Friday, July 19, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: For Want of a Penny (Part 1)

The proverb at the beginning of this is one of my favorites. I was thinking about it and this character popped into my head along with her story. It's a little long for one blog post, so I'm going to post the second half next week.

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a nail.”

I’ve never quite understood that proverb until now. For me it wasn’t a nail that brought destruction to my life.

It was a penny in the middle of the sidewalk.

I was on my way to work when I spotted it. Shiny in a way that only brand new pennies are. Tails up. Bad luck if you believed in that sort of thing. I leaned down and slipped it into my pocket.

Someone crashed into me from behind. I went flying to the pavement, scraping my hands in the attempt to catch myself.

“I’m so sorry.” The voice was smooth, rich, unmistakably male. I turned around to take in its owner. He looked like a businessman, banker maybe, clad in a dark suit and pale blue tie. His dark hair looked like it might have been cropped in a military hair cut at one time, but was starting to grow out a bit now.

He offered me his hand to help me up and I accepted, brushing off my skirt and coat. “You’re bleeding,” he said. I couldn’t feel any pain yet but sure enough my hands were raw and a nasty scrape on my elbow was dripping blood down my arm.

“I live just around the corner,” he continued even though I still hadn’t said anything. “You can stop by at my place and get cleaned up if you like. It’s the least I can do.”

“I really have to get to work,” I replied. My boss would kill me if I was late again, though I had to admit the scrapes were really starting to sting.

“It’ll just take a minute.” His smile was soft and insistent and I found myself nodding in agreement. “I’m Mark, by the way.”


“Where were you off to before I so rudely crashed into you?”

It was hard to resist the charming note in his voice. I stopped worrying about work as I started to relax. I’d make it on time somehow. “Work. I manage the Barnes & Noble just down the street.”

“You love books then?” He rested his hand on my waist, guiding me through the people bustling up and down the sidewalk.

“More than anything.” I played with the penny deep in my pocket to occupy my hand. “Where were you rushing off to?”

“Work as well. Bank of America.” I was right: a banker. The image of him resting behind a desk, managing money was a bit of a daunting one. “This is me.” He directed me to the right and through the door of a nice looking complex.

Up two flights of stairs he stopped long enough to unlock the door and directed me inside. It wasn’t the sprawling rich apartment that I expected, but it wasn’t squalid by any means.

“I don’t live here all the time,” he explained. “It just gives me a place to stay in the city. I actually have a house in the outskirts.”

“Is there a wife there?” I didn’t know what made me want to ask, but the words were out there between us before I could stop them.

“No, no.” He chuckled. “Bathroom’s that way.” He pointed down a short hall and I followed it until I found a bathroom complete with a jacuzzi tub. If this was where he didn’t live, then I’d love to see where he did.

I quashed that thought as soon as it floated up. Mark was exactly what I didn’t need right now. I gave the ring on my finger a couple of twists before opening the medicine cabinet. There was peroxide, ointment, and plenty of bandages and I was fixed up before I know it.

The clock in the living room told me that if I hurried, I could still make it to work on time. Mark was standing in the kitchen, a pair of wine glasses in front of him.