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The Note

David Gane
David Gane
3 min read
Photo by Mitchell Griest / Unsplash

☠ Readers beware: This story is from a writing project I did between May 24 to June 24, 2021. The goal was to write a new story every day. Although I'm happy with them, they are first drafts and many could use some work.

Katherine found the note on her windshield when she went to work in the morning.

Thanks for moving your car. Not ☹️

Although the road was slick from the rain, she could see the path where the street cleaner had moved around her vehicle, leaving a layer of dirt and leaves behind.

She knew the city was working in her neighbourhood—the signs had been up the past few days—but there was no indication when they were doing the streets around her home. The only inkling she had they were close was a low grumbling sound in the background while she showered.

She grabbed the note from beneath her wiper blade and her hands immediately felt sticky. The paper seemed normal, nothing on its surface, but she was certain there was a grime she couldn’t wipe off. Even after going back inside and trying to wash it off with soap and water, the discomfort remained.

It stayed with Katherine all morning, distracting her at work and the longer it stayed, the more irritated she became. By mid-afternoon, she felt miserable and requested to leave early, and she was sent home without argument. She sensed her supervisor was happy to let her go.

When she walked out to the parking lot, she noticed a car near hers was parked across the line and taking up two rows. The spaces were clearly marked, and the car that normally parked in the crowded spot wouldn’t have enough room.

After a day like she had, the annoyance was too much. She went into her purse, pulled out her notebook and a pen, and angrily scribbled: “Share the space, dickhead.”

She ripped off the page and slipped it under the wiper of the offending vehicle. Immediately she felt relief and the stickiness on her hands was gone. The irritation that had bothered her all day had moved on.

She walked back to her car and would’ve left it at that, but then she paused.

She wasn’t sure why the feeling had passed. There was no way of knowing without picking up the note again—but she suspected that whatever was on her note from the morning and was all over her hands was now on that note she’d just left.

If she walked away right now, she’d be free and clear.

But she couldn’t do it. She walk backed and picked up the note and indeed it was sticky to the touch. The owner of the car would certainly get it on them as soon as they held it.

Sure, they seemed like douchebags and deserved the discomfort, but Katherine didn’t feel right. Maybe they were having a bad day. or they were quickly running in to get something from the store for a child or sick family member. Maybe they were buying a birthday gift.

She didn’t know.

She picked up the note and ripped it up. No one needed it. And when she shoved the torn pieces in her pocket, her hands weren’t sticky afterwards. She knew she’d made the right decision.

Writing Notes:

Yes, this was a story from a true event. Yesterday morning, I had a similar note on my window and Katherine's reasons were pretty much my own: I knew they were doing the work, but I wasn't sure what day or when, and was in the shower when they came by.

I'm not a complete fan of the ending, but it did get me thinking about something I've never really thought about which was that I knew I needed an emotional reaction at the end, a response to what had happened as the button at the end of the story. I wonder how often those "final lines" that we seek are really just looking for the appropriate response to sum up the events of the story. This will be something I will keep in mind in the future.

I also wanted to add that each story has been a response to the previous one. Mud Pot was a push to have more action and description after the first one and this one was a response to the struggle I had in right Mud Pot and to not make such a dark story. Maybe tomorrow's will be a response not to be so cheesy and on the nose.

Fast Fiction

David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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