Today’s post is a little piece of flash fiction. I hope you enjoy it.
Sarah climbed into her Camry and tossed her coat on the passenger seat. She hadn’t bothered to put it on when she left work despite the fact that it was now snowing in earnest. Sarah hadn’t worn a coat inside a building or a car since her first hot flash hit – no lie – on her 50th birthday. Three years later she was still “enjoying” frequent and intense personal summers and carried a coat out of habit more than anything else.
Five fifteen and it was already getting dark. Sarah turned on the radio, listened to about three seconds of some sappy Christmas carol, and snapped it off again. The only thing on the radio these days was Christmas crap. She had a suggestion or two about where to stick those roasting chestnuts.
People were scurrying everywhere, shopping bags overflowing. Four days till Christmas. Ho ho ho. Sarah didn’t buy Christmas presents. Her husband, The Idiot, was long gone. Her kids were grown. Neither wanted presents for Christmas, just cash in a card, and the card was optional. Fine. Ho ho ho.
Getting caught at the longest red light in town, Sarah sat trying to avoid making eye contact with the ragtag collection of beggers who congregated here. The homeless and the mental cases and the freaking tweakers.
A movement caught her eye, and Sarah involuntarily glanced to her left. It was Looney Tunes, a regular at this corner and nuttier than the proverbial Christmas fruitcake. She was wearing her usual thin gray sweater and dirty longjohns with the hole in the right knee, tucked into black army boots at least two sizes too big. But instead of the cut off blue jeans she usually wore over the longjohns, today she had on a glittery purple tulle skirt that looked like it was part of some kind of costume. Her hair hung about her face, a soggy mixture of gray and dirty blond that even the word drab was too colorful to accurately describe. Her cheeks and ears were bright red, and her nose was running.
And she was dancing.
Breaking her longstanding rule to never look at the derelicts, Sarah stared at this demented woman. Right there in the snow and the slush, on the side of the road, in the freezing cold, Looney Tunes was dancing away, jumping and spinning. And when she spun around, the purple tulle skirt would twirl about her like petals of a flower, and she would stop and laugh. And shiver. Then she would start dancing again.
Maybe I should call her Dr. Demento.
The light turned green, and Sarah started inching forward with the line of cars. As she pulled even with Looney Tunes, the dancing woman stopped and waved at her, calling loudly, “Merry Christmas,” over and over. Sarah averted her eyes and willed the cars to move faster. Sheesh, how depressing. A total loon dancing in a snow storm, without even a coat on, wishing people a merry Christmas. Poor woman didn’t even know how crazy she was.
Sarah turned left and was about to turn left again onto the freeway when her eye fell on the passenger seat of her car. On the coat she carried out of habit. That she hadn’t worn for three years. Oh no. No way. That coat was real down and with a real fur collar.
And so warm she broke out in a sweat just thinking about putting it on.
Oh, what the hell? she thought, and turned right instead, going around the block and queuing up again at the longest red light in town.
When she pulled up even with Looney Tunes this time, Sarah put her window down and beckoned. When Looney Tunes came dancing over, Sarah picked up her coat from the passenger seat and held it out. “Here,” she said. “This’ll look good with that purple skirt.”
As Sarah pulled onto the freeway, she turned the radio on.