Welcome to my first Flash Fiction Friday! For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I entertain myself by making up stories when I'm bored. I see movie-type scenes in my head, and I write down what I see. The problem is, I only write down the scenes that pertain to my books, or whatever I think may lead to longer stories. There are a lot of scenes in my head that never go anywhere. They are just individual snapshots. I used to think that every scene in my head would eventually lead to something bigger. Then I started reading some flash fiction pieces, and it occurred to me that maybe a single scene is the only part of a particular story that I am going to get. Maybe that is the story. So now, instead of wasting those scenes, I will start writing them down and sharing them when they come to me. Maybe they will lead to something more; maybe not.
One of the rules of flash fiction is that the story has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I'm not really known for following rules when it comes to writing, so my stories may not be wrapped up so neat and tidy. It's more like flash fiction my way. Hope you enjoy it :)
The door slammed behind her. Even though she was ready for it, it always made her jump. Her arms jerked, sloshing some of the water out of the bucket. The splash caused the man to move his head in her direction. She held her breath. The dirty rags that covered his eyes prevented him from seeing her, but somehow he kept his head pointed in her direction as she moved. She swallowed hard and started towards him.
Moving closer, she stifled the cry that clawed its way up her throat. He must have put up a fight. That always made them mad. It's only this bad when they're angry. He didn't cooperate and that meant scars. She sighed looking at his naked body chained to the wall. His muscles tense. He didn't trust her. He didn't trust anyone right now, and she couldn't blame him. Setting her bucket down, she tried to keep her mind focused on the task ahead. The chains rattled to life as he lunged towards her, causing her to scream before she could stop herself. She fought to stay silent and to keep her balance on the blood soaked cement. He froze.
"You're a woman?" he asked, his voice a ragged whisper. She dared not speak. They might hear, and she didn't want to make them mad. Bad things happened when they got angry. No talk, just work. She dipped her rag in the bucket and picked up the small bar of soap, silently lathering it up.
"Answer me!" he rasped louder. She jumped up, cupping her hand over his swollen mouth and whispering into his ear, "Shhhhh." Turning his head towards her voice, he pressed his cheek against hers. The prisoner moved his head up and down, scratching her with his stubble, but she didn't pull away. A slow smile spread across his face, causing the cut on his lower lip to open and bleed again.
"What's your name?" he asked quietly.
"Don't talk," she whispered.
She took the soapy rag and got down on her knees. He jerked when she touched his foot, making the chains rattle. Lightly touching the back of his calf, she tenderly kneaded the hard muscle until she felt him relax. Then wiping the blood off his legs with the rag, she dumped a little water out of the bucket to rinse them, so she could keep the rest of the water clean. Slowly working her way up both of his legs, she made sure to clean any wounds along the way, taking care not to press too hard on damaged flesh.
She wouldn't cry. She couldn't. This was just another day, and she was going to do what was necessary to survive. Rinsing the rag again, she paused before starting on his torso. This was going to be harder; seemed like they took great delight in bruising his organs. After that initial jerk of his foot, he had stayed completely still, but he sucked in a audible breath when she washed the left side of his ribs. Squeezing her eyes shut, she felt the tears she buried deep inside fighting their way out. She cursed their captors and tried to focus on the day she would be free of this hell hole.
Another rinse of the well-worn rag, and she started on his face. The swelling pushed against the tattered material around his eyes. Still, he was handsome under the blood and bruising. His body and will were still strong . . . for now. She hung her head, knowing that, over time, they would break him. They always did, turning strong men into shells of their former selves. Once they got what they wanted from him, he would be tossed into a hole and forgotten. If he were lucky, he would die, but most weren't that lucky.
Something about him pulled at her heart. She blinked away the tears and set the rag aside. Picking up the bucket, she used the rest of the clean water to rinse him. He leaned towards her, straining against the chains.
"Thank you," he smiled. She tried not to smile back. No one had ever thanked her before. She cast a fearful glance over her shoulder at the door. Feelings were not something she could afford here. She picked up the small portion of food they had given her to feed him.
"You're welcome," she whispered quickly. "Now eat."
"No," he said.
"You have to eat." She looked nervously at the door again.
"Darlin', I'm not going to cooperate with them, or help them keep me alive any longer than I have to."
"I'm trying to help you," she desperately pleaded . Not eating would make them angry.
"If you want to help, take off this blindfold, so I can see you," he grinned.
"Listen to me. You have to survive. Do whatever you have to do to stay alive." She grabbed the sides of his face.
"Why?" he asked. "So they can torture me longer? No thank you."
She checked the door again before moving closer to him. "What if I told you I had a plan?" she whispered in his ear.
He stayed silent for a long time; so long she started to think she had made a mistake. He finally turned towards her.
"How do I know you aren't working with them to get information from me? Pretending to be an ally to get me to confide in you? A woman would be the perfect choice."
She walked quietly towards the cell door, peering out the small window - all clear. Moving back towards him, she pressed her body against his. He tensed as she leaned in and kissed him softly.
"You're just going to have to trust me," she sighed against his swollen lips. "I'm going to get us out of here. I swear. Now eat."
She grabbed the bowl and scooped up a spoonful of the rotten mush. When she held it up, he hesitated briefly before opening his mouth. Dumping the gruel in, she watched him chew painfully and swallow. He sighed and opened his mouth for more. Smiling, she refilled the spoon.