Friendship Soup New story shortlisted for the AWC Furious Fiction Competition (again). Limit was 500 words and had to include a party and a button.

Bon appétit!

Recipe for Friendship Soup:

-Open package holiday and take out 3 couples
-Add 6 plane tickets and 12 over-packed suitcases
-Mix with 2 babysitters and a cattery
-Sprinkle with sunglasses, itineraries and exchange rates
-Add a liberal splash of alcohol
-Stir with shared histories, embarrassing secrets and a forgotten indiscretion
-Pour into hot water and allow to simmer

“Come on, guys. It’s my birthday! Can’t we just play nice this trip?” Rebecca implored.

The air was thick with steam and resentment. The spa jets hummed away.

“I’ll tell you what, I really needed that massage today. I think a year’s worth of stress was squeezed out of me,” Barry said, changing the subject.

“Must be hard work sitting in that air-conditioned office of yours all day,” Mitchel jabbed, still twirling his moustache. “Actually, your massage seemed to take longer than ours for some reason …”

“You cheeky bas-”

The lights in the room went out and the conversation died. The spa jets went quiet. The green light of the exit sign flickered and came back on. They sat in silence, waiting for the power to return.

“Maybe someone should see what’s going on?” Cynthia asked.

“It’s okay, babe. It will probably come on in a minute.”

The exit light died. They were now in complete darkness.

“Great!” Keith said. “Aren’t those exit lights meant to have batteries?”

“I think so. Maybe they’ve never been changed before,” Mitchel said.

“So, what do we do now?” Jennifer asked.

“Wait I guess,” her husband suggested.

Minutes passed. The water began to splash rhythmically.

“What’s that?” Cynthia asked and then squealed. “Hey! Who pinched me?”

“Ouch! Someone stepped on me. Was that you Barry?”

“No. I’m over here.”

“I really need to use the toilet!” Jennifer whined.

“You’ll just have to wait, honey. Whose hand is that?”

“I can’t hold it any longer!”

More splashing noises. Wandering fingers, exploring toes and other appendages intentionally and accidentally ended up in places they didn’t belong. Grunts of pleasure and pain. Apologies and curses. The darkness seemed to last an eternity. Names were called out without response. Fingernails dug into backs. Tongues found ears. A giggle was heard as a moustache tickled an armpit. A large slap rung out, echoing off the walls, just as the lights came back on. They stared at each other in surprise. They had all switched places. The light exposed everything. The water had changed colour from a multitude of secretions, a sort of dirty soup they had created.

Horror filled the faces of all in the tub, except Keith, who leaned over and pushed a button.

“No!” the others yelled out. But it was too late.

The spa’s jets restarted.

Recipe for Friendship Soup (Cont’d):

-When friendships are done, gently remove couples from hot water and allow to cool
-Separate into 6 individual portions
-Season with conjunctivitis, an infected piercing and a pregnancy test
-Garnish with spicy accusations and a restraining order
-Serve with divorce papers

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