So a couple of months ago I stumbled upon a fun looking Flash Fiction Challenge hosted by the Penprints blog. Since it’s been WAY too long since I attempted a flash fiction piece, I thought it would be a good exercise and a fun way to get my creative juices flowing again. It’s been a long time since I worked on a piece of fiction that wasn’t associated with Mage.
After I signed up, I was sent a writing prompt to be the inspiration of my story. Behold. My writing prompt:Ooo yes! I like it. Who’s the speaker? Who needs to be told that they are in the dark? Can they not see that it’s dark? If they can’t see why do they need to be told that it’s dark? Sounds cerebral. Sounds like some crazy Sci-fi stuff going on.
Unfortunately, of all the little baby story seeds that can come from this prompt, none of the Sci-fi ones actually germinated. I probably need a break from Sci-fi anyway.
Below is the story I came up with. I hope ya’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂
Eloise desperately turned the knob on the old battery-powered radio. Static. Not even a weather report.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are still in the dark,” came a mock-radio voice from behind her. Eloise ignored her brother, Kay, and adjusted the antenna on the ancient machine before trying the knob again. Old radios could still pick up signals, right?
More static. The power was out. Internet. Phone service. Everything was down. The thunderstorm, which was no doubt the culprit behind this calamity, roared against the small basement window unabashedly.
They were huddled in the basement; Eloise with her two younger siblings, Kay and Alaina. They had no way of knowing how severe the storm would be with everything down as it was. Deciding to play it safe, the three of them had moved to the basement. Eloise eyed the fire in the fireplace, casting out a cozy glow and providing light to half of the room. A fire might not exactly be safe if the storm got too intense either. She shrugged to herself. A source of heat and light was needed right now.
Kay paced back and forth in front of the fireplace. Barely two years younger than Eloise, he was set to graduate from High School in a week.
Alaina was a year younger than Kay, she sat in what seemed to be the darkest corner of the room, using the only flashlight with working batteries to read a book that she’d had her nose in all afternoon.
Eloise tried the dial on the radio a few more times before giving up. To be honest, it wasn’t the storm outside she was worried about, but the one she anticipated happening inside if she didn’t find some distraction.
It was then that Alaina’s flashlight died. Alaina groaned. Resigning herself to the fact that it was now too dark to read where she sat, she got up and moved over by Eloise and Kay.
Kay perked up when he saw her move.
“Hey, you’re done reading! Let’s do something!” Before Alaina could respond, he jumped across the room to a shelf where the family kept the board games and cards. “What can we play with three people?” he asked, running his hand over the different colored boxes.
“I’m not playing,” Alaina said plainly.
“But, there’s nothing else to do,” Kay argued. He grabbed a box of cards and brought it over to the fire. “This is the best way to pass the time.”
“I’m not playing,” Alaina said again before plopping down close to the light. She sprawled out and opened her book again. Lightning flashed. Eloise started counting.
“So you’re going to sit right next to us and ignore us?” Kay demanded.
Alaina shot Kay a look before turning back to her book. Eloise sighed to herself. This is what she had been hoping to avoid. Her two younger siblings were very different. It’s like they spoke different languages sometimes.
“Kay, I’ll play something with you,” Eloise said, trying to placate her brother. “I think you can play rummy with two people.”
A crack of thunder sounded in the distance. The storm was getting closer.
“But a game with three people would be more fun. Wouldn’t it be fun for all of us to do something together? How often are all three of us home together?”
Alaina just kept reading.
“It’s rude to just ignore people,” Kay snapped at her. “Are you going to sit right next to us and not even interact with us?”
Alaina looked up from her book and scowled. Lightning flashed close by, causing the room to be fully illuminated for the briefest moment. For Eloise, it highlighted the hurt and anger on both of her sibling’s faces. Thunder crashed. The storm was right on top of them now.
In answer to Kay’s demand, Alaina picked herself off the floor and stalked back to her dark corner of the room, plopping back into her chair. She shook her flashlight and tried to get it to start again in vain. Instead of reading, she hugged her book to her chest and stared out the basement window.
Kay’s glared at her for a moment, but Alaina just kept staring into the dark storm. Refusing to talk. Refusing to make eye contact. Kay’s shoulders slumped.
“She doesn’t want to play with me,” he said to Eloise, dropping to sit by her feet. “She never wants to do anything with me.”
Eloise took a deep breath. “She doesn’t want to play a game right now,” she said. “It doesn’t really have anything to do with you.”
“Well maybe I want to do something with her,” Kay mumbled back. Eloise knew he was talking loud enough for Alaina to hear his passive aggressive remarks. She also knew Alaina was too stubborn to acknowledge they were talking about her.
“Alaina probably sees sitting next to us and reading as spending time with us,” Eloise said to Kay. “She enjoys our company, she just doesn’t want to do the same things we are doing.” Eloise picked up the deck of cards and started shuffling.
“No, she hates me,” Kay insisted.
Eloise heard the challenge in his voice. “If you don’t actually hate me, Alaina, you’ll come over here and play cards with us.”
She also heard the response in Alaina’s stubborn silence. “I’m in no mood to play with you right now, and you’ll have more fun without a crabby and bitter player.”
Thunder roared again. The two siblings remained blind to the needs and intentions of the other.
Eloise started dealing cards, a game to fill the uncomfortable distance that had grown between Kay and Alaina. She wanted to bridge the gap, but she knew talking to them right now would be a fruitless discussion. This was not the time. Not while they were all stuck together, trapped in the basement.
There was nothing to do but wait. Be patient and wait for the lights to turn on.
© 2018 J.M. Jablowski