The prompt for this week’s flash fiction struck me, at least initially, as nearly identical to last week’s prompt: “Create a character who is the opposite of you and write a scene from his or her point of view. Be sincere. Honest. Don’t judge your character.” It’s close to the same thing in some ways and entirely different in others.
The challenging part was in suspending judgment. When I think about “the opposite of me”, right, wrong or indifferent, I think of qualities I abhor. There are qualities of that ilk in both the two characters in today’s flash fiction, though more so in Gary. It was, weirdly, a fun little story to write specifically because I don’t much care for him, but I couldn’t say that in the story. (I’m cheating and saying it here, though.)
Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.
Heather was giving Gary the stink eye. That’s what she called it.
“What?” Gary asked.
“I’m just…” Heather paused to sigh. “I mean, so yeah, I know you, but I still can’t believe–I mean, she was seven, Gary. Seven. Goddam it.”
Gary leaned forward into the refrigerator. After 5 minutes of looking he had evidently settled on beer as his mid-morning snack. A solid choice. He popped the top off a can of Budweiser and walked back across the kitchen to the table where Heather was having her breakdown.
“Calm down, Heather. Geez. It’s not like there’s anything we can do now.”
Heather pushed the newspaper away like a it was a plate of rotten food. “I still don’t know how you didn’t get caught.”
“It’s not fucking funny!”
Gary took another sip of his beer and then said thoughtfully, “I guess not, but in a way… I was just thinking it was lucky.”
“Not for her, you fuckface.”
“Well, no. But for me. I mean, there just wasn’t anyone around. It was a quiet night and I guess everyone was over at the high school for the big game. No one saw it, Heather. No one at all. There’s nothing to worry about, so stop getting so worked up, okay?”
Heather reverted, again, to the stink eye.
“You think I’m worried your gonna get caught? You think that’s what I’m worried about?”
“Hell, I have no idea what you’re fussing over. It’s done. Move on.”
“Yeah. Move. On.”
Heather scooped up the paper and waved it in front of Gary’s face. He caught glimpses of the front page. The headline about a fatal hit and run. The picture of the girl, her body contorted unnaturally on the asphalt. If it bleeds, it leads. It was big fucking news for such a small town.
“Her family,” Heather began, “cannot move on. She can’t move on. Did you even check, Gary? Did you even look to see if she was alive? Before you ran off the the car wash to get rid of the evidence?”
Gary swatted at the paper. “No. The hit was hard. I doubt there would have been much point.”
“That’s not what the paper says.” Heather dropped the paper on the table and pointed down to it with her index finger. “Says here that she didn’t die until close to eight. You hit her at, what? 6:45? 7:00? You messed her up good, but she was alive. She died of internal bleeding, maybe as long as an hour later. If you had done something that little girl would still be around.”
Gary took a long, slow drink. “Huh,” he said. “Guess so.”
Heather slapped him hard across the face and then grabbed her cigarettes. “I’m leaving,” she said as she slung her purse over her shoulder.
Gary watched her walk out and then stretched his legs, propping his feet on the other chair. “Huh,” he said once again before taking another sip of his beer.