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31st March
posted by amber


Officer, I not only saw the accident, but I saw what lead up to it.

Yes, I’d be willing to come down to the station and make a statement, but let me phone my husband to tell him he has to pick up our grand-daughter Sally at her after-school place. I was just stopping for some groceries on my way to do just that. No, wait, that won’t work. Marc has a meeting out of town this evening, he’ll be halfway to Lethbridge by now. Sorry, but I really have to run. I’ll be late as it is.

Oh, that would be very kind. We’re trying to get by with just the one car, but it does make life difficult at times. Are you sure they’re done with you here?

My, so young and in charge of all those other men, and that woman too! You’ve done well for yourself, not like that poor young man back there. I was holding his hand, after the accident. Perhaps I should have done more, breathed into him or something, that fellow in the green apron from the grocery store did just that. Pushed me out of the way and breathed into him. But when I got to him, before that, he was talking.

He was saying, “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Not as angrily as he was saying it when he first rode away on his bike, kind of sadly, in fact. Like he was sorry he’d done what he did.

Oh, can I tell you about it now, even though you’re driving and can’t write it down or anything? All right, but I have to start at the beginning, I have to tell you what happened before he rode away on his bike.

He was in the grocery store, in the line right in front of me, but he wasn’t buying anything, he was talking to the teller. It was obviously a private conversation, but none of us could help but hear it. He was begging her, the teller, to withdraw some kind of charges against him, he said she had to do it today before 5 p.m. because it’s Friday and if she didn’t withdraw them, then on Monday morning a bailiff was coming by to take away his bicycle. And he said he’d just gotten a job, and gotten ‘his act together’ and he would pay her the money he owed her, but he couldn’t pay it now and if only he could keep the job, he’d make everything okay.

I don’t think he was talking about their relationship. Well, maybe in a way he was, but I could sense a resignation about him, that he knew he’d ruined that chance forever, but he wanted to make things right with her, one by paying the money, and two by proving to her that he could straighten himself out. But she was very cold to him, she was angry that he’d come by her workplace, and she would not agree.

I guess he has disappointed her before. “I’ll get my money if the bailiff takes the stuff from you, but I have no guarantee that I’ll get it if I withdraw my claim, do I?” she said.

He offered to write an IOU and he said he’d get it witnessed by anyone she wanted. I offered to witness it, but no one else in the line-up did, and the next teller was glaring at her, so it was a tense situation. She told him to leave. He argued and pleaded a little more, then she picked up her phone and said she’d call Security, so he stormed out, cursing.

I had only a couple of things, so I was out of the store while he was still struggling to unlock his precious bike, too upset to do it quickly, cursing away as I said. I walked by, what could I do? And I didn’t want to have to walk too quickly on my way to get Sally, the concrete is hard on my legs. So I carried on down the street, and I saw him swoop through the traffic, cursing very loudly now, still just the one word.

And I heard the delivery truck, they go so quickly, trying to make their schedules, and it went by me and the young man on the bike just turned his wheel and put himself in front of it. I know he did it on purpose. I know he’d had enough of life.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

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