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Fantasy Speculative

The Secret of the Andante Hand

It had been one hell of a night at the department store of Teri Davenport, a woman of about 40ish who is oftentimes mistaken for someone much younger.

That night, three of her employees called out leaving her to manage the store pretty much by herself.  The big bosses would deal with the absenteeism of course, but it usually came too late to be of any use.  She usually had to pick up the slack.  

"Sell, sell, sell!",.she muttered as she set about the process of closing the store for the night.  "Yeah, sure!  All by myself with no help in this place, I am supposed to sell, sell sell!  They can't keep employees here so how do they expect to sell anything?"

She sighed as she rushed through the nightly routine which she had done hundreds of times yet she always felt that she was forgetting something in the process.   

She stopped a moment to catch her breath and looked to her right and found a man standing nearby the counter and it was closing time.  

She walked towards him cautiously, hoping that mall security was nearby making a mental note of his appearance.  He had long, wavy grey hair and was wearing a ruffles shirt and a red velvet smoking jacket.

"Excuse me, sir?  The store is closing now as is the mall. "

At first, the man didn't respond but kept looking at the jewelry display case.  Teri had already turned the light off for the displays but he kept looking anyway.  

"Presentation.  Not bad.."

",Ummmmm, yeah. Look, as I said, we're closed now.  I can call security."

He still didn't look up to her but stood there admiring the display case. He then looked up.

"How would you like to change your life?"

Teri frowned at the man not sure whether to be annoyed or afraid. "Ah con man.  Just great!", she thought to herself.  She turned around to touch a button for the alarm but just as she did so, he disappeared.

Teri frowned again.  "I guess working for hours on end must've made me doze off.  Fortunately, the bus will take me home soon and I can get some rest then."

She managed to finish all the closing duties and finished for the night and left just in time to catch the last bus.  She rushed on the bus,. scanned her card and found an empty plastic seat and sat down, resting her head on the window listening to the pattering sound of the rain.  She watched a single droplet make a sliding pattern down the window almost forming a letter.

"Fascinating, isn't it?"

Teri bolted upright to face the speaker l on her left...but found nothing... except a small business card on the other seat.  Teri didn't notice it before but she was so tired, she probably wouldn't have noticed it anyway.

She shook her head thinking that she had probably fallen asleep and dreamt the voice and let her head rest on the window and let the effect of exhaustion take hold.  

Dreams came and went. Images of sunrises over fields in a remote places filled her mind as well as sunsets on the beach.  

"Feels good doesn't it?"

"I'm dreaming again.." she said to herself as she felt the tiny grains of sand between her toes and hearing the seagulls in the distance.  She turned around and he was there, that same man from the store, walking with her on beach, still wearing those foppish clothes.

"What are you?  You're in my dreams!"

A small breeze drifted between them as he smiled.

"Well,".. he began with a small sigh as if he was desperately trying NOT to say something.   "I didn't come into your dreams...you sort of fell into mine." He put his hands in his pockets took out a fob watch and walked past her to a set of wooden steps that led up to a deck.

Then hiss of the brakes and sudden motion of the bus woke Teri from her dreams.  Her bus has just arrived at her apartment complex and other people were exiting. “If it wasn't for these others, I would have been riding this bus all night.” she thought for a moment.

She sighed and started climbing the outside staircase to the third floor to get her apartment, every step a chore in and of itself.

“Almost there”, a voice said.

“Not again”, she said to her imagination.  “It's just a few more steps to my door, then I can just crash.”

Teri closed her eyes again and she found herself on the beach again next to the steps that led to a deck.  She went up the wooden steps, wondering if she had made inside her apartment. When she saw the man again, he was sitting at a small desk, writing in some kind of journal.  She was about to ask more questions but she found herself mesmerized by his writing.  He was using a quill and ink and every stroke he made was as perfect as a sculpture by DaVinci or Rodan.

"Ummm, you said,  I fell into your dream?"

Without looking up, he replied.  "Yes it happens sometimes.  People do need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a world that seems to be racing forward in the name of fortune.  Most of them take a vacation day or a week or more. Those that fall here are different. "

"What does it mean?", she asked him.

"Have a seat next to me."

She found herself sitting at another small writing desk" right next to his.  A table of lined paper appeared in front of her along with a quill and ink bottle. 

"People such as yourself," he stated.  "Are students.  Students learning the secrets of The Andante Hand."

"I don't understand."

"Let me put it this way. You may have heard a few reports that the teaching of cursive has " fallen by the wayside" yes?"

"Yeah with the Internet, A.I.,  yeah."..

"Correct..Yet there are studies that suggest that handwriting increases neuroplasticity, which increases the ability to solve problems The Andante Hand does so much more.  It can alter the perception and can sometimes affect reality This 'dream' for instance is a construct of both time and space.". 

"What? I thought it was just a dream.”

He took a breath.  "Well, what is a dream?  We live in between the smallest of moments.  Right now, while we are here in this place,  back in the 'real world', your head had just slumped to the window.  The bus hasn't even started moving yet.”

Teri had the urge to move but for some reason, she couldn't and didn't want to move from the desk. She took the quill, dipped it in ink and began to write.

“This is crazy”, shaking her head.

“It's a lot to take in, I know.  Part of you wants to get up and go back.  You can do that of course, there's nothing to stop you.  You're not a prisoner.  But consider this.  We “scribes” see things that most people don't see or don't notice and our job is to make sure that the moment is recorded.  As a side benefit, our lives are so much fuller.”

Teri turned back to the paper.   On the page, she found that she had written an answer to her own question.

Back in the bus, the driver had stopped at Teri’s apartment complex and looked in the mirror and found no one on the bus.  He wore a puzzled frown for a moment, shrugged his shoulders and drove onward to the next stop.

June 06, 2024 12:43

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10 comments

Joseph Ellis
05:45 Jun 14, 2024

You've penned an intriguing story with nice pacing Patrick. Would that we could all live a little more andante.

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Patrick H
13:37 Jun 14, 2024

Agreed, Sir! Thank you for the read!

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John McPhee
20:07 Jun 10, 2024

Very interesting story Patrick. It kept me wondering where this journey was headed and I can honestly say, I didn't see 'the writing on the wall' with this one. Well done!

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Patrick H
13:30 Jun 11, 2024

Lol! Thank you for the read!

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07:41 Jun 10, 2024

Sounds like it would be a nice and peaceful change of place! Can't say I wouldnt consider it! :) Nice story Patrick!

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Patrick H
18:13 Jun 10, 2024

Thank you for reading! Glad you enjoyed it!

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Darvico Ulmeli
09:35 Jun 08, 2024

Like it.

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Patrick H
13:15 Jun 08, 2024

Thanks, Darvico!

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Trudy Jas
04:02 Jun 07, 2024

Cool, but now I have to read it against n to find out what the ? Was 😊

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Patrick H
14:17 Jun 07, 2024

Sorry,.the question was asked in the beginning. "Do you want to change your life?" The answer is sort of "implied"

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