Flash Friday 21/09/2012: Ms Mayberry
So here’s a new thing I’m trying; the website I’m a part of, FM writers, has a weekly challenge to put up a piece of flash fiction (1,000 words or less) every Friday on a blog or website. I’ve decided to take part in this, as it’ll not only be a nice palate-cleanser during writing, but makes great practice for writing as a whole. These aren’t going to be as superbly-polished as my published work, but will definitely be readable at the very least.
Without further ado, here is my first entry!
Gareth looked up at the store sign. He didn’t recall the store opening in town, but it was here regardless.
The text shone all different colours in the sunlight, giving a playful tone. It read ‘Ms Mayberry’s Home Made Ice Cream’, and the artist took great care to fit the entire phrase onto the modest-sized sign. It hung over two glass windows, in between which was a door that showed off a bold OPEN sign with pride. Giant caricatures of ice cream cones were stuck to the window, pointing towards the door and winking at the passers-by, all of whom seemed to have more pressing things on their minds than ice cream.
With a sense of adventure, Gareth pushed the door open. A delightful tinkling sound pierced the air as the door’s bell rattled. The sound caught the attention of the broad woman behind the counter, who turned around to face him.
“Shut the door, would you?” She sounded like a voice actress from Hollywood, if said actress was always drafted in to play the part of gravel. “Gets bloody cold in here.” Gareth nodded and made sure the wooden door closed properly. The bells chimed again.
“I take it you’re Ms Mayberry?” Gareth turned and approached the counter.
“No, I’m the Queen of sodding England. ‘Course I’m Mayberry. Wouldn’t have paid a nickle and dime for the sign out front if it weren’t me name.” She tapped her name tag with force. The font used for the tag pleased the eyes; the hand-written name, however, would have made a graphologist faint. “Now take a look at the goods and lemme know if you need anything.”
Gareth approached the counter. Fourteen boxes of ice cream were lined up, two in every column. Each box sported a different colour, which Gareth presumed correlated to their flavours. It was a big help, given that the boxes were unlabelled. Even worse, the ice cream they contained were all the same cream colour. Gareth pointed to a yellow box. “I’ll take some banana ice cream, please.”
“Banana flavour. Please.” He pointed to the box again.
“That’s not banana, you muppet. That’s vanilla.”
“Oh. Awfully sorry, I assumed it was banana. Very well, I’ll take chocolate.” He pointed to a brown box.
“That’s also vanilla.”
Gareth scratched his head. “I see. What flavours do you have in stock right now?”
A small silence.
“That’s it. Just vanilla. What, you expected more?” Mayberry had her arms crossed, looking as if someone had challenged her to a fight.
“Well, to be honest…yes, I did. Just a few extra flavours, is all.”
“Well look at Prince Charles here, wanting more than vanilla. This is home-made produce, I’ll have you know. It’s not like I can make any bloody flavour I’d like, I’m not Ben and Jerry. Look, if you want something other than vanilla, you can try some of my experimental batch.” She ducked under the counter, her voice only just audible over the rummaging. “Been trying to get mint and cinnamon flavours down. Had quite a bit of success, if I say so myself.” She returned holding two boxes, holding them out for Gareth to see. Peering into them, he could see one of the boxes contained vanilla ice cream with mint leaves sprinkled on top; the other, cinnamon sticks jutting out at awkward angles, looking like a birthday cake made during an earthquake.
“I’ll just take vanilla, thank you,” Gareth said.
“Suit yourself.” She placed the boxes back. “Well? Which one do you want?”
“What do you mean?”
“The box, bozo. What coloured box would you want?”
“The black box, I guess.” Gareth watched Mayberry grab an ice cream scoop in one hand and a bowl in the other. “Oh, is it possible for me to get it on a cone, instead?”
Mayberry flashed him a glare. “You seriously want black-box vanilla ice cream in a cone?”
“Well, yes, if possible.”
Mayberry sighed and shook her head as she discarded the bowl and got a cone. “Who in their right mind would come in here and order black-box vanilla and ask for a bloody cone? Christ Almighty. There you go, sir. Quid fifty.”
“Thank you.” Gareth took the cone with one hand and extracted the correct change from his pocket with another.
“You can put some sauce on it if you want,” Mayberry said, taking the payment. “It’s free.”
Gareth followed her pointing finger to a small plastic squeeze-bottle on the counter. “Oh, thank you,” he said, picking up the bottle and turning it upside-down over his ice cream. With a squeeze, a mixture of what looked like melted vanilla ice cream crept out of the nozzle and drizzled on the scoop. “Very generous of you,” he added.
“’Course it was. Only thing ol’ Mayberry can do to help keep the world turning. You just come back here when you get another feeling for ice cream, okay?”
“Sure,” he lied, turning to the door. “I’ll see you some other time.” Grasping the door handle, the chiming bells were a blessing to his ears as he escaped the madhouse and onto the street. With a rush of relief, he continued his journey.
He gave the ice cream a lick. At least the produce tasted good.