Excalibur Returns (An Original Short)

Contest Host: WOW! Women on Writing

Contest Title: 2016 Flash Fiction Contest (With Critique)

Placement: None


 

The ethereal world around me shames even my most whimsical dreams. I feel perfectly at home here even if I have no idea how it is I’ve even arrived. This place is so hauntingly beautiful that I can only presume that it is luck that I’ve stumbled upon this paradise.

 

“But why is it that I feel so lucky?” Not even the tiniest piece of me felt afraid to be somewhere with which I was unfamiliar. There were no questions as to whether I was in danger. My admiration for the scenery left me dumbfounded but put my simultaneously at ease. Why is it I would consider myself lucky instead of concerned?

 

“Because you are,” A divine harmony echoes throughout my mind. Surely it was the single most brilliant voice in all of time and space. Hearing it speak is distracting in the moment that I hear it but also in the seconds that tick by with slow deliberation afterwards. I nearly forget to look around for a person to whom the voice belongs but in my heart I know will not find one. Regardless, I twirl halfheartedly knowing in advance that no human could so sound divine.

 

When I stop my eye catches the slightest glimmer of sunshine bouncing off of a dewy patch of moss. Clouds pass overhead breaking what little light shone through the vast canopy. The moss that was just radiant green is now as dark as night, barely recognizable as any form of plant life. Something in my heart propels me forward to explore this patch of moss very specifically. The closer I get to it the harder my heart pounds behind my sternum.

 

Once I am hovering directly above the chameleon moss I notice that there’s a strange sort of light around it. The way it moves reminds me of a small stress on the countryside. Alas, it is not actually bright light, like what you would see from the sun, but rather palpable nothingness that casts a demanding aura. I cannot resist the urge to stare into the abyss.

 

Unsure what it is I am experiencing makes me curious rather than frightened. I slowly poke each hand into the void in hopes of discovering something with which I can make a deduction about this strange patch of plant life in this oasis. Why does is radiate power in such a way that is distinctly different from the rest of the forest?

 

At first I feel nothing more than a soft breeze. For a second I shiver due to a chill that is best described as a wind tiptoeing up my spine. Since I have no reason to believe that there is any danger I lean in further to take a deep breath. Does it smell as harmless as it looks?

 

“On the ground,” the voice returns only to alert me to the mistake that I’ve made. Agony washes over me as violently as the Thames. The pain is tangiblly audible to the point that I cannot even tell if I am screaming. My eyes remain clamped shut as I suffer through whatever has overcome me.

 

Time seems to stop so that my punishment may hold the attention of the entire universe. My palms are hitting the ground with flagrant protest. I found this paradise to be alluring and perfect but now I damn it for what it has done to me. Through the aching I force my fingers to inspect each frill, blade, and bulge in hopes of identifying an escape. The only thing that exists in me is the will to survive. It is only several cuts, bruises, and rashes later that I finally identify something that is foreign…

 

Something that does not belong…

 

And it is so very, very cold.

 

It is lean.

It is sleek.

And it is cold.

 

Without justification I bring the item to my chest, eyes still closed as the pain continues resonate through my bones. In a way, the echoes of suffering are worse than the initial inflictions. In my heart I know that this punishment is somehow instrumental to my escape. Perfect as it seems, I have no desire to continue my adventure here.

 

Silence begins to fall around me. Clamped eyes begin cracking open so that I can examine the trinket that I have discovered. The cool temperature that had stood out in contrast to my hot pain is wholly refreshing. I find myself absently attached to this object in a way that I find myself describing as ‘victorious.’

 

It is almost as though I had achieved the task for which I was brought to this place. As I suspect this presently, it is also confirmed; “What you hold now is a necklace fashioned from the shattered remains of a scabbard once known as Excalibur. For far too long I have waited for another to carry its burden once more.”

 

Enthralling as the voice is, as the setting is too, I cannot resist laughing at this premise. Tendrils tug in the back of my mind insisting that this is reality but in the forefront of my mind I have the slightest suspicions this is little more than a dream. The feelings, sensations, and pains that I experienced are remnants of regret and accomplishment that I feel in a real world somewhere beyond this place. I would be mad to believe that this luxurious getaway is real.

 

When my laughter fades, though, I find that there is a soft denial. The rhythm in my heart changes and my lungs breathe air differently. I am not independent. The voice seems to instruct me how to feel and what to think. Within seconds my mockery of the possibility twists away from that rooted doubt. As it lifts it is quickly replaced with acceptance; “And yet as much as you lack belief you are equally as easily swayed. Does your necklace not feel as icy as a winter’s night? Those are Excalibur’s remains in your very hands. Your presence in Avalon is not some innocuous hallucination. Of this I can promise you.”

 

I command myself to wake, or so I believe that I have done as much. The brilliant world around me is replaced with dull gray walls. Stained cream curtains billowing in the polluted wind cover a cracked window. I am instantly reminded that I live in a city plagued by crime and anarchy. Displeasure flows steadily in my veins. The largest part of me regrets leaving Avalon. Real or not, I already prefer to be there in spite of the dangers it may contain.

 

“You are meant for great things,” The voice asserts finally as my gaze settles on the blankets that cover me. A heavy object seems to be weighing them down. My fingers feel a breeze rolling off of a necklace that is immediately familiar to me. Excalibur is real and it is here in my lap. The peace that I felt in Avalon returns and I find myself trusting in the words of my invisible guardian.

 

I easily clasp Excalibur around my neck. It was much heavier in my hands. A second passes in which I consider removing the jewelry but the thought feels insidious. A soft whispering in the deepest crevices of my mind is insisting that I was meant to carry this burden. To exist without Excalibur would defy the universe.

 

A gunshot yanks me back into the world beneath my window. I rip the curtains back with assurance. This world must change. I must change this world.

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Well, That Was Impressive.

Author’s Note: This was supposed to be a Flash Fiction entry, but once I started writing the story it became so much more than a flash fiction piece. The word count climbed quicker than I was typing, it seemed! 700, 1100, 2600, 3400, 4500, 5000! It just kept climbing up and up until when I finished I realized I had more of a short story than a flash fiction piece. Regardless of length, I hope that you find time to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

So this week’s prompt actually came from Propmts’N’Stuff from Tumblr. You can visit the blog here!    When you see the prompt and then read the story, you will note that I did take some liberties – but the general concept is very much the same. I’m in love with the story, really. I’m such a sucker for fluffy and innocent romances.

Prompt: Person A is the quiet kid in class who never really says anything and B is the rowdy and rambunctious one.They sit next to eachother and B is constantly trying to get A to talk or say something.A mostly ignores them but one day they just suddenly turn to B and say,“I like you, you’re loud and really fucking annoying, but I like you.”

B reacts by screaming and cheering for A before being scolded and the both of them sent to the office.


 

 

Carson sits in the back of the classroom not out social anxiety – not out of lacking intelligence – and not even because of alphabetical seating arrangement. No, Carson sits in the back because it’s quieter in the back. High School is funny that way, one must suppose, because all through junior high the quiet kids are in back of the room passing notes and laughing at the teacher. As punishment, teachers moved those loud and rowdy kids to the front of the classroom.

In high school, that changes. The loud kids are in the front of the classroom participating in random conversations to keep the lesson plan very specifically off course. And, naturally, the teachers go along with it because it makes their dull job more exciting. Besides, it gives them the opportunity to give actual advice outside of their chosen subject. As such, Carson likes to sit in the back of the classroom to avoid getting caught up in the nonsense. Carson likes to think that he’s got all the answers and that he’s above needless socializing.

In contrast to obsessively quiet Carson, mapping out his entire life on the loose leaf pages of a battered binder, there’s Flynn. Flynn is star of the basketball team with mediocre grades that correlate perfectly with a booming social life. Known as the class clown, Flynn has always sat at the back of the room waiting to call people out for their silly mistakes and flubs. Every so often, a piece of wisdom falls out of his mouth. Regardless of how smart it is – it’s also presented in the form of a joke. Flynn is the sort of guy that just makes people smile on and off the court. Everyone likes Flynn.

Including Carson, actually. For a long time, too.

Carson has always had a crush on Flynn. They sat together on the bus throughout most of elementary school – and it was for only one reason. They were both shuttle bus kids. All that meant was that they had to switch busses at the high school drop off so that they could get to the elementary school of their parent’s choice. There were tons of shuttle bus kids but they were the only two from their neighborhood, so Carson and Flynn stuck together right up to junior high. That’s when they drifted away from casual bus friends to complete strangers.

That’s when Carson became a bit of a valedictorian-to-be and Flynn became an NBA-wannabe. They fit their roles perfectly today, and therefore rarely every talk to each other outside of forced interactions during class when they’re inevitably paired together… You know, because Flynn sits right next to Carson in the corner.

