5 Minutes

May 15, 2023
Flash Fiction

The street is lone, partnered with a heavy layer of darkness. One that is only broken up by the glow of the moonlight sky and flickering of luminescent street lights, which guide me through the night. The sound of the gentle river moving alongside the street flows into my ears. A slight rustling of leaves from the wind cools me in the summer heat. The delightful smell of fresh air completes this harmonious dance, bringing together a peaceful night.

My watch has a new crack across the surface. Thankfully, the soft tick, tick, ticking that only I can hear is still there.

Five minutes have passed.

Within one, two, three, four,

Five minutes, I’ve abandoned everything I have come to know for the possibility of starting anew. Leaving behind my comfort for the uncomfortable unknown.

As I stroll down the street, I pay closer attention than I ever have to the details of the homes and the little shops that make up this tiny district. Memories replay in my head the hours spent in the coffee shop. By the time I would leave, the smell of chocolate caffeine stuck to my skin. I think of all the times I had one small interaction with the barista behind the counter. Coming to create a small friendship that only existed inside that tiny space. Those brief moments, even though I technically paid for them, felt more genuine to me than any of the greater ones I had with others close to me on a regular basis. 

In the distance, hidden in the darkness, a melody from a young feline echoes through the air to be heard by all silently roaming the night. Letting us know, we are not roaming alone. The dreamlike melody is soft and carries a sense of nostalgia that stirs something buried deep in the soft spot of my heart.

I try to feel where that nostalgia comes from, but it remains exactly where it is. Before the five minutes, that tickling unknowing would have gotten to me, but now, I know it’s okay. I don’t need to know; I just need to let that feeling do what it must.

The glow of the moonlight falls upon me, and I become still, taking in the beauty of the night. I look at my hands, clean and only slightly calloused. If a stranger looked upon them, they would believe them to be under the ease of youth. What doesn’t show are the years of clawing with these bare hands into the muck and grime to create a hollow home and a foundation that no longer serves a purpose. My eyes are heavy with a slight pressure behind them, while my mind and thoughts are clearer than they have been in a very long time.

I take in a deep breath, allowing the night to coat my lungs. A whistle escapes my lips, joining the melody of the cat in a duet that perhaps is necessary for both of us to let out.

Throughout this stroll, worries cross my mind, but they dissipate over the feeling of ease that now sits inside. My sense of purpose remains beneath difficult questions. But now, I feel I have the tools to dig out the answers.

As the melody saunters, the times when I wasn’t alone are nostalgic. It’s been ten minutes now, and I miss her and the man I had to leave behind. That life was mine, but it came to feel like it belonged to another. Because it did. I’m not that man anymore. I may cry once it hits eleven, and I can feel the tears welling, but even so... 

I don’t ask myself, “Was it worth it?”

All I’ve thought in these continuous ticking seconds is, what’s next?

I step out of the glow and continue down the road of the night.

Harrison Peck

Writer, Reader, Traveler, Coffee Drinker, Donut Dunker Extraordinaire

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