The Girl Who was Supposed to be Somewhere Else…

A short story by Fleur Helsingor

The alarm clock shrilled her awake. She had been dreaming again, but it was no use to try and savor another minute of the pleasant images from her dream. It was time to get up and start her day.

It was a chilly morning, so she decided to wear her warmest sweater. After a quick breakfast of coffee and toast, she put on her hooded jacket and left her apartment.

She started walking north. On the sidewalk in front of her building, a group of hospital workers were heading south so she stepped back into the driveway to let them pass.

At the corner, she crossed very carefully. A van blocked the crosswalk in front of her, so she walked behind the vehicle, squeezing in front of the sedan that was trying to turn right.

At the sound of a bicycle bell, she stepped into a nearby doorway and almost collided with a woman carrying a cup of hot coffee. A man on a bicycle zipped by, roaring by on the sidewalk instead of riding in the street.

When she reached Broadway, a group of schoolchildren were shoving each other and laughing loudly. As she passed them, a tall boy whirled around and shouted a greeting to another boy right into her ear, making it ring. She had to step into the street to avoid walking into him.

Both sidewalks were blocked near the office building where she worked. She decided to take her chances with the sidewalk where the vehicle wasn't moving. It was a parked truck, so it was easier to get past it than the earth mover at the construction site on the other side of the road.

The day at work was dull. She was an office clerk, and no one at all spoke to her during the day. At five o'clock, she put her computer to sleep, stacked the printouts in a neat pile, and shoved her chair under the desk in her small cubicle. Since the hallway was so narrow, she piled her things so that nothing would get knocked to the floor when the cleaning crew came by during the night.

Her back was bothering her, so she decided to take the tram home rather than walk. As she walked down the hill toward the station, she got stuck behind a group of tourists with cameras and no one would let her by. The stairway down to the station was crowded, and the train was pulling away as she arrived at the platform. Ten minutes later, another train arrived and she managed to squeeze aboard and find a seat in the back of the car.

After an evening spent puzzling over the ending to a science fiction story that she planned to submit a little magazine, she went to bed early. As she was falling asleep, a motorcycle sputtered past her building.

She got out of bed, and checked to make sure that the window was shut tight. When she returned to her bed, she pulled the comforter over her head. As she closed her eyes, she savored the darkness that settled over her.

Neemuh finished her breakfast of strawberries, peaches, honey yogurt, and warm cinnamon tea. It was a sunny morning, so she put on her embroidered cotton smock, her favorite white shorts, and a pair of sandals.

She headed up the path toward the artisans' tents, leaving the sleeping huts behind. She looked up at the clear violet sky. What a beautiful day it was, with a gentle breeze rustling the silvery leaves of the trees along the path. A turquoise bird chirped a sweet song as she walked by.

The other artisans greeted her. She smiled back, and they chatted as they walked. Tay-oh had been to the dance festival the night before, so Neemuh decided to see the show after work.

When she arrived at her workspace, she fluffed up the cushions on her big chair. Neemuh's gleaming table was spacious, with plenty of room to spread out her fine fabrics. There was also a handcrafted enameled cabinet to store her yarn, thread, and supplies.

Neemuh settled into her chair. She had been injured in a playground accident as a child, so her back was bothering her again. She tucked an extra pillow in the chair and picked up the embroidery project that she had begun earlier in the week. It was a design that she had created herself, and the client was already pleased with the way it was turning out.

The alarm clock shrilled her awake. She had been dreaming again, but it was no use to try and savor another minute of the pleasant images from her dream. It was time to get up and start her day.

As she got out of bed, an ambulance turned on its siren and roared past her apartment building. "What a way to start the day," she thought, as she walked down the hall to her kitchenette. There was nothing special to look forward to, just another day at the office.

After breakfast, she left her apartment and began the walk north. As she arrived at the corner, the crosswalk was blocked by a jeep and there was a long line of cars waiting for the intersection to clear up. The driver caught her eye and waved her forward, so she stepped out into the street to walk in front of the van.

A blast from a horn sounded right behind her, and it was followed by squealing brakes.

"Brake first, then honk, idiot!" she thought, as she scrambled out of the way. "Hey, that gives me an idea! Now I know how to end my story…."

Genre: a dark science fiction story about a stranger, a visitor from somewhere else. Where do you think science fiction writers get their ideas?