Flash Fiction: Rules of the Day (188 words)

“You’re late,” Terius said.

Zain nodded, and leaned his elbows against the bar beside him. “I got lost.”

“You’re four hours late,” Terius said.

Zain nodded more quickly. “I got very lost.”

“Why are you grinning?” Terius asked. He looked at his cousin sideways, accusingly.

Zain laughed. He ducked his head to hide it, though his shoulders shook, and it wasn’t hard to hear him over the clip and run of the crowd’s conversation behind them. He lifted his head again and looked at Terius brightly. “I got lost,” he said, as clearly and deliberately as if it were a full explanation with valid excuses and persuading reasons.

Terius blinked. His eyes narrowed farther. “Are we having one of those days where we can only use a single phrase. If we are, I’d like to lay claim to ‘you smell like deep-sea egg rot.'”

Zain considered it. “That’s what you want to say to every person you meet today, in answer to every question they ask, repeatedly?”

Terius hesitated. He opened his mouth to respond, but Zain was already grinning all the wider.

“I got lost,” Zain said again.

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