Prompt #2: Incorporate these words into a 500 word piece of flash fiction: Burlap, Chocolate, Sensitive, Flowers, Oyez, & Monster. One other in class managed to write about a similar topic. What are the chances??
Thom whipped his Honda through a pile of mud brown leaves, cutting too close to the curb.
“Jesus, Tommy. There coulda been a kid hiding in there,” she said. She knew she was slurring her words. He flicked a cigarette out of his window and blew smoke out of the corner of his mouth, looking at her.
“I think we would have felt a bump.”
“Well come on, I’m sore. Don’t drive crazy.” She played with the duct tape on his rearview mirror, watching vortexes of dead foliage spill out on the road behind them.
The hospital had been hot and dry. She drank giant cup after giant Styrofoam cup of ice water, chewing the straws absentmindedly, ringing the nurses to refill it every show or two. They were happy to indulge her, and didn’t even seem to mind helping her go pee every hour because she was drinking so much. They wouldn’t meet her eye, but maybe they didn’t meet anyone’s eye. Charlie guessed she was something especially horrible, but this was a hospital, after all, so she couldn’t be the worst thing.
The cup came home with her, a momento, but it was crushed at the bottom of her bag by the time she unpacked. Thom had given her chocolates and flowers and stayed through the evening. “I gotta go, baby,” he finally said, rubbing his eyes. “Sheila keeps texting me; I’ve been gone all day.” She winced at the name. In a gesture of compassion, he gathered chocolate wrappers from the coffee table and put them in the kitchen trash.
She hadn’t wanted sweets but he was starving, he said, and they would do.
“Don’t let the monsters get you,” he said, brushing her hair from her forehead and kissing her. It used to be cute. “Afraid of monsters?” he would say, poking fun. She used to have a fit when he left; she hated sleeping alone. She took her pills, scripts Thom had filled for her while she waited in the car, and fell slept on the couch under a blanket as rough as burlap.
Thom said she was getting too sensitive.
“Oyez! That’s an opinion. YOUR opinion,” she’d say. “So technically, legally, you have nothing to back up your statement. And besides everyone knows you’re full of shit.”
“Whatever, Charlie,” he’d say. “You’re the one who lies to everyone, Miss Wannabe Lawyer.” She’d pretend to snicker and go on playfully until she couldn’t stand it anymore. Then she’d slink off to go cry in the bathroom. He was right.
She packed up the few things she’d had ready, t-shirts and booties, cute little impulse buys. At six months her belly had been rounding out but she felt there was still plenty of time to make bigger purchases. She’d put off telling her mother or sister or work or buying a stroller like they were all one and the same.
Now it was an embarrassing relief. She was hot in the face thinking that fate had sided with Thom. Had twisted their baby’s spine so much that it couldn’t live. She wondered if it had been Sheila cursing her existence, cursing her place in her husband’s life, cursing the unborn child that would eat up his time and money. She wondered if Sheila even knew about her like Thom said. She was mad that she’d wanted something impossible. Had fought to have something impossible, only to be told no by fate.
Thom said they were lucky, that they were given a little more childhood, a little more freedom. Thom said now she didn’t have to mess up her body or give up her career.
“Of course,” she said. “It makes sense, anyway.” She brushed her hair from her eye. “If nothing else, we know it was meant to be.”