Fiction

The Stranger (part 2)

This is an interactive story. I’ll be writing short bits and then asking for input from readers about where it should go next.

Read Part 1 First


It took Emily a few days of letting the questions worry in her mind, rolling over like sharp stones in a river until they were smooth and found a place to land on the bottom and stay.

There was turmoil still, because part of her, the hopeless and hopeful romantic, was convinced that the notes were for her, and part of her wouldn’t hear of it. And still another was afraid that it was a trap and that she was an idiot for falling right into it.

But, the pandemic had given her entirely too much time to herself, and since Richard had passed two years ago, she’d not even thought of another man. This was probably her subconscious mind’s way of setting her free from mourning. Because in a way, this was safe…a safe way to reenter the world of men.

This offered distance, intrigue, and possibility without the face-to-face interaction or “realness” of picking up a phone, saying yes, putting on pearls, and sitting across from someone new.

She wasn’t ready for that.

But, she suddenly realized the felt ready to think about it. And that felt terrifying, confusing, and exciting all at the same time.

And under it all, she felt a pang of guilt that she knew she shouldn’t feel.

She’d been with Richard, and no other man, since she was 23. Now, she was 57, and she couldn’t help feeling like a bit of a cheat, even though she knew, logically, how ridiculous that sounded.

Even if those notes aren’t for me, the fact that I believe they could be is something important, Emily thought. And right then and there, she decided to give herself permission to dream.

She pulled a pen from the cup by the register, leaned on the counter, and began to scribble her reply on a clean sheet of store stationary, her carefully crafted logo at the top.

I’ve been here the whole time.
Lemon-scented and endlessly scurrying
from waking to sleeping,
not quite aware
that I was lonely,
or giving myself time to notice it.
But I am ready to move on.
I think.
Grief has a funny way of
sucking the wind out of you,
stealing your youth…
and blinding you of possibility.
How long have you noticed in me
this thing I had not even noticed
myself?

-E

She read over it a few times, checked her punctuation and spelling, completed a few curves on her letters and crossed an overlooked T. Looking around the room, she considered where to put it, and decided that she should follow his lead.

She ran her fingers lightly across the fluttering fliers and business cards on the bulletin board by the door, physically seeking the original note she had found. Who knew if it was the first? Who knew if the second one she’d found under the glass at table four had been the last? But she decided to follow in the order that she found them.

Pulling the yellow tack from the cork, she placed her note on top of his, and secured it back in place. Her words seemed lost among all the colorful papers and cacophony of fonts and graphics. Exactly as she’d hoped. Unnoticeable.

To everyone, but one.

Three days later, she noticed her note was gone, and in its place was …


Where should this story go next? What will Emily find in place of her note? Send me a private response so as not to give it away to others. Use the contact button in the navigation menu, email me at brigitwrites@gmail.com, or DM me on twitter @brigitwrites. If I choose your idea, I’ll be sure to credit you in part 3!!

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