Today I attended an Author Shout Out at the library and was asked about my short story I submitted for the flash fiction contest.
Should anyone happen across my blog today I figured I'd re-post it and make some updates :)
Flash Fiction Story:
Ned Finally Died
It was a cold day in December when Ned decided to die.
It was also the same day I decided to die too.
I found him at the withered cemetery by the forgotten park with its desolate pond. It seemed to be the perfect place for two careless souls.
“I just died again,” Ned said as I sat beside him. The first thing I noted, aside from the fact that he could see me, was how much dead-er he seemed. I was newly cemented in comparison. I’d only wandered around for an hour before I found Ned.
The other thing was that Ned smiled. A toothless, purple gum smile and I wondered if it was the act of dying and bad dental hygiene that his mouth was so out of shape or did death rapidly decay the spirit? I looked down at my own pale flesh, my brown skin more ashen than usual. My nails still ragged from constant nervous energy.
“It isn’t fair, really,” Ned started. He was looking hard at me. I stared at the pond, stuffing my hands beneath my thighs. Ned looked away and said, “I always seem to go back. They bring me back each time. I never stay gone long.”
I nod as if I understood, “Do you have people waiting for you?”
Ned smiled and quietly said, “I sure hope so.”
“But you know,” said Ned loudly, “this is the first time I’ve arrived here first. Always there’s a soul here before me. “
“How many times have you been here before?”
Ned shook his head, “No telling, at least five times that I can recall.”
“Learned anything from those times? Maybe there’s a reason you keep coming back?”
Ned's eyes found me again. I can tell by now he had observed the buzzed cut, the crisscross scars stitched onto my wrist, and made his own assumptions about the light blue hospital gown. Everyone had their ideas. They all jumped and no one really knew. Not even me sometimes.
Ned's head bobbed as if he had answered some large universe question. The wrinkles near his eyes folded swallowing an age spot. With his head pivoted toward me and his eyes staring just above my forehead he leaned toward me and shared his answer.
“You can never have too many second chances.”
I spoke with Ned for hours, sometimes silence found us drifting on the impossible when Ned announced, “it’s time.” He patted me on the shoulder and got up from the bench. His body creaked and he had troubling steering it against gravity. I helped as much as I could but Ned smiled and waved me back to the bench. The sky was overcast as a light mist came down.
When I turned back around Ned was gone.
Hours later I awoke from my hospital bed, skin clammy, and her hand clinging to mine. I thought about Ned. It really wasn’t fair. But it was good enough.