This week’s 500 Club prompt stumped me. It was simply this: “Break outside of your comfort zone. Write 500 words from the point of view of someone unlike yourself. Examples: Little person, amputee, autistic, or deaf.”
Anyone familiar with my flash fiction will know that I like to fulfill the prompt’s requirements in unexpected ways. Perhaps it was that the examples were all what some would consider physical limitations of one kind or another, but I ended up going with an unusual disorder, myself. It’s different, but hey, that was the goal, right?
six months of night
In Las Vegas it’s warm and sunny nearly all year. I used to daydream that we moved to Alaska. Six months of night. My mom works for Zappos, though. She loves her job and she won’t even consider moving.
But, in a city of oddities I do fit right in. Long sleeves, jeans and a hood no matter how hot it is outside. Gloves. Sometimes a face mask. Always sunglasses. Even at night I need sunglasses. Too much damn neon.
The other night I was walking the strip. Not because I wanted to but because my mom asked me to return some money to Ken, her old boyfriend. He was at the Mirage. He had to meet me at the door since they don’t let minors on the floor. It pissed him off. The prick grabbed my arm hard and snatched my wallet right from my pocket.
Bus money gone.
Walking home I tried to be invisible, but this clacker–that’s what we call the people handing out ads for whores and strippers–she saw me covered head-to-toe in dark clothes and I guess it intrigued her.
“What you supposed to be?” she asked.
I veered to the side to slip past her, but she threw a leg out to block my way.
“Hey. I’m talking to you. Boy, why you dressed like that?”
I keep my head down. “Just let me by.”
She snickered. “Not as badass as you tryin’ to look, are you? Pussy boy.” She turned to another clacker. “You seen the badass goth pussy boy? Ooooo, better watch out! He’s a tough one!” Then she laughed hard enough that I could see the back of her throat.
I stood there while she laughed and when she stopped I said, “It’s a medical condition.”
“What? What’s that, pussy boy?”
“Medical condition,” I said again. “They call it photophobia. Light hurts my skin and my eyes.”
She looked at me for a moment, trying to process the very real information I gave her. She considered treating me like an actual human being, but it passed. “So you a vampire, then? I thought vampires was badass. You a strange vampire.” The other clacker liked that one. I sidestepped her leg and walked quickly, trying to break the verbal riptide of their laughter.
“Oh, oh! It’s a vam-pire! It’s a vammm-pire!” She yelled from behind me down the strip. “Ya’ll better get a cross or somethin’! Careful, ya’ll. Careful! He’s a vam-pire!”
I pushed my hands deep into my pockets and walked.
God, I wish I were a vampire. I wish I was badass. I wish that clacker would choke on her own laugh. I wish people weren’t so fucking mean.
But my skin is pale and I wear black over as much of it as I can and I wear sunglasses even at night and people stare. They always stare. Sometimes they talk, too, like that clacker.
Maybe I’ll just hitchhike to Alaska. Six months of long, cold night sounds pretty good to me.