This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The flash fiction, below, was written for practice and I’m not sure if I like it or not. Practice makes perfect. Let me know what you think.
That morning I rose early, poured myself a travel mug of black coffee and drove to the Junior College in Aptos for the Farmer’s Market. It’s not far and my old truck made the trip. It’s reliable, that old pickup (knock on wood).
I meandered up and down the rows, taking samples where offered and squeezing some of the late-season stone fruits. Testing them, but I worried that it might be a bit too late and they would be past their prime. I picked up some Valencias ‘cause I wanted the citrus and there were artichokes fresh from below the south county line. Broccoli and cauliflower looked good so I stocked up. I turned the corner to make a pass down the last aisle and saw the Dekalb van. I’d been in the same grade as Janet Dekalb and played ball with her brother, Dixon.
They had tables of ice set up along the side of their truck and heaps of fresh oyster displayed. Janet stood at one end of an ice table. She wore a pair of heavy gloves and held an oyster-knife comfortably in her right hand. She was busy prying open shells, setting ‘em on heavy paper plates and handing them to customers. Her mom was collecting money at the head of the table. I watched Janet shuck oysters for a while and enjoyed the sweet and salty smell of the fresh shellfish, like the air down low, next to the sea.
I finally gave in to the temptation and dug some money from my pocket. I approached Mrs. Dekalb, who had to be over ninety years old by now and proffered the wadded bills. She looked up at me and smiled, “TN?” she said, “is that you? I haven’t seen you in…” she pondered a bit, “well in a long time. What are you doing?”
“Right now I’m hoping to buy some fresh oysters,” I answered.
“Put your money away, boy, and move on down the line. Janet’ll pick you out some good ones.” she turned her head and looked at her daughter, “Look who’s here Janet. It’s TN!”
Mrs. Dekalb reached up and wrapped an arm around my neck then shoved me towards her daughter.
Janet studied the Kumamotos on the table, not looking at me, “Hi” she said. She’d always been shy.
“Hello yourself, Janet, I didn’t know you guys worked this market. How’s Dixon? Where’s Dixon?”
“He’s up north,” she said. “We’ve got a mess of floats up in Tomales Bay. He’s running the farm. Mom and I take care of the marketing. How many do you want?”
“Half a dozen would be great, thanks.”
Janet shucked me six good ones, she set ‘em on a plate and pointed to a tray with condiments. She had shallots, cocktail sauce, grated horseradish, and slices of lemon.
“If you want some.” She told me.
“No, no thanks. I’ll forgo that stuff.” We stood there looking at one another. I couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Well, it’s good to see you, TN,” Janet was winding it up, “I, uhm, I probably oughta get back to work.”
“Yeah, yeah, OK; sorry.” I backed away across the aisle and watched Janet work as I ate.
She looked good. She still had a hundred watt smile and didn’t wear a ring. With my oysters done, I tossed the plate and shells – made my way back home and thought about how things used to be; about how different things might have been.
This week’s prompts are:
- Of course, she was surprised when I told her
- shielded his eyes
- the dog flopped
Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.