Flash fiction: April Fool by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This months prompt is “expectations for spring.”

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series.

April Fool
Val Muller

Milton Miniver planned eveything, from what he would eat each week to when he would take off the storm windows and replace the screens. He loved cable TV despite all the modern alternatives because it kept to a schedule, just like him.

April 1 was screen day. It worried him a little that this year, the switch from winter to spring behaviors coincided with April Fools Day, possibly his least favorite holiday, but it couldn’t be helped. Rules were rules, and his rule was that the first Saturday in April was the switch.

It couldn’t be worse than last year, he reminded himself. Last year, the first Saturday in April brought an unexpected 8 inches of snow, and his fingers turned bright red trying to change out the storm window panels for screens.

This year would be unseasonably warm. In fact, for two weeks now the weather spoke more of late spring than the end of winter. But that was okay. He never changed to screen windows before April.

The night of March 31, he took out his box of spring clothing–the light pants, lightweight shirts, and thin rain jackets. He packed away winter sweaters and corduroy pants and wool socks and tucked the box nearly next to “summer” in his closet.

He woke to moonlight shining right in his eyes, so brightly he thought he’d overslept. So he hurried to the bathroom. By the time he realized it was only 4:30, that it was moonshine and not sunshine that woke him, he was so full of adrenaline that there was no going back.

He had never changed out the screens before sunrise, but it had to be done. It was a before-breakfast task. By the time the windows were switched and he had eaten breakfast, the sun had barely risen. He dressed and did some light weeding around his home. The warm weather had brought out all the flowers and more weeds than usual.

By the time he was finished, he worked up quite a sweat; his spring clothes were a bit too warm. It was nearing summer temperatures, pushing beyond 80 degrees. But all his shorts were still neatly tucked away in his closet. They were not to be unpacked until the first of June.

He was about to go inside when screams from down the street caught his attention. A small dog came charging across his yard, followed slowly by a screaming woman.

“Milton! Milton!” she shouted.

Milton startled. He didn’t recognize the woman or her dog, yet clearly she knew him.

“Milton, stop!” she was saying

Milton had bent down to try to catch the runaway pup, but clearly she didn’t want him to.

He stood again.

“Please, stop him!” she shouted.

Confused, Milton crouched again. The dog leapt into his arms.

“Milton, stay, you naughty boy!” she screamed.

Milton’s face turned red at her words, then even redder when he realized his confusion. The dog’s name was also Milton.

He explained the mistake to her as he tried to cover his embarrassment with laughter. But the woman–Summer was her name–was too relieved to notice. She was busy alternatively hugging him and the pup.

“We were on our way to the park for a hike on such a nice day,” she explained once she and the dog settled down. “Milton got a little too excited and slipped his collar.” Then she looked the human Milton in the eye. “Why don’t you come with us? Go for a little hike and then I’ll buy you lunch as a thank you.”

This was most unorthodox. Dates had to be planned in advance between people who clearly knew each other. And who heard of a first date on April Fools Day?

Milton opened his mouth to refuse, but the words that emerged surprised him. “I’d love to. I only just need to change into some shorts.”

He could barely believe it as he climbed the steps to his bedroom and pulled open the summer box. His heart skipped as quickly as he did as he re-emerged in shorts and a polo–a June outfit–for his hike.

April Fools, he told himself as he locked the door behind him and stepped forward into the smile of Summer, the barking of the dog, and the whisper of the unknown.

The Spot Writers:
Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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