Welcome to Story Time Saturday!
These are flash fiction stories. My word count goal is no more than 1,000 words each story. I’ll show you the prompt, the story, and a teaser graphic.
It’s been a summer since we lost Saul. A year since we last spoke. He lived life to the fullest—that’s what everyone said. But they didn’t know the troubled boy.
As I lean against his tombstone, something strange happens. Day turns into night creating a foggy expanse. Out of that space a road stretches. I follow its twists and turns and see images—scenes of things I thought I’d never see again.
To my left, I see my high school—Naperville Central—and Saul.
Saul and I met junior year of high school. He wasn’t the type of boy my parents would have liked me to date.
“Hey, Jude,” he said approaching my locker.
“Don’t call me that.” My cheeks warmed and I switched out my history book for chemistry.
“It’s your name, isn’t it?”
“Judy. You know my name’s Judy.”
Saul closed the locker. “Okay, Judy. Go out with me tonight.”
I glanced up at the handsome boy, almost man, with dark brown hair and scruffy face. “It’s a school night.”
“So, what. I have a car. I’ll pick you up at six. We’ll grab a burger and go for a drive.” Saul walked away before I could respond.
Crap! My parents were going to be furious. I wasn’t supposed to date on school nights. Maybe I can tell them I’m hanging out with Bonnie. I’d better track her down after class.
“You and Saul Bennett? Oh, this is rich.” Bonnie picked up her turkey and swiss sandwich. “You be sure to tell me what happens.”
I wished I had a lot to tell her. The only thing that happened was our first kiss. A moment so tender, so special my lips tingle even now.
Another memory shoots out of the abyss. This one is more troubling—Saul stands on the side of a building with a partial bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand.
“Hi, Saul,” I said.
“Hey, Jude,” he slurred. “Whatcha doing here?”
“I was looking for you.” I glanced down at his hand. “Maybe we can ditch the bottle?”
“We didn’t buy the bottle.” He lifted the container to his lips and chugged down the contents. After a few seconds, he lowered it and dragged his hand over his lips. “You want a hit?”
“No. Why are you drinking? What happened at home?” Saul told me he only drank when things got bad with his father.
“My old man went off. He wailed on my mom. When I jumped in, he tried to beat my ass. I got the hell out of there before I did something I’d regret.” The bottle went back to his mouth.
Seeing the memory reminds me of how we all ignored Saul’s pain. He told me over and over again about his father’s outbursts. Plenty of times Saul would show up at school with bruises. He’d laugh it off and say he was clumsy. I knew the truth but didn’t tell anyone.
I should have.
I took a few steps forward and the next memory caught me off guard. It was our last conversation—an argument in his car.
“Dammit, Jude! I got to hit the road. I thought you loved me.” He hit the steering wheel and slumped against the door.
“I do love you, but we only have a few more months. We’ll graduate and then leave town.” It was my hope that he’d see the truth. Maybe if he and his father got some professional help, things would get better for Saul.
“You don’t get it, Judy. I might not see another few months if I keep living with my father. Here lately when he gets drunk he pulls out his pistol.”
“I’m waiting for the day he shoots one of us. If Mom gets the first bullet, I’m gonna make sure my old man gets the second one.” He reaches across me, opens the glove compartment, and pulls out a silver flask.
My hand wraps around his wrist. “You don’t need that, Saul. If you’re going to drink, give me the keys. I’ll drive you home.”
“Nothing doing, Jude. Gotta have a way to get away from the old man.” He leans over and kisses me.
That kiss wasn’t meant as a goodbye, but it was all I’d ever have from Saul. An hour after he dropped me off, I got the phone call.
“Is this Judith Monroe?”
“Yes. Who is this?”
“State Trooper Smith, Miss. Your number was listed as an emergency contact.”
My heart stopped beating. Slowly, I lowered myself to my bed. “What’s happened?”
“I’m sorry to inform you that Saul Bennett was in a car accident.”
My chin trembled. “Where is he?”
“I’m sorry, Miss Monroe, he didn’t survive the crash.”
I could have done without that memory. My heart hurts as if I’m reliving the moment all over again.
My head rocks up and I whirl around searching for him. The mist parts and Saul steps forward.
“I just had to see you one more time, Jude.”
I can see straight through Saul. This isn’t right. “How?”
“I should have listened to you, babe. Drinking and driving…really bad idea.”
No. This isn’t all his fault. “I should be apologizing to you. The entire time you told me about your family I never truly listened. I should have helped you. We had counselors at school. All I had to do was tell someone.”
He nods. “So, memory lane does work.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your trip down memory lane was intentional. Here, on the other side, the dead can reach out through it.”
I tilt my head to the side. “Why?”
“It’s a way to make sure others don’t suffer the same fate. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes we choose the wrong memories. I hope you’ll listen to me.”
The hair on the back of my neck lifts. “Saul?”
“You need to talk to someone, Jude. Don’t throw your life away like I did.”