This flash piece was the result of a free-writing exercise in a Quills and Quibbles meeting. A member held up a box and said, “You’re on the bus and somebody gets on with this box in her hand. What’s in the box?” This is what came out of my pen.
DARK, WITH A TRACE OF ORANGE
by Marian Allen
Who is she trying to kid? Am I supposed to think that’s — what? — a bomb or a priceless necklace or something, the way she’s holding it?
She has it in both hands, hands resting on her lap, thumbs on the lid, like the brown tape might not hold the lid on tight.
Everybody’s trying to move away from her to get clear of whatever it is. People don’t bring precious stuff onto a bus. If they do, they’re nuts, and who wants to tangle with crazy?
I can smell it, though. Does she think nobody can smell it?
Chocolate. Chocolate — dark, with a trace of orange. My mouth is watering, here.
She catches my eye and smiles. A devil smile.
When she gets off the bus, I’ll follow her. Follow that scent, that chocolate, that orange. Follow it anywhere, to an empty street, to the dark, to an abandoned building, anywhere.
The bus is stopping. She’s getting up. Here we go.
Okay, yes, there’s something seriously wrong with me, but I know good chocolate when I smell it. After I read this, everybody was like, “Ooo! Dark chocolate with orange? Ooo, yum!” Never mind the woman with the devil smile or the narrator following her or what might happen to whom in that abandoned building. I like people who have their priorities straight, right?
WRITING PROMPT: What do YOU think was in the box?