“Fanciful Flights,” by Maura Yzmore

Dec 20th, 2020 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Rita sighed, already tired of the neighborhood grocery store. The products on offer were gray and rancid, and she turned away in disgust from a woman intently inspecting a package of ground beef with yesterday’s sell-by date.

Today was special, and Rita would not settle for anything less than a perfect treat.

“This is the fifth store, Mom,” complained Amy, Rita’s daughter, eyes glued to her phone. “You said it would be just fifteen minutes.”

“You needed to get out of the house,” Rita said and snatched the phone from Amy and put it in her own purse. “And to look at something other than that infernal screen for more than three seconds.”

“Um, rude!” protested Amy. “Why are you taking my phone away? I didn’t even do anything!”

“You’ll get it back when we’re done. Now help me find something.”

Amy groaned and joined Rita for a quick stroll through the store.

“There’s nothing good here,” said Amy. “Everything looks sad and flavorless, and way too close to expiration date.”

“That’s what I thought,” said Rita. “This is the last store in a twenty-mile radius. I think we need to go back to Uncle Frank’s again.”

Amy rolled her eyes. “Ugh. I hate that creepy little troll.”

“Amy! Whatever you think of Frank, he always has fresh produce from all over the world.”

“But the last time you shopped there, you and Dad got into a huge fight!”

“That’s because your father is a greedy bastard. He knew how much I wanted to have a taste and still didn’t bother to save anything for me.”

“And you always complain that Frank’s stuff is too expensive.”

“That’s true. But Frank does take care of most of the prep, so it saves a ton of time. And I don’t have to spend forever cleaning the kitchen.”

Amy threw her hands up. “Fine. Let’s go see Uncle Frank.”

The two got in the car, and Rita drove off the main streets, behind an abandoned steel factory, and onto a dirt road that led into a forest. She turned on the high beams, as tree crowns thickened overhead.

“You know, Mom, maybe we should’ve gone to one of the neighboring towns instead. This is taking too long.”

“Stop whining,” Rita said. “We’re almost there.”

“Maybe I wouldn’t whine if you hadn’t taken my phone away.” Amy crossed her arms and sunk into her seat.

Rita reached to the side and briefly squeezed her daughter’s forearm. “I’m sorry I snapped, honey. I just need you with me today, OK? It’s important to me.”

“Sure. Whatever.”

They rode in silence through the pitch-black forest, the road getting increasingly bumpy.

Rita slowed down when a faint green glow emerged from the darkness. They parked in front of a wooden shack, with a neon sign saying Frank’s Fanciful Flights.

At the front desk stood a four-feet-tall green man with a crooked nose and large pointy ears, covered in hairy warts. He was playing on a tablet.

“Hi Frank,” said Amy. “Do you have Wi-Fi?”

“Little Amy!” Frank the Troll walked from around the counter with a big smile and wide-open arms. “I haven’t seen you in ages! Look how big you’ve gotten!” He gazed at the girl with admiration and gave her a big hug around the waist. Her face contorted in disgust.

“Hi Frank,” said Rita, and gently pushed Frank away from her daughter. “It’s great to see you, too. It’s been a long time.”

“Too long! What can I do for you ladies today?”

“It’s a special occasion,” Rita said. “We’re looking for something that few have ever experienced. Something really exotic. Something we can enjoy as a family.” She grabbed Amy’s hand and squeezed it. Amy squeezed back and smiled.

Frank drew open a bead curtain and led them into a room much larger than one would’ve guessed from the outside. Wall-to-wall shelves held large glass jars, each with a head inside. The jars were connected via fluorescent tubing to a computer board with blinking lights.

“Oh, you’ve got some extraterrestrials this time!” Amy clapped. “Can we get one of those?”

“Those tend to be very expensive‚Ķ” Rita muttered.

“Do you want something like what I got you last time?” asked Frank. “The memories of that delicious young gigolo must’ve been a treat! He traveled all over the world.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Rita said dryly. “My husband used them all up. I didn’t get to taste even a little bit.”

“And then he decided that was the life for him,” Amy added. “We haven’t seen him since.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Frank looked embarrassed, the green on his cheeks turning orange.

“Today is the anniversary of his departure,” said Rita, “and I want to make it special.”

Frank perked up. “Of course! Any idea what you might like?”

“I’d like us to travel somewhere far away, just me and my daughter. Somewhere where we wouldn’t be reminded of our middle-aged gigolo.”

“I’ve got just the specimen for you, and I’ll give you a great deal!” Frank pulled down the head of a young female with black hair and a golden crown. “An Amazon woman. They’re incredibly rare. Guaranteed no memories of men!”

Rita smiled. “Thank you, Frank. That sounds perfect.”

“Excellent! I think you’ll be thrilled. Just give me a moment to wrap this up. You two can wait outside.”

The mother and daughter went back through the bead curtain, and sat on a wooden bench next to the door.

Rita rummaged through her purse. “Here you go,” she said as she handed Amy her phone. “And thanks for coming with me today.”

“Sure, Mom.” Amy wrapped an arm around Rita’s shoulder and extended the other to take their selfie. “You know, I’m actually excited about our trip. My Insta story is gonna be sick!”

————

Somewhere in the Midwest, Maura Yzmore writes long equations, short fiction, and goofy poetry. Some of her more ridiculous fare can be found in Bending Genres, Rat’s Ass Review, The Daily Drunk, The Dirty Pool, and the one and only Defenestration. Website: https://maurayzmore.com Twitter:¬†@MauraYzmore

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