Free-Range Fiction: Dragons Dressing Down

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Ya missed me, right? I know you missed me. I missed doing this. Trying as part of 2013 to get back into the swing of posting some flash fiction at least once a week. Like Myke Cole told me on his AMA Reddit, you have to keep moving forward. This is part of my moving forward. 

This photo below was part of Chuck Wendig‘s near weekly flash fiction writing challenge. There were 31 to choose from. I chose number 17. She spoke to me. I feel like I’ve been her — whether it was in DC, Frankfurt, Paris, or Moscow. People stare. They want to know the truth. But…do they really?  Also if you’ve traveled the globe like I have — there are a lot of feral animals out and about. Those photos didn’t speak to me.  There were a couple of others I might use for future stories…but for now, our little goth trick or treater peaked my interest and let the words come pouring out. 

Here’s my Dragons Dressing Down. It comes in right at 999 words. I could have written more and I may take this idea and run with it down the road. We’ll see.  Do comment below and let me know what you think of the story. Should I write more?

P.S. I did not know there truly was a war on Halloween in Russia. When I was telling a friend about the story I was writing she said, “Oh yeah, I heard that they are trying to outlaw Halloween in Russia.” I had to look it up. Looks like people have fun with it. I’d go to their parties. Everything I wrote was before I knew about the recent developments in Russia. No, I’m not psychic — I just sometimes make stuff up that actually appears to be true near 7,000 miles away. 

Dragons Dressing Down

In Russia, Dragons dress like Halloween party goers and inspire fiction.

I hope I can find Hector. I have not seen him since last year. This year we will be in Moscow, much to my objection. There is a war on Halloween here. Imagine what the peasants would think if they knew this night hid dragons?

I truly would rather fly than take the subway. But, there are no dragon wings for me tonight, All Hallow’s Eve. The modern world gives me one night a week to walk among them. Unfortunately, I fear I may be losing even that. I stand here, a dragon now made human by the strong magic of this one night.

My beautiful horns look like horns still, but they shine of plastic to merge into the 2012 world. My magical white and black scales are smooth and juxtaposed against each other, white skin against black eyes and lips. This hair I get in this human form – I’m always fascinated by it. My true nature holds no hair. It’s long, black, and very shiny. I hold a basket decorated with skeletons and jack-o-lanterns, in case anyone thinks that my mostly black translucent, spotted with crystals wings are anything but a costume to ward off evil spirits and ghosts. Although, for near seven decades, this holiday means less about crossing between the two worlds and more about procuring all the sugary treats that the spoiled children of the west and now developed east can.

I hail originally from Mongolia. But, I make sure that I transform closer to the urban areas on this eve. The Keepers make sure we have large buildings to hide in – barns in the country, warehouses in the cities. What, do you think vampires are the only creature that has human allies? Vampires are babies compared to the dragons. In Moscow, on this night, I can hide amongst party goers. Not so much in the outer reaches of Mongolia.

I can smell the drug addict behind me. He’s not so different after more than one thousand years of living amongst mankind. There is always the drunkard, the opiate addict, those seemingly possessed of the head and hunched in corners or lying about the streets in a heap of disheveled discontent. I’m always used to the stares and whispers, even on this night. My costume is so elaborate – I hear the same thing every year: “How long did it take you to come up with that?”

One year, I had to meet Hector in a night club and the manager was upset when I wouldn’t enter their dress-up contest. I told him I had an unfair advantage – that I was part dragon and that just didn’t seem fair. He said, “Da, da, that is why you must enter.” Hector made us leave.

In the last decade there are fewer and fewer of us who meet. There is a new order, descended from the Orthodox Church Guard. They hunt us on Halloween. They have campaigned hard to get their followers to disallow their children to participate in Halloween festivities. They planted criminals and hooligans to make the streets unsafe. Our last bastion of safety is in the raves and nightclubs.

