Mermaid’s mackintosh – WEP challenge

For this post, I wrote a flash fiction story that combines all three points of the current WEP Challenge: “Halloween – Youthful Frights vs. Adult Fears”. It was fun writing this story. Thanks, Yolanda and Denise.
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“You’re going to wear a costume for Halloween?” Marsha’s voice in the phone sounded incredulous. “What costume? You never wear costumes.”

Chloe laughed self-consciously and settled deeper into her armchair. “Derek prodded me into it. They have a school contest for parents’ costumes. He chose this ridiculous costume.” Her thirteen-year-old son had laughed like crazy when he first found the tawdry costume in a rental shop. He had insisted she borrowed it. It was so funny she might even win the contest.

“What costume?” Marsha repeated.

“A naked mermaid with huge quivering boobs and a scaly tail. Green. With seaweeds everywhere.”

“Marvelous!” Marsha’s laughter gurgled in the phone. “Do you get to keep your legs?”

“Yes,” Chloe said primly. “The tail goes behind the legs. The costume includes a green hose for the legs. With dangling weeds.” She giggled.

“It’s almost like those nightmares of yours. Remember?”

“Things of the past,” Chloe said breathily.

Marsha still laughed when she finally ended the call a few minutes later. Chloe put down the receiver and stared at it. She had had the recurring nightmares all through middle and high school. They had attacked her every few months, those strange and disturbing dreams where she dashed through the school corridors naked. In the dreams, everyone sniggered and pointed, and there was nowhere to hide, just endless corridors, her shame, and jeering classmates. Even now, years later, she remembered her dream-self’s mortification and helplessness.

Mercifully, the dreams had stopped when she started college. She had forgotten about them until now. Must be a coincidence, she thought with amusement. It would be hilarious to tromp along the same school corridors dressed in the naked mermaid costume, trailing nylon weeds.

She chuckled as she made her way to the bathroom. She had about an hour until Derek came home from his karate practice. She would take a shower and then make pizza for dinner. She was already undressed and running hot water, when the phone rang again.

ChloesMackintosh3“Mom, could you pick me up,” Derek said. “The practice ended early, and Jake’s dad can’t get here until six. Jake can walk home, but I’m kinda stranded. Pick me up in your car, okay.”

“Yes, sure,” Chloe said. She turned off the water and sighed, eyeing her dirty jeans, sweatshirt, and underwear on the floor. She didn’t want to put them back on. The drive to school was only ten minutes. She didn’t have to dress. She could just put on her long mackintosh atop her naked body. If she stayed in the car, Derek wouldn’t even notice her bare legs.

She grabbed her car keys, buttoned up the old mackintosh, and hopped in the car. At the last intersection before the turn towards the school, she waited for the light to change. When it flashed green, she pressed the accelerator. She was halfway across, when a car appeared out of nowhere and turned at speed, careening straight at her. Chloe pressed the brake, tried to swerve, but it was too late. Her last thought before darkness was about Derek. Thank God, she hadn’t picked him up yet. He was still waiting for her. Still safe.

When she came to, the intersection was flooded with vehicles, flashlights, and sirens. A policemen was trying to open her driver’s door, but it seemed stuck. Her chest hurt from the safety belt, but her hands and arms seemed to be working. She flexed her fingers—no problem. She wriggled her toes, moved her knees, and didn’t feel any pain. Only her chest hurt and her head throbbed. And her neck.

“I don’t think I’m badly hurt,” Chloe muttered. “It’s just my head.”

The policeman nodded. “Sit still, ma’am,” he said. “I’ll get you out in no time. The ambulance will take you to the emergency for a checkup.”

While he labored on her door, she found her cell phone and called Derek to stay with Jake tonight. Then she called Marsha.

Only inside the ambulance, when a nurse started unbuttoning her mackintosh, she remembered that she was naked beneath it. “No!” she screamed, clutching at her still buttoned middle, both her hands holding the closed front of the mackintosh in a dead grip. “Don’t take it off. No. No.” With shaking fingers, she redid the top buttons.

The nurse tried to insist, but Chloe wouldn’t budge. She screamed, she wept, she battered away the nurse’s hands, but she wouldn’t let anyone unbutton her mackintosh. Not even when Marsha came to the hospital. Not even in the X-ray lab. She wouldn’t let her teenage nightmare come true and haunt her forever. Eventually, half the night later, still dressed in her irremovable mackintosh, Marsha drove Chloe home.

