My friend Derek Fisher and I have, in honour of the release of Weave a Circle Round, arranged to post a couple of parallel short stories. Derek’s website includes a page dedicated to flash fiction. Today, he has posted his tiny story, “Twins,” on that page. Mine is written on the same prompt (which I’ll reveal at the bottom of the blog post). You should definitely check out his stuff. I’m in a writing group with Derek, and his stories have the best characters. No, seriously…the best characters.
Here’s my story:
As Janet sat down across from her, Jill kept her eyes steadily on the menu. She knew Janet was there, but right now, she needed to concentrate on eggs. Eggs were important. Over easy, she thought, enraptured.
“So what’s new?” said Janet. Jill could hear a crack in her voice that hadn’t been there yesterday. Eggs, she thought again.
“Nothing much,” said Jill. “With you?”
The words “I’ll bet” did not quite escape Jill’s lips, though it was a close one. Her hands tightened on the menu. Over easy. Or maybe scrambled? Scrambled eggs were good too.
Reluctantly, Jill’s eyes slid up towards Janet.
It was probably five years this time, she thought. Maybe up to seven. Janet’s hair was mostly grey now, and she’d lost weight; her clothes hung loose on her frame. Jill slid her tongue between her teeth and clamped down. She needed to say something. She wasn’t going to say anything.
“Robert broke up with Tania,” said Janet, picking up her own menu. “Again. They’ve both seriously got to move on.”
Oh, thought Jill, smiling inanely as her fingernails dug into the cheerful images of pancakes and breakfast burritos, have they? Is that what we’re talking about right now? I thought maybe we could discuss the time machine instead. I mean, I understand: you’re a scientist, you do science, sometimes the science breaks the known laws of time and relativity, blah blah blah, but do you actually think a) I haven’t noticed the premature aging, b) I wouldn’t do some sleuthing when I did notice, or c) it’s even possible for you to just go on as if none of this is happening? Do you think brunch isn’t going to be affected by any of this? Really?
“I know, right?” said Jill.
The waitress came to take their order. Janet ordered the waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. Jill, after a brief but intense deliberation, choose poached eggs on toast with bacon on the side.
“Nice,” said the waitress. “I’ll be back with those soon. Happy Mother’s Day!”
Jill’s eyes went quickly down to the menu again. The menu was gone; the waitress had taken it. There was nowhere for her to look but into Janet’s puzzled face, full of lines and creases and, at the moment, trepidation.
“That was a weird thing for her to say,” said Janet. “I mean, anyone can see we’re twins.”
There was a slight interrogative twist to her words.
This is it, thought Jill. This is where you say it.
Jill shrugged. “Some people.”
The eggs, when they came, were just what she had wanted.
Prompt: 1) A story about twins. 2) One has a secret. 3) Time travel is involved somehow.
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