False Start

Prompt image for the Fandango's Flash Fiction prompt

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #178, based on the image below from Kristine Robbie at Pinterest.

Ultra-silly today!

Josh had noticed a few weird things lately. Things about himself. Things that set him apart from the other kids.

And? What could he do? He’d seen how they teased young “Tubby” Tucker for being overweight, so there was only one option. He hid them. He tried to blend in. Hope nobody would notice.

And what better than today’s go-kart race? All the other fifth-graders would be there. A great chance to be one of the boys.

In good time, therefore, Josh bagged a prime location, at the top of the hill at Houston and Fourth, sitting on the kerb to enjoy the spectacle. He even chatted to the nearby Ricky, who was making last-minute changes to his own kart in preparation.

“Whaddya reckon today, Ricky? You gonna Ace it?”

“Meh, dunno. You should see ol’ Jake’s rig.” The boy rubbed his chin. “Dunno what he’s done, but every practise, he’s wiped the floor with us. Gonna be a fast route today.” The boy spoke with a gravitas which belied his ten years, before spitting onto the ground and swigging from a can of root beer.

The two were distracted by shouting at the other side of the street, about a dozen yards away. Just excited, thought Josh, at once losing interest and turning back toward Ricky.

It was clear, though, that this wasn’t just high spirits when he heard a girl’s terrified scream. Looking up, one of the karts had come loose. Who was that? A girl – no clue who – blonde hair, cream dress. He caught a glimpse of her fading necklace – Lynnette. And… was that Jacob? The boy’s petrified yelp followed. “NOOOOOOOOOO BRAKES”. That was Jacob, all right!

At that moment, Josh bitterly regretted the mobile phone, whose invention had rendered the phone box obsolete. With no possibility of changing clothing, the boy leapt into the air, without even a hint of flash. Like a dart, he left the other children gobsmacked as airborne, he pursued the runaways.

It was over in seconds. Dragging the kart to a halt, he grounded himself next to the two shaken inhabitants.

“You guys okay?” No answer. Dumbstruck. He studied the girl. Wow! Not bad for a ten-year-old! By now she was wide-mouthed, staring at him, looking rather like a goldfish, but beaming. “Miss, I said, are you okay?”

She realised that when she just spoke, no words had come out. “Er… yes… thank you”. It was not so easy to smile and reply at the same time.

“Close your mouth, miss, or you’ll catch a fly. I’m Josh, by the way. Let’s get you back up to the Start Line.”

And with one hand, he carried both kart and occupants back up the hill. “I’d make sure you fix those brakes, Jacob, before you try riding anyplace”, winked the boy, as he set the kart down.

Glancing at the crowd, Josh was now the centre of attention. He couldn’t help but notice their mouths, each one agape. Oh, Jeez, What have I just done?

I wish I could write. I’d have posted this as a cartoon.


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