Late October, 1941

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Late October, 1941, but the light streaming through Grand Central’s windows was that of summer sun. Mother was all dressed up: stockings, her good purse, one of her best dresses, red lipstick, a Sunday coat even though it was Monday. She smelled of Chantilly perfume; this was one special occasion.

But in one hundred years, everybody would forget. Nobody would ever remember the mother and son standing in brilliant beams sent straight from heaven; a moment frozen in time. 

I had a job interview that afternoon, with the newspaper. I’d always been a fine writer, so Mother said. She’d dreamed of me being a reporter ever since I was a little boy with a toy typewriter and a big heavy dictionary purchased from a door-to-door salesman.

“You have a way with words, Herb,” she said.

“Your sentences flow like water,” she said.

“You are the best writer in the whole wide world,” she said.

That was Mother: forever thinking that I, her only child, was the best.


She arranged the job interview, you know. Saw an ad in the New York Times, the paper to which she subscribed. We didn’t worry about money; Mother and I. When Father died, we did inherit quite a nice sum. And then it was just us.

When you’re a mother’s only son, you do tend to take some things for granted. Money, meals, affection, forgiveness. I could do no wrong, in my Mother’s bespectacled eyes.

“When will you find a wife?” she always asked.

“You’re a good catch,” she said.

“The most eligible bachelor in the entire state of Pennsylvania!” she said.

We took the train from Philadelphia. Mother planned to do some shopping, some sightseeing, while I interviewed for the job.

“Times Square, here I come!” she said. “Why, I might even splurge on a show while you’re busy. Or better yet, I’ll wait. I’ll wait for you, and we’ll see something together. Together is better.”

I nodded.

There was no arguing with Mother.


When she opened her purse, I assumed that she was getting out some cash. Money for me. She always did that; made sure that I had what I needed.

But more than Mother’s money, I needed a job. I needed to work, to earn my keep. I needed to feel like a man.

I waved my hand.

“Mother; no,” I said. “I don’t need money. I have enough.”

She shook her head, leaned in close.

“It’s not money,” she whispered. I got a whiff of perfume; her hair brushed against my cheek.

“It’s a gun,” she hissed. Mother whipped a pistol out of her purse, a small black pistol out of her fancy Sunday purse, and she aimed it up at the ceiling, at the sun-splashed starry ceiling of Grand Central Terminal.

“I’ll shoot him!” she shrieked. “If he doesn’t hire you, he will be a dead man.”

The shots rang out just as I hit the floor, screams ringing in my ears, stars in my eyes.


Submitted: April 19, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Linda Oatman High. All rights reserved.

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