Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #4 (2.2)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

In the wake of Ryan's father's death, he leaves to begin a brand new job with a band called Salvation, as their biographer. Will this be his way to get back into the publishing world? Maybe this is his last chance. See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #4 (2.2)

The coffee shop was blessedly quiet when they entered.  As early as it was, the aroma of fresh java filled the air, no doubt meant as an enticement to passing travelers to stop and smell the coffee. And then, hopefully, buy a cup.

“Grab a table, I’ll get our drinks.” Aiden nodded toward one just inside the doorway then hurried off before Ryan could get a word in edgewise, or ask a question, such as what they do they have. Guess he’d find out.

Abby laughed. “You get used to it.” She slid into one of the square-cut café chairs in one elegant movement, her skirt moving easily with her. “When my brother has ideas, he acts on them. And when he wants coffee…” She gave an elegant shrug.

Ryan took a seat across from her and glanced around.  To their right, a polished wood bar curved along the side of the restaurant that overlooked the concourse, lined with the same chairs, the red-and-purple striped padded backs in contrast to the pale pastels of the seats. On the other side of the shop, behind a black granite-topped counter, stood two young ladies in identical purple shirts, the coffee company logo emblazoned on one breast. Violet bags of coffee filled the shelves in front of the counter, while on either side, glass cases displayed an assortment of delectable pastries. The décor here was very unlike that of the coffee shops he was used to in St. Louis, which tended to be more wood and less chrome. But those familiar haunts were increasingly going out of business, one by one, either bought out by a larger chain or simply closed due to lack of business. This place screamed modern as well as successful, which made sense, considering where it was located, in the busy concourse in the heart of a busy airport in a city that was known for its love of celebrations.

Ryan shrugged off his thoughts and diverted his attention back to Abby. She lounged comfortably in her chair, completely at ease, unlike him. Through the glass-topped table, he could see her long legs were crossed gracefully at the ankles beneath her floor-length skirt, as she regarded him. Poetry in motion was the clichéd phrase that came to mind. He had the impression in looking at her that she was younger than he was, yet there was something in her eyes, something that gave her the look and feel of an old soul. And wasn’t he being overly dramatic. Again. Story of his life.  Always reading into things.  “You’re twins, right?” he asked.

“From birth,” she confirmed with a wink. “Aiden arrived first, so technically he’s my older brother. But, as he likes to remind me, only by a few minutes.”

“I thought so. I mean, there’s such a strong resemblance between you,” Ryan commented. “Especially for being fraternal twins. I don’t think I’ve ever seen—”

“Identical.” Abby uncrossed her leg and leaned toward him, her eyes boring into his. “Not fraternal. We’re as alike as the proverbial peas in the pod.”

Ryan’s grasp of science might not be the best, but even he knew twins of the opposite sex had to be fraternal, never identical, the result of two eggs rather than one split egg.  But he wasn’t about to challenge her statement, either. Although he was supposed to write about the band, right? He assumed that meant everything. Maybe there were subjects that were off-limits? Hopefully, somebody would set some ground rules before he made a fool of himself by asking the wrong questions.

“Oh,” was all he managed to get out, for lack of anything wittier coming to mind. He wasn’t surprised when she laughed at him.

“Come on,” she coaxed him. “Tell me what’s the first thing you’re thinking now.”

Before he could apply a filter to his forthright tongue, Ryan blurted out, “You don’t look like any drag queen I’ve ever seen.” Oh damn, of all the stupid things to say. Ryan’s cheeks flamed as he wondered how really stupid he sounded right this minute, and had he just jumped to an unwarranted conclusion.

“Because I’m not a drag queen, honey.” Abby didn’t sounded upset or angry, fortunately. That would be a bad way to start out his new job. Was she used to this kind of reaction, maybe? But then if she wasn’t a drag queen, what was…

The idea flashed into his brain the moment she spoke the word.

“Transgender. I hope you have a notebook, Ryan. You’ll need a scorecard to keep track of the players with this group.”

Her tone was light, but again he sensed something deeper, darker there. This time he was sure it wasn’t his imagination running away with him. But he wasn’t about to press for answers. Not like this. Certainly not on his first day. He had the feeling she would tell him whenever she was ready. Hopefully.

Before he could say anything else stupid, Aiden’s return put a momentary stop to their conversation. Abby turned toward her brother, reaching for the tray in his hand, and the moment had passed.

to be continued

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