Skip to content

Week #2 (2023): Creative Writing Challenge – Loving Darkness

January 15, 2023

Write a story that takes place completely in the dark.

Photo by Fauxels at

Location: Ashley Felter’s 13th birthday party; the den closet.

“Annie, your foot is poking me in ribs.”

Both kids wiggle through various positions on the floor of the closet, trying to get comfortable. It’s a jumble of knobby knees, vacuum cleaner nozzles, and something that feels like a rabbit, but is most likely just a fallen coat.

“You’re supposed to be kissing me Zach. That’s the whole point of playing 7 Minutes in Heaven.” Annie says this with as much exasperation in her voice as she can manage, but really she’s just scared that Zach will actually kiss her. She doesn’t want Zach to kiss her. It’s not that she doesn’t like him, but they’re neighbors and best friends and she’s comfortable with the status quo.

“Annie, you don’t want me to kiss you.” There’s a pause. The sound of music and talking filters under the door. “Do you?” Zach is a little scared of the answer, but he’s pretty sure he’s right.

She sighs and pats around, searching for Zach’s hand. She finds it resting on his knee and laces her fingers with his in the dark. “No, I don’t really want you to kiss me, but what’s everyone else going to think when we come out looking just like we did when we came in here?”

“Who cares what they think?” Zach accompanies this with a squeeze of Annie’s hand. “But if you’re really worried about it we could mess up our hair a bit and bite our lips. That might make it look like we’d been kissing.”

“No, that’s just stupid,” Annie says tartly.

They can hear Ashley let out a bellow from the den telling everyone that cake and ice cream will be happening in the backyard.

“Do you think they forgot about us?” Zach asks. He realizes that he’s still holding Annie’s hand, but it’s warm and he decides not to let go yet.

Annie sighs. “Probably. Ashley’s memory is like my grandpa’s. He can’t remember where he put his glasses when they’re on the top of his head. Once everyone heads to the backyard we’ll sneak out and join them.”

Annie releases Zach’s hand and uses it to make a cup around her ear. Zach does the same thing and they both lean towards the door to hear better. With the lights on, this movement would likely have been better coordinated, but in the dark, the two kids end up knocking foreheads. The contact is followed by “light” swearing, as generally befits their age, and then unrestrained laughter.

Ashely Felter finds Annie and Zach in a giggling heap on the floor of the closet as she wrenches open the door and screams “cake” at the top of her lungs.

Pulling themselves up, Zach offers Annie an elbow. “Shall we?”

“We shall!” Annie threads her arm through Zach’s and they stride through the kitchen and into the backyard like royalty because they can.

Location: Sophomore Production of Little House on the Prairie; Backstage

“Get off me, Zach”

“You were the one who was supposed to move the fan cords so people wouldn’t trip on them.”

“Well you would have seen the cords if you hadn’t overloaded the lightboard and blew out the power. So I’ll say again, get off.”

“But Annie, you’re so warm.”

“I’ll buy you a blanket for Christmas this year. Just get off, you’re heavy.”

Zach grumbles because Annie really is warm and she feels soft, but he rolls off. They lay on their backs, side by side staring into the dark.

“Where do you think everyone went?” Annie asks.

“Mrs. Talbright told everyone that rehearsal was over for the night. I’m guessing everyone went home, which is where we should be too.”

“What if we just stayed here for a few minutes?”

Zach reaches toward Annie and finds her hip. Further exploration locates her hand, which immediately folds into his.

“You okay Annie?”

“Yeah, it’s just my parents are fighting all the time and my house isn’t as nice as this dark sticky floor.” Annie’s non-occupied hand had just found the gum Crystal Ng lost last week when Derek Schultz scared her with a siren sound from his phone.

“Are they fighting about stupid stuff?” Zach is hesitant, not wanting to pry, but he’s heard yelling coming from next door. He knows Annie’s parents aren’t fighting about stupid stuff.

“No. They’re arguing over money this time. We’re going to have to put my grandpa into an assisted living facility. He’s becoming too much for my mom to handle even though she’s working from home and he’s living with us.”

“I’m sorry.” Zach squeezes Annie’s hand. Annie squeezes back. They lay in the dark, in the silence, for more than an hour because they can.

