Madam’s Choice

Courtesy of Pixabay


Where there is beauty there is a sense of entitlement, for beauty rarely goes undisturbed. It rises from birth, as cells align, configuring into handsome symmetry — thin-sloped nose, doe eyes, swollen lips — readying themselves for their gravitational pull. It is intuitive, tangible, and utterly lazy.

I knew this before most, preferring the quiet canvas, drawn to one’s ability to hide in plain sight.

She sat alone, stabbing her iceberg salad with a dull longing, her alabaster cheeks blooming red like old wounds as she ate. I saw her vagueness as a gift along with her damp, downcast eyes, the round pitch of her jaw, reminding me of an unfinished sketch, pencil lines stopping midway, pulled in wistful directions. But unlike most ordinary girls, she framed her features into questions with no clear answers, stoking an unwilling to accept her fate. Questions like: who was she that day, with her eyes lined heavily in kohl, lips suggestive in a fleshy pink? Who was she willing to become? She was, in essence, looking for someone to fill in the blanks she had created.

“What a beautiful scarf,” I said, approaching, pointing at the twist of green and gold threads.

She hadn’t noticed me watching her on the opposite side of the food court outside, drawing a crowd of professionals from neighboring buildings, businessmen I would turn into clients, recording their fetishes and kinks with secretarial skill. In this regard she was like many other women stumbling through life unaware of the shadows, still drawn to high school cool, the girls who grew cold and stale upon graduation, pale creatures, bloating with time and distance. Today it was the medical assistants she’d been watching, smoking their cigarettes, held between acrylic nails, filed into points and painted with dizzy patterns. Huddled together in their colorful scrubs, they looked like alleycats, tugging at their gold hoop earrings, digging their clawed fists into their hips that would widen without the pinching reminder of elastic.

“Thank you,” she said, pulling at her scarf, as if it had snaked its way around her neck. She rested her plastic fork on her napkin gesturing for me to sit, and together we struck up a conversation.

She was my first recruit, the beginning piece as I learned to cultivate charm and disarm even the most skeptical ladies.

Only then did I have a vague idea, I was creating an empire.


Flash Fiction/Character Sketch
by S. S. Hicks


21 thoughts on “Madam’s Choice

  1. Don Royster

    My God, you can write. Great scene. Makes me want to read more. From the first sentence, you pull me in and keep me in for the ride. In just a few short paragraphs, you have given me not just a character but a life. Wow.

  2. Minelli Eustacio

    Lovely piece. I came away with a lot about both characters; the narrators search for underlying beauty and the woman’s (maybe all the women the narrator has been with) willingness to be molded.

    1. Desert Dweller

      Thanks, FF! I took a few lines from a poem and molded into flash fiction. Maybe I had Heidi Fleiss in mind… I might flesh it out one day into something more. I just thought I’d mix it up and give you all some prose for a change. You know, I never liked prologues, but boy, oh boy Emma Cline wrote a brilliant one in The Girls, so you really can’t knock them if they’re done well and kept short!

      1. FictionFan

        Yes, I think prologues can go either way – as always it depends on whether they’re in there for the right reasons. It’s become a trend now which always puts me off – but they can be brilliant when they work. Your sketch had me all set up to read the rest of the book! I think you’ll need to write it… *waits*

      1. Desert Dweller

        Your last piece of prose read like poetry; eliminate a few words here and there and it was a poem, so I know you can do it. I find it takes less time to write poetry. (More work for the reader, however.)

  3. thefeatheredsleep

    I’m not sure if I ever told you but to me flash fiction is one of the hardest genres because you really need to pull it out of the hat in such a short space of time, so you must really be able to control your words and hone your art. You my lovely girl, you do this and then some. This was terrific Sabrina (I love that I can use your name now that you have uncloaked the mother ship!) xoxoxo

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