Thursday, December 06, 2007

Friday Snippets 22

That Was a Mistake
by Joy Renee

Jan began to wonder if waking up was a mistake the minute she put her foot on the floor that morning and it landed in a squishy pile of cat barf. Her consternation was reinforced when she pulled an ice-cube tray out of the microwave instead of the bowl of oatmeal she thought she had put in there. She found the uncooked oatmeal in the freezer. And again when she sat down in front of the hot bowl of cereal with her mug of coffee only to find it was the jug of cream and she had put her freshly poured coffee in the fridge.

Things continued to happen to set off the warning alarms that it would be a mistake to leave the house that morning. But she had a couple of dozen library books and DVDs due that day and failure to return them would result in loss of library privileges until the fine was paid. Now that would be the worst mistake of all. So she plunged ahead, getting ready to go, maintaining her determination to stick to her plan even in the face of finding her hair lathered with shaving gel and her loufa lathered with shampoo.

Even when she forgot to zip up the backpack before she picked it up off the bed and all of the books and DVDs fell out and scattered all over the floor, she just methodically repacked them and grabbed up her sunglasses and sun visor and headed for the door. Out on the sidewalk she turned left and walked at a good pace for three blocks before she realized she was headed to the park where she liked to watch the ducks and swans while she read or wrote instead of to the library. Keeping her mind on what she was doing in the moment was one of Jan’s biggest challenges. She would always rather be thinking about the story she had been reading or the one she was writing than about the curb that was coming up or even her next meal.

That is why she was hardly surprised to find herself sprawled on the ground having just fallen over a tyke on a small trike. Luckily she had not landed on the toddler and his mother was full of concern over her skinned knee and embarrassment with her son’s gleeful laughter.

“Oh, let him laugh.” Jan said as the woman tried to shush her child. “He knows funny when he sees it.”

Her knee cleaned up with the damp paper towels the woman had brought to her, Jan continued on her way. At the library things went surprisingly smoothly and she thought maybe she had been jolted into good sense by that tumble. But apparently it had just been that being in the library, handling the books and movies--the stories--was just one of those things that could manage to keep her in the moment where mistakes were more easily caught before they were committed.

One of the books had been so captivating she had to pull it back out of her rolling backpack as soon as she was out the door and sit on the bench under the cottonwood tree to read until it was brought to her attention by a series of combustible sneezes that she had made another mistake in not noticing that the cottonwood was shedding its fluff. When she discovered that she had forgotten to pack her allergy meds and eye drops, not to mention tissues, she knew she had no choice but to head home and hurriedly packed the book and her reading glasses into the front pouch of the backpack instead of in the roomier interior where the glasses could ride safely atop the pile of books. With visions of the books spilling out as they had done that morning, she thought it would be safer to not open the main compartment.

When she decided to hoist the pack onto her shoulders rather than pull it along behind her on its wheels, she thought she was insuring a safer return trip home for herself, the books and the glasses. But that was a mistake of monumental import she realized as she found herself laying in the crosswalk ten minutes later, having had to throw herself backwards to avoid being hit by a red pickup that had just run the red light. Of course it was a mistake not to have looked both ways before stepping off the curb the moment she saw the walk signal. But all she could think about, even as the bicyclist who had slammed on his brakes just behind her as she fell back and was now somersaulting over the top of her, was her reading glasses in the front pouch of the backpack which were now undoubtedly crushed. Even the realization that she could not move her legs was not as alarming as the thought of not being able to finish that story.


The above was a short-short story written to a prompt for a Creative Carnival in Septeber 2006. The prompt was 'making a mistake'.

5 tell me a story:

IanT 12/07/2007 4:23 AM  

I've had days like that. :-D

My other half's father had a day like that last weekend. On visiting our house, he decided to make a cup of tea. He filled the kettle, and put it on the gas stove. Shame it was an electric kettle, really - it promptly melted...

Gabriele Campbell 12/07/2007 12:00 PM  

We had a guest professor from Israel once who was like that. Of course, he took the chance of being in Germany to travel a lot during the weekends. I've phoned every train station and car rental in our country about his missing wallet, keys, notebook, jacket, head .... The amazing thing was that most of the stuff kept turning up again, even the wallet. He managed to bump two or three cars into others in parking lots, and half of the time he forgot to speak English to me but started talking in a very fast Hebrew. When he left the lab, I checked for burning Bunsen burners, open fridge doors and other catastrophes in waiting. And searched for abandoned coffee cups in odd places ere the left contents started developing a life of their own. The joys of being a secretary. :)

Joely Sue Burkhart 12/07/2007 4:28 PM  

Oh, what a great little snippet. I've had some days like that!!

Anonymous,  12/07/2007 10:07 PM  

There are some days that are just like that---you just can't smooth them out and make them straight no matter how hard you try. Great snippet!

Ann 12/08/2007 8:44 AM  

I had a day like that, I had somehow reset my alarm clock, thought I had overslept, rushed to get ready, dashed out, and practically flew to get to work... an hour early. oy.

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