Friday, September 27, 2013

Fiction Friday: Love in the Time of Ninth Grade, Part 1

I'm participating in NYC Midnight's Flash Fiction Challenge again! In each round, we're given a genre, a location, and an object that must be used in a 1,000 word story. In my first round, I was given Romance / A Haunted House / Marshmallows. This is my story.

Derek Nordvall was the most anxious student in the ninth grade. He could often be found double- and triple-checking the padlock on his locker or rambling a ten-minute answer to a simple question from the lunch lady.

On this particular autumn morning, he was fidgeting in the grocery checkout line. His mother looked at him with the patience only a parent can master. “What is it, honey?”

Derek slapped his thigh with adolescent angst. “I forgot to get marshmallows for the haunted house. Steve borrowed his cousin’s marshmallow guns so we can shoot at kids coming through the entrance – that’s our station – and I was supposed to get the marshmallows.”

“So run and get them.”

“But we’re next in line!”

“I’ll make them wait. You know I can.” His mother winked at him.

Derek nodded and took off. He knew exactly where the marshmallows were. But when he got to the candy aisle, he stopped in his tracks. Amanda Winters was standing ten feet away, inspecting the chocolate bars. The dilemma startled him. How to get the marshmallows he needed with the most beautiful and perfect girl in his class standing in his way. “Oh no,” he thought in despair. When Amanda turned to him with a smile, he realized he had said it out loud.

“‘Oh no’ what?” she asked.

“Uh…” Derek’s mind swirled, but he forced an answer. “Oh no…Je-llo.” He reached over and picked up a box of Jello mix from the shelf. Amanda chuckled at his randomness.

“That’s funny.” She selected her perfect Snickers and walked toward him. “Derek, right?” Derek bobbed his head, still holding the Jello box. “Well, see you around, Derek.”

Her smile melted into him and he let out the breath he’d been holding. As she walked past, he felt a sudden burst of strength. He turned and yelped, “Haunted house!”

She stopped. “What?”

“Um…the marching band is putting on a haunted house at the Fall Festival tonight to raise money for uniforms. It’s only five dollars. You should, like, come.”

Not the most eloquent pitch, but it made Amanda’s perfect smile return. “Sounds scary. Thanks.” As she disappeared around the candy corn display, a feeling of serenity swept over Derek. He had talked to Amanda Winters and survived. Life was good.

Click here to read Love in the Time of Ninth Grade, Part 2

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