“Short Flash Fiction”

Meet Cute

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Meet Cute

by Ned Lips

L ast night was another late, lonely night. Work starts way too early. Coffee! Need coffee! And a girlfriend. Break room’s empty. “Let’s see. Coffee. Ummm, specialty.” Beep. “Let’s try mocha.” Beep. “Hmmm. Large cup.” Beep. “Definitely strong.” Beep, beep. “OK. Coffee!” “Good morning.” It was the pretty, brown-haired woman with the dark-rimmed glasses. She’s new too, right?“Um, hello. I’m fine, thank you.” Did she ask how I was? Recover.“Um, so how’re you this rainy morning?” Beep, beep, blares the microwave as she pushes buttons. Radiant smile. “I’m fine. Love the rain, don’t you?” She’s looking at me. I hate rainy days, but she’s very cute. Wrinkly cotton tank top, short cut-off jeans and messy hair.So, today, “Love rain. Great for the plants.” Gurgle, gurgle. I turn. Coffee’s running out of my cup, pouring onto the floor. “Oh f—, I mean, rats.” She giggles. “I’ll get towels.” As she turns toward the sink, I can’t help but admire her nice tush. The microwave smokes. “Your breakfast.” I don’t know her name!“It’s burning.” I pull open the door, billows of smoke pour into my face. The coffee keeps coming. She turns, eyes wide, and presses buttons. “The microwave’s still cooking.” I slam the door. More smoke. The coffee maker beeps. The microwave beeps twice. Ice and chilled water stream out of the refrigerator. The tile floor’s a mocha mess. The toaster pops up and down, hopping across the counter, glowing red inside. “Oh fuck.” No time for niceties. “That’s going to electrocute us.” I guide her out of my way as she tries in vain to stem the tide at the coffee machine. As the toaster hops at the counter’s edge, I grab it. “Ouch!” I burn my hand tossing it into the sink. Beep, beep, says the coffee maker. Beep, beep, beep, replies the microwave, then the fridge. Beep, answers the blender, which spins its blade, vibrating on the counter. Beep, says the refrigerator, more ice and water. She’s in a panic. “Where are they plugged in?” “Damn,” I realize. “They’re hardwired into a central system so you can order your coffee from anywhere and it’ll be ready when you get here.” I grab the blender, but the glass pitcher breaks in my hands, shards cut me, the blades turn on me. “I can’t get it.” The machines are all beeping, in different tones and unique patterns. The dishwasher turns on. The door falls open. Hot mist fills the room. The tea maker spews hot water, the cappuccino machine grinds beans from the nearly endless supply in the bin behind the wall, spitting the powder into the air. Black smoke, coffee dust, hot mist, clinging to our skin, invading our noses, eyes and ears. It’s difficult to breathe. “We’ve got to get out of here,” the woman screams, but as she turns toward the closed door, the refrigerator and freezer doors fly open. Frigid air races across the floor.

The mixed liquids turn to brown, slimy slush. I grab the island for balance. She slips. I grab her arm, guide her up and pull her into my arms. The slush is freezing solid. Our shoes are embedded. The mist in the air, and on our now-soaked skin and clothes, frosts up. Water streaming, freezing, thickening. We’re trapped. The tears on her cheeks glisten hard as she gazes at me with pleading eyes. She’s shaking. “We are NOT dying at the hands, or wires, of these damn machines!” I’m feeling powerful in front of the damsel in my arms, though I have no idea what I’m going to do. CRASH, rattle, rattle. “OHHHH!” She points. The blender’s fallen off the counter onto the icy surface, blade whirring at top speed, ragged glass sliding toward us. Ice at our ankles, freezing. More water. I lift her out of her shoes, the ice crackles beneath her, and the water freezes in the holes her feet have just left. She’s crying. Now what?I yanked at my own shoes. “Owww. Fuck. I’m frozen in.” I set her down on the island, well above the ice. I grab and yank my right foot up. Crackle, crunch, pop. Cold and bleeding, but free. I can’t put it down. It’ll freeze to the growing ice sheet. I lift my right buttock onto the island. She grabs me around my chest. “OK, on three. 1, 2, 3.” She pulls. I yank. “Godda-a-a-mmit.” Crack. “Fuck, that’s my foot.” “Pull,” she whispers. Blender blades and jagged glass closing in. Inches away. “You have to.” I do. Yanking hard. Crack, my ankle dislocates but moves. “Pull.” Again, crackle, crinkle, pop. Blades clip my toes. I fall back onto the island, freed but bleeding from my hand, ankle and toes. My feet are blue, bruising quickly, pain ripping like shards of glass up my spine. “Shane,” I scream out loud, “pull it together!” “The window.” Her small, shivering voice says. Yes!It’s summer. She hands me a frozen apple from the spilled pile of fruit. I whip it at the window and the glass shatters. The door to the kitchen opens. It’s Margaret, the master of this place, and she’s mad. Everything stops. The refrigerator slams its doors. The dishwasher closes and the blender stops. The ice defrosts as quickly as it had frozen, liquid pouring out of the kitchen into the hallway around Margaret’s large feet. “Get off my island! Why do you people keep doing this to me? Enough with the making out in my kitchen. I don’t know what sort of kinky stuff you were up to, but you will clean this mess up, and right now!” “Don’t close the door!” We slide off the island, holding each other, limping as fast as possible, shoeless, out and down the hall. We haven’t been within ten feet of that place since, though the two of us have been a couple now for several months, and we have done it on a kitchen island. You know, just because.

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