ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Purse: Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on November 14, 2019
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Grocery store
Grocery store | Source

The Purse

An elderly woman with a black purse swinging from her frail forearm, walks from the parking lot into the grocery store, apparently shopping alone. I follow about thirty feet back, nervous and excited that I have so quickly found the kind of person my plan requires. Not in my wildest dreams have I ever thought of doing something like this.

She chooses a grocery cart and walks past the alcohol department where vodkas, whiskeys, and wines are stacked behind floor displays. She doesn’t even glance at the bottles. Maybe she doesn’t drink, or possibly she can’t afford to. If it’s the latter, she may not be carrying much cash in her purse.

Not in my wildest dreams have I ever thought of doing something like this.

I drift among the spirits as though I’m shopping rather than stalking. I grab a fifth of bourbon and move in her direction. She’s examining the tomatoes and has left her purse in the child’s seat of the cart. Now she’s even farther away, browsing at lettuce varieties in the refrigerated section. Five feet to go. She turns. I turn. That was too close.

In the meat and deli department, she picks out ham and cheese, possibly to go with the tomatoes and lettuce. After a quick side trip for mayo, she’s perusing bread in the bakery section. I guess I know what she’s planning for lunch.

Now we’re entering the dairy section, and she’s studying a container of butter. I’m next to the eggs, just a couple of feet away, sweating like a butcher, my hand shaking as I reach out. She turns back, and I grab a carton of eggs. Did she look at me? Does she know?

My nerves need a break, so I head down the cereal aisle and loop around the end cap. We’re face to face. She smiles. I try. If I had been more alert, I could have done it as she walked past.

Through the fogged over glass of a freezer door, I see her image and have another opportunity. I move in, open the cooler door next to her and reach for the old woman’s black leather purse.


My basket of indiscriminate items sits abandoned on the floor of the freezer aisle, and the woman pushes her cart past without noticing. From the driver’s seat of my car, I have a clear view of the checkout line, so I sit with the engine idling to watch.

The clerk scans the mayo, bread, ham and other things as the woman stretches her hand out to pick up her purse. A white envelope protrudes from the top. She opens it.

A one hundred dollar bill dangles from between her pinched index finger and thumb. In the other hand she holds a note written by my own hand. She looks around, eyes wide open, mouth agape, possibly a tear on her cheek. The other customers in line and the checkout clerk laugh and clap their hands.

Another random act of kindness is in the books.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)