Since I’ve quit my job, I’ve been focusing on my writing, something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. The Boobook has been really supportive of me throughout this process, so that’s always a blessing.
It has been some time since writing was my main source of income, so I’m a little rusty. To get me back into the right mind frame for wordcrafting, DebsG encouraged me to join NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction challenge. Each round of the challenge, I have 48 hours to craft a 1,000 word flash fiction story from the given location, item and genre.
Here’s my response to the first round of that challenge. At 996 words, it comes in just under the word limit. I hope you like it!
The Towkay, The Seamstress and The Coconut Tree
In which trees are climbed for profit and a seamstress comes up with a clever plan to protect her modesty.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Location: Tropical Island
Item: A Brick
“If you’re talking about coconuts, I like them very fresh.” Chan Benghock murmured as he leaned lazily against the tall tree, “And I’m willing to pay top dollar for the fresh fruits from this tree.”
The handsome young son of the local towkay fanned himself with an expensive sandalwood fan as he addressed the small crowd of lovely young peasant girls. The fan’s heady, sweet perfume was like a breath of fresh air in the stale, humid afternoon heat. Some of the girls clutched their cheap sarongs and pretended to swoon as he proffered the prize money for his coveted coconuts, a whole fifty ringgit.
“Of course, at these prices, I can only really afford for one girl to get them for me.” Benghock intoned with comically feigned sorrow, “So, who will it be today?”
There was an intense clamour as the girls bounced on their heels with hands raised, eager to please the rich young man. Fifty ringgits was no small sum, and climbing trees was an incredibly easy feat. Besides, there was always slim chance that one of them might be chosen for his bride. He took his time watching the girls, enjoying the sight of ripe coconuts bouncing in the sun.
Eventually, he pointed at one of the girls and gave her an especially charming smile. The other girls sighed as the chosen woman, a voluptuous teenager by the name of Aishah, stepped forward and gave Benghock a shy curtsey. The young man waved his hand dismissively and the crowd dispersed in a matter of seconds, leaving the pair to their business.
In a trice, Aishah was climbing the tree with the practised ease of a farmer’s daughter, her sarong stretched taut between spread legs, slowly riding up her body as she rose up the tree. When Aishah reached the top, she collected a coconut and was about to come down, when she noticed Benghock waving at her from below.
“Don’t carry them down! It’s dangerous!” He shouted, “Just throw them!”
“They’ll break if they hit the ground!” Aishah retorted.
“I’ll catch them!”
Aishah took careful aim and sent the coconut tumbling down into Benghock’s waiting arms. He did little to hide his obvious delight.
“He did what?!” Rosmah spluttered.
“He caught them, perfectly!” Aishah beamed as she related the events of the day, “You should try it, Rosmah! Young Mr Chan is pretty generous.”
Rosmah sighed and shook her head, rubbing the bridge of her nose between thumb and forefinger. She had known her friend to be a little ignorant, but she hadn’t expected her to be quite so stupid. Then again, if Benghock had been able to trick the rest of the village girls, it stood to reason that he could trick young Aishah too.
“I… see.” She said slowly, “I suppose I could use the extra ringgit. The seamstress business hasn’t been very good lately. Not many weddings during this season.”
“You’re the prettiest and smartest girl in the village, you’re sure to catch his eye.” Aishah beamed and gave Rosmah a conspiratorial wink, “Who knows? Maybe we’ll be celebrating your wedding soon!”
“Oh, don’t you start, Aishah. You know I’m already taken!”
“What, by Ahmad?” Aishah groaned, “Come on, Rosmah, a rich man’s son will make a way better match than a poor bricklayer. I’m only looking out for you.”
“I like Ahmad. He’s good to me.”
Aishah sighed, “I suppose he is. I do wish you had a little more ambition, dear.”
Rosmah rolled her eyes, “Don’t call me ‘dear’, you’re three years younger than me. Should I start calling you ‘Auntie Aishah’?”
“No way! I’m not that old!” Aishah protested.
The rest of the conversation dissolved into teasing and laughter. While she prattled away, Rosmah began to scheme. It was time to put a stop to Benghock’s nonsense.
The next day, Rosmah was among the girls vying for Benghock’s attention as, once again, the little pervert was picking yet another patsy for his coconut scam. She far outshone the other contenders in the beautiful batik sarong she’d made especially for the occasion, her cheeks pinked with safflower powder and eyes lined with charcoal to match. There was no contest. Benghock’s finger picked her from the crowd as soon as she appeared.
Rosmah produced a thick piece of cloth, looping it around the tree and tying it to her wrists. Using the rope as an anchor, she began walking up the tree, keeping her knees together. She almost laughed when she noticed Benghock squinting and moving his head from side to side. He wouldn’t see a thing. She’d spent an evening sewing shorts to the inside of her sarong.
When she reached the top, Rosmah plucked an object from her pocket and called out, “I’m dropping it now!”
Benghock hollered as the heavy red brick smashed into his hands. Rosmah started lobbing coconuts at the ground around him. The fresh fruits burst open upon impact, covering the young man’s fine clothes in sticky juice.
When she had exhausted her arsenal of coconuts, Rosmah shimmied down the tree. She dabbed the perspiration off her brow with her climbing cloth, then turned to face the towkay’s son.
“I hope you have a hundred ringgit for all the coconuts I brought down.” She said cheerfully.
“You ruined my clothes! I’m giving you nothing!”
Benghock turned to run, but collided into Ahmad’s solid chest. He fell backwards into the mud.
Rosmah moved to stand over him, “The next time you decide to peek up girl’s skirts, coconuts or no, I’ll have Ahmad here tell the Imam what you’ve been up to and you’ll be catching more than just one brick. Bagus?”
“…bagus.” Benghock squeaked.
He threw the money down at Ahmad’s feet and scampered away. Rosmah and Ahmad caught each other’s eyes and started laughing.
“Remind me never to cross you, my love.” Ahmad guffawed.
“I’m sure you never will.” Rosmah chuckled.
“You are the best woman in this village.”