Thom ran down the street as fast as he could. He was only eight, and he wasn't a fast runner. His mom always said he needed to lose weight and in this moment, he wished he had followed her diet plan more often.
Would he make it home in time? People were waking up from their midday rest all over the neighborhood. He could only hope his house was still quiet.
It had been fun though. Thom had snuck out of the house and gone over to Mat's while his mom and sister rested. Mat was lucky to have a gaming system. His parents had more money, sure, but more importantly, his mom didn't think video games were from the devil.
They'd done this before, but today time got away from Thom and when a neighbor knocked on Mat's front door, he realized his mistake. The neighborhood was waking up.
Thom ran past the tourists drinking beer at a popular neighborhood restaurant, ignoring their "hello"s. Why did tourists always want to talk to kids?
He ran past the convenience store, dodging the bike that was pulling in to park.
He tripped over a curb and flailed his arms to keep upright, then turned down the side street to his house. Would he be able to get in quietly? Fortunately it was a warm enough day that the windows were wide open. The door was, too, but only because the front room was his mother's favorite place to take her rest.
Thom opened the gate just enough to squeeze through. If he opened it wider, it would squeak loudly. He ducked to stay below the front windows, and stepped carefully toward the house, even as he worked to calm his breathing. When he was close enough, he popped his head up to peek in at the bottom corner of the window.
He ducked down again, thinking fast. The door stood open because she had been napping there. Thom had planned to climb in his bedroom window, but maybe he could just go in the front door? She wasn't in sight... was she in the kitchen? Checking the bedrooms?
Thom crept up to the door and leaned in the doorframe. Nothing. He stepped into the living room, breathing easier, and carefully crossed the room to the hall leading to his bedroom. At the archway that separated the living room from the kitchen, Thom stopped. Did he hear a floorboard creak? It wasn't his step that made the noise.
Just then, a giggle, and Jenny jumped out around the corner from the kitchen. "Gotcha!" she shouted with a 6-year-old's glee. His mom stepped up, arms folded, doom on her face, and hovered behind her daughter, who was now doubled over with laughter. "Haha! Thom's gonna get it!" She danced out of the kitchen, leaving Thom to face his mother.
"Well?" she asked him.
Thom's eyes grew wide in feigned innocence. What excuse could he give? "I got up ... to... well..." Words failed him. There could be no excuse, but if he blamed Mat their gaming days were over.
His mom stood in silence, staring down at him.
Thom stood in wide-eyed silence, staring up at her.
Finally her eyes rolled up and arms unfolded as she turned back into the kitchen to get on with her day. "Wherever you were, you're grounded for two weeks."
Relief rushed through him. He got away with it! Gaming with Mat was worth losing two weeks of freedom!
As he hurried to his room, lighthearted, his mom called after him. She must have seen the joy two-weeks' grounding gave him. "A month!" she shouted. She might not know what he had done, but if he felt okay about two weeks' grounding, it wasn't punishment enough.
It's FICTION FRIDAY!
Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.