But Hector and I just want to be together. The two of us together with the last of our kind; there is but 13 of us left – unless pairs like Hector and I can bare offspring. All we wish is to spend our one day together without being seen or heard in our dragon forms. There is a strange peace to be among the humans with some anonymity.

The man besides me acts like he doesn’t want to look at me. But I can tell he’s looking at me. A book and headphones, how obvious do you have to be to give away that you are a voyeur, an interloper, and likely a dragon hunter? I distrust anyone unless they smell of a Keeper or are dragon. I find it funny that the woman to my left is telling her child to be fearful of me. The child has keeper blood running through her – only a halfling, but it’s still there. I turn and give the child a crystal from my wings. It will be a scale tomorrow. It will act as a homing device for the Keeper recruiters. The child should be brought up in the appropriate environment. Not by some ignorant human woman. Many of the Keepers were lost when the dragons were killed for sport so many centuries ago. But, the earth is in need of the dragons to be leaders again; but, we must up our numbers. The armor the Keepers create for us can do very little against some of man’s weapons any more.

I have to change trains. I can feel the book-carrying man following me. There are many people, thankfully. He won’t do anything here. I see more young people dressed up for the festivities. A few more stops and I will be at the night club.

My spine, now covered in taffeta and satin tingles. I can feel Hector close. I think I sense Raul and Sophie, too. Sophie lost her offspring ten years ago; I hope she is not sour and silent any longer. We dragons hold onto our delight and depression even longer than some humans. A decade of grieving, in my mind, is enough. Sophie, however, is a century older than I; she doesn’t find my opinion to be much.

The train stops. The man does not follow me, but I sense other trouble around. There is a woman walking in front of me, I keep up with her step.

The nightclub is not yet open, but there is a cafe next door. My human body wants sustenance. There, there is hector. I can see him through the glass; He, in all his horn-riddled and red and orange brilliance. He smiles. I smile back.

I open the door, the scent of coffee soothes the brain of my human form. Huzzah for All Hallow’s Eve.

 

 

Free-Range Fiction: Tattoo Pairs

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This is my piece in response to Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenge. This week’s “A Second Game of Aspects” pitted a list of sub-genre, setting, and element for our wily dice to choose for us. My roll garnered me:  Ghost Story, Paris 1944, and Tattoos. I spent too many days researching and getting lost in the history of Tattoos on women and what Paris was like in 1944. But, I’m still happy with how this ended up rolling off the fingers and onto the screen. It’s dead on 1,000 words.  I give you:  Tattoo Pairs. Enjoy. As always, please comment below. It helps, truly  it does. ~C.

 

Paris, Aug. 27, 1944

Sabine waited. She knew he would be coming home soon. The worst was over. The city was liberated. She felt in her heart, in her mind, in her gut – in her soul – which René would be home today. Soon she would hold him in her arms again. She had drunk too much wine with her neighbors here along Rue Mademoiselle. Every street was a different party. She also didn’t want to stray too far from her own flat. There was a threat of perhaps more mortars coming in or an air raid; although, it seemed the Americans had the Germans running.

“Good,” Sabine thought to herself. “Those Nazi scum could run forever.”

“Run and Die,” she said out loud to the warm air within her apartment. She had seen some returning soldiers from the armored division stopping in the streets right as certain sections of town were liberated and getting married to their sweethearts. Weddings right there amongst the war’s rubble. The look on the faces, it made Sabine smile so big she thought her face would explode from how her smile stretched her face. Sabine wanted René to look at her that way; she wanted the two of them to be happy. The war was over. It was time for happiness. It was time for normal life to resume.

She was confused about what to wear. It would be just the two of them, but maybe he would want to go out? Should she just wear some lingerie or should she put the new yellow dress on? The one she bought the day René left. She swore he would wear it when he returned. She would bathe first and then decide.

