35 Word Mill


Flash Fiction


A Purple Gelatin sat on the server in the dining room watching the people eat Thanksgiving dinner. They ate turkey and gravy, biscuits and stuffing, yams and corn. One by one they finished eating. Dinner was over. Dirty plates were removed. Leftovers were wrapped. He could smell coffee brewing in the kitchen. Excitement shot through him.

A woman brought out mugs. A man put a pumpkin pie on the table, then cheesecake, apple pie, toffee pudding and cookies. The man looked in Purple Gelatin’s direction. He walked over. Purple Gelatin shook in anticipation.

The man picked up the fruitcake that sat next to Purple Gelatin and placed it on the table. There was no more room. “Nooo!” bellowed Gelatin. The man jumped and knocked the fruitcake on the floor.

Purple Gelatin shrieked and screamed. He grew to two hundred times his original size. Purple Gelatin enveloped everything in the room except for the man, the toffee pudding, the fruitcake, and the server. The man he stuck to the top of the server with the toffee pudding. Then he picked up the fruitcake, dusted it off, and placed it next to him.


Quiet, Still

Five miles. Bettie switched off the treadmill and grabbed her water bottle. Cold rivers of sweat snaked down her aching body. She pulled the garage door closed and bolted through the darkness. Bettie stumbled over the cobblestone edging before crashing through the back door and slamming it behind her. The house shuddered. She snapped the deadbolt in place. Bettie peered through one of the panes of glass. The yard was an abyss; quiet and still.

Bettie wandered through the first floor of the house. Quiet and still.  Danny had gone to bed hours ago.  His bedtime brought a calm, but also an emptiness.  She dropped her water bottle and phone on the steps. The pictures that filled the staircase wall stared down at Bettie, but she ignored them.

In the kitchen, she hopped up on the counter and ate a spoonful of peanut butter from the jar.  She heard a noise and froze with the spoon dangling from her mouth. It sounded like it came from downstairs. She told herself that it was the heater kicking on.  The house was quiet and still. After a minute of silence she began to believe it.

She leaned back against the cabinet and surveyed the kitchen in the dim light emanating from under the microwave.  Bettie stared at her reflection in the mirror on the wall to her right.  She picked up the picture that John had tucked into the frame.  It was an old wallet-sized school picture, taken when he was seven.  She looked at the clock on the microwave. It was almost midnight. John was a few hours into his shift at the prison.  She resisted the urge to text him.

A scraping sound followed by a bang. Bettie froze. She dropped the picture. After a few seconds, she slid off the counter, pulling a knife from the block as she went.  She walked back into the living room and stood at the foot of the stairs.  Danny’s door was still shut.  It was quiet and still upstairs.  Bettie leaned over and peered down the steps that led to the family room and utility closet.  Quiet and still.  She heard the noise again.

What’s in the box?

The idea was working exceptionally well. Jane never imagined that she would get away with this. She crept down the warped wooden stairs, stopping every now and then to listen. The stairwell was quiet except for the beating of her heart. Almost there.

She was a few steps above the third floor landing when someone burst through the door. “Jesus Christ!” she shrieked. The man jumped into the brick wall as if Jane were standing there with a bloody axe rather than a banker’s box.

They stood there frozen for what felt like forever. Say something. You’re acting like a crazy person. “Hi.”

“Hi,” said the man. They went back to staring at each other. The man bobbed his head at the box. “Did they let you go to?”

“No,” said Jane. Say something else. No, liars tend to give too much info. Don’t say anything else. Act natural. “Um…after you?” Jane forced a smile on her face that she hoped was charming. Judging by his reaction, she must have missed her mark completely and landed on terrifying. He took off down the staircase without so much as a thanks. “Asshole,” mumbled Jane.

She continued on her way. Maybe she should just take it out of the box and put it in her purse. No one was going to demand to search her purse. It would seem odder that she was walking around with a banker’s box.

When she got to the ground floor she peered out the tiny window. A few people were milling around outside and there was the usual foot traffic. Jane flipped the lid from the box and stared at her calculator. The tape had come off of its arm and was starting to unspool. This was ridiculous. Seriously, no one would even care. She was making a much bigger deal of this than she needed to.

Jane tucked the box under her arm and flung open the door. She stepped out onto 11th Street just as she had every weekday for the past twelve years.

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