Sunday, January 5, 2014

Prompt: florist, declaration of war, aging clown, unwanted inheritance

Chris unlocked the shop and pulled out the display stand – an old wooden handcart she’d found down in Imperial Valley on one of her weekend jaunts. She fluffed the flowers in their silver metal jars and picked up the mail on her way inside. Flipping through the envelopes, she muttered, “Bill, bill, junk, bill…”

Her feet, hands and mouth all stumbled to a stop when she saw the last envelope. A thick cream vellum, with her name and address handwritten on the front. She didn’t need to turn it over to know the return address. She threw it, unopened, with the junk mail into the shredder.

Days later, she looked up when the Peruvian bells merrily chimed as the front door opened. A tall man in a formal suit, including a neat handkerchief in the pocket. He didn’t look like the flowers type. A shiver of unease ran down her back.

“May I help you?” She asked politely. She should know better than anyone not to judge too quickly.

“Ms. Welton?”

Chris stood taller behind the counter, her fingers pressing against the cool glass for composure. “Yes. Who are you?”

The man walked up to the counter and laid a photograph on the glass in front of her fingertips. She didn’t look down.

“Ms. Welton. Who I am is unimportant. You are not.” He hesitated and looked around the shop. With a neutral gaze, he returned to face her. “He’s dying, ma’am. He asks only for you to come and say goodbye.”

Chris looked down at the photo. The same face paint she would know anywhere. Every clown had a unique identity, though most rubes didn’t recognize them. Normal people, she sternly corrected herself. Seeing his face immediately brought back the habits of her childhood.

The same paint, but not the same face. How could that ancient, lined face be the same? He had always been so strong, so towering, so vital. The sunken eyes and hollowed cheeks she saw here couldn’t be him. Could it?

“Ms. Welton, will you come?”

She slid the photo back across the glass and turned away. Without a word, she walked through the curtain to the storeroom.

“Ms. Welton?” he called after her.

The jingle of bells was the only reply.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Maize, Malachi

Time writing
~20 minutes

January word count

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