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art by Cheryl L Owen-Wilson

Needs More Salt

Liz Schriftsteller lives in North Carolina and is not actually German, despite appearances. When she is not composing stories she can be found working in the performing arts. She would be ever so excited to exchange bite-sized stories with you over twitter @LizSchriftstell. This is her first publication.
Today I learned that anything is edible with enough salt. It started this morning when my little brother Todd bit through the cardboard packaging to get at the sugarcoated marshmallow cereal bits inside.
"Spit that out," I told him. "You can't eat cardboard."
"Can too," he said, and swallowed.
"Well maybe you can," I conceded, as he took another bite of the box. "But you shouldn't. And anyway, you can't eat everything."
"Bet you I can," he said, and that's where the trouble started.
I decided to start small.
"Here, try this," I said as I handed him a bottle of hot sauce.
"Really?" he asked, taking it from me.
"Really," I said with a smile. "The whole thing."
He opened the bottle and knocked it back, drinking the whole thing in a few short gulps. He looked triumphant for a moment and then the smile curdled on his lips. I laughed as he ran to the sink and turned on the water full force, drinking from the spigot rather than bothering with a glass.
He wiped his mouth off on his arm when he was finished. "That was nothing," he said, gathering what dignity he had left. "What's next?"
"You're not done," I said, smiling. "I said the whole thing."
He looked puzzled. "But I drank it all."
"And the bottle."
Todd glared at me as he straightened himself up and walked back over to the table. He picked up the glass bottle, turned it over his hands a couple times and set it back down.
"Give up?" I asked.
"Of course not," he snapped. He picked up the saltshaker and shook it over the empty bottle. Then he picked up the hot sauce bottle and held it up in the air, neck-down above his chin. He blinked as little bits of salt flecked off onto his face.
"That's not going to help," I told him.
"Shut up, I'm concentrating," he said as he tilted his chin up so his mouth was in line with his throat. Then he put the put the bottle neck in his mouth and pushed down with his finger until the whole bottle disappeared into his mouth and down his throat.
"You're like a goat," I said, disgusted.
Todd smiled and smacked his lips emphatically. "What else you got?" he said.
Over the course of the next hour, Todd proceeded to eat everything I could throw at him. He ate our sister's teddy bear with a knife and fork, and then proceeded to swallow down the silverware for an encore. Cables were slurped like spaghetti. Packing peanuts and pennies were popcorn. He ate his watch, my left shoe, Mom's lipstick, Dad's toolbox, three books, and the mop before I realized I had to up the ante.
"The house," I said finally. "There is no way you can possibly eat the entire house."
My brother frowned at me. "But if I eat the house where will we live?"
I shrugged, annoyed that he was more concerned with what would happen when he won than if he lost.
"All right," he said finally. "But I'm going to need more salt."
It was dark when our mother got home from work. She pulled up the drive in our old Subaru to a pile of rubble where the house had been. "What. The hell. Is going on?" she said as she got out of the car. She said it very slowly and softly, in the kind of tone she only used when we were in real trouble.
I stood in the front yard, shaking my head as my brother swallowed the house's very last nail.
She strode across the yard with long steps, grabbing my arm and spinning me around to face her. "Where's. The house?" she asked, teeth gritted.
I gestured to my brother. "Todd's a freaking goat," I told her.
She glared at him as he sauntered across the yard to us. "And you, young man," she said to him. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Todd shrugged. "We're out of salt."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 13th, 2014


Flash fiction is extremely difficult for me as I have always had trouble being concise in my writing. A few months ago I joined twitter to practice keeping my word count down. There I met @AEMarling and @JRBarker101, who spent a wonderful afternoon with me exchanging stories so short they could fit into a tweet. The first line of this story is one of those micro-stories I composed that day. The rest of it evokes the type of trouble my brother and I would get into when left to our own devices.

- Liz Schriftsteller

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