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It couldn't be put off any
longer. The man in the blue suit dreaded this moment, but there was no
avoiding it. He had waited so long that now he would have to take care
of it in person rather than with the simplicity of sending it in the
As he walked up to the suburban town
hall, he saw he wasn't the only person who had decided to wait until
the last moment. Through the glass doors, he saw a short line of
people. Six were ahead of him awaiting the privilege of handing over
thousands of dollars.
With a resigned sigh, he opened the
door and entered to take his place behind the other cheerless souls.
The sounds of wailing intruding the
usually church-quiet rotunda surprised him.
He quickly pinpointed the source.
A grieving woman in her mid-40's was
sitting on a bench outside the door that led to the police station.
Her tears and her words had everyone
transfixed with either mournful glances in her direction, or
intentional stares away.
"My baby! Why? My life is over," she
cried out to no one in particular.
The woman who had been third on line
somberly stepped to the window. The clerk collecting taxes glanced up
from sneaking a text, and took her paperwork and check.
"So sad," the clerk said quietly, the
only words between them.
When she was finished, the woman who
had been third on line walked over to the grieving woman and offered
her a tissue and some consoling.
"Why?" the grieving woman went on,
oblivious to the arm around her shoulder yet seemingly addressing her
new bench mate. "Such a wonderful boy. He was afraid to go the first
day of school. Wouldn't let go of my leg, but he went. His teacher told
me he shared with the others. 'So kind,' she said."
"I'm so sorry for your loss," the woman
who had been third on line said, as sympathy ordered her tear ducts
A young prosecutor walked by, offering
the proper deference to the situation.
Entering the police station, he asked
softly, "Mother of the victim?"
The officer behind the desk didn't look
up from her crossword puzzle.
"Nope. Mother of the killer.
Nine-letter word for 'unfairly burdened.' Any clue?"
They shared a chuckle when the
prosecutor suggested she try the word "prosecutor."
Then, the prosecutor went to his
meeting and the officer went on with her crossword puzzle. The woman
who was third on line left the wailing woman her pack of tissues and
went back to work. The clerk continued to collect taxes and text, and
the man in the blue suit went out to his car to make some calls for
work as he ate his lunch.
Myles Wren was born
and raised in New York, where he is still living. Encouraged by the
reaction to the 2013 production of his play, It Might Have Been,
he has turned to writing short stories. This is his first publication.
front page image is copyright ©
by Anthony Kitterick, 2012