The Shortcut Home (Day 15)

The night air was cool, flowing gently around Julie’s bare legs as she strolled down the narrow side street. The sound of her heels echoed off the cobblestone street and brick walls as she kept a relaxed walking tempo. Her dress was loose and flowing from the waist down, the fabric moving with her shape and rising and falling from mid-thigh to her knees as her arms brushed along the fabric. Usually she would have walked down main street on her way back to her flat, but a rowdy group of boys were spilling out into the street in front of Lollipop night club, and she had no desire to deal with that lot.

The street lights were mounted on the rooftops as opposed to independent poles, casting circles of light separated by 20 feet of darkness. Each light was placed on alternate sides of the street, creating a zig-zag pattern of light which Julie followed with her footsteps. Each time she stepped into the light from a dark spot, she hopped over the edge and directly into the light, making a loud clang with her shoes.

“Excuse me! Miss,” came a voice from behind her. Julie looked back and saw a man quickly approaching her at a jog. Her fear kicked in and she started to move faster, ignoring the request behind her. Her small frame disappeared between each light, her shadow stretching and compressing quickly as she increased her pace.

“Miss, excuse me!” The man was wearing a leather coat and pair of Levi’s straight-leg jeans, but the distance and lighting made it hard to tell his age. He was closing in on her, his shoes much more accommodating to the uneven surface than Julie’s two-inch heels. She looked back over her left shoulder, and as her head turned forward again she caught a glimpse of two more men waiting in the shadows of an alley, watching her.

Julie was in an all out sprint when she turned right down an alley, reaching her front door. She fumbled around for her keys, only realizing that her keys were in her purse, which was nowhere to be found. The man caught up with her, panting, “Miss, you forgot your purse at the bar,” he said as he held out her red leather purse. Julie looked over his shoulder to see the men who were waiting in the alley disappear into the darkness. Embarrassed, she grabbed the purse hastily from the stranger.

“Thank you. I’m, I’m sorry I…”

He interrupted her mid-sentence, “No worries. You should be careful, there have been some incidents this week on that street. Have a good night Miss.” He smiled and turned away with an elongated stride, heading towards main street.

This is part of a 30 day series of 2-3 minute short stories written for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2011. You can view all the stories in the Short Story A Day category.

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