Hi guys.  Welcome back!

I had a Twitter conversation with @TonyNoland and @LauraEno earlier this week about not posting #FridayFlash’s exactly on Friday.  I looked over my computer and, wouldn’t ya know it, I found like 13 flash fictions that I didn’t save properly in the auto-recover section.  Baby, I’ve hit a gold mine.  I can be lazy again!

This story is based almost exclusively around smoking marijuana.  For those of you who have never, shall we say, “partaken,” let me say that pot doesn’t exactly work like this.  For those of you asking how I know this, I’ll say…that I…did a lot of…READING on…the effects of…uhh…

And here’s this week’s #FridayFlash, “Greener Fields.”

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Powered By: J.M. STROTHER!

Powered by J.M. Stother!

GREENER FIELDS

Mark Reynolds had one final thought before he died and it had made him smile.

Mark thought of his college days that had been—what—fifty years past?  Fifty-five?  It didn’t matter.  What did matter to that Mark Reynolds who had just turned twenty-one, was, in alphabetical order: Ass (as in “to get some”), Booze, Partying and Pot.  There was the minor, irritating necessity of attending class, which Mark had done from time to time.

This particular day was a Friday, a day that Mark only had one class: English.  Showing up to class was bad enough, but for it to be English?  And on a Friday?  Preposterous.  And so, as to “gird up his loins for battle” as the pretentious TA that taught his class might have said, Mark Reynolds smoked pot before he went to class.  Mark Reynolds smoked a lot of pot before class.

It had been an afterthought, a standard case of pre-class jitters, and what better to calm him down than hitting his bong?  He filled the bowl to the brim and made short work of it.  After his third prolonged exhale, it occurred to him, only briefly, that maybe that wasn’t the best idea.  With no time to think about it (or the fully functioning capacities to do so), he made his way to class, thoroughly enjoying the walk.

The stuff that he had been smoking had the peculiar quality of gradual, paralyzing paranoia and then instant euphoria.  This usually wasn’t a problem because he usually smoked with his friends.  There would be a tense fifteen or twenty minutes in his apartment where everyone eyed everyone else suspiciously and then the levee would break and there would be nothing but warm fuzziness.  It was fun after a while, once you knew what was going to happen, but Mark started feeling the paranoia set in just before he got to the class room.

“Oh God,” he thought, with his hand on the door knob, “This is going to be bad.”

To his surprise, there was a different person standing in front of the class today.  This different person, whose name Mark had instantly forgotten because he was somewhere in the stratosphere, told the class that their regular instructor was sick and that he would be filling in today.  Mark’s first thought was that this was pretty good news.  Then, paranoia gripped him so tightly it was hard for him to breathe.  This had to be some kind of trick.

The sub told the class that they should work on their projects and, again, this had to be a trick.  It was too easy, wasn’t it?  Project? Mark thought morosely, what project? This guy is clearly some sort undercover…narc, or whatever you call it.  A spy or something.  Look at him up there.  Shoes up on the desk.  Pretending to read that magazine.  I don’t think so.  You’re not fooling me.

Mark stared at the sub as clandestinely as possible, trying to pick up anything from his behavior.  The sub sat, still reading his magazine.  Mark thought about his blindside and realized that maybe some of his classmates might be in cahoots with the sub.  Mark glanced around him as casually as he could.  Everyone else was working quietly.  That’s what it looked like anyway.

Mark glanced up to the front of the class to find the sub suddenly on his feet with his hands on his hips and staring at Mark.  Mark’s eyes went wide and terror froze him.  This was it.  He was done for.  He had a brief vision of some torch-lit, rat infested dungeon and how he’d never get out.  Then the sub looked away at another student.  Then another.  He nodded to himself.  He clapped a single time and Mark jumped.

“Okay, guys,” the sub said.  “Look, it’s Friday, I got nothing for you.  This is seriously a big waste of our collective time.  Would anyone object to cutting you guys loose early?”  He held up his hand and looked over the room.  The other students looked around to see no one raising their hands.

“Good.  You guys are free to go.  Same Bat-time.  Same bat-channel.”

The combination of incredibly good news and odd Batman reference brought what machinery still operating in Mark’s head to a grinding halt.  Students around him shuffled, packing their back packs and making a move to leave.  Mark didn’t believe what was actually happening until he saw four people leaving the class without some violent act performed on them.  Before you could say, “Pass the dutchie on the left hand side,” Mark was out and free.

He walked slowly back to his apartment, taking occasional glances over his shoulder.  Then, like the sun rising after a black night of storms, Mark had a realization.  It was four simple words: “No Class Till Monday.”  He had the whole weekend.  It was just past noon and he was done until Monday.  The THC that had taken its time meandering through the parts of his brain that caused fear, finally came to their destination.  The wave that had been building for the past half hour finally broke and Mark’s face was slack with gratefulness and joy.  He pounded a fist in the air and gave a little squeal.

There were moments in his life that were better than this.  The day that he met his wife for example.  That was a good day.  The day that his son was born was another.  And then his grandson.  And so many more.

But this memory of his wilder college days was different.  It was a depthless sort of joy but it was simple and that made it almost as good.  He never experienced a feeling that was so pure and carried no weight to it—no nervousness or threat of responsibility.  That was definitely a good day.

At the age of seventy-eight, Mark Reynolds died surrounded by his family.  They all saw the smile and they all wondered.

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