For this week’s writing challenge, add a dash of magic and a touch of surrealism to your writing. Write a fictional piece that incorporates the everyday life we’re familiar with — work, family, errands — and add a surprise twist through an imaginary character, absurd turn of events, or Sci-Fi-esque setting.
The bell above the entrance to the coffee house tinkled and I glanced at my watch. It was 6:00 pm.
I looked up from my Caffe Mocha and waved to him. He nodded and smiled back, then made his way over to the barrista to place his order.
A few minutes later, John was at my table. He threw his backpack on the floor before plopping down on the seat before me.
“You’re late,” I chided him, and took a sip of my coffee.
“I’m so sorry,” he replied, slowly shaking his head. “Traffic was a beast, and besides, I couldn’t get out of school early.”
“Really? Traffic? School? Hm! So many excuses!”
I sighed and pouted as though I really was offended.
“I was beginning to think that you’d forgotten all about me,” I jested.
He threw his head back and retorted: “Ha! As if you’d ever let me!”
And we both laughed.
He had the most high-pitched chuckle I’d ever heard from a man and I loved making him laugh spontaneously just to hear it. John was my oldest friend. I don’t think we can even remember how long ago we first met.
“Anyway,” he continued, “I haven’t told you my news.”
“Good, I hope,” I chimed in.
“Very good news,” he replied, nodding. He beamed at me and straightened up. “You’re looking at the new senior liaison for the Middle School.”
“Oh wow! That’s awesome!” I congratulated him and rose from my seat to go over and plant a kiss on his cheek.
I was so happy and proud of him. It was great hearing some good news for a change.
“That’s wonderful! That’s Kelly’s old job, right?” I inquired.
He nodded as he took a sip of coffee. He had reported directly to Kelly, and she had held this position just prior to him.
“Well, you certainly deserve it. I know from first hand experience that you worked your ass off for this.”
He beamed and played with the rim of his coffee mug. “Thanks!”
He was blushing now. I was always very effusive with praise for him and he deserved every bit of it.
“So when do you start?” I asked.
“Sep-two-five-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-threeee,” he replied.
I furrowed my brow and cocked my head sideways. “What was that?” I asked.
“What?” he answered. “I said I’m starting zero-nine-two-five-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex error code 505.”
I grabbed the wrist of his right hand and squeezed tightly.
John looked slightly abashed and shook his head. “Sorry,” he apologized. “That’s been happening too-too-too-too-too…” (I squeezed again) “…many times.”
I looked intently at him. “When was the last time you checked yourself in?” I asked.
He didn’t answer, but shook his head and looked away from me instead.
I took his wrist, palm facing upwards, and punched in a 6-digit code on the flat user interface keypad located there. A small panel opened revealing a circuit board and LEDs under his skin. I examined them closely and noticed the green and red LEDs were dimming at random.
“John!” I gasped. “You haven’t had a software update in months! And your VDC indicators barely register anything. No wonder you’re starting to sound unintelligible!”
I was still slightly annoyed at him. “What do you mean you don’t have the money? All you have to do is ask me. You know I’ll help you pay for it.”
I closed the panel on his wrist and held his hand. “Look, you’re not as young as you used to be, you know. You Android 6295’s require a fair amount of maintenance and support. If your software isn’t updated on a regular basis you could have major problems. Promise me you won’t let this happen again.”
“Okay, okay,” he sighed. His ears were turning a vivid shade of fuchsia. “I just don’t like asking you for money,” he muttered.
“John, you’re my oldest and best friend and I’d do anything for you. You should know that already.”
He looked up and smiled sheepishly. “I do know. Thanks.” He shrugged. “I guess I’m slowly becoming obsolete. I mean, it’s now 2054 and there aren’t too many of my kind anymore.”
I smiled back. “Don’t be silly. You’re as perfect as you were the first time we met. You just need a little tuning up, that’s all. I don’t know how I’d ever manage to recover after my divorce if you weren’t there by my side everyday. You’re a true friend.”
A broad smile began to play on his lips and he relaxed a bit more.
“I tell you what,” I continued. “I’ll make an appointment for you with my own maintenance technician. I’m just about due for a software upgrade myself anyway.”