Time for this week's flash fiction! The prompt:
It was tuna salad day. Multigrain bread, one slice of tomato, and a spray of fresh dill from her garden. A peach and a bottle of iced tea.
Greta smiled as she walked across the busy street, clutching her pale pink lunch tote in one hand, iced tea in the other. The sun glittered against the dark asphalt and a breeze teased at the sleek lines of her chignon.
She saw him rain or shine, but when the air smelled of hot dogs and cigarettes and the clouds were clean and white, he was usually grinning as he passed. He had such a nice smile.
She stepped into the shade of the trees and set her lunch on the second bench from the right. The one under the dogwood, just where the bike lane merged with the sidewalk that sidled through the park.
Plenty of time. She hadn’t missed him.
With a happy sigh, she removed the peach from her bag and leaned back. The fuzzy skin brushed against the roof of her mouth as she took a bite, juice running sweetly over her tongue.
He was wearing the red shirt today. Her favorite.
She could see him down the street, right on schedule, the spokes of his bike flashing in the sun. His helmet was tipped forward, but the line of his jaw was visible, the winking white of his teeth.
She had been right. He was smiling.
Greta pushed her sunglasses up her nose and took another bite of her peach. The trick was to keep her head turned forward and only let her eyes follow him. That way he wouldn’t know, couldn’t guess that he was the single brightest moment of her day.
From the corner of her eye, she watched the wiry muscles of his arms tighten as he guided the bike onto the path through the park. He was almost here, just a few more seconds until he passed.
She let the day slow, the earth ease its terrifying hurtle through space, let her eyes rest against him. He was wearing his chucks, and his backpack looked heavy. It would be over soon, these little moments; the college down the road was just a few weeks short of summer, and she knew he must be a student. Graduate school maybe – he looked about her age. Long after he passed her each day, she wondered what class he was riding towards, what subject made him smile like that, with his eyes wide and his hands relaxed on the handlebars. She’d decided he was smart, really smart, and kind. He always braked instead of skidding around people walking on the path, and she’d seen him help an elderly man once, who’d fallen asleep on a bench and couldn’t find his cane.
A loud laugh echoed in her ears. Greta’s head jerked up, and her peach fell from her hand, rolling into the grass. A teenager in a burgundy t-shirt and ripped cutoffs was careening across the sidewalk on a skateboard.
Right in front of—
A screech of bike tires and a flash of red—
Greta stood up, mouth open to yell, and something rammed against her, knocking her back onto the bench. For a moment the world was a confusion of flashing colors and voices raised in concern.
“What the hell?”
“Everyone’s okay. It’s all fine. Relax.”
Then, a face appeared before her, quiet and concerned, and she felt a gentle hand on her arm.
“This isn’t how I imagined meeting you,” the bicyclist said to Greta, with a smile.
Jennifer Walkup also has a great story for you today - click here to check it out!