Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jay Lake's Flash Fiction Challenge: "Estuary"

In response to Jay Lake's challenge (as noted in my previous post), here is a story of exactly 500 words, not including the one word title:


“So, is this an art piece or something?”

She grimaced. “No, officer.” The stream’s water sluiced over the rocks, whispering of flow and vigor. Nothing else moved.

The cop sighed. “OK, what am I looking at then?”

She sighed back. “Either a miracle or a weird-ass suicide.”

He scratched his neck with his cheap pen. “Uh, right.” He bent down to examine the hat, unmoving in the afternoon breeze. He tugged at the brim; it stayed in place.

He looked up at her. “Why is the hat glued down?”

“It’s not. It’s just. . . there. Right where he stood. It won’t move. Neither will the rocks around it.”

The cop straightened up and shook his head. “Ma’am, it’s illegal to make crank calls like this.”

She gritted her teeth. “This is not a crank call.” She moved behind the hat. “Look, here’s what happened. My uncle called me and told me to meet him at our favorite picnic place along the estuary. When I asked why he said, ‘Because that is where things mix and change.’” He’s been acting weird the past few months, but I say OK and drive down here.” She took a step back. “When I get here, he’s standing by the creek’s edge, holding a stick in his right hand” she looked to her right and waved an unseen magic wand, “and a white feather in his left,” she nodded in the other direction, making her left hand flutter. “I ask him what he’s doing, and he says ‘travelling to a different stream.’ He mutters something glottal, tells me ‘I hope to see you there, dear,’ waves the stick and flutters the feather, and disappears.”

She rolled her eyes at the cop’s glare. “That’s what happened.”

“That’s nuts,” he replied. “You and your uncle are crazy.” He closed his notebook and pocketed his pen.

“My uncle was a lot of things, officer,” she said quietly, “and crazy was definitely one of them.” She looked downstream. “This is. . . genius?”

The officer grunted. “Sure, Ma’am. Look, you need to come with me. Pranks like this are. . . .”

“Oh sweet Aphrodite’s sweaty bodice! I am telling you. . . .”

The cop waved his hands and moved her aside. “You’re telling me that your crazy uncle waved these. . .” he bent down and scooped up the stick and feather, “said a few magic words,” he grumbled a bit of Spanish and waved them in the air, “and. . . “ he was cut off by the hat flying atop his head. He looked up at it, and disappeared.

* * * * * *

It was quiet. The estuary here was smaller, and there was snow on the rocks. The cop looked around. From downstream he heard a hum, and an old man on what looked like a flying Segway carved out of teak landed on the bank. He wore no hat, but had a big smile on his face.

“Hello,” he said.


Kelly said...

Very nice! I particularly enjoyed "Oh sweet Aphrodite’s sweaty bodice!" never heard that expression before!

The Erudite Ogre said...

Thanks! This was fun to write. I love writing these shorter pieces because you need to find spot-on phrases to get a character's personality across to the reader. I'd like to do a bit more for the cop if I rewrote it.