Prose Header


by Crystalwizard

Table of Contents
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
appear in this issue.
Chapter Eight

The pond had been invaded by several students having a clandestine remote-controlled boat race and the benches nearby were packed with onlookers. I stood under a tree and watched the kids trying to out maneuver each other and let my thoughts drift. They promptly floated back across the street and wondered what Jason was doing. I frowned and jerked them back to the park.

One of the geese took a dim view of a boat that ran into his rump and let out a loud honk, which the idiots clustered on the shore found funny. The boat race turned into a chase-the-goose race and I walked away before security showed up. I had no desire to spend a few hours explaining why I was standing under the tree watching a violation of the park rules instead of reporting it.

My thoughts took the opportunity to dash across the street and dive into the kitchen. I growled and dragged my brain back to the park. My emotions glared at the rest of me and tapped their foot. I tried to ignore them and spent several minutes staring at the changing patterns cobblestones make when being walked over. It didn’t work. Jason had taken over my life and I wasn’t happy about it. Much. Well maybe some, but it sure put a real crimp in a lot of things I wanted to do.

I stopped walking around the flowerbeds and stood gazing at one of the rose bushes. It was covered with blooms in various shades of pink and they reminded me of Jason when embarrassed. I grinned and decided I was hungry. I gave a glance over my shoulder at the ducks and headed home.

The smell of tuna and cheesy-noodles greeted me when I stepped through the door, which was mildly surprising. The bigger shock was that Jason had figured out how to make a salad to go with them and actually had dinner on the table. He handed me one of his uneven smiles and I giggled...which startled me. I turned the giggle into a cough, gave him back the smile and sat at the table.

The terrarium migrated to the top of a cupboard about five minutes later and I enjoyed the look of relief dancing in Jason’s eyes while we ate. The terrarium seemed uncomfortable on the cupboard, and the ivy probably wasn’t going to get enough light, but the table no longer had room. I’d figure out a different place to put it in the next day or two. Somewhere not so blatantly in Jason’s face, but not totally out-of-sight out-of-mind either. I expected at least one round of reminders would be necessary, once he’d calmed sufficiently to forget his position in our relationship, but a growing part of me didn’t want to think about that.

The sun had set and the nightly serenade of emergency sirens screaming through the downtown streets was well underway by the time we finished dinner. I helped clear the table, left Jason with the chores and went for a walk. Of about thirty yards. To the café. I wanted that talk with Kathy and I wanted it tonight. She saw the look on my face the second I entered and burst out laughing. I wasn’t amused in the least.

“Want some coffee?” The café was overflowing and Kathy was too busy for chitchat. I accepted the coffee and perched on a stool at the counter, waiting for a breathing space. Wednesday nights aren’t the busiest time for most places, but the café was right across from the college and a never ending stream of kids could be counted on until at least midnight. I was hoping that stream would hit a few rocks and give her at a minute or two, here and there. I sipped my coffee and watched the student body flowing in and out the door.

Kathy stopped running between tables a little later and started smearing the counter with what was supposed to be a clean rag. “Haven’t seen you in a while. What’s up?”

“My temper.” I didn’t believe me and neither did Kathy. She chuckled and smeared the counter some more. “I’m not kidding.” I believed me even less and sipped the coffee rather than look at her. She snorted.

“I get off at two am. Like always. Why don’t you meet me tonight and we’ll go hang out somewhere. You look a little tense.”

“Tense is not the word I would use.” I sipped more coffee and put the cup on the counter. “Yeah okay, I’ll meet you back at two.” I’d be back at one forty-five though, just to make sure she didn’t skip out. I wanted that talk. I stood up, dropped a coin on the counter and pushed my way through the flood of kids traipsing through the door.

The air was warm and I stood on the sidewalk staring at nothing and listening to the sounds of the city. I tossed a glance over my shoulder at the wizard’s tower, decided Jason could handle himself for a few hours and set off down the street in a random direction. Behind me, the tower windows glittered with light from various tenants and the sounds of sirens split the night.

I wandered aimlessly along the twisting sidewalks edging the campus streets for almost an hour then cut across the Delta Gamma Phi quad. Some of the football jocks were hanging out at the pool and they made the mistake of practicing their wolf-whistles. I hate it when guys do that, it makes me itchy and my hair stands on end. I gave the first one a baleful glare and shoved my way past the second. The third stepped in front of me and leered. The smell of alcohol hung heavy on his breath so I stopped and looked him in the eye. “You’re standing in the way.” The direct approach didn’t work. His leer got wider and he started drooling.

“Looky wha’ I caught.” He reached for my shoulder and acted surprised when his hand didn’t land on it. He was even more surprised when the ground smashed into his face a second later.

I stepped to the side and swept my gaze over his buddies. “Would one of you gentlemen like to carry him out of here before I lose my temper?”

They reacted by exploding with laughter and falling into each others arms. I lowered my opinion of their collective intelligence; decided laughing boy could sleep under a tree if his friends had no objection and walked off. One of the other muscle-bound thugs dashed after me, grabbed my arm and spun me around.

My fist met the lips he intended to plant on mine, and his head snapped back. I watched him crash to the ground and found myself being exceptionally grateful that Kathy hadn’t set me up with him the night of my graduation. Jason’s face floated before my eyes, accompanied by pangs of regret that I hadn’t asked him to come along for the walk. Not that I needed protection but the night suddenly felt lonely. I shook myself and clenched my fists, waiting to see if anyone else was in need of a nap.

The remaining jokers were busy bursting their sides with hilarity and drowning their brains in bottles. I debated giving them all a headache, decided the whisky would do a sufficient job in the morning and walked away.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2006 by Crystalwizard

Proceed to Challenge 275...

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