I enter Australia Writing Centre's Furious Fiction most months. I have yet to be short listed, or long listed, for that matter. But this month I was hoping this was it. But alas, it was not to be. I liked it so much I decided to enter it here for anyone to read. Furious fiction is 500 words in 55 hours. It leaves very little time to edit or give it a thorough going over, but it is fun. Here is my contribution this month, August 2021
A Flick of a Willow Branch
Meet me at Midnight.
The scrap of paper had no signature and no destination. Someone had slipped it into my coat pocket. An assignation, but with who and where?
Was it Tony with his hooded eyes and sexy smile? Robbie had brought him home one night after a party and he never left. Or was it our newest housemate, Lucien, who made my lady parts melt whenever he spoke in his lilting French accent. My mind boggled.
I hurry upstairs to see if my wardrobe had anything remotely sexy for a midnight tryst. Better yet, Claudia’s wardrobe would be full of frills and lace. She dresses so smartly.
‘Claudia.’ I yell. A muffled reply.
I race up the stairs there’s only a few hours until midnight. I fly through her door. Claudia’s elfin face pops up from behind her easel, paint smeared across her cheeks, gamin grin in place.
‘Help me, Claudia. Look at this.’ I show her the scrap of paper.
She taps her chin.
‘You know, I saw the boys put a table and chairs out into the garden this morning. They put them under the willow by the pond, so romantic.’ Claudia sighs.
‘Really? That must be the place.’ but which of the boys is it for?
‘Do you have anything I can wear?’ I ask.
Claudia looks me up and down, humming.
‘I know just the thing.’ she says.
She whips out a little black number, satin, shoe string straps and lace around the cleavage to keep a man’s mind wondering. I hug the garment in glee and rush out.
I spent hours getting ready and hours looking at the shifting of the minute hand on the clock in the lounge room. Now there were only a few minutes left until midnight. I’d seen the boys earlier, and both had given me a wink and a smile. Which one could it be?
I couldn’t wait any longer. Donning my coat, the scrap of paper lay mangled in my pocket where I’d been rubbing it reverently. I hurry out the back, a chill making me shiver, not necessarily from the cold air.
I rush down to the end of the garden. Before I reach the willow, I slow my pace. My hand reaches up and pulls aside the low-hanging branches.
My breathing almost stops.
The table is lit with a floating lotus candle. A bottle of bubbly and two glasses sit waiting patiently.
Standing with bated breath is,
‘Robbie! What’re you doing here?’
‘Huh, um. Waiting for…’ he scrutinises my clothes. ‘Why do you have Claudia’s coat on?’
‘Claudia’s, it’s not hers, it’s mine.’
‘ Ooh, you mean–No. It was you. This was–for Claudia.’ I wave the scrap of paper.
I almost cry.
I pour two glasses of bubbly and raise it.
‘A toast brother, to midnight trysts.’
We both gulp the contents.
My life had gone back to mundane in a flick of a willow branch.