This prompt was to begin writing with the phrase, "When it was nice outside...", and to free-write for 10 minutes.
When it was nice outside, I would walk home with my friend Vanessa. Sometimes her mom would drive us, in their aging station wagon with the wood panels and the rear-facing back seat. But since her mom never let us sit back there anyway, we figured we might as well walk. That way we could tell our stories -- the stories that just kept building on each other. Our brains just worked good together, I guess, each feeding on the imaginings of the other. Our feet knew the walk so well that our minds were left free to leap and create -- the most wonderful stories. Where there were dragons and damsels and absolutely NO little brothers.
There wasn't any fighting either, unless it was a grand hero with a jeweled sword. Nessa had enough fighting at home, that we were careful to avoid it, though not by any spoken agreement.
Most often, we didn't even pay attention to our surroundings - the way from PS 192 to our apartment building was straight enough, you could stick your arms out like a zombie, shut your eyes and just walk and you'd get there. (We knew that cuz we tried it once. Till old Mr McNeely at the butcher shop yelled at us to watch where he was spraying the sidewalk.)
So we kept our eyes open, but our heads down, as we continued in story mode. Our story that day took us to the dunes of an African desert, where it was so hot, we imagined our feet were singed by the sand. It was while we were hopping around in our imagined torture that we first saw it. Everything was always so the same on our walks, so that same that we almost missed it.
It was an ordinary thing. We must have seen 50 of them that day, at least, maybe 100. Fat, thin, tall, short, covered, naked, you just don't think anything of it. Till you trip over one on your way through a scorching desert. As Nessa did. And when she did, she stumbled, and whirled around to give the offender an earful. But her words died a little in her throat, her deeply in-drawn breath puffing up in her chest, then choking up against the words.
Her hand rose to her mouth just as I jumped up behind, ready to rib her for her fall. She turned to me, her face the strangest color I've ever seen, even stranger than when she had the chicken pox and a 4-day fever. She opened her mouth to tell me, to warn me, to somehow share the burden of her discovery, but nothing came out. Nessa, my friend with the golden storytelling tongue, was struck dumb.
For how do you tell a story that isn't yours to tell? Certainly there was a story here. Just as certainly it wasn't of our making.