The November prompt for the creative writing group I’ve joined focused on a tourism competition. As soon as the site releases the official results, I’ll post the piece and the links here. I didn’t win, unfortunately, but I placed second which I’m extremely pleased with. Anyway, not having a piece to post, I skipped to December’s prompt since I wrote two for it anyway. This is the one I decided not to use since it got really morbid and only marginally supports the theme – Winter in Dixie. I filled it out a bit more so it’s larger than most of the accepted flash pieces, but it came in under 1000 words so I’ll take it.
Winter in Dixie
“Hey, baby!” An oily voice called out from the parking lot, followed by a low whistle. “You are smokin’ in that dress. That wiggle’s giving me all kinds of ideas.”
Khione rolled her eyes and flipped him off. It’d been the same every morning for the past week. The young man, dressed in business casual slacks and polo, waited by his flashy red sports car with a cellphone to his ear and a cigarette pinched between his thumb and forefinger. Then he’d straighten, look her up and down with an assessing eye, and pay her a “compliment.” Monday, it’d been her hair; Tuesday, her skin tone; Wednesday, her legs; and so on. Today, he focused on her ass. Jerk.
“Fuck you! You probably couldn’t handle this anyway.”
She sighed. No matter the country, the city, or the era, some things never changed. The sun rose and set, the seasons turned, and certain types of men were incapable of accepting rejection. They got mean. They got nasty. And usually, they got violent. Hopefully, this one was smarter than most.
She slotted her key and unlocked her door. The gallery opened in an hour, and she wasn’t happy with the lighting. Something needed adjusting. There were hard shadows where she wanted soft light, absolute darkness where she wanted gloomy ambiance, and reflective glares all over the place. It simply wouldn’t do.
“Hey! Don’t walk away from me. I’m talking to you.”
She beat her forehead against the door and groaned. This was not happening. There was too much to do and too little time to do it. This was to be her big break, her shining success, her proof she could make it here and now. Too many eyes were on her hoping to see her fail, and not just with the gallery. She didn’t have time for angry little men whose phallic pride was wrapped in wounded dignity.
“I heard you.” She called over her shoulder, risking a glance. He’d moved closer. Dammit. This was not going to end well. “The whole block heard you. Congratulations and good bye.”
“Think you’re cute, huh?” The slide of metal on leather and the crunch of gravel beneath his boot told her where he was. Too close. “Maybe you need a lesson in manners.”
And I suppose you’re going to give it to me? She locked the door, mourning the time lost, and turned to face the human. He had an eager glint in his eye, a cruel twist to his lips, and a wicked-looking hunting knife with a jagged blade and leather-wrapped hilt in one fist.
“I don’t think so.” She summoned a tendril of power, letting it coat her hair in ice and fog her breath in the unseasonably warm air. Fat snowflakes drifted from a clear December sky. “I think you should walk away before someone—” you— “gets hurt.”
He took a startled step back, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe, maybe, this one would be reasonable. She turned and reached for her key. His hand landed on her shoulder, fingers digging in.
“Don’t turn your back on me, bitch.”
She sighed. He had to grab her, didn’t he? She twisted free, helped by the ice coating her shoulders and hair, and caught his hand between both of hers. “You aren’t owed my time.” Ice coated his fingers and inched up his wrist. “I have none to spare for you today, and you? Well, you have none at all.”
“What the hell?”
He jerked then tugged and yanked on his frozen forearm. The ice advanced to his elbow. He dropped the knife, grabbed his wrist, and pulled. There was an ominous crack. His stared at his arm, his face going a sickly shade of greenish grey. He’d won himself free, minus the frozen hand. Whimpering, he stumbled away from the gallery, tripping over bushes, and falling down the short stairs.
Khione made a face at the frozen hand. What was she supposed to do with that? She wasn’t one of the gorgons to display it like an avant garde art piece. She had more class. She tossed the hand away to shatter on the sidewalk and walked into her gallery. Time for the cover-up.
They called it a Christmas miracle. From 65°F at noon to six inches of thick, fat snow by nightfall with more on the way. Businesses shut down, grocery shelves emptied, and kids played with unbridled joy. Lost in the meteorological confusion, traffic accident reports, and sudden school closures was the disappearance of a promising young businessman.
“Will he ever be found, love?” She sat on the cliff’s edge and peered into the water below. The faintest outline of a car glinted beneath the waves.
“Eventually.” Poseidon rose on a column of water to sit by his bride. “Did he hurt you?”
“Of course not.” She laughed. “He was only a mortal. He did me one favor, though.”
“I have time to fix the lighting in the gallery before the rescheduled exhibit.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “I suppose I should thank him for that.”