I’ve been very busy these past few days a) writing angsty raps to process my feelings, b) internally (and sometimes externally) screaming about the Hadestown soundtrack, and c) crying over people who have been dead for 200+ years (not going to say who, but I can tell you their last name is Hamilton…). But even so, I’ve managed to pull this post together on time (bold of me to assume when I’m still writing the intro)!
Today I’m linking up with Jem Jones for her One Quirk Later post series, in which we look at pictures and write stuff! How hard can it be?? (*nervous laughter*)
Be sure to read Jem Jones’ post introducing the prompt. Also, this is the second prompt, and you should all go read the piece she wrote for the first prompt, because it’s full of snarky, dramatic teens, a wobble-headed baby, and family banter. What’s not to love?
Here’s the prompt:
A few things you don’t need to know before reading my flashfiction piece, but I’ll tell you anyway:
- I forgot I wanted to do this until last night! So here we are!
- I grabbed names from the acknowledgements of the book I’m reading right now because picking names is way too hard
- This is my writer default setting: a) brothers, b) angst, c) a bit of banter, and d) picturing a vaguely sci-fi world but you can’t really tell from what I actually wrote. (That sounds weirdly specific, but you’d be surprised at how many random scenes I’ve written that fit that description)
I guess I should actually get to the flashfiction at some point here.
A-hem. Here it is.
* * * *
Matt didn’t mean to invade Andy’s privacy. He knew he shouldn’t sneak into his brother’s room and go through his stuff, but how was he supposed to resist? It wasn’t like Andy made any effort at security. He didn’t even lock his door. It was all too easy.
Matt crept upstairs after breakfast, determined to finish reading the letters he had found in Andy’s desk yesterday. The letters weren’t in envelopes. There were stacked neatly, not even folded and it made Matt wonder if Andy intended to send them at all. They were addressed to various people, all of them people that Matt didn’t know.
There was a lot Matt didn’t know nowadays. Ever since Andy got back from his term of service on the outskirts he had been…not cold exactly. Distant? He still smiled and joked and talked to Matt, but it was different than it had been before. He never talked about the service. Matt knew next to nothing about where he had been or what he had been doing these last few years.
But he wanted to know.
Matt lifted the lid of Andy’s desk. There was a new sheet of paper sitting on top of the stack of letters. It was folded. Matt unfolded it slowly, wondering who it might be for, what insights it might give him into his brother’s life.
But it wasn’t a letter. It was a note.
Please stop looking inside my desk.
Someone cleared their throat. Matt’s hand slipped and the lid of the desk fell closed with a bang. He whirled around, hiding the note behind his back for no apparent reason. Andy stood in the doorway, staring at him, eyebrows raised.
“Find what you’re looking for yet?” Andy asked.
Matt let his hands fall to his sides, still gripping the note. “No, not really.”
“I suppose it never occurred to you to give up and stop looking.”
Matt gave a cautious smile and slowly lifted the lid of the desk again. “Maybe you could help me look?”
Andy sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it, ok?”
“Tell me one thing. Just one thing.”
“I’ll tell you two things: I left, I came back. The end.” He crossed the room and shut the desk.
“We used to tell each other everything,” Matt said.
Andy snorted. “You never told me where you hid the trading cards you stole from me or where you kept your secret stash of candy.”
“Ok, almost everything. Everything important.”
“Yeah, well things change.”
“Why? Why do things have to change?”
Andy sighed again. “You know why.”
“No, I don’t. Why can’t you talk to me about the service?”
“There are things you’re too young to understand.”
Matt pretended to retch. “That’s the worst answer. You sound like a grown up.”
“I am a grown up.”
“A real grown up.”
“And you sound like a kid.”
Matt crossed his arms. “Fine. Don’t tell me. I’ll find out for myself someday. I’ll enlist.”
Andy smiled wearily. “No, you won’t.”
Matt’s hand instinctively went up to touch his right ear—the one that looked more like a withered piece of cauliflower. “I’ll wear a fake one over it. No one will know the difference.”
“You can’t hear out of a fake ear. And you’re lucky they won’t ever take you.”
“Why don’t you tell me about it so I can appreciate how very lucky I am?”
Andy exhaled slowly, then said flatly, “Alright. One thing: I helped sabotage air ships.”
Matt clapped his hands together. “You? A saboteur? I never knew you had it in you! I’m sure I would be much better at it, but—”
“You think it sounds fun?” Andy asked quietly.
“It sounds illegal. I’m in.”
“Stop it, Matt!” The change in Andy’s voice was so sudden and so harsh that Matt froze. “It’s not a game, ok? I helped sabotage those ships so they would blow up as soon as they were in the air. Do you understand? I helped kill those pilots. Those passengers.”
Matt stared at him, uncomprehending. “But they’re the bad guys, right?”
Andy covered his face with his hands and gave an exhausted, hopeless laugh. “I don’t know, are they?”
Matt stared down at the note in his hand.
“They don’t tell us anything except where to go and what to do,” Andy said. “I don’t know who the people on those ships were. I’ve thought about trying to find out…” He glanced at the desk. “But even if I could…I’m afraid to know.”
Matt bit his lip. “Andy—”
“Just get out, Matt.”
Matt left the room, the note still in his hand. He told himself he was never going to go back in there and go snooping through Andy’s stuff, but he wasn’t sure he believed himself. Now more than ever, he just wanted to understand.
* * * *
Well! That got real angsty real quick (not that anyone is surprised).
Thanks to Jem Jones for the prompt! You should ALL go follow her. She’s wonderful and has an adorable owl as her profile picture. There is no downside.
If you want to join, please do! I would LOVE to read what you would write for this prompt. Be sure to link-back to Jem and comment on one of her posts so she can read what you wrote too!
Do you ever write based on writing prompts? Do you have trouble choosing names for your characters? Does your writing tend to take a turn for the angstier after 4.2 seconds? What are some of your writer default settings? Do tell!