Flash fiction: Hatless by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about someone who always wears the same hat for some secret and/or mysterious reason.

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com.


By Val Muller

I hate the cold. Absolutely hate it. Nome, Alaska? Not exactly tropical. You’re not allowed to complain about the cold until you’ve wintered in Alaska.

What I wouldn’t give to get out of here.

Sitting here in my car, heat blasting, I wonder: Am I really going to leave? I’ve got a security deposit, but it’s kind of like chewing off your arm in desperation, right? Just leave that and run. Heck, the landlord deserves that bonus. Never going to find a new tenant in the middle of this Ice Age.

But part of me thinks I’m crazy for doing this. A plane ticket and two suitcases. And that’s it. Just fly somewhere tropical and start over.


But crazier than moving to the coldest town I could find as soon as I came of age?

I pull my hat lower and grab the door handle. I could just as easily walk back into my apartment. Status quo is easiest. And the cost of leaving this ice prison is a high one. Even though I hate the cold, there’s something about your own bed, your own clothes. Am I really just going to leave it all?

I pull the hat away just for a moment and cringe as I look in the rearview mirror. This is what everyone will see. This will be their first impression—everyone’s first impression—for all eternity. I’m not sure which is worse, the ones that try to ignore the scar but just end up staring at it, or the ones who ask about it outright. You’re not allowed to complain about fitting in until you’ve lived with this kind of atrocity etched into your face by your own father.

But 30 hit hard. On the way to work, glancing in the mirror, I wondered: am I really going to wear this hat forever? Am I really prepared to hide from this scar for the rest of my life? To the extent that I will remain in self-inflicted exile? For what? To wait for death?


And then I saw it on TV. A commercial for a cruise line. Those palm trees, the warmth of the sun on those bronzed bodies. What I wouldn’t give to live there. I think once I knew what warm sunlight felt on the skin. It’s like a nearly-forgotten dream.  

But they don’t wear winter hats in the tropics. Everyone I meet will ask me about the scar. And then I’ll have to get into it: the alcohol, the abuse, the countless foster homes, the point of life being simply to survive. And then I’ll endure the pity, the embarrassment for having asked.

I cut the engine and pull the hat back on. Jingle the keys. Take a step toward my apartment. And then a demonic gust comes out of the north and chills my soul. So I hurry back to the car, turn on the engine, and gun it toward the airport.

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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