He punched the wall. His hand dripped blood, yet the pain did not compare to the maelstrom in his mind.
Why did she leave?
He rose, thought about a prayer yet nothing came. Who would listen anyway? He wiped his brow free of rain and inhaled. Death by metal wasn’t so bad.
“Can you do me a favour?” asked a croaky voice from behind.
He spun to see a spider of a woman scrabbling around on the ground, grasping at several pieces of paper.
“I’m busy,” he snapped.
The woman sighed. “It’s my work, I’ve been working so hard on it.”
He got down on all fours and gathered a pile of sheets. The woman thanked him; he returned to the side of the road.
“You’ve been so kind, the least I can do is share my work with you. I’m Eleanor.”
Something about her made him respond. “Tony. I haven’t got long.”
Eleanor pointed to the bus shelter. “Come on, humour an old lady.”
Eleanor held out her arm. Tony led her to the shelter.
“Would you read my poems? I can’t see without my glasses.”
“Sure,” he said.
He turned the pages over and over. “They’re blank.”
She gasped, urged Tony to return the notes to her. “Goodness, you’re right. But that’s my life work.”
She slumped on the bench. Tony placed his arm around her shoulders.
“Can’t you write them again?” he asked.
She glanced up and wiped away a tear.
“I guess we can always start again can’t we?” Eleanor looked to the side of the road and then to Tony. “I think you understand what I mean.”
She handed him one page. “Go on, get about your business.”
Tony said good-bye. He’d be home in ten minutes. When he turned back, Eleanor was no longer there.
Gary Hewitt is a U.K.-based raconteur who has had over 90 short stories and poems published and has performed before live audiences. He will bring out his novel Shadowfruit in 2016.