This is not my usual post but a response to a prompt from Tipsy Lit, a writing, reading and drinking site that offers up weekly prompts to challenge writers of all sorts. This is my first effort and of course it is late. But, whatever. Here it is and I’d love me some critiques. Hope you enjoy it.
Coffee in hand, I stood and looked out over my city from my 15th floor suite. She was still in her jammies and snuggled into her pillow, reluctant to rise. Which meant I had the streets to myself for a little while.
Adrenaline was starting to rise, I could feel the small breathy catch in my chest. I went over and over the plan in my head, making sure I wasted not a minute, cause I had none to spare for sloppiness. After carving off a few seconds here and there I started getting dressed to leave, all the while with an ear to the sky, fretting that the person in charge of that segment wasn’t as anal as I was with timing. But the quiet held and I left.
Bursting out of the lobby door at a jog, already looking for my bundles on the corner. The van that had dropped them was just squealing away, onto the next meet. I scooped them up, barely slowing down… a quick furtive look over my shoulder to reassure that I still had time. I looked around, noticing that barely-there shift from darkening to lightning and the adrenaline level took a jerk up a notch. Dark meant safe, they wouldn’t dare take the plane up in the dark.
In and out of the murky yards, peering at the ground to make sure I didn’t fall victim to uneven walkways or errant toys while dropping off what some would call propaganda and I called a way to make extra money. Today was different, today I had a hard-edged time limit that I couldn’t afford to challenge, it would mean the difference between life and death, or at least life and health. I had no desire to gamble with either, no way. So I pushed myself harder, heart now full of breathy anxiety.
It wasn’t until I was no longer on the moving away from my sanctuary part of my loop but the towards it part that the anxiety was joined with the growing sense of the win. Could I really pull this off? Against all odds?
The day was quickening, I could now actually see the multitude of obstacles in my way, which allowed me more speed. I would need it, that same increase in visibility meant the same for the pilot and I did not want to experience intersecting with him while I was on the ground, vulnerable and without a gas mask.
Job done, my feet and heart were pounding in time with each other. I was sure my heart could be heard a block away… it was all I could hear. I was getting close, so close… oh gawd, was that an engine? The streets were so quiet, so unnaturally still for this time of the morning, like how the forest goes silent when a predator is on the move. Crap, it was an engine… the sour taste of panic was starting to invade my mouth and I dug in, willing myself to make it to the lobby door.
Damn key, why does it not work… is it the right one? Did I grab the wrong one? The throb of the engine is getting louder, I felt like there was a dark hulking stranger breathing over my shoulder, I cringed, anticipating the blow.
I almost fell into the lobby, into safety. Gulping air, trying to soothe my jangled nerves I moved to the elevator. Now secure I was looking forward to watching the show.
But did I remember to shut the balcony door? Surely I would have, right? That made the ride up a tad unpleasant.
The elevator doors open and I rush to my apartment. Relief at the sight of the closed glass doors and the smell of coffee helps settle me. I was ever so glad that I had had the forethought to set the timer on the coffee maker. Grateful that I was here to enjoy it.
I grabbed a cup and moved to the wall of windows just in time for the first flyover, the billows of gas dimming the growing light. He is so low we are almost eye level; I imagine I can see his face…. I strain to see the expression on his face, curious as to what it could be.
As I watch him cris cross the city, my heart is still trying to calm down, still not convinced we are safe, needing time to really believe it. But we are, at least as safe as anyone can be in times such as these.