The Next Day (Flash Fiction)

Bob watched the sun rise from a sloped field. The tall grass was dotted with dew, and his pants were wet from the ankles down. The air was cool, but summer was well on the way. Small birds fluttered through the sky as the sun rose and filled the horizon with a stale pink that mixed in with the smog of the valley below. Everything was calm. Everything was normal. Bob walked to his car and drove.

He came upon a small diner and stopped in for breakfast. The waitress that served him was cute with curly brown hair that hung nearly to her hips and perky little tits. The morning was slow and Bob found himself flirting with her easily and often. She would smile and laugh and twirl her hair around her fingers while he laid on the lines. His bill came out to $12.28, and he left her an even $20. He made a slow stroll through the parking lot, stretching his arms and patting his belly. Semi-trucks rolled down the small highway. An older woman was standing in an empty lot waiting for her dog to piss. The sun rose higher and the heat came with it.

He cruised through the small town and found a nice park. Joggers trotted by and a young woman, not as cute as the waitress, was playing fetch with a shaggy black dog. Bob parked his car, an old Mustang convertible with dull-red paint, and took a walk among the trees. His eyes were getting heavy now. It had been over 24 hours since his last sleep. There was no breeze in the leaves, but the grass was still a little wet. He watched the woman play as he walked along the winding path, her blonde curls bouncing around her ears. Bob noticed that others who passed by often smiled and he suddenly realized that he was smiling himself. He had been smiling the whole time. He tried to relax his smile, to try to stop, but the smile only got bigger and he began to laugh out loud. The laughing caught the attention of the girl playing with the shaggy dog, so Bob waved and made his way over to her.

“Looks like you two are having a grand old-time,” Bob said. “How fun.”

She smiled with a look of apprehension and threw the frisbee again. “Yeah. He loves playing catch.”

Bob took a long breath in through his nose to smell the still air. “Yes, what dog doesn’t? I had a dog once, he was the laziest thing.” Bob laughed again, noticing his smile. “He would never fetch a thing.”

The black dog returned with a pink disc full of bite marks and an eager look on its face. The woman made a long distance throw. “Did he die?” she asked.

“Oh yes,” Bob said. “It was a long time ago and they all die, don’t they?” His smile was still there, as big as ever. The woman only stared. “Anyway, do you come here often?”

The woman paused and waited for the dog to come back. She pulled the frisbee from its slobbery prison and gave the dog a good pat on the back. “I suppose. Why?”

Bob laughed and turned to walk off. “No reason, just trying to make for some idle chat. Have a good morning,” he said with a wave. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked a weaving line across the grass, back to his car. When he got to it, he ran his hand along the old paint and watched the clean streaks his fingers left behind. The day was fuller now and more people were beginning to fill it. Cars passed down the lanes. Children began to play. And Bob just smiled and smiled.

Everything was normal. Everything was still the same. He paused at the trunk of his car and caught a subtle odor of decay. The dead body wrapped in plastic inside was beginning to accelerate its rot with the growing heat. He waved a final time to the girl with the dog, and the girl timidly waved back. He laughed and got in his car and drove off.

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