Friday, June 10, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays: Escape Month Continues


Here is my piece of flash that garnered an honorable mention in the WOW! Women on Writing Winter 2011 Flash Fiction Contest. It is a little longer than our usual 500 words because the contest parameters were 750 words or less.


Sheep Boy
By Karen Wojcik Berner


Okay. Mail the bills. Go to the bank. Get bread and milk and, oh yeah, Brianna wanted more markers for school. Twenty minutes until the bus dropped the kids off. Just enough time to pick up a quick cappuccino.

“Hey, how are ya? Care to sample our new low-fat crumb cake? Not that you need it or anything.”

Leah gave the kid a WTF look.

“No, I meant the low-fat part. You look pretty good to me.”

Good save. He was cute, this kid, with his fuzzy white-guy ‘fro all the college boys were sporting lately. She wanted to shear him. “I’ll have a medium nonfat cappuccino, extra hot, please.”

“Extra hot indeed.” He smirked, then called out her order to a taller, skinnier fuzzy guy with a square Herman Munster head. Him, she had no desire to shear.


                                             *************


Drew had gone punk, not goth. What was wrong with her? Did she honestly think he would go all emo on her? When Leah was young, “goth” and “emo” did not exist, only jocks, preppies, nerds and stoners. She was beginning to feel more like her mother every day.

“What’ll it be? Oh, hi. Nonfat cappuccino, right? Size?” Sheep Boy’s grin was charming.

“Medium, please. Can I ask you something?”

He draped his hands over the cash register. “I’m all yours.”

Leah shifted nervously. “Maybe you can help me understand something. My son recently went punk.”

Sheep Boy’s eyes lit up. “Awesome. Ramones. Green Day.”

“Older bands?”

“Yeah, punk’s punk. Wait, how old’s your son?”

“Thirteen. He’s in Junior High.”

“No way.” Sheep boy threw his hands up and backed off the register, shaking his head. “There is no way you have a thirteen year old.”

“Unfortunately there is.” This did not look like calculated flattery for tips. This was a moment of true astonishment.

“Well, you sure don’t look it. I mean, I knew you were older when you said ‘son,’ but I didn’t think that old, no offense.” He winked.

And so it began. The daily conversation. The oasis from her family’s insanity. Her crush on Sheep Boy.


                                          *************


The cappuccino was waiting for her when she walked in. “Saw your van in the parking lot. How’s your son?”

“He discovered ‘Combat Rock” this week.”

“Epic disc. Three-fifty-six, please.”

Leah dug in her purse, remembering how old she was the first time she heard “London Calling.” It was a lifetime ago. When everything was new. When there was electricity in the air. When music was...she chuckled to herself...epic. She handed him a five.

His hand touched hers briefly when giving her the change. Her face flushed. He did not look away. “So what are you up to tonight?”

Leah could not bring herself to recite the litany of monotonous chores awaiting her. “Not much. How about you?”

“My band is playing at Frankie’s.” Sheep Boy’s eyes sparkled. “You should come. It’s going to be awesome.”

“Maybe.” Leah scurried out of the coffee shop. 


                                           *************


That night, Leah dreamt of being in the front row at Sheep Boy’s concert.

“This song goes out to a very special lady.” Taking her cheek gently, he tilted her face toward him and...

“Leah! Get up!” Her husband poked her. “Your alarm’s been ringing for five minutes. Don’t forget to pick up my suit from the dry cleaner. I need it for Thursday.”


                                              *************


There were several people in line before her. Leah scanned behind the counter for Sheep Boy, but could not see him. Disappointed, she collected her cappuccino from Herman Munster and headed toward the door.

“Wait. Don’t leave.” Sheep Boy caught up to her. “I thought of you last night.”

“What?”

“I heard ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ on ‘XRT while I was driving home, and I thought of you.” He searched her face for a reaction.

He was taller than she thought, standing there before her, out from behind the counter. She wanted to say she thought of him often. Each time her husband came home pissed from work expecting dinner. Each time she drove the same neighborhood streets over and over transporting the kids from school to activities to friends’. Each time she closed her eyes at night.

“That’s a great song.” Leah looked down. “I gotta go.”

Sheep Boy’s face fell.

“Goodbye.” She left, knowing she could never return.

14 comments:

Janel said...

Congrats on getting the Honorable Mention! Loved the ending after the great build-up of emotions.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thanks, Janel. I appreciate your comments.

Jennifer O. said...

Wonderful piece.

I have a friend who would get dressed in high heels to go to the grocery store,. Excited when the male teen would give her extra attention.

I guess sometimes we all need some.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thanks, Jennifer.

That's a riot about your friend. Yes, who could not use a bit of extra attention once in awhile?

Helen Smith said...

Hi Karen. We know each other already but I'm stopping by today from She Writes. Flash Fiction Fridays is a great idea.

Have a good weekend.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thanks, Helen. You too.

Deborah Lawrenson said...

Enjoyed reading this - you have a great ear for dialogue, not a false beat anywhere. Congratulations on the well-deserved HM.

Mockingbird said...

Really nice piece. Sparkling dialogue. Thank you for visiting my blog on the Blog Hop tour from She Writes.

Diana Hallare said...

Congratulations for your Honorable Mention. Keep up the good work.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thank you, Deborah and Mockingbird, for your kind words.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Diana, thanks so much for reading.

Karen Cantwell said...

I LOVE THIS STORY Karen! Many congrats on the Honorable Mention.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thanks so much, Karen. I appreciate you reading it.

Leah Griffith said...

Karen, this is a great story. Sheep Boy provided an oasis for Leah as long as he remained a mirage;)
Congratulations on the honorable mention. Stack up those awards girl!