Stranded. She stood by the side of the road, watching as the tail lights of the car faded off into the distance, little red jewels twinkling ever smaller until she couldn’t see them anymore. Missy sighed. If she stayed where she was, he might come back. She decided to count to a hundred. If nothing happened by then, she’d make a start. She got as far as 32 before she became distracted. Should she go forwards or backwards? It was hard to tell.
Missy turned about from left to right, scanning the road for any signs of life. There were no cars coming or going, and she thought back to the trip from the showground. It had been a good day, more or less. She had volunteered to help run the cafe, and the day had been a blur of scones and cakes and so many cups of tea. It had been fun, pitching in with the other women of the district. They were a cliquey bunch but they included Missy in their banter and she could feel herself begin to relax. They sorted her out with an apron embossed with a logo of smiling orange. The town was famous for its citrus, though the only citrus tree they had at home was an old lemon tree. It was ancient but still produced a crop of tart fruit each year.
She sighed and started walking towards the town. Maybe by the time she got back he’d have cooled down. He’d been in a mood by the time she got back to the car. It had taken longer than she’d expected to help tidy up the kitchen, and she didn’t want to leave before the others or they might not ask her back. They’d given her a little bundle of slices, wrapped neatly in greaseproof paper and tied off with a piece of bright red ribbon, curling and soft to the touch. It was the nicest thing she’d been given in ages.
One of the women, Donna, had talked to her about painting. Missy loved to paint, and was always sketching out designs whenever she had the chance. She’d spoken to Donna about how hard it was to get the right colour sometimes with the paints available for sale in town, and Donna had told her about the different pigments that could be extracted from other sources. Missy was looking forward to trying some of the plant extracts that Donna had mentioned.
It was getting dark quickly, and Missy strained to see the road. There had been rain late in the afternoon and she was trying to dodge the puddles and potholes. She’d be in real trouble if she fell or twisted an ankle. Then she heard the rumble of a car heading towards her. Missy stepped a little closer to the edge of the road and wished she still had the apron – she could have waved it like a flag. In moments the car was almost upon her, but there was no break in the vehicle’s speed. She held an arm across her eyes to avoid the glare as the car sped past, dousing her with a splash of muddy water from a pothole. Missy cried out in dismay. Now, on top of everything, she was covered in muck.
She stood in the middle of the road for a minute or two. There really wasn’t anything to do apart from keep on walking. It was nearly dark now and she kept going, one foot in front the other, her eyes seeking out the giant orange on a pole. It was the dimpled icon of the town, located like a beacon on the outskirts above an old welcome sign.
This piece was written in response to a writing prompt with the following requirements: the story must begin on the side of a road; it must include the words apron, pigment, ribbon, icon, lemon (plurals are okay); and your story must include a splash.
Photo: a bowl of citrus fruit.