Crinkle Cut - Writer's Month Entry

Lurkette

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“What kind of Outlander fever dream is this?”

Raquel sat down under a tree, trying to adjust her eyes to the scene before her. She reached down to pinch her arm a few times, but the lush green landscape stayed the same.

“What’s the matter?”

She looked up to find the source of the soft voice. It was the girl she said seen at the house at the top of the hill, the one who had been tending the cow just outside. She was pretty. Almost too pretty, considering the environment and the dirt smudged on her cheeks, Raquel thought.

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

Raquel begrudgingly smiled, trying to hide her panic at being removed from her job at Burger Smack and thrown into what appeared to be Ireland several centuries prior all in an instant. She had thought briefly that maybe she had passed out from an overzealous whiff of the oil vats, but everything felt so real. So real that it didn’t seem wise to tell this story to a complete stranger, especially a stranger that was showing her kindness despite her mustard-colored polyester uniform. The girl tilted her head at Raquel, who quietly shrugged.

“It doesn’t seem like nothing, exactly,” the girl said as she sat down beside Raquel. Raquel tensed as the girl reached her hand over to her. The girl pinched a bit of her sleeve between two fingers, rubbing it gently. Her brow furrowed a bit at the unusual garment, which caused Raquel to snicker slightly. That fabric was a bad choice in any era, she thought.

“Well, laughter is a good sign, then,” the girl said, removing her hand from Raquel’s shirt. “A might peculiar, however. Your clothes, your voice, your ideas…”

Raquel looked down as the girl’s voice trailed off. In a moment of lucidity when she had first noticed she was no longer in Burger Smack and instead somewhere deep in the past, she thought it would be fun to invent the french fry and turn the seeming nightmare into a blissful life full of riches and fame. She had marched right up to the nearest house, the one on the hill overlooking the potato farm she landed in, and introduced the idea to the gruff-looking man who answered the door. When he had slammed that door in her face, the world no longer felt like a dream, but instead a potentially very grim reality.

*“To put a potato in a vat of hot oil? To what end?” The girl asked before breaking into laughter. “Most peculiar! Certainly no one around here would have had that idea.”

Raquel felt blood rise to her face as she realized that she might not only be stuck in a completely different world than her own, but she might also be stuck in that world now labeled as a mental case. What if she were to be stuck here forever? Would she have to resign herself to dying in the woods alone because she dared to capitalize on the bizarre situation?

“Yeah, I gathered that much,” Raquel said brusquely as she stood up. “Don’t worry, I won’t bother any of you ever again.”

The girl stopped laughing as she saw Raquel start to walk off.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

Raquel felt her eyes begin to water as she snapped back, “Does it matter?”

She started to run before the girl could see her cry. If she was already trapped here as a laughing stock, she thought, she might as well die alone in the woods.




*Optional Challenge #1 @Riri
 

Lurkette

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Raquel walked hastily into the woods before her, blinking back tears with each step.

“Wait!”

Raquel heard the girl call out behind her, but that only made her walk faster. Her thoughts raced, thinking of how she would be able to survive in this new world starting with a negative reputation. Could she reasonably live alone in the woods? Or would waiting to be eaten by a wolf be more practical? Are there even wolves in Ireland? As she stumbled further down this distracting train of thought, she felt a hand grab hers.

“Please don’t go.”

Raquel’s hand went limp. “No, I… I think I’d rather be alone,” she said without looking at the girl.

“I know I said it was peculiar, but it’s a good idea, really!”

The hand squeezed tighter around hers. Raquel turned slightly to see the girl’s hand. It was calloused somewhat, but still soft, in a way. Raquel blushed slightly, then looked away once more.

“You don’t have to say that. I know it was dumb.”

The girl reached over and cupped Raquel’s cheek, turning her face towards her own. Raquel felt the blood rushing to her head as she looked the girl in the eyes.

“I said it really is a good idea. I did not mean to upset you so,” the girl said while smiling gently.

Raquel swallowed hard and used her free hand to wipe her eyes. “Oh… um…”

“And you know how to make these, these... oily potatoes?”

Raquel laughed, but the girl only tilted her head, looking confused. She quickly corrected the action and squeezed the girl’s hand back.

“I do, if you know where we can get some oil and maybe some seasoning?”

The girl grinned and laced her fingers between Raquel’s. “As a matter of course, I do.”

Raquel’s eyes moved back and forth between the girl’s face and their intertwined hands. Before she could say anything else, the girl began to lead her away.

“Oh, my name is Raquel, by the way,” Raquel managed to sputter as she caught up to walk beside the girl.

The girl started to smirk but stopped quickly. “What an intriguing name. Mine is Shauna. Pleased to meet you.”

Raquel could tell the girl was trying to spare her feelings, but she still appreciated it. Maybe she wouldn’t have to die in the woods alone. Maybe she had made a friend. Maybe she could be…

Before she could finish the thought, she realized they were going back to the house on the hill. She stopped walking.

“I can’t go back there.”

Shauna turned around, not releasing Raquel’s hand. “Is it because of my father?”

Raquel stared at her. “Your father?”

“The man you spoke to earlier. I know he’s a gruff man, but he won’t bother you if you’re with me.” Shauna tapped her chin as she spoke, “He might actually have gone into town by now. Not to worry.”

