[Assignment/Challenge: Editing is always the fun part when creating a story. It’s like putting a puzzle together. I challenge everyone to write a short story with no more (no less) than 400 words. Here’s my 400-word Sudden Fiction]
We were all fourteen years old and went to rival schools in the same county. We met at a track meet and only saw each other at track meets. The three of us were all equally fast and ran sprints. In between events, our coaches allowed us to sit with other teams and make friends.
C. and I were closer friends than with Tiffany. Tiffany only spoke to us at the track meets, while C. and I spoke regularly on the phone. Tiffany told me that she “wasn’t allowed to have boys call”. She gave C. a poor excuse (I don’t recall) for why she couldn’t give her the phone number either.
At one track meet, Tiffany invited us to her house for her birthday party.
C.’s mom picked me up, drove us to Tiffany’s, and dropped us off in front of the baby blue trailer on a narrow gravel road.
Soon, Tiffany’s father came home. He was tall and big and dirty—black dirty, with an unusual shine. His thick hands held a sheet cake in a plastic rectangle container. Blackness chafed from his fingers, leaving a bit of the dark shine on the plastic container when he placed it on the kitchen table.
Without eye contact, without words, he left the room.
Tiffany’s mother pulled a BIC lighter from a small open space from the top of her Camel cigarette pack. She lit the candles. We stood around the table as the glow of the flames lit our youthful faces.
“Tiffany come here,” bellowed a voice from the next room, seemingly to intentionally interrupt us from singing ‘Happy Birthday’. His voice rumbled like an untuned tuba. “Why did you let that nigger in MY house? Niggers have one place in the world and it’s not MY house, you stupid bitch. . .”
She returned to the kitchen. Silence replaced birthday wishes.
They were ashamed that I was shamed. I was not safe.
I was that nigger.
“I’m sorry.” Tiffany’s voice was barely heard. She stared at the candles as they melted onto the white icing.
I was quiet and embarrassed, but instantly C. spoke for me, spoke for the both of us, rescuing me. Rescuing us. “Excuse me, ma’am,” She was polite. “May we use your phone? We shouldn’t be here.”
Tiffany’s eyes closed. She blew out the candles and her wish came true—we disappeared.