Flash Fiction: Hot Day

She lifted her left leg out of the car carefully. The skin on her thighs had stuck to the leather seat in the old beat-up car her father swore was a good deal. It was, he was right. He was always right.

She slowly lifted her right leg and stood up. The air conditioning in that tiny car hadn’t worked for a week but she wasn’t bothered enough to fix it. No, the windows did just fine. She was able to let her hand feel the breeze, much like her younger self. Hand out side of her parents station wagon, a giant plane taking the same road they did… if she squinted and imagined hard enough.

She made the journey down the path to the old farm house and reached the old screened door. The house had seen better days. She placed her hand on the metal door handle and stood. The moment was lost. She should have phoned to say she was coming. She used to just walk right in. Judgement got the best of her.

She knocked, instead, on the door of the house she grew up in. Waiting for her mother she hadn’t seen in fifteen years.

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Chrysanthemums.

Trevor and Theodora had been dating for quite sometime, he was madly in love and planning a special engagement. He was ready to marry her, she had no idea but was blissfully happy anyway.

Tragedy struck when Trevor’s grandmother fell ill on the day he meant to propose. Theodora was of course willing and happy to be at his side at the hospital. The next few weeks were hard for Trevor but he managed to get by with Theodora’s warm embraces. He eventually took out the ring in a hospital waiting room, after talking with his grandmother he realized life was short and he knew he wanted this woman for the rest of his life.

The day of the funeral was full of tears for Trevor and Theodora stuck by his side all morning. The reached the funeral home and Theodora halted to a stop at the front door. “What’s wrong, my love?” he managed to say.

Theodora looked on in horror at the flower pots by the door. “What are those?”

“Chrysanthemums, they were grandma’s favorite. She always used to say they kept the witches out. Come on, we better get in there.”

“I…I can’t go in there Trevor.”

Trevor stood perplexed. Questions began to rise to his mind, how could his fiancé not go to his grandmother’s funeral. It was only a moment when the reality came to his mind and all the things his grandmother said about his beautiful woman rushed on to the tip of his tongue. His jaw just about dropped. “You’re a witch!?”


A dragon’s breath

“Well I was out eating vegetables.” Druk said as he hiccupped again.
“Vegetables?” Avina was puzzled, it wasn’t like her husband to eat anything but animals he found in the woods. But even then, he would bring home at least a small deer for her.
Druk hiccupped again. “Slim pickins’, my dear.”
“Pity.” She looked over the medicine cabinet once more. “Sorry love, fresh out of the heartburn medicine. You’ll have to go into the town and take some.”
Druk groaned, he hated bothering the villagers. They didn’t like him too much. “Well did you need anything else while I am out?”
“Not now dear, we have some meat stored in the back cave that will last us a while. Unless you stop by old Mrs. Damforth and see if she’ll let me borrow another book?”
“You disintegrated the last one.” Druk walked out of the cave with a smile on his face. Mrs. Damforth wasn’t likely to let Avina borrow another book but he’d still try. Maybe he could talk one of the other townswomen into it.

