Saturday, 25 May 2013

Flash Fiction

    Mei pushed open the door to the Salvation Army and pulled Judy into the quiet, open spaces, the grasslands of her youth. "You'll like it, Judy-tudy."
     "Oh, don't call me that." Judy frowned and crossed her arms across her chest and glared defensively at the other customers shuffling about in a dazed reverie, quietly handling the artifacts with unnecessary reverence. Great fans hummed somewhere, like some large, trapped bumblebee buzzing in the dim recesses of the shop. Judy wrinkled her nose. "It smells funny in here."
     "I like old things," was Mother's answer. "They have character."
     "And germs." Judy purposely  stepped away from the closest arrangement of old watches. "Dettol, here I come."
     "You're being dramatic. I used to love this place when I was a kid."
     "Because ah mah didn't have any money to buy you nice things, and it was all very sad. I know."
     Mother shook her head, absorbing the shocks in better humour than she showed. "Shoes. Over there."
     "But we're not poor, so I shouldn't have to be subjected to this."
     "I want you to appreciate the value of things."
     Judy sighed and trudged after her mother in the direction of the giant bumblebee. She wasn't really upset, but she had protested; she couldn't very well give up now. She hunched and made a face and dragged her feet. Mother didn't seem to notice. Despite her best efforts, Judy found herself lingering over a porcelain tea set and then a stack of Enid Blyton books. Her disinterest was regretfully slipping.
     "Find anything you like?" called Mother.
     Judy scowled and remembered she was unhappy. "No."
     "Here's the shoe section, Judy-tudy. Come and look."
     Judy made her way over to where Mother was standing. There were shelves of shoes, quite nice-looking, she had to admit--even some with new tags. A tall young woman sat on the low couch, trying on a pair of strappy wedges. She was pretty, thought Judy, with creamy skin and dark hair tied into a neat bun on her head; in her long skirt she looked sleek and stylishly out-of-place next to the rack of carpets and a basket of straw hats. She glanced up when they came.
     Mei breathed a sigh of relief and hoped Judy would notice that even elegant young ladies found shoes at the Salvation Army. Mustn't be too obvious about it though. Mustn't point too much in one direction.
     Judy, after starting and stopping, finally found something she thought, perhaps, maybe she might like. A black pair of shoes. She slipped her feet into the heels, and they squeaked. She stood up and walked past the mirror a few times--it was a bit awkward, she didn't really know how to walk, but she looked so--so grownup. She glanced back. But Mother couldn't know she was right.
     "Well, do you want them or not?" Mei said after what had seemed to her an unbearably long time for anyone to stare at a pair of shoes.
     "I don't know..." Judy gazed at her reflection in the black-flecked mirror. What would Sidney say? Or Karen? Or Hannah? Or any of the other? Would they know? Was secondhand a bad thing? "I'm not sure."
     "They look wonderful," Mei tried again.
     The young woman, who had by then decided against the wedges, stood up to leave but halted and stared hard at Judy's shoes, "Excuse me. If you're not going to buy them, could I?"
     Judy's eyes widened, then narrowed and hardened with a new resolution. "No, I'm buying them."
     And with that she picked up her old shoes in one hand and stalked off towards the cashier. Mei blinked in surprise. She felt a hand on her shoulder. The young woman was wearing a muted look of amusement as she slung her satchel over her shoulder. "Reverse psychology," she said and raised her hand to her forehead in salute and disappeared behind a shelf of books.

This was my try at flash fiction. I took me about an hour or so to write. Perhaps I'll write more one day, depending on its popularity. Let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

Desipt not being a fa of shopping This was a good piece, you should defintly keep at it. :)

Judith Shang said...

Hmmm, sounds awfully familiar. Nicely done, Swede; nicely done.

Trixia said...

I like it! Now I really want to go explore a Salvation Army store.