Welcome to Flash Friday! In these posts, I take a writing prompt and whip out a short story off-the-cuff with little editing. If you have an idea for a writing prompt, send me an email, and maybe I’ll use yours next time!
Today’s prompt is: A Lemonade Stand is Run By Fairies
Elissa wasn’t the most popular girl at school; in fact, she was the class nerd. She often came to school with her long stringy hair uncombed, like she’d just rolled out of bed. Sometimes, she wore the same clothes for days in a row. They were worn, the print faded, the fabric thin on the elbows and knees. She often sat alone at lunch, with a wide space on the bench to either side. Usually, she didn’t seem to notice the giggles and stares she got from the other girls.
In my heart, I pitied Elissa, but I never let it show on my face.
“Why is she even alive?” my friend, Cameron, said with a smirk. She examined Elissa on the other side of the cafeteria as though she’d just discovered a particularly ugly spider.
“Someone should put her out of her misery,” Jen agreed.
My friends all laughed, and I joined in, pretending that I didn’t cringe inside when Elissa looked up at me. Her eyes were blue inside a teardrop shape, and they looked sad.
That was Friday. On Saturday morning, I got a group text from Jen.
Jen: Can u believe? Elissa the Sissa has a lemonade stand. What a baby!
Cameron: Let’s crash her party.
Jen: R U game, ‘Kenz?
Me: (after only a slight hesitation) I’m so there.
Jen: Good! Bring T.P.
I told my mom I was going over to Jen’s house, then stuffed a roll of toilet paper into my backpack when she wasn’t looking.
It was a sunny day, close to the end of the school year, and the sun’s rays felt good on my arms as I pedaled the few blocks to Elissa’s house. When I turned onto her street, I could see the lemonade stand at the end of Elissa’s driveway.
Elissa sat behind a folding table like a forgotten rag doll, a blue plastic pitcher on the table in front of her. The rest of the table was completely covered in squat plastic cups filled with yellow liquid.
I arrived in front of her house just as Jen pedaled up on her sleek racer, and Cameron came strolling around the corner.
“Look what we have here!” Cameron said, tone dripping with sarcasm. “A lemonade stand!”
Jen snickered. “What’s the matter, Elissa? Paper route not working out?”
Elissa seemed to shrink in on herself as we closed in around her, staring up at us with widening eyes. I felt a pang of guilt. But if I backed off now, my friends would think I liked Elissa. They would treat me the same way.
“Doesn’t look like you’ve sold too much,” Jen continued. “Are your prices too high?”
“Each cup is fifty cents,” Elissa stammered.
Cameron picked up a plastic cup and held it up to her eye, examining it closely. “What’s in it?”
Elissa’s eyes darted to Cameron, then to Jen, then to me. “What do you mean? Lemons, sugar, water—“
“I mean,” Cameron pulled a plastic bag out of her backpack. “I think there’s something wrong with your recipe!”
Before Elissa could react, Cameron dumped the content of the bag across the cups on the table. “You need a few leftovers to spice things up!” A stink rose into the air as rotten food filled the lemonade cups, spilling some of them and creating a mess all across the table.
Elissa jumped back, out of her seat, staring at the mess on the table. Cameron gave a short bark of laughter and high-fived with Jen.
I reached for the toilet paper in my backpack. It would add to the chaos, create a soppy, gloppy mess that would take Elissa at least an hour to clean up. But my hand stopped after unzipping the bag.
Elissa stared at me with those blue tilted eyes. Her expression shifted between shock and embarrassment. Then she raised her hands and covered her face.
I finished reaching into my backpack.
“Let’s get out of here!” Jen yelled. She hopped on her bike and stood to pump it faster while Cameron kept pace.
“Here,” I said to Elissa, holding out what I’d pulled from my backpack.
Elissa peeked through the hands covering her face, then dropped her hands altogether.
I placed two quarters on the table in front of her and picked up one of the glasses that hadn’t tipped over.
“‘Kenz!” Cameron and Jen had stopped, staring back at us with shock and horror. “What are you doing?”
Half a melon rind with mold on one end protruded from the top of my glass. I raised it toward Elissa as if toasting her.
“Thanks for the lemonade,” I said. “Have a good day.”
I turned to retrieve my bike.
“Oh, I will.” Elissa’s voice seemed different: confident, sure, happy.
I peeked back over my shoulder. Elissa smiled at me with a twinkle in her blue eyes. Then she raised her arms in an arc over her head, and the world shifted around me.
I stood in an immense tree house on a platform, with branches full of huge vibrant green bursting around me. The laughter of happy children filled the air. I looked down. The tree was gigantic, with little houses tucked in the foliage and people on every branch. They were talking, laughing, carrying baskets, hanging out laundry, while children threaded among them playing games and oblivious to the drop below.
“Where am I?” I asked in a squeaky voice.
“My home,” Elissa said.
I looked over at her. She was different. Her threadbare clothes had become a sparkling gown of silver, glittering in the shafts of sunlight peeking through the leaves. Her hair no longer hung limp and stringy, but was piled on her head in cascading curls. A crown pushed back her tresses at the sides so that I could see her ears were sharply pointed at the top. I stared at them in disbelief.
“My father sent me out into the human world to find a true friend,” Elissa continued. Her smile was kind, her eyes the same blue teardrops I’d noticed before, but the sadness was gone now. “It took longer than I expected, but I finally found a kind heart. How long can you stay?”