Short Story Sunday 209: Little

Short Story: "Little" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            Alan wasn’t sure what to do with it when he first saw it. While he was work, his wife had texted him what he would name a gray tabby cat. Alan had responded that he wouldn’t name the cat anything because it wasn’t his. He didn’t hear from his wife for the rest of the day after that.

Naturally, when Alan was on his way home from work, he a little skeptical and a little nervous about what he was going to go home to. He was hoping that he would make it home and no one else would be there except his wife and maybe some dinner on the table.

So, when he walked through the front door of his house and a small kitten lay at his feet, he had no idea what to do.

Alan craned his neck to look at the small creature. The kitten sat nicely in front of his foot, the animal was probably the same size as Alan’s shoe, if not smaller.

Then the kitten squeaked.

“What in the world was that…?” Alan muttered. Cats were supposed to meow, not squeak.

“Oh, good! You’ve met!”

Alan looked up and noticed his wife poking her head into the living room from the kitchen.

“Hailey, what is this?” Alan asked pointing to the kitten. It squeaked again and Alan looked down at it embarrassed for the poor thing.

“He’s our new addition to the family” Hailey replied. She walked away back into the kitchen.

Alan opened his mouth to reply, but he didn’t want to shout. So he stepped over the cat and as if on cue, he started following Alan. He groaned and picked up the kitten holding him in front of his face.

“If I accidentally step on you, you will get crushed and Hailey will certainly divorce me.”

The kitten squeaked one more time and Alan rolled his eyes. He made it into the kitchen with the cat into his arms. Before he could say anything, Hailey cooed at the two of them.

“Oh, you’re bonding! That’s so nice!”

“No,” Alan said putting the cat back down on the ground, “we are no bonding. Hailey, why did you get a cat? And without talking to me about it first, no less,”

“I knew you’d say no.”

Alan pinched the bridge of his nose. This was why his kids had been so difficult growing up. They took after their mother.

“Now that the kids are all grown up and out of the house and you’re working all day, the house was a little quiet and a little lonely.” Hailey continued. “I thought about getting a dog, but I knew you would make it take it back. I figured a kitten was a good starting point.”

“Starting point…?”

“Yes, once we get used to the kitten then we can get another one. Or maybe a dog. We’ll see how their personalities are.” Hailey explained.

Alan groaned. He sat down at the kitchen table shaking his head. “We can’t have a cat, Hailey…”

“Yes we can, and we do.” She said stiffly. She hadn’t once looked at him. She continued making dinner. It was almost as though she had been preparing for this moment all day. “Besides, I did tell you.”

“You asked what we should name it… That’s not exactly talking to me about whether we should get a cat or not.”

The kitten, sitting right beside Alan’s shoe, squeaked again.

“See?” Alan pointed to it. “You didn’t even get a real cat. I think it’s broken.”

“Oh, Alan,” Hailey scoffed. Now she turned around and glared at him. “Chester’s just a kitten!”

Alan leaned forward. “Chester…?”

“Well, I tried to give you the option of naming him and you wanted no part of it.”

Alan looked down at the cat. They stared into each other’s eyes for a moment before the kitten squeaked again.

“I’d name him Smokey.” He said.

“That’s a bear, dear.” Hailey replied.

Alan narrowed his eyes at his wife behind her back. He stood up and sighed. “Okay, I’ll be upstairs… “

“Dinner’s in five!” Hailey shouted after him.

Alan walked back into the living room and climbed the stairs not realizing Chester was right behind him. When he made it to the top of the stairs, Alan heard the kitten mewing and squeaking. He turned around and noticed Chester attempting to get up the first step, but he was too small.

Alan sighed. He walked back down the stairs. He scooped Chester up in his arms and walked him up the stairs.

“Just don’t let Hailey know I think you’re cute…”

Words: 773

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Short Story Sunday 208: Kickstart

Short Story: "Kickstart" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            Becky stared at her computer screen in anticipation. She had logged onto a brand new online computer game and was waiting for her friend to finish making his account and log on.

