Short Stories

The Clipping

Prompt: An old newspaper article reveals a sinister secret.

Val tried to contain her giggles as she raced up the stairs to Kristy’s attic. No one would find her up there and she’d be named the hide and seek champion of the third grade. (Personally she thought that was kind of lame but she’d quickly learned that her new classmates liked lame things).

She settled into a less crowded corner of the messy attic and wondered why she’d never been invited to explore the attic before. There were dozens of boxes, a fairy few even labeled “toys.”

Minutes passed and Val grew bored but she didn’t want to give up so she reached for the closest cardboard box. It wasn’t even taped up all that well so surely it wouldn’t be too much of an invasion of privacy if she took a peek, right?

So Val opened the box the rest of the way, wrinkling her nose in disappointment at what she found inside. Stacks of mildewy newspapers.

But Val loved to read and it was better than nothing so she pulled a pile out, carefully laying them out on the wooden slats in front of her.

She flipped through the pages, occasionally reading a full article but mostly just quietly laughing at the outrageous hairstyles. People from her mom’s generation were just weird.

Then she picked up a paper that had been unfolded and refolded so many times that it was in even worse condition than papers three times its age.

And then she saw the headline of the April 15th, 1988 edition.

“Third grade class perishes in school fire.”

A class picture showed the smiling faces of Val’s classmates.



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