I thought I saw it.
No. I know I saw it.
The gate moved. The one leading into the garden. It was just on the edge of my vision, but I know it moved. Yet I can’t see anyone there now. They couldn’t have disappeared that fast; the fence isn’t high, and fields stretch in all directions.
I wind my way through the beds of herbs and vegetables, keeping one eye on the fence and the other on my feet so I don’t crush anything but grass. I lean over the gate and find a lanky young man sitting with his back to the fence and his legs sprawled out, crunching a dirty carrot. He looks up at me and grins slowly. ” ‘Ello, darlin’,” he drawls in a mix of accents so ridiculous I don’t even try to disentangle them.
“What are you doing?” I scold, snatching the carrot away, and then, on second thought, handing it back; no one else would want it now. “What if someone catches you?”
“They won’t,” he assures me.
“You know how to watch.”
“Hush.” I turn around but continue to lean against the gate. “You don’t have to steal.”
“You hush,” he says sternly, scrambling to his feet. “How else am I going to eat?”
“You could ask.” I won’t meet his eyes, but I can feel him looking at me. Looking down; he’s gotten taller since we last met.
“I’ve tried that. No one will help.”
“Then get a job.”
He snorts. “No one will hire me. You know that.”
I look at him now. “That’s their loss, then.”
He looks down. “No, it’s mine.”
I sigh. “I’m sorry I scolded. I’ll get you some food to take with you.”
“You can’t do that.”
“Yes I can. Especially if it will keep you from stealing for a while.”
As I walk away, he calls my name. I turn around. “I’m sorry,” he says after a moment, struggling with the words. “I never…” He trails off and shakes his head.
I just barely resist reaching to touch his face; it hurts to see my childhood friend brought to this. “I know,” I say. “You don’t need to tell me.”
I didn’t know what to write about this week, so I picked a writing prompt from a website of a bunch of them. This is what happened. I don’t really know anything more about the story than you do now. But who knows? Maybe something will come of it.