Pic and a Word Challenge #2: Attraction

Zuhra noticed Tahir was still at his shop. She shuttered her own, the veils and headscarves already neatly tucked away for the night, and closed the clasp on the lock.

Waving goodbye to Patime, who sold baskets, Zuhra aimlessly made her way across the street, being careful to take in all the sights of the nearly closed marketplace before innocently stopping outside Tahir’s shop.

Frustratingly, Tahir did not offer her a glance as he worked at a seam in a plain grey hat with needle and thread.

“Staying open late, Tahir?”

Without looking up from his work, Tahir matter-of-factly replied, “No, just trying to repair the mess my assistant made of this hat.”

Zuhra hitched herself up on the counter. Sitting with her legs demurely crossed, she turned her shoulder and leaned over, with a coquettish turn of her head. “I love the fabric,” she said of the standard grey cotton. Eying the poorly executed stitching, she asked “what’s wrong with it though?”

“It’s this seam,” Tahir began to reply as he held the hat up to her, pointing to the botched sewing job. When he looked from where his finger was pointing to Zuhra’s face, he found her eyes looking directly into his, rather than the hat. Tahir swallowed. “The… the stitching is all… crooked.”

Never taking her eyes off his, Zuhra leaned further forward, reaching out to turn the hat a little, so she could see better. Her fingers landed on Tahir’s wrist, instead.

Tahir’s eyes widened. Zuhra took a shallow breath in.

She looked at the seam, looked back into Tahir’s eyes. “Yes,” she pouted a little, “that is rather messy.”

At that, she let go his wrist, hopped down to the ground, saying, “But I’m sure you can fix it!”

As she began to walk away, Zuhra glanced back, her head tilted down so she had to look up through her brows to see him, “Goodnight, Tahir!”

Tahir waited until he was sure she wouldn’t be looking back again before he leaned out his shop window to watch her walk away. He took a deep breath in, cocked his head to the side and let the breath back out through a smile and a nod. The skin was still tingling where her fingers had touched him. Tahir nearly touched the spot with his other hand, but stopped himself. He liked that feeling, and wanted it to linger.

Ah, but the hat… He turned it over, looked at the seams. The hat was a total loss. His afternoon project had been to make that hat. Normally he’d have finished it in a couple hours, but he’d worked at it all afternoon. Well, when he wasn’t stealing surreptitious glances at Zuhra.

Such a waste of cloth. As he threw it in the trash bin, he smiled. A small price to pay, he thought, for such a beautiful distraction.

He took down the hat racks above the windows, placing them in their overnight holders, then closed the shutters and locked them up. There was an unconscious skip in his step as he walked away, the tingle still lingering on his wrist.

Hat Shop
Xinjiang, China

Taken during travels, 1998

The Pic and a Word Challenge is a weekly creativity prompt offered Sunday mornings.

Many of my posts begin with searching through my photographs until I find one which evokes words. Often, the flow of words begins with just one, a starting point — a theme or a metaphor, perhaps — from which all the others spring. I also find a lot of inspiration from Jennifer Nichole Wells’ One Word Photo Challenge, where I begin with her one word and search through my photographs until I find something which, when combined with Jennifer’s word, evokes more words. I’ve combined these two methods for finding inspiration in this challenge, and hope all you amazingly gifted writers and photographers will enjoy taking it up.

Each week I will provide a photograph of mine along with a single word. The challenge? Using the pic and a word as points of inspiration, create something — a photograph, a painting, prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, longread or just a few words. You are welcome to use these two elements (photograph and word) literally, thematically or metaphorically. If you create both images and words, all the better.

To participate:

  • You may use any title you like.
  • Your response can be words and/or an image
  • You may use my image in your post, or any image that you have created.
  • Place the challenge’s Pic and Word prominently in your post
  • Mention that you are responding to the Pic and a Word Challenge
  • Add a link to this post in your response

To help us find your response, you can also:

  • Add a comment on this post to announce your response
  • Apply the tag “Pic and a Word Challenge” to your post

Each week, I’ll list the previous week’s responses at the end of the new challenge. I may also share some on my social media for the blog: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.

Have a great week!

Last week’s challenge: Discovery
The word for last week’s Pic and a Word Challenge #1 was Discovery, along with this photograph of the access road to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. It had one beautiful response: