Flowering

Somewhere between the first time he slapped the snooze button and the second time the alarm rang, it sprouted. He’d hit it again, and rolled over, seeing the stalk stretch up. Ungraspable memories of the night before budded and bloomed. Things he said. Things he’d done.

His mouth woke up before he did. Working its dry thickness against the morning air, and his need for another few minutes, or hours, of sleep.

The third time the alarm rang, the regret had blossomed. Fresh, bright petals spread out.

Red-eyed, he stared at the numbers, until they finally meant something to him.

Prompt courtesy of ismithwords’ Literary Lion.

The Stenographer

She’d started writing everything down. Our conversations. First just quick notes, but then when she got faster, every single word either of us spoke.

“Because it might be interesting,” she said.

Half those notebooks had to be filled with us complaining about the dishes after washing them the day before. I knew it was really to have a record. Something she could eventually use against me.

We weren’t arguing. But she kept writing everything down no matter how fast I spoke, and I got angry and lashed out.

“Read that back,” I said. “Please. I’d want hear how it sounds.”

Heredity

Doe poured another slug of rum into her glass and didn’t pick up the goddamned phone for the fourth time it had decided to ring this afternoon. She swung the freezer for ice, and then the fridge for the cola, cocking her hips out and bending lower then she really needed to, and then stood up added them to the already half-filled tumbler.

She stirred and sipped the drink. It tasted familiar. And illicit.

Outside, the sun hung straight up above. Doe took her drink, and she left the kitchen, trying to forget she’d just reminded herself of her mother.

Late For Work

Coyote walked into the bedroom and kicked at the pile of t-shirts and underwear on the floor. He went into the bathroom, hung up the towel that had fallen again. He thought about getting new hooks. Nothing ever stayed hanging on these. Shuffling into the kitchen, he stacked the dirty plates and pulled a handful of utensils from the three inches of water in the bottom of the sink, and set them in a dirty mug.

He needed to find that damn cup of coffee.

The third time around the living room, he finally found it, cold, on the windowsill.

Seven Letter Word For Impatience

“You hear anything?”

“Not yet.”

“It’s been a couple of hours.”

Instead of answering, he picked up a magazine from the end table and started flipping through it. He found a half-finished crossword puzzle, and after searching his jacket pocket and not finding anything, he asked his brother if he had a pen. He didn’t.

“I’ll see if I can get one from the nurse.”

He came back and started filling in the puzzle, occasionally tapping the pen against his teeth.

“That’s really annoying.”

“What?”

“The pen. You and that fucking pen.”

He stopped and filled in thirteen across, incorrectly.

Gentrification

They drove through the old neighbourhood, even though it was out of their way, and they were tired, but they thought it might do them good to see the building. Their first place together. A shitty no-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor. No elevator. Windows that wouldn’t open without a crowbar, but slammed down as if greased. Walls thin enough to see the neighbour’s shadows.

They loved it.

Seeing it again might help them appreciate how far they’d come, remember how they used to feel. Maybe reignite something.

The irony of it being torn down was not lost on them.

Prompt courtesy of the Friday Fictioneers. Read more stories here.

Scrambled

“So just the eggs then?”

“Just the eggs.”

“No sausage? No toast? Nothing?”

“Fine. Brown with butter,” Dzinski said. “And raspberry jam, if you got it.”

The waitress took off, as though she wasn’t used to fetching things, and he felt low about the way he’d spoken. She set the jar itself in front of him, with the knife resting across the opening.

“We don’t usually serve breakfast past noon,” she said, looking for high ground to stand on, and finding it suitable. “And don’t think for a second that I haven’t seen that bottle itching out of your pocket.”

East of Town Proper

He’d come in just east of the town proper, and followed the road as it looped around, shaped something like a noose. At the river, he turned left and then took another quick turn in the same direction, staying wide of the church. He drove through the empty streets until he’d come to the diner, and then he nosed his rented car against it and went inside.

The chimes over the door jangled and woke the waitress up from something. She blinked and wiped at her eyes and forced out a smile, asking if he didn’t want a cup of coffee. He said he did and sat down at the counter.

“Anything besides?,” she asked, setting the cup down.

“That’ll be plenty,” he said. “Thanks.”

The waitress set about wiping down the forks and just looking across the diner and out the window. Likely to the steeple straining up over the roofs across the way. He was watching her and thinking about all the times he’d been in before, and how nothing had changed, except the woman behind the counter. She arrived now, with the pot, and tilted it and her eyebrows, in that way they do and he pushed his cup out and she filled it and slid it back.

She started through the spoons, but soon came back and stood before him.

“Don’t I know you?”

“I wouldn’t think so.”

“You seem awful familiar. You from around here?”

“No.”

“Well,” she said, straightening her apron. “I should have guessed. If you were, you’d just as likely be out at the service.”

He said nothing to that, but dug in his pocket for a dollar and laid it out next to the saucer.

“Thanks again,” he said.

He stepped outside just in time to hear the church bells tolling.

He told me [his plan] , and I see in a minute it was worth fifteen of mine, for style, and would make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and maybe get us all killed besides. So I was satisfied, and said we would waltz in on it.

  • Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain