So, not too long ago, I entered into a little writing contest. I didn’t win the contest, or even make it into the top ten, but I still feel a great sense of pride in what I wrote, because of the challenge of it all.
I complain endlessly about how I cant write ‘flash fiction’ and ‘short stories’. Well, this little contest was to write a story based solely on a picture, using 750 words or less. That’s, like, wow, for me.
So, here is the picture and what I came up with and wrote for it. Enjoy!
Blue Key tag
by Zoe Ambler
I was fumbling for something in my purse when I noticed them. A set of keys, lying lonesome on the sidewalk. I looked up, looking for the closest person.
A spied a man in blue jeans and a pair of what looked like combat boots. I reached down to the keys, scooping them up as I slung my purse strap over my shoulder.
I called to him, catching his attention. It took a moment. When you’re out on the sidewalk, hearing someone calling out, no one is really sure who is being called.
But I waved to him, keys in hand. He stopped, his confusion clear on his face. He was young and pretty handsome. He immediately began patting down the pockets of his jeans before slumping his shoulders and giving a chuckle.
I looked at the keys as we made the short walk between us.
The blue key tag. I looked at it a bit more close. It was just a cheap plastic tag, but it had gold colored inking on it. One side displayed a symbol, sort of rounded. NA. The other side said ‘Clean and Serene for Six Months.’
It took a few seconds of turning it over in my head as we made our way to one another. NA. Clean and Serene. NA.
I looked to the fellow again. He was quite young or appeared so.
NA. Clean and Serene.
It clicked. Narcotics Anonymous. This young man was a recovering addict. Clean for six months, or so his blue key tag claimed.
I inspected the young man closer then. He didn’t seem the type to be an addict. Clean cut and shaven. Well dressed.
As we came closer to one another, I offered a cordial smile. He returned the smile. He held a bit of a blush to his cheeks as he thanked me for finding the dropped keys.
His hazel eyes seemed out of place on his face. They seemed older. They didn’t belong.
I handed over his keys; we smiled and parted ways.
He and his blue key tag stayed with me for a while however.
I couldn’t help but wonder what he had gone through. What was his story? What made him turn to drugs? He had army boots on. Perhaps he was a veteran? He was pretty young but still old enough to serve. I had heard some guys coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq having a hard time coping. The military or veterans affairs just didn’t seem to do enough for their vets.
Maybe that wasn’t the case at all. Maybe he had fallen in with the wrong crowd at some point, and his reform was part of something court ordered.
Maybe he was mentally ill, and tried self-medicating to deal with things.
I’d never know.
I turned around, to see if he was still around, but didn’t see him anywhere. It was kind of silly to think he might still be lingering around. It was pretty rude of me to even entertain the thought of just approaching him. Rude to just start striking up a conversation on something that would seem so deeply personal.
His eyes. Oh, how misplaced they seem on his face.
I thought about the young man with the blue key tag on his key ring for days. I don’t know why. So many questions seemed to stem from one simple, innocent plastic blue key tag.