‘The Circumstances’ - A Short Story
Today I remembered I had a story published in Beyond Words Literary Magazine.
They sent me a digital link to share with family and friends and on social media. If you would like to read it there you go here.
To put it in context, the story began with a paragraph describing an image in my mind of an old man in an oversized coat digging in his pocket for coins. A while back the image returned and transformed into this story.
Here it is in print if you want to stay on this page. Below the printed copy is a recorded version I did today. Thanks for reading. Cheers.
The Circumstances by Linda McLean
It was the circumstance I found myself in. It was the circumstance in which I found myself. Walking on the tram line, the metal one. Having fallen from my perch on the plastic edge. And I was walking without help, balancing really. While the people on the platform shouted to me, “Train. Train.” And me waving. As the two guys lifted me up into the car, hoisted, and dropped me at everyone’s feet and pulled themselves back up and dusted off their pants and things and let me crawl over to the wall.
I turned and leaned against it and pulled my knees up into my chest and curled in as tight as I could. And people pelted me with coins until I had enough to get a tea and sit here and tell you about it.
We all have a story, if only you’re willing to listen. That’s what s fellow tourist on a beach in Quintaroo said one day, soon into our conversation mostly about him. That was long before I had any idea that I wanted to participate in the telling of one’s personal story. Long before I met you.
Samuel stood close to me and picked up my cup. “Can I get you another?” he said. I’d finished this one far enough away that it was cold. I shook my head.
“You can’t just sit there.”
“I can and I will Sheldrake.”
“Samuel.” He adjusted his name tag that was pinned crooked and he should know it would never sit straight. I knew he’d correct me. He had that look of a person whose entire identity is wrapped up in the job that somebody else has given him. I wanted to explain it to him, how he was really free but hadn’t realized it yet. How the whole human race is free and it takes a moment of not being afraid of doing whatever you want to realize it.
And then the inevitable question that stops me from saying anything, two really, ‘can a guy like Samuel ever know he’s free and ‘what makes me think I have the right to tell him what to think.’
“A guy like who?”
Samuel was looking at me with a question in his forehead.
“What did I say?” I ask him.
“You said, ‘a guy like him.’ And then other things. Were you telling me something?”
I felt my face go hot. He’d found me out. I shook my head and dug into my coat pocket while I stood up and dropped all the coins I’d collected on the table and headed to the door.
“Don’t go.” I think that’s what he said when I opened the door. Or maybe it was the woman sitting by the window watching my every move. I shook my head at her heart pounding too hard gasping for air.
Samuel had his hand out, tried to grab me. “Your change lady.”
I stopped and let him put the coins in my pocket. His mouth came close to my ear. “You stink lady.”
I turned my face to his, “Am I supposed to know you?” I asked.
Sheldrake shrugged, a boy now, a lonely frightened child. I could tell he needed me. I knew he needed me. And I was running again.