As she undressed, she looked at the tattoo on her backside; it sat at the edge of her waistline, before her buttocks began. A French Flag with a banner of René’s name underneath, with a wreath of roses around it and flourishes of grapevines curving out and hugging the ridge of her buttocks. Her girlfriend, Yvette, had suggested that. She had also had a Fleur de Lys inked between her breasts. High upon her hip, edging towards her belly was the National Symbol of France. She read the country’s motto, “LIBERTE, EGALITE FRATERNITE” in elegant script and the words actually felt real. This tattoo matched the one on René ’s left bicep. His right bicep had a pin-up girl that looked suspiciously like her. He always said that Sabine was the girl of his dreams. She giggled. She looked again at the symbol with its shield and oak and olive branches. Olive branches, peace, it once again was in her life, in her country’s borders. With the German occupation, both men and women were showing their loyalty in creative ways. Sabine and her friends had worked and saved and sometimes didn’t eat to afford the tattoos. She caressed all three, closed her eyes, and thought of René e. Warmth ran over her body as she imagined holding him again.

She dipped a toe into the tub and slowly worked her way into it.  The scent of Jasmine – one of René ’s favorites – enveloped her. She sat back, relaxed and closed her eyes.

A knock at the door found her waking in the tub. She looked around, shaking the bewilderment off. She must have dozed off in the tub – all the excitement and the wine had apparently made her sleepy.

“René?” she called.

The door creaked open.

“Oh, I’m not ready; I fell asleep.”

Into the bathroom stepped, a man. Cream colored modified jodhpurs, a leather jacket with a garrison belt and his dark hair slicked back with goggles.

It was René, except he hadn’t shaved in days, it was clear.

“Darling!”

Sabine jumped up from the tub and went to grab her towel. She wrapped it around and went to hug René .

She fell right through him. She stepped back, frightened. “What? What? René , what is wrong?” She jerked in air through her mouth, causing a squeak to come from her – like her subconscious wanted her to scream, but she couldn’t.

He was speaking to her, but no sound came from him. His lips were moving, but no sound.

“I can’t hear you. What is it darling?”

His hands and arms were gesturing wildly. He pointed to her tattoo – the symbol, the one they shared. She could see his eyes filling with tears.

He was reaching for her, holding out her hand like he wanted to take her for a stroll. She reached back; again, her hand went through him; he was nothing but air.

She closed her eyes and shook her head. Perhaps she was simply hallucinating. The worst hangover she had experienced, yes, that was it. That was the problem.

She opened her eyes and René was there again. This time he was slumped against the wall beside the door, blood ran from his head, his shoulder – exposing his tattoo. He held one hand on his abdomen.

“René!” she screamed. “What happened?” The force of the image – the blood, it forced her on the ground, the cold tile shocking her naked derrière.

She began to cry; René was talking again – like a silent movie. No sound. He was emphatic, but slowed by his apparent injuries.

There was a knock now at her apartment door. She flung her robe around her and raced through the door, glancing back at René. He held his hand out towards her. “Moment, my love, moment, ” she said.

At the door, stood another soldier, he had the mourning band on his arm. Next to him was a chaplain.

“Mademoiselle Lawrence?” the soldier said, he held a stack of letters tied with a yellow ribbon. Sabine recognized her handwriting on the letters.

Sabine fainted right at their feet. As she slipped into unconsciousness, she felt René’s breath on her ear. “I love you, darling. I’m sorry; I guess it’s time for me to wait for you.”

Free-Range Fiction: Dog-and-Pony Show

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This week’s flash fiction is once again inspired by the World-Con going Chuck Wendig. See his TerribleMinds Blog here and the challenge here. Basically we had a choice of four words from the list:

Cape

Joke

Senator

Hamburger

Laser

Gloves

Funeral

Motel

See if you can find the four I used. 

I give you: Dog-and-Pony Show, coming in at a sparse 890 words. I wrote this in the throws of insomnia with a film crew in my backyard. The latter is for another post. 

Leave me comments and tell me how ya like it. Thanks. 

The entire post was getting ready for the senator’s arrival.  Tinsley hated the dog-and-pony shows his assignment at the new hallmark military post demanded. 

“This is such a joke,” his buddy, Barker, said. “Wash the trash cans? What the fuck, they are trash cans.”

