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Story A Day May #9 – Something Bad Part 3

Parts 1 & 2 were published on May 2 & 6, for any that need a quick catch-up. Sad to say that the third word prompt given to me by my husband for today did not quite make it in, but I’ll work it into part 4. I had a moment of doubt in which I told him that I could not work the words into my time-travel zombie tale because “they’re trapped in a building!”, to which he said, “Uh-uh. You have to. You’re writing the story.” (If anyone is curious, the third prompt is black cat, but the cocktails are piling up on my end, sooooo, no black cat of any kind to be found today in mah zombie story.) Hope everyone enjoys installment three, and comments and feedback are always welcome!

May 9, 2015

Word prompts: dead battery, gin

Something Bad (Part 3)

I could barely register the absence of light and sound, the frigid temperature, before I found myself standing in Room 622. In the same spot. I looked around, confused, terrified, not noticing the faint shimmering space where the wormhole had opened seconds ago. I stared at the device in my hand. No lights blinked. The middle section had gone dark, and it was though I had dreamed the event. Maybe I had. Maybe I let all the time-travel nonsense go to my head and I imagined the whole thing. I looked around for the case, but didn’t see it. Everything else appeared normal. Glancing at my watch, I noticed it had stopped. I brought it up to my ear, shaking my wrist like an idiot in an attempt to get it to work. “Must be a dead battery,” I muttered. “Great.”

I started to put the whatwhozit device on the table, but figured leaving it where anyone could pick it up might not be the best idea. I could go find Doug, give it to him, perhaps get a laugh out of my embarrassing tale. Not that Doug ever seemed the laughing type, but there’s a first time for everything.

I passed a few other people. The thing about government contracted employees was they always tended to look a little suspicious of the people they didn’t know. I could get onto most floors of the building, and I could enter someone’s office if they were present, but that was about as far as my clearance would get me. Thankfully, Doug did not work on the ninth or tenth floor. Most of the doorways on those floors, elevators included, were guarded by men with guns. Like, serious men with serious gun. And serious uniforms. I got off on the ninth floor by mistake during my first week at GeneLabs. I’d been talking to Helen, who helped get me my job, and followed her off the elevator. I almost peed my pants when two soldiers asked for my badge, then pointed guns in my face when I failed to produce one. They not-so-politely suggested that I was on the wrong floor. I’d never been back, not that I could seeing as how the people with clearance had special elevator keys to get them onto those floors.

Doug wasn’t in his office. I figured he’d left early, so I headed down to the basement to find Helen. I knew she’d still be cleaning up, despite our plans to meet in the lobby in a few minutes. She might be unbelievably hot, but she wasn’t punctual.

I hummed on the elevator ride to the basement, willing the metal contraption to stop, as always, where I needed it to. One would think that a person with such an aversion to elevators would rather take the stairs, but stairs were so … active? I’d rather spend less than a minute praying for my life than arrive sweaty and out of breath.

The B button lit up. The doors opened with a ding and the digital voice saying, ‘Basement 1, South Wing’. I stepped off, letting out the breath I’d been holding, and passed one of Helen’s new interns. The young woman stared at me in such a shocked way that I almost ran into a metal bench as I turned my head to stare back. She got onto the elevator, expression of extreme confusion on her face. I rolled my eyes and kept going.

Pushing open the wide, double doors at the end of the hallway, I went into the viewing room, and up to the large glass window.

That expression, white as a ghost? I felt it happen. I felt the color leave my face. I thought I would faint, and I’ve never in my life felt that sensation. I stood in the next room, talking to Helen. Stuffing my face with chips, and … holy crap, did I really eat like such a pig? Who eats chips like that? WHO??

I shook my head, rubbed my eyes, and smacked a hand across my face. What was going on? At that moment, I felt my left pocket vibrate.

The device.

Gingerly, I pulled on the fabric of my blue lab-coat and peered into the deep pocket. Lights above the buttons blinked, and it vibrated a second time. “Ooooooooohhhh. Crap.” I took a step back, knocking over a metal stand. My eyes flew to the viewing window at the same moment my earlier self was handing the serum to my friend. She (or me?) half-turned. Distracted by the loud noise, I (she?) dropped the glass vial. I crouched beneath the window. I could hear the vial hit the metal autopsy table and break. I heard Helen’s curse followed by a pleading apology in my voice. Familiar yet foreign. Like how listening to yourself on a recording never quite sounds like you.

For the longest stretch of time in my life, I stayed hiding beneath the window, convinced that either I’d really gone back in time, or I was hallucinating. Maybe the sour cream from lunch had been rancid. Would rancid dairy cause a person to hallucinate? I kept trying to think of that answer, despite the painful position my legs were in. I couldn’t think of anything! I am a damned scientist! Advanced degrees in biology and chemistry and here I was, hiding like a teenager afraid to get caught, pondering if a spoiled dairy product would cause me to go insane.

Right about the moment I figured smacking myself would be a great solution, I heard a yelp from the next room. An ear-hurting crash of metal prodded me to peek.

The horrors happening inside that room froze my body until a few minutes later when I ran for my very life.

Outside Jamie’s office door, I tried to compose myself. I could hear our department director speaking with my friend, and I couldn’t appear completely train-wrecked in front of the man. He was the picture of scientific professionalism, and didn’t much care for us ‘young ‘uns’ going out drinking after work, fraternizing. It just wasn’t done in his day, I once overheard him saying to a colleague. As the doorknob turned, I snatched the mail from the box mounted on the wall, and turned to the side, putting my back to the director. Once his footsteps faded around the corner, I threw open Jamie’s door, and dashed inside, slamming it shut.

He raised one eyebrow, gave me an amused look. “You all right?”

I shook my head.

“You’re not all right?”

Again, a vigorous head shake.

“Kat, you gonna tell me what the hell is going on? And would you move away from the door?”

“I did something,” I hissed. “Something bad. So, so, very bad. Jamie … it’s bad.”

He laughed. “Calm down, sweetie.”

I started with lunch and Doug, and his time-travel device. Jamie interrupted me. “You had Mexican and didn’t invite me? Asshole.”

“Doug brought me lunch.”

“Why would Doug bring you—hold up.” He slapped me on the arm. “Did you sleep with Doug Allan?”

“Focus, Jamie!”

“Ha! You did! Grats, man. You should sleep with Doug; he’s awesome.”

“This is not impor—how would you know if he’s awesome?”

“We play racquetball on Thursdays.”

I gawked at him. Gorgeous, funny, perfect hair, perfect body plays racquetball with a physics geek? I began picturing Jamie: gym shorts, shirtless, glistening with a light sheen of sweat, running back and forth, smacking a ball. The image of Doug interrupted that thought, albeit in a less fashionable way, still wearing his slightly rumpled lab coat, drenched in sweat and asthmatic. He’s not asthmatic, at least I don’t think he is, but he looks like he was one of those kids who always carried an inhaler and got out of gym class.

“Focus, Kat,” he said in a mocking tone.

I resumed the tale. From his expression, he didn’t believe me one iota. I fell silent, waiting. It was a full minute before he spoke.

“Let me get this right—you went back in time, after stealing—”

“Borrowing.”

“Stealing Douglas Allen’s time-travel machine, showed yourself to yourself, causing past you, which apparently is the you of this time right now, to drop a vial of your new skin-rejuvenating formula onto an autopsy table, which caused it to break, and whamo, zombie? Are you drunk?”

“Jamie, I swear it’s the truth.”

He crossed his arms. “What happened to Helen?”

“Uuuh, the zombie kind of bit me, and it looked liked I was having a seizure or something, and I fell on the floor. Helen stabbing the corpse with her scalpel when I got up, and, um, I sort of started eating her.”

“You ate your best friend?”

I nodded.

“Okay. I—” His mouth hung open. Jamie closed it after a second and bent down. I heard the screech of his bottom desk drawer, and he produced a bottle of gin and two glasses. “I think we need this. One of us does, anyway.”

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Story A Day May #8

I forgot about my first flash fiction story that I wrote two years ago on May 1, 2013, and this evening over dinner when my husband gave me the word prompts, I remembered Joe and Carol, my professional thieves, and wondered what happened to them after the job they pulled. Today’s entry is a little shorter than I like, but being gone most of the day has the Boxer pup trying to put her toys on my laptop in an effort to thwart my writing attention. And when a 55 lb dog is climbing over you, it’s hard not to stop what you’re doing. Enjoy

May 8, 2015

Word prompts: blackberry, salmon, beer

“How’re the scallops?” asked Carol.

“Delicious. But I really want some salmon. How’s the pizza?” said Joe.

“Fantastic.”

“You can’t beat this view,” she said.

“No.” He gave her a sideways glance. “You aren’t still mad about the catacombs, are you?”

Carol glared at him. Once they’d retrieved the ferret painting, dropped it with their contact, and got their ten percent, the pair of thieves took a trip down into the catacombs beneath Paris. Joe hid from her, sending her into a panic for fifteen minutes until he jumped out from a dark corner. She almost grabbed a piece of skeleton to beat him.

That had been the previous evening. Now they sat outside a café in Genoa, overlooking the Mediterranean. She sat up in her chair, reaching for her Blackberry Collins. “It wasn’t funny then and it’s not funny now, Joseph.”

“I thought it was hilarious.”

“You know, I haven’t been here in three years,” she mused. “Not since Caspar brought me.”

“The trip was a cover for a job he did,” Joe said.

She shrugged. “Didn’t matter. I knew why we came, even if I never told him. Besides, I ended up stealing those jewels from him.”

Joe held up his glass of gold-hued beer. “No honor among thieves.”

They clinked glasses. “At least we get paid by legitimate companies and people to retrieve their stolen treasures. It may not pay as much, but it keeps us out of prison.”

“I’ll drink to that any day,” said her partner. He drained the last of his beer and wiped his mouth on a cloth napkin. “Caspar will figure out that we stole the painting yesterday. There’s maybe two or three others who could break into his house in Paris, and none of them are half the safecracker you are.”

She stayed quiet, opting to watch the changing colors of sunset in the sky. So what if her ex-boyfriend figured it out? It wasn’t like she couldn’t keep him off their trail now that the stolen painting was in the hands of the insurance company and on the way back to its owner. Caspar Highforth could go to hell for all she cared.

“You’re thinking about him,” teased Joe.

“What?”

“You have the look.”

Carol glared again. “I do not have a look.”

“Yes, you do,” said Joe, nodding and grinning. “It’s an adorable little scowl.”

“Shut. Up.”


Story A Day May #7 (Here Be Pirates)

Two years ago, when I attempted May’s writing challenge, one of my posts included a pair of characters belonging to the world created in my fantasy novel (and subsequent books planned in the series). I decided to do another one with these two characters, plus one or two others. Where my first novel currently sits, the minority of pirates left have turned into (mostly) legitimate businessmen, but, of course, that was not always the case. If anyone feels like searching back through posts, I think it was May 2 or 3, 2013 that first featured Margaret and William. Luckily, I fell off the face of the blogging world, so there’s not a hundred posts to wade through. Enjoy!

May 7, 2015

Word prompts: bounty, tooth, remonstrance

Edward Dupree squirmed in the chair. He banged the palm of his hand on the seat and let out a shout.

“Hold still, you moron,” Margaret growled.

He shoved away her arm when she let go of his jaw. “If you’d pull the damn thing instead of inflicting more pain.”

“I like inflicting pain.” She half-turned and grabbed a bottle of wine. As she brought the bottle to her lips, she said, “On you especially.”

“Give me that.”

Margaret walked a few steps away while Edward sucked at the bottle. She pushed open the door of the hut, staring at the darkening sky. While she couldn’t see the ocean, she could hear it; the comforting sound of the place she called home. Normally so vigilant and alert, she let her mind be lulled by the sound of waves and birds. William startled her when he appeared in front of the door, and she gasped.

“What are you doing in here? I could hear him down the beach.” Her brother pushed past. She noticed the folded paper he carried.

“New bounty?”

William shrugged.

“How much this time?”

“For all of us, or just you?”

“I told you it was a bad idea coming here,” said Margaret. She pulled the door shut and returned to the middle of the tiny structure. Picking up the forceps, she jabbed them at her brother. “We should have gone to La Suo. We should have gone there a bloody month ago, but no, you said we would be protected here. That woman is not going to help us. Kera was Dresden’s mistress. Was, William. He left her a year ago, sitting in jail in Fandor, and she owes him nothing. Why would she want to help us?”

“Kera. What a woman,” said Edward.

“Oh, shut your mouth,” Margaret snapped. She grabbed his jaw with her left hand. “Not literally.”

“Fok you,” he managed while she tightened her fingers.

