I'm very excited to bring you today's flash fiction. It's called Moments and is by 14-year-old (!) Vancouver high school student, Nels Duff. Nels is currently writing a novel and starting to explore his options as a young author. Once again, I am thoroughly impressed by the teenagers I come across in the book world. Enjoy!
By Nels Duff
A passing glance, a word, a smile.
You’re somewhere, wherever you are usually on a rainy Saturday, in the early evening. Not at home, for once.
You sit there, nursing a cup of something hot. Maybe this is a coffee house on The Drive, without the usual hipster population. It’s too wet, even for this city.
You take a sip of the drink. Chai, maybe, or a coffee with milk. You’re too cheap to pay for the latte, so you mix your own milk in at the counter, ignoring the server glaring at you.
You’re tired. It’s been a long day and a longer night before, because you didn’t sleep. You can feel when you’re going to have another nightmare and you didn’t think you could deal with it.
So you sit there, your hands around your mug, still a little cold in a thin sweater - no, a loose plaid shirt over your favourite t-shirt, the soft greenpeace one that someone wore as pajamas before it came into your possession.
A song you know comes on the radio behind the counter. The first lyrics make you listen in a way you don’t usually.
If you’d agree to be my love, I’d build you a world to fit like a glove, And there you’d rule and be my queen, a world with no crying.
You look down into the porcelain mug between your hands and bite your lip. There’s a kind of heaviness in your chest, the feeling that you’ve been trying to get rid of. It’s been getting worse, the night after night after night of not sleeping, of an empty heart and running out of tears. You close your eyes and try to just breathe.
“A coffee, please.” You hear a voice and you clench your teeth. Looking up, fighting back your emotions, you see a woman at the counter. For a second you forget to breathe.
She turns to you and gives you a lopsided, quizzical smile. It’s beautiful and funny and smart and you can tell you want to know her. You smile back, shy, hesitant. Hers widens.
“Americano for Enzula,” says the server, and the beautiful woman turns away and takes her coffee. Your heart sinks when you see it’s a cardboard to-go cup.
She turns to leave, but before she does, she glances at you like you share a secret, one that connects you. Her smile is true and a bright happiness shines through it.
She walks to the door and opens it, letting a trickle of cold air in. You can hear a car rush by on the wet asphalt.
She turns back to you and smiles that crooked smile that makes your heart beat faster. “It’ll get better.” she says, her voice a lilt of something southern, something exotic.
You stare at her and her eyes crinkle with a kind of wise joy.
She pushes the door open and walks out into the rain, her smile still wide on her bronze-skinned face. Through the window, you see her look up at the sky, mouth open in a silent laugh, an expression of intense joy. You find yourself smiling too.
You look back at your mug and find the weight that was in your chest is lessened. It’s still there, you won’t ever be really rid of it...but that woman’s smile has lightened it.
Sometimes a moment means more than anything.
Sometimes it means everything.