A toddler’s independent adventure leads to a tragic and unexpected end.
Amy was my first trip into fiction writing, and it sat untouched for nearly 15 years before I dusted it off, gave it a quick polish and submitted it to be included in Something to Read on the Ride : A Charity Anthology (out of print). Later, I included it in my own short story anthology, which is still in print.
This short story is offered free on this website for one week only. It’s also available in ebook and print, along with six other short stories here.
Paul B Kohler
Amy was just two years old, and needed to be a part of everything. All she wanted to do was explore her surroundings. How does this work? What’s over there? Or, what’s that over there, by that thing?
Her parents left her inside while they went out to shovel snow. Tending to the weather was hard enough; adding a toddler to deal with would have been just too much. Amy didn’t mind though. It gave her time to investigate the places where she wasn’t supposed to be. Her favorite place was the place where she took her bath. It was fun. That special place had a big mirror on the back of the door. She liked to go in and close the door behind her. She spent hours in front of that mirror. Everything she did, the girl in the mirror did identically. Was it magic? Who was behind the door? Why did she look like me? All the questions went unanswered.
That’s not why Amy went into the bathroom today. She wanted to know what was behind the small doors beneath the sink. The doors would never open. No matter how hard she pulled, they would never open more than a crack. Her mom and dad could open them all the way, but they always closed them before Amy could see what was inside.
The doors in the kitchen, that were just like them, always opened easily. Plus, there was always stuff to play with inside. Pots, Pans, books, and boxes. She loved to pull everything out of the cabinets and climb in to play hide and seek with her daddy. It was one of her favorite things to do.
How did they do it? she wondered. She ran to the doors and with her tiny hands on the knobs, pulled both doors at the same time. Nothing. She pulled harder, grunting. She thought she had felt them budge, but her little hands slipped off the handles, and she went tumbling backwards. The doors refused to share their innocent secret. Amy got back up, pouting, and moved back over to the cabinet. She gripped one handle and gently pulled open the door as far as it would go, trying to peak inside. It was really dark in there.
Wait, what was that at the top of the door? It looked like something or someone was holding the door shut from the inside. She tried to touch the mysterious white latch, but the door pinched her fingers when she leaned against it. “WOAA” she cried. Whatever was behind the doors, bites.
Amy became bored with the tiresome doors and went to play with the big water chair. She watched her mom and dad use it all the time. They would first lift up the cover, then sit down. Well, mommy always sat down. Daddy sometimes stood. After sitting for a while they would stand up, get dressed again, and push the little silver button. WHOOSH!! She thought that was so neat, and decided to try it herself.
First, she tried to lift up the lid. The weight of the lid surprised her, and it took both of her hands to get it all the way up. Up. Up.
Once the lid was open, Amy began playing with the water inside the bowl. If I only had my little rubber ducky… She mused. Amy’s hands were getting cold from the water, so she reached up and pushed the silver button.
WHOOSH!! All the water went away down the drain. Wait, it’s filling up again. How does that work? She reached up again and pushed the silver button. WHOOSH!! This time she giggled. WHOOSH!! WHOOSH!! She giggled uncontrollably. This thing makes the funniest noises.
Then she focused on the defiant doors again. How could she get those doors open? She pulled one of the doors open from the top this time, and when her little wet hand slipped behind the door, it must have knocked whatever was holding the door shut, loose. The door was now open all the way.
Amy sat down in front of the cabinet, anxious to see inside. The cabinet was filled with all sorts of wondrous things. Things she had never seen before. She grabbed the first thing that caught her eye. It was a big stick attached to an upside down rubber bowl. She turned it over and, as with everything else that she grabbed, put it in her mouth.
YUCK… That’s not very good. Realizing that it smelled just as bad as it tasted, she quickly dropped it on the floor next to her.
With that out of the way, she noticed several rolls of soft white tissue paper. She knew what these were. Her mom and dad always yelled at her whenever she pulled down on the roll that hung next to the water chair. Amy didn’t like getting yelled at so she just pushed them aside.
What was that behind the rolls? Towards the back was a bottle with a picture on it. It was a picture of a bald, muscular man with his arms crossed, wearing an earring and a white T-shirt.
Was he smiling at me? She wondered, but she couldn’t tell because the bottle was to far away. She thought if she could only reach the bottle, all her questions would be answered. She stretched out as far as she could, but her infant arm was not long enough to reach it.
Amy realized she could fit inside the cabinet, like the ones in the kitchen. She stood up, turned around, took a few steps backwards, and then plopped down, right into the cabinet.
Yippee, I’m in!
Once inside, she looked at the back of the door and saw what had been holding it shut. It was a thin piece of plastic at the top edge. She reached up to grab it so she could break it off. As she yanked it to her, the door followed.
“WOAA”, she screamed as the door pinched her little fingers, again.
She would have normally been scared by her new found darkness, if she hadn’t gotten used to playing hide and seek with daddy. She thought she was so sly, and she began to snicker. Amy sat there in the dark for a long minute waiting for her daddy to come find her. Where is he? She wondered.
“Daddy”, she called out for him.
No response. She called out again, but louder this time. “DADDY”. Still nothing.
She decided to go find him instead, and tried to push the door open. The door only opened a crack, then closed again. She tried the other door, but got the same result. Frustrated, she tried both doors at the same time. Again, she had no success.
She was beginning to get scared of the darkness and started to whimper. She tried to stand up and immediately struck her head on the bottom of the sink. She started to cry and called for her parents.
“Mommy!” sniffle “Daddy!”
The tears started rolling down her pinkish cheeks, and dropping into her lap. She wondered why they weren’t coming. Her parents usually ran to her and gave her lots of love and attention whenever she started to cry. Amy knew this, and she began to cry louder and louder.
Amy began to worry, Why won’t they come?
She couldn’t remember doing anything bad, or anything that she should be punished for. A moment later, Amy thought she heard something. She again tried to stand up, and struck her precious head on the bottom of the sink. This time it hurt worse than the first time. She reached up to soothe her aching head. When her hand got to the growing bump, she felt wetness in her hair.
It was too dark in the cabinet to notice that the moisture on her head was not water, but her own blood oozing from a cut. An exposed screw, used to attach the sink to the cabinet, sliced her head.
Amy started to panic and began to pound her little hands on anything she could reach. Each strike of her hands, caused a loud ‘Thud’ or ‘Smack’. Along with her hysterical crying and screams, the noises were starting to hurt her eardrums. She continued to throw her arms around frantically, trying to break free from this cage she was in, knocking over bottles and jars.
After what seemed like an eternity, she stopped pounding her fists on the doors, due to exhaustion. Her once squeaky voice was now hoarse from the screaming and crying. The knuckles on her fingers had swelled up and were coated with blood. How long have I been in here? she wondered. It seemed like forever to her.
Amy’s once soft, long blonde hair was now soaked with blood that had drained from the cut on her head. The coagulated blood had formed into a large gob of dark red goo.
Her crying weakened to a muffled sob; she began to get dizzy. What was going on? she thought. She started to lose control of her balance and her eyelids were feeling very heavy. She fought to maintain consciousness, but her clouded mind was losing its’ grip of reality. She visualized her parents in her mind for the last time. She missed them so.
Amy tried one last time to call out for them. ”Mooommy”, ”Daady”. Her quiet little voice went unheard as she lost her battle to stay awake, and slipped into silence.
Copyright 2023 by Paul B. Kohler
Published by Global Endeavor Publishing
First published in An Anthology of Short Stories: Summer 2014.
Cover, Interior design, and layout by Paul B. Kohler
Amy is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.