Agnes stepped off the bus, shading her eyes from the bright Arizona sun. She squinted into the distance, taking in the vast desert. She turned and faced away from the small bus station. Away from the people, away from the paved road that had brought her here. On the other side, was sand. Sand and cacti and the occasional rattlesnake slithering by. An empty landscape. A place to start new.
She turned back towards the station, where a small girl caught her eye and suddenly the air in her lungs was gone.
She watched as the little girl ran towards a thirty-something woman, a wide smile showing two missing teeth.
The woman bent down and wrapped the little girl in her arms, burying her tear-filled face into the child’s mess of curls.
“Oh, baby doll, how I missed you.” The woman whispered in a deep Southern twang. Agnes took a seat on a small bench, flipping through her sketchbook and trying not to be obvious about her eavesdropping.
“I missed you too. Don’t leave again, okay?”
The woman looked into the child’s shining eyes, “No, baby doll. Not ever again.” She wrapped her in a hug, lifted the girl into her arms and walked to the man Agnes noticed had been standing a few feet back. The man gave the woman a small, tight smile, turned, and led them to the small parking lot.
Agnes saw the woman’s sad eyes one last time over the head of the little girl. The woman seemed to glance off into the direction that the bus had left. Then she held the girl just a little bit closer, turned, and followed the man.
Agnes sat and thought about what she’d seen. She thought about what she had done. She wondered if she should just get back on the bus and go back.
She turned to the parking lot, shading her eyes as they scanned the lot for the woman. She watched as a small Camry pulled out of a parking spot and drove towards the road. As the man turned onto the main road, Agnes caught the eye of the woman in the passenger’s seat. The despair in her eyes told Agnes everything she needed to know.
She stood from the bench and headed towards the Motel 6 she’d seen from the bus window.
This piece was written as a part of my fictional work-in-progress, Finding Agnes. You can find more about Agnes here.
This week’s Red Riding Hood prompt: In 400 words or less, write a story or memoir which relates to choices and/or consequences. Because of the word limits, you may choose to focus just on the choice, or just on the consequence. Remember to capture a moment using dialogue, action, and reaction.