She had heard of this game through the grapevine known as the Internet. She read articles and updates on the project’s progress and release date. She thought that it was such a great idea that she even donated to the kick starter to get the game up and running with hopes that it would take off and be a big hit. Good indie games were hard to come by.

After another moment or two of waiting, a notification popped up on Becky’s computer screen. She leaned forward in her chair to read what it said. Howard321 wanted to be friends with her. She snorted a laugh. Howard was never able to come up with a good username for himself.

She accepted the friend request and, since he was online, a chat messaging system popped up on the right side of the screen. Becky said hello to him and Howard responded immediately. He was enthusiastic to get started on the game and so was Becky.

They each had to make a character first.

Becky went into the character creation mode, the chat remaining on the right hand side of the screen. She was pleased that she was still able to talk to Howard through the whole gaming process instead of just certain points in the game.

She had decided to make her character a knight. She felt as though there could never be enough female knights around. Howard, on the other hand, decided to make himself a red mage. He absolutely loved fire and couldn’t wait to see what kind of magical spells a red mage would be able to have in this brand new game.

It took them a little over an hour, but both Becky and Howard had finally perfected their own characters as best as they could. They figured that it was about time they start playing the actual game.

When Becky hit the “play” button, her knight spawned in the middle of a small village in plain clothes, the clothes that she had picked out for her to wear. Becky had said that her character wanted to aspire to be a knight, but she had to work her way up to that rank. Becky would have to help the other villagers, go on small journeys here and there, and complete side quests in order for the king to recognize her.

It was the same for Howard, except his character was going to have to work on different things in order to become a mage, let alone a red mage.

Still, they were able to travel together as they worked on different things. In the end, when they both reached their ranks and worked for the king in the castle, they would be able to form a team and go on adventures together. That would be where the real fun begins.

Becky and Howard wandered around the village and explored some of the outside world together. Their characters died a lot, but in real life they had a lot of laughs and had fun with the game. They couldn’t wait to go on real adventures once they were appointed to knight and red mage.

Before Becky knew it, her mother was calling her down for dinner. She didn’t want to stop playing, but dinner meant that she and Howard had been playing the game for about seven hours.

And she still had homework to do.

Words: 599

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Short Story Sunday 207: Joke

Short Story: "Joke" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            “It was supposed to be funny.” Monica said dully. She shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes turning the other way folding her arms across her chest. It was a bit too much of an I-don’t-care gesture, in Blake’s opinion.

Blake closed his eyes and tried to think. He was exasperated and he certainly didn’t think his night would end up like this. How was he supposed to deal with a situation like this?

Maybe, just maybe, if he counted to ten, he’d open his eyes and both Monica and her sister Carmen would be gone. He’s be back home and he wouldn’t want to yell at his mother for forcing him into babysitting his cousins.

One, two, three…

“What are you doing?” Monica asked.

Blake opened his eyes. He gasped recoiling backwards as Monica’s face was directly in his as though she was leaning for a kiss.

He groaned. “I was thinking.”

“Thinking about what?”

“About what to do.”

“What to do about what?”

“About the fact that you smeared gum in your sister’s hair!”

Monica giggled.

Blake rubbed his temples. Poor little Carmen was sitting so nicely on the couch watching her older sister and cousin talk back and forth to one another. Carmen was only two so she didn’t have a lot of hair, but it was enough that Blake wasn’t able to get the gum out without damaging her mane. The chewing gum was all over her head so he wasn’t even able to give her a small haircut without anyone noticing.

Then Blake paused. He turned his attention to the four-year-old with narrowed eyes. “Monica,” he said darkly, “where did you even get the gum?”

Monica froze and she didn’t say anything.

“You went into my bag, didn’t you?”

Monica remained frozen, but this time her eyes grew wide and they shifted side to side.

Blake grunted. What a little snot.

“Okay, okay. We can fix this.” Blake sighed. He took a couple of deep breaths. Then he looked up at the clock. His aunt and uncle said they would be home around 11, but the kids had to be in bed by seven. It was now around five-thirty, which meant that Blake had an hour and hour, if not less, to figure things out. Worse came to worst, he would have the kids go to bed later. No one would know, right?

Blake ran over to his bag and fished out his cell phone.

