Recently I started cranking out flash fiction, just for fun. This kind of thing is how writers sometimes relax; pulling together a short piece, usually around 1,400-1,500 words. Mine are all going up on Reddit, because Reddit’s a major thing for me when it comes to the internet. Also, there’s a fairly vibrant sub for Writing Prompts that is a pretty steady flow of ideas to run with. Find something that sparks my fingers to start typing, and about half an hour later, poof; finished flash fiction piece. I call them flash fiction because, to me, even a “short story” is going to be at least three or four thousand words. Your mileage may vary. Anyway, enjoy.
This one’s called Past Regrets. The prompt was “There’s a girl that everyone knows is a witch, but they only talk to her when they need something. One day, she knocks on the door and says she’ll return memories taken from you a year ago, at your request … if you help her.”
I also rather like how this one came out too. Simple, short, but it sets up a lot of stuff you can play with in your mind.
“What do you want?” he all but snarled when he saw who was at the door.
“Please, I need to talk to you.”
Jake shook his head. “I don’t think so—” he said, starting to close the door.
“It’s important,” Alexandria said, raising her hand. A small pillar of green fire lifted from her palm. A picture shimmered in the depths, several people. A man, and a pair of teenage girls. Jake blinked as he recognized himself. The girls were strangers though. Then the picture started moving, like a video. He and the girls laughed, and they hugged him before grabbing a hand each and pulling him into motion.
He looked up at the freak, and she closed her fist. Banishing the green flame and its silent vista of the girls pulling him down a sidewalk eagerly, chattering unheard words that the him in the flames seemed pleased to listen to. Alexandria forced a smile. Not a natural or cheerful expression. There was pain in it. “Please.”
Stepping back, Jake made way for her to come through the doorway. She stepped past him and went straight for the living room. He started to warn her about the coffee table that was hidden just around the couch, out of view and responsible for many a visitor’s bruised shins, but she didn’t even change course. Never came near it. Following warily, he watched as she sat down on the far side of the couch nearest the wall.
“Sure, make yourself at home,” Jake said dryly, pausing next to the treacherous coffee table.
“I need your help.”
“No. I don’t need the trouble that follows you around.”
Something crossed her expression, just for a moment. “I know.”
“You might want to sit down.”
“Because … this could be a bit difficult to process.”
Jake frowned. “I might not have freak powers, but I can listen, even think occasionally, without falling over. Speak your piece and get out. Before one of my neighbors hears us talking … wait. They didn’t see you knocking did they?” He started for the glass doors, intending to look through the curtains. Mrs. Sanders was always sticking her nose in everyone’s business. And she loved to talk.
“No one saw me.”
“Are you su—”
“I am. Remember, I’m a freak, right?” she said, without a trace of bitterness.
“Right,” Jake said, stopping. “So get to it, or freak or not, I’m calling the cops.”
“I need to find my sister.”
“So magic her up then.”
“Then call the cops. Or a PI. Or someone who gives a shit, because I don’t.”
Alexandria frowned at him. Her eyes were wet. “She’s your daughter,” she said in a throaty, thick voice.
“I don’t have a daughter.”
“Damnit it,” she said, coming to her feet. Worse, she was lifting her hand toward him. Jake started to raise his arms defensively, though he really didn’t want to have to hit her. Freak witch or not, he didn’t like beating on women. Before he had to decide, he felt the air solidifying around him. Preventing him from moving. She stepped forward, and rapped two fingers into the center of his forehead. Hard. “Tudhkar.”
“What are—” Jake said, struggling to struggle. Her touch had been cold, and not skin deep. It felt like her fingers had gone into his head. Then a blinding pain flashed through him, and he screamed as his legs gave out. She caught him, and turned quickly to dump him on the couch before he could collapse to the floor.
Images, feelings, memories, were flooding into his mind. Jake closed his eyes against the wave of sudden recollection. All of it new, but familiar. He blinked finally, and saw her on one knee in front of him. Shaking his head, he realized he was crying. “Drea?”
“Oh God,” Jake said, reaching out. She didn’t move, and let him stroke his hand down her cheek. “I’m so sorry. I should never have asked you—”
“It’s okay Daddy,” she said, lifting her hand to cover his on her face. Holding it there lightly. Squeezing his fingers. “I know how hard it was for you to deal with everything people had been saying about you after mom died.”
