Paper Quarter – Flash fiction

If they wouldn’t come to him, he’d go to them.

Sneaking out of the home wasn’t difficult once you worked up the courage to try it.

There was bus stop down the street. Harold had never ridden the bus before, but he couldn’t think of another way. When the bus stopped, he climbed on. “How much is it to ride?” he asked the driver.

“For seniors it’s 75 cents,” the driver said.

Harold dug into his pocket. He had a $1 bill and two quarters. He handed the driver the bill.

The driver pointed to a slot in the post next to him. “You put bills in there.”

Harold fed the dollar into the slot. A paper card popped out of the post. “How do I get my change?” he asked.

The driver handed him the paper card.

Harold knit his brow. “This is a quarter?”

“It’s good for 25 cents toward your next ride,” the driver explained.

“Oh.” It seemed like they were into him for a quarter now, but the driver looked impatient so Harold didn’t complain.  He put the card into his pocket with his two real quarters. The bus jolted ahead. He fell into an empty seat.

Riders pulled the overhead cord when they wanted the bus to stop. Harold wanted Lexington Avenue, but didn’t know what stop preceded it. Nervous, he pulled the cord too soon. It wasn’t the right stop, but everyone saw him pull the cord. He got off and walked the extra blocks.

He climbed the steps of the porch and put his finger on the doorbell. He didn’t push the button.

This was a mistake. Their first thoughts would be to take him back. Sharon wouldn’t see her father; she’d see an escapee. It would be harder to sneak out again.

Why did he even come here?

Through the front window Harold noticed movement.  Leaning against the window frame, he peered in.

Joey sat on the carpet, playing with his trucks in the sunshine. Harold leaned and grinned as the boy tottered around on the floor, lost in his own imagination.

The toddler looked up, finding the face in the window. Harold smiled and waved. Joey waved back.

“I love you, Joey,” Harold mouthed.

Joey’s eyes lit up. “I love you, Grampa!”

Joey jumped up and ran deeper into the house, yelling to his parents that Grampa was here. Harold shuffled down the steps and hurried away. Fortunately, nobody believed children or old people.

Entering the bus, Harold slid his paper quarter into the slot. He dropped his two real quarters into the well. As they clinked onto other quarters, he found a seat.

It was satisfying to hear the clink of real quarters, and to get rid of the fake quarter they’d saddled him with. He had no more money, but at least nobody was into him for 25 cents anymore. He’d sneak back into his room with everything square, confident he’d gotten his money’s worth from the trip.

*****

Nook downloads of my books are still FREE for a limited time. Click HERE for more info and thanks for reading!

Advertisements

Dream House – flash fiction

He stopped the car across the street from the house.

“Why are you stopping here?” his wife asked.

“You know, over the years, whenever I looked at this house, I always thought: Now that’s a beautiful house,” was his roundabout answer.

“Our dream house,” she agreed.

“The whole lot is beautiful. Of course, it’ll look better once the For Sale sign comes down.”

“You can tell the people who lived here really loved this place,” she assured him.

He gave her a flash of smile.

She nodded. “Let’s go inside.”

He shook his head. “I don’t know if that’d be a good idea.”

“Why not? You’ve got the key. What’s wrong with us going in our own house?”

“Technically, it is our house, isn’t it? Okay, but just for a minute.”

He turned the car into the driveway. They went into the house. The big emptiness of it hit them inside the doorway.

Even their voices seemed different in the void. “Remember the first day?” he asked.

“It looked just like this, except completely different.”

“The whole world was completely different then.”

“I remember you said it’d be the perfect place to raise a family,” she told him.

He pursed his lips and looked away.

She took his arm. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. Your company downsized. That’s not your fault.”

“It’s getting late,” he surmised without the aid of a timepiece. “We’d better get to the closing and turn over the keys to the new people.”

His hand trembled a bit as he locked the door for the last time. She lifted up his face and wiped a budding tear from his eye. “There will be other good jobs and other dream houses,” she promised.

They got into the car and went away.