[ bwat ]
- A small restaurant or nightclub.
** Either a story beginning, a story ending, a piece of flash fiction, a poem, painting, dance move—inspired by the word, boîte, where does it take me? Where does it take you? Learn more about “The Word” here.
The details were undoubtedly off. Linus was sure of that. His mind was fuzzy as if the connections between things were missing, but the details were there, and they were just… off.
He sat at a table, alone, with a nice white tablecloth and a small candle burning in the middle. An empty plate, besides a few crumbs and smears of a brown sauce upon it—remnants of a meal eaten—lay before him. At the seat to his right, another plate had a few french fries and ketchup left on it.
Linus tried but couldn’t think of how he’d gotten to this restaurant. Yet, that was the least of the odd details he was trying to make sense of. It was like he’d stepped back in time, or even forward in time.
At one table, the group was clearly from the old west—cowboys in hats and boots. Another table held men and women dressed in full metallic armor from medieval times. And then, what could only be described as space travelers. They looked futuristic, yet somehow familiar with their white, plastic-looking armor. Still, some wore clothing that he couldn’t place or connect. Again, like he knew the details but didn’t know where they belonged.
Linus inspected his own clothes, and he felt like what he was wearing was normal. Jeans and a long-sleeve button-down, tucked in. His mind raced with the one question: what is happening?
“Grandpa!” came a small voice to his left.
A child was running across the restaurant. Linus looked around, but the child was clearly running towards him. And again, the clothing. The child wore an outfit of loose-fitting spandex with a web-like pattern sewn into the fabric.
“Come on!” the child said again after reaching the table, looking directly at Linus. “The panel’s about to start!”
Linus had no idea what the child was talking about; but, if he could trust anyone right now, it would be an innocent child. So, he stood up and walked, pulled by the child’s hand, to the restaurant’s exit.
The doors opened into a large, open space. It looked like the inside of a hotel—a very large hotel. All around, more people were dressed funny, and now he could see that some were definitely wearing costumes. Not really cowboys. Not really Knights.
“Come on, grandpa!” the child said again, pulling a mask over his face.
The memory came back to him. Spiderman. This child wore a costume of Spiderman. The details connected, the memories synced into place as he read the large banners draped around the hotel lobby.
Linus understood what was happening to him. Understood, and he felt fear. Yet, holding his grandson’s hand, he felt a resolution grow inside himself. Today was a happy day. He’d enjoy today as best he could, knowing what was coming. If anything, it was one last memory for Connor.
“Ok, Connor,” Linus said to his grandson. “Let’s go see what Marvel has in store for phase 4!”
This story all comes down to those details. Can I describe the details enough to create mystery and misdirection, yet leave out enough, so the end is a surprise? Well, I guess you can let me know!
The idea started by imagining how to make a boîte a cool detail. I started with ideas of mysteries and hidden secrets in a restaurant. Then, I thought that the where and when of the place could be interesting.
I started imagining a restaurant mixed in time, with people from all over the timeline—past, present, and future. The central character not knowing why was the key to inserting mystery. But why doesn’t he know?
I considered this to be the end of his life—some sort of after-life diner to welcome him into the beyond. Then I had the idea of Alzheimer’s and Comic-Con. People dressed like they are in a restaurant lost in time, and Linus doesn’t know how he got there or what he is experiencing.
It’s a bitter-sweet ending for sure. We know what’s in store for Linus and his family is going to be tough. Yet, at least he has this one more memory to try and forge with his grandson.
What do you think of Boîte?
How would you make a restaurant-inspired story?
Leave your thoughts, ideas, your own story beginning/ending, flash-fiction, or whatever in the comments! Where did boîte or my story take you?
If you liked this story, check out my podcast of short stories, More Than A Story.
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