Rico drums his hands on the steering wheel, impatient for the bus ahead of him to move again. Places to be, folks.
The bus farts and jolts ahead, and Rico’s eye is caught — that woman he’s had his eye on in his sociology class, Jane he thinks her name is, walking away up the crumbling sidewalk.
He presses on the gas slowly now, curious to see which way she’ll head. She doesn’t go far, just two houses up from the stop, a dead-looking house, slumping behind its overgrown yard. His eyebrows arch upward as she skips the front door and heads around the side, looking around perfunctorily without even seeing him, then nudges open a sagging gate and disappears into a wild tangle behind the house’s blank-windowed stare.
Becca stumbles at the entrance to her building, dropping her keys and shopping bag in her clumsy anxiety to get in out of the interminable Seattle rain, captivated by movement out of the corner of her eye.
Down the street, in the downpour that shimmers in the streetlights. A woman. Dancing in the street, alone, not caring if anyone is watching.
Poetry in motion.
The woman pirouettes around the corner and out of sight, leaving Becca to wonder yet again how other people learn how to get through life as a fluid.
Every week, Ivy at Uncharted hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction linkup and blog hop. This week’s six is a vignette from The Life and Times of Jane Doe; this week’s cue was “fluid.” Fun sixes from other writers are at the link. Join us!
Becca reels across the room as the panic attack hits, waves of nausea and terror roiling.
Naturally, her pills are in the bedroom, on the other side of the endless stretch of floor-to-ceiling windows, and getting to the wine in the kitchen would be not much easier. She whimpers with another flare of fear, backs into the farthest corner and lowers her eyes to the floor, the only way she can not see the expanse of open air on the other side of the windows. So much for opening the drapes to let some light and fresh air into the place.
The worst thing about panic attacks, she decides, is their ability to take even the comfort of your own home away from you. How do you feel safe when twenty-two floors up is twenty-one too many?
Jane takes a deep breath, opens her professional email address.
This past week she has, as always, sent out a plethora of resumes and cover letters, responding to ads and notices from every source she can find. She has agonized over word choices, triple-checked spelling and grammar and attachments, made her resume as snazzy as she knows how, applied for jobs she’s sure she’d hate. Desperation trumps selectivity. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Hard work. Or a lottery?
17 new messages, the program tells her. Maybe, today, she will have garnered the magic one. The “yes.”
Every week at Carrot Ranch Literary Community, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about what it is to gather a harvest. You can use the phrase or show what what it means without using the words. Go where the prompt leads.”
“You’ll get your alimony check when it’s due, same as last month and the month before that and the month before that, and that’s when you’ll always get it, and I don’t care if you can’t budget yourself,” Allan says wearily. “You know, Torrey, I couldn’t afford to be married to you and I can’t afford to be divorced from you either.”
“Well, I always was out of your league.”
“Out of my something, anyway,” Allan snaps. “You like to think you’re twenty-four carat, but you’re just gold-plated. A gold-plated, gold-digging pain in my…wallet.”
“And after you lost your job, it just cascaded, the domino effect,” the writer prompted. Interviewing Jane, Woman in the Street, of all people! “Woman Living in the Street,” more like.
Jane nods, raises the cup of coffee in salute and thanks, and thinks. “Yeah, homelessness. One thing after another. No jobs back home, spent everything to move here for one. Lost that job. Spent my savings to live. Evicted.” Sip of coffee. “Job-hunting is my job now. It’s tougher when you’re older.”
She eyes the journalist thoughtfully. “But not dominoes. More like getting sucked under by a riptide.”
Each week at the Ranch (Carrot Ranch Literary Community, that is) Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s challenge: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a riptide. How can it be used to pull a story? It could be a stretch of turbulent water or a pull of another kind. Go where the prompt leads even if you find it unexpected.”