I get the feeling DarkWings44 is a fan of Poe, Hitchcock, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and maybe even Reno 911.
Most people try to collect things and most people try to save things that are precious to them. They frame prized certificates, put pictures of important memories in photo albums, laminate papers that are too crucial to get torn or dirty. Ted Banister was one such person.
Ted’s preservation method of choice, however, was jars. A number of jars lined the shelves in his garage. They were filled with various things. Some held the thousands of old marbles and smoothed pieces of sea glass he collected when he was little. Others held the pressed petals of different flowers he had found beautiful and would have liked to have given his mother if she were still alive. All his jars were precious to him, so for that reason, he did not show his jars to any other living soul lightly. Until Grace, that is.
Grace Wescott was a beautiful girl who sat two rows up from Ted in his sociology class. She was petite and had a small pixie face with large blue eyes, which made her look quite a few years younger than her twenty-two years of age. However, it was her luscious brown hair that first attracted Ted’s notice. He especially loved when the sunlight coming through the classroom window would directly hit Grace’s head of hair to illuminate the deep reds and dark golds that made up her hair color. During class, he avidly watched Grace twirl her rich brown hair absently around elegant fingers as she somewhat listened to the professor lecture on about how human social factors affected the environment or laugh quietly as the boy to her right made some sort of joke about this or that. Sometimes, Ted wished he was Shawn Jenkins, the boy to Grace’s right, since he was so close to Grace and her beauty. But, Shawn Jenkins was a jerk who got drunk most days after class at the stupid frat gatherings he attended. He did not deserve to sit next to Grace and he did not deserve any of Ted’s attention, good or bad.
One Thursday, after class had ended and Shawn Jenkins whispered one last thing to Grace before exiting the lecture hall, Ted walked up to Grace and asked her if she wanted to study together. She looked to the door and shifted her books from her right side to her left before saying she was planning on going to a frat get-together tonight and didn’t think she could make it. Ted gently reminded her of the ten-page essay due next week that was worth half of their final class grade and said he wouldn’t mind helping her start since he had the best grade in the class and understood all of the concepts. Grace bit her lip trying to decide. Ted then said he had a couple beers at home that they could drink while working on the essay. She readily agreed to go with Ted after that.
After arriving at Ted’s modest one-story house with the garage attached to the right side, Grace asked why he parked his car in the driveway and not the garage.
“If you’re lucky, I’ll show you later,” Ted said in response.
Grace just shrugged and they went into the house to work on the essay. Two hours and three beers later for Grace, much of the research and the beginning of the essay had been done by a completely sober Ted. He did not believe in mixing studying with alcohol. It was at this time that Grace once again asked about the garage.
Ted smiled indulgently at her. “Alright, Grace. I think it’s time I showed you my garage.”
Grace laughed and clapped her hands clumsily in her drunken state, then stumbled to her feet. Ted helped her down the hall to his garage. They stepped through the door and Grace immediately began cooing over the jars filled with colorful shards of glass and pretty flower petals.
Ted smiled, pleased that she appreciated his jars. “I’ll be right back. Okay, Grace?”
Grace just nodded as she began exploring other jars on shaky legs while Ted left her to her own devices. She passed more rows of sea glass, flower petals, marble, and even one filled with sea shells before reaching the end of the row of shelves. Here, the lighting was dimmer and Grace had to squint to see better because of her double vision. When the jar she was staring at finally came into focus, Grace scrunched her nose in disgust. Inside the jar was a chunk of light blond, almost silver hair. She thought it was weird that Ted kept somebody’s hair as part of his collection.
“Like it?” Ted asked as he came up behind Grace.
Not turning around, Grace answered, “Um, well, it’s interesting. Whose is it?”
“My mother’s,” Ted said in Grace’s ear before slipping a rope around her neck and pulling it tight.
As Grace struggled, Ted held her flailing body to his and whispered comforting words in her ear. Finally, she quieted. He gently laid her down on the ground, then pulled out a pair of scissors from his pocket and carefully took a piece of her hair, cutting off a sizeable amount. Ted put the chunk of rich brown hair in a jar to add to his collection.
Based on "Jars," by Chevelle
What do you think, Sparklers? Are you creeped out?
Topics: musical fiction contest