AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Magpie Tales. Although it is set in the same world as Steal Tomorrow it is part of a new series of stories centered around new characters. Check the "Extras" section of the sidebar for more stories in this series.
The hardest part of surviving the pandemic had nothing to do with backed-up sewers, packs of hungry dogs or violent teenage boys. These, at least, were reality and the twelve year-old girl with the dark hair and lanky frame had always been good at accepting things as they were.
It was the dreams, and not her haunted reality, that disturbed her. Nocturnal visits from her mother should've comforted her, but she found them strange and foreboding, with her mother always in a white slip and with her hair hanging down her back. She looked sultry and vulnerable and hardly like her mother at all. Just what these dreams were supposed to foretell, the girl didn't know. She had never been like her classmates who whispered about their horoscopes before English class and told ghost stories at slumber parties. Superstitious fantasies weren't her way, so what was she to make of recurring dreams full of images so insistent that it seemed impossible they meant nothing at all?
One afternoon, exhausted from yet another restless night, the girl dozed off on the plush sofa of an apartment where she had been foraging for food. She had one of the dreams again, only this time it came with a soundtrack of saxophone music - jazz tunes the girl remembered her mother having a fondness for and that she herself had learned to play on her flute in an effort to please her.
She awoke with a start, but although the world around her snapped back to the familiar, the music persisted. A quick scan of the apartment confirmed that nothing nearby was making any sound, so she looked out the window. A few stories below, a boy stood on a street corner playing a saxophone.
Was this the message of her dreams - to seek the protection of someone who loved the same music her mother loved? She could find a new flute, practice a little and go to the mysterious sax player, but then what? Perhaps it would be best to just watch him at a distance and enjoy his music. Yes, for now that was what she would do.
The girl leaned her elbows on the windowsill and listened, thinking of her flute, her mother, and her easy childhood. It was only when the boy finished the last bars of "Someone To Watch Over Me" that she realized for the first time in months that she was smiling.
If you enjoyed this story, check the sidebar, where you'll find the serialized novel, more flash fiction (including prequels), and other fun Steal Tomorrow stuff.
Jazz Gang Flash Fiction: Someone To Watch Over Me
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made me smile too!
...Grinning over here as well!
Good Magpie with a strong plot.
i love how you weave the backstory (life before the pandemic) into the narrative
Ooh, a new, mysterious character with no name. Can't wait to find out more about her, Ann!
this is really cool...well written...love that you put it post apocalyptic and gave a fresh take on it too...i hope that boy brings hope with the music...
Delightful - she does bring a smile!
@Susan: I'm afraid she'll remain mysterious for the foreseeable future. She tells me very little and will allow me to reveal even less. Characters can be so frustrating at times, but you can't kill them all unless your name is William Shakespeare.
The loss of an easy childhood is such a strong trope in your work. It really pulls on the heartstrings.
There is a lot here, and it's done skillfully enough that the reader almost doesn't notice. What an enticing flash.
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