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One Hundred

I recently stumbled across fantasy writer Darci Cole’s blog, just as she celebrates 100 followers with an awesome flash fiction contest. I’m definitely not experienced with flash fiction, but I thought it would be fun to try a little piece in verse, especially considering the awesome critique prizes! The contest guidelines, found here, require that you use the word one hundred/a hundred/hundredth/etc and that it is 300-500 words, posted on your blog. The prompt is the photo below, followed by my response! Good luck to the other contestants, and I hope you enjoy my entry.
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I’d taken the path

before
on summer days
when sweat tingled
on the backs of my thighs
and popsicles would melt
before even touching
my lips.

Sometimes,
if I was lucky,
he’d come with me.

When he didn’t,
when I walked alone
the cement hills
blurred into each other
like the curves of my hips
where they met
my stomach.

I couldn’t help the acidic wash
that flowed backwards
up my throat
and coated my mouth
with nerves.

But somehow I spoke,
and maybe he would laugh
lean his cheek
against mine
and whisper thoughts
like secrets
into my ear.

I missed you,
he’d say
when his shift at the gas station
gave him time
to walk me to the country club
where I served sandwiches
with perfect corners
to men
with perfectly trimmed beards.

Their facial hair
barely hid their grins
when I bent over to pick up a
lost
fork or spoon.
But they tipped well,
and this job was only a gateway
to college

far away.

He walked me down the path,
and once,
as August crept into being,
he took my hand
and pulled me
from the road
into the grass,
still damp from morning dew.

Careful.

I ran my fingers
over the pressed white fabric
of my uniform,
and he put his hand
over mine.
And I was still.

I’m not
the careful type,
he told me,
and his mouth,
pink as a blush,
pressed itself against mine.

My hand tightened
and then relaxed
as the kiss stretched
the way the sun sets
across the sky
with every inky colour
leaving a goodnight lullaby
for the world.

Once again,
his mouth told me
secrets,
but I didn’t listen
to the way
most of the time
he didn’t have time
for me,
the way his phone
always buzzed
in his pocket
as we kissed.

Afterwards,
I checked my skirt
for grass stains
but I forgot to check
my heart.
Not that I could have
scrubbed away the mark
he’d left.

It was almost,
exactly,
six weeks later–
not that I was counting.
September had come,

and it was less than twelve
more months
until I could leave.

Maybe I didn’t want to.

It must have been
a hundred kisses later,
maybe more.

He walked me to work,
maybe because he knew
I’d have to be the one
who left.

I was wearing white.
Somehow that feels ironic
for how tarnished
I felt
as his mouth left
my lips
only to whisper

goodbye.

When I left work,
as the sunset smeared
across the sky,
I had to remind myself
that I’d taken this path
before.
The bright glare of a car
passed me,
blurred by my tears,
and for a moment
I thought it was him.

It wasn’t.

But the path was familiar,
I’d find my way
home.

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