“Alright, time to break into your assigned pairs. I want you to complete the vocabulary exercise for the Grecian era for tomorrow.” Miss Violet dismisses the class to work freely for the remainder of the period. It’s a great way to end the school day. Naturally, things get louder instantly. Best friends are pairing up, and even grouping up so that the hard workers get the vocabulary assignment finished in one sitting together while the lazier partners gossip about the upcoming sweetheart dance.

Flynn pushes his desk directly into Carson’s with a dramatic clang! that makes everyone in the room uncomfortable; “Sorry, I guess I didn’t realize this isn’t a football class. My bad!” His voice booms so suddenly that Carson flinches. Also, the joke was really bad. The teacher waves her hand at him absently, used to his antics after nearly two months of his nonsense. Most other students forget about it instantly, others rubbing their ears for a maximum of two minutes tops. After five minutes, Carson is able to get both books onto the right page.

“So whaddaya want me to do, boss?” He always calls Carson ‘boss’ as though it’s supposed to be a comical representation of the imbalance of intelligence between them. A lot of people would probably kill to have Carson as their partner. Having a straight-A student helping on homework assignments is basically a guaranteed pass for the class, after all. Flynn plays it like he doesn’t care, though. To him it’s just another homework assignment with another person in the room.

“Do what you always do, but maybe a little quieter.” Carson remarks passively. His hands move quickly to take notes of all of the words. His preferred method is to make a word bank and then define them. It was easier than flipping back and forth between the Chapter Review section and the actual chapter itself. Even Flynn saw the logic in that process.

Flynn laughs loudly, “You’re such a joker, Carson. These dupes don’t even realize what a comic you are – can you believe it?” Soon after his hand slaps Caron’s back heavily. Once again it captures the attention of most of the people in the classroom. Miss Violet arches a brow at Flynn. It’s her warning that one more outburst could land him in detention or the office, whichever is more appealing five minutes later when he gets riled up again with all his unused energy. Carson almost believes that all athletes exhibit ADHD symptoms in the classrooms.

“Really, Flynn, I’d really appreciate if you’d either help quietly – or not care quietly.” The request doesn’t fall on deaf ears. Immediately after that, Flynn starts doodling stratagems for the basketball team in his notebook. This allows him to appear productive to the teacher without compromising Carson’s focus. Gratitude wells up very slowly, as in the past Flynn has failed his mission to remain quiet – every -single – time.

And his failure starts when he starts prodding Carson to make conversation; “What have you been up to, dude? I don’t ride the bus anymore so I have no idea what you’re doing these days.” Carson’s eyes don’t move much, but he lifts his gaze to Flynn’s book just to see how interested in the question he actually is right now. Once he deems the question to be more habitual than participatory, Carson flips the pages of both books.

Theoretically, if Carson didn’t response then the question would basically not have existed. Isn’t that what most parents teach kids? If you ignore it long enough then it goes away – which is absolutely horrible advice, by the way. So that’s what Carson does, and at first it does really work. Flynn keeps doodling away, occasionally sneaking a peak at his cell phone. The quiet lasts longer than Carson expects and everything seems to going very well.

Until, of course, Flynn nudges Carson and makes him mess up what he was writing; “Hey, you didn’t answer my question. That’s rude as hell, man.”

Carson straightens in his seat and twists so that he’s fully facing Flynn, “I don’t have any clue what it is you want from me. I’m doing the assignment. I’m getting perfect scores. What more could you need from me? A conversation? That seems pretty useless in this scenario. All I’m asking for is quiet, Flynn, some peace and quiet.”

“Bro, calm down, bro.” Flynn laughs. Everyone turns their heads again. Miss Violet stands this time and walks over to their desks mashed together in the corner – pretty well offset from the rest of the classroom.

Her arms cross as she silently assesses the situation. Caron is facing Flynn who has his shoulders pre-shrugged out of habit. Eyes sweep across the books and the pages. She scoffs at the obvious signs of Flynn’s laziness. Miss Violet expects nothing less from him, and drops only her right arm for the sole purpose of propping it onto her hip. The other eventually lifts to brush her unnaturally blonde hair away from her forehead in frustration; “Just work quietly. If I have to say anything again you’ll both be sent to the office for the rest of the day.”

Clearly she’s having a bad day. That explains the vocabulary review assignment instead of a lecture…

Flynn salutes her before she leaves but turns directly to Carson with a sideways grin adorning his thin, rebellious lips. He’s been to the office a good many times. Threatening him with a trip to the office is hardly a big deal anymore. Even detention doesn’t deter him from goofing off. Carson lets a frown etch into his features so that it matches his entire mood.

“Maybe do some work today, Flynn. Having to try at something might be a nice change of pace. Do the last line of words, yeah?” Carson repositions himself to sit at his desk properly as just assumes that Flynn is going to listen to instruction. Being on the basketball team does require him to listen the direction of his coach so the concept didn’t seem too far fetched at the moment.

Carson’s mistake was believing that Flynn would recognize him as any kind of superior academically. That’s not what happens, though, because within minutes Flynn is messing with Carson’s book. He turns pages, folds pages, makes stray pencil marks on pages – and any other number of things that he thinks of along the way just to piss off Carson.

It takes almost fifteen minutes but in the end Carson slams his hands into his thighs and turns his chin towards Flynn; “I don’t do jack shit, Flynn. I wake up. I come to school. I check my homework before class. I go home. I do my homework. I eat dinner. I check my homework. I shower. Then I go to bed just to repeat it four more times. I spend all weekend at home playing video games, and then on Sunday I go to church and pray to God I won’t punch you square in the face when you inevitably irritate me during history all week.”

Flynn appears impressed, even nodding his head with approval; “I’d love to see you try to punch me. I’m twice your size, bro.”

Carson is amazed by this response without any justifiable reason. This is exactly the kind of thing a jock says to a nerd who is elegantly proving a point. Flynn wanted to know what Carson was doing these days, but it should have been obvious simply by his academic achievements. Advanced Placement courses, honor roll every grading period, National Honors Society, and more! What else could Carson be doing if not just focusing on school and maintaining emotional clarity to handle the burden of so much homework?

The answer is literally nothing. Carson doesn’t even have a part-time job.

“Just shut your mouth, Flynn, and do your share of the damn work.” The sigh that forms into a spoken thought is a little more than exasperated. It sounds a little bit like disappointment, too. Every so often Carson wonders what it is about Flynn that sometimes leaves him gawking in the hallways or cafeteria. Luckily, he has few friends that question his apparent spaciness. Most people assume he’s thinking about an answer to a homework problem he skipped over in class. Generally speaking, that’s the sad truth. Other times, though, really he’s just staring off in Flynn’s general direction – the way all people do when affected by a crush.

“You’re a liar. You go to the basketball games. You’re always sitting in the back row of ‘B’ section.” Flynn chuckles, thinking he’s outsmarted his partner. Okay, so admittedly Carson does attend all of the basketball games. His little sister likes to go so he always offers to bring her in, even if only so he can feign a social life. Some of his other friends are at the game, too, to destress from the school week. Also, honor roll students get free popcorn. Who doesn’t like free popcorn?

Carson lets out another sigh loaded with shame and acceptance; “That would be a true statement. Congratulations. You’re not just Brawn, after all.”

Sassiness doesn’t bode well for him; “So why is Brains is in the regular history class? Don’t you take all advanced placement and college prep classes?” Flynn goes for the big guns straight away. Carson is almost taken aback by the true inquiry of his observation. Not only does his childhood bus companion actually know precisely where he sits during basketball games, but he has actively noticed that Carson opted for a regular history class when there was an honors option.

“There was not a significant difference between the honors option and the regular option except where workload was concerned. I had A.P chem and A.P lit this semester already, so  in the absence of wasting a credit opportunity on a study hall – I opted for a regular history class instead.” This sounds viable. There is no reason for Flynn to question it. Of course, there really is no reason to question it at all. Carson really did decide that a regular class was a better use of his time over study hall – and the idea of three advanced courses seemed almost overwhelming considering that he’s doing his second round of S.A.T. testing in December. It was the truth. Besides that – there was no possible way that Carson could have ever expected, let alone predicted, that he’d end up in a class with Flynn.

Time moves quicker after Flynn voluntarily sits in silence. He appears to be satisfied with the explanation. He’s gone back to sketching possible basketball plays. Miss Violet occasionally glances up to see if the pair is working quietly now. As it continues to appear that they are doing as she asked, she pays less and less attention to the corner of the classroom. Thinking that he’s made it out of the woods, Carson is able to get a lot of work done. So much, in fact, that he finishes the vocabulary assignment with ten minutes left in class.

Satisfied with his work, Carson begins to scrawl both names on the paper carefully at the top.

