women. writers.

Flash Fiction: "Naming a Hurricane" by Bonnie Walker


Her heels clapped against the tan linoleum as she walked toward the boy standing behind the counter. She blushed. People were looking at her, she knew, because of her clapping heels. She should have worn flats today. She just knew that the man behind the newspaper, waiting in his plastic chair against the wall, was arching an eyebrow at her. Swallowing, the woman turned her back on him—diminutive shoulders hunched inside a damp tweed coat. She faced the counter and pulled her coat tighter around her, shoving her hands inside to press against her belly.
Hi, may I help you?” The boy behind the counter smiled loose. His eyes slid over her, moving past to look at the drizzle beyond the wide tinted windows of the waiting room.
Hello, yes. I, well, I'm here to be put on the waiting list.” She smiled back apologetically. The woman was sorry to be wasting the boy’s time.
Oh yes? Just a minute.” He disappeared down behind the counter. The words "World Meteorological Organization" were tacked onto the wall behind the boy, block letters that reflected dull florescent lighting. The boy popped back up and the woman gasped, hoping he did not hear her breath catch. He rolled a pen between his index finger and thumb. “The form's not here. I’ll have to look for it.” He disappeared behind a cream door, briefly displaying haphazard files and a framed tornado.
The woman adjusted the crushed velvet hat she had bought at the swap meet three years ago for a good price, pushing her graying hair underneath. The woman had thought about sewing on the big yellow button she had in her junk drawer but decided it would be too showy. Nothing she hated worse than a showy woman.
She knew the people behind her, that man with the newspaper and the other one who had been pretending to look at his hands when she first came in, were staring at her now. Her husband wouldn’t care. He wouldn’t believe her if she told him, but she could feel them staring. She snatched a look over her shoulder. One man read the newspaper while the other dozed with a slack jaw. The woman blushed. It was just like her to think something like that.
Minutes passed and she shifted her weight from foot to foot. She would have to leave in a few minutes to get back to work. The woman heard laughing behind the cracked door. Anger sprang into her belly and hurt. She had thought that that boy was nice, respectful. He came out with a big smile on his face.
Now here it is.” He said, and slid a form toward her. “Just to let you know the wait is about five years long now, maybe more.”
The woman nodded with tight lips and a lump in her throat. After drawing a few loops on the side of the paper to get the pen started, she filled out the form.
Now here at the bottom,” the boy pointed, “this is where you put the name you want.”
She nodded and wrote it in.
The boy turned the form around and read.
Katrina?”
The woman nodded.
Is that your name?”
The woman nodded.
Well, thanks a lot. That’s all you need to do. Now there is no guarantee that your name will be picked, understand? It's just in the lottery. Okay?”
Without answering Katrina walked away—heels clapping against the linoleum—out into the drizzle. She shoved her hands deep into her belly against the cold. 
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