I think this is my fifth week in the Indie Ink Writing ChallengeThis week, I challenged K. Syrah and was challenged by Kat. The prompt I was given is at the end of the post. I took a slight bit of liberty with it.
Marcus snapped off a yellow mum from one of the flower arrangements in the back of the viewing room.The oversized wreath had come from the rest home; it stood out among a field of lifeless white arrangements. It seemed that the people who had spent Julia’s final days with her knew her favorite color better than her own family. Marcus chuckled to himself, quickly hiding a smile as he placed the flower in her hand. They had dressed her in a yellow silk dress, one of her favorites. He could count on one hand the number of days that he hadn’t seen her in a yellow dress. Julia had lived at the home almost six years, so there had been a lot of yellow dresses.
Marcus had been assigned to sit with Julia the second week of residence. They had taken each other almost immediately. She reminded him of his own grandmother whom he had lost at age eleven. He remembered that first conversation with fondness. Julia had been sitting in her bed, brushing out the long fur of Harry, a gigantic Maine Coon cat.
“There was once a chance I didn’t take. I wonder if it made me the way I am today. I wasn’t always a cat lady, you know,” she said softly as she patted Harry on the head.
Just a few moments earlier, she had told Marcus that she had owned as many as twenty-five cats at one time. She wasn’t a hoarder though; she had taken very good care of every last one of her cats. She had lived on a 15 acre farm that the cats had been able to roam freely. Of course, as the years progressed, the number of cats she had grew smaller. When it was decided that she needed to go into a home, the other three cats she still had were given to a cat rescue organization. Harry came to live with her, as he was her favorite.
Julia finished brushing Harry and continued the conversation.
“It was the first dance of the sixth grade. It was always held at the end of the year to celebrate us moving on to junior high. Being that it was the first dance of my life, my mom wanted me to have a special outfit. The shopping trip was excruciating. I had to try on every possible combination of shirts and pants. Finally, the ensemble was decided on: buttery, yellow parachute pants, a white blouse decorated with paint splotches in primary colors, and a thin, spiked leather belt with leather strips hanging down. I’m sure I looked awesome.” Marcus saw a brief smirk on her face as she talked.
“The night of the dance, my mom dropped me off in front of the school cafeteria. I went inside quickly; the room boomed with Depeche Mode or a similar band. I walked over to my friends. We danced together for a while, then sat in some chairs on the side when we got tired. When friends got up to get some punch, a boy walked over to me. He was a boy I kind of liked, so when he asked me to dance, I stood up. Then immediately sat down,” Julia said quickly, her face turning a bright red. “Every time I think of that night, I am eleven years old again and I feel like such a dork. I made such a fool of myself that I found I couldn’t talk to boys after that. I clammed up and my chest grew heavy. I found it hard to breathe when I was around them. When the boy I crushed on in college married my best friend, I bought my first cat. It just snowballed from there.” She looked down at the yellow housedress she was wearing. “Do you know that yellow is the color for friendship, Marcus? I will always have my friendships, but never love.”
Marcus patted Julia’s hand. She looked up him and smiled.
“Do you know that you are the first boy I’ve talked to in over fifty years?”
Prompt: Begin a story with “There was once a chance I didn’t take….”