Jason was hungry when he approached the store. Not in-the-mood-for-a-snack hungry, no. Jason was really hungry, like hadn’t-eaten-in-two-days hungry.
Despite Jason reminding his dad to get milk and eggs that morning, the fridge at home was empty of any nutrition. The only thing on the otherwise bare shelves was a magically refilling six-pack of beer that he was too young to drink. The cold red cans would always appear at five o’clock; right about the time dad got home.
The doorbell chimed, announcing his arrival into the store. Uncomfortable with the attracting noise, Jason shifted his hoodie up over his head and sunk his chin in towards his chest. He’d been coming here since he was a kid and the owner knew his face. Moving down the aisles, he scanned the room. There were a few other shoppers, picking up things on their way home from work; a bottle of milk, a tub of ice-cream, the last copy of today’s newspaper. It was just another weeknight for them.
Jason slunk over to the last aisle, down the back, where the canned fish and loaves of bread were stacked. He wasn’t a fan of tuna and it looked like he wasn’t the only one. A film of dust lay over the cans and a couple brown marbled mouse droppings were next to them on the shelf. Bending down, Jason reached out for the can but then he hesitated. He knew that what he was about to do was wrong, but then his stomach growled and his basic need to eat spurred him on. Snatching the tuna, Jason slipped it into the front pocket of his hoodie, his eyes darting left and right to see if anyone had noticed. After a few tense seconds, he let out the breath he’d been holding.
Next he moved over to the bread and closed his hand around the top of the plastic sleeve. Sliced, plain, white bread; that’s all he needed. His eye caught the price tag and instantly filled him with hot shame. It was only one dollar a loaf but that was one dollar more than he had. Steeling himself, Jason grasped the bread tightly and pulled it off the shelf. Lowering his arm to his side, he turned on his heel and headed back to the door. With each step, the can of tuna bumped heavily inside his pocket and Jason’s breath quickened.
The shout went up like a gunshot behind Jason and he startled into a run. Ducking his head, he moved hastily for the exit. The bread slapped noisily against his leg, matching the pounding in his chest.
“Hey! You gotta pay for that!” An angry voice yelled.
But Jason didn’t slow down. Ignoring the yell, he continued his dramatic bolt to the door. Driven by the howling in his abdomen, he streaked past another customer, knocking a milk bottle from her hands. It crashed onto the floor and spilled its white liquid over the tiles. Jason mumbled an apology but didn’t look back. In the next instant, he was out of the shop and streaking away down the road.
With a twist of his neck, he glanced back over his shoulder as he made his getaway. The store owner was outside, his fist waving angrily in the air. Jason and the owner locked eyes and, in a hideous moment of recognition, he knew he’d never be able to go back there again. But for now that didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he had food in his hands and he could fill his empty stomach.
Word count: 598
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What is Flash Fiction?
Flash fiction is a genre of fiction, defined as a very short story. While there’s no set word count that separates flash fiction from more traditional short stories, flash fiction stories can be as short as a few words (while short stories typically run for several pages).
Flash fiction is also known as sudden fiction, short-short stories, micro-fiction, or micro-stories.