I enjoyed my last attempt at flash fiction so much, I’ve decided to give it another try. I haven’t written much of this form before, but I am liking it now that I’ve tried it. Isn’t that what our parents always told us about vegetables? “Try it; you might like it.”
As long as it doesn’t interfere with my other projects, I guess it’s a harmless pastime. If it goes beyond that, it will have become a dangerous addiction and I will need an intervention. So stand by with the in-your-face tough love, okay?
She grabbed the lever on the toaster like she did every morning. Today, her arthritic fingers slipped off the plastic and the toast did the very thing she had spent years preventing: it popped up, with a snapping sound from the spring mechanism.
He jolted in his chair.
“I’m sorry,” she said as she silently chastised her own carelessness. “It was just the toast.”
He gave her a reassuring smile. “It’s okay. It’s just toast.”
She put the plate down in front of him and took the seat opposite the kitchen table. His hands shook a little as he crumbled the toast onto his oatmeal. They were thin, age-spotted hands, but they only shook on particular days.
She lifted her coffee cup with both hands. Her hands shook every day. There was nothing to be read from them. “Any plans for the day?” she asked.
“I was thinking of driving in to get some chicken wire for that hole under the porch.” His eyes began to look past his toast, past his oatmeal, past her.
“Let me go with you.”
“You want to look at chicken wire?”
“I can look for a rose bush in the garden center.”
His eyes came back to the kitchen. “Don’t worry,” he said. “It was just the toaster. I know that.”
His hands hadn’t stopped shaking.
“I know, but I would like to get another rose bush.” If it happened again and she weren’t there, they wouldn’t understand. They wouldn’t know why.
“Okay. You come too.” He flashed his usual, tender smile. “Just in case.”
It was his old, tender smile that always got her. That remnant from before always tried to convince her everything was okay, but only reminded her that, even after 45 years, the war wasn’t over for him.