Friday, February 19, 2010

Flash Fiction Story: And a Glove Hangs in the Balance

It was purple, fingerless, and probably not his at all. Still, it was right by where his car had been parked and, even though I couldn’t imagine him wearing it even if it had been a gift, it was still possible that it was his. The likelihood of him buying it himself was so miniscule that it almost didn’t exist at all. Maybe, if it’d been some kind of evil enchanted stocking-stuffer from Satan, he’d have worn it religiously. But if that was the case, he should have been relieved and not upset that he’d lost his gloves. Perhaps most importantly, he wouldn’t have called them his favourite pair, as we hovered by the door earlier that morning, each of us making half-hearted comments like, “Well, I should go or I’ll be late for work...” And I wouldn’t have promised to give it back if I found it. I certainly wouldn’t have gone on this absurd glove hunt, as though it were pirate’s treasure or an Easter egg or a witch. More to the point, I wouldn’t be standing here staring down at a glove half-immersed in a newly-formed puddle, seriously debating fishing it out and bringing it home with me just in case.

My mind was on overdrive and I was thinking that I was pretty sure I’d passed that tree more than a few times before, when I felt a tap on my shoulder, soon followed by a man’s concerned voice asking, “Are you all right, miss?”

“Just trying to make a decision,” I said, looking up. I was a little startled. I think I’d forgotten I was out in public. (Public: where people think you’re crazy for staring intently at your shoes or a wet glove for extended periods of time.)

The man nodded with exaggerated sage-ness. “Decisions are often difficult,” he said, “What is it you are trying to decide?”

I debated not answering his question. I really didn’t want him to think I was crazy. But crazy is as crazy does. “I’m not sure if I should pick up that glove.”

“I collect coins,” he offered, “Sometimes stamps. But I like coins better. They’re round. If it was rare, I’d pick up a coin from a puddle on the street." He poked the glove with his cane. “That glove doesn’t look rare. You could buy another. With fingers, maybe. If it was a stamp, I wouldn’t pick it up. It’d be ruined. Can’t wash stamps. Not even on a gentle cycle. Stamps are funny like that.”

“Silly Grampa!” A toddler on his tricycle peddled up to us. “We’re not at the park yet!”

“Yes, my boy, we’re going soon,” he said, “But we’ve got a damsel in distress here. And a glove hangs in the balance.”

My eyes went back to the glove in question. I couldn’t help it. It drew my eyes like a black hole draws planets. Actually, I wasn’t sure if that was possible. Some say black holes don’t exist.

His grandson paused, and then, unmoved, said, “But I wanna go on the slide!”

It’s funny how words can sound like what they refer to. He whined the word “slide” until it appeared, bright yellow and plastic, in my mind’s eye, and I was sliding down it, like Alice into a rabbit hole. I’d never really considered that before. Did rabbits really have holes? Maybe it was actually a gopher?

“This is silly,” I said, “I can decide this. It’s just a glove. A stupid purple fingerless glove that just can’t be his unless it actually is. Do you have a quarter? I’ll flip it.”

“I’d give you a quarter, but I wouldn’t want you to lose it in the puddle. Quarters aren’t rare, but they aren’t exactly pennies either,” the old man said, “Are you looking for a specific glove? I can keep an eye out for it. Maybe there’s one at the park.”

I sighed. If only it was that easy. I should have asked what it looked like. I should have, at the very least, glanced at his other glove. “That’s all right. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for anyway. I figured I’d know it when I saw it... but....”

He smiled encouragingly. As he slowly walked away, I heard him say to his young grandson, “Those naughty kittens! They lost their mittens!”

Shaking my head, I picked up the glove. It was dirty and dripping wet, but I couldn’t leave without it, and I couldn’t stand there any longer. It was the right thing to do. Yes, I was satisfied with this decision. I couldn’t risk leaving it soaking there if it could have been his. There was a spring in my step as I continued on my walk, holding the glove before me by one of its dirty half-fingers.

I could just picture the look in his eyes when I would return his glove to him. Elated, mischievous, hot.

“I don’t know how to thank you for this,” he’d say.

“I have some ideas,” I’d say.

I stopped walking.

It was blue, nylon, with fingers. Much more like I’d think his style would be, but I didn’t remember walking down that way with him. I stared down at it, and then eyed the purple one in my hand, and knew what I had to do.

A glove in each hand, I was mid-way through congratulating myself on my fine-tuned decision-making skills when I found yet another one. It was black.

Muttering to myself, I picked it up. “Coin collecting, eh...”

4 comments:

  1. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your story!
    Utterly charming, completely unexpected.
    A really sweet little treasure. Thank you!

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  2. Charming yes, but questions.. so many questions! Why did he need his glove? Who are they in relation to each other? Is it just a lost glove or does it do something special?

    So much time was spent on the glove, it was almost imbued with a power--whether spectral or symbolic doesn't matter.

    Maybe chapter 2 next week when she shows him the lost glove collection?

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  3. I enjoyed this! When she gets back, is she going to have an armful of dozens of lost gloves. I like how the narrator's mind wanders from topic to topic.

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  4. Thanks for your great comments!

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