I had a lot of fun with the story for this prompt and I hope you all enjoy it as well. The prompt, once again, comes from the Tale Foundry writing group. While I had a blast writing this bit of micro-fiction, it was very hard to get everything I wanted to say under the 350 maximum word count. Perhaps I’ll return to this one some day and make a proper short (or longer) story of it.
Prompt: Fish out of water.
Branwen peeked through the door’s window. She had hoped no one would show up; bad weather normally kept people away. Completing her headcount, she leaned against the wall and sighed. 16 bobbing heads waited for her in that room and this door was the only way in or out. Once she entered, she would be trapped in there with them for at least 15 minutes, if not more.
She could do 15 minutes. It wasn’t a huge amount of time. It would be over before she realized it. Branwen sucked in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds. All she had to do was go in, sit down, read for 15 minutes, then she could go cry in the closet. Easy peasy.
The door opened and sounds spilled out of the room. Several particularly loud shrieks made her wince as she turned to see who had opened the last barrier between her and the small mob inside.
“Branny? Are you coming in or not?” Stacy asked, continuing to hold to door open. Branwen could feel 16 pairs of eyes focused on her, now that her hiding place had been exposed, though the giggling and happy screams didn’t stop.
They can smell fear, she reminded herself. Straightening, she smiled at Stacy and stepped into the room. It’s just 15 minutes, she repeated in her head.
“If you’re ready for a story, find a seat,” she sang loudly to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” as she waded through what seemed like a sea of children. She took her own chair as she dodged toddlers fighting over their favorite colored squares on the rug.
“If you’re ready for a story, eyes on me,” she continued. If the child who was currently edging closer to her while eating a stick of glue touched her, she was certain she was going to throw up.
Stacy finally noticed the glue-eater and scooped him up, much to his dismay. Branwen let out a relieved sigh and held up the first book.
“Once upon a time,” she began.