It’s official. I’ve lost count of how many days in a row it’s been over 100 degrees where I live. Walking outside is comparable to stuffing myself inside my oven, only it doesn’t smell like delicious food. On the bright side, I’ve never been more motivated to lounge around in my air-conditioned house and get some serious writing done. Considering the five-day forecast, I should be able to write a novel by the end of the weekend.
If you are also inside escaping the wretched heat, you have my deepest sympathies. Here’s a new story to keep you entertained. (Tip: summer reading is best accompanied by an ice cream cone or a fudgesicle). I’ll tell you at the end what the challenge is!
This guy is grinning at me. He stinks like dried milk and he has holes in his shoes. I look out the window, hoping he’ll get bored with me and creep on someone else. He doesn’t.
The bus crawls along the city streets more slowly than the people walking beside it. Traffic is harsh this time of day, so the bus stops every 50 feet. It’s a tight squeeze and I’m sandwiched between the milk man and a plump old woman who’s elbowing me as she knits a pair of socks.
Having amnesia is an odd thing. I remember my name and that I’m deathly afraid of spiders, and I’m almost certain I work at a museum. I’m only guessing that because I found a name badge on my kitchen counter. The last thing I can recall is standing on the edge of the roof and trying to reach a dead tree branch. It feels like I just dreamed that, but I woke up in a heap on the patio, so it all adds up.
I’m going to the hospital and I’m on the bus because I couldn’t find the keys to the Cadillac that was in my garage. I don’t know if people with amnesia should be driving, anyway.
I try not to think about my life too much. Like about my mom and dad, or whether I’m married or have kids, or what kind of a person I am. I’m scared I might turn out to be a piece of shit who shoots up five times a day. Or maybe I’m part of a gang and I’ve killed people and stolen from them. I start to stress and then I notice that another guy is staring at me, smiling.
“Excuse me?” I ask him, and sort of ask the milk guy, too. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“So sorry,” the man says. “It’s just that, wow, I didn’t think I’d ever run into you on a city bus like this.”
I follow his eyes as they dart around like they’re doing a connect-the-dots with the other passengers’ faces. If I thought only these two guys had a weird fascination with me, I was wrong. Almost everyone on the bus is watching me.
“Ma’am?” I ask, turning to the woman knitting the socks. She seems to be the only one not paying me any attention. “Ma’am, do you have any idea why all of these people are looking at me like I’ve got snakes coming out of my ears?”
Her response is delayed as she studies my face. She squints as she looks closely at my eyes, nose, and chin like a doctor might during a physical. Finally she says, “I have no idea,” and returns to her knitting.
At my stop, I sprint toward the hospital at full speed. I’ve never wanted so badly to know exactly who I am.
The challenge for this story is: A story less than 500 words in length contains at least 30 unique words that start and end with the same letter.