Commute

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The air tasted tinny and smelled of rubber soles and cigar smoke. People hurled through a curtain of dust that fell heavy in the grand terminal every spring. They fanned out into the main concourse and then collapsed back together behind the exacting doors of a train car. The energy, the urgency, was enough to crack your skull if you were new to this city. Peter wasn’t. He whacked through the crowd like a veteran, his eyes bloodshot. He had laid awake in his East Village studio the night before, the hum of his anxiety circling him like a hornet. Thoughts dissolving into a tense chest pain the minute they arrived. Barbara, Peter’s wife, had died one week ago in the middle of Madison Avenue. A breezy Saturday, she was dressed in her red shirtwaist dress on her way to the hair salon. When that Lincoln Continental slammed into her, Barbara went soaring through the air like some rare bird. The Lincoln screeched down the avenue, swerving past his wife's body so fast no one could get a plate number. 

Peter tried not to think about the shards of glass that had decorated his wife's body like diamonds. How the mortician had to tweeze out every piece before dolling her up for the coffin. He shouldered past women in kitten heels and men in Hamburg hats and checked the four faced clock. He was already 10 minutes late to work. Peter stared up at the backward sky, swallowing thickly. He felt a cool stream run down from his nose to his top lip. He flew a hand up to his face, embarrassed, thinking it was snot. When he drew his hand away, he saw a bright swipe of blood. Jesus, he muttered. “Tissue?” an old woman in a pink peacoat had approached him. “Uh, no thank you, I think it’s stop…” another gush of blood ran down. She rifled through her purse, pulling out a tissue. “Thank you. I hope you don’t want this back,” Peter laughed uneasily to himself. “It’s quite alright, I’m as healthy as a horse. I don’t need those.” The old woman pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Peter looked over at the clock, another three minutes had passed. “I’m very sorry, but I’m really late. Thanks again.” Peter wiped his nose clean and stuffed the tissue in his pocket. “You’re late! My driver is parked outside, why don’t I give you a lift?” Peter considered the 8 blocks he still had left to walk. The woman took his arm and escorted him through the bronze doors. “Carlyle is my new driver, the last one banged up my fender.” Peter looked ahead at the sleek, black Lincoln Continental, Carlyle drumming his finger on the wheel. He felt his insides become stoney, zeroing on the headlight, swearing he could see a knick of blood.

 


Submitted: May 07, 2020

© Copyright 2021 sarah brokamp. All rights reserved.

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