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You Can Never Judge a Book by It's Cover- Flash Fiction

I love to write flash fiction, using a moral standard to not pass judgement until you look deeper inside.


The year was 1948. Jeanie and Lucille lived in a small town with their mother. Their father had skipped town when they were too young to remember him. Jeanie was five and Lucille was eight, and it seemed they were always looking for ways to make extra money to help mama out.

They were looking through a Spiegel catalog and came across pictures of Jesus, glossy 8/10 for 10 cents a piece. The article said that they could be resold for 25 cents a piece. Ten cents was hard to find, but they finally raked up enough to buy five pictures.

It was Halloween night, instead of going trick or treating they went from door to door hoping to sell the Jesus pictures. Their persistence paid off. They sold 4 of the pictures.

They looked up at the old ramshackled house at the top of the hill and remembered that was the house everyone stayed away from, supposedly a real, live witch lived there.

They were afraid, but they needed to sell the last picture so badly. They stood looking at the old house and finally blew all caution aside and slowly climbed the hill.

Lucille, being the oldest and bravest knocked on the door. An old woman answered and said " yes " Lucille told her she had Jesus pictures to sell, and she only had one left. The old woman invited them in. They both took a closer look at the old woman, and now they were really afraid. She had a big mole on her nose and hair was growing around it. She had deep wrinkles and she was bent over and walked with a limp.

The old woman looked at the picture of Jesus and said " I like it. How much will it cost me? " Jeanie spoke up and said, " Only 25 cents. " The old woman thought for a minute and said, " I guess 25 cents is not too much, so I'll take it. "


She gave the girls 25 cents from her worn apron, then she asked them if they liked pumpkin pie? They both eagerly said, " Yes, and we like ice cream too. "

Soon they were all sitting around the kitchen table enjoying the pumpkin pie and ice cream, When they finished eating they went to the door to leave. The old woman told them her name was Nellie and asked them to please come visit her again and told them that she got lonely up on the hill all alone.


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 31, 2020:

Sweet story! I hope the girls visited her again. Perhaps the money they made from selling the photos would enable them to purchase more and make even more money.

I just now read the comments and realize that this story is one from your youth which makes it even sweeter. Did you and your sister return to visit her again?

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on April 06, 2020:

Hello Mitara, so good to see you again. The story is partly true, Lucille was my sister, Virgie Lucille, and Jeanie was me, Ruby Jean. and we did go from door to door selling Jesus pictures. So glad you liked my story. Thank you.

Mitara N from South Africa on April 06, 2020:

Wow Ruby,

A beautiful read, I enjoy reading stories of this nature, takes me back to childhood.

Hope to read many more of your chapters ;)

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on November 19, 2019:

Thank you Lisa, so glad you came to read my story. Thank you.

Lisa Chronister from Florida on November 18, 2019:

Such a wonderful message, packed tightly inside a lovely story!

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 29, 2019:

Hello Manatita, so nice to see you again. I have missed your poetry. Thank you..

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 29, 2019:

Hello Nikki, so glad you approve of my story, and your comment is true. I have in the past met someone and thought they were unfriendly when in fact, they became really good friends. Thank you much.

manatita44 from london on October 29, 2019:

Sounds a bit Halloween! That Shakespearean woman looks cool with her broomstick. A soft, sweet; soothing touch to the season. Peace.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 29, 2019:

Shauna, I couldn't agree more. So glad you thought it was a beautiful story. I remember that evening so well. I really was afraid going to houses that I was unfamiliar with. Remembering the fear, I thought of a Halloween story. Thank you so much.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 29, 2019:

Hello Audrey, I really enjoyed writing this, drudging up old memories and putting them in a story is so much fun. So glad you came to visit. Thank you much.

Nikki Khan from London on October 29, 2019:

What a sweet story Ruby, loved each bit of it. We definitely shouldn't guess others through their appearances which we do most of the time and miss our chance to get good friends at the end.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

There are two lessons to be learned here, Ruby. First, don't judge a book by it's cover, as you so aptly conveyed. Second, is life isn't all about taking (trick and treating), but give and take. When the girls chose to sell the pictures of Jesus, they not only gained a small income, but they gave solace to those who bought the pictures.

Beautiful story!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on October 27, 2019:

An excellent message Ruby! I loved your story and remember well the year 1948. Thank you and looking forward to more from you.

