Little Old Lady

Briar Rose. Public domain  (copyright expired) illustration by Anne Anderson.

Briar Rose. Public domain (copyright expired) illustration by Anne Anderson.

Little Old Lady

by Rebekah Postupak

She hated the way she walked now, the way her shoulders hunched, the way her boots shuffled along the ground. Took forever getting anywhere, even when she managed to borrow a horse. But worst were the looks, the faux pity dripping down smooth cheeks, the dismissive clicks of tongues on pure, white teeth. Wish we could help. Sorry. If only her hands could unclench, she might have punched them for it.

“Not just anyone could be tasked with this mission,” she’d been told severely. “You should consider it an honor.”

An honor? Her boss’d better recheck the dictionary.

Early on her list had been the young girl, lips of vermillion, raven hair, bright eyes, in the forest home.

“Buy an apple?”

The girl’s face had flushed with annoyance. “I’m busy,” she’d said. Too busy for an ugly old lady like you. “The socks of seven men don’t darn themselves, you know.”

She’d bought the apple in the end, of course, and eaten it noisily—at least the first bite—recognition and regret blooming in her eyes even as she fell.

Then there was the teen wildling, roaming the castle’s forbidden turrets.

“You don’t recognize this, I’d imagine.”

Something sparked in the girl’s eyes. “It’s a spindle.”

“Take heed. Please, not so fast! The needle is sharp.”

“I thank you for your warning.” Old fool. As though you could know better than I. The wildling approached hungrily, seeing only an obstacle to freedom. She, too, fell, eyes closing against her will even as realization dawned.

There were the greedy, candy-obsessed children who gnawed at her cottage’s walls and roof rather than help in the garden. The mannerless girl with fifty feet of matted, lice-infested hair who locked the two of them into a tower rather than bathe. The arrogant beast of a prince who turned her away on a stormy night.

On and on they battled her, a thousand different faces, a thousand different voices, but their responses formed a single unified cry: Myself!

“People can change,” her boss had said. “Sometimes they even change before it’s too late.”

Yes; she loathed the way she walked now, clumsy and awkward, the object of public disdain. It was a temporary housing, though, and one day, when she had completed her mission, she would walk tall and strong and beautiful again like the warrior she was.

But for now she pressed on obediently, relentlessly, even as the proud voices melted into legend, which melted into pages. Searching. Asking. Yes, even—

Hoping.

♦♦♦♦♦

417 words of “What If?”, written for the flash contest #ChristianFlashWeekly, inspired by the prompt of Hebrews 13:2, Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

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5 thoughts on “Little Old Lady

  1. Wonderful story! Reminds me of the 500 Kingdoms books The Fairy Godmother and One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey. If you haven’t read them yet, I highly recommend them.

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