I had just over an hour to kill before I had to pick up my kid, so I thought I’d try to punch out a flash fiction piece in that time. Chuck Wendig’s prompt this week is to write to a random title. I rolled and got Long Way Home.
I’ll let you decide if a flash piece written in an hour is coherent. It’s time to pick up the boy!
Long Way Home
Carly stumbled down the stairs and somehow found her way back to Jackson’s dorm room, still packed with people. She grabbed a shot glass from a random girl’s hand and downed it, allowing the comforting burn to fill her chest.
“Hey, what the hell?” The girl shoved Carly’s shoulder.
Carly returned the glass to the girl’s hand and pushed her way through the crowd. “Jackson!”
He stood on a chair, looking over the mass of heads. “What happened . . .”
She couldn’t understand the following words over the music. Pointing to her ear, she scowled.
Jackson handed off the bottle he was drinking from and squeezed his way to her, then tilted his head toward the door.
For fun, Carly swiped the girl’s refilled shot glass and downed it again, almost choking on it as she kept from laughing.
In the hallway, Jackson shut the door behind them. “Who was that?”
“Huh?” Carly fell against the wall as everything spun around her.
“I dunno. You know . . .” Carly slapped her hand onto Jackson’s thick shoulder, giving it a little squeeze. “I just got off the phone with my dad.” Though her father’s harsher words echoed in her memory, she laughed. Alcohol was doing its job.
“Uh oh. What’d he say?”
“He said . . .” She slammed against the wall, sliding to a sitting position. Everything held still better down here. “He got my grades in the mail. And . . .” She waved her hand as if shooing a fly. “Whatever. He’d be mad no matter what.”
“Hey.” Jackson sat across from her, surprisingly sober. Or maybe he was just in contrast. “We’re friends, right?”
Carly tilted her head forward, offering a frozen eye roll.
He laughed. “Yeah, okay, more than that.”
Chuckling, Carly bent her legs and rested her arms on her knees, considering liberating that strange girl’s next shot from her. “Am I about to get a heart to heart from my fuck buddy?”
Carly groaned and leaned her head against the wall. “Sorry. It’s just . . .” She squeezed her eyes closed, but that made the spinning worse. Her stomach was starting to rebel, so she looked at Jackson. “Dad said I can’t go home if I flunk out.”
“Like . . . at all?”
“Yeah. He won’t pay for plane tickets for the holidays. I won’t see my sister.” Her eyelids grew heavy. “I can take care of the grades. He wants me to stop seeing you.” Her heart jumped into overdrive when her own words hit her ears. Oh no.
“Wait . . .” Jackson cradled her chin in his hand. “How does he know about me?”
“I told Marcie. She told dad. Damn squealer.”
“What did you tell her?”
Carly shrugged, staring at the floor.
“Am I your boyfriend now?” He placed his face and inch from hers. “That would have been good for me to know.”
“I . . . your name slipped, okay? She called you that. I didn’t argue.” The shots were threatening to escape. “I didn’t want to . . .” She couldn’t figure out how to finish the thought.
“Wow.” Jackson sat next to her against the wall. “And what happens if you don’t stop seeing me? Even if you get the grades up?”
Carly leaned on his arm. “I guess I have to figure out how to get home for Christmas on my own. Think I can pull together that much in a month?” She pressed her palm into her forehead.
“What if we drove?” He leaned back, forcing her to look up.
His eyes bore into hers, and she found herself getting lost in them. “We?”
He kissed her forehead. “I think you know this was more than a hookup for me.”
“But . . .” Funny how sobering this conversation was. She sat up. “You live here. And it’s a long drive to Vermont.”
He laughed. “You think I don’t know that?” Opening his arms, he invited Carly to rest against him.
She did, surprised at how comfortable she was.
“I just wish I had known I was your boyfriend before your dad.”
Carly laughed, giving him a squeeze.
That seemed all right.
“So what do you say?” With his finger under her chin, he lifted her face up so she could see into his eyes again. “Should we take the long way home?”
“Did you hear the part about him not wanting me to see you?”
“I did. But I don’t think they’ll turn you away if I deliver you to their door.”
Lifting up, she found his lips, kissing them for the first time without the sole purpose of it leading to sex. “Okay. Let’s drive.”