Sunday, May 29, 2011

Terrible Minds Challenge: More Noodles, Please.

New Dad and old superhero Chuck Wendig has posted yet another Flash Fiction Challenge, the first one since the birth of Little Dude Wendig. The subject is "an uninvited guest" and my story is called "More Noodles, Please".

"So did you send that packet off?" My mother had washed her makeup off, but she still had her real estate expression on, all false fronts and illusory control over events. She got this tone, a brassy, too loud edge to her voice that said she was asking your opinion, but she didn't really want it.

"Yup." That seemed safe. I hadn't. It was still tucked into my school bag like an unexploded bomb. I was supposed to mail it after school today, to make sure the admissions office got it by the end of the month. In the press of events, I had forgotten all about my promise to send it off. Now I had one more secret to conceal from Miss Snoopybritches over there.

Lea, my over investigative younger sister, piped up. "But she was home at-," she said, choking off her reply when I shot her a look.

"3, yeah," I finished for her. "The line was short," I lied desperately.

My mother was serving us our pasta. My guts clenched at the thought of eating, but I would have to force something down. She was supersensitive to the symptoms of eating disorders, and she would start to fuss over me if I stopped eating. That was one thing I couldn't have, her monitoring every shift in my biology.

Who are you kidding? By graduation, your biology is going to be the main topic of conversation!

It was like those stages of dying we learned about- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I had moved through them all in about a week. Ironically, it's not dying that I'm worried about. More like the opposite.

Yeah, that's one way to think about it. Another way is that it doesn't matter whether or not you send off that packet. You're going to be taking tests in the fall, just not ones that grade on a curve. They are more pass/fail type things.

Lea was babbling, something about how this boy was cheating off her paper, except the teacher didn't believe her and he wouldn't stop. Lea, theatrical to the last, carried on about how unfair it was. That's not the only thing that's unfair about boys, I thought.

What, you mean how they tell you all these sweet wonderful nothings, then leave you once they get what they came for? How they can just go, leaving the damage behind them like it was a messy room or a unpaid cell phone bill? How they just forget about you, making you feel used up and ignored? You mean unfair like that?

My mother served herself last, settling in at the head od the table. She wore a semi attentive face, letting Lea think she was being fascinating. I knew the face, kind of a bland face, with eyes that held her gaze so she thought you were listening. I used the same gaze on her too. You couldn't listen to everything she said, not and still stay sane.

You've got something to say that will definitely be listened to. So just say it.

I cut a piece of chicken, then slid it into my mouth. It was fine. She tried to make it sweet and sour, and it came out fairly well. As I chewed, my stomach fluttered nervously. I tried to calculate how much I could eat to keep her suspicions at bay.

Honestly? How much longer do you think you can keep that game going? Two weeks? A month? You already don't fit into those nice black jeans you just got. You have to tell her. You'll feel better if you just say it.

"I saw Kelly at lunch," Lea said accusingly. "She didn't eat anything at all."

"Honey? Is that true?" My mother turned to me with her concerned face on. It registered concern, along with a little bit of Rottweiler "I'm going to keep after you until you spill it" mixed in. "Are you sick?"

That's one word for it. It is something you go to the doctor for.

"I had an apple," I said defensively. "I was just nervous about a test." That was half true. I didn't eat an apple, but I did have a test. English. I barely remember it.

"How did you do?," my mother asked. Her features softened. She seems to have bought that.

It was positive. Tell her. Tell her the test was positive.

"Fine," I lied. It was on Macbeth, and I hadn't read beyond Act I. I left almost half of it blank.

You're not accomplishing anything by doing this. Lea already made a crack about your breasts spilling out of that top you wore yesterday. It's going to get more and more obvious, until you can't hide it at all. You can see it in the mirror when you get out of the shower. How much longer until you can't hide it from anyone anymore?

"You look upset, Kel. What's wrong?" My mother's tone changed instantly, right back to the detective pressing a suspect tone.

She can tell. Just say it.

Lea turned her tiny face to look at me. She looked smug, secure in the knowledge that someone might be in trouble, and it wasn't her.

"I'm fine," I said, shoveling in a mouthful of noodles. My stomach ached at the thought of the food making it's way down there. I had the distinct, odd feeling it would be making the return journey. Soon.

Just say it.


"Yes, baby?"

"Are there more noodles?"

"I think there's one more spoonful," she said, taking my plate up to the stove.

Lea eyed me suspiciously, like she knew something was up.

She doesn't know how right she is.

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  1. Wow, you write so well! All those little nuances that speak louder than words. Really fabulous.

  2. Nice one! Love the psychological interplays.


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