I almost didn’t get this one done. To be honest, I’ve been curled up in bed most of the day, watching Netflix on my laptop while I cough up my lungs, blow my nose, and sniffle myself to death. Why does it always seem to work out that when you feel bad it’s on an off day from work? At least it was a rainy day, so even if I wasn’t sick, I still wouldn’t have been able to work outside. Enjoy the story, and I’m going to go suck on another cough drop.
May 5, 2013
Prompts: ICEE, garbage, tape
Word Count: 624
The note was stuck to the machine with a piece of purple duct tape. Elizabeth stared at it, hardly believing the words. All day she craved it. All. Day. Now, some sick twist of fate, written in girly handwriting, was telling her No.
Seconds later, she was slamming the door to her SUV. The engine revved to life, sounding as angry as she felt. Elizabeth knew of another station, another chance of getting what she wanted.
The day of work had been long and arduous, with constant interruptions, which set her back farther than she liked. Only by some miracle did she finish everything she needed to do before leaving. Eleven hours at work was eleven hours too many. Especially on a Saturday. She’d been good today too, sticking to the diet, snacking on nuts and dried fruit—lots of nuts and dried fruit. Sure, she’d dropped a pant size, but Elizabeth was hungry for something with substance. This bird food was, well, for the birds, she thought.
A car swerved into her lane, causing her to slam on the brakes and screech at the top of her lungs. If only it weren’t raining, then she would have the windows rolled down, and she could have the satisfaction of yelling obscenities out the window.
Eleven hours she endured at work, dealing with co-workers and customers, and a hundred drunken idiots wanting to use their bathroom, and now she sat in traffic because she lived in Kentucky and it was the first Saturday in May. The damn Kentucky Derby. The Derby split the residents of the city into two groups: those that attended Derby parties, and those who didn’t. Elizabeth was stuck in the second group. So what if she’d be home in time to see the Run for the Roses; most of her friends had been watching the races all day, snacking on finger foods and drinking. The thought of party food she couldn’t have made her cranky.
The lanes of traffic inched forward. Ten minutes felt like ten hours. Another stoplight and Elizabeth would be able to see the sign. This quest for forbidden goodness consumed her. She bounced up and down in the driver’s seat, willing the cars in front of her to move, praying to whatever deity out there to make them move.
Another minute passed, then five, then ten, and at the twelve minute mark, Elizabeth squeezed past a ridiculous-looking smart car, pulling into the gas station parking space. She stepped out of the car right into a pile of garbage.
She almost lost it right there and then.
Taking a moment to calm down, Elizabeth reminded herself why she was there. All that mattered was getting inside and to the back of the gas station. She scraped the bottom of her shoe against the curb before going in.
There it was. She could hear the hum of it. The electric glow of the ICEE machine filled her heart with joy. It was beautiful.
She grabbed the largest Styrofoam cup and filled it with the most perfectly delicious and refreshing cold beverage in the universe. Cherry flavored.
Sucking on the straw before she even got to the register, Elizabeth felt her anger and frustration ebb. She paid for the ICEE and left, smiling. At the car, she held the cup between her elbow and side while she fumbled with her keys, cell phone and wallet. Not one to be outdone, Fate reared her ugly little head, and the cup slipped from Elizabeth’s arm.
Red splattered on the ground, hitting her shoes and khaki pants. The bottom of the cup was split open like the first teenager to die in a horror movie. Elizabeth closed her eyes, fists clenched.