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We wait in line. We wait for life. Waiting is not something most people like to do but everyone has to do it. What we wait on might be universal, some as different as our reactions.
Writers wrote about the wait and what it could mean. They wrote surprising stories you won’t want to wait to read.
The following are based on the June 20, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about having to wait.
PART I (10-minute read)
Adult Swim by Chelsea Owens
“I can’t stand no longer,” I tell Mama, but she gives me That Look; so I wobble and watch the grown-ups flop around slowly like old, fat whales-
“Maahm,” I start. Now Janie shoots me The Look an’ it’s just like Mama’s -but I can tell that Janie wants ’em to hurry jus’ as much as me, ’cause up she goes on her toes then back down.
The whole line of us kids is bobbing and dancin’ -I think maybe the lifeguard sees; for, jus’ when I know we’re gonna jump, we fin’lly hear the whistle.
An’ we run.
The Waiting by Pete Fanning
It began with a tearful goodbye. With a sleepless night, then two, then a week until it just was. It clutched her heart with every knock at the door. It stung when she watched the boys play baseball in the street with another kid’s dad. It ruined Christmas.
The waiting grew heavy. It promised tomorrow. It made her feel selfish. It consumed her.
Then it did the unthinkable. It broke its promise.
It came with too many casseroles and a folded flag. It left her with the boys in the street, waiting for a pitch that would never come.
The Beginning of a Long Wait (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Waiting for the phone to ring, Danni started a batch of cookies. She stalked over to the phone. “Ring, damn it!” She picked it up to check the dial tone and returned to the kitchen. She started a pot of macaroni and cheese. The phone range and she jumped, answering.
“Hello. This is the National Coalition for—”
Danni slammed down the receiver. She needed tea. Instead of boiling macaroni, she poured the water over a Lipton tea bag, watching the stain spread. Danni waited to hear if Ike lived after the attack on his convoy in Baghdad.
Torment by Ann Edall-Robson
Watching the truck and trailer leave the yard, Liz played Mac’s call over in her mind. He insisted Tal be the one to bring the rig. The anguish in his voice when he told her he needed a medivac NOW, continued to send chills through her. He’d fill her in when he got home. Cell service was minimal at its best near the falls.
Liz tried to remember who Mac had sent to check on the cows out there. Stay busy she told herself. Then she remembered.
Ranch life could be a torment to those who had to wait.
Waiting by Joanne Fisher
“We’re going to have to wait, The Baron is away for a few days.” Ashalla informed her.
“I can wait.” Aalen replied looking around the crowded streets. She hadn’t realised there were so many people in this city. Where did they all come from?
They were standing in the city’s square. Above them all rose the Baron’s Keep like a giant solitary black tooth. Aalen spied the walls of the fortifications. She reckoned she could scale them with no problems, and she thought Ashalla could do the same.
Revenge would come. She could wait. What was a few days?
He Waits by Liz Husebye Hartmann
He waits on the bridge by the lagoon, staring down at the moon, a pale and wavering contrast in dark water. Further down the shore, a splash and pop, followed by crunching, draws his attention. A moose shakes its ears in greeting and turns back to its evening snack.
She’s late. He worries about her, and for the moose.
He worries too much. She’s the best: intelligence and empathy, seasoned with practicality. She’ll arrive, having hunted and fed, and easily change with the sunrise.
Tonight they run together under the full moon. Tomorrow they hold hands in the sun.
Some Wait by Susan Sleggs
The couple watches the birds. The cardinal pair arrives together but she eats first while he waits on a near-by branch. The Flicker waits for no other, he lands at the suet and others skedaddle. The chickadee waits; darts to the unoccupied feeder then takes his prize elsewhere. The squirrels try to invade the feeder but fail, falling to the ground and making a thumping sound that satisfies. The husband waits also; for his wife to stop complaining about something that happened days ago. If only he knew a way to help her let go of what angers her.
Waiting for the Bus by Sally Cronin
The young girl waited anxiously for the bus. She huddled into the long queue of people standing impatiently in the rain, hiding her bulging rucksack between her feet. She was cold and wet but determined to get away from this place. The planning had been carried out meticulously, and she was happy that she had everything needed for a new life. Her stomach began rumbling. It was Friday and her mum made fish and chips for tea. People muttered as the five year old pushed through them, dragging her rucksack and heading down the street. She smiled in anticipation.
