Friday, February 19, 2016

(Formerly Flash) Fiction Friday #9 (And of course the other usual B.S.)

Hooray for not sticking to New Year's Resolutions!

You know what else is hard? Reading friggin' Aftermath. You know, Chuck Wendig's Star Wars novel I promised I'd have a review of finished by last Monday? Yuuuup, still plodding through that. I guess giving up is always an option, but I already did that with 1Q84 and I guess that as a book blogger I should probably try not to do that too often... *heavy sigh* Considering it's taking me so long to read it, I'm sure you can guess how this review is going to go; I'll try to live up to the high expectations I know you're all holding me to. Look for a review next week.

On the bright side, I started reading A Game of Thrones again, because work is boring and I need something to sneakily read on my phone at the register on slow days, and unfortunately I bought Aftermath as a hard copy and not an ebook. So fear not, I won't keep you waiting for a review of that nearly as long as you've been waiting for my upcoming one. Also, if you pay attention to "My Reading List" I have so helpfully included to the right of this post, you'll see some other, "sexier" books on there, which I've already read a while back and should have some mini-reviews of out within the next week or so. Also also, I swear to all that is good and holy that I will be starting my City of Bones sporking within the next couple weeks, hopefully sooner than that. Hooray for promises I'll probably break!

This is specifically for you, Boyfriend <3

Oh, you were expecting a story, were you? Well, I guess there's really no point in calling this "Flash Fiction Friday" anymore, since this one is about three pages long and not technically even finished. So from now on, on the occasions when I do post a story, I might just refer to it as Fiction Friday/Story Saturday, depending on when I post it. 


