I'm linking up to the Slice of Life community... posting a piece each Tuesday.
Okay, I know I missed putting anything up on my story last week. I spent my "story time" trying to imagine what was going on with my characters. I think I have it now... I think I know where it is going. Of course, that may change in the weeks ahead. I've already marked in my first draft the many things I need to go back and dramatically alter to fit my new direction. This section doesn't really reveal some of those new directions, but the next few segments will. I guess in upcoming weeks there may be weeks I don't post new parts of the story as I go back to "beef up" the earlier parts and make those corrections. This has been a fun ride so far. Many thanks to all my friends here at Slice who have given feedback as well as the Teachers Write community. So many of the new ideas that are starting to help me flesh out my stories have come from the writing prompts posted there. Again, this is still in the "rough" stages... I'm trying to get my ideas down without self-editing as much.
“Ma’am…” a gentle pressure on my shoulder brings me out of my reverie. I blink rapidly and gaze up at a woman standing beside me. She sways with the rhythm of the train. I wipe the back of my hand across my eyes to brush away the tears.
“I’m so sorry to intrude, but my daughter noticed that you dropped this out of your bag.” She holds my envelope out, gripping it by one corner.
A little girl with deep brown eyes and wispy hair peers over the top of the seat in front of me.
‘Why ya crying?” she blurts. With a shy smile, she holds out a worn stuffed rabbit. One floppy ear falls across its face, like it is hiding from me. “Want Ralphie to give you hugs?”
“That’s so sweet, but I gave up my lovies a long time ago,” I murmur as I reach out for my envelope.
“I’m sorry for intruding,” the woman says. She digs into an enormous bag hanging from her chair and pulls out a small pack of tissues. “Take these, too.”
“Thank you,” I whisper as she returns to her seat and pulls the girl onto her lap. I gaze down at the envelope. Open it. Slide the contents out. I place the envelope with the note and drawing in a neat pile beside me. The remaining stack includes a handful of photographs, a birth announcement, and an invitation.
The small head pops up again, peering down at me. “Pictures!” she exclaims. “Mommy, she gots pictures! Lemme see!”
“Sweetheart, leave that poor woman alone” she responds as she glances back at me with an apologetic smile. “Sorry, it’s been a long ride.”
“No, it’s fine; she can come back and see them.” I slide over toward the window and pat the seat beside me. Squeals of delight erupt as she bounces and crawls over her mother.
“I’m Katie. I’m four.” She declares as she plops down in the seat beside me.
“Well, Katie, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Meghan, though my good friends called me Megs. I’ll tell you all about my pictures if you promise to behave like a big girl and not grab them, okay?”
I hold one hand over my mouth to hide my smile as Katie nods solemnly, accepting the responsibility. Then she starts to squirm. One tiny finger points stabs at the top picture in the pile as she squeaks, “I swimmed, too! I got all prickly.”
“I got all prickly that day, too. I didn’t put on enough sunscreen, and I got sand in my eyes… “
“Oooo, pretty hair!”
“Yes, that was my very best friend when I was a girl. Her name was Cassie and we did everything together. This was the first time we’d ever left our little town for a vacation… ” my voice drifts into silence and Katie gazes up at me.
“Why that make you cry?” Her pudgy hand reaches up to touch a tear trickling out of the corner of my eye.
“Sometimes grownups cry over happy memories, sweetie.” I lie.
Katie shakes her head as if to clear it of the strange habits of adults. Digging into the pockets of her sweatshirt, she pulls out a handful of small shell fragments and pebbles from her own time at the shore.
I smile and nod as her lilting voice tells me about each little pretty, but my mind travels back. It had only been a few months since I had started to hear them. Started to really believe Cassandra, though I was the only one. Yes, the trip had started as a wonderful adventure. It hadn’t ended that way.