The Glasses

Photo Prompt Short Story

The Glasses is a short story I wrote for a photo prompt contest I was invited to enter. The photo itself was of a pair of round glasses sitting on what appears to be a bench with raindrops on them. It is nighttime as there are blurred lights behind the glasses and the picture is dark. I would like to thank those who proofed this story. I did not win.

photo for short story contest

The expensive-looking sunglasses sat next to Josh on the sodden bench. He wished his bus stop had those little houses with nice plastic benches like Uptown. Here, he was doomed to sit on a wet bench waiting for the E line to take him home. A pretty, blonde woman, who had sat next to him, had left the glasses. She was well dressed and had on jewelry that would get her killed in this neighborhood, so Josh noticed her. She had sat quietly until she made a small, groaning sound.

She yanked the glasses off her face, looked at Josh with frightened eyes, and in a small voice, said, “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?” He asked, but she was gone.

Josh shook his head, some weirdos were walking around at night. That was for sure. He looked at the sunglasses on the bench. They might be worth something. He should pawn them. Josh had had to do that lately, pawning his old wedding ring, his war medals, and some other things. He did regret pawning his toaster. Toast was about the only thing he knew how to cook. Josh sighed and picked up the sunglasses. He would do the right thing and try to return them. He peeked at his phone, only a few minutes before the bus arrived. There was no time to go after her. He put the sunglasses in his backpack and stood up as the bus arrived.

Several days passed and Josh never saw the woman. His job as a maintenance man at the Big Ticket Mall downtown placed him where an expensive woman would be shopping without raising any suspicions. He was invisible to the shoppers with his dark complexion and his dark work uniform. Josh was pretty sure he would recognize the blonde woman, even if it was dark and rainy that night. It was no use and after looking all week Josh gave up. On Friday at lunch, he pulled the sunglasses out of his backpack. He looked at them, they were pretty in the daylight. All shiny metal, maybe platinum? It was the all the rage these days, platinum was. The glass was blue and round shaped. The glasses reminded Josh of that kid’s wizard movie. He turned the glasses around looking for a logo or a name. Strange, he couldn’t find any. His phone beeped. Lunch over. Tomorrow was Saturday, he could go to the pawnshop. Maybe get his toaster back.

It was bright when Josh stepped out of this building. The sun bounced off of leftover raindrops and puddles, creating laser beams that seem to target Josh’s eyes. Josh thought about it for a minute, then decided that wearing the glasses wouldn’t diminish their pawn value. He pulled them out of the backpack, did a little polishing with the cleanest part of his shirt then put them on. The world was instantly a little darker. The glasses distorted the building across from his, making it look like it was slightly crooked and full of cracks. It looked so real that Josh took the sunglasses back off. The light hit his eyes. Squinting at the building it looked straight and crack-free. Josh put the sunglasses back on. There it was, crooked building with cracks in it, looking like it might fall any minute. That was weird. Josh shrugged and turned towards the street. He gasped and took a few steps back.

In the street, the people were not human. They were all were monsters. Josh found himself looking at tall monsters with gigantic heads. Tiny winged beasts flitted about. Horned Monsters and others more eyes then Josh could count, crept down the sidewalk. Crooked creatures went by leaving a trail of slime. A round ball turned, looked at Josh with its eye, before grunting and bouncing away. Startled, Josh pulled the glasses off and the creatures were gone. Normal people walked about out on the sidewalk jostling for position. He put the sunglasses back on. The monsters reappeared.

Josh pulled the glasses back off and leaned up against his building. He tried to look through one lens, only to see monsters in one eye and normal city life in the other. A police officer riding a horse went by and left looking like a troll on a black unicorn with a blood-red horn. It was the glasses. Josh put them back on and stepped into the city. It was as if these were fairy tale creatures as they were, not as the shiny fairies, beautiful unicorns, and princesses everyone knew. The mall where he worked was hideous with dripping, oozing, despicable creatures wearing tiaras. When night fell, it grew worse. The dark brought out beasts that made him retch. Horrified, he watched as creatures made of weeping sores hurried by. Josh saw monsters made of human body parts in all the wrong places, provocatively wiggle themselves at the passing horde. One came towards Josh its red lips on the top of the head making kissing sounds. Frightened, Josh fled.

He found himself sitting on a bench in a little park usually inhabited by drug addicts. They were still there with infected ulcers made of needles and razor blades. The grass was riddled with multi-headed rats and cat things with spikes coming out of their eyes. It was too much. Josh wanted it to stop. What could he do?

“Hey, buddy! You okay?”

Josh heard words. Human words, not the squeaks and screams he had heard all day. He turned to the sound.

“What you wearing your sunglasses for Holmes?”

The glasses. Josh remembered the sunglasses. He pulled them off and dropped them onto the bench. He looked at the kid sitting next to him.

“Don’t,” Josh said, running into the night.

©tlwhitaker2020