And now for this week’s flash fiction (this is the 12th one I’ve posted as part of this project):
By Laura McHale Holland
Freezing rain patters against the motel room window as the temperature drops inside and out. A lanky, young mother with an unruly head of hair arches protectively around her youngest child on the double bed. The baby has finally fallen asleep after hours of fussing. On a cot nearby, her four-year-old twins are entwined. She thinks of getting up, finding the remote and turning off the TV, which is blaring bad news about crime in her neighborhood, rising gas prices, lack of funding for the schools her children will attend someday. But she is too exhausted to move.
Her stomach growls with hunger. She wonders what is taking her husband so long. He went out to pick up some Tylenol to bring the baby’s fever down, along with a pizza discounted with a Domino’s coupon the motel manager slid under their door this morning. She drifts into sleep unaware that the rain is now snow, and the wind is blowing so hard the branches of the pine tree by their door are scraping against the building.
She dreams of her husband, who is chasing her and calling her name. But she ignores him. She’s racing to catch up with a man in black who is dropping $100 bills in the snow as he walks. Her husband is dreaming the samedream while passed out at the steering wheel of their wheezing, old Mazda. The brakes failed when he was about to round a curve. The car went off the road and crashed into an abandoned farm house a few yards from the road. He is limping in the dream, falling farther and farther behind his wife.
The young husband wakes up. Blood flows from a gash in his forehead. He grabs several napkins the cashier had placed on top of the box when he paid for the pizza. He presses the napkins to his wound to slow the blood flow and he notices the Mazda’s engine is still running. He puts the car in reverse, and tries backing up. It works. He maneuvers back onto the road and drives the rattling vehicle back to the motel.
He carries the cold pizza and medicine inside and puts them on the cluttered desk that doubles as the family’s dining table. He turns off the TV, goes into the bathroom and washes the blood off of his face and hands. He returns to the room, walks over to his sleeping wife and gently wipes her overgrown bangs from her eyes. Then he kisses her lips lightly while she continues to chase the man dropping money in the dream. Her husband sinks into the desk chair by the window and closes his eyes. Snow falls as a scab forms on his forehead.