This is a very short story I wrote back in 2008. I recently found it, so I decided to post it. You can see by my other stories, which are mostly more recent, my style and quality has increased. It's always fun to look back at old things we've created. Enjoy!
Photo is owned by Leonard Row. Model: Brittany McAllister.
The side of Anthony’s abdomen hurt. The lake had a threatening reddish hue, but an overwhelming calm enveloped Anthony when he stared at it. He felt compelled to walk toward it, and pushed himself forward, but his legs remained still as if they had dug themselves into the ground and hardened, becoming part of the grass and mud. As much as he yearned to get a closer view of the lake, the glimpse he had from the winding pathway about eighty feet from the water, but adjacent to the parking lot where his brown and silver rust-covered four-door sedan rested, he did not move.
Near the edge of the crimson liquid, Anthony saw two children playing, innocent, and unknowing of the dangers of the world around them. Their parents probably watched them from afar, just as he did. Anthony concluded he did not want people to see him staring at children. His intentions toward them were none at all, but he knew that perceptions around this area were unkind toward the slightest inkling of weird behavior. He focused his gaze back to the giant body of water and the horizon behind it, with the giant orange ball of light about to hide behind several tall oak trees. There were no trees near Anthony, just some small shrubs and plenty of grass. Anthony realized his breath was being held against his subconscious will, and when he noticed the mistake, he released the air, which also relieved his legs from their stressed prison. He developed a slow walk, his speed the likes of a giant snail, but his slime trail felt more like oxygenated guilt. His moist shoes and socks slurped with each lazy step, creating a metronomic spatter of squishy rhythm. His once perfect slacks were now tattered at the bottom and a fresh tear over one of the knees showed. The pants clung to his legs, save for the fringed ends, which rippled with each gust of wind.
Attempting not to get too close to the children for fear of what the other adults might think of a disheveled young man might be doing, Anthony found an unoccupied park bench near the lake, but away from the youngsters, where he could rest, and continue to let the wind push at him. He heard the children play soldiers or policemen, but Anthony was not too sure. One of the children, a lanky boy, with sad-blue shorts and a black tank top was pretending to shoot the other. The second child, a shorter, chunky boy, wearing a white and yellow summer ensemble, mocked being shot.
“Got you!” the lanky one yelled. They fell down, wrestled, and wriggled toward the edge of the lake. The orange sun beat down on the lake, and the chunky child seemed to be wearing red and pink stained clothes instead. The lanky one stood up fast, and ran off, leaving the chunky one to pretend he was dead. Anthony shook his head. He wanted to laugh, but given that the side of his stomach still ached, he opted to think about it later and maybe give it a chuckle then. Several black birds circled the lake. There were some white ducks swimming on the lake, but they did not notice the others. He was not sure if the black ones were crows, pigeons or something else. He wondered if the black ones were up to mischief. The leader of the black birds made a loud caw. An intense surge of pain tore through Anthony’s stomach and he gripped his gut with his hand. When the sensation subsided, he pulled his hand out to see it had its own crimson color. He was not surprised.
After several minutes of staring at the children, watching the birds, feeling pain in his side, and repeats of one after another in no particular order, Anthony decided it was probably time to leave. After all, he felt people might start to notice him if he stayed in one place too long. He had wanted to rest with some fresh air, and was sated with the little amount he received. He stood up and swallowed the pain, and picked up a quicker pace that before back to his car. Unfortunately, not all of the pain could be stopped, and he soon walked with a limp, but it was his stomach, not his leg that was causing the hobble. The car door was loud when he opened it, and even louder after he got in and shut it. Anthony did not see anyone look, so he exhaled, and sat still, looking at the lake again. The tall trees managed to keep the sun from shining around the entire park, and a pseudo overcast of pre-emptive dusk filled the air. He could still hear the children playing, but could no longer see them. The black birds started to flutter close to the ducks, but avoided landing in the water. Anthony assumed the black ones could not swim. The ducks scattered in different directions, honking obscenities at the black birds. After seeing the bird gang fight, Anthony, again, stored the laughter in his head to think about later.
He stumbled around for his keys. He thought they were in his pant pocket, but all that was in there was some dry, reddened money. He checked the other side, and sure enough, his car keys were there, but he could not remember putting them in that pocket. He looked at the keys, and saw they had brown crusts in the grooves. He held the keys up high, near the windshield, to utilize what little light he could, and used his dirty fingernail to scratch off the brown gunk like a lottery ticket. Dry pieces of the umber film flaked off and floated on to Anthony’s lap. Once clean enough to his satisfaction, he shoved the keys into the ignition and started the car. The car idled, and Anthony did not put it into gear yet. He thought about the children and the birds at the lake. One last time, he glanced back, only to see that the white ducks were gone. The black birds, still circled the lake, but he never saw them enter the water. He thought to himself it was quite interesting that even though the black ones could not or would not go in the water, they managed to get the white ducks out of their own area. The black birds continued to fly in circles around the lake, but then the big black leader cawed loud again. The black one flew away and the others followed.
Anthony nodded his head, put his car in gear, and drove away. The sun finally disappeared in the horizon, leaving a dark blue sky. The murmur from the children subsided and the white ducks slowly started to shuffle back to the gloomy lake.
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