For Round 7 of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction that have a character come to town and someone leave town.
Emma's frustration couldn't get her across the river fast enough. She blasted the radio to hear over the din of traffic. Her voice was silenced when a truck ahead smashed a compact into a van a few cars ahead. She felt like that little car until she joined the cluster of red lights, breaking her connection to Springsteen's Born to Run. Gridlock was completed with another truck jackknifing across all three lanes heading into town. She shuddered at the sound of screeching brakes and metal crunching. Five years of crossing the bridge trained her to shut off the engine while leaving the radio on.
Four feet from Emma was a black Accord stopped on its way into town. Mark kept his windows shut and jabbed at cell buttons to get a news report. He didn't like his welcome to Wilmington. He had made good time from Raleigh and looked forward to a long lunch. He had been excited about his new teaching position. His short board was on the roof, with his bike in pieces in the back seat with a couple bags. Mark heard helicopters overhead and sirens, but couldn't find a local radio station. He saw an open window next to him and rolled down his.
"Hey, what's going on?"
Emma turned off her radio and said, "Welcome to Wilmington."
"What's going on?," he repeated now that he had her attention. He was intrigued by the music and the voice.
"You lucked out with the Daily Double. Truck accidents in both directions, we could be here for hours; hope you aren't in a hurry." He couldn't see behind her sunglasses. "Listen, here's another update." She turned up the radio for him.
". . . Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is locked tight this morning. We have two truck accidents backing-up all lanes. Police report delays of at least four hours. You can avoid traffic by taking the Isabel Holmes Bridge for the remainder of the afternoon."
"Are you kidding me!?" Mark didn't mean to yell, but he had never heard of an accident taking that long to clear.
"You aren't from around here, are you?"
"I was hoping to move here, but this sucks."
"You get used to it." She opened her door, grabbed a water bottle with her keys, and stepped out of her car. She had flats on but her legs went on forever under a fiery sundress. Her bare arms were muscled and freckled. She had a big floppy hat with a sunflower over her long curly black hair. She reached in the back seat for a towel and a book to stretch out on the trunk. She opened her book.
"Why aren't you working?," he asked before she could find her place.
"School system let me go after five years. I'm headed to a new job at a charter school in Myrtle Beach." She turned to face him. He felt a lump in his throat.
"Where did you teach?"
"I taught science and math at Jesse Helms Middle School." She sighed, "The principal and I had philosophical differences."
"What exactly does that mean?"
"It means you don't belong in my gated community."
"Ouch." Mark wasn't sure what to say. "You aren't talking about Mr. George are you?"
"Why do you ask?" She put her book down.
He looked down, "I guess I'm your replacement."
"Good luck." She looked for her place, then looked up. "You shoot hoops?"
"Stay with the team, keep up with parents that fund the PTA, arrive early, stay late, and you'll be fine."