Welcome to my weekly Wednesday Brief flash fiction entry! This is just a free piece of flash fiction (between 500-1,000) words based off of a prompt. I’m part of a wonderful group of flashers 😉 and I’ll have a link to a site where you can read other stories, after my piece. I am also working on Tide Pull, but I’d like to alternate the stories weekly so I don’t get burned out on one.
Time of Reckoning
Layla and Diane are assigned as partners on a massive school project. The two young women, different in their own ways, will find that they’re connected on a level that no one expected. They’ll face their darkest nightmares, and hopefully come out of it with high marks, and their souls in tact.
The girl behind the counter at the café smile patiently at me as I dug through the wad of receipts at the bottom of my school bag. Reluctantly I upended the satchel onto the counter, pennies and change rolling away like prisoners fresh from a jail break. I found the crumpled lump of bills and separated them out, face burning with embarrassment, handing over enough to cover my total. Scooped everything back into my bag and slung it over my shoulder.
Then I pretended not to care that she was looking at me like I just sprouted a second head.
I walked to the other end of the counter, managing to trip over the newspaper stand, causing the heavy wooden shelf to move loudly on the tile. I decided not to move it back, as I could feel all eyes on me. I stood, very still at the other end of the counter waiting for my coffee to be made. The café was crowded and loud, full of students and stay at home mommies who had snuck out for a few hours on their own.
I had agreed to meet here to work on a project with a classmate, something that I loathed more than anything else in the world. Group projects were a sham created by teachers to lighten their own grading load. I wrapped my hands around the little cardboard cup and turned to find my partner. Layla Grout was someone I knew by name only, we didn’t really run in the same circles. Though, by high school societal standards we were both outcasts.
She the occult studying, magic researching, crypto-zoological hunting type, and I the ‘prefers books to humans’ type. Not that I didn’t have friends, I just didn’t have many. I spotted her tucked away in a corner. Her hair was piled up on top of her head in a messy bun, strands of shocking pink intermixed with the nearly white blonde. She was classically pretty, and well put together, a navy pencil skirt, white v-neck t-shirt with a skull printed scarf looped around her neck. I nudged the table before sitting down, not wanting to startle her. Her headphones were huge and purple, I recognize the brand, and instantly felt envious.
“Hi,” I sat with a little wave, pulled a tattered notebook out of my bag. She looked up from her phone, settled the headphones around her neck and grinned at me.
“Took you long enough.” An open notebook sat on the table in front of her as well as a half eaten scone, and a still steaming drink in a white porcelain mug in front of her. “You should have asked for a ‘for here’ cup. Cuts down on the trash.”
“I’ll remember that for next time.” I said, noticing the smattering of reusable cups. “I’m not really a coffee drinker to be honest.”
“Their tea is to die for.” She leaned toward me, secretive. “Ask for a dirty chai next time. It’s a spiced chai tea with a shot of espresso.” Sat back in her chair and reached for her pencil. The open page was full of diagrams and the start of a couple outlines.
“Are those ideas for the project?” I asked. Flipped to my own page full of ideas, mainly sentence fragments, underlined and highlighted.
“Do we just want to see if there’s any overlap and go from there?” Layla turned her notebook toward me. “That way we can figure out how to tackle this thing.”
The project was for a social anthropology course, and we were to take the legend of an indigenous people, apply it to modern societal mythology and create models, conduct experiments and write a fifteen page paper. That wasn’t including the class presentation and display for the social sciences fair.
“We have a lot of overlap actually.” I muttered, pushing my glasses up my nose. “Which is good. How do we want to split up the work load.”
“What do you mean split up?” Layla had started to highlight my own paper matching ideas with her own. “We do this together. I’m not one of those people who just take my piece and then we do a cut and paste smoosh everything together and hope that it makes sense.”
I blinked at her, unsure if she was joking or not. “Really?”
“Really, Diane. I hate it when that happens in group projects. Since there’s two of us, and a lot of work, it makes more sense that we just hit this head on.” She took a sip of her coffee, leaving behind a bright smear of coral lipstick against the white cup. “What about the personification of demons?”
“Possession and the overtaking of the body?” I said. “We should be able to get a lot of information.” Paused, glanced at the assignment sheet, “What people are we going with?”
“Can we pick Native Americans? Or do we have to pick a specific tribe?” A slender laptop appeared on the table. “I’ll email Mrs. Faden to let her know we’ve picked our topic. The sooner we do that the sooner we can submit the research forms.”
“Natives are accepted as a whole, tribes are also allowed.” I read off the sheet. I dug in my bag for the research proposal sheets, and a pen.
“Email sent,” Layla said. “We can save those for tomorrow. Do you want to have lunch together so we can figure out where exactly to start?”
“I have a club meeting at lunch tomorrow, do you want to come over after classes let out?”
She flipped through her phone and nodded. “I’m free, and the parental unit work late, so I’m on my own. Means I can stay out late and eat bad take out food.”
“Mom’ll try to feed you.” I said. “And Grady will be there, but I promise I’ll keep him out of the way.” I really didn’t want to subject her to my twin, but it was inevitable.
<a href=”hSarah Hayes
Chris T Kat
Julie Lynn Hayes