Two people, a man and a girl, are in a rush, moving through crowded streets, trying to find someplace but not knowing where it is or how to get there. The smaller hand is gripped by the larger one and the short body is dragged behind the tall one. The higher head is darting back and forth, occasionally spitting angry words: we’re going to be late, why didn’t you tell me that the sign said to go left, your mom’s gonna kill us, she’s probably on the train right now and how are we supposed to get to the station in time to make it back, huh?

They are bumping into people, muttering apologizes as they go and only stopping for the crosswalks. He fumes as they wait for the lit-up red “STOP” hand to turn into a white walking “GO” man. As soon as it does, the dragging commences. Her flip-flopped feet try to keep up with his white tennis shoes, but they have been at this for so long, even though she never saw the “sign” he kept talking about. They wait for another red hand to turn and she tries to catch her breath during the rest, but the walking man shows up before she knows it. He starts to pull her; they make it about a quarter of the way into the street before she finally has to speak.

“Daddy, I’m tired! Can we stop?”

“No. Hurry up.”

“But my feet hurt so bad! Dad-dy!”

He is furious. They are halfway into the street. He stops. He lets go of her hand, grabs her shoulder, leans down, and points a quaking finger in her baby-toothed face. “Do you have any idea what we’re gonna have to do to get back to the hotel? I told you to watch for the sign, and I told you to read it to me when you saw it, and did you listen? No, you never listen. Ever. Not one single time on this trip have you ever…”

A blare fills the air. Everything erupts in noise. Something appears – a car, a mass of steel painted red. It’s there and then it’s gone. She’s there and then she’s gone.

He jumps back, somehow unscathed. The thud. Dear god, the thud. He is stock still. His eyes don’t even blink. There are more sounds now. Horn blasts have replaced the motion of the cars. The drivers don’t know why they have suddenly stopped. An older woman gets out of the red car with horror on her face. She looks at the intersection and screams.

He falls to his knees and screams along with her.

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One Response to “Late”

  1. Warren Rochelle says:

    He will feel guilty the rest of his life.

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