Flash Fiction Honourable Mention - January 2014

N.O.A Rawle - Passerby

I’d been in a shoe shop the first time I saw her. Some gorgeous boots in the window, black leather, just my kind of thing had drawn me there and I’d gone in to ask the price although I never seemed to have enough cash on me for what I wanted.

“Bag these for me.”

“Of course, Ma’am.” The young assistant, sycophantic enough not to be riled by the rudeness, said, taking the very boots I’d gone in to ask about from the customer.

The woman caught my eye. She was skeletal in build and very well dressed although the clothes were the style for a generation younger, I admired her daring. I should like to be able to mature like that, I thought.  

“I’ll give you a deposit of fifty now, you understand.” The woman ordered as she slipped on the huge sunglasses that had swept up her short greying hair.

That’s what had stopped me. This woman, so erect, so poised and so obviously dripping in riches was putting things on a tab? As she turned to leave, our gazes met all but briefly and it was as if my witnessing her shame chilled her. She swept out of the shop in a fury.

I saw her around town more frequently after that first time, always in the periphery of my vision. Her well-turned out clothes and dignity defined her. In a crowd there was an aura about her, in a queue there was a solitary calmness.

This morning on my way to the baker’s, I was rushing and skipped the red man, dodging the cars as I crossed the road. Suddenly she was there before me, flinging out her arms as if to grab me but then turned away ashamed of her inexplicable gesture. So startled was I by her sudden appearance that I completely forgot the purpose of my excursion and stumbled back home.

 “It’s not significant, she’s just an old woman,” I kept telling myself but she unnerved me. When our paths crossed next, I vowed I would follow her.

My chance soon came.

It was a glorious autumn Saturday in late November, biting cold but brilliant sunshine. She stepped out of the florist’s on the corner of the High Street, a bouquet in her arms. As I was enjoying a stroll it was no effort to fall into line behind her. Her gait was determined yet hesitant. Her mood caught me and I bristled with anxiety. She passed the Alms houses and the school without a glance but slowed at the gates of the cemetery. We both paused outside. I felt gauche at impinging on her privacy but at the same time couldn’t stifle my curiosity and so we wove between the graves together.

At the foot of one of the newer graves she stopped and laid her flowers, crossed herself and brushed her fingers over my photo inlaid in the marble and the carved words;



About The Author

N.O.A. Rawle, mother, writer, teacher and translator, regularly burns the midnight oil to get the world in her head in print. Inspired by perfection in art and nature, fuelled by passion and enthusiasm, she is addicted to writing and believes life is too precious to be wasted.

A British national located in Greece, her work has been long-listed for the AEON Award, appears in the anthology ‘Girl at the End of the World’ (Fox Spirit, 2014) and Fever Dreams E-zine, issue 4. Follow her at www.noarawle.blogspot.gr.