“If you have nothing going on in your life then I must be the best part of your week. You want to punch me in the face because I’m so exciting and it makes you jealous.” The need for this conclusion to be shared aloud is nonexistent. Flynn positions himself in a bit of an angular slouch. He does it in such a way that he can still see Carson but also conceal his cheeky little grin. Always playing the pest…

Carson weighs the options he has at that moment. Should he explain that someone needs to punch him because he is pompous as hell? Should he detail the fact that Flynn’s frequent goofing off in class are cries for attention? Should he question what Flynn is trying to accomplish by being extra annoying today? Or should Carson just lay him out – just deck him to get it over with so that Flynn never tries to piss him off again?

“Yeah, you’re the best part of my week, Flynn. I like you so much I can’t contain myself and my need to punch you is masking my secret need to kiss your goddamn face because you’re so fucking cool, bro. So fucking cool, bro!” This was not the initial plan. Carson was going for sarcastic, which he does achieve, but his whisper turns into more of a shout. It is without question that when he finishes his sentence there’ll be a slip to go to the office – so he’s packing all of his stuff before Miss Violet can even make it to her feet.

Flynn, on the other hand, is sitting in his seat completely dumbfounded – laughing only to cover his shock; “I’ll see you in the office, man!” The sentence is squeaky through his laughter. Well, it’s squeaky through all of the laughter. A lot of people are stunned by Carson’s outburst. Other’s are amused. Really, though, the approval of the room outweighs the upset. Without formal dismissal, Carson walks down to the office in a flourish of confidence and regret – an unlikely pair.

Nobody questions Carson when he enters the office, assuming he’s there to get copies or to do a mail pick up for a teacher. They’re surely suspicious when he simply takes a seat and starts nervously tapping his feet. None of the aides or administrators even piece together what might be happening when Miss Violet and Flynn walk in together. It takes a few minutes of explanation before there are nods of understanding. Before leaving the office, right before the bell rings, Miss Violet pivots on her heel and points at the boys – “You two are in detention today, as well as for the rest of the week! I expect better behavior tomorrow!”

Everyone starts bustling in the halls when the dismissal bell rings. Once things do calm down, the receptionist escorts the pair of them down to the detention classroom in the center of the building that doubles as the in-school suspension classroom as well. There are a dozen other kids that are presumably regulars. Flynn is welcomed cheerily while Carson most evokes cocked heads and rumpled brows. Even the supervising teacher asks whether or not Caron’s presence is a mistake.

The receptionist simply declares, “He had a swearing outburst in class today,” before clopping off in her clunky heels. Some of the regulars hoot and holler their approval, but the excitement is quelled by the ringing of an antique bell by the supervising teacher. Rules of detention are reviewed for the “newbie” and then the one-hour punishment begins. Carson didn’t have the opportunity to collect his belongings from his locker so he’s stuck with his finished assignment and book. With a gasp of desperation, Carson simply cracks open his history book and begins to re-read the chapter on the Grecian era.

When detention somehow ends through the time-space continuum that makes time move slower, Carson is the last to leave. His sluggish movements are clearly a side effect of his poor judgment. He didn’t need to flip out on Flynn that way. Of course, he’s not making going to make an effort to apologize to him now. Actually, he’s not sure he really needs to apologize to Flynn so much as Miss Violet.

Carson makes it to his locker on the other side of the school while trying to figure out the best way to get home. His parents are working for at least and hour or two longer, if he’s lucky. He could walk home since it’s not too cool out yet, but that would be quite the walk. He’d be tired the next day – let alone if he did that all week. Maybe one of his friends could swing back into town to give him a ride. He had some cash that he could slide them for the extra gas. If that’s the case, though, he could always call a taxi. Carson nixes the idea and runs through his friends list in his head. He believes that Charlie probably is the best option. Doubling back isn’t too much trouble and Carson’s place isn’t too far out of the way for him on the way back home. It would be the best scenario.

“Hey!”

Carson pretends not to hear anyone. He should have stuck with this gameplay all along. Opening his locker is swift and effortless. Moving books from his back is not as easy, but he gets it done before the voice ever shouts out a second time; “HEY!”

This time the shout is aggressive. Hoping to move past whatever conversation is about to happen, Carson speed walks in the opposite direction. He does this in spite of the fact that he clearly has no actual plan in place at the present, but he has to do it confidently or it will never be convincing.

“I know you don’t have a ride, dude. You ride the bus. You’ve always rode the bus to school. Your parents go to work at, like, six in the morning. They’re both working in the hospital so I know it’s late nights too.” Unfortunately, Flynn is way more observant that Carson gave him credit for earlier. So maybe he notices more than a couple of tiny things that are also sort of obvious. This is one that everyone could know, but it is more likely only friends would pay that close attention to parents’ work schedule.

So Carson spins and waves his arms around; “Just leave me alone. Your constant nagging and screwing around landed us both in detention. This is the first disciplinary action taken on me in my entire school career. I’d rather it stop there, if you don’t mind.” His tone of voice is about as convincing as his stomping off. More than anything he just sounds tired and cranky. It’s more akin to a toddler throwing a fit about nap time than it is a teenager who is fed up with someone he is inefficiently trying to ignore.

“Then let me give you a ride home. I’ll give you a ride for the rest of the week if you want as payback for being a dick.” Flynn’s floppy hair sits in a mess but does nothing in favor of Carson turning down the offer. Not only does it make him even more handsome, but it really highlights Flynn’s apologetic expression. He genuinely wants to make up for the fact that they’re both being punished as the result of his pestering.

Carson ponders the idea of being alone in the car with Flynn. Considering what he said in the classroom, someone is going to ask questions sometime. Maybe it’ll be some other students – and maybe it’ll only be towards Flynn. At any rate, rumors about Carson being homosexual will flourish within hours and be at full force throughout the student body by tomorrow. Of course, the rumors wouldn’t completely false. Regardless, even if he nabs valedictorian for his graduating class nobody will remember it at all. He’ll only be known for his homoerotic outburst at Flynn.

“Fine.” Carson accepts the ride and the two of them head towards the parking lot. The sound of their feet fill the lacking conversation. The only thing that gets spoken is the convenience of it, anyway, since Flynn has to pass Carson’s house anyway. When Flynn stopped riding the bus in ninth grade, it had always been Carson’s belief that Flynn moved. They live on opposite sides of the subdivision so it would have been easy for Flynn to move without Carson noticing. His crush on the guy didn’t make him any more attentive than he’d ever been before their drifting.

If anything, Flynn knew more about Carson than Carson knew about Flynn.

Flynn insists that Carson throw his stuff in the trunk. He drives a silver Honda Civic that has clearly seen better days. The floor in the back is littered with trash and sports magazines – and a few too many tissues for Carson’s comfort. It’s this detail that ultimately assures him the trunk was the safest place for his belongings.

Within minutes of driving, Flynn decides that instead of listening to music the best option is talk; “I know I’m always irritating you. I’m sorry. I don’t know when enough is enough. My mom says I’ll get myself into trouble with my loud mouth.” Even admitting his flaws brings a smile to this guy’s face. He’s always been that way, though. In third grade when they first started getting actual letter grades there was this one time Carson missed one question but it was the only question that Flynn got correct on his test. Flynn smiled the whole ride home knowing he’d get his behind whacked for failing. He was proud of the fact that he knew even just one little thing that Carson didn’t know.

That’s probably when Carson first started liking him differently than he liked the other kids. Someone that could find joy in just about anything was someone worth keeping around. Carson just never was the type to fight for friendship the way he fought for grades. That’s just who he was, apparently.

“That may be true, but you’ll be a famous basketball player someday. Nobody will care was comes out of your mouth as long as you show up to play on the court.” The reply is enabling at the very least, if not even encouraging. Carson certainly isn’t feeling guilty about yelling at Flynn back at school – but he didn’t want to act as though it were as good as a prank either. It was definitely not a prank.

Flynn glances over at Carson quickly but turns his attention promptly back to the road. For the spontaneous personality he harbors he sure is a steady driver; “I don’t know that that is true. No college is going to want me if I keep getting into trouble. Being the best part of your week doesn’t negate the fact that I’m still an class-clowning-off ass hole.”

Carson can’t help but let out a throaty chuckle. He isn’t even sure if ‘throaty’ is the best way to describe the gurgle that escapes his mouth in a giggly sort of tone. If he had to define his mood he wouldn’t describe is as amused, or appeased, or even impressed. Mostly he’s just annoyed; “I was just trying to make you feel like a jerk back there.”

Needless to say, he’s not good at pretending it’s the truth.

“I don’t think you were, dude.” Flynn doesn’t react in a very Flynn way. His smirk is light and his laugh is airy. The look in his eyes as he watches the road turns from bright to glossy. Carson even detects a tiny bit of hope.

Or maybe he just wants to see hope?

