Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prompt: Delivering bad news

As we reached the entry to his building, Jack turned toward me and held out his hand. “Thank you, Sam. Really.” His grip was firm, but his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“You’re going to be okay, Jack,” I assured him. Suddenly he pulled me close, clapping my back with the awkward hug of a man who’s isolated himself so much, his wife of 25 years engaged me to tell him she was leaving. I squeezed my hand on his shoulder and looked him straight in the eyes. He looked down for a moment, then lifted his lashes and looked back at me, connected, maybe for the first time in decades. “Yes, you’re on the right path now,” I said, and this time, his eyes shone with his smile.

I waited until I had walked half a block away before checking my watch for new messages, and the time. I had thirty minutes to get to my next appointment—plenty of time to walk.

I entered the atrium lobby and appreciated the cool air contrasting with the tropic flair of palm trees and koi ponds. The receptionist eyed me warily as I approached. She recognized me, or something about me, then. I held my hands palms up to reassure her. “Good afternoon. I’m here for Rachel Kurschen.”

Relief, pity and curiosity vied for dominance. Pity won. She nodded and picked up the phone, gesturing to a cushioned bench under sweeping palm fronds. “Rachel, there’s someone to see you in the lobby.” She didn’t give Rachel time to ask questions. It wasn’t her job to deliver bad news. It was mine.

Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing
15 minutes

July word count

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