“I’ll help you undress,” Marsha said. “Come on.” Her fingers approached the buttons. “I’m supposed to keep you awake for a while because of your concussion, but we should make you comfortable first. It will be okay, Chloe.” She talked in a pacifying tone, as if Chloe was a sick child.

“Marsha,” Chloe said weakly. She hurt everywhere. She would probably have bruises all over her body in the morning, and her head ached spitefully. Luckily, she didn’t break any bones, but her car was totaled. And amid all that, the only disaster she could think about was her lack of clothing underneath the mackintosh.

“Remember those nightmares of mine, about me naked?” Chloe slowly unbuttoned her single garment. “Don’t laugh.” She opened the mackintosh.

Marsha’s eyes grew big. Then she started laughing. “Sorry,” she wheezed. “Where is your mermaid? I want to see it.”

“No. I’m not wearing it. No way!” Chloe wailed. “Never.”
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Word count: 950, FCA

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This entry was posted in Olga Godim, Short Story, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Mermaid’s mackintosh – WEP challenge

  1. Olga,

    Too funny, and so horribly possible! I’ve done that before, dressed in PJ’s and jumped in the car to go pick up hubby. How embarrassing to be in an accident though. So sad that she didn’t get to go to the party, that costume sounded quite awesome! A naked mermaid with nylon seaweed for cover-up, lovely! I do have those nightmares where you’re naked in front of strangers, funny thing is in the dream I’m never embarrassed. LOL

    Your WEP submission is a great Halloween treat! Thanks so much for participating again; I hope you’ll be back for the Holiday Celebrations that are destined to be out of this world!

    Happy Halloween!

  2. lauraclipson says:

    I’ve never had the naked nightmare, and thank god for that! She definitely should have just got dressed before going out 🙂

  3. dolorah says:

    Oh that was funny. I could see that coming, almost. I always make sure I’m dressed and in clean underwear whenever I go out based on my mom’s oft repeated: what if you’re in an accident and have to go to the hospital. Man, that would be too scary!!

  4. Shades of history.
    A friend’s mother drove us to an early appointment. In her dressing gown. And nothing else. A car breakdown marooned her beside the road, all through peak hour.
    A horror story which no doubt lives on in her dreams and wakes her sweating.
    This is a delightful romp. I mourn for that mermaid costume though.

  5. Well at least she was not hurt too badly. I was worried something really bad was going on under that rain coat and she was being so silly about not taking it off for the doctors.

  6. Too funny! Reminded me of a friend who spent some time in an earthquake zone – she used to get into her best knickers before bed, just in case.

    I really liked the description of the mermaid costume. I hope she’ll come around and put it on. Thanks for the laugh.

  7. WriterlySam says:

    Oh, see, that would be my luck if I drove commando. Loved her reaction afterwards–so fitting!

  8. desk49 says:

    fear of things can haunt one
    fear of running around nude
    now that is the fear of fears

  9. Denise Covey says:

    That mermaid’s costume was tantalising. I hope she does get to wear it eventually when the shock wears off. I’ve often jumped in the car in my PJs for a quick trip, but always in the back of my mind was the thought–what if I break down etc? Ah well, now we know! We don’t want to let those fears come to fruition!

    Thanks for a great entry for the WEP Halloween challenge! This story is what it’s all about! I’m glad it got your creative juices going!

    Denise 🙂

  10. This is definitely an adult fear, haha … I can’t imagine I’d be too embarrassed seeing as if I’d been knocked unconscious, they would’ve removed the clothing anyhow. I felt like this was going to go into a more horrific way. Maybe haunted costume or something, but great humor none the less!

  11. Cute. I seem to remember having a similar dream in high school. Of course, I would have climbed into the mermaid outfit happily at this age.

  12. cleemckenzie says:

    Can I ever relate to this! Great WEP contribution.

  13. Oh that could have been so embarrassing. That mermaid costume sounds a brave thing to wear.

  14. You know, this is pretty close to reality, I suspect, for many people. I decided one morning, very early, that I would start up my front lawn sprinkler. Of course, I just had my housecoat on, nothing else. The sun was just over the horizon so the light hadn’t reached its full glory. There I was in my front yard when a gust of wind sprung up from nowhere. Thank heavens there was no traffic, I thought, until someone said hello. Embarrassed? Oh yes! I’ve never repeated that gamble again. Thanks for the amusing story.

  15. artman413 says:

    Poor Chloe.

    To this day, I’ll have the occasional nightmare where I’m naked in a public setting, usually while doing something stressful like taking a test of some sort. I can’t imagine how I’d react if that dream came even remotely true!

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