Happy thoughts and happy times to you!

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 23, 2019:

Hello Devika, so happy to see you. I agree with your comment. Not everyone is beautiful, but beauty is only skin deep and it fades over time. Then what? Thank you for reading and commenting.

Devika Primic on October 23, 2019:

People who gossip and judge from an appearance do not know what it is like to be hurt with gossip. A brave part on you to write of your childhood experience through the story.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 21, 2019:

I agree Shannon. So glad you came to read my story. Thank you much.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 21, 2019:

What a sweet story. I'm glad I came to read it. Sometimes friends show up in unexpected places.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 20, 2019:

Hello Ann. I have been having problems with commenting, I click it to post and the whole comment disappears. Thank you for coming to read my story.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 20, 2019:

Lovely story of persistence and bravery, Ruby. Also so true that we shouldn't judge from appearances.

Missed this because of lack of notifications lately.


Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 19, 2019:

Hello Randi, so nice to see you again. Happy you enjoyed reading my story. Thank you.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 19, 2019:

Hello Ven. This little story is just a memory that resurfaced from my childhood. The two girls were my sister Virgie Lucille and me, Ruby Jean, we really did sell Jesus pictures, but it was not Halloween. Thanks for coming to read my attempt of a scary flash.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 19, 2019:

Hello Nithya, so true, your comment. Beauty is only skin deep. A loving heart shines! Thank you much.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on October 19, 2019:

Great story! Both interesting and relatable. I especially liked reading the commrnys after and realizing it was also a true story! Thank you for sharing!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on October 19, 2019:

Very interesting story, Ruby. I thought it was about some book; but, it turned out to be about a person who looked scary and very nice in her heart.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 18, 2019:

A great story, we should not judge a book by its cover, Even though the old woman looked scary she had a kind heart.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 18, 2019:

Hello Genna. I'm afraid I made the old woman too ugly, hair growing out of a mole- Yuck I am always so happy to see you on my page. I know you still work and don't have a lot of time to spend on HubPages, so I appreciate you so much. Hugs my dear friend.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 18, 2019:

Hello Eric. I can remember when I was a child I was afraid of so many things. I never had any witches tea. I am happy you liked this piece well enough to read it over again. Thank you for telling me...

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 18, 2019:

Hello Bill. We looked forward to the Spiegel catalog and was happy when we got to order something. My, how time changes. If we'd had a charge card Mama would have torn it up. Hee.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 18, 2019:

Hello Pamela. It is just a memory that resurfaced and I thought it might make a good Halloween story. Thanks so much for coming to read my story.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 18, 2019:

Oh, I really liked this wonderful story. The title is perfect, Ruby. And the fact that it is a true story makes it even more magical, and a privilege to read. Thank you for sharing this with us. :-)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 18, 2019:

We sold magazine subscriptions and newspaper for about a nickel a piece. My mom introduced us to the old witch. It was always scary drinking her tea -- what concoctions lurked within?

I just loved this piece and read it thrice.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

I always love your stories, Ruby, especially one set during my birth year. For us it was the Sears catalog. I loved it when the new one was released. I could spend hours looking through it.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 18, 2019:

Not judging a book by the cover is a good theme for this story. Little girls being brave trying to help their mother and then being rewarded with pumpkin pie makes this such a good story. I didnt know this story was based on your experience, which makes it that much sweeter.

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 17, 2019:

Hello Mar. It is a ' treat ' to see you. Yes, this happened. I was five and Virgie was eight and we really ordered Jesus pictures from The Spiegel catalog and went door to door selling them. I really do remember feeling afraid. I thought it would make a good Halloween story. I am always so happy to see you. Thank you...BOO

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 17, 2019:

Dear Ruby,

This story is even sweeter knowing it stemmed from childhood memories with your sister.

BOOtiful story.

Hugs, mar

Ruby Jean Richert (author) from Southern Illinois on October 17, 2019:

My point exactly John. Thanks for coming and affirming my belief. This is a partly true story. My sister Virgie Lucille and me Ruby Jean really went door to door selling Jesus pictures and I remember being afraid at some of the houses we went to. It was not Halloween. Just an old memory that surfaced.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 17, 2019:

A nice story and message here, Ruby. Don't listen to gossip or judge by appearance...or at least don't believe it without proof.

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