Well, if you have been following my flash fiction stories, sadly I did not place in the last round of the competition. They thought it was more of a beginning than a full story. I can see their point. Alas, I am happy with what I wrote and am working on lengthening one or two of them to full fledged short stories. In the meantime, here is a flash fiction story (just under 500 words) using the following prompts found at MashStories: Halloween, common, and missile. They didn’t “shortlist” it for their competition, but again, It took me about two hours to write and I really liked where it ended up. I shared it with a friend who went through something familiar and she said, and I quote, “It gave me the feels.” And she pointed to her heart. That’s praise in my book. Let me know if you like it.
The last time Jamie and I hung out, I ended up holding her hair while she vomited behind Killian Kate’s on Halloween. We were preparing for our study abroad program to Germany, learning how to pub crawl, flirting with guys, and then drinking them under the table. This was before the cancer diagnosis. Before the six rounds of chemo. Before the doctors cut her left breast off. She was going through hell and I didn’t know how to handle it. I hadn’t spoken to her in months. So, I was surprised to see her face on my cellphone when she called me out of the blue.
“You ready to get your tattoo on?” she said, before I even got out a hello. Her voice was as vibrant as it had ever been and it felt as if no time had passed.
Jamie was sitting on a bench in front of her apartment when I pulled up in my car. Her hair had finally grown out into a respectable pixie cut and she wore a t-shirt with a hairless cat that said, I’ve got cancer, bitches. What’s your excuse? When I stopped the car in front of her, she bolted upright and jumped into the passenger seat.
“Howdy stranger,” she said. “Ready for some pain?” I stared at her for a second, my face a mix of emotions. I wanted to hug her, and apologize for everything that had happened to her, for what a crap friend I’d been. Instead, she punched me in the arm and hugged me around my neck. “Don’t you dare cry on me,” she whispered in my ear. Then she sat back in her seat and slapped the dash with both hands. “Okay then,” she said. “Let’s bounce. I got a date with a needle.”
I had heard about a guy in Fresno who specialized in nipples. He used his art degree and tattoo rig to perfectly shade the areola in three-dimensional clarity. He liked to make the women feel beautiful again.
“His name is common knowledge in the cancer community,” I said, avoiding a pothole in the road, lest gravity highlight my healthy breasts.
“I’ve already got a beautiful nipple on one side,” she said. “I think it’s time for a phoenix to rise out of the ashes of the other.”
The tattoo artist she picked wore a leather vest with no shirt on underneath. Multiple piercings covered his face and a tattooed, ballistic missile was launching out of his jeans. He was just what the doctor ordered.
“This is going to sting a little,” he said, not waiting for a response. Jamie’s smile faltered momentarily and she grabbed my hand when the needle bit into her skin. She stared into my eyes and squeezed hard as he wiped a crimson stain from her midsection. The sight of blood and the sound of the machine made my head spin, but I steeled my resolve. There was no way I was letting go this time.