This piece is part of the NYC Flash Fiction 2015 writing challenge I’ve entered. We were given our group assignment, genre, setting/location and an item at the stroke of midnight and then had 48 hours to write a 1000 word story inclusive of this criteria. My criteria turned out to be Romantic Comedy, a recording studio and a Cactus. This is what I came up with: (*warning – profanity)
This To That
I smell it as soon as I walk in—creepy incense rolling down the dim halls, bouncing off the photo-filled walls, air punching at my already aching head.
“What the fuck?” I reel from the stench that seems to be seeping quickly into my skin and making me contemplate hurling into the big standing plant pot by the door.
“Yeah, sorry dude. The chick in 4C is burning some voodoo shit or somethin’. She’s real hot though.” Phil looks at me across the counter guiltily. “I was gonna tell her to stop, but she came out right then and caught me snubbing my butt, so I kept my mouth shut.”
My own cigarette dangles from my dry lips and I prop my elbows up, waiting for him to pass me the book. My leather jacket creaks as I move to lower my shades and my hand trembles when I reach for the pen to sign in.
“One too many?” Phil asks with a scoff, mostly ‘cause he already knows the answer.
“Maybe. Maybe ten too many. I can’t really remember.”
“Well, you’re here now. If you’re up for it, you can head on in. 4B is yours.”
“Coffee made? The boys’ll be here any minute and I need a brew bad.”
“Made it myself.” Phil says all proud. “Miss Spritz there ain’t drinkin’ it though. Brought in her own Jasmine tea or some kinda shit.”
I make my way down the hall, grab a coffee and stop at 4B, as close to 4C as you can get. Even 4D is across the way. But 4B and 4C share a glass wall, so as soon as I walk in, a stronger version of the incense I’d smelled outside the room smacks me in the face. I slump into one of the chairs, swivel to face the control board and kick my feet up onto the ledge, taking a deep sip of scalding coffee.
The panel comes to life and the big green button flashes.
“How’s the java?” Phil was always scrounging for praise, usually while being a smartass. “Made sure it was extra hot.” His voice crackles through the speaker. “A sore tongue’ll stop ya thinkin’ ‘bout yer head.”
I lean forward and press the green button down as my boots hit the floor with a thud. “It stinks in here.”
“That sucks, Mickey, but I ain’t riskin’ it. She tells Joe I was smokin’ at the front desk and he’ll have my ass. Let her burn her shit. She’s only booked for a few hours.”
The button goes red.
I close my eyes and swirl around to face the window. 4B looks insane. I slip my aviators down my nose to make sure I’m not seeing things. This chick has actually changed out the regular spotlights for purple and orange bulbs. Amidst hues of eggplant and cantaloupe, I can see plumes of fine smoke drifting through the air. She’s brought in her own rugs and they’re scattered everywhere. Her back is to me. She’s at the mic, moving her arms in time with sounds I can’t hear.
Is that a Cactus? I swear that wasn’t…
Green button. “Dudes aren’t here yet, Mickey. You want me to sit in for a bit?”
“Yeah, man. I gotta lay down this track. I don’t know how much longer I can stick.”
Phil appears instantly, always eager to be in on things.
“Phone’s set to voicemail an’ I’m all yours, sunshine.” His widely spaced teeth create something of a Cheshire grin as all six foot four of his lanky physique folds through the doorway.
“I guess I’m up.” I force myself out of the chair, each cell of my body angry at the disturbance.
As I open the glass door of the sound booth, she turns as if sensing me. All at once, her chestnut curls, saucer eyes and doll-like skin are caught in shades of maroon and burnt gold and, she’s breathtaking.
No, literally, I can’t breathe.
She gives a cute little wave. And then again, beckoning me over.
Oh God, I think. I am so not up for this.
“Hey!” She glows as I come cautiously through the door. “I hope you don’t mind.” She opens her arms and twirls slowly around the room. “It’s not too distracting?”
“I, uh, no. No, not at all.” A cold sweat comes over me and with horror, I realize I might actually hurl.
“You do not look well.” She notices and I feel sincere concern. “You want to sit?” Gesturing to a plush purple chair I’ve never seen before, she takes my arm and moves me.
Before I know it, she has my jacket and boots off and my feet up on some marshmallow-looking thing.
“I’m Daphne. Daphne Dane.” She offers her hand but I’m too mesmerized by the flecks of sky in her lavender eyes and the thick black lashes that hit the tops of her cheeks every time she looks down.
“Daph,” a voice over the speaker, “I need your okay for that last one.”
“Oh, just play it. I’m listening.” She’s curled some kind of beanbag around my neck and is on her way over to the Cactus when a voice unlike anything I’ve ever heard fills the studio. A cappella.
She’s humming along, eyes fluttering, clearly taking mental note as she begins to lightly burrow a Cactus needle between my brows.
“Umm, hey! What…”
“You just never know when these will come in handy,” she explains. “To relieve your headache?”
Phil gapes through the window in awe.
She skips to her mic. “Josh, another cup of that Ginger tea if you would be so kind?” Heading back to me, “A bit of acupuncture and a touch of Ginger will have you right as rain.”
This isn’t how I foresaw my morning, but I cannot believe my luck. Melting into the chair, I let her work her magic while trying to figure where to take her for lunch.
I’m thinking organic.