By Lea Anne Stoughton
She glances up at the clock. 2:24. As she watches, it blinks over to 2:25.
She wraps her hands around her mug and stares down at the contents. The cooling coffee coats the sides in little waves. She starts swirling, trying to get it up to the very rim, higher and higher.
She flicks her eyes to the clock (2:27) and her distraction lets the coffee slop over the edge. She sets the mug down hard with an impatient noise. Shaking her hands, she pushes the chair back from the table and grabs a dishtowel from the hook by the sink.
The clock catches her eye.
She manages—almost—to suppress a sigh. She looks out the window, her hands still twisting in the towel. Through the curtains she sees the neighbor’s dog barking at a squirrel in the yard’s only tree. She loses herself in the dog’s fury, the squirrel’s twitching nonchalance. Somewhere a lawn trimmer zings to life. She shakes her head at the noise, blinking firmly. The towel, now forgotten, drops to the sink.
The clock says 2:36.
She stands with her back to the window now, leaning against the sink. She bites a cuticle. Her eyes dart to the pantry, to the stove, to the doorway, to the table, everywhere but the clock. A piece of skin she has been worrying tears free and a fat drop of blood takes its place. She sucks in a breath through her teeth and plugs the oozing finger into her mouth. The salty iron tang doesn't last long.
Abruptly she walks back to the chair and sits down. 2:41. A few drops of coffee decorate the table. With a finger she paints with it. Connect the dots. 2:43. She dips her finger into the now cold coffee in the mug and adds spirals and stars. 2:47.
Getting close now.
Wiping her fingers on her shirt, she reaches into the back pocket of her jeans and pulls out her cell phone. She sets it on the table, away from the coffee art but within easy reach. She pushes the power button to turn on the screen, which brings up the current time. 2:48.
The dog has stopped barking, and the only sounds are the buzzing of the lawn trimmer and the humming of the refrigerator. Her fingers tap the mug a few times, then stop. Her head bobs a little to an unheard rhythm. The coffee designs grow, becoming creamy brown curlicues that reach halfway around the mug, stretch out to the phone like vines, like kudzu.
Eyes wander to the phone, but the screen has gone dark again. She pushes the power button.
She grabs the phone with both hands, knocking the mug with her elbow and sloshing more coffee out on the table. The patterns disappear into a spreading puddle.
Before she can tap the chat icon, the phone bleeps.
This is our showcase page, containing various submissions from various Authors. Please look for snippets about the Authors following their pieces.