The Fifteen Minute Novel: Day 180

The Fifteen Minute Novel is a novel written fifteen minutes at a time with each week day’s section starting with the sentence from the previous day. At least it is attempting to be a novel. For now I am just aiming at one continuous story, worked on for fifteen minutes each day. Started Friday January 1st, 2021 (in case you want to search for the beginning. I can’t wait to see where it ends up. It could be good, or it could be a mess. We’ll have to see. For now, here is today’s fifteen minutes.

Day 180: Instead of driving home, James altered his course.

Instead of driving home, James altered his course. He drove across town and parked in the parking lot of what was rapidly becoming his go-to shopping center.  It was late in the season to be looking for swim wear but he had his fingers crossed as he headed into what he thought might be the appropriate area. 

A few wrong turns and a couple of questions to a staff member later and he found himself faced with a small rack of leftover swimwear.  James selected a couple of pairs that fit him and weren’t too outrageously patterned and added them to his cart.  James, in general preferred solid colors.  He wasn’t certain why all swim trunks needed to look as though the tropics attacked them.

‘Or as though I need to use them to signal passing space craft,’ He thought stepping away from a pair splashed with neon pink and yellow.  To his delight there was a rack of goggles above the row of swimwear. The selection was not stellar. As chlorine always irritated his eyes, he picked the best of the lot and decided to order a better pair at a later point.  He knew from experience that while these would be good for now the bands were of a lower quality he doubted would last long.  These sets were designed to last someone for a summer’s worth of use.  He suspected that either the band would lose elasticity or the seals around the eyes would let him down before a few months past.  These were the kinds of goggles he always thought were designed for kids to lose between summer vacations.  They wouldn’t last the winter in storage.

‘But they are good for now,’ he thought.  James headed back towards the counter.  ‘Besides it isn’t like I am going to be trying out for the Olympic swim team or anything.’

James thought of his body now as compared to the last time he wore swim trunks.  ‘At this point I just hope not to terrify small children.’  James had a flashed image of his expanded white belly flashing in the overhead lights. It wasn’t a pretty mental image. ‘Hopefully there will be no small children when I go,’ he told himself.  He thought of the neon swim trunks and figured his pale skin could do much the same job. ‘Or passing space craft,’ He added.

James went to the register, paid for his things and left the store.  As he moved back to his car, James scanned the parking lot.  There was no sign of Tucker.  There was no sign of attackers of any sort.  There were a few people, still dressed for the office clearly stopping in to pick up some forgotten and urgently needed item, but no one appeared to have a gun.

James got into the Studebaker and drove back to the house.  He half expected Tucker to be waiting.  He wasn’t.  As James parked, locked his car and went into the house, he felt himself relaxing.  As he locked the door, he realized that he was half expecting to be yelled at simply for deviating from the work to home schedule previously adopted. 

He frowned at himself.  He wasn’t a child, but because of the situation he grew accustomed to listening to others tell him what to do with his time.  When to go out and when to stay in.  It rankled slightly, but James knew for the most part it was inevitable.  When people waved guns around, you simply did what the people stopping others from shooting you said to do. 

‘But hopefully all the guns are gone and no one needs to protect me.’ James thought.  ‘And no one really remembers that I used to swim. Not anymore.’

The thought settled his slight feelings of guilt faded.  James went to the kitchen to see if there was anything he could pull together for dinner without too much effort.

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