Short story I wrote for a contest where we had to include the number 10,000.
Skittles rained down the side of the Pinewood Apartments. 10,000 of them by my calculations. Simon told me to buy a million, but 10,000 was all I could afford, even with our combined pocket money and a little I took from Gram's sock drawer. Hopefully he wouldn’t know the difference. He was across the street, watching through the window. He wanted to record it, but I told him he had to experience it with his own eyes. He didn’t know I got Old Jimmy from downstairs to record the whole thing. Old Jimmy never did anything for kids except snap at them to be quiet. But even he liked Simon. Everybody did.
Simon was sick, but they didn’t know from what. Gram told me to be nice to him, which wasn’t hard. He was like a floppy-eared puppy, sometimes annoying but mostly cute. When he told me he wanted to see a million Skittles fall from the roof, I told him he was crazy. Then he dared me, and like the fool that I am I took him up on it. And there went every last dollar I had on this earth.
It wasn’t that impressive. The best part was scaring the lady walking her dog. The dog leaped and barked as the candies bounced off the sidewalk in a clatter. She dragged the dog away before he could eat any, all the while screaming at me and clutching her hat.
I looked across the street, at the third window down and one to the left. There was Simon, frail as a bird feather, grinning from ear to ear. I folded the trash bag and left the building roof, grateful someone had buzzed me in. (I told them I was there to talk about Jesus. It took me 10 tries.) Outside I gathered up the Skittles in the empty bag again. Most of them were smashed and covered in dirt. White, powdery veins popped out of their dented sides. I left the ones that got stepped on and ran home.
Old Jimmy was there. We sat around Simon’s bed, hovered over his phone, replaying the video over and over again. We dared each other to eat a warrior Skittle, one that made it through the battle mostly unscathed. Simon was all giggles handing me a purple and a yellow stuck together. I just prayed the dog hadn't touched them.
When we buried Simon, Gram bought him a fancy new suit and placed a bunch of carnations over him. When no one was looking, I slipped a small bag of Skittles in the coffin. I guess someone was looking after all because Old Jimmy put a hand on my shoulder. He was wearing a nice plaid shirt. He put in some pictures of the rainbow waterfall in all its uninspiring glory. He held one out to me. I don’t know how Old Jimmy got it, but it was of me and Simon on the bed, eating the dirty Skittles and making faces.
He held me as I cried and tried not to crumple the picture. 10,000 Skittles isn’t that much. But Simon was. “Next year kid,” whispered Old Jimmy. “Next year we’ll drop a million.”