Flash: Phin and Amelia

Photo by Nenad Rakicevic on Unsplash (Cropped by Erin Penn)

Slightly dozing, Amelia turned over when her phone dinged. She had set the alarm to prevent burning. This vacation was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Exactly what the doctor had ordered.

She hated the fact she had to have a vacation. The turn and trying to find a comfortable position for her head on her arms brought the cramped muscles of her back into a tense knot again even with the sun warming her spine.

Stress had sent her to the psychologist when her childhood nightmares returned. After a month of the government doing their on-again off-again furloughs, her job qualifying as exempt, then non-exempt with every rewrite of the budget, her stress level shot through the roof. Either she freaked about the bills piling up. Or she was destroyed at work dealing with clients screaming at her because their needed checks weren’t arriving. The mail department had been declared non-essential.

She wasn’t being paid enough to be yelled at; in fact, until the boys on the hill stop their dick waving, she wasn’t getting paid at all.

When her boss found her crying at her desk after one particularly hard call, where the woman and her children had been evicted because their money hadn’t arrived, he sent her downstairs to be evaluated. That led her to calling her psychologist after a ten-year hiatus.

When people screamed at her, she fell apart. Her parents had done it all the time. When they didn’t hit her. Of course, the worst was when they told her how useless and ugly she was. And the fourteen “healed” breaks on her arms, legs, and ribs ached from the winter cold. And when the weather changed. So spring wouldn’t be much better. And autumn had her using a cane last year. It would just get worse as she got older.

Only during the boiling of summer did the pain and screaming stop, when she could escape the house and her parents. She could still hear them. Feel them hit her.

Amelia felt wetness on her arms and realized she was crying.

Oh God. Stop it. Just stop it. Don’t think about it, she told herself firmly like Dr. Bitters told her to.

“I’m not that person anymore.”

“Then who are you?” A male voice came from her feet. “If I may ask.”

Amelia lifted onto her elbows, half-turning her body, the sand shifting beneath her, to see over her shoulder, tossing her wavy hair. The feet led up to sturdy legs, some loose, iridescent blue and green trunks, a perfect six-pack, nicely sculptured pecs and arms, and finally a pleasant face with a dimple. The journey took much longer than it should. But all that tanned skin needed suitable admiration.

“I’m me. The new me.”

“Does that ‘me’ have a name?” The dimple dug deep on the left side of his smile. “I’m Phin.”

“Amelia.” She pressed her lips together, sucking them into her mouth. She never had been attracted to anyone before, and it scared her. Only people she cared about hit her.

“Hi, Amelia. I was wondering if you would like someone to put sunscreen on your back. With your red hair and pale skin, I bet you need it all the time.” He motioned to the 30 SPF bottle stuck in the sand beside her blanket. “Just the back. I promise not to be grabby or anything.”

Even if I ask? Popped into her head. She blinked. Where did that come from?

(words 580; first published 2/23/2020)