#FlashNaNo 2021, Day 1

This November, I’m going to be attempting to fully complete Nancy Stohlman’s FLASHNANO, a monthlong challenge to write a piece of flash fiction every day of the month. This is sort of an alternative approach to NaNoWriMo, which challenges people to turn out a 50,000+ word novel during the month of November.

I’m already pretty busy with writing and basically never write fiction, so this will be a challenge and a stretch, but a challenge and a stretch that I believe I will benefit from.

I can’t claim to expect any of it to be any good, but it’s something that I am confident will help me improve as a writer, and hopefully should be pretty fun, at least some of the time.

And with that, Day 1:

Prompt: Write a story that takes place in the dark

She smelled like soap and her the sweet-smelling perfume he remembered, the aroma now seeming slightly juvenile for her age, but still fit her spirit.

Everyone in the party was in their thirties, but it had somehow morphed into something targeted at resurrecting all the awkwardness and mortification of junior high school, the justifiable embarrassment of it all held at bay with alcohol.

They played spin the bottle. Truth or dare. And now, seven minutes in heaven.

They had been in this situation before, twenty years back in time. They had both been too nervous to manage anything more than a fumbling, dry kiss on chapped lips back then, their physical proximity forced by being in Mindy’s dad’s coat closet, which was still full of coats.

Now it was the walk-in closet in Mindy’s new condo, so there was more space, at least. Even so, the atmosphere was just as overstuffed with the clumsy residual attraction of leftover adolescent crushes, now with a couple of decades worth of self-awareness somehow amplifying the adolescent awkwardness such that it transcended space and time to fill both of them with equal parts butterflies and regret.

In the intervening years, they’d both married and divorced and found themselves again drifting, when most of their friends seemed to consider the shape and course of their lives more or less a settled matter.

They laid silently on the floor, side by side and staring straight up into the featureless darkness, the new carpet springy and itchy under their bare arms and legs. It was hot outside, but the central air made the walk-in closet more like a walk-in freezer.

And who air-conditions a closet? Mindy, apparently.

He cleared his throat to speak, but had nothing to say. She slid her hand over and grasped his gently, warmly. He’d held that hand before, in what seemed like a different lifetime, enough so that it could have been someone else’s memory.

Her hand seemed surprisingly small, until he remembered that the last time he had held it, he’d been more than 30cm shorter and built like a faint pencil drawing of a twig.

She spoke, suddenly.

“I think they forgot about us in here. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

“Yeah, I think you’re right. Maybe it’s OK, though. It’s quiet in here. It’s nicer than out there. They never stop talking, do they?”

“Not really, no.”

More quiet. She squeezed his hand.

He didn’t know what to say next, but spoke anyway.

“That party. In eighth grade. I’d never kissed anyone before that.”

“I hadn’t either. Oh god, we were so fucking awkward then.”

“I’m glad that’s all resolved now, aren’t you? The awkwardness. We’re doing so much better now.”

They laughed together and sighed, the tension dissipating. For a little while, they just held hands there, quietly in the darkness.

She rolled over on her side and came close. Eyes open, but unable to see each other, she tried to kiss him and missed, her lips landing on his left cheekbone, just below his eye.

More laughter, briefly, before the second attempt hit its mark. The sort of kiss both of them had hoped for back then but could not achieve, lacking both the courage to go for it and the necessary experience to know what to do.

There are advantages to getting older.

She laid partially across his torso, head on his chest, the top of her head just under his chin. They held each other, contentedly, enjoying both the physical warmth and the human contact that both had gone so long without.

“Let’s just say like this for a while.”

And they did, happily forgotten by the party continuing on without them downstairs.

619 Words

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