Thursday, July 1, 2010

The cat’s on the roof…..Flash Fiction

"Are you sure about this Krista?" Sam asked, his brow furrowed, looking down at the scrawny girl standing on the other side of the counter, a determined expression on her face.

"I am Sam. I think it's the only way."

"It just seems kind of cruel to blurt it out like that. I mean, don't you think you should tell your mother and your friends quiet like, you know, break it to them gently..." Sam drifted off when he saw two spots of color rise on Krista's otherwise too pale face. The color drew attention to her overly bright eyes, cracked lips and hollow cheeks. Sam was not a dense man, and the trembling in Krista's hands which were not quite hidden by her oversize shirt, telegraphed to him her emotional vulnerability on the subject at hand. He'd noticed that she'd been dropping weight and seemed distracted, but before she told him what she wanted him to print on a tee shirt this morning he would never have imagined that her world had been turned upside down like this by the cruelty of fate.

"Will you at least have a donut and some tea while I get it ready and think about what I said?"

"I can't eat Sam. I can't eat, I can't sleep. I just feel so restless. You hear about things like this happening, but I never thought it would happen to me. I've been so careful."

Sam handed her a tissue, patted her hand and turned away so she could compose herself.

He chose an extra small tee from the rack, in midnight blue, her favorite, and started laying out the letters. He was pleased to see Krista sipping a cup of tea and picking at a donut while she waited.

"I know this old joke Krista. It's about this guy who is left to tend to his friend's mom and cat while the friend is away. When the friend phones to check on his mom and cat, the minder blurts out that the cat is dead. The owner of the cat is naturally upset and tells his friend that he could have broken the news in a gentler way. He suggests starting out with the cat's on the roof and working in small steps up to the news of the cat being dead. The friend learns his lesson and they hang up. A couple of days later the absent friend calls and they chat and then he asks how his mom is. The friend says oh, your mom's on the roof…"

Krista laughed her tinkling laugh and Sam smiled.

"So what you're saying Sam, is the front of the tee should say The cat's on the roof, and… with my news on the back?"

"I think that would be less shocking to your nearest and dearest, especially if they've heard the joke. Then they can brace themselves for whatever is coming."

Krista nodded at Sam. He chose the appropriate letters and got the tee shirt ready for her. When he handed it over she asked if she could step in the back and put it on. He held the counter gate open for her and she stepped through. He noticed her empty cup and plate and smiled to himself.

Krista came out of the back wearing the shirt, hugged him, squared her shoulders and headed out of the door.

The last thing he saw was her tiny back emblazoned with the words:

"God help me, I'm in Love."

Link to Mad Utopia and the master list of this week's 89! #fridayflash stories including enough #zombieluv contest entries to make you hurl


Laura Eno said...

To some, that could be a fate worse than a cat up on the roof, I suppose. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ha, you got me again. My mind was going in fifty directions wondering what the horrible news could be. And... oh god... it's LOVE.

Brilliant. Loved it, ma'am.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Aw, that is so sweet, I was bracing myself for the worst! But then again...

You brought back a buried memory for me. I worked in a department store in high school and sometimes I put transfers on T-shirts, I could smell the transfers steaming inside the press. I completely forgot that I used to do that. And, does anyone do that anymore?

Karen from Mentor said...

I remember that smell Anne! That and the smell of the diy iron-ons...

*doffs cap to Gracie* Thank you m'lady.

Yes, love [like coffee] can be hard on the system Laura. Funny that Anne would bring up smell memory after the discussion we just had offblog...laughing

Thank you, you lovely things for taking the time to read and comment.

Al Bruno III said...

Another great story...

Michael Solender said...

ah to be in love - a wispy fresh piece of flash her, well done karen.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Michael, thanks Al, I wrote this on Tuesday while I was still in romance mode after channeling someone else's muse and writing the pirate story last week....laughing...

So nice of you both to come in and take the time to comment. Very much appreciated.

