A Story by TJ

A look at the world through damaged eyes. Flash Fiction






She couldn’t see it, but I could. Sitting from my perch, monotonously dragging items across the infrared rays, I saw a lot of things others could not. Maybe it was the vantage point, or maybe my life had just better taught me how to look.

It wasn’t that he was a villain or some kind of predator, no; however, she was very much like prey. He was a young twenty-something, pushing around half a cart of groceries, just trying to find the quickest way out of the store and back home (what young man wants to be stuck in the grocery store one second longer than necessary?). It could’ve have been pure coincidence, he could’ve just innocently wandered into her line; but why? There were quicker lines on either side of her, so why her line? Some part of me couldn’t help but think he’d done it intentionally, just to get closer to her, but that was some old, paranoid part; a part I’ve been trying to get past, but can’t seem to. My logical half saw it was clear he entered the line with no ulterior motives, after all, the people checking out were the only people in the line; he even seemed to scan around the store for another line when he noticed the overflowing buggy in front of him, but in the end he decided he was content to wait. Still…

He was a good looking guy, a young guy, and she clearly noticed. She shot him nervous glance after bashful look, but he seemed oblivious to anything not having to do with the speed of the items moving across the scanner.

Grandma, though, was not.

She had seen her granddaughter sneaking shy glances at the handsome young man behind her, and thought this as good time as any to play matchmaker. The fact that her granddaughter was, by my guess, no older than fifteen, and the young man behind her was no younger than twenty-two, seemed to register no issue with her. She wasn’t one of those twenty-nine year old grandmothers; she was a real grandma, in her day that kind of age gap was no issue; common even. It did surprise me, though, that an old-fashioned woman like herself would approve of this type of relationship, one that would’ve never happened when she was a teenager, not publicly anyway. I could only guess that Grandma’s pickiness, or assertiveness, had led to a matchmaking failure in the past and she was willing to make an exception this time around if it avoided that outcome. Any man was better than no man " a life she refused to see another one of her kin go through " and he seemed good enough.

And he was. As I said, he wasn’t a predator or anything like that; to his eyes this was a beautiful young woman of seventeen or eighteen, clearly interested, a little shy, using her grandmother as a proxy flirt to ensure she didn’t say anything she’d be embarrassed about later. And from the shy, flirtatious looks she kept sending his way, he was becoming more and more confident he’d get in her pants. Nothing wrong with that type of thinking from a young man, it’s expected. That singular goal guides most men through every decision they make from twelve to thirty-five;  it was certainly what was motivating him to have this friendly conversation with Grandma.

To them it all seemed innocent enough, but I knew I’d been there before: looking like a grown woman at fourteen; being awestruck by the so cool, so handsome older guy willing to give me the time of day; feeling so cool as I brag to all my friends back at school that I am dating a college guy and he loves me. I knew exactly where this went.

She’d give him a piece of herself she can only give once, and never get back, and with that would go her whole heart. And as his masculine presence filled the empty void in her she didn’t even realize was there, she’d begin confusing feelings of false security, and infatuation with love. How long would it take for that love to turn into submission; a willingness to do anything, to swallow whatever pride she has, to tolerate any action, so long as he doesn’t leave her.

And what would the poison that is control do to him? How long, after he realized he had complete power over her heart, would it take for things to go sour, for him to stop playing the nice guy because it was no longer necessary. How many years would she endure? How many plans would she alter for the sake of their toxic relationship? How many dreams killed? When would he hit her for the first time? When would he start berating her every single day? When would he completely crush all of her self-worth and dominate her entire existence? How long after that until he crushes the last of her spirit, turning this beautiful, vibrant, adorably bashful girl into a shell, incapable of love and trust?

“Sir, I’m open. You can come to my line.”


© 2011 TJ

Author's Note

Inspiration for this story: I was in walmart in a long line. I thought I saw a freind of my younger sister in front of me. I was looking hard trying to see if it was her or not and then, a cashier invited me to her line which was JUST AS LONG as the line I'd just left. I began to wonder why she'd invited me there and this is what I came up with!

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Featured Review

This was awesome. A well organized, interesting piece that crescendoed to the very end. I love your writing style; I'll be sure to read even more of your work. Great, original story here, with fascinating, thought-provoking concepts. Very well done.

I need to add, also, something I noticed. The whole scenario that the cashier creates in her head is entirely hypothetical... it's not even guaranteed to happen. But she treats it as if it's inevitable unless she does something to stop it, which goes to show how much her experience has damaged her. It makes the character very real somehow. Splendid development there. A pristine short story.

Posted 12 Years Ago

3 of 3 people found this review constructive.


wow. Nicely done. It always amazes me how the simplest moments can foster a complex story.

Posted 11 Years Ago

Great work! I was hooked all the way through. Really like the ending. I give it two thumbs up!

Posted 11 Years Ago

I liked it. It has a real sense of what would happen in real life.

Posted 11 Years Ago

well i liked it!
that last little line was a funny too!! when will all of these bad thing happen? never!! because another cashier is open!!

but you could have made it into a tradgedy, instead of focusing on bad things that might have happened, you could have included all the good things! how he'd encourage her to go to college and how theyd have kids together and grow old together laughing and loving!!!! and then have the same ending and instead of saving that girl from a horrible life, the other cashier would have deprived her of her true love!!!

but it was an awesome write, and it gave me alot tho think about...how much we miss, how different our lives can be from so small of choices!!!

Posted 11 Years Ago

Good story w/decent reading flow but rambled at times and contains lots of unnecessary wordage. Needs a good editing.

Posted 11 Years Ago


Posted 12 Years Ago

i realy liked it.

Posted 12 Years Ago

I really like this story!! It reminds me of this assignment I got once in class to write a 7 word story, where you had to tell a complete story in seven words. I feel like even though this is so short is tells so much! I especially like the ending.

The only things I would suggest for improvement are the line near the beginning: "or maybe my life had just better taught me how to look". The "better" seems oddly placed in that sentence.

The other thing is the quotations around "a life she refused to see another one of her kin go through". I don't really understand why they are there.

But thats it! I love everything else! Keep writing awesome stuff!

Posted 12 Years Ago

This is wonderful. Its well written and I adore the ending. So many questions that may or may not be answered. I myself have been in a toxic relationship and wrote about it too, so that is relatable in iself. Very good work, a nice read to calm my hectic morning.

Posted 12 Years Ago

This is really good Timothy. You know I've met so many woman that are incapable of love and trust, such truth in this write. I'm impressed. Keep it up.

Posted 12 Years Ago

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59 Reviews
Shelved in 5 Libraries
Added on May 8, 2011
Last Updated on May 9, 2011
Tags: Flash Fiction, Women, Abuse, Damaged



Virginia Beach, VA

My name is TJ and I'm still just your typical aspiring author :) Follow me on twitter @tj_coles And for some short stories in 140 characters or less follow @timmystales more..

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