Flash Fiction Challenge: Rafter Dancing

Last week, author Chuck Wendig’s Friday flash fiction challenge was titles. This week, the challenge was to write a flash fiction piece using your title. So I did. (And yes, I cheated a little. I had this ready to go a few days ago.)

My entry was Rafter Dancing. It’s been in my head for a while, huddled in the corners, waiting for me to imagine a story to go with it. And I must admit I can’t take credit for the title-an ex actually came up with it years (well over a decade) ago. Knowing his thoughts surrounding it, my challenge was to come up with a story that I felt stayed true to his original vision-and still making it my own.

The story that follows is darker than anything I’ve written before. It’s a tad morbid, even. But you know what? I enjoyed the challenge.

    Kyle’s body swung gently, his neck floppy and bent at an almost 90 degree angle. The breeze wafting through the living room stirred the staleness and dust motes, flickering in the shaft of sunlight hitting his bloated face.

    Mel couldn’t stop staring. He’d done it. He’d actually done it.

    That took a hell of a lot of courage.

    Despite the ugliness, it was peaceful. He’d dressed for the occasion. Crisp blue shirt, new pants. His shoes were shined. He’d probably gotten a haircut. Shaved. Trimmed his nails. He was fastidious. Took the term metrosexual to heart. Did anyone use that word any more?

    The stepladder was lying across the furniture. Kyle wouldn’t be pleased. Too disordered, though it was the only item out of order. And he’d hate being on display like that.

    She righted the ladder and shook it, making sure it was sturdy. The metal creaked as she climbed, balancing higher than the warning label slapped on the side declared was safe. It wasn’t high enough.

    The ridged metal dug into her ass as she sat on the top step, looking up as he continued to sway. He’d really hate the way his tongue stuck out. Like an idiot, or a clown. The greyish purple color coordinated with the pastiness of his skin, so at least that would please him.

    There would be a note somewhere. He’d been big on notes. Letters. No one wrote letters these days, he’d complain. His attempts were always long and full of metaphors that made no sense, the words running into one another as he tried to cram it all onto one page. It couldn’t be longer than a single page, he’d tell her. Any longer, and it would make the recently deceased look ridiculous.

    Heaven forbid Kyle look ridiculous.

    She backed down the ladder, carefully placing the ball of each foot on the rung. The letter was where she expected it to be, in the top right hand drawer of the desk he kept in the farthest corner of the living room. The old, scarred wood was a family heirloom, and the history of the piece was the only reason he tolerated having it in the house in the first place.

    “Why keep it in the living room if you hate it so much?”

    He’d sneered at the desk. “No room elsewhere. Believe me, if I had an attic or a basement, that’s where it would go.”

    So he’d kept it there, and used it for its purpose, stamps and outgoing bills and spare boxes of paperclips and staples all in their correct slots.

    It was the good stationary. The cotton weave kind, heavy between her fingers. The ink wouldn’t bleed like it would on the inferior paper from the Rite Aid. He’d probably sat at the desk, grumbling the entire time, his Mont Blanc pen sliding over the page with ease. His penmanship had always been better than hers. Elegant.

    The words doubled and blurred, jumbling together. He was sorry. She had no doubt he was sorry. Such a selfish action, leaving her alone. Alone with all the ghosts of his threats and ruminations she’d convinced herself were nothing more than words. Never actions.

    Never actions.

    He was sorry.

    He could take his sorry and stick it up his ass and light it.

    She glanced again at Kyle. He had to come down.

    He hadn’t thought this through. If he had, he would have realized she was the most likely person to find him. That she wasn’t tall enough, certainly not strong enough, to get him down. He would have chosen a different method. He’d hated the violent ones. Blood was so distasteful. Messy and traumatic for the people left behind. “The least I could do is cause minimal trauma.”

    The least he could do was not follow through with this ridiculous plan.

    She fumbled for her cell. It took a while, but her fingers managed to find the necessary buttons. A nine, followed by two ones.

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