Here we go. Part 2 of the newest writing exercise. As always, there is minimal editing or plotting-ahead, but I kind of like the vibe of this one. Let me know what you think. You can read part 1 HERE if you like this.
I felt a hand fall lightly on my left shoulder, then a soft, yet oddly jovial, voice said, “It’s kind of anti-climactic, isn’t it? All that trouble, and for what?”
I turned my head to look at the figure at my side. Tall—well, taller than me, but I’m only five-foot-four—with a full head of brown hair, just beginning to show some salt, and a still-youthful face, the man was smiling at me like I was a small child who just learned Santa wasn’t real.
I considered my response for a moment. I remember being in the room when my parents had put our dog to sleep. He’d been fifteen, I was twelve, and it crushed me to lose him, but the actual event had been… boring. He’d just closed his eyes.
But watching death like this—my death, at that—was different. So much activity, so much resistance, when it was clear that the body—my body, I reminded myself—had simply wanted to go to sleep.
I looked down at my hands: clean, neat, nails buffed; there was no sign of the blood and dirt that covered the body—my body, damn it!—that lay before me. Like it wasn’t even me.
“Oh, but it is you,” he said.
Startled, I looked up at him again. “Wait—”
“Sorry,” he said, raising his hands in a “don’t shoot” gesture. “Your defenses aren’t up yet. It’s too soon after. Normally I don’t read my new charges, but in your case—”
“What do you mean, new charges?” I interrupted.
“Ah, yes. I’m getting ahead of myself.” He turned and gestured toward the door. “Perhaps we can talk about this over a snack and maybe a cup of coffee?”
“I don’t like coffee,” I said, the wake of his sweeping hand drawing me forward. “I could use a Coke, though.”
“Coke it is, then,” he said, as we passed through the doors into the hospital corridor.
“Where’s the hospital?”
He looked around at inside of a small café and shrugged. “I hate walking,” he said, guiding me gently to a table. “Why walk when you can just be somewhere?” He had an accent, but I couldn’t place from where. Not British. Not stuffy or pompous enough for that. But close.
I sat and he flopped into his own seat across from me, unbuttoning the dark grey sport coat he wore. The dress shirt beneath it was the same shade of grey. No tie, though; open collar. Dark blue jeans and—yes, those were checkered Vans on his feet—completed his ensemble.
Business casual, I thought.
“Ah, but what business am I in?” he said, smiling, before realizing he’d done it again. “I’m sorry, but your mind is so loud, it’s difficult to block out.”
I glowered at him. “Where’s my coke?”
The waitress appeared: healthy, redheaded, and smacking a wad of gum, she set a glass and wrapped straw on the table in front of me.
“One Coke,” she said, still smacking. “You two going to eat anything?”
I didn’t recall having ordered. My companion took it in stride and said, “Two grilled cheese sandwiches, please. With fries, thank you.” He looked at me as if for confirmation, but I stared blankly back at him. He slowly turned his gaze back to Flo. “And I’ll just have a glass of water.”
“Couple a’minutes,” she said, not-quite-waddling off.
I mechanically unwrapped the straw and put it in the glass of Coke, taking a long sip, trying to decide what to do or say. Was I dreaming? Was I still in the hospital, in a coma? Was I dead? Was I in hell? Purgatory? No way this was Heaven…
Finally, I figured out what to say. I let the Coke flow back down the straw and into the glass. Removing my lips from the plastic tube, I sat up straight and stared down the pleasant-looking man across from me.
In the calmest voice I could manage, I said, “What. In the actual. F—”
“Whoa!” he said. “No need to be crass. A simple Could you please explain what’s going on? would suffice.”