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Shells - Laura Wise

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February 27th, 2009


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08:17 am - Shells
I'm not entirely sure where this came from. Anyway, a flash-fic (393 words) for your Friday, to be read when it's light.


Betty's been a teller at the Crombie Street branch for eighteen years. The name of the bank's changed four times, she's lived through twice as many managers, but Monday through Friday (holidays excepted) she's stayed at her post here at the first window on the right.

The first window on the right has an old-fashioned, wrought-iron grill – fossil-reminder of a time long before Betty, she thinks. Her husband collects fossils, and although she's tried hard not to listen to his yapping about trilobites and ammonites and gastropods, some of it's stuck. The iron bars are twisted into curves that look like shells pressed into stone.

Whenever she gets an annoying customer, one of those demanding types who need to insult her or tell her what she already knows, she looks up at the bars and thinks about dead seas and little animals curled into rocks, safe against the tides. Keeps her from braining the customers with her stapler, anyway.

The man who approaches her window on this rainy Friday afternoon doesn't seem like she'll be thinking about staplers. He's tall and trench-coated, and the harsh fluorescent light seems to ripple off his polished cheekbones – what she can see under his old snap-brim hat, anyway. A handsome man, to say the least.

Betty, who's been married for a damn long time, feels a little flutter, a rush of... something. Her professional smile is a deeper curve than usual. “Good afternoon, sir. How can I help you?”

The man smiles back. “Good afternoon, ma'am,” he says, in a deep, murmurous voice. She has to lean closer to hear it, and she smells the ocean on him – saltwater and seaweed -- which is strange, since they're five hundred miles from the coast. “I'd like to make a withdrawal.”

“Certainly, sir,” she says. “Do you have an account with us?”

As she says the usual words, though, she sways closer. His skin gleams even in shadow. The one or two locks of hair curling onto his forehead under the hat look wet. Ocean-smell gets stronger here.

“Perhaps,” he says, and smiles.

Above her head, the iron bars gleam like his skin, like water on rock. She hears the sound of tiny claws scratching, scratching, scratching.

“Perhaps,” he says again.

From a curve of iron that looks like a shell, a claw emerges.



May any transformations in your day be good ones. :-)

(26 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:going_not_gone
Date:February 27th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC)
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Oh, my. A great character setup, and a nice little note of creepiness at the end.
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you, S. I appreciate the comment, and you. :-)
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From:mamculuna
Date:February 27th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
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Creepy! In the good way, I mean.
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, thank you twice! (I'm glad of the clarification, too. [grins])
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From:anne_d
Date:February 27th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
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That is scary, like, Lovecraftian scary. Very nicely done.
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
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That is a wonderful comment to receive, and I thank you v.v. much! Hope the rest of your Friday isn't scary a'tall. :-)
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From:cindergal
Date:February 27th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
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to be read when it's light.

You weren't kidding! Very creepy - yes in a good way. :-)
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you, Cindy, I appreciate it! I'm glad my disclaimer worked, too. :-)
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From:winding_path
Date:February 27th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
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Okay, I'm creeped out.

I'm also in a museum full of shells and fossils, and kind of afraid to leave my specimen-free library now.

*hugs*
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
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I am SURE that you're safe, W_P. Thanks, gratitude, and an easy mind... ;-)

[hugs back]
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From:stateless82
Date:February 27th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
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I had to pull my feet up under me. Just in case.

Hopefully I won't be wondering what kind of things might be hiding inside a bookcase today. And what might call them out.
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
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I'm v. sure that you won't have any such customers today, Susan! :-))

Hugs and gratitude and more gratitude on this Friday.
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From:paratti
Date:February 27th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
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Ooh. I like. I very like.

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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
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Heee, it's almost dark enough for you! :-))

Hugs and thanks and more thanks, L, and a good Friday.
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you (for shivering, and commenting), Rainkatt! :-)) Hugs and good thoughts!
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From:freixenet
Date:February 27th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
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Wow, I like this a lot. I even like the hint of Horrible Things To Come at the end! Except that now I'm slightly creeped out.
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you thank you, F! And don't mind the slight creepiness at the end, because it's the friggin' WEEKEND YAY!

All good thoughts to you and D, and may tomorrow be fair for you both. :-)
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From:headrush100
Date:February 27th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)

Run, Betty, run!

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Ooh! That was good. Wonderful characterisation in such a short space. And - eeep!

*hugs*
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From:laurawise
Date:February 27th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Run, Betty, run!

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Most Perfect Icon Ever. :-))

Thank you thank you, A, and more thanks as you start the weekend! [hugs]
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From:wildrider
Date:February 28th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
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Oh, cool. Nicely creepy with a great character setup and beautiful images. VERY clear!

Now I want to try "flash fic." It's more open than drabbles (although goodness knows I need the discipline!)...
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From:laurawise
Date:February 28th, 2009 11:38 am (UTC)
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Thank you thank you! I appreciate your reading and commenting v.v. much. :-)

Flash fiction is anything less than a thousand words, but I usually give myself a time limit as well. (This one was thirty minutes.) I like self-contained stories for these, although I know you've been writing in your novel-verses...

Anyway, it's a fun form for experimentation, and I'll look forward to yours!
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From:wildrider
Date:February 28th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
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I could certainly do self-contained within my 'verse; not everything I've been drabbling has been from the novel(s) (in fact, nothing so far--they've been set a ways in the future) -- I jumped back in the timeline for the NaNo project, so now I'm drabbling in the future until I want to open Book Two or Book Three again.

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From:heron_pose
Date:February 28th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
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Jeepers! How do you do that?
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From:laurawise
Date:February 28th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
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Wages of a misspent life?

[beams]

Thank you thank you thank you thank you, H_P!
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From:pinkdormouse
Date:March 1st, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
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Oooh!!
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From:laurawise
Date:March 1st, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you, and also, thank you! :-)

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