Flash Fiction
$25 Prize
by Chris Callard
We met at Trader Joe’s, both reaching for bags of Hawaiian
kettle chips, she for barbecued, me for salt and vinegar. I
said, “Those flavor choices really reveal character, don’t
they?” quickly and smoothly, just like a “meet cute” scene in a
movie. Her laughter led to a conversation.

She worked for an outfit that contracted with the Red Cross
doing blood drives; she drew the blood. I told her my gig was
in sales, electronics. After about five minutes I asked for her
number to find out when the next drive would be since I was
ready now, after a long break, to donate again. She, instead,
gave me a date, time and address.

In the parking lot I asked once more for a number, or about
having coffee. She politely declined, and said it had been a
delightful encounter.

Five days later I found myself lying on a gurney with a needle
in my vein, my blood pumping through a tube into a plastic

Sara had tied a length of rubber around my bicep very gently,
her hands encased in gloves, also rubber. Her white lab coat
brushed against my arm as she delicately found an elevated
vessel before softly breaking my skin with the needle. She
smiled shyly, as if we had never met, spoke quietly in
comforting tones, and rested one be-gloved hand on my
shoulder while making sure the process was working and the
flow was good. It was exquisite and even incredible.

Previously, while checking in and filling out the paperwork and
answering the questions, I had lied about my hepatitis. I
figured they would test for it afterwards and throw my blood
away, pretty certain they’d throw my blood away and put me
on the blacklist for further donations. I hoped so, anyway.

In the meantime, I rested, and took pleasure, for as long as I
could, in the casual way Sara stood next to me, made small
talk, looked at me with kind eyes. Then finally, how she
tenderly withdrew the needle and, gracefully, affectionately,
bandaged my arm.

Chris Callard has had a few short stories, comic essays, and
poems published over the decades and a few plays produced
here and there. He lives in Lakewood, CA, and can be reached
at callb@ca.rr.com. His oddball mystery novel, Fakes and
Phonies, can be found on Kindle