Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

September’s Flash Fiction Challenge Winner: "Settling" by Katrina Monroe

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Flash Fiction Challenge

September’s challenge was to write a story in which the protagonist makes a mistake, an error in judgment that affects more than just the protagonist’s life. In doing so, I also asked you to make the reader feel the emotions that the protagonist feels. This is not an easy task to accomplish in 500 words. Congratulations, Katrina Monroe, for meeting the challenge.

Settling

By Katrina Monroe

Kissing Leslie wasn’t like kissing a boy.

In junior high, boys hadn’t learned to kiss yet — shoving their tongues in my mouth, as though trying to lick the back of my throat. But with Leslie, it was like dancing.

##

The sour smell of beer on Jared’s breath gagged me, but I couldn’t remember the last time it smelled any different. Maybe on our wedding day, but that ordeal is a just a blur.

“Com’ere and gimme a kiss.”

I held my breath and let him scrape his sandpaper face on my mouth.

##

I only joined the prom committee because Leslie wanted to. Public displays of school pride, town pride… she was a true Japhet, Alabama girl on the outside.

The “Fighting Bulls” float was almost finished, and Leslie volunteered us to stay after school to finish it so the rest of the committee could go home. I was on my back, hanging lights from the platform, when Leslie settled her hips between my legs. Her lips brushed my neck and blood pumped through me, making everything tingle and burn. I found her belt and pulled her tighter against me. Her lips moved faster, more insistent, and —

“What the hell is going on here?”

We both froze, eyes closed.

They called Leslie’s parents first. The principal’s secretary separated us while we waited for them to come.

##

Even as the organ music echoed through the church, I still hoped that Leslie would come back for me.

Jared wanted us to write out own vows. I suppose he thought it would make me happy. He often did things like that. He was a good man by Japhet standards.

I just wasn't sure it would be enough.

##

Suspended for a week, I was subjected to awkward stares from my father and the silent treatment from my mother. The following Monday, I ran to Leslie’s locker hoping to meet her before the first bell.

I waited ten minutes past the tardy bell before I finally dragged myself away.

##

My lab partner, Jared, was at the table when I trudged into class. Frog dissection supplies were set out already. I’d completely forgotten about it. I sat down without acknowledging him and fixed my eyes on the door.

She wasn’t coming back.

“Are you alright, Chrissy?” Jared asked.

I could only shake my head.

It was when the teacher began distributing the frogs that I fell apart. My shoulders pulsed and I bit my lip to bleeding to keep the tears at bay.

Jared leaned toward me and slid his arm around my middle.

“Don’t worry, Chrissy. I’ll do the dissection. It’s pretty normal for girls to have trouble with this sorta thing. You can just write stuff down, okay? Feel better?”

I covered my face and took deep, controlled breaths.

Jared rubbed his hand over my back in jerky, awkward circles. “Good girl. I’ll take care of you.”

___________________________________________________

Katrina Monroe is an avid reader and enthusiastic short story writer. She is a regular participant in the writer's group, On Fiction Writing, hosted by Goodreads.com, where chip implants, foil hats and straightjackets are standard uniform. Her work has been featured in Every Day Fiction Online and the YA anthology, Unlocked. You can visit her blog at http://www.do-as-i-say-and-nonsense.blogspot.com

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