Prompt Forty-Eight

 Study a stranger. Go home and write a tragedy about his or her mother.

Wilson was never the same after the incident. Sitting alone at the bar with his shirt half-unbuttoned, religiously taking notes of everything around him in his ratty notebook in an attempt to distract himself from the poisonous thoughts that plagued his mind. His long hair was disheveled and he looked as though he had not shaved in weeks, but despite people’s judgemental stares he always remembered to be polite. That was what his mother had taught him. “Always mind your manners.” Tragically, that mantra was what did her in at the end.

“Please.” “Thank you.” “After you.” “I insist.”

Two elderly women going back and forth for what felt like an eternity to those privileged enough to witness the encounter. Two elderly women refusing to lose a battle of kindness. One elderly woman whose patience was worn so thin her walker inexplicably became ten times lighter, the tennis balls covering the legs finding their mark again and again and again. Bright green fabric stained red.

Wilson stopped his pen. Staring blankly at his notes, he realized he had written “blood on the dance floor.” He looked around the bar. No one was dancing. No one was near the dance floor. He was alone, drinking at the bar, remembering the scene from his mother’s salsa class. He was supposed to pick her up that night and take her dinner. He was going to tell her she was going to be a grandma.

Hand shaking, Wilson lowered his pen and reached for his drink. The glass was empty. He raised the glass to his lips anyway and swallowed the last few drops. He tipped the bartender, collected his things, and left.

That was the last time I saw Wilson.

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