Waiting by Floridaborne
He chuckled when he asked, “Where did you say you’re calling from?”
“Flor’da,” I replied. “I’m looking for my brother. His friend said he was in this hospital.”
“I’m not able to provide any information.”
“Look!” I yelled out at the insufferable jerk. “He has Down Syndrome. He’ll be frightened!”
“I can say he wasn’t in an accident, but HIPAA rules… I can’t tell you anything else.”
“What do hippos have to do with it?” I asked. “He’s not an ape in a zoo.”
So… until I can hop a plane to Oregon, he’ll wonder why he’s all alone.
Running For the Border by TN Kerr
“Moooom,” I wailed from the backseat, “It hurts.” She looked over her shoulder before pushing her cigarette out the wind wing and turning down the radio.
“You just have to hold it, Billy,” she said; turning her attention back to the road that stretched out in front of us. “I can’t simply call a time out.”
We were going fast when she hit the spike strips and the tires all burst. My bladder let go when the wheels began tossing sparks like lightning bugs past the windows.
We skidded sideways to a stop and the troopers boxed us in.
Frozen Man by Reena Saxena
The most peculiar thing happened on the eleventh of November, just as the snow had begun to drift down.
The snow assumed a peculiar shape, like a man frozen in snow. Passers-by ventured ahead to rescue him, but the shadow was elusive for their almost frozen hands.
An old lady stepped out of the crowd and waved. Surprisingly, the shadow waved back.
Her husband was a martyr in the war, and had died on 11th November. She came here on the day, every year, hoping that he would take her with him. In a moment, she had dropped dead.
Lucy Locket: Opposing Summer? by JulesPaige
no wolves in my sight
waiting for the strawberry
moon in a stale sky
Lucy Locket, fills the docket
By reading quotes, in a book that she totes
Hartly says; “The past is a foreign country…”, brings to mind a cold memory
“…they do things differently there.” That old summer home, lost, somewhere.
Now she just waits, …on her table to clear used paper plates…
From the crowd that has dispersed, in sporadic spurts
From the picnic reunion that many waited for; a delightful chore
What will be different in the next year? Will she be even be here?
Earthquake by Saifun Hassam
Sally was jerked awake by the roar of a train hitting the house. She tensed, waiting for the earthquake to ease. Scrambling from the bed and swaying with the floor she sidled along the hallway into the living room.
Steve was working on his blog “Vineyards, Wineries and Gardens” when the quack hit. He crawled under the dining room table as the strong tremors continued. Experience had taught them to wait it out. A herd of elephants pounded across the lawn. After long minutes the earth subsided. Utter stillness, silence. A twittering of birds announced the coming of dawn.
Your Call Is Important by Anne Goodwin
“All our operators are busy at the moment. Your call will be answered as soon as one becomes available.”
Jingle jangle music.
“Your call is important to us. Please hold the line.”
Jangle jingle music.
“Thank you for your patience. We will answer your call as soon as an operator becomes available.”
Jingle jangle music.
“Thank you for calling Westminster Talent Limited. Apologies for keeping you waiting. How may I help you?”
“I need speak Boris.”
“I’m afraid Boris isn’t available right now. Can I be of service?”
“Can you tell please, his lunch left kitchen table. And phone.”
Waiting by M J Mallon
Only two more hours, she joked as she left. I smiled. I knew I would say the same to her after two days’ time. The weekend is teasing me, waiting with a glass of wine. At two minutes past five I open her drawer to eat the snack she left me. It kills me to admit it but it tastes good. She’d said it was foul but lied. One more bite.
Shame that death arrived before the weekend. She didn’t need to poison me—we were both on the same prolonged career path.
Voodoo by Carol J Forrester
‘Take a ticket,’ said the man behind the scratched perspex glass.
‘It’s empty,’ said James, glancing at the busted plastic dispenser.
‘Huh?’ The man looked up. ‘Oh, so it is. Well, take a seat to wait and we’ll be right with you.’
‘We?’ asked James. The man didn’t answer.
Turning, James shuddered and stumbled as the room stretched like elastic.
A set of hands steadied him.
‘The voodoo throws you at first. It’s how they fit us all in.’
‘Us all?’ James asked.
‘Yeah, all the demons,’ said the voice. ‘Sorry mate, looks like you got busted.’
Waiting by Di @pensitivity101
Hurry up and wait.
Waiting, watching life pass us by.
