I almost managed to keep my Friday Flash Fics piece to the 500 word count limit this week. It likely won’t happen again. The fellow with the blond highlights made me think of Justin, who’ll be appearing in “A Little Village Magic” (a novelette in Of Echoes Born), which makes the fellow on the bench Gabe.
Gabe watched the water in the fountain, content in the sunlight. It was a cool day, but with the sunlight, his thick cardigan, and a particular black scarf, he was warm enough.
He pulled out a small notepad, and the fountain pen he carried pretty much everywhere, and let his mind wander. The water in the fountain splashed evenly, though now and then a breeze would sent a shiver through the spray. It almost looked like Tiwaz.
He smiled. And there it was.
It only took three strokes of his pen on the paper—Tiwaz was more or less an arrow pointing upwards—but the Futhark rune symbolized order, law, and justice. It referenced Tyr, a god.
Each stroke of the pen on the page felt heavy to Gabe. He fought against the pressure with something almost like habit now, knowing it was possible, knowing he’d be able to take a breath once he was done, and knowing the fatigue that followed would be momentary.
At the release, he inhaled, closing his eyes for a second, then looked at the Tiwaz.
To his gaze, it shimmered as though the air above the three dark lines were hot.
He carefully tore the page free along the perforations. The notepad bound together a heavier weight of paper than usual, and the perforations made it possible to pull a page free without tearing it. The little square of white with the Tiwaz came free, and Gabe looked around the park, considering.
He had the place more or less to himself, but he followed his gut and got up long enough to cross to the other side of the fountain and left the little piece of paper on an opposing bench before he returned to where he came from to sit and wait.
A little while later, the handsome blond figure of Justin approached. He passed the other bench without seeing the little note, too busy smiling at Gabe to notice a piece of litter.
“Hello, mister,” Justin said. They didn’t have the park to themselves any more. A mother with a stroller was near the fountain, the baby cooing at the splashing water, but after a quick glance around, there didn’t seem to be any reason to worry, so when Justin sat on the bench and leaned in for a kiss, Gabe let it linger.
“Hello yourself,” Gabe said. “How’d it go?”
“The Pride Committee hired us. JMC will be handling the outreach and social media and marketing.” He grinned. “Sorry if I’m a bit late.”
Gabe shook his head. “It’s a nice day. Congratulations, you guys are gonna smash it.”
Near the fountain, the woman’s phone rang. She answered it, and after a few long seconds, she said, “You know I can’t afford that. You know that’s not an option. Why are you being so unfair?”
They both watched her aim the stroller away and started crossing the park, only to stop at the bench as though something caught her attention.
“No, I’m not being unreasonable,” she said. “This isn’t what we agreed to.”
Gabe watched her pick up the small piece of paper. Even across the park, he could feel it release.
“You okay?” Justin said.
Gabe smiled. “Just fine. Wanna get lunch?”
“You think she’ll be okay?” Justin said. He was just as much a people watcher as Gabe was.
Order. Law. Justice.
“I think so,” Gabe said, and kept his eyes open for any runes on the way back to the Village.