Druk made it to the town down the mountain, about an hours-worth of walking. He wanted to look ‘normal’ coming into the town, because otherwise it would scare the children if he flew down the mountain. A truth he had found out the hard way a few years ago. Edmund and Karyle never got over that one morning they ran into Druk and had to leave town as soon as they were of age, no one had heard of them since.
Druk sneaked into the sleepy Sunday village and found a house that seemed to have some movement. He tapped on the door with a claw, if he had knocked he would have tore down the door, something he also learned the hard way. He waited a short moment and tapped again. He heard a thud behind the door, which meant the person most likely fainted upon sight of a dragon outside their house and he would have to move on.
He needed to work quickly though, news would spread in the town and he would be ran out by the toughest men there was.
Druk walked a few houses down and tapped lightly again. He waited a moment and was about to tap again when the door opened. Behind it was a small child, about the age of four in a little pink dress. Druk panicked, small children usually ran crying to their mothers.
“Hi.” A tiny squeak came from the little girl. She smiled big.
“Hello, miss. Is mommy or daddy home.” For the first time he felt a sense of relief.
The little girl giggled. “Dragon.”
“Yes, I am.” He smiled back at her.
“They say you big scary. No. You cute.” She giggled again.
Druk smiled, he had never been complimented from a human before. And he thought about it, the last time Avina called him cute was when he was courting her. “My name is Druk. What is your name?”
“Anabelle.” She smiled again and grabbed for his hand.
“No, no Anabelle, I won’t fit in your house!”
She stepped back with a frown. Anabelle stared at Druk,
In a moment a woman showed up at the door. “Anabelle, we told you, Dragon bad!”
“No mommy! Druk nice!”
The mother looked at Druk. “Well you haven’t burnt down my house yet.”
Druk couldn’t help but chuckle. “No, Ma’am. Just in town looking for medicine. Modern times but we still haven’t quite figured out how to do the sort of healing that you humans do.”
“Medicine huh? Why not try a doctor?” She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorway.
“It’s best to try my luck with the people first.” He smiled. “Perhaps do you have heartburn medication Ma’am?”
She stood with a puzzled look.
“In turn I offer services. I can annoy your pesky enemies, or do some heavy lifting, or protect your home. Possibilities are of course limited to what a dragon can do.”
“Fly!” Anabelle smiled and looked at her mother.
“No Anabelle, not safe.”
“Ma’am flying is completely safe, I would guard Miss Anabelle with my life.” The truth was Druk had never given a human a ride, but he had known other dragons to. It couldn’t be so hard.
“You’d give Anabelle a ride for some heartburn medication?” Anabelle’s mother said inquisitively.
“A life time of rides, Ma’am.” Druk was hopeful.
“Okay.” She disappeared into the house and returned with two large bottles of pills. “I can always get more so I’m giving you what we have.”
Druk smiled. “The missus will be so happy I won’t have to come to the village for these any time soon. I do thank you. As for the rides for Anabelle, I know it is getting late so how about I come back tomorrow for her first ride? Do you mind taking her to the edge of the forest so I won’t need to come too close into town?”
“I’d be more than happy to. Say around 10 o’clock.” The mother smiled.
“10 o’clock it is!” Druk took his bottles and began to walk way when he remembered the other thing. “Oh! The missus, Avina loves novels, you mind letting her borrow one?”
“One! I’ve had a whole box I’ve been meaning to take to the library, but I’m sure your wife would love them!”
Not too long and Druk was walking away with a large box of books and the medicine he needed. He smiled and thought what a lovely happenstance that he was able to meet such a generous woman and happy little child. He was over joyed at coming back the next day to take the little girl for a ride. He knew Avina would be proud that he didn’t terrorize anyone this time. As he started his journey home he heard the mother talking to her little Anabelle.
“I never knew dragons could get heartburn! So fascinating, I hope he comes back!”


Momma

The phone rings as Jeff takes a long sip of his Tennessee whisky. He hesitates, not wanting to ruin his lazy Saturday afternoon. The downpour meant he couldn’t go fishing, getting drunk was the next best thing.

The phone rings again. He picks up the handle, “What?” He mumbles.

“Jeffery Daniels?” The other man questions.

“Yeah, what you callin’ me fo?”

“Sir this is Captain Solders from Colby State Penitentiary. We’re calling on behalf of your mother.”

Jeff hung up. He didn’t want to deal with this today, he took another sip and stared out at the storm clouds.

The phone rang again. And again. And again.

“Man, I don’t know what kind of trick you tryin’ to pull here but my mom died twenty years ago. I ain’t got time for your pranks.”

“Uh, Mr. Daniels, we have your mother here. She’s well alive, we have her set to be released today and we’ve had a heck of a time trying to find you. She said you’re her only relative.” Captain Solders said in a concerning voice.

“It’s raining.” It was Jeff’s only concern. Mostly because he never really believed his mother died, they never even had a funeral for her. He was curious to actually see who this officer was actually releasing.

“Uh, yes sir it is.”

“Alright. But if I was fishin like I was supposed to be y’all would have been shit out of luck. Where do I need to go?” He sipped his whisky again.

The officer on the phone sighed in relief. “Thank you. What you’ll need to do is head to the main gate, tell the gatekeeper that you’re here to pickup an inmate. They’ll direct you where to go from there. You’ll need an ID.”

Jeff hung up the phone, downed the rest of his glass and grabbed his keys.

After signing the necessary paperwork and leaving the penitentiary, Jeff and his mother started the long drive back to his house on the lake.

“You don’t need to give me the silent treatment, Jeffery.” The frail woman sat in the passenger seat and looked at the trees passing by.

“They said you were dead, ma. Then out of the cloudy gray sky some police dude called from some upstate prison said you were alive and well just sitting there waiting to be picked up by your only relative.” He stopped the truck on the side of the road. “You care to explain any of this before I take you back there?”

“Just wanted to protect you baby. It’s a lot easier growing up thinkin your momma’s dead instead of the truth.”

“And what was the truth ‘momma’?” Jeff gripped the steering wheel. While most children would be happy seeing a long lost parent, he was angry. And for good reason too.

But she didn’t answer. Just stared out the window, tears in her eyes.

“Come on, I’ll take you home.” He started driving again.

