Crash Course Condolences

Violin Case Sketch by Tommia Wright

Violin Case Sketch by Tommia Wright

So the goal is to begin revising the NaNo projects and make them into something possibly publishable. Today’s piece is from the first NaNo – Crossing Seasons. Not quite the beginning, but close to it.

Crash Course Condolences

Deborah Hansen laid the item on the desk with a thud, forcing Jacob Knoll to look up from his sketch.

“What’s this,” he asked, removing his glasses.

“Put your glasses back on if you’re asking me,” she said before giving him a wry smile as she sat on the corner of the desk. “Consider it a belated replacement gift. Don’t worry, it isn’t filled with cash. If it was, I would have paid off your brother in ones.”

Jacob squinted at her while slowly opening the case. “If a bomb goes off-.”

“Bang; we’re dead.” Deborah bit the inside of her cheek as she saw how young Jacob looked when his dark hair fell forward. If they had met in high school there was no way she would have graduated with straight-A’s, she thought, wondering what kind of instrument she would have played in band just to sit beside him. “If you weren’t such a non-traditionalist-.

Jacob shrugged. “If it helps, I have been telling people you hit on me first.”

She thought back to her first encounter with him.

“Don’t you ever watch where you’re walking?” Deborah rolled down the window on her side of the car, trying her best not to let her anxiety show too clearly. As it stood, she was just thankful that she hadn’t killed the guy.

“Yeah,” the guy said as he held on to the hood of the car for balance.  “I was walking in the crosswalk when I foolishly assumed the stop sign was something you saw.”

She debated between getting out of the car or staying inside for her safety; not as if the wiry gentleman at the front of her now chasing down loose pieces of paper was a serious threat to her. Guilty and concerned, she got out of the car to see the extent of the damage, sucking in her breath the moment she saw the shattered case under the front wheel on the passenger’s side.

“Sorry about your fiddle,” she said.

He clasped the case shut before she could see the contents. “For your information, they called it a violin.”

“That’s what I said – fiddle.” She spied a missed paper trapped by the car tire . “Look,  there’s this invention called a briefcase; maybe you  heard of it? Or you may want to consider switching over to a backpack or something that doesn’t pop open so easily.”

He smirked. “You may want to consider a car that has better brakes.” His possessions held close to his chest, he walked around the car once, clicking his tongue when he returned to where she stood.

“What?” She hated the look she saw on his face, the one that reminded her of her sister. “What is it?”

He avoided her question as he held a hand out. “You wouldn’t happen to have a couple of quarters, would you? I need to make a phone call.”

She had a dollar’s worth left, nothing more, and nothing less. “To your lawyer?”

He shook his head. “Don’t go anywhere.”

“Very funny,” Deborah said as her shoulders slumped. How could she excuse her lateness for a job interview she needed, she wondered?

She watched as he folded himself into the small phone booth, his possessions still in hand. At least he had the decency to face her while he talked, she thought. It kept her from guessing what he was saying about her. Granted, she couldn’t hear him from here, but she wasn’t going to go over there to eavesdrop on him, either. He seemed like a trustworthy fellow, not bitter – something that surprised her. What she expected as a justified response from him proved wrong for her.

It amused her to watch him reshuffle his things, shoving things into the case he had, he plastic bag a complete loss.

When he returned, he didn’t seem as disheveled as when she had first seen him. “He’ll be here in about twenty minutes,” he said, leaning against the hood of the car with her.

“Deborah,” she said holding out a hand, a sheepish smile on her face.

“Jacob,” he said, returning the gesture.

Hard to believe a month had already passed since then, a month for Deborah to save and sell what spare change and loose knickknacks she had to barter for the case. The fact Jacob smiled back at her brought relief, and hope, that maybe it wasn’t a mistake to stay in this town.


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