Flash Fiction: Getting Down to Business

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week’s prompt is based on “he threw open the door…” Today’s story comes from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter, the young adult reboot being featured in next week’s Battle of the Books competition in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Getting Down to Business

By Val Muller

He threw open the front door. The scent of home hit him in a wave of nausea. Not nostalgia. More like returning to the scene of torture endured too many years, a place repressed but not forgotten. And he was here to confront his oppressors.

It was the familiar musk of pot—his parents’ perpetual weekend recreation. The beaded door to the kitchen swung in the draft from the open door, click-clacking in a slow, lazy way. From the open kitchen window, mellow guitar riffs wafted inside, revealing his parents’ location. It was May, after all, warm enough that they’d spend much of the next five months outdoors.

Nature was their time machine.

A glance at the seventies-green chair and ottoman brought memories of stained-black feet, skin covered in layers of dirt and grime from going barefoot. Memories of ironic pleading to be allowed a bath. Memories of dismissive laughter. Stop being so establishment.

Hippies apparently were immune to germs.

A splattering of small, round mirrors hung on the wall above the piano, and Ron glanced at his reflections. That’s right—he was Ron, not Phobos, the name they’d forced upon him. Ron: a respectable, normal, American name. Ron was not the name of a hippie.

It was the name of a businessman.

The man reflected in the scattered circles was a businessman, too. He was clean-shaven with hair sculpted and short. His polo and khakis were what his parents would call “a uniform,” and maybe they were right. It was the uniform of a businessman, at least on the weekends. The hair—he could almost hear his mother already. A buzz cut? Have you enlisted? She’d ask this while looking at him over—literally—rose-colored glasses, her hair long and gray and bound in a colored headband of paisleys or flowers or psychedelic splotches. He could already hear her deep laughter—as if ready for Ron to reveal the punchline, that he was just kidding after all.

He could see his father, too, a gray, thinner Jerry Garcia, strumming the guitar and glancing up at Ron with mellow eyes. Would those eyes flash in disappointment, a sudden jolt of adrenaline disrupting the cosmic balance they’d been working so hard to achieve in this house since the Sixties ended?

Ron cleared his throat, glancing at himself once again, rehearsing his announcement. “Mom, Dad—” he refused to call them Sapphire and Unity anymore; they were his parents, dammit!— “You wanted me to go to college to find myself.” His voice wavered. “And I have. I’ve decided on my major. I’m going into business.” He flashed a smile at himself in the mirrors, steeling himself against their inevitable reactions. Then he glanced toward the kitchen’s back door.

The patio, the warm breeze, the doped-out parents awaited. He could delay reality no more. If they freaked, he’d go back to school and spend the summer in Brent’s apartment. But they needed to know. They’d spent their lives in search of the truth, and this was his.

He inhaled once more, straightened his posture, and stepped to the back of the kitchen.

Then he threw open the door.



The Spot Writers—Our Members:

RC Bonitz: http://www.rcbonitz.com


Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/


Catherine A. MacKenzie: http://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/


Kathy Price: http://www.kathylprice.com


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