Flash fiction – Lucky 13

I haven’t posted anything in a while. Summer has been busy, with the nice weather I’ve been focused on trying to get outside stuff taken care of. Anyhow, here’s a bit of flash fiction. Needs work, but I’m not likely to do much more with it.


 

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“That’ll be four seventy-five,” Allison said, picking up two white paper cups and a black sharpie. “Can I get a name for the order?”
The moment she said it, she felt stupid. The place was, after all, empty. Except for a smelly, hairy hipster-type clacking away haughtily at his laptop in a corner drinking his stupid soy latte, there wasn’t anyone else in the shop.
The man looked up from counting exact change and squinted at her. He glanced over his shoulder, “You must be new. The name’s Albert,” he said in a raspy voice.
Allison could feel her face go red. She slide the cups over the counter to the barista who took them without looking up.
Albert dropped a couple of quarters into the tip jar and picked his folded newspaper from the counter, tucking it under his arm.
It was her second day at the Lucky 13 coffee shop. So far it hadn’t gone well. Aside from the place having the feel of a funeral parlor, the young woman making the coffee hadn’t so much as introduced herself, the tips had been awful, the A/C was always too high and nobody had been particularly friendly. and she couldn’t imagine why two of them should be there on such a quiet afternoon.
“Here you are Albert,” The barista said, handing the two cups over to the man.
“Thank you miss,” Albert said.
Allison watched him slowly make his way to a small table against a tall plate window overlooking the street.
“He’s a regular?” Allison asked, struggling to remember the name of her coworker.
“Been coming in every Tuesday afternoon since long before my time,” The barista said, picking up a rag.
“Not much for words is he?”
The barista shook her head, staying focused on cleaning up her station. “Not really.”
While she was talking, Albert set one cup on either side of the table for two. He took his seat at one of them, and proceeded to unfold it.
Allison eyed the cup on the other side of the table. “Is he waiting for someone?”
“No. It’s for his wife.”
“Oh,” Allison said. “Does she come in often too?”
The barista ignored Allison’s question. “I’m stepping out for a smoke, ring me if you need anything.”
For most of an hour, Albert sat at his table, sipping his coffee and reading. Every so often he would look over the top of his paper, squint, say a few words, or smile, and return to his reading. Something about it made Allison feel cold. The barista hadn’t returned from her smoke break, but as there weren’t any customers, it hardly mattered. Finally, Albert took a last sip from his cup, folded up his newspaper, and stood up. He looked at Allison, and tipped his hat again before leaving.
Allison sighed as she looked at the two cups he’d left on the table. He’d forgotten his other cup. It hadn’t been touched the entire time he had been there. She ran around the counter to retrieve the cup in the hopes she might be able to catch him before he disappeared. The moment her hand touched the cup, she froze and every hair on her body stood on end. It was empty. On the edge of the lid, right where the drinking hole was, she saw the faint smudge of red lipstick. She thought about how Albert glanced over his newspaper, talking with someone who wasn’t there. With a deep breath, she set the empty paper cup back down.
Trying to convince herself there was a perfectly logical explanation, she looked up at the large plate glass windows. Her faint reflection stared back at her. Her heart thumped hard in her chest and she clinched her fists. Unlike the room she was in, her reflection was in standing in a crowded shop. All manner of people could be seen reflected in that window.
Doing her best to suppress a scream, Allison slowly turned around face the empty room. The sudden rasp of a chair being pulled out echoed off the red-brick walls. It was too much. She let out a clipped scream. With slow, shaking footsteps, she edged her way toward the door. Even if there had been a logical explanation for what she’d seen, she had no interest in hearing it.

photo credit: caution contents hot via photopin (license)

Flash-in-the-pan fiction; Eight donated words

As I was perusing twitter today, and looking for new ways to procrastinate, I came across a gem of a tweet from @EmilyFRussell (https://pisscoffeeandvinegar.wordpress.com/), the author of Aurian and Jin: A love story. She donated to the twitterverse the following eight words: Kerfuffle, shibboleth, axiom, seraglio, hexerei, sanguine, and squeen. I have taken up the totally unnecessary challenge of using all of these in a sentence (not really possible). The further challenge was to do it in fewer than 800 words. Well, my distinguished challenger (of sorts), I have done this in fewer than 800 characters, with some bonus vocab. Enjoy.


 

Amoleqi tugged nervously at the sleeve of his thawb and squeaned at the door to the seraglio of the prince’s women. Just striding past caused a shortness of breath and light-headedness. He firmly believed in the old axiom that seraglios were dens of hexerei. A whiff of pungent incense from under the door put a vision of the lurid hangings of sanguine, incarnadine, and puce that must furnish such a place. More than anything, he wished to petition the king to eliminate such places, where the minds of men were molded like soft clay, but he was among the shibboleths of the court. No man, no matter how noble, from a different district could bring up such a topic without starting another contentious kerfuffle.


 

Definitions, from the OED where possible, and yes I’m taking some liberties, but I think I was true to the intent and general meaning.

Incarnadine – Properly, Flesh-colored, carnation, pale red or pink; but also used for various shades of crimson or blood red. (OED)

kerfuffle – commotion / disturbance, particularly involving conflicting viewpoints. (This word not in the version of the OED I have)

shibboleth – This one seems to have no easy translation, I’ve checked a couple of sources. Basically it’s a manner of speaking or habit that sets a class apart or distinguishes foreigners. (My version of the OED doesn’t give a particularly good definition of this)

axiom – self evidently true.

seraglio – The part of a Mohammedan dwelling-house (esp. of the palace of a sovereign or great noble) in which the women are secluded; the apartments reserved for wives and concubines; a harem. (From the OED)

hexerei – witchcraft (I hella like this word BTW. IMF use it at some point, the sound of it evokes some really great imagery.)

sanguine – Using definition 1 in my version of the OED – Blood red

squean – to look askance (Squeen appears in the Urban dictionary. I opted for the OED version)

BONUS WORDS

thawb – The robe traditionally worn in middle-eastern cultures

puce – Purple/brown color