Saturday, 28 January 2012

"The Spot" - A Short Story

In response to the first short story I posted here, I heard from folks who'd never commented on my blog/ writing before.  That was...neat.   Thanks, always, for the comments. I welcome them.  Really.


The day was not too hot; it was not too cold.  Like the baby bear’s porridge in the story, it was just right.  Jade pulled in to the parking lot, music blaring from her car’s speakers.  Her body moved to the beat and rhythm of the heavy bass line and drums.  It wasn’t her favourite music to listen to, though it was on the playlist for her workout.  But, this wasn’t a morning for listening.  This was a morning for dancing - or wiggling – as she moved as best she could, tapping out the beat on the steering wheel.  As she got closer to the supermarket, she turned the music down and tried to will her body to keep still.  Her head kept the beat, though, as she spotted a space to her left. 

As usual, she inched forward so she could reverse into the spot, wrapping to her left.  Jade was about three-quarters of the way in, checking her right side mirror and about to straighten up, when she heard the sound of a horn behind her.  She knew she had made sure the space was clear.  Still, she glanced quickly at her left side mirror in time to see a car pulling into the same spot!  How could that be?  Jade imagined that...actually, she couldn’t imagine what the driver might have been thinking.  All she knew was that she could reverse no farther into the spot and the other driver did not have enough space to pull forward.  This was going to be interesting.

Growing up, Jade was never afraid of being confrontational.  If it didn’t look right, she felt it her right and business to speak up.  Granted, she’d also noticed how she had mellowed a little by the time she got to her late thirties. She had, as someone said, “learned to pick her battles.”  So, she sat there and toyed with the idea of just waiting out the other driver.  Maybe he – or she – would get the message and find another spot.  Why did she have to be the one to move?  She was there first!  Plus, she was already three-quarters of the way in!  What kind of unconscionable creature would creep up on someone and try to take a parking spot when the spot was almost filled?  Ooooh!  As the thoughts piled up, Jade started moving beyond annoyed to angry. She was clearly not parked properly.  She tried fiddling with her phone as if she was preoccupied and didn’t care.  That didn’t last long.  She noticed a few people glancing at “the situation” as they made their way from the supermarket to their own vehicles.  Was it worth it? Wasn’t she going to look weak if she backed down? Why should she back down from this woman? “I bet it’s a woman!” Jade thought.   

Then, without even thinking, really, Jade undid her seat belt, got out of her car and approached the driver of the car behind her.  Well, it was a woman all right. An old woman.  That didn’t phase her.  If she could drive, she certainly could answer the only question she had in mind.  “Ma’am? What...what are you doing?” Jade asked her.
“I’m trying to park my car!  Didn’t you see me pulling into the spot?” The woman shot back.
“Ma’am? I was already almost all the way in, when you started to pull in.  Why would you do that?” Jade surprised herself with the gentleness of her questioning. Maybe the sermon about kindness on Sunday had hit a spot. 
She glanced at the old woman whose eyes were looking straight ahead, hands firmly on her steering wheel.  There was no point.  Jade went back to her car.

She sat there for a while.  This whole “show love and be considerate to others thing” was not as easy as it sounded coming from the preacher on a Sunday morning.  She was a Christian and tried to be a good one.  But, as she sat there in the moment, with no music – she had turned it off from the time she heard the honk – she was seething. This might not be the most God-pleasing reaction.  For a few seconds, all she could think about was that she was right.  She was right. And, this woman in the car behind her... Jade glanced at the figure in her peripheral view.  It was the woman!  She had got out of her car, which was far from being properly parked, and was walking toward the store!   Jade sighed.  Just then, the driver of the car to her right – another woman – came along, grocery bags in hand.  Jade was pretty sure she spotted an amused look on her face, as she glanced at the two of them and the two awkwardly-parked cars.  Jade sighed again, as she knew the move she had to make.

They finally both parked properly – Jade in the new spot and the woman in the space she had wrestled from her. They both alighted from their vehicles about the same time, too. So, it was no surprise that they would be walking in, almost lock step with each other.  It was the woman who broke the silence. 

“You know, I have a bum leg, and this is how you treat someone with a bum leg?” She started.
“Ma’am?” Jade interrupted, “I wouldn’t have known anything about your bum leg.  All I saw was someone driving into the spot when I was almost all the way in.” She noticed that the woman was big in body - about five feet seven inches and somewhat overweight.
“You have no respect for seniors,” the woman continued.
That hurt. By this time, they had reached the sliding doors and, once inside, Jade picked up a basket and they went their separate ways.

As Jade went down the fruits aisle, she spotted her out of the corner of her eye.  She was by the veggies section.  Although Jade quickly took her eyes off her, a nagging conviction had already set in.  She created a bit more distance between them as she turned toward another aisle.  Still, she couldn’t shake the heaviness that she should go over and apologize to her.  Jade spent about a minute trying to decide whether it was guilt or God. Maybe she would’ve felt guilty, had she done something wrong. But, here she was, in the right, feeling that she had to somehow make it better for the other person. What was that all about?  It sure felt like God.  And then it hit the spot. “Go and apologize – and offer to pay for her groceries.”  Jade raised an eyebrow and tried putting her reaction into thoughts. “Okaaay. Pardon me?” She thought, as if she were expecting an answer.  What if the woman rejected the offer?  What if her groceries cost a lot?  But the directive didn’t leave her.  And, she knew there was no fighting it.

She mumbled a little prayer, mustered up her courage and took the very long walk over to the stall with the oranges. It was really no more than about ten metres away.  The woman had a few items in her hand; she wasn’t using a basket.  Jade approached her, “I want to apologize for what happened in the parking lot. I’d like to pay for your groceries, if that’s OK?”
She didn’t decline the offer; she didn’t reject the offer.  Instead, she replied, “Well, you don’t have to.”
“It’s OK. Really,” Jade said.
“Well, I’m just about done. Are you finished?” She asked.
“No, actually, I have a few more items to go,” Jade replied. “Let me hurry and grab them.  I can meet you at checkout, OK?”

Jade went to join her in the line at the checkout.  The woman turned to her, “It’s very kind of you to offer.”  Jade explained that it was no problem; that she was glad to be doing it.  The older woman continued, “It’s very difficult for seniors, especially at this age, to keep their drivers licence, you know.”
Jade knitted her brow. “What do you mean?” She asked.
“Well, when you get to eighty, once you get into an accident, that’s it. They take your licence.  And, I’m eighty-three. 
“Well, you don’t look eighty-three,” Jade blurted out.
“Well, thank you, but, I am.”
“May I ask your name?” Jade said, and she too introduced herself.

Jade let her go through checkout first.  She gave her the receipt in case she would need to return something.  Jade was a little disappointed that the bill hadn’t even amounted to twenty dollars.  Still, they said their goodbyes and she left the supermarket. 

As she paid for her own groceries, Jade wondered whether their paths would cross again.  Maybe she could look out for her on another Saturday, about noon? Of course, they would be getting together under better circumstances.  When Jade got outside and headed to her car, she noticed the woman sitting in her car, hands on the steering wheel, looking in her direction.  She had been waiting.  As Jade approached her, she rolled her car window down, beckoned to her a little, and said, “Thank you, again.” 

Jade smiled as she replied, “You’re welcome, Maria.”

Her name was Maria.




  1. Great story! Goes to the heart of simply being human...

  2. Thank you, Durie! Appreciate it. Hope to stir more of our humanness in upcoming stories.