Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part XI

This is the next-to-the-last part of Always a Bridesmaid. The finale will be released next Tuesday just after my Twitter chat with the Penny Dreadful serial fiction site, where all the parts have links. To see the chat, search #thepennydreadful at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, April 27. For more flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter. And don't worry, wine people, I have some things coming up for you as well.

XI. Revelations

"You were a what?" Amber asked.

"An exotic dancer." The air in the room felt thick, the same feeling from when she woke that morning after her teacher had left her with nothing but a warning and a wiped memory.

"You were in the dream last night." Toby brought her back to the present. He held the brownie. "Bert, is this safe to eat?"

"No! You need to put it all in here."

He pinched off a corner and dropped it into the container. "No one likes mint-flavored fish."

"You remember the dream?" Tiffany asked. "And how did you end up with a talking catfish?"

"Is she safe to talk to?" he asked the fish.

"The answer will cost you another piece of brownie." Bert picked the crumb off the surface of the water. "She's a good witch. You saved her life, so as far as I'm concerned, the rest of the brownies are mine, I mean ours."

Toby told them about the mysterious strangers and the truck stop that had vanished in the night, leaving him with nothing but a crick in his neck and a smart-mouthed fish.

"I've heard of this," Tiffany said. She bent down to look at the fish. "He's a guardian spirit."

"Just my luck," Toby said and rolled his eyes.

"So now what?" Amber asked. "We still have a big problem – the wedding!"

"Why?" Toby asked.

"Don't you know? It's her seventh one!"

"Her what?" Toby leaned back against the counter – hard.

Shock's a bitch, Tiffany thought.

"I thought it was her first!"

"Where have you been?" asked Amber.

"In the missionary field. With my parents. We've just been in the States since my dad got sick."

"You're a missionary?" Tiffany took a deep breath so she wouldn't scream in frustration. First, he blew her cover, and now he'd have her burned at the stake!

"My parents were. I went along for the adventures." He shrugged and half-smiled. "If you call parasites adventuresome. They're both elderly, so maybe my Aunt Theresa – Lydia's mom – didn't want to upset them. Her seventh?"

Amber filled him in, and Tiffany watched the girl. It was a story she'd told many times, but there was something about how she said it… Tiffany remembered Amber's tears when the ghost appeared in the kitchen earlier that day.

"Amber, who was Danny? Besides Lydia's first husband?"

Amber picked up one of the pieces of rose quartz that she had been polishing, a heart, and ran her fingers over the smooth curves. "A guy she met in college."

"And what was he to you?"

The black-haired girl's hands shook, and she dropped the heart. It fell to the tile floor and cracked exactly in half. Tiffany picked up the pink teardrops and, for a moment, saw Danny as he had been: tall, green-eyed, and dark-haired. A male version of Amber.

"He was your brother."

Amber ran from the room, and Tiffany started after her. But she paused when she remembered her other guests, and she heard the front door slam.

"Took you long enough to figure that out," Tizz the Brownie muttered from the other room. Tiffany hoped that Toby hadn't heard her. But Bert had.

"Good gravy, witch, how many supernatural critters do you have in this dump? A ghost and now a Brownie?"

"I should go," Toby said. "Or I guess we should. It was nice meeting you, I guess."

"Likewise." She smiled. "Sorry I bespelled you. It was an accident." She led him to the front door, but he didn't leave.

"What are you going to do to help my cousin?" he asked.

Tiffany looked at the pieces of rose quartz heart in her hand. "Eye of newt, wing of bat, something witchy like that."

"Let me know if I can help. We used to play together when we were little."

"I will, although I'm probably going to stay up all night doing useless research and then show up and wing it."

He laughed, and the sound un-knotted the tension in Tiffany's chest. She looked at him again and noticed the little lines at the corners of his eyes. He laughed a lot, or had, she deduced. But something had kept him from it lately.

"Can I ask you something? Since I'm today's queen of awkward revelations, after all."


"What are you running from?"

The expression on his face changed from amused to angry to sad in rapid succession.

"My problems. What else?"

She nodded. "Well, maybe after the wedding, you and I can talk about them."

"I'll think about it."

"And that means no." She watched him drive away.

Toby's problems were still on Tiffany's mind the next day. She was so lost in thought that she almost bumped into a guy wearing black shirt and pants as well as a Roman collar.

"Oh! Excuse me, Reverend."

"I'm not a real preacher, I just play one on t.v." The balding man winked at Tiffany. She backed away.

"I think I'm at the wrong wedding."

The town council had decided to encourage people to come out and celebrate the start of spring with a "Love Is in the Air" festival. Tiffany knew about it and had a booth at the main event on Saturday, but she'd missed the part about the mass wedding. She wandered from group to group looking for her bride. She spotted Trent first.

She set the platter of cupcakes and mint brownies on the card table that had a sign on it: "Lydia and Trent's goodies." She couldn't help but look for hottie cousin Toby. Those yummy-looking powdered-sugar covered cookies must have come with him.

"Places, everyone!" A harried young man with a megaphone jogged around the square. The brides and grooms moved toward the middle. The minister who had winked at Tiffany moved to the front of the crowd, shadowed by a cameraman and sound guy with a microphone.

"Not quite what I had imagined."

Tiffany looked up and saw that Toby stood beside her.


Anonymous said...

Very nice. Poor Amber, but I'm sure that will get worked out...

Loved it all. And hottie cousin Toby...

Looking forward to the finale!

Marisa Birns said...

It continues on it's very enjoyable course for readers.

Laughed at the line where she's going to stay up all night and then wing it.

Haven't we all done something just like that? Hah.

Well, one more to go, eh?

Going to miss the series.

Michelle said...

I haven't read all the others - must find time to read right through.
I do feel sad for Amber.
Great reading

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks, y'all! I'm going to be sad for this series to end, too, but I'm ready to move on to other projects. I have a feeling that Tiffany et al. will be back in a future story.

Thank you for reading and for your comments!


Cecilia Dominic said...

Oh, and I'm very sorry the original link didn't work. :(

Tomara Armstrong said...

I have missed a couple of these, so I am going to have to go back and read. I have enjoyed those I have read and hate to see the series end. I am looking forward to what you have in store ;-)

Eric J. Krause said...

Enjoyed this one like all the others. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in the finale.