FFF 26: Driving (in the) rain

The rainy season is my favorite because it’s when everyone gets friendly. Yes, we all rush around trying to keep out of it, but have you ever just driven with the top down while it’s raining? It’s amazing. Everyone is waving! I wave at the trucks and cars on the road with my wipers, and they all wave back! Best feeling ever. It’s more than just chatting, something we could do any old day while sitting in a mall parking lot. When it rains, we’re connecting on a deeper level.

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

FFF 25: Outside of the image

laughing Italian menActually, it’s what you don’t see in this photo that makes it interesting. See, these men are actually all the Europeans I could find in Bangkok on one evening, and I’m there in the middle in the back. I ran around the city for several hours trying to round up enough people to make it look like I was in Italy or Greece, and I then I had to get them all to stick around long enough to have their picture taken with me.

They were friendly enough with me, willing to do me a favor in exchange for dinner and cigars, and they were certainly friendly with each other. Look at them all having such a great time! I’d been in a bind because I’d told a friend I’d visited Europe one summer in order to going on a trip with him, and eventually he wanted evidence that I’d actually been there like I said I had. I provided things I’d bought as gifts for family as proof, but he wanted photographs, and I came up with this at the last minute. Well, I guess it wasn’t the last minute, but it was a pretty close shave, if I do say so myself.

I had talked to him about visiting an eatery in Rome; someone had sent me a bunch of white hats and bow ties as a joke once (that’s another story entirely, let me tell you), so I dressed up the men as chefs and sous-chefs in order to make it look authentic. One of the guys even had a lovely, beautiful Spanish wife who managed to get us all into the same shot at the same time—well, except for that guy on the left—and snap a photo for me.

So, what you see here may look like one thing when it’s actually another (but that was the point).

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

FFF 24: Abuse

It was unthinkable. He’d specifically told her to have dinner on the table when he returned home from work, but here she was, rushing around to make him happy (or, as it were, make him less angry).

“Sit down,” he said finally.

“Just a sec, sweetie,” she said, moving past him toward the kitchen. “Let me just get the muffins out of the oven. They’re your favorite and—”

“SIT.”

She sat. Her shoulders trembled a little, but he chose to ignore that. She’d gotten herself into this mess in the first place, after all.

“You know you’re in trouble, don’t you?”

“Y-yes.”

“What had I asked for?”

“Dinner on the table by the time you got h-home from work.”

“Yes. And what did you deliver?”

“But wait, just let me—” she began, her day rushing through her head, all of it trying to get out at once.

“No buts. Either you’ve made me happy, or you haven’t.”

“Yes, but there were extenuating circumstances!” she spit out before he could stop her. She clamped her mouth shut again when his eyes flashed, but it was too late.

The back of his hand hit her cheek before she had a chance to escape. Not that she would’ve tried to escape; that only made things worse in the long run.

“Do not speak over me,” he said, his arm poised for another blow.

“Yes, of c-course. Forgive me.”

“You’ve done this to yourself, you know,” he said, his hand coming down on the top of her head this time. “You’re in control here, and you’re the one who’s always making me punish you. Why do you do this to me?”

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

FFF 23: Medical

“So, we’re doing this sterilization thing?” the patient asked.

The doctor looked at her sympathetically. “Hon, we don’t call it ‘sterilization’ here; it sounds so”—she scrunched up her nose in distaste—“medical.”

“It is a procedure.” It wasn’t a question. The doctor nodded anyway. “And it’s performed by a doctor.” Another nod. “In a hospital.” More nodding.

The patient jerked back a little, forcing the doctor to acknowledge her frustration. “Then how is it not medical?”

“Ah, well,” the doctor began, pulling on a pair of white latex gloves, “we see some people who find it scary to think about it as surgery that’s so permanent—”

“But it is permanent, right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And they don’t want that?”

“It’s more complicated than you’re making it sound, hon,” the doctor said, sitting back on her rolling stool while the patient hopped up onto the high table.

“I guess so,” the patient agreed, though she sounded far from convinced.

“Are you ready?” the doctor asked.

“Yes, let’s get this overwith.”

“And you’re sure you don’t want to reconsider?”

“I’ve been considering for ten years. Get on with it.”

The doctor leaned forward again. “All right. Take a deep breath; this will sting.”

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

FFF 22: Recovery

After she’d been to the group several weeks in a row, Sarah worked up the nerve to introduce herself when the mediator asked for anyone new who’d like to step forward and begin their recovery.

“My name is Sarah, and I’m a recovering singleholic,” she said to the group, her hands in tight fists on her knees.

“Hi Sarah,” came the standard group response. She took a deep breath to calm her rattled nerves and glanced around the group. Sarah was a young-ish woman—in her early 30s, probably—and she was hardly either the youngest or oldest in the circle.

“I never wanted to be married or have kids,” she began tentatively, her voice growing stronger with the sympathetic nodding around her. “Honestly… honestly, I still don’t. I never even wanted to get married.”

She put up a hand as if to stop someone from interrupting her before anyone could try. “I love my partner, of course,” she said, and then hastily corrected, “my husband, I mean. Of course I love him, but I never wanted to marry him.”

The nodding, murmured agreement spurred her on, her voice taking a half-frantic tone. “I never wanted any of this; not the wedding or the ring”—she twisted her wedding ring around her the third finger of her left hand as if it was too tight—“not the pregnancies, not the resulting children. I just—” she stopped when the woman next to her, an older lady with greying hair, handed her a box of tissues.

