,It’s the first of the month, so there’s a new Hot Flash (micro-mini story) on my Hot Flashes page.
Here is the first story for Story A Day May. I planned to take as my prompts photos of cleaning and bathroom products, but I’m also indebted to the irrepressible Pete Laberge, who has left me a handful of inspiration.
So now, I give you:
by Marian Allen
Randal started dreaming of the possibility when he discovered his great-aunt’s diary.
Great-Aunt Elspeth’s son and heir, living happily in Florida, had honored his mother’s passing by hiring an online auction firm to dispose of her house and goods. Randal, along with a few other lateral descendants who had liked her peculiar sense of humor and her flair for soups and stews, had bid on a few keepsakes. His own particular win had been a steamer trunk he had never seen, but which would make an interesting toe-stubber – er, linen storage unit – at the end of his bed.
The trunk had contained every birthday and Christmas tea towel, knick-knack, and apron he remembered anyone having ever given her (including his own), and the diary.
Recipe book, really. Sort of.
Aunt Elspeth had been a witch. A real one. Not a nasty woman, not a Wiccan, but a genuine, magical witch.
May 1, 1950. To Fly. The best so far. Slit a zucchini of any size, but smaller is better. Into the slit, sprinkle powdered human bone. Eat the entire zucchini raw. The older the bone, the higher and longer and faster you fly. Broom, schmoom.
He began by training himself to eat raw zucchini – not his favorite vegetable. With every bite, though, he chewed and swallowed the dream of flying.
Meanwhile, he volunteered at a cemetery. He bought a lock-picking tool kit through an ad in the back of a comic book, let himself into the oldest mausoleum on the grounds, one nobody ever visited. He pried open the oldest tomb. AGATHA COLLINWOOD, BELOVED WIFE AND MOTHER. Spoiled for choice, he bagged as many of the vertebrae as he could sift out of the general debris.
“This is for science,” he told what was left of the departed. “It isn’t body snatching, because there’s no body, right? And it isn’t grave robbing, because I’m leaving your jewelry, right? Okay, Mrs. Collinwood? Okay.”
On the way home, he stopped by a 24-7 WalMart and picked up a fresh zucchini and a “manual herb processor”, a.k.a. a mortar and pestle.
His hands shook as he pounded one of the extremely late Agatha Collinwood’s vertebrae into powder. He was afraid he’d cut himself as he slit the zucchini, but he didn’t. Whew! In went Agatha.
It wasn’t the best thing he’d ever eaten, but it was only marginally worse than plain zucchini.
How long before it works? I don’t feel any different.
He went to the foot of the stairs, spread his arms, and raised himself onto his toes. Nothing. He hopped as high as he could on muscles unused to doing more than holding his saggy muscles upright. Nothing.
Maybe I need more height. Like, bats need height to fly. Can’t fly from the ground.
He went upstairs onto his postage-stamp-sized balcony. The night breeze across his skin made him feel buoyant.
Yeah, this is the ticket!
He held out his arms and hopped. The stars felt closer.
This is it!
He climbed onto the sturdy plastic stool he used as a side table when he sat out in his plastic Adirondack chair. He gave a tentative hop from that higher elevation.
He tried a stronger hop. He lost his balance stepped into space, tipped over the railing – and he was flying!
No, he was falling.
When the blackness passed, he opened his eyes. Two women looked down at him sympathetically. One of them was Great-Aunt Elspeth. The other, he somehow knew, was Agatha Collinwood.
Great-Aunt Elspeth shook her head. “Found my diary, did you?”
He tried to draw a breath, but discovered he no longer needed to breathe. “It didn’t work.”
“It did and it didn’t,” said Great-Aunt Elspeth.
“Did it work for you?”
“No, you ninny. It wasn’t supposed to. It was just for fun.”
“You weren’t a witch?”
“Oh. My. God. You are so gullible.” She turned to Mrs. Collinwood. “He always was.”
“But cheer up,” Mrs. Collinwood told him. “You can fly, now.”
They joined hands with him and the three of them soared away. He regretted being dead but he could fly, and he really didn’t want to stay in what looked like very painfully broken flesh.
MY PROMPTS: Body powder, zucchini, diary, WalMart