This week kicks off our Halloween Flash Fiction Contest winners! In third place is a story by J D Boudreaux. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!
Bare feet touching bare feet, they sat across from each other. This was how they normally sat—shoes off—even in the current changing weather of late October. They’d probably be barefoot on their birthdays in December when, just two days apart, they would each turn twelve.
Alex stared at Leigh. She had become his official girlfriend back in the summer. They had sat in this same position under the tall pampas grass bushed of his neighbor’s yard. It had been Leigh who had asked him the fateful question. Alex had responded by asking for a kiss, the “first kiss” for both of them.
They’d smooched secretly on occasions, had developed their own secret phrase, and often joked about the whole about the whole process. Best friends since birth and everyone had visions of a happily ever for the two of them. They’d joked about that, too, but looked oh so forward to it.
“What are you staring at now?” Leigh asked. She’d grown accustomed to her friend’s habit of “observing” people and things.
Alex frowned. “Your orange shirt. You really, really need a different favorite color.”
“Like what? Pink?”
“No.” Alex ran a hand over his cowlick. “I’ve always thought you looked really pretty in green.”
“Like emerald green or some darker shade.”
She tapped his foot with hers and smirked. “Emerald? Because I’m a jewel and precious to you?”
“Oh, you’re a treasure…” He tapped her foot back. “…that should probably be buried.”
“You’re lucky you’re my boyfriend and best friend.”
“Trust me, I know exactly how lucky I am.” Alex grinned. “Exact-Leigh”
She was used to his stupid name-puns. “You better.”
Leigh pushed a few loose hair strands behind her ears. “Does that mean you’re going to be a pirate for Halloween?”
“You know I hate Halloween.”
“I want to be Wonder Woman this year.” Leigh stood and posed, closed fists on hips.
“People say I look like Linda Carter.”
Leigh clucked her tongue. “You’re useless.”
“Except when you need help on tests,” he kidded her. “I still haven’t forgotten the incident with Miss Kibbee.”
Leigh quickly returned to her earlier question. “Come on, Alex. It’s our last year of trick-or-treating. You have to come with me. You will come with me. You just need a costume.”
“I could go as the King.”
“Elvis? That would be good.”
“No. The King. Richard Petty.”
Leigh exhaled loudly. “I’ll give up my orange when you give up your NASCAR.”
Alex glared at her. “I love when you wear orange.”
They both burst out laughing.
Leigh picked her orange flip flops off the ground and carried it with her as they headed back towards her house. Walking along the railroad track that ran behind her street, she offered Alex other options for his costume, but Alex was adamant about being a racecar driver.
Before coming to the gate that opened into her backyard, Leigh stopped. Still invisible to their mothers or anyone looking out a window, she turned and faced Alex.
“What’s wrong?” he wondered. “Are you mad at me?”
Leigh rolled her eyes. No, Alex, but I probably should be.”
“What did I do this time… or not do?”
Leigh loved that about Alex. He would take the blame no matter what. He’d saved her bacon more than once, including getting caught cheating in Miss Kibbee’s class.
“Nothing,” she said, slipping into her flip flops before joining her pinkies together. “It’s just I, well… wish I had a nickel.”
Alex’s grin stretched a mile wide. “Wish I had a nickel,” was their secret phrase. He took her hands in his, leaned in and—
“Leigh and Alex sitting in a tree,” someone sang above them. “K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then—”
Leigh fumed. It was her idiotic neighbor from down the street. “Shut up, Greg!”
Alex scratched an eyebrow and looked up at the trees across the tracks. “Uhh, you’re the one sitting in a tree.”
Greg dropped down from the crook of the tree.
“Enough from you, Big Ears.” Greg turned his attention back to Leigh.
“Is that your Halloween costume?” he leered.
“Don’t!” Alex warned him.
“Oh, wait. No, that’s your normal ugly face, Leigh.”
Alex dropped everything and practically flew across the railroad tracks.
“And that orange shirt? You know it—”
Greg never finished his sentence, and this time Alex did fly. He launched from atop the last rail and hit Greg squarely in the chest. Both toppled over, but Alex managed to stay on top. A year younger and many pounds lighter, Alex had the momentum and the element of surprise.
“Don’t you ever, ever make fun of her again,” Alex spat, trying to land a blow with each word.
Many punches were blocked, but a few found the mark: Greg’s nose.
“Alex, stop!” Leigh yelled, but it appeared that Alex had no intentions to do so
“Please, Alex! You’re scaring me!” she pleaded. “And he’s bleeding. His nose is bleeding.”
“Good!” Alex stood up, grabbed Leigh’s hand, and walked her back across the tracks.
Never once did he look back.
Leigh and Alex managed to slip into the house without either of their mothers seeing them. Speed-walking into Leigh’s bedroom, the door was quickly and silently shut.
“You don’t seem the worse for wear,” Leigh commented, eyeing him up and down.
“You’re not bleeding or anything, but your hair is a mess.”
He tried to finger-comb his hair. “With this cowlick, it always is.”
“Thank you, Alex, but you didn’t need to do anything.”
“No one is going to make fun of my friend…” He paused and smiled. “…my girlfriend and get away with it.”
Leigh smiled, too.
“Hey, I have an idea. Since you so obviously can fly, you can be Superman to my Wonder Woman.”
“Nah,” he replied, taking a seat on the floor. “I still want to be The King.”
Leigh knelt next to him and did what they had almost done outside before being rudely interrupted.
She kissed him.
“You’re my king.”
“Maybe I’ll change my costume and be your queen,” Leigh suggested, arms still around his neck. “I have the fancy dresses. I just need a crown.”
“With emeralds,” Alex quipped before pecking her lips.
Both sat with their backs against the dresser across from the bed.
“How long do you think it’ll be before Greg’s mother shows up?” Leigh asked.
“How long do you think you’ll be punished?”
“I’ll see you at graduation,” Alex grinned. “College graduation.”
“No need to be. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
His mother shouted. “Alex!”
He looked at Leigh and sighed. “The things I go through because of you.”
Leigh agreed. “Spooky, isn’t it?”
“Eerily so,” Alex chuckled. “Eerie-Leigh”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born and bred in Opelousas, Louisiana, J D Boudreaux is married and has three grown children. The family now resides an hour south in the small town of Erath. Living not quite in sight of the coastal waters, J D swears you can smell it on a good, clear morning. A good story, good friends, and a good cup of coffee are the ingredients that make up a great day for J D. Add a little boudin, cracklins, and Momma’s homemade carrot cake, and JD will call it a perfect day!