WEP February Challenge: Heart’s Desire

A new year of challenges hosted by the wonderful Yolanda and Renee of Write, Edit, Publish! The first theme of the year: Back of the Drawer.

As the name suggests, the prompt is all about what a character finds at the back of a drawer. Love? Riches? Horror? Who can say?

Presented for your reading pleasure, here’s the tale of a thief called Len, who once stole the biggest prize of all: the love of his life.


 

“Whatever you do, don’t open the top drawer.”

Mal had been very insistent about that. The top drawer was to remain untouched. She wouldn’t say why, and Len knew better than to badger her for answers. She kissed him before he left, holding her lips to his a second longer than usual. If she said to leave that drawer alone, he’d damn well leave it alone.

It was a simple job: break into Mal’s old apartment and retrieve a few items from her bureau. Dob, her drunken pig of an ex-husband and former partner, would probably be out with his floozy of the week, so there was little chance of running into him. Of course, he’d probably have a few people posted around the roofs and balconies, just in case. Still, it was no big deal for Len; getting past security was his specialty. Some reconnaissance, a little sneaking around rooftops and a couple of chokeholds took care of Dob’s crew. No sweat. All he had to do was hop onto an adjacent balcony to get to Mal’s building, then find the right window. But before he could jump, there were footsteps. He’d missed one. The guard emerged from the stairwell to find his partner knocked out and Len standing at the edge of the roof.

The guard pulled out a gun. Len broke off part of an antenna. A bullet shot through the air, missing Len’s neck by inches as he twisted and dove to the ground, flinging the antenna piece. It hit the guard square between the eyes, knocking him off balance. A running jump, a flying kick, some punches, some blocks and one karate chop (not necessary, but fun). It was over. All clear. Len hopped over to the next building and found his window.

Breaking into the actual apartment would be a lot easier. Dob was paranoid but sloppy: his locks and latches didn’t put up much resistance against Len’s deft fingers. He opened the window as quietly as he could and slipped inside. Len was standing in Mal’s study, which Dob had converted into some sort of gaudy trophy room. Many of Mal’s things were untouched, though, including her bureau, pressed up against one corner of the room. Len went over to it and unlocked the drawers. All except the top one, just as instructed. He took out some papers, all stapled together. There were also some folders, Old photographs. One very particular photograph that Mal definitely wouldn’t want Dob to keep. A journal. And her favorite knife, thin curved blade and an intricately carved bone hilt. Her name had been engraved on it, in a language that many had forgotten. That was all. Job done.

As he was getting up, a voice in the back of his mind asked why Mal had told him to leave the top drawer. What was the big secret, and why did she want it to stay with Dob? It didn’t matter. None of Len’s business. He would take Mal’s things back to her and then they could start their new life together. Simple as that.

The voice wouldn’t let up, though. What was the deal with that drawer? Len grunted impatiently and looked at it, really looked for the first time. It was different from the other drawers. Same faded green wood, but an elaborate golden border. Even the knob was different, molded to look like the head of some weird animal. Len could feel the hairs standing on the back of his neck, like they were trying to pull him away. Whatever was in that drawer was bad news, that much he could tell.

But what if he just got a peek? He wouldn’t take what was in there. Just look and lock it up again. Dob wouldn’t know. Neither would Mal. The job was still done and Len would still get paid. What was the big deal? He was standing over the desk, thumb tapping a frantic rhythm on its weathered surface. Just one peek. For curiosity’s sake. Len smiled. Curiosity. It killed cats. But Len was no cat.

He put his tools to work, picking at the lock of the top drawer, but nothing happened. He couldn’t get the damn thing to open. He couldn’t find a latch or a bolt or a way to make that lock go click under his fingers. A voice in his head again, but a different one. A woman’s voice. Soft. Sultry. Soothing. And click. The drawer was unlocked. Len was surprised, but relieved. One little peek. That’s all he wanted. He grabbed the drawer handle. It felt so warm in that cold, cold room. Like it was alive. Len hesitated. And then he pulled. The drawer slid open with a groan. Len peered into it, holding his breath, then letting it all out in one little whoosh. Empty. The drawer was empty.

Len laughed. Mal had made an ass out of him. All that spooky junk about locked drawers and it was empty. He was about to close it when he saw a shadow near the back. There was something there. The drawer wouldn’t open any further. Len craned his neck to get a better look but he couldn’t see anything except shadows. He reached inside and felt around. Felt something small, squishy. It was a heart. Mal’s heart. It glowed bright red, pulsating slowly under his palm. Somewhere across town, Len knew Mal felt her chest tighten. Why was she leaving her heart with Dob? She hated the bastard. Unless she didn’t.

Len closed the drawer and locked it again. He could still feel its pulsing rhythm along his hand. So that was it. Mal belonged to him now, mind, body and soul. But he knew where her heart truly lay. Len climbed back out the window and made his way to his car. He wished he’d never opened that damn drawer.

Word Count: 986

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28 thoughts on “WEP February Challenge: Heart’s Desire

  1. Arpan, I’ll bet Len wished he’d never opened that drawer. Creepy as to find a beating heart! Creepy characters. Liked the tension. You could create even more by shortening your paragraphs. Especially that fight paragraph. Keep us guessing longer!

    Thanks for posting for WEP! Great to have you! During the year, hope to see you again and again!

    Denise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Denise! It’s always so much fun doing these challenges! It’s my goal to not miss a single prompt this year. Let’s see how that goes.

      It’s funny you bring up the paragraphs. I’ve noticed that I tend to write very short paragraphs, so I’m trying to lengthen them a bit more, just to vary up the structure.

      Oh, the irony that I should do that in a story that could have benefited from shorter paragraphs!

      Like

  2. This so reminded me of Bong folk tales read in childhood, the prince/princess and life/hearts hidden in secret jewelled boxes! Loved that trip down memory lane, and loved this flash – a great contemporary twist.

    Always a pleasure reading here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, what can I say? The disappointment of knowing that you’re being used. You bring out so poignantly in your writing Len’s feelings that he has been played the fool.
    Excellent job, Toi.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Arpan – oh a real heart … and yes I bet he wished he’d never opened the drawer and had following Mal’s instructions … it’s unlikely they’ll be happy ever after that’s for sure … clever writing – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Uh, oh, someone found out something they shouldn’t. Loved this! Great action! Great twist! Wonder what happens now the Mal knows too. Hmm…

    Arpan, great flash, thanks for participating in the WEP Challenge with such and interesting tale. You are true to your word ‘unusual strangeness’!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is really good! I enjoyed the mounting tension as well as the way the action built and rushed on to the conclusion. Finding the beating heart? That was creepy and makes me wonder: DID she leave her heart there of her own will or is there something far more sinister at work?

    Well done!
    Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed the tussle Len had with himself. The fight scenes were beautifully charted out and didn’t prepare me for the sensitivity of the end with a twist – the heart left with Dob (great character name btw). Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Curiosity may not kill the curious person, but it sure casts a foreboding on this man’s future after he gave into the voices – his subconscious yearnings – we always wonder when someone wants to keep a secret. I never knew that desks were a good place to hide all these creepy things. I thought they were usually buried in the ground and covered with something heavy. . .I enjoyed this!

    Liked by 1 person

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