Short Story Preview: Poison Lady
Roma took the bright yellow pastel and coloured in the racemes of Laburnum peeping in at top left of frame. She crawled round to the right; yellow, too, for the tiny frog just visible in the henbane weeds below. The strong summer sunlight made the colours glow. Perhaps some lupins and, in the foreground, snowdrops and lilies of the valley? She sat back on her heels to examine the work and only then became aware of a knot of pedestrians gazing down at it. As if embarrassed to be caught staring, they turned hurriedly and strode off towards the bus stop.
‘You know your flowers,’ said a deep voice.
Roma looked up at the owner of the polished shoes and expensive coat.
‘Let me guess?’ she replied, ‘it takes one to know one.’
‘Correct,’ he laughed, ‘but why so many toads?’
‘Incorrect! They’re frogs! And they all have something in common.’
‘One lives and learns. May I introduce myself? Derek Forbes, computer engineer and candidate for the Green Party which I’m sure you know, is all for preserving the ecology. There are opponents, alas, but the party could well use your talent to further its cause. May I know your name?’
Did he mean it? Was this just a new chat-up line or a gateway to a proper job at last? But did she have to give her real name?
‘I’m Marie Bingham, but I’m not sure if…’