Flash fiction: Painted smile

Author’s note: In preparation for NaNoWriMo 2009, someone put up daily prompts on one of the forums. I did them in the spirit of warm-ups, but some of them turned into stories. Here is one such.

Prompt: The raindrops painted a silent smile on her lips.

It had been raining all day and all night the night before. The rain sank into the spongy soil and made it weep at every pore.  It dripped green off the fat foliage; it slicked the new aluminum siding.  The rain fell out of a sky grey as fog, clouds mortared together with mist.  You could not see where one cloud left off and the other began.

She stared out at the rain, pulling the white eyelet curtains to one side.  They hung limply in the moist air, like clothes next to a sweaty body on the hottest day in August.  Cold rain rippled on the porch, shimmered in the lee of the house.  He saw her standing there and turned away.  Nothing more was to be said; there was nothing to say.  They had talked three times, four, five, then lost count.  Don’t go to sleep angry. Old advice and it did no good.

Who knows what she was thinking, as she stared out at the courtyard into the steel curtain of mist and rain.  Run quickly, he remembered, dodge among the drops and you won’t get wet.  He and his brothers and sisters had made that one up, however much it might sound like folklore.  He did rather wish she’d let go of her fury and turn to him, but that was equally lonely.  The books were gone, the furniture as well, but she insisted on thinking of this as a war of words.  Which made her restless, realizing how little it had been books that had won or lost anything—or in any case, they were different books, full of boiling points and crystal lattices and neutron cross sections.

He walked toward the shed, trying the rusted handle of the door yet again.  Still frozen in place, of course.  Rust made a rough surface and it stuck to itself.  They’d had at that lock—she had—with a three-pound sledgehammer and it had made no impression.  Nature is slow, stupid, prone to decay.  The new enemy.  The old one was dead, and her friend was headed to the capital to talk over with them what would happen.  Every war is going to be short, over by Christmas according to all of the experts, and then once concluded, every war is the war to end all wars.  Never again, the politicians say, and then proceed to do that which will guarantee the return of that which they say they fear above all else.

The light wavered, coming through the wet glass, and the shadows shifted.  The raindrops painted a silent smile on her lips; shadows found their way into the corners of her mouth—as if she’d been tasting darkness.

(Process information: 10/26/2009 11:47 PM to 11:59 PM, 452 words, 12 minutes)

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3 Responses to Flash fiction: Painted smile

  1. Sue says:

    what a beautiful line you had to work with.

    • epbeaumont says:

      Some of the prompts were obvious; some, like this one, took some work. I’ve been editing off and on for the last week so now when I look at this passage I see everything that I’d cut.

      • Sue says:

        I think the more we read our own work, the more we would change. I’m just finishing edits for my story and hope to publish this week – otherwise I never will

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