Tell A Tale in 500 Words

The Great Divide By Catherine Skellern

The bleeding stopped when she stayed still. Tilting her head back, the sun shone hot on her face, crusting the blood around her nose. She smiled in its warmth.

‘Lady,’ shouted a voice from the diner. ‘You can’t stay here.’

‘Give me a minute.’

‘Shoo,’ said the man. ‘Before I call the cops.’

She stood, dusting down her combat trousers and her tank top, shaking free the grime of the evening’s sleep on the dusty street. She turned to face the man, displaying her bloodied face.

The man made irritated, dismissive motions with his hands.

She walked away from the fancy restaurant, and to her part of the city. Sometimes she felt it was another city entirely; one filled with grey stone, and sandwich wrappers, and icy winds.

‘Hey Ola,’ shouted Sam, sitting on top of a dumpster, a can of beer clutched in his hand.

Old smiled. She liked Sam; his life was awfully miserable, but he was always happy. Though that might have been because of the alcohol but she didn’t want to judge. Plus, he was a qualified doctor so it paid to be friendly towards him.

‘Hi Sam. Do you have a spare beer? I’ll pay you back,’ said Ola.

‘With what?’ said Sam, but tossed her one nonetheless. ‘Looks like you’ve taken a battering. I’ll patch you up later.’

They sat on the dumpster and chatted until the sun went down, and the orange glow was shrouded by deep blue clouds. Mews of cats wailed across the city and the shadows arrived. Although Ola felt Sam next to her, only his voice floated out of the gloom and she wondered if he even existed at all.

Later that evening, Ola washed her face, and changed her clothes, clasping a cold string of pearls around her neck. She brushed her hair and teeth, and slid on her perfectly polished shoes.

Ola met Sam outside the restaurant, the same restaurant she’d been shooed from earlier. Sam had brushed up nicely. He beard was trimmed to stubble and he had removed his threadbare beanie to reveal a head of sandy hair. He wore a blue silk shirt and black trousers.

The same man that had shooed Ola opened the door. ‘Miss Ola. Doctor Sam. Welcome. Please take a seat by the window.’

They entered another city, a city with perfume and carpets and hand lotion. Ola and Sam clinked glasses, and their hands smoothed the tablecloth, tracing the patterns of the lace trimmings. Others diners smiled at them. One lady wished them good evening.

Ola woke up on a piece of cardboard with blood on her face, tears in her eyes and Sam snoring next to her.

She shook him awake.

‘Sam.’

‘What?’ he said, groggily.

‘It’s time,’ she said. ‘Let’s go to the other city.’

 


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