Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Flash fiction: "Flour"

Hannah's homemade dress gave her away. Store-bought meant your parents didn't need ration tickets, or the mortifying bus rides into town and back, hauling the household flour. Avoiding the pitying smiles of grownups.

A big-eared boy sitting on the other side of the aisle--a slap print fresh pink across his neck and scalp--turned to Hannah, grinned and asked:

"Will your momma sew you a new dress when that's empty?"

He nodded at the sack of flour on the floor, not concealed by Hannah's skinny ankles and scuffed Mary Janes. He laughed.

Hannah held his gaze for a second, then two. Her hands were frozen against the dyed-blue folds of her flour sack dress. She would have evaporated, if she could.

The boy wiggled his bare toes, then hopped up and down in his seat, bouncing the threadbare cushions. He stared at her and laughed again.

Hannah's jaw dropped one inch. She was a girl who practiced to perfection everything she undertook. She let out a shriek. High. Piercing. Loud. Long.

The boy clapped his hands over his ears and screamed. Up front, the bus driver eased on the brakes to make sure the noise wasn't mechanical.

Hannah stopped shrieking at once. She smoothed her dress until the soft curves of blue cotton lay as smoothly against her legs as silk.

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