Copyright © 2022 by Leaia Faega All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover Design: M. Thorne
The evening air was filled with perfume. The aroma of lavender and jasmine clung to the ether as she strolled home. She has been living in her tiny house down the street from the Santa Monica Pier for the last five years. That’s all she could afford since she left him. Leigh Anne craved adventure. She wanted to feel the wind in her hair, the salt of the sea on her body, and the gritty sand beneath her feet. California was her last chance to find what she had been craving her whole life. She is thirty-five-years-old. Once divorced, three miscarriages, and no one to love ever since her first failed attempt at a happily ever after with her high school sweetheart - Ethan Klein. She couldn’t blame him for filing for a legal separation, ultimately ending in the dissolution of their ten-year marriage.
Her hypothyroidism made her infertile, irritable, and constantly putting on weight. Of course, Ethan didn’t find her attractive anymore. She didn’t blame him for having the affair that resulted in another woman pregnant with his child. So, she did what any other respectful woman did, she signed the papers and left quietly – traveling across country, her tiny house being towed from behind her big blue Ford F-150, aptly named – Big Blue.
Listening to her string of Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, and Heart she began to feel better about her situation. Sure, the saline still stung her eyes, her nose was a constant shade of red and swollen, but at least she only felt despair in the evening – while the aroma of lavender could be detected in the air.
Stranger on the Pier
When Leigh Anne wasn’t working her three jobs – hotel room cleaner by day, waitress/bartender by night (bi-weekly), and street musician when she didn’t bartend or wait tables at Dusty’s, she walked. She loved it especially in the summer. She loved the sea air, the lights from the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, and the smells from the food trucks. But she was partial to a certain unmistakable aroma of lavender that began to tickle her nostrils at the top of her block.
There are houses on either side of the narrow street – where only one side had a sidewalk. After two stop signs, on the right was her RV park where she rented her spot for her tiny house.
Against her better judgement after her final set of performing on her guitar, she decided to grab a corndog and can of ginger ale from her favorite carnival food truck and eat it on the pier. The sound of the waves crashing calmed her anxiety and aching feet.
She found an empty bench that faced toward the bright lights of the Ferris wheel, and she smiled as the smell of beach mixed with the crispy bubbles of her ginger ale.
Sitting alone she feels the kind of solitude she strives to hold on to. She relishes the taste of her snack; she giggles to the far-off sound of laughing children. In her mind she joins in on their joy. Unbeknownst to her, someone slides onto the bench besides her. She’s too carried away in her own playful dreams to notice the stranger on the pier.
“Slow night?” His voice brings her back to reality. Its thick with grit – sounds like a heavy smoker. But, velvety smooth like buttercream.
“E-excuse me?” Leigh Anne croaks out.
“Oh, shit. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were chewing.” I begin to pat her on the back. In hopes it would clear the decent sized piece of corn dog she had sliding down her throat – mid swallow when he got her attention.
Leigh Anne shimmies away from his hand and looks at him – wide eyed.
“Don’t you know you’re not supposed to pat a choking person on their back like that.” She begins to retreat down the pier as she feels a looming presence following her from behind.
But before she knows it, the stranger on the pier reaches his hand out to her, nearly touching her shoulder. But before he can make contact, call it reflex, call it instinct – her arm moves in a backward thrust motion and collides with what she assumes is his ribcage.
She hears a gasp and cough. Spinning around she breaks out in hysterics as the 6’3” burly, blonde curly haired stranger is keeled over, grasping onto his abdomen. In his free hand she notices him latched onto a black guitar case. With surprise, she finally realizes the stranger on the pier was merely trying to return her guitar case to its owner.
Author Note: This is unedited and, in its infant stage. So, please bear with me as I work on getting back into the creative headspace.