“Okay, so maybe you’re loud and annoying. Maybe you’re irritating as hell and one of the laziest partners a person could have in class, but maybe you’re right. Maybe I wasn’t joking back there. As fucking obnoxious as you can be – I actually like you.” This doesn’t prove anything, really. Saying ‘I like you’ to someone doesn’t have to mean that those feelings are romantic or sexual or both – it could also be friendly. It could be an approval, even. It doesn’t have to mean anything significant.

But Flynn seems to know that it does, “That freak out seems worth it now, doesn’t it? You have your feelings off your chest and I have you in my car. It all worked out.”

“Well, that sounds kind of serial killer-y…” Carson comments as he moves a little closer to the window. Obviously, it’s just a show. Everything he’s done in the last two hours has been a play on what Flynn has already done. In some ways, he feels like a switch has been flipped. He never used to bend to Flynn’s will like this – even when they were friends. Yet at the same time, Carson knows that it is more or less that fact that he didn’t have to ever bend. He’s always complimented whatever Flynn was doing at the time.

As kids when Flynn would be loud, Carson would try to calm him down. If Flynn packed his own lunch full of candy, Carson would swap his extra sandwich out for one baggie of Tootsie Rolls and Jolly Ranchers. Their partnership always balanced itself out, whether by Carson’s intentional action or the natural bond between the two of them.

Flynn shrugs his shoulders; “I don’t mean it to sound psychotic. I just mean that you finally admitted that you like me and I finally have a chance to tell you that it’s cool.”

Carson, considering himself a progressive guy, is stunned. He isn’t so shocked he can’t speak, though; “I didn’t realize I needed your permission before having feelings for you just because you’re some high-and-mighty male. Should I submit my request in writing?”

This sets both of them off giggling half-heartedly, though. The tension in the car is a testament of the time they’ve spent apart, but the level of comfort with the awkwardness proves that they never could have been apart too long. Whatever they shared as kids never dissipated.

“It’s cool because I like you too, bro. Life started happening and we went different ways. There are some things you don’t forget completely, though. Not even if you want to…” Flynn’s implications are obviously that there had been some feelings on his end as well – perhaps the entire time. Feelings that he wanted to forget, or pushed aside because there were more important things. Feelings that he suppressed in the same way that Carson tucked his crush into a special place in the back of his head. It was something neither of them really thought would become a thing.

Everyone has a crush like that, though. It’s not like it was painful pining. It’s not like it was life-altering unrequited love. To both of them, as it seems, it was just a crush on someone who was never really there but never really gone. Carson waits to reply because he is still trying to discern what is the best way to ask whether or not this conversation will change things.

He wants to ask what’s next, then, but he can’t bring himself to do it. Instead he sits in the passenger seat just reeling on the new information. The sun rose today. Carson got his sister out of bed and made her waffles for breakfast. He packed his bag with a cereal bar in his hand and cellphone in the other – playing his favorite roleplaying game on the market. Classes went as usual and everything was as predictable as it was the day before, as the week before, as the months before, and so on. Nothing about today felt significant.

And yet, somehow it was a day that Carson knows he will never forget. It is a day filled with so many surprises that he truly is speechless. The only thing he can manage now is a smile with his head resting against the glass, just like he used to do in elementary school when Flynn insisted on the aisle seat.

When they make it to Carson’s house – a location that Flynn apparently has kept locked away in his memory – neither of the boys move quickly to get out. When Carson asks for him to pop the trunk, though, Flynn enthusiastically offers to get out and walk him to the door. It gives them a few more minutes of indecision, especially when Carson drags his feet a little more than usual to go inside.

“Thanks for the ride.” Carson manages as his land lands on the doorknob; “Guess I’ll see you same time tomorrow.”

Flynn looks around with hands stuffed in his pockets, a mocking look of surprise on his face. When his brows soften a bit, his serious side shows a bit, “I kind of thought you’d invite me to stay for dinner. We didn’t really finish our conversation.”

The pause is brief, but he makes sure there’s no way that Carson could have responded; “Plus I could probably use the help on my homework.”

Well, these things have a way of working out exactly the way they should, don’t they? Carson opens the front door and happily announces that he has company. His sister tries to question it but as smoothly as he found a way to stick around, he found a way to shut her up; “Can’t a guy have his boyfriend over without being interrogated? It’s a study date, kid.”

A study date indeed.

A Fate Worse Than Death

Disclaimer: It’s been awhile readers since I’ve been able to do a proper flash fiction entry! Too long! Today I got my inspiration from doing a random Google search on fantasy prompts. I found one on this website that I was particularly connected to – because, well, I love it when the heroes fail and/or die.

Prompt: Write a story where a chosen hero is supposed to defeat an evil overlord. Then make the hero fail.


 

The air is thick with the smell of death and despair. Those of her people whom haven’t been slaughtered have fled the city. Perhaps they will surrender, perhaps they won’t be extended the opportunity. Unfortunately, she knows that she won’t be alive to see the damage of her overzealous effort to rule her planet neutrally. A planet which never prepares for war is a planet that makes itself an easy target. A planet that believes involvement in intergalactic politics is self-sabotaging is a planet ruled by delusions. This is a lesson she had to learn at the cost of her people that had faith in her reign.

Instead she now stands at a statue erected in the image of her great-great-grandfather who withdrew A’gaar from the Kashi Strip’s alliance. Blood stained fingers paint the desperation that suffocates her presently on the base. She’s been standing with her back to the enemy for too long and within seconds she will surely be murdered for her dissent to align A’gaar with the Sixth Union. What seemed so small of a decision will destroy her home. It has destroyed her home.

“Ka’vaara, Monarch of A’gaar!” Struggling to rise, the frail woman stumbles into the legs of the statue before she can roll and face the commander identifying her. If she is to die then she shall do so with honor and dignity. She will stare down the consequences of her actions, right or wrong, and accept fate with the valor her people would expect. One fist pressed against a harsh wound on her leg and another holding stringy, muddied hair out of her face. The commander approaches her, battle armor covering her face. When she peels it back, revealing her golden scales – Ka’vaara knows that this is no mere commander. This is the creator of the Sixth Union. This is Anyana – a woman with no home; “Ka’vaara, it would appear you chose to die today. Your people must be ashamed.”

Anyana is wrong. They would be proud, even if disappointed in the loss. Independence is worth the risk, but it is easy to be proud when the weight is not on their shoulders. The only one to carry the burden of this disaster is Ka’vaara; “My people will live on in the stories of our resilience and resistance. Once day your worth will run out, and when it does, you will stand no taller than I while they stare you down with defeat surrounding you on all side. I have no shame because the stories of my people will turn your people against you. A’gaar will not belong to you rightfully, and you will never keep it.”

Anyana lifts her gun to Ka’vaara’s face and pushes it’s sleek and short barrel against her cheek. The warm metal softens her features. This is a gun that has been fired many times at many of her people. She revels in the fact that she will die in exactly the same way many of them did, because she is not to be held higher than the people that gave their life for her. In the end, they are all just the people of A’gaar.

“You will suffer a fate worse than the citizens of your feeble planet.” Anyana whispers through her growled laughter. Ka’vaara hears the clicking of the gun repeatedly as she tries to release the laser beam. Rapid button smashing continues to result in nothing. The gun is obviously shut down and nonoperational. Ka’vaara shrieks in rage with each click -piecing together at the sight of two guards, chains rattling in their hands, that there is only one fate worse than death; “You will be the face of my movement, Ka’vaara, and your people will bow down to kiss my heels when I walk by -” She proclaims.

“NEVER!” Never! Never! Never! Never! Ka’vaara spits at the guards approaching her, locking her arms behind her and securing the chains with a brace around her neck. The copper metal rips easily through her soft skin, allowing more blood to flow from her body. In minutes she will black out from the massive trauma; “They will never believe you!” Tears wash her cheeks as she proclaims that this plan is faithless, aimless, desperate. It could never work.

“Killing you will enrage them. I need them to swear their loyalty to me, so I require your persuasive tongue.” Anyana walks confidently towards her, forcing her to see that the war was a battle not of confidence. Growing up all the warriors said: “it is your willpower which makes your powerful!” But it was lies. Confidence does not win wars. Ka’vaara lowers her gaze to the ground feeling the world slowly blur around her. Dripping is faintly evident on her chest.

Anyana is soon leaning into Ka’vaara with hands planted firmly on her hips. For a second, the smell of loss has dissipated and is replaced with something even more foul. If she could identify it, she would, but her mind is quickly losing the internal battle to remain conscious. Anyana smiles before pressing her lips to Ka’vaara’s ear, cackling her latest proclamation; “Your tongue belongs to me and my words will become yours.”

“You lose.”

AA: Anonymous Apologies

Oh, the time that has lapsed since I was able to do a short fiction piece! It pains me to even consider counting the weeks. Regardless of my hiatus – I have finally returned to start posting my flash fiction again – (or short fiction, whichever you prefer, it technically can belong to either category).

