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My latest bit of flash from Angry Hourglasses’s weekly contest with the above picture prompt. It’s a 360 word max story. I was awarded third place and the comments:

Granted the narrative wasn’t that steady, but I admired its intentions and the ending was a delight.

Sitting in an old school converted into a church in a pew crammed between my mother, smelling like onions and some strange man that keeps picking at his head, I am suffocating. I excuse myself and apologize for bumping into people’s holy legs and holy books and holy sermons and exit through the back doors.

Nobody is in the halls. I grab three cookies from the dessert table for after the service. Chocolate chip. Stale as fuck. I discard them in the bathroom trash can.

In the stall, sitting on the holy porcelain, I remove the flask I affectionately refer to as Holy Shit from my ankle where I keep it secured with tape. Hidden behind my long dress, nobody is the wiser. Opening it, I take a reassuring swig. Reassuring me that my sanity is still hanging in there. The vodka is hard going down my throat, but it was the most real thing in this brick-and-bullshit building.

You’ll have to excuse my bitterness. Mom has been dragging me to these services five times a week and twice on Sunday. This is the second time on Sunday. Which means I fell back on Holy Shit. Sometimes I wish this place would just collapse like a ton of, well, you know.

Footsteps. Someone else is in here. Whoever they are enter the stall next to mine. Odd choice with six to choose from. I pull my feet off the ground and hug my knees. I stop breathing.

Then the familiar metal clink of someone unscrewing a lid. A sigh. A gulp. Another sigh. Another gulp. I can’t help myself and laugh.

Silence.

“Hello,” the person next to me says with a sense of foreboding.

“Hello,” I say, trying to suppress my laughter, somewhat.

“What’s in yours?” she says. Another swig.

“Vodka. 100-proof. You?” I say.

“Damn, girl, the sermon ain’t that bad. Captain Morgan here, only 70-proof.”

“Here’s to us and the heavenly father and blah blah,” I say.

We drink and laugh at the absurdity.

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