400 words or less:
I could hear his fingers jostling the loose change in his pocket. Rotating the coins around in no particular rhythm. I didn’t think much of it, really. I probably thought it was annoying. In the same way I find people that chew gum with their mouths open annoying. Only in retrospect, did I understand why he – perhaps – nervous with anticipation chose to preoccupy himself with such a mindless task.
It happened quick. The pain shot sharply across my shoulder as he tore the bag off my arm. I began to scream. Down the block as I chased him. The quiet block. The block that I had just moved to the week before. A few neighbors came to their doors to see the commotion. I punched the air. One, two, three times. Contact. He faltered. But it wasn’t enough.
Someone yelled from the street, asked me a question. “Is that your bag?” I imagined. I probably nodded. Or perhaps, my voice hoarse from screaming, choked out “Yes!” I stopped. Looking up, I watched as the man from the street jumped up onto the curb on his bicycle and nearly collided with the thief. He let go.
My bag lay on the ground. The phone scattered in pieces. He watched as I picked up the pieces, examined the broken strap. “Do you need a ride somewhere?”
“On your bike?” I laughed incredulously. No, no – in a car. He lives just a few blocks that way. Under any other circumstances I wouldn’t accept such an offer but I thought given the circumstances I should trust him. He dismounted his bike and we walked side by side on the narrow, uneven sidewalk.
I met his parents. His mother safety pinned the broken strap back onto the body of the bag. His father rubbed my shoulder reassuringly. Once in the car, he popped in a cassette tape of Fugazi. We started talking excitedly about music – then film, and comics. I thought (and maybe he too), what great providence! How serendipitous! The cosmos bringing us together on this fateful Friday night on a street in Northeast DC.
I offered to buy him a beer. He asked for a raincheck, it was his father’s birthday. He had to head back to have cake. I met my friends. I thought how great this story would be to tell my grandchildren. If only.
It happened quick. The pain shot sharply across my shoulder as he tore the bag off my arm. I screamed as I chased him down the block. The quiet block. I punched the air. One, two, three times. Contact. He faltered. But it wasn’t enough.
(here I cheated by providing a title to add more context)
A Story for the Grandchildren (If Only)
Bag recovered, could have been love.
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