Story-a-Day May Day 1

May 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Posted in Short Stories | Leave a comment
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Claire walked up to the window, looking around furtively. She didn’t realize that her attempts to go unnoticed were making her more conspicuous.

“What can I do for you, ma’am?” The ticket seller asked.

“What time does the next bus leave?”

Impatient, the man snapped “In 20 minutes. Can’t you read the sign?”

Unwilling to admit that no, she couldn’t, she asked for a ticket for the bus.

“That will be $72.”

She winced at the price, but pushed four twenty-dollar bills across the counter. He pushed her ticket across the counter, and said curtly “Gate B4.”

She took her ticket and moved quickly away from the window and the man’s hostile stare. Heading out the door, she turned to the right and squinted at the gate numbers posted on the lamp posts. Those were all As with numbers. Looking to the left, she found the B lamp posts, and walked to the fourth one. There were some other people milling around and sitting on the broken down bench.

“Excuse me, is this gate B4?” She asked a nice-looking older woman. The woman nodded, looking tired.

Claire sat down next to her to wait the next few minutes. She pulled the money out of her pocket and counted through it again. The twenties added up to $220 now that she had bought the bus ticket. A cell phone ran and she jumped, then remembered she had left the cell phone in the cramped apartment she had shared with Luis.

A man approached the bus, opened the gate and boarded with the key in hand. Claire watched as all the other riders held their tickets out for him to check. She hauled her backpack higher up on her shoulder and held her ticket out for his perusal. He nodded her through.

Soon the bus was pulling away from the station and Claire felt some of the tension seep from her shoulders. She watched until she saw the lights of San Fransisco fade from view, then dozed off leaning against the window. It was an uneasy sleep, punctuated with nightmares.

She jolted awake when the driver announced that they had arrived in Portland. She stumbled off the bus with the rest of the passengers and stretched the kinks out. She noticed a coffee shop nearby and made her way there.

“What can I getcha, honey?” The waitress asked after she had seated herself.

“Just a coffee, thanks.”

“You sure, sweetie? You’re looking pretty thin there.”

“No, that’s all,” Claire smiled.

As she looked away from the waitress, she caught the eye of a handsome man across the restaurant. He grinned back and her and picked up his coffee cup to walk over to her table.

“Hi, I’m Jordan. What’s your name?” He asked.

“I’m C-Caitlyn.” She stumbled over the new name she’d chosen for herself.

“Nice to meet you, Caitlyn. Are you new to our fair city?”

She nodded shyly, then excused herself to go to the bathroom. When she finished, the waitress was waiting for her outside the door.

“Honey, you stay away from that one. He used to come into the shop with a cute little girl all the time. She started showing up with bruises and then wearing sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts. We called the cops, and they stopped by to check on her, but she never did want to press charges. She’s been in and out of that apartment with him for the last 6 months.”

Claire felt tears well up in her eyes and she threw her arms around the surprised waitress. “Thank you,” she whispered in the woman’s ear.

“I’ll get that coffee to go for you,” the waitress said. “There’s a door out the back way here, too.”

“Thank you,” was all Claire could think of to say.

She waited anxiously at the end of the hallway while the woman put her coffee in a styrofoam cup for her. She slipped quietly out of the shop into the alley and away from the coffee shop.

As she looked for somewhere to ask about a shelter, she realized how lucky she was to have avoided an encounter with an abusive man while she was trying to get away from another.

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