What’s up? It’s another Flash Fiction Friday, actually coming at you on Friday this time. I posted it a little bit early last week, and ironically, I’m starting a little later!
This week’s challenge is another by Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds. Using the Idiomatic, Wendig challenges writers to use a generated idiom in a 1,000-word story. I’d played around with the Idiomatic before, but I didn’t really have a good setting to use it in, so I messed around with it again while thinking of other story ideas to combine it with. So, this story is part-generator idea, part-idea-I-came-up-with-while-reading-a-short-story.
The idiom I got is: “The apple is the measure of a woman.”
The story is the following speculative piece…
“Of course having the dove as a motif matters, Jeremy!” Crawford slapped his frayed-edged copy of Timeless Endeavors in the middle of the patio table. Tea and scones rattled on their plates. “What are you even talking about? How would you explain the scene in chapter six where Amelia spots a dove sitting on her windowsill? And the dove in the clouds in chapter seventeen?”
Jeremy sighed. He lowered his pipe, and his eyebrows flattened in what appeared to be closed-eyed contemplation. “Mm, yes, I suppose this is true. But consider the lark in all the subsequent and consequent chapters. What does the dove represent, if the lark represents her entire spirit?”
As he swept a blond lock of hair from his face, Lionel took another sip of Catherine Rose tea. He then wagged his finger at both of the gentleman. “No, no, no, no, no. This is the third time we’ve circled back to this discussion, and I refuse to talk about it again. The lark and the dove are important, yes, but for the last time, they’re doing exactly what they’re doing to the both of you. They’re distracting both of you from the real matter at hand, which is Amelia’s ambivalent affections for Hemmingsworth.”
“Pfft!” Crawford rolled his eyes. “Who cares about that wretch? He never says anything of worth through the whole darn book.”
Stroking his stubble, Jeremy shook his head. “Speaking of never saying anything, we’re being total nitwits.”
“We keep forgetting we have a new member.”
Crawford and Lionel paused.
Lionel cleared his throat and smiled apologetically. He swiveled around. “Ah, yes, yes, yes, of course! How rude of us! Please, Adam. Tell us — What did you think of Timeless Endeavors?”
Adam blinked. His lips parted, then glued back together. His eyes wandered around the cups of tea on the table, the expectant faces, the outdoor veranda, the woven chairs they were sitting in, the bowl of apples in the center, the floral themed teapot, the maids slipping in and out of Crawford’s ivory mansion. This… This is wrong.
Lionel frowned, craning his head. “Adam? Is everything all right?”
Adam gripped his copy of Timeless Endeavors. Sweat laced his palms, crinkling the pages. “I…” He tugged at his collar. A faint breeze came to his aid, but did little else to cool him. “W… H…” This is all wrong!
Jeremy cupped his chin. “Could it be the caffeine?”
Crawford scowled. “In the Catherine Rose? Jeremy, honestly, if there were, it would be rather negligible for a young man of Adam’s stature.”
“Still,” Lionel said, “it is quite the strong brew. Perhaps we should call for one of the maids?”
“N-No!” Adam shut the book, trembling. “Th-This is wrong! This is all wrong! Tea? Scones? Maids? This — When I joined this society, I thought we’d be discussing philosophy, politics, and technical discipline within the written word, but this — This is a frilly book club! This is what my grandmother used to do! I — I thought we were men! I thought — ”
Lionel shushed him, weaving his hand over Adam’s. “Oh, hush, you poor thing. Everything’s going to be all right.”
The hair on Adam’s neck rose.
Jeremy sighed again, smirking. “Ahh, the innocence of youth.”
“Indeed,” Crawford said, nodding. He stood, walked past the table, and knelt in front of Adam with a knowing smile. “Adam, Adam, Adam — I cannot tell you how glad I am that I let you join us. You remind me so much of my younger self, and I cannot wait to hear your perspective on the books we read during our time together. But, before that — Yes! I’m very sure book clubs are what your grandmother did with her friends. My grandmother did the same. But, you see, dear Adam… this is no longer the case. The realms of man and woman are no longer distinct, separate realms.”
Adam shook his head. “What are you talking about?”
Crawford reached behind him and plucked a red Gala apple from the bowl. He held it up to Adam’s eyes. “You see, Adam, it is not man that is the measure of a woman, but an apple. Just like this one.” He stroked it with his thumb. “Does she have smooth skin? Is she bruised and battered from her trials and tribulations? And, most of all, what can we learn from her? What can we take from her?” Stretching his jaws, Crawford clamped down on the apple, piercing its flesh. He chewed his mouthful, smirked, and swallowed. “What does she taste like?”
Adam’s pulse doubled. Is he insinuating what I think he’s insinuating?
Lionel and Jeremy snickered.
Adam remained still. These men… They have no idea. They have no idea of the rumors — the rebellion springing forth, the number of abortions happening outside of wedlock, the statistical likelihood that one of the maids that works for Crawford will be a victim of this.
“You see, Adam,” Crawford continued, “Men don’t have to be men anymore. Men don’t have to be married to women anymore. Their femininity doesn’t emasculate us, because we’ve taken their femininity from them and made it our own. We’ve finally gained control.”
“And we’re never, ever giving it back,” Lionel added, grinning.
Crawford tilted his head, eyes gleaming. “So, Adam, what will it be? Do you wish to stay in the past, where men and women are constantly fighting for dominance? Or do you wish to join us in the everlasting future, where men like you, Lionel, Jeremy, and myself will always stay in power?”
As Crawford offered him the apple, Adam’s trembling ceased. No… I was wrong again. They have every idea. They know exactly what they’re doing. And they’ve invited me, because they knew I would know that. They see me as their protege — their legacy.
An idiotic legacy I will destroy.
Adam took the apple and swiftly bit it.
The three gentleman grinned.
“Well?” Lionel whispered. “How does she taste, Adam?”
Adam swallowed, smirking back. “Ripe.”
Did you like this flash fiction piece?
Do you wish you knew what happened next?
Well, I do, too! In fact, I want to make my first-ever short story collection possibly using this one.
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