Prompt Short Story: On Mission

Using the coffee table, Alison emptied her purse and began replacing objects within, mentally checking off her list to ensure she had everything she might need for the day. 

Behind her, padding downstairs in socks and not much else, her roommate and best friend, Denise glanced over, “Uh. Should I ask you why you have a knife in your purse?”

Alison let out a yelp. She hated when Denise wandered around in her socks, she was so damn quiet! Quickly checking the rest of the items left of the table for anything else questionable and seeing nothing, she forced herself to shrug nonchalantly. Standing the blade upright on her forefinger, she artfully balanced it as she spoke, “It’s a dagger, actually. And no, you shouldn’t. Didn’t your mother never teach you not to ask a lady about what she carried in her purse?”

Denise laughed and hit the button on the kettle, “My mother didn’t stick around long enough to teach me anything. Want a drink?”

“Shit, Den, of course she didn’t – sorry. But no ta, I’m off out. What you up to today?”

Denise spooned far too much coffee and sugar into a cup, sloshed some milk in – then cleaned up the mess she always made around the cup, “Got an appointment with the gender clinic lady over zoom in half an hour, then I’ve got a couple of commissions to work on before work tonight. You gonna come for a drink? I start at 6.”

“Zoom? Really? Don’t people need privacy anymore?”

Denise grinned, “Apparently I don’t get a choice.”

“Ugh,” Alison shook her head. “Anyway, I’ll try to get in for last orders so we can walk home. I’ll text you if I can’t. “

“Nice, that’ll save me some taxi fare, thanks Al.”

Denise took her coffee back upstairs and Alison finished her checklist. Happy that everything she needed was in her bag, she stood, stretched, straightened her outfit, and headed out, bopping her head to the music playing in her earbuds. The walk to the meeting place was only three miles, the day was mild, and she needed to think about what she was preparing to do.

She felt bad for not telling Denise what had been going on, what her work really was, but her friend had enough to deal with right now. Gatekeepers and random transphobes, especially given her bar work, had been more than enough to keep her friend on edge. Alison would tell her everything after tonight, she promised herself, after swearing her to secrecy – for the sake of both of their lives – but until then Denise was best left out of it. Besides, she needed time to convince Denise not to either lock her up to keep her safe, or start coming with her. And neither of those things could happen.

Meeting in a park in broad daylight felt wrong, Alison mused. Wasn’t this sort of thing meant to happen furtively? At night in an alley, or a smoky back room over an illegal poker game?

She grinned to herself. She’d seen way too many movies. A park on a nice day was ideal. Nothing suspicious about two people just meeting for a walk. Even if one of them carried a dagger, and the other orders for a hit.

This would be the second mission Alison had been on. The previous one had been the end of her training – she had assisted, but the hand holding the knife had not been hers. She was ready, she was sure. But making that final blow for the first time would not be easy. That was the hurdle she had to get over, and as she had been told over and over, nobody truly knows if they can, until they get to the moment itself.

How did she get here? She still wasn’t sure. An approach by a strange woman after yet again not-quite-placing in a gymnastics tournament, just when she was considering giving up. An offer of money. Adventure. Training. A purpose. She still wasn’t sure either how she got through their rigorous training over the last year – she’d never been the smartest person in the room – but apparently she had, and now she was almost a full and active agent. After tonight, she would be.

She still wasn’t sure of their purpose, if she was honest with herself. Something about stopping people who couldn’t be stopped by traditional methods. A deeply secret, government-sanctioned-but-will-definitely-be-hung-out-to-dry-if-anyone-found-out agency with no name. And here she was, looking for the man in the green jacket, carrying a book and a bag, waiting by the flower clock.

There he was.

Alison approached, checking her red jacket and pink cancer ribbon just in case they’d fallen off or become something entirely different on the way. 

The man stood and greeted her with a cheek kiss, his deep voice echoing through her ears, giving instructions as they walked. She memorised everything she needed to know – no paperwork, not even to glance at and then destroy – and accepted cheek kisses again as he departed, twenty minutes later.

Alison reached into her purse, brushing the dagger with her fingers, and made her way to the bus stop. She had an important place to be.

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Writing prompt used:

“Should I ask you why you have a knife in your purse?” “It’s a dagger, actually. And no, you shouldn’t”


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