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Diverse Possibilities (Two Contrasting Short Stories)
Edie gripped her grocery bags that cut stiff, bent fingers. She pushed ahead, feet sore in Goodwill boots. Los Angeles’ August sun, white at noon, blinded pedestrians and drivers, and Edie thanked God for the Rite Aid Solar Shields that hid her face but lessened glare.
She shuffled to the opposite sidewalk before the light changed. Heat wavered, and the blacktop melted. Exposure had lessened the feeling in Edie’s feet so the dip in the blacktop snagged her toe, and Edie fell, spilling her precious, fresh farmer’s market peaches into the street and smashing her Solar Shields.
The Chevy with gold spokes and a hula dancer on the dash sped to make the light, not seeing Edie until it was upon her. Swerving, it knocked Edie to the curb, but drove on. A woman yelled, “Call 911,” and ran to Edie, who coughed blood, met the woman’s eyes, and then closed her own.
Though "Fault Lines" is short, I feel that it is complete. However, the ending is open--what happens after Edie dies? In addition, it leaves much to the imagination. Like all homeless people, Edie probably was not homeless all her life. What happened to her that resulted in her living on the street? Does she have relatives; was she ever married? As a story, perhaps "Fault Lines" could continue, and perhaps it could be revised to show more about Edie's life, but as flash fiction, almost a prose poem, I am reluctant to change it. What do you think? Should I change it, and how?
The Old Lovers
Rose opened her eyes, sleep sticky in their corners. Next to her, lying on his stomach, Tony breathed deeply. She listened to the 6:00 a.m. workers driving past, and once again, Rose felt wrenching gratitude that Tony had worked hard and saved for decades so that now, in their old age, they could live in peace and enjoy life at a graceful, slower pace without either of them needing to work.
Ha, old , she smiled, remembering last night, and she lightly touched his arm, the wiry hairs white but his muscles still strong. Rose snuggled close to her husband. She was awake now, could get up and make tea; but no, not yet.
Tony murmured, and then opened his eyes; the deep blue wells crinkled, meeting Rose’s brown gaze, and he rolled on his side, pulling her softly against his chest. Beyond the shutters, the sun eased over the pink horizon and songbirds voiced their morning trills.
Dear Readers: This is an alternate possibility for how life might play out in one's older years. Why can't we all look forward to such happiness? Perhaps some might prefer ending their days in solitude rather than with a loving partner. Certainly, for each of us, happy partnership looks very different. The essence of this story, though, the joy of being loved and supported in one's life and later years, is pathetically out of reach of poor Edie of "Fault Lines," as it is for so many in this hard world.