Free short stories

The Stranger

Jen sat on her father’s front steps and sighed with boredom. Today was the same as yesterday, and the day before. She looked up and beheld the sky. It was a still blue and it went on forever. It was dotted with the flight of a few birds. But there were no clouds and that meant no rain. The sun shone down with a confidence, trying to warm everything within its reach. 

Jen ran her tongue over her teeth and gums. They were dry, so dry, that you could taste dust. She clicked her tongue and wished for water. A soft breeze blew, blowing her hair around her neck. It felt oh, so good. A tumble weed rolled by. It didn’t stop to say “hello” or “pardon me”, it just continued along as the wind blew.

Off in the distance, dust was rising off the plain. That meant someone was coming. Jen wondered who it was. The dust continued to rise and didn’t stop until the rider did. When the dust settled, Jen noticed he was a pony express rider. He was bringing in the week’s mail. He was rather lean, like he didn’t get much to eat. His hair was black and he had fierce brown eyes. His dress was plain, just blue jeans, a white shirt and a brown, dust covered, leather jacket. He wore a gun holster, with only one colt. His hat had a draw string, which kept it from falling past his shoulders.

Jen watched him as he walked into the post office, and as he came out again. She watched as he led his horse towards the saloon. Curious, Jen stood up, dusted off her pants, and then she followed him to the saloon. She stepped inside the door of the saloon and stood with her back against the wall just to the left of the door. He ordered a drink and sat at the bar. He didn’t speak to anyone, but the bartender and their conversation was short. There was a wall mirror in front of him, in which he saw Jen watching him. From this mirror, he watched her, watch him finish his drink.

When he had finished drinking, he adjusted his hat, and got up to leave.  He looked at her only for an instant as he walked out the door. Then he stopped and turned. Jen too turned to leave and ran right into him.  Their eyes met.

“Your father is this town’s undertaker, right?”

Jen stood stunned. She had expected the deep voice of a man, but this man had a young sounding voice. Jen wondered how old he was.

Maybe it’s because he’s so lanky and tall that I thought he was older. “Yes, I help him arrange funerals and dig graves.” Jen replied, remembering that he had seen her earlier, when he rode into town.

“Then stop following me.” He told her seriously. “You’re make me nervous.”

He smirked at her, turned, and then he left. He mounted his horse, tipped his hat to her, and then he rode away. Jen smiled to herself as she watched him go. She smiled to herself, realizing that she would see him again. Either as a friend or a customer.

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