FridayFlash: Five Hundred Francs

Five Hundred Francs

by Tony Noland

“Oh, my poor Mathilde. But mine were false. At most they were worth five hundred francs!”

The proud and joyful look did not leave Mme. Loisel's face. Her expression did not change at all, even as Mme. Forester repeated, "My poor Mathilde!" They stood for a time, the one unmoving, the other moved all too deeply.

At length, Mme. Loisel, her face still frozen, removed her hands from those of the woman who had once been her friend. Without another word, she turned and slowly walked across the Champs Elysees, the morning sun lending her an air of almost nobility as she moved through the Jardin de Tuileries toward the dark, cold Seine.

Mme. Forester fell to her knees and held her child to her bosom, controlling her weeping with only the greatest of human effort.

"Ah, Mme. Forester. I trust I find you well?"

She lifted her eyes to see the tall, thin man that she had known would be nearby. His black coat and beaver hat were immaculate, as always. She tried to speak, but was unable to find words.

"So, Madame, you see how much can be accomplished with one small falsehood? And told so convincingly! Of course, our bargain will not actually be sealed until..." He paused, his head cocked as though listening for something. For a time, he stood so. Then, as if hearing a bell tower chime the hour, he broke into a smile.

"There, 'tis done. The Seine runs swiftly at this time of year. Look, see how the bloom returns to your daughter's cheeks. As I promised, her illness has now left her and she will grow to full womanhood."

It was true. Even as she beheld her darling Colette, the little girl seemed to grow stronger with every breath. Ah! But at what cost! Mme. Forester broke into open sobs and covered her child's head with kisses. She knew not whether her tears were those of joy or of fright and horror at what she had done. She lifted her eyes to the man in the black coat and whispered, "I hate you."

"As does most of the world, Madame, I assure you." The man in the black coat smiled as long as her tears lasted. Then, with the air of a man who has concluded a piece of business, he tipped his hat to her.

"Good day, Mme. Forester." He made to turn, but paused, dipping a hand into his coat pocket. "Ah, one last little matter nearly slipped my mind. I won't be needing it anymore, so I return it to you, perhaps as a present for your daughter. A piece almost as fine as the one in your right-hand jewelry case. You recognize it, I trust?" He held out his hand to her.

Her heart fluttered and leapt to see her necklace, her own necklace from so long ago, the pure white diamonds sparkling in the sunshine. She clutched at her child, as though he offered her a scorpion.

"Naturally, it was I who took the necklace in the first place. It proved to be a very productive enterprise. Good day, Madame."

Other #FridayFlash pieces can be found here


  1. C'etait un petit peu trop obsur pour moi mon ami! But I did like your Paris of days gone by, and Le Jardin des Tuileries is one of my favourite places in the City of Light.

  2. when one deals with Lucifer - cest fini! well told tony.

  3. Nice twist on dealing with beelzebub. You paint him familiarly eerie. Superb. Peace, Linda

  4. So, finishing what Maupassant started, eh?

    Mathilde's desire to be accepted in a social class that was above her husband's means, certainly brought her nothing but...hell.

    I enjoyed it!

  5. Perfect amount of detail (loved the beaver hat, though not sure why), and the well chosen names help 'Frenchify' the story. Feels very complete for a short tale.

  6. Lucifer in a beaver it!

  7. Okay, I'm just a slow-witted Texas boy with Anasazi on the brain, so I had trouble with this one. Who was that woman in the opening? What only cost five hundred francs and were fake? The necklace that the beaver-hatted brute at the end gave her? Had Mme. Loisel stolen it from Mme. Loisel to buy life for Colette? I just can't follow the thread here.

    Also, being lazy and referring here to another post of yours, you have my sympathy for the plagiarism. Anyone who would steal semicolons from you and lines from Lovecraft should spend eternity thrust under the beaver hat of the devil.

    Jeff Posey

  8. Forgive my obscurity. "The Necklace" is one of the classics, with a set-up, delivery and twist that any flash fiction writer will recognize. Putting a twist on the twist struck me as an interesting challenge.

    Aside from its beautiful language and clarity of vision, reading "The Necklace" is like drinking from the small, clear spring at the headwaters of all modern short fiction.

    I just hope I haven't ruined it for anyone with my pale little effort.

  9. I'll have to read 'the Necklace' now as well. I confess I too was ignorant. But very well written. 'Beaver hat' made me smile :-)

  10. Ah! I just "The Necklace," which I have never seen before. Perfect sense. Now it makes perfect sense. Thank you.

    Jeff Posey

  11. I was put off Maupassant by my French teacher forcing me to read Une Vie at an age when all I could think about were Jedi knights and hobbits.

    I'll have to thank you twice as a result - once for the introduction to the Necklace, and the other of course for your own offering (which made perfect sense after the Necklace!)

  12. I had never read "The NEcklace" before, but I did recognize the theme from various shows, and particularly Simpsons;-)

    I do wonder, am I too understand that Ol' Scratch's whole point for her to kill herself in the Seine? It just seems that with her vanity, and that she had already made good on her debts at the cost of her husbands health, that it would've been an easy sould for him to nab.

    Not that I didn't like, I just thought that his reward for such a drawn out plot was rather weak.

  13. I liked it but had to read the comments to figure out what I was missing. Flash fiction with a homework assignment, sure why not. I thought the beaver hat was a nice touch too.

  14. It would appear that the most popular aspect here was the beaver hat. Note to self: obscure sartorial references SELL!

    I hope everyone will give "The Necklace" a few minutes of your time, either as a new read or to renew an old acquaintance with it. It's well worth your time. Not a homework assignment, Chris, just a recommendation from an author scribbling away at the feet of giants.

    Was one little suicide worth Satan's time and effort? Well, D. Paul, remember that he not only got Mme. Loisel's suicide, he also got her to throw away her youth, beauty and social position, and to drag her poor husband down with her. He got ten years of humiliating penury out of both of them as she rationalized pride as honor. At the end, when she had reconciled herself to her lot in life and was trying to gain some little bit of nobility recognized for her sacrifice, the Devil got Mme. Forester to deny her even that.

    Looking forward from here, he gets the pain of her suicide, the anguished suffering of her grieving husband, the guilt and horror of Mme. Forester for the rest of her life, and maybe will sink his hooks into Colette as well.

    Does this seem like a minor bunch of people for the Devil to be concerned with? Not really. He's got almost as much patience as God, and we're all just items on his To Do list, anyway, right?

  15. I was a little lost too, having never read, "The Necklace." I did get the deal with the devil, but never was able to tie in the other woman, probably due to the hole in my literary background. The imagery was vivid, but the big picture lost on me.

  16. Interesting exercise. Your extension certainly fits the feel of the original, though the addition of Satan obviously extends the scope.

  17. I just liked the deal struck. I've never read the story in reference. Perhaps I should.

  18. I had not known "The Necklace" until I ready your comment mentioning it.

    Now that I have read it, I can see what you were doing with yours. Nice twist - and I really like your dapper devil.

    And the hat was a nice touch. :)

  19. Ah, a more pervasive, subtler evil. Not merely collecting souls, but sowing suffering as well. In a beaverskin hat. Yeah, I see your point.

    I fell into the "Hollywood" trap of seeing him as only a collecter of Souls, not as the driving, albeit discrete, force in human pain.

    On a side note, anyone who uses "penury" in their comments, without it feeling as contrived logorrnhea, is born to write.


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