“The Text” Dark Flash Fiction by Christy Byrd

Jackie’s eyes fluttered open as her phone dinged – a new text.

A simple “I love you, mom” from her 20-year-old daughter, Lauren. Jackie believed the evidence was too damning.

When was the last time she said, “I love you”?

Not once in over three years.

Something was wrong.

Jackie called Lauren the second she read the text. Lauren’s voicemail message played in her ear, “Hey it’s Lauren. You know what to do.”

She hung up and jumped from her chair knocking over the wine she had sitting on the edge of the table next to her. The book she had on her lap before she fell asleep tumbled into the puddle of wine, coloring the cover red. It was her favorite book, but she had no time to worry about that now. She needed to get to Lauren’s apartment, and fast.

Jackie ran to the foyer, grabbed her car keys, and fumbled with the front door.

She pulled out of her driveway so quickly the smell of burning rubber lingered in the air.

Visions of Lauren were racing through her mind: her first smile as a newborn, her first steps as a toddler, her first A in school, her first college acceptance letter.

“This cannot be happening,” Jackie said under her breath as she raced ever closer to Lauren’s apartment. Her thoughts were racing faster than her speeding car.

She’s just in the shower. That’s it. I’m crazy. Right? She’s just in the shower, and she’ll call me back and tell me how crazy I am before I even get there.

She pulled into the apartment complex faster than should have been humanly possible. Ripping the keys from the ignition, she ran towards apartment 4B. Not sure what she was walking into, she braced herself before searching through her keys for the one Lauren had given her months before.

“For emergencies only,” Lauren had said.

Half expecting to hear Lauren yelling at her for invading her privacy, Jackie burst through the front door.

She heard nothing but silence.

“Lauren?” She said to the still air.

Silence.

“Lauren!” She said a little louder as she frantically began searching the small apartment.

From living room to kitchen and back again, the last place she could search was the bedroom and attached bathroom. She once again braced herself before opening the bedroom door.

The room appeared empty. The bed was made, the laundry basket empty, the surfaces clear of any dust or debris. Everything appeared to be in order. Tidy, organized, and normal. “A place for everything and everything in its place” her grandmother used to say.

Jackie turned toward the bathroom knowing it was the last place to look. She braced herself one last time before opening the door.

Empty.

Where could she be?

The room began to spin. Her stomach began to lurch.

She checked her phone for a missed call only to realize the text from her daughter was no longer there.

What is happening?

A man appeared behind her. “What are you doing out of bed, Jackie?”

The room continued to spin as she collapsed onto the floor.

*****

Her eyes slowly opened. Looking around, she noticed her cherry juice had fallen onto the floor creating a red puddle that led under her bed. In the puddle was a magazine entitled “Aspire Design and Home.” A clean and organized bedroom graced the cover.

4B was posted on the door to her left.

To her right, machines continuously beeped.

“Lauren,” she said, remembering the text she received.

She attempted to sit up but was held in place by leather straps restraining her arms to the bed.

“Lauren!” she yelled. “Lauren, please help!”

A man in all white entered the room. “Jackie. Lauren is gone. She’s been gone for three years.”

“No. You’re lying. I just read a text from her. She said…. she said…” she trailed off as she tried to remember the words.

“You know there are no phones allowed. Lauren was in a car accident. Remember?” The man pulled out a newspaper clipping and showed it to her: “20-year-old Lauren Farr was involved in a fatal car accident after sending one last text to her mother: I love you, mom. Realizing her brake lines had been cut by an ex-lover, Lauren wanted her last message…”

Jackie couldn’t read on. “This is all a lie. Why are you doing this? Where’s Lauren? Lauren! Where are you, baby?” She strained harder against the restraints until her wrists began to bleed.

The man raced to her bedside and pressed a button on the side of the bed.

A few moments later, more men in white entered the room. They surrounded Jackie and began to pin her even further into the bed.

“Alright, Jackie. Time for your meds,” one of the men said as he stuck a needle in her left arm.

Jackie’s vision began to blur as she lost consciousness.

*****

Jackie’s eyes fluttered open as her phone dinged – a new text.


Christy Byrd (she/her) is a current student at Full Sail University where she is working on her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She also holds an Associate’s degree in Biomedical Science. When she’s not writing, she is relaxing in her NJ home with her husband, dog (Starfire), and cat (Raven). 


One thought on ““The Text” Dark Flash Fiction by Christy Byrd

  1. Pingback: The Chamber Magazine

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