“Well, it’s for Senator Williams,” Sgt. Franks said, his Puerto Rican accent thick and sing-songy. “He is the chair of the Senate Arms Committee. Think of him as the man who signs your paychecks, troopers.”

Tinsley hated the word troopers. Like they were in fucking boy scouts and his unit wasn’t starring soon at their third rotation in Southwest Asia.

“I suppose we have it better than the fucking Marines, standing guard at the o-club in full dress uniform including those pansy-ass white gloves,” Barker snickered.  His baby face’s cheeks wobbled while his teeth gritted together.  Fort Meade was the first Post they converted over into multi-military use.  The Army, Air Force, Marines – even the goddamn Navy were all co-located here. Although the Navy boys were all Yeoman – paper pushers and few SPs, as their ships were up in the port in Baltimore or at the academy in Annapolis.

Tinsley nodded at Barker – he hated dress uniforms. He would rather scrub garbage cans. He hit the last spot on his last can and stood up from the row of trash cans in front of him. The whole squad was basically done scrubbing.  Tinsley stretched his lanky frame and twisted side to side like he was doing morning P.T. warm ups. His stomach grumbled.

“Sgt. Franks, it’s lunch, yeah?” Tinsley motioned towards the tower clock in the parade field in front of their little work area under the shade trees.  The hands read 1140 hrs.

“Yeah, let’s get these cans back in their proper locations and we’ll get some chow,” Franks said.

At chow, Tinsley waited for his usual Hamburger.  Before he could get his lunch someone called for Attention. Those seated stood; those standing turned towards the sound of the command and assumed the position.  In walked the post commander, the corps general, and Senator Joshua T. Williams (R-TX).  Inside his head, Tinsley moaned an “Ah fuck.” He could smell the melted cheese which dripped from the side of his burger begin to burn on the grill.  He was waiting for someone – the Sergeant Major, anyone – to call the ‘As You Were’ so that he could just sit down and fucking eat.  But it didn’t come.  He stood there along with every other swinging dick in the dining facility waiting and stealthily watching the procession of the Big Whigs to the front of the line.

The cooks and staff swarmed near the senator and officers and chatted with each other in Farsi. Most were asylum seekers from the War on Terror.  They were happy to serve chow three times a day to American soldiers – whatever their branch.  The VIPs got their lunches and finally the ‘As You Were’ was hollered out.

“Sorry, bub; you’ll have to wait for your burger,” Arnie said to Tinsley with a shrug. His name was actually Abdullah, but he had adopted Arnie.

“What?” Tinsley slurred the word through gritted teeth. His stomach was starting a coup against the rest of his body 

“The VIP has it,” Arnie pointed a spatula towards the retreating entourage.  Tinsley saw the burger on the Senator’s cafeteria tray.  He smoothed down the front of his ACU jacket and felt his feet move forward, left foot first.

“Hey man, where you going?” Barker hissed.

“To get my burger,” Tinsley’s feet started moving into a quick step. He didn’t notice the parting sea of other lunch-time comrades.

Within moments, he stood at the head of the Senator’s table. A few choice soldiers and Marines of the month sandwiched the senator, general and base commander.  

“Sir,” Tinsley said, the air forcing a tone from his mouth he hadn’t expected. The tone said, “You need to fucking listen to me.”

“The Senator would like to eat, Soldier,” the Corps General said to Tinsley with a look that said, “Step off, Private.”  Tinsley looked down at his buck sergeant stripes and then stared back at the general.

“Yes, so would I,” Tinsley said. “The Senator has my hamburger.”  The Senator looked down at his plate, so did the commander and general and the joes on either side of them.

“I do believe it’s…” but before the Senator could get the words out the Base Commander was in Tinsley’s face.

“Report to my headquarters right now, Private Tinsley.”

“I’ll happily do that, Commander,” Tinsley said, then paused and pushed out his breath into the face of his superior officer. “With my lunch.”

