- This is a new short story I began writing this weekend.
- Title under development.
- Outcome to be determined.
- Be kind. Comments and constructive criticisms welcome.
Alicia suddenly woke up at the stroke of midnight. She’d come home from work earlier in the evening, groggy and feeling crummy. Crummy had been her word of choice because she wanted to be a kid again in the moment she crawled under the bed sheets. Whispers of lavender from the detergent teased her nose as she nuzzled up to the pillow. Immediately she knew she’d sleep soundly. Never had she thought she’d be wide awake a mere four hours later.
Her job had become all the more stressful and the pain from losing her best friend was gripping tightly at her heart the past month. Dena had been more than a best friend, almost a sister and at the same time a motherly figure. Alicia’s relationship with her own mother was strained because she’d left home at 18 for a high-school sweetheart and left her mom alone, and she blamed herself. From that point, the relationship was based on a once-a-month phone call and visits at Christmas.
Dena passed suddenly two Mondays before. Dena was a bakery manager at a local grocery. Alicia had met her on the bus home from work soon after moving into the city. Dena was reading a Dean Koontz novel, and Alicia remarked how Koontz was her favorite author. They struck up a quick friendship from that point forward. Six years later, Alicia felt alone again, missing her friend and now caring for Dena’s cat, too.
Dena just dropped to the floor in the bakery after closing an oven door and setting a timer. Her coworkers immediately phoned for help and attempted CPR, but it was as if she had instantly slipped away. Alicia had plans that night to grab a drink with Dena after work. They were going to meet outside the grocery bus stop and head to The Dove, a local dive-bar about two miles south of the grocery on Highway 32.
Alicia left the offices of the publishing company she worked for and took the bus straight to the store. She found it funny to arrive almost ten minutes later than she’d planned and not see Dena sitting on the bench waiting for her. Alicia had texted Dena twice during the day but not received a reply. It was common for Dena to wait to reply until after work, frequently turning off her phone.
Ten more minutes passed and Alicia finally entered the store and saw Brint, a floral delivery driver standing at the bakery counter with some other store employees. Brint was friends with Dena and had joined the girls for drinks in the past. Brint spun around making eye contact with Alicia and it struck Alicia that something was wrong. Brint’s usually cheery manner was replaced by a look of complete sadness. To this day, she hasn’t forgotten the look.
In the next five minutes of conversation, she felt like her entire world had ended. Brint sat her down in the small cafe at the front of the store and told her everything he knew. He apologized for not calling her. He’d had to continue working and thought maybe that Dena’s sister or parents would have notified Alicia. An uneasy stillness overcame Alicia and she wouldn’t let go of Brint. They stayed close the next two days until the funeral. Alicia called in sick to work for the remainder of the week and Brint invited her to crash on his sofa. He lived with his brother in a duplex just a block from the grocery. She was scared to be alone.
…To be continued…