Letting Life Lead
Note: I’ve decided to try and write something new, but if I start it in a file and not produce it until it is done it might be another decade before it sees the light of day. To avoid that pitfall, I’m going to write 500 words at a time and then post each part until I have one short story complete. I want to, hopefully, produce something that is submittable to a contest. It’s a story that’s been rolling around in my head in various forms for a few years; I am not sure what it is yet though it is leaning towards fantasy horror. I am going to do little editing in this first draft and just write it cold to see what happens. Take a chance. Put it out there.
She sat again today under the silver-gray Ginkgo tree in the park watching the men and women play on the courts. Dry grass poked uncomfortably through her jeans and she moved towards a mossier spot where it cushioned and smelled green. It was nearing noon, the summer sun growing hot, and the breeze that felt cool earlier was dying down barely moving–leaving the air thick. A few tennis players finished their game and left, walkers tried to find the patchy shade along the paths, wanderers loitered around the pond, and dogs that had been running had their tongues lolling and dripping. She checked her watch and then picked up the paperback from the grass and walked across the open fields picking her way to the far street. A woman in red shorts jogging with her dog approached and was nearly dragged as the golden-furred mutt lunged, growled deep, and snarled.
“Winston,” she grunted, yanking on the leash as an ear bud flew out of her ear and got caught on the band around her arm, “I’m sorry!”
The woman stopped and did not move backward from the threat, but took a half step forward looking at the animal for a long moment, “It’s alright. It’s hot today. Just instinct.” She responded evenly, smiling at the woman but still looking at the dog and not averting her eyes. In a moment, the animal decided to release tension from the leash, sit down, and lower his head with a heavy exhale. “See? No harm.” And she gave a warm, floppy ear a scratch before moving on and not waiting for a reply.
As she moved past she heard the mutterings “Crazy dog,” and departing shout, “So sorry!”
By the time she got to the street, sweat had matted stray, brown hairs to her forehead and her low ponytail was listing to one side. Many had gone to seek shade in leafy pockets or indoors. The diner she approached was just exiting a first rush for lunch and several seats now lay empty. The door jingled as it opened and the cold blast of the air conditioner made her shiver as it dried the beads of sweat and dampness of her t-shirt. A usual table towards the back was targeted although it was still full of leavings and wadded napkins. A tow-headed busser abandoned the table she’d been working on and quickly came to clear the mess, “Welcome back!” she smiled, “It’ll just take a sec.” Dishes clanked in the gray bin on the trolley and a fresh towel cleared the surface leaving it wet. A dry towel mopped away the excess, and a new paper placemat full of advertisements was replaced. Thanks, remarks about the weather and other pleasantries were exchanged during the process, and then she was alone again for a few moments before the waitress approached and nodded. The little white name tag with blue letters on the crisp blue shirt said, Maeve.
“Usual?” she offered with a pleasant tone and smile, but not taking the pad and pen from the short black apron.
A tall glass of water full to the brim with ice was placed upon the table, “Yes, please.”
Tea with ice appeared first, then bowl of salad accompanying the soup of the day and half sandwich. Today was a roast beef with what looked like fresh coleslaw on it, and extra pickles on the side. The paperback was opened to the marked spot, she leaned against the booth wall, read, and waited.
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