Saturday, March 19, 2011

extra short story: companions

When I was little I wanted to be a writer.  I wrote a LOT, about adventurous girls who joined circuses or ate magical candy bars that sped them into places unknown. Those stories are probably pretty embarrassing to read now, but maybe someday I'll find an old story and post it for you, if you're good.  The older I got, the less I wrote, which I didn't like.  Part of my motivation for (re)starting this blog was to follow through on my new year's resolution to write more, creatively, which can take may many forms, the extra short story being one of them.  This is a work of fiction with some real life details (I'll leave you to decide what those are).


When the woman gets on the train, there is a young boy in a black button down shirt and jeans, yelling and barking. He's not mentally ill, as far as she can tell, he just thinks it's funny to make people uncomfortable by being louder than acceptable on the train. He throws himself on the floor of the train, and the girl who is sitting three seats down from the woman threatens, mostly to herself, that she will stick her umbrella in his eye if he falls on her again. She says this with a lot more curse words. He pretends not to hear, but he doesn't come near her again.

At Haymarket the woman gets off, walking through the North End towards her friend's apartment. This is a night for dating, she sees. It's still warm enough for many of the restaurants to leave the windows open, and there are couples sitting at tables, touching hands or clutching coffee mugs to avoid it. Some of these are probably first dates, she thinks, as she walks by two men in Caffe Vittoria. The one facing her is wearing a jaunty hat and too hip glasses – he is trying hard, she thinks, but she likes it.

Unbidden, the image of the older man who sometimes comes into the coffee shop where she works appears in her mind. She doesn't know much about him, if he's married, or if he hides his money under his mattress, only that they talk about faith and luck. She finds conversations with him interesting, moreso than the dates she's been on, with the guys who can't stop going on about their dead cats or their unwritten screenplays. He is nearly twice her age, but she suddenly wonders if they might ever be seated like this, across a table over gelato.  

At the end of the night, full of gnocchi, she trails sleepily down the steps towards the subway platform, past two men, one who is blind. The man who can see is at the bottom, counting as his friend slowly edges downward. "Three more," he says, watching the cautious movements, "Now two."  On the platform is a boy on a bike, with two girls. One girl says, “Leave me alone!” and moves past him to an alcove, where she hides, but she is smiling. The boy goes after her until only his back tire is sticking out of the alcove. They're talking quietly, and her friend moves a little closer but not too close, leaning against a pole and playing with her phone. She flicks her eyes up every now and then when she hears a giggle or a hush.

There are just a few people left on the train at the woman's stop. She holds her keys in her hand. As she walks away from the station, she thinks for a moment that her car might not be where she's left it, that there might be a blank space on the street instead of her slumped little sedan. But as she gets closer she can see it, sagging to the right where the front tire is leaking, waiting quietly in the lowlit street.


christy said...

well, isn't this a little treat. i'll take another helping, please.

Brian E said...

Me too.