I’m doing something outside the norm this week and posting a pic of my own. Why? Because I took part in a 24-short story contest this past week, and rather than write two stories in the same week, I decided to be lazy and do one. And this way, you get to see my entry, too! Lucky you 😉
Here is, ‘Last Stop Lemonade’:
She looked across the street at the steady stream of tourists walking into the store with the big windows. Windows that displayed all kinds of souvenirs at exorbitant prices. That one piece of rock near the front of the window was selling for fifty. She could simply go pick one up at the beach for free. It didn’t matter, though. Those burnt and sweaty bodies entering the store didn’t care about the prices. They had gone on this trip ready to splurge, and that’s just what they were going to do. They went in through that single door to spend money, and they never came out again.
A man with red patches along his nose, forehead, and cheekbones stopped in front of her lemonade stand and eyed the sign advertising the drink.
“This stuff actually do what it says here,” he pointed at the words, forehead wrinkling suspiciously, causing him to wince as the action irritated the burn.
“Yes, sir,” she said, nodding, hands folded in front of her. “Guaranteed.” That was one of the newest words she had learned in the foreign tongue, and she was proud of the way she could wrap her mouth around it.
“Fine,” the man grumbled. He stuck a hand down deep in the furthest corner of his pocket and brought up some loose change. Counting under his breath, he laid out the correct amount.
Using the edge of her hand, she scooted the change across the plastic surface of her table and into the little blue jar that held her earnings. Next, she pulled out a disposable cup and filled it close to the brim. She didn’t skimp on her customers, even if they were foreigners.
“Lemonade’s supposed to be yellow,” the man said, eyeing the see-through cup. “Not blue.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well, I used important lemon juice in with this, so I promise it kind of tastes like lemonade.”
“Important? Do you mean ‘imported’?”
“Right. Yes. That is the right word. Imported from your homeland.”
“Maybe you should put that on your sign.”
“Maybe you should drink. It will be a big help to you. I promise the color won’t bother you after you feel the results.”
With a sigh, the man took the cup from her and threw back the liquid, putting it away with one, long chug. Holding the empty cup in his hand, his eyes focused down on the ground as he assessed what he had just ingested.
“Not bad, not bad,” he said after a moment of analyzation, throwing his trash into the receptacle she had set out for just such a purpose. “I’d say I’ll let you know if it works or not, but…” He shrugged his shoulders. He, too, knew he’d never walk out of that souvenir shop again.
“It’s ok. I know it works. As for your burn, I know the Kaka flowers are very beautiful, but you all need to learn to stay away from them. All of you get so burnt when you get too close.” Reaching under her table, she pulled out a small, white tube. “Here, take this for free.”
“What is it?”
She spoke the name in her own tongue then followed it with, “In your language, it roughly means, ‘Healer of Kaka burns.’ Place it everywhere you are burnt, and you will feel much better.”
The man reached out one of his appendages and took it from her, the odd, elastic stuff that covered his body warm against her scales. Too warm. She resisted the urge to yank away from him.
With a smile splitting his face and a, “Thanks!”, he popped the tube open and began applying it as he walked toward the souvenir shop. All of them had to go through the shop to get to the spacecraft pad on the other side. Since the humans were forced to walk through the shop to get to their ship, it was her planet’s last chance to squeeze them dry before the humans left.
Once again, her lemonade would help another person with that awful sickness the humans got during the sleep they were placed into on the long journey back to their home on Earth. Sighing in satisfaction at the thought, she smiled as a new human approached the lemonade stand.