Flash Fiction: Certainly Harmless

Red lantern light and the smell of edelweiss wine. He breathed deep, enjoying the agitation in his chest. The cobblestone remained crimson, stained in the light, and he could taste the putrid sweetness of drink in the air.

Memory is only a distant descendant of occurrence, he suspected time in its irrevocable advance had smoothed out recollections of the mild unpleasantness he’d encountered here. But that was years ago, he was taller now and better dressed.

Most men, however, never changed. And neither did their choice pleasures. A red lantern hung in every window on the narrow street. The street’s patrons, grimy and grinning, loped between the glass ready to empty their purses on the delights within.

Women though, he thought, catching a doxy watching him askance from her doorway. He’d always found them admirably adaptable. When capturing someone’s heart or coin, the right pout and angle of eye were refined tools compared to knife or truncheon.

The mechanics of these minute transformations remained a mystery to him, one that he occasionally mused over in a ludic light. The doxy sniffed, flicking ash from a cheap pipe in his direction. He decided to keep walking. The dismissal was familiar. Perhaps it was the cut of his coat, or the set of his jaw, but something informed these red-lit women he wasn’t interested in the pleasures they offered most men.

A curse at times, so used to being up for sale, they were wary of any not buying.  Not that he blamed them. He adopted a soft smile, not exactly guileless, but certainly harmless. They had their charms, he had his, and it was time to put them to use.

Couldn’t pass up this Wordle Prompt, once again thank you Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie for supplying. 

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5 responses to “Flash Fiction: Certainly Harmless

  1. Thank you!

    This is beautifully written, I could easily see this written in a published and much acclaimed novel.

    “enjoying the agitation in his chest” I really love the way you described the sensation of drinking wine

    “Memory is only a distant descendant of occurrence” beautiful

    I also love the interaction as you’ve described it between him and the red light district women

    Bravo!

  2. There is such a delightful sense of mystery here – it feels like such a “time period” piece – atmospheric and close – I literally felt like I was walking down a narrow alley red lantern lit. And the lingering wanting …. especially how there is no precise “closed” ending – it leaves me wanting more … what’s to come. And this just adds to the tension and suspense. Great story to read 🙂

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