Red Writing Hood: Pick a Number

This weeks Red Writing Hood prompt was a little different… or was it totally the same…

They used one that they did a while back, before I started doing the prompts so it’s new to me, though I liked it.  They offered four categories, Character, Setting, Time and Situation.  Each category had 10 numbered options.  The idea is, you pick a number for each category and then whatever corresponds to that number you include in your piece.

I used random.org’s random number generator to select the four numbers I needed and I ended up with:

  1. An elderly woman
  2. In a Park
  3. In December
  4. Someone has just gone to the doctor

Henrietta Lewis sat on a bench in the middle of Central Park on the coldest day anyone could remember.  Even for December in New York it was bitterly cold and the usual hordes of city dwellers seen scurrying through the park were hiding in the shelter of their steam heated, barely warm walk-up apartments, bundled in layers and nestled under blankets.  One would have to be crazy, or desperate, to be out on such a day, but there sat Henrietta, unaffected by the cold.

Pigeons shuttled around her feet, hoping the old woman would drop some crumbs or seed, but she didn’t notice as her gaze was cast upward, toward the sky and she took in the iconic sky-line, the grey sky above, the sun shining behind the clouds.  She watched as her breaths floated away like a lifting fog.

Over the tops of the trees she could see the upper floors of the building that housed the treatment center and she smiled as bittersweet tears trickled down her face, threatening to crystallize in the freezing air before they could fall.  For so long, the news had been grim.  While it hadn’t spread, the lump wasn’t shrinking and the numbers showed no signs of improvement.  Once her course had been completed the Doctors sent her home to wait, to wonder, and to worry.

Henrietta thought of all the times she’d sat on this bench.  For months she had come to this spot to sit and watch the living, live.  Life happened all around her even as she was slowly dying.  She always wanted to enjoy the world for a time while she waited for the drugs, already coursing through her veins, to wreak their havoc on her system.  Within hours, she’d be too sick to move, retching and heaving until she was certain there was nothing left.

It had been summer then.  The days sweltering as waves of heat rose from the baking pavement.  The heat felt good to her, though, warming her bones and thin blood.  There was never a shortage of young, healthy, living people enjoying the heat.  The shirtless college boys playing Frisbee or touch football in the grass; the girls in their short shorts and bikini tops roller blading along the jogging trail; the hot dog and peanut vendors hocking their wares with their sweat soaked shirts sticking to their backs.  She would watch the activity and lament the world she was sure she would soon leave.

But today, as she sat in the familiar spot in the park, there were no shirtless boys or bikini clad girls, there were no hotdogs or peanuts.  There was nothing but quiet stillness with only the pigeons to distract her and as the tears freely fell, a smile began to spread across her face and she turned her face to the heavens as she dreamed of the many summers to come when she would sit in this spot, amongst the living, knowing that she would be one of them.

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10 thoughts on “Red Writing Hood: Pick a Number

  1. I like the round about way to the happy ending. Good job. I was all ready to grieve, now it’s a celebration.

    I want you to know how jealous I am of writers that can weave words into pictures in my head. Just sayin’

    • Thank you so much! You have no idea how much I needed to hear that.

      When I sat down to write this piece I realized that my last few creative ones were, or ended, kind of dark. I wanted something brighter… And here we are. 🙂

  2. I love this and I’m glad it had a happy ending. I was close to crying. Well done!

    • Wow! That’s quite a compliment. Thanks I’m glad you liked it. I thought it was about time for a happy ending on one of my short pieces… 🙂

  3. Very nice and I like the imagery. But do people really think that girls go rollerblading in a bikini and short shorts in the summer? I have never actually seen someone doing this in NYC, only in 80’s era movies or something set in California. 🙂

    • Well….. I DO live in California…

      But I don’t know, you might be right. I don’t know that I’ve seen it in a long, long time.

  4. I love the way you juxtapose the cold and the heat in opposition with her optimism. And like the others, I’m so glad you gave her a happy ending.

  5. Awesome! I’m a sucker for a happy ending, and I love the way you made it a surprise happy ending.

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