Sarah took one and blew her nose loudly before continuing. “I hate this life. I just want to run away, and I want to never have stepped on this path in the first place!”

The mediator leaned forward from her seat a few chairs away and put her hand on Sarah’s knee to comfort her. “We’ve all felt what you’re feeling now, Sarah.” She glanced around the room for confirmation and received it in varying degrees of enthusiasm. “Sometimes, we still do. Admitting that you’ve got a problem is the first step. Admitting that you would rather be unmarried without children is the first step to your recovery. Welcome, Sarah.”

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

FFF 21: Washington on the Delaware

It wasn’t really like that, you know; Washington on the Delaware, I mean. First thing that doesn’t really come across is how cold it was that night. I should know; I was one of the watermen guiding the boats for the surprise attack, and it was cold. Offered up my own Durham boat for the cause, though, and it was worth it. (Lost one of my pinky fingers to frostbite, too, but that was because of a faulty glove and an overzealous poleman—that is, me—not because of the general or any commander underneath him.)

Poling across a river is one thing; doing it on ice with tons of men and weapons on board in the dead of night on Christmas Day is another. The Delaware River that night wasn’t taking any prisoners, either. If a man fell in, might as well have just shot him on the spot for all the good we could’ve done him. And every single man wore gloves, if ‘e had them; rags if ‘e didn’t. We may’ve been simple soldiers, but even we knew frostbite could lose us a limb or two… or our lives, if we weren’t careful.

I really wanted to be home with my wife that day, honestly. It was Christmas, after all, and I hadn’t seen her since signing up with the other men in Marblehead. After December 31st, though, I was a free man again, and I guess Washington wasn’t going to let us go without a final fight with the Tories.

But what’s with this flag? We didn’t have any flag like this that night; best I know, this flag came later. We had the Continental Colors, of course, along with all of our individual regiment’s flags. The light here’s all wrong, too; it was night, and this looks like day. Or, at least, not night. We had horses, like this here, but they rode out on ferries behind the Durhams. I think the canons and large weapons came over on the ferries, too, but I don’t remember seeing any. We must’ve brought them over, though, because we had ’em on the other side.

Don’t know anything about any Monroe, either, but I wasn’t in charge and I was only ever told anything on a “need to know” basis. Guess I just didn’t need to know.

The crossing was narrower, too, thank God. Washington never stepped foot on my Durham, but I saw him trying to keep his hat on in the driving rain in another boat several yards up. Always did wonder about his wooden teeth. If I’d had wooden or ivory teeth at that time, I’m sure I’d have clattered them out of my head into the water from the cold. Luckily for me, I only lost a finger and not an entire hand… or all my teeth.

Lost many of my brothers in arms in the battle that immediately followed that crossing, even though we had the upper hand at first on account of our little surprise for the Tories. God rest their souls; my brothers’ souls, I mean. The Tory souls can rot.

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

FFF 20: After battle

I fell hard as Nox was tripped by spear shafts, and landed hard. One savage came at me, ax swinging for my head, and I rolled aside quickly and onto my feet, sword ready. He swung again, his axe having the superior reach to my blade, and I blocked the strike with my sword, the blade breaking from the impact. I eyed his jagged, bearded grin as he laughed and brought the axe up to strike again.

And then there was a flash of silver fur and he was gone.

Thanks, Blade. I whirled as a roar behind me brought me to attention, and crossed my arms defensively as another barbarian attacked, his sword striking my gauntlets hard. Sparks flew, and I dropped to one knee from the force of the blow. He tried stabbing at me, but I rolled sideways, bringing one fist hard into his jaw as I came up. I may not have a sword, but if I could get past theirs, my fists worked just as well.

He staggered, then came at me again. This time, I moved faster, grabbing his shoulder and spinning him into a tight hold to snap his neck neatly. I snatched up the sword as it dropped and shoved away the body to face the next attacker. . .

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I sat down hard with a sigh, glancing to the shattered tree nearby. Struck by coldfire, it had frozen solid and shattered like glass with the blow of an axe. I tapped the tree behind me cautiously–I couldn’t see any blue or unusual amounts of frost on it, and a firm blow after several taps did nothing. With a sigh, I leaned back. Bloody from scratches of my own, covered in blood from others. . . What a mess.

I felt a sword blade touch my neck, and opened my eyes to meet the gaze of a badly wounded barbarian. He looked more dead than alive, and I watched him calmly for several long moments.

“Lupus!” Djuron was hurrying toward me in alarm, but I only closed my eyes again and shrugged. I heard the thump as the barbarian collapsed before he could do any harm, and sighed, wishing the birds hadn’t stopped singing. Battles always did scare them away.

“Lupus! Are you all right?” Djuron demanded, dropping to his knees before me. I smiled.

“Yes, Djuron, I am just fine. Very, very tired, but fine.”

“We were worried when we couldn’t find you,” he scolded.

I laughed. “You think a little skirmish like this would lose me?”

“Well, we did find your sword in pieces.” Djuron was still scolding me like a worried old woman.

“Oh, that old thing. . . Broke at the beginning of the whole mess. Next time I’ll get one that can handle an axe.” I heard a single bird twitter and smiled, opening my eyes to look skyward. A lark fluttered past, frightened by the approach of a horse, and I watched it go sadly.

“Come, Lupus, let’s get you cleaned off.” Djuron gave me a firm hand up, and I stretched. Studying the blade I still held that I’d taken after breaking the second, I tossed it aside with a shrug, following him back to camp.

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.