Darkness Closing In by Kim Hutchinson

For 22 years, they rode the same bus. He was the man with the winter Fedora, the one who always dressed neatly, wore polished shoes and spoke with a nineteenth-century flourish. She was a bookkeeper; she appreciated tidiness. She also read romances, so she liked that he had a little flair.

They exchanged pleasantries and smiles. He knew that her name was Eloise and that she lived on King Street. His name was Abe; he came and went at the 20th Street stop.

On Fridays, they talked of their weekend plans. He liked to follow the tall ships and attend military tattoos. She liked museums and open-air concerts.

For a year and a half, he mentioned a wife. When he stopped mentioning, Eloise didn’t ask.

Last Friday night, Abe almost missed the bus home. He had to run to catch it, which made him breathe a little too hard as he passed by without noticing her. She thought she smelled a whiff of drink. He rode at the back, standing up. As he exited, he turned on the step and called out “Good-bye, old bus! Farewell, fellow commuters. I’ve retired today.”

She watched as he walked a little unsteadily down the sidewalk, the darkness closing in on both of them.

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19 Comments

Filed under Kim Hutchinson

19 responses to “Darkness Closing In by Kim Hutchinson

  1. Beautifully done, Kim. The characters so quickly established and the change brought about so swiftly.

  2. Randal Houle

    Two developed characters, loosely connected. Well done.

  3. Missy

    Oh me oh my! Such great detail!!!!

  4. You completely captured their entire relationship from beginning to end. Bravo.

  5. guy

    That last line is both Homeric and anti-heroic. It evokes the dark mist that closes over the eyes of dying Greeks and Trojans in the Iliad, but it’s applied to a modern functionary heading from retirement party to death.

  6. Kim,
    This is a very sweet story with such amazing details. I could SEE this happening in my mind’s eye as I read (see the characters, hear the bus engine, smell the drink on Abe, hear him panting as he ran). Beautifully done and in such a small space. Every word worked toward the overall effect.

    On the downside, I worry Eloise will stay lonely.

    Dan

  7. great character development in such a short space. a wonderfully conceived set of scenes – again, as often in your writing, a movie suggests itself. “suggests itself”? what did i take tonight…but perhaps you know what i mean. you know how to do action without being “action-y”. aww, i can’t say it. but i love this.

  8. It’s off how people we see every day but do not ‘know’ affect our lives. And now, I will be thinking of these two. Beautifully rendered. Peace…

  9. Amazing how you can convey characters that illicit such empathy and response from me. And the theme gave me pause as well, made me think about it throughout the day. Thanks, Kim, for another powerful flash.

  10. Pingback: Week #35 – Loose connections | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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