The Woman in the White Hat

This is a bizarre little story I wrote in our Thursday night group.  My goal was to use every prompt, and to make my friends laugh.

Prompts:  her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center, he was as tall as a 6’3” tree, inanimate as a lamp, guarded opinions, follow the woman in the white hat


We stood as tall and straight and inanimate as a city street lamp, trying to blend in with the 6’3” trees, not the Sycamores or the Modesto Ash, don’t be silly, those trees are monster tall, but Billy told me I might be able to pass for a Ginko, they’re slight and thin with feathery triangular leaves.

Billy was always saying stuff like that, lines of poetry and silly puns, trying to impress me, I think.  But we had a job to do, and I didn’t want to get distracted by his flirty patter. Not here.  Not now.  Maybe in a different time and place, but we have to stay focused.

We were trailing the woman in the white hat.  It was a silly conceit of the government, making their agents all were white hats, as if to say, “We’re the good guys!  You can tell!”  Fine.  Made them easy to spot.  And easy to follow in a crowd.  Whether or not they were wearing their uniforms, they always wore their stupid white straw hats.

This woman was in a gray trench coat and shiny brown boots, but the hat gave her away.  She was the one who guarded opinions.  We spotted her a block from the university at a frozen yogurt shop.  “Look,” Billy told me as we pretended to peruse the yogurt menu.  “She’s carrying.”

My heart leapt into my throat.  It was true.  She had the trademark plaid satchel that nine times out of ten was chock full of opinions.  Ever since the election, the government scoured schools and libraries and public gathering spots, looking for opinions.  They’d snatch them up quickly before they could circulate.  They kept them closely guarded.  It was an insidious plot, and it was resulting in a lot of boredom.  There were no more opinions on FB and Twitter, only stories about the Kardasians and ads for soft drinks and hair care products.  Newspapers could think of nothing to say.  The Failing New York Times could find nothing more interesting than a story about Caitlyn Jenner’s new mascara.  “Her eyes are like two brown circles with big black dots in the center,” the journalist wrote, obviously afraid to offer a description that might veer toward the subjective.

Billy recruited me when he caught me sleeping in my 20th century literature class.  The discussion was so dull that I was happy to join the search for something more cognitively challenging.  Now, hot on the trail of the woman in the white hat, I was looking forward to a big helping of intrigue.

4 thoughts on “The Woman in the White Hat

  1. Nancy:

    Very different than your usual ‘stuff’. I loved it. Whimsical and political. An excellent combination.

    As much as I love novels this was fun. A character in a novel (Thale’s Folly) by Dorothy Gilman writes only beginnings. It is a wonderful idea. Maybe a book of beginnings?


    Nancy Ostiguy


    1. Oh, a book of beginnings might be fun. Marketed as a book of prompts for other writers, perhaps. And once you’re retired, Nancy, you might want to try your hand at finishing one of these stories? It’s more fun than you’d imagine!

  2. Great fun – A great write and apropos to today’s climate. Nancy O, I cherish Nancy S’s writing like these, we get to hear them a lot on Thursday nights.

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