This story is for the Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Spin the Wheel of Conflict.

This was another of those “simple”  challenges where the possibilities were really endless. From a list of 20 conflicts the RNG gave me item 9, A spiteful child. So of course my brain started flipping that around right away looking for how many ways I could make it stand on its head.

I think I finally found one that wouldn’t fall over and that’s what I wrote down.

Enjoy.

 

They sat in a small restaurant just off 5th. The place reeked of exclusive and expensive and trendy because the crowds of blasse hadn’t yet discovered it, but the hour was early and the room was almost empty.

Young and old they looked at each other across a starched white table cloth arrayed with china and crystal and gleaming silver. Fresh to worn, sharply cut suit to ill fitting coat, flashing eyes to a rheumy gaze. The old man might have been glaring, it was hard to tell with the wrinkles.

“It’s been a long time, Theo,” the young man said, lifting a long stemmed glass to his lips, sipping the amber liquid within. He smiled at the taste, his teeth were perfect.

Theo winced inside. He hated when Martin called him that, it never felt appropriate. It was never what he wished the man would call him. And then he hated himself for having that desire.

“Fifteen years, Martin,” Theo replied, his voice still steady despite his age.

Was that a twitch at his right eye? Probably not, but he hoped the jab had gotten past the slick facade.

“What have you been up to?” Martin asked, still smiling, “Besides getting old.”

“Working, paying the bills, but I’m sure you don’t know anything about that.”

“Some of us are gifted with enough talent to not concern ourselves with such petty things.”

“Some are also given everything on a silver platter and then keep it all to themselves,” Theo said.

“And some of us don’t squander the talents they’re given behind a fear of their own shadow,” Martin said.

Theo’s glare was clear now even through his cloudy eyes. How he’d ever wanted anything from this man, he didn’t know. How he’d ever cared for him was beyond him. Old feelings, old memories leaked back through the shadows. None that were pleasant stuck around for long.

Martin swirled the drink in his glass. “How’s mom?”

Theo swallowed. “She’s dead. Eight years ago now.”

Martin shrugged. “It happens.”

Theo wanted to hit him. He wanted to ball up his fist and bury it in those shiny teeth. He should have done it years ago, but now even the thought made his knuckles ache.

“You are a cold hearted bastard,” he snapped.

Martin kept right on smirking. “Oh I think that’s your department, Theo. My parents were married when I popped out.”

“And who’s fault is that?” Theo said.

“Fault? That’s a question of desire, my dear Theo. A desire that was simply lacking.”

Theo tried to reply but all the spit in his mouth had burned away. He reached for his water, but his hand betrayed him, and the glass toppled instead, flooding the table top with liquid from some glacier in some stupidly exotic locale.

Martin shook his head then waved off the waiter who had started to rush to their table. The waiter withdrew.

“You are an old, useless, wreck aren’t you,” Martin said, the words heavy for their lack of delay. “You’re such a disappointment, Theo. You always have been and you still are now.”

Theo forced the words out past a stick dry tongue. “How could you tell? You were never around long enough to find out. You’d just pop in to shake your head, and scoff at me, and hurt mom. It’s no wonder she hated you.”

“She loved me. She always did, no matter what. When I was with her, she was something she could never be on her own. She craved it. But then I didn’t. She got old and tired, and boring. You all do eventually.”

Theo’s hands shook.

“You could have saved her. You could have stopped the clock. You can do that.”

“Could have, but didn’t. She simply wasn’t worth it. You don’t save a candy wrapper once the candy’s eaten.” Martin smiled, his eyes flashed.

Theo balled his hands despite the pain.

“I hate you.”

“Hate? I don’t think you know the meaning of the word. You’ve never had enough passion for anything. Not hate, not love, not desire. How I managed to breed such a spineless nothing, I’ll never know.”

He tried to speak, to curse the man before him, and unload the feeling clawing his throat raw, but no words came out. Nothing was there when he needed it.

Martin chuckled softly.

“Yes, that. Nothing. Nothing at all, just like you, and your mother. Why I ever bother I don’t know. None of you are worthy of us or worth the effort.” He sighed, finished his drink in a swallow. “I guess boredom makes us all do silly things. Like screw some nobody woman, and father a nobody child on a nobody planet.”

Martin stood from the table, tossed down an obscenely huge wad of bills.

“Maybe I’ll see you around before you croak, or maybe I won’t. I kind of doubt it, but perhaps you’ll do something truly grand before the sands run out. Something interesting, and I’ll turn up. I doubt it, but I guess anything’s possible. I mean look at you.”

And with that Martin strode out of the restaurant. Steps long and confident, head up, eyes sweeping the world like he owned the place.

Theo sat shaking, quivering with rage, and fear, and hatred for the fear inside and how it never got any further than his chest.

He stared down at his old, weak hands, the cutting words still ringing in his ears. One word came back again, and again. A gong in his skull.

Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.

Perhaps he still had enough life left in his arthritic hands to do something about it; to get back at the man that had tormented him for so many years. To give his father a good hard slap across his ever handsome face.

Could an old man hurt a young god? He swore to himself he would find out.