Flash Fiction: Just the Way We Always Were (352 words)

After his first year aboard the Faithful, Zev saw the house differently. Beams were cracked between the grain. Carpets in every room had been worn thin, hard as the floors beneath them. Doors were swollen with age and squeaking in their frames. Even the walls seemed to have thinned out and leaned forward into smaller rooms, aged more than the last year could account for. Following Iliana to the room he’d always lived in, he tried not to stare. Gaunt stairs groaned under his feet. He moved slow, easing onto each one, knowing there was nothing alien in this house, wondering how he’d overlooked it for so long.

Iliana pushed open the door to his room and it stopped after half a foot. Just inside the door, something heavy had fallen over. Keeping in an irritated breath, she grimaced. “Lovely,” she muttered.

Moving aside, Iliana pointed him toward the door with a resigned expression that could only be interpreted as, You deal with the troublesome idiot.

Now that was something he remembered. Offering her a sailor’s salute to hide his smile, he shoved his shoulder against the door. On the other side, the furniture protested, but slid.

“Poor homecoming, I know,” she said.

Questioningly, Zev looked at her over his shoulder, eyebrow raised just to annoy her.

“Right,” Iliana returned and shoved him out of her way.

“Sorry that you’re coming back to this mess,” she told him. The second apology caught him more firmly, and he hesitated by the door, watching her turn and inspect and press his old belongings back into order. Unlit, the dim room turned her into a shadow, drifting and straightening and maybe moving the world just through force of will.

“Vita keeps making and losing these lists of things to do about the place,” she told him. “We’re just the way we always were – busy – and–”

Yanking the covers from the windows, she scattered light and dust into the air, shut her eyes against it, wrinkled her nose and still couldn’t keep from sneezing.

Zev shrugged, bit down on a laugh, and murmured, “It’s still home.”

Today’s post is brought to you by the Daily Prompt, A-Z:

Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.

I only 96.15% succeeded, as the English language doesn’t feel very friendly to the letter “X”. I’m still calling this one a win.

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