Every month Jeff presents a collection of photographs and asks us to write a story using them.Â Below is my May offering.Â If you enjoy my short story, please follow the link back to the Portrait of Words Blog, and check out the other players.Â If you really enjoy my story, you might consider joining us next month.Â A good time is always had by all!
Caught in Amber
Cantrell knew that the best place to hide was in plain sight. He tied his hair back in an orange and purple scarf and covered that with a crazy blue and orange leaf patterned hat. Next he donned an orange, blue and purple paisley jacket, a pair of purple denim jeans and his bright orange sneakers. Then he hid his distinctive golden-brown eyes behind cheap plastic sunglasses. Dressed like that, he could stand right next to his own mother and she’d never recognize him — especially since he’d dyed his hair and beard an orange-ish-brown color. Now he was just another oddly dressed, aging hippie. San Francisco had plenty of them and he fit right in with the carnival atmosphere of the street fair.
He picked up a beer from one of the concession stands and let the crowd lead him past Miranda’s jewelry booth. She was just as fresh and beautiful as ever. He could have stood there all day and stared at her, but he’d long ago learned that was a good way to get arrested. He milled with the crowd, looking at this display and that, but he never wandered so far he couldn’t see Miranda’s smiling face and hear the music of her laugh.
After a couple of hours, his courage fortified with yet another beer — not that he was drunk, he’d only had two and sipped them very slowly — he approached the booth and fingered the jewelry, waiting for Miranda to notice him. She chatted up a customer and processed her sale. Cantrell was so close he could have touched her, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to frighten her, but he had to be close.
Finally, she turned to him with a smile and asked, “Are you looking for anything in particular?” Cantrell almost panicked. She spoke! How could he answer? She’d know his voice! He tapped his fingers to his lips and shook his head no.
“Can’t you speak?” She asked. Again Cantrell shook his head.
“Okay,” she said. “Then point at what it is you’re interested in.”
Cantrell sighed. He was interested in her, but he reached out and touched a beaded hoop earring. The amber beads were the same color as her eyes.
“Very nice,” she said. “These beads are real amber and there is a small insect captured forever in each of them. That makes these earrings pricey.”
Cantrell drew a question mark in the air. “Fifty-five dollars,” she answered.
Cantrell extracted his wallet from his back pocket and paid for the earrings. He stood trembling as she counted his change into his hand. It took all of his will to not grab her and tell her he loved her.
His transaction finished, he no longer had reason to stay, but wasn’t ready to leave. He fumbled with the little velvet box she’d fastened the earrings in, and removed one of the hoops. He looked into the counter mirror and fastened the hoop to his earlobe. Miranda grinned and gave him a thumbs up.
Then he had no reason to hang around. Again Cantrell let the crowd move him, but not too far. He bought a tangle of grapes from a produce stand, and sat down on a bench in the shade to eat them. He heard her call out that she was taking a break.
She ate beside him in silence. Cantrell simply enjoyed her presence. Finally she finished and gathered up the trash, then, as she rose to her feet, she spoke. “You know, Dad,” she said. “You’re never going to get your visitation rights back if you keep violating the court order. You better go before you get caught again.”
Charlene L. Amsden
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