Location: Graduation; broom closet

“Zach, are you in here?”

“Go away.”

Annie bumps into a broom and what sounds like a bucket of some sort. She shuffles deeper toward Zach’s voice until her feet bump his leg. Zach wraps a cold hand around her ankle. It makes Annie shiver, but she doesn’t say anything. She knows how anxiety affects Zach, and doesn’t want to make him self conscious.

“They’re all waiting for you,” Annie says as she sits down. Their outstretched legs nestle close and their shoulders touch as they lean back against the wall. It forces Zach to release Annie’s ankle, which he does reluctantly because it felt a little bit like a life line. Once Annie gets comfortable, Zach leans his head on her shoulder.

“I know they’re waiting, but I just can’t.”

Annie finds Zach’s hand resting on his thigh and their fingers twine.

“Did you have another panic attack?” Annie is concerned. “Is that why you’re hiding in the dark?”

“Yeah. I don’t think I can go out there,” Zach says, but having Annie here makes him think he might be able to eventually.

“Well, I could tell them your dog ate your graduation robes and you didn’t want to disgrace the ceremony by not wearing them.” Annie pauses to think. “Or I could tell them something boring like your car wouldn’t start or you had to go to a funeral.”

Zach reaches with his free hand to poke Annie in the ribs. “You can’t tell them that. My parents are in the audience, they’d never believe any of those things.”

Annie snags Zach’s poking finger before he can pull it back. It’s a feat in the dark, one that Annie is immensely proud of. “Zach, you are the smartest, most imaginative, kindest, most considerate person I’ve ever met in my life. You are not the only valedictorian in the world who is having a panic attack this very moment because they have to give a speech. You are not alone. Your family is here to support you and they will love you even if you made a hundred mistakes up on that stage. And I’ll be right there in my seat, with you every step of the way. You can do this.”

Annie stands up, pulling Zach with her. Her head reaches his collarbone when she wraps her arms around Zach’s waist. Annie breaths deeply.

“Did you just smell me?”

“You had bacon for breakfast didn’t you?” Annie’s comment breaks the tension, as she knew it would, even though she lies. Zach smells like pine and sage, and something like vanilla. Annie loves the way Zach smells.

Annie’s head against Zach’s chest is grounding, but Zach knows the crowd will get restless if he doesn’t pull himself together soon. Zach also isn’t sure what might happen if he tells Annie that she makes everything feel better in his head. If he holds her any longer he might just tell her. Zach extracts himself from Annie, even though he doesn’t want to.

“Okay, the sooner I do this, the sooner I get to take a nap.”

“That’s the spirit! I’ll bring you your favorite cat pillow so you can take a legitimate cat nap.”

Zach laughs and rolls his eyes even though he knows Annie can’t see them in the dark. Annie tries to bump Zach in the shoulder with her own. Instead, Annie loses her balance and jabs her shoulder into Zach’s ribs. Annie should have listened to her mother and worn flats.

“Sorry, I think my shoes just tried to join the rebellion and destroy me. Piggy-back ride?” Annie is thinking practically that this will be the safest way for her to get back to her seat, but she also likes being close to Zach. It’s a double win in her mind.

“All aboard!” Zach bends down while Annie’s hands find his shoulders in the dark. Annie launches herself onto Zach’s back and the two barrel out of the broom closet headed toward graduation like conquering heroes because they can.

Location: University of Tennessee; Team building maze facility.

“Why are we doing this Annie?” Zach has his fingers looped through Annie’s belt buckles and tries to take small steps so he doesn’t give her a flat tire. His shoulders brush the walls and he’s glad that his anxiety isn’t triggered by being in small spaces.

Annie trails her hands along each wall, looking for turns in the maze. “Because we have to do team building if we want to give tours together to the incoming freshman.”

“I mean, why did you sign me up to do this? You know I hate speaking in public?”

“I know you do, but we both love this campus and I don’t get to see you enough. It was the only thing I could think of that can also go on your resume under service.”

“Wait, we don’t even get paid?”

“Nope.” Annie says as her hand falls into air. “Right turn.”

