Thursday, 27 December 2012

All My Sins Remembered


All My Sins Remembered

I could not see her body, just a head in a hatch.
It hung there, in the gloom, like some desiccated trophy, exquisitely positioned by a capricious witch, to serve as a warning to others.
What had she been before her terrible fate had overtaken her?
I made a surreptitious study of the evidence whilst pretending to browse.
Where were the traces of her innocent girlhood that many women show in their aging faces? Nothing but faint salty stains, memories of long dried tear tracks, betrayed her past.
Had thankless children etched those lines around her rheumy eyes?
Had the absent husband been ushered into an early grave by the stodgy food that dulled her own pasty complexion? Or had he left her, run away to sea or driven into the arms of a voluptuous vixen by her relentless, disapproving frown?
She regarded me, unblinking in the eye straining half light of the kiosk.
I would not buy anything I knew, even as I continued my listless survey of her yellowed stock.
What sin she had committed to have been consigned to this half life existence?
The atmosphere smothered me like a musty pillow and I fled for the door. Even the bright ding of the bell at the door was diminished, swallowed by the hungry shadows.
I gasped like a drowning man as I burst into the daylight, leaving the woman wallowing in her monochrome misery.

240 words

This story was written for LitReactor's December Flash Fiction Smackdown

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