I came across a flash fiction challenge a few months ago. In case you are not familiar, flash fiction is a short story of usually no more than 1000 words. For this writing challenge in particular we were asked to write a piece of flash fiction about a character coming back who referenced doing a job around children that no one would expect. So, over a lunch break I wrote my first piece of flash fiction. And, if you are visiting my site then I want to say thank you and here is something for you to (hopefully) enjoy!
The Truth of the Heart
‘What are you doing here? She can’t see you.’
‘Lauren, I am just trying to make amends.’ The red-headed woman stepped out onto the front porch and slowly closed the door behind her.
‘It’s been ten years Matt. If you wanted to make amends you should have done it straight after or even at the funeral. Why now?’
‘You know why I couldn’t attend the funeral. My parents whisked me off as soon as they could, far away from everything I knew.’ Marty stepped off the porch and Lauren followed him towards the front gate. He paused just before he lifted the latch. ‘I never stopped thinking of him, how can I? I am sorry, I tried to save him but turns out, as always he ended up saving me.’
She placed her hand on his shoulder and he turned back to face her. She looked deep into his brown eyes as if searching for something familiar, someone familiar.
‘I believe you. I just don’t know if mum is well enough to see you.’
‘Why, what’s wrong? Maybe I can help?’
Lauren placed her hand on Matt’s cheek, stoking it gently before he placed his hand around hers and moved it to his chest. He squeezed it tightly against him as if never wanting to let go. They both sighed in unison as tears started to creep from their eyes.
‘She has dementia. I think she grieved so hard and for so long that she just broke.’
‘I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have come; I didn’t mean any harm. I want to try to make things right.’
He let go of her hand and turned back towards the gate, opening it as quickly as he could. She could see that he felt he had made a mistake. As she watched him step towards a cherry red corvette, she quickly followed him onto the pavement and placed her hand on the bonnet of the car.
‘Oh my god, no way is this your car? You did it, didn’t you?’
‘I sure did. I had to, for him.’ They both smiled like they could read each other’s minds and no words were needed. It was an ‘I get it’ kind of smile. ‘Look, I am gonna be around for a few days. I have meetings about a job locally so I needed to know if me coming back was gonna be too upsetting for your family.’
‘What’s the job?’ Asked Lauren.
‘Don’t laugh. It’s at the high school, guidance counsellor but they approached me to set up an outreach program for after school too.’
‘wow, you hated school.’
‘I did but the heart wants what the heart wants. I have been doing the counsellor thing for a couple of years back home but it’s a really rural place and the worst gang the kids can get into is line dancing.’
Lauren failed to stifle her laughter. ‘Gotta say thought that teaching must seem a strange choice for someone who didn’t like kids.’
‘I know, I don’t teach though, I guide but I did say my parents whisked me far away, I meant it. It’s time to return to reality and this was my first stop.’
Lauren stepped out of the garden and into his arms. It took Matt by surprise but he quickly wrapped his arms around her, he signed like he had been waiting ten years for that moment. After a few minutes, they loosened their grip on each other. She stepped back towards the gate and he got into his car.
‘Give me a few days and I’ll give you a call. If she has a good day.’ She smiled and nodded slightly. Eagerly, Matt scrambled in the glove compartment for something to write his number on. Lauren took the ripped paper from him and popped it into her pocket.
He started the engine up and smiling mimed the words ‘thank you’ before driving away.
A few days passed, and Matt had been formerly offered the role at the school and was on the verge of accepting. He just needed to do one final thing and here he was. Stood outside the door, again, of his childhood best friend’s home. Overwhelmed with fear about whether he was doing the right thing or would he make things worse.
The memories of that day were flashing through his mind, how he pleaded with Johnny to come with him to a robbery as he didn’t want to go alone to his initiation into the Ballerz, a local gang. After getting beaten up at school for the tenth time that term, Matt had thought that if he was a Baller, then no one would pick on him or his best friend, Johnny, any more.
Overwhelmed with guilt, he stepped back away from the porch but as he did, the door opened.
‘Matt, don’t leave. It’s now or never.’ Lauren held out her hand and that action made him feel safe to face up to his past, once and for all. As he entered the front room, Lauren’s mum didn’t look around or seem to notice his entrance. ‘Mum, there is someone here to see you.’
The lady turned slowly and their eyes met. She recognised him straight away. She stood up and with tears in her eyes whispered ‘my boy, my sweet boy.’
‘Mum, it’s Matt, Johnny’s friend’.
She looked at him and reached her hand out towards his chest, ‘I know who you are. You brought my boy home.’ She stepped into him and rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes, squeezing him tightly. ‘I can hear his heart beating. I hope you have been taking good care of him. He loved you as a brother and he gave his life for yours.’
Matt sobbed, ‘I am so sorry.’
‘I forgive you.’
Lauren joined their embrace and they cried together, the four of them, reunited at last.