Whatever (Flash Fiction/Character study/something)

“Jessica!”

“What? I mean, sorry, yes, Mr. Jacobs?” I ask. I try to hide my phone underneath a mess of clothes on the counter. If he sees me texting again, I’m going to get fired, I just know it.

“There’s a woman right over there who’s looking at the very pricey dress-rack,” he says, smiling like he always does when he’s super-angry. He’s so creepy! “Don’t you think you should be over there? Helping her?

I sigh with relief. That’s all he wants. “I asked if she needed help, Mr. Jacobs!” I say earnestly, putting on what Jill, my co-worker, calls my suck-up face. “She told me she didn’t need any, thanks very much. Who am I to push her, right?” I think it’s an okay answer, but apparently Mr. Jacobs doesn’t.

“Well, if you haven’t noticed, young lady,” I hate this guy, I really do, “she also has a very big purse. Watch that she doesn’t steal anything!” He gives me that smile of his, with his eyebrows all sort of scrunched up and ugly – he plucks, you can so tell that he’s got a unibrow – and then he just stomps back to the back office where he spend most of his day arguing with his wife on the phone. Idiot.

I look over at the woman. She’s still looking at the dresses, putting her rich-lady hands all over them. I swore when I started working here that I’d never try on clothes again. I mean, have you seen how many people cough or rub their noses and then start feeling up the clothes? Gross!

Oh! Text. It’s Beverly again. We were texting before the idiot boss got on my case. She just sent a “?” because I haven’t answered yet. I text back: “Sry boss was here. So wut did u do last nite?”

She’s been trying to get me to ask that question all morning. She can be such a tease and a show-off. I don’t even know why I’m friends with her, but whatever, she works in the designer clothing store that’s also in the mall, on the floor above, and she’s bored too, so we text. I look over at the woman. She’s moved over the scarf section now. Wow, Mr. Jacobs was right, for a change! This one’s a stealer, I’d bet my nails on it.

I walk over and pretend to straighten the handbags that are near the scarves. The woman gives me this look – I hate rich people! She looks at me like I’m trash, just because I actually have to work, you know? Yuck. So what if my dad cut me off and my mom remarried to a loser who lost all his money gambling? That doesn’t make me any worse than this old biddy. Anyway, she’s rich but she’s going to steal something anyway. I know her type – they get a thrill out of it. I say she should just buy a baggie off my friend Tod and live it up at home with a bottle of mega-bucks wine and leave the stores alone.

I’m tailing her now, walking around and arranging everything she’s touched – I’ve got a bottle of hand-sanitizer behind the counter – and I think she’s getting annoyed, because she keeps sighing real deep and stuff. Ha- there! I just saw her let one of the weird necklaces we sell here fall into her bag!

“Mr. Jacobs!” I yell. “Come out here please!”

The woman’s really surprised by my yell, and she turns around to look at me, pretending to be calm. Mr. Jacobs runs out of his office, and asks me what’s up. “This lady,” I say. “She just put a necklace in her handbag. I saw her do it.”

“Alright, let me take it from here,” Mr. Jacobs says. He waves me away. What, now he’s not happy that I caught a thief in the act? Whatever, I’m quitting after my next paycheck anyway. I’m sick of working in this place.

Oh! Text. It’s Beverly. She says: “haha its a secret.” She’s such a – a – I don’t even know what to call her. I text back “whatever.” I don’t need her. I don’t need anyone. Everyone thinks I’m some kind of idiot, I swear.

Whatever. Seriously, to, like, everyone in the world – whatever.

Mandy Meets the Goblins (Part 1)

The day that Mandy met the goblins was, from dawn to dusk, perfectly normal.

She woke up, as usual, with the crowing of the rooster. She went around the farm with her brother, and they both did their chores. Sometimes they asked Mother or Father for help, but mostly, they knew how to milk the cows and collect the eggs and check up on the sheep in the pasture. Mother and Father would have helped them if it was a year ago. But it wasn’t a year ago, it was today. So it was normal for Mandy to cry a little bit when she heaved a pail of milk into the kitchen. It was also normal that she had a silent but violent tussle with her twin brother over the ripest apple from the forlorn apple tree.

At noon, almost the whole family gathered around the table for a very quiet meal. Mandy kept her eyes down and ate quickly so that she could get back to her chores. Chores made it easy not to think about the beautiful, teenage girl who had been lying on a bed upstairs for the past year; a girl who also happened to be Mandy’s big sister. She was also the reason that Mother and Father didn’t do much anymore – they were always upstairs, or running down to bring up broth, or running into the attic for some old and moldy doll.

