The following is a story written for a workshop, where the assignment was to write a 1000 word (prox.) story with the following elements: a red bike, a mail delivery lady who is pregnant, and an aggressive dog.
JUST DOING MY JOB
Sally climbed the steps, one by one, huffing and puffing with each advance. Twenty steps, twenty steps to reach the porch above. A rusty mailbox, her destination, remained in view, the lid curled and bent, no doubt the result of a collision with a heavy object or fist. Being a mail carrier was not all it was cracked up to be. The civil service brochure had bragged of the benefits–a good pension and health care, but not a peep about the walking, walking, walking.
She delivered mail daily for two dozen city blocks, lugging catalogs, letters, and magazines. Enthused at first, she wasn’t now. Not now that she was two months pregnant. She’d only just found out about the baby, sending her mind reeling with the news. A leave of absence would be necessary soon; she might need to quit her job. If the truth be told, she wasn’t ready for motherhood–taking care of a new baby, losing her sense of freedom. Hubby would help, but not that much. It would mostly be up to her.
There! She made it to the top, all twenty steps! A well used red bicycle lay sprawled on the path to the porch, blocking the sidewalk. Tip-toeing over it, a sudden roar sent her stumbling backwards.
Sally caught herself from falling. It wouldn’t due to risk hurting the baby.
“WOOF!” A pathetic dog emerged from behind the lilac bush, his tongue dripping and dangling from a black wrinkly mouth. Dressed in gray fur, straggly and uncombed, his ugliness spoke louder than his size. Next to the delicate lilac flowers, he was a study in contrast, for sure.
“Did you bark at me? You nearly killed me. I could have fallen back on that bike and hurt myself!” Sally’s outrage juiced her words with venom. This wasn’t the first time that dog has scared the heck out of her. His raspy bark and ugly face would scare anyone.
“Sorry, just doing my job.”
“Yeah, your job, eh? To frighten civil servants. Now don’t try that thing of ‘gimme a treat and I’ll leave you alone.’ I don’t play that game.” Sally’s face flushed red with consternation.
“Honest, I’m just working here! Mom told me to protect the new baby.” The sad sack dog threw his ears back and held his tail between his hind legs in shame.
“New baby? The Smith’s had a baby?”
“Yep! It’s three month’s old now. A real cutie…a little girl. She dresses it in pink.”
“Like a dog has any sense of style! Hmmm, she’s a career woman. I mean having a law practice and all…” Sally remembered saying Good Morning to Ms. Smith many days as that lady emerged from the house wearing a smart business suit and carrying an attache case.
“Well, some things are more important. Besides she still goes in part time. I help them by guarding the house every day. Sometimes Nanny gives me a cookie.” The pooch smiled as he remembered the treat.
“Wow! She’s making quite a sacrifice! What with being considered for an assistant district attorney position recently.” Sally shrugged in disbelief, shifting her heavy mail bag to the other shoulder. It was getting late. She didn’t usually stop to chat, but something was nagging at her. “Why would she do that?”
“Pshaw! Have you seen that kid? Such a beautiful baby! All fresh and new and full of life.” The dog beamed. His yellow teeth even sparkled.
“Yes, babies are cute and amazing…what with their newness and all,” Sally replied, touching her stomach where the little one lay waiting. It hit her with a bolt, flying in from nowhere and crystal clear. Where were her priorities? A new life! And she would play a role of importance. This wasn’t about her; it was about this new little person who needed to be taught what she already knew. This was about mother helping baby, life helping life, spirit helping spirit. Suddenly she couldn’t wait for her baby to come. What was she thinking–a bunch of letters in a dirty leather bag were no match for a pink, new, bubbly baby to care for and teach…to continue life’s legacy.
“I knew you’d come around!” The shaggy dog looked at her with eyes like saucers. He sat taller like a regular know-it-all.
“How do you know what I’m thinking?”
“We dogs know a lot of things. Like when you’re sick, when you’re sad, and when you’re preggers.” The pooch grinned.
“And you also know how to keep us humans happy…and on track,” Sally replied. And she smiled too.
Copyright 2006 JO Janoski