A place for articulating bits of imagination....as someone else.
Coming and Going
Published on November 14, 2011 By Savot In Writing

This was it.  The defining moment.  The critical juncture.

Take the ride?  Or pass? 

She climbed into the vintage red pick-up, set the army green backpack (much heavier now than when she struck out on her 18th birthday), between battered ruby tennis shoes. 

“Broker,” she gave the driver a slight smile.  “I’m heading to Broker.”

White walls kicked up a trail of New Mexico dust as they pulled onto Highway Seven.

“Figured,” the old black man extended a hand.  “Tobias Rainer.”

Arnica accepted the offering.    “Arnica.” 

She watched from the corner of her eye.  The gut hearing declared him safe enough, but occasionally, like that time in Mississippi, her gut went askew. 

“So, you have family in Broker?”  Tobias asked.

“Not anymore.”  Not any that counts

Tobias’ steady eyes never left the endless expanse of blacktop.

Arnica relaxed into cool white leather seats.  “My sister died.”

“My condolences.”  Tobias offered.

Whitewalls huffed against heat-blasted asphalt in soothing rythmic breaths as the pick-up transgressed the desert.  Arnica’s lids drooped. 

“Jericho.”  Uncommitted eyelids finally chose a side.  “Her name is Jericho.” 

“Unusual,” Tobias murmured. 

Not really.  But she wasn’t about to confess a raging religious alcoholic mother; who birthed two daughters by different men within two years, and stopped the endless pursuit of self-pleasure only as long as it took to name them.  Wouldn’t violate the sanctity of the cozy old truck with tales of sexual abuse, hunger, and beatings which peppered her childhood...

She knew the dream.

Dread lodged like a locust in her throat. 

A weed ridden path to the tired three room shack of childhood, roof gone, walls crumbling, she circled the house; dust puffed up between dirty bare toes.

Jericho wept inside. 

Arnica called out, again and again, desperate for her sister; desperate for her life’s anchor. 

“Peace.  Peace. ” A new voice encouraged from behind her.  “He’s sleeping.”

Arnica turned toward the voice housed in a large black man with a short-circuited aura blinking off and on about his person.  He stood on the grassless lawn in pristine bare feet holding an infant.

In the part of her mind still chained to reality, she snorted.  Even in dreams she did not believe such things!

“He needs you.”

Arnica lifted her hands.  “No!”  How could she possibly love the child responsible for her sister’s death?

“You love your sister,” he whispered.  “She loves this child.  Can you find no room in your heart for someone your sister holds so dear?”

Arnica looked back at the stained white clapboards, bitter memories dark upon her brow.  And in that place, the dark place civilized people rarely acknowledge, that place of gut hearing, she knew Jericho wept for her baby.  Wept for his future. 

The black man held the child out.

The dream fell apart.

“Here we are,” Tobias stopped the pick-up just inside Broker’s city limit. 

Arnica stared at the black man for a long suspicious second. 

“Thanks,” she offered.

“You’re welcome.”  Tobias said. “Peace to you now girl.”

The red pick-up performed a U-Turn and cruised back out of town.

Arnica squinted against the southwest sun until the pickup was nothing more than a seed on the horizon.

Hefting the backpack to fit more comfortably, she walked toward the heart of Broker.  And for the first time in many years...her gut sang.

 


Comments
on Nov 14, 2011

This is from the most recent NPR 3 minute fiction competition. 

The objective:  write 600 words or less, with one character coming to town and one leaving.

There were 4000 entries.

This didn't even get an honorable mention.  lol

The winner begins this way:

"Little Hossein was the first person I knew who died. We started calling him Little Hossein when Big Hossein moved down from the mountains to live with his brother Mohammed, our cook. Little Hossein was older than me, but just my size. His head was shaved. His father, Mashala, our gardener, spent the whole day, every day, watering the rose bushes, because the minute he stopped they got dusty. Little Hossein's skin was the color of the dust and smelled like kerosene. One day, Big Hossein found him stealing Kool Pops from our refrigerator and hit him on the head with his flip flops. Over and over. Harder and harder. Little Hossein started to cry, and so did I."

The rest of it can be found here:

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/22/141617981/little-hossein

on Nov 14, 2011

 Hey, very cool short, this.  Good to see you writing fiction.  More please!

on Nov 14, 2011

Thanks Maso..... 600 words is HARD to do and actually have some kind of arc....lol

on Nov 19, 2011

Good read...keep posting please.

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