Every two weeks writers have the chance to take part in Soliloquies Anthology’s Flash Fiction contest. We publish a new single-word writing prompt as a starting point, and you write a story in 300 words or less. This winning story uses the prompt sneeze.
Get a Room
“A sneeze is 18% of an orgasm.”
Walking to class, this pronouncement turns students toward the source like ships caught in the Death Star’s tractor beam. Brian announces this factoid like he’s just gotten supreme satisfaction from the vibration in his nose.
“That’s stupid,” I retort. But hours poring over the teen health book my parents left on my bed doesn’t leave me with the kind of insider knowledge valued by my peers.
Brian starts explaining and you know everyone’s wondering if they can claim they’ve had 18% sex before. The bell rings and the crowd disperses, armed with this knowledge, knowledge that is, even now, maturing them into something more than they were. Boys lope away, their long bodies defined by silky basketball shorts and napes of necks.
“I believe in people having sex—good for them—like I’m not against it myself.” I complain to Jessica, who also hasn’t had a boyfriend, not even the fake kind where you just hold hands. “But it doesn’t even happen in the same part of your body. And how could someone calculate a percentage for that?” We scoff, shooting meaningful glances at the girls who sit behind us. They’ve drawn a penis on a lined notebook which is now slowly making its way along the desks. Each person shakes with silent laughter when they pick it up, like it’s new, like the desks aren’t scrawled with countless ghosts of the same cookie cutter snowman.
I feel one coming on and I realize what’s going to happen before it does. Turning my face into the crease of my elbow, an excited fear catches in my chest.
The silence breaks.
“God, you guys, get a room!” My face burns. We lean away from the gravity of each other as the middle row erupts with jovial retching.
Lauren Harwyn is an intersectional ally and writer. Harwyn received her BA from Mills College, Oakland, CA and attended the Scottish Universities' International Summer School for creative writing. She focuses on LGBTQIA issues, racism, sexism and the police state in her work. She lives with one great man and one apathetic cat in Northern California. www.laurenharwyn.com