Flash Fiction: Avarice

This is a flash fiction story I wrote for the Line Zero flash fiction contest in November of 2011. The story had to be 300 words or less and center around the prompt “avarice”. I had a lot of fun with this story, flash fiction is a fascinating storytelling medium! My little story ended up winning and was published in the November issue of Line Zero.

“Avarice starts with a wandering eye, then takes the rest of ye by and by.” The old crone looks at me with rheumy eyes and grins. It is a look both self-satisfied and perverse.

“That’s it? That’s my fortune?”

She nods, reaching her decrepit hand across the table palm up. I slap a twenty onto her wrinkles and stand, eager to put her and her musty back room to my heels. To my astonishment, she drops the money onto the table and leaves the room. The walls are draped by swaths of fabric, and by the time I find the door she’s long gone.

I walk back to the table, where my crumpled bill lies in an island of light cast by the overhanging lamp. It would be wrong to take it back, right? Even though she charged me $20 for a stupid nursery rhyme, I should leave the money there and leave.

But then I start thinking about dinner, and how I only have $40 left for food this week.

The old biddy’s probably never even going to remember it was there, I think as I pick it up. My fingers graze the bill and start tingling, but I attribute the sensation to hunger and shove the money into my back pocket. My ass starts tingling too, and soon my whole body is abuzz.

The world grows, or maybe I shrink, and I realize with horrified shock I can no longer feel my feet. Or torso. I open my mouth to scream but it’s gone, too.

“Pretty good fortune, eh?” the crone says when she returns. She scoops me up with one hand and drops me into a large jar filled almost to capacity with a horrifying collection of disembodied eyes.

They are the last things I ever see.