This week’s Flash Fiction Faction by Quill Shiv has the prompt:
Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. –Anonymous
I made use of one of the plot ideas, I posted today for another challenge. Hope you enjoy reading it. As usual I am open to constructive criticisms.
Edit: Based on the feedback I have received from two readers, I have edited the tenses used in the original version.
Pat throws a single red rose onto the shiny coffin, lying in its earthy grave. She wills her eyes to stay dry. A hand strokes her back; as gently as Jack had done 50 years ago.
That time she had been crying; mourning the death of her pet rabbit. A funeral was held in her parents’ garden. Jack, the neighbour’s son, had attended the ceremony. He had stroked her back – seeking to soothe her pain and hoping that she would stop sobbing. He could never bear to see her in tears. As a child, she had used it to her benefit many a time. Her reward had always been something sweet to eat.
It took another 3 years and a few broken hearts before their relationship crossed the platonic line. Pat has a clear memory of the day it happened.
She was at a classmate’s 18th birthday party. Unfortunately her ex-boyfriend was present too because his new girlfriend was the birthday girl’s best friend. She would have stayed at home had she known that earlier. But she wouldn’t give her ex the satisfaction of seeing her scamper from his presence. Biting the straw in her glass of unidentifiable sickly sweet concoction, she mentally went through different ways to get her revenge.
“If looks can kill, I sure am glad not to be on the receiving end of that glare. Who is the condemned soul?”
“Jack! What are you doing here? I didn’t know you were back in town.”
“Semester holidays started yesterday. My buddy, Steve, lives here. He wanted to greet his little sis before we head to my parent’s place for a Lord of the Rings DVD marathon. You haven’t answered my question.”
Pat contemplated lying for a second. But Jack would know, if she was telling the truth or not. There were times, she was certain he had the ability to read her mind. When it came to Jack, she was an open book.
“I was thinking of ways to get my revenge against Michael.”
“And Michael is who?”
Pat told him her story. She had been going out with Michael for 6 months, when she found out that he was cheating on her. He had laughed, when she had confronted him with it. He had accused her of being conservative. According to him, she should loosen up because open relationships are common. They both looked over to Michael after she finished her tale.
“He doesn’t look that happy, if you ask me.”
“See that blonde over there, the one flirting with the guy in the football jacket? That is his girlfriend.”
“You want to kick a man, while he is lying on the ground? You are mean. So what is your revenge plan?”
“Do you want the bloody version or…”
“Let’s hear a PG version.”
“I could make him jealous by making out with my boyfriend. Remind him of what he is missing.”
“How predictable! Where is this boyfriend of yours?”
“There is a catch in this scenario. I don’t have one. Unless…”
Suddenly Pat felt shy, as she was reminded of the numerous teenage fantasies she had involving Jack. It was during a phase when she had been terribly infatuated with Jack. Her crush had faded after he moved away to attend university. But she felt it return full force as she looked into his honey brown eyes. All at once blood was rushing to her head, her heart was pounding in her ears, and butterflies were wrecking havoc in her stomach. She quickly lowered her eyes but not before Jack noticed what was going through her mind.
“Oh!… I’m fine with it. But you got to make the first move.”
Michael was nowhere in her thoughts as she leaned in towards Jack. Pat wanted to squeeze in all her past fantasies into that one moment, lest there wouldn’t be a second time. Their faces were almost touching – she could smell the minty scent of his chewing gum. She closed her eyes and let instinct take over.
“Granny? We need to go now.”
Pat opens her eyes. The happy bubble burst, exposing her to her ultimate fear. She is single again after 45 years of marriage! Her egoistic wish has been to be the first to die because she couldn’t bear the thought of a life without Jack. But the cancer has destroyed her hope.
She is afraid of being alone. Her children have their own families and soon they would go back to their own lives. What can an old woman like her do with the rest of her life?
A single tear threatens to roll down her cheek. Pat sniffs into her handkerchief and dabbs at her eye. She prays Jack is happy wherever he was. There would be enough time to be afraid of the future after the ceremony.