After writing quite a few urban fantasy tales for my Flash Fiction Thursdays, I want to try something just a little different. And it almost works as a Valentine’s Day story, too (almost!). Enjoy!
Some Personal Space Required, by Alexander Paul Willging
Word Count: 1,054
Mel frowned at her roommate. “Come on, be honest. Did you take the brush or not?”
“For the last time, I don’t have it!” With a toss of her unruly sandy hair, Shannon turned back to her mirror. “It’s probably stuck behind the toilet or something. Go look. I don’t wanna be late.”
How long had they been at this? Weeks. Nearly a month, it seemed. But Mel was losing her patience for this housing crisis. Either Shannon had to start accounting for all the little things that kept disappearing or she had to leave. Once or twice, she could forgive. But twelve times in a month? That was textbook insanity.
“This guy,” Mel called out as she entered the bathroom. “What’s he like?”
Shannon giggled while applying her lipstick. “Oh. My. God. He’s amazing. Very thoughtful, very charming. He must have loads of cash because he’s always treating me to dinner and a movie downtown—the nice part of downtown, not Cracktown…”
Mel nodded. This new love interest—Darryl, she thought his name was—seemed like a great catch for Shannon. Someone stable and supportive after a chain of creeps and shallow jerks. She sincerely hoped her friend would do well by him.
As she dropped onto her knees and started to feel around the empty space behind the toilet, that thought became less hopeful and more urgent. Maybe, if Mel was really lucky, Shannon and Darryl would fall in love and move in together. And then Darryl could buy back everything that Shannon had “borrowed” from Mel over the last few weeks with his incredible fortune.
“Did you find it?” Shannon called out.
Mel sat back, still empty-handed. “Nope. Unless it’s sitting in your nightstand—”
“Which it’s not!”
“Then I guess it must have fallen into another dimension. The same dimension where all those missing socks wind up.”
Footsteps padded down the hall toward the bathroom. Mel looked up to see Shannon, wearing a cocktail dress with fishnet stockings. The only thing wrong about her appearance was the way a pair of high heels dangled from her hand while her feet were encased in a pair of pink slippers. She’d never been known for her speed in getting out the door.
“I’m tired of having this fight,” Shannon declared. Her lipstick was a lovely blend; it made her scowl very pleasing. “I didn’t take your brush, your mittens, your grill, or your bottle of wine! You just lose things, Mel! There’s no conspiracy, okay?”
“I don’t lose things, Shannon. You know better than that.” Mel leapt to her feet and crossed her arms. She supposed this was the end for them; no point holding back. “I go to work, I go to the gym, I visit my parents, and I come here. When have I ever broken that routine and when do I just lose track of things so easily?”
“Well, I’m not the one stealing them!”
“Well, then, who did?!”
From behind Mel, someone coughed and added, “Um, I did…”
The two girls turned and stared. Where the bathroom mirror should have been was now a small blue vortex, a swirling light. And peeking out from the center of the vortex was the face of a young man with shaggy brown hair and square-rimmed glasses. He coughed again and held up a familiar-looking brush for everyone to see.
“David?” Shannon whispered. “What…?” Her scowl returned, now far less pleasant to look at. “What the fuck? Have you been spying on us this whole time?”
“I was going to tell you sooner or later,” David insisted, using the same tone as a teenager trying to explain himself to his parents. “The quantum experiments my lab is running are fantastic. But it doesn’t pay much and I really wanted to impress you, so…” He shook his head. “So sometimes I turn on the Einstein-Rosen Bridge late at night. Go jumping through bank vaults and department stores—and your apartment, from time to time.”
“You little bastard.” Mel’s blood was boiling now. She’d been so ready to kick Shannon out—Shannon, her friend who’d rescued her from a life of boredom and isolation. The most amazing girl she’d known in college. All nearly gone because of yet another creep she’d been dating.
“Look, I know it must’ve been hard, but this only proves that we’re on the right track!” David smiled for a moment, just before he seemed to realize what he was saying. “The experiments, I mean! If I can make so many trips each night without raising suspicion, Shannon, then I know that our company is going to make billions off this product! We’ll be set for life!”
His reply was cut off when a compact mirror went sailing toward the shining blue vortex. There was a brief flash as it was engulfed. Then Mel saw the young man clutching his nose, groaning quietly enough to be heard across the vortex.
Apparently the Einstein-Rosen Bridge worked both ways.
Shannon stared down her boyfriend. “I said, get out. Close off your little portal and never call me—or spy on us—ever again.”
With a last quiet groan of defeat, David waved his hand. Mel heard a faint beep and watched the vortex collapse on itself in another white flash. Then she was seeing her own reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Mel turned to face her roommate. Shannon stared back, distraught. Her tears were breaking up the mascara around her eyes.
Without saying a word, Mel stepped close and threw her arms around Shannon. Her roommate tensed, then desperately returned the hug. She buried her face into Mel’s t-shirt, crying quietly like after so many breakups before.
“You know the drill,” said Mel, rubbing her friend’s back. “Clean yourself up. Get changed. I’ll order a pizza and buy another bottle of wine.”
“I’m really sorry,” Shannon murmured against her shoulder.
Mel smiled. “I am, too. But I am a little curious, though.”
“If David had a high-tech portal generator this whole time, then maybe there really is a dimension full of missing socks.”
Shannon stared at Mel in disbelief. Then she began to laugh. So did Mel. They clung to each other, laughing without tension for the first time in weeks.
Just like old times.
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