The following is by Lorelle VanFossen and is based upon the Prompt: Hero, Villain, Victim. The image was of a young business woman sitting in the back of a taxi, little or no expression on her face.
The whirl of the city whizzed by the taxi as it turned off the highway toward the airport, slowing down to join the long line of other yellow, black, and orange insects carrying passengers to the first destination in their long trip. The traffic thickened to a crawl as the airport approached. Heat rose off engines and pavement in the last of the summer sun. She took a deep breath and let it slowly hiss through her teeth.
Relax the shoulders, she reminded herself. It’s another job well done. The meeting had gone better than expected. The client capitulated quickly to her proposal, a well-crafted and honed pitch. Another notch added in the belt, a thick leather strap once used for threats of family punishment now scarred and missing chunks. She closed her eyes and ran her fingers across the imaginary leather, feeling each notch, each representation of the things she’d accomplished. She worked hard to avoid the belt growing up, the supreme punishment for stealing, lying, and breaking curfew, lessons well learned and used through school, university, internships, job advancements, and now contracts negotiated with Fortune 500 companies like this. I earned this belt, she acknowledged with a slight smile. The pride of another job well done.
A burst of honking made her jump. Another taxi elbowing its way next to them joining the merge as the four lane road narrowed to two as arrivals slid to the left on the lower deck and departures rose above to the right. She rolled up her window, shutting out the stink of the fumes mingled with the end-of-day-heat asphalt. A glance at her watch, a Portuguese Hand-Wound watch simple and elegant and well-deserved after her $1.3 billion contract negotiated in 2012, assured her that the slow down in traffic would not impede her Portland Airport ritual. She took another deep breath willing herself to let go of the stress as she chartered her course through security to her favorite juice bar to fill up on freshly squeezed apple and carrot smoothie blend, then a saunter to the tiny ice cream shop by gate 16. Her father introduced her to this hidden and tasty cold treasure buried among the throng of passengers coming and going, suitcases clunking along behind them. When they were young, he would pick up handmade chocolates for her and her sister and lick his way through homemade vanilla ice cream in a light waffle cone as he waited for the call for first class. When he took her on those first business trips, they’d arrived early to ensure time for those chocolates and ice cream licks before boarding. She could taste the cold cream and unconsciously wiped her chin.
The movement shifted her purse, spilling pens and passport to the floor of the back seat. With a sigh, she pulled her long legs to the side, pressed against the seat belt, and reached for her belongings.
This saved her from the concussive force of the explosion in the airport arrival area, blasting the glass windshield into the face of her driver, killing him instantly.