They were just kids. They arrived right on closing time wanting coffees, extra hot, and Gina opened the till for their money.
Darlene waited, wishing they’d leave, worried about her own kids left alone while she worked nights.
Suddenly Gina screamed and clutched her face, dripping coffee, and they clambered over the counter, grabbed fistfuls of cash and ran. Darlene froze, then snapped into action—cold water for the scald; call the police. Then she spotted the open till, the stacks of notes they’d missed.
Nobody would blame her. Nobody would know. For once her rent would be paid on time.
We called it the watch-house. It was the perfect playground, despite our parents’ warnings.
A hornets’ nest hung from a high window. Someone would come and remove it periodically, but the nest always grew back.
We dreamed up the notion that the nest was a collector, gathering up the world’s evils, growing huge with them, until the watchers came to take it away. We imagined that life sat less heavily on our young shoulders each time it disappeared.
I called in again recently when I happened to be nearby. The nest was enormous. Maybe the watchers have given up.
This is my offering for this week’s Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the link-up.
Archie let his thoughts drift, soothed by glowing embers, the flames’ soft crackle. The fragrance of burning pine-cones took him back to boyhood summers, hunting here in these mountains with Father.
Now, Archie hunted alone. He longed to settle, to share all this with a son of his own. He’d tried to find the right woman, but none had endured. He had held great hopes for the last one—the failure still hurt.
He prodded a smouldering piece of leather into the hot centre of the fire, incinerating every trace. He sighed. She’d looked good in those red shoes.
Another story for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction link-up kindly hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.
“Please, Daddy. Can we take him home? Look—he’s hungry. He wants to come with us, I can tell. Please. Can we?”
“No, Jimmy. We’ve been through all this. It looks harmless, but once it’s been fed and restored it will own you. It will take all your pocket money to keep it going. It will take all your time playing with it and keeping it healthy. It will get into your mind and heart until your thinking gets all twisted up.
“Jimmy, you’ll be a man soon enough. You don’t need to own this monster to prove it.”
This is my contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction event.
Bruno visited daily, bringing little treats to cheer her, longing for a spark of interest in the darkness of her eyes.
He knew it wasn’t his fault. The road was treacherous; he hadn’t expected her to be there. He hoped she wouldn’t blame him. In fact, as he’d lifted her into his car he could swear he’d seen a flash of gratitude in her expression.
He knew it was destiny. Guilt, gratitude—they were immaterial. This was love.
When her shattered shell healed, Bruno would take her home, and this little turtle would never be alone and vulnerable again.