Friday Flash Fiction Story: Desperate Quiet

Tears, Rain, BlackJack 0919,

Tears and Rain by BlackJack 0919 via

Eleanor Marks drove home from her job as a mid-level secretary in a mid-level accounting firm. Her ten year old car was a sedan, as plain as she was. Once home she made grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes and green beans for supper. It was the same thing they had every Wednesday night. Her husband, Arnold, arrived home promptly at six and wanted dinner on the table by six-fifteen.

“Good supper, El.” He wiped his mouth on his napkin and went into the living room to watch the seven o’clock game show.

El. Eleanor sighed and began clearing the table. Her family called her El, too. All of the people in college and now at work called her El. Why couldn’t she be Ellie? Ellie was bright, happy, and popular. El was plain, ugly even. She hated her short name. Once, in high school she’d tried to get people to call her Ellie. It was a waste of time. No one noticed the plain girl nor cared enough to follow her request. She stopped trying years ago.

After she did the dishes she came into the living room. Arnold was turning the channel to catch his favorite eight o’clock TV show. She picked up her embroidery hoop and began where she left off last night. Tonight’s program was another shoot ’em up cop show. She wondered why her husband liked them. No one on the series was happy. It was depressing.

At a commercial break she turned to Albert. “I think there’s a leak in the roof. There’s a water spot on the upstairs bathroom ceiling.

“Always something.” Albert got up and went to the kitchen. He came back, beer in hand, just in time for the show to restart.

Eleanor took a deep breath. She’d remind him on Friday and he would take care of it over the weekend. The show droned on and she occupied herself with the tiny stitches. The thread colors pleased her, reds and oranges, violets and blues, greens of grass and moss and new shoots. She loved them all.

At nine o’clock Albert turned off the TV and began his nightly routine of checking that the doors and windows were all locked. Eleanor followed along behind him, turning off lights. She wondered how this routine began. They never even spoke. They just started the house rounds, every night the same.

He readied for bed and vacated the bathroom. After her hand washing and face creaming, she stood in the adjoining bathroom door and looked at her husband, already asleep in their queen sized bed. She rubbed the lotion into her hands.

She’d never dated in high school. No boy wanted to date such a plain girl. So it was in college that she dated. Not the cool popular boys. College was just high school on steroids. But George worked in the student cafeteria when he wasn’t in class studying programming. Certainly not handsome, they had begun talking as he bussed nearby tables. One date, then two, and before she knew it they were going together. He graduated the year before her and at their quiet graduation ceremony, just the two of them at the local pizza place, he proposed.

Eleanor wondered at her immediate acceptance. Did she think there were no other men out there who would be interested in her? She drew a deep breath, a lump forming in her throat. That must have been it. She was so pleased to be asked that she just took the first offer. Finished rubbing in the hand lotion she went back into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. She studied her face in the mirror. There was nothing to see. Eyes were gray, not blue, her hair was graying, and she didn’t have the energy to even consider dying it. What was the point? It was a mousey brown to start with, hardly worth trying to keep. Wrinkles were forming at the corners of her eyes and mouth, as were jowls at her jaw line. The lump in her throat grew and she sat down on the toilet lid.

How did she get here to a boring marriage in a boring life in a boring house? Perhaps children would have made the difference but Albert wasn’t able.  She considered how children might have changed their lives. PTA meetings, taking the children to sporting events and talking with the other parents as the kids played on the fields or courts. They might have become more social. Instead they became insulated. Neither of them made friends at work so there were no get-togethers for drinks or dinner after work. It was just the two of them, moving silently though a quiet house every evening and weekend.

Tears flowed down her face and she unrolled three squares of toilet paper to wipe her eyes. She was only forty-five. She was smart. She liked good food and music and plays. Eleanor felt trapped by a life she’d built one small decision at a time. Crying herself out, she blew her nose and rewashed her face. In the mirror she could see that her eyes were red and puffy. It didn’t matter. Albert was sound asleep. He’d never know that she had been crying.

She turned out the light and crawled into bed. Eleanor stared at the ceiling. He never knew that she cried every night.



The End

897 Words

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Friday Flash Fiction Story: The Casino

River, Casino, Laughlin

River View of Casino Laughlin Nevada by Randy Cockrell

The ringing bells and chimes of the slot machines nearly drowned out the rock music playing in the background. Rosa began to panic. The rent was due and if she didn’t pay it this month she and her kids, Tito and Maria, would be out on the streets. She punched the play button as if it were the enemy. A little old white lady had sat beside her this morning. Right next to her, the woman’s diamond rings flashed in the artificial light of the slot machine floor.

