Flash Fiction from Inspirational Memes

July is nearing an end, which means my 30 stories in 31 days trauma—I mean, challenge is almost over. No, I will not be completing the 30 stories, but I am happy with what I have accomplished and might try this again in another month when I am not doing a billion other writing challenges at the same time.

Although I have been working off a list of stories I want to write, I do like the practice of stretching and developing stories based on someone else’s prompts. The 99-word prompts from Carrot Ranch are excellent practice for getting just the right details into a story, but sometimes I want to see where a story goes. So today I worked on something in response to Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge, which allows about 1000 words.

So many words!!!

The challenge was to use an “inspirational” meme from Inspirobot. (If you have some spare moments, you might like that rabbit hole. Not your traditional memes.)

I of course forgot to download my meme (but I did print it off…see? Here it is ::waves piece of paper::), so I recreated it.

I ended up with just under 800 words that, of course, spiraled right down into the usual grit. Language warning. As if you didn’t know…

Jeopardy

Jerry stuck his fork in the aluminum tray’s tiny pocket of mashed potatoes, complete with fake bright yellow butter. The fork barely penetrated the outer skin before stopping.

“Ma, you didn’t cook it long enough.” One by one he poked his fork in the thick slices of gooey meat, pile of corn, and some sort of dessert that was a repulsive shade of grey. He tried not to gag. “It’s all still frozen.” He gagged anyway.

“What is Burundi?”

“Ma, did ya hear me?”

“What is Belarus?”

She heard him, he was sure of it. She just wasn’t listening. Not during the Alex Trebek hour.

She was sitting in the La-Z-Boy recliner that had borne the brunt of his father’s emphysemic ass for their 42 years of marriage. When his dad had finally gotten tired of flicking lit cigarettes at his wife and her offspring, he’d farted loudly, then laughed about it until he choked on his meatloaf and slumped over in death.

“What is Bermuda?”

It had been a Friday morning. Jerry had celebrated by fucking his first cheerleader. His only cheerleader. He couldn’t remember the girl’s name.

“What is Bolivia?”

She wasn’t actually a cheerleader. He’d made her one in his memory. A horny blonde with big tits instead of the pimply face with rancid breath. He gagged again, remembering it.

His mother sat on the edge of the recliner, several once-oversized-but-now-wilted pillows propping her up as she focused on the box TV positioned barely three feet in front of her, its bunny ears askew. She’d been declared legally blind years ago, but still wore the thick eyeglasses that left permanent imprints on the bridge of her nose. She also still wore the same pajamas under her house coat that she’d worn for as long as Jerry could remember. He’d never seen her wash them, just throw her blue housedress over them.

“What is the Bahamas?”

Jerry stood up and grabbed her TV dinner from the metal tray in front of her. “Jesus Christ,” he said under his breath. “Ma, did ya hear me?”

“Jeremiah! Language, please!”

He could set himself on fire and she wouldn’t react if Alex was on TV, but take the Lord’s name in vain—even in his thoughts—and she heard it every damn time.

“You didn’t cook them long enough.” He took the two steps to the kitchen. “Are you trying to kill us? You are, aren’t you?”

“I like them that way.”

“What, frozen?” Jerry shoved the trays in the oven. “There are easier ways to get rid of me.”

He returned to his seat to wait. She was staring at him, her tear-rimmed eyes magnified by the glasses and her lips puckering uncontrollably.

“Why would you say that? To your own mother? The woman who carried you for nine months–”

“‘—nine months in her malformed womb, even when her doctors warned her against it.’ Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before.”

The tears dried up and the puckering ceased as she turned back to the TV. “Just doesn’t seem like the kind of woman who would want to kill her own child. But I’m sure you know best.” Bitterness oozed from each word.

He ignored her petulance. “How about I call about one of those home care workers again?”

“You will not!” Dignity forced her hunched shoulders straight. “I don’t need some–some floozy just hanging around here, watching me, waiting for me to die.”

“Ma—”

“Or killing me herself so she can rob me blind.” She turned watery saucer eyes to him again. “Is that what you want? To find me in a pool of my own blood? All my earthly treasures—your inheritance—gone?”

“Ma, she’ll just come for an hour or two each day, do a little cooking, maybe a little cleaning—”

“Exactly! Cleaning me out.”

“—and you’ll have more time to enjoy Jeopardy.”

She frowned, as if considering the idea.

“Alex Trebek…uninterrupted,” he added gently as the show returned from commercial break.

She barely nodded her agreement. “What is laissez faire?”

“I’ll call right now. See if we can get someone for next week.” He stepped back into the kitchen and dialed the number from memory.

“None of them Mexicans. Or the darkies.”

Jerry rolled his eyes. He was past gagging. “Yes, Ma.”

“I gotta feel safe in my own home,” she mumbled. “What is a propos?”

Jerry glanced over his shoulder at his mother before speaking into the receiver quietly. “It’s a go… yeah. Monday.”

“What is coup d’état?”

“Right. Bad ticker. Got it?” He hung up, grabbed the TV dinners from the oven, and returned to the living room, hiding his smile. Soon he’d be free.

“What is déja vu?”

 

Comments

  • Nice! The characters here are so interesting – full of bizarreness and generally being who they really are.

    KenzieJuly 28, 2017
    • Thanks! I might have to explore the mother in a larger piece. I’m kinda curious about her story. You just know she’s got secrets, right? 😉

      C. JaiJuly 28, 2017
      • Haha, absolutely. There’s definitely more in her past that is hinted at here!

        KenzieJuly 28, 2017

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