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#FlashFiction #1 – peace of mind?

September 30, 2011

I will be posting, every 2nd friday, a series of short flash fiction that detail the year before the events that take place in my next novel, Harbinger. I will most likely sprinkle in a few short stories about specific characters, and, once I am ready to release the novel, I will combine these stories, do a proper edit, and make them available as a companion anthology. I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into Olive’s life before Harbinger. As always feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

Please note: These are unedited, non-proofed first drafts.

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September 30, 2011

Fortune cookies were tasty, but they could also be a little condescending and, especially the one she was currently dissecting, more than a little smug.

At the end of the month you will gain more peace of mind.

Oh, yeah? Which month? This month? This month that was about 11 hours and 3 minutes from being over, so…this month? She smoothed the fortune, naturally curved from being in the cookie, on which she was still nibbling, on the table with both forefingers. She glared at the red-typed letters – in their all high and mighty capitals – that were supposed to offer a glimpse into her fate, a bridge to her destiny, but instead mercilessly mocked her.

Some time in the next 11 hours, supposedly, she’d miraculously feel like she wasn’t about to go crazy, any second, at the drop of any hat. The heavy weight, that some days felt like the entire universe crushing her chest, would lift. One minute crushing, and the next…What? Freedom? Better circulation? What?

Now she was just getting angry. She was the angry white girl sitting alone, hunched against the wallpapered wall, getting angry at a fortune cookie – how lame was that?

Even lamer the cookie was from lunch, eaten alone — did that need to be said two times in a row? Obviously Ms. McObvious — in a restaurant just two blocks away from her apartment slash office. She could afford better, in the case of the food and the apartment, but she chose…she chose this life…or rather she chose to try this life and see if it was any less crazy-making than the other life she’d lead up to two years ago out of her parents house, which, upon reflection, wasn’t exactly different — she was still her, wasn’t she?

Why the hell hadn’t she just gotten delivery, just like every single time before, usually for dinner, but still a valid point seeing as she could eat cold Chinese Food for lunch everyday of the week and be quite content. Delivery fortune cookies — she always ordered enough that the restaurant mistakenly assumed she was ordering for two — could be cracked and interpreted alone, in the safety of her home…well, in the office portion with it’s all inspiring view. Some days she wondered if it was the view that kept her climbing out of bed, continually trying to move forward, even imperceptibly. Honestly, the office, and specifically close to the computer, was where she felt most at home…mostly. Even the bedroom that her parents kept pristine, a whole 20 minute walk away, didn’t feel like it belonged to her — though that was nothing new and didn’t have anything to with her parents, who were pretty cool for older people. No, this was her little issue, her ongoing, raging problem, her lack of ability to connect, to feel connected —

Enough.

She knew why she was here, she could admit it — should admit it — if she wanted to try to get beyond it. She’d been fighting it for a couple of weeks now — this compelling need to go out for lunch, specifically to go out for Chinese Food, specifically at this restaurant, Connie’s Cookhouse, and specifically on this day, a Friday. She didn’t like giving in to these irrational urges. Her headshrinker — okay, her therapist — was continually confused whenever she brought up this concern.

“Everyone wants things, Olivia,” he’d say. It still bothered her that he called her by her full name more than a year since she’d started seeing him, instead of Olive. Oh, she knew that that was what was on her chart and she’d never corrected him, but she hadn’t wanted to be further labeled as difficult or picky or OCD — the damning list she was pretty sure he maintained in her file was long enough already.

Anyway, he just couldn’t get it, couldn’t feel it like she did. This wasn’t a I’m-kind-of-craving-black-bean-chicken feeling. This was a horribly suffocating feeling that the world would end unless she sat in this particular restaurant, at this particular time. She could order whatever, eat whatever, but she had to be here, for at least an hour.

Something terrible was coming, It had been coming for awhile now, maybe always…And it was going to consume her.

Though, rather obviously, not today.

She glanced at her watch: 12:58pm.

The pressure to remain rooted in her seat, eyes glued to the front windows, eased just a little bit and she slumped back in her seat. She rolled the bogus fortune between her thumb and middle finger, as if pretending carelessness, even though she knew she’d unroll it and stick it with all the others as soon as she got home. No matter that she currently felt like it was an utter lie. She kept a cork board, framed in an antique gold frame she’d freed from a ghastly meadow scene, filled with such things hanging right by her desk. A quick glance right and thousands of words from fortunes or tarot readings, floated there, suspended, just waiting enlightenment for interpretation. It was a jigsaw puzzle of her destiny, except there was no box picture or straight edge to follow, and she hadn’t managed to piece it all together. Actually, she hadn’t gotten to the piecing part at all, yet. She was a collector, not a creator.

She wondered if the road to crazy was just this slow. Ah, well, she only had another 11 hours until this foretold peacefulness would “gain” her mind – maybe it would happen, maybe it could, she wouldn’t mind a little quiet. It would be even better if someone else could drive for awhile. She was constantly anticipating the bumps and misjudging the terrain. Man, her metaphors were all over the place today.

Was it so bad to need a little guidance? Oh, she knew that people tried to throw her tow ropes all the time…she just couldn’t grasp them.

She got up, paid with debit and left the restaurant. Few people remained picking the remnants of their tasty lunches. Everyone else was probably heading back to work, and she supposed that that was were she should go.

It was a sunny, if brisk, day, but she was glad to have an excuse to pull her hoodie up — she liked the built-in blinders. This new one she’d bought with her birthday money three days ago had a bit of a point on the charcoal wool and cashmere hood. It was lined with soft cotton jersey, but had some patch label on the sleeve that she’d have to pick off. She hadn’t gotten around to yet, what with the sudden onset of world-ending doom.

Three days ago she’d turned 20, and she really had been looking forward to the new decade in her life.

Now, not so much.

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