Flash Fiction Friday 1/11/2019
The Flash Fiction Friday prompt this week offered 6 locations and 6 things in a little table. I rolled 2d6 and came up with either a dark lake and a folded sheet of paper or a quiet suburb and onion rings. I probably should have designated which d6 was location and which was the thing but I wanted some choice. I decided that folded piece of paper was or could be origami. The scene from Monday with its soulmate trope was still lodged in my brain so I guess it’s not a surprise that the scene that popped into my head was related to that. I’m not sure I’d call the result a story exactly but it’s something. If I think of it as a stand alone thing rather than in the context of the story I wrote on Monday, it seems a bit on the stalker-creepy side, which wasn’t what I intended. You can judge for yourself.
The dark waters of the lake under the dock rippled in the wind. I folded and unfolded the wings on the little paper bird in my hands. He would show up, he had promised. I didn’t have to wonder if he would have trouble finding me by the lake in the dark. He came to me, not places. He had told me when I hurt, it was like a beacon calling him to me.
When I was 5 years old, I had fallen out of a tree and broken my arm. By the time I was out of the hospital with pins in my arm, the first anonymous surprise had arrived. It was a little stuffed raven. No one could tell me where it came from.
A few years later, I was separated from my family in an amusement park. It was dark and I was scared. A man approached me and no amount of stranger danger teaching in school could convince me that he was a stranger. He led me to a park security guard and waited until my parents were located. After our tearful reunion, I looked for him but he was gone. A postcard from the amusement park arrived in the mail the next week, just bright good wishes. My parents were alarmed but I knew he would never hurt me. I just couldn’t explain it to them.
Little things arrived over the years. Postcards dropped on my bed. Souvenirs I had wanted from family vacations that my parents had refused to buy showed up at home before we made it back. Sometimes, when we were out at night, I’d look up and he’d be there, stalking me from a distance. It should have been terrifying. It wasn’t. I felt reassured that he was nearby. It felt right.
When I got my first cell phone at 12, there was a text shortly after telling me to let him know if I needed anything. I didn’t think I would ever use it. He watched me. I liked knowing he was out there but I didn’t really know him, despite the soul-deep connection I felt. He was in my dreams a few times a week. We were in the past. I was different in the dreams but he was always the same.
Two years later, my parents died in a car accident. With no close relatives, I ended up in emergency foster care and they were clear that finding the right long-term home for a teen with younger siblings might be a challenge. I was angry and scared. I called the person who had always been there on the fringes of my life. He assured me that he would make sure we stayed together.
He arrived late that evening at my temporary home with my social worker in tow. They talked about transitioning me and my three younger siblings to live with my cousins in a different part of the state. I didn’t know the cousins. Even now, after 6 months of living with them, I still wasn’t certain that they were really cousins but it is a safe permanent home, something most teenagers in the foster system don’t get. I was still furious with him. He had been very present during the transition process but once I was settled, he backed off to the fringes of my life again. He stayed in my dreams.
Earlier in the week, I had left him a long ranting voicemail demanding that he come talk to me. Eventually he had replied, not with a call but with the origami bird waiting on my breakfast plate. My foster parents said they hadn’t seen him deliver it. There was no question about who it had been.
Kane’s arrival was a surprise. His boots on the dock were quieter than sounds of the lake waters slapping against the dock supports. Despite the heat earlier in the day, nights here were chilly enough that his coat almost made sense. I threw myself at him, giving him a hug. He returned it for the briefest moment only.
“You summoned me,” he prompted, releasing me from him arms and stepping back out of reach.
“You stopped visiting,” I accused him. “Don’t you care anymore?”
“I’ll always care. We’re connected. Whatever you need, I’ll be there.” His mood was sad, pensive. I had felt him like this before. His memories chased him but I tried not to care.
“I wanted to be able to stay with you.” I told him, wondering if he could feel my anger at being abandoned to my foster parents.
“Not possible yet,” he told me. “Not safe at your age.”
“I trust you. I don’t know them well at all yet.”
“I don’t trust me,” he said harshly. “Not with a teenage you.” He was determined and I knew that meant he wouldn’t take me away with him.
“I hate you,” I told him, shoving him away and smashing the delicately folded paper bird to his chest. He didn’t fall off of the dock as I had half-hoped he would. Instead, he retreated to the shore. “Don’t come back,” I told him.
I could feel his hurt pressing against me in waves but his face stayed calm. “If you need me or just want to bitch at me some more, you know how to contact me.” He didn’t like this anymore than I did but he wasn’t going to give me what I wanted either. His dark coat blended into the woods as he withdrew out of sight.
The waters of the dark lake lapped at the shore, trying to soothe me. I held the crumpled paper bird in my hand as the connection to him pulled at me in ways I couldn’t define. I wondered when I would see him again. I knew it wasn’t a question of if.
My total was 976 words, dangerously close to the 1000 word limit. Of course, it’s a first draft so words get cut if it ends up anywhere at all. You can see more responses to this prompt here.Tags: Flash Fiction Friday, prompt response