Tinsley saw the general apologizing to the befuddled Senator. 

“Now, Soldier,” the commanders said. “Now. The longer you take the more pay I take from you and the more restriction I rain down upon your insubordinate ass.” 

Tinsley made towards the door and purposefully went away from the base commander and towards the Senator. It honestly made more sense to do that about face and march past the Senator. In one swift motion, quicker than he could spin his color guard rifle, Tinsley snatched the burger off the Senator’s plate and continued towards the door.

Forty-days later in the Brig down in Quantico, Tinsley ate Tuna for lunch.

 

Free-Range Fiction: Dinner With Margaret

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Once again this installment of Free-Range Fiction is due to that Pennsly-‘Tuckian Boot in my arse. That boot comes in the form of a writing-prompt challenge regarding setting.  Here were the choices:

In the middle of a prison riot.

Chinatown during a hurricane.

In the Martian suburbs celebrating the Red Planet’s independence.

In a haunted mountain pass.

On the battlefield during a war between two races of mythological creature.

I chose Chinatown during a Hurricane. It came out fairly easily, if slowly.  The word count is more than 1,000 — there’s 50 extra words, specifically description for those who have never been to Chinatown in Seattle.  But like Chuck said in another post – Fuck the Police. I’m making my own rules. And this was an exercise to get me writing, so, it did its job — 50 extra words or not. 

So please enjoy:  Dinner With Margaret.

**********

Seattle's ChinaTown's Historic Gate

Seattle doesn’t often get hurricanes. Okay, it never gets hurricanes. But, with global climate change and all that hoo-ha, we were getting hit. It was going to make Katrina look tame. Or said the idiot from the weather channel. You know the one who looked like he probably played football in college but turned weather geek because he blew out his knee. There he was, standing out on Alki Beach, with the wind tearing at his blue parka, rumbling sensationalism and subliminal fear into the microphone, as the wind flicked his cheeks. I was watching him on a screen that had a thin layer of greasy dust on it in a place that I likely shouldn’t have been. But I was here. Seattle’s Chinatown, or rather, the International District as it was politically correctly named in 1962 – the year I was born. Despite the PC name, the locals still called it Chinatown; however, it featured not only Chinese, but also Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Africans, who have a little niche in the community because of all the bullshit that went down with the Japanese during World War II.

Surrounded by all this culture, we sat with dullness painting our faces – the bartender, a waiter, a cook and bus boy and about a dozen other people besides me, in a little dive lounge restaurant that no tourists visit, The Nettle Fish. It had been here since 1966 and incorporated all the foods there was in the district. Its menu was huge. Anyone with a problem deciding on drink or food normally stayed away. I always ordered the Moo Shu Mushroom and a Chau Tien. There we sat, in the red-tinged cave-like setting, eating PHO or Spicy Chicken or nursing a Kirin. The bartender kept asking everyone that came in if they knew which Margaret they had named the hurricane after, they would get happy hour prices. I said Margaret Meade. He charged me full price.

Like I said, I shouldn’t have been sitting there. And when the cops rolled in, I knew I should have been seeking higher ground – heading to some place east – any place over the mountains.

“Folks, you’re going to need to clear out,” he stomped through the restaurant, his thick thighs rubbing against his uniform pants. He was burly, brash and had a butt the size of a Ford Bronco. He also had this nasal tone to his voice that made me think of my Aunt Dottie in Ohio.

From my seat at the bar, I could see into the kitchen and I saw the bus boy and dishwasher dude duck into the walk-in refrigerator. The bartender was looking back and forth from customers, to cop, and towards the front door.

It dawned on me then that maybe some of these dudes were illegals – but hell, the cops weren’t here for that. They were evacuating the city. Hurricane Margaret. What a bitch. She sure knew how to wreck a Friday night.

I just sat still in my stool, sipping my beer. Chau Tien was tough to come by these days – especially the stout batch. I wasn’t leaving it.

