Lit eZine Vol 2 | p-10 | VALENTINE READS – FICTION | Relationship Renewed

Valentine Reads

Flash Fiction by Scott

A woman with a big floppy hat walking with a man
Image by ZARA HAMDANE (Edited by Anisha Shakur)

After finishing a few paragraphs of conversation, Marla and I strolled along silently on the sunny spring afternoon, enjoying how traffic noise faded away as we climbed a path leading away from the centuries-old hillside town’s car park which was squeezed in between the base of this hill and a 2 lane highway which was itself squeezed in between the car park and the ocean.

Wait, you say, did I just imply the car park was there before the highway? Yes, actually, I did. It had been a stopping area for horse-drawn wagons at a time when what is now the highway was a pair of ruts with occasional interruptions of stone.

“Hey Marla, hang on, I gotta stop for a bit.”

The brim of her floppy sun hat rippled as she turned. To call her hat oversized was only a half-description, the size required, no, demanded, an adjective. An adjective which could itself generate paragraphs, nay, pages, of discourse as to which adjective, exactly, would sufficiently characterize its excess of diameter.

Assuming, that is, that the matter was somewhere along the way able to move beyond deciding which catalog had been correct in their terminology for the item, was it a sun hat or a beach hat?

And that discussion would have inevitably drawn in the one which termed it a “beach sun hat”; had that vendor risen to the call and displayed the virtue of being inclusive, or had they weaseled out of the adult responsibility of coming down and finally settling the matter of defining which manner of hat, exactly, that it was?

This being the internet age, I suppose we could have found the manufacturer’s number, rang them up, and inquired as to what they themselves called it.

But with my luck, they would likely have given a similar answer to what the elder Mr Tamiya did when asked whether his Shizouka City, Japan, based plastic model company’s name was correctly pronounced Tum-eye-uh or Tam-eee-ah. His reply had gone something like, “Either way is fine as long as you buy my product.”

“You okay? I’m sorry, didn’t mean to be going that fast.”

My, “Thanks, I’m alright. At least as alright as the new normal allows,” did not lead to the erasing of her frown. Nor did her floppy hat conveniently flop in the correct place to conceal it.

However, her frown did get interrupted by, “You are looking at me like you are thinking about me.”

“True,” I smiled, “I am.”

“A penny for your thoughts?” A sweet smile flavored with concern.

“I dunno, with the inflation rate and all those thoughts could be …”

“Okay then, how about a long slow kiss under a tree on a hill overlooking the beach for your thoughts?”

“An offer I can’t refuse! You sure know how to talk someone into taking the deal, ever thought about becoming a retail consultant?”

“Funnily enough,” she said with a flourishing gesture and a swirl of her dress, “It just happens to be that I am!”

How could I not smile at her for that? “I’m ready to get going again.” I planted my cane, took a step, and resumed climbing the path. “Thank you for coming with me to buy the boat.”

This part of the path was wide enough for us to walk side by side and still allow room for others to pass our slow progress. Marla made sure to match my pace as she spoke, “I was confident you had researched it fully. Out of curiosity rooted in I don’t know what I looked into it a bit myself. I know and have seen that boats and canals mean a lot to you but I didn’t understand why this specific narrowboat seemed to be special to you.”


“I still don’t know that. But …”


“I did find something which has now made it special to me.”

“Hmm, interesting. That is why you are so dressed up?”

It became apparent that she was not going to tell me, at least not yet, when she blushed instead of lying. “Aww, Marla, it’s okay, I’m not going to push you to tell. When it is time to be known, it will make itself known.”

This was one of those days when you expect everyone should be out in the spring air yet very few were. But there were several, and we exchanged greetings as we encountered each other in the narrow cobbled streets, more like sidewalks, actually, winding between houses built of tan and grey stone. Some were of the period of half-timbering, some were even older. This early in spring only a few potted plants had been placed outside and the sparse scattering of furniture and textiles did little to muffle the sound of Marla’s heels clicking on the cobblestones. My own soft-soled shoes and rubber-tipped cane offered little in the way of competing noise.

“God help me, I’m living a literature trope!”

She turned and squinted at me from under that hat, “But it’s not cold and damp and there’s no neon or subway.”

“Hehe! Great connection. Different from what I was thinking, though.”

I wonder how long the human mind takes to no longer consciously note the sounds its attached human body is producing by their actions. But then I am autistic and Marla is not, our minds run on rather different operating systems, as it were.

“What’s the chance those secret thoughts could be let loose?”

Where did that woman go to get that PhD in endearing smiles? “There is a chance. Actually a pretty good one.”

“Okay, that’s a chance I’ll take,” Marla said as she touched my hand while we continued walking.

I knew that kind of touching was a woman thing and did not object. “Actually, I was thinking of the sound your heels were making on the stones and how it echoed on the walls. There is a thing in writing, and I understand in movies too. I think it is usually worded as heels clicking on the cobblestones. Along with that there are those who claim the rate, rhythm, and crispness, of the sound will tell you things about the person making them.”

“What are they telling about me?”

“I did not read those articles. And you are here, so there is more to go by. But even so, your sound tells me you are feeling lightness and anticipation. Something about this whole day is deeply uplifting to you.”

Marla stopped, turned to face me, and with the abundant diameter of her floppy hat causing her to stretch her arms to reach, took one of my hands in each of hers. “The wife of the couple you are buying the narrowboat from is an aunt I’ve not seen since my baptism a couple decades ago and did not know where she was.”

Having spent his childhood moving all over the country, Scott is now settled in his spot under the sky with his two beautiful cats. A master craftsman, he loves to make miniature trains and has a collection of those, plus model boats, rockets, and aeroplanes. There is also a collection of different styles of kites. He enjoys writing both prose and poetry and is writing a novel that is likely to be a thousand-page book about a beautiful world away from our own.

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