Blue Paisley

by | Feb 21, 2013 | Fiction, Flash fiction | 14 comments

I wrote this story in response to another Lille McFerrin five sentence fiction prompt. The prompt is “abandoned”

Blue Paisley
By Laura McHale Holland

4377285195_67bf1b8c42_mShe tightened the blue paisley scarf tied under her chin, babushka style, slapped a $20 bill on the counter and strained to grunt, “Camels, please, filters,” as words tangled in her vocal cords.

The cashier picked up the money, pulled the cigarettes from a display above his head, put them on the counter, and then shuffled to the register to ring up the transaction and get the woman’s change. A horn blasted, and she dashed out, not even pausing when the cashier called, “Hey, lady, you forgot your change!”

Hours after she’d jumped back into a Nissan spewing a thick gray cloud from its tail pipe as it sped away from the store, a remnant of blue paisley fluttered, caught in the railing of a rickety bridge far up the road. Below, a crumpled pack of Camels floated at the river’s edge; above, a faint smell of exhaust lingered in the air.

Photo by Johnnie Utah 

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  1. McGuffyAnn

    I like this! It is quite thought provoking.

  2. admin

    Thank you, Ann! I think it’s thought provoking, too. There are a number of different things that could have happened on the bridge. I’m looking forward to reading what other folks wrote in response to the prompt today.

  3. jerry

    wow I smoked camels before they had a filter. Did she jump or was she tossed off the bridge to make it look like suicide. will we ever know?

  4. admin

    I wanted to leave a bit of mystery here. She and the driver could have had an argument on the bridge. Her scarf could have been pulled off and ripped, she could have dropped the pack of cigarettes, and they could have both gotten back in the car and driven away—or she could have gotten tossed over, or jumped. There are probably other possibilities, too. The remnant of the scarf does hint at some sort of violence, though. (I hope you’ve stopped smoking, Jerry. I used to smoke Old Gold filters back in high school. Glad a quit when I was 24; I hadn’t smoked much at all for several years before that either.)

  5. Eve Trout

    I was thing murder, but why leave the car running above. Then I thought double suicide. Now I’m thinking they made it appear to be suicide, but who knew there were 2 people involved?

  6. admin

    Very good questions, Eve. I envision the horn was honked by the impatient driver of a car waiting for her outside the store, and the driver took off as the woman was getting back into the car, not even waiting for her to close the door and get buckled in. … It hadn’t occurred to me that the car would still be at the bridge, only that it had been there recently enough so you could still smell exhaust. I like the idea of the car being nearby though, maybe hidden behind some trees with someone watching the bridge.

  7. Sharry Miller

    It’s interesting how everyone interpreted it differently. I envisioned her driving off the rickety bridge. Good job keeping us all thinking.

  8. jerry

    Laura I quit smoking 22 years ago

  9. admin

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sharry. The car going over the bridge is a distinct possibility.

  10. admin

    Yea for you, my friend. Healthy, happy lungs for us both.

  11. Barbara Toboni

    I had a feeling the woman was homeless and the person in the car was giving her a ride. Don’t think she would buy a new pack of cigarettes if she was going to jump off a bridge.

  12. admin

    Great to hear from you, Barbara. Thanks for your comment. Someone could have pushed her over …

  13. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Interesting piece as it raises the question of where is that woman now. Is she back in the Nissan or has someone merely driven her to the place where she has made the tragic decision to end her life after smoking the entire pack of cigarettes.

  14. admin

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Robin Leigh. I may fiddle with this story later on and make a new version that’s longer than five sentences. We’ll see.

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