“Hey buddy,” the smaller of the two cops approached me. I saw the bartender act like he didn’t hear him. “You have to hit the road – get out of the city. Don’t you see the weather channel there?” He flashed a night-sticked hand at the dusty TV.

“I’d like to finish my dinner,” I said without looking up.

“Take it to go,” the cop squawked.

“Moose and chicken,” I said.

“What did you say?” the cop said, trying to act like he was a fucking Scarface clone, only less tough.

I said nothing. Mini-Scarface got up right in my face. I could smell the toffee mocha on his breath. At least the cops here in Seattle had something better than Dunkin’ Donuts. “Sir, this does not need to get ugly; I don’t think you want to be in jail when the hurricane hits.”

Before I could answer, there was a crash from the back of the kitchen. The Ford Bronco cop came through the silver and black swinging doors, his eyes bugged and he looked to be as moving as fast as he could without alarming anyone else. He was on his little suspender radio calling for back up.

Scarface left my said and went up to his partner. They faced the kitchen and conferred quietly together. Sirens screamed past outside. I could see no movement, nothing in the kitchen. The walk-in door was closed. Behind me the waiter was getting flack from some lady about her food being delayed. He kept saying, “Hurricane and cops make house special fried rice late.” She wasn’t listening. I was watching the cops.

The cops stood watching the door. More cops poured through the door. I figured it was my time to exit. I took a last swig of my beer. The back-up pair of cops joined Bronco and Scarface. I set a twenty-dollar bill on the bar and walked slowly towards the door.

I put my hand on door to open it, froze, noticing the little bells that dangled to let the staff know someone was entering or exiting.

A roar came from behind me. Through the doors came this creature the size of a fifth grader, with grayish, brown hair, a duck-like beak and a heart-shaped face that indented deeply at the top of its heads. It had huge long claws and was doing this barking honk at the officers with snarling teeth.

“Kappa!” screamed a woman, who sat in a table behind the wall of cops.

The creature bellowed again, as if in response to the woman’s cry. Others were screaming, too, but like the woman behind the cops, no one was moving, except the creature. It was snorting and scratching its claws on the carpeting, and bowing its head as if to bull charge. I put my hand on the door, eyes on the cops and the creature. A fire hose of water began to erupt from the top of the creatures head. I dashed out the door, not looking back. I heard breaking glass, water hitting the sidewalk, and screams  come from behind me. I kept running.

I ran the four blocks to my motorcycle.

“Eastern Washington, here I come,” and I started the bike.

Free-Range Fiction: I’ll Take Monday

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Herr Chuck Wendig lobbed some creative challenges at us over the last few weeks. First a first-line one. Then, he chose three of the hundreds of proffered first-lines and challenged us to write a flash-fiction piece from it. The three he chose were:

“Everyone else remembers it as the day the saucers came, but I remember it as the day a man in a suit shot my father.”

“Three truths will I tell you and one lie.”

“Thursday was out to get me.”

I chose the last opening-line prompt. 

I started to write something really creepy and stalker-ish and it turned out more cutesy. It is what it is. I hope you like it. 

All comments welcome. Don’t be shy. 

I’ll Take Monday

Thursday was out to get me.  Most people hate Mondays and call it their worst day of the week. However, mine was always Thursday. This Thursday was already a beast and it wasn’t even 6:45 a.m. My neighbor woke me with his bag pipe playing. He had jarred me awake from a weird dream, which with each piping note I promptly forgot. When I yelled at him, he apologized and said the muse has attacked him and he couldn’t resist. I would mind it less if he could play something other than Brian Boru March.

He continued to play even though I yelled at him. I tried to pretend it was a soundtrack for my shower. Not very sexy or invigorating. Just aggravating.

Looking in the bathroom mirror, I found a pimple in the middle of my forehead. Strange desires to take my razor and shave off the zit hit me. I honestly couldn’t stop myself. Blood ran everywhere. The hand towel looks like it was tie-dyed in blood. Not attractive in the least. Eventually I got it to stop bleeding and put one of those stupid-looking circle bandages over where a simple blemish had been. Now I was late to catch the bus to work. I needed coffee and shoes. I dashed to grab a travel tumbler of coffee and felt my stocking feet ooze into something wet and sticky. I looked down. Cat puke.  I love Mr. Waffle, but he truly is a cock sometimes.

