Friday, January 13, 2017

Flash Fiction Contest #25


For our first flash fiction contest in 2017, it seems appropriate to go with a theme of new. In your entry of 500 words, show us a new relationship starting off, a new pet, a new car (I'd like one of those), a new anything. Winner will be announced on 1/15, in the afternoon. Get your entry in before noon EST on 01/15, peeps, and as always, have fun!

Rules for contest can be found here.

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  2. Karen showered. Lather, rinse, repeat. Turn the water hotter. Purge. Lather, rinse, repeat. No tears joined the suds down the hair-clogged drain. No more anger, not anymore. Once a roaring inferno, Anger had quietly died, having consumed all its fuel, smothering herself in her own ashes. And who was left to mourne her passing? Not Peace. She remained elusive as ever. Anger had consumed all her guests: Justice, Honor, and Dignity were each consumed in their due course. Not even loneliness remained.
    Karen turned off the water and used the threadbare towel to dry off her carrot colored hair.
    Mechanically, she dressed, though she didn’t know why. Clothes couldn’t conceal her scars, nor protect her. And yet, she put on the same mustard colored pajamas she’d been wearing since last Christmas, with little boughs of holly and Christmas tidings on them.
    She climbed into bed, and willed sleep to come.
    Sleep must have been murdered as well. Karen flipped over her sodden pillow and began counting sheep. Little fluffy masses that began to bleat and bleed.
    She could taste blood in her mouth. No amount of purging would help. Slowly, Karen rose and walked over to the closet where the linens had been kept. There were medicines, ointments, and oils, all as useless from the one to the next. Where did the sheets get moved to now?
    Karen procured a pair of clean, dry sheets, made of Egyptian Cotton. She dutifully placed her old sheets in the laundry bin and smoothed out the wrinkles of the new ones. Her still wet hair, now quite cold, brushed past her shoulders, and she expedited the procedure so that she could crawl into the bed. She ran her feet together, utilizing friction to warm up body. She would continue to rub her feet together, she knew, until she began to fall asleep, the repetitive, controlled motion working better than any other sleep aid she’d found.
    And then she felt it. An emotion. A feeling. It took Karen some time to identify this new thing as she rubbed her clean, warm feet together in the soft sheets. Memories of warmth. Memories of cleanness. Memories of worth? Afraid that acknowledging the feeling would cause it to flee, Karen ignored it as best as she could manage. She again willed herself to sleep. And this time, under the watchful gaze of Hope, Karen fell into a sleep unriddled by dreams of monsters who parade as men, and wolves who enjoy the bleating and beating of sheep.

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  3. The aquarium should have been beautiful.
    That’s what everyone said when they saw it. "Look at all those pretty fish, ooh what an amazing gift", but it
    wasn’t - it wasn’t at all. Those fish were prisoners, and I knew exactly how they felt.
    It showed up last December - a brand new present.
    Two guys in brown uniforms came to our door and had my grandma sign their paperwork.
    “Well now, we didn't order anything like this. Must be a mistake,” my grandma said.
    One of the guys handed her an envelope. She turned it around in her hands and gave what I can only say was a giggle. It sounded like this girl Emma in my class when she had to answer a question she didn't know. It was not a usual sound.
    My grandma took forever to open that envelope, like it was a bomb or something.
    “Oh Eli, It says that it’s a gift from the Masons! Well that is so very thoughtful of them, isn't it?”
    I just sat there, because I could not ever think of the Masons in that way.
    The two guys took my grandma’s enthusiasm as a yes and wheeled the monstrosity in on a cart.
    “Ok, ma’am, where would you like it?”
    “Oh my, I’m not sure. It’s pretty big, isn't it? Well, I think put it here in the front room. Yes, it will look nice right over here.”
    Nice? It was going to take up half the room.
    It didn't match any of the other furniture.
    “Ok, and here are all the instructions on how to feed and take care of the fish. It comes with six months of free cleaning and maintenance service.”
    My grandma took a quick, deep breath and twirled the pen the guy gave her. She looked at me, looked at the fish and then quickly signed her name on their form.
    The delivery guys cleared out.
    We just sat there and looked at the aquarium like an alien had landed in our living room.
    I finally wandered over to see it. Fish swirled through the water, and a few hung out at the bottom. A bunch of colorful fake trees and rocks were scattered around. My grandma finally came over and ran her hand over the smooth glass. She bent down a little and peered in at the fish.
    “Hmmm, well now,” was all she said and then walked into the kitchen.
    It figures that the Masons would give us this with no thought. My grandma had been cleaning and cooking for them for fifteen years, but they knew nothing about her. If they had, they would have known what a stupid present this would be for us. How’re we going to afford this? We’re lucky we can feed ourselves, let alone a bunch of fish.
    I looked at it again as the fish glided through the water so easily. It was kind of pretty.
    Maybe the dumbest and prettiest thing I had ever seen.

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