My inspiration today comes from Alice’s Writing Tips on Tumblr. You can find the blog here, but I actually used this particular post for this fiction piece. I highly recommending clicking the second hyperlink because the inspiration was actually a picture this time. Check it out – check the blog out – and then please – without further adieu – read my story:


 

Dear Anonymous:

 

I’m sorry.

The project is, was by now, for the seniors to anonymously submit apologies for the mistakes that they had made throughout their high school career. The idea wasn’t completely idiotic – as many of the parents lamented. In spite of their efforts to end the idea – and it was ended as an official school-approved project – the senior class invested every second and dollar they had into making it and distributing it to every single graduating student.

I was the mastermind behind this project. Two or three months ago there was an online poll, because that’s the cool way to handle all things in life these days, and it was asking our senior year mementos. In the past it has just been predictable ideas: letterman jackets and class rings. Each class does something different every single year specific to them. Last year it was a disc with a copy of the senior celebration slideshow. The year before it was a graduation Christmas ornament. A few years ago when my brother graduated they did custom picture frames.

I always thought these senior mementos were cheery. Too cheery, in fact. There was something about them that didn’t feel true to the typical high school experience. When people consider their futures realistically, only a very tiny portion of the people you were close to in high school stick around. That’s a somber truth. I don’t think it or admit it maliciously – but how can we trick ourselves into believing that these high school graduation gifts will make a difference in our lives? They won’t make us remember anything of value. My father’s letterman jacket is in a box in the garage, dusty and mildewed from being a part of a flood. The flood wasn’t even at our house. My grandparents made him take the box when he wouldn’t let them throw it away.

As for my mother, her class ring literally got dropped down the toilet. She was cleaning her old jewelry that was in a nightstand drawer. It was full of unmated earrings, broken bracelets, and accessories that she’d worn once or twice for special occasions. And – you know – her class ring. It was a misfit piece of jewelry that meant nothing to her. And when she dropped it, I remember how she acted as though she didn’t care for it anyway. “Honey, do you think my class ring will wreck the plumbing,” she had called out to my dad. She couldn’t have been concerned about the loss any less. She just didn’t want to pay for a plumber to fetch it.

So when I saw this poll I made the suggestion: a magazine of apologies for mistakes we made so that when we leave we know that we leave on good terms with no unfinished business.

I haven’t the foggiest idea where my mind was when I submitted it. Although, I do remember laughing after I closed my browser. The entire thing was supposed to be a joke. Little did I know… At least I was smart enough to submit it anonymously! Two days later my suggestion was accepted almost unanimously. Everyone seemed to love it, saying that it was clearly brilliant. It was only then that I realized that there was no way this couldn’t have been adored by teenagers too desperate to let go of a life they’ve known for eighteen years – I pieced together that a lot of people had a lot of things that they regretted. They all had something they needed to apologize for after these last four years.

When things started off – everyone was encouraged to submit one letter addressed to nobody in particular but signed with their name. I suppose the idea was so that one person didn’t get a dozen apologies while others received none. Again, I suppose that makes sense. This way they don’t have to track down an apology for every single person in the senior class. Teachers immediately put a halt to it because that would have made the writers of each letter far too vulnerable. I was beyond elated that it was shut down because the last thing teenagers need it proof of who did something regrettable.

That is when the idea came that the letters would be written to an anonymous person and signed by anonymous. There was a submission box in the journalism classroom and the letters were to be submitted in print only! Nothing handwritten could be accepted – so that there was almost literally no way to trace the apologies back to anyone particular. Even though the school couldn’t participate in the creation of this magazine project, the teachers did continue help students control the situation so that it didn’t turn into a disaster.

That’s how I got here, I suppose. I am sorry that I gave anyone this idea. Not everyone can handle the truth, and not everyone can accept an apology. I am worried that apologies are going to be made on things that nobody knew were controlled incidents. I am worried that people are going to write apology letters about things that weren’t problems until the letter was written. Any number of things could go wrong from these apologies. And the thing is, we’re all going to forgive our anonymous writers for their misdeeds.

We are going to forgive someone who might not deserve to be forgiven. We are going to accept these apologies and deem it all to be “okay,” even if it might not be okay at all. I regret everything that will happen as the result of this magazine.

I hope that this is the last entry, by the way. I hope that this is placed at the back of the magazine so that after everyone reads these letters – so that after everyone gets their gossip fill – so that after tears have been shed – I hope that this is the last thing everyone reads because I have one last parting message for you.

None of these apologies matter. They weren’t for you. They were never meant to be for you. People that submitted a letter for this magazine did so only to clear their consciences. I am included in that mess. I regretted my mistakes out of my fear towards growing up and leaving home. Somewhere along the way– without warning – it put in this predicament. The lesson I had to learn – the hard way apparently – is to not regret anything. So please remember after reading each of these disturbing letters that – the only regret you should have is regretting anything at all.

Thank you for the four interesting years that we shared in high school. If we’re lucky, some of us might stay in touch. Otherwise, don’t let it bother you. Don’t linger on it. Don’t let it haunt you later in life. Just let it all go.

And maybe burn this magazine after you frame your high school diploma.

Sincerely,

 

Anonymous.

Naughty People (A Naughty Poem)

I want you to kiss me as though you’ve never breathed air like this before;

And I want you to slam your body against me after nervously shutting the front door.

I need your fingers holding me in place so that I don’t run away from something I want more than I can say;

And I need you to need me in the worst way.

I want us to break the rules and pretend for a moment that the world doesn’t exist;

I want you to tell me to forget the way they’ll look at us and get lost in the kiss;

Get lost in the sex, get lost in the love; get lost in everything we can’t get enough of;

And most importantly, touch each other as if we don’t give a fuck.

We’re just naughty people with naughty memories;

With naughty words for naughty stories.

Maybe tomorrow when we wake up we’ll reap what we sow;

Maybe tomorrow when we wake up and nobody knows;

Maybe tomorrow nothing changes and we’re no better off;

Hell, maybe tomorrow the sun never comes up.

But I know that I don’t care about the consequences today, so I won’t care tomorrow.

To hell with what we’ve reaped, to hell with what we’ve sewn.

These dirty secrets are the ones I love to own;

And I know you’re glad to have taken me home.

“America’s Sweetheart” – A Short Story Inspired by Elle King

Author’s Note: Due to the length of this story (27 typed pages), I have deiced to put a “Keep Reading” break after the first section of this story. I very much like it and hope that you will read it in it’s entirety.

America’s Sweetheart

(Lyrics from Elle King’s same titled song)

(A fiction piece adapted by Alixx Black)



Disclaimer: Let it be known that I am gaining no profit from using the lyrics from “America’s Sweetheart” as performed by Elle King and written by Tanner Schneider and Martin Johnson. The inspiration from this story stemmed from the lyrics, and as such I incorporated them into the story with a bold and italicized front with left alignment. I am not claiming credit for these lyrics in any way whatsoever.

 However, all right aligned text is an original piece of fiction



No there ain’t nothing that I gotta prove

You think your words will make me black and blue.

 

The bonfire burns brighter than the sun in this darkness. Or at least that’s what it feels like to her anyway. Everyone has a struggle, but the joy of growing up is learning how to deal with it. For Echo, well, that was just accepting everything at face value. If it had a deeper meaning, then it wasn’t any of her business.

Not even when it came to the hateful comments that some other party guests had for her; “You’re such a tramp. You drink, you fuck, and then you wake up in the bed of some guy’s pick up with no clue what happened that night!” Of course, she complains as a boy offers her another wine cooler. She’s been taking it easy tonight, moving at a much slower pace. The guy must be her boyfriend – or at least someone she likes.

None of these girls know that Echo is in therapy. These people have no idea that she was in the hospital over the summer after a suicide attempt. Of course, that only occurred while she was detoxing from her oxycodone addiction – which her parents had confronted her about after realizing that she was calling in additional prescriptions using her mother’s name. It’s all whatever now because she’s dealing with it, she supposes. Besides, these girls wouldn’t care even if they knew, and to be fair – she wouldn’t care if they tried to explain why they’re so hateful. It all washes out in the end.

Darwinism, right?

“You look so ugly in those boys’ boots and that ragged flannel. You look like a homeless farmhand, or something.” Another girl in the group laughs, or it sounds like a laugh anyway. Echo can’t really tell because she gets a chuckle out of it too. Perhaps it’s because she is tipsy, or perhaps because she’s a loud mouth with sarcasm itching beneath her skin.

Even with the therapy, keeping herself from biting back with these gals was next to impossible…

Continue reading

Cherry Cream Soda

Disclaimer:   Normally I wouldn’t post something “fanfiction” -eque on my blog, but I couldn’t resist this poem. I wrote it after watching Adventure Time’s newest episodes starring Cherry Cream Soda, Root Beer Guy, and Starchy. So without any further adieu, I bring to you – unnecessary rhyming and a story about Adventure Time.


