Beryl and Ned Live in a Tiny House
Beryl was a famous flautist. Ned was an unemployed florist. They met on Absurd Criteria, a dating site that matched partners based on how similar their professions sounded.
Beryl, still in bed, sneezed for the fifth time in less than three seconds.
“I’ll get it, honey.” Ned, arranging imaginary flowers in his mind, made his way to the pull-down bathroom with the medicine cabinet just slightly larger than the generic Dimetapp it contained.
Beryl sneezed again, this time so loudly it nearly ruptured her eardrums. She’d worn protective plugs earlier, but previous sneezes dislodged them completely. Beryl needed her ears to hear. She was first flute with the alt-cowgirl/retro-trance dance band Ten Gallon Pyramid-Shaped Hats. But Beryl’s real passion was The Charismatics, a Christian improv group that took its sketch suggestions directly from God.
“Here.” Ned handed the medicine to his wife.
“Thank you, my love.” Beryl tool a swallow and made a face.
“What is it, darling?” Ned stroked his beard in what appeared to be a thoughtful manner, but it was merely a nervous habit.
“The generic isn’t as good.” Beryl took another swallow, and, to prove her point, made the same face again.
Ned read the label. “The ingredients are identical, sweetheart.”
“I didn’t say it isn’t as effective.” Beryl quibbled.
Ned changed the subject. “Honey, you’re not wearing socks.” He saw her pink toes sticking out from beneath the blanket. “Your feet must be freezing.”
Without getting up, Beryl opened the top drawer of their dresser. The room was the size of a walk-in closet. It was the largest room in their Tiny House. The kitchen was a regular sized closet. Beryl’s music room and the place where The Charismatics practiced was a space under the sink.
The drawer had a divider. One side was her socks and the other side was his. Beryl chose a fuzzy pair of his.
Ned didn’t care about the socks. Tomorrow was Beryl’s birthday. He’d hidden a package of hot-pink pipe cleaners in his side of the drawer. He ordered them directly from the factory in Formosa. They weren’t even pipe cleaners. They were chenille stems.
“Now the inside of my skin itches.” Beryl didn’t bother scratching.
Ned looked at his phone. “That could be liver disease, cancer, a thyroid condition, celiac disease, kidney failure, anemia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, shingles, or pinched nerve.”
Beryl patted Ned’s arm. “Baby, it’s just a side effect of the generic you bought.”
Some people think there aren’t enough hours in the day. There are, in fact, too many.
Dan Nielsen plays solo ping pong, which is like Tai Chi, but fun. His flash manuscript Flavored Water was a semi-finalist in the Rose Metal Press 2017 SHORT SHORT CHAPBOOK CONTEST. Recent work in: Bird’s Thumb, Minor Literature[s], Cheap Pop, Random Sample, Spelk, and The Dirty Pool. Dan has a website: Preponderous and you can follow him on Twitter @DanNielsenFIVES