Sometimes I like to write fiction. Some of you know I am working on a novel but I also have a lot of short stories and flash fiction inside me.
Over on Medium, my publication The Bad Influence we used to do something the founder and editor in chief called collabrative fiction.
The challenge was to use certain words in a story. He would offer up 5, 6, or 7 words that must be included in a story of any kind. Poetry, satire, fiction, personal essay, whatever kind of story.
I wrote Too Ra Loo as part of this collabrative fiction challenge, and I really love it.
I feel saudade when I read the following short story. As if it truly happened. It didn't. It is pure fiction. Read it and tell me what you think!
“I don’t need your help,” she interrupted herself to say. She had been humming that song again.
We called her Our Lady of The Streets, but she was no ordinary bag lady. She had no shopping cart, no layers upon layers of clothes. One thing that marked her out was her yellow crown and the ghost of Chanel No 5 clinging to her soiled and no-longer-sequined evening gown. Maybe it was a tiara. Maybe it was a different perfume. It was a ghost and harder to pin down than the aura of quiet resignation following Our Lady of The Streets.
She had torn her gown from toe to thigh up the middle and wrapped the material around her legs. She kept her makeshift pants in place by shoving them into the tops of her mismatched rain boots.
It hadn’t rained in months.
One boot, the too-big boot, was scratched and faded purple with one of the pull-up straps still attached. The other boot looked to have once been white or light pink. It had unicorns patterned on it and I suspect this boot was too small. Someone long ago had drawn smiles in red Sharpie. What remained looked like fangs on the otherwise neutral expression of the dead-eyed unicorns.
I continued to hold out my hand to Our Lady of The Streets as she stepped over puddles of urine, old cans, and spent syringes with their needles crooked and dangerous. The purple boot threatened to flop off as her foot continued on its quest for safer ground.
She finally took my hand and allowed me to escort her to her throne. I don’t think she thought of this spot she had claimed as a throne, but we had been calling the chipped and tankless toilet The Throne long before Our Lady of The Streets appeared and made it hers. It was half-buried in the hard-packed, dry, and cracked dirt, tilting at a crazy angle.
She gingerly sat and, as always, I wondered what she saw when she would sadly smile and begin her day.
There she would sit, from sunup to sundown, her arms bundled with memories, rocking forth and back, softly humming that song.