This week's assignment:
The premise of the contest is to write a piece of flash fiction - it should be no more than 600 words and should take no longer than 3 minutes to read aloud. And the requirement for this particular one is a character MUST tell a joke and a character MUST cry. One character can do both.
Maggie had a thousand errands to do. Just thinking about them all made her a little bit sick. And she knew with 3 year old Ben in tow, it would take...oh about eleventy billion times longer. They had been sitting in traffic for about 20 minutes. And with each second that passed, Maggie felt even more overwhelmed. She never had enough time.
As she raced through the list over and over again trying to make sure she didn't forget anything, Ben chattered non-stop in the back seat. He needed very little encouragement to keep his side of the conversation going. An occasional, "mmhhmm" or "yup" from Maggie, and he was off and running again.
Maggie had become a master at tuning out the running commentary. There always seemed to be something more pressing, more important, just more. She happened to glance in the rearview mirror and caught sight of Ben. And she saw him. Really saw him. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, big, fat tears rolled down her cheeks. All she had ever wanted was to be a mother and now she was letting things like the dry cleaning and getting the right pitcher for her Bunco party overshadow her sweet little boy.
She inched her way to the side of the road, turned the car off and let the tears come. How had she gotten to the point that she took Ben for granted? How could she have let all these silly tasks become more important? Maggie thought she may never stop crying.
“Mama? Mama? MAMA!”
“Yes love, I’m sorry. Mama is just…”
“Mama? Guess what? Knock, knock”
“Knock, knock? Ummm…who’s there?”
And then Ben exploded in laughter. The absolute joy rolled off him in waves. Maggie sat very still for a minute, and then she giggled. And then she chuckled. And then she roared with laughter. Just she and her amazing Ben on the side of the road gasping for breath, it was exactly what she’d always wanted.