“Short Flash Fiction”

World at Her Fingertips

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World at Her Fingertips

by Ned Lips

I know I’m Irish, Jeremy, but there are no such things as leprechauns!” Kayleigh tossed her long red hair over her shoulder and led the small group in a toast: “To science!” An older gentleman, clad in a Donegal tweed jacket and a woolen kilt, caught her eye across the tavern. He was staring at her, then began to weave through the revelers toward her. Kayleigh’s other great friend, Marcie, her long brown hair bouncing as she hopped in place to the Irish jig being played. As it ended she raised her glass to the sky. “To Ireland.” The entire bar responded, “To Ireland!” Kayleigh was distracted, focused on the Irish gentleman careening through the crowd. He was coming to her. He looked harmless enough, but there was something about him. He was clearly drunk, stumbling and bumbling his way nearer, but there was a glean in his deep blue eyes, which had never left hers from the moment they’d connected across the room. He cleared the last two large men, entered their triangle. “Hey, cool outfit, ol’ man!” Jeremy patted him on the back. He stumbled and fell into Kayleigh, then hugging her tightly “ to him, he whispered into her ear, in a clear voice with a deep Irish brogue, “’Tis upon you now, lassie. The world is upon your shoulders. Find the green one. Save the world.” “What the—” She pushed him away, and his bright blue eyes smiled into hers as he regained his footing. Jeremey grabbed him and held him back. “He’s OK. Jer. Leave him be.” Kayleigh could not take her eyes off the old man, who simply brushed himself off with a broad smile, eyes clear as midday staring into hers. She was transfixed. Then, he changed, lost his balance a bit and slurred in a deeper Irish brogue, “Excuse me, lassie.” He gave her an over-acted drunken wink, and just like that, he was again a soused old man stumbling out of the tavern. Her eyes followed after him, intrigued. “Yuck! There’s something icky and green on your right shoulder.” Jeremy pointed with his left index finger. Jeremy was 6′1 , dark hair, dark eyes and powerfully built. Tall, dark and handsome, and she’d loved him for as long as she could remember, but alas, he was gay. “Ewe. Disgusting.” Marcie added. “What was he drinking? Kayls, who was that guy?” “How should I know?” Her eyes took on her famous conspiratorial look. “Oh, no. I know that look!” Jeremey grinned. “Come on, Jer. Let’s find out who that old dude is. He’s harmless, right?” She leaped off her stool and headed for the door. Jeremy rolled his eyes and followed. He’d been her sidekick since preschool. Marcie, a new friend, wandered out behind them. It’d rained, and the cobblestones gleamed in the glow from the 19th-century-style streetlights. “That way,” she whispered as the man rounded the next corner. They moved quickly down the sidewalk, strewn with people adorned in green, heels clacking on the stones beneath their feet. They stopped at corner, the beginning of the alley. “You ready?” Kayleigh, as always, asked. “No!” Jeremey, as predictably, replied. Both smiled. Marcie stood a few feet back, confused. They peaked around the corner, Jeremy above Kayleigh, Marcie disinterested. There he was, in the midst of the street lights, walking, nearing the other end of the dark alley. Just as she began to step out to follow him, a dark limo appeared. Jeremy grabbed Kayleigh back to his chest. They peaked again to watch. “What’s happening?” Marcie asked. “Shhhhhh” Kayleigh and Jeremy replied in unison. Marcie stomped off in protest. Kayleigh and Jeremey looked at one another, grinned and returned to the corner to watch. Marcie was not the first third wheel to be ignored out of their adventures. “That limo.” Jeremey paused. “Kayleigh, it didn’t like drive up. It sorta just appeared” “I know, like, out of nowhere.” Kayleigh was now focused on the alley. “Shush now.” The man stopped at the end of the alley, stood straight, but didn’t run, as though waiting for something or someone. Though no doors opened on the limo, three dark figures emerged. “What are those?” Jeremey asked. “They’re heading to the old guy. Maybe he’s waiting on them. They look kinda like ghosts or something.” Kayleigh was straining to see. Jeremy had a hand on her shoulder, holding her back from falling head first into the alley. That had happened before. “Sorta like dementors from Harry Potter.” Jeremey added. “Yeah, though on the ground.” Kayleigh finished the thought. Whoosh. A swirl of blackness, a slight flash. The alley was empty. The old man, the dementor-things and the limo were gone. “What the F?” Kayleigh leaped out into the alley. “That thing just vanished with our guy.”

