Flash Fiction: Puppies, Electronics and Murder (491 words)

Sadie stood in the kitchen, elbows on the counter, chin in her fists and stared down at her e-reader. Her expression was caught somewhere between sad and righteously indignant, like a kid who reached for the last cookie, only to find her taller, bigger brother had written a nasty limerick on it about keeping her paws off. Except that she was twenty-three, dressed in a pinstripe skirt suit for work that day, and was always the most likely person in the room to break into limericks.

Dana entered the kitchen slowly, almost reading the rant hovering over her apartment mate’s head. She pulled a mug out of the cupboard for her morning coffee. “How are you?” she asked, as innocuously as she could.

“I did it again,” Sadie said flatly.

“Guessed the murderer from the first page?” Dana asked. She flipped the coffee brewer on, waiting until she felt it vibrate into life before she pulled her hand away.

“No,” Sadie said.

“Highlighted the screen?” Dana asked.

Sadie sighed. “Not since yesterday.”

Dana looked at her over her shoulder in surprise. “What did you do?” she asked.

“I killed it.”

Dana blinked. The brewer beeped after a moment, pulling her back into her morning routine. Filling her mug, she cradled it in her hands and took a deep breath of the bitter steam. She stepped across the kitchen to lean against the counter next to Sadie. The offending device sat still, a black brick on the counter. Dana reached over it for the sugar.

“I’ve been told you should avoid making permanent decisions – like murder – before eight a.m.,” she said.

“I know!” Sadie said. She pressed the on key, jabbed her finger against it hard, as if it would respond to pressure. “It won’t turn on. I do this all the time. My laptop, the laptop before that? Both of them had batteries that just decided not to hold charge one day. I had a cell phone once that developed a white screen of death and would dial random people from my contact list. Which was almost funny. My last camera decided never to zoom in ever again. When I was a kid, my parents used to buy me all those walking, barking electronic puppies? None of them lasted more than a month. My favorite – this cute dalmatian – would at least bark if I hit it really hard on the head.

“I thought I’d outgrown this and then…” Sadie pointed forcefully at her e-reader, glaring. “I killed it. What does this make me? Some sort of serial electronic slaughterer.”

Dana took a sip of her coffee. “I read a book once where electronics malfunctioned and died around wizards.”

Sadie glanced up at her. “I’m not a wizard.”

Dana shrugged and nodded. “No, apparently you’re the kind of kid who whacks puppies over the head.”

Groaning, Sadie dropped her head back into her hands. “Let’s go back to murderer. That was more flattering.”

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