Ta-da! November’s flash fiction’s here! This month’s prompt comes courtesy of Melody at Melody’s Reading Corner…When I asked for objects to write about, Melody suggested magic. Love that idea! Love…
“Free Of Charge”
I’m not a kid person. Not a coochie-cooer. Maybe I don’t have much age on the boy behind the cash box who eyeballs me. Maybe the last time I went in for a haircut the stylist said, “There you go, kiddo,” when I stepped out of the chair. Still. The way the little boy just keeps staring—like he’s about to say something to me—gives me a tight, uncomfortable tug in my gut.
Not sure why I even walked up the drive to their garage sale. It’s not like I have any money in my running shorts. And I’m not exactly presentable. In the mirror attached to a ladder (“only $25!” the tag screams,) I look like some trampled-through, tortured puddle, the way sweat rings cling to my underarms, sweat splatter dots my back and chest. I’ve run five miles—far longer than I’d intended—and now I’m the kind of exhausted that makes me wish I could just flop down on the nearby duct-taped bean bag chair ($2).
Five miles from home—feels like a hundred, but it’s nothing compared to the distance between Missouri and Puerto Rico, where Dad’s dragging me to live.
“Part of the US,” he insisted. “English is an official language.” But Spanish dominates. I’ll learn it, sure, but a word at a time. Casa, I’ll say. Gracias. Si. And nod, a nervous smile on my face because I can’t keep up with full-sentence Spanish. My classmates will avoid me the way I dodge little kids, because talking to someone too inexperienced to truly understand you is just plain boring—and too much work. I mean, a conversation shouldn’t involve heavy lifting.
Folding tables around me support the used-up fragments of life: Frayed sweaters folded into puffy rectangles. Tarnished candle holders. Old cassette tapes.
I’ll be a trinket, too, after I move. A birthday card in the bottom of a junk drawer. A photo yellowing behind fifty Post-its on a bulletin board.
I’ll be some dated, lame thing that eventually gets sold or pitched. Some girl I used to know, my boyfriend will call me, if remembers me at all.
I’m still sweating. Four miles ago, I was crying. Puerto Rico...
The little boy slides off his plastic chair, slips behind his mother, who’s defending the price of a cracked McCoy vase, and reaches into a fish bowl. I see a glass grave. Wonder if they even remember their long-ago pet’s name.
I start to back up, but he rushes, screams, “Wait!” His mother’s watching, too, so I feel compelled to stoop and cup my sweat-sticky hands. The mysterious little creature pours old goldfish tank pebbles into my palms.
“Genuine magic rocks,” he insists. “Free of charge.”
I almost snort a laugh when the pebbles—and a new rushing tide of belief—start to warm in my palm. Calm spreads through my chest.
“Gracias,” I whisper, surprised to find the word doesn’t sound so awkward coming from me, after all.
…Remember, December will be the last month to get in on the Flash Fiction Challenge! I’ll be putting up details soon…