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April 3, 2018

A Crimson and Gold Morning

'Early Sunday Morning' by Edward Hopper

Fiction: A Crimson and Gold Morning - 3 stories, 1 image

The morning's hot sun bathe the streets in gold and crimson. The barber peaks out between the window curtains. It is another hot day but all his days are hot days. The barber releases a slow breath. He doesn't like hot days and yet, he can't say anything bad about them. He pulls all the curtains wide open and flips the switch for the pole. He glances outside to make sure the red, white and blue are twirling away. Was it just yesterday he took over for his father? The barber's lips twitch at the memory. And yet, nothing have changed. He takes the broom by the corner and starts sweeping the floor. He flips over the 'Open for Business' sign hanging by the door. The diner across the street already has their sign turned. He wonders if the red-haired waitress is there wiping the tables. He had seen her a few times in front of the diner talking to customers but he had never spoken to her. Women are a curious breed to him. He could never talk to them. Not unless they are his customers. He turns away and picks up the bag of peppermint candies and unloads them into the gumball bowl. Then he takes out his equipments from the drawers and wipes them with cleaning fluids. As the large clock on the wall ticks away, the barber begins to hum. The bell on the door jingles as the first customer of the day enters. The barber runs a hand down his gray and black hair, pulls at the ends of his shirt and puts on a smile. It is going to be a beautiful hot day.

The boy doesn't like the look of the place. The white walls are lined with framed black and white photos of people half smiling into the camera. There are slight signs of paint peeling here and there. A funny smell sends itself up his nose and into his mind. He doesn't know what it is but he sort of likes it. The barber greets them with a smile. The boy gives the barber a small grin. The barber kneels down, takes the boy's hand and drops peppermint candies into his palm and says, "There's more over there." He points at a gumball machine with a hole at the top where anyone can grab the candies. The boy's grin widens. He tucks the candies into his pants pocket except one where he wraps it and puts it into his mouth. He drops the wrapper into the tiny tin wastebasket nearby. His father picks him up and places him down on the large green chair. The boy looks into the mirror at the barber. The barber's hair is short and black with bits of gray here and there. He gives the boy a smile which makes his eyes crinkled like two crescent moons. The boy had feared he wouldn't like getting a haircut from such an old place but the barber's smile calms him. The barber wraps a white towel around the boy's neck and then begins to run a wet comb through the boy's hair. The boy smiles at the barber in the mirror. I like him, the boy thought as he turns the peppermint candy in his mouth.

The waitress wipes at the glass windows with a tattered rag. She turns toward the blue sky, then at the rows of gold window shades and down to the shops. Her eyes linger on the barber shop. She couldn't make out the barber but she is certain he is there. The barber's pole is spinning as usual with their red, white and blue. The waitress lets out a sigh. If only the barber would visit the diner once in a while. She turns around and inspects the place that she have been working in for nearly twenty years. The rose pattern wallpapers are faded like blobs of red paint. The chairs and the booths with their red leathers are as bright as ever though a bit worn. The other waitresses with their matching pink uniforms moves languidly around the diner. It is hard work waiting on tables but then she have never thought it. She loves greeting the customers and she loves it when they tell her about their day. It makes her feel glad to be alive. The fact is, she is never meant to be here. The bus had stopped for gas. Something drew her to the windows and when she turned and spotted the barber's pole, she knew she had to get off. The bus left without her and she didn't try to catch another one. The waitress smiles and tucks a few strands of her red hair behind her ear. She takes a different towel from the rack and starts to wipe the table tops. Perhaps one day, the barber will come to the diner or perhaps she will ask him to give her a haircut.

a to z challenge 2018
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