Snippet #19

One hundred and twenty seconds on the timer.  It would be fast.

    Outside my window I could see the neighbor’s kids drawing pictures on the sidewalk with pink and yellow chalk.  The pictures were always the same, ugly flowers with awkward centers.  A concrete garden that only got better when you watered it and washed it away.

    Starting the timer, I stood there and watched the numbers roll down.  Two, short, quick minutes.

The Hot Pocket was wonderful. 

Snippet #16

Laying flat on her stomach with her arms tucked mantis style beneath her, and her thick, dark, ponytail draped back over one shoulder, Haley hovered her face above the surface of the pond, her breath making the barest of ripples on the water.  Her time inside it had ended long ago, but to be able to watch, and breathe, and see the effect her very existence had upon those that came after; that was the true blessing of having lived at all.  The ripples she caused were small and avoidable, barely noticeable to those inside.  It was just enough to keep them trying.  Enough to keep things from being easy.

Every now and then, she would roll onto her back and stare into the sky above that was always black and shimmering with stars, and wonder who was breathing ripples down onto her?

Snippet #15

Time slowed to a crawl as the bus dug into the deep snow on the curb.  Unconsciously, Shelly placed a hand over her heart and held her breath, feeling the back wheels of the great machine slide sideways and grind against the raised edge of the sidewalk.  After a few seconds, the tires caught.  Ignoring the smaller vehicles, the city bus clawed its way into the street.

Pressing her hand tighter to her chest, trying to calm her rapid heartbeat through her gray, winter coat, Shelly glanced nervously around her, trying to see if she was the only worried passenger.  Across the aisle, sitting stiffly in her seat and gripping tightly to her shopping bag, sat a small elderly lady with an old, green knit hat and wide eyes.  As if feeling Shelly’s eyes on her, the woman turned her head and met her inquiring stare.  Nervous smiles tightened their mouths for just a moment.

Snippet #14

The suction cups left tiny, slightly raised marks on the window.  They would be easy enough to clean off.  A little window cleaner and some paper towel would make short work of it.  A blind toss over one shoulder sent the old, sun-bleached, striped cat with its slightly maniacal smile zinging onto the car’s hot dashboard.  Landing face down, it’s faded eyes scorched against the sun baked vinyl while the squeaking sounds of window washing pattered through the car.  It only took a few minutes.  The car door slammed shut and the new, brightly colored cat clung to the glass where the old one had been, it’s large, heavily lidded eyes unblinking as the old one passed in front of it on its way to the dumpster.

Snippet #10

Wait, what!

“Excuse me?”

“I’m just saying,” Jen continued doggedly, “That if you ever sleep with my brother, it’s over.  We’re done.”

Inhaling deeply through her nostrils, she looked around the room for a few seconds, letting herself process this new and, very late to the party, facet of Jen’s personality.  That annoyingly correct, inner voice was screaming I told you so.  The move had been too flawless.  Even their furniture had gotten along.  Her red plaid couch had combined with that hideous, green, recliner much better than she had anticipated.  Both of them had looked at the combo with surprise.  Then they laughed until tears ran down their faces, discovering they were each prepared to verbally crap on each other’s style choices.

And now?

Setting her cup down on the so-last-decade coffee table, she stood and picked up her sandwich plate to take it to the sink.  Her parents were night owls, they would still be awake at ten thirty.  She could feel Jen’s eyes burning into her back as she left the room.

“Alyssa?  Where are you going?”

Maliciously she jangled her keys, making a bit of a production out of gathering her jacket and bag.  On impulse she turned to face the kitchen doorway, knowing Jen would be standing in it.

“Look, it’s been great and all but, really, I’m not prepared to have someone play judge and jury over my past and make me feel bad about stuff all over again.”  Her stomach lurched a little as Jen went pale, sensing her intent.  She had been so cute!  That bobbed red hair that swooped a little across her forehead was so damn attractive.

“Jesus Al, it’s not even that serious.”

“Not that serious?”  She locked onto Jen’s eyes, mentally drawing crosshairs on them.  “That particular expression is used abusively by people who don’t want to take responsibility for what they just did!”  Grabbing the doorknob, she wrenched it open and felt cool, fresh, night air pouring in.

Snippet #9

The sound of metal scraping on metal made Gloria stomp on the brake and yank her head around.  The front bumper of her red Corolla was firmly pressed against the powder blue door of the neighboring car.  Crap!  Shifting into drive she pulled forward again into the parking spot and eyed the damage to the small, two door beside her.

It looked like an older model with some rust along the bottom of the doors.  Without much straining she could see a crack running the full length of the windshield.  The scrape she had made was a freshly gleaming, silver, eye-sore in the early morning sun.

If a tree falls in the the woods and there is no one to hear it…

If a woman scrapes a car in a parking lot and there is no one to see it…

No heads bobbed along the lanes or stared at her from the seats of the surrounding vehicles.  From the looks of things, she was alone in the parking lot.  She could just leave if she wanted to.  She could back out and drive away, pretend she didn’t know a thing about it.

Judging her from the passenger seat was her two grocery bags, free range eggs and whole wheat bread in one and a few organic, produce items in the other.  The earlier debate she’d had with herself over whether she should just eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or go to the grocery store seemed a long way in the past right then.

The sound of a door opening beside her jerked her head upright.  Heart pounding, she turned to look, catching the sight in her sideview, of a man loading the trunk of the blue car.  Now or never.

Opening the door she swung her feet out and tried to stand.  Her arms flailed forward for a second as she swung like an infant against the seat belt.  Feeling idiotic, she pulled herself back inside and released the belt.  Free of all restraint, she exited the car, impulsively sliding her purse straps over her shoulder.  It was only three steps to the trunk and she was beside the man.

Then she was past him!

Calmly she walked back into the store and bought a block of butter, chatting casually with the same clerk that had rang up her previous purchases.  She even stopped to buy a lottery ticket from the vending machine.

Back in the parking lot, the spot beside her Corolla was empty.

Saturday Snippet #5

It was obvious from how the ceramic tiles were broken she had landed head first.  His stomach rolled over at the image his mind conjured – the skull cracking open like a coconut, its meaty inside pushing outward, bulging slug-like from the bone.  The rest of body landed after; neck, shoulder, side then hips followed by the legs and, finally, the feet.  The deep, shattered outline on the kitchen floor showed perfectly the position of the corpse.  By standing just past the point where the head had impacted, careful to keep his new loafers out of the gore stains, he could look up through the hole in the roof and see open sky.

It was seventy-three degrees.  The sun was shining as clouds puffed happily across the blue horizon.  Many people were having a perfect day.  Just not him.

Or the dead lady.