Salt of The Earth

photo - hand on map

In his rearview mirror, the cab driver saw the girl pull a handful of tiny blue packages out of her orange backpack. He heard crinkling as she tore one open, and realized by the smell that they were peanuts. Lots of little airline bags of peanuts. She took one peanut at a time and nibbled it slowly, like she was really considering the taste and texture of each one. More likely, he thought, she was rationing them.

Jaheed had been driving his cab for long enough to recognize a kid who wasn’t just on her way home from school, or taking a trip to visit grandma. No, this girl wasn’t on her way to anywhere. She was just on her way away from something, or someone.

Feeling a tinge of pity for her, Jaheed spoke. “I have an extra bottle of water if you want it. Hasn’t even been opened yet.”

The girl looked up, hope flashing across her young face, before quickly looking back down. She had learned that accepting help meant you might be obligated to someone, and she couldn’t afford that kind of risk. “It’s ok,” she said softly. “You keep it.”

Jaheed picked the bottle up and passed it back to her anyway. “No, really, it’s yours. Peanuts always make me thirsty.”

For a second, the girl smiled as she met his eyes in the rearview. She saw only kindness before she reached tentatively for the bottle and muttered a quiet thank you. Then she drank like she hadn’t had water in days.

This is an installment in a series of short stories, as I play with the wonderful world of fiction.

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A Long Way Down

building photo for A Long Way Down.jpg

It’s really only terrifying until you let yourself tumble over the edge. One minute, there’s cold concrete under you, and you tip forward until suddenly there’s nothing but air. Up until that moment, it’s all fear and nerves, panic and nausea. But once your body is weightless, surrounded by wind and sky, it’s actually exhilarating. Like being in the ocean and feeling your body both moving in and moved by a force larger than you could hope to name.

I open my hands wide, feeling the air force its way between my fingers, and I wiggle each one in turn. I wish I had thought to take off my shoes and socks. I bet this would feel great on my toes.

I feel thankful for this sense of calm and joy that is washing over me. You hear stories of people who do something like this, or just try to do something like this, only to feel waves of regret. I’ve had enough years of regret already. My life is a book filled with page after page of bad decisions, things and people so lost to me that there’s no chance of return. This choice is the one that will finally set me free.

The atrium windows are open as I fall past the 28th floor, and I hear the phone ringing for a quick second before the sound is sucked away with the air above me. I know the receptionist will answer it in that same warm but hurried voice I’ve heard so many times.

Funny, in all these years, it never occurred to me to walk down and say hello. Would only have been fair, as many times as she said hello to me. Gloria? No. Gladys? I should know this. Why don’t I know this? Do I really take people for granted so easily? All this time, and I’ve just been one more asshole in a grey suit.

I look back up to those windows and send up a pitiful prayer that I survive the fall, just long enough to tell one last person that I appreciate her. That she matters.

This is an installment in a series of short stories, as I play with the wonderful world of fiction.
Like what you read? Profess your love and follow me to see more!

Skin Deep

woman's back photo
He had a scar across his ribcage, thick and raised. She noticed it the first time he took his shirt off, and she quickly looked away. It wasn’t that she was bothered by it, just that she knew scars could stand for lives people would rather forget.
It had been months now, and she could sense that he was expecting her to ask about it, or at least to mention it. But they couldn’t have that conversation. She had had it before, and it always turned to her own body, her own scars.
She had decided years ago to hold that secret in her heart. Hold it there until it eventually faded to a memory that she could pretend was a dream, or a story from a book she once read. No matter how he got his scar, he wouldn’t be able to accept how she got hers, or why there were so many of them.
This is the first installment of a series of short stories, as I play with the wonderful world of fiction.
Like what you read? Profess your love and follow me to see more!