Welcome to Wednesday Briefs which is a feature on my blog where I share a piece of flash fiction for you, and link you to some other amazing authors.
“You’ve got me,” Mom said dramatically, clutching her hand to her chest. “I don’t love you. I’m trading you in for a new son. Or a cat, I haven’t quite decided yet.” She chuckled to herself as she ate, clearly proud of her teasing.
“And you wonder where I get it from,” I muttered pushing mashed potatoes around my plate. Dinner continued with her telling me stories about her workday, and me offering noncommittal grunts when questioned about school. I added more food to her plate before she could add seconds to mine.
I winced, recognizing the tone.
“I had a snack at Starbucks, and we both know I’m going to raid the pantry while I’m working on my paper.” She always put seconds on my plate, when I knew she was hungry herself—though once again I couldn’t ever talk about it.
“I’m watching you, young man.”
“Yes ma’am.” I muttered again. She ate the second helping though without any complaint. Though she did swat at me when I got up to clear the table and do dishes.
“Homework, I can do the dishes.”
I let her have the victory of chasing me out of the kitchen. I had already won the ‘put more food in mom’s mouth’ battle, her doing the dishes wasn’t going to be too much for her. I walked down the hall, pausing by the door long enough to scoop up my backpack and entered my room. The walls were hunter green making the small space seem even smaller, but when I was eleven I HAD to have the walls that color. The thick pile carpet was an off white, my dirty laundry piled in a heap at the foot of my bed. I had managed to wedge a double bed in the space, a television bought with birthday money from my grandparents perched precariously on the top of my dresser. My desk was an Ikea purchase, my computer taking up most of the space. I had built the system myself, gaming and photo editing specs off the charts. I fired up my computer and pulled my books out of my backpack, stacking them on the desk next to the keyboard. My phone beeped and I pulled it from my back pocket, clicked open the text icon.
“You home? Or dead in a ditch?”
I rolled my eyes, flopping back onto my bed. “I’m home. Shouldn’t you be working on your paper?”
Moments later, “I am MOM. Log into messenger, help me edit this as I write it.”
I groaned, flopping onto my stomach fingers ghosting over the keyboard on my phone but not typing anything. The phone buzzed again.
“Besides cramming for the rest of finals, no. You?” I almost texted him that Mom wanted to come by.
“Party Friday night at the Marsh. You should come.”
“Lots of people, pretty girls, bonfire…”
The second text rattled my hands before I could respond. “I’d be out of place.”
“I’ll pick you up at eight. Now get on the fucking messenger. I really need your help.”
“I said I didn’t want to go.” I texted back. I glanced at my computer, seeing my home screen wallpaper pulled up. “I’m a shitty editor, you do all my papers.”
“You said you’d be out of place, not that you wouldn’t go.”
He had a point, and we both knew that when he showed up Friday night that I’d get in the car with him. Mom would ask too many questions if I didn’t, and to be totally honest, blowing off some steam sounded like fun. There wasn’t a lot to do in our town, and for the most part the adults ignored what happened at Reever’s Marsh so long as the bonfire stayed under control and we cleaned up after ourselves. It would be a chance to get some pictures done, and work on a couple of photography assignments at the same time.
“A couple hours.” I texted him, opening up a word document, mouse hovering over the messenger icon on my desktop. I clicked on it, letting it load as I started my paper. Almost instantly the message screen lit up as Cal switched to talking to me online.
It as well past midnight when I finally finished my paper. Cal had signed off half an hour before and I was seeing double. I printed the paper off, making sure to stow it safely in my school stuff before shutting down the computer. I got up, stretched, rubbed at my eyes, blinking blearily at the clock on the table next to my bed. Grabbed my coffee cup, and shuffled back through the house to the kitchen. Mom had left the lights on, the dishwasher running. I rinsed out my cup and turned off the lights making sure the house was locked up. It took me far too long to figure out that if I showered now there was no point in going to bed, since it would wake me up.
Whoever invented mattresses deserved god status in the afterlife. I collapsed under the blankets, pillows so soft and welcoming. I pulled the blankets up nearly to my chin, rolling onto my side, reaching down to the floor to grab my phone cord to plug it in. I set the alarm, closed my eyes and drifted off before I could even finish my thoughts.
Julie Lynn Hayes
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