“Now what are you doing?” Monica asked.

“I’m going to look up how to get gum out of someone’s hair on the Internet.” He replied.

Monica watched him intently. Blake typed away on his phone reading various articles and answers while occasionally looking up to make sure Carmen was still seated where she was and to make sure that Monica wasn’t getting into any more trouble.

“Peanut butter. Okay, that’s fine. They have peanut butter.” Blake muttered to himself. He put his phone in his pocket and made his way over to Carmen. He picked her up and glanced over his shoulder at Monica and said, “Come into the kitchen with us.”

Without waiting for her to respond, Blake kept walking. Once he made it into the kitchen, he put Carmen in her high chair. Monica was right behind him climbing on one of the kitchen chairs. She watched Blake in silence in awe at what he was doing.

Blake reached into one of the taller cabinets and found the jar of peanut butter. He put it on the table and unscrewed the lid. It smelled good and he loved peanut butter just as much as the next person, but he never imagined that he was going to have to stick his hands in a jar and smear it all over someone’s hair… on top of already-chewed gum, no less.

He stuck his tongue disgustedly and grabbed a handful of peanut butter. Then he proceeded to rub it all over Carmen’s head as though it were shampoo.

When Blake was finished, he took a step back with peanut butter covered hands and smiled. “Great. Now we just let it sit for a couple of minutes and the gum should slide off. Then I’ll give you a bath.”

He turned away to wash his hands in the sink when he heard Monica giggle. He looked over at her and she smiled brightly at him. She too was covered in peanut butter, but not just her hair. No, she had covered her whole body.

“Look at me!” she beamed.

Blake remained frozen with his oily hands underneath the faucet of warm running water. He stared at Monica not knowing what else he could possibly say to her. All he knew was that he was going to have to give both of them a bath now.

And he was never going to babysit the two of them ever again.

Words: 816

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Short Story Sunday 206: You’re Late

Short Story: "You're Late." | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            “You’re late.” Aubrey sighed.

Leo poked his head around the corner to look at the grandfather clock in his living room. Sure enough, he was about fifteen minutes late. He closed his eyes, frustrated with himself. He had completely forgotten that he was supposed to meet Aubrey.

“I’m in the car now. Traffic,” he chuckled with a shrug of his shoulder. However, he knew that his sister probably wasn’t going to buy that one.

He heard Aubrey scoff on the other end of the phone. “I called your landline, you dope. I know you’re still home.”

Leo rolled his eyes. How could he have been so stupid?

“Is… something the matter?”

Leo narrowed his eyes upon hearing another female voice. It was a voice much higher than his sister’s and he didn’t recognize who it was.

“No, no. Don’t worry about that.” Aubrey said.

“Who’s there? What are you doing?” Leo asked.

“You would know if you were on time!” Aubrey snapped.

“Wait…” Leo grunted. “Are you trying to set me up on another blind date?”

“…Can you just get down here, please?”

“Aubrey!”

Aubrey sighed. “Fine. Yes. I am. I am trying to set you up on another blind date. Is it so wrong that a sister wants her brother to be happy and be in a fun, healthy relationship?”

“You didn’t tell him that he was meeting me?” the mysterious voice spoke up again.

“No, she didn’t!” Leo shouted through the phone.

“Shush, Leo.” Aubrey replied.

“Aubrey, I don’t need your help finding a date.” Leo said exasperated.

“Don’t worry about it. I don’t mind.” Aubrey replied.

“That’s not what I meant…”

“Listen,” Aubrey spoke up again, “if you don’t get down here then I’m going to bring Ryanne to your house and you two can meet there.”

“Is that such a good idea…?” the other voice, who Leo assumed was Ryanne, spoke up.

“Yes, it’s perfect.” Aubrey replied to her.

Leo rolled his eyes. “How do you even know this Ryanne chick?”

“I work with her.” Aubrey answered.

Leo sighed. “If I meet her, will you promise to stop finding me potential girlfriends?”

“Of course,” Aubrey replied matter-of-factly. “I mean, you two are going to get married and live happily ever after, so why would I have to find you another girl?”

Leo smiled. “Thank–” then he paused. “Wait, what?”

“I’m giving you five more minutes and then we’re going to your house! Okay, bye!” Aubrey said quickly and then the phone line went dead.

Leo hung up his phone with a grunt. He went back into his living room and looked at the clock. He sighed. There was no point in going out. If Aubrey had any say, which is sounded as though she did, she was probably already on her way to the house anyway. So, there was no point in Leo trying to get ready to leave.

He sat down on the couch and turned on the TV. There was nothing else for him to do except wait for his nosy sister and potential future wife to arrive.

Words: 515

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Short Story Sunday 205: Inside

Short Story: "Inside" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            Gwen pulled into her driveway slowly. She hit the brakes and when the car came to a complete stop at the top of the way, she put it in its park position. She shut off the engine and held tightly onto the keys while staring out the windshield.

She had just driven home from work in a torrential rain storm and the rain was really beating down hard on the car.

Gwen watched as the water slammed against her windows, streams flowing down. It didn’t even look like rain. There were no drops, it looked as though someone had taken a bucket of water and was continuously dumping it on her car.

When she had left for work that morning, the weather said it was going to be hot and sunny all day long. And it was, right up until she got into her car to drive home. She didn’t understand why the rain couldn’t hold off until she made it inside her house, but the dark clouds had rolled in about an hour before. Gwen didn’t think anything of it at that point.

She had worn her shorts and a tank top to work that day. She didn’t bother to bring her raincoat or even a sweatshirt. It was 90-something-degrees outside, after all. She didn’t even have an umbrella in her car.

“You should always have certain supplies in your car like an umbrella, a towel, a blanket or sweatshirt.” Her mother had explained to her once she got her first car.

Of course Gwen never listened to her about that. It wasn’t that she didn’t agree with her mother, it was just that she had always forgotten to put those things in her car. By the time she thought about it, she’d already be in her car ready to go someplace. She wasn’t going to get out of the car and throw in a sweatshirt or umbrella on a nice sunny day just because her mother had told her to.

Listening to the rain pound against her car now, Gwen was beginning to regret it.

There was so much rain that it was hard for Gwen to see through the windows. However, she was on the right side of her driveway, closest to the front door of her house. All she had to do was put everything—her keys, her phone, and her wallet—inside her pocketbook, sling that over her shoulder, and make a break for it. The front door was just a couple feet away; she couldn’t possibly get that wet, could she?

Gwen packed up all her things and put her purse over her shoulder. She put a hand on the handle to get herself out of her car, but hesitated. She looked behind her and realized that if she went out the passenger way, she wouldn’t have to go around the back end of her car. She’d make it into her house in less time.

Sure, she was still probably going to get soaked, but it would still take her less time to get into the house.

Gwen grunted as she shimmed her legs a little over, her bare thighs sticking to the leather seats. Despite the rain, the car was growing hot and muggy inside. She pushed her seat all the way back to give her legs some stretching room.

She lifted her right leg over the cup holders in between the driver’s and passengar’s seat. She lifted her butt to allow her right leg to glue itself down on the ground in front of the passenger seat. Then, using both her hands, she pushed herself up and tried to maneuver herself over to the next seat. Once she was sitting, she lifted her left leg and pulled that over to the passenger side as well.

Gwen grunted and groaned as she sat in the seat for a moment. She let out an annoyed sigh wishing that she had stuck to the workout video she bought a while ago. She had tried it once and then never went back to it. Clearly she wasn’t as in shape as she thought. She wasn’t even all that flexible which was a bit surprising to herself as well.

The rain still beat down hard against the windows. She watched the water fall down the car wondering when this was going to stop. Usually when the rain came down like this, it didn’t last too long. Yet, it had been almost a half hour.

Gwen drew in a deep breath ready to make a break for it. It was only water; it wasn’t like she was going to melt if she got a little wet. Still, she didn’t want the water to seep through her bag and get her phone and other belongings all wet.

Well, whatever. She couldn’t sit in the car forever. Now was the time to run because the rain could have lasted a lot longer than she wanted it to.

Holding her breath, Gwen opened the door. She hopped out, slammed the door shut, and ran towards the front door of her house. She skipped a few steps as she made her way up the porch. She opened the storm door, only to realized that the front door was locked.

“Crap!” she growled. She fished for her keys in her purse. It seemed like forever, but she found them and managed to open the door.

She jumped through the threshold, slamming the storm door shut, shielding her from the rain. Gwen breathed heavily watching it all come down. She then looked down at herself and noticed she was standing in a puddle. She was absolutely soaked to the bone.

It looked like she was going to have to take another shower.

She then heard a chuckle and when she turned around, Gwen’s mother was sitting on the couch knitting something.

“Didn’t I tell you to keep an umbrella in your car?”

Gwen didn’t know what else to say but roll her eyes. She took off her shoes, tried to shake some water off her socks, and then made her way up the stairs. “I’m getting in the shower…” she muttered, but all she heard was her mother chuckle once more in response.

Words: 1,039

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Short Story Sunday 204: Headline

Short Story: "Headline" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            Martin stormed into the classroom and threw the school newspaper down on Todd’s desk. He pointed to the large, black, bolded words at the top. His finger tapped it angrily all the way giving Todd the stink-eye. He didn’t exchange any words, but he didn’t have to.

Todd looked down at what Martin was so uptight about and then slyly covered his mouth with his hand. He looked up at Martin with worried eyes and then shrugged as though that would be the appropriate response. He didn’t really know what to say though.

“What is this?” Martin demanded.

“It’s the headline.” Todd shrugged. “Maybe you should talk to Erica about it. I didn’t write it.”

“You didn’t write it, no, but you do the final check before the newspaper goes out!” Martin shouted.

Todd looked around the room. By now everyone on the school’s newspaper team was staring at the two of them. He sighed looking back at Martin.

“I was out sick when this one came out. We typically hold the newspaper back a day or two, or until I get back. However, I think you’re the one who told them to go ahead and publish it anyway.” Todd explained. He pushed his computer’s keyboard away to make room for his elbows. He folded his hands together on the surface of his desk and looked up at Martin challengingly.

Martin supervised the newspaper team, but that was about it. He made sure that everyone did their jobs and, as a senior, he was trusted by the teachers to run the club without teacher supervision. It was the school’s way of allowing senior kids to add something else to their college applications or resumés or whatever.

Todd was the second man in charge. He assigned everyone their parts of the newspaper and sent kids out to research certain stories. He checked, checked, and carefully checked each and every part of the newspaper before each issue was sent out and published for the entire student body to see and read for their pleasure.

He was out sick for this particular issue so they usually put out the newspaper a day late. It wasn’t a big deal, but for some reason Martin gave them the go-ahead to publish this without Todd looking it over.

How was he supposed to know that when he sent Erica to find a first-page story, she would whip up a nasty article about Martin? Well, Todd supposed he deserved it. After all, he did cheat on Erica with her best friend.

Martin’s eye twitched as he stared down Todd. He clearly didn’t know what to say to any of this. No one really liked Martin. He thought he was doing something special because he was helping to run the newspaper, but he didn’t really care about it. His guidance counselor made him do it because he had nothing useful to put on his college application.

Todd wasn’t afraid of him. In fact, Todd thought this was great.

“When I’m not here,” Todd began to explain, “As your job of supervisor, you should have overlooked the entire newspaper before allowing it to be published. Or, you should have just let it be and wait for me to come back to school.”

Now that Todd was thinking about it, he really didn’t know what he would have done if he was in school that day to look it over. Sure, the right thing to do would be to sit Erica down and talk to her about it. He’d have to make her re-do the article and find something else. Or, as a penalty, take the first page privilege away from her and ask one of the other writers to do it.

However, he knew Martin deserved the article and he was proud of Erica for fighting back. He didn’t know Erica all that well. They met on the newspaper team and only talked when it had something to do with the newspaper. She was a nice girl though and Todd didn’t like how Martin was a jerk to her when they were dating. Then he ended up cheating on her.

“Well, I didn’t!” Martin shot back. Todd raised both his eyebrows trying not to laugh. Great comeback there, Martin.

