Today’s EtherBooks Flash Fiction competition is on the subject of RISK, and today’s submission is another excerpt from The Futile Epikles, a collection of character sketches which can only be found on blogger at this time (where it appears in reverse order). Originally titled The Twin Hater, this story is based upon “sombody that I used to know”.
She has any number of phobias and allergies, all of which combine to make every day an adventure. She cannot walk down certain streets. She cannot ride on certain buses She had better not cross the street from north to south until she has already crossed from west to east. If a man in a crowd has a brown hat, she had better go back the other way. If a woman is holding a child by the hand, she had better not look at the child. Anyone who has been in a coffee shop that day cannot be reasoned with. Anyone with tan boots on is just asking for an appointment with trouble.
Certain numbers cannot be seen or heard, or even written down. Eighty-eight is bad enough, but eighty-seven is just as bad, and only eighty-nine can bring relief. Most numbers involving an eight had better be avoided. A phone number containing an eight cannot be called. An address with same cannot be approached. She will wait at a bakery as long as it takes until a reasonable ticket number is available.
On the left hand side of the street, bad things are likely to happen. On the right hand side of the street, it’s certainly sensible to take precautions. Last year several pedestrians were injured in the crosswalk. Fewer were injured when jaywalking. She knows which way is what.
The entire day must begin without events. The first half hour is crucial. The water is just so. The lather, again, just so. The hot tea not too hot. The weather not too cold. The stairway must be clear of any other people. She will wait her turn. The sidewalk can be damp, but there should be no puddles. She should not encounter more than two red lights in a row, but since she can control her pace to some extent, this usually doesn’t happen. The tunnel should be noisy and polluted. A bus should roar through each direction. There can be no twins.
There can never be twins. Twins of any kind, but especially identical twins. Especially identical twins wearing the same outfit. Especially old lady identical twins wearing the same plaid outfits and newly coiffed hair. Any kind of twin is enough to ruin the day, but those twins, oh, those horrible twins. On seeing such twins, even if it’s just a photo in a magazine ad, she must go home. She cannot work. She cannot shop. She must go home as quickly and directly as possible, and spend the rest of the day hiding under the sheets.
She can never go on vacation. There might be twins.