Thursday in my creative writing class our professor asked if anybody knew what flash fiction was. To my chagrin, nobody answered. Tentatively I raised a hand. Tentative not because I wasn’t sure, but because it was the first class meeting and I had already answered a couple of questions. I try not to be that woman in my classes. So I explained what I could about flash fiction. Then my professor told us to use the last fifteen minutes of class to write a piece of flash fiction. To be turned in. As the first piece of writing this man has ever seen from us.
My mind went into overdrive. Screaming, crying overdrive. I’m a confirmed plotter and the idea of writing something for review in only fifteen minutes…well. I started scribbling, with only the faintest of ideas. Five minutes into the assignment I got a much better idea, but there was no time to reboot. After ten minutes an even better idea occurred to me and I had to ignore it as well.
As expected, I didn’t finish. I managed about two hundred fifty words and a half-finished work. I was miserable as I left class. On the drive home-I have a commute of about an hour-I kept turning over ideas and rejecting them. I couldn’t shake the assignment. Twenty-four hours later I finally sat down to write the piece I wish I had been able to submit to my professor. Re-reading it, I want it to be longer and more detailed, but after I had it (mostly) plotted I only gave myself fifteen minutes to write it. Anyway, here it is, my flash fiction revenge.
The scenario he gave us: two men are having coffee in a diner (or a Starbucks.) One of them finds a dime in bottom of his cup.
As he drained the coffee cup something clicked against Bill’s teeth. He spit it into his hand. A coin. Bob recoiled. “What IS that?” he asked in a tight voice.
“It’s a dime,” Bill answered. “Specifically a Mercury Dime.” He turned it over, looked at it a bit closer. “1942. It’s in pretty good shape for its age.”
Bob looked ill. “Those are—who would put such a thing in somebody’s coffee?”
Bill looked at the girl behind the counter. Young, auburn hair, dark eyes watching them intently. “It could have been a mistake. Fell into the cup when she was making change.”
Bob’s thick brows drew together. “You think that’s it?” Nervousness roughened his voice.
Bill shook his head. “No. She put it there deliberately.”
“I can think of a few reasons why a pretty girl would spike a coffee cup with a silver coin. Maybe she recognized you, my fine lycanthrope, and was hoping you’d swallow it and die.”
Bob shot a glance at the girl behind the counter and growled, a deep and rumbling sound. She looked around nervously, noticing for the first time that the diner was empty except for the three of them.
“But I prefer to think that she recognized me and offered the coin as tribute.” The interior of the diner rippled, the air shimmering as with intense heat. A lithe reptilian shape replaced Bill’s somewhat dumpy human form. He unfurled his wings and stretched his neck over the counter. “You must have meant it as tribute, didn’t you, my dear. You couldn’t have thought such a tiny bit of silver could harm a dragon? Or perhaps it was a bribe?”
The girl stood transfixed, staring into the gently swirling eyes of the dragon as he delicately took her head into his mouth and bit. He swallowed, ran his tongue daintily over his face to clear away the blood that had sprayed him as the corpse crumpled to the floor. He looked back at bob and said, “Stupid wench. The silver totally destroyed the taste of the beans.”