Friday Fictioneers : The fate of the flower seller

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


 

Ninny, they called her.

Sold flowers under the gas lamp, corner of Great Earl Street and Queen Street, Seven Dials. Old enough to be your Nana, though not yet old enough to be mine. Hair dyed black as a coal hole, always a pheasant feather or a silk rose tucked in her crumbling straw hat. Face like a patch of dried chamois leather. Shared a room with some other biddies – a boot lace seller, a sheet music peddlar and one who peddled herself, if you know what I mean.

Nah, don’t know where she went. People just vanish, lad.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale and visit the site here to read the other stories.

Notes

Seven Dials is part of the St Giles area of London, not far from Covent Garden. It long had a reputation for being disreputable and was part of the St Giles ‘rookery’ or slum. To read more about the area’s history, see here.

79 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers : The fate of the flower seller

  1. Great Earl Street and Queen Street, Seven Dials, St Giles area, Covent Garden… all of these sound magical to me. I don’t know anything about these neighborhoods, I just have (admittedly inaccurate) images of London in my head that spring to mind when I hear these and other names. It’s a weird blend of things Dickensian, Tolkien-esque, Monty Pythonish, Sherlock Holmes-enfogged that I’m sure have no correlation to the reality of them. But this is probably true of all of us to a degree. We only know where we are and where we’ve been. We form an image in our mind of where we are not. But I even like the word London, the way it kind of rolls off the tongue!

    Agreed about the choppiness, kind of underscores the ending. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. dear mt walker – I loved your comment and could not make all the connections to authors and location – but I loved reading your reply and it added much to my takeaway of Lynn’s fiction….

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Than you, Walt. I must admit, I’m the same. Much my ‘feel’ of London is from reading Dickens and other 19th century writers, watching endless Holmes adaptations, reading around the Ripper crimes. You can still feel the history of the city in its streets, though. Despite the Blitz, there are still narrow alleys to wander down, strange nooks and crannys and old buildings. Seven Dials still exists, though it’s much more respectable now. Thank you for taking the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I absolutely love the names of the neighbourhoods/Tube stops around London, one of my favourite things about visiting there…bespeaks to much deeper history than known by us in the States. Like how this ended a lot “people just vanish.” True, that. Bye!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yes, and they still just vanish today, don’t they? Tragic but happens all the time. Thank you Bill. You’re right, London’s place names speak of sometimes obscure, long forgotten histories and happenings. It can be a confusing place to navigate with its warren of streets (so much harder than an American city,with their grid layouts), but I like the illogical jumble that many British cities have. It speaks of an organic growth, the past laid out in the roads. Thanks for reading

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a story that sticks.
    and as noted – I read walt’s comment and wow – was that detailed – hm
    anyhow, my two favorite parts here – of this dense story
    were:
    “though not yet old enough to be mine…”
    gives us a little narrator tidbit
    and
    “crumbling straw hat”
    not always a big deal to use adjectives – but that single adjective
    crumbling
    added much for me

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What makes this story for me is the specificity of the descriptions. Not just a flower but a silk rose; not a leathery face but one like a patch of dried chamois leather. Excellent wordsmithing, Lynn!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I could smell greasy smoke from fireplaces, hear the clip-clop of horse hooves on stone and Ninny saying, “Need a flower for a special girl, Lovely?” You took me to the seedy side of the world of Dickens and Holmes and perhaps Jack-the-Ripper. Well done, my dear, well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, thanks so much Lish. You have to love the seedy side of the 19th century. There’s a wonderful book called The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. It’s set in 19th century London and its focus is a prostitute called Sugar and follows her rise to fame and fortune. For the feel of seedy Victorian London, I doubt there’s any can beat it. Thank you so much for your kind comment 🙂

      Like

      1. Oh, I’ve read that! It is such a good book. In fact, it’s right next to me here on the writing desk. I like the P.O.V. and the present tense. We rented the movie from the library. They took on an enormous project and did a pretty good job.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I’m so glad you know it! Yes, both book and adaptation were terrific. I loved his use of language, that slow unwind at the opening of the book where we discover Sugar’s London through the POVs of others of that lowly status – just extraordinary. I think I leant my copy to someone and never got it back – regretting it now! 🙂

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  5. Tjanks for writing about Ninny, dear Lynn. Such brilliant descriptions, I could almost see her sitting there at the corner. And selling flowers. You are a word-magician, Lynn, nothing less.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you Moon! What a wonderful and kind comment. I’m glad she came to life for you. It’s hard not to think of characters as having a little life of their own sometimes and Ninny is one of these. Thank you for reading

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Sandra! I remember my dad having a chamois (always pronounced shammy as I recall) to clean his car windows. I remember it feeling like card when dry, but when wet is was very … fleshy.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, Christine – then, now and always. Thank you for reading. Read your post about blocks of text – couldn’t agree more! Nothing more off putting than a ‘wall of text’ as you so wonderfully describe it.

      Like

    1. Thank you Michael. So glad it worked for you – I’ve been trying to think of Ninny’s back story, trying to work out who would miss her, who’s asking the questions about her. I’ll think on.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you so much, Neel! What a truly lovely comment – you’ve made me blush with pleasure. Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply – I’ve been very busy at work.

      Like

  6. There are lot of people we encounter in our life that we remember but do not miss once they go away. That’s how life works eh? As the ‘Kansas’ song reminds us ‘All we are is dust in the wind.’

    Like

  7. Beautifully written.
    “People just vanish”… it got me thinking. Your story isn’t about the homeless, so it’s not relevant, yet I feel moved to say it. We often think that rough sleepers and suchlike have no-one to mourn their passing, but it’s rarely true. Although addiction may take the edge off pain, when one of that community dies, the rest of the community grieves the loss, and it brings home to them their own mortality. Also, many of them still have family who love them, and for them it is particularly heartbreaking to know that the lost sheep will never return.
    Maybe I’m just trying to nudge you into writing stories I can’t commit to print, since happiness has taken away my creativity 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, it’s not exactly about homelessness, though it is about street people, so I can see the similarities. the vulnerabilities they all survive under. A sense of community comes through shared hardships and both groups have that. Homelessness is an ever present subject these days – painfuly unavoidable – so I’m sure my brain will wander towards writing on the subject. x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I noticed massive piles of sleeping bags and blankets in Bristol city centre. Do the homeless sleep in groups? It would make sense, both for warmth and safety – although lazy bladders might pose a problem in some cases.
        In Barnstaple they sleep in ones and twos, with less to keep them warm, from what I can see.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It seems to depend, you do see some folk gathering together, though one homeless guy we’ve got to know a bit (an ex serviceman I think) seems to want to avoid other homeless folk as he sees them as trouble. But then he’s on methadone, so maybe it’s easier for him to stay away from potential temptation on his own? And there are so many rough sleepers now, I guess they clump together in the better, more sheltered doorways.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s hard on the streets for the addicts in recovery. If he’s also an ex serviceman, that makes it harder still. They can have trouble integrating with other rough sleepers, as they see themselves as being in a different class

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think he’s better off than some. He speaks and swears to himself a lot, so scares some people, but when you get talking to him, he’s really very pleasant and polite and always grateful if you buy him a cup of tea or whatever. But, yes, I can see servicemen probably themselves apart from others.

        Liked by 1 person

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