Flash fiction is an umbrella term used to describe any fictional work of extreme brevity, including the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories, also known as twitterature, the dribble (50 words), the drabble (100 words), and sudden fiction (750 words)
“Hey, Sami! Look what I found!”
Sami looked up briefly from where she was busy shaping walls. It felt good to be doing something childish for a change, like making a sandcastle. She went back to what she was doing. Rehna got excited for the silliest of things. Sami, look, I found a pink shell. Samiiii, look, one black hawai slipper Whose could it be? Sami, look how that little boy just did a back flip in the crashing waves. Sami shook her head while carefully making a doorway for the castle through the sand wall.
Sami was short for Sharmila, but nobody called her by that name except for her teachers. Sharmila, where’s your homework? Ma’am. The dog ate it. She remembered how just like that Miss Jennifer’s face had turned beetroot red. She had to go stand outside for the rest of the class. So much of appreciation for telling the truth, Sami had thought ruefully. Are you listening George Washington? And you too, Gandhiji?
There was Rehna, again. Sami sighed and stood up, dusting the sand off her skirt. Rehna was holding out her palm and in it was a bottle, nondescript, dark in color and small, with a yellow cap.
“Is this it? Is this why you were hollering?! An empty bottle!”
“But…what if it isn’t empty?”
“You mean its full of sea water? How exciting, not”
“No, silly! What if there is a genie inside?”
“What if there is something poisonous inside? You just picked it off the beach.”
“What’s wrong with you, Rehna? It could be some dangerous stuff, you know. Besides, there are no genies anywhere….”
“But listen, Sami. What if?!!!!!!!!!”
“No, there aren’t.” Sami was firm.
“My granny says there are genies….”
“Grandmothers!” Sami scoffed. “Mine says crows are dead people. But those are just stories, you know!”
“But what if they are…?”
“Crows are dead people, you mean?”
“Yes, it could be….” Rehna’s eyes were wide and dreamy, full of possibilities.
“Look Rehna, enough of this! I am hungry. Let’s go and ask mom if we can get something, a pizza may be?”
“Oh, Okay. May be you are right.”
Rehna looked disappointed. But Sami was usually right about things. That last time when Nita had convinced her that the peacock feather she had was magical, it was Sami who had set things right. The sandcastle forgotten, they walked towards the cottage, the last one in the row at the resort they were holidaying at with their parents.
There was a kangaroo shaped dustbin a few feet into the path, in a blue and white striped suit, its mouth agape in a permanent grin. Rehna hesitated in front of it, fingering the bottle one last time.
“Oh come on now, Rehna! Do it.”
Hunger pangs were making Sami impatient. She snatched the bottle off Rehna’s hand and threw it, watching it sail through the leering mouth of the kangaroo. They heard a thud as the bottle hit the bottom of the practically empty dustbin and turned to leave.
“HEYYYY!” A booming voice said.
Sami and Rehna froze, rooted to the spot. Through the mouth of the kangaroo dustbin they heard the same voice say,
“Damn, you girls! That hurt, you know.”
As one they turned and fled as fast as they could.
©Shail Mohan 2018