Falling for you wasn’t a choice.

Literally, it wasn’t a choice.

I looked at you and was told what to do,

To get married! And to smile, and to love you…

Arranged neatly, calculated and precise.

Of course when our lips met for the first time;

It was really great, actually.

Better than I thought,

So I guess science isn’t wrong.

There were smiles and tears,

There were spills and cheers.

Together we built a home,

Together we built a life.

Of course, we did everything together.

You know, because I was kind of your wife.

Really, being married was nice.

It was warm, exciting; it felt right.

You bought me cute vases from cheap shops;

And I cooked extravagant meals, pulling out the stops,

Being as perfect as I could manage.

So when you cracked up and crapped out – I was legitimately damaged.

I had to bury you.

Time passed, flowers grew;

Eventually the grass died in the winter,

I was forced to forget you.

It was hard at first, in this empty house;

But once I got out and got around,

It seemed like finding a new love was super easy.

Like – too easy.

Seriously, it was too easy.

So in no time, it felt, I was married again.

To a fluffy odd man with an awkward grin,

And a giggle that I couldn’t trust,

But it was an odd sort of love, and at times it felt felt like guilt.

I guess it faded overtime because I let it disappear.

I actually convinced my heart to beat faster when my second husband was near.

We became neutral, I suppose, and instead of being upset I let it slide.

It went on like this for several years.

So many years passed, though.

Where did the time go; because I don’t know…

And then at the drop of a hat you came back.

You are a zombie?

Yes, you’re a zombie.

You are the shell of a man that used to be my husband.

I had convinced myself that you were dead,

Because the brain works in mysterious ways?

I guess I just ran away because I no idea what was going on with you.

People change, and sometimes we’re blind to it all.

I thought life was good but I watched you fall,

Without a clue what was even happening.

I guess that’s part of why it was so easy remarrying.

Of course, after I see your face and the way you were willing to fight…

Even though I think both of you men are mad,

The only thing that feels right is starting over with you.

So, yeah, I guess you’re a complete stranger.

And I get that you feel undead, and that you think you’re just a danger to me.

I just want to learn what it’s like to choose the love of my life.

And I think it would be really great,

You know, to be your wife again.

Not right now!

But eventually.

For now, I just want to slow it down.

Do you want to go out?

The Girl In My Reflection

Contest Host:     Writers Weekly

Contest Title:     24-Hour Story – Fall Segment

Theme:     940 Maximum Word Count; Following this exact scheme “The barren, tan corn stalks behind her snapped in the cold
evening breeze, the only sound louder than the dry, fiery red leaves swirling around her tiny, shivering bare feet. She’d lost her bearings again and she hoped the dinner bell would ring soon. A gray tree with endless arms and fingers, devoid of any remaining foliage, loomed before her. She gazed at the odd markings on the trunk, which appeared to
outline a hand-cut door of sorts. And, as she stared, it opened…”

Placement:     Grab Bag Door Prize (85 Prizes are awarded in each contest, I was listed as 1/35 Grab Bag winners).


Today was another long day at work. Everyday is a long day at work, though. Especially Fridays because it’s almost time for two days off and everyone wants to get to quitting time and crawl into bed. Okay, so only I want to crawl into bed, but I worked two twelve-hour shifts this week. This body has been running on fumes since Tuesday.

Before I can do any sleeping I am going to have to shower. I didn’t this morning, so there are all kinds of product in my hair and on my face. The apartment is small and sort of triangular in the layout. My roommate loves it, unfortunately, so I put up with it for cheap rent. But it never takes long to get from the front door to the bathroom, which is quite nice after work.

Immediately, I turn on the water for some noise while I get everything I need: pajamas, towels, washcloth, and so on. Moving through the motions is incredibly easy in spite of the fact that I can’t feel my face and I can’t think straight because I keep fantasizing about my pillows. To distract myself, I flick on the television sitting atop my dresser for another layer of noise to help me stay awake.

“Help me.”

The words don’t register at first but they are repeated, “Help me,”­ and I turn around to see what is on the television. As it turns out, it’s one of my favorite sci-fi shows. I love this episode because the wife has to save the husband for a change. Laughing under my breath, I return to the bathroom. Mindlessly I push my hands out to check the shower temperature. It’s warmer than I prefer but I won’t mind. I will be able to stand in it.

Quickly I peel away my button up, slacks, socks, and hair tie. As my hair cascades and I shake it out, I swear I see something moving behind me. Hesitantly I turn myself to check Nadia’s door. It’s shut. I then peer through to my room. It’s empty.

“Help me! I am lost.”

That isn’t a line from this episode. I must be getting really tired if I’m hearing things. Distracted, I wipe off steam build up on the mirror. I wasn’t exactly paying attention, so when I see an image instead of my reflection I don’t react. It takes several seconds before I decide that I’m not hallucinating.

A small, frail girl with blonde greasy hair sticking to the tatters of her clothes stands there expressionless. Her eyes are dark and her skin looks to have been stretched over her bones. I know it’s insane to believe this little girl is standing in the middle of a dark, barren field is actually inside of my mirror, but I do. The maternal side of me emerges and takes over. I need to do something; “What happened to you? Are you hurt?”

I drag the towel more harshly down the mirror, hoping for a drier surface to see the child more clearly. As I pull the cloth away, this thick black ooze replaces the water residue. Without hesitation, I begin using my hands to clean the mirror. When the substance covers my arms entirely, I realize it is blood. I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t stopped to climb onto the counter.

“They want to kill me. Will you help me?” Soft tendrils of her voice reach beyond the glass barrier between us, and it just consumes me. I hear nothing but her pleas for help. I know I have to save her. I push myself hard against the mirror. At first it doesn’t budge…

…But then it does. My entire right side slides through the glass no differently than reaching down into a pool. I can see the girl, the dead world behind her, and I can see it every bit as plainly as I did before breaking the barrier.

“Take my hand, sweetheart. I can pull you through.” I say to her, using the voice I use to tell my nieces when it’s bedtime. My sister says it is serene and comforting. I wish to be so welcoming now, “Come on, and just take my hand. I will help you.”

She seems uneasy at first, but her frown starts to melt away as she glances cautiously over her shoulder. Naked feet carry her fragile body nearer to me. Feeling as though there is not a single moment to spare I push myself harder again into the mirror, slipping more and more into some other world that has trapped this innocent child.

She is walking but she seems no closer than she was minutes ago, and so I lean out more and more and more until only my feet are left on the other side of the mirror. Once my head is on the other side of the mirror completely, I realize that I’m covered in the tarry blood. Since I’m balancing with one hand I have to use the other that I’ve extended to the girl to clear my face off. In one swift motion I smear away just enough to regain unobstructed sight.

What I see startles me. The girl is not a girl at all but rather a slender black mass. It’s eyes match the child but there is no other resemblance. A scream rises in my throat but I have no opportunity to let it out. Tree roots sprout from the ground and wrap around my neck. My fear is smothered as I just barely hear, “There’s the dinner bell. I’ll be glad to have you.”

Very Short Fiction Series

A Series of Very Short Fiction Stories

Based on These Prompts Here

Because I Do What I Want When I Want, Thank you ❤


Prompt Idea #1:   “I’m in a bookshop and I really need that book can you get it for me??? Wait you’ve read that book? let’s have an in depth conversation about it.”

My friends know what to expect from me for Christmas. It’s books. Every year. It has been books every year since I was fifteen. A decade of books. It’s kind of a nice legacy, honestly. Maybe one day there’ll be a book called the “Book Lady, Giver of Books,” and it’ll tell the story of a kind woman who educated her loved ones with great literature.

“But that would be a very boring story, wouldn’t it?” I grumble. Really, it isn’t that the story is boring so much as the story wouldn’t have much gusto. It would be some sort of Indie story about loving and giving and caring and self sacrifice. As the Giver of Books, I don’t buy books for myself. I am probably the last woman in town that actually uses my library card for books.

Before I know it, I’ve reached the aisle I was looking for in the back of the store. This is where they keep oddball works, and clearance books. While I’m not looking in the clearance bin today, these are books that maybe only got one run from their publishers because they just knew that the work wouldn’t perform well in the market. I always have to remind people that this is not to say that the work isn’t good. It just means that they are still undiscovered. Better undiscovered than to keep the words inside, in my opinion. But today, my actual mission is to get a book series for my younger sister. A series called “My Boyfriend Merlin.”

I read it quite some time ago, but I found that I liked the love triangle element of it. Really, the love triangle is way overdone. Too many stories are doing it these days, but I felt that “My Boyfriend Merlin” did such a great job of really showing the complications of romance – especially where brothers are concerned. Merlin and Vane caused a good many problems, and it must have been hard for Ryan to choose. Vane was hardly the romantic type.

