Oh, it’s so lovely to have 5MinuteFiction back home. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the tour too, and I’m so glad you all got to meet those great writers. But, well, my 5MinuteFiction’s home. 🙂
So, how’d it go for you today. I love that there are so many new or newish faces this week.
Now, for the important part of this post. Our FINALISTS!
Here are their entries. Enjoy, and then vote. Send all your friends and enemies over as well. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 the poll closes and the winner is announced. See you then!
I climbed those blasted stairs three times before I finally rang the bell. Of course it was going to take Stevenson forever to answer the door. That was just going to add the torture, and it gave me a longer time to figure out what I was going to tell him. I figured I had to do something, to say something, I needed to redeem myself. What he saw wasn’t me, I had lost total control. He had never seen me in a full shift, and I didn’t even like myself when I did that.
He must have seen me through the peep hole, because I had to knock again. This time it was a bit more forceful.
“I am not leaving until you open the damn door Stevenson.”
He knew how stubborn I could be, because I heard the tumblers turn as he undid the deadbolt and released the chain the door. Even though he opened it, he made it very clear that I was not allowed inside. The whole doorway was taken up by the mass of him, and his arms were crossed over his chest. What hurt the worst is the fact that he never even looked at me, at least not in the eyes. He was focused on a place just over the top of my head.
“What do you want Nolan?”
“I came to apologize. I…”
I dropped my head, I had no idea what to say past that. I reached the lowest point in my life, and maybe have just lost the one person that could have saved me from everything. Maybe I was beyond redemption, maybe it was too late for me.
Arnold was distracted by the whole apocalypse thing. It had interfered with the morning traffic for several days now, and he began to wonder if he would ever get the chance to clean out the little desk in his highly decorated cubicle. Worst of all was the gleaming man in the shiny robes that followed him everywhere.
“Can you at least tell me what you are doing?”
From behind the blinding light that was the face of the mysterious man, a smile slipped out. But no answer.
The conversation went the same for several days, until the walls of hellfire began to encroach on the border of the city. Arnold was nervous. He had never considered buying fire insurance and he was quite attached to his little townhouse in the valley.
“Are you ready now Arnold?”
The sound of the robed man’s voice filled Arnold with a bit of fear and a touch of hunger as the scent of exotic incense and curry emanated from his mouth. It reminded him of the month long vacation he had taken in Morocco the summer after he graduated.
“What, exactly am I supposed to be ready for?”
“This is it, the end of all things.”
“Are you here to take me to heaven?”
“Am I going to hell?”
“Perhaps. That’s not for me to say. I am merely the emissary to will argue before the powers that be the record of your life and it is in their mighty but invisible hands to decide if there are any redeeming qualities to your human soul.”
Arnold walked to the little hall closet and tried to decide if such an affair required a sport coat or if a simple windbreaker would do. He froze for a moment wondering if such indecision about petty things would count against him. But then a glowing hand was placed on his shoulder, and they were gone.
And how might I redeem myself? Am I forgiven when your deft fingers twist at the screws securing my thumbs? When the tears run freely, if accompanied by wretched begging? How many lashes of the tongue that tears my flesh must I endure? Is there a script for me? some line I should say to elicit your mercy? Pushing, ever pushing, the boundaries are stretched beyond sight. Are you not done with me yet?
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry, we don’t carry that brand.”
“But they’re the same price,” Audrey said, her voice choked on the edge of tears.
The checkout clerk swallowed, each finger quivering ever so slightly on the foggy scanner. The stifling Atlanta air – it was so hot a knife could cut it, and then the two halves would melt away like butter on steaming mashed potatoes.
Audrey tried not to think about food.
“The machine won’t take it ma’am, see?” the clerk said, and waved the scrap of paper over the strobing red line. The register made a sick beep.
The beep said “Ugh, not this again. Yuck. Don’t bother. You tried feeding me this five times already. No.” The sound sickened Audrey.
The bright beep said “Yes! Redeemed! Congratulations!” Audrey hadn’t heard any bright beeps today, or this week for that matter. Her whole life was a series of disappointing, sick beeps that told her to go somewhere else. Try again. You’re not welcome here.
Audrey snatched the scrap of paper away, the tears leaked out now. The clerk shifted on his feet, never quite sure what to do when women cried in front of him. Like a homeless man, laden with every single possession he owned who had dropped his change on the bus. The clerk would just watch uncomfortably, and hope it all sorted itself out.
“Will you be paying cash or credit?” he asked meekly, because that was what he was paid $5.15 an hour, minus taxes to do.
“I don’t want any of it!” Audrey cried, and fled the store.
The of generic, store brand milk warmed on the broken grocery conveyor that buzzed incessantly, all day long. It was spoiling already, it was August in Atlanta, after all.
The next customer set a plastic sealed steak on the conveyor, and bent to pick up the scrap of paper that Audrey had dropped.
“I think she dropped this,” the man said, and handed the clerk the WIC coupon for Bareman’s milk that Audrey would now not be able to redeem.
The clerk tucked it into his register, and prayed that she’d come back.
It was a rather amazing thing to find under the bottle cap. I had been walking along the beach to clear my head, well hangover really. It was a bit of a fuzzy night and I woke up alone although I could have sworn that someone had been in my bed at one time. Anyway I was walking along the beach, clearing my brain and failing at it and seriously contemplating a little Hair-O-The-Dog when I kicked a bottle.
I’m not normally one to pick up stray bottles of booze off the ground but I rationalized it as a sign that Hair-O-The-Dog was better than fresh air. Besides, the bottle was full and the seal was tight. Rum too, real Jamaican Rum.
I opened it up and smelled the cap. Already my head began to clear, the musty sweet smell of cane sugar, the rememberances of a warm belly and a serene brain. I looked inside the cap.
“Winner! See back for details.” It said.
Odd, I don’t recall any booze bottles having contests before.
I took my finger nails and popped out the rubber.
“Three Free Wishes, redeem at once.” You’ve got to be kidding me. This day was going to look up after all.