It’s a lovely, snowy day here today, or what I like to call a “perfect writing day.” Considering I haven’t done a flash fiction piece in quite a while, and Chuck Wendig provided an especially fun prompt, I decided the day required some word slinging.
Our job was simple: search “strange photos” on Google Images and pick one for a story. I chose the one beneath the title, which is apparently a Katyushka Doll. Go here to learn more: http://www.ufunk.net/en/artistes/katyushka-dolls/.
Bella and Button
“Gah!” Bella stood on the sidewalk, watching the yellow bus shrink as it headed down the street. If she’d left school a minute earlier, she wouldn’t have missed her ride. “Guess I’m walking again,” she said to no one in particular.
She tromped her aggravated self across the street and into the neighborhood. All of her friends had cars and were probably home already. The only reason Bella didn’t have a license, much less a car, was her mom’s irrational fear of . . . well, of everything. It’s not my fault she can’t handle it. Bella groaned at the thought of losing half an hour walking home, time that could be better spent doing literally anything else.
Bella pulled her phone from her pocket and flipped through various apps as she walked, looking up often enough to avoid veering into traffic or a street lamp. About halfway into the journey, a high-pitched purring sound drew her attention.
It came from a front yard. It could have been a kitten, but it didn’t sound right. It was too high pitched, more like a loud insect. And it was incessant.
Bella followed the sound to a patch of low brush surrounding a mailbox. Pulling back the branches, she peered into the shadow. The purring grew louder, and big, shiny eyes stared at her.
“What the hell?” Bella settled onto her knees and leaned forward, reaching for the creature. It squeaked and backed away but then inched toward her fingers, purring the whole time. When it stroked Bella’s fingertip with its tiny foot, Bella carefully scooped it up.
Out in the sunlight, the creature, which fit comfortably in her palm, buried its head against her hand. Its wrinkled, speckled gray skin and fin-like ears surrounding short horns reminded Bella of a weird fish she’d seen at the aquarium. But that was definitely a fish. This thing had four stubby legs, fat toes, and eyes as big as a Disney princess’s.
“What are you?” She stroked its back, and the purring sped up for a second. The creature didn’t lift its head. “You must not like the light.” Gently, Bella placed it into her jacket pocket, then she doubled her pace toward home.
Locked in her room, Bella lowered the window shade and sat on her bed. Reaching into her pocket, she wrapped her fingers around the creature and removed it, setting it on her comforter. It uncurled, purring loudly again, and looked up at her with its huge, shiny eyes. It smiled at her.
Bella couldn’t help but laugh.
It scurried to her, climbed onto her leg and up to her belly, where it chewed on a button to her jacket. A rapid tapping sound followed.
“I think I’ll call you Button.”
Button nibbled away, not breaking the button but leaving small nicks in it.
“You must be hungry.” Bella opened her desk drawer and took out a cereal bar. “I hope you like apple.” She tore off a small piece as set it on the bed, then moved Button next to it.
Button gobbled the snack, his purr going like a motor. She put down another piece, and another, until only crumbs remained.
“Wow. Where did you put that? It was bigger than you.”
Button whined and ran over her legs, leaping off her and onto the desk. He crawled down the front of the drawer and clung to the knob.
“More? Really?” Bella maneuvered her fingers around Button to open the drawer, retrieving another cereal bar. Button leapt back onto the bed, where Bella fed him again.
Satisfied, Button curled up and went to sleep.
Bella took the opportunity to research. She entered Button’s features into a search engine, but the results only showed fish and prehistoric lizards. Button was one of a kind. How did he end up in a bush? And what if his mother or something was looking for him? Should she put him back?
Maybe his species was one that required their young to survive from the outset, like sea turtles. If that was the case, Button wasn’t doing so hot. He was obviously starving.
Bella decided to keep him a while, at least until she could figure out what he was and where he came from.
Button slept all day, and when it was time for Bella to turn in, she moved him to the small space between her pillow and the wall. He breathed rapidly, a little purr accompanying each exhalation. Bella dozed, comforted by his contentment.
A loud shriek jerked Bella awake. Button sat on the window sill, where he’d chewed a hole in the shade, and with his mouth open as wide as his head, was piercing the night with his yell.
“Shhh! What are you doing?” Bella hurried to him and grabbed him. He sank his teeth into her hand, sending a searing pain through it and up her arm. She dropped him. In no time, Button had returned to the hole in the shade and resumed screeching.
Bella cupped her bleeding hand. I have to get him out of here!
The door flew open and her mother ran in with her hands covering her ears. She yelled, “What is that?” over the noise, but Bella could barely hear her.
A crash came from the window, and the shade flung to the ceiling long enough to reveal what Button was calling. Another creature, this one as big as a truck, snatched Button and disappeared just as quickly.
Bella hurried to the window and peered out, expecting to see the large creature shrinking down the street.
Instead, there was only darkness.
“What was that?” Bella’s mother asked.
Bella swallowed. There was no way to explain Button. “Something I found on my walk home.”
Bella’s mother took Bella’s hand, assessing the wound. “Well . . . maybe it’s time to get you a car.”