As I recall silently the difference between Merlin and Vane as potential mates, I find the books in a box set – how rare! – and pull it off of the shelf. Seconds later, though, I accidentally run into the shelf because someone chimes in and I wasn’t expecting it, “Opposites attract – don’t think I’ve read a better story proving it than that.” When I pinpoint the person to whom the voice belongs, I am happily surprised that this girl is very attractive. Very, very attractive. I don’t mind looking at her in the slightest.

Talking to her, even easier – believe it or not – “I’m not sure they’re opposites completely, but I was surprise that she chose Vane. I thought for sure Merlin was her match!”

The girl in her ripped black jeans and her crop top jersey shirt steps closer and takes the book set from me, looking down at the bindings with her thumb caressing the edge of the box. This series must really mean something to her, something that maybe I’m in no place to question. I don’t have any business wanting to know.

It doesn’t stop me from wanting to know, and it certainly doesn’t stop me from asking her out so that I can hear the story behind those deep sighs; “This sounds like a debate best engaged over brunch in a run down diner.” She accepts with a hearty laugh, handling the box back to me and tagging along just behind me.


Prompt Idea #2: “You were trying to reach for a box of cereal and a whole shelf’s-worth of cereal boxes fell on you here let me help”

I hear over the intercom that “Floor Tech needed in aisle three” which is the breakfast and snack section of the store. I’m thinking that someone must have dropped the pudding cups again. The stocker thought it was a good idea to stack on the top shelf, and stupid assholes have been dropping them on the floor all week. It’s irritating.

So I drag my bucket behind me with a bit attitude. I hate this job, honestly, because I’m more or less a swing employee. I show up and I don’t know what department I’m in until I clock in. The only places I’m guaranteed to never work is the pharmacy and the deli. Those a specific jobs that have specific training for which I definitely opted out. But really, I could be stock today, janitorial tomorrow, and cashier the day after. I never really know.

And for some reason this week, I’ve been the janitor kid just hobbling about cleaning up messes. I hate it. Of course, I’m seventeen. I’m genetically programmed to hate work. At least that’s how I feel.

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” A presumably female squeak sounds off as soon as I get half-way to the mess – which is actually a pile of cereal boxes, “I stood on the bottom shelf and there was tilting and falling and boxes!”

This poor person can’t be any more than five feet tall, maybe five foot one if she is lucky. I don’t need my mop and bucket, so I just pop my stuff in front of the Nutella – because let’s be real, we don’t need chocolate spread for our toast. On the floor in a messy blob are at least five brands of cereal just chilling out. Today my tall, lankiness is not a curse. I’m able to start stacking everything up on the shelf without any issue.

I don’t say anything to the short girl because typically they all take off after they make a mess, embarrassed that they have inconvenienced me. Most people know I make just over minimum wage doing a job that is arguably harder to do than a good many other jobs. This one, though, she stays put – even helps by handing me boxes as I put them away. By the time everything is stacked, she even opts to apologize a second time because she must actually feel really bad; “I should have just asked for help. That would have been far less troublesome. I am extremely sorry that you had to come out here and pick these up. As you can tell, I have short girl problems.”

“Sounds like you need a tall boyfriend.” I don’t mean to suggest I could be her tall boyfriend, or that she even wants a boyfriend – so I have to urgently correct myself. And what would an embarrassing flub be without my panicked stutter?

“N-not t-to s-say t-th-that y-you wa-want a b-boy-boyfriend, of c-course. You c-could wa-want a g-girl – a g-girlfriend who is t-tall.”

“A tall boyfriend would be just fine.” She laughs. Well, if she’ll have me – then I guess I can openly admit that she’s incredibly cute. And her laugh is the cure to all ailments.


Prompt Idea #3: “We’re both baristas and sometimes I have trouble reaching for things and I show up to work one day to find a personalized stool with hearts and my name on it i hATE YOU but also thanks”

Week One – The new barista is hilarious. He is shorter than all of the other guys on staff, so he’s been having to ask us all to grab certain coffees from the top shelfs and cabinets. He’s also been standing on his top toes in order to reach the syrups. My buddy Troy has been calling him Hobbit Bob. I am not sure Robert likes it, but he smiles anyway.

Week Two – I took break with Robert after a customer congratulated him on being a “small person” with great customer service. The jerk seemed to think that Robert can’t be short and have a good demeanor. It kind of pissed me off. Actually, it kind of pissed everyone off. We’ve asked the manager to put a sign up at the register telling people not to insult the employees and to be respectful of other patrons – you know, just to hide the fact that we think the jerk – who is a regular – doesn’t feel like we’re calling him out.

Personally, I don’t care. He’s a dick.

Week Three – Robert is still having a rough time. He was hoping to handle a short shift on his own a few nights ago. It went really badly, and he had to file an incident report. He’s taken two days off to recover, but he’s not sure if he wants to come back. At least, that’s what his Facebook says. He’s concerned that with his height he’s better suited for a desk job. I think he lost he his confidence and on a man-to-man level – I can’t let him think he can’t do this job. He’s good and his height shouldn’t make him think he’s not.

Week Four – I bought a two-step stool and decorated with pictures of Robert smiling that I may or may not have downloaded from his Facebook page – this is why people should be more careful with the things that they upload. I put an encourage message on the top step “Size Don’t Matter.” It’s a funny joke because men always worry about the size of something else entirely, and also because he is short. Nobody has told him who brought the stool in because I want it to be a secret. He’ll figure it out when the time is right.

Week Five – So it may or may not – I say that phrase a lot don’t I – have admitted to liking Robert. At first I was just like – Yeah I like him, he’s a Barista Bro. But then at some point I think I accidentally started liking Robert in a – He’s My Short Robert kind of a way. A couple of the gals know, and my buddy Troy knows. Troy wants me to tell Robert because it’s kind of a big deal. I haven’t dated anyone in a few years because it gets complicated explaining to my family why sometimes I date guys and sometimes I date girls. Bisexuality doesn’t make sense to them yet. So I just avoid it – also – that’s a lot of work and I just want to pay bills and be a good barista.

But I also want to be a good boyfriend to Robert.

If he’d have me.

Week Six – Robert gave me a fucking Valentine’ Day card. It says “thanks for the step stool.” And then it has – I fucking shit you not – a HEART SHAPED GIFT CARD that has, in silver sharper – “Will you take a coffee break date with me?” written on it. Are fucking kidding me? This is like that fanfiction crap you see online. I could kill the internet with the cuteness of this relationship with Robert. How even did this happen? I was just trying to be a bro – a proper Barista Bro.

And now I have a short boyfriend that sometimes answers to Hobbit Bob.

This is happiness.


Prompt Idea #4: “You are very tall and I am very short so you run into me all the time and honestly this is getting ridiculous”

A few weeks ago, my gym partner tripped over me while we were running laps, right. Seems like a legit thing to happen since he’s six-foot-two and I am only five-foot-one. That’s a huge difference. This is certainly not an unheard of phenomena. Unfortunately, it’s not happening in gym anymore.

It’s happening in the hallway between classes. It’s happening in classes when we are turning in our work. It even happened at Friday night’s basketball game! He nearly sent my tumbling down through the crowded bleachers! But I think last night was the last straw. He and I were at the store at the same time – buying cards for Christmas and stuff like broke teenagers do – and he somehow trips over me and knocks over an entire stand of greeting cards!

He laughed it off like it was a joke, like it was no big deal. I was furious, though. Or at least I was for the time being. When I complained about it to my older brother he giggled. Apparently that’s how he met his currently girlfriend. They were both at the movies one night trying to get in line for midnight tickets. He accidentally trampled her while she held her friend’s spot in line. They’ve been together for a couple of months now and couldn’t be happier.

Naturally, he is convinced that my tall gym partner is trying to tell me that he likes me without using words. I suppose it’s better than the whole “boys tease girls because they like them” trope – which honestly, shouldn’t even be a trope to begin with since it sends a nasty message. Regardless, I figured that there may be merit to some degree in what was happening. The frequency of these incidents were absolutely obnoxious. Something had to be said.

So I said something yesterday, while we were doing our stretch; “Gym Partner Charlie, this has got to stop. You keep falling over me like I’m so sort of piece of sidewalk jutting out of the ground. It is ridiculous. You need to watch were you’re going.”

I could have stopped there, but I kept going; “Unless, of course, you are tripping over me on purpose as a way to say you’ve fallen for me. In which case, you should probably just ask me out to dinner sometime. I like anything barbecue.”

We have a date next week.


Prompt Idea #5: I’m in art class and I just opened a cupboard to find a tiny person (you) squished inside and you just looked at and said “shh i’m hiding”

KAYLA FISHER

10/16/2015 at BSU via Facebook Mobile

So has anyone ever told you that college is a wild ride? If they haven’t, let me be the first person to tell you that it is! Today in my Advanced Mixed Media class we were in the studio to start our projects. A couple of the students were out to get coffee because our professor was – as usual – running quite late.

