by Saman Naquvi
Sally slammed the door behind her and sped down the front path, away from Jack's house (and away from Jack, period); her heart thudding erratically against her ribs. She clenched her teeth and her fists, trying to hold onto the anger that kept the nerves jittering in her stomach at bay.
What a selfish coward he was! What an idiot!
Spring was creeping into summer faster than usual and she found the night hot and sticky, only adding to the indignant flush on her face as she walked down the dark streets of Springfield. The trees shook as a strong gust swept past, scattering her thoughts (and her long hair). She found herself in front of her old elementary school, though she barely recognized it in the moonlight. The parking lot was empty, no school buses in sight. Her steps slowed, and she paused at the curb, not daring to cross the threshold of this hallowed place. This was an innocent place, untouched by the complications of adulthood.
Wasn't it right here, in front of this sign that her parents had come to pick her up together from school that day? She'd been staring at the sign trying to figure out what it meant while she waited for them to pull up. 'Caution' usually meant 'Dangerous! Don't Touch' like on Mommy's curling iron or the coffee Daddy would buy before he dropped her off at school in the morning. She just couldn't figure out what could be dangerous about children playing. The question lingered as she climbed into the car, pleasantly surprised to find both of them inside. Her mother had been in the driver's seat while her father fiddled with his tie on the passenger side. It was in that car, while her mother stared intently at the road and her father studiously ignored her gaze in the rear-view mirror that they told her they were getting a divorce. Her father's bags were already packed in the trunk. They were going to drop him off at the train station and say good-bye together. Right now. At that moment.
Sally sat down on the curb, leaning against the very sign that had seemed so important and mysterious so long ago. She thought about Jack and his plans to leave town. She tried to remember her anger and indignation but all that seemed to be left inside her was fear and trepidation; all those feelings she had tried to forget from that day. What will we do when Daddy is gone? Why is he leaving? Who's going to drive me to school tomorrow?
Craning her neck to stare up at the sign again she realized that it was pointing outward, to the street, and remembered that 'Caution' was sometimes written on packages too, when they held precious, fragile objects inside. Caution: Handle with Care, her mind whispered into the empty night, while the shards of fear and resentment prickled in her chest.
I'm what you'd call a dabbler in creative writing. I'd rather read than write most of the time, but random bouts of inspiration end up forcing my hand sometimes ;)
This month's art gave me a very nostalgic feeling and thus, this littl e piece of micro-fiction was born.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Vigilance and Library Days'
'Early to Bed is Early to Rise, But Do It without Me'