She could hear the squeamish sound William made while she forced Edward’s head back and gripped the broken tooth with the iron forceps. “One … two … three.” She pulled back in a straight line, and the molar finally came free.  Blood flowed from the empty socket. Margaret picked up the bowl from Edward’s lap, shoving it at his chest. “Spit in here.” For added effect, she dropped the chunk of tooth into the wood bowl.

William stood near the cutout section of bamboo which served as a window, arms crossed over his chest. Margaret joined him, wiping her face with a rag.

“You still think Eamon Ward is coming?”

He gave her the look of surety that only an older brother could. “You worry too damn much, Mags. He said he’d meet us here.”

“And half of Sertha’s navy is tracking us and him. That correspondence is months old. Probably he’s been killed or arrested, or he ran.”

“Not everyone runs.”

“Yes, they do,” she said, laying a hand on his arm. “Eventually.”

“Is that what we’re doing? Running?”

“You’re Gods’ damn right that’s what we’re doing,” said Edward. He spit out another mouthful of blood. “Have a little faith in your friends, Maggie. If Eamon said he’d come, then he’ll come. So what if it is later than expected?”

“It matters if Kera turns us in,” she said.

“She won’t for another week.”

Edward and Margaret stared at William. He dropped his arms to his sides. “That’s where I went earlier.”

“By the Creators, William!” said Margaret.

“I need to know to what degree of safe we are. Kera might hate Dresden, and while she’s not a fan of Ward, she agreed not to turn us in for a full week. The navy keeps coming here and searching her home and tavern, threatening her with imprisonment. They’re searching the whole town every few days. She’s got children to think about.” Her brother pulled one of the rickety chairs over to the window and sat. “Lucky for us, Kera has no grudge with you. Or Edward.”

She shook her head, but said nothing further, turning away from her brother. A bottle of whiskey, a pair of scissors, a large roll of gauze, and a small bowl sat upon the table on a metal tray. She reached into the bowl to retrieve a thin, short strip of whiskey-soaked gauze that she rolled. She gave it the barest of squeezes and took it to Edward.

“Head back.”

“I fucking hate you,” he said.

“I know. Head back.”

The younger man did as she said. She noticed his knuckles whitening as he gripped the edges of the seat. She caught the look in his brown eyes. Sometimes she forgot that he was only twenty. Practically a child. When she was his age, she’d already lived through three years of horror.

“Take a deep breath, Edward.”

When he sucked in a long breath, she packed the wet gauze into the tooth socket. His shouts were muffled when she pressed a hand against his lips. “For the love of all things, Edward!”

Tears brightened his eyes. “Please, stop,” he whimpered.

“The last thing I need is to cut out an infected, pus-filled piece of your gum,” she said. “Keep that stuffed in your mouth, and when it dries, I’ll replace it.”

William still sat by the window. Head propped against the wall, eyes closed. The man could sleep anywhere. She felt hot and closed in, so she left the hut, walking a through the trees and brush until she emerged at the edge of the beach.

The wind cooled her body and her temperature. She wanted to be on her ship. She wanted to be a thousand miles away, free and unworried. They were both right—she was running. She felt old, tired, and worn of running. Building an empire of piracy had its price, and maybe this was the beginning of the payment.

Margaret stepped out of the dark shelter of the woods. She bent down to scoop up a handful of sand, closing her fist tight against the flowing grains. Staring up the sky, she whispered, “Please, Creators. Let me get out of this one. Let this be the last one. I’ll quit. I’ve got a spot in mind already. And a garden plot. The sea was your home first, Goddess, and one you used to seem content to share. Not anymore. I can feel it. I swear I will leave it forever if you help me.”

A crack of a tree branch had her whirling around, sword drawn before she fully turned.

“Your remonstrance has not gone unanswered.” The man smiled, showing an impossible set of straight, white teeth. She noticed he’d shaved his head, but kept the beard. “Ward sent me.”

Margaret narrowed her eyes at her husband-to-be.


Story A Day May #4

Lookie, a story published while the sun is still out! At least in my corner of the universe. Today’s word prompts are from the husband, and features him and the pups.

May 4, 2015

Word prompts: Tripod, Squeak, Yellow

‘Don’t get distracted.’ I kept picking my way through the thicket, leather armor getting scratched from thorns. Talulah wasn’t far from me and, at my admonishment, began moving again. We emerged from the wide forest barrier. I picked a couple of burrs off my vest while Talulah shook her head, long ears flapping loudly in the quiet.

