Agnes walked down the quiet street, the thin soles of her house shoes scuffing with each step. A cool wind danced through the trees, sending a scattering of leaves to the ground.
A beat-up pickup truck rolled by, hesitating in front of each house so the young man in the bed of the truck could lazily toss a rolled up newspaper towards the front doors. A cigarette hung from his lips, wisps of smoke trailing out of the side of his mouth and dissipating somewhere in the dark above him.
She waved for the driver to stop. She stepped towards the bed of the truck. The young man tossed a newspaper and looked down at the young woman in her bathrobe with dark circles around her eyes.
“Morning, ma’am. Can I help you with something?”
She stared at his face, illuminated by the streetlight, and watched him take the cigarette out of his mouth and he ashed it from the side of the truck.
“Would you…do you…can I bum a smoke?” She stuttered, trying to find the proper words. The young man looked at her with a concerned glance, but then he tapped a cigarette out of the pack and handed it to her. He expertly flicked the lighter open, the flame dancing in the dark night. She leaned forward and inhaled carefully. Her throat tickled, but she did not cough. She held the smoke in, closed her eyes and lifted her head to the moonlit sky. She exhaled.
The young man tipped his hat, and then the truck started off again. She felt him watching her as she walked away.
She walked until the sun had started to peek over the horizon. She saw the Motel 6. She remembered the obnoxious commercials. “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
She stepped into the light above the manager’s office and entered, cringing at the bell sounding her arrival.
“How can I – Agnes?”
She looked up to see a man from her church behind the desk. She couldn’t remember his name, but was sure he was the one that came to her house last month to get her to attend bible study. She’d refused as graciously as possible, but when she’d closed the door behind him, she couldn’t help but think he’d been offended.
He was looking at her, expecting her to speak. She couldn’t form any words. She turned and left the dingy office. The bell sounded her exit.
Outside, she ran. The house shoes made it difficult, so she let them fall off her feet.
She ran, letting the wind carry her down the street, away from the Motel 6, away from the morning paperboy, away from the house with the blue shutters, away from the needy baby girl.
For more from Finding Agnes, visit my Fiction page.