Read After Forever Online

Authors: Krystal McLaughlin

Tags: #anthology, #magic, #teen, #ya, #fairytale, #indie

After Forever

BOOK: After Forever

After Forever

An Indie Author Anthology of
Modern Fairytales

Compiled By:

Krystal George

Featuring Stories

Krystal George

Heather Kirchhoff

Kate Marie

S. Cu ‘Anam

Kim Stevens

Cindy Bartolotta

Twinkle (Sugandha)

Amanda Alberson

Illustrated by: Cheryl Casey

Each story was edited by its
individual author and formatted by Krystal George

For all of the Readers –
This is a compilation of stories written for you…

Thank you for all of your
dedication and continued support of what we do!

Table of

Come Wake Me Up Krystal

Beastly Heather

Cinder Kate Marie

Puss in the Bone of Riches S
Cu ‘Anam Policar

Day and Night Kim

Destiny Cindy

Trapped Twinkle (Sugandha)

Cinder and Ella Amanda

Seeing Red Krystal

Come Wake Me Up

Krystal George

©2014 by Krystal George

“You’re late.”

I cringed at the disgust in the voice and
smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry. I missed the bus and had to wait for
the next one.”

“You do realize why you are here, don’t you

“Rory,” I corrected her before she glared at
me from beneath wire framed glasses. “I-I mean, y-yes of course I

She consulted the clipboard that was in her
hands. “This isn’t some after school program that you signed up
” she emphasized, “you were ordered by the
courts to be here and I expect you to be here on time.”

I gulped. “Yes ma’am.”

I looked around the brightly lit corridor
and squinted my eyes against the blare of florescent lights. I
hated places like this. Even though it wasn’t a hospital, the
stench of old bodies and weak bladders was pungent.

Assisted living… this was my punishment.

“Now I’m just going to have you do some
cleaning. After a few days we may work up to something more

She spun on her heel and I hurried to keep
up with her. “Yes ma’am,” I answered again.

She stopped so suddenly that I almost ran
right into her rigid back. “You can call me Miss Merriweather.”

“Yes ma’am,” she narrowed her eyes and I
gulped again, “I mean, yes Miss Merriweather.”

She began walking again and I practically
had to run after her. I was short as it was, so following her tall
statuesque figure was not an easy task. We came to a small
janitor’s closet at the end of the hall. There were little carts
full of cleaning supplies squeezed in there. I jumped when a small
plump figure emerged from behind one of them.

“I’ll go ahead and leave you with Mallie
then. She’ll get your supplies and show you the rounds.”

I nodded.

The plump woman waited until Miss
Merriweather walked away and then let out a deep breath. “That
woman unsettles me,” she admitted sheepishly before holding out her
hand for me to shake.

I smiled, unsure if it would be rude to
agree with her or rude not to. “I’m Aurora Woods, but everybody
calls me Rory.”

She shook my hand and then wiped hers on her
torn blue jeans. “You can call me Mallie.”

“That’s an unusual name,” I commented, “is
it short for something?”

She smiled and although it was friendly, it
still sent shivers up my spine. “Yes.” No other explanation, just
the short answer.

I watched as she squeezed her way through
the carts and out into the hallway pulling one with her. The smell
of bleach was so strong that my eyes began to water. Rags spilled
from a bucket with steaming water and the handle of a mop tipped
forward and knocked me on the head.

“You’ll get use to the cart.” She grabbed
the mop handle and secured it back upright in its holder. “So, what
are you in for?”

“Um…” I began, but suddenly found myself at
a loss of words. It was so stupid really, but the judge hadn’t
thought so. “I, uh…” I stuttered.

She held up a hand stopping me. “Never mind.
I don’t want to know.”

Holding back a fresh wave of tears, I
nodded. I had done what I had needed to do… and I was being
punished for it. It wasn’t fair and still there was nothing I could
do about it.

Mallie walked down the hall and opened a
door. The smell of stale coffee and urine assaulted us. There was
an elderly man sitting in a rocking chair. That, his bed and a
small dresser were the only pieces of furniture in the entire room.
It was depressing, really. With him sitting and staring at the wall
as if he were seeing images that only he could see. There was a
blank expression on his face and I had the overwhelming urge to
soothe him somehow.

“This is Mr. Butler. He’s been with us for a
few years now.” She threw a blanket over his lap and tucked it into
the sides of his chair. “He doesn’t talk much.”

I nodded. She handed me the mop and the
bucket of soapy water and instructed me to mop his floor. It was
like the white tiles you would find at a hospital and images of my
mother crept into my mind. Seeing her huddled beneath the crisp
white sheets with tubes in her arms had been heartbreaking. It
wasn’t a memory I liked to dwell on, so I pushed it aside and set
about fiercely cleaning the floors. When I was done, Mallie nodded
her approval.

We continued like this down the hallway.
While I mopped the floors, she threw the trash, washed the windows
and dusted what sparse furniture was there. We were productive, but
with each new door that was opened and each new set of eyes I saw
staring blankly out through the wrinkled flesh encasing them, a
sadness began to engulf me. How sad it must be to live out your
life in a place like this. It made me wonder about their families.
What kind of monster would put these people away and forget about

After a few hours my back was sore, my feet
ached, and I was pretty sure a blister was beginning to form on two
of my fingers. It was just about then that I noticed the door. All
by itself in a small alcove off of the main hall was a beautiful
carved wooden door. I was mesmerized by the intricacy of the
detailed art work and stood staring at it for several moments.

