A month ago, Tim Bridwell presented an historical fiction workshop here and challenged you to write your own flash fiction. We only received one entry, but it was a great one. [If you looked at the workshop but didn’t enter, we’d love to know why so we can plan future ones better.] We hope you enjoy the winning story!
A Yellow Star
by Sylvia Petter
Gertrude pulled on her precious pair of silk stockings, checked to see that the seams ran straight and tied a shoelace just under the knee to keep them up. The hem of her blue floral cotton dress dipped just below the knee to cover any unsightliness. She pinched her cheeks to make them blush red, dipped a moist finger into a little pot of rouge and dabbed it gently on her lips. She pinned her shoulder length curly hair behind her ears, smiled at the old mirror with its brown stains, and tucked her white clutch bag under one arm. He was coming. She had to go. She had to be in the front row. She had to be where he could see her.
Down on the street, people were already milling towards the square. He had promised women born the same day as he a gift. She shared his birthday. How would he know? Her birthday was a month later when the daffodils would be in bloom. She could always write to him. Tell him. Wish him happy birthday. Somehow link herself to him that way. Just noticing her in the crowd, bestowing a smile, a gaze on her, would really be gift enough, she thought.
She pushed her way through the crowd — Verzeihung. Pardon — and was soon at the corner of the street where the cavalcade must pass. His car would have to turn. The sun shone high in the sky. It was a fine day. He would be standing in an open car. He would see her. He had to see her.
An open car followed by two black limousines and six motorbikes moved slowly towards the corner where Gertrude stood. The cavalcade slowed down to turn and the man in the open car stood, saluted with a stretched out arm, and let his gaze caress the rows of upturned faces. He raised his head and looked out towards the throng, some stretching to see all the more of him.
Gertrude, her back against the wall of the corner building stood on her tiptoes. He was looking straight at her. The colour rushed from her neck to her cheeks, her eyes sparkled. He had seen her. Then she went white. The man frowned then tossed his head and looked away. Gertrude felt her heart thump. People turned towards her. They were coming at her. She could not escape.
The next day the papers reported that a young woman had been crushed to death. An accident. The young boy with the yellow star had had no right to be there. The police made only one arrest.
Sylvia will receive a copy of Tim’s novel SOPHRONIA L.
Next month’s word-lab will be an exercise in poetry of place by William O’Daly, author of THE ROAD TO ISLA NEGRA. If you’d like to be notified when it goes live, please follow this blog or subscribe to our MailChimp email list.