An elevator, a promise and a pickpocket

  “Yes, I sent those files to them last week…  I don’t know, I didn’t hear back.  I assumed so though since they called for a meeting.”
  The elevator door opens, and Glenn steps inside, mobile phone pressed tightly  to his right ear.  His right hand tightly grips the phone, with his index finger reaching around the top of the phone to touch to top of his right ear.  Each time he finishes speaking, his finger gently traces his ear, a  habit since he was a child.
Glenn surveys the other attendees on the elevator, pulls his shoulders up straighter before turning around to face the elevator door which had just closed behind him.
   To Glenn’s rear left, is a man in his late twenties.  The young man leans into the rail which runs along the back of the elevator with his right arm.   A slouchy toque holds back his hair as much as it covers his head.  A combination of aviator sunglasses, a thick well trimmed beard and a scarf wrapped triplicate around his neck do much to obscure his face.
   To Glenn’s left, a woman in her forties, whose head was no higher than Glenn’s shoulder.  The dusty rose business suit she wore missed it’s prime decade.  She takes a small step further to the right, closer to the elevator’s control panel as Glenn enters.  She looks to floor as Glenn turns around and stands beside her.
   Glenn pulls the phone away from his ear briefly, looks in the direction of the control panel.  “I’m going to floor 11.”
   “It’s already-” she says
   Glenn replaces the phone to his ear, index finger on its mark and returns to his phone conversation.   “No, no, it will be fine.  The proposal makes good business sense.  Why else would they have called a meeting?  Yeah, ok, the financials are a bit weak, but it will work.”
   The woman pushes the button for floor eleven, despite the fact that it has already lit up.
   “Listen, I’m on the elevator now so I may lose signal.  Yeah, I have that, hang on.”  Glenn reaches into his pocket for his wallet and shuffles through some cards stored inside.  “The guy I met is named John, however that’s not the person I’m meeting today.  I can’t remember his name.  He sounded young so it’s probably John’s assistant.  Here it is.  The number is 905 385 2354.  Of course we’re partners on this.  I’ll bring you along.  I promise.”  Replacing the cards, Glenn folds his wallet shut with a snap and reaches to return it to his left pants pocket.  “I’ll do some snooping around the office and see if there’s something I can send as a gift and follow up to the meeting.  Nothing wrong with greasing the wheels a little bit.  I’ll call once I’m back in my office.”  Glenn ends the call on his phone and puts the phone is his right pants pocket and crosses his arms in front of him.
   The elevator reaches floor seven and the door opens when it comes to a stop.  The dusty rose woman steps around Glenn and exits the elevator.  As the elevator doors close again, the metallic surface reveals Glenn’s reflection.  Using the reflection, Glenn straightens his tie, squares his shoulders and lets out a long breath.  He widens his stance and puts his hands in his pants pocket.  His right hand curls around the cell phone inside, and his left hand jingles the set of keys in the left pocket.  He moves his hand around in the left pocket, pulls the keys out, and switches them to his right hand.  His left hand goes back into the left pocket and searches some more.  Not finding the desired item, Glenn does the same thing to his right pocket; moves the keys back to his left hand, removes the cell phone from his right pocket and hands it to his left hand, moving with more speed but the same result.  His wallet is gone.
   “I just fucking had it” Glenn mutters to himself.  Turning to his right, he sees there is no one there.  He swivels his back to the left and sees the young man just behind him looking towards the floor.  He turns his whole body to face the young man.
   “Did you see my wallet?”  Glenn asks the young man.
   The young man looks up at Glenn and removes his glasses.  He opens his mouth as though to speak.
   “You’re the only one here and I literally just had it moment ago but now it’s mysteriously gone.”  Glenn says, taking a small step towards the young man.  “Did you take it, man?  Seriously dumb seeing as you have no escape route.”
   The young man, mouth still open, does not change his posture.  Glenn looks him up and down, sees the tears in the man’s jeans and continues.  “On your way to your social worker, are you?  Not sure how you’ll get your monthly hand out when I tell them you’re a pickpocket on top of being a lazy, self-entitled, drain on society.”
   The young man continues to lean on the elevator rail.  A small smile forms on his lips at the same time his brow furrows.  “Look down” he says.
   “What?”
  “Look down” the young man repeats and tips his head in the direction of something on the floor of the elevator.  Glenn’s reflexes have him look down at the floor to spot his wallet mere inches from his left foot.
   The elevator reaches floor eleven as Glenn stoops to retrieve his missing wallet.  The elevator doors open up.  The young man stands up straight, and steps towards Glenn.
   “Jason” the young man says, walking past Glenn towards the elevator door.
   “I don’t care what your name is, bud.” Glenn says, standing up and turning to face the young man.
   “That’s the name of the person you are meeting right now.  And I’m not his assistant.  I’m the owner.  John is new.  I’ll see you in there.“  The young man says and exits the elevator. 

