by Kimberly Payne

Sunshine played on my closed eyes interrupting a deep sleep and casting a shadow on the weekend. I forced the blue pools open to the blinding light.  The sheer pale green curtains on the bay window enhanced the brightness of the rays.  I stretched my bare plump arms, hitting the plastered wall behind my pillow. 

“Ouch.”  My word echoed in the vacant room.  Miles had moved four months earlier, leaving behind a pair of dirty socks and our beloved goldfish, Junior.  I sat up stiffly in the twin bed, mentally kicking myself for downgrading from the double I had willingly shared with Miles.  The quilted comforter fell to the carpeted floor and I bent to reach for it, pulling a back muscle in the process.  I groaned.   

“I’m getting old at twenty-five,” I sighed aloud, absently looking at my covered feet.  Miles’ socks were attached to my toes, holding on to a dream that didn’t exist. I should have thrown the ratty tube socks out of the second-story window when I discovered them hiding amongst beach towels and rag rugs.  I shook my head.

I fell back to the pillow and threw the blanket haphazardly over my knotted black hair.  I had committed the biggest flaw in hair care—going to sleep with freshly washed, dripping wet hair.  It didn’t matter; no one would see my ratty hair today.  Saturdays meant lounging on the sofa in cotton pajama pants with hourly trips to the cupboards and refrigerator, not to the vanity mirror.  If I were feeling adventurous, I would alternate my seating position.

A smile crept on my face as I pondered a day of no work and no pantyhose.  I would spend the day exactly the way I wanted—with a full stomach and a sore bottom.  I rose a little happier and headed to the tiny kitchen, pulling my disheveled hair into a ponytail as I walked the short distance.  My mouth watered and my stomach replied with a growl.  Fresh baked croissants with honey and fresh squeezed orange juice filled my thoughts. I swung the first cabinet door open, and spied my ready-made victim. 

I greedily grabbed the bag of salty pretzel sticks and rationalized the timesaving trick.   The refrigerator was mere inches away, and its iciness slapped me in the face as the door swung open.  I bypassed the eggs and milk and reached for a liter of apple juice and three bottled waters.  My mission was complete; I was armed and ready.

My body sank into the loveseat, its flowery pattern inviting me to a day of rest.  I gulped the juice, and grabbed the remote control.  Its aim was perfect, instantly sparking life to the television screen.  The women’s cable channel was hosting a marathon of old dramas.  It was a perfect way to spend my day—dreaming of romances with thoughtful men, not men who ran away.    

Season two had barely begun when I heard a faint crash from the bathroom.  I had no cat or dog, no third floor neighbor—I didn’t want to rise and investigate.  An odd feeling enveloped my throat, as if I had swallowed an extra dosage of cherry cough syrup.  I was half-lying on the tiny couch, but it felt as if I were standing and trying to walk, unsuccessfully.  My sight blurred and my head swam.  Queasiness overtook my stomach but I blamed the spicy beef tacos I had consumed Friday night. 

Suddenly, the house began to shake.  Nails bounced like kernels of corn in a popping machine. My beloved pictures crashed to the carpet, one by one with a loud bang.  Miles stared at me from shattered glass.  My eyes filled with tears and I screamed. 

I ran to the nearby fish bowl, tripping on mismatched area rugs.  The gentle swaying in the clear bowl had turned into ferocious waves, beating upon my little friend.  I grabbed the glass container and headed to the doorway between the hall closet and bedroom.  I sat beneath it, cross-legged, holding my little fish bowl, fearful of my future.  I thought of the many things I hadn’t experienced.  I cried for the days wasted on a flowery couch with fictional characters.   

“Let me live!  I deserve another chance,” I screamed to the rocking house and clattering dishes.

I tightly shut my eyes, forcing myself into darkness, searching for the long-lost peace in the chaos that shook around me.  I begged my ears to close as I clutched Junior’s watery home.  Two aching minutes passed and the calm claimed me, its silence surrounding me.  And then…

“Hello?  The door was unlocked.  Is anyone in here?”  A deep voice rang out in the quiet.  He came around the corner.  Blue eyes.  Broad shoulders.  He spotted me and smiled, revealing deep dimples.  “I’m from the volunteer fire department.  Are you okay?”
I smiled shyly, instantly forgetting Miles and desperately wishing I had combed my hair.

Kimberly is a fan of flash fiction and lives with her family in Northern Nevada. She has been a contributor to various newsletter and online sites. Contact Kimberly.

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