After Mandy finished eating, she and her brother did their afternoon chores. Some of it was weeding the garden, but only when the sun was going down and it wasn’t so hot. Another chore, which they did right after they’d eaten was attend to their lessons. Every weekend, they went to the school that was five miles away and had lessons there along with many other children who lived on other farms. During the week, they’d need to study those lessons, and their parents used to be so strict about it that the habit stuck, even though Father and Mother weren’t strict about anything anymore. This was Mandy’s favorite chore, since she had to think very hard indeed about what she was doing, and couldn’t think about the invalid upstairs.

Dusk came, and with it, the end of Mandy’s day. She went up to the room she used to share with her sister (her brother slept in the room next door). She got ready for bed, like she always did, and climbed into it, like she always did, and put her head down on the pillow, like she always did. Except that now things stopped being normal. Because there was something very hard under her pillow that went “Ouch!”

Sitting up, Mandy reached a hand under the pillow and pulled out… what looked like a very strange, greenish rock, with pointy bits. Then she saw it wasn’t a rock, but a small, man-shaped thing that was curled up tight, trying to look like a rock. The pointy bits were its horns, and he couldn’t apparently, curl those up tightly too.

“Who’re you?” Mandy asked, laying the little person-thing down on her pillow.

“Mnthngjstrck” it said, without opening its mouth.

“Listen,” Mandy reasoned. “I know your not just a rock because rocks don’t make sounds. So you can stop being all scrunched up like that.” A tiny eye blinked open in what Mandy assumed was the thing’s face, and it looked suspicious. “Don’t worry,” she added quickly. “I’m not going to scream or anything.”

“Oh,” the creature unfurled, tried to stand on the soft pillow but lost its footing and settled for sitting. “Well, I suppose you’d better call me… Erm… Rocky.”

“That’s a sort of funny name. Did you just make it up now because you were pretending to be a rock?” Mandy was a very inquisitive girl, really, and this was the first time in a year that her curiosity really perked up. She was acting, technically, with what her parents called “bad manners” but she didn’t mind. It was good to do that again.

“No,” the thing answered, sounding a bit peeved. “It’s the closest translation of my name into your language.”

“So you’re from another country?” This was exciting – Mandy knew all about other countries (well, she knew that there were some and that people were a bit different there) but she’d never met someone from them before.

“You could,” hesitated the thing. “You could say that, yes.” Mandy stared at the thing, and it stared right back at her, neither saying anything for long moments.

“Um,” Mandy knew she was about to be very bad-mannered, but she couldn’t help it. “What are you?”

A Daughter’s Fever

Miranda looked down at the small crib. It was without ornament – nothing like the wonderful crib she had at home, with the painted bars and the bright sheets and blankets. Hospital cribs don’t have to be pretty, merely functional, just like hospital beds. It was strange that she’d never thought of hospitals having cribs before. Of course, when she’d given birth there was a crib, but it was small, it was near her own bed, and her daughter hadn’t been in it much; Miranda had preferred to hold her in her arms as she slept.

Miranda stirred, tearing her eyes away from the sight of her little golden-haired girl red with fever. She’d been sick for five days already. When Miranda saw that the fever wasn’t going down, she’d taken her girl to the hospital. It was a throat infection of some sort, that’s what the doctors said, but the fever was still so high… Miranda couldn’t stop worrying. She hummed with nerves.

She looked at the lone chair that could fit beside the crib. There were others in the room, but they were occupied by other parents watching their sick infants. What a dismal place to bring a child, Miranda had thought when she’d first walked through the door to that room. Her opinion of the cheerless place hadn’t improved since. Her husband was in their chair, fast asleep; the poor man. He’d borne with Miranda’s worries and unfounded fears and had tried to calm her, but she wouldn’t calm. She couldn’t calm. She’d exhausted the poor man.

Miranda thought of her work. She was needed, she knew. Real people, everyday people, depended on her. She knew some of them would be in agonies without her support and encouragement. She felt bad for not being there for them, but that feeling was in a very small corner of her mind. She really mostly felt bad because she was worried sick and still her little girl’s fever raged on.

She looked back into the crib and wiped the sweat of her daughter’s forehead with a small white towel. The doctors said that she needed to wait and let the medicine do its work. She waited.

