Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Parking Lot

This fall, I'm taking a creative writing course at my local University. This week's assignment was to describe an event where stress is the central theme. Here's my story. I'm quite happy with the result.

The Parking Lot

Stepping out of the mall, the glare of the sun momentarily blinded her. She fumbled in her purse looking for the pair of old Ray-Ban's she habitually carried with her. “Damn,” she thought. They weren't in the purse. “I'll have to hunt those down again.”

As she squinted and surveyed the sea of glistening cars in the parking lot, she suddenly couldn't remember where she'd parked the car. Her mind was blank. Everything looked unfamiliar. 

It was only yesterday that she had talked with her son about her forgetfulness.” He'd reassured her that such things happened to everyone.  It's not unusual to forget to pay a utility bill or miss a doctor's appointment. She was worrying needlessly. Perhaps, he was right. She was a worrier—always had been. 

“Well, I guess I'll start looking down this aisle.” As she continued on the hot asphalt between the rows of cars, nothing sparked in her mind. No sign of her red Toyota. Turing the aisle, a hot gust of wind blew across her face, and the contrast with the cool of the air-conditioned mall sent a shiver down her spine. She paced down the row, scanning both sides. Nothing here. All the rows looked the same.

She began to wonder. Had she parked the car on this side of the mall or was it at the north end? 

She was getting nervous. She had a meeting at the Senior Center at 1:30, and it was already half past 12. She needed to be there. This was a special meeting set for Friday, not the usual Monday. Was today Friday? 

“Calm down. Be logical.” The car had to be near the Macy's entrance. Wasn't that where she always parked it. As she retraced her steps to the entrance, she glanced at her shopping bag. The label read Kohl's. “Kohl's!” She never shopped there. The quality wasn't good. She opened the bag and eyed a black pair of slacks. Had she really bought these?

Then she remembered the remote control. Her car keys had a fob with a red security button. All she had to do was press the button and the car horn would start to honk. She would walk up and down the aisles pressing the button until she heard her car. 

She glanced at her watch. 1:15. She felt thirsty, hot, and her feet started to hurt. Where was that damn car? Anxiety gave way to fear. What would she do? She didn't have a cell phone to call her son; and anyway, he was hundreds of miles away. What could he do? She could seek out mall security; maybe they could help. They must have plenty of experience with this sort thing. She wanted to cry or scream in frustration, but what would that accomplish. She started down the next row.  

There was her car. She got in and sat. She was flooded with relief, but cried a little too.

Her mind drifted to her friend Hazel. She'd visited Hazel in the nursing home, tied to her wheelchair, eyes fixed in a perpetual blank stare. Hazel was gone, only her body remained. She wanted the image to disappear. 

She drove to the Senior Center, only 20 minutes late.

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