Issue 5 cover

The Prettiest Crayon in the Box

by Heather Lindsley

Issue 5 :: Winter 2009 (stories)

Donald sits down two barstools away from me, the closest acceptable position in a nearly-empty bar. Donald will want to talk, I can see that, but he'll be polite about it.

If his name isn't Donald, it might as well be. He looks like a man who would answer to Donald. His wife and his boss and his mother probably call him that, all the people who resist calling him Don.

He's wearing the suit of a mid-level sales rep who just met with a client. Maybe it went well. Maybe it didn't. Donald probably has a wife and kids at home. I suspect them of making cookies. Tomorrow Donald will fly back to homemade cookies. Right now he's about to talk to me; tonight he will pick up a prostitute near his hotel. But tomorrow there will be cookies.

Donald's not quite looking at me when he says, "You eat beets?" and I wonder if that's what he sells. I've never met anyone who sold beets, so I'm starting to like him, just for the novelty. Someday I could say, My friend Donald sells beets.

"Yeah, sometimes."

"You like 'em?"

"Yeah, they're okay."


These are questions I've never been asked.


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"The Prettiest Crayon in the Box" is roughly 1265 words.

Heather Lindsley is a geographically-conflicted Southern Californian who keeps most of her stuff in Seattle while living in London. Her stories have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and The Year's Best Science Fiction #12.