Welcome to my irregular feature, Flash Fiction Friday. Every once in a while, I dash off a short piece. It’s kind of a vacation, maybe even a recharge when I’m working on novel-length stories. I’m not going to tell you what the story prompt was this time. Guess it if you can. Even if you can’t agues it, I hope you enjoy this short piece about a gift of a lifetime.
Gift of A Lifetime
She sank down the wall, sat on the floor with her knees tight to her chest, and stared… at nothing. Because she had nothing left. They were supposed to have a lifetime together. But her husband died six months ago. Systemic organ failure, the doctor had said. How did a young man in the prime of his life die of organ failure? A flaw in his DNA. That’s not supposed to be possible. A century ago sure, but not today. Not to her husband. Except it had.
Outside, rain fell in a steady downpour. Suited her mood, though her tears had dried weeks ago. She should get up and fix something to eat, but she had no energy. Had no desire to eat. No desire to move. No desire. So she sat. And didn’t eat. Didn’t move.
A sound roused her. It was dark. She hadn’t turned on any lights. The doorbell rang.
She rolled to her knees, stood. Her stiff muscles protested. She stumbled, her legs weaker than they should be. The house sensed her movement, turned the lights on.
“Special delivery,” said the man in the brown uniform. “Want me to bring it inside?” He pointed to an enormous box.
“I didn’t know you’d deliver it at night.” She couldn’t take her eyes off the box. Noticed the delivery man’s eye roll. “Yes, please. Bring it in.” She stepped out of his way. “No, not on the rug. Over there, on the tile.”
Touched her third finger and thumb together, then waved her wrist over the delivery man’s scanner.
“Thanks for the generous tip, Mam–”
Press the door closed on him, her palm flat against the center panel. The door latched and locked.
Circling the box, she reached toward the seal, her hand shook. She drew her hand back. Held both hands against her trembling chest. Slow breath in and out. First things first.
She dragged a tall goose-necked lamp to each corner. Adjusted their shades so their light warmed the cold cardboard.
Ate a bowl of rehydrated vegetable soup. It was hot but tasted like cardboard. She drank a large glass of water.
And returned to her chair. Stared at the box under its lights for days.
On the twenty-first day, she stood toe-to-box and placed three of her fingers on the seam in the order of her official signature. The box unsealed.
Another touch and the box flowered open. The milk-colored sack crisscrossed with brown veins quivered and rounded. Then stretched upward. Stretched thin. And thinner.
She caught her breath. Quietly clapped her hands.
First one, then the second glistening hand reached through the hole in the sack. Both hands reached toward the ceiling then spread apart. Ripped the bag all the way open. A watery fluid wet the cardboard and floor.
Her chest filled with warmth. She cupped the cheeks of the young man with dark, soft as down hair.
He rose from his fetal position.
“Happy birthday, Adan,” she said gaily. “Let’s try this lifetime thing again, shall we?”
Thank You for Reading
Did you guess the writing prompts for this piece? You might also enjoy “All Systems Nominal” or “For Better or Worse.”
Did you like “Gift of a Lifetime”? Want to guess at the writing prompts? I’d love to read your comments.