It's been far too long since I posted anything creative, and so it's high time I do. Lucky for me, Atarishark posed this incredible challenge, and I was keen to give it a go. It's the perfect excuse for me to get back to my dormant creative side.

But first, remember that you, too, can do this!

Here's the rules...

  1. Story should be no longer than 5 paragraphs, but can be any length.
  2. Someone must die, it doesn't have to be an important character.
  3. A baby must cry, sometime during the story, and can just be in the background.
  4. You must loosely include one of these phrases:
    • She always hated fig newtons.
    • Wildcard games are nothing without at least one dip.
    • The lettuce and tomatoes were always fresh.
    • That door would never be opened again.
    • Clouds were afraid of this part of the world.
    • She never once said anything about love.

So those are the rules. Even though I'm pretty rusty, here goes...

At the corner of 5th Street and Legend sat Tanya. She had been sitting at the bus stop for nearly ten hours, and had yet to move. Buses had come and gone, and still she sat motionless. The beat of her heart and the periodic blink of her eyes were the only signs of life. Despite this, she saw nothing and no one. At this moment in her life, Tanya was afraid. Afraid of what would happen if she went through with it. Afraid of what would happen if she did not. Afraid of what others would think of her either way. Afraid, indeed, to continue on.

As she sat, Tanya's thoughts shifted to her past. She saw herself as a child, carefree and happy, yet to be jaded by what her life was to become. She saw herself on the pages of yearbooks, smiling for the sake of capturing a child in time. She saw herself growing into a woman, exhilarated by thoughts of all that life had to offer her. She saw herself in a beautiful white dress, saying "I do" to the man she loved. She saw her first and only child crying, and then subsiding as she scooped him up into her arms.

Though both her husband and child were well, Tanya felt dead inside. "How could I feel so empty when I am clearly so blessed?" thought Tanya. She stirred suddenly, and looked about her. The sky was darkening, as the sun began descending beyond the horizon. A woman, huddled in her coat, hurried by. The wind blew, and leaves scattered in front of her. Tanya gazed at them, admiring how leaves are magnificent in both life and death: green in life, then changing color as their time comes to an end.

A man approached and sat opposite Tanya on the bench. "Excuse me, sir, could I trouble you for the time?" inquired Tanya. The man said nothing, but turned his head in her direction. Thinking he had not heard her, Tanya asked once more. Again, the man made no reply. He looked at his watch, and then looked up as he heard the sound of the approaching bus. "Right on time," he muttered, and stood up to wait for it.

Tanya stared, transfixed. She had neither been seen nor heard. As the man climbed onto the bus, Tanya reflected on the recent horrors of her existence. What was could never again be, of that she was sure. Her life was no longer that of one living. That door would never be opened again. No more could she be there for those she loved. No more could they see her and make happy memories by her side. With this in mind, Tanya made up her mind. Though it broke her heart, she arose from the bench, and strode toward her old home. Her loved ones may not ever see her or know her again in their lifetimes, but--and at this she smiled, at last making peace with herself--she would be there for them for all time to come. And maybe, just maybe, they might feel her as she felt them.