The Behrs

When Brenda decided to go for a drive in her father’s new Cadillac convertible, it was with no more thought than one might expect from a spoiled 16-year-old. She gave no consideration for the hour (it was almost midnight) or the need to seek parental consent (she’d long ago learned forgiveness was more easily gained than permission).

Her blond hair whipped in the wind as her thoughts whirled, dancing through the high points of her afternoon. She’d found the perfect dress for prom and shoes that matched. The pearl necklace, bracelet and drop earrings, a birthday gift from her parents, would look divine with the ensemble. She couldn’t wait. Now, her only challenge was to find a suitable escort.

Distracted, she didn’t notice the warning light on the dash, at least, not until the car sputtered and coughed. She eased onto the shoulder, just as the engine died. Turning the ignition key was as ineffective as her pleas and threats. The car refused to start.

She got out of the car, resisting the urge to kick the fender. She eyed the mailbox, atilt in the shadows at the edge of the beam cast from her headlights; she noted the barely visible “333” on its side. She reached into the car, turning off the lights and plunging the world into darkness. She gave her eyes a minute to adjust, then made her way down the driveway, grateful for the moonlight shining through the trees, and the cloudless sky.

At the bottom of the driveway sat a quaint little cottage, straight from the pages of the story-books of her childhood. The walkway wound through a trim lawn, with neat hedges lining the front of the house. A wooden rail ran across the front porch, ideal for propping feet while rocking oneself at the end of the day. The window shutters were wide open, though the house was dark. Above the steep slope of gabled roof, she could see smoke rising from the short chimney.  Overhead, a wooden sign swung from the eave. She was able to make out “The Behrs” burned into the wood, the lettering uneven.

She stepped onto the porch and crossed over to the door. She peered through the window, her view framed by gingham curtains, into the interior of the house. There was no sign of life. She hesitated for less than a second, then pounded on the door. No response.

She paused, hands on hips, and considered her options. Whether due to the late hour or the cottage’s isolation, she could neither hear nor see any sign of neighboring houses. On a whim, she tried the knob. To her surprise, the knob turned, and the door opened.

“Hello?” she called, crossing the threshold. “Anyone home?”

She didn’t realize how hungry she was until she caught the scent of something delicious. She followed the smell, pushing open the swinging door that led into the kitchen.

“What a pleasant surprise!” There were three places set and three bowls of what appeared to be vegetable soup on a round table with three chairs.

“Surely they won’t mind if I have a bite; after all, this meal will grow cold if left here much longer. In fact, it’s probably cold already.” But, to her surprise, the first bowl was so hot she almost burned her lip. Fortunately, she stopped herself in time. The second bowl was icy cold, but a quick taste confirmed her suspicion – this soup was good.

At the third place, she found the bowl to be seasoned exactly as she liked and at the exact temperature she liked. In fact, without meaning to, she ate one spoonful after another until the bowl was clean.

“Oh, dear,” she said to herself. “I didn’t mean to do that.” She assumed that the empty pot in the sink meant there was no more soup with which to refill the bowl.

She went back to the front room, intending to settle in until the owners returned. Surely the hot meal on the table was a good indication of their intention to return soon. In the living area she found three chairs in a cozy arrangement around a low coffee table on a woven rug. The first chair was hard as a rock and most uncomfortable. How could anyone possibly relax on such a solid perch?

The second chair, an overstuffed wingback, was so soft she sank into it like a pebble into a pond. The third chair was just right. She settled in, expecting to wait a few minutes. In the quiet stillness of the Behr’s home, a clock ticked, like Mesmer’s watch on a chain, lulling her to sleep.

“Hmmm,” she began to wonder. “I suppose if they’re going to be a while, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t lie down for a while.”

She got up from the comfortable chair, reluctant yet curious to explore the rest of the house. In the first room off the hallway she found three beds. She started to climb into the first, but it was too tall for her to reach. She went to the second bed, but when she sat on the edge of it she lost her balance and fell deep into the downy covers. With some effort, she climbed back out of its depths.

The third bed, with wooden posts and a checkered quilt, was just right. She stretched out on top of the covers and was soon fast asleep.

Some time later she awoke with a start, aware of the three pairs of eyes staring back at her. She sat up, momentarily unsure of herself.

“Oh! I’m, uh…I’m Brenda. Hi! I, uh… my car broke down. I came to use your phone. Umm. Oh, yeah. Do you have a phone?”

And so it was that by morning, Brenda’s father had rescued her again and the three Behr’s had a funny story to share, about the strange girl who made herself at home in their cabin in the woods.

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Alternate ending (at the suggestion of my teen):
And so it was that by morning, the three Behrs had enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh meat, perfectly aged, and Brenda had finally learned that sometimes it’s better to ask permission than assume the grace of forgiveness.

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For this week’s Trifecta Trifextra, I’ve written 3 times 333 words in response to the prompt:
Now for the weekend challenge: we want you to give us a re-telling of the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. You can change the setting, the characters, and whatever details you wish, but the story should still be recognizable to us. Keep the spirit of the original work, but make it your own. And for once? You have no word limit.

About Fran Hart

Disciple of Christ, earning a living as the director of US-based operations for a Taiwanese company, managing an engineering organization while carving out time to write. Wife, Mother, Grandmother.
This entry was posted in Trifecta, Trifextra, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Behrs

  1. A nice read. Yours was as true to the story as I’ve read, besides mine … http://wp.me/p1LoLK-1zm.

    Okay, I guess yours was even more true. :)

  2. barbara says:

    laughing at the alternate ending. :)

    • Fran Hart says:

      Thanks, Barbara! I thought it ironic that the teen objected to the absence of a moral-to-the-story. “What? The teen trespassed into a Behr’s house and DIDN’T DIE???”

  3. Mel says:

    That alternate ending is hilarious…dark…but hilarious! The whole thing was very well written!

    • Fran Hart says:

      Thanks, Mel! I appreciate your encouragement. I tend to enjoy the dark side, but really enjoyed my son telling me I needed a dark ending.

  4. Jester Queen says:

    Oooh! I love that your teen suggested the alternate ending. But the first one is pretty funny, too. Because that’s just about like what WOULD happen with a slightly unruly teen.

    • Fran Hart says:

      I know! I was tickled that he wanted the blonde to die. As a mom-of-teen, I was definitely keeping it real with the whole “helicopter dad” take on it.

  5. k~ says:

    I love the way you used the prompt right from the start in the name… clever indeed!

  6. Nice pacing and flow. I agree with the other commenters, the alternate ending was a fiendishly clever addition, making it into a true cautionary tale. Well done.
    Thanks for participating and we’d love to have you back for the Monday challenge.

  7. Bernie Davies says:

    Teenagers can be so depraved. The original ending was better.

    • Fran Hart says:

      Thanks, Bernie! I enjoyed writing both endings. Actually, I think I could take more time and make this a longer, darker story. Hmmm. I’ll put that on my everlong “to-do” list.