‘I smell her. She’s not far.’

            ‘What about him?’

            ‘No. Her smell is too strong.’

I nodded at the dog’s words and we started into the forest. Dim puddles of light dotted the ground. The forest canopy was thick with age, making the sun struggle to cast its rays through it.

As I climbed over a fallen tree, I reflected at how my wife would probably kill me once she discovered we’d gone. We don’t take the dog on a hunt by ourselves. Never have. It was agreed upon when we received her from the village council. Sharing thoughts with a canine was rare enough, but when it was discovered that we both heard Talulah, and she us, it became clear that she was meant to be part of our family. So why was I out hunting a dragon without my wife?

The tripod.

The tripod was an Australian Shepherd who was found wandering near the village one day. His front right leg broken, mangled and bleeding, we took him in after his surgery. We provided a safe, comfortable place for him to recover, and ended up keeping the pup they’d named Bo after he and Talulah became inseparable.

Bo wasn’t a hunter like Talulah. A mixed breed of Boxer and Hound, she had a keen ability to track and a love of doing it. He loved to herd though: Talulah, our cats, people, and especially my wife every time she wanted to leave our cottage.

That morning, the dragon my wife and I had been hunting for over a month flew over the village. Bo, who happened to be outside, jumped the split-rail fence in his excitement to follow, which brings us ‘round to why the boxer and I were traipsing through the forest.

Soon, I could smell it. Sulfur and ash. The dragon wouldn’t be far.

‘Stay here.’

I halted watching Talulah’s trotting figure disappear among the trees. A minute or two passed and I realized that all I could hear were the sounds of my breathing and the creaking of my armor as I shifted. “Damn it, Lu,” I said softly, and started in the direction I last saw her.

I saw the imprint of her paws in the dirt, followed until I emerged into a sun-filled clearing. Everything was gone. Burned away. The edges of the clearing charred and blackened. An enormous rock face rose opposite, and I could make out a cave entrance.

‘Talulah! Where are you?’

Nothing. I closed my eyes and concentrated, trying to feel past my growing desperation. I caught a glimmer of her rapid heartbeat and breathing, and took off toward the cave. I almost made it to the first tiny mountains of rocks when a set of teeth caught my forearm and yanked me off-balance. I tumbled to the ground and rolled on my back, my weapon digging into my spine, while Talulah pounced atop my chest.

‘Quiet. She’s in there.’

            ‘You didn’t have to knock me down.’

            ‘You were running like a maniac. Sorry.’ She gave my face several licks before hopping off of me.

I got to my feet, and patted her back before unsheathing my sword. I looked down at my loyal companion. ‘Ready?’

She snapped her jaw in a near silent gesture and we headed to the cave. We did not get far. Both of us stopped ten feet from the mouth, staring at the sleeping dragon. She was curled up, dark yellow scales glistening in the light. It took me a minute to realize something was moving beneath her translucent wing—dragonlings. Three of them.

‘We should go.’ Talulah nudged my hand with her wet nose.

I started to take a step back when I heard it. The unmistakable pattern of Bo’s three-legged gallop. He came from my right, and slid to a stop right in front of the dragon’s nose.

“Bo! Come here!” I hissed, forgetting to project my thoughts. The dog turned his head toward me, and I could see red sticking out from both sides of his mouth. ‘Don’t you dare, don’t you dare, young man!’

He let out a yip and worked his jaw around the leather bladder that served as a toy. The air hissed out before he let up, allowing it to inflate, and then he bit down. Squeak. Squeesqueesqueeeaaak. The sound woke all three babies. They started chirping, and worked their way out from beneath their mother’s protective wing. Bo started chomping on the bladder again, excited at the sight of the baby dragons, and he dropped it as the dragon shifted and opened one deep, jewel-green eye. Bo barked at her. The high-pitched shepherd bark resounded through the clearing. She grunted in reply and raised her head a fraction to stare at Talulah and me.

‘Your mother is going to kill us all if we get out of this alive.’

‘Yep.’ Talulah pressed her side against my leg, and I could feel her body tensing, ready to spring.

Bo let out another short bark. He darted forward, licked the dragon’s nose before bouncing away to land among her children.

The dragon let out a long, stinking sigh, and went back to sleep.


