He forgot to bring water.
Seeing as how amped up he was to start a new jogging routine, being properly prepared had slipped his mind. So, Tam Rogan felt mother nature was mocking him when he spotted a gentle gush of water spilling out of a natural rock wall.
He stopped to catch his breath–now in a deep and shady area off the forest path–and stared at the crack and the waterflow.
“Water, water…and not a drop to drink,” Tam mumbled, smirking about a distant high school memory of his often-rumored-as-alcoholic English teacher. Now a parent himself, Tam understood why a teacher might be driven to the bottle.
Despite a general understanding of the dangers of drinking unfiltered water out in the wilderness, Tam figured he would take a few sips anyway. He was desperately thirsty.
Welp…nature’s filter I guess. Should be okay. He glanced at the multicolored layers of rock that stretched fifty feet up. Then, he cupped his hands and gulped mouthful after mouthful with total abandon. Surprisingly, it was ice cold.
Tam wondered about contracting a brain-eating amoeba or guinea worm. He amused himself with his own dichotomy, imagining two tiny seeds implanting themselves within the dark cavity of his abdomen. One seed representing the tiniest of death wishes, and the other his desire to live a long life and better himself as a man.
I wonder which seed will take root the deepest. He laughed, then turned and jogged back home feeling more refreshed than he had in years.
That night, Tam Rogan dreamt of the rock wall–which in hindsight he realized was the only one in the entire forest–and the delicious water that sprang from its only crack. And although he didn’t plan on another jog the following morning, he figured he could afford to come late to the office that day.
It seemed to take him far less time to reach the water again. He sat down and let the water run over his head and back, then closed his eyes. For some reason, the memory of a glass of soothing bedtime milk from his childhood came to him. The water falling on him grew warm. He reached up to his head and felt a creamy consistency.
He saw the liquid was now white. Tam lurched several steps back. But, in spite of himself, he had to taste it. It started with one little bit. Milk! Over the next half hour or so, the man gorged himself on milk until he was so full, he had trouble making it back home by nightfall, let alone jogging and making it into the office for the day.
Tam’s family prodded and demanded when he returned, but he wasn’t able to put into words what had happened. He was so exhausted on top of the fact that he was starting to question whether something in him had snapped.
Dreams again that night. Endless. Racing. Rivers of pure, white milk. Tam floated in the creamy stream on his back. Upon awakening, Tam Rogan had no concerns towards his family, nor for the fact that he could lose his job for missing work for the second day in a row. He slipped into his sneakers (without re-lacing them) and left at a dead run for the rock wall.
I have paused the story here and left it unconcluded. Maybe I will finish it for you. But, I invite you, dear readers, to compose an ending for this piece of flash fiction in approximately 300 more words. Please post your original ending in the comments, or make a post on your own blog linking it to my post here. Just don’t forget to leave a link in the comments below so I don’t miss out on any of your awesome writing! Thank you so much! I am excited and optimistic about enjoying all the creativity I know you all have. I’ve seen it time and time again. ❤
Actually, I myself did have a high school English Lit teacher named Mrs. Dust who was ancient and oddly mannered. Lipstick on teeth, foundation rubbed too far onto her white hair, giddily fond of the subject matter, albeit in such a way that was disconnected from us, the students. She even used a record player sometimes and we followed along in Hamlet as we listened to some audio version on the crackling record player. I for one was charmed by her even as oddly as she smelled and despite the widespread rumors that she was a heavy drinker. For some reason everyone in her class had nothing above a C. In fact, only one other kid and I that year were competing for the highest grade in the class which was in the C range. So, I’d made a decision to meet with Mrs. Dust after school and get to the bottom of the issue. Honestly, I was at a loss as to why I was marked so poorly. I usually earned A’s and B’s. Over time, her and I met several afternoons and I listened to her speak and I felt like I understood her and learned her unique way of communicating. It wasn’t long before I earned an A.
Anyway, that all being said, I have no idea what exactly was the point of my having told that personal tidbit. I guess it explains about the line in the story about Tam Rogan’s memory of HS English. Other than this, nothing else about Tam connects to me as a person whatsoever. I have noticed that sometimes I like to create characters that are quite opposite of myself. I think King also likes to create characters who are depraved and hitting some kind of bottom or threshold in their life. I don’t know. It makes me laugh and affirms the totally different nature in my heart to read about someone so different.
Maybe that can give you direction for the ending of the story, if you so choose to write an ending.
I say yes, please, go for it!
Featured Image Cred —> Me!