Plus, I do love driving stick.
I spent way more time than usual writing this flash fiction piece. Nearly an hour. I actually ran over 600 words before I stopped and had to pare it back to get it to the 500 word max. The paring always takes more time than the actual writing, and in the end, I'm not as happy with the final result. I don't think the 'idea' behind the story comes across as clearly as I'd like it to, perhaps because it's messier/more complex than most of the other flash fiction I write.
Well, it'll have to do. Have a wonderful weekend!
And yes, I know I was very bad to write something this long and tax my poor arm... don't tell my physiotherapist!
I watch as she steps off the bus. Long tartan skirt, oversized knit sweater, frayed bun, hooked glasses. A girl in the guise of an old woman, with the eyes of a child, and the walk of a man. Fifteen contradictions at once, yet somehow harmonious in her cobbled flaws.
Faded daisies in one hand, worn canvas messenger bag on her shoulder, she stops at the intersection, looks left, looks right, looks straight, then right again.
I follow. Or I don’t, I just happen to be going in the same direction. She clomps, footsteps too loud for her ballet flats and thin, over-dressed frame, but pauses, rethinks her direction, her destination, at every cross-street and alley.
Nerves? Or is she lost? She can’t be going to a job interview dressed as she is, or holding a ten-dollar bouquet of cheap flowers. It can’t be a date. Surely not a date.
The weather isn’t bad to walk in. No sun, but also no rain or wind. The clouds are high and grey, watching over, but not threatening, a drizzle of clear sky on the horizon.
Off the main street of shops and bus routes, we walk down, down, down, framed in by leafless trees and a wide, grass boulevard.
Left. Now I’m following, killing time, I suppose. I wasn’t out for a walk, since that word suggests an errand, or goal of some sort. A wander, perhaps, would be more accurate. A moment to clear my head, out of the noise of my small apartment, away from the squalling bicker of voices through thin walls with not nearly enough insulation.
Up, up, up a long, winding hill. No boulevard, no trees. Instead, a regiment of iron posts, a spiked fence, and through it, rolling green hills and a series of squat mausoleums and chapels mourning in their own corners of a large cemetery.
She turns left, though the gates and under a row of naked trees, dutifully planted at precise intervals between the graves. Not cherry, or another friendly, hopeful spring tree, or even evergreen to break up the marked and measured containment of death. There is no room for emotion in the clinically spaced rows, the uniform headstones, and the hushed stillness of bare, mid-winter branches. Most of the markers are simple, inset plaques, as if by hiding them, visitors can pretend the clean, well-manicured lawns are unmarred by loss and decay.
I stop before the gate, and turn to go. When I arrive home, I stare at the blinking cursor on my screen, at the partially complete spreadsheet. Rows of numbers, names, and information to dissect and erode humans down into raw data.
With purpose, I walk, not wander, and return with a ten-dollar bouquet of flowers and a five-dollar vase. I set them on my squat, lifeless desk and reopen my client-list. Not account numbers, not simple risk-calculations to grant or deny credit. People. Humans. Emotional, messy and alive.