Flash Fiction: Invitation (218 words)

Jinn had been warning people about the dangers of carelessness since he was six years old, and his little brother had almost run full-tilt into the stove while trying to tie bows in the dog’s tail. By the time he was ten, he had practiced to the point that he could summon a three-minute lecture after a single breath.

When he was thirteen, it had easily slipped to five minutes, and he could walk at the same time, to chase down his siblings as they tried to escape.

A few more years’ practice, and he could stop a stranger with a look at seventeen, freeze them to the spot for the short, intense span of a minute and a half warning at nineteen, and by the time he was twenty-five, they turned away from him on hesitant feet, heading straight for safer ground.

But never before had a stranger blinked back at him as if he were the one lacking substance between his ears, slightly annoyed, with her eyebrows creeping together the longer he spoke.

“I put a lot of calculation into poking that chimera,” she said, in the same careful tone he had been using a moment before. She tilted her head, inviting Jinn to explain himself.

He opened his mouth, and was unsure what to say.

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