i know, i know, 4 posts in one day. so npr is having a 3 minute fiction contest. this one all stories have to start with the same opening sentance, "the nurse left work at 5 o'clock" and be under 600 words. here's mine:
The nurse left work at five o'clock. It’s hard to feel like a normal human being at 5 in the morning when you’ve witnessed more trauma and death in the last 12 hours than some people do in a lifetime. Five in the morning is a very interesting time to be awake in the city. Depending on the season you may or may not have any idea the sun will soon be up to greet you.
It’s summer today and the first twinkling rays from the sun are flickering in the dew on the leaves of the trees and slender blades of grass. Each step she drops a memory, a thought of the horrors she’s witnessed from the night before that must be left behind.
In these early morning moments most of the people who’s paths she’s crossing are starting their day. Their eyes have a similar glaze, but they are heading in another way. Today is Friday and it’s the start of her weekend, she must leave it all behind, she cannot be haunted by thoughts of the night before. It is over and it is done. This morning she will join the land of the living rather than going home and climbing into the safe comfort that is her bed, drawing tight the shades on this lovely summer day.
The bell rings as she swings open the door. The smell is intoxicating, fresh pastries and the hot freshly brewed coffee. The light is slowly dancing up the windows of the building across the street. She sits on a glittering blue vinyl booth with the best view of the street and the rest of the diner.
The waitress wears a smile that shows no recognition of the early hour. Her eyes shine as she sets down a short glass of sweating ice water.
“What’ll it be, sugar?”
“What’s your favorite?”
“Old Fashion hands down.”
“Sounds perfect, and some coffee.”
“You got it honey,” she says with a smile and turns.
An audible sigh of relaxation leaves her lips as she puts her feet up on the seat across from her. She enjoys the sight of the beautiful flowers in a planter box outside the window. Out of the antiqued wood explode an exquisite rainbow of pink, purple, blue, orange and yellow flowers and all shades of green leaves that are beginning to wake along with sun. Stretching towards the sky, beginning to shake off the cool morning dew.
The waitress delivers her luxurious morning treat. Adding the cream and two packets of sugar to her coffee making it blonde and sweet. She enjoys the way the cold cream smokes in the cup of hot black coffee. The warm white mug is curved to perfectly fit in two cupped hands. A small sip and she again sighs, this time there is a hint of joy. It’s delicious, smooth and sweet.
Breaking off a small piece of cakey goodness, this was indeed made for accompanying coffee. As she begins to taste the sweet slightly crisp bite of fried glazed cake she smiles remembering a reply she heard in an interview with a doughnut king. When asked about his success in this health conscious society he smiled, “What’s healthier than a doughnut? A doughnut makes you happy and there’s nothing healthier than being happy.”