Flash Fiction: Running

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”
— William Shakespeare

The thud, thud, thud of Jessie’s tennis shoes were consistent on the pavement. She was trying to hurry, but wearing herself out by running full out wasn’t an option. She had an important job that night, she had to be ready.

So she ran at a steady pace, her years in track doing her in good stead. Her hair bounced from shoulder to shoulder, and her backpack gently tapped her back (luckily she hadn’t received much homework today).

Thud, thud, thud.

Only a few blocks to go.

“Hey, Jessie!”

Jessie slowed but did not stop. She looked around.

At the corner ahead stood a boy her age. He waved.

Jessie couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across her face, but she tried to make it seem as if grinning stupidly was how she greeted everybody.

“Hey, Robbie,” she said when she reached the corner and came to a only slightly unwilling stop. “What’s up?”

“You going to the party tonight?”

“At the school? No, I’ve got plans.”

Robbie shook his head incredulously. “Plans? On this night? You’re gettin’ old, Freeman.” He was clearly teasing, though he did seem genuinely disappointed.

Jessie was also disappointed, but only a little. There would be other parties. She shrugged casually at Robbie as she began to run again. “Some of us have responsibilities!”

She waved at him, then turned the corner and kept running, her grin widening.

Thud, thud, thud.

Jessie had just gotten her rhythm back when —

“Jessie!”

The cry was an urgent one, and Jessie stopped immediately. Before she had a chance to catch her breath, something burst out of the bushes of a nearby house.

“BOO!”

Jessie nearly fell over in shock and couldn’t quite suppress a little scream.

Maniacal laughter followed this, and Jessie, regaining her balance, dove at the now-familiar figure. “You jerk!”

Her friend collapsed back into the bushes, Jessie on top of her. There was a scuffle of limbs and branches before both girls tumbled into the grass. Breathing heavily, Jessie glared at Shaira — and then began to laugh.

“Got you good,” Shaira said, choking back her own giggles. “Where are you going, anyway? Not staying for the party?”

“Nah, got more important things to do,” Jessie said, a little breathlessly. She sat there a minute more before getting to her feet. “With Adam.”

“Ah.” The confusion in Shaira’s face cleared. “Well, I hope you have fun.” She lay back on the grass. “Bring me something back. You know what I like.”

“Will do,” Jessie said. She lightly kicked Shaira’s feet out of her way (“Hey!”), and resumed her run.

Thud, thud, thud.

Thud, thud, thud.

Almost home!

Thud, thud

“Oh help! Oh help me, please!”

Jessie turned to see an elderly woman standing underneath a large tree. She was staring up into its branches, and Jessie could see the fuzzy blob that was a large orange cat.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she muttered. She had come to a stop, and looked between her house and that of the old woman. She checked her watch. She sighed.

“Mrs. O’Keefe!” Jessie called, moving away from her house. “Did Betty get stuck again?”

*****

Rubbing newly formed cat scratches on her arm, Jessie opened the front door to see an indignant Adam waiting on the entry stairs.

“You’re late,” he pouted.

“Late for what?” Jessie asked, putting away her backpack and removing her coat with deliberate slowness. “Are we doing something today?”

Her little brother’s eyes widened. “Did you forget? It’s Halloween!”

Now she turned to look at him so he could see her smile. “Is it?”

Adam’s face lit up. “You didn’t forget!” He bounced to his feet and grabbed her by the waist in a tight hug.

“We’re going trick or treating at all the houses, Jessie,” he said, looking up at her seriously. “Even the scary ones.”

She pulled down his Darth Vader mask so it covered his face. “Whatever you say, my lord.” And then she began to tickle him.

He squirmed with indignant delight. “You can’t tickle your commander!” He escaped her arms, giggling.

“Let me just get my costume on, and we’ll head out.”

*****

A scant ten minutes later (Adam was very impatient), a costumed Jessie held her brother’s hand as they walked (not ran — Jessie was done with that for the day) down their driveway.

The sky was still light, though fading into darkness, and dozens of Jack o’lanterns and decorations glowed enticingly in front of the houses. Other children were already making the rounds, clutching a bag or bucket in one hand and their parent’s hand in the other. Or their grandparent’s, or their aunt or uncle’s.

Or their big sister’s.

Jessie held up her blue lightsaber. “Ready, Vader?”

Adam waved his red one. “Ready, Obi Wan!”

And the siblings set off into the Halloween night.

 


 

Aw . . . it’s what I’m going to be doing tonight! Happy Halloween, everybody!

The prompt came from Yeah Write, which is doing a year-long short story challenge for 2016! This is Week 44’s prompt. You can read all about the challenge HERE!

“pumpkins” by I, DL. is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0.

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