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Fiction Urban Fantasy Friendship

The smell of burnt rubber burned through Agent Washington’s nostrils. Thousands of shards of broken glass clattered and crackled as she pushed herself up on the asphalt. Her back sent a shockwave of pain so severe that it briefly robbed her of oxygen. She groaned and murmured until she was able to sit herself with her back pressed against the remnants of the black van.

Her brain told her it was daytime, but everything around her was shrouded in darkness. For a moment she struggled to understand what was happening. Suddenly there was light again. It rolled across her surroundings like a bright wave. Slowly illuminating the field that stretched out as far as her eyes could see. Far off in the field was a woman wearing an orange suit sprinting with reckless abandon. Now. Now everything was starting to make sense.

“Damn eclipse,” she whispered to herself. The fingers of Agent Washington’s right hand were swollen and bloody. She had to call up all the patience she had left in her mental tanks to get the unwieldy appendages to press the ridiculously small button attached to her ear piece. “Doe…come back.”

“I can still get it,” responded the breathless young woman.

“Don’t be stupid. The prisoner is gone. There’s nothing you can do. It was the eclipse. Probably some kind of weird moon power magic, or something like that. Whatever it was, they used it and they’re gone. Come back. It’s pointless.”

Washington watched as Doe’s run turned into a sloppy jog and then came to an abrupt stop. Doe hunched over in the field, gathered her breath and then slowly started walking back to the van.

Quickly Washington risked it and looked up at the sky. The eclipse was mostly over now. The sun was mostly whole again, only missing the slightest bit of its right half. A slight chuckle awkwardly lurched its way out of Washington. She let it out quickly before Doe could hear. She knew the much younger woman’s ego would be bruised by now. The last thing she needed was an older woman rubbing salt in her fresh wound. 

Still Washington couldn’t help but to admire what a prick life was. It never missed its chance, every single solar eclipse just had to be marred in failure. As if it were her destiny.

Doe stomped her way towards her like a child ready to go into an all-out tantrum.  

“I could have caught it,” hissed Doe

Washington audibly sighed. “That thing was a magical creature. It was bound with the soul of an ancient Greek deity and has some kind of moon powers that we don’t understand. It blew a hole in our van,” said Washington as she waved a hand towards the gaping smoking hole in the van just a foot away from where she was sitting. “Hell, that thing probably allowed itself to be captured because it knew that the eclipse was coming and that it could escape. It’s a hopeless endeavor. Let it go.”

Agent Doe’s features lightened slightly as she blew out a long sigh. “They’re going to see us as failures,” she murmured.

“That’s a good thing.”


“Because everyone fails. It’s relatable to fail. Everybody says they love winners, but that’s just bull. That’s why people take such glee in watching successful people fall from grace. Success is nothing but a fantasy. Failure is reality.”

“So you’re saying that we should just purposefully fail?”

“Of course not.”

“Then what?”

“I’m just saying that you shouldn’t see failure as a negative thing. You should embrace it, learn from it and move on. Eventually you’ll probably have a little success, just a little and that’s a good thing. Too much success is a curse.”

The young agent eyed the older woman suspiciously. “You’re trying to tell me that being a winner is a bad thing? That sounds crazy.”

“That’s what's wrong with your generation. You guys are flooded with all this fake success. It’s all over that damn Nurv@na app. All these people acting like they’re constantly winning, like they’re perfect. It messes with y’all. That’s why y’all are constantly filled with all this anxiety and depression.”

“And your generation was just better?”

“No. No, not at all,” huffed Agent Washington. “If there’s a difference it’s just that it was harder to pretend back then. You use to not be able to cover up failure with a few selfies on a beach. You use to watch those around you. Watch as they did well and watch as they fell apart. There were no distractions, no places to hide. Truth was truth and everyone knew the truth even if they didn’t say it out aloud. Y’know, life is funny, kid. It was during a different solar eclipse that I learned that lesson.”

Agent Doe raised her eyebrows.

Washington sighed and averted her gaze before she continued talking, “My dad was a very successful man. He was a natural born winner. Good at everything that he did ever since he was a young man. He owned his own business and made lots of money. He provided well for my family. Then one day something happened. Not even sure what, but he lost it all.

“It was the first time that he had lost and it was a big loss. He didn’t know how to deal with it. He isolated himself, he drank, he lashed out, he made life…hard. None of that mattered to me back then. I was a kid and there was supposed to be an eclipse soon. I talked to him about it and for the first time in a while his face lit up. He was his old self again. He promised that he would get us some of those special glasses and we would watch the eclipse together.

“On the day of the eclipse I rushed home from school. I was so excited. When I got home I found him passed out on the couch, drunk. I woke him up. Told him we didn’t have much time, asked him where the special glasses were. He looked at me with this horrified expression. He had forgotten the glasses, but he didn’t want to admit it. So he tried to fix it. He jumped into his favorite red pickup truck and sped off. He made it just a couple of blocks before he smashed into another car. He and the two people in the other car all died. I missed that eclipse.”

“I’m…I’m sorry,” said Agent Doe.

Washington guffawed. “You would think that after that I would remember eclipses right? Well years later I had a daughter. And she was excited for the eclipse. I made her the same promise that my dad made me. And well…I got busy. Slammed at work and totally forgot all about it. Came home to her crying inconsolably, but I didn’t do what my dad did. I didn’t try to recklessly cover up my failure. I just admitted that I was wrong, that I had failed. Afterwards I made a promise to myself to do my best to never let that girl down again. I put my career on the back burner and focused more on her. I got passed over for promotions, missed a lot of opportunities and was probably judged by others as someone who wasted a lot of potential, but me and my daughter have a good relationship. And who cares about the rest?

“Still, you would think that after all that, I would remember eclipses. Then comes today. I was the senior agent on this. Should have thought about an eclipse potentially affecting a supernatural creature with an affinity for the moon. But in all honesty…I completely forgot that there was going to be an eclipse today. Never even crossed my mind.”

Both the women chuckled.

Agent Doe took in a deep breath and then said “May 4th.”

“May 4th?” repeated Washington in confusion.

“I always forget it. I…I grew up without a dad too. So my older brother filled that role. He did a good job. A really good job. He sacrificed a lot for me. He really did. His birthday is May 4th. For the whole year I remember that day, but for some crazy reason something always happens to me right before May 4th and every year I completely forget to wish him a happy birthday. It’s such a simple thing, but every single year I fail at it like a total loser.”

Both the women laugh.

“Get it now?” asked Washington.



“What do we do now?”

“I could really go for some ice cream.”

“Sounds good partner.”

April 12, 2024 22:19

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1 comment

Paul Hellyer
08:40 Apr 22, 2024

I really liked this. The dialogue about failure was written very well, a pleasure to read. The thing about creatures having an 'affinity' for the moon felt a bit gamer-ish, but overall it was solid. Thanks for writing this.


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