11

“Out of the Ordinary” by Jill Crainshaw

Jill Crainshaw loves words—their sound, the rhythms they create when they dance together in a poem or story, the way they capture readers’ imaginations. For many years, Jill has written academic essays, books, and sermons. She is a professor at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Jill’s flash fiction celebrates life’s seasons and seasonings—the common, organic stuff—of everyday life.

Out of the Ordinary

by Jill Crainshaw

She did not expect it. Not in the Food Lion parking lot at sundown. Not while waiting in their 1999 Buick LeSabre for her husband to pick up a half-gallon of fat free milk. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to her. Predictability was her life’s plotline.

But there in the grocery store parking lot, the unexpected appeared right before her bored-bleary eyes. She rubbed them to be sure she wasn’t seeing things. But the sight was no mirage. Two parking spots down from hers was a gargantuan, deep-throated, Harley Davidson motorcycle. Nothing unusual about that. What startled her eyes was the gargantuan, deep-throated passenger sharing a ride on the back of this particular Harley Davidson motorcycle.

The driver emerged from the store.

“He rides with you?” she asked through her car window. She glanced at her own vacant driver’s side and thought about the one who rode with her day in and day out. He had made a distinct impression on the seat next to hers. He almost never made an impression anywhere else.

“Yep,” the motorcycle man said. He never even looked at her. “Everywhere I go.”

He buckled a shiny black helmet onto his head, revved the engine, and drove away, him and a big yellow tomcat in a matching helmet leaning into the curve as they rounded a corner and disappeared. What a sight.

Her husband came out of the store with the milk. He settled himself into his own impression and handed her the plastic grocery sack.

“People annoy me,” he said. She had heard this from several times every day and suspected she annoyed him.

“You’ll never believe what I just saw,” she said. “That Harley that was parked just over there? The biggest tomcat I have ever seen was riding on the back of that Harley. The driver says the cat goes everywhere with him. Can you imagine our Molly cat doing such a thing?”

Her husband started the engine.

“That cat was even wearing a helmet. Can you believe it?”

“Uh huh,” he said. He didn’t look at her. She doubted he was even listening.

He buckled his seatbelt and pulled out of the parking lot.

She glanced over at the man who had surprised her eyes 27 years before and asked her six weeks later to marry him. He had one hand on the steering wheel and the other draped across the back of the car seat. Nothing unusual about that, not one bit, not in 27 years.

She rubbed her eyes again. Then, instead of looking straight ahead in silence like she always did when they drove the usual route home, she shifted in her seat, inching out beyond the borders of the well-worn indentation her years of journeying had made in her front passenger seat.

Out of the blue, a desire stirred inside of her. She rolled down her window.

“What are you doing?” her husband asked. He even looked over at her. A question and a look from him. Another tomcat riding a Harley.

She didn’t answer but instead she smiled and leaned her head out the window, and for the first time since she could remember felt the wonder of the wind.