Written for the fabulous @LillieMcFerrin’s Five-Sentence Fiction challenge. The prompt was “Faces.”
Deborah unwraps the disposable bamboo chopsticks from their napkin cocoon and rubs them together like she’s trying to create fire. It’s supposed to smooth out the rough edges, Tony says, and that makes sense, she supposes, even though before adopting the practice she’d always managed to polish off her Dynamite rolls without ending up with slivers embedded in her tongue.
Sawing the chopsticks back and forth keeps her hands busy, keeps her eyes off the door of the restaurant and off her watch, keeps her mind off the memory of Tony’s voice on the phone this morning, thick and low with rage: “I can’t believe you’d question where I was last night when you know how how I feel about jealous, clingy, suffocating, possessive BITCHES!”
The top half of a chopstick snaps off, does a lazy pirouette through the air, and lands in a small blue bowl full of what looks like gomae at the next table.
“He’s just late, that’s all,” Deborah says to the sudden sea of faces seeking the origin of the flying chopstick.”
This is my entry into the fabulous Anna Meade’s Fairy Ring Writing Contest. The rules were simple: 300 words or less of flash fiction describing a fictional or non-fictional first-person encounter with a fairy.
Green Grow the Rushes
Gran disappeared the summer I turned seven. She’d gone into the garden to pick snap peas for supper and hadn’t returned.
‘She probably wandered off into the woods,” my mother told the police, weeping into the blue checked tea towel.
“Don’t you worry,” my father said to me a couple of weeks later when the search was called off and all the neighbours had gone home. “They’ll bring her back, or she’ll find her own way back. It’s just a matter of time.”
Every morning after breakfast, I’d hurry to the bottom of the garden to see if Gran had managed to find her way back from Fairyland. I’d look behind the hydrangeas and peer under the wild rose bushes, holding the treacherous branches back with a broom. Sometimes I’d venture as far as the first line of pine trees in the woods, and I’d listen for the crunch of her footfalls on the parched pine needles and yellowed grass that covered the ground.
One day my father followed, tiptoeing down the path behind me, ducking behind the garden shed when I stopped to unlatch the gate, and then slipping out after me into the sunbaked forest.
I waited for him by the dried up creek.
“Jocelyn,” he said, crouching beside me. “Sweetheart, you know you’re not allowed to come here by yourself. Are you still missing your Gran?”
The rushes that still hung in forlorn hope over the creek bed shivered, and I knew it was time. I beckoned for him to lean down, and I kissed his dear stubbled cheek.
Over his shoulder I could see the fairy’s pale white hands parting the rushes.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll take good care of you in Fairyland.”
Her father told her he’d been a spy when she was a child. Well, not a spy, exactly. He’d passed information to a CIA agent when they’d lived in Venezuela: snippets of gossip from the embassy parties; the odd photograph of people tagged by the agent as interesting; sealed envelopes given to him on the street by men in sweat-stained suits and wide-brimmed hats. She didn’t know whether to believe him or not. She pored through her memories, turning them this way and that, but no matter how hard she tried to squeeze them into this new reality, the shape of her father remained about as clandestine as an old boot.
Written for Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction challenge. I’m usually stymied by the five sentence limit, being inclined to verbosity as I am, but this week’s prompt was “Clandestine,” and it reminded me of a bizarre conversation I had with my own father when I was a teenager.