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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Time-consuming (02/24/11)

By Lisa Fowler


Same Time - Same Place

In four years her pattern never changed. At precisely four minutes after five every day she ran from the building. Dodging speeding traffic and pigeon pellets she darted across the crowded street, slid under the wheel of her black Lexus and sped away; unaware of the watchful eyes upon her.

She exuded an aura of old money, and polished silver. With never a hair out of place and clothes that screamed Armani and Wang, she wore the excess weight upon her petite frame like a war hero‘s medal.

Across the congested street, the old lady sat alone on the weather-beaten bench. Her clothes were mostly second-hand, threadbare, and horribly inadequate for the harsh northern winters. Her hair was tousled and unkempt and her short frame was stooped and twisted. Though often she misplaced her glasses and couldn’t quite remember her last full meal, in her mind she was as keen and sharp as a young girl in her prime.

She shifted her frail body from side to side often, desiring some semblance of comfort and ease from the splintered bench. She stared up at the skyscraper towering over her and pondered the inhabitants beyond steel girders.

She recalled happier days. Days filled with childhood laughter, story book rhymes, and puppy dog yelps. She thought of birthday parties, school plays, and shopping excursions. She remembered days leading into the tumultuous teenage years, before it all went wrong. So, horribly wrong.

She invested everything. Her life, her energy, her time, her love. But, with one argument, built upon another argument, upon another; time marched on. Wounds dug fresh and dried scabs uncovered with every slamming of the door, every “I hate you,” screamed in fits of rage.

How, she wondered could it have gotten this badly out of control? Where was the bump in the road that without warning slung them wildly onto a “do not enter” zone?

In shadows unwelcome and unwanted, she watched as the young girl walked the stage of her college graduation, proudly paraded honors, and received her diploma.

Catching wind of an impending wedding, she hid in the balcony of the Church and watched the girl, no longer a child, recite vows of holy matrimony and pledge her “forever-mores.”

She watched the baby, so tiny and helpless, from outside the nursery window. Three days she silently reveled in the grandchild she would never hold, and never come to know, all because of feelings that remained far too raw to ever be buried.

The girl would never know the woman she had become. Though there were moments it consumed and overwhelmed her, she had not missed one event, one special day, not one important occurrence of the young girl’s life. The young girl, now very much a woman, was speeding out of control, down a winding, unforgiving road of her own.

Tears streamed from the wrinkled furrows of her pale, ashen face.

“Miss? Do you need help?” the policeman asked. “Can I call someone for you?”

The old lady shook her head.

“There’s a shelter next block down if you need a place to bed down for the night.”

A simple “thank you” was her reply. Wiping the tears with her sleeve, she forced a smile, then quickly looked away.

The old lady rose and shuffled to the bus for the long ride home. Though loneliness her only friend, and time very much her enemy; tomorrow she planned to return.

Tomorrow, she would watch the young girl she once knew, run from the building to a life of her own; a life the old lady longed to be a part of. Tomorrow her arms would ache again to hold her, to caress her, to wipe away the tears and fears of a very cold, very grown up world. Tomorrow. Same time - same place.

But for her, tomorrow was only a dream.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 03/05/11
I liked this.

The flashbacks confused me a bit. At first I thought the old woman was talking about her own life, and the "I hate you" was from her husband, so it confused me when the "young lady" suddenly was graduating college. I would have made some sort of reference to her daughter earlier, without saying that the young woman running across the street was her daughter... clear as mud? ;)

Good over all, though, with some good reminders.

Noel Mitaxa 03/06/11
I love the feel of this piece, with your word pictures evoking all but the smells of the setting.
The reminiscences and grief are sensitively interrupted by the police officer in a credible piece of dialogue.
However, I also have failed to grasp the link between the young woman and the old lady - as to whether they are mother and daughter or grandmother and granddaughter.
Bonnie Bowden 03/09/11
It is so sad to see the MC on the outside looking in. The truth is that happens too often in our world.