Flash Fiction, that is!
I'll start off with this. It is entitled "Cherished" and the prompt for it was, "when is it okay to lie?". So without further ado:
“Does this dress make my hips look too wide?” Hannah's mother asked. Hannah rolled her eyes, and blew a bright pink bubble to avoid the question. “Hannah?”
“Yes, mom. It makes you look like you need a 'wide load' sign posted right above your rear.”
“Thanks for that,” her mom said, acidly. She shot her daughter a dirty look before disappearing into the changing room. “I don't understand why you can't just tell me a little white lie once in awhile. Why do you always have to be so blatantly honest?”
“I would rather be honest with someone instead of telling them what they want to hear,” Hannah said. She flipped quickly through the pages of the latest fashion magazine, curling her lip at the so-called styles.
“That is not a skill that will get you very far,” her mother chided her.
Hannah pondered what could have caused her to recall that memory as she rode the elevator up to the fourth floor of the hospital. She had been 16 years old. Her mother's words still harangued her, even after all these years. Hannah sighed as the bell dinged, and the doors slid open. She hated hospitals. She didn't know if it was due to the smell, or the idea that people were sequestered away in little rooms while they waited to die, or simply the spread of disease. She could feel the germs creeping along her skin like malicious little sprites waiting for their chance to infect her.
Down the hall, and fourth door on the left. That is where they had taken her mother. They wouldn't let Hannah see her after the accident. She just got in the way. Now she had been stabilized, and they would only allow Hannah to see her for a few moments.
“Is she going to live?” Hannah had asked the doctor, her voice tremulous.
“She's lucky to have come this far. If we don't get the internal bleeding to stop, she may not make it. We're going to do everything we can for her, miss Lanford.”
Hannah stopped in the doorway, and stared at all the tubes and lines connected to her mother. Her beautiful blonde hair that she had always insisted be styled before she left the house, now lay against her skull, dull and flat. If her mother got hold of a mirror...
Hannah worked hard, and made a good life for herself, despite what she now called her best trait and worst flaw. She lost a lot of friends over the years for being so honest. Most of the time, in public, she kept her mouth shut. But at work, she would let her honesty have full reign. She was probably one of the most hated critics at the newspaper. Her stacks of hate mail far outweighed her fan mail. But when she did get a nice letter, a gem in the pile of crap, the person always thanked her for her honesty. Her mother never did understand where it came from. When Hannah was little, she was always told to “be honest”. Hannah lived her life by the Golden Rule, to treat others how she wanted to be treated. She certainly didn't want people to lie to her, so she took it to heart.
One of the monitors beeped as Hannah stood by her mother's bedside. As she looked down, her mother's eyes fluttered open. For a moment, she looked at Hannah, confusion furrowed her brow. After a moment, recognition flickered, and her mother smiled weakly.
“There you are,” she said. She could barely speak, the oxygen mask muffled her words.
“Don't try to talk, mom.” Hannah dropped her coat on the nearby chair, tried to hide the pained expression on her face. She had always known she would lose her mom someday, but not now. Not like this. Taking a deep breath to compose herself, she turned back to her mother, but she had fallen back asleep. Hannah dragged the chair over to the bed, and sat down.
It seemed like hours passed instead of moments when her mother opened her eyes again, and looked up. Hannah smoothed back her mother's hair, and tried to smile.
“I look like hell,” her mother said.
“No,” Hannah shook her head. “You look fine. Really.”
She stared at her daughter, breathing in her oxygen. “Am I going to make it?”
Hannah thought it over a moment, debating whether or not to tell the truth. Her mother studied her with serious eyes as Hannah struggled with the Honesty demon within.
“Yes, mom. You're going to be just fine. The Doc reassured me. You might even be out of here in a couple of days.”
Her mother regarded her for several long moments.
“That is exactly... what I wanted to hear.” Her mother's eyes closed once more, and her breathing became slow and even. Hannah stayed close, knowing in her heart it would be the last time she would see her mother, and those may have been her last words.
It was a short time later when Hannah noticed her mother's chest had stopped rising, and she had a peaceful look upon her face.
by Mel Chesley
by Mel Chesley