“Okay, but I don’t want you walking home alone.”
Nine-year-old Reya switches the cell from her left ear to
her right. If her mother had seen this; she would have known
her words were being poo-pooed. “Yes, Mother.”
“I’m very serious Reya there have been too many incidents of
of stalkings and other strange happenings the past two weeks. I’ll
pick you up in a half hour. Where are you?”
“Mother you need to seriously lighten up. I’ll wait outside of the library.”
“Okay, sweetie, I won’t be long.”
“Excuse me, young lady, there is no cell phone use allowed in the
library.” A very tall librarian held her index finger to her lips – the
universal sign for shh.
Reya nods, “sorry.” She walks away and glances at the man who is sitting at a big oak table; his steel grey eyes peeking out from behind a stack of WWII history books.
THE TIME IS NOW 7:45 PM. THE LIBRARY WILL CLOSE IN FIFTEEN MINUTES. PLEASE BRING ANY ITEMS THAT YOU WISH TO CHECK OUT TO TH FRONT DESK AT THIS TIME. THANK YOU.
Do they have to blast the message so loudly?
Reya looks at the cell for the third time in the past thirty minutes, still
nothing from her mother. She slips the phone into the front pocket of her sundress and shrugs the lightweight Spring sweater on her pale, thin arms. I need more color and muscle. She poses like Popeye showing off for Olive Oyl. Maybe I can hang out with Dad this weekend at the Waterfront and go to the gym to work out. Yea, right if he shows
up. She loads her backpack and walks out through the large heavy wooden doors of the public library.
The man with the steel grey eyes smiles at her and run to the parking lot.
Her phone blares.
“I’m so sorry honey, getting on the elevator now.”
“Okay, mom I’m going to walk slowly.”
“Honey, I wish you’d wait.”
“OK, mom I will. Bye”
Reya begins to walk past the library on the sidewalk of a huge six-lane boulevard, three lanes each way. The low limbs of the full maple and oak trees form a natural wind tunnel and soften the glare of the late Spring sunlight. A sudden wind gush billows her linen dress like an open parachute.
“Teehee, this is me walking down a quiet, deserted London street.”
She skips and twirls. That when she notices the big forest green Nissan
Frontier, a vehicle she doesn’t recognize, rolling very slowly behind her.
The dark window on the passenger’s side slides down.
“Hey little girl, you need a ride.”
Reya peers into the dim cab; she tries to make eye contact. “What did you say?”
The driver’s over-sized hoodie hides his eyes. “Come on get in.” No inflection just words.
Reya steps closer. The driver removes the hood. His grey eyes smile.
Her mother’s words echo in her mind. Don’t smile when talking to strangers. In fact, don’t talk to strangers.
“No, I don’t accept rides from strangers.” She flinches as the automatic lock pings.
“Okay, my name is Dana. Now that you know my name, we are no longer strangers.”
“Teehee, Dana is a girl’s name. My name is Reya. But I don’t need a ride.”
The man plucks the bill of his cap. “I’m sure your mother wouldn’t want you to walk alone. The streets can be dangerous.”
“How would you know what my mother wants, Dana, do you even know my mother?”
“In fact, I do and she asked me to pick you up from the library.”
“That’s funny. Mother doesn’t even know I go to the library almost every day after school.”
“Believe it or not Reya, I know you go to the library. I follow you almost every day.”
“Why, are you some kinda pervert?”
“No, but I do love you Reya. I guess you can say my love for you is an obsession. I know a lot about you. Like your favorite things to do is read and write songs. Your favorite food is spicy meatballs and peppers.”
“That’s right. But if you know my mother, what is the password?”
Reya grabs the door handle and looks at the man. “Yeah, the password.”
The driver puts the truck into park and leans across the console. She can see his eyes now. And his smell, like a peppermint patty.
He whispers as if he doesn’t want his words to be heard. “Celery with Peanut Butter.”
A smile she wasn’t expecting explodes on her face. “That’s right.”
He smiles like a trapdoor. “Get in I don’t bite.” Like a trapdoor spider.
Reya opens the door and jumps into the passenger’s seat. “If you want to bite me; you have to buy me dinner.”
“Hey, what would your mother say if she heard you talk like that?”
“Sorry.” Reya looks at herself in the side view mirror and then slaps the driver on the thigh. “How did I do?”
“You did really well, Princess.”
“Thanks, Dad, you did good too.”
© 2016, charles stone. All rights reserved.
The author has granted WritersCarnival.ca, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.