“Shhhh” Jeremy ordered and guided her back around the corner. “Kayleigh, we need to report this.” “What, exactly are we going to report, Jer?” The two slunk back into the alley, then stood and stared at the place where the old man had been. Still staring into the empty alley, Kayleigh spoke, “That man, when he fell into me, whispered into my ear, ‘It is upon you now. The world is on your shoulders.’ Something else and then save the world, or something. What do you think that means?” “Umm, that!” Jeremy took out his phone, leaned in close and took a picture of her shoulder. “Look!” “What is that?” “Beats me. It’s stuck on your shoulder with that green gook.” Kayleigh gazed at the picture. “It’s like a really tiny earth inside a round glass case. How cool is that?” “He must have put it there. So, Kayls, you really do have a world on your shoulder. Hilarious.” Jeremy moved in closer. “Maybe he put it on me to keep it from whatever came out of that black limo. I bet its really valuable.” Kayleigh said as she reached up to her shoulder, felt for the small globe, pulled it from the green muck, and carefully brought it around between them. The goo slid off onto the pavement. As she stared into the glass, she “Kayls, its fucking St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone and everything is green. How are we going to tell the difference?” Jeremey surveyed the crowd of people milling about. “It could be anyone or anything.” “Aye lassie.” A small man appeared to her left, as if from nowhere. The two jumped. He was very short and very green. “I believe ya have somethin’ fer me?” He held out his tiny hand. She lifted up and gazed into the tiny glass globe. “Girlfriend, you literally have the world at your fingertips.” Jeremy smiled. “That’s two silly sayings you’ve lived up to in one evening.” “People live in here?” Kayleigh asked the green man. “Well, not people, per se, but an entire civilization does.” Then Kayleigh smiled kindly. The small man pulled out an old, intricately carved teakwood case about 2 feet by 1 foot, and only a couple of inches thick. “Please hold this.” He handed the case to Kayleigh, who balanced it with her left hand. It was remarkably light. She held the globe in her right, using the edge of that hand as a bit of extra balance for the case. The little man said a few words neither of them understood, there was a pop, and the man opened the case. Kayleigh and Jeremey peered inside and there before them spread out in its own little universe was an entire tiny galaxy swirling slowly in the dark emptiness. More stars twinkled in the distance behind the galaxy. The universe it floated within spread in every direction within the box. Though located in a small wooden case, the space seemed vast and endless. Both Kayleigh and Jeremey were mesmerized. “Infinity is not a concept bound by matter.” The little man held out his hand. She placed the globe in it. He said some weird words, reached into the galaxy, opened the small glass case, said some more words, and poof the world glided into its place in the swirling mass of tiny stars. The small green gentleman closed the case and slipped it into his coat. “You’ve saved many millions o’ souls t’day, young lady. We shall be forever in your debt. All of yer wishes shall be granted. Be careful, now, what ya wish fer, m’dear. Wishes can be quite dangerous.” “Not just three?” Jeremy asked. “As many as she wants. Be specific, clear and careful. You can stop it simply by wishing for it to stop. Best o’ luck to ya.” As he finished, he, too walked to the end of the alley and disappeared. “Wow! A real leprechaun!” Jeremy opened his arms wide and, in his theatrical way, spun in a circle as he said, “All the wishes you want. It’s like you have the whole wooorrrrld at your fingertips!” Then he added with a smile, “Well, this time metaphorically, of course.” Kayleigh touched her shoulder. “I just wish this yucky blouse and gross green junk would disappear.” Poof, it was gone, leaving her topless. Jeremy laughed and put his green St. Pat’s jacket around her shoulders. “Girlfriend, now do you believe in leprechauns?” Kayleigh nodded. “And, maybe, Kayls, I should help you with this whole wish thing. Help you keep your clothes on. What d’ya say?” Kayleigh thought about wishing Jeremey were straight and that he loved her, but smiled and realized they were perfect just the way they were. “You bet.” She smiled, reached up and kissed him gently on the cheek and he took her in his strong arms. She sighed, considered the wishes again and again decided against them. As they began to walk back to the tavern, Kayleigh heard an old Irish brogue say, “Believe mi-lassie, we are with you always.”

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