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Sweets from a stranger

Simone walked into the alley in a careless slouch, apparently oblivious to the sounds of restless movement from the shadows. Her hands tightened into fists when she heard the whisper of steel against leather, but her hands stayed deep in her pockets and she managed to keep her head down and her shoulders rounded. She didn’t drop the pretence until a nasty little laugh told her it was too late for anything she did to change the outcome.

She paused then, and turned on the three men blocking her retreat. Three was more than she’d expected, but there was nothing she could so about that. One blade. One inexpertly wielded set of nunchuks. One walking mountain, still issuing a low chuckle that might have been more menacing if it hadn’t brought to mind a certain cartoon mutt.

They seemed a little nonplussed by her lack of reaction, so she smiled helpfully, but before she could ask if they needed assistance the wannabe martial artist kicked enough brain cells into action to manage

“Well well Miss, what we got here? It’s gonna be like, whatchacallit, that thing they say about sweets?”

She kept her eye on the knifeman, the only man smart enough to stay silent, but she gave the question enough attention to frown for a moment and then suggest

“That you shouldn’t take them from strangers?”

“That it’s easy to take ‘em off’f babies.”

It was the knifeman who moved first, and being right wasn’t much consolation for her in the hectic moments before her colleagues could cover the ground to her aide.

***

Her sergeant had taken her formal report before he asked skeptically

“Sweets from a stranger?”

“Yes Sarge. At best rude. Possibly dangerous. Definitely something your mother should have told you not to do.”

I didn’t write for Microcosms last week because, in a fit of bravado, I was judging it, but after a day weighing the merits of other people’s tales I found I did have a response of my own. I was half thinking of Katie when I wrote it, but I changed the name when I realised that something a little Saintly had crept into her manner.

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