A group of friends were playing hide-and-seek. Someone that isn’t in our class must have been working in here earlier in the day because a very tall guy – very handsome, by the way, wouldn’t mind seeing his backside again – he shows up and goes to a storage locker. He swings open the door and bends down to pull something out, right. Normal thing to do – you know – if you work in this room a lot. Nobody suspected a thing.

UNTIL HE SCREAMED LIKE GRANDMA AFTER HITTING A DEER WITH THE STATION WAGON! Remember that mom?

Turns out there was a very tiny gal from out classroom his locker. To make it even better – she wouldn’t surrender his supplies unless he answered a riddle! Poor guy didn’t know what to do so he just shrugged his shoulders and left without taking anything with him! I hope he didn’t have anything that he had to turn in tomorrow!

LMAO! X)X)


Prompt Idea #6: “We’re on the bus and I’m really not trying to take up your space I’m sorry I just have rlly rlly long legs” 

Jeff gets nervous when he has to ride the bus. Firstly, because he’s never rode the bus before – at least not to school. This is his first year. Secondly, he’s in a brand new school district. Jeff knows not a single person. And lastly, he grew five inches this past summer break and he’s all legs. What a terrible way to start the sixth grade. Long legs, gangly arms, taller than everyone else – and it’s first impression on everyone at the school.

So it’s understandable when he panics a tiny bit one on his bus to school. Every seat is already occupied! So he just looks for the tiniest other person on the bus and takes his seat next to what looks to be a kindergartener. The child smiles at him and waves; “Hello! My name is Annabella but my momma calls me Anna. I’m five years old. Are you having a nice first day?” The lines sound almost rehearsed, not that he’s surprised. His mother took a video of him on his first day of pre-school and he recites that same lines four or five times because he knew what he wanted to say to the camera. He knew what he wanted people to remember about it.

Or at least he thought he did; “Hello Anna. My first day isn’t so bad. I hope that I’m not taking up too much space, though.”

The little girl shrugs her shoulders and says, “You look like human spaghetti. It don’t bother me.”

“Yeah, it must be my long legs, huh?” She nods her head happily, and viciously – actually. This Anna child is full of energy and can’t seem to stop smiling for anything.

While that normally wouldn’t be a problem, she proceeds to say: “I wonder if those long legs taste that noodles.”

I hope she’s not a cannibal in the making. Perhaps it’s just a “kids say the darnedest things” moment, like my mom always says…


Prompt Idea #7: “We’re at a concert and I can’t see a thing let me sit on your shoulders, maybe?”

This girl I’ve been talking to all night is pretty cool. She bought these tickets for herself after her boyfriend cheated on her – she moved out with enough money to buy gas and these tickets. She said since then she’s been living in her cousin’s spare room and working as many odd jobs as she can to move into at least a 3-month leased studio apartment until she can get her life figured out a little bit more… I guess she is waiting to hear about a job? I can’t even remember what kind of job.

That’s beside the point, though, because she’s been pretty wonderful all night. Not just to me, but to everyone. She has been spotting people a few bucks when they find themselves short changed for drinks or snacks. In the merch lines she handed someone a twenty and told’m to buy a shirt to remember it by… For someone who has no money to speak of – she sure is getting rid of it a lot.

When I ask her if she can see the screens alright – because we’re on the grass and you can’t see a damn thing from here unless you’re tall enough – she just shrugs her shoulders; “I’m not here to see the band. I’m not here to listen to the band. I’m here to say that I earned it. I’m here for the memories.”

And she’s a short gal, so if there’s anything worth my time – it’s making sure that she can see something from this concert worth remembering. It’s a no brainer when she tells me that her favorite son is being performed. I look at her and start kneeling down, “Get on my shoulders.”

I am thankful that she doesn’t decline my offer, and something tells me that she will be too.


Prompt Idea #8: “You’re afraid that you’ll lose me in big crowds so you always hold my hand but now you just hold my hand when there’s only, like, five people around and I’m getting vry suspicious”

Dear Carla,

I understand that we want to Six Flags as a group with our friends, and that you panicked because we got lost in the crowd. I understand that we both agreed to hold hands, alright, because if we couldn’t find our friends then we needed to stick together. And I understand that we had a great time and that eventually we kind of gave up finding our group since we liked all the same rides.

But, it’s become a bit of a habit. Okay, so you and I were holding hands all day at the water park so that we didn’t get shoved out of the lines. That made sense. And we held hands again during the summer festival in town. Again, it made sense. It can get busy at the park during festival time.

Yesterday – though – I’m not sure it made sense to hold my hand when we were at the library. There were literally two other patrons in the library. And they were downstairs in the adult computer lab. Nobody was around. When I asked why you were holding my hand – you joked that you didn’t want to lose me in the shelves.

I’m starting to think that you don’t want to lose me at all. Like, you think we’re in a relationship and that you think if I stop letting you hold my hand that it’s going to end this relationship. We’re not in a relationship, though.

So I figure if this hand holding business is going to continue, the least that we can do is make this official. You are my girlfriend and I’m your girlfriend. As long as that sounds good is, why don’t you shoot me a message. We can go out on a proper date Saturday night?

Yours – literally,

Kelsey.

Food as Comfortable as a Blanket

I wanted to squeeze in a quick flash fiction piece before work today, just to keep the flow of work going on my blog. I’m using a “non-traditional” prompt today. It comes from a Tumblr blog geared towards character development.

Prompt: What is your character’s favorite comfort food?


I watch the rain outside with a frown on my face. The unfortunate thing about a rainy day is that it prevents me from working. As a landscaper, I need the skies clear in order to do what I do best. Since the weather doesn’t pass the test, I have to stay home and lose out on some cash. This makes four days in a row, now, that I haven’t been able to work at all. If I don’t work, I can’t get paid. And if I don’t get paid then those bills that are weeping on my counter… They’re mad at me! I can’t hear them.

Just then my sister texts me, reminding me to eat lunch on her. She slipped me a twenty when I stopped by for dinner yesterday. I was talking about the work week, and the bills, and the banks being awful – and she said that she was going to grab a couple drinks after work with the girls. She followed that by saying I deserved a good meal. I didn’t want to take it but I had to do it. If I turned her down, she would have taken it personally.

Everyone in my family takes gestures of the monetary sort personally.

There’s a beautiful bakery up the street that is joined with a family run café that I just love. I could eat there twice if I wanted to, but that’s exactly the problem. I do not want to go there today. I don’t even know that I’d want to go there tomorrow. That’s a place I visit when I am happy, when things are going good. Right now everything seems to be falling apart around me.

So as I stand with my face pressing against the window – I don’t even remember leaning against the glass, but apparently I’ve made myself comfortable there – and I consider what I should eat for lunch. What does one eat when life has decided to take the dark path through the woods? Chili? Macaroni? Hot dogs? Ramen noodles?

“Broccoli and cheese.” I decide. I know it’s not from scratch but I have a microwave dinner in the freezer from last week that I never got around to – last week was definitely a bakery and café week. Going through the motions carelessly and wearily, I find that I am cheered up just slightly after I heard the whirring of the microwave.

My mother used to give all of us kids broccoli and cheese on Mondays after school. With five kids, of course she would have to do anything just to make us calm down after the first day back to school in the week. Oh, how rowdy we could get! My two oldest brothers would wrestle in the foyer, and my two sisters would like chase me through the house playing ‘Tammy Tara Tina Tag.” Those, of course, are all our names. Our brothers are Thomas and Theodore.

The microwave dings, the smell of almost burnt cheese wafts out and grabs my heart. My parents were also “T” people. Tamara and Tyler. We were doing the “same first letter of our first ahem” thing before the Kardashians. We are twice as entertaining and only half as crazy. Someone should give my family a television show.

That would certainly help my financial struggles.

During my consideration of the alternate reality where my family is famous for reality television, I dump my broccoli and cheese into a tupperware container that is actually an old ice cream tub. I also swipe a fork from my drawer. It’s the last one clean. The smell of the steamed broccoli finally permeates the cheese, its earthy and salty. Microwave food is notoriously bad for being salty to help preserve the foods long beyond their normal life span.

But I don’t care, because it tastes fine. The first bite is always weird, especially if I haven’t ate it for a long time. By the third bite, I’m every bit as melted as the cheese. Just ooey-gooey insides and warm coursing through my veins. I barely even noticed that I’ve settled into my blanket on the couch. Halfway through my dish, if any Chef would allow me to properly call a microwaveable meal a dish, I move around to pull the blanket all the way up over me.

“Food as comfortable as a blanket.” Mhmm, it sure is.

Maybe tomorrow the sun will shine and I can go to the bakery to celebrate the clear skies!