Ten minutes later, I was finally out the door. In what seemed like a gesture of peace, Thursday sent me that killer-looking blonde – a modern version of Angie Dickinson. She was there at the bus stop each morning, but never noticed me. I gave her my best James Bond smile, “Good Morning.”

“Good Morning,” she purred back.

Encouraged, I shifted my backpack to my other shoulder to get slightly closer to her. As I went to shrug it on my shoulder, I inexplicably lost my balance and spun around like a drunken discus thrower in the most epic nerd slapstick ever. I ended up on my ass, my backpack nearly getting hit by a passing bicyclist. I scrambled for my pack and stood up and brushed street debris off my trousers.Dickinson’s clone took a step back and poorly suppressed a smirk and a giggling snort.

I exhaled defeat and my seeming rightful place in the bus-waiting line – dead last. There was one spot left. Predictably for my Thursday it was the one above the wheel well of the bus that left little room for my pack or my legs. I wanted to bolt from the bus via the rear exit doors and call in sick; but, I had coding due today and I needed it off my desk. I squared my shoulders and sat in the wheel-well seat. Also stuck there was this pig-tailed woman, who wore red-framed glasses, which contrasted starkly with her jet black hair. She shifted closer to the aisle as I tried to get my pack into my lap and closer to the window than her.

The next stop flooded people into standing room only, stuck holding on to the seat backs and the poles. We were beginning cruising speed and I leaned my head against the window and tried to calm myself down. As my breathing slowed to something nearing a bus nap, my head was jerked forward, and a spray of iced mocha landed on my head, chest and lap. I looked up and saw the poor schlub whose paper coffee cup was now oscillating between my seat partner’s feet and mine. Sorry, he mouthed and shrugged. The bus driver queued up the p.a. system and apologized for the sudden stop, explaining he had done so in order to avoid a stray dog.

I looked down at my trousers and shook my head, “Curse you, Thursday.”

“Pardon me?” the woman next to me said.

“Nothing; having a bad day.”

“Oh,” she paused. “I thought you said my name. Here,” she handed me a handkerchief and motioned towards my face.

“Very nice of you,” I said, seeing she had near violet eyes beneath those giant glasses.

“My name is Thursday,” she said, and stuck out a hand. “Good thing about that dog, eh?”

My heart started beating in a heavy metal rhythm and I hit the Next Stop button on the bus and awkwardly bleated out an “excuse me” as I climbed over her purple tights and white Mary Jane shoes.

The exit doors parted and I hit the street, my shoes sticky with chocolate and cream.

“Wait!” I heard a bird-like screech behind me.

I kept walking. I would just walk home. Screw this day. Screw my codes and the boss and the cat and my fucking bag piping neighbor.

“Wait! You have my handkerchief!”

The words warbled into my ear slowly, along with the clack, clack of short heels on concrete.

I quickened my pace; all I wanted was home, my bed and an end to this piss poor day.

Click! Clack! “Wait! Wait! Please wait,” the words were punctuated with gasps for breath.

Just like the desire to shave my blemish this morning, the urge to halt immediately right there washed over me. I stopped and stood still. The air all around me felt electric, and I remembered what the dark-haired girl looked like…from my weird dream.

A hand slapped my shoulder, “I got you.”

I turned around. She was beautiful; her eyes enchanting.

“I need my handkerchief,” she said. “You can’t keep it.”

I handed the crushed and sodden thing to this woman, Thursday.

“Sorry,” I looked down at my coffee-stained shoes. “Like I said, I’m having a bad day,” I looked up at her and recognized this exact scene from my dream, except I think maybe there was a monkey on the sidewalk in my dream. But Thursday, she had been part of the dream. “You got me.”