The Spine

The cool air hovering through the raindrops kissed her cheeks. She didn’t mind the effort of her fingers holding up the umbrella. She was even grateful to the rain for letting the mist and the darkness shroud her in anonymity while matching the weather conditions of her inner world. She had her book in her purse, her umbrella, and a renewed sense of purpose; to find a good cup of coffee.

The rain felt cleansing to her soul. The patter of each drop splashing on concrete, on glass, on the plastic lids of trash cans, on the metallic surfaces of bike posts and street lamps silenced any immediate concern for her rent, her overdue light bill, the cd’s that would not sell, the guitar strings she needed to pick up, or the soul-crushing mindlessness of her day job looming ahead tomorrow. All of it washed away by the white noise of the rain and the knowledge of the warm elixir of life waiting ahead of her.

She stopped.

A poster hung in the lower left corner of a bookstore window caught her eye. On it stood a vibrant young woman of fire posing not with a sword, but with a guitar. The intense stare of her turquoise eyes, the taut lines of her cheeks, her mouth closed neither smiling nor grimacing all suggesting the look not of a musician, but of a soldier preparing for war. She followed the wisps of flames of red hair down to the text reading, “Ana McDermont plays Albeniz. Tickets on sale now.” Even after reading the text, it took the woman a moment to realize that the stranger on the poster was actually herself.


He dashed out of the apartment building with only his laptop shoulder bag for protection against the rain. He squinted his eyes behind his glasses struggling to make sense of the chaos. He knew exactly where he needed to go. A small coffee shop two buildings down from the bookstore where he worked beckoned him. He had passed by it so many so many times during walks on his breaks, yet he had never gone in. He wanted to laugh at the notion that he had to do this right now. Was it something about the rain, the music he heard earlier or was it the desire to run away from the knowledge of what happened with his first book.

He dashed onward not noticing or caring about the raindrops splattering against the wiry wisps of dirty blonde curls atop his head. His breath fogged the already diminished clarity of his glasses. His chest heaved its efforts to carry him forward as he forced his body to run for the first time in years.

A sharp attack to his right ear bolted out from the horns of impatient cars. He snapped his neck in the direction of the sound.

Not looking ahead, he failed to notice the woman with the umbrella in time.

Adam Buker is a freelance author living in Springfield, MO. When he’s not writing he’s usually cooking, playing with his kids, making music, taking photos, or otherwise pondering the mysteries of life.


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