W illis Hobson was a derelict sort of fellow. Life had not treated him as fairly as he had hoped. This tinge of disproportion permeated his life and had soured him on his fellow man.
As a child, he had grown in the obscurity of an unfriendly city. Though he had a few acquaintances as the years unfolded, none ever seemed to perform the role of best friend. As time served up its cold dish of loneliness for him, he acclimatized to the solitude.
Although the conditions of his life were such that he could have easily become a hermit living in a distant wood, he was fortunate to be a child of the city and so, rather than succumb to the life of a recluse, he became a pawnbroker.
Willis’s shop was located on a side street in a mid-sized West Coast Canadian city. The surrounding buildings on the street rose sufficiently skyward that it was only for a brief hour or two that the sun was able to shine on Hobson’s Pawnderosa. Willis was content with this. Life was meant to be borne indoors.
One Saturday, he found himself stepping outside of his shop just before noon. He had grabbed a chair from a room in the back and planted it on the sidewalk in front of his store, sat down and for the first time in many years, let the noon sun shine on him.
This was a very considered action. In the preceding weeks, occasionally looking up and out the window of his shop, he had seen a woman. He eventually determined that she must live or work nearby for at noon she would walk past his shop for some reason unknown to him. For the next while, he paid considerably more attention to his window throughout the noon hour. Midway through this vigil, he cleaned his windows thus improving his view.
Six days a week, shortly after noon, she walked by heading south. Just short of one o’clock, she would make the return journey.
On one occasion, the day after he had washed his windows, she had stopped and peered in. Caught off guard, Willis had looked away. Their eyes did not meet.
His sadness, that sense of a valuable moment lost, escalated his anguish. And his resolve.
The risk was so great. The pleasure in just knowing of her movements had become a consuming diversion for him. He could not recall a similar experience in his pruned life. His every fibre said, “Enough! This is enough for me.”
But curiosity finagled its way in. He had to see her in the light.
And so the day came when he placed the chair on the sidewalk in front of his shop. Shortly before noon, on that Saturday, the last workday of the week.
It was a warm day. He was hungry but had determined that a man chewing a sandwich, in his case always a Tuna sandwich, would be more unappealing than a man simply sitting on a chair enjoying the noon sun shining on his face, warming him, softening him, spraying him with colour and peace.
With a precision he had fast become accustomed to, she walked towards him. She had an efficient gait. Her brown skirt was knee length, her blouse white and plain, and she carried a medium-sized purse in one hand and a light jacket draped over the arm of the other. He immediately regretted not hauling out a second chair. It wouldn’t have seemed forward, he thought, in hindsight. Rather, it might have suggested that he was expecting a companion to join him in the glow of the noon sun. He then decided to dismiss this train of thought. He could always offer her the chair. If she stopped. If they had discourse.
When she was two shops away, his anxiety increased appreciably. He desperately wanted to say something to her. “Hello,” perhaps? Or “Good day, Madam.” Neither seemed quite the right overture.
As she reached the shop before his, the sounds of the noon traffic regaled the air. A horn honked. Two loud women on the street opposite began to laugh. The sun, once warming on his sheltered skin, seemed to become unbearably hot.
Just as she reached him, her attention was drawn to the laughing women opposite and she passed Willis by with her eyes averted in their direction.
In seconds, she was out of his sight, turning the corner west.
“I’m hungry,” Willis said to himself. He could wait, he supposed, another hour for her return but she would likely have no time to dawdle and speak to a lowly shopkeeper.
He took his chair inside the store, went into the backroom and ate his Tuna sandwich.
Monday, he vowed, he would try again.
The following is my take on FRIDAY FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #22-A sad friend.
The word count is a little longer than recommended, and perhaps the story is sadly lacking something.
- Word Count is off! Let’s focus on the theme of the thing. Not many actually stick to the word count anyway. (SUGGESTED-No more than 500 if you want to try that.)
- Using the prompt of ‘A sad friend‘, WRITE. Sad can mean different things depending on how you say it and the culture you are in. Someone may be depressed or someone might even be pathetic. Perhaps there are other meanings as well. Whatever meaning you give it, go with it and prosper! (REQUIRED) Sad