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Story a Day: Day 10 – “Jeff”

Today’s Story a Day Prompt was to make a story flash.

The Prompt
Write a story in under 1000 words focusing on creating one brilliant image in your reader’s mind.

I don’t think I quite hit the prompt. But, I did write a bit for the other character in Craving You(Erik’s story). I wrote this in 1st person present tense, which is not what I usually do. If this does make it into Craving You, it’ll be 3rd past, but this worked better for this. This is the first time I’ve written from Jeff’s POV. Everything else we’ve seen from him in the series, has made him seem very angry, but maybe that’s not quite the case.

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I don’t want to be here. It’s not a terrible job, but being here makes me remember just how much I’d royally screwed my life up. A year ago I hadn’t been expecting to be working at a pizza joint, wheeling myself between the tables and the kitchen because walking is too painful and exhausting.
The worst part? It was all my fault.
I’m still paying back my debt, so I don’t have a choice but to show up.
And it seems today will be worse than any other. Why does he have to be here?
“Hey, Jeff,” Erik says from his table with a few of his friends. Unfortunately one of those friends is my older sister. She frowns at me. I try to ignore that. Susan always seems to frown at me these days.
“What can I get you for drinks?” I ask, not letting myself look at Erik.
And he does look good today. Of course, Erik looks good every day. But, there’s something different about him today. Something’s wrong.
Maybe it’s just because he’s not flirting with me. Erik always flirts with me when they come in here.
I try to watch him from the corner of my eye. But other than the lack of flirting, he acts like he normally does. Maybe he’s just tired of me not reacting to it. Maybe he’s given up on me like everyone else.
Maybe it’s for the best.
Once I have their orders, I wheel myself back to the kitchen. I have gotten the hang of this at least. Just like filling the cups with pop, setting them on a tray, and getting them back to the table without spilling anything. It’s a little thing, but I’m still proud of it.
Erik had his head down when I return to the table, his blond hair hanging in his face. His leg, his good one, is shaking, like he can’t hold himself still. Something is wrong with him, and it doesn’t have anything to do with him not flirting with me. I want to ask him what is it, but I’m sure it will be a mistake. So, I just put his drink in front of him. He looks up and meets my eyes. It only takes that one look to have heat flooding my face.
I spin away from the table at that, needing to get away from him before I make a total fool of myself.
“Jeff,” Susan calls after me.
“What?” I snap back at her.
“Are we allowed to order some pizzas, or have we been banned for some reason?”
Her girlfriend squeezes her arm then smiles at me. Her eyes are wary, though. Great. I have been trying to act less sullen lately, but I don’t know how to deal with the feelings Erik always stirs up in me. “Right,” I say, grabbing my pen and holding the pad on my lap. “What do you want?”
Susan is still watching me, but I don’t look at her. She just needs to let her girlfriend distract her and stop worrying about me. The sooner they get their food, the sooner they can leave. Then, I can breathe again when Erik isn’t here.
Not that it means I’ll stop thinking about him. Nothing seems to be able to help with that.

 

Short Tuesday: The Fire

This was the first one I wrote and actually stopped when the 15 minute timer went off.

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The fire engine arrived too late. I had been walking down the street when I heard the sirens. And watched the truck race by me. I didn’t know where it was going, but I knew people down this way. Then, I saw the smoke. It was so thick I wasn’t sure how I had not noticed it before. But, where was it coming from. I felt a panic closing around me and started to run.

Then, I saw the flames as well. And I knew. I dropped to my knees as the firefighters jumped out of their truck and started to attack the blaze. I knew what she had faced. But, I never thought she would have done this. Never thought it would go this far. Was she really so intent on erasing all the memories that she would set fire to them? I shook my head, knowing these weren’t the questions that really mattered to me. And I didn’t really want to think about the one that did.

I didn’t even feel the tears streaming down my face. Was she in there? I knew she had lost everything. Her parents. Her husband, the bastard. Her child had been born sleeping. And it never would have happened if she would have ever just looked at me. Seen that I would have given her everything. Certainly more than the man she had married did. Why hadn’t she listened to any of us?

I saw one of the firefighters come back out of the house and shake his head. What did that mean? Was anyone in there? They hadn’t brought anyone back out. But, I couldn’t be sure. I ran across the street but arms grabbed me before I could reach the house.

“You have to stay back here, Sir.”

“I need to know what’s going on. I know who lives here. She’s a friend,” I said after a slight hesitation. Even though I had always wanted more, that’s all she would ever accept. “I need to know if she was in there.”

“No one was inside. Your friend must not have been here when the fire started.”

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