by Greg Schwartz

She trapped me with her jaundiced eye, and I couldn’t look away. Her tattered clothes and dirty skin seemed out of place here, an anomaly on Light Street among the tailored suits and eighty dollar haircuts.

“Got any change, mister?” Her wrinkled face looked up at me imploringly from where she sat, a mass of dirt and grime parked on the clean white sidewalk.

I started to shake my head and walk on, but then I thought, What the hell — she needs it more than I do. I fumbled around in my pocket until I came up with a quarter. She smiled as I held it out to her, revealing a mouth crammed full of broken yellow teeth.

Our hands touched and a spark jumped from her finger, shooting through my veins like fire. Everything grew blurry and the world spun around me. I leaned against a building for support as my stomach heaved and bucked.

The feeling left me suddenly, like the jarring stop at the end of a rollercoaster. Somehow I was sitting on the ground, back against a building, with no idea how I’d gotten there.

A man in a business suit stood over me adjusting his tie. The sun shone down over his shoulder and I could barely make out his face, but there was something horribly familiar about it. And his suit — I had one just like it.

The man stepped toward me, blocking the sun, and his artificially tanned face broke into a wide grin. My stomach folded in on itself as I recognized his face.

Slowly, I glanced down.

I was wearing a faded brown coat that draped down past my knees. Two foreign hands sat folded in my lap, old and mottled parchment skin stretched over wispy cobweb bones.

My right hand clutched a quarter.

“Thank you,” the man said, flashing his straight white teeth. The wrinkled hands in my lap clenched into weak fists. Those were my straight white teeth!

He turned and disappeared into the crowd, lost among the rest of them.

Now I sit here, begging for change.

4 Responses to “Change”

  1. Francis W. Alexander says:

    This story reminds me of the movie “Fallen” starring Denzel Washington, except the touchers weren’t killers in this story. I like the sensory images and the sudden turn of the story when the “spark jumped from her finger”. Like a haiku, it leaves the reader to imagine what would happen when a stranger came to him(her) and gave him money. Will he touch the first person to come along, will he spend time seeing what it’s like to be poor, or will he picky about whose body he wants to take over? Great flashfiction.

  2. Editor says:

    Wow, I enjoyed this piece. Your imagery flows well like a movie. I had to read it twice. Wonderful flash fiction story.

    Raquel B., Editor

  3. Thanks Francis & Raquel! Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. This is the sort of story that will stay with me: short, pithy, no wasted words, and what a punch. Thanks, Greg. Hope to see more of your writing.

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