Raquel nodded and stepped forward once more. Shauna nodded in return and they continued to walk, hand-in-hand, to the house on the hill. Even though Shauna had assured her that it would be fine, Raquel still felt her pulse rise as she remembered how she felt earlier at the house. How that man had yelled at her, telling her how stupid he thought she was, and then how was the door slammed in her face. She used her spare hand to wipe her eyes as she tried to summon the bravery to set foot back there. She had to find the courage soon, because they were rapidly approaching.
 

Lurkette

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Shauna pushed open the front door and released Raquel’s hand for the first time since she grabbed it in the woods. “Now, let me see…”

Raquel looked around the room as Shauna began to search for something. She wondered what sort of life Shauna and her father led here, and whether she could perhaps live it along with them. Maybe she could learn to get along with her father, since she certainly got along well with Shauna. It probably wouldn’t be as hard as learning to live without her phone. Or a car. Or refrigerators.

*As she pondered over what her life might look like in the future, stuck in the past, her fingers glided over the surface of a workbench. The wood was smooth to the touch, her fingernails tracing the grain. She was lost in thought until she felt her nail catch on something on the desk. She looked down and spotted a small notch where her finger had been. She leaned in close, and saw what looked like a small outline around the right edge of the workbench. Kneeling down, she put her finger back into the notch and applied pressure. The edge of the workbench popped off without much effort. Raquel jumped back in shock as a piece of parchment rolled out of the piece that had fallen. She tried to roll it up quickly to repair what she had done before Shauna noticed.

“What is that?”

Raquel froze upon hearing Shauna’s voice.

“It’s nothing, I’m sorry, it was an accident,” she responded.

She looked behind her to see that Shauna had pulled out a small kettle and was placing it next to a quiet hearth. She shook her head and tried harder to push the piece of the workbench back together, but it wouldn’t stay. She sighed as she heard Shauna approach behind her.

“Oh?” Shauna reached down over Raquel’s shoulder to grab the parchment. She wiped her ashy hand on her dress before unrolling it. “This…”

Raquel started to apologize, “I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to pry,” but Shauna put the parchment in front of her. Raquel looked up and started to read the words. It looked like… it looked like a recipe for french fries. A recipe that sounded very similar to what she had told to Shauna’s father earlier in her attempt to claim fame as the inventor of the side that had plagued her part-time work for so long.

“Hey, wait, that’s—he said I was crazy!”

Shauna pointed below short list of steps, and there was a note that said, ‘Find girl in odd clothes, witchcraft? Must tell others.’

Raquel’s brow furrowed. She looked back at Shauna, “What is this?”

Shauna bit her lip. “It would seem that my father actually did take a shine to your idea.”

“Yeah, and he’s planning on making sure no one knows it was my idea,” Raquel sputtered. She pushed past Shauna to head to the door. This was bad. What if they tried to kill her? Was she really about to die over potato wedges? “I have to get out of here.”

**She pulled open the door only to see a man standing right before her. She gasped when she saw his face.

“Ken?”

It was her boss.

“You’re under arrest,” he said as he reached out to grab her.



*Optional challenge #2
**Obligatory challenge #1 @Riri
 

Lurkette

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Raquel ran back inside the house and slammed the door. She pressed her back against it and winced she felt someone knock on the other side. Her back slid down the door onto the ground in defeat. Another knock followed, and then the door was still. Raquel sighed in a combination relief and exhaustion.

“This is a dream. I knew it was.”

“A dream?” Shauna approached and knelt down beside her.

“Yeah, obviously,” Raquel responded dryly without looking at Shauna. “Obviously, I didn’t just poof from the freezer of Burger Smack into medieval Ireland or whatever. Obviously, I couldn’t be capable of inventing something cool like french fries. Obviously, I couldn’t meet someone beautiful like you who’d show any interest in me. It’s all a dream. Obviously. I was never destined for anything other than food service.”

Shauna looked at Raquel for a moment before standing and walking over to the window. Raquel glanced at her out of the corner of her eye. Shauna looked out the window for a moment before turning back to Raquel, who quickly averted her eyes. Raquel tried pinching her arm again, but she remained in the same place. She felt Shauna’s hand on her shoulder.

“I don’t understand. Who is that man to you?”

Raquel sighed, “He’s my boss. That’s how I know this is a dream.”

“If this is a dream, why don’t you wake up?” Shauna asked, furrowing her brow.

“That’s a really good question. Maybe I hit my head and I’m in a coma. Maybe I finally passed out from exhaustion.” Raquel spat out, “I don’t know, why would I know why I can’t wake up?”

Shauna leaned in close, whispering, “Because I don’t think it’s a dream. I certainly don’t feel like I’m a dream.” Her hand moved from Raquel’s shoulder to her cheek. She brushed a strand of Raquel’s hair behind her ear. “Do I feel like a dream to you?”

Raquel swallowed hard as Shauna touched her. Her eyes darted between Shauna’s face and the floor.

“I don’t know.”

“Do you wish I were a dream?”

Raquel’s brain spun into panic. “I… I, um…"

“Because I don’t want you to be a dream, but if this is your dream, I do wish you’d stay.”
 
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