Cradles Rock

Cradles Rock (Week 2, Day 1)

Cradles rock and parents sing, that’s how the world is run. Babies squeal and children scheme, that’s how the world is fun. Teens feel and adults think, that’s how the good is done.

Agnes sat on the porch, her feet tapping the bottom step while her fingers drummed the top one. The overhang of the roof provided a bit of protection from the blazing sun but not enough to keep her from sweating. After fourteen days straight she’d resigned herself to having pit stains and chaos hair. Agnes kept her gaze focused on the gas station sign across the street. There wasn’t much else to look at and she wasn’t about to be caught watching eagerly for his car to pull up.

Living in this one-street town hadn’t been a part of her plan. Nothing had been a part of her plan which, she knew, was the problem. One of the problems, anyway. Agnes would have stood out in most spaces given the combination of her height, hair, and fashion, but she was so much of an oddity in this place she didn’t get even a moment’s respite from the reminders that she was different.

Agnes felt the car turn onto her street well before she heard it. That magnetic pull he had on her was one of the few things she could count on these days and she hated it. She kept her head forward and her eyes on the sign all the way until his car pulled into her line of sight, and only after she heard his car door open did she look at him. 

Dale wasn’t handsome, he wasn’t built, he wasn’t even charismatic. He was everything this small town represented – short, squat, and defeated. It was as if he and the town were linked in a deeper way than even the five generations warranted. That he and the town shared a name was just icing on the cake. Dale Fountainhead the Fifth didn’t carry himself like local royalty. 

As he made his clumsy way around the front of his car, tripping over a rock and stopping to kick it out of the way of his beloved tire, Agnes sighed. She wished he would push her out of the way like he had done to the rock, and then shook her head at the idea of being jealous of an inanimate object.

“Are you ready?” Dale stopped at the passenger side of his car, seemingly afraid to come any closer.

“Ready enough.” Agnes pulled her shoulders away from her ears and forced herself to go towards Dale and the car even though every fiber of her being wanted to turn away from him and walk off into the eventual sunset. Walking away might have been an option if she were playing a part in a romantic movie but here in Fountainhead unwed pregnant women didn’t have that sort of luxury.

Dale opened the door for her and snapped it closed once she was settled. Agnes felt the backs of her legs immediately glue themselves to the seat.

This is part of the 2022 500-Word Short Story project. Comment with “Tell me more” if you’d like to vote for this to move to the next round.

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