About Face


Here’s a short piece I wrote in response to the prompt “About face.” I’m beginning to think this could be the start of a novel. What do you think?

About Face

Jenny never could say for sure why she made the abrupt about face that day. Whatever it was, it surely saved her life.

She’d been out shopping, picking up some shampoo here, a new shirt there. She’d even remembered the socks her husband reminded her to get by leaving an old one with a big hole in the toe next to her cereal bowl.

The whole time she was out that morning, she kept seeing a woman in a dark green scarf.

Normally she wasn’t one to notice people’s accessories. She wore the same earrings every day, just a simple pair of studs. Unlike most of her friends, she owned exactly three purses: one for summer, one for winter, and one for special occasions.

But somehow the dark green scarf kept coming into her field of vision. It shone in the sun, like it was made of some kind of glittery silk.

Jenny couldn’t imagine why someone would be following her. She tucked her purse (the standard summer one, a plain beige clutch) under her arm tightly and moved a little faster down the street.

She turned into an ice cream shop and ordered a cone. Taking a seat by the window, she watched. No green scarf.

Then she noticed the man in tattered jeans. He shuffled down the street. A few minutes later, he was back, ambling down the other side.

“I’ve been watching too much television,” Jenny told herself. “I’m not mixed up in international espionage. Or drug running. Or even drama with an ex.” Crowds always made her nervous. “Time to get away from all these people.”

She tossed her napkin in the trash and stalked out, striding down the street toward the bus stop.

Just as she neared the corner, she had the sensation that someone was crowding her, walking nearly on her heels.

She made an abrupt about face and came face to face with the man in tattered jeans. She pushed her way past him and . Nearly running, she fled down the street.

Later, at home far from the crowds, she turned on the television news. A woman had been pushed under a bus. At the same corner she’d been on, where she felt so uneasy.

Jenny’s hand flew to her throat as she stared at the picture of the crowd that had gathered around the tragedy. In the back of the crowd stood a woman wearing a shiny green scarf. And the dead woman, a woman who could have been Jenny’s twin, was holding a beige clutch purse.


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