Flash Fiction: The Anniversary

I wrote this story based on the following prompt:

Pick 3 items in the room where you’re sitting. Mine were travel cup, poetry book, red plaid blanket

Use these 3 items in a story of no longer than 1200 words

Use at least one metaphor, one symbol and one alliteration.

I have not written flash fiction in a while. I thought it would be fun to practice a bit.

Here I go.

Jane Wilkinson lifted her travel cup to her lips and took a sip of coffee. It was 6:00 on a Saturday morning and she’d driven to the park so she could watch the sun come up. She’d brought along a poetry book in hopes of reading a few poems to brighten her day. She needed some inspiration since this was the first anniversary of losing her older sister Karen to breast cancer at 37. Jane was missing her fiercely. 

The sky was bright pink and the breeze was cool but not cold. Jane felt warm in her zippered sweatshirt and glad that she could stretch out on the red plaid blanket she’d brought along for that reason. Just as the sun began to rise, Jane’s quiet morning was disturbed by the drone of a car alarm in the nearby parking lot. The piercing sound screeched on and on and Jane grew more and more annoyed. Where was the person who owned that damed car? When the alarm finally stopped, Jane sighed with relief and resumed her reading.

She re-read the poem “What the Living Do” by Marie Howe, which she loved because she could relate to the poet’s loss of her brother who had died of AIDS. Jane also admired the hope that was in the poem, which talked about an innate “yearning” for life, something that had been sorely missing for her since Karen’s death. Instead, Jane felt as if a freeze had descended inside her body and her emotions were trapped in deep winter. 

She was just turning the page to read another poem when the alarm started again. As the screeching went on, Jane grew more agitated. Finally, she stood up, grabbed her belongings and marched off in the direction of the parking lot. Whatever the hell was happening over there was exceptionally rude, and she hated all forms of rudeness, especially on her dearly departed sister’s death anniversary.

When Jane arrived, ready to do battle with whomever owned the car, there was only one vehicle besides her own in the lot. It was a vintage orange Triumph convertible with its top down and the owner was nowhere in sight. The alarm abruptly stopped once again, much to Jane’s relief. In the sudden quietness, she realized the Triumph looked exactly like one her sister Karen had owned when she was in college. Jane was flooded with memories of the trips around town she and Karen had enjoyed in that car, especially on pretty days like today when the top was down and the sun warmed their faces. The car was well kept despite its age and she saw the red blinking light of what she knew was an added alarm system. Karen had always used “The Club” on her steering wheel because cars that old didn’t come with alarm systems.

Jane looked around, but the owner had still not arrived. Bolstered by sweet memories of Karen, Jane decided to return to the park and try again to have her day of commemoration.  She was retracing her steps along the path when she saw a runner coming towards her. He was in his late 30s, tall and lean, and was clearly on his way back to the parking lot. Just before he passed her, she called out, “Is that your orange Triumph?”  

The man was twenty feet beyond her before he stopped and turned. “The TR4?”

Jane nodded. 

“Yes,” he said, “Are you a Triumph fan?”

“Not today,” she said. “Your car alarm has been going on and off the whole time you’ve been running.”

“Oh, wow. Sorry about that.” He turned and resumed his run. 

Jane felt annoyed. He didn’t sound nearly as sorry as she would have liked, but never mind. He was gone and she could get on with her day. Just as she began reading another poem, the car alarm revved back up and went on for ten straight minutes. Jane felt rage start at her toes, move up her legs, course through her body and come straight out of her mouth in a string of expletives ending with, “Damn it, that’s it. I’m going home.” She was halfway to the parking lot when the alarm began to slow and get quieter until it finally faded to a stop.

When she arrived, the runner had the driver’s door open to his car and was sprawled inside, clearly trying to fix whatever the problem was. Jane stomped past him, glaring at him the whole time though he couldn’t see her since his head was under the dashboard. 

She was just backing out when she heard a tap on her window. It was him. Jane narrowed her eyes as she regarded his slightly weathered face through her window. She considered driving away, but thought that was a bit too rude. Instead she rolled her window down a cautious three inches, “Yes?”

Any chance you could give me a jump? My alarm ran my battery down.”

Jane bristled. “Are you joking? Your stupid car alarm has ruined my morning and now you have the nerve to ask me for a jump?” 

“Whoa, I’m sorry,” the runner said, backing up. “I had no idea. I would never have…”

“Don’t you have AAA?”

“I do,” he said, then looked a bit sheepish. “It’s just that I’m supposed to relieve the night nurse for my mother by 7 and I’ll be late if I have to wait for AAA.” 

Jane heard the stress in his voice. She thought his behavior was irritating, but he truly didn’t look like a guy who would lie about a sick mother. “Okay. Which side is your battery on?”

“Oh, thank you! I appreciate…” 

“Which side?”

“Either one. It’s in the center,” he said, then ran back to his trunk to grab the jumper cables.

Once his engine roared back to life, he came round to her driver’s window and leaned down. “I want to apologize for messing up your morning. That was never my intention.”

“I know. I’m sorry I was so snappy. This was kind of a tough day, that’s all.”

“Well, I hope I’ll see you again. I run every morning around this time and I promise I’ll get this alarm straightened out.” He stuck out his hand, “I’m Aiden, by the way.”

“I’m Jane,” she said, and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“See you soon, then?” 

“Yes, see you soon.” 

As Jane watched Aiden drive out of the parking lot, she couldn’t help but think how hilarious Karen would find all of this. It was pretty funny, Jane had to admit. When she started the car, Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” was playing on the radio. She turned it up, imagined cruising through town with Karen in her orange Triumph and felt a twinge of happiness stir deep inside. Maybe the thaw was on its way; maybe the thaw was already here.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Teresa Lynn says:

    Good story. I wasn’t expecting that direction.

  2. Kelly Wise says:

    Nice. Quite emotive for me, the irritation described escalated my heart rate even! Good story for the times, the twists and turns of life forever present, and everybody has their own shit going on, we mustn’t forget. Love it!

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I appreciate your feedback. I couldn’t tell if this story worked or not. Happy to hear it worked for you. ❤️

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