From Humble Beginnings
Ann Summerville
Flash Fiction Winner

"They 'ad another one." Flora nodded toward the dismal stone building.

"Boy?" Oliver's eyes squinted as the fog swirled around him.

"Yeah. Mrs. Nickleby said they're calling him Charles."

"1812 is gonna be a tough year for that family, make no mistake." Oliver sniffed and pulled at a dirty woolen glove.

"Never come to any good if you ask me." Flora adjusted a wicker basket over her arm.

"The father's a clerk at the Naval Office ain't he?"

"He is. But . . ." Flora shook her head. ". . . don't know what he does with the money though. Squanderin' is just a trait of nature. You mark my words that family 'll end up in Debtor's Prison."

Oliver pulled up his collar. "Miserable weather. Maybe I should sign up to go to 'merica. I 'ear they need soldiers."

"Oliver." Flora put down her basket, and gripped his lapel. "We only just got married. You could get hurt."

He embraced her waist and squeezed. "It's just a thought."

"You wanna go down and see if we can sell some of these to ladies off the boats?" She adjusted the colorful ribbons in her basket.

Oliver rubbed his hands together. "We could pick some pockets if there's some gents down there."

"No Oliver. We can make an honest living without that."

As they turned toward Portsmouth Harbor, Oliver looked over his shoulder. "What did you say the child's name was again?"

"Charles. Charles Dickens."

First published: February, 2008
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