Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Writings #3 - A Night at the Library

Raindrops plopped and streaked down the windshield. Amanda looked through the distorting blobs of water, watching the brown metal door across the parking lot. Her hands gripped the steering wheel tight, eagerly awaiting the moment of action. Twilight was rapidly approaching and the contrasts of dark and light seemed to dance through the falling rain. Her windshield wipers squelched across the glass, momentarily hiding the heavy sound of rain on against the car. Then the drumming resumed. A rhythmic bump-badda-budda-bump-a-bumpa sound of raindrops falling all around her.

A light flipped on over the brown door. The eerie yellow halo of light, combined with the distortion of the rain, made the cream white bricks of the building look sickly and sagging. The light sent a slightly distorted yellow circle along the wall, sidewalk and shrubs near the door. With the light shining on it, the brown door looked like a heavily shined deep red-orange plank. A streak of white paint jutted at an angle in the top left corner and a shining silver knob stuck out on in the middle of the right side, but otherwise, the door was a smooth, dark slab tucked in the depressive off-white brick walls around it.

The door softly slid open. Amanda's legs and arms tensed and she felt her fingers grip tighter around the steering wheel. She stared intensely as a woman shook her bright green umbrella through the doorway and then shuffled out into the rain. She wore a black overcoat that extended past her knees. In one hand she held her umbrella and dangled a floppy green-and-white striped bag. Her other hand gripped frantically at the arms of two small children in bright pink raincoats bouncing wildly along the sidewalk beside her.

Amanda's muscles relaxed with a sigh and she settled back into the driver's seat. Her fingers tensed and relaxed methodically against the steering wheel. She softly depressed her right foot and felt the subtle rev of the engine. She watched as the woman shouted and groped after her children, half dragging them down the sidewalk into the near darkness of the rain. Amanda watched the silhouettes continue to a minivan parked in the middle of the parking lot where the woman began the struggle of getting the children into the car.

A flash of light pulled Amanda's eyes back to the door. It had opened once again and she watched as a man stepped through. He pulled the hood of his light blue raincoat over his head and checked the flaps of the messenger bag he held in his hand. Amanda's eyes narrowed to slits as she watched him stare into the darkness beyond the halo of light in which he stood. Amanda had parked close enough that she would be able to identify people as they left the library, and yet she was far enough away that she doubted anyone would be able to distinguish her sitting in a darkened car.

Still, she watched as the man stared directly towards her. His face was half hidden in the shadow of his hood, but she could make out his square jaw covered with just a touch of brown stubble grown since this morning's shave. She could see the dark outlines of his well trimmed mustache. Even with his hood up, his jacket was loose enough to see the starched collar of his blue and white striped shirt. She was fairly certain she could even see the bright red knot of his favorite tie.

Even if she hadn't been able to see his face, Amanda knew him well enough from the his build and the way he held himself. He was tall, over six-feet. His shoulders and chest were broad which looked strange when set atop his skinny string-bean legs. The way he swung his arms, especially the one holding his ever-present messenger bag, was even distinctive. When standing, unless otherwise engaged, he had a strong tendency to sway his hands and forearms in a small circular pattern, almost as if leading music at waist level.

Amanda watched as he continued to stare. She could almost feel his eyes piercing through the rain and stabbing her through her heart, yet another wound never to heal. Amanda was sure that many minutes had passed, for when faced with immeasurable decisions, time often appears to stand still. When the man finally began to step down the sidewalk towards the darkness, Amanda wasn't even conscious of her initial actions. She had rehearsed them so many times.

Amanda quickly shifted the car into Drive and slammed the pedal to the floor. She felt the tires slip momentarily on the wet asphalt of the parking lot and she gripped the steering wheel tighter to adjust her path. As the car accelerated, she was worried she was parked too far away and that he would see the danger and sprint away before she reached him. Still, as she watched the speedometer creep above 10 and then 20 miles per hour, she smiled at the realization that he would soon be out of time.

Her eyes focused intently as he stepped towards the edge of darkness and off of the sidewalk. She watched his silhouette slowly meander in the direction of his car. He suddenly looked up, but not towards her. Keeping him in view, Amanda glanced in the direction of his gaze and saw the minivan, its interior light bright and two doors wide open. The mother was outside shouting something at the young girl in the bright pink raincoat running back towards the library door.

In a split second, Amanda realized that their paths would soon intersect. At the same instant, the man turned his gaze to the approaching car. She didn't know whether or not he recognized her, but she watched as he turned back to the young girl and began waving his arms, shouting and running towards her. Amanda instinctively turned the steering wheel to adjust the car's path to follow him. When she again saw the child, the shock of what she was doing jolted her senses.

Amanda whipped the steering wheel hard to the left and pounded her foot hard against the brake. The tires screeched in protest and then the car started to spin. Watching out the passenger side, Amanda saw the man scoop up the young girl and run away from the library with her in his arms. The car was nearly backwards as the tires bounced over the curb and up onto the sidewalk. The impact of the car against the creamy bricks threw Amanda back in her seat, whipping her head hard against the neck rest. As the car settled to a stop, she fell forward onto her arms, her fingers still tightly wrapped around the steering wheel.

For a moment the only sound to break the silence was the drumming of raindrops on the car. Then a few heavy metallic clangs jostled the car. Looking up, Amanda realized there was more light around her than she expected. Looking first into the rear view mirror and then twisting her neck around, she saw that the rear corner of the car had slammed hard enough against the wall of the library to knock free a large section of bricks which had fallen against the trunk of the car. The resulting hole was probably 4 or 5 feet wide. Astonished and frightened faces stared at her through the jagged gap.

She turned away, unwilling to meet their gaze. She then remembered to check on her original quarry. Slightly disoriented from the crash, it took her a moment to find him in the darkness over her left shoulder. He stood beside the woman from the minivan who was frantically hugging and kissing her young daughter. The man looked up and, even through the darkness and the rain, he was close enough that Amanda could see his eyes. She felt his anger, confusion and disapproval sear into her eyes and penetrate into her soul. She tried to break the gaze but couldn't look away. She felt her throat constrict and her head began to cloud over.

She finally forced herself to look away and stared instead down the hood of the car. On both sides of her, she could sense movement. To her right, a crowd began to form by the door. People were pointing and staring, but no one was willing to step towards the car.

Amanda felt tears form at the edges of her eyes. She knew she should get out of the car. She knew she needed to justify her actions. To confront her accusers. To explain to them why they didn't need to fear her, but instead should help her overcome the vile man standing in the rain to her left. Looking again at the man, she saw him start walking towards the car. Her breathing quickened and every muscle in her body tensed up. Instinct took over again and she slammed her foot down on the gas pedal, tensed her fingers around the steering wheel and swerved her way off the sidewalk, out of the parking lot and onto the dark quiet road leading away from the library.

Tears flowed freely now and her sobs were gasping spasms that shook her entire body. She didn't know if it was because of the rain, the tears or the emotional shudder that ran through her body, but Amanda realized too late that the light was red. As her car sped into the intersection, she heard the screeching of tires followed closely by the explosive sound of metal and glass crunching and shattering all around her.

And then, all that remained was the soft bump-badda-budda-bump-a-bumpa drumming sound of rain falling on the car.


logankstewart said...

Another excellent story you've got here. Enough intrigue to guess at a few things, but also enough interest to warrant more. The few lengthy descriptions near the beginning threatened me, but I pushed them aside and plowed through, and I'm happy I did. Great job!

Okie said...

This was a case of just forcing myself through. I started writing with no idea of where I was going or what I was I sat and spun with descriptions for a while. I would certainly remove/tighten up the rambling throughout when it comes time to edit.