Yamabuki said...

That reminds me of a poem I wrote last year:

And love, and love, and love.

Cupid's arrow is not a gift
To be found under the tree
wrapped in shiny tinsel
and pretty smiles

Erotic presents are not free
No one is exempt from sorrow
Always, always, always
There is a price

But who of us can resist
That unexpected look
eyes meeting across the room
Falling into each other’s soul

Love has no limits
It’s not on sale
When that arrow hits your heart
You are dead and life begins.


Karen from Mentor said...

Oh Yamabuki the two lines I loved most in your poem were:

Falling into each other’s soul

You are dead and life begins.

Any relationship is a learning/teaching experience, but romantic relationships are also a test of endurance. Both parties have to survive the death you speak of and want to be reborn anew. When that happens there's nothing better. *happy sigh*

Thanks for sharing.

David G Shrock said...

Wow, I was expecting all kinds of bad news on that shirt, but love? That is scary.

Valerie said...

Such a sweet story. I wondered if there were any subtle undertones we were meant to take from that message, but I guess not! And that is totally fine by me. Glad it wasn't something tragic, although I suppose that depends on your definition of the word.

Karen from Mentor said...

Valerie, you and I are on the same wavelength so much of the time that I almost told Gracie in my comment to her that I was sure you'd come in and say you saw the ending coming a mile away. I just got such a kick out of writing the ending visual. Poor little thing....such an awful thing to happen to her after she'd been so careful...laughing...

Thank you for taking the time to comment my lovely friend.

Karen from Mentor said...

David "that is scary" made me laugh. Thank you.

shannon said...

Ok, I was expecting "I eat brains" or "hide your neck" but love? Didn't expect that :-) I suppose it is the most dangerous metamorphosis of all!
What I want to know is how does one go about being careful not to fall in love? Is there a spray like bug spray? hehe

Eric J. Krause said...

Good one! Yes, that definitely needs something on the front of the shirt to lighten the blow.

Karen from Mentor said...

*does a delighted little jig*
I'm shocked that you didn't see that coming either Shannon...laughing... Re your query: As far as there being an anti love spray I think any of those Axe body sprays for men do the trick. Instant woman repellent/sinus congestion clearer in one product.

Thank you for reading and commenting my lovely.
So nice to see you making the rounds again.

PS "I eat brains" would be fun to have on a tee. I actually ate brains once. Pig brains in scrambled eggs while visiting a friend's house overnight. I found out what I had eaten AFTERWARDS.


[There. Now all people everywhere know better]
*saving tablecloths from vomit, one blog post comment at a time*

Karen from Mentor said...

And speaking of things that make me nauseous,

Eric has an entry in the Zombie Luv contest this week. Eric has a knack for the zombie thing. [shudders] Oh and for destroying the planet in an entertaining way-- which he does on a fairly regular basis.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Eric, happy to have entertained you.


Marisa Birns said...

Good to see that you are still on LOVE mode. Really thought horrible things were going to be revealed. Maybe icky things. Have just made the rounds of zombie stories and... well, let's just say that they are amazingly written but there's a lot of ewwwww going on in them!

Now I know you will believe me when I tell you this. Still shaking my head and wondering what it means.

You know I was away last week. Someone I never met came over for lunch. Right before he left, we were standing in the music room and felt a shaking and what sounded like heavy running footsteps overhead.

"Is there a bear on the roof?" I asked stupidly.

Turns out we were feeling the shocks of the earthquake in Ottawa!

BUT, to calm my nerves, he told a joke.


Laura Eno said...

Your comments no longer resemble the original intent because you mentioned brraaaaiiinnnnsss.

The zombies will be shopping your blog now...

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

I love this. What I love most is that you allow us to wonder what this is about and then tease us gently through until the end. Very well done.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... well, I suppose love is love, right? :P
Great flash, Karen!

Anonymous said...

LOL i wasnt expecting that at all - love the way you write, its great - brilliant piece

Sam said...

