Flash Fiction

The Wound-Up Bird Chronicle

By November 23, 2013 12 Comments

Millie Ho Bird Illustration
We got our Math pop quizzes back today. 

I covered my mark with my thumb and waited for my nerves to steel. In the end, it wasn’t terrible, but I was insulted that the teacher gave me bonus marks for writing my name.

“Maybe you should, like, read your textbook sometime,” Robyn said.

I groaned and looked at her perfect paper. “I’ll live vicariously through you.”

Robyn blinked. “You wouldn’t want to.”

“True,” I said. “You’re too predictable.”

Robyn set the paper down, and gave me a strange, calculating look. 

We headed for the cafeteria. Robyn would say “ouch” whenever her bangs slapped her eyes, which was often. She was growing them out for that wispy heroin chic look, which kind of made me laugh when I first heard about it, because she had the body of a gasoline tank.

At our lunch table, I massaged my apple and debated throwing it at Travis, who’d taken my copy of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle ‎hostage three months ago and refused to give it back without a kiss and a movie date.

“Travis is coming,” Robyn said sometime later.

I was halfway through my avocado and turkey sandwich when a hand wound itself around my hood and tugged. There were two types of hood-tugging I couldn’t stand: the unexpected kind, and the brutal kind. Guess what combination Travis preferred.

Travis lowered his square head beside mine and barked, “Go out with me.”

“No.”

“Why?”

I looked at the pink boils rooted all over his face and wondered if that was a trick question.

Travis tugged harder. My collar burned, but he didn’t let go. Not even after someone threw an Orange Crush at him. Not even after I elbowed him in the you-know-what.

And then:

“She’ll go out with you,” Robyn said.

I looked at her with wide eyes. Travis froze.

Robyn’s mouth was a straight line, and her arms were crossed. Her lighter was in her right hand, and she flicked it on and off. “One condition, though.”

I didn’t remember when I saw the blade under Robyn’s sleeve, but it must have been sometime after we walked past the parking lot and into the ravine behind the school.

I definitely saw it by the time Travis asked me why I was leaving.

“Don’t worry,” I said, not meeting his eyes. “She’s predictable.”

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Millie’s Note: Apologies to Haruki Murakami.

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