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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Washed Right Out, Chapter Two

I usually give my Wednesday Briefs posts cute little names, but it's time I highlighted the fact that this is a series! An original flash fiction series! And it'll be going on for who knows how many weeks, but long enough to make it fun, that's for sure.

Hopefully, you read chapter one (and if not, you can read it here). If so, please enjoy the second part of this ongoing series of broken hearts and hair products.


Washed Right Out, Chapter Two. Prompt used: when in doubt, panic.
"It happened last week. I broke up with Jonathan."
Last week.
Riley had had an absolutely miserable day. It had started with waking up late and nearly missing the bus, rolled into a long morning of nothing but complaints and mix-ups at his office, punctuated by a lunch break that turned into an emergency meeting, topped off by a hot lengthy commute back home, made longer by multiple road accidents en route.

He was ready to crawl out of his slacks and work shirt and spend the evening with a beer, Chinese take-out, and several episodes of 'Game of Thrones' with the boyfriend, Jonathan. Riley Paolini, he thought, you deserve it.
He didn't live with Jonathan, but the other man had a key to Riley's apartment and was accustomed to coming and going as he pleased. So when Riley came home to find Jonathan already inside, it wasn't a problem.
"Oh, Jojo, I've had a hell of a—"
Riley had already kicked off his shoes, dropped his jacket and tie across the back of the couch, and was now standing frozen in place. He watched through the open doorway of his bedroom as his boyfriend crawled around on his knees, plucking at the carpet with a pair of pliers. His face was unreadable because he was wearing a paper mask over his mouth and nose, matching the medical-looking gloves that came up to his elbows.
The only thing that differentiated Jonathan from a hospital worker who’d broken into Riley's apartment was his long brown hair, which flowed past his ears and down his back in an intricate braid.
"I'm cleaning your room. Again," he added, as if this was now standard procedure, annoyingly so, to methodically clean his boyfriend's carpeting fiber by fiber. "I've already cleaned the bed."
That wasn't the only thing Jonathan had done. Riley could see that his usual stack of magazines was now missing from the side table. His laundry hamper was empty. His book case had clearly been reorganized, including all of his books and various knick-knacks.
"Jojo, where'd my mags go?"
Jonathan didn't look up. "I put them in a basket underneath your table."
So he had. Fair enough, Riley supposed. "And my laundry?"
"Washed, dried, folded up and put away."
Riley had planned to do his own laundry that weekend, but that was small potatoes. "Oh, okay, cool." He began to unbutton his shirt, intent on throwing it back into the empty hamper.
"And I cleaned out your DVR."
Two fingers paused on the top button. "You did... what, exactly?"
Jonathan breezed past him as he talked, a filled trash bag in his hand. "Well, yeah. You only had twenty percent free space! Naturally, I had to cut out some of the fat." He quickly stripped off his medical gloves and mask and disposed of them.
Riley's hands dropped. He watched Jonathan set his trash bag by the front door. "What qualified as fat, Jojo?" he asked, trying his best not to sound upset.
Don't get mad over a TV, don't get mad over a TV, Riley told himself.
"All of those trashy reality shows, mainly. I mean, did you really need twenty hours of Tim Gunn, and the first five seasons of 'X-Files'? And who actually records judge shows? Don't worry, you'll catch them on rerun."
Jonathan stood in front of Riley and rested his hands on the other man's shoulders. They smelled of baby powder. "So, how about dinner? My treat. I'll even let you pick where we go."
"Go?" Oh God, Riley sounded so idiotic out loud. He would curl up and disappear if Jojo's hands weren't keeping him in place.
"Yeah. We're going out tonight!" Jonathan smiled. On another other day, that serene smile would have calmed Riley. Today, it was making him feel all wrong. "So let's pick out a place to eat, then we can get dressed really nice and enjoy a night on the town. No point in staying in when it's so nice outside."
Something in Riley's brain began to sizzle, as though his mental fuse box had started crapping out. It was too much. He was tired and hungry, and all of his 'Project Runway' recordings were gone, and he didn't want to go out, he just didn't, and why had this happened to him?
"Let me think, okay?" Riley backed out of Jonathan's hands. "I'm gonna—just gonna run that bag of trash to the trash chute, okay?"
"Sure thing, Riley. I'll take a quick shower before we go." Jonathan headed into the bathroom before Riley could say anything in response. That was probably for the best; Riley was at a loss for words.
Seconds later, he was dutifully down the hallway of his apartment building, chucking the bag into the chute before realizing he had no idea what was inside. His stomach dropped. Now he would never know. Tears blurred his vision. He hit the top of the chute with his fist and found satisfaction in the ping of metal moving under his hand.
Something about that day shifted something inside of Riley, something fundamental. He was tired, and only half because of his work. It was Jonathan. It had always been Jonathan, his beautiful Jojo with the smile and the pretty eyes and hair. His boyfriend was driving him up a wall, and he had only just realized it.
Riley stood in the hallway, again frozen in one spot. He wanted to go back. He couldn't go back. Should he apologize to Jonathan? Break up with him? Go out to dinner and pretend nothing happened? His brain raced in all directions. He was alone. But he hadn't changed out of his work pants; his keys and wallet and cell phone were still in his pocket.
Two wheels in Riley's mental process clicked together, and there was a spark. And that spark was panic.
Riley turned and ran out of his own apartment building.

Here are the other bloggers who are flashing this week: