by Sylvia Nica, Age 13, USA
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
The fiction prompt for June was “sidewalks.”
Ham tugged off his coat as he walked across the construction site. Dust flew through the air, the sound of jackhammers pounding his eardrums as he went to check in.
“’Morning,” he said dully to James and heavily scribbled his name into the ledger. His boss frowned, noticing his cloudy expression.
“Let me guess, got into another fight with your sugar?” he asked, and Ham nodded, rubbing his eyes.
“Fourth one this week––this time over a gas bill,” he said. “She says that I’m controlling, and if I’m unhappy, I should move out.”
James grimaced in sympathy and handed him a hard hat. “The guys are going out for a drink at that new bar tonight.” He studied Ham’s face. “Who knows? You might find a new dream girl to love.”
When Ham said nothing, he handed him the address on a slip of paper, clapping him on the back. “Let me know if you reconsider.” Picking up his ledger, he walked away, whistling.
Ham took the shovel and went over to the trench, pouring the concrete into the sidewalk mould. His mind raced. Maybe he should go. He remembered the way his wife’s face had been streaked with tears and the way their angry words had bounced off the wall. He could do with a little enjoyment; he was only human.
But then he remembered the way she smiled, how her eyes would glow, and his heart twanged. Taking the paper, he crumpled it up, tossed it into the sidewalk mould, and poured concrete over it.
When the sun streaked orange, and he’d put away his hat, James stalked over. “Are you coming?”
Ham nodded. “Let’s go,” he said, ignoring the sudden torrent of guilt. They walked into the night, and as they walked, two tears slid down his face and onto the sidewalk.
Sylvia says she is a writer who is looking forward to the creative freedom of summer.