“Why do you sound so upbeat about that? I thought you needed money so you could go home and visit your grandpa.” Zach follows Annie to the right. He can feel the heat from her back on his chest as she slows down to navigate.

“I do, but I needed an excuse to hang out with you.” Annie pauses and takes a deep breath. She’s been trying to get up the nerve for this conversation. She thought it would be easier in the dark, where she couldn’t see Zach’s reaction. “You’ve been avoiding me.”

“What? No I haven’t.” Zach knows he has, but he’s planning on denying that anything is amiss between them. He can’t tell her how he’s feeling, and it physically hurts to be around her. Zach chalks his actions up to self-preservation.

Annie’s words are soft and Zach can hear the crunch of gravel under her feet as she shuffles through the tunnel. “Yes, you have.”

They carry on in silence, both lost in thought.

Zach gathers his courage and starts. “You’re right. And I’m sorry.”

“Will you tell me why? Did I do something? Does this have to do with what happened on New Year’s Eve?”

Annie can imagine the night in her mind. Glitter fell from the ceiling. Both of them were sober, but they clung to each other as they swayed to music. The ball dropped. There was counting and cheering, but all Annie could do was look up into Zach’s eyes. His gaze never wavered, and when the count got to one and everyone screamed “Happy New Year”, he bent down and kissed her. It felt inevitable and also surprising to Annie. It didn’t take long for her to deepen the kiss.

Zach and Annie were forced apart only when a friend bumped into them. They stared at each other for a good long while after that. Annie was thinking that finally everything made sense. Zach was thinking two fleeing thoughts before he ran. The first was that the kiss felt like much more than just a kiss. The second can be summed up with just one word: panic.

Zach and Annie pretended the kiss hadn’t happened and they’d gotten back to classes and studying and hanging out for coffee in very public places.

Zach has been quiet for too long in the dark and it makes Annie nervous. “You know we never talked about it. Do you want to?”


Annie’s getting frustrated, so she decides that she’s just going to have to be the brave one. “Well do you mind if I do?”

“Go for it.” Zach’s hands are getting sweaty and he releases one of Annie’s belt loops to wipe the wetness on his shirt.

Annie stops suddenly and spins around, wrenching Zach’s other fingers from her. Zach finds himself chest to chest with Annie as he runs into her. He takes a step back, but Annie sets her palms on his chest. It feels warm and Zach finds himself placing his hands on Annie’s waist to steady himself.

“So here’s the thing Zach. That kiss with the best kiss of my life. To me it felt right, like we should have been doing that for years now. But then you ran off and I figured you thought it was some kind of mistake, so I just tried to pretend like it didn’t happen. But then it felt like I was losing my best friend. Like I was losing a part of myself.” It’s come out in one big breath, but Annie continues, needing to get everything out before she loses courage. “So, here I am taking a chance that maybe you just ran away because you were scared, or because you were worried I’d thought it was a mistake. I’m taking a chance that maybe we feel the same way and we’re both just a little stupid for trying to keep things from changing. The truth is Zach, I love you. I’ve loved you since we got stuck in the closet at Ashley Felter’s 13th birthday party. You’re my best friend and I love you and I don’t want to lose you.”

Zach is stunned, but also feels like his heart is going to break out of his chest. He brings his hands to Annie’s back and pulls her slowly towards him. Annie shifts her hands to Zach’s back and rests her head under his collarbone. She can hear his heart beating. Fast.

“Annie, I love you more than anything. You’re right that I’m the biggest idiot in the world and scared out of my mind. I’m so sorry I ran away from you. It was the worst feeling in the world and I never want to do it again. I’m so sorry.”

“You love me?”

“I love you.” Zach’s hands never leave Annie as they migrate up to her face. He pushes her away gently and angles her face up towards his. The kiss is awkward because in the dark Zach can’t see Annie’s lips. His first touch is at the corner of her mouth. Annie giggles. The sound makes Zach smile. His second touch meets warm, soft lips.

Zach and Annie kiss in the dark maze for 15 minutes before making their way to the exit. The instructors have been worried, but now frown at the mussed hair and pink lips they see. Zach and Annie apologize and then carry on towards the dorms hand in hand, because they can.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Yael Kisel permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:45 pm

    love it!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: