“Lucky Break” by Hyten Davidson
There’s different kinds of opportunity in the world, or so I hear: some knock sweetly on your door, some slam into a pole. I listen for the first, but dream of the latter. Either way, I am always welcoming to whatever type of opportunity my mother loved to remind me was “out there.”
In my dreams I run from a man that looks like Agent Smith from The Matrix, but at the last second— when I’m trapped in the basement and he’s almost got me— something else happens. I suddenly find a trap door, or miraculously the house sets on fire and I escape in the smoke and confusion. It’s too perfect to recognize as being a random opportunity perfectly presenting itself, but you don’t realize that until you’ve already woken up from the nightmare and are back where you fell asleep against the cool vinyl kitchen tiles.
I haul myself up and move toward the window in the family room where the old Christmas tree is hunched to turn off its lights. Out the window, the empty street waits for me like that tree in that forest who wonders if it still makes a sound when there is no one around to hear it fall. I bear witness to the night.
After I wake up from a nightmare I always like to take a dead-of-night walk through my neighborhood to relax, loose and free in my kimono and slippers, even on a mid-February night.
My neighborhood is quiet, which means it’s full of secrets. Bright streetlights but dark houses. I’ve lived in my split-level home for thirty four years now, even after my parents died off, and yet I have no idea who lives in all these rows of houses. But at least they don’t know me either.
I really do need to “get out more” like my mother constantly nagged, but rather if only to stir more rumors and legends about myself. It’s a fantasy to think of the neighborhood kids pointing at my parents’ house and crying “The crazy witch lives there!” Maybe even get the neighborhood moms to whisper about me being a “New Age Spinster.” But then again, no one wants to be alone and forgotten all the time. Even witches and spinsters want a love connection.
One person I did know in my neighborhood was a classmate of mine in elementary school— Jason P. Jason got a D.U.I while on a thirteen hour trucking job and had to move back into town with his parents a few years ago. He was tall and lanky, with chipped teeth and a droopy eyes.
Tonight he looks different I think to myself as I watch him stumble out of his dark blue Volvo, the front of which is wrapped around a streetlight. I watch him teeter into the street, spitting and sputtering to himself. He grabs chunks of his salt-and-pepper hair in panic once he looks back at the mess he’s made. Same as our 4th grade teacher when Jason choked in class from shoving too many marshmallows down his little gullet I muse to myself, Oh Jason what have you done??
This might have been the perfect meet-cute— I rescuing Jason, bringing him home to tend to his wounds, promising to keep our little secret of what happened to his car.
Instead, I retreat behind a bush. Jason flicks his head up and down the street to see if anyone is around. Don’t worry, Jason. Everyone’s inside their cozy homes committing their own dark deeds. No one saw you.
Jason stumbles away and jogs past my bush then off around the corner back to Mommy and Daddy’s house. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
I emerge from behind the bush back onto the empty street. I look over at the car, a Volvo 240 DL; it’s right back turn signal still flashing. The engine in my own brain starts to kick and the wheels start turning.
BLINK-ER. BLINK-ER. BLINK-ER.
My heart beats in tandem with the car’s mesmerizing blinker. It’s giving me the green light.
I approach the vehicle slowly…as to not scare or disrupt the precious moment. The driver’s side door is still open. Don’t mind if I do.
I sit down in the driver’s seat, still warm. The dashboard is lit up like a small Christmas tree, its little glimmering lights glowing through the fabric of the air bag. I lay my cheek down against it. It’s surprisingly soft. I poise the rest of my body accordingly— right foot on the brake, left slipper thrown off, hands draped down in my lap. I throw my glasses onto the dashboard…then take them back. That doesn’t seem right. Gently, I put the lens in my mouth between my teeth and crunch down hard. Now broken, I frame them back on my face then lay back down on the bag. Then I wait.
And start to dream. In my dream, I’m waltzing down the streets of my neighborhood in a flapper dress and little heels. The street lights are chandeliers. The road is black velvet carpet. In my embrace is a handsome gentleman — like Jason but taller, more stoic…maybe more-so like Agent Smith. Someone my mother would approve of. I see myself in the reflection of his early 2000s sunglasses, a jolly, smiling lady with not a single scratch mark on her face.
Agent Smith’s voice is like a low siren.
“Ma’am?” He asks in a two-tone pitch, “Ma’am, can you hear me?”
Then….the dream is gone. Always gone, like a nasty one-night stand. But the sight in front of me was nearly better…a sweet-faced boy with chunks of freckles on his cheeks is caressing the back of my hair.
I glance up at him, flapping my eyelashes like big butterfly wings, as he grabs the radio attached to his shirt pocket. “Say something. Be friendly.” My dead mother’s voice rings in my ears.
“Yes, she’s responsive.” To me, “Ma’am have you been drinking tonight?”
“No, but I’m down if you’re free after this?”
The look on his face informs me this was far too strong a come-on. Two young women appear behind the boy, with a stretcher.
“Can she be moved?’
“She’s conscious, so I think we’re clear.” My mystery man states.
His brute strength seizes me by the shoulders— I might argue a bigger come-on than my comment but that’s fine— and hoists me out of Jason’s car and onto the stretcher, facing up to the night sky.
“What’s your name?”
“Where do you live?”
“Where did you come from tonight?”
It’s like Friday night at a bar, surrounded by flirty singles desperate to get to know me more.
“Who me?” I flirt back.
See, Mother? I can go out and meet people.
Hyten Davidson is an emerging writer currently based in Chicago. Her stories have been published in New Reader Magazine, The Maine Review, and Cat on a Leash Literary Review. She’s also a screenwriter, having won the Scaffolding Magazine Best Short Screenplay Award at The Shortcut 100 International Film Festival, the Best Screenplay Award at The South Shore Film Festival, The Indie Horror Film Festival Best Short Script Award, among other accolades. For more, visit www.hytendavidson.com.