Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: AGREE TO DISAGREE (05/04/17)
TITLE: Rainy Day
By Yvonne Blake
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It had been almost a week since Pleasantville had seen the sun, and many of its residents were becoming less and less pleasant. Car horns honked; garbage cans clanked; whistles shrieked. The coffee shop and bakery buzzed with busyness, but the parks and the playgrounds pouted with neglect.
Penny scampered from her doorstep to the bus stop on the corner, dodging puddles in her high-heeled black leather boots. A huddle of bedraggled people silently waited beneath their dripping umbrellas. One by one, they slopped up the steps, and Penny was momentarily thrilled to see she would have a seat to herself. There was nothing worse than someone else’s wetness ruining your clothes and whatever you’re carrying.
The driver paused before closing the door and let one more passenger on board.
A young woman bounded up the steps. “Thank you. Thank you!”
Penny groaned and turned her face to the rain-drip covered window. Don’t sit here. Keep moving. Keep moving. But the mind-control words didn’t work. The bouncy girl plopped down next to her.
“Whew! I made it! I thought for a moment I’d have to walk. Not that I would mind too much. It’s such a pleasant day for a stroll to the park.” She stuck out her hand. “Hi, I’m Hillary Higgin.”
Penny pulled away from Hillary’s red frizzy curls, which weren’t protected very much by a yellow rain hat. They sent a shower of spray around her like a wet pooch each time she turned her head. Penny gingerly shook the tips of the offered fingers. “Hello.”
“Oh, don’t you just love rainy days? My favorite thing to do is to go to the park. Everything just glistens, and the colors are deeper.” Her face and shoulders scrunched up with a big, whole-body smile. She turned her attention to the cloth bag on her lap. “Oh no! The bread got squished. I suppose the ducks won’t mind.” She tipped her head back and laughed. “Can you imagine a finicky duck?” She lifted a pink bottle out of her bag and looked at the label. “Did you know that bubbles don’t pop as quickly on a wet surface? These are supposed to be environmentally friendly. I can’t wait to try them out.”
Hillary didn’t seem to mind or even notice that Penny hadn’t replied. She talked and talked, hardly taking a breath, from Oak Street all the way to Park Avenue, where she bustled off on her adventure. Penny lifted her hand for a second as Hillary turned and raised her hand high above her head in a friendly wave. The green grass and golden flowers glistened, and the ducks glided across the pond. Penny watched Hillary until the bus turned down the hill on Main Street to the center of town.
The bus was quiet – too quiet. You could hear the passing cars splash by. You could hear the driver shift from gear to gear. You could hear each shuffle, sniffle, and sigh of the passengers. Everything darkened again into gloomy blacks and grays, as if the beam of sunshine had been banished by the clouds.
When the bus screeched at her stop, Penny gathered her umbrella and satchel. As she stepped from the warm bus, the wind spit in her face. She hurried down the sidewalk, bumping and jostling among the others heading to work. As she waited at the crosswalk, she thought of Hillary. Maybe she’d like the rain if she tried to be like her. Penny closed her eyes and imagined ducks chasing the bubbles. At that moment, a truck sped through a puddle and drenched her from her blond layered bangs to the toes of black leather boots. Sorry, Hillary, I don’t love rainy days.
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