Her machine’s bells rang and rang. The woman’s tightly coiffed blue curls shone in the flashing lights. “Oh my, God! Oh my, God! I never win at these things,” she went on and on. And what did she need the money for anyway, all those diamonds and fancy clothes? Rosa watched the pictures on her machine spin around and stop with a match that repaid her fifteen credits. Bah, what good was fifteen credits? The woman this morning won $10,000! She punched the play button again, the electronic dials spun.

And where was her no good husband? Prison for selling a little pot. Bah, the police and the courts knew nothing. What else was a poor person to do to escape life’s miseries but smoke a little weed in the evening to relax? The counter deducted another 40 credits from her total. She didn’t have much left. She whispered a little prayer. “Mother Mary, please help me,” and punched the play button again.

Her abuela had told her last month that she wasn’t going to help her with money any longer. Grandmother promised to take in the kids but not her. If Rosa was going to waste her little bit of money on the gambling, abuela was done with her. What kind of mother would that make her, dropping her own babies off on her grandmother? “Please, Mother Mary. I don’t need ten thousand; five thousand will cover the late rent.” She pushed the button again, part of her prayer.

She was distracted by a slot machine’s winning alarm going off three machines away. A young man was fist pumping and jumping up and down. Gold chains on neck and wrist and a diamond pinkie ring flashed in the lights. She noticed her machine had deducted another forty credits. Her eyes rolled to the ceiling, condemning Mother Mary. “Again? He obviously doesn’t need the money. Please!”

There were a hundred and twenty credits left, three more plays. She won twenty credits, then fifteen. “Thank you, Mother Mary.” Rosa hit the play button again. “Just three thousand dollars, Mother Mary. Please?” she prayed as the pictures spun. She won fifty credits. This was good. Things were going her way now. Rosa had to use the bathroom but she’d been on this machine all afternoon. If she left someone else would get the jackpot she’d been working for all day. There was no way she was leaving in the middle of a winning streak. Her silent prayers continued at each press of PLAY.

A loss came up, forty credits deducted. “I’m on a winning streak,” she told herself as she punched the button again. Another forty credits disappeared.

“Come on,” she pleaded with the machine. “Give me a jackpot.” She played again, and again, and again, the credits steadily dwindling.

She ordered tequila when the drinks waitress came around despite the pressure in her bladder. The credits disappeared. She dropped a single dollar on the waitress’s tray when she brought Rosa’s tequila. A little good karma, she thought as the waitress moved on and she downed the drink in a gulp. See, Mother Mary? I’m a good person. A little help here? Rosa pushed the button again, forty more credits gone. Only two plays left. The children were coming home from school and she needed to be there. “Come on,” she urged the machine. The pictures spun, there was no match.

Her fist pounded the machine. A nearby casino security guard cautioned her about abusing the machine. Rosa’s bladder complained again. She crossed her legs and apologized to the guard. “Jesus, please, help me.” Once more she pushed the button, aware of the guard watching her. Her eyes were intent on the spinning pictures. “A match, please, Jesus. I’ll come to church and offer a candle every morning.”

She didn’t make the spinning stop. Let them roll until Jesus stopped them. The pictures fell into place, there was no match. Rosa screamed her frustration and pounded on the face of the machine, there were no credits left. The security guard hurried over. “Miss, you’ll have to leave now.”

Tears ran down her face as the nearby players turned to see what the commotion was about. “I can’t leave now. I can get credit!” The guard murmured into his shoulder radio as she beat on the control face of the slot machine. “I need to win. My rent is due.”

The back-up officer arrived. They each took hold of one of her arms and began to drag her away. “Nooooo,” she yelled as she tried to dig her flip-flops into the multicolored carpeting. Her bladder gave up and urine gushed onto the floor. The guard’s faces showed their disgust. Rosa stopped yelling and blushed scarlet, her shorts and legs wet. She submitted meekly as one of the guards used his radio to call for clean-up in area twenty-three.

They took her to an office where they made her sit on a plastic trash bag in a standard office visitor chair. Her picture was taken despite her disheveled hair and running mascara and she was given an official letter that told her she was banned from the casino for life. On the sidewalk outside the casino she stood and stared at the entrance. It was so beautiful, all light and glitter, lovely people laughing as they freely walked through the welcoming doorway. It was all gone. All of it.



The End

994 Words

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