He remembered now. All the whispers, all the muttering. The lost jobs, the harassment by the city, the cops, everyone. “I didn’t know what else to do,” he said, feeling ashamed. “We could have just moved. Started over somewhere—”
“Mom wouldn’t want you to not be able to visit her,” Alexandria said. “And she can’t move if you do. The only place you can see her is at—”
“I know,” Jake said, keeping her from saying it. He visited the grave every weekend. It helped. The pain was starting, had been starting, to get easier to bear. Now, though, all the edges he’d been slowly smoothing over were jagged and sharp again. “Sit down honey.”
“I just need to know where mom would have stored the stuff she kept, from when we were little. Mine and Audrey’s.”
“Is she in trouble?” Jake asked immediately. “Are you?”
“That’s why I need to find her daddy. I don’t know.”
“Then why …” he began, before trailing off. Thinking old thoughts that were new again, recently returned information churning through his head. “You said the spell was difficult. And now you’ve reversed it. This is important.”
“Yes. But if you’ll just tell me where the boxes are, I’ll recast it, and you can—”
Jake shook his head firmly. “I should have never asked you to cast that spell,” he said again. He remembered her screaming as the energy, the magic, crackled around her like lightning. Pain defined in reality. It was the last memory she’d taken from him; the look of agony on her face as she completed the dangerous magic. “Mom would have beaten the shit out of me for even thinking it, much less badgering you into doing it.”
“Mom loved you.”
“Not as much as she loved you girls.”
Alexandria shook her head. “No. She loved you first, before either of us.”
“And you were her daughters. You can’t know honey, you can’t possibly know how much a child means to a par— oh God,” he said, as he processed the words. Came right up against them, only now without the crushing grief of Rebecca’s death pushing him into such a horribly selfish and wrong decision. He pulled his hand away from Alexandria’s, rubbing at his face. “You’re not wiping my head again, mine or anyone else’s. Not because of me anyway.”
“The only way to erase all of it was to erase everyone’s,” she said as he cried. “I can’t just make them forget, I have to make everyone forget. Including you.”
“Then I’ll just deal with it. After I help you with Audrey.”
“I can handle it. But I need to know where to start looking. And I don’t have time to look for both her and how to find her. So … where did mom keep her secrets?”
Jake scrubbed his sleeve across his face, trying to force himself to focus. There would be time for tears later. “I, uh, I assume you already checked the house?”
“Yes,” Alexandria said with a nod. “Twice actually. Last night, and then again this morning when you were at work. And Samantha’s, and even grandpa’s, day before yesterday. Nothing.”
“Then I don’t know where we’d start looking Drea,” he said, feeling helpless and ashamed. “We don’t have a storage unit, so if it’s not here then I don’t know where—”
“Mom would have had a place she liked to spend time. Somewhere she always went to when she wanted to think. She never told me about anywhere like that, but you two dated for a few years before you got married, and before you had me,” Alexandria said. “Think daddy, there had to be somewhere.”
He frowned. “Well, there was this spot out past the edge of town. Near the forest. She loved walking through the trees.”
“That sounds like it.”
“It was just forest. There’s nothing there but trees and grass.”
“Mom was a witch. We have ways of storing things. Please, just show me where it is.”
“Of course honey, but, you’ve got to tell me. What kind of trouble are you and Audrey in?”
Alexandria shook her head. “I’m fine. But Audrey … she needs my help. Please, just show me where you’re talking about. And I’ll be able to find whatever mom hid there, and that’ll let me find Audrey before it’s too late.”
“No,” Jake said, standing up. Alexandria stood with him, and he looked at her with all the belated parental firmness he could muster. “I’m your father, and I’ve already done enough slacking. If my girls are in trouble, I’m going to be there. No matter what.”
“Daddy, mom wouldn’t like it if I didn’t keep you out of this.”
“Mom would do more than beat me if I didn’t get involved,” Jake said firmly. “She’d kill me. In fact, I wouldn’t put it past her to rise out of the … well, she’d find a way to sort me out.”
Alexandria laughed shakily, smiling despite the sob that escaped out of her throat. “Yeah, she would.”
“What’s going on with Audrey?”
She shook her head. “She made a deal daddy. A bad deal with some … the wrong people. Only they’re not really people. They’re a lot worse.”
“What do you mean they’re not people?”
“It would take a while to explain.”
“What’s the short version?”
“They’re a lot older than anyone human who’s ever walked the Earth, okay?” she said uncomfortably.
He shook his head. “Audrey knows better than to—”
“She was angry daddy. It’s my fault. I mean, a little anyway. It doesn’t matter right now. What does is they’re coming to collect. From her. She took off, to keep them from tracking her down here. To keep you and me safe. But they’ll probably find her. And if I don’t find her first …”
Jake took his older daughter by the arm and turned her toward the front door. “Come on. I’ll drive. You can fill me in on the way.”