This piece comes from the [Fiction] Friday prompt, “Include this theme in your story… After a long night, a hunter sees something he/she cannot believe.” – which in hindsight, I may or may not done properly but it was also inspired by the city today.
With notebook in hand, on table, or resting on her knee, her body reacted to the happenings of the city. Her eyes darted to the nearest movement; a man crossing a road, a child’s nagging hands outside a shop window. Her ears twigged to the voices floating in the air around her; mocking the boss on lunch or a declaration of love on a tram.
In the afternoon, she had sat in the corner of a cafe, trying to hide away as she transcribed overheard conversations. She would twist her mouth in such a way as to convince those around her that she was lost in anguish, perhaps studying, writing a tiresome essay, not in ecstasy at filtering the world around her.
She was a story hunter. Her pen was like a harpoon as she stalked around her forest of the city. People moved around their everyday lives unaware they were being watched, even as it crossed into night, and the people changed. The shoppers and the lunchers and the workers drifted away.
Some of the workers stayed, changing out of their masks they hid behind all day to revel with the students and diners and drinkers. She had to squint a little at her notebook under lights lit just for decoration. Her ears twitched and panicked as conversations merged into each other like the groan of highway traffic.
When she looked up in the packed bar, she thought she was facing a mirror. Listening eyes peered over a notebook clutched close to the chest. Another story hunter. They lowered their notebook to reveal a mischievous grin in amongst the stubble.
She wanted to shrink into herself when she saw he was making his way across to her. His eyes were as wide as hers but she didn’t want him to know her story.
“This is a big city,” he said, “I’m sure there’s enough stories in this place for both of us. I can go somewhere else if you like.”
She straightened herself and nodded. “I think that would be a good idea.”
She waited for him to leave, and just as he stepped up and turned away, she called him back. “Hey, what kind of character am I in there?” She pointed to his notebook, perhaps a little more worn out than hers.
“The main one, of course.” His smile was sweet. Her reply was a smile that said nothing, that ended the conversation. He turned away again.
She didn’t know whether to be charmed
- or just fucking creeped out.
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