A Penny For...

A Penny For...

A Story by luthien7

The day held promise.  56 degrees on a December Tuesday in the mid-west; the rain was welcome, warm and unusual enough to prompt a call in to the office (**cough, cough, can't make it in...so sorry***) and a walk along the untread sidewalks of the new neighborhood.  It never occured to me, really, to walk.  The store is half a mile away.  There's a park at the end of the street.  There's the bus line and the benches full of advertising and graffiti, and the traffic and the houses... It never occured to me to walk until today.  An unusual day.  I passed my beater in its place by the curb--its pitted windshield whipers arched in a forlorned, baleful way--I felt my keys in my pocket but kept on going.  I didn't know what was on my mind exactly but I wished, I hoped, to be asked.  Maybe I would be forced to put the pieces together, to formulate a concrete image from the random emotions streaming through my nervous system.  A penny for your thoughts?  My kingdom for an idea.

An idea.

The rain felt sinful.  Yesterday there was ice on every major road and the side streets were vehicular skating rinks.  It took two hours to make the usual half-hour journey home from work.  Warm rain like tears of joy smote the cold heart of winter and I thrilled with its every drop.  What did I feel?  Joy?  No.  I thought about work and the missed hours and the short paycheck and the kids and Christmas.  I thought about mortgages and cable bills and student loans a hair's bredth from default.  Unruly curls frizzed against my neck and forehead as runnels of rain ran freely along the length of my nose and made kamakazee leaps into the space beyond.  Was it simply melancholy that I felt?  Something so simple and awful, so pedestrian as the blues?  Maybe.  But, no. 

My feet felt for a trail and, finding none, slid willy-nilly into the oblivion of trailblazing.  Willy-nilly.  My grandmother used to say that.  Ridiculous.  I looked up and found that I had turned left onto the main thoroughfare, leaving my quiet street behind.  Cars sped by raising rooster tails of puddled rain.  There were houses a century old decaying quietly  as two-family vessels for poor travelors on the road to ruin here there and accross.  A corner store where stone-faced silent boys pretending to be men stood sphinx-like before the entrance, traffickers in simple fixes for complex problems.  I thought about the work I would have to make up tomorrow for this little trip today, and the kids and their sense of entitlement--does the world owe us anything?  I don't know.  The world spends its time staring you down like you owe it money, so what does the world owe a man?  Will the gifts I've bought so far satisfy them, or will I have to break down and buy that Wii?  The f*****g iPod?  They're too young for cell phones I will not buy them cell phones, I will not...

 An old lady shuffled past me...did she shuffle?  No, wrong.  She stomped, determined, eyes forward and stance unwavering.  She seemed not to see me or the traffic or the old crumpling houses but moved forward as a solid, steady force against all barriers.  I wondered what she was thinking at that moment as her eyes failed to meet mine.  What lay ahead at the end of her path?  What drove her so diligently that the world ceased to matter.  I wondered if there was any such force encouraging my feet.  A penny for her thoughts, I thought. 

My kingdom for an idea.

I turned right onto a dead end street.  I knew it was a dead end because the sign said so.

The importance of noticing signs:  An essay by Random Walker.  It has a ring, a ring.  Here the houses narrowed and seemed almost to skulk about the sidewalk, their pale rectangles of grass yards too small to protect one from the ire of abandoned property.  Broken windows glared hideously like half-blind men shrouded in the vague shadow of delapidated porches.  The importance of noticing signs--why was I here?  Why had my feet led me down this lane?  I searched and found I didn't care.  The rain had become a drizzle and I wrapped my arms close around me as the wind began to pick up along the narrow way.  What ever had been new and special about the day was drying up with the rain, becoming again the thredbare fabric of commonplace reality I so wished to escape.  Ahead the street rounded and headed back they way I'd come.

A large tree half-entangled in the foundation of a sagging paint-chipped house lured me.  I sat beneath it.  The impetus to walk passed.  What now?  Was there any point?  I could not gather my thoughts; I could not garner an idea.

When they found me the next morning the snow had covered all but my feet and the freezing rain held my body fast to the base of the tree.  An unremarkable death.  Some transient most likely.  Pending an indentification I was carted away to the city morgue.  The only uncommon aspect:  the penny the coroner found frozen within my balled fist.  They did not know what to make of it.  "A penny for her thoughts"  the intern joked.

My kingdom for an idea.

© 2008 luthien7

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Very creative and wonderfully decriptive. I think that the last paragraph should have been longer, letting the reader in on how it feels to slowly freeze, how the temperature dropped while you sat, what you were looking at at last breath. I was left curious as to what was "not" going on in the subject's mind :)

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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Added on December 25, 2008
Last Updated on December 25, 2008



Cincinnati, OH

I love to read and I have been writing for many years. I do not dream of being a great and famous writer, I just want to write something fun and have anyone else enjoy it. I am glad to offer cons.. more..

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