November 2011, Contest Rules - a work of fiction, 1500 words or fewer.
I couldn’t enter the store. Not just yet. They stopped me dead in my tracks as they came through the exit side. Years later I would be able to articulate that moment in time, but for a long time, and certainly at that time, it was an inexplicable freeze frame of life.
They weren’t threatening. They weren’t even aware of their surroundings. They certainly weren’t aware of me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I had to move out of the way or be trampled by the people hurrying to finish their shopping and get home. But still I could not divert my attention. Didn’t anyone else notice? Why was I the only one mesmerized?
I managed to find a bench at the corner of the store that gave me a perfect view of them loading their car. I sat down and prayed that no employees would come out to take their smoke break anytime soon. The overflowing, stale ash tray was dirty and filthy enough, but it seemed even more vulgar in direct contrast to the two ladies I chose to watch. They were pristine, almost flawless. I wondered if the older lady smelled of lilac or baby powder. It would have been fitting. Why were they so fascinating? Blue. That’s all I could think. Both of them, everything about them, blue.
The hair on the little old lady was even blue with a touch of silver that seemed to dance on her head. Her eyes were blue, vibrant blue like the Caribbean. I bet she was a looker in her younger days. Her crisp two-piece suit was royal blue and she donned a matching pill hat. The small boxy kind you only see in the movies. And even though we’re in the 21st century, I almost expected her to have crisp, white gloves on to match. She didn’t, but she did have the navy blue patent purse, complete with a silver clasp and a short leather band braced sturdily over her forearm. Her shoes matched exactly and the patent leather almost shined like moonlight on a lake.
What were they doing here? Not only at this wretched, giant superstore, but here, in this century? I glanced around. Still no one else seemed to notice them. They walked up to the 1st car in the row, a handicapped space. I couldn’t make out the model but the car had to be every bit as old as the lady with the royal blue pill hat. The car was huge. The steering wheel reminded me of a captain’s wheel on a yacht. And yes, the car was blue. Three different shades of blue, in fact. Of course it was. I spared a grin.
They had done this before. The two of them, together. Probably many, many times. I realized the other one was a nurse. Her dark blue, almost black uniform indicated such. She was much younger than the other, but still no spring chick, as my dad would have said. She was pushing the cart and the blue-haired lady walked arm-in-arm with her. As they approached the car, the nurse in dark blue braced the cart and walked to unlock the door. They never spoke, but each knew what the other was going to do. As the nurse unlocked the car, the little old lady waited at the cart patiently. Looking around, and finally looking up at all the grackles gathered in the scrawny trees of the median.
“You belong on an estate with beautiful trees and song birds,” I almost said it out loud. Wishing somehow I could make it come true for her. She was so out of place. For a moment, she looked lost.
The nurse returned and held out her arm. Once again, arm-in-arm, she walked the little old blue lady to the back seat where she slid in. Still they never talked. They never really even looked at each other. The nurse didn’t shut the door. That surprised me. Instead, she went around to the right front passenger door and got something out of the glove box. “Glove box,” I thought to myself. “Now that’s funny.”
She came back and leaned in to the little old blue lady. I realized concern was building for two people I didn’t even know. Did she have to get something medicinal? Was the little old blue lady okay? Then she stood up and walked to the back of the car to start unloading the cart and I got a glimpse of the little old blue lady again. She was smoking. The nurse had gathered a cigarette and lit it for her. She was smoking and you guessed it, exhaling puffs of blue.
I was trying to absorb the images, make sense of it all, and somehow wrap my brain around this duo that didn’t belong. They didn’t seemingly belong together, in this day and age, and certainly they didn’t belong in that parking lot, in that neighborhood.
The nurse in dark blue shut the trunk and delivered the cart to its holding pen. As she came around the tri-blue car she pulled the cigarettes out of her uniform pocket and leaned in to light yet another for the little old blue lady. This time she also fastened her seat belt. As was clearly their pattern, they never spoke or looked at one another. The entire car was almost filled with pillows of blue smoke. The little old blue lady was enjoying every puff.
I became very conscious that I was staring. I had been so fascinated to this point that it had not even occurred to me that I was borderline voyeur, far more than just rude. Still, I didn’t want to stop. I made myself look away for just a moment. Only to look back and catch them laughing.
They were both bent forward in their seats. The nurse in the dark blue uniform was grasping the steering wheel and bent over laughing. The little old blue lady was leaning forward and holding her pill hat with her cigarette still poised between her fingers. Also laughing hysterically.
The nurse had pulled out of the parking space and tried to turn the giant yacht of a car the wrong way. She had quite literally put herself between a rock and a hard place. Almost just as quickly as they had started laughing, they stopped, and gathered themselves. The nurse turned completely around in her seat to make sure her precious cargo was okay. It was so strange to see them talk. There was a gentle love between them, not just routine after all. The little old blue lady waved her hand around in the cloud of blue smoke to indicate she was okay and the nurse pulled the tri-blue giant car forward, back into the original parking space.
I looked around. Did anyone see that? Yes, several had. Now many were staring. Standing in place actually, gawking. Finally I didn’t feel so strange for finding them so hypnotic. I felt vindicated.
As they backed out of their space again, this time headed in the right direction, the little old blue lady finished positioning her royal blue pill hat and the nurse in dark blue uniform positioned the mirror of the tri-colored blue boat. They were back to silent mode, chins up and off to wherever they had come from. Could it have been a time machine? I almost wished for them that it were. I got up from my seat just as smokers came out to take their break.
One of them had a nose ring, the other a Mohawk and the girl was smacking gum while adjusting her bra that was showing. I looked to the top of the parking lot. The little old blue lady must have rolled down her window because blue smoke billowed out. One of the kids asked the other for a light. Explicative profanity was exchanged and I found myself sorely missing my two blue friends that had just left. I headed straight to the women’s department and bought myself a blue outfit. Since I wasn’t about to take up smoking, and probably wouldn’t find a working time machine, it would have to do. I never saw them again, but to do this day, blue is my favorite color. All shades.
Well, I'm not a literary giant, but I liked your story.....thanks for posting it! Headed back to Deming tonight, just stopped at a Pilot for some coffee, and to check email......glad I did!
Thank you John. That means the world to me. :) Be safe! Happy trails!
Carol D. said...
I applaud you for such wonderful work. Good Luck with your entry! Time Travel Possibility, intriguing. I am a believer.
@Carol-"wonderful work"... Wow! Thank you! Thanks too for following my blog. Means a lot to me. HugZ!
Jim and Gayle said...
That was a really enjoyable story. Simple, yet captured my interest immediately and on to the end.
@ Jim - thank you! I love to write but I never know how it will be perceived. Glad you enjoyed it. I am enjoying yours and Gayle's blog. Thanks for leaving a comment. Merry Christmas!