Last month in the Facebook Group, The Charmed Connection, members of Charmed Writers posted some flash fiction short stories in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Charmed Connection members voted for their favorite stories. The top four stories will be published this month on A Slice of Orange.
First up is Veronica Jorge’s story “Fiona Malone’s Fesh.” Veronica blogs, here on A Slice of Orange on the 22nd of each month. Her column Write from the Heart features articles about writing and book reviews. You can also read another of her short stories in Charmed Writers Presents: Flash Fiction 2019, a free anthology ebook.
Fiona Malone spit on a corner of her shawl and wiped at the murky mirror. “Well now, truth be told, the Malone fair looks bypassed me.” She picked up a small statue of St. Patrick. “And you’ll be saying it’s nothing to do with you, I’m sure.” She set it back on the dresser… upside down. “You’ll stay that way ‘till you make it your business and throw a wee blessing my way.” Fiona tugged at her dress, too tight at the hip and pulled her shawl tight about her. “At least I’ve been endowed in the right places.” She stuffed her wiry hair under her felt cap, latched the cabin door and set out.
Lugging her catch to sell at market, her wheelbarrow and her buttocks bounced across the wooden bridge. “Luck of the Irish. Whoever came up with that fairy story? I’d be happy with selling all my fish today. Ahh, and maybe a fine man to cook for. But who would want the likes of me?” A sound interrupted her soliloquy.
Thuh thump, thuh thump, thuh thump…
Fiona rushed a sign of the cross over herself. “Saint’s preserve us!”
She considered that the sound could only be that of Molly’s wheelbarrow. Yes. That Molly. The Molly Malone who died of a fever because no one could save her; Fiona’s great-grandmother. Thanks to that legacy, most of the townspeople shied away from her.
“The good book says there’s no communication twixt the living and the dead. Why would great granny be following me?” Fiona signed herself again for good measure, placed her hand over heart, and spun around. “Oh my goodness. ‘Tis only Mr. Pippin and his wooden leg.” She stamped out the perspiration on her face with her shawl and laughed at herself.
“Good day to ye, Mr. Pippin. How goes it?”
He answered not a word and thumped past her, muttering and cursing under his breath as was his custom.
“Poor dear. Lost his right leg to a mangy dog. Pain might be easier to bear if he had lost it to bravery for a nobler cause. Tsk. Tsk.”
Fiona’s barrow creaked over the cobblestones. Some sellers crowded her out afraid of the bad luck she might be carrying. Others made a wee bit of room, so she wouldn’t be offended and have a mind to toss the bad luck their way. Sometimes a compassionate customer bought from her. But alas, her fish fed mostly her and the stray cats.
“Fesh! Fesh!” cried Fiona. No one drew near today. “Fesh! Fresh fesh!”
“Is it now?” asked a stranger.
“Indeed it ‘tis. Caught by me own dear self.” Fiona squared her body, hands on her wide hips.
The man eyed her.
Fiona crossed her arms over her breast. “As fresh as your roving eyes. Now away with you. It’s only fish we’ll be selling here.”
“Forgive me, darlin’. But you’re a fine catch indeed.”
Fiona picked up a herring to hurl at him.
The stranger backed up. “No offense intended; I promise you.”
“Will you give us a smile, so we’ll know we’re forgiven?” His eyes glistened with warmth and merriment.
“You’re quite a beauty.”
“Go on with you now. Enough of your teasin’.”
“’Tis truth I’m speaking. Have you never been told you’re fair?”
Fiona blushed and fussed with the hair strand peeking out from under her cap.
“Now to business,” said the stranger. He pointed to the fish. “How much for the heap?”
“As sure as my name is James Hugh Callahan.”
The fish kept slipping out of Fiona’s hands. The paper wrapping alternately wrinkled and ripped. Mr. Callahan handed her the money.
Fiona kept her hands at her sides. “Place the money on the cart.”
“As you wish. I’ll look forward to buying fish from you again.” He tipped his hat and parted.
Fiona’s fingers fumbled picking up the coins. She folded them into a cloth, tucked them into her bosom, and patted her chest.
The squeaky wheels from Fiona’s wheelbarrow sang all the way home. Stepping into the cottage, she ran to her dresser. She picked up the icon of St. Patrick and kissed it. Fiona stood him upright in his usual place pushing aside her hair brush and tweezers to give him extra room.
We hope you enjoyed Veronica’s story. Stop back tomorrow for Angela Pryce’s story, “The Last Serpent.”
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