Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Little Box - Part I

Outcome of another short story prompt - to write one that begins "She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled."

She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled. Then she felt her other pocket and made sure the two wallets and the watch she picked were safe.

Sarah was only nine but she was already adept at the art that her father had mastered a few decades ago. She went to school and she knew she was going to be a doctor some day. But picking pockets was something her father did for a profession and she, for a weekend hobby. When Sarah was seven, Dan had mulled over whether he should let his daughter know of his true vocation. He finally decided he would tell her - he wanted her to know the truth. He did not intend for her to take part in any of it, but she insisted. He resisted in the beginning, but ultimately gave in, justifying his decision with the reasoning that they could do with the extra money. And so began her weekend pick pocketing travails.

That day her exploits had been at the Gypsy Fair that had come to town. It was pretty crowded at the fair grounds, as you would expect, and that made a perfect setting for Sarah's drill. Being only thirteen, she was struck by awe for what the fair had to offer. She decided to enjoy herself for a while in the web of excitement that engulfed the place, before she commenced on her stint. She walked around from one stall to another - there were craft stalls tended to by women in long flowy skirts and dangling earrings, there was a face painting stall for children, there were food stalls that wafted rich smells into the crisp air. Now and then some gypsy women would gather together to perform a dance for the onlookers, or some gypsy men performed tricks like swallowing fire or juggling knives. There were even pony rides and merry go rounds. Sarah let an hour pass by, ambling through the fair, cheerfully nibbling on a pink cotton candy.

She then got on to work. Her first victim was a thin, dark man who walked with a quick-paced funny strut, always leaving his wife two steps behind him. At first he didnt seem a likely candidate, given his wife was constantly right behind him but Sarah decided to follow them nevertheless on grounds of her self-devised rule number 7: People who acted all-knowing were almost always easy victims - and the guy fitted the "act all-knowing" description to the T. She got her chance when he was trying on sunglasses while his wife was checking out earrings at the adjacent jewellery stall. She deftly slipped out his peeping wallet from his back pocket as she walked by. She never came to know when he noticed his missing wallet since he decided not to buy any sunglasses from the stall. He ushered his wife to walk on, as he declared "its all cheap stuff here". By that time, Sarah had moved on to looking for her second victim.

It happened to be a blonde, fashionable girl with huge dark glasses, pointed heels and a small handbag with long handles. A rich dad's only-daughter, with an entourage of three fawning friends. She was walking alongside her friends with her handbag slung over her shoulder. The handbag had its mouth wide open since she was holding on to only one of its handles. Her small but florid wallet inside visibly had a large wad of money. As Sarah clasped the wallet and drew it out, she realized there was something else in the handbag that was coming along. She worried it might cause a tug at the handbag and alert attention, but that didnt happen. It - an ornate watch - came out effortlessly, along with the wallet.

Satisfied with her spoils for the day, Sarah had just started to head home, when she spotted the box.

[Continued here.]


sandeep said...

very cool, the flow is amazing and paints a very realistic picture of the entire episode.

Looking forward to the box in her pocket.. is it her lucky charm something her mother had left for her a long time ago ? :)

Harini Sridharan said...

thanks :)

Ah, thatz a good idea! :). I know how she gets the box, but I really havent thought through what's in it or what's its about yet!

bubbles said...

"Her first victim was a thin, dark man who walked with a quick-paced funny strut"


nice characterizations... the second one reminds me of Mean girls and Elle woods...

Harini Sridharan said...


I knew you alone would get it right away! :).

Marisela said...

Well said.