Writings / Fiction


Elizabeth Creith

Merv and I arrived for the Arts Council Board of Directors meeting at four forty-five, a few minutes earlier than usual. Vivian was there, and Rhonda, our secretary, and two or three others. Vicky, our chair, surprisingly, was not.

“Can you believe we beat her here?” Vivian asked, pouring water into the coffee maker. “Honestly, sometimes it seems she lives for meetings. She even reads the minutes. Isn't that your job, Rhonda?”

Rhonda shrugged. “Supposed to be.”

“Weren't we going to have vegetables and dip instead of doughnuts?” Merv picked an apple fritter from the box. “If I go home late for dinner and stoked on sugar and coffee again, I think Rose will divorce me. What was it, eight-thirty last time?”
“That was the time before,” I said. “Last time we were early – seven forty-eight. Not that I was keeping track, mind you. Anyway, veggies and dip would help, or even a cheese plate.”

“Budget,” Rhonda said, “cheese and veggies cost more. Vicky said we had to cut back somewhere.”

“You mean 'right-size the paradigm incrementally',” I said. “You know, I've heard her speak plain English. We had coffee last week, and she told the barrista that a 'grande cafe American' was just a large coffee. What happens to her vocabulary when a meeting starts?”

“Can't we pass a motion to make her stop? I'm going to chew my leg off if she says 'modality' one more time!” Vivian said.

“No, you won't,” Merv said with his mouth full. “We'll just sit around like little rabbits in traps, waiting for her to say 'all in favour?' so we can hold up our little paws and be one step closer to the end of the damn meeting. Is that coffee ready yet? This machine gets slower every month.”

“Hell-oooo!” Vicky sang out from the door of the boardroom. She had an armful of folders, and immediately began to lay them out on the table.

“Hell is right,” Merv muttered to me. I elbowed him.

“Five, six, seven, looks like we have a quorum,” Vicky said brightly, “so we can get started.”

Obediently we sat down, Vicky at the head of the table, Rhonda on her right, pen in hand, the rest of us spaced around on those plastic chairs made for some other shape of butt.
“Let's start with the minutes,” Vicky said, and plucked them neatly from the table in front of Rhonda. After she read them, she looked up and said, "Did anyone notice any errors or omissions?"

And Rhonda stood up and screamed, just threw back her head, clenched her fists and shrieked at the ceiling. I was drop-jawed.

"Really!" Vicky said, when Rhonda stopped. That was the last thing she said. Rhonda shoved Vicky to the floor, chair and all, and threw herself on top of our chairwoman. Her right hand, clenched around her pen, rose and fell rapidly and repeatedly. We were all too stunned to move.

There was thumping and gurgling, and when Rhonda stood up she had blood all over her face, her hands and her white silk blouse. She wiped her hands on her skirt.
"Sorry," she said, and sat down. She picked up the minutes. "Any errors or omissions?"

We shook our heads.

"Who'll move that the minutes pass?" Nobody spoke or moved.

“Anybody?” Rhonda asked. Slowly I raised my hand.

"Thank you," Rhonda smiled at me. There was blood on her teeth. "Second?"

Merv raised his hand.

"Thank you, Merv. All in favour?"

One by one, everyone around the table lifted their right hands.

"Passed, then." She picked Vicky's agenda up and looked at it. "We have a few pieces of business. We need a new coffee maker, and there are several applications from potential interns. But of course the first thing we need to do is vote on a new chair. Any nominations? Oh, and can I borrow a pen? Vicky has mine."

About The Author


Elizabeth Creith has written flash fiction for the last four years. Her fifty-five-word flash fiction, "Companion Animal" placed twelfth in the 2008 Writers' Union of Canada Postcard Fiction Contest. It also served as the seed of a novel currently in progress. Her work has appeared in Flash Fiction Online, New Myths, Threads, Reptile Magazine and The Linnet's Wings. For ten years she wrote humour for CBC radio, both regional and national. She is passionate about art, good writing, country life and animals. She currently pays the bills by working part-time with her Australian shepherd, Sky, at a pet store she and her husband own in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.

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