Flash Fiction

San Cassimally
3 min readMar 29


A new version

When I moved to Edinburgh twenty years ago, I formed the opinion that people here were less hostile to foreigners than down south. There, strangers did not smile at this dishevelled brown little old man as our paths crossed. Noticing this difference, I began to smile and nod at people on the streets.

Orchids by Neha Kumar (Unsplash)

Every morning on my way to the newsagent’s I passed outside a florist’s, and marvelled at the energy of the woman in her late thirties, working with great speed moving the flower pots from inside her shop to the pavement, and arranging them for display. I watched her in awe as she dashed inside and in a matter of seconds came out with three or four potted plants, lining them outside and quick as a flash, at it again to collect yet another lot. I smiled my appreciation at the good lady, but was rewarded by a blank stare, which I sadly read only too well as, I don’t want anything to do with people like you, unless you’re buying flowers. On another occasion, our paths inevitably crossed again, and as our eyes met, I forced a reluctant, Good morning, to her. She did not look at me, but gave a grudging, “mawn” and a quick nod in response. Subsequently I found it easy to avoid her.

On the next thousand days, our eyes met no more than twice, when we exchanged curt nods. She never smiled at me, although she was warm and effusive to Scottish passers-by.

Over the years I noticed a young lassie who was obviously her young daughter. She sometimes came to help her mum on Saturdays and during the holidays. Interestingly she was a smiler, and often when our eyes met she would give me a shy little smile.

Time passes. I am still living in the same place, and the florist is still there, but I never gave any conscious thought to her. A few years ago, I somehow realised that she was no longer there, and I never even asked myself any question about what might have happened. But after I don’t know how long, she was back. She had lost weight, and I noticed that she was rather slower in her motion. The daughter was now in the secondary school which is on my road, and I sometimes saw her with her friends. She had probably forgotten me by now.

More time passes, and one day I noticed that the lady had regained her erstwhile energy levels. By now I no longer acknowledged her presence, nor she mine. One day I as I was passing outside a university building I recognised the daughter as she emerged with some friends, chatting happily. It gave me a certain pleasure that this little girl who used to smile at me seemed to be doing well.

A few months ago, I saw a pram outside the florist’s with a little brown baby sleeping blissfully. A few weeks later I caught sight of a young man who shared at least my skin colour inside the florist’s talking to the lady, and they seemed to be sharing a joke. The thought that the brown man was the daughter’s boyfriend or partner occurred to me.

This morning on my way to collect my newspaper, although I was wearing a mask against Covid19, a woman merrily shouted, Mawn, to me, like to an old friend. It was my florist walking towards her shop.



San Cassimally

Prizewinning playwright. Mathematician. Teacher. Professional Siesta addict.