Laura stepped off the bus and headed towards home. If you could call it that. An illegally converted garage wasn’t much of a home. She shared the single bathroom with three others and had to keep her food in a cooler so it wouldn’t be stolen from the community kitchen. It was all she could afford but was far better than the house she used to live in with her alcoholic husband.
“The life in front of you is greater than the life behind you.”
She stopped dead in her tracks, reading the words written in chalk on the sidewalk under her feet. Glancing around, she didn’t see anyone except a mail carrier, who she doubted had taken the time to scrawl the words.
“Hmmm. I’m sure this wasn’t here when I went to work this morning. Odd, but lovely.” She continued on with a new bounce in her step.
Two days later Laura was walking to meet a friend for coffee and came across another sidewalk message:
“There is a place inside yourself where nothing is impossible. Seek that.”
Another “hmmm” moment. Laura was going to ask for help with her resume so she could apply for a better paying job. This gave her hope.
Over the course of the next few weeks, these messages appeared all over town yet no one knew the identify of the secret writer. People snapped pics and posted on social media and a news station picked up the story.
“Give more love today than you did yesterday. It matters.”
“You make such a difference in this world! Keep doing that!”
“I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”
Laura loved looking for these messages, always feeling inspired when she came upon one. They seemed written just for her and appeared when she needed a little boost of confidence. And she needed all the confidence she could get. She was interviewing for a position with the school district. It would mean she could ride her bike to work, have better benefits and best of all, it was a big jump in pay. She would be able to afford her own place. She had the experience and the skills but didn’t feel worthy of such a great job.
And then she saw the chalk writing:
“The only person who needs to give you a second chance is you.”
Coincidence? Most likely. But she took it to heart and gave the interview her all. And nailed it.
Her first day at the new job was also the first day of school. At the entrance to the elementary school was written:
“You’re going to have the best year. Plus, you get new crayons.”
Laura knew it was meant for the children and she smiled, thinking about the contents of her own backpack.
The kids might be getting new crayons, but she had a fresh pack of chalk and was ready to pay forward the kindness that changed her life.
Although this is a fictional story, every quote is an actual sidewalk chalk message mysteriously drawn in Alameda, California. Dozens have been spotted around town in the past few months, many near the local schools just as kids were starting a new year. The chalk artist wants to remain anonymous and her alias to be “Carry Chalk” because she’d like people to do just that; pick-up a piece of chalk and write a kind message in your neighborhood.
Written for To Live & Write in Alameda’s October Flash Fiction Challenge #4, “Found on the Street.” We had three days to write a 500 word short story and share with our group.
If you have a writer’s soul and live in Alameda, please join our group! No experience necessary … members range from those who dream of writing the Great American Novel to published authors. No dues, many free daily/weekly meet-ups, reasonably priced workshops and focus groups and retreats, and tons of encouragement and support.
Here’s the link: To Live and Write in Alameda.