Vixenscratch

Short stories and serials by Alexandra Herakai

Always Prepared

This #FridayFlash fic was written as part of a prompt call themed around saws, idioms, and proverbs; inspired by a prompt by Ysabetwordsmith:Eze mbe si na ihe ya ji-achiri ihe egwu ya aga njem bu maka ya ezu ndiegwu

“Hey, Millie, I’m going to the corner store; wanna come?” The moment he said it he knew it had been a mistake. For a moment, he’d thought more about how it’d be nice for her to get outside, than about the big production she was about to make of it. Shame on him.

“Oh, yeah, hang on, Rob, I just need to get a couple of things, okay?” Loose red-blonde wisps of hair pointing in every direction around her head, his girlfriend became a flurry of activity, and he went back into their shared flat with a sigh, to sit down while he waited.

Her legs, long and thin and pale, foalish and freckled, disappeared into a pair of cargo pants with more pockets than Scheherazade had stories. A matching vest was hung over her narrow shoulders. Had it only been the vest and pants, Rob wouldn’t have been so worried about Millie. She was entitled to wear what she wanted, after all, and that mildly anti-establishment tomboyish look was far from the worst she could have chosen.

“They’re only open another hour, Mil,” he remarked as she went to work loading up those endless pockets with objects that might come in handy. Not that he expected it to make a difference; Millie had her ritual and he should have known better than to ask her to come along on the three-minute-roundtrip walk to pick up a quart of milk.

“I’ll be right with you!” she promised, wiggling a compact first aid kit into one pocket on her vest. “Just a couple more things…”

And then she was off again, going through cabinets searching for a solution for every contingency, probably up to and including alien abduction and zombie attacks. Rob knew better than to suggest further disasters; it’d add another ten minutes, at least, to her prep time every time he made a remark about some far-fetched impossibility in jest. Been there, done that. Millie didn’t have much of a sense of humor when it came to her arsenal.

“Rob, where do we keep the cereal bars?”

Oh, lordy, she was worse than usual, today. “It takes like a minute to walk to the corner store, Millie. Nobody’s going to starve in the time it takes us to go there. Leave it.”

“But what if we get locked out?” Nevermind she had pocketed two sets of spare keys already, plus a cell phone that would be entirely sufficient to call a locksmith if they couldn’t get a hold of the building manager who lived down on the ground floor.

“We can pick up cereal bars at the shop, Mil.”

“They might be closed.” The way she was going on, it was starting to look like the least outlandish of her concerns.

“They won’t be closed.”

“But what if-” Oh, damn it, the poor girl looked close to tears. He really shouldn’t argue with her; it wasn’t as though she could help it.

“Sssh, it’s alright, Mil. I’ll get you a cereal bar.”

“Two.”

Rob closed his eyes and counted to ten. It was definitely better not to ask. “Alright, two. That’s it?”

“Yep!” She beamed at him, looking… so very normal. “Just gonna grab the umbrella and the water bottle!”

He hid his smile and shook his head. That girl… if MacGyver had travelled with Millie, he’d never have needed to fix an aircraft with a wad of chewing gum. Maybe that’s what he ought to do, sit her down in front of the TV a couple of nights and hope she picked up the notion of solving problems with a minimum of tools. It could work.

Once the cereal bars were safely stashed away in Millie’s pocket, they walked out the door, and she bounced on the balls of her feet as he locked the door three times. Three steps away from the door, and then he turned, raising his key towards the lock again. “Just gonna check the stove.”

Millie rolled her eyes. “You weren’t even cooking, Rob.” A quick glance at her watch. “The store closes in five minutes.”

And whose fault was that? “I’ll be quick.”

Millie watched her boyfriend’s back disappear through the doorway to their apartment, then turned and started down the steps. It was better not to argue with Rob’s ritual.



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