Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Petals on the Tracks

The following is the prompt for the 9/17/2014 WordCrafters meeting and my flash fiction response.

“You’d think she’d just let it go. Maybe write a tell-all about making mac-n-cheese dinners for her husband the villain or whatever.” Bethany stepped onto the railroad tracks, bent over, and picked up one of the daisies lying on the tie. The hot afternoon seemed to drag on her as she lifted herself upright.

Margo kept well away from the tracks, left hip cocked to one side and arms crossed. She shifted to rub her ankles together, glancing back at the tall grass they’d just walked through. Something whined and a fleet of heavy insects lifted up above the seedheads. Even in this light, with the sun catching Bethany’s hair, she was sure she was the blonder of the two. She was the only one dressed as if she preferred highways to railways, in the shorts and tank top from cheer practice. “They met at the tracks, Beth. Like, she finds it romantic?” Margo tried the other hip, canting her head for balance.

“Dinah, Margo. When we’re not at home, it’s Dinah.”

“She has daisies and you have a nickname. What’s the difference?” Margo watched Bethany twirl the flower, her dress hanging in a silent bell shape around her ankles. Margo sighed at the lack of a breeze.

Bethany glanced around, but didn’t step off the tracks. She twirled the daisy for a minute and then tucked it behind her ear. “The difference is that that’s my name. My dad gave me that name. He tied her to the tracks like some mustache-twirler from an old cartoon.”

“He let her go.” Margo stepped back until she could feel the weeds at the back of her calves. Bethany…Dinah…looked like something from an old catalog herself. “Why do you let her make you wear that?”

“He would have liked you. Your chem and biochem and spending skip day hiding in the high school.” Bethany sighed and shrugged. “If she can’t redeem him, at least she’s got me.” Bethany pressed her palms against the dress. “Every day.”

Sweat beaded beneath their hair. The Texas heat shimmered between them. Margo felt every inch of the exposed skin on her legs and arms and neck, as if the field were looking at her. Bethany just kept her eyes above Margo’s shoulder. “You want to go get a soda, cruise by the library?” Bethany’s mom would ask where they’d been.

“Do you think madness is like spandex of the mind?” Bethany asked. A whistle shrieked in the distance. Fear, Margo thought, was pretty much as a good a cool gel pack. “Wake up so early in the morn…can’t hear the whistle calling…” Bethany crooned to herself. Then she stomped on the daisies, her laughter shrieking a reply to the whistle. “Sure, let’s get a soda. Tell me again how we’ll find him, once we get to the city.”


  1. I love the way you captured the innocence here...the young girls out in the world like flowers on the track....a wonderful write "C" :-)