About that

 

About that.  

 

The sun is behind him,

And I squint and squish my eyes to slits to look at him

With back lit shadows blocked across his face.

He stands there, arms at his side, left leg weight bearing

And rambles on about something I stopped listening to

After he said ‘Obviously’ for the second time.  

 

There’s something there.  How about that?

 

I raise my hand to shield it from the sun,

And am able to see his face clearer now, just in time

To see his mouth shift into a triangle shaped smile.

I cock my head to the side

And hope the change will correct my view askewed

With eyebrows furrowed.

 

Hmph… How about that?

 

“What are you looking at?” he asks

And my stomach has plummeted to my knees

That suddenly haven’t the strength to hold me upright.

I take a single step back to shift my balance

And to get some distance

From what seems to be right in front of me.

 

Fuck… how about that?

 

In youth we learn our lessons

And apply them to our future,

Told that hurt makes us stronger.

So, we learn to mistrust what we are given

And stop giving since we’re not trusted

But still question everyone’s motives.

We change our game from Truth or Dare

To ‘Who Said I Fucking Care’

And then question why we feel empty.

Dodge and weave, duck and cover

And never be the first to make the move

Because we just don’t have the time for that.

 

He takes two steps towards me

And touches my arm

In a way that’s more habit than instinct.

‘Are you alright?’ he asks

And I nod my head with enthusiasm

‘Just the sun in my eye’ I say

 

Game face on. How about that.

 

An Update on Nanowrimo.

No, I don’t want to talk about word counts, or if I’m on track or if I’m behind.  Life is crazy and I’m just happy I have words down…

Here’s a tidbit of what I have gotten done so far.  Yes, I know there’s a lot of editing to do.  Did I mention that its Nanowrimo?

 

Other Half – A Novel

Written by H. L. Jaden

I watched him ride down the street, pride wellming up and overflowing to my eyes.  My oldest had the last training wheel taken off two hours ago, and after an hour of running beside him up and down the street, Chase finally got it.  We had been practicing for over a week now, first bending the training wheels up, so they only touched the ground when he was off balance, and then only removing the right one, since he had a tendency to falter to the left.  His biggest obstacle this morning was his own confidence, suddenly falling off his bike only when he realized that I was merely running beside him, not actually holding onto the back of the seat, holding him steady.  He was going to be so proud going to school tommorrow, to brag to his friends that he was finally able to ride his bike on his own.  All summer he would only ride his bike close to the house, embarrassed that he still had training wheels on his bike, when all of his other friends had shed theirs before school had let out in June.  Such an odd trait us humans have, suddenly disbelieving of our own ability, when we were infact doing it on our own all along.  And now, on his own two wheels he was riding on his own as though he had always done so.  

My husband stood beside me on the walkway leading from the sidewalk to the front porch, arm draped over my shoulder, beaming with his own pride.  He was standing tall, and for a moment I had to look up to him, having forgotten that he is in fact taller than me, having adopted a standard slouch in the last few years.  

“It’s too bad your mother isn’t here with us.”  he said.  His arm fell from my shoulder, and he stooped down to pick up some garbage that had blown onto the yard.

“What?”  I misheard what he said, surely.  

“It’s too bad your mom passed away when you were young.”  

I stared at him in disbelief.  Did he really just say that?  After this many years of marriage, how could he possibly get a detail like that wrong?  

He stood, stepped a bit further away, and couched down again, pulling a few weeds from the edges of the walkway that the lawn mower had missed early this morning.  

“What did you say?”  I dared him to repeat it.  

“I said, it’s a shame your mother has passed away.” he said over his shoulder.  “It would be nice if you could share these family moments with your family.  I mean, I know my mother treats you like one of the family, and of course me and the kids are your family, but I’m sure it’s not quite the same as having your own blood that’s known you all your life.  It just feels like you don’t have anyone to share with.  Except me of course.”

“My mother isn’t dead.”  I said, hostility dripped all over the conversation

He stood again, turned to face me again slowly, a look of bewilderment on his face.  

My husband generally has a look of bewilderment on his face, but it takes a wife to be able to decipher the difference between actual bewilderment and just a resting face.

Think, Hope, think.  Why would your mother being alive seem like such a shock to him?  

My pinched, angry face, slowly melted into a look embarrassment as I remember all the Christmas I had spent without my mother, all the conversations I hadn’t had with my mother in the last 10 years, all the times she had not held my children.  The decade I’ve lived without my family.

