Thursday, March 3, 2016

Friday Flash: In the Soup

Chuck Wendig spent all last week collecting first lines from his readers. This week he gave us ten to choose from to write 1000-2000 words. For me the choice was clear.

“Of all the things I expected to find in my tomato soup, this wasn’t one of them.” (Stella Wood)

I think I ran a few words over my personal word count target of 1000 words. Nonetheless, I give you....

In the Soup

Of all the things I expected to find in my tomato soup, this wasn't one of them. I opened the can and mixed it myself, and only turned me back for a minute. Next think I knew I was looking at a little green man doing the breast stroke. My first thought was that I was glad I hadn't heated the soup too hot.

My second thought was that I was nuts. I was seeing naked green men in my soup. I had to be crazy.

It got worse. I closed my eyes to shut out the hallucination and raised a spoonful of soup to my mouth.

"Hey, watch it there, greedy-gullet! Whattaya think yer doing?"

Even if I believed there really was a little green man in my tomato soup, I'd have thought he'd maybe have a squeaky little voice to go with his tiny size. This guy had a huge, rough voice that sounded of whiskey and smoke. It was that voice that began to convince me this was for real. I didn't think I had enough imagination to hallucinate a little green space alien with the voice of a barfly.

"My apologies. I thought I was eating soup." The sarcasm was wasted on my visitor.

"Aye, and I thought this was me bath."

"Looks like we were both wrong." I thought about it, and said, "Actually, you can have the bath. I don't seem to want the soup anymore." I didn't. It wasn't just that he was there, and green, and naked, but...he looked like he needed a bath. Tomato soup might have been an odd choice of bathwater, but who was I to judge?

The green man ignored my invitation as he had my sarcasm. He was, in fact, standing on my spoon and cussing at me. I put up with it for a while, then said, "Oh, for heaven's sake, shut up and get back into the bath!" Even at a mere 6" tall, the view of his naked green body, liberally coated with tomato soup, wasn't edifying. He was human enough in some ways, but his skin was scaly.

"Begorrah, lass, but you're the bossy one."

"'Begorrah'? Puh-lease. You're no leprechaun, if that's what you're trying to suggest. So don't you try to play off of it being March and all."

"Who are you to say if I'm a leprechaun or no?" He certainly had the belligerence for the role, but I had to demur.

"Look at you. You're green all over," I began.

"As are all leprechauns. Haven't you been paying attention?"

I struggled to remember the cards and advertisements I'd seen over the years. Were the leprechauns green all over? I didn't think so, though I couldn't be certain. That didn't change the bigger issue. "Your skin is scaly and your head is a little...odd." I tried to be tactful, for all the good it did me. He looked outraged, so I hurried on. "You don't have any hair, and the shape is definitely not human, and well, to me you look like a space alien, though you're kind of...." I hesitated again.


"I was thinking 'small.'"

"Just like a human, fixated on size. And leprechauns ARE little green men, you know."

That phrase rang a different bell in my mind. "Little green men...are from outer space."

He gave a sort of a howl that I decided must be meant for laughter. "I knew you were brighter than you look," he crowed. "Got it at last!"

I stared at him. "So you're saying that leprechauns are really space aliens? You've been here all along, and we just created a mythology to explain it?"

"That's pretty much the size of it."

Another thought occurred to me. "Why Ireland?"

He waved a hand to indicate that's easy, and said, "The whiskey, of course. No place like it for a good drink."

"And that brings us to a very good question."

"Do I want a drink? Why yes, I do, lass."

"That's not the question." I was hanged if I was going to give this little green exhibitionist strong drink, even if I had any. "The question is, what are you doing in a bowl of Campbell's tomato soup in Toledo, Ohio?"

"It's a long story, and talking's thirsty work," he hinted, but I could be as deaf to hints as he could.

"Tell me, and maybe you can get back to Ireland and your whiskey."

He huffed and dove back into the soup. I went to find some cheese and crackers, since I wasn't going to be eating my soup. When I came back he was swimming around and singing "Sweet Molly Malone," loudly and off key. I pretended not to notice.

By the time I'd finished my crackers, the green man was back on the spoon, howling for me to bring him a robe. In the interests of decency, I gave him some paper towels.

"Got blown off course, you see," he said, wrapping a towel around him like a toga.

"On your broom?" I was getting snarky, but he deserved it.

"I'm no witch," he said indignantly. "You'd be wanting the girls from the other side of the galaxy for that."

I  nodded and started in on a dish of ice cream. He went on after a moment. "I was coming in from a visit to the mother ship, you see."

"Half a world away is a lot of off course." I thought he'd probably been warming up for the fine Irish whiskey. He didn't disappoint me.

"Ach, well," he said modestly. "I might not have been tip-top on the navigation. Anyway, so here I am."

"That's your 'long story'?" I'd be damned if I'd do him any favors on the strength of that tale.

"I got chased by a big bird and had to land in your garden. Then a masked bandit came along and stole my ship."

"A bandit?"

"Furry, black and white, and wore a mask."

I groaned. "A raccoon?"

"I couldn't say. Anyhow," he said gloomily, "now I'm stuck here, and you don't even stock any good drink."

"Your problem, not mine," I told him, and went to bed.

He went back to singing, and I put the pillow over my head.

I stuck it out in his company for a week before I made reservations for a trip to Ireland. He could ride in my luggage.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. Had to think what would be most disconcerting to find in one's soup :D


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