Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Flash Wednesday.5

It's the return of Flash Wednesday! During June I'll be posting a piece of flash fiction—500 words or less—every week. This one's based on real-life work experience selling tee-shirts.

The Drift

Try to think of something different, Hazel said.

We’d been surrounded by the same slogans for so long, calling out the same prices, answering the same questions, it was really the tallest sort of order.

At this point, as you can imagine, the tee-shirt stand seemed about the extent of the world, let alone the fair. The two of us weren’t a big enough staff to allow for breaks.

I tried to describe to Hazel the former planet of our lives: a cheap, uncrowded coffee shop; a landlord willing to wait till mid month; bi-weekly unemployment checks. As I remembered this planet, though, I began to doubt we’d ever walked its terrain. This, I decided mid sentence, was the planet we hoped to get to, the one that would spin up to meet our feet in the instant we finally got paid.

As I manned the table, fetching sizes, engaging in chatter, my feet became wet with carnival muck. The soles of my boots, I realized, had split.

On the sixth day, the air began to purple, the shadows curled in a fetal sort of way. The rides were being dismantled, tents were sinking in on themselves as if starved. All potential shoppers shifted their interest to the sky.

They should’ve thought of this before, Hazel said. They should’ve manufactured us some pinholes to sell.

I must have known somewhere deep that the moon was now in front of the sun.

Hazel sighed as, for the first time all week, she sat. It felt strange to not be working, the sun now so dark and bright. Like a bomb had gone off, like going blind. I echoed Hazel’s sigh and also sat. I could hear the prize-winning chickens, the only sound now in the otherwise silent weight of the eclipse. I could hear their voices gather in the chambers of their beaks.

I thought about buying a corndog, a bag of roasted nuts. I thought about the golden way such things give upon first bite, the satisfaction when they split. I thought about how much of my check would go toward a new pair of boots.

Boots be damned, I thought, the carnival muck by now such a normal part of having feet. Because: as our new planet spun into view, I began to have time to mold its continents into temperate shapes.

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