Monday, 29 May 2017

NEXT!

(The following was an assignment from our writers' group.  The topic was an activity or place that gives one energy.)

The old woman rocked, back and forth, in her chair.  Staring out the window, she watched the dozens of people standing in line on the street below.  The queue extended half-way down the street, snaking around a small tree and a garbage canister.  She chuckled.  From where she sat, they looked like ants, only…

She thought for a moment.  Only…  Only quieter.  Less busy.  Yes, ants always kept themselves busy.  Busy doing things, she reminded herself.  Finding food, carrying their treasures back to their nest.  The people below were simply waiting in line, doing absolutely nothing at all.

The window was open and the old woman breathed in deeply as a soft breeze entered her room. She could hear birds singing above, and off in the distance, the steady hum of traffic.  She strained her ears to hear those below, but they were all so quiet.  So listless.  So…

“NEXT!” a woman’s voice cried.  It came from the small shop beneath her.  Its door standing open to accommodate the long queue of people.

Those on the street all took two steps, and the line slowly shuffled forward.

A thirty-something woman carrying a briefcase in one hand, and a take-out coffee cup in the other, hurried out of the shop and toward the doors of a nearby office building.  She waved, calling out to someone whom the old woman couldn’t see from her vantage point.

“NEXT!” the woman’s voice cried again.

Those on the street all took two steps, and the line slowly shuffled forward.

Two young girls exited the shop, laughing at some unknown joke.  “Seriously?” one cried.  “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding.  I wish I had seen that.”  The other girl shook her head and laughed all the more.  They each held take-out cups of coffee in their hands.

“NEXT!” the woman’s voice cried once more.

Those on the street all took two steps, and the line slowly shuffled forward.

A man in his fifties emerged from the shop, a take-out cup of coffee held tightly in one hand, and a cell phone in the other.  The hand holding the coffee moved up and down, to his left, and to his right, as he continued an animated conversation with some unknown caller.

“NEXT!” the woman’s voice cried once more.

Those on the street all took two steps, and the line slowly shuffled forward.

                                                ****************************

And so it continued, almost all morning, until the line on the street slowly dwindled to nothing.

The old woman continued to sit in her chair, steadily rocking, back and forth.  A sharp knock on her door interrupted her thoughts.  “Come in Maria!” she called.

The door opened and a woman in her mid-forties entered the room, holding two mugs, one in one hand.  “The morning rush is over now, Mama.  FINALLY, it’s quiet downstairs.”  She extended one arm, offering the older woman one of the drinks.

The old woman clasped the mug between her frail hands.  Bringing it up to her mouth, she breathed in deeply, inhaling the coffee’s rich aroma.  She smiled, delighted as the smell tantalized her nostrils, and tempted her taste buds.  Taking a sip, almost instantaneously, she felt invigorated and energized.