“You have to retract the newspaper. And I want you to kick Erica off the team!” Martin exclaimed.

“Really?” Todd said pretending to be surprised. He took the newspaper, scanned the headline and the beginning of the article. Then he turned to the second page where it continued. “I don’t see any typos or grammatical errors… The words flow right along the page and I find her creativity to be her best yet.” Todd closed the paper and looked Martin straight in the eyes. “I don’t see any reason to kick her off the paper. She truly is a fantastic writer with a great eye for a good story. It’d be a shame to let her talent go to waste.”

Martin balled his hands into fists, his arms shaking, and his teeth clenched. Todd stood his ground, remained seated at his desk. He could feel the eyes of the rest of the newspaper team staring both of them down; wondering what was going to happen next. Maybe some of them were even hoping for a fight.

After a few moments of nothing, Martin snatched the newspaper off of Todd’s desk, crinkled it up into a ball, and tossed it into the nearest trash can. Then he stomped his feet out of the classroom.

After a minute or two of silence, and Todd watched the door waiting for Martin to come back with fists flying, the rest of the room erupted into applause. Todd turned his attention to everyone else and they were all smiling and clapping for him. He couldn’t help but smile.

He shrugged it off and told them to get back to work.

Now he just needed to remember to talk to his homeroom teacher about looting Martin to a different club. There was no way the rest of the school year will go smoothly after that encounter.

Words: 1,020

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Short Story Sunday 203: Goals

Short Story: "Goals" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

Emma suppressed a groan. She looked all around the auditorium as though she was trying to find a way out, even though she was stuck there for the next hour. What made it even worse was that she was right in the middle. She had too many in front of her, behind her, and on both sides. If she had to go the bathroom, she would have to hold it. There was no way she was getting out of this one.

The silence echoed throughout the room. Mr. Coughlin scanned the entire senior class as though he was waiting for an answer. Emma doubted that anyone was ever paying attention to him. He probably knew that though. Emma was sure he had done so many speeches like this in the past 20 years—or however long he had been teaching—that he probably knew the students didn’t really care.

They had to apply to colleges during their junior year of high school. It was a requirement for each student to apply to at least three colleges even if they didn’t know what they wanted to major in.

Now that they were seniors, college was closer and closer. Some people had already been accepted to a college or two, some have not and were still applying. Still, because they would all be out in the “real world” in a few months, they had to listen to the “Rest of Your Life” assembly speech like all the other senior classes had to listen to before them.

Of course, Emma had no idea how she was supposed to know what she was supposed to do with the rest of her life when she was focused on passing her Geometry final. She didn’t know what she wanted to do for a career, but she knew it wasn’t going to have anything to do with Geometry. She also knew that she wasn’t going to do anything with Earth Science, either.

“In a few months, you’ll all be adults.” Mr. Coughlin announced.

Emma had already turned 18. According to society, she was already an adult. Yet, she was still stuck in this building for seven hours a day having to raise her hand to ask for permission to go to the bathroom.

Graduation day wasn’t going to be anything exciting. It was going to be her teachers throwing her to the wolves with a salute and a “good luck!”

“Now is the prime time to start thinking about what kind of difference you want to make on this world. What mark do you want to leave behind when you go?”

That piqued Emma’s attention. Was he referring to them all inevitably dying?

“Teaching is a great legacy to leave behind.” He continued.

Emma rolled her eyes. Why would she want to teach children to learn things they were never going to use in their lifetime? She didn’t know what she would use geometry for other than being an architect. And she knew that she wasn’t going to be doing that for a living.

“Or you could build homes for people,”

Emma blinked. Was he reading her thoughts?

“A doctor, dentistry, the possibilities are endless! Before everyone leaves here today, I want you all to come up with three career ideas for yourselves. Think about what you like, what you enjoy doing. Think about your talents, what you think you’d excel at.” Mr. Coughlin declared as a few teachers handed out pieces of paper to all the students in the rows.

Emma sighed. This was going to take a while. She was just going to do whatever everyone else was going to do: pick three random careers and write it down just to please the teachers.

That was something she was good at: pretending to care.

Words: 641

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