This is my first time participating in a flash fiction challenge but Stephen at Fractured Faith Blog had thrown down a gauntlet that I just had to pick up. How fun is this challenge! The prompt was this receipt:
Here is my response, inspired by Edgar the Bug, from the movie, Men in Black.
The mints and Diet Coke should have tipped me off.
“Is that all you’re eating on this trip?” I asked as I placed my own cravings of beef jerky, pizza flavored goldfish and Sunny Delight on the counter.
Chrys laughed nervously. “Oh, you know, it’s that time…” she explained and rolled her eyes.
We get back into the car and onto the highway. This was my first official road trip although it wasn’t by choice. I had overslept and missed my flight this morning. I was able to change my connecting flight from Newark Airport to Hong Kong, but all the flights from Harrisburg to Newark were booked. Chrys was the only one left at the dorm who had a car and was willing to drive me so I wouldn’t miss my connection.
I saw her grab a handful of mints and toss it into her mouth followed by a big gulp of Diet Coke. I shook my head and looked out the window. I didn’t really know Chrys: she was the only sophomore who didn’t have a roommate despite living in a double and she never hung out with anyone from our floor. Still, she had calmed me down and had offered me a ride after I finished with my “oh shit, I missed my flight” meltdown.
I looked at Chrys’ profile again. Her hair was greasy and I noticed how her ear and mouth drooped and sagged a little on the side closest to me. I wondered if she had a medical issue and that was what kept her isolated.
“So, Chrys, thanks again for helping me out. I’m glad you were still around. When were you leaving for break?” I asked.
“Oh, I wasn’t really going anywhere for break. My family lives too far away. Plus, I like being in the dorms alone – it gives me a chance to be myself,” she replied.
“Where does your family live? Mine are in Hong Kong right now, and that’s pretty far away.”
Chrys laughed, a sound like a cricket rubbing its legs, “They’re really far. I don’t get along with my parents anyway, so it’s not a big deal.”
I looked back out the window thinking about what type of homecoming I would get. “I’m sorry to hear that. I totally get it though. I’m not even sure why I’m making this huge effort to go “home” this break.”
I made a big gesture with the air quotes around “home”. The last time I had spoken to my parents, they had told me they were selling the house I had grown up in to travel the world and blog about it. Hong Kong was their third stop and where they would be over Christmas. In my mind, I had lost the only home I had ever known.
My eyes started to water at the same moment I felt a tickling sensation on my arm. I looked over to see a huge brown insect climbing up from the middle console next to where my arm rested. “What the fuck!” I screamed and tried to smack it with my beef jerky.
Chrys swerved the car into the breakdown lane. “Stop it! Stop it!” she yelled. “It’s ok! He’s my brother! Don’t hurt him!”
She scooped him up from where he had fallen on the console and placed him on her shoulder. The insect reached up and adjusted her ear, pulling the skin so it also uplifted her mouth before tucking it into her hairline. He resettled on Chrys’ shoulder and she gave him a mint.
“Thanks, Sis,” the insect said before turning his head in my direction. “Sorry to scare you, but I just could not stand to see her ear and face out of place. I’m Manny, by the way. Nice to officially meet you, Daphne.”
I could write more but it’s late (or early!) and I need some shuteye. Stephen had also recently blogged about finding just the right first chapter for his new book (my other inspiration for this piece of writing). How’s this for a first chapter?
Thank you, Stephen! Totally worth losing some sleep for this challenge!