Flash Fiction is one of our favourite challenges here on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. This week, Leslie Hachtel set this assignment:
In 500 words or less using the words trapeze, oranges and sidewalk.
She stretched out her arms and balanced like a trapeze artist. The curb edging the sidewalk was made of crumbly concrete, and she imagined she was on a rocky ledge, one tiny misstep from plunging hundreds of feet to her death. She felt a little dizzy, even though she knew if she did fall, it would only be a little step into a smoothly paved gutter.
“Lizzie, be careful!” her mother scolded. “Come hold my hand.”
Obediently she joined her mother. Lizzie wondered what she would say if Lizzie really did climb a mountaintop. Not that she would be allowed to until she was grown up. Her seventh birthday had been a couple of months ago, so she was almost eight. But she wasn’t even allowed to go to the store by herself, even though it was on the corner of their street and she could see it from her house. Mr. Amir, the owner, was a smiling man with dark skin and white teeth. Sometimes he gave her candy from a bin behind the counter. Lizzie knew she shouldn’t take candy from strangers, but Mr. Amir wasn’t a stranger. He had a granddaughter in the grade above Lizzie. She had the most beautiful straight black hair. Lizzie wound a finger in her own pale strands, scowling.
Mr. Amir’s store smelled of spices and fruit. Her mother let go of her hand to fill a bag with oranges. Lizzie wandered around the corner, exploring. It wasn’t a big store, but it had lots of nooks and crannies, filled with brightly coloured packages covered in lettering that didn’t look like the alphabet on the wall in her classroom.
A few minutes later, she headed to the front of the store, expecting to see her mother at the till. But no one was there. She frowned. “Mommy!” she called. “Mr. Amir?”
Her heart started to pound. Where were they? Maybe out front? She pulled the glass door. It didn’t open. She pulled again, as hard as she could, but it didn’t budge. It was locked.
“Mommy!” she called again. Her belly felt cold and hard, like the time she’d eaten too much cotton candy. This is an adventure, she told herself, like climbing a mountain. Don’t be afraid. At yet she was more afraid than she’d ever been. A sob punched out of her chest and tears spilled down her cheeks.
Then she heard her mother’s voice. “Mommy!”
“Lizzie!” Her mother appeared at the end of the aisle, and Lizzie sprinted toward her.
“You were gone! You and Mr. Amir were gone!” She clung to her mother’s waist, breathing in the scent of laundry and peanut butter. “The door was locked! I couldn’t get out!”
“Mr. Amir locked it because he wanted to show me his garden out back.”
“I thought you’d left me.” Lizzie’s shoulders lifted and lowered in a sigh.
“Oh, baby. Mommy would never leave you.” She wiped the tears from Lizzie’s face. “Let’s go home.”
Lizzie held her mother’s hand all the way home, and didn’t once wish she was older.
I'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below, and then hop on to the creator of this challenge, Leslie Hachtel!