Hours wasted, waiting for someone else.
Time is money,
But not to those waiting.
God’s waiting room, that’s what they call this place.
Take a seat.
Someone will be with you shortly.
But how long is shortly?
The clock ticks on.
Time waits for no-one.
Yet we are expected to wait.
It’s only polite to do as one is asked.
Joints seize, breathing shallows,
The mind drifts, the spirit leaves,
Looking down at those souls waiting,
Shells of humanity,
Waiting for something to hurry up.
PART II (10-minute read)
Treat by Brendan Thomas
Toby smiled. Jane held the treat agonizingly close.
“Wait.” Toby waited. He waited for dinner, a belly rub, a walk. Wait, wait, wait. Yesterday he waited for Jane to finish in the bathroom making it to his favorite bush just on time. When he wormed through the fence to play with Jasper last week he was waiting in the shade of the apple tree for his dinner. Finally he ate two apples and got sick, poor Jasper.
Toby looked at the treat, then walked away.
“You have it,” he thought digging out his bone from behind the sofa.
Waiting by Anita Dawes
Tomorrow is today in waiting
It seems to me, that even when it arrives
It is still waiting
Where is yesterday in all of this
We all constantly wait for tomorrow
You can stand on the shore
Look to the horizon, watch the sun set
You cannot see tomorrow
Yet you know it’s coming
We spend a lot of our time waiting
For one thing or another
As for myself I cannot bear waiting
If I say I’ll be there at eight
I expect my friends to be on time
The future is the greatest opportunity we wait for…
Faith by Kerry E.B. Black
We waited together for the results. Kinda gross, really, staring at a plastic stick I’d peed on, but in the end, a plus told us. A baby! My tears drenched his shoulder as we embraced.
Anxious, we held hands at the obstetrician’s to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Quick as a bunny, it raced away with our hearts.
At the ultrasound, we watched her suck her thumb and chose her name. Faith. We painted the nursery, anxious to meet this precious child.
But one day, I bled. I rushed for help, but no amount of waiting brought back our Faith.
A Thousand Years by Nicole Horlings
She had been patient for a thousand years. Those years had been tiring, and she eagerly looked forward towards her well-earned retirement. Life, especially blossoming life, was a fragile thing that had to be treated with the utmost care.
From the days of keeping the egg warm to hunting for food, from guarding the nest to leaving it behind, from first fire to first flight, she had watched her son grow from a drake to a dragon.
Today was his coming of age ceremony, where he would be given his adult name.
She wished for a thousand more years.
Never Never Land by Sherri Matthews
Months we’d waited. We took our seats towards the back of the stadium with a clear view of the stage. Men and women, some in their twenties most middle-aged and wearing black, like me, filled the stands. Others strode towards the standing area armed in sleeveless leathers, long hair and tattoos, fired up for the mosh pit. We waved to three of them before they disappeared into the mosh pit. My boys. The crowd cheered for the first band, but roared when the headliner came on. Metallica. This was it. Off to never never land with my adult kids.
A Wee Wait by Ritu Bhathal
“I know you’re desperate dear, but I’m afraid, you’ll have to wait. They’re all desperate.” Mrs Brown turned around, indicating the long line of children stretching to the end of the corridor.
“But Miss, I can’t wait!” Millie hopped from foot to foot, performing a toilet dance typical for a child, crotch clutched as if that was all holding a possible flood from occurring.
The queue moved down one.
“Just get to the back of the line, Millie.”
“Why on earth not?”
Millie looked down at the puddle slowly forming.
“Oh dear. so you really couldn’t wait!”
Take Turns to Wait by Miriam Hurdle
“My dear Heather, would you marry me?”
“Oh, yes, dear Jason.”
“We must have our engagement party soon and the wedding in six months.”
“Well, we’ve been dating for seven years and I didn’t know when you’d asked me to marry you.”
“I needed to save up money.”
“You know that I applied for several grad schools. The one accepted me with big scholarship is in New York.”
“It’s only five and a half hours flight from Los Angles.”
“Now, your turn to wait for two years.”
“I know. Let’s have our engagement party ASAP.”
“We can do that.”
Ernest Biggs and Marge Small by D. Avery
“Marge, your she-shed is finished. The waiting is over. Go to your prince.”
Nard smirked. “Ernest’s just waiting for Marge to get back in charge.”
