When Stars Align Bonus Bit 2!
It's a flash fiction week! First, there's a peek into Cass' thoughts after ch13 ends. The other fiction is long for "flash fiction", and is a story concept I had started that got pushed aside. It's a post high school grad visiting Thailand for his graduation excursion, by himself. It's not fully formed, since I didn't flesh it out, but I thought it might be fun to post what I have. :) You can even get a glimpse into the writing process, as you can see where I cut certain things! It's just below for your reading pleasure!
Also, a side note, the updates are posted a bit sooner on the Patreon page because I can post there asap once I'm done (just quicker than posting on the html website), so it's a bonus once you switch over - plus posted story ideas there recently and original artwork! (patreon.com/rinsparrow)
Enjoy the flash fiction! (Though this is way longer than flash fiction should be! haha)
First Time in Thailand
Derrick gazed out the window to where Bangkok blinked and twinkled below him, and grinned. He was finally getting out! First time on an international flight; first time visiting Asia—first time going somewhere new since coming out. He shook his head. It was overwhelming, but in the best possible way.
He turned to Max beside him to share his excitement, only to find him still snoring. Figured. Oh well, they’d be landing soon and then he could pester him all he wanted! Though Derrick wouldn’t push too hard. It had been pretty good of Max to come along with him in the first place. He could’ve gone with his family to Europe that summer, but he’d told Derrick after his graduation party that he was coming along to Thailand. It was the best news Derrick had heard in a long time. He’d only just come out, after all, and he wasn’t sure how Max or his other friends were handling it.
But as soon as Max had told him, Derrick knew everything was going to be ok.
“Woah!” His thoughts cut off as the plane dipped and tipped while coasting in for the landing. He swallowed as the plane bumped into the ground and jolted him in his seat.
“Huh? We’re here already?”
Derrick blinked at the man next to him as the plane slowed and the captain gave them their gate number.
Already? It was a twelve hour flight!
Max shrugged. “Smooth though.”
Derrick refrained from rolling his eyes and prepared to disembark the plane. He’d taken a minimum of luggage, just a hiking backpack, so he snagged it from the overhead bin and made his way to the currency exchange in the airport.
With money and guidebooks in hand, Max set out to the airport exit and waited in line for a cab.
turned to Derrick. “So, where to? What’s the plan?”
They were drifting down the escalator and stepped out onto the ground floor. Derrick looked around and shrugged. “Grab one of the cabs outside, I guess?”
“You guess? Where is the place we’re staying at? Do you know how long the ride is?”
“Uh…” taking out his Lonely Planet, Derrick flipped open to page he had bookmarked. “We go to this road, and there should be a place to stay. Karen said Orchid House is good.”
Max’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t have a reservation?”
“No, she said we didn’t need one.”
“Do you have directions?”
“She said just go to Ko San road and it was there.”
Max put his hands to his head and groaned. “Seriously? Did you plan, like, anything?”
“Hey! I asked people who’ve been here before and they all said not to sweat it and just decide what to do when we get here.”
Derrick was starting to feel put-out. He’d done his research, but…he’d decided to just go with the flow. His whole life things had always been planned out, so this was one trip he just wanted to enjoy—especially when everyone had told him that was the best way to travel in Southeast Asia.
Max must’ve noticed Derrick’s change in mood, and took his wrist. “Come on, sad face, let’s get a cab.”
The ride into the city proper took nearly an hour and gave Derrick way too much time to think. There had been way too many bright pink neon signs for ‘massage parlors’ and the like on the way into the city. It was one thing to know Bangkok had a booming sex industry; it was another to see it in bright neon. And even though most of the spots didn’t cater to his tastes—and he wouldn’t go even if they did—it put his mind on a track he had been trying to avoid. Namely, sex. He already thought about it way too often as it was.
He’d heard that a lot of guys went hog-wild on sex after coming out, but he guessed those guys hadn’t just graduated high school and still lived with their parents in a dinky little town. Which was why he was going away to college. Unfortunately, that was still a couple months away. He had to admit that one of the reasons for this trip was to get out of town and see some booty, as well as see the world.
But when he was dumped—dropped off—on Koh San Road, the last thing on his mind was getting laid. His first thought was just to get shelter. It was nearly ten in the evening and he’d worried places would be closing. The fact the street was still bustling should’ve been good news. It was. The chaos was also incredibly overwhelming.
Crowds of locals and various backpackers swirled and clogged the road while vendors lined every inch of sidewalk selling clothes, jewelry, food, and who knew what else. And it was hot. The kind of heat that settles over you like a fog a night and makes the sweat cling to your skin.
Derrick took a breath and reminded himself that this was what he wanted. Someplace totally different from his hometown. Well, we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto, he thought.
Several vendors called out to him as he began to maneuver the road and he finaly ventured to ask one of them, “Where is Orchid House?”
He received a blank stare in reply. No one seemed to have heard of the place—the only hostle that Derrick’s friends had recommended. He wasn’t sure most people even understood the question. He obviously should’ve boned up on his language skills before leaving. Well, no time like the present.
Opening his phrasebook, he happened upon a page focused on food and drink as he sidled up to a small outdoor café. He couldn’t think of another word for the place, but ‘café’ definitely conjured something fancier than the open-air space with a peeling wooden lattice frame over the top—and cats wandering anywhere they wanted in the back “kitchen” area. Choosing a table, he set his backpack on the ground next to him (slipping his foot between the straps so it couldn’t be easily swiped) and flipped through the phrasebook and found “How to order beer.” He grinned. Perfect.
When a young woman came to take his order, he told her his request proudly and pointed at his drink choice on the menu.
She gave him a skeptical look, pointing at his menu. “This?”
Derrick nodded, trying to act certain, when he was anything but. Had he said it wrong? Even so, pointing to the drink should be clear enough, right?
He shifted in the seat of the taxi and was relieved that Max had fallen asleep again. He sighed.
She left to grab his beer and Derrick sat back, trying to relax enough to take everything in: locals shouting about their wares as other Western tourists passed—most of them backpacking hippie types—and everyone avoiding the trash and empty coconut shells strewn in the street. Maybe he should’ve looked to get fresh coconut water himself. Airplanes were supposedly as dry as deserts and he’d also barely eaten.
His thoughts were brushed aside as a couple tanned, toned men passed along the street in front of him. They were backpackers too, but clean-shaven and short hair instead of dreadlocks. And gorgeous. Maybe he could ask them where to stay. Maybe could ask if he could crash with them.
He’s saved a long time for this trip, he deserved to enjoy himself. Maybe—
A giant 40oz bottle of beer and large pint glass suddenly appeared before him on the table. He blinked.
“Umm, is this—?” he started, but the young woman was already gone. Derrick opened his guide book and quickly looked up something he probably should’ve checked before: money conversion rates.
The beer had been $4, which didn’t seem to warrant its size. He spent the night a bit baffled and after much sidewinding through the streets, found a guest house to stay for the night. The older woman who ran it got up from her hammock in the room behind the counter, pointed out the bathroom, and gave him a key. When he calculated how much it was for the night, it came to $2.
Ah, right. He shrugged. Live and learn."