Fatigue and Mental Health Days

Even people who love their jobs totally and unreservedly must have days where they’re weary to the bone and need to rest. It might come on by a soar throat and an aching head, it might come on by a long period of time without a proper vacation, or it may come out of nowhere or out of some irrational, emotional state.

Whatever it may be, sometimes you just need to take a day off. A day during which you let yourself sleep late, let yourself forget about the cares and worries of responsibility, let yourself be completely idle and enjoy every minute of it.

Well, you SHOULD be able to let yourself do all that. I, for some odd reason, have a fixation over this issue. I feel like if I’m not actually sick, fever and all, then it’s wrong for me to take a day off. I did take a day off today, and I did come home early from work yesterday, and I did have a soar throat and a tiny bit of a fever last night – and yet, I wasn’t truly ill, and I spent half the day feeling guilty about not having gone to work.

Uh-oh. I feel a workaholic in the making. Better nip this urge in the bud before it’s too late!

Rosy Thoughts

“Plink-plink-plink”
The metal chimes of the pretty mobile touched each other lightly in the almost nonexistent breeze. Rosy stared sullenly at them with her ice-blue eyes. The sound always bothered her immensely. Why have wind chimes when there was never any wind? The air was always as still as a boulder in the summer, and Rosy hated it.
As if the tiny breath of wind had heard her thoughts, it ceased to make even the merest attempt at cooling the stifling room, and the plink-plink of the chimes stopped. Rosy shifted her position a little bit so her neck wouldn’t hurt as much, and settled down again, closing her eyes. She let out a long, slow breath.
If anyone were to look at her at that moment, they would see a beautiful, sleeping girl, her shortish hair spread around her face like a chocolate-colored halo, lips slightly open and face perfectly calm. Little would they know the turmoil of thoughts and internal conversations that went through the mind of this silent angel.
Rosy felt as if her mind was filled with a whole crowd of people.
The part of her that was a little bit wicked was saying “Keep pretending to be sick, what do you care? All that matters is that Mama and Papa keep paying attention to you.”
Then the sensible part of her would interrupt with “But you can’t go on like this forever, and once you do get up, you’ll have to deal with them.”
The self-pitying part would meekly put in “It makes me sad to think of that though… Can’t you just stay in bed and have them keep feeling sorry for their poor daughter? You are their poor daughter after all, and you are very sad and tired now.”
Wicked would interrupt with an eager “Yes, exactly, that’s exactly right!” but not long after that, Self-Loathing would rear its aggressive head and yell “You disgusting, wicked, ungrateful little fiend, how can you be doing such a thing? You make me sick, you know that? What you’re doing is just so wrong and pathetic that-”
Sensible would then try to sooth everyone with soft words, “Come now, that’s a bit harsh, but yes, you must stop this, Rosy, because it’s not going to help in the end and you know it, dear.”
Wicked-self-pitying-sensible-self-loathing Rosy snapped her eyes open once more. It was no use. No matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried to sleep and look properly sickly, she couldn’t shut out the stupid voices in her head, nagging her about what she was doing or not doing all day long. All Rosy wanted was her parents to stop fighting. They had stopped, for the past couple of days, and she knew it was because they were worried about her complete and utter collapse that led to her staying in bed all the time since. Rosy also knew that the moment she seemed to be feeling better her parents would resume their bickering and their harsh conversations, filled with grim words like “lawyers” and “bank account” and “custody” – words Rosy was thoroughly sick of.
So now instead of hearing her parents fighting, Rosy had to endure the bickering inside her head and try to deal with it. She often dreamed, when she got tired of fighting with herself, of a day in the future when she would feel fine and dandy about everything, a day when things would feel normal, no matter where her parents were. She knew  a day like that, a day where all this was behind her, was somewhere in the future. Rosy waited impatiently for that day. She wanted the present to be all over and done with.
Whenever she lapsed into that dream for too long though, her voices would pick up their arguments and she would sigh, adjust her position, and live in the now in her mind. Occasionally the wind-chimes would clink against each other, puncturing her thoughts, and giving her something fresh to be angry with, but the air always stopped moving soon, and the dead air of the summer would grip Rosy’s heart in a vice-like grip, and her thoughts would continue in their turmoil.

I have no clue where this came from. I started writing it months ago, completed it tonight. I don’t even know if I should call it a short story or not. It’s just… something.