First things first. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and vote for "Flying Colors" at Chad's Site. I won! I received the beautiful collection of graphic novels and The Deputy by Victor Gischler.
Second. I had a dream this morning that I bumped into Stephen King and he liked me, offered to do something special for me, but then got called away to an event that I didn't have a ticket for. I woke from this dream, thrilled that I had met Stephen King--you know how dreams do that to you? Anyhow, FedEx delivers a package from my sister who lives in Florida. She went to a special event (which I couldn't go to), heard Stephen King speak, got me an autographed copy of Under the Dome and a framed photograph of my inspiration signing books. Sometimes, dreams really do come true.
Okay, it's been a couple weeks since I've participated but a story idea came to mind. Enjoy this week's 3WW and #fridayflash.
MOM CALLED HIM A GIFT
Matt stared straight ahead as he and Ted passed the gawking woman. "I wish they wouldn't stare," Matt said. Ted shrugged and overlooked the woman's magnified eyes and gaping mouth. Matt tried to act natural as he glided behind Ted.
"Let's take the shortcut," Matt whispered. Ted nodded. The two left the sidewalk and cut through the overgrowth to the old trestle. Once under the spotty light, Matt felt more at ease, hopping and dashing in between leaves and around branches. Ted ignored his antics and concentrated on the path.
"Why do they always stare?" Matt waited for Ted's answer, but Ted only shook his head as they walked onto the bridge. Matt kept to his heels.
A couple slats had rotted, a gaping hole framing the chortling river below. "The current's strong. See the eddies?" Matt hugged the edge, wrapped his body around a vertical support. He envied Ted's fearlessness.
Ted rocked from heels to toes, swung his arms, sight-measured the distance. Don't jump, don't do it, Matt thought. Both heard the loud crack. Ted sprang forward as the cross-slat snapped.
"AAAHHHHH!" Matt hollered, his body weightless as he fell. A secret part of him wondered if Ted wasn't fearless at all but reckless, maybe even malicious. Did Ted jump on purpose, knowing Matt couldn't? The river's chortle grew to a derisive roar; Matt never heard his splash. He didn't feel the wet as he melted into the swells. A sharp tug flew him upwards. Matt found himself on the bridge again, dry.
"Thanks man," Matt offered, wanting to hug him, but knew Ted would only shrug him off.
They emerged in the town center, Ted walking in the glaring sunlight while Matt shrunk against his friend's back. "I thought you didn't want us to be seen?" he asked, but Ted stayed focused, intent on the library. After Ted got a book, they'd return home, away from the stares and the frightened faces. Matt tried his best to go unnoticed, but others noticed—they always noticed. Maybe someday Matt would run into someone that looked like him, though he was losing hope.
He'd stick with Ted, try his best to avoid others and thus avoid causing a scene. Ted hated scenes.
Sometimes Matt wondered if Ted wished he didn't exist. He never dared to ask. Matt tried, he really tried to give Ted his space, let him go out alone, but Matt just couldn't. Irrational, maybe, but he feared that without his companion, he would disappear.
Ted found the self-help section, shook his head, moved on to astronomy. "What're we doing here?" Matt asked, but his reticent companion ignored him as he scanned titles. Moving towards mythology, Ted paused, cocked his head. A woman's animated voice caught Matt's attention too. Ted crept along the aisle, nearing the children's room.
Matt peeked around the corner, saw it was story time. The woman turned the page, smiled at the seated children. On the book's cover, a boy with a leafy hat and green tunic flew over a city. Matt glanced at Ted who seemed enrapt in the story of the flying boy waking a girl, looking for something he'd lost in her room. A girl interrupted the reader. "What's a shadow?" Before she answered, Matt said, "We should get out of here," but Ted kept listening.
Before he could react, Ted dashed forward to "Classics" and searched the bookshelves. Matt hurried to keep up with him, but didn't see the boy sitting cross-legged in the aisle. Matt's leg brushed against the boy's jutting knee.
"Ma! Ma! It touched me!" the boy shouted. Ted jerked Matt closer and rushed them to the exit.
Back on the path, Matt apologized, but Ted only muttered. "Could it really be that easy? Why hadn't I thought of it before?" Ted looked at Matt, for once actually stared at his face. "Mom calls you a gift. I try to see it her way. But now, I think I can fix this."
Matt didn't dare ask what Ted meant; he was just happy that Ted actually talked to him.
As soon as they arrived home, Ted read the book to himself. Matt tried not to disturb his friend and attempted to blend into the sofa. Ted slapped the book shut, went into the kitchen, shuffled through a drawer and then pulled out the shears.
"Whatchya doing?" Matt asked.
"You are called a shadow. The only one. Mom says I'm lucky, cause I wear my darkness on the outside while everyone else hides theirs inside. She says once, under a different sun, everyone and everything had a gift like you.
"She may say you're a gift, but you've made me a freak. I won't be a freak anymore."
Ted opened the shears, ran an edge against the floor where Matt's feet merged with Ted's.
Don't do this! PLEASE!" Matt shouted as he dodged to avoid the sharp edge.
Ted snipped. Matt felt nothing, but the edge of his foot floated. "Please, don't," he whispered, but Ted cut again. Matt bent forward, reached for Ted's leg, Ted's hand, the scissor handle—anything to stay attached. His fingers passed through Ted; Matt's left leg lifted. Ted started to laugh as he snipped faster. "IT'S WORKING! I'M FREE!" he shouted as he threw aside the scissors and jumped upright.
Matt whispered please but Ted only gloated. "Be free too!" he said then sucked in air.
Matt wafted on Ted's exhaled breath, through a wall and into the outside. He darkened a passing jogger but didn't care. He brushed against a leaf, drifted over a tree and then soared over the city, felt himself disperse inside a ray.