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Feel This Way by Charles Heiner | Word Riot
Flash Fiction

March 15, 2016      

Feel This Way by Charles Heiner

Listen to a reading of “Feel This Way” by Charles Heiner.

It’s too late when I realize I’ve picked up the wrong package. I thought my Venus flytrap had arrived, but instead I find a box inside that says “Fenton Supplements” with a picture of a fit, elderly couple walking on a beach. I look at the address, for Peter Roberts, on the top floor, the big unit, with the deck that looks out over the mountains, the one who smiles and says hi when we pass on the stairs. Where I live, I can hear every footstep from the sidewalk.
      “A powerful blend of probiotics, omega threes, and nutraceuticals,” says the box. “Never get another headache.”
      I haven’t had one since. The problem is, after a month of bliss, I’m starting to run out, and looking at the website doesn’t offer any reassurance, at two hundred dollars a box.
      The aches and pains have gone. My knees are better. I no longer wake up feeling like I’ve been bludgeoned in the skull.
      It’s not right, that he gets to feel this way.
      I look for things to hock. I can’t get rid of my computer, and I can’t live without my TV. Or maybe I can. I’ve changed in these past few weeks. I’m faster in the kitchen. More alert. The chef has noticed. I think he likes me now.
      I put it on my credit card. A box arrives with my name on it. I’m promoted to shift manager.
      “Coffee?” says the chef.
      “No.” I plate the chocolate layer cake and slice the strawberries. My hands fly with the knife.
      The owner looks at me when he comes in. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with anything. We’re getting more customers than ever. The tips roll in, and every morning now, I take two pills with a glass of water.
      I don’t want to think about how things were before, but it was bad. I didn’t have the strength. When I see Peter now, I smile back at him, at his smooth skin, the way he nods at me, his perfect posture, ours.

Charles HeinerAbout the author:

Charles Heiner has an MFA in Creative Writing from McNeese State University, where he won the MFA program’s annual award in fiction. He has also been shortlisted for the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. His fiction has appeared in The Laurel Review, Specter, Fiction Weekly, Cheek Teeth, and Dirtflask. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is writing a young adult novel titled Challenge Challenge. His website is www.CharlesHeiner.com. On Twitter he is @Charles_Heiner.

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