The prompt: Time & place
I just stood there baffled. For a moment my mind was blank as my eyes took in the scenery before me; it was night time with the blare of fresh fallen snow on a street corner that I couldn’t quite place. Panic hit me at once and I frantically turned myself in a half circle trying to find my bearings. There. In the distance I saw someone walking away from my direction. No, she wasn’t really walking, more like stomping away in bright red combat boots. Her dark curly hair blew back as she stormed off. Briefly I watched her go until it dawned on me that maybe she could help me find out where I was and what the hell I was doing here.
Ignoring the way the cold and wetness began to seep through my own brown loafers, khaki pants and light blue button down shirt (which by the way, suggests I am possibly supposed to still be at work) and began to jog towards her. “Hey!” I yelled as I got a little closer. Nothing. “Hey, wait!” I called out again. This time she whipped around to face me. She was beautiful, although she was glaring at me with a fierce intensity I feel was unwarranted. She never stopped, just walked backwards while crossing her arms against her chest. “What!” she shouted angrily, the tone of her voice caused me to slow my pace lest I get too close to her and she decides to, I don’t know, murder me or something with her eyes. “Um, I, well…” I sounded like an idiot. Thing is, I don’t know what to say. For some reason ‘what planet am I on?’ or ‘excuse me, do you know what dimension we’re in?’ seemed like feasible questions considering when I woke up this morning it was July in CALIFORNIA. She rolled her brown eyes at me and started to turn around again. I’ve got to get it together. “No, wait. I’m sorry, Do I know you because you seem upset with me? Um, can you just tell me where we are?” I plead. She raises an eyebrow at me and shakes her head. “Wow.” She says bitterly as she finally stops walking, “What game are trying to play right now?” Ok, it’s official, one of us has lost our mind. “Um, I don’t know what you mean.” I stammer. She narrows her eyes and says in a snappy tone, “Ummm, I mean what I said.” Great, she’s mocking me. She tosses her head back and exhales loudly, a puff of steam rolls out of her mouth from the way her body heated the cold air. Now I’m getting angry, all I want to do is find out what is happening to me and she just wants to be a brat. “Never mind.” I reply curtly, it’s my turn to stomp away.
I get a few steps away before I hear her boots crunching in the snow behind me as she gets closer. “Shawn, wait.” She doesn’t sound quite so angry anymore so I allow myself to turn and face her once more. Up close I can see the imperfections in her face; the way her skin isn’t flawless, how two of her bottom teeth are crooked, the small scar right above her lip. They don’t make her less attractive as you’d imagine, instead they make her even more appealing to me. She seems real. She seems real in a moment that doesn’t make sense to me. “You know my name?” I ask in astonishment. “Of course I know your name.” She sighs and continues, “You seriously are out of it. I should probably call Dr. Myers.” She slips her hand into her back pocket and pulls out a phone with a yellow case on it. I reach out to stop her from dialing. “Who is Dr. Myers?” A new panic is setting in. She wriggles her hand, which I seem to be squeezing pretty hard from the way her face contorts in pain. “Shawn,” her voice is very calm as she speaks. “Can you please let go of my hand?” I let go, embarrassed by my reaction. “I’m sorry.” Shaking her head she says, “It’s fine. It’s all going to be just fine okay?” I nod even though I don’t think it’s all going to be just fine. “Why don’t you have a seat there on that bench, I’ll get some answers for you all right?”
I watch from my perch on the edge of the freezing cold metal bench as she dials the rest of the number and begins speaking quietly into her phone as if I can’t hear her. “Yeah, he doesn’t seem to remember who I am or where we are.” She says. After a few “mmmhmm’s” and a couple of “I see’s” she hangs up and turns to me. “Well?” I ask. “Shawn, you’re not supposed to be here.” I let out a harsh laugh. “Yeah, tell me about it. I don’t even know where here is.” “North Carolina.” My mouth drops open. “How the hell did I get to North Carolina?” I exclaim. She just shrugs her shoulder and gives me a sympathetic look. She takes a seat beside me and we sit in silence for a long while. “What’s your name?” I finally ask. “Lena, geez you really don’t remember me?” She replies softly. There are tears in her eyes and I suddenly feel like I should have pretended to remember her. “Uh, I’m sorry.” She wipes the tears away and takes my hand. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault.” “What’s not my fault?” She shakes her head, “Let’s just wait a moment, Dr. Myers is sending someone to pick you up.” She smiles a sad smile at me. Before I can I ask her anything else, a black town car pulls up to the curb. “Well, this is you.” She says gesturing towards the automobile. An older woman steps out of the back and strides toward us quickly. “Thank you Lena, we’ve been worried sick about him for the past week!” She says, pulling Lena into a tight embrace. All I can do is stand there gawking because I have no idea what is actually going on. When they separate the woman turns to me. “You’ve caused a great deal of trouble. I can not believe you ran off like that before treatment. You scared you’re mother half to death!” She scolds me as she grabs my shoulder and pushes me towards the car. “I. I’m sorry” I utter, unable to comprehend what’s happening. She pushes me into the car and then walks around to the other side, sliding in beside me.
Lena taps on the window so I roll it down. She leans in and kisses me on the cheek. “I’m so sorry Shawn. I love you. I just can’t…” She never finishes her sentence. Instead she straightened up and began stomping away once more. I turned to watch her as we pulled off. For a while all I could see was the bright red of her boots against the white of the snow. I don’t know why, but I felt like I just lost something really important. Beside me the woman, Tess, kept saying that it would be okay. I had missed some sort of treatment and that’s why I was so out of it. I couldn’t really pay attention. I was too busy trying to figure out who that girl was and why the moment she said she loved me I knew it was true.
I also knew that I loved her too.
Thank you for reading this short story! I had a bit of fun writing a sort of mystery. What is wrong with Shawn? What is this treatment he’s missed for? Who is Lena? All valid questions that will remain unanswered, at least for now. Check out more of the responses to this prompt and other great prompts at the lovely Kellie Elmore’s blog!