel bad when I squish them?

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks everyone!

I like the idea of a double meaning title, or even something like Spiders on a Hike, or Spider Encounter... which are off the top of my head and BAD, but that idea.

Melanie Avila said...

Oh, and I can't believe I tricked so many of you! I thought everyone would get it when I talked about her long legs. :P