This one challenged the writer to use 4 of ten items in a 1000 word story. I used 5: a leather mask, a police badge, a rocking chair, a street sign, and a child’s toy. Events from today’s local news inspired the subject matter. As always with flash fiction, it’s not been edited much so please forgive
Danielle realized she was waking up. She was still in a dreamy, sing-song sleep in which she could spend just a few moments remembering, half dreaming. She was a little girl again. Her father was there. He had caught a grasshopper and killed it. They put the dead grasshopper on the root of the big maple tree outside the back door, the one that all the big black ants lived in. They were the biggest ants Danielle had ever seen. She and Daddy watched as the ants meticulously dismembered the grasshopper and carried the parts up the trunk. Its legs were carried by individual ants, but the head and body required several ants to work together. Daddy was explaining how they were taking the grasshopper parts up to feed the rest of the nest when she realized the ants were all over her arms, crawling toward her shoulders…
She swam into her bedroom and opened her eyes. She hadn’t dreamed of Daddy in a long time. The bright morning light came through the sheer window covers and welcomed her into a bright, beautiful day. She laid perfectly still, arms up over her head and touching the headboard. How come morning light had that fresh brightness about it, but afternoon light was yellow and dingy?
Danielle scanned the familiar surroundings of her room. One of his police uniforms hung from the wall peg next to the door, the badge gleaming in the fresh day’s glow. His extra uniform pants, still in the dry-cleaning bag, were stretched over the rocking chair where they had sex just last night. Goose pimples came up all over her body at the thought of sex, and she quickly distracted her mind from the subject.
She moved her hands a bit, to try to work the knots out of her shoulders. The handcuffs jingled with the move. He had closed the one on her left arm too tight. A deep purple groove was exposed as her arm twisted in an attempt to find some comfort. They had argued about her being handcuffed all day, but he had never relented on this issue. It makes for a day where minor inconveniences like itches or needing to pee turn into mind-burning obsessions that cannot be ignored. Her shoulders would cramp and she was always afraid to eat or drink anything, to keep from having to use the bathroom. He liked that; it kept her perpetually thin and weak.
Her gaze returned to the headboard. How many hours and days had she spent handcuffed to that piece of iron over the last few months? The dream of her father had slapped her emotions. What was Daddy thinking right now? Where was he? Poor man had lost his wife and daughter all at the same time, with no idea what happened and no answers to his questions. Had he given up? Deep in his heart, did he know she was dead? Was he yelling at the police to find his daughter when they knew where she was all along?
“Fuck the cops.” They came in here and fucked her whenever they wanted. Sometimes several of them in a day. Not all of them, of course, but who knew how many were in the local precinct? Anyway, some of them wore the leather mask that stared back at her from the bed stand so they could be anonymous. Others didn’t even bother. She assumed they didn’t bother to hide their faces because she would be killed soon. Sometimes they came to her still in uniform, with their shiny badges and nametags. That’s what told her she was going to die.
The doorknob turned, and another one walked in. She hadn’t heard him come in the house. He was in uniform. He saw her nakedness and immediately dropped his eyes to the floor. Instinctively, he took his hat off as he stared down. “Ma’am.”
“I don’t recognize you. What do you want from me?” She knew what they all wanted when they came.
He walked to the side of her bed and they locked eyes. She saw a glistening and softness in him where she had only seen lust, hatred, or indifference in the others. He was here for a different purpose. Her eyes narrowed as it occurred to her that she might be looking at the man that was about to kill her. “I want you to be able some day to forgive the men that have been in this room.” She felt his hand brush hers as he touched her wrist. The pressure released with a click and the cuff opened. A moment later both hands were free.
“I didn’t bring any clothes. I didn’t know he kept you handcuffed naked. I came as soon as I found out you were here and knew it was safe. Hurry. Wrap yourself in the sheets if you don’t have clothes. My car’s in the driveway. I’m taking you to a hospital.”
Sore arms came down to her sides. Being free of the cuffs always made her shoulders hurt for a few minutes. They wrapped the sheet around her naked body. His name tag said T HARPER but at that moment he was Jesus and God and everything in the world. She didn’t know she was crying, yet tears were flooding out leaving long streaks down her face before crashing onto the sheet covering her breasts. He didn’t let her see his face because he was crying too.
As T HARPER drove out of the driveway, she sat in the back and marveled at the street sign outside her bedroom window: “-SLOW- Children at Play.” There was a child’s bicycle lying in the grass beside the sign. She had heard those children playing yesterday while he was at work. She thought about Daddy again and this time she knew she was crying.
why in the hell is it that every time i write one of these flash fiction pieces it is so damned dark and grim? Maybe i need therapy but I’m actually a very happy person. Moreso now that I’m writing again.