I am a woman of habit. I find a lot of comfort in knowing what is coming next and have always had a strong aversion to surprise.
For instance, I drive the exact same route to and from work every day. I drive this route at the exact same time each day. I know which song will be on the radio at the exact time I pass a certain shop or hit a specific intersection.
Other than the possible deviation in the timing of the traffic lights, it is the same thing day in and day out. And I like it that way.
On one particular day, however, an additional deviation was introduced to my tidy and controlled commute.
It was an unusually gloomy day. Swollen, dark clouds hung low in the sky, making you instinctively duck like you were passing through a smaller than usual doorway. The Thanksgiving holiday and time with family loomed as ominously as those rain clouds.
I was stopped at the traffic light at the corner of State and Main. As I often did, I was thinking to myself that every town in the nation must have an intersection of State and Main. And, as always, I thought this while humming along to an old Beach Boys song because it was 7:47AM and that’s what was always played at 7:47AM.
Glancing to the left, I saw Mandarin Palace, the best Chinese restaurant in town. Mu Shu pork, six pancakes and extra hoisin sauce every Friday night.
But today there was a girl, no more than 16 years old, standing outside the ornate red and gold doors to the restaurant. She wore ill-fitting jeans, a couple of sweaters topped with a jean jacket and a knit cap. She looked unwashed and exhausted, like so many others I had seen on these streets.
But rather than smoking a cigarette and looking angry, like so many She was playing a well-worn violin.
I turned off the radio and rolled down my window. I strained to hear over the hustle and bustle of street noise as a mournful and beautiful melody wafted into the car. It may well have been the most moving sound I had ever heard.
I closed my eyes and let the ethereal music wash over me.
I was unpleasantly startled out of my reverie by an annoyed car horn and I saw the light had turned green. I quickly rolled up my window and continued my drive.
The following day, at the corner of State and Main, I once again saw the girl and listened to her beautiful playing until the light changed and I was forced back into my routine commute.
She was there each day for the next two weeks, always playing the violin but never playing the same song. Each piece more beautiful and perfect than the last. I never knew what I would hear each morning and I liked it that way.
Until the random Wednesday when I pulled up to the intersection of State and Main, rolled down my window and heard nothing but street noise. I looked up to see only the gold and red doors of the Mandarin Palace, but no violin player.
She never appeared again and I returned to my predictable mornings thinking of who she was and where her music had come from. After a while, I began to wonder if I was the only one who had heard it.
But, my tidy and controlled commute never held the same appeal to me again and from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.
Dipping my toe, once more, into a little bit of fiction through the Yeah Write Weekly Writing Challenge.
This is my response to the Speakeasy prompt, which was to write a fictional piece in less than 750 words using “Every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her” as the last line.
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