Flash Fiction: "Existential Pizza" by Rebecca Shoulders

“Your greatest desire,” the wizard offered, straightening his shoulders and his hat. “You have beaten me, so now I will give to you your greatest desire.”

The girl smiled, tucking the twig into her back pocket. “S’okay,” she said. “It was just fun.” The wizard’s eye twitched. “Fun? You call duelling a wizard and risking your life, fun?” The girl shrugged. “Well, as much as I’d like to not bother, lore dictates that I give you your greatest desire. And with all these people watching, I’d like to not embarrass myself twice.” “Okay.” “Now let me see. Most people store it in the crumbling filing cabinets in the back of their brain...” The wizard tapped at the back of the girl’s skull with his wand. “Hmm, maybe you store yours upfront... no... just below your heart? No – in your stomach? Your feet?” The wizard started to sweat. “You’re not making this easy,” he hissed. The girl shrugged again. “In your groin?” There was a titter from the crowd. “Under your armpit! Behind your ear! Tied up in your hair! Under your other armpit! No! Well I never!” “I told you, it’s ok.” “You don’t have a greatest desire.” “Not that I know of.” “What about a slightly less than greatest desire?” “I don’t think so.” “Something you want?” The girl considered. “Ham and mascarpone stone baked pizza from Tesco, a gin and tonic, and an early night.” The wizard laughed. “You can’t be serious. Everyone wants something deep in their soul. Everyone –”

“Don’t rub it in. What do you think it’s like for me? I’m already an anonymous character, now I have no motivation? What’s next, no greatest strength or fatal flaw?” The wizard paused a moment to consider his own anonymity. “Well, I – ” “What’s your greatest desire then, wizard? What do you want more than anything else? And where do you store it? Do you have crumbling filing cabinets in the back of your brain? Can filing cabinets even crumble?” “Well crumbling and cabinet sound nice together, consonance or something – ” “You’re just going through the motions. That’s how I was able to beat you. You’re not special. I’m not special. Nobody is.” “I can see you’re clearly going through something.” The wizard’s voice was thick. “But you don’t have to take it out on me. Let me get you that pizza, and you can call on me when you find your greatest desire.” The girl shrugged. “My name is Lilla,” she said. “And I don’t know why I’m shrugging so much, it must be a character trait.” The wizard put his arm around Lilla’s shoulders. “And my name is Luke.” Lilla frowned. “OK ok fine. I guess that could be a little confusing, two characters beginning with the same letter. Ok, I’ll be John. No, Andy. I’ve always thought Andys were cute.” “Alright, Andy. Let’s get pizza.” “Right now, that’s my greatest desire,” said Andy. Lilla smiled. “Maybe our paths were meant to cross.” “Call to adventure?” “Don’t push it.”

Rebecca Shoulders is a gardener and writer in Lewes, East Sussex. She appears in The Unseen and The Box [Fincham Press], and previously on Selcouth Station. She likes writing about the minutiae of everyday life and is working on a fantasy novel. You can find her on twitter @rtheshoulders