man 'hat' tan dreams

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Start your story with an unexpected knock on a window.... view prompt


American Fiction

Yet another dreary night. The humdrum life had become so repetitive, she started to accept it as normal. Among the bustling crowds of the city stood the silhouette of a girl. Head hung low, she inhaled the traces of perfume and tobacco, mixing together to become a homogeneous substance to smoke second hand. It was...enjoyable, though no different from the night before. Her hair was not nicely combed or braided or gelled like the women walking by her. She had no furs or heels to her name. No sickly sweet voice. No hat. Was she still a lady? She giggled. Still a female at least.

If one were to actually notice her, they might first assume she was admiring the twinkle of the late December stars. If one was to truly examine her, they would know she had no reason to look at the stars.   The stars ridiculed her, taunting her for chasing a long taught ideology. Follow your dreams; what a joke. Following her dreams had left her stuck on the streets of Manhattan, wandering to and fro high-end shops, only allowed to peek through windows at the luxuries she would never dream of touching. Rather, she dreamed of touching, but could not. 

The girl was so thin she swayed in the breeze, gently flowing to the hum of a street musician a block down. She twirled through the crowd, allowing her body to be cradled by the tender chords, lifting her feet ever so slightly, relaxing her body to the point where the morning’s harsh beatings could not be felt. The wind too guided her along, somehow shielding her from the occasional frosty bites of snowflakes.

Just a shadow flowing through the crowds. No one saw.

Upon opening her eyes, she found herself in front of the same store the wind had carried her to before. There sat, beyond a wall of glass, a hat. Quite an odd object for fascination, but the immaculately placed feathers, gold lining, faux-suede felt, crane embroidery; oh how beautiful! The crown, a deep hue of blue, darker than the oceans past the edges of the city. Ah and a lovely scarlet, richer than the lipstick women of the metropolis wore. All contrasted by shimmering gold and silver. She knew not what drew her to it, but supposed the hat drew similarities to the flag of the country she pledged her life to. The statue she saw when first arriving to the new land, a beacon of light, words vowing to protect the incoming. The dream of the land: to travel from sea to shining sea, to think freely, to be equal, to accomplish. Oh how she wished the red, white, and blue of her country were to fulfill all as true. 

A sudden knock brought her from her reveries. There, directly obstructing her view of the hat stood a plump middle-aged lady, clad in posh designer clothing. Not again…, she groaned internally. The shop owner.

“Excuse you. I don’t want any beggar's nose pressed up against my window. Quite frankly, it’s terrible for the business. Oh poor me. I’ve lost 3 customers, all thanks to you. Get your a** off my steps and back to where you belong. If I find you back here, a whoopings down your way.”

She sighed as the shop owner slammed the door with a flourish. With one last longful glance, she once again blended into the bustling night crowds of Manhattan. This time however, there was no wind, no music to push her ahead. Oh! To be someone...distinguished. Someone accomplished. Someone-

Royal Blue:

Blue is not something people associate with cities, certainly not one as busy as Manhattan. Perhaps one finds it abundantly at the sea or upon the exotic circus animals from Africa, yet the only color painting the night sky was the very royal blue on the hat. It overflowed the boundaries of its canvas ‘til only tinges of the day’s shades could be seen. 


Decorating it were silver embellishments; stars. The very objects that mocked her every night, only giving relief once day had come forth. Once, she had sat in her run-down hut miles from town wishing upon them to guide her like parents she would never have. Stars, oh stars are not what they seem. 


Time seems to move so slowly, yet in one second, one’s life can be destroyed.

Just. Like. That. 




S c a r l e t.

Lifting a hand to her face, she inspected it. Not quite red, for red is just a general term for a multitude of shades. Crimson would be too light to describe it. Scarlet seems the perfect match. Time seemed to slow as a single drop collected at the tip of her lean finger, becoming darker with the added dirt, until the weight allowed it to break free. A soft “plink” on her face. Snaking its way down from her pudgy nose to her jawline, painting a streak, one of a true American warrior. Quite an unconventional fall, but then again, everything in life is a battlefield. 

Gold… the ornaments hung upon trees on Christmas Eve. She wished for a gift, just once. Life has interesting ways of fulfilling a wish. Sometimes it gives hope, other times, takes it away. She recalled the hat which she had spent days studying and longing for. Finally today she understood her connection to it. It was not the desire to be rich, live a lavish life, flaunt the dyed feathers upon her head. No. The hat best reminded her of the American ideology: to live out her dream, even if as controversial as the stars had shown her the prompt was. 

Eventually, the snowflakes ceased falling, suspended in air by invisible strings. People freezing mid-step. Kids with tears dangling above their lips as they stopped begging for a new lollipop. And when time fully stopped, she got up, hat upon her head, and ascended to a new start.

June 10, 2021 01:16

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