NOTE: This is my first flash fiction since Hurricane Ike hit last Friday. I wrote it for this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt, and it precedes the action of the novel. I'm being intentionally vague about Danny and Danica's exact relationship in an effort to avoid spoilers but if anyone wants more info, drop me a line at uhamp "at" yahoo "dot" com and I'll be happy to clue you in as time permits. I still have no internet at home, so please be patient.
Danica squinted at the computer screen. The message asked if it would it be a costume party. What a stupid question. Just because her birthday fell near Halloween didn’t mean...
With a smirk, she typed the non-answer, “I’m sure whatever costume you have on now will be perfect.”
A tap at the window made her glance toward the door of her bedroom. It was locked, thank goodness. Her father would kill her if—
Behind her, Danny parted the curtains and dropped into the room. “You didn’t answer my text.”
Danica stood up. “I wasn’t sure what to say. Besides, I’ve been busy answering stupid questions like whether or not people should wear costumes to my party. Hello, it says right on the invitation, ‘Sweet Sixteen,’ not ‘Halloween.’”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” He threw himself into her vacated computer chair. “Where’s my invitation?”
Danica gazed at him in silence for a moment, not comprehending. “What do you mean where’s your invitation? You don’t need one. It’s a given.”
“If it’s a given, why didn’t you give me one? It’s bad enough you’re doing this lame girly thing on our birthday, but—” he grabbed the box on her desk that contained the unused cards. “The least you could’ve done is invite me.”
“But you’re family.”
“You sent one to Aunt Beth.”
“She lives in Chicago and probably won’t come, anyway.”
“Then why’d you bother?”
“Because it’s what I was supposed to do.”
“Then why didn’t you give one to Mom? It isn’t like she can’t come.”
“That would be stupid. Besides—” she snatched the box from his hand. “You and she promised to help decorate, so you’re already coming. Invitations are for people who don’t know all the details.”
Danny sighed and leaned back in the chair, folding his arms across his chest. “You just don’t want me there. You think you’re too grown up to have your parties with me any more. You want to be all feminine, and next thing I know, you’ll quit going to the range with me, you’ll quit taking aikido classes, and then I’ll have to do all those things alone.” Before she could protest, he added, “Don’t think I don’t know you’re changing. You even bought a dress.”
“Have you been snooping in my closet again?”
“Only when you’re not around.”
“Well, duh. When else are you going to do it?” She tried to catch his eye but he was busy frowning at a piece of lint on the carpet. “I totally expected you to come to my party. I mean, sort of.” When he shot her a look from under his brows, she added, “It’s just I know you’re already laughing at me for doing this, so I thought if I sent you an invitation, you’d tell me I was being stupid. I mean, why go to all that trouble just—”
“Just for me.” Danny got to his feet and began stalking toward the window. “Thanks a lot.”
Danica lunged after him and caught him by the sleeve. “Stop it. You know that’s not what I meant.”
“It’s what you were going to say, though. Isn’t it?” He jerked his arm out of her grasp and launched himself out the window with the noiseless grace of a cat.
Danica made to go after him, but then reconsidered. This wasn’t a mood she could jolly him out of in a matter of minutes. She would have to let it run its course.
She sank back into her computer chair, still holding the box of invitations. Inspired, she picked up a ball point and addressed one of the envelopes in neat block letters. On the invitation itself she crossed out some words, added others, and on the inside where she was supposed to note the date and time, she wrote, “Forever.” Then she slipped the card into the envelope and licked the gummed flap closed. Would he want to see the silly thing stamped and postmarked, too? She would sleep on that and decide in the morning.
In the meantime, another message had popped up in the lower corner of her computer screen. With a sigh, Danica set the invitation aside and began to type. “The costume you’re wearing now will be just fine.”