Here’s a flash fiction story that I recently wrote in less than 48 hours, for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2022 https://www.nycmidnight.com/
It is enormously fun to write quick snippets of stories while working on the much longer project of a feature length screenplay.
Here’s the required elements provided by NYC Midnight:
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Location: A five-and-dime
Object: A bat
Time limit: 48 hours
Maximum word count: 1000
And here’s the story that I wrote:
BLAME IT ON THE MOONLIGHT
Written by Susan Eileen Jizba
There was magic in the air that night. Although I didn’t believe in it, I couldn’t deny its subtle tug.
It was the night of the full moon. A time when customers always went a little crazy during my nighttime shift at the five and dime. When the moon rose, everyone flooded in to buy candied hearts, champagne and drooping bouquets from the dried bucket next to the register.
This only happened during a full moon. I never understood it.
This night the moon rose minutes before closing. It was a night where I had to get everyone out as soon as possible. I had work to do.
Early tomorrow morning was our annual inventory. For the first time, I was in charge. It was my chance to prove that I had what it took to be promoted to management. At five thirty am two temps would arrive for the count and everything had to be tagged and organized by then. It was serious business. My boss would oversee the process, ready to fire me at the smallest misstep.
I was able to push out the last customer, shutting the creaky door behind them as the clock struck midnight, closing time. I turned the lock and flipped the sign on the door to “Closed”.
I turned to survey the damage. The store was a mess but I knew I could get the job done by 5am. Barely.
I felt a breeze on my back. The front door creaked open. The closed sign flapped in the breeze, and the full moon cast a silvery glow across the floor.
I glanced at the moon; I thought I saw it shimmer just a bit. I thought I saw a few stars wink at me, but I couldn’t be sure.
I closed the door again; locking it with a jiggle to check it was steadfast.
As I turned around to survey the store again, I had an odd feeling.
I heard the door creak open and felt the breeze. The closed sign slid across the floor, flipping to land with the “Open” side up.
I looked behind me. A slight woman with expressive eyes wearing a dark lavender dress stood in the door framed by the ethereal light of the moon. Something about her, made me catch my breath.
She had a small birdcage. Covered by a cloth. She held out the Open sign that had been on the floor an instant ago.
“I think you dropped this,” she said.
“We’re closed,” I replied and immediately regretted it.
“I just need one thing,” she said.
For some reason I couldn’t say no. I reached for the sign. I was fascinated and freaked out by her. Remembering my mission to clear out the store, I forced myself to back into reality. I clumsily stepped forward, tripped and slammed against her birdcage.
The birdcage clattered to the floor and a bat was thrown out across the floor. Stunned at first, it regained its bearings and flapped its wings, rising, chopping the air in its irregular flight.
I struggled to my feet, as the bat circled above chattering and flapping.
The woman remained calm.
“Her name is Luna. She likes you,” She said.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“I’m Oliver,” I told her.
I pointed to her bat fluttering above my head.
“I’ve got this,” I told her.
I felt the need to fix it. I felt responsible.
I tried all the tools in the store to catch the bat: a butterfly net, with a handle that was too short, a lasso of rope that the bat slipped through, and a box propped up over a cluster of tasty grapes, uneaten from my dinner. The creature grabbed one and scampered away before it fell.
Nothing seemed to work.
As the moon rose higher, the store became messier. The harder I tried, the worse things got. Items fell off shelves. Displays crashed down. Carefully grouped items mixed in a tangled mess on the floor. I tabulated how long it would take to fix each disaster.
I stopped to stare at luminous moon high within the sky. We both did. I felt something I couldn’t quite explain. It felt like a moment of pure grace.
That’s when I let it all go. The store was in complete disarray. I knew the inventory wouldn’t happen and my boss would fire me, but I just didn’t care. I felt it was more important for me to be fully in this moment; with this woman.
I loosened up. I began to think of catching the bat, as a game. We laughed and played as we tried to coax it back into the cage. I realized I hadn’t had this much fun in a very long time. My work had taken center stage and I hadn’t allowed myself to let loose.
I had forgotten about how good it was to connect with someone. I felt myself falling hard for her. I began to wish I could share with her more beautiful nights such as this.
“Could I barrow a flashlight,” she asked.
“Is that what you came in for?”
She simply smiled.
I handed her a flashlight.
She clicked it on and placed it inside the birdcage.
“Turn off the lights,” she told me.
The tiny light cast a glowing beam. She cupped her hands around the luminescence, shaping it into a circular orb of light. I gasped. It reminded me of a tiny moon that sparkled and shimmered.
A few moths flew into the cage, circling the light.
The bat flew into the cage after the moths.
She closed the door.
“That’s it,” She said.
“Was that all you needed?” I asked. “A flashlight? “
She drew close to whisper in my ear. My whole body tingled with desire.
“I came for you,” she whispered. “It was the moon, who called me.”
Finally, I did what I wanted to do when I first saw her.