Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.
This was the Daily Post from WordPress. I always look but seldom take part in these, unless my mind is mushy and I need a nudge. Today I needed a nudge. But the premise seemed to call for fiction, I had no life experience to relate. I leave it to my readers to judge, but fiction doesn’t come easily for me…
I was waiting for the bus and a slight drizzle turned into a heavy rain. As soon as I popped up my umbrella, a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk caught my eye. I looked as the rain started to soak it then stooped to pick it up. It was a laundry ticket from the establishment in front of me. I walked in, figuring someone had just walked out and dropped it. The storefront was cool and dark compared to the mid-day humidity of downtown Boston. When my eyes adjusted, I saw an old-fashioned bell on the counter. It was a silver dome with a plunger on top. The tone was soft and clear.
From the dark recesses, I heard a shuffling and a voice called out, “Just a minute.” An elderly woman brushed aside a faded curtain and ducked into view. I smiled and presented the scrap of paper. She picked up her glasses by the string that tethered them around her neck, and squinted at the receipt. “It’s not mine,” I said, “I picked it up out front and figured someone must have dropped it on the way out.”
She cocked her head at me. “This receipt is from 1980. I’m not sure how it got here but I doubt I still have your merchandise.” She shuffled back behind the curtain. I thought of leaving. I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch, but it felt rude to walk out when the proprietor was obviously thinking I had come for my clothes.
Just as I was about to give up and slink out of the shop, she reappeared. “I can’t believe I found this. It was only because the ticket was pre-paid that I never gave it to Good Will.” In her arms was a dusty bundle wrapped in ancient plastic. She carefully tore off the identifying tag, compared it to the receipt and smiled.
I was about to explain, again, that this was not my clothes when the hole where she had torn off the tag caught my eye. The glimpse of navy material was intriguing. I lifted the heavy wool overcoat from the counter, peeled back the plastic and looked at the lining. There were my father’s initials. The Brooks Brother’s cashmere coat was one of his prized possessions. An image of him, in his matching navy fedora, sporting a rakish grin flooded my memory.