Story A Day May

May is upon us and for those of us who like to dabble in fiction, this month brings Story A Day! I did attempt this two years ago, and figured I have nothing to lose by going at it again. Plus, writing something other than what I normal work on is all around good for me anyways. 🙂

Like last time, I’m going to use word prompts, and my goal is to write at least 500 words, preferably 750 or more. Today’s prompt is brought to me by Siri, who really pulled some doozies out of the interwebbies when I asked for three random words.

Enjoy.

Word Prompts: Day of Remembrance, Hurricane, Deadnettle.

Fish Tale

It was the Day of Remembrance. For Lilly, it meant one thing: waiting for her mother to arrive so they could visit the riverbank where her father left. At the age of twenty, Lilly did all she could the last couple of years to keep her mother from going, keep her from telling the story. Begging, pleading, arguing, cajoling, nothing worked. Nothing ever worked, which is why Lilly sat on the front steps of her tiny cottage and waited.

Her mother arrived, top down on the bright blue convertible car, sad opera music blaring, hair blown to a tangled mess. She arrived like a hurricane, noisy and strong, and would leave the same way. Holding back a sigh and forcing a smile, Lilly picked up her pink and white polka-dotted purse, smoothed out her yellow dress and walked to the car.

“Mom, can we turn the music down?” she asked as she got into the vehicle.

“I don’t know why you don’t appreciate the arts,” said her mother, but she pressed the down arrow on the console.

“I appreciate the arts. I love the arts. I don’t love sappy soprano singing.”

“Appreciate the message, Lilly dear.”

The ride to the river took hardly any time as most people in the small village lived near the river. The two women made small talk, mostly discussing work and how Lilly had yet to find a stable love interest. Lilly didn’t care about having a stable love interest, but her mother absolutely did. It probably stemmed from Lilly’s father leaving when she was only four years old.

She didn’t really remember that day, even though she was there. She remembered him, the way he always smelled of fresh air, and how he always took her to the river to swim. Lilly could breathe under water, one of the traits inherited from her father. That and her green eyes the color of cattail leaves.

The day of his leaving, he took her to the river and they walked along the bank. She played with tiny frogs and minnows, splashed in the shallow water, and picked wildflowers. Near dusk, her father knelt in front of her, held her and told her how much he loved her and her mother, but he’d been human for too long. He changed back into his true form as a long, graceful fish, and slipped beneath the murky surface. She never saw him again, even though she and her mother came to the spot every year on the anniversary of it.

They stood at the same place with her mother telling the same story, crying the same tears. Lilly used to cry too, until she got older and really thought about how much it must have hurt her father to go, and how much he had to have missed being in his true form to do it. She didn’t begrudge him the choice anymore.

They arrived. Her mother got out of the car first, tossing her sunglasses onto the driver’s seat, and started for the riverbank. Lilly trailed behind, dreading the inevitable drama.

Her mother held out her hand. She took it and squeezed, a comforting measure done since childhood, and while Lilly hated to carry on the tradition of this day, she would always offer that gesture to her mother.

“Oh, Lilliana, I miss him,” sighed her mother.

“I know. I miss him, too.”

“I mean, how selfish was he to abandon us like that? The nerve of that man!”

When Lilly was sixteen she found the book hidden away in the basement of her mother’s house. She read the spells and incantations, and finally figured it out. While her mother started in on the yearly tirade of berating the man who broke her heart, Lilly broke away and sat down among a patch of deadnettle. Near the five minute mark of the rage, she brushed a section of pink hair from her face and glanced up at her mother.

“Witch.”

Her mother stopped speaking, mouth agape and cheeks turning bright red. “What did you say?”

“I know what you did, mother. I found the book, and I asked grammy and gramps. They told me that you were sick of not having a husband so you conjured up a spell, caught a fish and turned it into a man. Grammy was super mad when I told her that you told me that Uncle Carlisle had been practicing with transformation spells, and he was the one who did it.”

“Is that why she stopped speaking to me for a month?”

Lilly nodded.

“Fine.” Her mother crossed her arms, and stared glumly out over the river. “But he didn’t have to leave.”

“I’ll tell him you said hello.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“I tried to tell you when I was a kid that I could breathe under water.”

“I thought you made that up!”

“Nope. I see dad all the time. We go swimming together. Of course, he’s still a fish.”


Story A Day #5

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

 Cold Satisfaction

 

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.

“Mother—”


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