“Could we do something first?” She waited for an answer but could tell he was in a bad mood. “Could we get a real meal? Something hot, and not mushy?”

“You remember that steak place we went to when I was 10?”

“For your birthday?”

“It was the last time I saw you.”

“I’m sorry, Jeffery.” Her tears welled up in her eyes and slowly rolled down her cheeks.

“It’s alright, ma. Let’s go there.” They drove in silence.

At the restaurant they caught up on all the things she had missed during his adolescent years. Jeff indulged his mother, telling her about graduating school and the job at the factory and the girl who almost-was. About how he struck up a good amount of money and bought his house and the lake and his new business. All the while the question still grew in his mind until he couldn’t take it anymore.

“What did you do momma?”

“I…”

“You can tell me momma.” He gave her a stern look.

“I told the cops that I was the one that killed the man in the park, honey.” Her tears began to fall again but she didn’t sob.

“The park?” Jeff was confused.

“Yeah baby, the one over on pine street.”

He fell silent and stirred food around his plate. “But they said he had a heart attack?”

“No, baby.”

“You killed him?” The memories rushed to his head. He wished he had been able to fish. Or maybe he hadn’t answered the phone. Above all, Jeff wished he had still been sipping on his wisky. He looked up and noticed his mother’s face and all of the memory hit him at once. “….I killed him.”

Mrs. Daniels, with tears in her eyes, nodded her head.


Sir Bowlsworth

Sir Bowlsworth is a small restaurateur in the south side of France. He serves mostly soups, and is widely popular in the area.

The people in France look past his American heritage and appreciate him for his knowledge of basic knowledge of bisque, chowder, and soups. (Of course, no one really knew the difference)

Sir Bowlsworth was even knighted for is servitude to the French by the Queen of England, which no one had ever received such an honor by a foreign dignity for such a small act.

The only soup not popular in Sir Bowlsworth’s line up was what he called “Tomato.” To the French people he served this was a disgusting soup which they likened to liquefied ketchup. An American condiment they never used, made to go with the American popular-French Fry.

His customers never asked for the soup but it remained on the menu, and he still made it hot and fresh everyday in hopes someone would give it a try.

One day, Sir Bowlsworth decided to put a new item on the menu. A grilled cheese sandwich, to complement his unpopular tomato soup. His customers were outraged. “Why would a soup restaurant sell a sandwich!?” They cried. The idea was totally preposterous! They wouldn’t even give the sandwich a try.

It was months before a very curious customer came into the shop. She was holding a French translation handbook and had a cassette tape with headphones draped over her shoulders. “Puis-je avoir la soupe au fromage grillé et à la tomate?” She said very slowly in a near perfect accent, glancing at her book ever so often to get the sentence right.

Sir Bowlsworth looked confused. He had waited for this day for a very long time. He said “Oui.” and guestured for the lady to take a seat anywhere she pleased while he prepared her meal. The French customers were equally confused, who would order such an American abomination?

He brought the lady a bowl of his unpopular tomato soup with a plate of goey grilled cheese sandwich.

She said thank you in her best French accent and began to tear her sandwich into pieces and dip them into the soup.

The other customers were in complete outrage! Who would do such a thing! They all stared at her, including Sir Bowlsworth. No one had ever treated his soup with such carelessness.

“Ma ‘dam, you must be American.” He said.

She looked at him, “Yes, you sound American too!” She smiled brightly as if this was the first American she had seen on her trip.

“Oui, Ma ‘dam.” Sir Bowlsworth smiled.

“I’ve been looking for something like this! It reminds me of my mother and home!” She asked him to sit down.

He was so happy to have someone to talk to that appreciated his tomato soup. It was indeed his mother’s recipe, and much like this young lady, it reminded him of home. In fact, it was all he had eaten for the past few months. He didn’t want it going to waste either since none of his regular customers would not touch it.

Sir Bowlsworth and the lady sat and talked all day long, with him occasionally serving his customers.

From that day on the French customers enjoyed the soup as the lady had, with tore up grilled cheese pieces in their tomato soup. The lady even went on to be Mrs. Bowlsworth, and everyone was happy and lived happily ever after.


Late Night Drive

And I had hoped he would turn off the road. I didn’t want to go home yet.

I wanted to sit in our blissful silence. Nothing but the sounds of the road, the soft guitar in the speakers. Lyrics of a stranger speaking words we weren’t.

Heading into tomorrow, street lamps and headlights the only thing illuminating an otherwise dark landscape.

This is our happiness.

He must have known that too, as he turned off our beaten road.

He knows as we sit in our silence, filled with soft guitars and street lamps, he knows I didn’t want to go home yet.

The occasional whisper of something, he’ll mention, a thought he picked from my brain. A thought that had not yet kissed my lips.

