Shell Song (500Words Round 2, Week 1, Day 1, 1/15/18)
Oh, little shell, what secrets do you hold?
What knowledge have you gathered from the depths?
Zach stared at the words scrawled on the paper bag, wondering what they meant. It was an afternoon full of wonder for him. He wondered why he’d picked up the piece of trash in the first place, and why he’d taken the time to smooth it out instead of just putting it into the garbage can. He wondered why he had gotten off the bus a full mile from home instead of riding the full distance to his stop. He wondered why he’d walked out of work at 3 pm instead of staying until the end of his shift.
A big, fat, and unexpected drop of rain landed on the back of his neck. He flinched and carefully folded up the paper bag and tucked it into the pocket of his overcoat. The rest of his walk home would need to take priority over the wondering for now. He hadn’t planned for rain and still had most of a mile to go before reaching the warmth and safety of his home.
He lifted his walker out of the grass and placed it on the concrete, willing his heavy and tired legs to follow suit. Walker then legs, walker then legs – the mantra filled his brain and kept him moving forward as he trudged his way home. He kept his eyes trained on the sidewalk before him so he could navigate around the obstacles that had seemed so insignificant to him not too long ago. He didn’t have the attention to spare to think about the freedom others had to be so careless as to drop their garbage onto the sidewalks without a care in the world. Walker then legs was where his focus needed to stay these days. A sheen developed across his brow from the effort this vigilance took. Walker then legs would be how he’d make it home.
The rain intensified and forced Zach to give up his momentum to stop in a doorway with an awning. He didn’t have a hat and the rain was heavy enough that it was getting hard to see. He turned around to sit down on the bench of his walker to wait out the cloudburst. The mantra was quiet while he was sitting, so he let his mind go back to wondering. His hand drifted down to his pocket. The crinkle of paper told him that the bag had survived his lurching and the rain.
All he could see to the right and the left were clouds. He wondered how long he would have to sit here, waiting for the rain to pass, before he could resume the trudge home. A soft chuckle came over him at the thought of how different things were now. That he had the time to sit and wait, that he had the patience to do it, that he could do it without anger – none of this would have been possible for him in his past.
* All 500Words are fiction. Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *