Willow (Will, to her friends) Delaney gazed up at the house looming over her. It was perfect. An old three-story Victorian with classic gingerbread trim, a porch that wrapped around three sides of the house, and even a turret! Will sighed. The old girl was going to need a lot of work, but it would be so worth it in the end. She opened her hand and stared at the key that rested in her palm.

“This is it,” she said. “Let’s go see what I bought.”

She tiptoed up the front steps noticing that they would have to be one of the first things she repaired if she wanted to get to the front door without seriously injuring herself. Facing the carved wooden front door, Will took a deep breath and shoved the key into the surprisingly modern lock. Even more surprising was the ease with which the lock turned.

“Well, makes sense. The realtor would have had to get in to show the house… even though I wasn’t one of those people.” Will muttered to herself as she slowly pushed open the door.

A damp, musty odor wafted out. Willow moved immediately into the living room on her left to see if she could open a window. After struggling for a few moments, she was able to open one of the three large windows overlooking the porch. At least that would bring some fresh air into the house. Dust motes danced in the sunlight that slanted through the windows and the light further highlighted their dingy condition. Glancing around the room, bathed in the golden late afternoon light, Will realized it would be dark soon. Experimentally, she flipped the light switch on the living room wall and breathed a small sigh of relief. There was power and the lights worked.

“Right. Unpack the car and get everything inside before dark. I can do this,” she muttered.

Will made quick work of the car, dropping everything into the living room. Pausing on the front porch, she contemplated the small trailer she’d rented for the move. Among other things, her bed was in there and she knew she would seriously regret not moving in the bed and setting it up tonight.

“You loaded that trailer, you can unload it.” Self-encouraging pep talk completed, Willow trotted down the steps to the trailer. She wrestled with the lock for a moment and then flung open the doors. A efficiently stacked and organized jigsaw puzzle of boxes and a few pieces of furniture greeted her. She pulled the hand truck out from where it was neatly tucked against the side of the trailer and began stacking boxes on it.

An hour later, the trailer was unloaded, and Will stood in the middle of her living room surrounded by a comfy chair, one coffee table, a disassembled bed frame, nightstand, a small dining table with two matching chairs, and a multitude of boxes. She laughed at the sight. Clearly, her entire previous apartment could fit into this space. She did a happy twirl in the middle of the chaos. This move was one of her better decisions.

A small skittering sound coming from the direction of the kitchen made her jump. She froze, staring at the hallway outside the living room entrance. Nothing moved. Taking a deep breath to calm her racing heart, Will walked silently into the hallway and down toward the kitchen.

The skittering sound came again just as she was stepping into the doorway of the kitchen, and she jumped back. Who or what was in her kitchen? She leaned around the door frame and scanned across the kitchen. It was one of the few rooms in the house that had been modernized by the previous owners. A bright (or it would be in full daylight), open, airy space, with bright white walls and Mediterranean blue cabinets, Will had fallen in love with it based on the photos alone.

Right now however, there was one big, fat flaw in the kitchen. And that was the large raccoon sitting on the breakfast bar holding an apple.

Willow screamed and fell backwards out of the kitchen at the same time the raccoon screamed and tumbled off the bar. Once she’d regained her equilibrium, Will laughed and climbed to her feet.

“I was afraid of the raccoon!” she said out loud.

The sounds of distressed squeaking came from behind the breakfast bar.

“Oh, no! Did you hurt yourself, buddy?” Will crept around the bar, not wanting to alarm the raccoon any further. He was lying awkwardly on the floor, one leg twisted under him, the apple slowly rolling away.

“Oh, poor baby!” Will murmured. She approached carefully, not wanting to get bitten by the raccoon, but he? She? stayed perfectly still, following her movements with big dark eyes.

“Will you let me look at your leg?” Will asked.

The raccoon stared at her for a moment and then pushing itself up onto three legs, it limped over to her and turned so she could see the back leg.

“Oh!” Will froze. “Did you understand me?”

The raccoon glanced over its shoulder and shuffled backwards toward her a little more.

“Damn. I guess so. Okay. Let’s look at this leg,” Will muttered. She ran a hand carefully down the injured leg but didn’t feel anything out of place.

“I don’t think it’s broken. I think you just twisted it or sprained it,” she told the raccoon. “I’m going to pick you up and put you on the bar so I can get a better look.”

The raccoon nodded.

Carefully sliding her hands under the raccoon’s chest and hips, she lifted it quickly onto the bar. The raccoon gave a small whine and looked over the edge of the counter.

“What? Oh, your apple.” Will bent down and grabbed the piece of fruit. She handed it to the raccoon and was rewarded with a small head bob. Will stared.

“Okay. So, this just made things even more interesting.”


This week over at MOTE, Cedar Sanderson and I traded prompts. Cedar’s challenge to me was: She was afraid of the raccoon. If you want to get your creative juices flowing, head on over to More Odds Than Ends and pick up a spare prompt or join in the challenge fun!

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