I wrote this short-short story for a writing contest. The rules were to keep the story under 700 words and to write about an expensive found object that the finder had no intention of returning. My friend sent the contest link to me, but the contest was already over. He said, “Write it anyway.” So I did.
A Short-Short Story Maya Found Her Voice
“It’s mine,” Maya said running to her room. A mix of anger, excitement and pride stirred around inside me. In the hallway, leaning against the wall facing Maya’s door, the Tucson heat seemed to seep into my back. Sliding down, my knees buckled then my buttocks hit the floor.
“It’s mine,” I repeated, hoping Maya would open her door, peak out and say more. Those sweet words would do. She could talk.
Fearing I’d cause an explosive episode, I spent fifteen minutes trying to coax Maya out of her room. When my pleading didn’t work, I called Daniel. I sure hated bothering him at work, but I had no choice. As soon as he answered, I said, “Come home now.”
“Is everything alright?”
“Maya just spoke her first words.”
Daniel’s voice softened as he asked, “What did she say?”
“She said, it’s mine.”
“Really, ok, what’s going on?”
“Please, come home, then I’ll explain everything.”
I ran to meet Daniel at the garage door. “Promise you’ll let me decide what to do.
“How can I promise. What’s going on?”
“No Daniel, you need to promise before I tell you.”
His questioning eyes focused on me, seeming to see my upset for the first time. “Okay. Okay. You have it,” he said.
“Look.” I pointed to the headline on the first page of that day’s newspaper. It said, “Ancient Figurine Stolen From The Tucson Art Museum”.
“You had me rush home for this?” Daniel nudged me into the house.
I followed him into the kitchen. “I think Maya has it.”
“What do you mean, Maya has it?”
“Just that. Remember the toy she found in the parking lot on Tuesday?”
“That beat up piece of wood?”
“Yes, look at the picture.”
“Not exactly, that’s why I asked you to come home.”
“If it is, we’re giving it back,” he said breaking his promise sooner than I expected.
Things were never as simple as Daniel saw them. Maybe in a few months after Maya tired of it, we could turn it in. Maybe mail it to the museum. At least that was my plan. As we argued about what to do, Maya came into the kitchen.
“Daniel, please drop it for now.”
His hands were shaking. I put my hands over his. His strong hands engulfed mine. “Baby, we have to give it back”
Looking at Maya, Daniel smiled. “She can talk?”
“Yes, it’s wonderful.” Maya sat in her chair. I separated my hands from Daniel’s. “Alright Maya, let’s get lunch.”
Daniel went over to her. “Let Daddy see your toy.”
Maya shook her head. She looked past him and then started rocking. He didn’t dare touch her. I was glad he had at least kept that in mind. Maya ate lunch, right there at the table, holding the figurine in her hand. Daniel stood behind her, alternating between looking at the picture in the newspaper and doing his best to examine the figurine without touching it or Maya.
“That’s definitely it,” he finally said.
“I knew it.”
“We’re giving it back. Today.”
“That was before you told me she was a thief.”
“Not fair. She’s a six-year-old child and she found it.”
“So what, doesn’t mean she can’t be a thief.”
“Really, Daniel. Stop calling her that.”
“Okay. Maybe you’re right, but you and I would be thieves.”
“I don’t think so… besides, we can’t take it from her?”
“All I’m saying is… we’re turning it in. Period.”
Maya flapped her hands as she counted. Our spat was putting her off schedule. “Let’s deal with this later. Okay?”
Daniel sat in the chair next to Maya. She counted with her hands in the air. When she reached 231, Daniel snatched the figurine. Maya screamed, banged her head against the chair and her arms were moving above her head.
“Enough Maya,” Daniel said.
Maya stopped flinging her head against the chair. “It’s mine.”
Feeling stunned, we just looked at her and Daniel had tears in his eyes.
“Yes, Maya. It’s yours,” Daniel said putting the figurine in her hand.
I don’t think of this as a complete story. The rules also said the story had to have a beginning, middle and end. It was a difficult task. To me, it’s just a scene, something you might find as a part of a larger story. I’m sure there are writers who can and succeed at doing a better job of writing short-short stories.