I shook my head, a futile attempt at loosening myself from this conversation, and took a step backwards.

“Oh, right.  She is dead.  Sometimes I forget.”

I stepped past him, down the walkway, towards the sidewalk, but not before I saw the look of bewilderment intensifying in the furrow of his brow. I looked for Chase who was just coming towards the house again.  Seeing me, his attention waiver, and he careened too close the hedge that separated our front yard from the sidewalk.  Turning a moment too late, he toppled over, landing into the hedge, his face taking most of the blow.

In two large steps, I was at his side, picking him up, and untangling him from the hedge and his bike, with a speed and strength that is only lended to mothers.  

“Shhh… Don’t cry, darling.  Let me have a look.”  Chase buried his face in my right shoulder, snotting on my shirt.    His right arm was tightly around my neck, hand grasping my pony tail like a handle, a habit he’s had since he has been able to reach it.  

“Is Chase okay?” Audrey side, appearing at my side.

I looked down at her, her round face looking straight up at me.  She turned four last week and thought the sun rose when her brother woke in the morning.  “He’s just fine, love.  He took a tumble while practing.  But he’s just fine.”

Dave was beside me again, one hand on my back, one on Chase’s “Let’s see, buddy.  Did you hurt yourself?”  Chase lifted his face to meet Dave’s, tears still on his cheeks.  A few scratches had appeared on his cheeks, the more severe ones being on his neck.  He tried hard to stop crying, a sob catching in his throat, and breath coming out in a shudder, wanting to show his father how brave he could be.  “Oh, no damage done!  You can get back on your bike.” Dave said, after his five seconds of reviewing Chase’s injuries.  He took a step back, his judgement final.  

Hearing his father’s approval, Chase arched his back, and wiggled from my arms, heading back to his bike, another sob hitching in his chest.  

“Chase, how about we clean up your face first?”  Chase stood on the sidewalk with his bike, a hand on each handle, an eager look on his face at the thought of just a bit longer in mother’s care.

“Hope, he’s fine.  Let him play.”  

Chase rubbed his right arm across his face, leaving a runner of snot on his sleeve, dirt mixing with the tears not quite dry on his face, leaving a dark smear across his face.  The movement had disrupted the clotting of the larger scratch on his neck, smudging it to look worse than it actually was.  He picked up his bike from the sidewalk and slowly got back on his bike, and pushed it slowly down the sidewalk again with his feet dangling from his hips, toes barely touching the sidewalk.  His head was down, the earlier enthusiasm for bike riding visiable diminished.  

“C’mon Chasey!  I’ll beat you to the Mrs. Parkison’s house.”  Audrey had her tricycle on the sidewalk too, and with one big push, she moved towards the neighbours driveway, feet pedling up a storm.  Chase faked a smile and pretended like he was going to try and beat her.  He was good with her, and always let her win.  

“Hope,”

“I’m going to go and change my shirt.”  Fearful that Dave would bring up my faux-pas about my mother again, I shot myself up the walkway and porch steps, and through the front door of the house.

Shona

Shona

Rain pounds the tin roof.  I think that was thunder.  Audible even over the V8. And I’m sweating to death. Like a whore in church. That’s how she says it. Sweating to death; that’s funny.  

My shirt clings from sweat. Pinstripe shirt as she prefers.  A fresh hair cut too.  Leaning back, clenching the wheel.  My gut touches it now.  So many years lost: wasted.  I want a window opened.  Its too late for that.  The windows are sealed shut.  My arms feel so heavy.  They surrender to the leather. Looking down at my hands.  Memories are in these seats.  A connection to better days.  Driving fast, outrunning the heaviness.  She never understood keeping Shona.  Never understood the simple connection.  Both of us gone together.  Two birds with one stone.

I’ve tried to be strong. Tried to swallow my pills.  Talk away the lingering suffocation.  Nothing takes away the taste.  Can’t wash out my mouth.  I’ve gone through the motions.  Did what I was told.  Numbed myself to the pain.  Death’s potentent medicine is strong.  More than I really need.  Nothing else has cured me.  Can’t stop living without death.

She’ll find the note there.  On the bedside table frame.  On point to the backyard. I wrote it all down.  Gave clear instructions and directions. A map to new life.  Explained the release in preparations.  The clarity in my decision.  She’ll find me here after.  I hope I am smiling.  

This car seems so small.  Maybe she won’t be mad.  I did this for her.  She’ll see why very soon.  The rumbling engine is soothing.  I feel sleepy: I’m drifting.  It hurts more than expected.