Today's prompt was to write about Sam. You see, Sam was just recently offered a promotion at work, all is going well, and yet she has this feeling that she isn't quite where she needs to be, that she ought to just give it up. **Spoiler Alert** I was surprised to find that I was writing about death again. It's odd. That makes a solid one half of my stories and the thing is, I'm really not a morbid person. I don't know why I keep going there. And men. I keep writing as men. So very odd. But I really dug this story, so I stuck with it. I figure I still have half of the month and a three story backlog that I will just have to keep death free. So, um, enjoy.
Samantha walked through the double doors and blissfully out of the blisteringly cold wind that whooshed unimpeded down North Upper and headed straight for the unprotected sliver of skin between the hem of her slacks and the top of her boots. Samantha spent each winter in agony as the skin on her ankles grew first white,then flaky, and finally developed tender red bands as the fragile skin was rubbed away one layer at a time. This winter had been the worst. Try as she might, Sam was simply unable to get warm. She found herself, not for the first time, thinking wistfully of the vacation she had taken months before. The hike up to the Mayan ruins had been spectacular, the jungle with its technicolor flora and fauna appropriately exotic. Ben had been more romantic than ever, feeding her bits of fruit with his fingers and dancing with her to the lilting melody of the pan pipes. It was the feeling, though, that had stuck with her most of all. The nagging feeling, growing stronger every day, that there was more waiting for her than the daily trudge to and from the giant edifice of blue glass.
Sam rode the elevator to the ninth floor and walked soundlessly across the beige carpet to her blue walled cubicle. Samantha was a creature of the outdoors; raised on a small not not insubstantial estate outside of town, the majority of her life had been spent on horseback, or hiking the gorge, or running back and forth on the lacrosse field. To ease her hours confined to a six by six square and breathing predigested air, she had covered her cubicle in photographs, posters, little knick-knacks to remind her of wind and water, of light and laughter. She rounded the corner and stopped, shocked, her woolen scarf still partially round around her slender throat. The walls were bare. There was nothing there but the soft blue felt that blocked noise from travelling from one person to another. The wood patterned laminate of her desk stretched out before her. For a moment, she was enraged, frightened, then a grin flashed across her face, revealing a double row of very even, very white teeth. Of course! The promotion! Sam had been fighting for a job in one of the higher eschelons since she was hired. Even the recent malaise had done little to stop her relentless pursuit. It must have finally paid off! She must have gotten the job and her friends had moved her things as a surprise. It was a relief, really. Her friends had been, well, elusive to say the least, and Sam had begun to think she had somehow offended them. She had been too distracted, to depressed, to do much about it, but was glad to know that she was mistaken. Surely in no time, they would be laughing about the misunderstanding over sweet potato chips and conch fritters. She looked for her friends, but couldn't find them, and so she took the elevator up to the fifteenth floor in search of her boss, and her desk. The promotion was great news, the best. God knew she had worked hard enough for it. Still, as the elevator rose her mind was pulled back to Peru, and to the thought that even now she was not where she ought to be.
Samantha's boss was in a meeting. With no idea of what she ought do or where she ought do it, Sam decided to treat herself to a long lunch and a martini at the little bar down the street. She sat in the dark leather booth, swirling the chocolate liqueurs around in the glass and toying with her food. She didn't have much of an appetite. Hadn't had for months now. As she sipped, she stared out the window at the park across the street. Always lovely, it was particularly gorgeous this time of year. The white lit fountains lined one whole side of the park, shooting high into the air before cascading in a wall of waterfalls. The trees were covered with twinkling lights,and a fifty foot tall fir tree had been installed and festooned with brightly colored lights and ornaments. It was magical, and romantic, especially so for Sam because she and Ben had had their first date there, a picnic among the trees. Samantha missed him so badly; the pain was no less now than it had been the first day that she had discovered him gone. She had been so certain that he was going to propose while they were in Peru. The kisses, the glances, the lovemaking, they had never been better. She saw him reach into his pocket three or four times and each time she felt a tickle of joy. But, then, he hadn't. Instead Ben had suddenly become sullen and withdrawn. He wouldn't touch her, and hardly spoke. They flew home in silence. One day, Samantha came home and all of Ben's things were just gone. She called him over and over again, begging, pleading, entreating him for some sort of answer, but he never called back. Once, in desperation, she had even called his mother. They had, after all, always been rather close. But she hadn't called either and Sam had resigned herself to the fact that, for reasons she could not begin to comprehend, Ben was just gone. Samantha had almost packed up then, moved somewhere else and started anew, maybe even Peru, but her courage failed her. Lexington was, with all of it's pain and memories, home. Samantha drained her glass and felt the booze burn it's way into her belly. Suddenly, she wanted to go for a walk in the park. Maybe that would be what it took to finally put Ben, and the love she still bore, behind her.
She buttoned her coat and started against the street just as the light turned from yellow to red. The car, a late model sedan absolutely packed with college kids, bore down on her,and she just had time to see the look of panic on the face of the young man in front. There was a squeal of tires, the grind of rubber on ice, and Samantha braced herself for impact. The car fishtailed, careening, out of control, and passed right through her.
In a flash, Samantha remembered. The feel of Ben's hand in hers, the smell of the tropical rain, the sound of the motor as the car swung onto the curb to pass the line of motorized bikes in it's path. It all made sense. The cold. The loneliness. The feeling of being somewhere she ought. Samantha's eyes widened, and she turned, finally, into the light.