We are more than what we say
And less than what we wish
Living together, separately,
United by division
Oh, People Are Strange
*12 Stories and 7 poems, inspired by 19 photographs*
Published: September 5, 2016
FREE to read with Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime!
I am honored to have two of my stories included in this collection. As with all of the books in the Mind’s Eye Series, contributing authors were randomly assigned photographs for which we had to write stories or poems. The theme for this book was, as you might guess, the strangeness of people and the way we behave.
My two stories are Polite Indifference, which has a melancholy feel, and One Toke Over The Line, which takes a more ominous slant.
Here is the opening bit of Polite Indifference, along with the photo that inspired the story:
“That lady’s sad, isn’t she, Mummy?”
The mother tugged the little girl’s hand, pulling her away as she hissed a caution. “Ssh! It isn’t nice to talk about people.”
“But you and Aunt Maggie do it all the time.”
“Move those little legs,” the mother said, probably more sternly than intended. “The playground is filling up and there’s one empty swing waiting just for you.”
Jane held her position on the bench. She didn’t swivel her head in their direction, nor did she show any sign of having heard their exchange. She continued staring off at nothing, while a part of her ached to tell the little girl that, yes, she was sad, and then explain all the reasons why. But the child was too young to carry that kind of burden. And the mother was just another in a long line of people who didn’t care.
The woman probably thought Jane was homeless or mentally ill. People tended to presume the worst. Easier to scurry away than to be forced into any sort of exchange of pleasantries with a stranger who might be unstable, or hungry. Or lonely.
Jane burrowed deeper into her coat, as a brisk wind snuck an icy finger down her spine. She’d come to this country on a spur-of-the-moment getaway. An escape. She’d packed clothing into a small duffle bag—a worn pair of Levis with a Tweety Bird patch sewn onto the right thigh, a faded Keith Urban concert t-shirt, an emerald green silk blouse, and a tan plaid chambray shirt. She’d left the little house on the cul-de-sac in Bristol, Maine, and driven to Logan Airport in Boston. She didn’t have a ticket or even a destination in mind.
Once inside the airport, Jane had gone straight to the international flights. An unexpected decision that wasn’t really a decision at all. She’d merely reacted, as she’d been doing all day. Pack a bag. Get on a plane. Not to Minnesota or California or Florida. Not even Canada. No, somewhere far away.
Nonstop flights to Copenhagen, Madrid, Shanghai. All sold out. The next flights to Paris and Rome were several hours away. And so she chose London. An open-ended ticket with no return date. She thought she’d stay four or five days. Maybe two weeks at most.
That was four months ago.
She’d purchased socks and underwear, a coat, another pair of jeans, and two sweaters. Last week she bought shoes, because she’d worn a hole in the sole of her sneaker. She spent time in five different hotels, the cheaper ones, away from the tourist areas. She ate alone in diners or took fast food to her room. And she sat on this park bench, watching people live their lives.
If you read this collection, I’d love to know what you think of the stories!
Thanks for reading. 🙂