It was a dark and stormy night. Bob huddled his thin body behind a dying oak and fat drops of rain fell to the ground. The wind tossed the twisted limbs above his head. A low rumble of distant thunder made its way across the black sky. He watched with wide eyes as the last of the funeral-goers said their goodbyes. The man, elderly and broken with grief, cried and cried. Why cry, Bob thought. This is merely the beginning of the rest of her life.
The husband-turned-bachelor was escorted off, and the grave keepers took to tending the ground. Bob ducked back when the flood lamps of the tractor bathed the area in white. The two men, young and anxious to find shelter, did quick and sloppy work. The rain stained the side of the yellow backhoe, and it glistened with a mechanical sweat. “Good enough,” came a shout. Then they were off, as quick as it began.
Bob unwrapped himself from his tree and gripped the iron gate. The rain pelted his shoulders, his sleeves. His long, thinning hair hung wet across his face. A flash tore across the sky and showed Bob the fresh pile. He waited. Car after car fled from the cemetery. Finally, he was alone. He tossed his things over the iron bars and joined them on the other side.
The rain hounded him as he dug. Each shovel full was weighted with mud. His back screamed in fiery agony. Blisters formed and broke from his hands. “I’ll rescue you,” he said. “I’ll save you, my friend.” As the hole deepened he extended a worn, gray tarp. The wind lashed at it with disapproval. Bob sent frantic shadows of shoveling out into the night. When he reached the verge of surrender, when he thought he could dig no more, solid wood was found. He looted happily and did not bother to try and restore the grave.
Later that evening, after a proper shower and donning of attire, he introduced his new guest to his friends. “Her name is Cynthia,” he said between sips of tea. “She comes from Nashville originally and is a mother of three.” Cynthia wore her white burial dress and a provided flowery hat. Her jaw hung loose, and her eyes sagged in their sockets. Bob laughed. “No, no, Oswald,” he said. “Cynthia is properly married with children of three.” He pointed a finger and aimed a smile at the corpse of Oswald Saragosa, former truck driver from Kentucky. “You old rascal!” Bob laughed as the storm raged outside the basement window. “You keep your frisky little hands away from Cynthia.” He laughed and laughed and sipped his tea.
6 thoughts on “Making Friends (Flash Fiction)”
There’s a wonderful sense of humor lying just beneath the macabre. I like that I don’t have to dig too deep to enjoy it. Shoveling gives me blisters too.
Haha, well said. Thanks for the comment.
Well played, sir.
Thanks, man. I’ll have to get your full opinion in a couple days.
Spooky! This was a great flash, but I was curious about the opening line…did you mean it as a joke? (If you are not sure what I mean, then put the first line into google.) This is the writing teacher in me because first lines are really essential – especially for a flash piece where every word must count.
‘He watched with wide eyes as the last of the funeral-goers said their goodbyes. The man, elderly and broken with grief, cried and cried. Why cry, Bob thought. This is merely the beginning of the rest of her life.’ Would make the perfect opening – the first line tells us exactly where we are. It’s always good to start with something concrete. Also, you have our attention so that when we come to that line of dialogue we really absorb the stakes of the piece. Those opening lines of description are well written, but you can always feed them in later, once you have set the scene, and the stakes, and have our full attention. That’s when you can begin to create the atmosphere.
Hope that’s useful – I think you’re a strong enough writer to handle a little constructive criticism! 😉
The opening line was “the challenge: given to me by Mr. Pope (commenter above). He said I had to do a flash using it and keep the storm involved in the story.
And thank you for feedback! I do appreciate it. It seems like a lot of people are nervous to do things like that.