Welcome to First Friday Fiction. This story had its beginnings from a first person writing assignment I had years ago. Some of the sights and sounds Emily sees and hears are things I would experience walking along the country road where I live. The rest of the story is fiction.
Emily Sanders paused for a moment to take in the warmth of the spring afternoon. She welcomed the sunshine and blue skies. Winter had been long and cold—not that it mattered. She’d spent the better part of the past few months working long, exhausting hours at the office.
She had left the city and moved to a smaller community in hopes of having a less stressful job. But after months of working on an important project, she’d begun to wonder if she’d made the right decision. So far, her new job had turned out to be as demanding as her former one.
Today she and her team of co-workers completed the project. Her boss was pleased they had come in under-budget and ahead of schedule. “You’ve all done a great job. It’s Good Friday. Take the rest of the day off, and enjoy the weekend,” he had said.
He didn’t have to tell Emily twice. She hurried to her car for the short drive home. Twenty minutes later, she pulled in her driveway.
I sure don’t miss those rush hour traffic jams. She stood for a moment, breathing in the fresh air. Guess I’ll take a walk. It’s not as if I have anything better to do on a Friday evening.
She’d lived here three months and didn’t know any of her neighbors, nor had an opportunity to meet people her age. She’d almost forgotten what it was like to go on a date, but the bar hopping scenario didn’t appeal to her.
Emily hurried inside the house and changed into jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers. She grabbed a leash, went into the back yard, and whistled for her Bassett hound, Winston, who lay sleeping in the sun. He rose, stretched, and sauntered toward her. Nothing caused Winston to get in a hurry—except for cats.
Signs of spring were everywhere. Redbud and dogwood trees were in full bloom as were daffodils and azaleas. A mockingbird called from a nearby tree.
I’m glad I did this.
Winston seemed to enjoy the walk. He stopped at every bush and clump of grass. Emily held his leash loosely in her hand and she began to feel the tension ease from her neck and shoulders.
She had stopped to admire a bed of dianthus when it happened. Winston spotted the white ball of fur long before Emily. He jerked against the leash, easily pulled it from her hand, and ran down the street. She looked up in time to see the large white cat run across someone’s yard and scurry up a tree. Winston ran to the tree, stood with his front paws resting against the trunk, and bayed.
“Winston, come back here!” Emily took off in a run. The cat probably belonged to some sweet little grandmother who wouldn’t rest unless “Fluffy” came down from the tree. In her mind, Emily pictured having to call the fire department to rescue the cat.
She reached Winston, grabbed his leash, and pulled him away. He continued to bark, proud of his accomplishment. The cat was perched in the lowest limb of the tree, just out of reach, tail twitching.
When the door of the house opened, it wasn’t a little grandmother who came outside. The man was likely in his early thirties—tall and muscular.
Great, it’s probably his wife’s cat. She put her hand over Winston’s muzzle in an attempt to silence his bark.
“Hello,” the man said. “That’s some dog you have there.”
“Sorry about the cat.”
“Don’t worry about it. Sasha loves to antagonize dogs. She’ll come down when she’s good and ready.”
Emily looked up to see a large pair of green eyes staring back. “She’s beautiful. You’re wife’s cat?”
Why did I ask him that? Emily looked down and tried to conceal her embarrassment.
“No, she’s mine. I don’t have a wife. And I guess the dog belongs to your husband?”
“No, he’s mine. I don’t have a husband.” Emily laughed. “Guess I’m guilty of stereotyping. I’m Emily Sanders.”
“Dylan Marsh. I haven’t seen you around here. Are you new to the area?”
“Moved here three months ago, but a big project at work has kept me busy. Now that it’s finished, I hope to be able to socialize more. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
“Count on it.”
Emily turned and started to walk away.
“Wait,” Dylan said. “If you don’t have plans for this evening, I’m having a cookout—a neighborhood social. Would you like to come? This would be a great opportunity to meet your neighbors.”
“I’d like that.” Emily smiled.
“Great. Come over about seven.”
“See you then.” Emily turned and walked away.
It had turned out to be a good Friday after all.