“This is our last stop,” Mallie said. “Then
you’re done for the day.”

I nodded, still curious about the out of
place grandeur of the door, but ready to get this day over with. I
still had another month of days just like this one to follow and I
was eager to get home. I went to turn the doorknob, but it was

“Oh crap! I forgot to get the key from Miss
Merriweather,” she said, slapping the side of her head. “I’ll be
right back.”

Nodding again, I watched her walk away in
silence. What was so important that it needed such an elaborate
door? And why did it need to be locked? Almost as if it had a will
of its own, my hand reached out to try the knob again. With a soft
click the knob turned and the door open without me even touching
it. My breath caught.

I pushed the door open hesitantly. It was
dark in the room, but I could tell right away that it was different
from the rest of them. It looked like something out of a fairytale.
The furniture was ornate and old fashioned, but even my untrained
eye could tell that it was expensive.

“Hello?” I called tentatively. “I’m just
here to clean your room.”

I was answered with the steady beeping of
medical equipment. There was a soft glow of lights coming from the
screen and I gasped when I saw that there were tubes hooked up to
it, connecting it to the body on the massive wooden bed. My mom’s
sickened pallor swam back before my eyes, and I struggled to push
away the image once more. When I did, I was shocked by what I

He was young. I was guessing close to my own
seventeen years, and he was totally hot. But that wasn’t what
shocked me. It was the instant recognition that had my throat
tighten with emotion. Golden blond hair fell across his forehead
and even the dimmed light couldn’t camouflage the tanned perfection
of his skin. His eyes were closed, but I knew that they were the
same golden hue as honey. My hand reached out as if to touch him,
but I drew it back, embarrassed by my reaction.

“I see you’ve found Phillip.”

I jumped at the voice and turned an
embarrassed face towards Miss Merriweather. “I’m sorry, I thought I
was supposed to be cleaning and I… um…” I shrugged and backed away
from the bed, not sure what to say.

To my surprise, she smiled. “You are. Mallie
had asked me to unlock the door for you while she took care of
something, but it looks as though it didn’t need to be unlocked
after all.”

I chewed on my lower lip, unsure if I should
admit that the door had been locked at first. But what would she
think? That I opened it myself by picking the lock? The truth –
that it opened on its own? But then she’d think I was crazy. Doors
didn’t just unlock themselves.

“I thought that this was an old age home,” I
blurted out after a few moments of awkward silence.

She laughed softly and it softened her
entire face, making her look both younger and friendlier somehow.
“Phillip is a special case. He’s been here for a few months now.” I
could feel her eyes on me while I studied him. A few months… that’s
when… “He’s in a coma.” She said, interrupting my thoughts.

“That’s so sad,” I told her, meaning it.
“What happened to him?”

Her expression hardened again. “I think that
you should stick to what you came here to do.” When I stared at her
blankly her mouth slid into a thin tight-lipped smile. “Clean,” she
said before turning and leaving me to stare after her.

After a few lost moments I looked back
toward the bed and sighed. Maybe I was losing my mind. The stress
of the past few months had been wearing on me… maybe I had finally
cracked… gone mental… checked out of reality.

“Get a grip, Rory, just get this crap done
and get out of here.” I said out loud.

A louder beep from the machine had me
jumping again. I looked at the monitor, but I had no idea what I
was looking at. The figure on the bed, Philip, didn’t move or make
a sound. He looked so peaceful, but I couldn’t help feeling sorry
for him… feeling… NO! I didn’t know him and I had no feelings for
him. I shook my head to clear it and returned to the task at

“I knew that you’d come.”

“Am I that predictable?” I asked him,

It was the same place. Almost like a castle,
the stone walls shimmered in the moonlight. He was sitting on the
edge of a fountain in the middle of a luscious garden. The moon
muted the colors of the flowers that surrounded us and I wondered
what they would look like in the sunlight. There was a magic in
their beauty, but in the sun… they would be intoxicating.

“No, not predictable, but a guy can hope,
right?” He held out his hands to me and I went to him. His skin
felt warm against mine and we twined the fingers of both hands

I laughed. “I’m sure you have plenty of
girls to occupy your time.”

He shrugged. “Maybe. But you’re the one I

I blushed and was thankful for the dark
night, hoping that the moon didn’t show my embarrassment. It wasn’t
that I didn’t want him to think of me in that way, it was just that
I wasn’t used to it. The guys at my school didn’t look at me that
way. They saw my tattered book bag, naked face, and charity clothes
and then kept looking past me.

“You deserve better than me,” I whispered
with my head hanging low and my eyes focused on my beat up tennis
shoes. “I’m practically a criminal.”

“Do you believe in fairytales?”

I looked up at him then. “What do you mean?”
I asked, not sure where this conversation was heading.

“Peter Pan – was he a criminal when he was
stealing from the rich to give to the poor?”

I laughed softly. “Depends on who you’re

He put his hand under my chin and lifted my
face to his. “I’m asking you.”

“He was a hero.” I answered.

His lips drew closer to mine and I could
feel the warmth of his breath. My heart sped up as I waited in
anticipation. He had never kissed me before. “You’re a hero,” he
said. Then he kissed me and it was the most perfect moment –
rivaling any fairytale I had ever read.

“But why do you have to go Rory?”

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