A bit of flash fiction for Chuck Wendig‘s challenge. Slasher movie edition.
“Hey Gwen, want to go to the movies?” He yells from across the street, hops off his bike, walks it through the crosswalk. There is no traffic, it’s the Village off season.
“Hey Quentin,” I say and wave. He smiles that smile I’ve been in love with since kindergarten.
“You wanna?” He says.
“What’s playing?” I say.
“Forty Second Street Slash Mechanic II.”
“Doesn’t sound like a Lassie adventure to me.”
“Ha, you crack me up.” He says.
“No thanks.” I say.
“Come on, you haven’t gone with me in ages.”
“I don’t like those movies. The blood, the gore, the screaming.” I shudder.
“You saw the first one with me.” He says.
“You tricked me. I had my eyes closed most of the time and fingers in my ears but I still heard every one of those girls screaming and dying as gross and noisy as I could possibly imagine. Every, one, all nine of them. Nine.”
“Oh yeah huh, you were sort of stuck in the middle with me and couldn’t make it out on your crutches. Well, your ankle isn’t broken this time.” He says, and winks. “You could make a run for it if you had to.” He’s giving me the ‘come away with me’ look.
“No thanks. Why don’t you go with Beth or Roger?”
“Can’t, they’re going steady.” He says.
If I close my eyes we’d be standing in the hallway at school having this conversation, Middle school, the first time Beth and Roger went steady. The first time he held my hand.
“Come on.” He says. “I don’t want to go alone, that’s creepy.”
“Hey, did you hear Summer Girl is pregnant?” He says.
“You know, Louise’s granddaughter.” He says. “Mom’s neighbor.”
“What? She’s a little kid.”
“Not so little anymore.” He says. “Sixteen.”
“Sixteen?” Wow, when did that happen? Weren’t we just sixteen? She’s the little kid so happy to spend the summer here she kisses the ground when she gets off the train. “How do you find these things out? You are more gossipy than my mom.”
“From your mom.” He says and laughs. “Kidding. I stopped by Lily’s at the Beach this morning after surfing. Big Scrabble tournament.”
“Did you win?”
“Nah, I never win. Anyway, Lily and Louise are worried about her, and want her to come live with them.” He says.
“She should have never gone back to live with that woman.”
“Her Mom wants her to give up the baby.” He says.
“Of course. That must be a terrible inconvenience to her Mom and the new husband.”
“Summer is a terrible inconvenience to her Mom.” He says, “always has been.”
“Maybe this is her way of, you know, breaking free to go live with her Grandma.” I say. He shakes his head.
“Man, you girls have convoluted schemes.” He says.
“Hi Quentin,” Heather calls out from the door of Fanny’s place. She waves.
Mention convoluted and look who shows up, I’m thinking it but I know those thoughts show right up on my face. He doesn’t notice. He is watching her sashay across the street, with that gigantic ass that could be the model for Fanny’s big neon fanny.
“Gwen,” she says, more of an assault than a greeting.
“Heather,” I serve it right back, and look down so the Ninja stars my eyes are throwing at her will hit the ground instead of impaling her eye sockets.
“Quentin, did you see what’s playing at the Seaside theater? It’s the sequel to Slash Mechanic. I’d love to go with you.” She scoots in so close they look like conjoined twins in the afternoon shadows.
I feel that same sick, stab in the belly feeling that I did the first time she did this, and the second, and third, and on and on, which is also why I won’t go with him, not to the movies, not anywhere. He reaches for my hand. I would take it. I would go to the end of the earth with him, but she would be there waiting to pull him away again, and he would go. And then she does. I step back under the awning of the deli.
“I’ll call you.” He says. I nod and turn away. I don’t want to see them walk off together. It’s not about a movie that she wants to see and I don’t, it’s another ha-ha I win, and I know she is looking over her shoulder with that smirk. She doesn’t want him, she wants the game. My rage is so consuming it could split her head down the middle like a bad cantaloupe.
I walk quickly to the beach and become that crazy slash mechanic in my mind and she is each one of the screaming victims. I don’t want to terrorize her. I want to knock her head off in every way I can imagine, axes, baseball bats, guillotines. I step out of my shoes when I hit the sand and walk out into the water. Seaweed wraps around my ankles, my calves. I kick it off, screaming like a little kid throwing a tantrum in the market. No candy for you, Gwen. I get tangled and fall. The swirling tide dumps me back on shore. I pound the sand with my fists, pound until I’m exhausted. That’s what Dad used to say, go pound sand. I lie there and laugh, seaweed flows around me like mermaid hair.
I spend five minutes with Quentin and get crazy all over again. I need to kill this desire for him, exorcise it, slash it from my heart. He is the one who goes off with her. If it wasn’t her would it be someone else? Probably. I crawl out to the dry sand, shivering, and watch the sun drop low on the horizon.
After a lifetime of watching for it, then believing it is something Mom made up to keep us quiet, there it is, the Goddamned green flash.