• Carolyn Steele Agosta

It Started with a Salad...

Sometimes inspiration for a story comes out of nowhere and hits you just right. That was the case for the following Flash Fiction piece. Another from my writers' group, the 'prompt' was "It started with a salad..." 725 words.



It started with a salad. It chose the salad from among a slew of other dishes – fried okra, biscuits, country ham, ‘nana pudding – but I don’t know how or why It decided on a salad. Was It trying to lose weight? It was, after all, abnormally large – at least I thought it was – It was certainly larger than a man but for all I know, It was perhaps only normal-sized for a being of that sort. Maybe It was even the runt of the litter. Lord, I hoped not. Runts have bad attitudes.


It ate the salad almost delicately, holding the big serving bowl to Its lips and gently grazing among the pieces of kale and baby spinach and romaine, nudging aside olives and feta cheese crumbles but definitely enjoying the slivers of red pepper.


Hesitantly, I pushed a large glass of tea toward It but He – She – It shook Its head and just kept nibbling the salad. Everyone in the room seemed to be holding their breath, silently staring at It, none of us even daring to glance at each other. Was It dangerous? Its large shaggy head, with two curving horns, was certainly intimidating. Its shoulders had to be at least four feet wide. Its paws or hooves or whatever they were seemed powerful enough to knock a grown man flying.


Who would have expected such a creature to walk into a wedding reception and help Itself to salad without so much as a ‘by your leave’? It barely fit under the tent roof. I wondered if It was from the groom’s side. It certainly didn’t resemble any of MY relatives. We tend to be short and pudgy, and this thing, this guy, whatever, was definitely not short and pudgy. It was like Shaquille O’Neal on steroids, but with a lot more fur, horns, hooves, tusks, and – oh yes – a tail. It was wearing a green sort of tunic. I wondered if It was vegan. The tusks suggested not, but maybe at least a vegan wouldn’t take any culinary interest in the guests. Unless maybe they were vegan too.


The bride and groom gestured to the DJ to start up the music so we could all relax and perhaps surreptitiously phone the sheriff. Or Animal Control. The DJ put on Love Shack and Misty, the very drunk maid of honor, pulled one of the groomsmen onto the floor to dance.

It – the being, the unexpected guest – finished Its salad, looked up at the crowd and grunted, “So dance already, you fools.” Its voice was deep and gruff, sounding like many years of whiskey and cigarettes with the faintest hint of a Marlene Dietrich accent.


The rest of us nervously got up and began shuffling around. Love Shack my ass – we were all terrified and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in dire need of a visit to the loo. It stayed near the buffet table, glancing over the selection of petit fours, Toll House cookies, and miniature pecan pies. Its shoulders twitched a little to the rhythm of the B-52’s. There was a cleared space on the floor around It and then I saw the little flower girl walk right up. “Are you the Beast?” she asked, in a clear piping voice that carried across the dance floor. “Like in Beauty and the Beast?”


“NO.” It scowled around the room at all of us. I felt a jolt of electricity run down my back and out my – well – out. It was not amused.


“Go home,” It suddenly thundered at us. No one needed to be asked twice. We cleared out like the place was on fire, knocking over chairs, crashing into tables, totally abandoning the pile of wedding gifts. Car doors slammed, headlights glared, tires squealed. The wedding car, trailing streamers and balloons, led the way.


No one was left behind to watch as It sat down on a folding chair that nearly split under the weight. It sighed and reached out a large paw for the top layer of the wedding cake, shoving a large wad into its mouth.


“Ah well,” It said, surveying the scattered chairs and tables. “Same old thing. Always a bridesmaid. Never a bride.” It greedily licked frosting off It’s hoof. “Good cake, though.”

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