Here’s my entry on my own writing prompt contest I opened up late last night. Directions are over here. Cheers.
John reached over to the television, flicking off the news that never slept. If he watched it all, he would believe nothing good prevailed in the world and that the virus had won.
He rinsed out his cereal bowl and mug, running a coarse wash rag around the chipped dishes. He opened the fridge and grabbed his chilled canteen next to the half empty jars of condiments. It was time to hit the road, look for the odd jobs that day. He had heard the Manson’s we’re putting up a new pole barn. He needed to get there early to sign up for the work crew before the news spread like wildfire.
He started his Chevy, easing it forward to his mailbox at the end of his long gravel driveway. He flipped open the rusted cover to grab a couple of late notices and a thin government envelope. It had been misdirected several times already.
“You sent this to the wrong address again, you nitwits,” he murmured to himself. “Mrs. Reveaux is three miles over…”
He held the envelope in his hand while weighing his options. What if it was a government stimulus check? That was important. But wasn’t his own bread and butter important, too? With a grunt, he flicked the blinker to the left, away from work and towards Mrs. Reveaux’s.
Ten minutes later, he was knocking on the front storm door of an old farmhouse, holding the envelope. The seconds ticked by as he pictured the workers lining up at the Manson’s. He stuck the envelope inbetween the screendoor and turned to leave.
“Mrs. Reveaux, left some mail for you!” he shouted up to the second floor windows.
He jogged back to his idling truck parked at the side of the house. Getting in, he turned to check his side mirror and noticed a socked foot sticking out from behind a bush. John jumped out of the car, skidding through the gravel as he ran towards the figure.
Mrs. Reveaux was laying on her side in a flower bed, mud caked underneath her finger nails. A trickle of blood ran down her temple, dripping down her nose.
John was at the hospital, having followed the ambulance. A doctor came up to him a few hours later.
“She fell from a stroke. We’re taking x-rays to see if she fractured any bones. If you hadn’t found her when you did, she would have died. Nobody would have found her for weeks, the family said. She didn’t have a phone and she lived independently.”
“When can I see her?” John asked.
“The family is driving up tonight; give us a couple of days. We’ll see how she’s doing then.”
Two days later, John stood inside Mrs. Reveaux’s hospital room, holding a mason jar of lilac flowers. She was propped up on several white pillows, talking pleasantly with her family seated around her. The matriarch’s hair formed a sort of halo around her in the hospital lighting.
The talking had stopped at once when he entered. He could feel their eyes on him, weighing like so many prods and pokes from curious strangers.
“I’d like you all to meet my neighbor,” Mrs. Reveaux announced from her bed, breaking the silence. “This is Johnny Wilxinson. And he saved my life.”
One by one, the family members stood up to shake his hand and embrace him. He found himself patting one woman on the back who stayed weeping on his shoulder.
“Well, we can be heroes, just for one day,” John thought to himself, looking around the room. He had affected so many people’s lives with such a simple choice. “Just for one day…“