Fourth Flash Fiction

Waving a small US flag, the little boy skipped along behind his mom and older sister as they headed across the park for the start of the big parade. The boy saw an old woman sitting alone on a park bench, throwing seed to pigeons on the sidewalk in front of her. As he came closer to her, he noticed that she wore mostly gray clothing—no red, white, and blue like all the people making their way through the park.

The boy stopped in front of the bench, scattering the birds. “Happy Fourth of July, ma’am!” he said.

The old lady smiled at him. “And happy Thursday to you, young man!”

He scrunched up his eyebrows. “But it’s not just Thursday. It’s a special day—the Fourth.”

Still smiling, she nodded. “For you, maybe. But I decided a long time ago that I’d quit celebrating Empire in any way, shape, or form. So for me it’s Thursday—but you’re completely right that it’s special, because it’s another day to celebrate and champion Humanity and all Life around the world.”

The boy stood there, staring at her. He opened his mouth to ask her what some of her words meant, but then his mother called for him. He turned and yelled, “Coming, Mom!”

Looking back at the old lady, the little boy waved. “Well, have a good day.”

She nodded at him. “You too, sonny. And try to remember what I said.” Then she smiled and winked at him.

The boy gave a slow nod and then scampered off toward his mother. “Mooooom!” he shouted as he ran. “Mom, what’s Empire? Oh, and Hoo … Huuumanity?”

Back on the park bench, the old lady laughed, then started throwing seed to the pigeons that had already regathered in front of her.