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Adventure Friendship Fiction

Sparrow had just landed in a new city after an exhausting long flight which left her disoriented and very jet lagged. Despite her exhaustion which weighed heavily on her eyelids, sleep remained elusive. The unfamiliar time zone had her internal clock upside down, leaving her wide awake in the dead of the night. 

Fueled by a mix of restlessness and her desire to make the most of her time in the city foreign to her, Sparrow decided to embrace the city’s nocturnal charm. The city breathed differently after midnight. Sparrow’s appetite for exploration was at an all time high. The streets were eerily quiet, bathed in the soft glow of the street lights and the rare neon sign.  The usual hustle and bustle of people coming and going to their destinations in the day time had given way to a nighttime stillness. 

As Sparrow wandered through the city’s narrow alleys and dirty and dusty sidewalks, passing the unhoused people sleeping in makeshift tents and on bus stop benches, the city’s true personality  was revealed under the moonlight. Shadows played tricks on her fatigued mind, making the buildings surrounding her  seem more mysterious  and more enchanting.  The distant hum of the occasional passing cars in the distance became the soundtrack to her night time adventure. The city’s landmarks, which earlier had been  mere descriptions and pictures on her phone, now stood illuminated and captivating. Sparrow looked at the historic buildings and found some solace in the quiet corners of its structure. The rhythmic clicking of her footsteps echoed in the emptiness of the building’s floors and strangely felt like a comforting companion. 

Sparrow discovered quaint empty cafes and stores and even some night owls who knew the stories of the city. 

“Hey lady, can you spare some change?” A woman’s voice echoed from behind Sparrow.

Sparrow turned around slowly and looked at the woman standing a few feet behind her. The woman was standing in the cold wrapped in an old worn brown tattered coat that seemed to have weathered the passage of time as much as she had. The once vibrant fabric now hung loosely from her frail body, patches of the thread material revealed  glimpses of the struggles she had endured. The faded coat bore the stains of countless rain showers and storms and dirty streets. Her black hair spilled out from beneath a worn out blue beanie hat, the color of the sky on a cloudless day.  The lines etched on her face told stories of hardship and old age.  Her features which once were flawless now bore lines like a road map to all of her life’s challenges. Despite all that she must have been through was a quiet dignity in her light brown eyes that hinted at a spirit unwilling to totally surrender to the harshness of life on the streets. 

Sparrow searched in the pockets of her blue jeans and she pulled out five crisp dollar bills and extended the bills to the woman who was now standing directly in front of her. 

“Thank you, Miss. I really appreciate it.” The woman said as she folded the money in half and held it in her hands. 

“May I ask your name?” Sparrow asked the woman.

“Why do you want to know my name? Nobody has ever asked me my name since I have been on these streets except for the cops and those irritating volunteer type people who want to pass out flyers for shelters that once you get to them there are no more beds. So, are you a cop or one of those volunteers?” The woman asked.

“I’m neither one. My name is Sparrow Monroe. I am just here visiting my cousin. She just moved here six months ago from California. I am only going to be here for about a week. I was just curious to know your name. You kind of remind me of my aunt, Helena. She passed away a few years ago. She was my favorite aunt.” Sparrow said. “But, I understand if you don’t want to tell me. After all, I am a stranger.” Sparrow continued. 

“No, it’s okay. My name is Anna May but my friends call me Annie. Can I ask you about your bird name? It’s unique and I never met a person called Sparrow before. How did you get that name? I suppose your mama named you?” Annie said.

“Yeah, I guess my mama wanted to continue the bird name tradition.” Sparrow laughed. “Her name is Robin.” Sparrow continued.

“Hey, Sparrow, what do you do? I mean what kind of job do you have? You look like you could work in retail or something?” Annie asked.

“Actually, I own a small bakery. I used to work as a stock broker. But, after ten years I quit to pursue my passion of baking. I used to bake all the time when I was a kid and I even had a home based cookie business I ran for years out of my house. So, I knew it was time to open up my own brick and mortar, as they say, bakery. It’s small but it’s mine. It’s called Sweet Bits by Carol. I named it after my big sister.” Sparrow said.

“You mean that your sister doesn’t have a bird name?” Annie chuckled.

Sparrow laughed a big belly laugh. 

“Nope. Carol is ten years older than me so I guess our mom hadn’t thought of a bird name for her. May I ask what you used to do?” Sparrow asked.

“I worked in a hotel for fifteen years. I worked in the kitchen as a cook. I started there when I was in my late 30’s and had just divorced my second husband. We were married for almost ten months before he started cheating, or at least I caught him cheating. So, I kicked him out of the house and found a job in the hotel. As a matter of fact, the hotel is just a few blocks from here. They started cutting back on employees and I was one of the first ones to go despite me being there as long as I was. And  after I got laid off it was not long before employment ran out, nobody wanted to hire an older person, and my savings dwindled down to nothing and of course when you are down and out nobody wants to help me in what family I had left. Funny when you are doing good they can’t get enough of you but let you be down and they want nothing to do with you. So, here I am. But, I am not going to stay down.” Annie said.  “I have a job interview tomorrow and I plan on getting that job.” Annie continued. 

Annie tucked the dollar bills into her coat pocket and smiled. 

“Well, Sparrow, it was nice talking to you. I have to go now and get some sleep. I need to look good for my interview.” Annie said.

“Do you need anything? I mean I can give you some interview clothes if you need them. My hotel is right down the street. Do you need any food or anything?” Sparrow asked.

“Thank you for offering, Sparrow. But, I am good. I got my clothes at a friend’s house and I can get ready there tomorrow. I couldn’t stay there tonight because she had her boyfriend spend the night and it is only one bedroom and I didn’t want to be there anyway.” Annie said.

“I’m sorry that you had to sleep on the streets. Are you sure that you don’t need anything? I can put you up in a hotel room for the night.” Sparrow said.

“I will be okay. The sun is getting ready to rise soon and after that I will go back to my friend’s house and get my clothes. All I need for you to do is pray for me. Thank you for your help.” Annie said.

Sparrow took out a pen from her coat pocket and a receipt she had from her coffee order earlier. She wrote down her phone number and pushed the paper in Annie’s hand. She smiled and gave her a short hug and the women parted ways. 

A few weeks later. Sparrow’s phone rang. 

“Hey, bird woman.” The voice said from the other end of the phone.

Sparrow smiled. 

“Hey Annie, how are you doing?” Sparrow asked.

“Great. I got the job and now I am the kitchen manager at Hotel Ritzzy.” Annie said.

“That’s wonderful news!” Sparrow shouted.

“The reason I am calling is to invite you to a party. I’m cooking catfish. Hope you like catfish.” Annie said.

“Love it! Sparrow said. 

“Good. I will text you my new address and when you come over I will hook you up. See you soon.” Annie said.

That night the decision to explore the city proved to be exciting and inviting. The lack of crowds allowed Sparrow to make a new life long friend.

November 14, 2023 18:23

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