The prompt for Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction this week was the word ‘Scarlet’.
“Someone… in this school,” said the headmistress, pausing for effect and seeming to grow in height with each syllable “is a … thief.”
She spat the last word across the rows of girls sitting cross legged on the floor, neat and tidy in their navy uniforms, their shiny, freshly washed faces turning this way and that, as though a display of curiosity and horror could be construed as testament of innocence.
The teachers, sitting on comfortable chairs lining the sides of the hall, examined the faces of their charges with vigilance, their gaze lingering on the ‘usual suspects’ to determine any evidence of discomfort or guilt.
Shirley sat nervously biting at her lips, pleading with whatever part of her central nervous system was uncoiling itself deep within, threatening once more to launch itself, as if it had been programmed at birth to detect and respond to an inappropriate moment.
She was innocent; oh god she was sooo innocent yet, like clockwork, that overwhelming tide of scarlet begin creeping relentlessly up her neck and across her freckled cheeks, drawing the gaze of teachers and friends like a magnet.