I can’t blame this one on being sick. At least, physically ill. I also had a decent day at work and managed to get some domestic stuff done that’s been hanging around failing to climb up on the To-Do lists (e.g. sending off my passport renewal paperwork). The Monster was also his usual sweet self, not, well monstrous. No doubt this means Doom.
I spent time staring at math. It stared back. I waved at it. It waved back. I think that’s a nice friendly start for this chapter. We shall not speak of the last one. Or of next week’s final (which follows two homework sets and two quizzes). Remind me again why I’m doing this to myself?
I also found a place to put a plot in Project #2. Those of you familiar with taking a seam ripper to a crochet project…
…I don’t knit. The idea of my having big sharp pointy needles disturbs too many people in my life.
…yeah, that’s how it was. I’ve got a lot of textual yarn on the floor, but by damn, the project now has a plot, not just random scenes involving, uhm, paste.
When I kicked back with a Diet Dr Pepper to savor my productive day, I banged out this sequel to “Friday Morning”, the Flash Fiction I wrote in response to Chuck Wendig’s Unicorn Challenge.
This week’s challenge is about Flea Markets. It’s right at 1,000 words.
I shut off the car alarm.
I love my sister. We can go weeks without texting, months without seeing each other, and we haven’t spoken to each other in years, but the last … okay. We’ve stuffed our lives so full that we only meet up at Mom’s during holidays.
We can’t talk to each other at Mom’s. Not that Mom talks nonstop. It’s just listening to her requires … downtime.
Mom’s great on the phone. Funny as hell. I can listen to her for hours — and have. She talks. I listen. It’s fantastic.
In person? Forget it. These days, I can’t spend more than a long weekend at her place. Her words go in my ears, climb up the inside of my skull, then the flop sweat starts, and the eye twitching follows and the migraine begins and maybe hours after my nose first drips blood on her carpet, Mom shuffles me off into a bathroom to find me some Visine and bitch about my cat allergies.
She talks. I listen. Sis drinks. Sis believes in drinking. She’s also the only other person who believes me when I talk about Mom, so damn right, I love her. Even right now.
“Dumbass.” Sis said, loud enough so I could hear her through my closed car door. “You knew I was coming. Didn’t you see me pull up?”
“Nope.” I got out. She’d parked beside me in the big gravel lot, killed the engine and come over to knock on the driver’s side window. Then, yeah, I’d freaked.
“Were you sleeping?”
“Let’s go with that…” I caught my breath. “So what’s up? Being chased by a unicorn on a riding lawnmower?”
“Bite me.” Sis keyed open the trunk of her car. It was obvious she didn’t want to talk about the last texts she’d sent me.
“Not even if you were wrapped in bacon … oooh, a box! You remembered my birthday this year!”
“Yeah. I spent it drunk in front of YouTube watching Duran Duran.”
“I’m touched.” I ate part of her Rio cassette when we were kids. Would you believe “Save a Prayer” still makes me throw up?
She wrestled the box out of the trunk. “Mom called.”
“I’m sorry.” I shut the trunk. She needed both hands to carry the box.
“Understand now why you couldn’t explain things on the phone…” Sis’d probably waited to call me after she’d sobered up.
“You wouldn’t be here if I had.”
“Oh, great, so…”
She started walking over to the flea market, the only occupied storefront in this decrepit strip mall. I didn’t follow.
“…you realize they’re closed, right?”
“Yep. You bring your book?”
“Yeah. Never know when someone’ll need a notary … Sis? Didn’t you hear me say the place is closed?”
She paused in front of the chained up door set behind a security grille. This wasn’t a nice area, even when people were looking. Not that I was worried about being semi-alone here at night.
We aren’t from here.
There are worse places to grow up than here.
And for the record, it was Sis who’d made me hit the panic button on my key fob.
“Not sure,” she said. “Say it again?”
“Why are you giving me shit?”
“Just say it again,” she growled.
“The store’s fucking closed!”
Sis dropped the box and jumped off the old concrete step. “Get your book out!” she yelled, running back toward the cars.
“Okay, okay!” I jerked open my passenger side door and fumbled the registry out of my bag.
“Stamp too,” Sis said. “And I need … pen. Cheap. Pen.”
“You’re scaring me.”
“Good!” She ground her teeth. “Little possessed!”
Shit. I shut my eyes. “Damn it. I…”
She grabbed my arm. “Yeah. You didn’t notice. Can’t notice. Nobody can la la la fucking yes, WannaClawMyEyeballsOutRightNowAndDrinkThemInWarmDietDrPepper, PLEASE STOP STARING AT ME AND FIND A GODDAMNED PEN!”
I wrestled my arm out of her grip. She’d bruised it. “This never happens to you!”
“Always drunk when Mom talks to me!” Sis let out a squeak and spun toward the flea market door.
I clocked her with my registry. “Give me a sec!”
“Hit me again!”
I obliged. Her ass hit gravel.
Sis tried to get up. I sat on her, hauled my bag out and parked it on her collarbone while I dug through it.
Sis shrieked a lot of words. The most coherent were “HOW DO YOU PUT UP WITH THIS SHIT?”
“Always surround myself with people who don’t believe me. Easier to believe them. That helps. It … and if Mom’s going to start calling you when you’re sober … why’d you pick up?”
“Didn’t recognize the number.”
Mom never changed anything. It’d take the world thirteen years to catch up. Unless it was ending. Maybe it was.
I didn’t ask Sis if her phone had stored the new number. I knew it hadn’t, just like I knew I couldn’t ask what was in the box. I hadn’t asked what was in the box, and now that I thought that was strange…
No. I didn’t want to ask what was in the box. Even though I now wanted to. Very much.
“Get your bony knee off my arm so I can sign.”
I did. She signed. I stamped the register.
She stabbed me in the leg with the pen. It snapped going in, leaving the business end buried in my thigh.
I flopped off her, clutching my leg. There was more ink than blood. That’d change as soon as it got taken out.
“See you at Thanksgiving,” she muttered.
“You…” I couldn’t swear at her. I’d eaten her favorite cassette because she was too little to understand something needed to be sacrificed, and I was too messed up to realize I should ask her for something she didn’t love. “…did good. Did Mom move?”
“Couldn’t be that lucky.”
She got into her car and drove away.