Gayatri Achar posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-50 on 2023-03-24

"Mumma, can you read me a story," said five-year-old Clara as her mother tucked her into bed. "Which story do you want me to read, cherie?" asked Fleur. "Cinderella," Clara said. Fleur took the book from her bedside and began- "There once lived a small girl called Ella…." "Mumma, doesn't her dress look pretty?" Clara said, flipping the pages and looking at the colorful pictures. She knew almost every word in the book, but still made her mother read it to her every night. "Yes, cherie," Fleur said and continued.  When she finished reading the story, Clara said, "You know Mumma, I think you're pretty like Cinderella." "You think I do?" Fleur said with a small smile on her face.  "I think you're the kindest and prettiest mother," Clara said, hugging Fleur. Fleur looked at her daughter's delicate face and sighed. She kissed her daughter gently on her forehead and put out the lights. "Camille, give her some warm milk, if she cries at night," Fleur said, closing the door behind her. "Oui, madame," Camille said as she did the dishes. Fleur changed her clothing, and after making sure her daughter was asleep, turned the latch of the door of her apartment. The door opened and she stepped out - barely recognizable in her new avatar.  A few minutes ago, she was a caring mother, reading bedtime stories to her small daughter. Now she was dressed in a long trench coat, with black boots and a black hat. But it was her face that made her look like a different person. What had been a warm, compassionate face with smiling eyes was now replaced by a straight face with eyes that showed sheer determination and ruthlessness. In the day, the world saw her as a soft, tender-hearted person, but at night, she was precisely the opposite. She crossed the street and after making sure that no one was behind her, pulled a few bricks from what looked like an unfinished apartment, and Voila! a small opening was created. Fleur went inside, and the opening vanished behind her. She went down a flight of stairs into a tunnel lit solely by flame lamps. She then came to what seemed like a dead end. She pushed another brick and entered a warehouse — the base for her wireless operations. An undercover agent from England, Emily lived as Fleur in France. She, along with her daughter, had been sent to France four years back, where Fleur had to work as a wireless operator.  During the day she was a gentle mother, while at night she was a secret agent. She lived in two worlds and had two different avatars. She had to play her roles as these two avatars carefully. One wrong step and both her life as well as her daughter’s could be in grave danger. *** Author's Note: During World War 2, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) was formed in Britain to send agents to different parts of enemy-occupied Europe. France at that time, was under German occupation. Glossary:
  • Cherie- Dear
  • Oui- Yes
  • Madame- Madam
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