a realistic flash fiction piece and winner of the Editor’s Choice Award on the Major Reads website
Oblivious to my future in the proximate five minutes, I sat in the essentially desolate diner, reading. I was so engrossed in my book that when I reached over to my coffee mug, in my ignorance, I accidentally groped the air beside, knocking over the mug and spilling coffee all over the table.
I jumped off my seat and ran over to get some napkins before the coffee spread to the floors. Before I could reach the napkins, I smacked into a wall, or rather a person. Before I saw who it was, I apologized consistently. Luckily, the person was not holding anything which prevented the cause for another spill. The person did not say anything, but when I finally looked at her, she smiled as if to say, “It’s ok!” However, something did not seem right. Her smile, for lack of a better word, looked fake.
It was when I gazed into her eyes, I realized the smile was fake. Her eyes showed years of dread, darkness, shadow and maybe even a little anger. My expression shifted from apologetic to worrisome.
Without saying a word, I gently pulled her and she allowed me to sit her down at my table. She stared at me when I quickly went back to fetch some napkins to clean up my coffee which had inevitably spilled onto the floor. After the task was complete, I ordered two more mugs and asked her if she was okay and if she would mind sitting and talking to me to feel better if she wasn’t.
Normally, I would give people their space if they were hurting but there was something about this woman that I could just not let go. When I first saw her, I realized that even if she was a stranger, she needed help and at the moment, I was there to offer it.
Since she did not mind talking to me, she let loose her speech as if she did not want to be interrupted. She talked about her tragic childhood of losing her parents and the horrible relatives she’d been raised by. Then she moved on to talk about her friend who had passed away just recently in an accident. Finally, she talked about the freedom she wanted from the life she lived.
I was mesmerized by this woman, my reading forgotten completely. After she was quiet, out of the blue, I started talking about my life and my childhood. I talked upto the point where I was recently appointed manager of a local newspaper company. She listened to me as I had listened to her and at that point, I knew that I wanted to free this lady from the life she was tied to.
I know that if I had not asked this striking woman to tell me about herself that day, my life would not be as beautiful as it is today. By talking to this gorgeous woman, I bettered mine as well as her life by freeing her from the very burden she was tethered to. As time flew by, I grew old with her and life was beautiful with her in it. I occasionally ask her why she ever agreed to talk to a strange man in a diner and she replied, “Just as you looked into my eyes and saw that I was in trouble, I looked into your eyes and I saw a man whom I could confide in; and I felt safe.”