Short Story Exercise: Melanie and Mitch

(wrote a short story using these Rory’s Story Cubes)

Melanie felt the cruel jerk on her shoulder and before she knew what was happening the strap of her purse was yanked down her arm. Quickly she bent her elbow and grabbed for the bag with her other hand.

“Help!” Melanie yelled.

The purse snatcher was strong. He tugged at the bag again, wrenching Melanie’s shoulder and forcing her elbow to straighten. She kicked at the man and continued crying out for help. But it was too late. With a kick to her hip the man knocked Melanie off her feet and into the fountain, then disappeared with her purse into the uncaring crowd.

She sat up in the water, gasping for air. Every part of her body sang out in pain. Using the sleeve of her wool sweater Melanie wiped at her face. The chlorine stung her eyes and there was water in her right ear. Carefully she made her way to the edge where an elderly gentleman with kind eyes offered her his cane.

“Thank you,” she said, putting one hand on the cane while the other gripped the tiled edge. She couldn’t refuse the man, but if she actually pulled on his cane he was sure to topple into the water with her, frail as he looked.

“I’m sorry, miss,” he said.

“It wasn’t your fault.” She stepped out of the fountain, water cascading from her. “Thanks for your help.” Melanie gingerly sat on a nearby bench. She managed to smile at the man and began squeezing out her hair. He tapped his cap and walked away, leaning heavily on his cane. Once his back was turned Melanie checked herself for injuries. Her forehead and hands were scraped, and her knees were badly bruised but they didn’t appear to be bleeding. Not yet anyway. Melanie stood carefully, did her best to straighten her soggy clothes, then she hobbled towards the nearest building in search of a restroom and a free telephone.

The building turned out to be a hotel, and the front desk clerk was quick to point Melanie towards the lobby bathroom. Moments later the clerk delivered a first aid kit and some towels. She must think I’m a guest, Melanie thought to herself, grateful for small favors. Looking in the mirror she cleaned her wounds and silently mourned her torn sweater, and her missing purse with its cellphone and credit cards, of course.

The clerk was more than happy to let Melanie place a phone call from the front desk. She was on hold with the police department when a handsome man entered the lobby, her purse in his hands. Before she could speak the man spotted her and, smiling wide, moved in her direction.

“There you are!” he said. “You know I looked everywhere for you. Oh, that’s quite a gash on your forehead.” He set her purse on the counter and peered at her injury. “We need to clean that.”

“I already did,” Melanie said, her mind swimming with relief at seeing her purse, and embarrassment at looking like a wet rat in this man’s presence.

“Glad to hear it.” He cocked his head to the side. “Are you okay? Is that a stupid question?”

Melanie hung up the phone. “Stupid question,” she whispered.

“Everything should be there. Please check it, though. You’ll be happy to know the bastard who did this to you is in custody.” He smiled proudly. “I managed to drag his ass to one of the constables on a horse. We took your name from your driver’s license. He said they’ll call you later for a statement. It’s Melanie right?” He extended his hand.

She put her shaking hand in his and he squeezed it gently.

“My name is Mitch.”

“Thank you.”

“Melanie, would you let me buy you a slice? You look like you could use some food.”

With a flush of pleasure she nodded and collected her bag. A quick glance inside proved that her wallet, her phone, her various feminine products and her baggie filled with almonds, all were accounted for. Replacing the bag on her shoulder Melanie hooked her arm through Mitch’s without a second thought. They were halfway to the pizza place before she realized what she’d done. She looked up at his face. He had a strong profile and faint laugh lines around his eyes. Feeling her gaze he turned towards her and winked.

Half Moon Pie was bustling. Melanie ordered a slice of pepperoni and Mitch ordered a mushroom slice and two beers. He picked up the check and ushered her outside to a small table. They ate in silence, sharing the occasional smile. When she finished eating, Mitch asked, “Can I call you sometime?”

Melanie happily gave him her phone number and thanked him again for his help. They said their good-byes, Mitch promised that she’d hear from him again soon, and then Melanie headed home. She barely noticed the dampness of her clothes and was no longer concerned about her messy hair. Getting her purse snatched had been an awful experience, but at least the afternoon had turned out pretty good.

That is, until she returned to her apartment and found that her keys were no longer in her bag.

Rory Melanie and Mitch POSTED