A Slice of Time

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

“Well, you’ll have to do,” She says sternly, “Take it,”

Alfred blinks at the old woman in surprise. Distracted, he hadn’t seen her approach. She looks up at him, face hard and lined, eyes searching.

“I’m sorry?” He says, confused, “What was that, ma’am?”

“What a distracted young man you are,” She says, tone scolding, “This would not do under ordinary circumstances. But,” She holds something in front of his face, “Take it,” It glints between her fingers and, on reflex, his hand comes up in front of his face; palm out as though to protect himself. She shoves it in his palm before clapping her gloved hands together, dusting them. Alfred frowns. She’s given him half a pair of old surgical scissors, rusted around the handle.

“What the—,” He starts.

“What train are you boarding?” She asks firmly, looking out towards the tracks, “Nicely dressed as you are?”

“Uh,” Alfred stammers, straightening his hat, “I’m headed to Boston. I really can’t take this—uh—ma’am. I’m—,”

She clicks her teeth together, tut-tutting disapprovingly, “Boston,” She says with a shake of her head, “Never much cared for Boston,”

Her disappointed tone flusters him.

“I happen to have an important meeting there,” He protests.

“Yes, quite,” She regards him rigidly, “So long as you’re not late again like the last few times,”

Alfred’s mouth drops open, his face turning bright red. He doesn’t know how she knows this, staring up at him smugly. She’s a full head shorter than him but he feels small under her gaze.

Before he can muster a response, her eyes flicker, for a brief moment, from his face to something behind him. His brow furrows and he looks back to see a young couple walking past. He turns back only to see the old woman striding away towards the station’s exit.

“Hey!” He says, dashing after her. He catches up quickly, scissors in hand, “You forgot—,”

“Alfred Elliot Bleeker,” Her voice is low but urgent; the use of his full name shocks him, “I wish I could explain,”

“How do you—,” He starts.

“I’m afraid I’ve caught the attention of an unsavory sort,” She interrupts him, looking towards the restroom where the couple that had walked behind him stood. The woman is digging through her handbag, the man reaching for a holster on his belt. Alfred breaks into a cold sweat, “It’s me they’re after, not you,” She reassures him, “But I can no longer hold on to what I gave you,” She nods curtly to the object in his hand, “235 years is long enough,”

“Two hundred—,” Alfred exclaims, eyes wide.

“Listen well,” She grabs the lapel of his jacket, “Take the three o’clock train to Somerville. Someone will be there for you,”


Before Alfred can speak, a shrill whistle sounds followed by a hiss of steam. His head snaps up; the Boston train has arrived.

When he returns his attention to the old woman, she is gone.

Submitted: May 08, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Dawne Beckett. All rights reserved.

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