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A Story by J.S.R. Rayburn
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What starts as an unorthodox, but unremarkable, encounter at a diner, snowballs into an unexpected tragedy.

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Imagine if you can, dear reader, a generic mom and pop diner.

The third stool at the counter is where Alan Christian was sitting. He was busy pouring over the menu.

The waitress, Brenda Bird, approached him.

“Have you decided what you’ll get yet?” She tapped her pen on her notepad impatiently.

Alan began nibbling his fingers. “Not yet,” he said in between bites.

“If you’re not careful, you’ll fill up before you decide.”

Alan stopped biting his fingers, and ripped his eyes away from the menu. “What?”

“Never mind. But please decide quickly.”

Brenda left the counter to go check on the other guests, while Alan went back to looking over the menu.

Four minutes passed.

Brenda returned to Alan, who was still searching through the menu items. She reached for the nearby coffeepot to replenish his mug, only to see that his now lukewarm coffee had been left untouched.

“Sir?”

Alan did not look up.

“Excuse me, sir?”

Alan finally looked up.

“Have you decided?”

Alan silently pondered this question, before wordlessly going back to the menu.

Brenda rolled her eyes and silently walked away.

Three minutes passed.

Brenda returned to the counter, only to find Alan gone, the mug of cold coffee still untouched, and three crisp one dollar bills sitting on the counter. The waitress pocketed the cash.

It was because of this extra cash that Brenda decided to make a quick stop at a convenience store after her shift ended. There was one less than a mile from her home that she frequented. She purchased a 32-ounce cup of soda, and a package of Skittles.

The cash register was helmed by Darrin Ortega. Darrin scanned her two items before asking “Would you like to make a lottery purchase? We’re having a special for half-off a lottery ticket with every drink purchase.”

Brenda shook her head. “No thank you.”

Darrin finalized the transaction and gave her the amount, “$2.74.”

Brenda handed him the three dollar bills, and Darrin gave her a quarter and a penny in change. Brenda tried putting the coins in her pocket on her way to the car, but dropped them. After deciding that bending over to pick up the change wasn’t worth it, she kept right on walking.

Two minutes passed.

A kid, Joseph Hensley, passed by the area. He noticed the coins, bent down and put him in his pocket.

One minute passed.

Joseph walked past a spiral gumball machine. He decided that since he now had a quarter, that he could purchase one, and so he did. He chucked the gumball into his mouth, only to realize, once he attempted to take a bite, that it wasn’t a gumball at all, but rather a jawbreaker. The shock caused the jawbreaker to roll into the back of his throat and choke him. Every time he attempted to take a breath, the jawbreaker was in the way. His face turned blue.

Joseph Hensley died on the sidewalk, alone, at the age of nine.

© 2020 J.S.R. Rayburn


Author's Note

J.S.R. Rayburn
Not in love with the title. Any suggestions?

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I find this well-written, although I think it would better in present tense pov. Fate's cruel hand set in motion poor Joseph's demise. I hate those darned jaw-breakers.

Posted 2 Weeks Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on May 12, 2020
Last Updated on May 12, 2020