#tuesdayuseitinasentence: A ballpoint pen in her hair

Skelton trees

Image: Pixabay

‘Are you ready, Doctor Collins?’ said the attractive young lady with the clipboard.

Her sleek brown hair was piled on her head, somehow twisted up with a ballpoint pen. Stephen wondered how it defied gravity but knew asking would make the situation awkward. He’d never learned much about women really. Suddenly embarrassed by his own inexperience, he stared down at his hands.

Straightening his prompt cards, he said, ‘It’s time, is it?’

He was starting to wish he hadn’t shaved. Not because of the half dozen nicks on his neck and chin or the razor burn that made him feel like he’d been sunbathing, but because of the trickle of moisture on his top lip.

The girl laid a hand on his arm. ‘Nervous? Is it your first keynote speech? They say you should imagine the audience naked.’

Stephen couldn’t help but laugh. ‘Naked? I’m struggling not to imagine them all dead.’

Her hand slipped away, eyes changing from warm concern to something colder.

She cleared her throat. ‘Professor Allen is just finishing your introduction.’ She forced a smile, but that spark of connection was gone.

It didn’t matter. None of it mattered now. If he couldn’t persuade his fellow scientists to listen today, in a few months the lovely girl would be dust. The thought was suddenly horribly upsetting, much more so than the prospect of his own destruction or the billions of others who would lose their lives.

‘… can I welcome your keynote speaker for today, Doctor Stephen Collins.’

Stephen licked the salt water from his lip and walked onstage.


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventure’s #tuesdayuseitinasentence. The word today is KEYNOTE. See here to play along.

14 thoughts on “#tuesdayuseitinasentence: A ballpoint pen in her hair

    1. Yes, there’s that one line – when he tells the girl he’s trying not to see them dead – that I see as the tipping point. I liked this one, though not quite sure what the coming disaster is. Plague? A meteor? The moon pinging off into space? But that’s the joy of flash fiction – not having to think the plot through 🙂 Thanks hon

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Oh goodness, what a difficult subject to have to cover for your first keynote speech — I can see why he’d be nervous! I didn’t even try to guess what kind of calamity he was going to predict; I was too busy thinking about how, whatever it was, no matter how much evidence he had, that probably he won’t be able to convince enough people in time to stop it. Which makes me want to call this “pre-apocalyptic” fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, pre-apocalyptic – I like that 🙂 Yes, you’re right, who knows how something so huge can be stopped. But poor Stephen’s carrying the weight of that knowledge alone at the moment. Small consolation, but at least he’ll be able to say ‘told you so’. Thanks very much Joy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wondered where you were going with this – couldn’t see any connection between the hair and the image, so I assumed you’d lost the plot 🙂 I should’ve known better. Brilliant! I love the way you draw two totally cantrasting pictures in so few sentences – you do it all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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