He takes the smooth roads and easy curves at speeds he dares not mention for he knows my reaction. I stare out the window and enjoy our moment. The moon now our only guide, peaking through vapory clouds.

We don’t know where we’re going. If he does have an idea, he hasn’t told me yet. But he doesn’t have to. I’ll sit here in blissful silence, the smooth roads and easy curves and hazy moons and soft guitars, with him, any time.


Replacement Parts

My life is pretty simple. I go to work, I come home, go to bed, then start the whole thing over again.

I have done this for years and years and years.

There’s a few issues with that though. I’m lonely. It’s impossible to find anyone like me, believe me I have tried. It’s also hard finding proper replacement parts. 

I can usually tell when a part will start to rot. It’s not as functional and gets an unusual green tint. Luckily I can get away with just telling people I have the flu, humans in general are clueless. There was one particular case though that I hadn’t noticed a part was beginning to rot. It was my elbow. The green tint had turned into a nasty purple bruise like color. The functionality of an elbow is limited unless you move your arm around frequently. My profession at the time didn’t require much movement. 

The man next to me in my cubicle had asked how I got such a gnarly bruise. We had developed a decent friendship at the time so it was difficult to find a reason. Maybe I fell off my ladder at home trying to fix the gutters? He didn’t believe me, we made enough money at that job to hire out the work. I had to wear long sleeve shirts for the next two weeks until I found an elbow that matched my current body style. 

I tend to stick with the more tall, slightly muscular, lighter skin, dark hair, type of male body. That’s what I was originally born with. They didn’t have any ways of picture taking at the time so I roughly go off of memory. I do have a special box at home where I keep wallet sized portraits of the different styles I have chosen.

It is particularly hard finding a face. That always means an entire lifestyle change. And I need to do it quickly. I have to anticipate my skin beginning to rot, which could happen at anytime. 

My victims always have a proper death date. That is always preset at their birth, but I have no way of knowing. This means that I could replace my hand or my left butt cheek or my knee and it could begin to rot the next day or the next year or like my trusty left hand. My left hand has been with me now for 15 years and has survived two whole lifestyle changes.

I tend not to get too close to anyone, I have never let myself love any woman in a romantic sense. There would be too much heartbreak on both my end and on hers. I came close once in my teen years however. Before I realized what kind of thing I was, that is before my first encounter with my own body parts failing me. She was beautiful, and very smart for just having a one room school house education. I will say that over the years I am proud of the freedoms society has given itself.

The girl was infatuated with me as well, there was talk from her parents about matrimony. I courted her as any other young man would do for the time period, I even stole a kiss when our chaperone was not looking. It all came to a halt the day my father told me about his lifestyle.

My mother died during childbirth, she was human and could not handle the force inside her. My father let me grow up as normal as possible and I never noticed his changes throughout the years. It was the eve of the big town festival when he came to me in my bedroom to tell me that we had to leave. That’s when I noticed his pale green face. I begged and begged to get to go to the festival dance with my girl, not understanding what he was trying to tell me.

“My face is going to fall off, Orville, we need to leave tonight.” I remember him telling me, clear as day. Father explained what kind of creature he was and who my mother was and their love story. He explained the agonizing pain he felt at her death and how he promised to never let me have the same fate. His change of face meant it was time for him to leave our town, and after much protest I realized that he was right. It was time to leave my hometown in search for father’s new face.

He taught me how to hunt and about human’s death dates and how he always tried to keep himself as young looking as possible. And for whatever reason, if we needed to take a human’s life before it’s natural death date it didn’t change the expectancy of the part we took. It wasn’t often that we needed to take a part that killed a person, just for the vital organs and things like face and heart. Father assured me that in his 257 years of existence he has not once had to take a heart. So far in my lifetime, I have not had to as well.

Father did not tell me however, if there was anyone like us. He was a little care free in his older years and not long after we were to successfully replace his face and establish ourselves in a new town on the other side of the country, he replaced a pinky toe from a man who was later diagnosed with tuberculosis. My father died from the disease as it spread quicker than we could replace his parts. I keep a vial of his ashes on a chain that I keep with me, as a reminder.

I have learned from then on to make sure my victim is healthy. In these more modern times, that is an easier task. The most difficult is finding a new identity. There was once instance that I took a mans face, which of course takes his life, and I assumed his identity, told his family I was moving away and never wanted to be bothered. It worked.

Some day it will be my time to leave this world like my father. I have come to find several places I would like to settle down in. But this world is so beautiful, and I am not ready to leave it yet. Maybe that’s why my father lived so long. I’ll never really get to know all the secrets that come with my curse. But at least I have lived a few really good lives.