Short Story: Traffic Lights

hey

I hope you’re all having a good week! I know I promised a DIY post, but I’m running a little late on that so, in the mean time, I thought I’d share one my own short stories with you guys. As some of you may know already (or have guessed from my rambling blog posts 😉 ), I’m an aspiring writer. The dream is to one day write a full length novel, but let’s just say I have attempted this task several times and I have rarely been successful in making it past Chapter 1. That being said, I have managed to write a few short stories, which seem to work better with my attention span of a five year old. Short stories are so interesting because you don’t have time to delve into character description or an elaborate plot line, it’s really about capturing a snippet of time that you find important.

Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy Traffic Lights, and let me know what you think of it in the comments below :).signature

Traffic Lights

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I rested my head against the dusty glass, the soft hum of the engine making the window pane vibrate ever so slightly. The car seemed to drift lazily along the road, the speedometer’s needle wavering indecisively between 40 and 50 kmph. Some 90s one hit wonder was playing on the radio. The sound was fuzzy and I couldn’t make out the words. Still, it added a hint of atmosphere.

I gazed out at the less than picturesque scenery as we drove past. The dull grey of decade-old cement walls mimicked an overcast sky; the well-known backdrop to every suburban neighbourhood. Cracked pavements, bent bus-stop posts and graffiti-sprayed road signs all floated past. Here one moment, gone the next. The road was roughly patched up with a mishmash of monochrome tarmac. In the distance I saw a crane, towering over the city outskirts like a bizarre sort of monument.

I glanced out the window again and saw a plump woman with too much eye makeup walking with her son. On the way to school I supposed. The little boy was proudly carrying a spiderman backpack that was twice his size, excited to show it off to his best friend, Tim. His mother held his hand and scolded him. Probably telling him off for missing the school bus yet again. Now she was going to be late for work, second time this week. Her forehead creased in anger and I saw her lips move, but her voice was drowned out by sounds of distant traffic. Pity she wasn’t sitting where I was. Then she would have realised that her lecture was being completely ignored. Spider man was much more important than school buses, after all.

I turned left to look out the other window. A young man with short sandy blond hair and a half-zipped up jacket stood casually at the side of the road, holding out his thumb. I watched as car after car zoomed past, ignoring him. He pulled out his phone and pressed a few buttons. He frowned for a moment, then shrugged and put it back in his pocket. Dead battery no doubt, though this didn’t seem to bother him. An old guitar case, covered with faded stickers and lyrics written in Tippex, hung from his shoulder with a worn strap. Despite the evident lack of success in his hitchhiking endeavours, he seemed quite content and untroubled. Maybe he didn’t really have to go anywhere. Maybe he was just going for the hell of it. So he just stood there, relaxed, confident with an easy smile playing on his lips.

As we approached a crossroad, I saw a teenage girl, maybe sixteen or seventeen, with purple headphones waiting to cross the road. Her head was down in an attempt to remain unrecognisable. There really was nothing wrong with her grey and maroon uniform, but she’d never been a confident girl. I saw her occasionally mutter a few words under her breath… the lyrics of an Eminem song she was listening to on replay. Funny, she didn’t seem like the rap type. She subconsciously twirled what looked like a key ring, attached to the bottom of her schoolbag. A good luck charm, I guessed. A stupid superstition, but she had a lot on her mind.

Across the road from her was an elderly woman attempting to stop her three chiwawas from eating the cigarette butts that littered the sidewalk. She kept whacking the dogs with her umbrella and yelling at them. I half smiled. I couldn’t hear her, but I was willing to bet anything that she was warning them against the dangers of smoking. I suppose her children are all grown up now though, and they live in the city. Who else was left lecture?

The hum of the engine dimmed as the car came to a stop in front of a red traffic light. As we waited for the lights to change, I spied the mother and son I’d watched earlier turning a corner. The woman had given up on her lecture and was now listening with hidden amusement as her boy told her about the many exciting things one could do with a superhero backpack.

I smiled and turned, just in time to see a van pull up next to the guitar hitchhiker. The man looked around one last time before climbing into the passenger seat. The first step towards his new life.

As a green man flashed and bleeped, I saw the teenage girl wearing headphones cross the road, passing the old lady and her dogs. As their paths crossed ways, their eyes met for just a second and they shared a small smile. Maybe that smile changed each of their lives just a little bit.

Then, the traffic lights changed. The car started to move again, the radio continued to buzz and, just like that, all those people were gone. That’s it, I’d never hear of them again. I’d probably forget this ever happened. They would too. Yet we’d shared just one small moment of our lives, together, all because of a red light.

But perhaps that’s what life is; crossroads and traffic lights.

A Christmas Tale

 

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Hey Artsy Teens,

You might not know this, but one of my biggest passions is actually reading and writing. Unfortunately, though I have started writing dozens of novels, I never make it past the first few chapters. That being said, I have managed to write a few short stories.

Here’s a short Christmas story called ‘The Harmonica Man’ that I wrote last year.It’s a bit sad, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it!

The Harmonica Man

Mr. Jones walked along the old path through the park, past the cemetery, as he did every evening. The path was his old friend; the tarmac was wet from the melted frost and worn by the hundreds of shoes that had stepped on it over years. An occasional piece of chewed gum or a crushed soda can littered it. But it was still there, it was dependable – old, dirty and slippery – but dependable. Not like most things in his life, Mr. Jones thought as he kicked a frozen can of ginger beer with his old shoe.

After a bitter childhood, Mr. Jones had been all too eager to leave home. At a young age he married a lovely girl named Isabel, with whom he had three children. They had little money and lived in a modest home, but they were happy. Of course, that was before the recession hit and his salary got smaller and smaller. Though both him and his wife struggled with several part-time jobs and late-night shifts, more often than not the family went hungry at night and slept wrapped up in layers of second-hand clothes which did little to keep out the winter chill.

Mr. Jones glanced at the tacky Christmas lights that had been lazily draped over the park trees. He sighed, remembering the look on little Lilly’s face when Paula had told her that they wouldn’t be getting a Christmas tree this year. The children were very good about it most of the time, Lily and Tom were old enough to understand. He worried most about Rosie, who had just turned four a month ago.

“But Santa will still be coming, right Daddy?” Rosie had asked. “Of course.” he had said. What else could he say? But tonight was Christmas Eve and he knew that Santa wouldn’t be coming. A small tear trickled down his cheek as he kicked the old soda can. He was no better than his own father, who had abandoned the family on Christmas Eve, thirty years ago.

He continued to walk for some time, wrapped up in his worn winter coat, haunted by his thoughts and kicking the frozen fizzy drink.

Suddenly, the can hit something that was lying a few feet away. Mr. Jones bent down to pick it up. It was a little teddy bear. It looked pretty cheap – but new, all the same. No doubt an insignificant stocking stuffer that had fallen out from someone’s shopping bag. With a sad smile, he put it in his pocket – a little gift for Rosie.

Mr. Jones exited the park, and continued walking along the path, passing the local cemetery. As he did so, he heard beautiful music coming from down the road. It was a Christmas song – he couldn’t remember the name, but it was a joyful tune he knew well. As he approached the sound, he saw it was coming from an old brass harmonica, played by a man sitting on the bench outside the graveyard. The man wore an old coat and a dusty cap. His eyes were tired but friendly. As he played, Mr. Jones stood by the bench listening. The notes from the harmonica were full of life. As the familiar melody danced around him, Mr. Jones smiled, reminded for a few moments of the magic of Christmas.

When the man finished his tune, Mr. Jones sat down beside him.

“You’ve got a real talent.” he said.

“I’ve been playing this old thing for years.” replied the man with a grin. “Are you on your way home for Christmas?”

“I am.” Mr. Jones nodded.

The two strangers chatted for awhile. Mr. Jones told the harmonica man about his job, his wife and three children, and his companion listened quietly with a smile. Every time he spoke, the man would comment on how lovely it was to have such a nice family. He would say how lucky he was to have such responsible children. He would congratulate him on managing to have a home though times were hard. He told Jones that his wife sounded lovely. And the more he said, the more Mr. Jones started to see things differently. He started to see past all the things that had gone wrong in his life, and he saw the one thing he did have, and would always have; love. The true spirit of Christmas.

“Do you have any children yourself?” Jones asked the man, as he stood.

“I have a daughter named Holly. She’s a bright girl, very pretty too. Loves Christmas, she does.” the harmonica player replied.

Mr. Jones smiled and looked his companion up and down. Raggedy clothes, eyes creased by fatigue and work, and a plate with a few coins tossed in it lying by his feet. Really, he was probably worse off than Mr. Jones.

Now, had he had a penny to spare, Mr. Jones would have given it to this man whose music had brightened his day and who’s insight had reminded him of his own fortune. But he didn’t. So instead, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the teddy bear he had so valued a few minutes ago, and handed it to the man.

“A Christmas present for Holly.” he said simply.

The harmonica man held Mr. Jones’ gaze for a moment, showing how much he understood the value of the gift.

“You’re very kind.” he said gratefully, taking the bear.

“Have a merry Christmas” Mr. Jones said, with a genuine smile, as he started to walk down the path.

“Merry Christmas,” the other replied.

As Mr. Jones turned the corner, when he glanced back at his friend. The harmonica man was still there, but he wasn’t sitting on the bench. He was kneeling down, crying softly, next to a small gravestone on which he had placed the teddy bear.


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