Friday Nights at Home

“But why can’t I stay up and watch it?” Dave protested as I prodded him to get into bed. I sighed; had my little brother always been this difficult? Then again, I was not Mom. I never could be Mom.
            “Because, it’s… past your bedtime,” I said, hoping the darkness of the bedroom hid the cringe on my face at my own pathetic response. It was true, of course: Star Trek wasn’t on until ten o’clock these days, and Dave was supposed to go to bed strictly at eight on Grandma Sylvia’s insistence, Friday night or not. “Just because your Mama’s not around--God rest her soul--doesn’t mean the order in this house is going to go to the Devil,” she was too fond of saying.
            Dave crossed his arms over his chest and glared at me. In response, I pulled the blanket right over his folded arms and up to his chin. Immediately, he started to flail in protest and I couldn’t help but laugh. “C’mon, Janey, just ask Dad for me, pleeeease? He always used to let me watch it,” he continued to plea.
            “‘I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dave,’” came a flat, stilted voice from behind me. Dad stood in the doorway, a smile flashing across his face as he stretched out his arms and began to stiffly march toward us, more Frankenstein’s Monster than evil robot. A hard knot formed in my throat and dropped into my stomach; already I knew that this playful mood wouldn’t last for long. No point in smiling at the joke if that was going to be the case. As Dad continued to tease my brother in a droning impression of HAL 9000, I wordlessly got up and left, afraid of ruining the moment.
            Back in my own room, I flopped face-first down on my bed and pressed my face firmly into the pillow, remembering how as a little kid I’d always tried to leave a perfect imprint in the middle. I sat up on my knees, watching as the pillow re-formed itself, the shallow indent filling itself in again as if melting in reverse. I half expected Grandma Sylvia to be lurking in the doorway, asking what nonsense I was up to now. To her, anything that teenagers did when not under an adult’s watchful eyes--and even when they were--was automatically “nonsense”. It was her favorite word, and she used it quite liberally. Hopping off my bed, I pushed the door closed as far as I thought I could get away with. Ever since Grandma Sylvia had moved herself into our house, she’d made it very clear that if she saw a bedroom door completely closed, it must mean that some form of “deviant nonsense” must be going on behind it.
            The hard knot coiled tighter in my stomach, threatening to move into my throat again. Mom called my love of science fiction “nonsense” of any variety, even if she did find it a bit strange. She’d never called anything I did or liked “nonsense.” I sat down on the bed again and pulled my copy of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress out from where it was wedged between the bed and the wall, thinking of how tightly pursed Grandma Sylvia’s lips would be if she saw me reading such a “nonsense” book.
            I was so absorbed in the story that almost two hours had passed before I remembered that it was almost time for Star Trek. I dog-eared the page to mark my place--more out of secret rebellion against my grandmother’s exacting standards than lack of a bookmark--and made my way to the living room. Dad was already there on the couch with his newspaper. His playful facade on display earlier had once again disappeared behind his stoic lawyer mask. He stared intently at the paper, not even lowering it an inch as he took a sip from the Tom Collins glass in his other hand.
Grandma Sylvia perched stiffly on the ancient rocking chair in the corner of the large room farthest from the television; her designated spot. She occupied her own private circle of lamplight in the dimly-lit room, spotlighting her as she knitted something out of blue yarn with the brisk efficiency of a robot designed to act as Southern-grandmotherly as possible. She certainly didn’t seem to run on sleep the way I thought old ladies should, her main fuel instead being copious amounts of sweet tea and furtive sips of whiskey when she thought no one was looking. There was a glass of sweet tea on the table beside her now, perhaps even with a drop of whiskey in it, and I resigned myself to the fact that she would be sticking around to purse her lips through the episode.
“Dad, it’s almost on,” I said. When he didn’t look up, I gave his Tom Collins arm a nudge. “Dad, Star Trek is on. Can I turn on the TV?”
He gave a start. “Hm? Oh. Yes, go ahead.”
I turned on the television and quickly flipped to NBC, just as the opening notes of the theme song chimed and the USS Enterprise glided through space across the screen. Just as I always did on these Friday nights, I grabbed a pillow from the couch and hugged it to my chest as I sat cross-legged on the floor. Almost immediately, my grandmother’s signature “Hmph!” could be heard from her corner.
“Really, Alan, you shouldn’t let Jane watch such nonsense,” she fussed. Nonsense, there was that word again.
Dad sighed at her in the way only he could and get away with it. “Ma, there’s nothing wrong with it. And Janey’s fifteen, she’s allowed to watch what she wants. Besides… it’s educational.” There was the rustling of the paper being folded, and I looked up at Dad. He smiled slightly, giving me that conspiratorial wink he always used to give me whenever Mom questioned what he let me watch on TV.
This week’s episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” was a pretty silly one, although I was noticing that a pattern of really bizarre adventures was starting to emerge in this season. It was still fun to watch, though. Captain Kirk and the crew had found themselves on a planet of sadistic, telekinetic aliens who based their society off of ancient Greece. Not the strangest premise I’d seen on the show, but the writer and director seemed to being going way over the top with it, having the aliens use their powers to force the crew to dance around and act like animals. They even drove Spock to tears! I could hear Grandma Sylvia tutting and tsking away, belying her deliberate inattention to the TV.
The episode got a little uncomfortable to watch when Spock and Nurse Chapel were forced to kiss each other against their will. The music started to build dramatically as they awkwardly embraced, and continued to build as the camera shifted focus to Kirk and Uhura. They clutched each other dramatically, until they could no longer resist the aliens’ power and were forced to kiss as well.
There was another “Hmph!” from the rocking chair, but louder and more shocked-sounding this time. Dad gave a little chuckle. “Well now, I believe we might have just seen a little bit of history being made,” he said mildly. The ice cubes in his glass clinked as he took another sip of his drink.
History?” I heard Grandma Sylvia exclaim, and my Dad and I both turned to look at her, dreading what she might say next. Dad shot her a withering look that surprised me. She opened her mouth to elaborate, but never got the chance.
“Actually, I’m not so sure about how historical that kiss is.” My older brother Mark was suddenly in the living room, apparently having decided to grace us with his presence to be a smartass. “Sammy Davis, Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on TV last year, and I’m pretty sure I saw an interracial kiss before on I, Spy, too.” I rolled my eyes at him, but secretly I was grateful his interruption had stopped our grandmother from going on a tirade. Leave it to him to cite precedent when it came to a “nonsense” TV show. Still just a senior in high school, and Mark already fancied himself part of the family’s next generation of lawyers. Grandma Sylvia just gaped at him for a moment, then shook her head and went back to her furious knitting, muttering to herself as she did so.

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