“Ilene, the wedding’ll be in the garage, get started on decorating. Lloyd, you get ordained, get some words together. Nick, invitations. Remember, I can barely stand you most days, so take care who you invite from the dealership. Kristof, since you still claim this peckerhead as your boyfriend, you’ll be involved too. You and Nard’ll take care of food. Ernest, we’ll need a lot of beer.”
“Ernest, you poor thing. The waiting is over.”
The Waiting Game by Norah Colvin
Her entire life, she’d waited:
To be old enough, big enough—
To have left school, completed her degree—
To have enough money—
Until after the wedding—
For the birth of her children
For her children to have started school, left school, left home—
When would be the time, when she could choose what she wanted, for her, no conditions imposed?
In the waiting room, she contemplated these things and delivered her own answer—never! Death was knocking, refusing to wait. She’d hoped to live before she died but life got in the way. Ah well, the waiting was over.
Eager by Abijit
His life did not depend on it, but a news would have been welcome. It was nearly a month earlier, he had shared his resume. He was certain about his selection. Afterall, his resume was rich in qualification and relevant experience.
He was certain that his pay package will see a significant jump. He had started planning his new life in a different city and dreaming of family vacations he would lie to take.
It is four weeks now. He has not heard from the head hunters. Well it is their loss! He still has his life, doesn’t he?
Test Results by Susan Zutautas
“How soon will be able to get me the results?”
“I should have them in by say nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”, the doctor said.
“Alright, well I’ll be waiting to hear from you then, and thanks so much for doing this for me, I know this isn’t something you regularly do.”
“That’s true but in this case, I’m happy to.”
I couldn’t sleep that night, waiting wasn’t something I liked to do.
Sitting patiently by the phone the next morning anticipating what the doctor would say, the phone rang.
“I have your test results and you are indeed pregnant.”
A Foetal Wish by H.R.R. Gorman
Will the outside be beautiful or scary? I find it cozy here, even if it is dark, and I’m not sure I want to go. At the same time, I know I will leave soon, so why must I wait another whole month? Why not just get it over with now?
Who will I be when I spew forth from this cozy cavern? I hope the doctors find me healthy. I hope people will like me, and I hope everyone will be my friend. Most of all, I hope my parents are nice and will take care of me.
No News by Sascha Darlington
Some wise sayings, like no news is good news, are easily refuted. Take the fact Mom called Dad three hours ago to say she’d been hurt then nothing.
Aunt Cici calls everywhere. Urgent care. Hospitals. Police. The morgue. She doesn’t mention this last one, I just happened to see it among her outgoing calls.
We wait. Not a single one of the seven people in this room believes no news is good news.
Dad hopes for a miracle text.
Aunt Cici searches for another number.
I gnaw over the last ugly exchange Mom and I shared: I despise you.
Mental Health Day by tracey
At the beginning of the year Jennifer impulsively penciled in a mental health day on her calendar. Now the day was here and she wanted a spontaneous adventure.
She drove two hours west and found a small town on the coast. She sat outdoors at a quaint café, opened the menu, closed her eyes and lightly ran her finger over the plastic sheet. Strawberry and cream cheese crepe appeared under her finger. Perfect!
She sat back, the sun warming her face, noticing an Artist Co-op across the road. Stop two she thought as she waited patiently for her crepe.
The Time Between by Nancy Brady
She was waiting in the airport, sitting in those uncomfortable chairs. She was waiting to board the plane that would take her away from the life she’d known.
No one had ever told her that most of her life would be spent waiting. Waiting for appointments, waiting for the mail, waiting for her children to be born, her grandchildren to be born…just waiting, waiting, waiting.
And in that waiting, she began to see her life unfold, a little at a time. She saw her mistakes, her triumphs, and all her losses. Her days waning, she finally lived without regret.
Nuthin’ by D. Avery
“Shift, Kid, we might not make it ta the corral, might miss the round-up. Ya got anythin’?”
“Nah, I ain’t got nuthin’. Thing is, I cain’t be thinkin’ ‘bout waitin’ on thangs when I’m jist so content right here right now.”
“Yep. Ya got a good fire goin’. An’ thet storm had a good light show but blew right on through quick enough.”
“Storm didn’t hardly damp the fire. An’ lookit the light show now. Lightnin’ bugs flittin’ about. They was worth stayin’ up fer.”
“Yep. We’ve got it good Kid.”
“Yep. Cain’t wait ta share it with Shorty.”