Every issue of my free newsletter contains a brand-new flash fiction story. Here’s one of them:
by Jeff Strand
While the other kids in my neighborhood were playing Star Wars, my sister and I would play The Exorcist. We always fought over who got to be Regan. Jill was a girl and therefore had a more valid claim to the role, but everybody knows that Regan is more fun to play than Father Karras or Father Merrin.
One day Jill was being especially pouty. But I was eight, a full year older than her, and therefore a lot smarter. “Father Karras is way better!” I insisted. “Demonic possession is boring. You get to pretend to have a crisis of faith!”
“I don’t wanna have another crisis of faith! It’s stupid! I wanna throw the pea soup!”
“You threw the pea soup last time!”
“I did not! You got to throw it the last two times! It’s not fair!”
“I’ll make you a deal,” I said. “Let me throw the soup this time, and you can throw it the next three times!”
“Yep!” I lied.
A few minutes later, I lay on the bed in a nightgown. Though we strove for accuracy to the source material, only one of my hands was tied to the bedposts because I needed the other hand free to hurl a bowl of pea soup into my sister’s face.
The first time we played Exorcist, we turned the thermostat as low as it would go, but we weren’t able to get the room cold enough to see our breath. Mom and Dad were furious. “We should make you pay the A/C bill out of your allowance!” they shouted. After that, we settled for just pretending that the devil had lowered the temperature of the room.
We also replaced certain forbidden words with “fart.”
As I lay thrashing on our parents’ bed, Jill informed me that the power of Christ compelled me. I snarled and growled.
I opened my mouth wide. Jill squeezed her eyes tightly closed. Then I flung the pea soup, bowl and all.
Obviously, I wasn’t supposed to hurl the bowl at her. I’d gotten too deep into character. I tried to shout out a warning, but I could only manage a phlegmatic croak before the soup splattered against her face, followed by the glass bowl bonking her in the nose.
She cried out in pain and fell to the floor.
I was going to get in so much trouble!
“Get up!” I said, sitting up. “You’re okay! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!”
“I’m bleeding!” she wailed.
“You’re okay! You’re okay! We’ll put some ice on it! Hurry up and untie me! We need to clean up the soup before Mom and Dad get home!”
“You broke my nose!”
“No, I didn’t!” I insisted. “I wouldn’t be able to understand what you were saying if I broke your nose! You’re okay! Untie me!”
Jill stood up, her hand pressed tightly to her face. There was more blood trickling between her fingers than I would’ve expected from a non-broken nose, but I was sure that she was totally fine. I couldn’t recall a single instance in which somebody had died from getting a bowl of pea soup thrown in their face.
“I’m not playing Father Karras anymore!” she shouted. “I wanna be Regan!”
“Okay, okay, okay,” I said, knowing that if I didn’t let my bratty sister have her way she’d refuse to work with me on a cover story for her nose injury and I’d get in big trouble.
She climbed onto the bed and untied me. We hurried into the kitchen and I pressed a bag of frozen broccoli against her face for a couple of minutes until the flow of blood stopped. Her nose wasn’t grotesquely disfigured, so everything seemed fine.
“Open up another can of pea soup,” she said.
“That was the last one.”
“Then I’m telling Mom and Dad!”
“No, no, don’t! What about chicken noodle?”
“The devil doesn’t barf chicken noodle soup!”
“I think we have some green food coloring!”
I climbed up onto the counter and opened the cupboard, but we had only red, blue, and yellow food coloring. If only I’d remembered that yellow and blue make green, this tale would have a less tragic conclusion.
“I’m calling Mom at work,” said Jill, walking toward the phone.
“Don’t! You can still be Regan without pea soup!”
“No, you can’t! That’s the most fun part!”
“No, the pea soup is boring!” I said, trying not to panic. “Anybody can throw pea soup! The coolest part of the movie is when she spins her head in a circle! Remember that? Wasn’t that neat? That’s way better than throwing a bowl of stupid soup, right?”
I put my hands around her neck. It went poorly.