After leaving The Iron Horse, Jonathan jogged along the railroad tracks, trying to get home before dark, and to reach the crossing before the approaching freight did. A quick glance over his shoulder confirmed he wasn’t going to make it. A break in the fence loomed to his right, he darted through kicking up gravel behind him until reaching a narrow-paved side street. The long train rumble past, now blocking the most direct path home. Still, by the time he could detour to another crossing, the freight should have cleared the tracks. But first he had to navigate wherever he was. He slowed to a walk. Surrounded by ramshackle homes, many squatting mournfully behind overgrown lawns, he tried to orient himself. In the past two months he’d lived in Jamesville, he hadn’t seen this part of town. But somewhere ahead was Academy Street, which would carry him back toward the North Street crossing and past the backside of the trailer park.
Paul stared out his living room window at sunset. “How beautiful.” Anne always enjoyed the pastel colors of the clouds at this time of day. He glanced at her framed picture on the table, and once again, a twinge of pain and longing pulled at him. Had it really been a year since she’d passed away? Yes, I suppose so.
His chest tightened at the recollection of it. Totally unexpected. Went to bed and never woke up. Cerebral hemorrhage. Probably a peaceful way to go, but still . . .
Inspector Maggie Hoffman holstered her weapon and picks up the child to hug and kiss her. While her partner pulled chalk from his kit, Maggie let the child smear chalk dust on her uniform collar, as she wipes tears off the girl’s cheeks.
Ten minutes and a protective order too late, a drawing with an outline replaces a butterfly sitting on a flower, both etched on an asphalt driveway.
Little fingers creep into Maggie’s mouth, a dusty bitterness slides across her tongue, a pale reflection of the broken heart thudding in her embrace.
“Mama?” cooed the little voice, tinny and fragile. Maggie turned her away from a picture no one should see, toward the cruiser nearby.
“See the pretty flashing lights,” she offered. Little eyes stare into hers, searching for answers, but finding none.
[The first line of this was not mine, but selected at random.]