So stupid for falling asleep. What time is it?
He’d left her the sleeping bag, but the bloody rag was gone. He could show that to anybody.
Was that the joke?
She scrambled for her clothes, panic at thoughts of her brother’s crew cackling in the shadows. Cellphones flashed in her mind and phantom cockroaches scuttled in every dark corner.
Forget the panties. He probably took those, too. She raked jeans up her hips and floundered into her shirt. Her thoughts skittered, doubting she could find her way back to the road, and then…whirlwind died in an instant.
“Oh Susanna,” whistled in perfect pitch, tickling her eardrums. Cigarette smoke bit her sinuses.
She snuck to the doorway; dim yellow glowed through the crack between old curtain and older wood. Blue smoke rings rose, stretched to obliteration in the black sky beyond. “You found the lantern.”
Zach started, lost in thought. “Hey,” laughing at himself, “You’re an angel when you sleep. Didn’t wanna wake you up.”
She didn’t know what to say.
He stubbed a butt on his shoe. “I gotta get you home.”
“Home, ugh.” April yawned and stretched, playing relaxed. Fine with whatever.
Oh. April Fool’s Day is finally over.
“…and your dad will never let me see you again if—”
“See me again?” She hadn’t dared hope. “My dad? I…I’ve never had a boyfriend.”
His eyebrows shot up, a lazy smile spreading. He patted his lap, “Come ‘ere.”
April felt shy when her plump rear-end settled onto taught muscles and still-shirtless biceps surrounded her. He nuzzled into her neck and breathed in deep. One hand fumbled in his pocket, thin cardboard flicking open. “Want one?”
She took the cigarette between two fingers, cartoonlike. “It is a night of firsts.”
Dear readers, thank you for following Gaslight (that’s what I decided to call this series) through the A to Z Challenge! I welcome comments, just as I have loved hearing your responses to each segment. As many of you know, I wrote one piece each day and I feel the story has developed along with your feedback. It’s been tough, I have to admit! I was a stickler for keeping each segment to under 300 words and it was a whole new way for me to write. A great big thank you goes to my husband Bill, for monkey-wrangling our 6-year-old while I feverishly typed, usually at the end of a very busy day.
This story was based in Shirley County, the fictitious settling for my new paranormal mystery novel, The Tramp, just released in April 2015. “The Shack” is a major destination in that book, with a seedy history, occult undertones, and romantic new life (guess who painted the flowers on the wall). Zach and April are minor characters in an offshoot serial novel, Catchpenny, due for release in July. You can read the first few chapters of each book for free on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/SarahWathen
And of course, you’ll find plenty of information on all of my work, here on my blog. Cheers, everyone! It’s been a pleasure. Kinda tearing up now…
This flash fiction is a part of the Blogging From A to Z (April 2015) Challenge. A new installment arrives every day in April, following the alphabet; check the calendar below to see which letters post on which days. Read more about this blogfest HERE.