Back in 1998 I was writing… a lot. And most of what I wrote back then was short fiction. It was a renaissance of sorts because I hadn’t really planned on it. In fact, for the past year before that I was writing a lot of poetry snippets. Not real poems, mind you, just bits and pieces, lines here and there that came to me. Suddenly, though, those lines transformed into snatches of conversation. Those words became characters who spoke to me, forcing me to set them in motion and see what happened.
Before this challenge I could probably count on two hands the number of short stories I’d written over the past year. That was probably because of many factors, not the least of which was the maintenance of my blogs. I guess I forgot that writing short fiction could be a part of anything else I decided to write. But I’m proud to say that if this is my second renaissance it is a fruitful one. I’ve fallen in love once more with short fiction during this challenge.
Only three more stories to go. Here are the rules of the Flash Fiction Challenge…
- Each entry has to follow a set prompt
- Each entry has to be 1,000 words or fewer
- Each entry has to be written specifically for this challenge
“Something old, something new, something borrowed,” Thalia said, counting on her fingers and feigning confusion.
“…and something pink,” laughed Celie, fluffing her hair in front of the gilt-edged mirror.
“It’s something blue, silly,” Thalia corrected before giggling. She couldn’t help herself.
“What. Ever,” said Celie, fingering the chiffon fringe of the ivory gown on the rack in front of her.
“Although pink would certainly be more interesting in a wedding,” added Thalia, grinning. “Imagine pink bow ties on the groomsmen, pink shoes on the ring bearer, pink highlights in the groom’s hair.”
“If the groom has pink highlights, I’m going to say that couple is not staying together,” Celie said, letting the gown slip through her fingers and moving on to the next one.
There were miles of gowns at the Wedding Wearhouse, rack after rack of white, off white, off off white, and other pale shades of dresses. On first glance they appeared ghost-like in the massive space of the Wearhouse, as if twenty thousand headless brides awaited their grooms in shameless expectation, pressed together like cattle at milking time.
Celie was bored, and she wasn’t even a bridesmaid. She wasn’t the maid of honor either, even though she was Thalia’s best friend, and had held the title since grade school. But it didn’t phase her because 1) Thalia wasn’t even getting married, and 2) she didn’t believe in weddings. They were only at the Wearhouse because her friend wanted to jumpstart the proposal she was certain was just around the corner.
But Celie knew that Brett was never going to propose, at least not anytime soon. He was the kind of guy who talked a good game but never got off his ass long enough to do anything he said he would. In fact, if looks could be believed, he had gone backward instead of forward when it came to commitment. More often than not he did things without even telling Thalia, and she let him. Celie knew if that was her she would have dumped him ages ago, but Thalia was a bit of a pushover.
And a bit of a romantic, the hopeless variety.
“A guy can be into pink and not be gay,” said Thalia, holding up a strapless gown against her size zero figure with her eyebrows raised.
“Uh, yeah, and my father watches Barney every night before bed,” huffed Celie, flopping onto a nearby chair as if exhausted.
“There are worse things to watch than a big purple dinosaur,” Thalia said, tossing the gown into her shopping cart full of things to try on.
“Like your weight, so you can fit into that dress,” said Celie, smiling.
“Well, probably not this dress,” Thalia replied, eyeing the others in the cart.
“You’re worse than those bridezillas on ‘Say Yes to the Dress,'” laughed Celie, rolling her eyes.
“I just want things to be perfect,” said Thalia, sighing. The sound was more pitiful than anything else to Celie’s ears.
“And you’re absolutely certain Brett is going to propose?” Celie asked tentatively.
“I’m a million percent certain Brett is going to propose, silly,” Thalia said, her tone final.
“Well then, I would go with strapless,” said Celie. “You’ve definitely got the shoulders for it. It could be your something new.”
“Your something new can’t be the dress!” gasped Thalia.
“I don’t see why not,” Celie argued. “It’s new, isn’t it?”
“No, no,” maintained Thalia. “Your dress is above all of that stuff. It can’t be used for anything other than the most special thing on the most special day.”
“I thought the most special thing was getting married,” said Celie, laughing.
“Grrrrr, you get me so agitated,” Thalia said, but she was laughing too.
While Celie knew that Brett wasn’t ever going to strap on a pair and make an honest woman out of Thalia, she also knew the fiction was the only thing keeping her friend from being depressed. It was a fragile string to pull, so Celie knew she had to avoid pulling it at all costs. She had already voiced her concerns, but short of yelling them at Thalia there was really nothing else she could do but be supportive.
“You can get a new bra for the day,” Celie said with a straight face. “It can be one of those strapless ones that makes your boobs look like they’re floating. Like Princess Jasmine’s from Aladdin.”
“Like Princess Jasmine’s magical floating boobs from the kids’ movie Aladdin?” repeated Thalia, dissolving in giggles. “I’m sure that’s exactly how the director intended it. I’m sure he spent a lot of time wondering how her cartoon boobs were going to be supported.”
“Hey, it was before Pixar,” Celie argued. “They had to do something to keep the movie interesting.”
“You’re crazy, C,” said Thalia. “I hope you know that.”
“Seriously, though,” said Celie, her smile muted a tad bit. “It doesn’t even matter what you get, what’s going to be your something new, because when you find the right guy, and he’s standing there in front of you, you’ll feel new yourself.”
“Wow, I never thought I’d hear something so romantic out of your mouth,” Thalia gushed, leaning down to hug her friend. “You sure you don’t want to be my maid of honor?”
“You’re going to make me regret my caring side,” laughed Celie, blushing. “I’ll think about it. You gotta get engaged first though, then some back and ask me again.”
“You’d better believe it,” said Thalia. “You know, you’d look great in taffeta.”
“Yeah, I’m out of here,” Celie said, rising from the chair.
“And we’re back to the way things are supposed to be,” Thalia laughed, pushing her cart in the direction of the fitting rooms, Celie trailing a few steps behind.
And for the first time ever, she hoped she was wrong. Because if Brett broke Thalia’s heart she knew it would break hers too.