Tuesday, November 9, 2010


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”
Holly Schindler

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…


  1. Thanks for choosing my idea, Holly! I'm still on cloud nine. :) Loved your flash fiction and I also enjoyed viewing your video!

  2. I once went to a Renaissance Faire, not the kind that retain all the proper way of life in the middle ages but the kind that allow for the mind-wash fantasy of the what could have been in the time of King Arthur. You know, with maidens walking dragons on leashes and a troll (toll) bridge complete with a troll disguise as a bush.
    As I was walking over to get a turkey drum stick and a pint of grog, I was accosted by a fairy. She was petite, beautiful and spoke only in a trilling language. She handed me some genuine pink and turquoise magic rocks and then flew away. They looked just exactly like those fish tank rocks...only they were magic too.
    Love the story and the the boy's revelation that he is still just a boy at heart who believes...just like the kid with the magic rocks, just like me with my magic rocks, which by the way, are still on the window sill in my studio.

  3. Thanks back at'cha, Melody! And Kate--LOVE that you have some magic rocks, too...How cool...


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