Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #40 (10.3)

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.

Salvation is about to play a concert at an underground club in Houma, Louisiana. Ben sends Ryan and Abby to pick up some food from a local restaurant before they go on. Good chance for Ryan to get to know Abby better. See what their conversation brings in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #40 (10.3)

The general consensus of the other members of the band was they’d be fine with whatever Abby and Ryan chose to get, so they decided to go with that.

At her request, Abby drove. Ryan didn’t mind. She knew how to use the GPS system better than he did anyway. He’d never had one before, in St. Louis. When he needed to go somewhere unfamiliar, he relied on Mapquest.  When she put in the address of the restaurant, they learned their destination was only fifteen minutes away. Traffic was light to moderate in this part of Houma, swelling a little as they went. The restaurant was no great shakes at first sight, but judging from the smells that hit their nostrils as soon as they walked in the door, the food was something special. A number of the tables were full, even as late as it was. The atmosphere was relaxed and tension-free. Ryan was sorry they didn’t have time to sit here and enjoy their meal.  Another time, hopefully.

Studying the menu, they decided to get a selection of appetizers: crab claws and stuffed jalapenos, fried pickles and fried cauliflower, as well as oyster brochettes. Just in case someone wanted to satisfy a sweet tooth, they also ordered some funnel fries. If they were still hungry after the show, they could always find something else then, but there was no sense in loading up too much right before they went on. Ryan placed their order, then handed the girl behind the counter the credit card Ben had given him to use, not surprised to see Cameron’s name imprinted on the plastic. Once he gave her his name, they found a table near the order pick-up where they could wait.

“What are those brochettes? I’ve never heard of them,” Ryan confessed.

“I’ve had them before. They’re skewers of oysters and bacon, deep fried, usually served on some kind of toasted bread, with a sauce,” Abby replied.

“Sounds good. I’ll trust your judgment.” He smiled at her.

Abby gave him a long studied look, not saying a word.

“What?” He glanced away, wondering if he’d said something wrong.

“I was just thinking how much you’ve changed in just the few days I’ve known you, Ryan.”

“I have?” He’d picked up a salt shaker, sliding it idly back and forth across the table, from one hand to another. He looked up at her in surprise.

“You seemed nervous and apprehensive at the airport. Kind of unsure of yourself. Not unhappy but not happy, either, if you know what I mean. Now… well, now you’re positively radiant. Not that I don’t know the reason why.”

Ryan’s cheeks warmed. He knew exactly what Abby meant, but he hadn’t realized how apparent his new outlook on life was to the other members of the band. Must be pretty obvious, since they really didn’t know him at all. Not like Ben did.

“Don’t be embarrassed, I think it’s wonderful.” Abby reached out and laid one of her hands over his. “I see how you and Ben look at each other. He’s just as happy as you, trust me. He hasn’t glowed like this in…. well, ever. Not since I’ve known him.”

That was good to know. The thought warmed Ryan, inside and out. He knew he must be flushed pretty red, but he didn’t mind. Abby was hardly judgmental.

“Love is a grand thing.” He couldn’t read her tone, it sounded somewhat enigmatic for all her talk of romance. She squeezed his hand, then withdrew her own.

“Are you in love?” he asked without thinking, then wished he hadn’t spoken. “I’m sorry. That’s none of my business. Forget I asked.”

“No, it’s okay. You can ask me anything.”

He raised his eyes from the table apprehensively. She wasn’t smiling, but she didn’t look angry either.
“I have a boyfriend, if that’s what you mean,” she replied.

That wasn’t exactly an answer to what he’d asked, but remembering Aiden’s rules, he wasn’t about to press the issue with her. Not unless she seemed willing to discuss it.

“Brandon?” he asked. He ran his thumb over the top of the salt shaker. Some of the holes were caked with old salt, he noticed. Maybe the humidity caused that.

“That’s the one,” Abby said lightly. “There’s a chance you might get to meet him tonight. He said if he could, he’d come to the show.” She shrugged, as if his attendance wasn’t of great importance to her one way or another. Ryan wondered what sort of relationship they had. Just thinking about being with Ben made him smile. Shouldn’t she be a little more eager to see this Brandon?

“It’s complicated,” Abby said slowly, as if she’d read his mind. More likely, she could just follow his train of thought. “You see, I’ve been saving money for a while now… to get… the surgery I need…”

Ryan nodded, not sure where this was going, but it answered the question of just what surgeries her dad paid for. Top, but not bottom, apparently.

“Brandon… has different ideas about the surgery then I do. He doesn’t want me to get it.”

That was a surprise. And very confusing. “But… but why… I mean, if it’s something you want…”

“Exactly.” Abby offered him a sad smile. “He tells me he likes that… little extra I have. He doesn’t understand that it isn’t part of who I really am, it’s part of me that should never have existed.”

That made sense, but it was also sad. If this Brandon loved her as she was, why would he want her to keep something was anathema to her? What kind of love was that? Why was it that all the men in her life, other than Aiden, were no good?

“If he doesn’t understand that, then he doesn’t deserve someone as special as you,” Ryan said without thinking.

Abby’s eyes glistened.  A lone tear trickled down her cheek as she offered him a sad smile.

to be continued

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