We are trying something new on the PJV, we call it Flash Tales. It’s Flash Fiction, with a random writing prompt. Joss and I will be doing this, and we would love to have you guys join in. Or just read our stuff and let us know what you think. What we are doing is generating a random idea prompt, using the site Short Story Ideas. Then we’ll write a 1K to 2K tale based off of the idea generated.

Here is what the Short Story Idea generated for me:

A taxi is the location, love is the theme. A television is an object that plays a part in the story.

 

This is an unedited work of fiction. All content © 2016 by Gillian Zane. This content can not be shared or republished without express permission from the author. 

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The Broken TV by Gillian Zane

My television was on the fritz again. Well, honestly, it had been on the fritz since a lightning bolt zapped near my building last month. I couldn’t get it to switch to HDMI2 setting, which meant I wasn’t able to get it to show my gaming system or my streaming television service. This was a big deal. Really big deal. I was at the end of season 4 of this new crime drama I was hooked on and it had just gotten good.

How was I to achieve my goals of becoming a complete shut-in, anti-social, cat lady if I didn’t have a television that worked?

I slumped down on my sofa, ducking my head into my overstuffed pillows that smelled like lavender. I was so grumpy the smell didn’t relax me, like the guarantee on the label. I really didn’t want to be an anti-social cat lady, but leaving the sanctity of my home was so overrated. I had everything I needed here. I could get my groceries delivered, there were Chinese, Thai, Indian and Italian restaurants that all had Free delivery. And I could make enough money by working from home to survive.

Going out was definitely overrated. Leaving this place, and venturing into the big dirty outside world meant you had to interact with other humans, to their face. Other humans smelled funny, they were pushy, they said rude things and they pissed me off. The less I went out of my apartment the happier I was.

Or so I kept telling myself.

I had my online friends, I could video chat with all my old friends back home. They all thought I was making city life work. That I was conquering it, a girl on the town.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

But, now my television was broken. And I really wanted to know what happened next in my new show I had been mainlining. I wish I could be like one of those people that liked to watch it on their phones. It was too damn small.

I pulled out my phone and queued up the next episode. I scrambled for the earphones because I couldn’t hear the low dialogue. I propped myself up on the pillows, getting my arm in just the right spot so I could hold my phone up and watch…and let myself be carried away by the show, trying to convince myself this was an awesome way to watch it.

***

Two hours later, my arm ached, my neck ached and I think my back was twisted. Could you twist backs? It ached, pardon me for my redundant descriptives. Watching shows on the phone sucked. I slammed my hand into the soft awesomeness of my sofa. It was the most comfortable sofa in the world. I had sat on over a hundred of them before I bought this one. Perfect. Another reason not to leave my apartment.

I watched one more episode.

My head was pounding by the end of it and I was aggravated with the characters. Why would the character suddenly be into men? He’d been sleeping with women this entire time, why now? And then suddenly he’s attracted to men? They only wrote this storyline into the series so they could bridge the gap with people that like that kind of storyline. Following trends.Which was fine. But it didn’t work with this story. He was not into men. You don’t suddenly wake up and decide you like men after sleeping with half of the girls in your office building, right?

Or maybe he was being a total manwhore because he was covering up his sexuality. Was I being intolerant? I prided myself on being very non-intolerant. My head pounded even harder if that was possible. I got up from the sofa and stretched, paced the floor, cleaned a little bit. The apartment felt smaller than normal. I needed a new television.

I scrolled through TVs online, but they all looked so tiny and unreal. There was nothing like looking at them in real life. Like I had sat on a hundred sofas, if I was going to buy a tv, I had to press a hundred buttons.

I changed out of my casual clothes and into something that looked presentable. Jeans and a graphic tee that declared my fondness for my latest gaming obsession. I brushed a comb through my barely manageable red hair and smattered some mascara on my lashes and declared myself adulted.

Time to go television shopping. I grabbed my bag and headed out the door. The stench of the hallway was almost enough to drive me back into the apartment, body odor and pest spray, yum. I almost turned around. My foot angled slightly to the right… I needed to do this. Once I bought a new TV I could hole up behind the door for weeks. I had a goal. I liked goals, especially if they led me back to my apartment.

Cabs were few and far between and I stood and waited for at least ten minutes before I caught sight of one. I waved furiously and went for the car door when it pulled to the curb, just as a big lurking mound of man flesh did the same.

“Excuse me,” I said, the annoyance obvious in my voice as I tried to squirm my body in-between his and the cab. This was my cab. He was not going to get it if I had to resort to elbows and foot stomping.

“Don’t mind me,” he said in a chipper accented voice. It made me pause and I stopped what I was doing long enough for him to grab hold of the door handle.

“Obviously, chivalry is so dead in this city,” I said in the most affronted voice I could muster. It was good too, I had taken theater in high school. He paused and cocked his head to look at me. He took me in from top to bottom and stood up straighter and let go of the door handle.

From his smile, he liked what he saw. If I had been ugly, would he have told me to shove off? I wasn’t a ten, but I could stand strong at a six, a seven if I was decked out and on the low end of my fifteen-pound fluctuation, which I wasn’t. But, he seemed to appreciate my attempts at looking presentable.

“Where are you headed, maybe we can split it? I’ve been waiting thirty minutes for a cab,” he said in a very cultured voice that played opposites with his attire. He was dressed in ripped jeans, a black tee, and a leather jacket, even though the weather was creeping up in the seventies. He was manliness personified, all square-jawed and stubbly goodness. He made me think naughty thoughts about motorcycles, leather cuffs, and bales of hay. Don’t ask me where that last part came from, but there was some weird fantasy playing out that involved a ride on the back of a Harley to a barn and I was wearing some kind of flannel.

I needed to get out more.

“A TV store,” I shrugged. “I don’t care which one. I guess the closest.”

“There’s one on Indiana. That’s where I’m headed, only about a ten minute drive. We can share this cab, I just need to get there, I’m running late already.”

I didn’t know if I should get in the cab with this man, even though my inner teenager was screaming “touch him, touch him, lick him!” He could be a psycho. But, then so could the cab driver. So, could the guy that just walked past that smelled like watered down piss. I needed to get my TV and go back home.

“We be going!” The taxi driver called from the front in an impatient voice.

“Sure,” I said and the man opened the door and held it for me.

I slid into the back of the taxi, wincing as my hand touched something sticky. Gross. The man slid in next to me and took up way too much space, even though the cab had plenty of room, it felt like I was in need of more space.

“Indiana and Cherokee,” the man told the driver and the taxi driver put the car into drive and pulled off from the curb with a spin of the tires. I was thrown into my cab sharing stranger and his arm went around me to hold me up.

“Whoah,” he said with a soft chuckle and I felt my insides do a little flip flop. It had been a really long time since I had been with a guy. Hell, it had been a really long time since I had even had a conversation with someone that wasn’t on the other side of my phone.

“Sorry,” I said softly.

“I’m Aaron,” he held out his hand and I slipped my own into it. I glanced up as his big palm engulfed my own and was surprised at how warm his eyes were. They were the color of dark chocolate and I licked my lips just thinking of the flavor.

“Stacey,” I said, my cheeks suddenly reddening because I was a total social outcast and had no idea how to act in front of a good looking guy.

He held my hand a little longer than was called for, but I didn’t mind. My whole body had heated up, beginning in the fingers he held and spreading over my core. Too soon he let go and I let my hand fall back on the seat, he did the same, his palm spread out not that far from my own. I could almost sense the heat coming off of it and my fingertips itched to touch him again. It was an intense feeling, one I had never experienced before. This man was a stranger, but I craved his attention.

I had been locked up in my apartment too long.

He never once pulled out his phone. He focused his attention on me, making small talk. He held my gaze, making eye contact as his big body turned in the seat toward me. His shoulders were so wide, I wanted to grip them and see how solid they were underneath the jacket.

He asked me about my life, little things. He never asked me what I did for a living. But the small important stuff, like if I had any pets, or if I liked the taste of gelato. It was all benign and casual topics, but I felt by the end of our ten-minute ride, this guy knew more about me than anyone.

It was all in my head of course, but for some reason I wanted it to be true.

The taxi drive pulled up to the curb with a screech of tires and forcefully told us to pay up and get out. We did as directed then we both slid from the cab and faced each other. He chewed on his lip as if he wanted to ask me something. I had to shove my hands into my jeans pockets to prevent myself from reaching for him. He would think I was crazy, but I itched to touch him, his chest, his shoulders, smooth his mussed hair.

“There’s the store,” he pointed to an electronic’s chain across the street.

“Thank you,” I said, suddenly shy.

“Well…” He trailed off.

“Thank you for sharing a cab with me,” I said, cursing myself as I cut him off. He might have been about to ask me out. It was what I wanted more than anything in the world. I wanted it more than to get back to my apartment.

“You’re welcome,” he looked like he wanted to say something more, but both our heads turned when a man shouted his name.

“Aaron!” The guy was his polar opposite, small build, thin and wearing a business suit, he was hurrying our way.

“It was…” I didn’t know what else to say. Nice? Fun? Mind blowing?

“Have a good day, Stacey,” Aaron said as if I was the cashier girl or a waitress. A stranger. Which I was. Then he turned and left.

It was now my time to go. I turned around and walked across the street. I only glanced over my shoulder once, but he was gone. I opened the door to the electronic’s giant with a sigh and commenced to pushing buttons. One down, ninety-nine to go.

I walked out of electronics store without a television. None of them spoke to me. And my pocketbook needed to be rearranged before I made this kind of decision. I was so bummed, yet excited about my chance meeting with Aaron that I hadn’t been in the right frame of mind to make a big purchase.

Why head was still swirling with thoughts about my taxi ride and the man who shared it with me, that I wasn’t paying attention as I walked out of the store. I nearly collided with solid muscle, wrapped in leather and smelling like…

“Stacey,” his cultured voice said, making my head snap up and a smile plaster across my face.

“Aaron,” I said, my voice all breathy and excited.

“I thought we could share a cab back,” he grinned.

“I would love to…”

 

Image credit: Carles Alsina

3 Comments

  1. Patti

    I don’t know how you do it – you spun a great story from those three things! I think I’m going to like this feature 🙂

  2. Nathan

    I am impressed with what you came up with given these requirements for this short story. I would have struggled to write something like this.

    • Parajunkee

      Thanks Nathan. I think this is a good exercise for brainstorming – and letting go of the story. A lot of writers hang on – including me. And I find this is when I lock up because it has to go a certain way. This really helps.