Aw, ya got me! I have visions of particularly straight-laced parents if she needs to go to these sort of lengths. I'd love to know how it turned out for her.

J. M. Strother said...

I thought it was going to say something like, "Baby On Board." You got me. Hope she's happy with her new love.

KjM said...

Misdirections R Us

Nicely done, Karen. I had no idea - well, not true, I had a hundred ideas about what was going on - and you still turned it around and left me flat-footed.

Well drawn characters. I could see the two of them very clearly.

And you created a very sweet man in Dan. I loved "He noticed her empty cup and plate and smiled to himself."

Good work.

KjM said...

"...ny of those Axe body sprays for men do the trick. Instant woman repellent/sinus congestion clearer in one product...."


ganymeder said...

Aw, that was cute!

One little question... what's a 'minder'? Is that slang for friend?
> When the friend phones to check on his mom and cat, the *minder* blurts out that the cat is dead.<

Karen from Mentor said...

from wickipedia:
"A minder is a person assigned to guide or escort a visitor, or to provide protection to somebody, or to otherwise assist or take care of something, i.e. a person who 'minds'"

Hope that clears that up for you Cathy. Thanks for stopping in and for the lovely comment.

Karen from Mentor said...

I made Kevin SNORT! and left him flat footed.

*dusts hands* my work today is done....

:0) <-- that's a big grin

Karen from Mentor said...

I think this is my favorite google translation to date:

Maturity is the ability to adapt to life in the fuzzy

Because it actually makes sense...laughing... If they got the translation right Jingchen, I agree, taking what life throws at you with aplomb is what it's all about. Thank you for stopping in and taking the time to read and comment.

Alan W. Davidson said...

I, too, loved the Axe spray remark. That was a great story, Karen. It's interesting to see where people's minds drift while reading it.

Cat Connor said...

That was clever, Ms Smarty-pants. :D

Will email you soon. Got home last night, busy day today... should be quieter tomorrow with some decent email time thrown in.

Laurita said...

Falling in love is a horrible, painful thing. Almost as bad as a cat on the roof.

This made me smile so much my face hurts.

Karen from Mentor said...

@RachelBlackbirdsong it's lovely to see you out and about again. Your story this week was gorgeous.

@Jon, Sam, brainhaze and Estrella thanks so much for stopping in, and I think it'll turn out just fine for her.

@ Cat and Alan Thanks luvs! You know you always make me smile by just showing up.

Karen from Mentor said...

@Laurita I know. It's scary and exhilarating and nauseating and fun all at once. Kind of like riding a rollercoaster but you oftentimes feel the need for much less clothing.

Karen from Mentor said...

So glad you had a great time and a great birthday celebration for yourself.

I just told Carrie that I AM DONE with the zombieluv stories. Gracie's was charming, [don't know how, but she pulled it off] and Sam's was just so gross I wanted to hurl...laughing.. so I AM DONE.
No more zombieluv stories for me.

*does a happy dance because Marisa's back*

Mari said...

Great flash! I thought she had AIDS, or, incredibly enough, she was changing to a zombie or something, although you were *very* clear on you dislike for them. I think I'm obsessed about zombies, as Laura said, heh.

*doing crazy dance too* Mari-girl is back! YAYYYY! :D

judy said...

This is my favorite flash fiction ever! I'm going to go tweet you.

Karen from Mentor said...

Aw shucks, miss Judy, twarnted nothin'
[that was fun]
Thanks baby. And thanks for the tweet!
*Big Big Grin*

Karen from Mentor said...

Cathy [ganymeder] suggested early in the week that I morph my #fridayflash into a #zombieluv story for your contest but I resisted. Resistance wasn't futile in this instance.
The force is strong in me.

Hey, a star wars and a star trek reference in one comment.
*giant geek alert* brain must be affected by the happiness of Marisa being home.
[yeah, that's it..I'm not USUALLY a scifi geek]
Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to comment.