The Flame of a Tender Woman

17 Jan

The park’s fountain sparkled in the golden light of the sunset.  A lit candle’s glimmer warmed the face of a nearby woman who stared at the statue in the center on the fountain.

The statue described a man of grand scale who wore the simple armor of a warrior from an era long in the past. He bore a strong nose, and his eyes gazed heroically into the sky.

As the light faded, only the candle remained lit.  Only the candle and barely-present light from the nearby city illuminated the statue and its watcher.

The woman waited until her candle was a mere stub before she put it out and stood in the moon-lit darkness.  She turned away from the statue and sat on the wall of the fountain.  Off the side of the paved circle, she heard a rustling noise from a nearby stand of trees.  It was drawn out, and seemed to become louder.

With uncertainty, the woman rose and approached the trees.  She peered in, but the darkness was too overwhelming.

Something tackled her, and she gasped in alarm.  She was pinned by something heavy, and quickly struggled out from underneath it.  Once free, she stood and dug through her purse.  She pulled out a small can of mace.  She panted and stared down at the thing, only to realize it was a very large man, now that he was in the light.  She looked around, then back down at him.  She squinted, then looked around.  Her first instinct was to run, but her second instinct was to poke the man with a stick.  She looked around and finally found a stick.  By the time she found one, she realized the man hadn’t moved.

The ability to act like a decent human being reared its head, and she began to inspect the man for injury.  He was breathing, and he looked unharmed.  She scowled and put the stick down.  She kept her pepper spray aimed at the man and dug for her phone.  She called and rapidly listed off her location.  With a groan, she repeated it more slowly and began to poke the man’s cheek with the bottom of her mace. “Yes, that’s where I am.  There’s an unconscious man here at the east fountain.  You can drive through the service entrance.  Bring bolt cutters.  He’s breathing and he has a pulse.  He’s just on the ground, and even though I’m poking his cheek, he’s not moving.” She paused to listen to a question. “Oh, yeah.  He wasn’t here when I got here, no.  He stumbled out of the woods and knocked me over-” Another pause. “Is it really your business to know why I’m here?  Fine fine.  I’m here because I like visiting the statue.  It’s pretty.” She continued to chatter the ear off the poor operator on the other end until the emergency services arrived.  Absently, she picked her dropped candle stub up off the ground and stuffed it, her mace, and her cell phone into her purse.

She rode to the hospital with a police officer, insistent that she be allowed to know what happened with the man.  She claimed she was a budding author, and therefore must know how hospitals worked, and that as a person who was worried about someone she called help for, she must be allowed to stay to ensure his care.

ID and health insurance were found for the man, named Liam, and he was given full care.  The woman paid his co-pay for him with cash and waited in the room.  While she waited, she wrote on her smart phone’s keyboard until her back hurt.

“Nicholson?  Miss Alice Nicholson?” a nurse called. “Liam Harris is awake and wishes to speak to you.”

Alice looked up from her phone.  She blinked in confusion, then stood as she remembered that she was not an immortal wizard adventuring across the land with a party of strong, attractive adventurers of varying genders.

“Right here!  I’m coming!” Alice called as she nearly tripped over her purse.  She picked up the heavy bag and pulled it onto her shoulder, then dropped her cell in. “Coming!” She hurried over, only to stumble over shoes she didn’t remember taking off.  Rapidly, she pulled them on.  Embarrassment reddened her face as she finally arrived in front of the nurse. “Lead on?” she asked pathetically.

As they arrived at the man’s room, Alice peered in.  He was pulling his jacket back on and stuffing his wallet into one of the pockets of his baggy jeans.  He looked even larger inside the hospital room.  The man looked over with a bored expression.  There was a large goose-egg on his forehead that made him look like Marv from Sin City.

“You the chick that called the EMTs in?” he asked.  His voice was deep.

Alice nodded. “Yeah.  I was going to poke you with a stick, but then I got worried because it took me a while to find one, and you still hadn’t moved.”

Liam stared. “You’re an odd one.” he murmured. “Thanks for calling an ambulance for me.” He sighed and for a moment, he looked embarrassed. “I don’t suppose I can convince you to give me a ride home?”

“My car’s at the park, but that’s just a few blocks.  How far is your house from the park?”

“About a mile.”

“That’s not too far.  Sure, I can give you a ride.” Alice grinned. “The price is how you ended up conked out, ok?  It might give me an idea for a story.”

Liam stared down at the small woman.  She had such an empty-headed smile.  He laughed. “Sure.  I can make something up for you, girl.”

“Please, call me Alice, Gregory, or Sif.” Alice urged.

“Sure… Alice.  I’ll just call you Alice, since that’s the only one that makes sense.  You’re a creepy girl.”

“You know, I get told that often.  Let’s go.  I paid your co-pay for you.  It wasn’t very large, so I just went ahead with it.” She smiled.

“Thank you, Creepy Alice.” He laughed and shook his head as he looked around for anything left behind. “Alright, I think I’m good now.”

“Let’s go!”

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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Modern Fiction


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