Short Story: No Way

No. N – times a million – O. There is nothing in this world that can change her mind.

“You’ll be fine,” her brother said.

Her voice squeaks in her hysteria. “That’s what you said when the car crashed into you.”

“And I’m walking now. All good.”

“You couldn’t for three years.”

Just the memory is enough to make her fingers tighten around the tree trunk. No. Not just her fingers. Her whole body. Her arms and legs are like clamps as she pressed against the worn bark like a second skin. Surely everyone can hear her heart thumping like a machine gun?

“Fair point. But this is different,” her brother tries against.

“No.”

“I can carry you.”

“Nooooo…..”

The staff cuts in. “I’m sorry. Could you step aside? The other guests can go first if you’re not ready.”

“Yes, please go ahead,” her brother says.

She ignores the curious looks sent her way as children pass them by in a single file. Her brother crouches beside her.

“You sure? We drove one hour for this,” her brother says quietly.

She nods.

“Should I cancel the rock climbing later too?”

She shakes her head.

“So you’re find with scaling two storeys up a rock, but not with crossing a short rope bridge?”

Feeling self-conscious, she says in a small voice, “I had a nightmare.”

Her brother takes in a breath, then releases it in a sigh. He rests his hand on her head. “Alright.”

Later, when they’re driving back home, they hear a story over the evening news of a rope bridge that snapped under the weight of two adult guests.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

Short Story: Morning Racket

Saturday morning begins with a chill in the air and a racket downstairs. Eyes still sticky with sleep, she wraps her still warm blanket around her and heads down the stairs.

She finds her brother in a kitchen that’s been turned inside out.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“Have you seen my nudiustertian cookies?”

She stares. He rubs his arms nervously.

“Is that not how the word’s used?” he asks in a small voice.

“Bro, I can’t tell. I don’t even know what it means.”

Awkward silence descends. She rubs the heel of her hand against her eyes. Her body might be awake, but her brain sure isn’t.

“Have you seen the cookies I bought the day before yesterday?” her brother finally clarifies.

“The ginger ones? Red tin box?”

Her brother nods.

“Left cupboard above the fridge.”

Looking sceptical but desperate, her brother pulls a stool over and climbs up. A happy cry fills the air.

“Thanks, sis.”

She replies with a wave and turns away.

Time to go back to bed.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

 

Nudiustertian – day before yesterday. Please note that I don’t actually know if it’s used properly because it was hard to find examples online Xl

Short Story: Learning to be Lazy

If she was an animal, she would be a house cat. Content to laze her whole life, draped bonelessly over things while watching the world pass.

Her brother was cut from an altogether different cloth. He was more like a dog, always on his feet, ready to do something. He faced life with a determination not to waste a single moment, which meant that when he actually needed to stop and rest, he didn’t know how.

Fortunately for him, she, expert on doing nothing, was willing to help him out.

They lay side by side on his bed, her easily stretched out on her back like a cat basking in the sun, her brother doing a very good impersonation of a stick insect. The only time he broke the straight line his tense body made was to cough or grab a tissue, and the occasional attempt to escape.

The blanket shifted. She reached out to press her brother back down without even opening her eyes.

“What do you want? I’ll get it for you,” she said.

“Just want to stretch my legs,” her brother said in a hoarse whisper.

“Nope. Walking is still work.”

“Restroom.”

“You just went.”

“I want to go again.”

She opened one eye. “If you need to go every ten minutes, you need to see a doctor. So? Do I need to make the call?”

Her brother’s gaze slipped away from hers. “… No. I’ll stay.”

“That’s what I thought.” She shifted onto her side so that she had a better view of her brother’s face, especially the deep lines etched onto his brow. She couldn’t help but press a finger to the furrowed skin and try to smooth it out. Her brother gently nudged her hand away.

“Don’t come too close. You don’t want to get sick.”

“I do, actually. Then I can laze in bed all day.” She grinned.

Her brother’s lips twitched. “Let’s trade.”

She released an exaggerated sigh. “Sadly, fatigue isn’t contagious.”

Her brother replied with a smile as tense as the rest of him. She shook her head in exasperation.

“How are we related?”

“We both like pineapple in savoury dishes,” her brother said immediately.

“That’s true.”

“And we like honey in our coffee.”

She smacked her lips. “Yum.”

Her brother continued, listing all kinds of delicious food combinations that made her want to make a trip to…

She frowned and pushed herself up on her elbows to give herself the extra height to loom over her brother, which didn’t really work because the bed sunk beneath her but that wasn’t important.

“I know what you’re doing. I’m not going anywhere. Not even for food. My job today is to teach you to be lazy, and I’m going to make sure you learn it. Go to sleep!”

She dropped back onto her side and ran her fingers through her brother’s hair, the way her parents used to do when she was younger. Just enough pressure to be felt, unhurried and regular, drawing rhythmic patterns into his scalp as if she could pull the tension in his body out with her fingertips.

In the end, they couldn’t remember who fell asleep first, but the important thing was that her brother finally gave his body the rest it deserved.

She rewarded herself with another nap.

~End~

Genre: slice of life, family

Short Story: Why It Happened

Start from The Thing That Happened, then How It Happened first.

 

~Why It Happened~

Her plans for a quiet day popped like soap bubbles the moment her brother wrapped all six feet of himself around her like a determined koala around the last eucalyptus tree in existence.

“Help me!”

It didn’t matter how old they were, or what the problem was. She could never reject her brother’s cry for help. And that was why, three hours later, she found herself at the activity hub, hanging around the water fountain with a pill in her pocket while her brother smiled stiffly on the other side at his stalker admirer.

According to her brother, the pill was designed to create smoke when in contact with water. All she needed to do was drop the pill in the fountain to create a fake accident. Her brother would run away, allowing his friend to swoop in to save the girl and hopefully take her heart too.

Trying very hard not to draw attention to herself, she let the pill roll off her fingers and slip into the water with a silent ripple.

Followed by a loud bang.

Smoke immediately spilled out. And not the tame little tendrils her brother described. It was like a whole city’s worth of thunderclouds, bursting out of the fountain like students after the last exam of the year.

She reared back, arm over her nose as her eyes watered. Blinded by the smoke and ears ringing from the confused screams around her, she somehow stumbled out of the complex.

One little pill ended up causing a huge incident. And to add insult to injury, because of how suddenly the smoke exploded, her brother instinctively protected his admirer all the way until they safely evacuated the building. Which meant that not only did he fail to cut ties with her, she had now fallen even harder for him.

“Help me!”

Another day, another plea from her brother. Considering what happened last time, she should say ‘No’. N. O. No. She practised the word in her mind until she felt ready to say it out loud.

“Alright.”

~End~

 

Genre: family, general

The Thing That Happened | How It Happened | Why It Happened

Short Story: Coming Down

Follows after Going Up. You’ll want to read that first.

 

~Coming Down~

He loved hiking. Together with other people, on his own, it didn’t matter, as long as he could feel the breeze on his skin and smell the earth in the air.

He took a deep breath and let it sink into his bones, still tired from the intense three three month case his team just closed. He hoped his little sister didn’t mind his reticence this hiking trip. It had been so long since he could relax outside like this. He just wanted to¬†be outside.

It wasn’t until after their lunch break at the lookout point, as he watched his younger sister try and fail to stand, that worry and fear replaced his contentment.

He crouched to find his sister’s skin hot against his palm. His mind helpfully pulled up the memory of her laboured breathing behind him while they walked up the mountain trail. He had thought then that they were just normal exertions of a typical hike.

“What’s wrong?”

His sister was reluctant, but he interrogated criminals and witnesses for a living. Eventually, he coaxed the truth out of her.

The culprit behind his sister’s condition: fever.

“You could have told me. We can hike another day.”

She shook her head. “What if you get a new case?”

There was nothing he could say to that, not when the exact same thought was the reason he planned this hike even though lingering exhaustion still pulled at his body.

With a sigh, he shifted his backpack so that it sat on his chest and turned around to present his now free back to his sister.

“Get on.”

First silence, then a rustle of fabric as too-warm arms wrapped tentatively over his shoulders. He hooked his arms under his sister’s legs and pushed himself to his feet. His legs wobbled traitorously beneath him.

“Am I heavy?” his sister asked.

At peak condition, he could carry his little sister with one arm. He wasn’t at peak condition now, but he was still more than able to bear her slight weight down the trail back to their car.

His lips curled in a grin his sister couldn’t see. He hopped and made her bounce at his back, startling a laugh out of her.

“Nope. Not at all.”

~End~

 

Genre: slice of life, family