I’m back again (a few days behind schedule, but shhhhhh) to participate in Jem Jones’ One Quirk Later flashfiction series!
In case you are not acquainted with this wonderful madness, the gist of it is as follows: Jem gives us pictures. We write flashfiction. We all read each other’s flashfiction and SCREAM.
More or less.
Be sure to check out Jem’s blog!
Here is the prompt:
A few things you don’t need to know before you read what I wrote:
- AnGsT aNGst ANgSt
- (Okay, but it’s so easy to go angsty when blood is part of the prompt…)
- COUSINS. I talk about siblings a lot, but COUSINS are also my JAM
- I would have posted it on Saturday, but…I hadn’t written it yet
- It’s late. It’s great. It has some plates.
* * *
Melanie picked up the phone on the second ring. “Thank you for calling Tribbet and Lox. This is Melanie Raasch. How can I help you?”
There was silence on the other end of the line. No, not quite silence. Someone was breathing into the phone. She was about to hang up when a cracked voice said, “Mel?”
She stopped. “Who is this?” But even before she had finished asking the question, she knew the answer.
“It’s me. Your cousin.”
Mel stiffened. “I’m at work, Jamie.”
“I know,” he said. Then, in a quieter voice, “I didn’t know who else to call.”
Mel took a deep breath. She had a strong urge to scream, but even with her office door closed, it would probably be heard by everyone on this floor. Maybe the people on the second floor too. With an effort, she kept her voice quiet. “Six months, Jamie. I haven’t heard from you in six months. You can’t keep disappearing and then popping up like this. I don’t know if I’m supposed to worry or forget about you or—” She broke off to keep her voice from rising.
For a long moment there was only the crackling of breath on the other end of the line. “Yeah,” he said finally. “I’m sorry.”
She sighed, massaging her temples with her free hand. “Where are you?”
“Do you get off work soon?”
“No, I work until five. Where are you calling from?”
“Are you sure you can’t come home any sooner?”
Mel froze. “Are you in my house?”
“You broke into my house?”
“I didn’t break anything! I just picked the lock.”
Mel’s grip on the receiver tightened. “A skill you picked up from your new friends?”
“They’re not my friends anymore,” he said quietly.
Mel closed her eyes and took another deep breath.
“Why do you still have a landline?” he asked after a moment.
“Jamie, get out of my house.”
“Don’t bleed on my floor. Get out.”
“Won’t you at least hear me out?”
Mel let out a short, bitter laugh. “What am I supposed to do—spend my whole life waiting for you to finally call me, and then be all sympathetic about whatever stupid situation you’ve gotten yourself into because you wouldn’t listen to my advice? How many times are you going to do this? Anyone could have told you that those people were bad news—I told you they were. I told you not to go, and you didn’t listen.”
“You were right, ok?” Jamie snapped. “Is that what you want to hear? ‘I’m so sorry, Mel. You were right and I was wrong.’”
“I’m done,” Mel said. “I can’t do this anymore. I want you out of my house. If you’re still there when I get home, I’ll call the police.”
“Listen to me!”
She was halfway to hanging up when something shattered on the other end of the line. She froze, then brought the phone back to her ear. “What was that?”
“One of Aunt Cathy’s good china plates. And I’m going to throw another one if you don’t listen.”
Mel gripped the receiver harder. “What do you want?”
“I know I made a bad decision—several bad decisions. I know I should have taken your advice—”
“Then why didn’t you? Why did you go work with those guys?”
“They were friends of my dad, and I just thought…”
Mel screwed her eyes shut, fighting back the overwhelming desire to scream in exasperation. ‘Friends of Jamie’s dad’ wasn’t a good thing. Jamie should have known that—he had to know that. The fact that his dad was in jail was the whole reason Jamie had grown up in the same house as Mel.
“What did you think, Jamie?” she demanded. “What exactly did you think would happen?”
Silence except for Jamie’s breathing.
Then, very quietly, “I…I didn’t think they would hurt me.”
Mel stared down at her desk. Why did he get himself into these situations? Why couldn’t he just…
“How badly are you hurt?” she asked finally.
“Um…it’s hard to say. I…” There was a clatter, then another shattering sound.
“Hey, I’m listening! Stop throwing plates!”
“Sorry. That was an accident. I think the adrenaline is… wearing off.”
There was more clattering, then a loud thump.
“That was me that time. Not a plate.”
For the first time, Mel thought about how hard Jamie was breathing, and maybe not just because he was upset…
“How much did you say you were bleeding?”
“…kind of a lot.”
Mel could feel her own breathing getting faster. “Jamie—”
“It’s getting on your floor. I’m sorry.” And then something happened that scared her even more.
Jamie started to cry.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
There was a sudden cracking sound, like the phone hitting the floor, then silence.
Mel dropped the receiver and left the office at a run.
* * *
Many thanks to
my grandma Jem Jones for the prompt!
And yes, I do realize that I just posted two flashfiction pieces in a row, so… Sorry? You’re welcome? Next week’s post will be something else! I’m 92% sure!
Have you participated in any of the quirks so far? Do you like cousin stories (I will HAPPILY take recs)? Have you ever written a story with blood that wasn’t angsty? Have you ever broken a plate on purpose? Do tell!