Flash Fiction Friday: Late

This week’s Flash Fiction Friday prompt:

“When she awoke the room felt oppressive and the damp sheets were tangled around her legs.”

LATE

When she awoke the room felt oppressive and the damp sheets were tangled around her legs.

Storms raged throughout the night, necessitating closed windows in spite of the heat.  The window fan above her provided only a modicum of comfort, and the pounding hail and shotgun bursts of thunder made sleeping impossible.  The town siren blared in jagged intervals, calling volunteer firemen out into the elements to handle one emergency after another — most likely fallen trees or motorists stranded on flooded roadways.  The storm played itself out in the first light of morning, allowing Meredith to succumb to her fatigue.

Now the sun warmed the closed windows of her apartment, and turned her bedroom into a sauna.  Tangled hair stuck like spider webs to her skin.  A beam of sunlight pierced through the gap where two faded curtains did not quite meet, waking Meredith.  Her eyes, crusty from sleep, passed over the useless air-conditioner hanging from one window sill.  Fifty dollars had been sacrificed to buy the used cooling unit at a garage sale.  For months she had refused to splurge on anything not contained in her austere budget, so that she could afford this one luxury.   It quit  running the day after she installed it.

She rolled over and stared at the alarm clock.  The LED lights blinked 12:00 12:00 12:00 in a silent tattoo.  She bolted from bed, stomach clenching, and ran to check the kitchen clock hanging on the wall over the old Frigidaire.

“No, no, no, no, no!”

Within the half hour, Meredith was running through the doors of her Macro-Economics class, fighting the flow of students exiting the room.  The instructor stood at the lectern, sliding a stack of papers into his briefcase.  Meredith threw herself into a seat in the front row and offered a hopeful smile to her professor, who consulted his wrist watch, threw Meredith a caustic look, and walked out of the room without deigning to speak a word.

Meredith sat with shoulders slumped.  The clock on the wall ticked the passing time to the empty room.  The minute hand jumped forward with sharp clicks, reminding Meredith of her poor fortune.  She allowed herself to indulge in an interval of self-pity before rising and walking across campus to her battered Toyota.   The engine turned over on the first try, but the CHECK ENGINE light dominated the view on her dashboard.  She pointed her car toward work, even though she wasn’t on the schedule for the day.  Maybe her boss would let her pick up an extra shift.  She needed the money now more than ever.

“I’ll save money on the graduation announcements I won’t be mailing,” she thought as she walked up to wait on her first table of the day, order pad out and pen in hand.  Tears threatened to flood her cheeks, but she choked them back and pasted a smile on her face.

“What can I get for you folks today?”

clock-341253_640

 

Thank you for reading.  Here’s are some ways you can help keep this feature going:

  1. Submit a first line suggestion for next week in the comments section.  No obscenities, please.   Prompts will be chosen at random, lottery style.  
  2. Come back to Bright Tuesday next Friday to find out which suggested first line was chosen, and to read the next Flash Fiction Friday story (750 words or less). 
  3. I appreciate constructive criticism, so please offer your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

Fiction Writers:  You are invited to write your own story using today’s prompt to post on your own blog.  Please include a link back to this post, and leave a link to your story in the comments section.  Doing so allows participating authors to read and comment on each other’s work, and also helps readers find new authors to enjoy. 

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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday: Late

  1. Oh poor, poor Meredith. And poor, poor me — I’ll never give my order to another server without wondering what her story might be. Good job, Kristine, good job!

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    1. Thanks, Betsy. As for the stories behind servers — I suppose it depends on where they work. Brian once cooked at an upscale restaurant where he made a modest hourly wage, but the servers’ tips from wealthy clients made it possible for them to pull down $50,000 or more a year. Unfortunately (for us) they did not share their tips with the cooks! “Poor Meredith” — which is now her official moniker 🙂 — doesn’t work in such favorable conditions…

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  2. His cracked nails had dirt embedded beneath them and his large hands were rough. Ropes of bluish veins under the thin wrinkled skin made her think of her grandmother.

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  3. I think I have had that sinking feeling myself before! Well done Kristine :).
    “Ready for the next leg in his journey, he put the last of the bags by the back door in preparation for loading the truck>”

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