I was hoping to post something different this week, but the flu took a shot at me and while it didn’t take me down, it did put me out for a bit. It’s amazing how sluggish the brain can feel along with the aches and discomforts. So, what I have this week is the beginning of one short story I’ve developed as part of a larger collection. I’ll be sure the post the rest of this story soon. It was inspired by a clock tower, slide and the ocean. Enjoy.
The seagull swooped low above the playground, shrieking as it passed over the bench. Linda jumped in her seat and let out a frightened, “Oooh!” Putting a hand to her collarbone and tapping her fingers lightly, she laughed nervously realizing it was only a stupid garbage vulture – as her brother had always called them. She glanced around to see if anyone had witnessed her reaction, then repositioned herself at the edge of the bench, smoothing out her full, blue cotton skirt carefully around her before crossing her legs and then rearranging the skirt again. She sat upright, adjusting the front of her beige blouse, ensuring that the neckline didn’t drop too deep. No one paid attention to her.
It was a warm afternoon and she felt self-conscious, overdressed for the beach in her skirt and top. Everyone else was in shorts and t-shirts. No one wore pantyhose anymore either she read in one of the fashion magazines, but Linda thought it made her look more professional and it hid the tiny varicose veins that were starting to track across her legs. She kept a hand on her purse at her side as she scanned the playground in front of her, trying to find something to occupy her thoughts.
A child, no more than five years of age, dressed in a pink t-shirt, green shorts and dirty tennis shoes, climbed the eight rungs to the top of the metal slide. Without waiting for anyone or anything, she flopped onto the base and then pushed off, sliding down face first, hands extended out before her. Linda held her breath as she watched the child go down to the bottom of the slide and then fall off the end a foot and a half to the sand below. Linda sat straighter, watching. Was the girl hurt?
Quickly the child rolled onto her back and then popped up, making her way to the top of the slide again.
Linda let out a sigh of relief, smiled to herself and looked past the playground to the beach and ocean. Early in the afternoon, the waves were quiet and a handful of families were enjoying the last days of summer. Colorful towels, coolers and beach umbrellas were scattered among the groups of people on the sand. It was an idyllic scene.
She glanced around, wondering who was in charge of the child. It was strange the little girl was unattended for so long. In this day and age, children could be snatched up in an instant.
As if reading her mind, a young woman raced over. Taking the little girl by her arm, the woman reprimanded the child for wandering off and going down the slide alone. The little girl immediately burst into tears and the woman scooped her up, holding her close to her chest as she retreated to a stroller on the other side of the playground.
Linda sighed with relief, her nerves still a little jangled at the thought of something bad happening to the child. Her foot bounced anxiously at a rapid pace.
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